Thank you 11/18/17

I watched The Help last night and resonated with Aibileen; my prayers are my journal entries.

Thank you Jesus for this day. I went to Universal Studios with my best friend and drank butter beer. It was frothy with caramel/vanilla cream. The ride stopped halfway – kinda unnerving. Thank you for saving our lives and for protecting me today. That my comings and goings are seen by you. Thank you that I got the opportunity to speak of your goodness today, of how you have created me, how you have spoken to me. I got to share who you are with H – I hope for more opportunities. I had the courage to play a song about you, in praise of your name. There is NONE LIKE YOU! You are not an impersonal God. You are a God who penetrates my reality, you are everywhere. Without you, nothing that has been made would be made. Thank you for sustaining us both, for mutual company and warmth. Thank you for closing my lips- that I held back on certain comments because they were not glorifying to You.

2 Corinthians 9:11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving- the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

2 Corinthians 9:15
As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them ad to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the OVERFLOWING GRACE God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! 

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For the love of God

Should I finish the book, the Final Cut Pro tutorial, edit a video or read the bible? I snapped a couple of people on snapchat and scrolled under ‘Following’ on Instagram, admiring beautiful doe-eye models. Why am I staring at this picture of a really big, toned butt? I forced myself to look away and opened a tab featuring an article on suicide bombings in Lebanon. That should make up for how vapid I feel.

I gravitated towards the bible. If there’s anything I must do today, this is it. I lifted it off the piano and found a spot on the living room floor. St. Teresa stressed that by keeping in our minds Jesus’ sufferings, we fare all the better in knowing and loving our God in this life. I thus chose a passage from Mark to focus on Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane.

Before I began reading, I looked through my Worship playlist- just to set the mood, prepare my heart and all that. But I found no comfort in the song I chose; I could not shake an unsettling feeling. I was afraid to close my eyes. I was afraid of the dark, of being alone in the living room, of the dreams I’ve been having recently. Nightmares. Devils. Why am I so afraid, Lord? Why am I more afraid of Satan than I am of You? And I chose this special song: Loud Harp- The Fire and The Flood. This time when you come, don’t hide Your face. This time when you come, don’t keep silent. Oh bring the fire, burn what isn’t You. Open the flood, overwhelm us… And as I began to pray these words in my heart, singing silently to the Lord in desperation, the tears started falling. The floodgates had opened. Take everything that does not belong to You, take everything that is wrong, every sin, every fear away from me. And as I cried with my head strained towards the heaven that was my ceiling, I noticed a single tear trail down my cheek, my neck, my throat. I was made aware of how much my throat ached. I could not fully enjoy God because of it- because I had too much to drink the night before. I knew then that You did not approve- that it pained You too. Thank You for this resolution I would never have willingly come to myself: if alcohol makes it difficult to live worshipfully, goodbye alcohol.

As the next song came on, I reached for my earphones but found myself unable to pull them away. So unwilling. I was being lulled into enjoyment. Into Your arms, the singer cooed. I am giving away the joy of drunkenness and replacing it with the greatest joy- the joy of Your love and friendship. Of being close to You. And suddenly I heard the door open as my mother shuffled to the other room. I ducked my head, wiped my cheeks. She could not see me like this. I waited for her to pass: more listening, less crying. You found me and you pulled me out. You found me and you brought me home… You are a good Father, this is a good home. How is it that You are allowing me such heights of happiness although I have sinned? And I felt such humility, Lord, that only You can evoke. Is this how You punish Your people? By lavishing us with your love? By giving us gifts? And I understood that this is what St. Teresa meant by:

Indeed, at the very times when I most offended You, You quickly prepared me by a very great repentance, to taste Your gifts and graces. Truly, my King, You used the most refined and painful punishment that I could possibly have borne, since You well knew what would give me the greatest pain. You chastised my sins with great favours… But to find myself receiving fresh graces when I had shown so little gratitude for those already received, is a kind of torture that is terrible to me, and to everyone, I believe, who has any knowledge or love of God. (p.58)

Such exquisite remorse, such heartbreak for having sinned against so good and loving a God. And yet how joyous I felt to experience this pain, for it is a marker of my love for You- and I know that You are pleased! With my head bowed to the ground I felt with my entire being my lowliness, my unworthiness, my overwhelming gratitude. Such a sweet place to be. Thank you, thank you.

