Thursday, October 29, 2015

Garden Prayer

Garden Prayer

    Good morning Lord.  How awesome to find you waiting for me, to walk with you in your garden.  I struggle to believe you long for one as me, yet we walk, with your shoulder touching mine.  You make me feel like I am the center of your attention, that you delight in my presence.  Yet, in all our walks, it is I who has need to leave.
    Always, as I approach your garden, I fret over what to say, or if I will find the words to converse.  And always as we walk, I learn anew, that silence is just another way for you to speak to my heart, where my words are as noise, hiding your Voice.
    All that you require of me is that I come as I am.  The less I do to make myself “presentable”, the more pleased you are.  To portray myself in truth, is to pay you the highest praise, for you are Truth.  You call me Friend, but you are so much more.
    I am embarrassed Lord, to admit that still I am tempted to cut short our walks, or even to miss them altogether.  I am a Fool, who in the presence of my God, is distracted by bubbles, where the temporal appears more desirous than the Eternal.  And sometimes Lord, I come out of obligation, fearing you would think less of me if I did not show up.
    None of this seems to matter to you, for always, you are delighted to see me.  You receive me, who has sinned against you, as if I am a precious gift, even though you are Creator and I am creature.
    Lord Jesus, you paid a price for me that I am not worth.  You exchanged your Blood for my friendship, grafting me into your Family, giving me the Name of your Father, and sealing my identity with the Living Water of your Holy Spirit.  I tremble to give my eyes to yours in thanksgiving.
    Teach me, Lord, to love as you love me.  Prune me, cultivate me, as a plant in your garden, until I become a garden for you, where always, you are with me, and I am with you.  Make my life a prayer, walking with our shoulders touching.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Mustard Seed Faith

Mustard Seed Faith (Mt 17:20)

Faith is both Gift and Response.  It is impetus and action.  It is the Finger Of God touching our soul; and it is a wholly unique expression of self, which reflects our will and determines our destiny.  It is the Mustard Seed, planted into our soul, not of our nature or order, yet designed to be inextricably intertwined and absorbed.  So much so that, if allowed and fiercely chosen, it transforms our fallen nature into its Divine Likeness.
This Mustard Seed is pure gift.  It is of God.  It contains Life apart of our own, yet it is destined to become our fully actualized potential.  It is a life present, and a life yet to be.  It is God’s loving design for us before we existed.  It is our call to Glory, Truth and Love in the present now.  And, it is a spiritual DNA (Divinity Naturally Acting) yet to be fully expressed.  Like natural DNA in all seeds of life, it is predestined, designed to progressively unfold into increasingly complex structure, until maturing, it accomplishes its design and reproduces.  Its purpose is solely Life oriented, Life with its Creator.
Both the natural seed and our seed of faith are predestined to accomplish God’s design, but how they come to fullness are not alike.  The natural seed only requires nourishment -it is predetermined.  Our gift of faith demands a Lover’s Choice.  It is present-determined, forever demanding existential choices of our will.
As Pure Gift, faith ever nudges us to grow towards The Light.  But for it to grow at all, it demands to be freely chosen, as the love relationship that it is with God.  Since it is present-determined, like love, it must forever be re-chosen in the fertile ground of suffering, doubt, failure, temptation and putting self at the service of others.  This re-choosing is what gives faith the permission to grow.  It is only in dying that we find Life.
This is the mystery of the Mustard Seed, that our faith does not grow by our own power, but by the power of God’s Grace, yet whether it grows at all depends on our choice to die, but if we do so choose, then what begins, takes on the unstoppable power of God.
We do not know how or when the seed of faith will grow, or even what fruit it will bear.  But by choosing to act according to our gift of faith, we can with certainty, as if by command, initiate the Power of God Within to transform our life.  Even though we cannot control how or when the Finger Of God moves in our lives, we are none the less co-responsible, by faithful decisions, for the manifestation of God’s Power, which is beyond what we can ask or imagine, let alone do.  It is the Mystery of the Mustard Seed of Faith throwing the mountain into the sea.
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe, that you are the Son of God, that in faith you have clothed me in your righteousness and have brought me into the sonship of your Father, that what you have promised can only be true.  I raise now the sails of my soul.  Fill them with the Power of your Holy Spirit.  Take me where you want me to go.  Do with me according to my Father’s design.  I cannot see what lies ahead, but with your hand upon my rudder, I know it can only be good.  Make it so, my Master.  Make it so. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

From The Depths

From The Depths (Psalm 130)

“From the depths I call to you, Yahweh, Lord,
        listen to my cry for help!
Listen compassionately to my pleading!
If you never overlooked our sins,
        Yahweh, Lord, could anyone survive?
But you do forgive us: and for that we revere you.
I wait for Yahweh, my soul waits for him,
         I rely on his promise,
                my soul relies on the Lord
                        more than a watchman on the coming of dawn.
…For it is with Yahweh that mercy is to be found…”

         Lord, my soul as become familiar with the Depths.  Your Glory, so bright, is shadowed. Sin has darkened your Light.  Burdens of this life loom large.  I am weak.  Youth’s arrogance is a distant illusion.
         Only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.  …Yet you allow me to know the freedom of brokenness.  …Yet am I driven to hope.  …Yet must I still seek your Saving Hand.
         What mystery is this Life with you.   Invisible is This Hand that sustains me so.  Unquestionable is your Promise.  Unfathomable this Well Of Faith, this Source of Hope.
        You empty what you desire to fill.  You break what you desire to heal.  You humble what you desire to raise.  So it is Lord, that I know now the Watchman’s need.  The Night forbid his eyes to see.  Try as he might it, in vain could he see without your Light.

