Monday, July 28, 2014

God's way is vital

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

This is from Joshua 24:23 -- "Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel." Written over two thousand years ago, it still applies, and it is our answer to all questions.

Who are, what are the "foreign gods" I need to put away? Reliance on money, imbalanced desire for any thing or any one, reliance on my own efforts, worry about another as if You do not love that other more than I do.

And what is the next part? "Incline your hearts to the LORD." I am, we are, to turn our attention toward You, pay attention to You, put our hearts in Your camp, commit to You. We're not to listen and then go our own way. We are to adopt Your way, and realize in the process, knowing Your way isn't always apparent but the struggle to know, to recognize Your way is vital in our becoming the people You mean for us to be. That struggle to know, there is necessary growth in that; it cannot be avoided. It is not a once-discovered-for-all-time-have; it is a lifelong journey, with stops and starts, with vistas indescribable, with glimpses of You so attractive, the struggle becomes a hunger, a must-have.

O Lord, may we sink into these words from Joshua. May we put them on. May we ask You to apply them in our lives, to strip from us our foreign gods and incline our hearts toward You, that we may know why people are so willing to give You all, that we may know what we are without You is such a far cry from what we are destined to be -- not only for heaven but for here, on earth, for now.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Physically coming to God

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

I don't want to go to the effort of getting cleaned up and dressed for church, Lord. Isn't that pathetic? I'd like to just stay here and check off items from my "to do" list: organize photos, clean up the computer, write another chapter in Exodus, figure out how to convince my son we're for him, not against him -- You know, solve problems big and small.

But, I need to make myself go get ready. I need to come to You. Oh, I know You're here, but I'm not. I'm all over the place. I mixed up with what's priority and what's not. I need to physically come to You, drop all this stuff in front of You, and ask You to do Your thing; straighten it out; show me what floats to the top; remind me that You work in the day-to-day of our mixing with one another -- not so much in the holed-up-at-home.

There's so much to do, Lord! So many concerns! So many distractions! I am overwhelmed. I want to shout, "Enough!" and get organized, make a plan, write my list, put everything so-so, get control. But that's not really possible, is it? I have to allow myself to be okay in the chaos, and do the best I can to respond and act and be how You want me to. After all -- and this is the pivotal point -- I'm not and You're not relying on me to get it done; I'm relying on You to get it done through me. That's a far different learning curve. Keep showing me how, my Lord.

I'm going to get ready to come to You, at church, right now.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

So very worthy of pause

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

It sounds weird to me, Lord, to say these words, over and over, in prayer: "praise him and highly exalt him forever." I agree with these words, Lord, and I say them with all my heart, but they are unusual. After all, it is not often that I use the words "praise" or "highly exalt."

What words would I use, if it were up to me to write this canticle? I know these words were written about the three youths You saved from the furnace, the story from the book of Daniel. Just how "full of praise" would I be if I were one of them?

And yet I am! I have been saved from several "furnaces." So, therefore, I go searching for words to express my gratitude to You, my recognition of all You have done, all You have given me, all You have blessed me with. And, I must conclude, I don't want to use words I am familiar with -- why use words I've applied to earthly things? I can't sing, "I am happy with You, Lord," as I would say, "I am happy with this meal," or "I am happy with the clothes I have." Those usages bring those words down to the level of familiar and everyday. No, I need unusual words, lofty words -- "weird" words, words like "praise" and "highly exalt."

Okay, then, weird is good. I don't use these words, Lord. It is good that I have them on reserve for You. When I pull them out and use them, I can be reminded of my salvation, my particular fires that I have been saved from. Yes, these words are odd, and when I come upon them in my daily prayer (the Daily Office), they make me pause. Pause is good. You and what You do in our lives is so very worthy of pause.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Guide our steps

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

I thought my grandson was going to be born last night, Lord. When the doctors sent my daughter in law home, however, after giving her medication to stop the contractions, I realized just how disappointed I felt.

My daughter will move soon. Her new apartment is so very nice. I look forward to the day when we get to help her move. The family comes together and enjoys one another. I like that so much, but that, too, is in the future.

And there is great anticipation for me, too, in Your service, but that I don't get to explore right now either. It is in the future.

So, I sit here with all this yet-to-be, and I realize how much time I spend hoping. Hope is a wonderful thing. It keeps me on the positive side of feelings, and that is good. But hope delayed for too long begins to turn sour. Oh, I know the baby will come! And I know my family will come together once again! But, Lord, this third thing -- me, and Your will in me -- my hope is beginning to fade. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I am not to do what I've believed for decades I've been called to do. Oh, yes, I know, it has taken on different forms, but the vocation, the main vocation to shine light on what You have done, it isn't coming about.

Forgive me for my lack of discipline, Lord. Help me to promise You that I will not allow a day to go by when I refrain from tending to this vocation, this writing about You. Shine light on the cause of my unrest and the path to peace. O Prince of Peace, teach me Your will.

Bless my children and grandchildren, Lord. Bless us as we walk into the future, as we anticipate all good things. May we all look to You to guide our steps. Amen.