Then, I was ready to encounter Your word. As soon as I read the words of Jesus: “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow- to the point of death” (Mk 14:34), I bawled. I couldn’t breathe. My face felt like it was going to burst, my intestines about to fly, about to shatter like glass in a microwave a second too long. I felt the depth of Your suffering, Jesus, so moved by Your love for us. You died for those who hated you, accused You and lauded it over You when truly You were and are king of the universe, blameless like no other. Although You despised their sin, You loved them at the greatest harm to Yourself: abandoned by Your friends and at the moment of death- Your own father. I could do nothing but weep.

Jesus repeatedly commanded his disciples to “stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mk 14:38). I thought about wakefulness, vigilance, sober-mindedness. The act of prayer and the state of wakefulness– the two together, are safeguards against sin and succumbing to the weakness of the flesh. The disciples, being humans fundamentally weak, could not stay awake. They fell asleep when they were supposed to guard their beloved Jesus. You had just one job, guys! Alas, humans fall short, and in consequence, Jesus was “betrayed into the hands of sinners” ( Mk 14:41). Not only by Judas but by those who claimed to love Him. Thus we must always be alert, not trusting ourselves, lest we squander our spirits and betray our God.

It is comforting to know that even Jesus, whose spirit was willing, could not escape the dread of what was to come. He understands our sufferings, the struggles of being human. He prayed and begged on his knees for deliverance: “All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me” (Mk 14:36). Yet, he consented to the ultimate will: “Nevertheless, not that I will but what You will” (MK 14:36). And it is this same spirit that is willing, that wants to please God in me. Every good intention, thought, and deed comes from God. I could not find an inkling of love inside me if it weren’t for You granting me this tenderness. I thank You. These tears are not my own. So, in order to nourish and sustain my spirit, I need to keep praying. If I love Jesus, I must remember Him and how He suffered for me. My spirit never wants to forget but my humanity will. I must not abandon the Lord and fall asleep. I must feed my spirit constantly- more necessary than food, more of a staple than brushing my teeth, to keep my conscience clean.

Like newborn infants, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Peter 2:2-3

I know now it is no loss, Lord, to give up any of the pleasures of this world for You. I can never give more than what You have given, have promised to give, and are giving me every day. I know now that learning to pray and learning about You this summer is more valuable than any number of skills and talents. May I never tire of prayer or believe it done in vain. If I seek You, I will most assuredly find You.

Thy Word

I want to compose hymns because His words are perfect. I always thought I sucked at memorising bible verses but they spring to mind from the tunes I’ve heard when I’ve needed them most. They’ve given clarity to my feelings, words materialising to describe the momentous joy, gratitude and praises of my heart.

Crazy how after I’ve come to this realization- that music helps me know His word better, I came across a post that featured this verse: “[The ant] prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:8). This is my summer project! Combining my love of music, the voice that God has given me, to create something that will help me prepare myself for temptation. Something that will help me know of His love, live a life enjoying His goodness and resist the urge to sin. I didn’t know how I’d find a routine, how to make myself excited to spend time with God. But this is it- and thank the Lord for revealing it to me. No more anxiety about how best to improve myself this summer or how I can use my talents for His glory.
Only by loving You more.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. With all my heart I have sought Thee; Do not let me wander from Thy commandments. Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee. Blessed art Thou, O LORD; Teach me Thy statutes. With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Thy precepts, And regard Thy ways. I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word.

 

Challenge #4

I love my grandmother to pieces. I love her I love her I love her. I know she won’t be around forever but I will pray every day for her so that she may be even more blessed than she already is. I pray that she will one day see my children (or child) and that they will have the privilege of meeting her. This is what my heart aches for. Literally. I want it so badly it hurts. It’s slighty selfish because I feel like I need her; she strengthens my faith. And my prayer is really a three-in-one request.
1) I’ll have a husband
2) I’ll have a child and most importantly
3) that my grandmother lives to see her/him.

God’s will takes precedence over my plans. I just pray and hope that He’ll grant me these blessings.

Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:17-18

 

Challenge #2

The flesh is weak Lord, I am frail. I need You. All that I have comes from You – everything. Down to the last, minute details. I am Yours and she is Yours. Bless her with all that she deserves and give her strength and wisdom. Dampen her anxieties and alleviate her pains. Give her faith and show her love. Remind me of how much I love her and how much we both need You.

I shall pray for her daily.