24.11.22: In my dreams

Context: In dreams, I very rarely say or do anything overtly Christian, which seems both surprising and sad.

Yesterday morning I woke from a complicated, stressful dream, longing to pray. However, even before I could begin, this blog started to arrive. I tried hard to ignore it, which was impossible. It quickly became so loud and insistent that I had to give in, and write it down, like this:

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
To turn to you, and pray, Lord,
In my dreams;
To ask for your forgiveness
In my dreams,
Love others, Lord, and serve you –
In my dreams. 

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
So I can praise and thank you
In my dreams;
To revel in your presence
In my dreams,
And welcome all that happens –
In my dreams.

I want to be a Christian
In my dreams,
Then I will see your face, Lord,
In my dreams.
I’ll worship without ceasing
In my dreams,
And live in heaven on earth, Lord –
In my dreams.


Rosary news:

Well, since my most recent failure I’ve thought hard about rosary-making, watched some more YouTube videos, talked with my friend in the UK, and had a Zoom consultation with a lovely consecrated Sister who knows her rosaries. Then I threw the (metaphorical) rule-book into the (metaphorical) bin, and put together my own way of doing it, with the following result:

It seems very strong, and I’m tempted to ask my husband to test its joints, but don’t yet feel quite tough enough to deal with the disappointment if it immediately comes apart like the last one. Maybe I’ll ask him tomorrow….

NB: In the end, I plucked up my courage, he tested it, and it’s still in one piece so far!

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

10.10.22: Safe

Context: The day before yesterday, whilst praying, I was given a group of phrases to reflect on. There were too many to list them all here, so I’ve chosen just those which turned out to be most relevant to today:

The garden of God
The river of God
The glory of God
The presence of God
The mercy of God
The power of God
The darkness of God
The Spirit of God

I had no idea how to use this list in a blog, so thought no more about it after writing it down.

Next morning I looked at the list again, but was still no wiser about its purpose.

However, when I was praying, I saw that there is no need to worry when inspiration doesn’t arrive. Instead, I can trust God to give me the raw materials for each day’s blog when the time is right.

Then, two or three hours later, to my great surprise, I was given the following poem:

YHWH took the earth creature and settled it in the garden of Eden so that it might cultivate and care for the land (Genesis 2:15; TIB). 

I’m walking in Eden,
Beside a great river,
Safe in your glorious presence,
Lord God.

I’m walking in exile,
With sorrow and anguish,
Safe, through your mercy and power,
Lord God.

I’m walking death’s valley,
With faith and acceptance,
Safe by your side, in the darkness,
Lord God.

I’m walking in heaven, 
At one with your Spirit,
Safe now, forever,
My Lord and my God. 

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

22.9.22: Loving everyone

Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (Luke 24:31; NLT). 

A few days ago I stood in front of my favourite icon of Jesus, and started to pray. Within seconds, I saw how much easier is to love everyone when I consciously recognise Christ’s presence within each individual, without exception.

Lord,
Please help me to recognise you in everyone, without exception.

I ask this in your holy name.
Amen.

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


References

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV). 

May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow (1 Thessalonians 3:12; NLT). 

21.9.22: God’s presence

Context: I woke, began to pray, and saw afresh that God is constantly present in us all.

I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth! (Psalm 116:9; NLT).

Practicing awareness

Once we recognise this, we can begin to practice remaining consciously aware of God’s presence, until our awareness becomes continuous. This is easy to say, but extremely difficult to put into practice. In fact, it can seem like an impossible task, for we have many distractions each day. Attempting it quickly reveals how easy it is to forget about God’s presence altogether for hours at a time.

Tangible reminders
However, tangible, meaningful reminders of God’s presence can be a useful aid. Those chosen will be different for everyone, depending on our faith and circumstances. Personally, I like to wear an olive-wood cross day and night, always available for me to kiss and hold. There are also a few pictures, icons and wall-crosses strategically placed around my home. Plus, as soon as I open my iPad, my favourite icon is there on the screen, as well.

Living in God’s presence
Slowly, usually through many years of practice, we can learn not just to remember God’s presence all the time, but to live in it. This means communing with God, whilst expressing God’s love as best we can, in all we think, say and do.

