Sunday, July 08, 2012

A Lesson I Needed to Remember Today

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade
on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.

When I read this psalm, I'm reminded that I am wrong if I think God’s interest in me depends on my feeling that God is close by. God is my keeper—whether I feel God’s care or not. When we say yes to God, we find ourselves in relationship. Love beckons us into love. We are called into relationship with one who cares for us so much that the hairs of our head are numbered (though in my case, that’s not a very large number).

As we walk on our spiritual pilgrimage, we learn in deeper and deeper ways that God’s care is steady and ongoing. We need not feel God’s care to know it is working, any more than we need to feel gravity to keep us from sailing off into space. The law of God’s ever-watchful presence is as surely in operation as are the natural laws of the universe that we take for granted.

Living into an increasing understanding of God’s ever-presence, is how we can pray along with Thomas Merton:

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.

Merton’s words show us that a life of honest prayer is part of following the way that opens. What is honest varies from time to time, depending on our circumstances. Honest prayer will include some basics—an admission that we feel lost and can’t see the way, letting God know that we desire direction, asking for pure motives in following the way, and stating, by and in faith, that God is with us and we want God to be with us. Use the details and circumstances of your life to shape your honest prayers. What ingredients would you combine to create an honest prayer for today?

- Brent

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