Lord, I’m tired, worn out and if i’m honest, a little scared. There seems to be so much you are calling me into–it looks like too much for me to handle. But I can’t deny you’ve given it to me. It’s huge and awkward, like an over-sized beach ball, but it’s not heavy. In my quiet moments, I marvel at what you’ve entrusted to me. But today is not a quiet moment. Today I am feeling the chaos of to-do lists, detailed emails, articles to type, jobs to quote, family to attend to. I’m not able to make myself present to you. Would you, in your grace, dear Lord, make yourself present to me? Calm my flighty heart and speak peace to my whirling thoughts. Speak to the little fear, and give me greater love. Let me attend to you as you tend me and embrace your quiet and compassionate presence so that the works of my hands would be strengthened to do your will. Amen.
One of my favorite verses for breath prayer.
Right-click, choose “Save As…” and save it to your desktop. Share on Facebook, pin it on Pinterest.
For God alone my soul in silence waits;
I will trust in him and never be afraid–
for what can mere mortals do to me?
Paraphrase of one of the Psalms. Points to whomever can identify it.
(This blog post was written on Sunday. Sometimes things are better when they sit for a while.)
Regular readers of my blog will know that I’m going through a time of silence. Not my own–I have a very loud brain–but the silence of God. I’ve been working to embrace this silence, to stop trying to fill it with the garbage of my own mind. So far, I can’t control the chattering, but I can tell you that I’m getting a lot less enamored with the sound of my own internal voice. That can only be a good thing.
Today our preacher reminded us that there are times when we come up against chaos, the formless void, that which inspires fear and the frantic attempt at ordering our own lives to save ourselves from the uncertainty. It helped to have this outside perspective name the uneasiness I often feel, the chaos at the door. It helped to know I’m not alone in experiencing it, but also that it’s the same fear the Psalmist is turning his back on, choosing to trust the Lord, despite the fact the absence of chaos means silence.
This afternoon I was meditating (reading, marking, inwardly digesting) on some of the Advent collects. The Advent IV collect reminds us that God visits us daily.* This language of visitation reminded me that God is still showing up in my life. The least I can do is acknowledge his presence, even if I’m feeling disconnected from him.
Somehow, right now, these disconnected bits have come together to allow my soul to wait in silence for the Lord, trusting in him, not being overwhelmed with fear or what anyone might think of me. My jabbering mind is quiet, my soul is attentive. I am not expecting to hear from the Lord, but I know he is here in this place. I could not have arrived here by myself.
*Advent IV collect from the Book of Common Prayer: Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Right now I am working several jobs part time. I have a handful of directees I see monthly. I work with my church doing things that I see not getting done. I work for a friend’s church doing odd administrative jobs and some web work. And I work for a real estate investor as a Virtual Assistant. Oh, and I try to blog weekly. Some of these things I get paid to do, some I don’t.
Today I was liberated from one of my tasks that has been most burdensome. It is such a relief. But at the same time, it was one of those things I got paid for. In reality, it’s likely not result in a huge reduction of my paid hours–but my heart is still throwing up stabs of fear into my brain.
I am one of those people who clings to a sense of security. You might have already observed that I’m working four jobs; yes, working four irregular jobs is already a rocky place for those of us craving security. Truth be told, I’m a little disappointed in myself that this is bothering me so much, especially given the amount of relief I am also experiencing.
We humans are messy. We have to deal with our true selves, the beings God created us to be, and our false selves, the beings that are twisted distortions of what God wants us to be. We have to deal with our own aspirations, which can be good, bad or indifferent. Then there are the cultural norms, which could be perceived, real, or also distortions. Maybe it’s a wonder we ever get to experience a single, clear emotion!
I have often seen Christian books with titles like “Freedom From Fear.” I get that. I have no doubt that one thing God desires highly for me is a freedom from fear. But on days like today when both freedom and fear are present, I commit them both to him and ask for help living into the freedom and committing the fear to him and trust his grace to make up the rest.
Father God, thank you for the deliverance from this difficult thing. I give you now the fear that wells up in the vacuum of that work and compensation, trusting you to provide both meaningful work and financial provision for me and my family. I pray this in the name of Christ Jesus, who overcame all evil, fear and death, and the Holy Spirit through whom you pour out your immeasurable grace. Amen.
Today we celebrate Independence Day by putting up uncoordinated curtains in all our south-facing windows, moving the TV out of the living room to a cooler spot, strategically placing fans in the hall to lift the cooler air out of the basement and by trying not to move very much. This Midwest heatwave has come against all creatures, man and beast, causing us to scurry deeper into our dens, barricading ourselves against Mother Nature. Here’s hoping we’ll keep her out and keep the utility bill under $200.
Sometimes scurrying further into the den is the smartest policy. At other times, the battle must be joined–the old “fight or flight” response. My default response tends to be flight–I prefer to run away and keep looking back over my shoulder rather than fight and receive (what appears to me to be) certain injury. But what happens when you just run continually? Fear becomes a habit and looking over your shoulder puts a permanent kink in the neck of your psyche. When this happens, “overcoming fear” doesn’t seem possible–at least not for me. How then do you stop running, burrowing?
Well, I don’t pretend to have the solution, but something that has worked recently for me is this–to slip beneath the fear. I suppose common sense would say that beneath fear there is more fear, but that’s not the case for me. I think slipping beneath fear is like giving it up, relinquishing it. Sound terrifying? Yep, it is, kind of like going underwater and not knowing when you’ll take your next breath. But the Lord is in that place. He reminds me to breathe (“you are not going to get a lungful of water”), He makes me relax in a dangerous but amazingly tranquil place. Stop running. Stop fighting that foe you’ve given too much power to. Maybe you need to just stay where you are, despite the seemly encroaching danger and let God keep you safe.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:1-3