Prayer at All Times

“Forsake me not, O Lord.”
Psalm 38:21

Frequently we pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation, but we too much forget that we have need to use this prayer at all times. There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without his constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation, we alike need the prayer, “Forsake me not, O Lord.” “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” A little child, while learning to walk, always needs the nurse’s aid. The ship left by the pilot drifts at once from her course. We cannot do without continued aid from above; let it then be your prayer today, “Forsake me not. Father, forsake not thy child, lest he fall by the hand of the enemy. Shepherd, forsake not thy lamb, lest he wander from the safety of the fold. Great Husbandman, forsake not thy plant, lest it wither and die. Forsake me not, O Lord,’ now; and forsake me not at any moment of my life. Forsake me not in my joys, lest they absorb my heart. Forsake me not in my sorrows, lest I murmur against thee. Forsake me not in the day of my repentance, lest I lose the hope of pardon, and fall into despair; and forsake me not in the day of my strongest faith, lest faith degenerate into presumption. Forsake me not, for without thee I am weak, but with thee I am strong. Forsake me not, for my path is dangerous, and full of snares, and I cannot do without thy guidance. The hen forsakes not her brood; do thou then evermore cover me with thy feathers, and permit me under thy wings to find my refuge. Be not far from me, O Lord, for trouble is near, for there is none to help.’ Leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation!'”


 

From: Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. An amazing thing about God is that He is the same today as he was yesterday, last year, and two thousand years ago. Quite contrary to what people today will try to tell you, He does not change. That’s why I pray this prayer, written in the last half of the nineteenth century, with a feeling of solidarity with all the Christians before me.

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When the Days Get Long; CSI Miami

 

About a year ago, I was in a hotel room with my husband. He loves crime dramas. What’s more, he’s one of those people that are always up for watching a rerun of one of their favorite shows–no matter how many times they’ve seen it before. For me, once is enough. There are very few shows, or even movies, that I feel like watching more than once. So he was watching TV while I was doing something else. I don’t remember what. Suddenly a haunting song caught my attention. It was gospel–or maybe spiritual is the right term–bluesy and southern. And it was coming from an unimaginable source–a TV episode of CSI Miami.

I scrambled to get a piece of paper and a pen to write down a few words so I could look it up when I had access to a computer. The song was “Lord Remember Me” by Ruthie Foster and the Blind Boys of Alabama. What a pleasure to discover such an amazing talent in such an unexpected way.

I was reminded of it again today when listening to a remake of a Lenard Cohen song. Here’s the link to Ruthie’s version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FWajoLFzv8

The “One Anothers”

heartWhen asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God”. He went on to say that loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is the second greatest commandment (Matt 22:37-39). It is interesting that when asked about which was the first, He went on to add the second. From this we gather the importance of the second as well as the first. But loving unspecified others is hard, especially for an introvert like me. What does it even mean, to love others?

Last night while reading John MacArthur’s wonderful book Saved Without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation, I came upon a list of what he calls the ‘One Anothers’ that outlines the Biblical answer to the question of what God expects when He commands us to love our neighbors.

Here is what we are to do:

  • confess our sins to one another (James 5:16),
  • forgive one another (Col. 3:13),
  • bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2),
  • rebuke one another (Titus 1:13 NIV),
  • comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18),
  • encourage one another to do good (Heb 10:24-25),
  • edify one another (Rom 14:19 NIV),
  • counsel one another (Rom 15:14),
  • submit to one another (Eph 5:21 NIV),
  • instruct one another (Col 3:16)
  • be hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9-10),
  • bear with one another (Col 3:12-13),
  • pray for one another (James 5:16),
  • serve one another (Gal 5:13).

May God Bless your efforts.

A Prayer For Healing

15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV, James 5:15-16)


Today two people requested prayers for a sick loved-one, which reminded me that I have been planning to share this, my favorite prayer for healing.

Being as I am a Christian with a long way to go on my spiritual journey, I rely heavily on my study Bible. It suggests that the message of verse 15 may be though of as “The prayer produced by that faith will heal.” Of course, we know God’s will is not always to heal, so we must discern God’s will and accept it. I especially like this prayer because it encompasses these points. I found it on the internet and unfortunately do not know the original source.


Dear Lord,

You know Eliot so much better than I do. You know his illness and the burden he carries. You also know his heart. Lord, I ask You to be with Eliot now as you work in his life.

