2.12.22: Paradox

Context: Slowly, slowly we are recovering from Covid. Yesterday I was able to walk into town with my rollator, which took me about five minutes. It was amazing to chat briefly with people, and even share a hug with my friend, Ruth.

Here is today’s prayer:

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).

I long for you
And thirst, pursue
Your righteousness
In all I do,
Even though I live in you,
My God.

I love you deeply,
Desperately,
And search for you
Unceasingly,
Even though you live in me,
My God.

We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16; NIV).


Rosary-making news:

There is a postal strike in the UK, so still no rosary centrepieces have arrived. I was desperate to have the pleasure of making a rosary today, so I made a standard one, but without a centrepiece, just to prove to myself that I could still remember how to do it! This is what I made:

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). 

16.11.22: I believe in Jesus

Context: Both my husband and I have covid, so I’m not able to write at present. However, here is a prayer which arrived a short time ago. I chose it because it seemed to follow on from yesterday’s (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cKC):

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 believe in Jesus,
For he is all I need:
He heals my mind,
Forgives my sins,
And hears me when I plead.

I believe in Jesus,
For he is all I seek:
He heals my heart,
Redeems my life,
And helps me when I’m weak.

I believe in Jesus,
For he alone can save:
He heals my soul,
And cares for me –
His humble, willing slave.

Whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else (Mark 10:44; NLT).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:4o; CSB). 

1.11.22: Heal all living souls

Context: Today’s and tomorrow’s prayers form a linked pair:

Now he will heal us (Hosea 6:1; NLT). 

Lord,

Heal all living souls,
I pray,

And guide us
To your narrow way.

Teach and strengthen us
Each day,

Until all seek your face,
And say: I love you.

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

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


The rosary-making project

Most of the materials I need to make rosaries arrived yesterday, to my delight. The main piece of kit I don’t have yet is the special rosary tool, which is coming all the way from America.

In the evening I enjoyed making a practice chaplet representing one decade, as seen above. I really need to sit by an expert to learn this craft, especially as my brain can’t distinguish between left and right for making the knots.

However, I managed to add some beads to a little cross on a cord, which I bought from a lovely lady in the UK. My addition is very simple indeed, but I’m still very pleased with the result!


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).

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.

Thine, the kingdom

Context: I woke at 6am, began to pray, and immediately had to catch hold of today’s prayer. To my delight, it flowed easily, and wasn’t too exhausting to write. After that I slept and woke, slept and woke, until 10am.

My first morning in Ely meant buying some food at the outdoor market. Life here in the Fens is very different from my quiet days on the island. There were hundreds of people crowding around the stalls, talking, laughing, eating and shopping, ready to help strangers and to chat. One lovely man even told me his life-story.

By the time I got back to my flat for lunch and a rest, I was quite shaky, completely overwhelmed by all the sounds, sights, smells and colours of creation so lavishly displayed in this busy, lively town. This fitted with a theme seems to be emerging from my trip: “I will make all my goodness pass before you” (Exodus 33:19; NLT), as illustrated by today’s blog:

Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
(Matthew 6:13; KJV). 

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God,
and God in them (1 John 4:16; TIV). 

Thine, the kingdom,
Thine, the power,
Thine, the glory,
Thine, the love,

Thine, the mercy,
Thine, the giving,
Thine, the saving:
God above.

Mine, the weakness,
Mine, the failure;
Mine, the darkness,
Mine, the sin,

Mine, the longing,
Mine, the searching,
Mine, the finding:
God within.

You will seek me and find me,
when you search for me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13; NKJV). 

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). 

Reflection (#2 of 2)

Context: Following “Recognition” (https://wp.me/p45bCr-bv0), which I posted yesterday, this is the second of two linked prayers that arrived in the night, following a challenging treatment session with my pain consultant.


Keep on seeking, and you will find (Matthew 7:7; NLT).

Jesus,

May I seek and find you:
In my mind, and heart and soul.
Please transform me, day by day, Lord:
In my mind, and heart and soul,

Till I grow much more like you, Lord:
In my mind, and heart and soul;
Then I will reflect the glory
Of your mind, and heart and soul.

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


References 

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

Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37; NLT).

Whenever anyone turns to our God, the veil is removed. Now our God is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of our God is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces reflect our God’s glory, grow brighter and brighter as we are being transformed into the image we reflect. This is the work of our God, who is Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:16-18; TIV). 

Recognition (#1 of 2)

Context: Last Friday I had a bunch of steroid injections into the joints between my sternum and ribs, and into an intercostal muscle. It was a painful, but ecstatic experience. Afterwards, I couldn’t sleep, which is always a very welcome time for writing. So I spent several hours focused entirely on today’s and tomorrow’s prayers, which arrived as an inseparable pair:

In my heart, I am thirsty for you, the living God.
When will I see your face? (Psalm 42:2; CEV).

Jesus,
May I seek your presence
Here, in everyone, today,
And, Lord, may I recognise your presence
Here, in all, today.

Jesus,
May I love and serve you
Here, in everyone, today,
Then I’ll see your image, Lord
Reflected in each face today.

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


References

Keep on seeking, and you will find (Matthew 7:7; NLT).

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

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him (Luke 24:31, NIV).

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