Realign

Realign

– To put back into proper order or alignment.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
– Jeremiah 31:3

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water – Hebrews 10:22

Prayer:

Father,
How easy it is for us to drift away from you and not even realize we have been drifting until we have gone so far your voice begins to sound distant. Today would you help us focus on realigning our selves with you? Realigning our heart to yours, our will to yours. Every area of our lives needs an alignment check father. Our homes, our marriages, our relationships, our careers, our finances, our ministries, our goals, our plans, our motivations. Help us to examine them all by your wisdom and light and see how they line up to your word. Where we have begun to drift, would you gently guide us back? Remind us how good you are. How good your ways are. Make us miss the sunlight and joy of your path and not grow comfortable hiding in any darkness. Your word says:

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.
– Proverbs 4:18-20

Reveal to us the motivations of our hearts. Show us what it is that makes us stumble, what causes us to drift, so that we might avoid it, pass by it and turn away. Draw us toward you by your light and loving kindness as your word says. Let the memory and promise of your warmth, your unfailing love, mercy and forgiveness seduce our hearts back to you no matter how far we have allowed our hearts to go. Let the darkness of sin remain cold, empty so that we find no comfort or pleasure there. Let the seduction of its deceitful promises of safety, pleasure and benefits be revealed to us for what they truly are, a delusion intended to lead us and those we love to death not to the life it promises.
Finally Father, would you comfort us and calm our fears? Because sometimes moving from the darkness into the light is scary. Realignment sounds so beautiful, sweet and wonderful to our ears, but in reality it plays out very painfully. It’s moving what has came out of joint back into place. We know its needed, we know the pain only lasts but a moment, but still it hurts and scares us. We have to honestly question, do we really want this prayer answered? How badly do we want it? Help change our hearts if fear is preventing us in coming to you with the our out of joint pieces. We need realignment. Help us to desire your realignment that promises us so much peace later; give us the courage to truly pursue it and do whatever it takes to align ourselves back up with you despite our fear of momentary pain.
Life is only found in you and your way leads us to eternal life and eternal joy even if we don’t always see it right now. We know it’s our final destination because your path ends at your feet. You are all of this and more. You are our reward. Draw us back to you and your way in all areas of our personal lives and in our church and in our ministries with sincere hearts in full assurance of faith that comes through Christ.
We are the Lord’s servants,
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

A Last Minute Retreat Prayer

We have finished the work you have given us to do.

And now we come and wait patiently before you.

The plans are all made,

The invitations have all been sent

The decorations are all laid

Our resources have all been spent

Now we wait and now we pray

That you would come forth and consecrate this day

Take our tiny offerings and set them apart

May they be found pleasing to your heart

May our hearts be weighed

And made ready to repent.

May our thoughts be stayed

On you and not this event.

Help us to put all our distractions away

And to focus on you this entire day

Show us your glory and give us your rest

Push away the outside world and pull us close to your breast

Let all our worries and anxieties fade,

As we learn to trust and be content

For today is the day you have made

Let us rest and enjoy it!

Teach me to Love

Teach me to love deeply
Beyond the surface of what I see
Teach me to love enthusiastically
Emphasizing all the freedom that true love brings.
 
 Teach me to love unconditionally
When rejection is all I see
Teach me to love purely
Allowing you to meet all my needs
 
 Teach me to love willfully
by softening my heart while bending my knees
Teach me to love obediently
Even those I would call my enemies
 
Teach me to love sacrificially
When only your eyes will see
Teach me to love generously
Out of the abundance that flows from thee
 
Teach me to love wisely
When temptation would bring me to my knees
Teach me to love righteously
Because not all love flows from thee
 
Teach me to recognize love
When it’s not what I expected to see
Far too often I have seen love
And fought him as my enemy
 
Teach me to love
by captivating and refining my taste.
Sin no longer can hold or seduce me
when my heart is satisfied in your embrace
 
Teach me to love others
by helping me abide in you
Allowing your love to move me
as I bind my heart to follow you.

I’m Not Your Enemy

This I know, that God is for me. – Psa. 56:9

I once thought once our kids reached the age of 18, that was the finish line. When the last one turned 18 and announced she had plans to move out at the beginning of the year, my husband turned and gave me a high 5. It was a time for celebration. “It was finished.” Or so I thought. I have learned having adult children is much more difficult than having young children or even teenage children. Because when they were young you could discipline them, spank them, lock them in their room, ground them until they were 22, take away the car keys or cancel the cable. You had all these wonderful options to choose from to protect them from bad decisions. But now I can do nothing but watch, remain silent, close my eyes and pray.