Lord, let Your will be done in Eliot’s life. If there is a sin that needs to be confessed and forgiven, please help him to see his need and confess.

Lord, I pray for Eliot just as Your Word tells me to pray, for healing. I believe You hear this earnest prayer from my heart and that it is powerful because of Your promise. I have faith in You, Lord, to heal Eliot, but I also trust in the plan You have for his life.

Lord, I don’t always understand Your ways. I don’t know why Eliot has to suffer, but I trust You. I ask that You look with mercy and grace on Eliot. Nourish his spirit and soul in this time of suffering and comfort him with Your presence.

Let Eliot know You are there with him through this difficulty. Give him strength. And may You, through this difficulty, be glorified in his life and also in mine.

Amen.

My Secret Enemy

It is a beautiful sunny day when I pull into the parking lot. I run the security gauntlet and make it inside the lock-down wing. The inside looks beautiful, especially compared to other facilities I have visited. It is brightly lit and spacious. The vaulted ceilings are very high and a long wall of windows lets in lots of natural light. A glass door across the very large common room leads to the outside where there is a small grassy area enclosed by an 8-ft tall black metal picket fence. In spite of this invitation to enjoy the outdoors, I realize that the door is locked. As I watch, a female resident approaches the door to the outside and pushes repeatedly on the bar, but it does not open. She becomes agitated and begins to yell. She calls out for help, cursing and yelling that she is being held prisoner. “I want to go home,” she wails. No one, neither staff nor resident, seems to notice and she eventually moves on.

Other residents, both men and women, are seated on sofas and chairs facing a large screen TV, at which they stare. There is no conversation; they simply sit. Suddenly, a door from one of the administrative offices lining the wall flies open and a facility employee bursts forward. As she sweeps toward the group of residents, she yells out, “Sweet baby Jesus! Where is….” She has seen me and clips off the remainder of the sentence. She quickly collects herself. “Mr. Tilson, come here,” she demands in a lower, calmer voice. I fight the urge to follow them into the office as she closes the door behind them. Mr. Tilson has no advocate and will face whatever is to come alone.

On the far side of the room are two long dining tables. A female resident gets up to help the employees setting the tables for lunch. She has probably been setting the table for meals since she was a girl. Perhaps, as a mother, she daily set a table for her family. Later, it would be herself and her husband. Now, when she sees a table being set, she gets up to help. The employees tell her it is their job to set the table. She is in the way, they tell her. She is slowing them down. How can they get their work done with her endless interference? The woman becomes confused and agitated. She fumbles with the forks and spoons, which are each wrapped in a paper napkin. Eventually, a staff member marches the woman back to the common area, seats her in a chair, and instructs her not to move.

Across the room I see my clients, both seated in wheelchairs pulled up to a square table in a far corner of the huge common room. Unlike the other female residents, these two ladies have their hair and makeup done. Today both wear sparkling hair bands. They are fully dressed in colorful outfits—not sweat suits like so many of the others. Private duty caregivers get them ready every morning–overloaded facility employees simply do not have the time. I wonder what affect a little pampering in the mornings has on the well-being of the two women. A bit of the familiar routine they engaged in for decades to start the day off right.

Neither of my two clients is able to walk, speak, or feed herself. One is still able to make eye contact. She looks up coyly with a sweet, shy smile when I take her hand and then quickly lowers her eyes to her lap again. She continues to hold tightly to my hand as I sit down next to her. It takes the hand-to-hand touch to get the smile, without it she simply stares into her lap.

I am here to meet with the two private duty caregivers and the grandson of one of my two clients. The grandson is close to tears, but I prefer to lead the conversation to positive topics. He tells us the origin of the nickname he calls his grandmother and soon we are all telling stories and laughing. In the midst of all the chatter, my client’s grandmother begins to mumble out loud. She is no longer able to make eye contact and does not recognize any of us, but I believe that in her mind she is joining the happy conversation as it flows around her. Suddenly, she chuckles out loud—a surprising, deep and throaty “Ha, ha, ha.” We all stop and stare at her for a beat, then break out laughing. I remain convinced that, on some level, she was aware of the “feel” of her surroundings and responded.