Becoming more Christ-like
Through constant contact with God, we become increasingly aware of our oneness with the Divine. This helps us to become more Christ-like, and even, astonishingly, a little more like God.

Constant oneness
In fact, of course, our oneness with God is unchanging, whether or not we are aware of it. This applies before birth, during our time on earth, and after death. So, if we want to live in the joy of God’s presence, all we have to do is to consciously practice remaining aware of, and communicating with, God, who lives within us.

18.9.22: The healing process


Context: Yesterday I woke very early, and saw that God lives in my unconscious mind, waiting and longing to heal me.

Healing is a lifelong process. It means slowly becoming conscious of all that is hidden in the darkness of my unconscious mind, so I can change and grow.

I can encourage this process by:

  • Seeking God
  • Waiting on God 
  • Praying constantly 
  • Listening to God
  • Learning from God
  • Practicing God’s presence

Slowly, slowly, God reveals to me all the damage that lives on in my inner darkness, bringing it into the light of consciousness, so it can be healed. This includes the psychological consequences of the trauma, bullying, coercive control and abuse I suffered throughout my childhood, and far beyond.

I can share in this process by:

  • Opening myself to all God uncovers and reveals to me
  • Facing what I am shown
  • Accepting it
  • Cooperating with God’s healing
  • Learning from from what God tells me
  • Working to change how I feel, think, speak and behave

As God helps me to change and grow, I become more whole as a person, and therefore just a tiny bit more like Christ.

There is no deeper or more complete healing than God’s inner healing.

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).


References 

Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4:23; NLT). 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NIV).

I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you (Ezekiel 36:26; NLT). 

He renews my strength (Psalm 23:3; NLT). 

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world (1 John 4:17; NLT). 

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ (Ephesians 4:13; NLT).

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). 

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

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).

10.9.22: Heaven on earth #1

  • I woke very early and began to pray, longing to meet Jesus face to face in heaven. Then this little dialogue came into my mind, starting with a very familiar question:

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42;2; NIV).


  • It crossed my mind that there would surely be so many people crowding around Jesus that my chance of even glimpsing him in heaven would be very small. However, I then saw that in heaven we will all be like Jesus:

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


  • This means there will always be more than enough of Jesus to go round, because he will be fully present within everyone in heaven, just as he is on earth:

The kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21; NLT).


  • So I don’t have to wait until after my death to meet Jesus, because I can already see him here, if I look with the eyes of love. This makes my life “heaven on earth”:

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


  • Living in heaven on earth means consciously recognising and loving Christ in everyone, without exception:

Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him (Luke 24:31; NLT).


  • Fortunately, living in heaven on earth doesn’t depend on my being well enough to serve in major ways that require lots of energy and strength:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; NKJV).


  • Thus, whatever I do for others serves Christ within them. This includes, for example, every smile, greeting, chat, hug, encouragement, gift, prayer, or kindness, however small:

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:49; NIV). 

8.9.22: Starting afresh

Today is my 70th birthday, and it marks a fresh start here on my blog, as outlined yesterday (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cbb). From today, until a review in one month’s time, I will be sharing much more directly what God gives me, without trying to shape it into poetry or articles. Instead, my blogs will take the form of an honest daily, spiritual diary.

Hopefully, this change will enable me to continue communicating with you, whilst reducing my workload appropriately as my health deteriorates. Introducing this change is exciting, and makes me feel much more optimistic about the future, no matter what it may hold. So, here is the first entry in my new spiritual diary.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” (Genesis 28:16; NLT).

Lord, please help me to remember that I live in your presence. I want to be conscious of your nearness, day and night.

As I get older, you’re slowly revealing the contents of my unconscious mind. Please help me to learn from all you show me. Thank you for everything you bring out of my inner darkness. By the time I die, I want to have discovered, faced and accepted as many as possible of the treasures hidden there, however challenging this process may be.

Help me to shine as a beacon of your love wherever I am and in all circumstances, confident that everything is just as you wish it to be. May I learn from all I experience.

Lord, my life here is an exile and a pilgrimage. Whatever happens, please help me to keep on heading back home to you, whilst doing what I can to serve those I encounter along the way. Thank you for taking care of everything else.

I ask all this in your dear Son’s name. Amen.

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).

