1.12.22: Commitment

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind (Luke 10:27; NLT).

Commit your way to the Lord (Psalm 37:5; NLT). 

I want to give my mind to you
By thinking as I ought,
So I commit my exile here
To checking every thought.

I want to give my heart to you
By loving all each day,
So I commit my exile here
To following your way.

I want to give my soul to you
By walking at your side,
So I commit my exile here
To you, my faithful Guide.

I want to give my strength to you,
Although it’s very slight,
So I commit my exile here
To trusting in your might.

Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4; KJV). 

27.11.22: Better than life

Context: Today’s prayer arrived early yesterday morning when I woke at around 4am with a migraine. After taking my medications, I sat propped up in bed, alternately dozing and writing. These verses slowly emerged over the course of the day, finishing late in the evening:

What is sweeter than honey? (Judges 14:18; NLT). 

What’s sweeter than honey,
And choicer than wine?
Higher than knowledge,
And vaster than time?

What’s brighter than sunlight,
And greater than wealth?
Warmer than friendship,
And finer than health?

What’s stronger than sharing,
And deeper than love?
Kinder than giving,
And richer than blood?

What’s wiser than serving,
And dearer than breath?
Simpler than worship,
And closer than death?

What’s better than living,
And makes us all one?
It’s Christ, our salvation,
God’s dearly-loved Son.

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12; NLT).

This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy (2 Peter 1 17; NLT).


References

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. 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 3:7; NLT).

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).

Your unfailing love is better than life itself (Psalm 63:3; NLT).

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; NLT).

26.11.22: You wake me

Context: I’m slowly improving after becoming ill with Covid just over two weeks ago. Yesterday I walked about 100 yards, which was exhausting, and resulted in a migraine.

Today I’d like to share a poem I wrote a short while ago. That day, I woke at about 5.30am. Still drowsy, I hoped to go back to sleep, but started to say The Lord’s Prayer, as usual. However, within moments my words ceased, as my soul was filled with the most delightful light, warmth and love. All too soon, I had to surface, so I could write about what I had experienced. It wasn’t easy to put into words, but here is the result:

God awakens me morning after morning – wakens my ear, to listen like a student (Isaiah 50:4; TIB). 

God of all people,
All creatures, all things,
You wake me so gently,
For sleep, Lord, still clings,

And over all people,
All creatures, all things,
You call to me softly:
The King of all kings.

You live through all people,
All creatures, all things,
And though I’m still drowsy
You give my soul wings,

Then, in all people,
All creatures, all things,
You stir up my spirit,
Until my heart sings. 

Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! (Zephaniah 3:14; 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).

18.10.22: Transformation

Context: I’ve been struggling badly since a new drug was added to my cocktail a week or so ago. Amongst other side-effects, it made me unable to concentrate, or to pray, and therefore, unable to write. Worst of all, it made me feel that life was no longer worth living.

However, yesterday, with medical help, I reduced the quantity of this drug by 50%, and today, to my great joy, I found I could both pray, receive inspiration and write again.

Tomorrow I hope to post what I was given this morning, but for now, here is an astonishingly appropriate piece I chose and prepared last night, with no idea that my state of mind might be about to change.

This prayer arrived very early one morning some weeks ago, when I woke at dawn and couldn’t go back to sleep. The photo is the view from my bedroom window that day:

My God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28; NIV). 

You turn my darkness into light,
My sickness, into health;
My weakness into strength, Lord,
And my poverty, to wealth.

You turn my mourning into joy,
My sighing, into prayer;
My loneliness, to oneness, Lord,
My selfishness, to care.

You turn my water into wine,
My sinfulness, to good;
My anger, into peace, Lord,
And my bitterness to love.

You turn my losses into gains,
My dross, to precious ore;
My death, Lord, to eternal life
With you, for evermore.

In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; NIV).


References

I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life (John 5:24; NLT). 

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! (Psalm 30:11-12; NLT). 

13.10.22: In God’s hands

Context: I try to pray, both with and without words, but I’m finding it very hard to concentrate. At present, I receive no tangible response – no light, no warmth, no waves of love, and no sense of God’s presence.

This has been happening for about a week, and makes for a very different spiritual life than I have been used to for many years. It’s a whole new territory for me, based much more strongly on faith and trust than on experience.

However, most mornings I still receive some words. For example, here is a sentence I was given yesterday: I’m in your hands, Lord, whether or not I can pray.  This helped me to grasp and express much more clearly what I’m experiencing:

Our lives are in his hands (Psalm 66:9; NLT). 

I’m in your hands, Lord –
Whether or not I can pray,
Or see your light,
Or feel your warmth.

I’m in your hands –
Whether or not I sense your love,
Or experience your presence,
Or hear your voice.

I’m in your hands –
Whether or not you give me
Anything to write,
And no matter much I thirst for you.

Father, into your hands
I commit my spirit each day –
*Let it be unto me
According to thy will.

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46; NIV).

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


References

I have put my words in your mouth and hidden you safely in my hand (Isaiah 51:16; NLT). 

As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand (Jeremiah 18:6; NLT). 

In God’s hand is the soul of every living thing; in God’s hand is the breath of all humankind (Job 12:10; TIB).

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1; NIV).

