19.11.22: God is near

Context: The night before last, my seventh with covid, I managed for the first time to cope without taking any cough-suppressant. As soon as I woke in the morning, I began to pray, but within seconds I was overwhelmed by today’s blog:

He is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:27-8; NIV). 

God is not far away,
But very near:
In everyone we meet,
And see, and hear;

In every joy and sorrow,
Smile, and tear;
In pain and anguish,
Suffering, and fear.

God is not far away,
But deep within:
In every mind, and heart,
And soul, and skin;

Despite our hatred,
Selfishness and sin –
God is not far away,
And God is King. 

God is the King over all the earth (Psalm 47:7; NLT).


References 

There is one Savior, one faith, one baptism, one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).

You
are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16; NKJV). 

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else (1 Thessalonians 3:12; NIV). 

Love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; NLT).

Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).

Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).

Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44; NLT).


Rosary news:

Despite covid, I made a (hopefully) more accurate Fiat Rosary today, with the colours in the right order. Here is is:


…and here it is again, lying on my shrine overnight, soaking up God’s blessings:

13.11.22: Jesus

Context: The evening before writing this prayer, I realised I was developing a respiratory infection. Next morning, after a rather strange and feverish night, this little blog came to me before I had even started to pray. It was surprisingly hard to put into words. NB: The infection turned out to be covid

When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:7-8; NIV). 

May my prayers be simple:
“Thank you, Jesus.”

“I love you, Jesus”:
May this be my praise.

May my words be plain:
“Forgive me, Jesus.”

May your Spirit
Set my heart ablaze.

May my prayer be:
“Jesus, I forgive them.”

May I do your will,
And serve your name.

May my conduct show
I follow you, Lord:

One with you in joy,
And grief, and pain.

The person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17; NLT).


Reading: Luke 11:2-4; NLT

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:
Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
And forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

4.11.22: Choices

Context: Yesterday morning, whilst I was writing an entirely separate prayer, the inspiration for the verses below came straight to me, without intention or effort of any kind on my part. Quickly jotting them down in rough, I was able to return to them later, and to finish working on them the same day.

Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17; NLT).

I turn to you, and choose your way:
Lord, help me when my love falls short.

I worship you, and choose my life:
Lord, help me when my joy falls short.

I trust in you, and choose my cross:
Lord, help me when my thanks fall short.

I hide in you, and choose my pain:
Lord, help me when my prayers fall short.

I bow to you, and choose my death:
Lord, help me when my faith falls short. 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).


References 

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 24; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6; NLT).  

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT). 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).

You died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3; NLT).

“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36; NLT).

Yield yourselves to God (Romans 6:13; RSV).

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23:46; NLT). 

Then he bowed his head and released his spirit (John 19:30; NLT).


Rosary-making update:

This doesn’t look like much, but it represents a big step forward for me: my first successful pairs of sliding knots:

3.11.22: To Mary

Context: This poem arrived a few days ago, just as I was settling down to sleep. The next morning I had to get up early for yet more hospital tests, then crept home to rest afterwards, feeling very much as if I’d been to the vet. During the quiet afternoon that followed, there was plenty of time to alternate between sleeping and getting this blog ready.

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. Jesus knew that his mission was now finished (John 19:26-8; NLT). 

Mary,

You’re my mother now.

May I say, “Yes” to God,
Like you, 

And thank the Lord
For all He sends:

Each pain, joy, fear,
And sorrow, too. 

Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also (Luke 2:35; KJV).


References 

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV). 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV). 

The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21; CSB). 

How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! (Luke 1:47; NLT).


Rosary-making update:

30.10.22: Pray for others

Context: I like to pray on behalf of those who cannot pray, and those who do not pray. There is a clear precedent for this in the Old Testament, when God says: “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf” (Job 42:8; NLT).

Furthermore, Jesus himself intercedes on behalf of us: “Because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf” (Hebrews 7:24-5; NLT).

So, praying on behalf of others is the theme of today’s blog, which arrived a few days ago, just before my hospital trip to London:

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT). 

Lord God,
Thank you for making us all.
We belong to you,
And we are part of you.

Please forgive our sins,
Restore our minds,
Repair our hearts,
And heal our souls.

Help us to love you,
And one another,
So we can share your oneness,
And your joy.

I ask this
In your dear Son’s name.

Amen.

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. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy (Philippians 2:16-17; NLT).

Reading: John 17:21-3; NLT

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

24.10.22: My flesh is weak

Context: Today I’m in London again, for further specialised hospital tests. These trips are a big challenge, because of my limited mobility and chronic fatigue. There’s something good to look forward to, though, as I’ve sent for all the basics I need to start learning the craft of making rosaries. If there’s any news worth reporting, I’ll include it when the time comes.

Following the prayers posted here for the last two days, today’s strikes a more optimistic note. It continues to build on the recent, recurring theme of inner healing:

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41; NIV). 

My flesh is weak,
My mind is scarred,

My heart is crushed,
My soul, afraid; 

And yet, my spirit
Leaps with joy

Because you love me:
Lord, I’m saved!

