Thursday, November 27, 2014

The ground that does not shift

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

We are not as wise as we think we are. We must always allow another's viewpoint, knowing what we would have sworn to even a few years ago, we now are embarrassed to admit.  And yet, we all must put our stakes into the ground somewhere, somehow. We all want to find the ground that does not shift and then cry out for others to join us. We want them, too, to enjoy the riches we have found. But, sometimes, they just won't.

I have found a pearl of great price. And I hold it up and proclaim it. I tell the story of it, but, so far, Lord, only the choir wants to hear. Only those who have held the pearl themselves share in my joy. Now, I don't know this for sure. Perhaps my story has attracted someone to look for the pearl themselves. Perhaps. But, I don't see that, so I question my methods, my manners of telling, and I turn to You and question You, too: what is it You want from me? How can I tell the story better?

It hurts me to know that a few whom I love greatly do not believe my story. They do not see the pearl for what it is, for Who You are. I think my testimony should be enough to push them Your way, but it doesn't. On the contrary, these few allow question and accusation to cloud their view of You. For some reason, they don't want to see You pulling me out of hell and come meet You themselves.... Why?

Is it fair for me to be hurt? I think they should see what You have saved me from and be so impressed by Your strength that they come to You, too, and love You as much as I do. Maybe they don't think what You saved me from is all that great? Maybe they don't think my present state is "saved" enough? Perhaps my example of love isn't all that impressive? All good questions, I suppose.

Please help me to tell this story better, Lord, if You indeed want it told. Please help me to respect the journey of others and know that it is I who is doing the planting, yes, but it is You who water, You who use all things in our lives to nurture, You who bring about the growth. It is You, and that is always enough.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I don't want to be an "average" Christian

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

William Temple said that "average" Christians do more to turn people away from You than those who deliberately cry out against You. I never thought of that, but it is true, isn't it? It's what You meant when You said You hated the fact that some are lukewarm (Revelation 3:15). The lukewarm, the neither hot nor cold, their witness is one of lethargy. They may feel bad about the suffering in the world, but they do nothing. They remove themselves. They are mere onlookers, not participants in the coming of Your kingdom.

How damning this is! How frightening this is!

It is frightening because so often I stand by. I feel. I cry. I mourn. And then I go about my way, not looking for any way that I might intervene. I don't fast for any cause. I don't pray regularly for any cause. I don't go out of my way for any cause. Oh, maybe sometimes; maybe I am moved at Lent or Advent. Maybe I'll spend a month writing about, protesting against, calling for, but then it drops. After all, I am so busy. We're all so busy, taking here and going there, making ends meet, worrying about the next paycheck.

O Lord, save me from being an average Christian! Move me from just feeling, mere sympathy for, to a cause to fight for. Let me take up a banner, be a voice for the voiceless. Let me forget myself and my issues and immerse myself in hastening Your kingdom in my corner of the world. Show me what this means for me. Bring to my attention where You want me to serve You, to proclaim You, to share You. For as a Daughter of the King, I remind myself each day, 

For His Sake...
I am but one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do.
What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do.
Lord, what will you have me do?

O Lord, move me to be better than an average Christian! Light the fire of Your Holy Spirit within me, within us! Amen!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Turning wholeheartedly to God

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

Your prophet Malachi wrote this:
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. I will rebuke the locust for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will count you happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
These words make me wonder, Lord, if more of us were to turn to You, turn wholeheartedly to You, would natural disasters not occur, would our fields produce more, would sickness not occur so much, would riches find their way to us, were we to give to You that which You deserve, that which we were created to give?

Or, Lord, is this, too, metaphor? Yes, the riches would come, but they would be and are in the form of grace -- courage to endure, wisdom to decide rightly, strength beyond our own, joy and peace, and a knowledge of You that makes our hearts sing?

We want to know -- do You stop the hurricane for one but not for another? Why does this question persist when we have seen so many of Your loved ones die from its winds and destruction. No, I do not believe You do.

But, O Lord, we cannot discount the power of our turning wholeheartedly to You! The evil in this world would shudder. Those who seek to hurt, who blow up, who pull down, who terrorize, these will run in fear, as You will open, You have opened, You will continue to open the windows of heaven and pour down overflowing blessing.

Present riches are no sign of Your approval. Escape from struggle is no sign of Your blessing. This is not what we are to read. It is the riches within a person that bring about the opening or closing of the windows of heaven.

O Lord, may more and more of us come to You, so that our collective wisdom mounts and overtakes the wickedness of those who refuse to turn to You! It is our doing. We must participate, not sit waiting without action, without prayer, without word.

Remember Nigeria, Lord, Your girls taken. Remember Mexico, Lord, Your children taken. May we rise up, with Your grace. May we see heaven open against those who do such monstrous things. Amen.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

I'm reading Joan Chittister's Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope. Thank You, Lord, for speaking through her. Thank You for guiding books into our hands right when we need them. Thank You for the songs we hear, just when we need to hear them. Thank You for the people we meet, just when we need to meet them.
Karen Novak's Jacob's struggle
"In the story of Jacob and the heavenly figure with whom he wrestles, we begin to see the elements of struggle and the unfolding, as well, of the nine gifts of spirit that go with them. Jacob faces change, isolation, darkness, fear, powerlessness, vulnerability, exhaustion, and scarring. They are, we see, the price to be paid for becoming new. To struggle is to begin to see the world differently. It gives us a new sense of self. It tests all the faith in the goodness of God that we have ever professed. It requires an audacity we did not know we had. It demands a commitment to the truth. It leads to self-knowledge. It builds forbearance. It tests our purity of heart. It brings total metamorphosis of soul. If we are willing to persevere through the depths of struggle we can emerge with conversion, independence, faith, courage, surrender, self-acceptance, endurance, purity of heart, and a kind of personal growth that takes us beyond pain to understanding. Enduring struggle is the price to be paid for becoming everything we are meant to be in the world. What we see in these nine gifts are the shadows of hope that whisper around the edges of every pit in life. What we see is the fullness of the self come to birth the only way it really can:  in labor and under trial."
Thank You, Lord, for seeing me through so many of these trials. I ask You to come unbidden, as Carl Jung observed of You, to those who bend and fear they may break beneath a trial. May they see You. You are all they need. May they see You.