Monday, February 27, 2006

Hope

I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away, my heart heavy, like lead. I remembered the old days, went over all You've done, pondered the ways You've worked. I lift my hands to You in prayer. As dry land needs rain, I thirst for You. Come quickly, Lord, for my depression deepens . . . Wake me each morning with the sound of Your loving voice, for I am trusting You. Point out the road I must travel, for I have come to You in prayer. . . Help me to do Your will, for You are my God. Lead me in good paths by Your blessed Spirit. Lord, let me live so people will praise You. Psalm 143: 4-8, 10-11 (the Message, NLT, TLB, NCV) This past Thanksgiving (2005), we traveled back to North Carolina to celebrate the holiday with Jennifer. On Tuesday, the snow was falling as we approached the base of the ascent up the mountains to Boone. Mississippi seemed far away, but my uncertainty of purpose in this new land was near. I had been missing the familiar and finding it all again challenged my thoughts of change and possibility. In the journal that I was keeping during this trip, I entered the following words: God has reminded me that uncertainty exists because we live in a world that tampers with His Plans. He - however - never changes! In Him, there is certainty of love and grace and purpose. Holy Father, the beauty of Your snow covered mountains delights my soul. With the snow, You have outlined the trees and covered imperfections. Because of sin, we need our imperfections "covered". Father, only You can cover my imperfections and exaggerate my gifts. I am listening for Your affirmations in the details - show me! The unknown confuses my ordered, analytic mind. I confess I like a plan; I love the details given sequentially. Yet, in Truth I find the bigger picture. You are a God of Perfect Love who loves us inspite of our imperfections. You are a God of majesty and miracles who reveals our beauty and requests our hearts. You are a God of compassion who finds our brokenness and restores our hope. Father, love me with Perfect Love. Let me love like You. Reveal Your beauty in me and help me open my heart. Find all the broken pieces; restore my hope. I give You all these pieces - the imperfect, disordered, uncertain pieces. Through faith, I know You can heal the broken places, guide me past uncertainty, show me possibility. Hear this searching heart. Amen. ~dho

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Prayer

True prayer . . . sifts the heart. Teresa of Avila
Prepare my heart . . . Give me Your lanterns and compass, give me a map, so I can find my way to the sacred mountain, to the place of Your presence. Psalm 43:3 (the Message) Holy Father, You are my Light, and You know the direction I must go. Father, give me a map. Be my Guide. From the valley of uncertainty I have been searching for the sacred mountain. Solitude with You replenishes my soul, and in the silence I hear Your whispers. Speak to me in the details. Absolute Goodness, Unconditional Love, Extravagant Grace, Everlasting Light, Eternal Redemption, Living Water ~ You are all these and more. I am listening for Your holy words. I am resting in Your loving arms. I will go to the altar of God, To God, my exceeding joy; . . . I shall praise You. Psalm 43:4 (NAS) Whatever You want me to hear - Whatever You want me to find - Whatever You want me to understand - I shall praise You! In my poverty of spirit, I shall praise Your Goodness. In my valleys of sorrow, I shall praise Your Compassion. In my moments of doubt, I shall praise Your Faithfulness. In my times of joy, I shall praise Your Generosity. In my abundance of blessings, I shall praise Your Love. Father, I surrender my uncertainty at Your altar and offer these praises to You, my Creator. With Your sacred threads, bind my wounds. With Your Perfect Love, teach me love. With Your angels, protect the way. LORD, hear my prayer. Amen. ~dho

Monday, February 13, 2006

Listen!

Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to My life-giving, life-nourishing words. Isaiah 55:3 (the Message)

Listening and Obedience

Henri Nouwen writes A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear. When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means "listening".
We struggle with obedience. Either we do not hear what God is saying to us, or we choose not to do what He asks. If we do not listen for God, we have little hope of developing our obedience. Matthew 6:6 ~ Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.
When asked, "What is more important - faith or obedience?" I believe faith is the foundation for our listening hearts. Without faith, can there be obedience? It would seem that Henri Nouwen would go one step further and say that without listening, obedience is absent. He concludes The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God. ~dho