Love

Jesus, I treasure Your love.  Thank You, for living inside of me, for speaking to me, for listening to me.  You are the dearest friend.  No one gives like You give…so extravagantly, so wholeheartedly.  You gave up Your prestige and glory.  You gave health to bodies, soundness to tormented souls, heaven to our hells.  You gave everything, even Your life in a very brutal, humiliating death…all so we could live.

Thank you for family and friends.  I am grateful for how they each fight for my well being in their own way, how they each show me a different facet of Your love.  Thank You for the many hugs I’ve received, the many shoulders I have leaned on, the hands that have comforted and served and the words that strengthen and destroy prison walls.

I love looking at the world You’ve made.  Everything You’ve created shows exquisite attention to detail, even an ordinary leaf or a blade of grass.  Every animal created is an amazing bundle of personality, strengths and survival skills.  The sun shines with warmth and life and joy, faithfully rising every day, even on those who do not deserve kindness.  The color, the sounds, the movement…all declare that You are amazing.

Finally, I see Your love in the invisible principles You’ve laid down to govern everything. Every great idea is an expression of Your love, a glimpse into a deeper principle, a wisdom pillar built on love.  At the end of the day, when I stand before You face to face, I want to hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  I want to see Your eyes of approval because I built my life on Your eternal love.  I built my life on receiving and delighting in Your love.  I built my life on loving even when it appeared small and insignificant, because You treasure and remember every little act of love forever.

Love Answering

Early this week, I felt like I heard God say that He loves to answer my prayers.  My honest first response was retorting back, “What about all the delayed answers?”  Every season of my life, there seems to be at least one major unanswered prayer for that season.  I pray.  I pour my heart out.  I weep. I fast.  I sing.  I imagine God’s answers.  I declare and decree loudly.  I blow the shofar  …  Silence  …  In fact, sometimes the situation gets worse.  I have heard that there are many reasons for delayed answers: spiritual warfare, sin, timing, character building, free will choices. I may be able to make an intellectual list of a lot of good reasons for delayed answers or unanswered prayers.  Yet none of them strike my heart with an “Aha.  This is why my prayer is not getting answered.”  None of them really give me the comfort, nor the strength I need to keep clinging to God for answers. What keeps me clinging to God?  God Himself.  He is my strength.  He is my resilience.  He is my encouragement.

I still do not understand delays, but my heart believes God’s word that He LOVES to answer my prayers.  These past few days, His Spirit repeatedly reminds me that He loves to answer my prayers, and each time I gratefully receive His word to me.  Out loud, I gratefully respond, “Daddy, thank You that You love to answer my prayers.” He wants to answer my prayers.  He loves to answer my prayers.  He wants me to ask and keep asking so that He can give and I can receive.  It brings Him joy to bring me joy.  So I ask and keep asking, believe and keep believing…and as I do this, I feel God deepening reservoirs of strength, faith, love and joy, making these momentary light afflictions worth the eternal weight of glory.

Gaze

You keep in perfect peace those whose eyes are fixed on You.  So when I feel anxious, I know my eyes have drifted from You.  I live in a world riddled with problems — large injustices down to small inconveniences.  Your ancient enemy loves to use these problems to steal my joy and peace…and, oh, how easily my joy seems to get stolen.

But You, God, love to use these problems for glory.  Each problem is Your invitation to draw near to You, to develop a history of seeing You come through for me, to fall deeper in love with You.  You long for Your sons of glory to rise up and step into their destinies.  You chose the hour and the place each of us would be born.  You chose the obstacles and battles each of us would face…and You wait in anticipation for us to step into our place as sons that bring heaven to earth, divine solutions to problems that seem unsolvable, love and joy in the darkest places. You wait for us to display Your multifaceted wisdom to all principalities.  It is a mystery why You wait for humble humanity, a mystery why You love us so much.  You made us from dust, clothed us in humanity, yet call us to infinite glory as kings and priests.

Help me not shrink back and hide or whine when I’m faced with what looks like an insurmountable obstacle.  Help me keep my eyes fixed on You, confidant that You have given me everything I need to bring more heaven to earth.

Rest

Jesus, I hear Your invitation for me to rest, to enter Your rest.  Daily You invite me.  Moment by moment You invite me.  You’ve invited me for years, patiently extending Your hand, waiting for me to put my hand in Yours.  I’ve tasted fleeting moments of this eternal calm, when I feel the weight of Your presence, the eternal “all is well.”

And yet…I feel an almost relentless drive away from Your rest.  My mind races.  My heart sometimes swinging from one dark emotion to another.  What feels like the urgent beckons me to put out one fire after another.  The momentary trivial crowds out the eternal.

