Prayers I Still Pray

Prayer has been difficult for me since burying a child-I’ve written about that struggle in a previous post.

I have yet to find a comprehensible way to think about both the sovereignty of God and His goodness, free will and predestination.

So I find myself incapable of praying for things like safety for my children, freedom from disease or specific outcomes in difficult circumstances.

Instead I pray the prayers of Paul, straight from Scripture-prayers that focus on expanding a person’s understanding of Who God is, how much he or she is loved by God and the development of godly fruit in his or her life.

THESE are prayers I can still pray, I hope they are helpful for others in similar circumstances.

Ephesians 1:17-23

Glorious Father, I thank you for_______, and I bless them. I ask You to give _____the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that ______may know You better.  Enlighten the eyes of ______’s heart, so that they may know

  • the hope to which You have called them,
  • the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints,
  • And Your incomparably great power for them because they believe, the power of the resurrection and the ascension which seated Jesus at Your right hand where He is above all rule and authority, and power and dominion in this world, and all things are under His feet.

Fill ____with all the fullness of Jesus in every way today.

ephesians 1_17

Ephesians 3:15-20

I call You Father, and I pray

  • that from Your glorious riches You will strengthen______with power through Your Spirit in their inner being,
  • that Christ may dwell in ______’s heart through faith,
  • that ____will be rooted and established in love,
  • that____may have power, with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
  • that ____will know this love that surpasses knowledge,
  • that___will be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.

I give You all the glory, for You are able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to Your power that is working within us.

ephesian320

 

 

Running Ahead–I’m Coming!

My first post on this blog.

Now it has been two years since the morning the deputy brought the news to my front door.  Two years since I heard my son’s voice.  Two years since my life was turned upside down.

It seems unbelievably long ago–like a dream.  Yet also like yesterday–like that bad feeling you get when you wake from a nightmare and it just won’t go away.

I am not as fragile as I was on that day.  But I am just as broken. The pieces of a shattered heart never fit back together to make a perfect whole.

The burden is not lighter.  But I am stronger.

The pain is no less but I have learned to endure it.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 TLB

 

“From the start, if you didn’t want Dominic to do something, you couldn’t let him see you do it.”   Read the rest:  Running Ahead

How the Church Can Serve Grieving Parents and Other Hurting People: Loving Well Series

When I first shared this post,  I received a lot of feedback from readers and much of it went something like this:  “I wish my pastor would read this.” or “I’d love to share this on my own FaceBook page but I’m afraid someone might be offended.”

I didn’t write this post to point fingers but I did write it to drag into the light a hidden place of pain and division within churches.  

There are so many hurting people in our pews and we cannot continue to ignore our responsibility to minister to them.  So to you who are timid, I say, “Be brave!  Share! There is no shame in sharing the truth in love!”

“I am a shepherd.  My goats and sheep depend on me for food, for guidance and for their security.

And every day I am reminded that a shepherd’s heart is revealed by the way he or she cares for the weakest and most vulnerable of the flock.”

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: How the Church Can Serve Grieving Parents and Other Hurting People

Unbounded Love: A Generous Life

Every day I have a choice:  I can live with my hands closed tightly around what I think I can protect from others or I can live with my hands open both to give and to receive.

Losing a child makes it tempting to cling that much tighter to what and who I have in my life.

But losing a child also makes it plain that no matter how tightly I hold onto the people and possessions I think are mine, in the end, I’m just not strong enough to do it.

I don’t have power over sin and death.   I can’t anticipate or control the thousands of potential dangers that lurk around corners and spring from shadows.

Every thing and every person that I treasure is a gift from God.  They were given me to steward, not to own.

There is an interesting conundrum associated with success documented in many studies: those who have more tend to give less.  The actual dollar amount may be larger, but as a percentage of income or wealth, it is much smaller.

It seems that those who accumulate wealth and experience privilege begin to consider themselves more deserving than those who live in poverty.

I think there is a corollary in the church:  we who are members of the Body of Christ and walk in the joy of forgiveness can drift from remembering that we, too, were once far from God, walking in darkness and without hope.

