23.11.22: Covid

Context: I have very long experience of living with chronic illness and fatigue, but it’s interesting to observe how wearing it is to have Covid on top of this. Although I tested negative for the first time last Sunday, my symptoms continue, and the virus certainly isn’t giving up its grip yet.

I’m vividly aware that all around the world hundreds of thousands have died of their infection, whilst countless others are suffering, or have been left disabled. My only coping technique is to say, “Yes”, to God at every moment, and to keep on whispering, “Thank you, Jesus.”

It’s impossible to predict the outcome of this illness for each individual, including me, so all I can do is to put my trust God, who brings good from everything, no matter what happens:

I love you, LORD; you are my strength (Psalm 18:1; NLT). 

I love you
As I wake again
To yet another
Day of pain.
Don’t leave me here
To live in vain,
I pray.

I love you,
And I seek your face.
I long to know
Your warm embrace,
Receive your kiss,
And share your grace –
One day.

I love you,
And I choose your will,
With thanks
For every good and ill.
Lord, help me, please,
For you are still
My Way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way” (John 14:6; NLT).


References 

Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless (Philippians 2:16; NLT). 

The LORD will work out his plans for my life – for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me (Psalm 138:8; NLT).

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalm 27:8; NIV). 

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace (Titus 1:4; NLT). 

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16; NIV). 

All of you share in God’s grace with me (Philippians 1:7; NIV). 

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT). 

I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things (Isaiah 45:7; NLT). 

When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn (Psalm 142:3; NLT). 

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21; NLT). 

2.11.22: All Souls’ Day

Context: This little prayer came to me on 28.10.22, well before I consciously registered that All Souls’ Day was fast approaching. I had to smile at God’s advance planning! It forms a pair with yesterday’s blog (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cIe).

The Messiah also died once for the sake of our sins, the Righteous One in the place of sinners, to bring you to God, and he died in body and lived in his Spirit. And he preached to those souls who were held in Sheol, those who from the first were not convinced (1 Peter 3; 18-19; PHBT).

Lord,

Heal the souls
Of all the dead –

Don’t punish them:
Forgive, I beg.

Lord, surely
They have cried

Enough? Your arms
Are open wide,

For you, alone,
Are love and grace:

Please welcome all
With your embrace.

I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him (Luke 15:18-20; NLT). 

References

The Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10; NLT).

God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth (1 Timothy 2:4; CEV).

Then I called on the name of Yahweh: “Yahweh, I beg you, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:4; WEB).

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

By God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9; NLT).


First reading: Psalm 16:7-11; NLT

I will bless the LORD who guides me;
Even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
Or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
Granting me the joy of your presence
And the pleasures of living with you forever.

Second reading: Psalm 103:1-4; NLT

Let all that I am praise the LORD;
With my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
May I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death,

And crowns me with love and tender mercies.


Rosary-making update:

9.10.22: Let it be

Context: As my energy dwindles, I’m becoming less able to receive and write new material every day. This means I sometimes have to use a piece I wrote a while ago.

I always try to choose the most appropriate, and to bring it up to date as best I can. However, it’s hard not to feel a sense of letting you all down when I do so.

Early yesterday morning, while I was praying, I realised that it’s not a personal failure when I don’t receive and write something new. In fact such days can be extremely helpful, because they give me time to process and absorb what God has already shown me. It can also be a relief to rest more that day, without the pressure of having to express something new in words.

Later on, whilst saying grace over my breakfast, I found myself ending my prayer with these words: “Let it be unto me according to thy will.”

When I looked this phrase up, I discovered that it is not a direct quote from any of the Bibles I use, though this had been my working assumption. Instead, it draws on four separate verses:

  • Mary’s response to the angel at the Annunciation: “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38; KJV).
  • The sentence given to us by Christ when he taught us how to pray: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; RSV).
  • Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he fully faced the inevitability of the cross: “I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT).
  • Simeon’s prayer when he took Jesus in his arms at the presentation in the temple: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word” (Luke 2:29; KJV).

I plan to incorporate the first three of these verses into my prayers every day, and to use Simeon’s dedication as I’m dying. But may my last words be Christ’s final cry on the cross: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46; KJV).


Reading: Luke 2:21-32; NLT

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord – “either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

My inner wolf

Context: Following the recent blog about my shadow-self (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-bXF), this related, rather strange, exploratory and deeply metaphorical prayer surfaced yesterday, soon after I woke up. It was very hard to write!

It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within.
(Mark 7:20-3; NLT). 

A wolf from the desert will pounce on them (Jeremiah 5:6; NLT). 

I’m sensing my inner wolf,
Hearing it howl,
Glimpsing my shadow-self,
Watching it prowl;

Dreading my temper, Lord,
Hiding my fear,
Loathing my shameful greed:
Always so near.

Yet, in my heart, Lord,
I’m seeing your face,
Asking forgiveness
And seeking your grace.

Mingle my shadow-self
With your pure light,
For I face temptation
All day, and all night.

You are my Shepherd,
My staff and my rod;
You are my All-In-All:
Jesus, my God.

You are my chosen way:
Though I still sin,
You are eternal life –
Jesus, within.

We live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.
(1 John 5:20; NLT). 


Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
(Colossians 3:11; NLT).

A journey

Context: Yesterday, as soon as I woke up, I was taken on a journey around and beyond the world. There was no time to pray. Whilst it was happening, I was able to write down what I saw and understood, which has never happened to me before. I had no sense of time passing or of movement, and no awareness of my body or its surroundings.

The experience ended as soon as I had written down the last few words. I don’t know how long it lasted – perhaps an hour or two. Then I became aware of my body, and was very surprised to find myself in bed in my holiday flat, feeling truly awed and astonished by all I had seen. I might easily have thought I had simply been dreaming, except for all I had written down during my journey. Here is the essence of what I wrote:

I am God, and not a man –
the Holy One among you 
(Hosea 11:9; NIV). 

