30.1.23: Whatever God sends

A few days ago I received my first ever personal glimpse into the concept of “vocation” (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-djN). You may, with complete justification, think me very ignorant about this. Anyway, yesterday, I was given a little more understanding.

I saw that there are many kinds of vocation, and that each is a gift from God to a particular individual. We can ignore, resent, resist, reject, or fight against our vocation. Alternatively, we can freely choose to accept and embrace it with joy, whatever it may be.

This made me wonder whether writing, running my website and being chronically ill have come together to form my vocation – a question which has never crossed my mind before. Then today’s blog began to flow, though it was extremely difficult to put into words. My apologies for the masculine pronouns; I just couldn’t make it work without them.

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).

Receive whatever God sends
With grace,
Whether it’s good or ill,
For the Lord brings blessings
From everything,
When we accept his will.

Embrace whatever God gives
With thanks,
Whether it’s bad or good,
For the Lord brings blessings
From everything,
Through his Son’s precious blood.

Give back whatever God takes
With love,
No matter how great the pain,
For the Lord brings blessings
From everything,
And he will restore us again.

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again (Psalm 71:20; NLT).


References 

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

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

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).

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).

God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (Romans 3:23-5; NLT).

Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us (1 Chronicles 29:14; NLT).

Accept whatever he gives, and give whatever he takes with a big smile (Saint Mother Theresa).

The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed! (Job 1:21; NET).

Walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called: with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity (Ephesians 4:1-2; CPDV).


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday I was able to continue making my first rosary in the new way – by beginning in the middle of the circle. Hopefully I will finish it tomorrow:

13.1.23: Prayer #1

I find that interceding for others can easily become a burden. More and more people are added to my list, and hardly anyone is ever crossed off. Praying for them all can become a lengthy, repetitive, exhausting task, rather than a caring, heartfelt appeal for God to help them. Sometimes I’m just not well enough to manage it at all, even though I don’t want to neglect anyone who is suffering.

As I was reflecting on this a couple of days ago, today’s prayer came to me:

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).

It doesn’t need to be a burden:
Pray, right now, for everyone,

Asking God to heal and bless them:
Simply pray through Christ, the Son.

Let the Holy Spirit pray
On your behalf, to God above.

Lift this troubled world to heaven:
He will help us all, with love.

The Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26; AMP).

After writing, then saying, this prayer, I suddenly saw that I could use my rosary to help me pray for others. So I tried it out, like this:

Holding the first bead of the first decade, I waited silently to see who came into my mind, then I prayed for them. Moving on to the next bead, I waited again to see who came to mind, and so on. When no more names appeared, I knew my intercessions were finished for the moment.

With this approach, I didn’t have to think about who to pray for, which was a relief. It also felt less mechanical than using a list – more natural, spontaneous, and supported by the Holy Spirit.

I quickly saw that I could use my rosary like this to pray discreetly for others in different settings, such as during medical treatments, or journeys, whilst walking, or waiting somewhere, and so on. Normally, I do this without a rosary, but find that it’s very easy to be distracted, to forget who I’m praying for, or even to forget that I’m praying. The more creative I can be with my intercessions, the fresher and more alive they will become. I already know that there will be more on this topic over the next few days. God is good!


References 

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion (Ephesians 6:18; NLT).

You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father (John 14L13; NLT).

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

I am the one who wounds and heals (Deuteronomy 32:39; NLT).

30.12.22: Catch me out

Context: Waking with a migraine yesterday morning, I sleepily started saying the Lord’s Prayer. But when I got to “Forgive us our trespasses”, today’s prayer arrived with a bang. I knew I had to write it down immediately, though I always worry because this means breaking off my prayer. Of course, I tell myself that listening and writing are just another way of praying, but I’ve never fully resolved this inner conflict.

Anyway, the background to this prayer is that I lived with constant anxiety as a child (and even as an adult). I knew that everything I did was being watched, and would be roundly and angrily condemned if it was not to my mother’s liking. It’s still very hard for me to grasp that God is nothing like my mother.

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6; NLT). 

You don’t wait to catch me out
In sin –
You’re rooting for me daily, Lord,
Within.

You don’t wait with rage
Till I confess –
You wait till I repent, Lord,
Then you bless.

You don’t wait
To punish my mistakes –
You wait to heal me,
When my poor heart breaks,

Because you love me, Lord,
And sent your Son –
To help me grow like you,
For we are one.

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


References 

God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 3:17; 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). 

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him (Colossians 3:10; 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).


The Rosary Hospital 

Below is a photo of a five-decade rosary I made on Wednesday. Very daringly, it left home yesterday without glue. I’m deeply hoping it will stay together properly. If not, at least I’ll be able to remake it for the recipient.