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Ephesians 2:1-6 MSG

God is a generous and loving God.  He makes his rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous :

You have heard that it used to be said, ‘You shall love your neighbour’, and ‘hate your enemy’, but I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Heavenly Father. For he makes the sun rise upon evil men as well as good, and he sends his rain upon honest and dishonest men alike.

~Matthew 5:44-47 MSG

He longs for all to come to a saving knowledge of Christ:

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. ~2 Peter 3:9 HCSB

And He has called us as His ambassadors of reconciliation to proclaim His goodness, love and generosity throughout the world:

All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.

2 Corinthians 5:18 GNT

When we walk with closed hands, when we act as if we are “us” and the rest of the world is “them” we build walls instead of bridges.

And we push people away instead of drawing them in.

Have we forgotten that but for the grace of a loving and generous God, we too would be lost?

What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?

I Corinthians 4:7 TLB

 

 

 

 

Perspective

For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!  So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 AMP

Grieving a child is not light nor is it momentary.  It is a heavy weight that threatens to drag me into despair.

I feel like I’m struggling to walk up a mighty mountain with few footholds and steep cliffs. Sometimes I just want to give up.

What was Paul thinking????

“Light and momentary distress”–this from a man who had been left for dead, imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked and abandoned by his friends?

But Paul was a master of rhetoric and used words to invite his readers to thoughtfully consider the things he said.  You can’t read one of his letters like a paperback novel–you have to slow down, read carefully and think hard.

Paul depended on people’s experience that distress is in fact often heavy and lifelong to show, by contrast, how excellent and marvelous and exceedingly valuable our eternal inheritance is through Christ.

 If the awful burdens of this life seem light and momentary when we enter the fullness of God’s promises in heaven, then how very great those promises must be!

Only the grace of a mighty God can give me the strength to face each day with hope and the faith to believe that the things I see are not the things that truly last.

And only the faithful love of a Heavenly Father can give me the assurance that one day I will barely remember how hard it was to walk carrying this load.  

Identity Crisis

Yeah, so one more thing that grief has made  harder: empty nesting.

While my nest is not technically empty, I have long since finished raising and schooling my children.  I had the great privilege of staying home with my kids and teaching them all the way through high school.  And even in college and graduate school, mom was still editor-in-chief and head of the crisis management center of our home.

I spent a lifetime pouring myself into my family and now they are grown. Sure, they need me now and then, but they are well-established, functioning adults and quite capable without my help.

This is good–I always intended to work myself out of a job.

But losing Dominic, and the burden of grief I carry as a result, has made this transition from “hands-on” to “standing by” that much more difficult.

We all have pictures in our mind of where life is headed–where we imagine ourselves in five years, ten years or even further.  In part, those visions are what make hard days bearable, what keep us going when obstacles seem insurmountable, and what beckon us down the road when we can’t see exactly where it is leading.

I had those.

Now I can’t manage a plan or vision for a single day, much less a year or the rest of my life. I feel as if I am cast adrift in a sea of possiblities but none look inviting. It’s like I have one oar in the water and all I can do is paddle in a circle.

I’m not idle-I keep moving.  I have things to do, but I’m not sure they are things that make a difference.

And I have to admit, it’s a little frightening to think about the future given my recent past experience.

So I’m trying to learn to rest in the arms of the Father.  Trying to tune my heart to His. Trying to be patient with myself and with my own impatience.

For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, to give you an end and patience.

Jeremiah 29:11 DRA

 

Preaching to Myself

Some days I’m afraid that I’m not making progress.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m settling for lagging behind.

And there are moments when I want to give up and give in.

But I’m still in the fight.

I haven’t surrendered.

I WILL NOT QUIT.

Because my God is The Living God.

THERE IS NO DEVASTATION GREATER THAN HIS RESURRECTION.

There is no desert that will not bloom under His flood of grace.

There is no wall that is higher or stronger than His onslaught of mercy and no heart so cold that the warmth of His faithful love cannot penetrate it.

He has promised to redeem my pain.

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
    because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
    heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
    pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
    a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
    and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
    give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
    a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.

Isaiah 61:1-3a MSG