11.11.22: Thank you, Jesus (with thanks to E.S.)

Context: Early yesterday morning, during silent contemplation, some words started to thrust themselves upon me. I tried ignoring them, hoping they would drift away. However, they became more and more insistent, until eventually I had to write them down.

Their source was a story told during a zoom session I had attended a few days earlier. The meeting was part of a two-year process of spiritual formation and discernment which I recently joined. The speaker described her dear friend’s practice of responding immediately to events she saw as negative by saying, “Thank you, Jesus.”

This approach to life’s many trials and sorrows certainly beats other reactions, such as impatience, anger, swearing, stress, blaming others and self-pity. Accordingly, I have now started using this practice myself.

Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

So, as soon as anything happens which I feel to be “negative”, I respond to it immediately by saying, “Thank you, Jesus”. With practice, this approach rapidly starts to become habitual. It’s remarkable how quickly it defuses my negative reactions, turning my mind straight back to God, and getting events into perspective.

An example

A good example of this happened yesterday when I wanted to print a single copy of a prayer from my iPad. The printer is in another room, so I couldn’t see what was happening. After a short time I became aware of a characteristic sound: paper crashing to the floor every few seconds. I hurried to the printer, which was churning out page after page.

My old reaction of instantaneous irritation rose up for a split-second, but then I remembered my new practice, said, “Thank you, Jesus”, spontaneously beginning to laugh as I picked up the paper. All the sting of the event had been removed by those three little words. Then I cut the pages in half and stapled them together to make a little notebook, bringing good from bad.

Opportunities for practicing

Here are a few general examples of opportunities to introduce this practice, but I’m sure you can quickly think of  many more:

Trivial irritations and frustrations
Minor misunderstandings and disappointments
Spilling, dropping, or breaking something
Making a mistake, getting something wrong
Accidents and falls
Events not working out as I had hoped
Someone hurts me
Failing at something
Delays, postponements and cancellations
Sickness, pain and disability
Undergoing medical treatment
Receiving bad news
Losing the capacity to do something I used to manage, or enjoy
Losing someone I love, or someone I rely on
Feeling depressed, anxious, afraid, or panic-stricken

Three precious words

To these, and more, as they occur, I will now respond as quickly as possible with those three, precious, deceptively simple words: “Thank you, Jesus”. What a difference they make! Why not try it for yourself?

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 7:25; CSB).


References 

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

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD (Psalm 116:17; NIV). 

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

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

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).

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

Patient endurance is what you need now (Hebrews 10:36; NLT).

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).

The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).


Rosary news:

I’ve run out of cord, but more is on order, so will hopefully arrive soon. Meanwhile, today I put all my kit into an organiser box, rather than having it loosely mixed up together in a tray:

7.11.22: God in all

Context: Last Saturday was a rare, blessed, unpressured day with no hospital appointments, and no building work taking place at home. I had breakfast in bed, followed by the luxury of a whole morning to write this prayer, which arrived soon after I woke up:

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5; NLT).

God: in stillness, silence, darkness;
Here, in yearning –
Our unknown.

God: in worship, wonder, rapture;
Here, in bliss –
Our stepping stone.

God: in nature, labour, service;
Here, in love –
Our source, our home.

God: in weakness, envy, anger;
Here, in sin –
Our cornerstone.

God: in conflict, terror, trauma;
Here, in carnage –
Our shalom.

God: in sickness, sorrow, anguish;
Here, in pain –
Our flesh, our bone.

God: in striving, yielding, dying;
Here, in all
Our Lord, alone.

The LORD is our God, the LORD alone (Deuteronomy 6:4; NLT).


References

Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD (Zephaniah 1:7; NLT).

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

By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made (Genesis 3:19; NLT).

The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; NLT).

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

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).

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

Now yield and submit yourself to Him [agree with God and be conformed to His will] and be at peace (Job 22:21; AMP).

Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit (Matthew 27:50; NKJV).

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

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).


Rosary-making news:

I’m longing for the arrival of some 1mm cord from the UK. This should hopefully thread through the wooden beads I’ve already bought. At present, I only have 1.5mm cord, which is too thick to go through them. Until the thinner cord arrives, I’m limited to making necklaces and bracelets, practicing barrel knots and threading a few beads by chewing the thread. Still, today I made my first ever equal-length sliding knots.

26.10.22: Inner peace

Context: I prepared this blog yesterday at London City Airport, whilst waiting for my flight home, and with a migraine. These hospital trips are well beyond my physical and mental coping ability now, so I’m deeply hoping I won’t have to go again. On the plus side, I’ve met with nothing but friendliness and kindness, and seen how amazingly different people’s lives are in London, compared to my quiet island life.

Anyway, I dipped into my storehouse for this short poem, which arrived a few days ago:

I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27; NLT). 

Peace in sickness,
And in pain.

Peace in sorrow,
And in loss.

Peace in anguish,
And in fear.

Peace in dying:
You are here.

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

He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39; KJV). 

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).