God’s love toward us is great, God’s faithfulness, eternal (Psalm 117:2; TIB).

You are the God who saves me (Psalm 25:5; NLT).


References 

He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust (Psalm 104:14; NLT). .

I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart (Psalm 38:8; NLT).

Yahweh is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18; LSB).

Fear came upon every soul (Acts 2:43; RSV). 

How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! (Luke 1L47; NLT). 

For you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture (Malachi 4:2; NLT). 

God already loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God (John 16:27; TIB).

God’s love toward us is great, God’s faithfulness, eternal (Psalm 117:2; TIB).

Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved (Joel 2:32; NLT).

19.10.22: High above

Context: Yesterday I was able to pray, to receive inspiration and to write again, after a week when this has been almost impossible. You can probably picture my joy, relief and thankfulness. This is what I was given:

As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared,
“Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36; NIV). 

1. High above: your flawless sky;
Far below: your hidden depth.

2. Here, on earth: your spotless life;
Deep within: your sacred breath.

3. All around: your perfect love;
Soon, beyond: your humble death.

4. Close beside: your joyful voice –
Then, just ahead: your blissful rest.

Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1; NIV). 


References 

1.The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun (Psalm 19:1-4; NIV).

I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name (Isaiah 45:3; NLT). 

2.God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:18-19; NLT). 

The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7; KJV). 

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

“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36; NLT). 

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death –  even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8; NIV).

4.Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (Psalm 23:4; NLT). 

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-9; NLT).

God’s rest is there for people to enter (Hebrews 4:6; NLT).

15.10.22: Together

Context: The inspiration for this poem came to me during a long train journey a few weeks ago. There were many distractions all around me, but writing it kept me happily absorbed for miles.

When I wake up, you are still with me! (Psalm 139:18; NLT).

I pray beside you when I wake,
And kneel beside you to adore.
I serve beside you when I can,
And sit beside you when I weep.

You stay beside me all day long,
And share my suffering and pain.
You comfort me when I’m afraid,
And help me when the way is steep.

So, we face it all together:
Joy and sorrow, grief and fear.
Then, when every day is done,
You watch beside me while I sleep.

The Lord watches over the simple (Psalm 116:6; NASB20).


References

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NLT). 

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

14.10.22: Pain

Context: I had to get up early to see one of my consultants yesterday, so there was no time to pray properly, or to write. Accordingly, when preparing today’s blog, I chose a piece written a couple of weeks ago:

Recently, I stayed in bed with a migraine. It was a rare, blessed day with no medical appointments. 

As I was praying, the first three lines of a new poem came to me. I wrote them down immediately, and the rest quickly followed.

In less than an hour the piece was finished, leaving me full of longing and sadness, yet astonished by what I had experienced, and clinging to my sense of hope.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4; NLT). 

Lord,

Take me where there’s no more pain,
Or weariness, or care.

Hide me where I’ll spend each day
With you, at last, in prayer.

Put me where I’ll walk and talk
With you, Lord, one in love.

Keep me where I’ll dance and sing
For joy: in heaven above.

Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever (1 Thessalonians 5:10; NLT).


Reading: Psalm 35, The Inclusive Bible 

Let the desert and the wilderness exult! Let the Arabah rejoice and bloom like the crocus! Let it blossom profusely, let it rejoice and sing for joy! The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of YHWH, the splendor of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees. Say to all those of faint heart: “Take courage! Do not be afraid! Look, YHWH is coming, vindication is coming, the recompense of God – God is coming to save you!” 

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be unsealed. Then those who cannot walk will leap like deer and the tongues of those who cannot speak will sing for joy. 

Waters will break forth in the wilderness, and there will be streams in the desert. The scorched earth will become a lake; the parched land, springs of water. 

The lairs where jackals used to dwell will become thickets of reed and papyrus. And through it will run a highway, a road called the Sacred Path. 

The unclean may not travel by it, but it will be for God’s people alone; and no traveler – not even fools – will go astray. 

No lions will be there, nor will any fierce beast roam about it, but the redeemed will walk there – for those whom YHWH has ransomed will return.

They will enter Zion shouting for joy, with everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them, and sorrow and lament will flee away.

5.10.22: My sun

Context: My apologies for accidentally posting an “extra” blog yesterday whilst working on it. This is a mistake it’s impossible to undo after it’s happened. It took me a while to recover my equilibrium and confidence afterwards, so I could continue writing and editing.

As I lay in bed, praying without words, I saw again that Yahweh is in everything. However, this time I saw a little further, grasping with joy and relief that God is even present in my darkness:

The LORD God is our sun and our shield (Psalm 84:11; NLT).

My sun, my cloud, my darkness;
My way, my staff, my rod;
My joy, my tears, my sickness;
My guide, my truth: my God.

My prayers, my sighs, my anguish;
My way, my staff, my rod;
My mind, my heart, my spirit;
My life, my love: my God.

My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT). 

There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).


References

Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV).

Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:21; NLT).

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).

I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places so that you may know that I am the Lord (Isaiah 45:3; CSB).

Christ is all, and is in all (Colossians 3:11; NIV). 

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).