To pray and not lose heart is no small task

To pray and not lose heart is no small task,
To come before the throne without a mask,
Revealing all your deepest doubts and fears
And failures, then to still step forth and ask

For help and hope. You tremble, feeling tears
As faith, formed over long, uncertain years,
Stands face to face with yet another test
That threatens to undo you. But he hears

The weakness in your voice and offers rest.
He knows your heart is breaking, calls you blessed
And calls for faith again, promising peace
In perseverance, that his way is best.

And so you pray in hope, and you release
Control of circumstances, so to cease
From all burdensome worries and to bask
In grace before the lamb with crimson fleece.


Photo by Thomas Vitali on Unsplash

Confession

Confession: I wish you would do my will,
For I would rather not surrender all.
I would prefer more say in what you call
Me to within your kingdom. Only kill
Those parts of me with which I wish to part.
Pick from the list I curate, then begin
To excise only my unwanted sin,
But leave the rest lest you disturb my heart.

O weak desire, false freedom, foolish dream.
Such service would be fiction, for the throne
Would be yours in name only. Lord, remove
Me from my central focus and redeem
All places where my heart is still like stone.
In grace and mercy, pardon and reprove.


Photo by Kristaps Ungurs on Unsplash

Provision

Some hopes are dashed upon the throne of grace,
Are lifted up in pray’r to be denied.
And though it seems the Father hides his face,
We need not fear that he will not provide.
But his provision oft is of a kind
Perceived unkind while in the midst of loss.
What he deems “need” is diff’rently defined.
Sometimes the crown is traded for the cross.
But crosses borne in faith will always form
Our souls as needed, so we need not fret.
His grace suffices for the fiercest storm.
None who trust full in him shall feel regret.
But it is faith—not sight—that shows the way.
God is our shepherd. We need ne’er dismay.


Photo by John Joumaa on Unsplash

When God Says, “No”

Sometimes, God says, “No.”

You submit your request to God, trusting that he knows best but hoping he’ll fulfill your desire. But he doesn’t.

I’ve wondered before if he doesn’t grant my requests because I’m asking wrongly. James wrote of this problem, defining the error as asking “to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). So I’ve prayed for the Lord to help me to ask rightly, to purify my desires. I’ve been convicted of sins and have repented of idolatry. I’ve begun to think about prayer differently, reevaluating my intentions and goals as I bring my requests to the Lord. But sometimes his answer remains “No.”

I’ve also wondered if he doesn’t grant my requests because of my lack of faith. Maybe I’m just not trusting him enough. Maybe I’m failing to exhibit the faith spoken of in Hebrews 11. Maybe I give up too quickly and simply need to be persistent in prayer like the widow in Luke 18. So I’ve prayed more boldly, more persistently, more hopefully. I’ve begun to consider what praying in faith might mean, how long persistent prayer should typically last, what the Lord had in mind when he taught on prayer. But sometimes his answer remains “No.”

I rarely understand the reason for his “No.” I’ve questioned, sought, wondered, and cried, but I don’t have many answers. But I have a history of experiences that testify to the goodness and faithfulness and love of God. Though I often didn’t understand his purposes in such seasons, I can look back and see how every “no” was for good reason. I also have a deeper love of the Lord and trust in him borne from extended seasons of unfulfilled desires. As I waited on him, he shaped my soul, humbled my heart, and renewed my mind.

I haven’t risen above the fear and worry that often come when God withholds what I request of him. I’m far from perfect faithfulness. But I think, by the grace of God, I’m growing. I reflect on his work in my life thus far, and I am comforted. His answer may be “No,” but his purpose remains good. So I have hope for all present and future circumstances, hope grounded not in what I can see or feel in the moment but in what I know to be eternally true: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).


Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

Redeem

How can you redeem what I have done?
I have sought solace in sin,
worshiped idols, chose
self over you.
True,
you are sovereign still,
ruler over every realm.
But how I rebel,
rejecting life,
desiring death.
I wound
myself as well as
those I love
less than I love myself
but more than I love you.
I have no excuse,
no plea but your pardon,
no hope but your help.
Salvage me
that I might be useful,
perhaps even
faithful.
May it be.
Have mercy.
Redeem even me.

Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

Change, Part Two

Let now the hard soil of our souls be tilled,
And let us not resist the needed change.
Let not another be unjustly killed.
Let what is common now become most strange.
Lord, show us our responsibility
And lead us in compassion. Let the cries
For justice not end in futility
But further freedom as our pray’rs arise.
Let us be quick to listen, slow to speak,
And slow to anger with no room for sin.
Let those with power learn to live as meek,
And let this lifelong journey now begin.
Teach us to meet all souls with love and grace
As we now learn to welcome and embrace.


Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

Comparison, Come to Kill Again

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Comparison, come to kill again, quick
To cripple, curse, cry foul, foment, and feed
Confusion till desire seems more like need.
God’s grace grows grey, his manna makes me sick
Even as it sustains me. Still I stick
Stock in distinctions, hear his call but heed
Too my brother’s call. He blossoms. I bleed.
Truth bids me trust. I tremble and cry, “Trick!”

Dethrone, O God, the god of my making,
Myself as ultimate, false comfort, chief
Of my affections choking out true love,
Unlovely leech of joy. Set to breaking
My false assumptions and restore belief
In your good will and all my lot thereof.


Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

The God of Peace

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The topics of peace and division have been on my mind lately. In part, this is due to some of my research along those lines this semester (see last week’s post for more on that). But the themes are present outside of the classroom as well. Online interactions show us that division is prevalent in our world, and the bitterness with which people divide makes peace seen almost a myth. And sadly, the church isn’t immune from such struggles to live in unity.

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