Later, as I prepare to leave, the grandson thanks me. It was like a party at the facility today, he says. That’s the word he used—a party. He is thankful for the pleasant visit. Usually everyone is crying, he tells me. In fact, one of his uncles no longer visits the facility even though he loves his mother fiercely and lives close by—it is simply too upsetting.

I always enjoy my visits to clients because of the difference I image it makes in the course of their day. And not just for my clients but for family members and the facility employees as well. Still, the truth is that I must constantly fight down the relentless image of myself sitting in that wheelchair. Days, weeks, months later—even now—it haunts me. I think back to college, when I could commit huge amounts of learning to memory—with very little trouble, I now realize. I imagine dementia, like a seed it will someday sprout and grow inside my head. How I hate that there is such a thing.

My grandmother at 100 years old at the facility

Control Freaks Anonomous

My Fellow Control Freaks–

I’m exhausted from controlling everything. I’ve been at it for so many years and I’m just tired. I watch the normal, non-control freak folks going about their business, knowing when they need to step in and staying out of it when they know there’s nothing they can do. But I’m plagued with one thought: how could I live with myself if something terrible happened and I had done nothing to at least try to prevent it?

When I worked for the government, I had a  handler. That’s the one person on my team that dared to tell me when my “energy level” was rising above the government tolerated threshold. You see, when working for the government one must have an exceedingly high tolerance for nitwittery–which I do not. Whenever I was in a meeting and the nitwittery level began to rise, I would naturally try to interject some semblance of rational thought into whatever ridiculous discussion was taking place. However, it being the government, it was frequently impossible to introduce common sense back into the proceedings. Thinking I was not trying hard enough, I would redouble my efforts to bring the discussions back into the realm of possibility. When something stupid was getting ready to happen, I just couldn’t let it go. It was my handler’s task to calm me down and keep me from making a CLM, a “Career Limiting Move”. We had a code word and, when she said it, I was suppose to realize I was on the path to a CLM.

Take, for example, a meeting in which the topic of discussion was the fact that the IT hotline could not keep up with the volume of calls. The idea on the table, and championed by the senior executive responsible for the call center, was to add an additional phone to the desk of each of the current call center employees. “Why not, after all they have two ears,” was not the response he was looking for.

As you can see, my handler had a tough job. One day she shared with me her theory that God was demonstrating to me that I don’t control everything. Even though I knew she was right, I couldn’t seem to reign myself in. Decades of control freakishness is not that easily overcome.

Ultimately, I left my job with the government, but God just upped the stakes. My son became a prodigal. Worse yet, he is the parent of my first grandchild. I was absolutely frantic to control the situation and drive my son back into line, for the sake of my grandson. The sleep I lost, the prayers I prayed, the arguments and the lies just continued to pile up as my prodigal’s behavior become more and more offensive. My fervent prayer was that God would not give up on my prodigal, that He would lead him back into obedience, and that He would keep my grandson safe.

Then one day at a preschool parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me God had spoken to her through my little grandson. As I listened to her story, I realized that God did have his hand on my grandson. That God was in control. I thought that maybe I was helpless to change the situation and, even more, maybe it was never my responsibility in the first place.

Sometimes, when I’m really exhausted from trying to control things, I long for the peace that surpasses all understanding. A few days ago, I felt it. It was just for a minute, but during that time I knew I couldn’t control this situation and I knew that God could. It’s a small thing, but it was the first time in my life I ever felt even remotely okay with not being in control. It seems all things are possible after all.

Glorify Him Now

Someday we will join the saints in glorifying our Lord. But we are instructed to do our best to glorify him in our earthly lives as well. I love this prayer that I just came across in Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. I struggle to find my life’s purpose, so this is particularly meaningful for me.

“Lord, help me to glorify thee;

I am poor; help me to glorify thee by contentment;

I am sick; help me to give thee honour by patience;

I have talents; help me to extol thee by spending them for thee;

I have time; Lord, help me to redeem it, that I may serve thee;

I have a heart to feel; Lord, let that heart feel no love but thine, and glow with no flame but affection for thee;

I have a head to think; Lord, help me to think of thee and for thee; thou hast put me in this world for something; Lord, show me what that is, and help me to work out my life-purpose: I cannot do much; but as the widow put in her two mites, which were all her living, so, Lord, I cast my time and eternity too into thy treasury; I am all thine; take me, and enable me to glorify thee now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have.”