Just What I Needed to Hear

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“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 31:24

God is always ready to talk to us. Sometimes He just has to wait until we slow down enough to listen. Then He whispers to our hearts words especially suited for whatever situation we face. I have found that, most often, His messages are variations of one of these:

• I love you.
• I will never leave you.
• Don’t be afraid.

Which do you need today? To know how much He loves you? To be secure in His faithfulness? Or to experience the peace that comes by trusting Him?

You can start the conversation by praying with honesty and sincerity about your need. You could even ask Him to awaken your heart to be ready to hear what He wants to say in response. Then just wait in quietness. His message will be perfect to meet what the ancients called your “pressing necessity”. He always knows just what we need to hear. Sh-h-h. Listen.

“He hath never failed thee yet.
Never will His love forget.
O fret not thyself nor let
Thy heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.” 

 – Amy Carmichael

 

 

 

Change Me

“Be the penetrating light which illumines my intellect,

the gentle motion which attracts and directs my will,

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“. . . a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12

the supernatural power which gives energy to my body.

Complete in me Your work of sanctification and love. Make me

pure
transparent
simple
true
free
peaceful
gentle
calm
and burning with charity toward God and my neighbor.

Amen.”

This prayer (written by a woman known simply as Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit) touched me because it describes so much that I, too, want to pray.

Look at those words of peace, freedom, and calm, resulting, at the end, in loving God and others. Do they resonate with you, too? If so, I invite you to join with me in praying this borrowed plea often and sincerely. Only God can make the changes in us that we so desperately need.

He’s First

Do you ever wish God would just write His will across the sky so you can understand it clearly? Something like that happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Actually, it wasn’t the sky He wrote on, it was a mountain.

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“My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning, my spirit longs for You.” – Isaiah 26:9a

I got up, started the coffee in preparation for my early morning time with God, and began a conversation with Him as the coffee began to brew. As I waited, I looked out the kitchen window toward the mountains to the southwest. A prominent snowfield was visible on one of them and had melted into the shape of a giant “1”. I looked again thinking I must be seeing it wrong. But, no, it was really a “1”. God had written His will on the side of a mountain for me to see: He wants to be first in my life!

As I prayed, I realized He wants to be the first one I think of when I wake up in the morning, the first one I turn to when I need help, the first one I recognize when something good happens in my life, and the only one I ever worship.

The snowy “1” remained there for the rest of our stay in the mountains and was a many-times-a-day reminder of God’s perfect will for me – and for all of us who are His children. When we make Him first, we are less afraid, worried, and frustrated and more often filled with love, joy, and peace. It’s the best way to live!

“Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.” ~Malcolm Muggeridge

Peace Carriers

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” I used to think this was about dignitaries who negotiated ends to wars, counselors who sought conflict resolution between fighting parties, or mothers who settled arguments between their children.

But I am beginning to see peacemaking in an entirely different way. Maybe it means, in part, carrying such a deep quietness within ourselves, that an atmosphere of peace is with us wherever we go.

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You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

How can we carry peace in our demeanor, our conversations, and our relationships? Only one way: By being totally, completely connected to God. By living in a trust relationship with Him, letting Him carry our burdens and direct our steps. By talking to Him, listening for direction, then calmly doing the next right thing.

If we become peace carriers, we will find these things to be true over time:

  • We project a quiet confidence.
  • The room becomes calmer when we enter it.
  • People feel emotionally safe with us.
  • Our peace draws others to Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Peace carriers stand out in the stressful world around us. Many people we know live in a constant state of anxiety. Maybe we can show them, even if just a little bit, the unexplainable, but amazing, peace that comes from knowing and following God.

“Live and abide in My words so others will feel safe in My presence.” – Macrina Wiederkehr

A No-Hurry Day

I’m having a “no-hurry” day today. That means I didn’t jump out of bed the minute I woke up. I stayed still for ten minutes saying good morning to God.

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“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1

Then, as I begin my day, I resolve to

  • Drive in the right-hand lane.
  • Walk at a relaxed pace.
  • Read instead of scan.
  • Speak more slowly.
  • Taste my food.
  • Wait in line without fidgeting.
  • Avoid multi-tasking.

A no-hurry day allows God to speak peace to my soul. It’s OK to slow down sometimes, to not take control of every situation, to let others lead, and to yield every moment, every task, and every relationship to God’s oversight. Try it. You may be surprised at how little time you lose by not hurrying and at how much more fun you have along the way.

“When the soul is understood and attended to, we can be liberated from hurry, preoccupation, unsatisfied desires, and chronic discontent”.  – John Ortberg

Overwhelmed?