*Here is a link to the blog where I first spontaneously used this phrase, just a few days ago:  https://wp.me/p45bCr-cxR

7.10.22: Here I am

Context: Yesterday I woke up very late. Whilst I lay still, praying without words and longing to see into my soul again, this prayer arrived:

Here I am. Did you call me? (1 Samuel 3:5; NLT). 

Here I am, Lord. Did you call me?
Speak: I long to hear your voice.

You are all in all to me, Lord,
Speak, for I have made my choice –

You’re my faith, my hope, my Saviour,
You’re my God, my great High Priest;

You’re my bread, my living water,
You’re my wine, my inner peace;

You’re my fire, my strength, my spirit,
You’re the light within my soul;

You’re my way, my truth, my life,
And you’re the One who makes me whole.

Jesus, though I’m weak and sinful,
You will come to set me free –

Speak; your servant, Lord, is listening,
And you’re everything to me.

Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:9; NIV).

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. 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).


 Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; NIV.

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.

So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

6.10.22: God’s light

Context: I woke after a long, vivid dream about being on a bike-ride, and getting completely lost in the dark. As I surfaced, I began to say the Lord’s Prayer, but didn’t get very far…

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29; NLT).

Suddenly, for the first time ever, I was looking directly into my soul. It was softly illuminated by God’s light, just as an oil lamp creates a pool of light in darkness. Previously, I’ve only seen my soul’s dark surface from the outside.

My soul seemed completely empty, but I couldn’t be sure of this because of the darkness beyond the pool of light. If it had any boundaries, they too were lost in the deep, surrounding shadows. This sight lasted no more than a few seconds, then it was over.

Afterwards, I wondered if this experience had really happened, or if I had imagined it. However, when I was saying grace before breakfast, I saw that not only is God light, but that all light is the light of God.

The city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light (Revelation 21:23; NLT). 


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).

This, then, is the message we heard from Jesus and declare to you: God is light, and in God there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5; TIB).

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).

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12; NLT). 

4.10.22: Prayer

Context: As I woke slowly from a long, complex dream, I began to pray. After asking God’s Holy Spirit to help me, I didn’t try to use any words:

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-7; NRSV).

Waves of love began to wash over me, then waves of light. I revelled in this for a while, until words began to arrive. Eventually I had to begin writing, so as not to forget them. The last couplet of this poem was the first to arrive:

Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; TIV). 

Meet each wave of peace
With prayer.

Meet each wave of light
With joy.

Meet each wave of pain
With thanks.

Meet each wave of love
With love. 

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

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:30; NLT).

I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NIV). 

Acceptance

Context: Yesterday was interesting, but truly exhausting. The long, slow journey across London from my hotel to the hospital in very heavy traffic was followed by about five hours of continual medical tests. Then it was time for the journey back to the hotel, and some much-needed food and drink, as I had been fasting for many hours.

Some of you will know that I’ve been having therapy for severe lifelong claustrophobia, so I’m delighted to report that I coped with the automatic door-locking systems in two taxis, used the hospital lift twice, locked myself in the disabled loo several times, and dealt well with being strapped down for some of my investigations.

Today I have to get up very early for my flight home, so there’s no time for writing. Instead, in the middle of the night, I’m posting a little prayer which came to me a few days ago.

Introduction
As I get older, I see more and more clearly that God really does bring good out of everything, no matter how disastrous it may seem.

However, we too, have an important part to play in this process, through our acceptance, faith, hope, love, trust and prayers. God can only help us if we co-operate!

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

Accepting the rough with the smooth, Lord,
Accepting the grief with the bliss,

Accepting the hate with the love, Lord,
Accepting the strike with the kiss;

Accepting the cold with the heat, Lord,
Accepting the dark with the light,

Accepting the bad with the good, Lord:
I give thanks for all of my life.

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).


References

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

No test has overtaken you but what is common to all people. You can be confident that God is faithful and will not let you be tested beyond your means. And with any trial God will provide you with a way out of it, as well as the strength to bear the trial (1 Corinthians 10:13; TIB).

He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; NLT).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT).

We know that God makes everything work together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28; TIB).

16.9.22: Light and darkness (with thanks to KB)

Context: This blog arrived yesterday morning, whilst I was exchanging messages with a friend. It simply formed in my mind as I began to respond. By the time I had put it into words, I realised I needed to hold on to what I had written, so I copied and pasted it into my spiritual diary. Here is the result:

You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29; NLT).

Lord, you are light, and you live in the darkness of my unconscious mind (see reference #1).

Constantly present there, you move mysteriously in the depths, patiently revealing, insight by insight, all that is hidden within me, especially all that needs healing (2).

As long as I keep on searching, waiting, looking, listening, learning, changing and growing, you keep on revealing more and more, slowly bringing everything about me into the light (3). 

Through this life-long process, you are healing all the physical, mental and emotional damage caused by my abusive childhood (4).

Thank you so much for everything you show me, Lord, for all your love, help, and healing.

I offer this prayer through your dear Son’s name.

Amen.


References

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

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

He shrouded himself in darkness (2 Samuel 22:12; NLT). 

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

You cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5; NLT). 

He knows the secrets of every heart (Psalm 44:21; NLT). 

He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness (Daniel 2:22; NLT).

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

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened (Luke 11:9-10; NLT). 

4. I am the Lord who heals you (Exodus 15:26; NLT).

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).