1. God is neither male nor female,
Black nor white, not straight or gay,

2. Not Orthodox, or Catholic,
Or Protestant: God is The Way.

3. God is not Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim,
Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh,

4. Nor any other great world faith,
For God is light, and love, and peace.

5. God is Spirit, here, within us all –
The grace that sets us free.

6. God’s truth, consuming fire, and strength
Are pearls beyond all price, to me.

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant’s search for fine pearls. When one pearl of great value was found, the merchant went back and sold everything else and bought it (Matthew 13:45-6; TIB).


References 

1. Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them (Genesis 1:27; TIB).

2. Keep in mind that God’s greatness exceeds our knowledge; God’s vastness is a mystery (Job 36:26; TIB). 

I am the way (John 14:6; NIV).

God’s way is perfect (2 Samuel 22:31; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

Follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 14:1; NIV). 

3. God is greater than we can understand (Job 36:26; NLT). 

4. God is light (1 John 1:5; NLT).

The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24; NLT). 

5. God is Spirit (John 4:24; NLT). 

We are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).

When we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin (Romans 6:7; NLT).

God’s grace has set us free from the law (Romans 6:15; NLT).

6. The Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6; NKJV).

God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV).

The Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4; KJV).

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:24; NIV). 

To Yahweh

God is greater than we can understand (Job 36:26; NLT). 

Whatever I understand of you
Must grow,
Yet, always, I remain
Safe in your hand.

Wise father? Loving mother?
You just smile
And wait for me to learn.
You don’t berate,

For you are Yahweh:
God, so full of grace
That one day even I
Will see your face.

Then, though I’ve been so slow,
My love, so small,
You will reveal YourSelf
As All in all.

God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28; TIV).


References

What you have done is put aside your old self with its past deeds and put on a new self, one that grows in knowledge as it is formed anew in the image of its Creator. And in that image, there is no Greek or Hebrew; no Jew or Gentile; no barbarian or Scythian; no slave or citizen. There is only Christ, who is all in all (Colossians 11:9-11; TIV). 

Now, see for yourself that I am that God! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life; I wound and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand (Deuteronomy 32:39; TIV).

Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them (Genesis 1:27; TIV).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NKJV).

Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together (Isaiah 40:5; NLT).

I bow down

All the families of the nations will bow down before you (Psalm 22:27; CSB). 

Honour the Lord (Psalm 29:2; NLT). 

Father,
I bow down before you,
Honouring your love and light.

Jesus,
I bow down before you,
Honouring your sacrifice.

Spirit,
I bow down before you,
Honouring your truth and grace.

Lord,
For now, I bow in faith alone,
But soon I’ll see your face.

Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!” (John 20:29; CEV)

They will see his face (Revelation 22:4; NLT).

Looking at others

No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven
(John 3:27; NLT).

Father,
Fill us with your truth;
Flood us all with hope and faith –
Then, Lord, when we look at others,
We will always see Christ’s face.

Father,
Fill us with your love;
Deluge us with grace and peace –
Then, Lord, when we look at others,
All our fear and hate will cease.

Father,
Fill us with your light
Until we shine, just like your Son –
Then, Lord, when we look at others,
We will know that all are one.

You are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).


References 

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18; NIV). 

Before their eyes, Jesus was transfigured – his face becoming as dazzling as the sun and his clothes as radiant as light (Matthew 17:2; TIB).

We will be like him (1 John 3:2; NLT). 

Easter Sunday

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:30-32; NIV).

1. Lord, may you be born again
Within my heart today,
Then I’ll always walk with you –
My life, my truth, my way.

2. May you dwell there, full of grace,
And teach me to do good,
Then I’ll grow much more like you –
In faith, and hope, and love.

3. May I share your grief and pain
Within my heart each day,
Then I’ll suffer at your side –
And watch, and wait, and pray.

4. Buried in my willing heart,
Then resurrected there,
May we always live as one –
In joy, and thanks, and prayer.

Not for deeds that we had done, but by his steadfast love alone, he saved us through a second birth, renewed us by the Spirit’s work, and poured him out upon us, too (Titus 3:5-6; ISV).


References

1. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:4; KJV). 

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; NLT).

2. The child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him (Luke 2:40; NIV). 

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

All of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT). 

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13; NLT).

3. Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons,  James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:36-8; NLT).

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

4. The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there (John 19:41-2; NLT).

Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed – for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead (John 20:8; NLT)

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25; NLT).

I am with you every day, even unto the end of time (Matthew 28:20; ABPE). 

For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).

Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).

You are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).


 

Close your eyes

The Lord is full of tenderness and mercy (James 5:11; NLT). 

1. Close your eyes to seek Christ’s face:
Full of mercy, light and grace.

2. Lift your gaze to catch his smile:
He won’t censure or revile.

3. Look at him, and watch his love
Pouring down from heaven above.

4. Talk with Christ; ask him to heal:
He will know just how you feel.

5. Your faith, your doubts, your hopes, your fears,
Your suffering throughout the years –

6. He sees, and knows, and shares them all:
Each loss, each pain, each grief, each fall.

7. He sees, and knows, and shares each one:
Our Lord, who died for us – God’s Son.

8. At last, receive his healing touch:
Rejoice! He loves you very much.

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).


References

1. I will see you face to face (Psalm 17:15; NLT). 

2. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:8-10; NIV).

3. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39; NLT).

4. I love the Lord because he hears my voice (Psalm 116:1; NLT).

5. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same testings we do (Hebrews 4:15; NLT).  

6. O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).

7. In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were sinners (Romans 5:8; NLT).

8. I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).