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." - Micah 7:7

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” – Micah 7:7

They do not cry to Me from their hearts, but they wail upon their beds.” (Hosea 7:14)

Can we relate to God’s people in this verse? They had allowed their desperation to throw them into a downward emotional spiral and there seemed no way out. It happens to all of us at times. But we don’t have to stay there.

Do you see the alternative God gives? He invites us to cry to Him from our hearts. How do we do that? We get out of our beds, move intentionally into His presence, look at Him, pause, and realize who He is. Then, we are ready for heartfelt prayer. When the focus is on Him and not on us, we turn our situation over to the One who loves us completely and the only One who can actually do something about the problems we face.

Then, over time, we find the Holy Spirit makes a great exchange for us.

  • He takes our anxiety and gives us peace.
  • He takes our self-pity and gives us trust.
  • He takes our desperation and gives us hope.

We get to choose: Wailing? Or honest prayer? God is waiting at this very moment to hear the cries of our heart.

“God wants to completely fill you and unite Himself to you. Let the vain, complaining babble of self-love be silenced so that in the stillness of the heart you may listen to the love of God.” – Francois de Fenelon

 

Pause for Peace

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“Sacred is the pause that draws us into stillness. Nourishing are the moments when we step away from busyness. Teach us the wisdom of pausing. Reveal to us the goodness of stopping to breathe.” Macrina Wiederkahr

We are now in busiest, most pressured time of the year for most of us.

Knowing that, let’s think about how we might find ways to pause, to reconnect with our Creator, and to breathe in the peace the angels promised (and we so often miss!) on that first Christmas day.

Many of us begin our day in a devotional connection with God, but a few weeks ago, I decided to try what I call “a holy experiment” by adding two spiritual pauses in each day – one at about noon and another just before dinner in the evening.

I stop, read a devotional thought or a psalm and pray, just briefly. With minutes, I am refreshed. Then I re-enter my day with a new attitude and already thinking about when I get to pause again. The result? Awareness of God and His presence permeates my day. And where He is there is peace.

How about you? Are you looking for calm in the busyness of this season? Try a holy experiment of your own: Take a short break, in your mind’s eye look into the face of the only One who can give you peace, and let Him in. He’s just waiting to be asked.

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I Know He Knows

 

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“My business is to remain in the presence of God.” – Brother Lawrence

As I was approaching God this morning, I was trying to lay down concerns that could be distractions to my time with Him. I gave Him my list of worries – people, commitments, usefulness – all of that. Then, as I sat with Him, in my mind I heard:

“You know that I know and that’s all you need to know – for now.”

Oh, yes! I know that He knows, so I can walk away from meddling. This is God I am talking to – the almighty, all-knowing, always loving God. There is no safer place to leave those I care about, projects I have taken on, or unsolvable problems in the world. He knows! He has power! He is loving. I have full confidence that He will act when the time is right and, in the interim, will walk with me moment-by-moment through conversations, confrontations, decisions, and planning.

Knowing that He knows allows me to let go, to rest in Him, and to live fully the life He has put in front of me today. Knowing that He knows is freedom and joy, even in the waiting time.

Stand still and see the great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.” (1 Samuel 12:16)

Stressed or Blessed?

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“A perfect faith would lift us absolutely above fear.” – George MacDonald

The question haunted me: How could I say I was living a life of faith when I was anxious so much of the time?  I began to ask God to deliver me from worry and grow my faith in His character and His Word. As He answers my request, here is what I am learning:

Listen first.
Before I pray, I listen to God in order to try to understand His will in the matter I am concerned about. Then I pray a prayer that, to the best of my ability, is in keeping with His will. Partnering with God this way engenders faith.

Pray boldly.
I try to ask honestly and boldly for what I need from God and what I have discerned He wants to give me. No more wimpy prayers.

• Testify confidently.
When God answers my prayers, I share the good news with others. My faith nurtures theirs and their faith nurtures mine.

• Respond thankfully.
Whether my faith is big or small, I commit to giving God the all the credit and praise for what He does.

• Persevere patiently. 
My faith is growing, but I have far to go.  So, I remain committed to following God’s faith-building plan and am thrilled with every evidence of progress.

And, here’s the good news: I am finding that worry and faith cannot exist in my mind at the same time. If I worry, faith disappears. If I exercise faith, worry flees. I get to choose which of the two I want to live with. By God’s grace, I am learning to choose faith and my life is changing gradually from anxious to peaceful. Yours can, too. Ask Him to help you grow your faith in Him. That is a prayer He is eager to answer!

“So not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)