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Archive for August, 2011


Father,

As I thoughtfully look about,

Appraising my circumstances,

Which are not what I desired—

Not at all what I had planned—

I don’t understand where You are leading,

Nor do I understand why I must travel

My path in such isolation as a solitary figure.

I wanted my life to be so different—

To be easier and more carefree—

But that has not been what I’ve experienced.

As I see the smiling faces of others—

Those who talk about You as if they

Know You intimately but do not—

I wonder why their lives appear to be

Free from disappointment and conflict,

While mine has been stressful and difficult.

I wonder if I will ever experience joy again?

Father, tell me when will Your pruning hand

Be finished with its relentless alterations?

When will I awaken from darkness and despair,

To a bright, sunny day, filled with promise—

Free from sorrow—free from loss?

When will You move in a mighty

Redemptive way, to strengthen me?

When will You say to my enemies,

This is my child—my beloved child—

Whom I will strengthen and establish with power.

Let all who wonder know that it is I—

The great “I Am” who has done this work.

Father, I know that You are in charge;

That You have numbered my days

And each of my time is in Your hands.

It is within Your power to change everything—

To allow my life to have far more meaning.

Please finish Your transformations quickly,

So that I can withstand the swirling wind

With its foreboding clouds that has encompassed me.

But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord, neither remember iniquity forever; behold, look now, all of us are Thy people. (Isaiah 64:8-9)

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Father,

For those who wait patiently for You,

For those who come to You for guidance,

Rather than taking matters into their own hands,

You promise that they will mount up with wings like eagles,

That they will run and not grow weary—

That they will walk and never faint.

In the depth of my despair, in my intense heartache,

Your promises seemed so remote,

So obscure, so meaningless and unattainable

That I was certain they were beyond my reach.

I never considered them to be real or tangible.

To me, they were nothing more than sappy, poetic words.

In my pain and heartache, all I wanted was relief,

Which at times was so intense I thought it would never end.

I begged You to answer my insistent demands,

Which You never did, adding to my distress.

I felt so unloved and abandoned—even by You,

Which magnified my pain tenfold, maybe twenty.

You did answer my prayers, but You just said “No.”

You loved me enough to prevent me form outcomes

That were clearly not in my best interest.

In my disquietude and short-sightedness,

I couldn’t understand or fathom Your will, but now I do.

Because I chose Your path instead of my willful self-destruction,

You have brought me to a higher plateau—

To a place where I am now capable

Of mounting up with wings like an eagle—

Just as You promised in Your Word.

Because You restore the years the locust have eaten,

I feel refreshed—invigorated with a determined resolve—

Which has increased my energy dramatically.

As my strength and faith continue to abound,

I feel empowered to run and not grow weary.

Now, I can willingly bow my knee and thank You

For caring for me enough to refuse my demands.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am you God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10-11)

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Father,

There was a path that seemed so promising—

A road that looked like it was Your way,

But it was not. It required far too much

Compromise to be something that You would honor.

In the deepest recesses of my heart,

I knew it—in spite of all my protestations.

Nevertheless, I followed that path,

Which I knew was the wrong way,

Paying a terrible price for doing so.

Later, with no other acceptable recourse,

I came back to You, just as I have always done—

Sorrowful, humbled, and crushed—with hat in hand,

Ready and willing to accept necessary change.

This time, however, instead of medicating my pain,

I endured the necessary heartache for a period,

Which I thought was far too long, but You knew

Was exactly the time that was required.

You promised that if I would humble myself

You would exalt me at the proper time.

I didn’t believe this was true—not literally,

Nor that You would do it—not really.

But You have, and I can clearly see

Your hand in the restoration of my life.

Now, I stand strong, far wiser, and more resilient,

With a countenance that is calm and sane.

Humbling myself because I had no alternative,

I never considered that—in Your wisdom—

You had orchestrated my circumstances

In a way that I could do nothing other than look to You.

This wasn’t the road I would have chosen for myself,

But it’s the road You have chosen for me.

I wish I could say that I have learned all my lessons,

But I know who I am. I know that in my heart—

I am prone to wander—prone to leave the God I love.

Father, take my heart—take and seal it—

From following fruitless paths leading nowhere.

Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; Teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, for Thou are the God of my salvation; For Thee I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Thy compassion and Thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been from of old. (Psalm 25:4-6)

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Father,

Sometimes I’m so afraid

That my skin grows cold

And I can hardly breathe.

I feel so helpless and all alone.

I’m afraid of so many things—

Of people, of places, of isolation,

Of death, and of economic insecurity.

The list seems endless, Father,

And I am powerless to calm my fears,

Which rob me both of sleep and serenity.

Without Your protection as a shield,

I fear that imminent devastation

Will be my destiny, destroying my life.

I am so consumed with fear that

I can’t hear Your reassuring voice.

In my heart, I know that You are

My refuge—my source of strength—

And that I can rely on You completely.

In You, I am safe and sheltered from storms

That threaten to destroy my future.

Help me to be calm and confident

Regardless of my circumstances—

Not shrinking away but standing firm,

While dwelling in the safety of Your strength.

Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us O Lord! Thou has put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:6-8)

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Father,

Sometimes, life can be so complicated.

Doing the right thing seems easy enough,

Until it comes time to do it,

When the dread of adverse consequences

Becomes an overwhelming concern.

My heart’s desire is for my life to get easier.

Tell me, why am I so special that my journey

Is constantly filled with such difficulties?

Why can’t things go smoothly—just for a while?

Why me, Lord? Why me? Why? Why? Why?

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining,

But I know that I am. I’m complaining because

My shoes are too tight, while others go barefoot.

I know I should be more grateful,

But I want a respite from my anguish.

I want to be far from despair and sorrow.

The “Be warmed and be filled” crowd of Christians

Smile and offer meaningless, glib platitudes,

As I try to nurse wounds that I fear will destroy me.

I want to serve You with gladness and joy,

But I have no sense of hope within—

Nothing that can sustain me for more

Than a few moments at a time.

I don’t want to be a robotic automaton,

Pretending that everything is fine and joyous,

When I know that things are dreadfully wrong.

My days, which are numbered by You,

Are passing before me, and it all seems

Like a terrible, meaningless waste.

Intervene, Lord, and allow me to know

Joy and gladness once again.

Fill my days with peace and purpose,

So that I can tell other of Your fidelity.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5)

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Father,

You know how badly

I have been mistreated

By those who should have nurtured my welfare

But have done exactly the opposite,

Taking advantage of my trusting nature instead.

I’ve expressed my outrage and indignation

To You so often that I’ve lost count.

This affront has wounded me so deeply that—

Out of my pain—I know I have hurt others,

Which I’ve sought to justify but cannot.

I fear that I have become like those who have hurt me,

Injuring the innocent—just as I once was.

Father, I acknowledge that I have done this,

And I am becoming someone I don’t want to be.

I don’t want to be like my abusers,

But to be honest, I know I have been,

Despite my insistent denials that I have not.

Forgive me, Father. Heal my wounds,

And restore gladness to my troubled soul.

As a conscious act of contrition, I choose to renounce

My self-serving ways, which have been so destructive.

Despite my pain, anger, and disquietude,

I make a commitment to abandon my malice.

To ensure that I fulfill my resolution,

I will need Your strength and guidance.

Will You reach down and touch me?

Will You help me bridle my sharp tongue?

Will You keep my feet from stumbling?

Will You transform my wandering heart,

And maintain it close to You?

I need Your help now, Father.

Without it, my resolve will be short lived

Amounting to nothing more than empty words.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32)

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Father,

You are the Master Architect

Engineering the events of my life,

Providing an opportunity for me

To rise to the occasion each and every day.

At times, Your leading seems clear,

While at others, it’s remote, appearing to be

So far away that I can’t find You,

Regardless of how hard I try.

Even when Your presence alludes me,

I know that You are there.

You are always guiding me—

Always present, always vigilant.

As my life becomes increasingly visible

And people occasionally look to me for guidance,

Let my life speak of what You have done—

Not by my words, which seem so inadequate,

And may appear to be petty, trite and shallow—

But by my actions, which are observable by all.

Oh, how I loathe the pompously religious—

Those with self-aggrandizing, arrogant, unyielding hearts.

May I never be like them—like those

Who talk of Your love and guidance,

While seeking an advantage over others

Who foolishly trust them completely.

Let my witness be viewed by my actions,

And not by my mellifluous tongue,

Which I know can be self-serving and serpentine.

Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Ty truth and teach me, for Thou are the God of my salvation; For Thee I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:4-5)

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Father,

My spirit has been rejuvenated.

Even my step feels lighter,

As the burden of my past has been

Lifted from my shoulders.

Now free to walk into the future,

Unencumbered by guilt, shame, and remorse,

Which have produced self-defeating behavior,

I want my life to have more meaning

Than the mediocrity that has become my routine.

The pursuit of valueless materialism no longer

Has the appeal for me that it once held.

In fact, my definition of success has changed.

My spirit has been awakened, and I want

To spend each of my days, which You have numbered,

Doing what You would have me do—

What You have prepared for me to do.

I’ve learned that I can more accurately

Understand Your leading by look back,

Than I can by looking toward the future.

Whatever You have in store for me, Lord,

Regardless of what that might be,

That is where I want to spend my days.

Having wandered so far from You in the past,

I know the mischief I am capable of doing,

And that’s not what I want for my life.

Guard my heart, Father, so that

I will not wander away from You again,

Pursuing fruitless, meaningless diversions.

Let my heart rejoice in Your ways.

Give me peace, purpose, and the resolve

To accomplish Your will each day,

For as many as I have remaining.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

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Father,

It is so easy to live my life each day,

Never taking the time to pay attention

To You or to all that You have done for me.

I haven’t disregarded You purposefully,

But I don’t make You a priority either.

Then, when everything seems to unravel,

When nothing works and everything

That can go wrong definitely does,

My focus becomes complete and instantaneous,

And I regret my capriciousness instantly.

I become panicked, wanting You to “fix” everything,

Fearful that my world will crumble completely.

Calling upon You from the depth of my being,

I hear Your voice, which gently but firmly tells me,

To be still and know that You are Almighty God—

That You are in charge of everything and all is well.

I know that this should give me confidence,

And that I should cease from my anxious worrying,

But that’s not what happens at all—

That has never been my experience.

Instead, I become more intense and insistent than ever,

Begging, whining, moaning, and carping—

Anything to get Your attention and demand relief.

But no matter what I do or how animated I become,

Your answer never changes—not even a little.

As I sit in my solitude, in moments when all is quiet,

Your voice becomes even clearer, reminding me,

To be still and know that You are God.

If I were stronger, I would cease from all my striving,

But it’s not in my nature to trust You that easily.

I wish that this was my way, but I know that it isn’t.

I want to learn to rest, but that doesn’t happen

Until I’ve exhausted myself with distress, fear, and fretting.

Finally, when I am completely spent and can no longer

Muster a complaint, I bow my knee, as I should have earlier,

And submit to the small quiet voice that never ceases to say,

Be still and know that I am there for you—

That I am God Almighty.

They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wit’s end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet; So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! (Psalm 107:27-31)

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Father,

As the years progress,

I often hear people talk

About how much they trust You,

But their proclamations seem less sincere

Than the pronouncements of a fickle lover.

Lacking tangibility and depth,

Their affirmations, which flow mellifluously

From their self-serving mouths,

Have selfish and egotistical motives,

Which seem devoid of worthwhile substance.

Their loyalty has not been forged

By adversity and weathered by hardship.

Their trust seems shallow and juvenile,

Rather than strong, resilient, and steadfast.

Believing that whining and demanding

Will gain Your favor rather than being authentic,

They come before You with hearts

Which are petulant, peevish, and proud.

Lacking gratitude, they are arrogantly self-righteous.

I understand their perspective completely,

Having spent decades of my life

Coming before You in precisely

The same self-serving, self-centered way—

Never understanding, never conceding

That You know what is best for me.

I acknowledge my effrontery and selfishness.

I have foolishly thought that my way

Was better than Yours, but I have been wrong.

I have wanted my way, believing that

When You refused to grant it,

You were distant and detached—

Unloving, uncaring, rigid, and unconcerned.

How foolish I have been, Father, how foolish.

You do know what’s best for me,

Regardless of what that might be.

After years of perusing frivolity,

I now understand the error of my ways.

I wish I had recognized it sooner,

But I lacked the maturity to do so.

Now, as wisdom settles deep within me,

I bow me knee and acknowledge this truth:

You give and take away,

You give and take away,

You give and take away,

Blessed be Your name.

Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord and He will have compassion on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:6-9)

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Father,

I know You want me to trust You completely,

And I do—at least, most of the time.

But because of what has hurt me so much

And because of my feelings of worthlessness,

I still struggle believing that You love me—

That You accept me just the way I am,

Regardless of how awful I have been.

I don’t see how You can—not really.

Perhaps that’s why I whine and remain timid,

Even though Your desire for me

Is to be resilient, strong, and self-assured.

I desire inner strength, but that’s rarely an option.

Father, how can You love someone like me?

That You do is something I cannot figure out.

Such love and acceptance is beyond my grasp.

You say that you love me despite everything,

Even when my self-defeating ways consume me.

As I see Your displays of faithfulness,

My trust in You increases and becomes sounder,

But it still isn’t where it needs to be—not really.

I pretend to be strong—to be supremely confident,

But I’m not nearly the person on the inside

That I appear to be on the outside.

I pretend to be what I am not—

To be far more secure than I really am.

I even try to fool myself,

But You know each of my frailties,

Which I try to hide and attempt to mask.

I don’t know why You care so much about me,

When I don’t care that much about myself.

This is mystery I doubt I’ll ever grasp.

In my quiet moments, which I attempt to avoid,

I try to comprehend such love and caring,

But I simply cannot.

O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me. Thou does know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all. Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is to high, I cannot attain to it. (Psalm 139:1-6)

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Father,

I feel so broken and despondent.

My body writhes in despair,

Consumed with pain and anguish,

And I have a sense of hopelessness

That I fear will overwhelm me.

When will it ever end?

I wander aimlessly, without purpose,

Without understanding—devoid of joy,

Which once was mine in abundance.

My grief is ever before me,

Reminding me of my loss,

Robbing me of sleep,

Diminishing my countenance,

Telling me that I have failed.

Others placate me by saying,

“It’s all for a purpose.”

My friends who want to “fix me”

And lift the sorrow from my heart.

But they can’t; nothing seems to help.

Nothing seems to ease my pain—not even a little.

I can pretend to comprehend and to understand—

To grasp the lesson I am being taught,

But I don’t. I don’t understand at all.

My heart is broken, perhaps beyond repair,

And I fear that it will never mend,

And I will never laugh or be joyful again.

In my despair and hopelessness,

I cry to You, begging for relief.

You hear, but You don’t answer.

I beseech You, moaning and whining,

But You allow my pain to continue,

Every day—long into the night.

Rescue me my Lord; rescue me quickly.

Put Your healing hand on my broken heart,

And make me whole once again.

Teach me my lesson so that

I need never repeat it again.

Take that which is broken and shattered

And mend it so completely that it will

Be whole and more resilient than ever.

Make my sadness become a distant memory.

Strengthen me so that I may

Bless Your name with gladness.

My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, “My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.” Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:17-23)

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Father,

I know You have not given me

A spirit of fear.

Your Word assures me

That You haven’t,

But that doesn’t mean

I’m not fearful. I am.

Sometimes, my fear is so consuming

That it sends a cold chill

Through my body—

Through my soul—

Through the essence of my being.

On the outside, it doesn’t show,

But on the inside,

Which houses my insecurity and vulnerability,

I am undone.

Every fiber of my being

Quakes with dread,

Consuming me with foreboding.

When will it ever end?

When will my heart know peace?

When will terror of the unknown

Cease to grip my soul,

Tossing me about,

Robbing me of sleep,

Robbing me of purpose,

Robbing me of a productive life.

You know me intimately, Lord.

You know my thoughts,

As well as the intentions of my heart.

But I can’t find You in this dismal pit,

Which has become my existence.

Assure me that I will experience joy—

That I will regain my confidence—

That I will smile at the future again.

Don’t allow this to be my lot—my portion,

And my destiny from now on.

What will my future be?

Will my disquietude ever abate?

Will tranquility be mine

Or nothing more than a memory?

The answers are not in my hands.

I have no control, and my fear

Robs me of my faith in You,

Which I do not know how to overcome.

You see me as I really am

And not how I pretend to be.

Rescue me, Lord; rescue me quickly,

Lest my fear consume all that is of value.

So your life will hang in doubt before you; and you shall be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see. (Deuteronomy 28:66-67)

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