         I know now, that Watchman’s need was comforted.  For your Mercy goes first, to those in the darkest of night.  Only in clinging to your Faithfulness, can I see the Dawn that is yet to be.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Daddy, Daddy (Lk 11:9)

Daddy, Daddy  (Lk 11:9)

    “So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.  For the one who asks always receives; the one who seeks always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.”

    This is a most extraordinary promise of Jesus, so much so, that I am tempted to label it as another of his exaggerations, like “plucking out my eye”.  But the context, where this promise is nestled in the Words of God, does not allow this option.  It can only be understood in its context -in the lavish love, of a doting Father, upon a child in need.

    This promise is preceded by the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray.  First, Jesus gives them the words of the “Our Father”, the universal outline for prayer: with its call to praise the Name-Above-All-Names; to desire God’s plan for our lives; to present our needs as a sinner in need of forgiving others; all while beseeching the Father’s protection from the evil surrounding us.

Jesus then presents his Father as a friend who we can approach with unflinching confidence, even as one who we could drag out of a warm bed in the middle of the night, waking up his sleeping kids with the ruckus of unbolting a triple locked door, all to procure a minor need that could have waited till morning.

With the stage set in this lavish love of his Father, Jesus now reveals the sacred formula for prayer which promises a response from God: that when we ask Abba, Daddy, when we present our needs into His Loving Ear, we will always receive; that when we seek, when we look for His Hidden Face, we will always find; and when we knock, when we tug on our Father’s garment with expectant eyes, we will always have the door opened to us.

This Promise-Made is the Word of God already spoken.  It cannot be taken back.  It is now Eternal Truth.  It is forever for God to make it so, and it is forever for us to say, “Amen!  Make it so!”  As a child of God, I have found the freedom of being real before Him, and so this morning as I pondered this Scripture, I put it to question.  I believe that if I ask, I will receive, but I do not always receive; I believe that if I seek, I will find, but I do not always find; and I believe if I knock, doors will open, but again, they do not always.  

“So Lord, what’s up with the “always” part of your promise?”  I never fully grasp the power of God’s Word.  When my understanding of it does not correspond to my experience, I have long learned, that it is not God’s Word that is being challenged, but my finite experience.  I make a note of it, reflect on it, then read on, hoping the context will point me out of the shadows.  Often it does.  Sometimes, I just have to live longer and come back to it.

But today, the context that followed was illuminating.  Jesus compares His Father’s response to our prayers, to that of our response to our children’s need for food.  And since God’s love infinitely exceeds ours, so does God’s response to our prayer, exceed our expectation:  “If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'”  

What I have come to understand of this wonderful promise, that when I Ask, Seek and Knock, God’s Holy Spirit is ALWAYS operative.  When I bring my unmet needs, my brokenness, my darkness, my hopes before my Daddy, He is pouring out His Spirit upon me before I get to ask -as He sees me coming, for He is always waiting to respond.  When I am asking, seeking and knocking, it is not my prayer life -it is my life.  It is only secondarily a means to my wants.  It is primarily, a means to my end.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Image Of God

The Image Of God

God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him…” (Genesis 1:27).
Before Sin, we had Original Joy.  We knew the Face Of God, his smile, the crinkles around his eyes.  We recognized his voice and delighted in the sound of our name on his lips.  God was present to us.  His Presence made the cool of the morning, the warmth of the day, and the quiet of the night, all indistinguishably glorious.  Our existence was defined by our relationship with our Creator.  His friendship gave meaning to every moment, to everything.  Everywhere, every experience evoked thanksgiving to our God.
Sin changed all this.  Sin stole our intimacy with God.  Satan slithered onto the Tree Of Life, disguising Evil as Good, Death as Life.  Seducing us with self glory, he took our gaze off of God.  The Forbidden Fruit became the apple of our eye.  We bit into it.  We tasted the bitterness of banishment –we found loneliness.
After Sin, after losing our friendship with God, our existence was defined by want, by suffering, separation, selfishness and fear.  Defaced by Sin, our Divine Image was now disfigured.  Our eyes were blinded to his Presence.  Unable to see his Face, or be comforted by his Voice, we filled our Emptiness with rotten fruit, with Disobedience, with Sickness and Death.  Blessedness was discarded for Curse.  Friendship with our Father was exchanged for the Fetters of Sin.
Never again, would the Tree’s Forbidden Fruit be experienced with such horrible clarity, with such terrible loneliness, until the Spurned-God-Who-Became-Man, would take on Sin and surrender into Death, on that Tree Of Life, replanted in His Blood on the altar of Calvary.
We were abandoned to Sin, but not to God’s Mercy, for he left us a Promise.  He veiled our Sickness and Death with a prophecy of Hope, that one day, the Offspring of a New Eve, would crush the head of Satan.  Oh, the power of that Tree!
Now freed from that lecherous grip of the Serpent, we are free to find again our true face.  Our Divine Image has been restored.  This Savior has wrapped us in his Father’s cloak.  He has re-given us the Father’s ring, the very one we threw away.  He has washed our dirty feet, and has given us new shoes to dance.  He has prepared for us a feast, with Bread and Wine that eternally removes hunger and thirst.  He has become this Bread of Life, which we not only consume, but which, in turns consumes our guilt; which we not only possess, but which possesses us, which not only nourishes our body and soul, but resurrects our sin-sick nature into New Life, where we are Born Again into immortality.  
          Because our Savior lives, because he has poured his Holy Spirit into our hearts, our eyes are opened anew to see the Face Of God, to walk again in his Presence, to hear the sound of our name on his lips, to know that we Belong to the Face that is smiling upon us.  And, for those how dare, who allow in their spirit, to be drawn into his Gaze, if we look deeply into the eyes of our Father, if we peer  into his very pupil, we will see  reflected, our Divine Image, the one he calls “Beloved Child” -the Apple Of His Eye.