Still You wait.  You wait for me to enter into that exquisite place with You.  Our secret garden where You are in me, and I am in You.  Come, Holy Spirit, teach me how to remain in You, so that regardless of external calm or storm, my heart is in perfect peace.  Amen

Pruning

Jesus, I pruned my beloved peach tree this weekend until only about 10% of its branches remained.  There was some pain involved in pruning, especially the branches that were teeming with buds, each bud promising to become a delicious juicy peach…only to be cut short. Yet there was also something deeply satisfying about paring down my tree until it was stripped to its most basic simplicity.  Essentially, it was “decluttering” the dead branches, the crossed or too high up branches, even the wonderful vibrant branches which unnecessarily sucked the tree’s life energy.

So I know that, You Father, prune my life with exquisite skill and wisdom.  I imagine it hurts You, but You are willing to hurt and to let me hurt…for the greatest amount of fruitfulness, heaven and glory.  Let it be so.

Order

Jesus, I’ve grown to love order with each passing year.  When I was younger, order was not something I appreciated.  It was something I took for granted.  Yet I’ve grown to relish the feeling of order, and it is no longer something I take for granted.  It brings me great pleasure when my home is in order, when even the cupboards and closets are well organized.  I love having my finances in order, my business running efficiently and smoothly.  It is such a joy to have time uncluttered, unrushed, so I can be fully engaged in whatever I am doing in the moment.  I love the incredible well being that comes from sitting at Your feet and breathing deeply.

You are a God of order.  You could have created everything all at once.  Yet You created the material world in orderly fashion, each day designated for a specific creation.  So You love our lives to have divine order, each season for its unique purpose.  I pray my life would be a living reflection of the beauty of divine order, and that through the years, divine order would continue to expand in all facets of my life.  Amen.

Affection

Jesus, I’m grateful for Your affection.  I know that Your affection is not a mere fleeting warm feeling, but comes from a passionate, eternal divine love.  You loved little kids near You.  You loved to touch them and bless them.  Your eyes welled up with compassion so many times when You saw people suffering — the widow who lost her only son, the young rich ruler who couldn’t trade his wealth for Your kingdom, sisters mourning the death of their brother. Sometimes I can still see Your eyes well up with tears when You look at me in my sorrow — there’s so much warmth, tenderness and understanding in Your eyes.

I wish I could hear more clearly the emotions in Your voice when You share Your thoughts. I’m almost positive that I’m missing a lot of the warmth and passion in Your voice when I read the text that records Your words.  I’m almost positive I fail to hear the emotion in Your voice when You speak to my heart each day.  I ask You for wisdom to know Your heart toward me — Your enjoyment of me, Your approval of all that’s right, Your encouragement for the areas that are not quite there.  Thank you, Jesus, for Your kind thoughts toward me, for Your warm affection and fierce devotion.  My prayer is that I would pour out my affections on You each moment of this short life You’ve given me. Amen.

Need

Need.  Jesus, I would prefer not to have any.  Yet, in Your infinite wisdom, You created me with many needs: (1) need for food, clothing, shelter at the basic survival level, (2) need for friendship, understanding, affirmation on the emotional level, (3) need for growth, adventure, fulfillment on the soul and spirit level…so many needs on so many levels.  This is Your good design, so rather than balk at my limitations, I embrace what You’ve given me — this gift of needing.  My prayer is that I would experience You as my Provider, that I would fall deeper in love with You as You meet each need with infinite wisdom, extravagant generosity and much loving attention to detail.  Amen.

The Mundane

I wonder what You think of the mundane, of the routines of life, Jesus.  I wonder if the mundane was created to keep us humble, faithful in the little things…or if the mundane is a result of our fall from glory.  Somehow, I think we were created for so much glory that we never experienced boredom.  But now, in this fallen state, our glory is hidden, often hidden in the mundane.

Some people adore routine.  Some people would rather die than live trapped in routine. Then there is everyone else within these two extremes.  I’m one who prefers variety, fresh ideas and experiences.  Yet, over the years, I’ve also come to relish the sameness of my morning routine, the joy of bringing order to things — my paperwork, finance, space…  It is a strange paradox that I love the novel and the routine, that these two loves co-exist in me. Regardless, I’m grateful to enjoy both, grateful for the many simple pleasures from Your good hand.  Thank you, Jesus.  Amen.

Potential

Eating an egg this morning, I asked God why He made eggs.  I felt like God said to me that He loves potential.  Even more, He loves potential fulfilled.  Each of us has so much potential packed into us, so many divine treasures.  We reach some of our potential here on earth, but I think it will take all eternity to unpack the treasures inside us.  Jesus, my prayer is that potential will not stay mere potential, but be fulfilled…not just for me, but for the ones You’ve put into my life.  amen.