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

A crash course on suffering (for J.C.)

Context: While I was praying for a friend who recently asked me some significant questions about suffering, I was given the inspiration for the following article:

Introduction 

This crash course addresses ten questions about suffering. Immediately below each answer there is a series of Biblical quotes. These are offered as an aid to reflection, perhaps over a period of several days.

1. Where do we come from?

All human beings are part of God, who makes us, breathes life into us, cares for us, and loves us unfailingly. 

YHWH fashioned an earth creature out of the clay of the earth, and blew into its nostrils the breath of life. And the earth creature became a living being (Genesis 2:7; TIB). 

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT). 

I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you (Isaiah 46:4; NLT). 

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

2. What is life?

Life is the period during which we are exiled from heaven, though not from God’s constant, invisible, loving presence. We come from God, spend time on earth, then return to God.

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5; NLT).

You will soon return from exile (Lamentations 4:22; NLT).

3. Why are we here?

Our task is to get to know God. We do this by seeking God, and by praying constantly, thanking God in all circumstances, and rejoicing, no matter what we face.

His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him – though he is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27; 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). 

4. What does life offer us?

Life offers us the chance to learn how to live in God, to grow more like Christ, and, astonishingly, even to become more like God.

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ (Ephesians 4:13; NLT).

Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24; NLT).

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).

5. Why do we suffer?

Trials and sorrows are an inevitable part of our time on earth because our bodies, minds and hearts are fragile and mortal, though our souls are immortal. Life here is essentially a training-ground. It offers us the opportunity to make our own choices, reach out to God and grow in faith. This developmental process helps us to love God, all people and the world, until we eventually discover our oneness with God, and with all. 

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! (Job 14:1; NLT). 

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me (Jeremiah 29:13; NLT). 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; 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 (Matthew 5:44; NLT). 

6. Where does suffering come from?

Everything comes from God, both good and bad, though some people would prefer to see good things as coming from God, and suffering as being inflicted by “the devil”. However, the concept of the devil as an external being arises from a combination of mistranslation and the human desire to disown the temptations and terrible impulses which well up spontaneously from our unconscious minds (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-bPK). When we act these out, evil occurs in truly shocking and horrific ways, but the impulse, the decision and the action always come from within.

Learning to accept suffering as God’s will, and to make the best of it whilst still loving and serving God in others, is one of the major challenges and opportunities of our lives.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NIV).

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).

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

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

7. Why does suffering exist?

Suffering has much to teach us. Without it, we might not grow in trust and faith. Christ’s example is particularly helpful here, for even as he begged God to spare him from extreme suffering, he maintained his resolution to accept God’s will rather than his own. God suffers with us and helps us to learn through all we face. This is how we grow in endurance, patience, inner strength, hope and love.

Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

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

Blessed be the Lord! Day after day he bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19; CSB).

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever (Psalm 73:26; NLT).

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:3-5; NLT). 

8. How can good come out of suffering? 

As we grow in love and trust by facing and sharing our suffering with God, God brings good from it all. This is something we can ask for when we pray for others, as well as for ourselves.

We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT). 

Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan (Ephesians 1:11; NLT). 

9. What is the purpose of life?

The purpose of life is to recognise, love and serve God in ourselves, in others, and in all things. This means becoming aware of our constant oneness with the Divine. To live like this, no matter what happens, is to live joyfully in heaven on earth.

You are the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16; NKJV). 

There is one Lord …who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:5; NLT). 

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV). 

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God (Romans 7:4; NLT). 

10. Where do we go when we die?

As mentioned briefly in #2 above, when we die, we return immediately to God, who welcomes, kisses and embraces us. Completely healed, forgiven and restored, we are absorbed back into God’s infinite peace, bliss and love – and this time, it’s forever.

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

I came from Abba God and have come into the world, and now I leave the world to go to Abba God (John 16:28; TIB). 

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. His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” But his father said to the servants, “Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found” (Luke 15:20-24; TIB).

Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Psalm 23:66; KJV).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NLT).


Conclusion

In this article I’ve addressed ten questions about suffering. I hope very much that you have found something here that interests or helps you. Remember that I pray for you all every day.

We keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do (2 Thessalonians 1:11; NLT).

✝️ With love from Ruth.
14.8.22.