21.10.22: Gifts

Context: Yesterday morning I prayed with words, then without, until I suddenly saw this little poem:

God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness (Job 19:8; NLT). 

You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT). 

I give you my darkness,
My weakness and sin –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Failure, within.

I give you my loneliness,
Sickness and fears –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Mourning and tears.

I give you my sorrow,
My anguish and shame –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Longing and pain.  

I give you my suffering,
Body and blood,
My mind, heart and soul, Lord:
I give you my love. 

I will give you my love (Song of Songs, 7:12; NLT). 

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). 

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).

3.10.22: I weep

Context: I’m so drained that I’m finding prayer very difficult. Depression is creeping closer, threatening to overwhelm me. Two days ago I sat on the floor with my back resting against the wall, attempting to pray. After a time of silence, this little poem arrived:

I weep with sorrow (Psalm 119:28; NLT). 

1. I weep with pain and sorrow, Lord,
With loneliness, and grief.

2. Weariness destroys my freedom,
Sickness is a thief.

3. Anguish closes over me,
It suffocates, like sin,

4. Yet still your love beats in my blood,
For you, Lord, live within.

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


References 

1.He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:37-9; NLT). 

2.Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go (John 21:18; NIV). 

3.Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me (Psalm 42:7; NIV).

4.You are the temple of the living God (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

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

I’m walking (#2 of 2)

Context: Today’s prayer is linked to yesterday’s (https://wp.me/p45bCr-c0w), which divided itself in two, with the second part then taking on a life of its own. The process reminded me strongly of learning how an amoeba divides, in school biology! Here is the result: 

This is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
(2 John 1:6; NIV). 

1. I’m walking in your love, Lord God,
I’m walking in your love.
One with you before my birth,
One in exile, here on earth,
One with you in heaven, at last:
I’m walking in your love. 

2. I’m living in your love, Lord God,
I’m living in your love.
One with you in joys and tears,
One in troubles, tests and fears,
One with you in all you send:
I’m living in your love.

3. I’m resting in your love, Lord God,
I’m resting in your love.
One with you in loss and gain,
One in sickness, grief and pain,
One with you for evermore:
I’m resting in your love.

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


References 

1. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him (Deuteronomy 11:22; NLT). 

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NKJV).

2. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

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).

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again (Psalm 71:20; NRSV).

3. This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15; NLT).

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30; KJV).

I believe (#1 of 2)

Context: The stresses and strains of yesterday inevitably triggered a migraine, so today I’m being as still and quiet as possible. Whilst praying without words just after 6am, today’s blog arrived very easily and gently, for which I was very grateful. Then, to my astonishment, it divided in two, one part for today, and one for tomorrow. 

Believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God – there never has been, and there never will be.
(Isaiah 43:10; NLT).

1. I believe in you, Lord God,
Yes, I believe in you.
One with you before my birth,
One in exile, here on earth,
One with you in heaven, at last:
Lord, I believe in you.

2. I put my trust in you, Lord God,
I put my trust in you.
One with you in joys and tears,
One in troubles, tests and fears,
One with you in all you send:
I put my trust in you.

3. I live with you in love, Lord God,
I live with you in love.
One with you in loss and gain,
One in sickness, grief and pain,
One with you for evermore:
I live with you, in love. 

We live in fellowship with the true God.
(1 John 5:20; NLT).


References 

1. 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). 

2. In you, LORD my God, I put my trust (Psalm 25:1; NIV). 

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me (John 14:1; NLT).

I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? (Psalm 56:4; NLT). 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me (Psalm 138:7; NKJV).

3. I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people (2 Corinthians 6:16; NIV). 

Catalyst (with thanks to K.B.)


Context: Today I’m full of anticipation, because tomorrow is a significant day for me. Some of you will know that my health is very poor, so I’ve been having a lot of clinical investigations done locally over the last couple of months. Tomorrow, at 9am, I will be having my second video appointment with a London specialist.

Hopefully, we will discuss the test results, then he will offer a firm diagnosis. If so, he might tell me what to expect, or perhaps even offer some medical help. However, it’s also possible that he will ask me to travel to London for further testing before he can reach a definite diagnosis. Either way, we should be able to agree on a plan for what needs to happen next.

At the moment I’m mainly just feeling very aware that I may be about to receive some life-changing information. Tomorrow morning, though, I think I’ll be rather anxious as I wait for the video appointment to start, even though I’m ready to accept whatever comes out of it.

So, after that rather long preamble, here is the prayer I was given earlier today:

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). 

Yahweh,
Catalyst of healing,
You bring good from all that’s bad.

Jesus,
Architect of healing,
You bring joy from all that’s sad.

Spirit,
Fountainhead of healing,
You bring courage from my fears.

Most High,
Crucible of healing,
You bring gladness from my tears.

The Most High will wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death, mourning, crying and pain will be no more, for the old order has fallen (Revelation 21:4; NLT).


References

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). 

Though YHWH may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide from you anymore; your eyes will see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right and when you turn to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way – walk in it” (Isaiah 30:20-21; TIB).