Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random, Middle 'o' the Night Thoughts

I came across this tonight, from Thomas Merton in Thoughts in Solitude:

"MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."

It reminds me a lot of the Holden Prayer for Good Courage:

"Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out in good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen." 

In other news, God works in mysterious ways (as though I didn't already know that).  I was listening to a sermon from my home church tonight, and realizing that what Pastor Mike was talking about was something I really needed to focus on - reclaiming the joy in my faith.  There was a time in my life when my faith was almost entirely about joy, and there are times when it's more intellectual (and I find that the joy actually comes when I get to be really intellectually engaged, but that's a different story...), but more recently it's been that "God is really messing with me, and that's a good thing, but a really hard thing, and it's not always the most joyful time, even though I can recognize that it's going to be good at the end" kind of faith.
Which I think is perhaps why I was so drawn to the verses from Sirach that I've recently been introduced to - because they acknowledge that faith doesn't make life easy or pleasant (sometimes it makes it harder), but it does make it possible, and because they provide encouragement to "hang in there," which is, quite frankly, what I need right now.

So anyway, I was praying after listening to the sermon, and really leaning into the idea that I wanted to want joy, and I wanted to want God to fill me with His Spirit, but that I didn't even know how to ask for it, or how to know what that would look or feel like.  Reflecting on it now, it was kind of one of those prayers that somehow implicitly trusts that the Holy Spirit is indeed interceding for us, even though I wasn't necessarily articulating that.  I thought to myself at the time, "I don't even know how to pray for this."

So I Googled around a bit, thinking that maybe somebody else had been in my situation and had found a way to put words to it.  I scanned the first page of results, and ended up clicking on one, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the verses from Sirach.  Seriously, right in front of me, top thing on the page.  Hello, Holy Spirit.  I ♥ you.

And then, to make things even worse more "God is awesome", I scrolled further down the page and came to realize that the prayers listed there weren't particularly about praying for joy, but they were about another issue in my life that I've sort of been convicted about lately - something that I've asked lots of other people to pray about for me, but haven't been doing a very good job of praying about myself.  Just in the last day or so, I've been realizing that if I'm going to ask others to pray about it, I need to pray about it too.  And here were the words I needed to be praying.  Right underneath the totally-new-to-me-Bible(?)-verses that I've been focused on the last few days.

Ok, God, I'm paying attention - let's go. 

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My Comments Policy: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23