27.12.22: Pierced

Context: Today’s prayer came to me on the morning of Christmas Eve. It was very difficult to put into words. These verses are based on Jesus’ presentation in the Temple, when Simeon prophesied about his life, and about what was to come for Mary, his mother:

The deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul (Luke 2:35; NLT). 

Lord,
Pierce my mind
To cleanse each thought,
And pierce my heart,
For I am naught.

Then pierce my soul
Till we are one,
And pierce my flesh,
Like yours, God’s Son.

Lord,
Pierce my hands
To help me pray,
And pierce my feet
To share your way.

Then pierce my side
Till my love flows
Like yours, to all
Both friends and foes.

Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44; NLT).


 References

I am nothing (Job 40:4; NLT).

They will look on me, the one they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10; NIV). 

He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed (Isaiah 53:5; NLT).

They have pierced my hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; NLT).

One of the soldiers …pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out (John 19:34; NLT). 

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

Love the stranger (Leviticus 19:34; NKJV). 

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


The Rosary Hospital 

Just before Christmas, I made myself a fiat rosary, only to discover I’d missed out one crucial bead. So on Christmas Day I took it apart and re-made it, but ran out of cord just before the final knot! Fiat rosaries are quite complicated, so yesterday I gave myself a break by making a standard five-decade rosary. This went smoothly, which helped to restore my confidence:

26.12.22: Faith

Context: Today’s prayer came to me whilst I was praying on the morning of Christmas Eve. I was so grateful to receive it:

I love you, LORD (Psalm 18:1; NLT). 

I love you, Lord, and I have faith
That you love me still more.
Please help me where my faith falls short,
For it is weak and poor.

I love you, Lord, and I have faith
That you have sent your Son
To help us when our faith falls short,
So we can all be one.

Please rid me, Lord, of every sin,
And help me to follow Christ.
My mind, heart, soul and strength are yours
In humble sacrifice.

You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:30; NLT).

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17; NIV).

15.12.22: That’s easy

Context: I wrote this poem quite a while ago, after experiencing a series of shattering realisations during prayer. Yesterday I rediscovered it amongst my drafts, and decided to post it today:

I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT).

The Father himself loves you dearly (John 16:27; NLT). 

I love you, Lord – that’s easy!
But: You love me, too – that’s hard!

Why do you love me, Yahweh?
Why do you guide and guard? 

You know my every weakness,
And my sins are all too real,

So why do you help and comfort me?
Why do you cleanse and heal? 

Ah! It’s because you’re perfect, Lord,
Pouring out love and peace,

And sending your Son to make us all one:
Your mercy will never cease.  

His mercy endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34; NKJV).

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).

15.11.22: Even me?

Context: This prayer was written a few days ago, but being unable to write at present (because I’m ill with Covid), has given me an unexpected opportunity to use it here today.

NB: My husband started to feel ill yesterday, and has now also tested positive for covid, so we are in isolation.

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

Lord,

Do you love even me?
And do you hear my every plea?
And do you really set me free?
You do.

You’re the way, the door, the key.
You teach, forgive and guide. You see
My sins, yet still you guarantee
It’s true.

Yahweh, Son and Spirit: Three
In One, God for eternity –
May all believe, and bow the knee
To you.

“As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God” (Romans 14:11; NIV).


References:

Christ has truly set us free (Galatians 5:1; NLT).

He hears us (1 John 5:14; 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 Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7; NKJV).

You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life (Deuteronomy 30:20; NLT).

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11; NLT).


Reading: Isaiah 45:22-24; NIV

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;

For I am God, and there is no other.

By myself I have sworn,

My mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked:

Before me every knee will bow;

By me every tongue will swear.

They will say of me, “In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.”

2.11.22: All Souls’ Day

Context: This little prayer came to me on 28.10.22, well before I consciously registered that All Souls’ Day was fast approaching. I had to smile at God’s advance planning! It forms a pair with yesterday’s blog (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cIe).

The Messiah also died once for the sake of our sins, the Righteous One in the place of sinners, to bring you to God, and he died in body and lived in his Spirit. And he preached to those souls who were held in Sheol, those who from the first were not convinced (1 Peter 3; 18-19; PHBT).

Lord,

Heal the souls
Of all the dead –

Don’t punish them:
Forgive, I beg.

Lord, surely
They have cried

Enough? Your arms
Are open wide,

For you, alone,
Are love and grace:

Please welcome all
With your embrace.

I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” 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 (Luke 15:18-20; NLT). 

References

The Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10; NLT).

God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth (1 Timothy 2:4; CEV).

Then I called on the name of Yahweh: “Yahweh, I beg you, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:4; WEB).

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

By God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9; NLT).


First reading: Psalm 16:7-11; NLT

I will bless the LORD who guides me;
Even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
Or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
Granting me the joy of your presence
And the pleasures of living with you forever.

Second reading: Psalm 103:1-4; NLT

Let all that I am praise the LORD;
With my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
May I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death,

And crowns me with love and tender mercies.


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.