They want good things, usually. They want a car, their own apartment, a boyfriend, job, a resolution, peace, security, happiness, success, pleasure, true love…. All good things. It’s always their method of trying to obtain these things that is either good or bad.

I want the same things for them that they want for themselves. I want them to experience true joy, love, peace and rest. I want them to be happy and all of their needs to be met. I want them to meet a good and loving partner, get along in their marriage,  have deep and meaningful relationships with others. I want them to excel and do their best at work, be financially wise and secure with a roof over their heads and food to eat and clothing on their back. All these things they pursue are good. We we want the same things. We have the end same goals.  It’s not so much what they want or pursue that is bad, but instead it’s the way they go about trying obtain what they want that is bad. They lie, steal, go into debt, get angry, criticize, slander, do drugs, drink, hide, avoid, self-indulgence etc…. all are dead ends, all temporary fixes that look like they might lead to happiness and pleasure but inevitably fail in the long run.

I have found myself understanding God as Father more on a deeper level by our shared suffering in trying to convince our kids that we are not their enemy but their greatest ally in this world. God wants the best thing for us too, the same things we often want. He openly calls out and shares with us His wisdom teaching us how to get the life we truly want.

“Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: – Prov. 1:19-20

But we stubbornly refuse to listen. Instead we see Him as our enemy who is against our way and our happiness just as we once saw our own parents. We still want to try our own way because His takes longer, is more difficult, requires more patience, self-control, discipline, perseverance, honesty, humility, competence, self-denial.. the old fashion qualities of good character that you as a good and loving parent want them to develop.

I think we all go through a time period when we think we found a better and faster way toward happiness and success in life only to find out eventually that it was only temporary and we need to back up and remember what God, our loving Father told us. And that He never was our enemy but our greatest ally, who always wanted our best interest. He was never trying to keep us from happiness, but always wanted us to have the desire of our hearts. There is only one way in life to joy, peace and fulfillment, His way. Not the zillion other ways and directions that we imaginatively and creatively come up with. That’s why the path is so narrow and so few find it, because there is only one way and he’s more than willing to show it to us if only we’d be willing to listen and follow.

And I think I understand more why He seems so silent sometimes. My kids already know how I feel. I already told them and that’s all I can do. I don’t need to stand over their heads and continually nag them about what they are doing and if they would only listen and do it my way. What needs to be said has already been said and now I am silent until approached again. God also has already said what needs to be said. There is no other way of saying it to me and He doesn’t berate me with it. I already know what is right and the way I am trying to obtain something good is wrong. Just like my kids do and it’s up to them and me to stop and think “Maybe my Father knew what he was talking about after all…”

The Restored Vase

vasesm

You shine your light
on the walls of my heart
you illuminate the cracks and dust
from years of neglect
your light brings everything into sight
Nothing is hidden from your eyes
Not even my shame for the state my heart is in
You see all the cobwebs and mold that has flourished in the dark
All the fallen chips, collapses and fractures
You step over the weeds of anger and bitterness that threaten to choke me.
I hold my breath in fear,
But you say nothing about the condition my heart is in.
Instead you continue walking closer towards me,
shining your light and examining my heart
inch by inch, you come closer and closer to my core
I am filled with fear and shame
at the presence of my Lord
I am not worthy to be looked upon
by righteousness Himself
But that is no matter to you
You bought me
I am yours

You see every spot where my heart has thinned and weakened
All the gaps and crevices that were never filled
All my vain and futile attempts to fill and cover them on my own.
You silently examine it all.
All the nooks and crannies that I have memories tucked and hidden away in.
All the craters and depressions from where my heart was hit straight on.
You see it all.
All the noises, voices and negative thoughts that still echo through it’s chambers.
All the off hand remarks that stabbed my soul,
You hear it all.
I hold my breath
Your eyes turn to see my wounds.
All the wounds that I protected and kept hidden.
All my hurts that cause me to lash out and withdraw from others
to protect myself from ever being touched again.
Even now as you look at them, I flinch and draw away.
In fear and shame I just want to hide.
But gently you move my hands aside,
And you touch it all
You touch the very core of my heart
with your warm love
and tender grace
You stare lovingly down into my face
Your light poured into my cold,  dark empty soul
Filling every crack with yourself
Until my heart overflowed

I cannot contain you
The heavens, the highest of heavens cannot contain you
How much less this heart where you have came to dwell?

Once I was an empty, broken castaway
A rebellious, unwanted runaway
But You Jesus have claimed me for yourself
And placed me in the heavens safe on your high shelf
You have given me a permanent place to stay
And filled me with the richness of yourself
Who ever knew that one day, I would hold such wealth?

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