A Grateful Heart: My Prayer

Gratitude is on my mind today. I’ve been wondering why we find it so hard to just be thankful. When did gratitude go out of style, become so uncool? Every day we are so “ate up” with what we think is wrong in our lives, with what we think is insulting or offensive, that we can’t see past the negatives to the abundance of positives.

We obscure our lives with so much wanting, confusing desire with need, that sometimes, it seems, we forget this uncomplicated truth: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” We live in a time that is unprecedented in all of recorded history. We literally have almost anything we desire at our fingertips, at any given moment, and while there seems to be great disparity between those who “have” and those who “have not,” even the poorest among us still enjoy a standard of living greater than all but a handful of other countries.

We are blessed, more than any other people at any other time, and the simple act of counting your blessings makes all the difference in the world to your attitude about life, turning your attention away from the “don’t” haves and toward the “do” haves. Even on our worst days, when we we’ve gotten a rotten diagnosis, or we don’t know how we’re ever going make it another day, we still have more than we came with. We can still “count it all joy, when we meet trials of various kinds, for we know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness,  letting steadfastness have its full effect, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  And, we can still “give thanks in everything: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.”

So, here’s a prayer for a grateful heart:

Instill in me a grateful heart that I may know Your ways and live by them. That I may be thankful for all Your gifts, even when those gifts appear to me as trials, for it is through adversity that You draw me nearest to You, that You teach me of Your faithfulness and love, that You show me the meaning of perseverance, of trust, of faith.

Instill in me a grateful heart that I may see humanity through Your eyes. That I may be thankful for Your love, Your compassion, even when that love feels miles away and I cannot see it, knowing that each person I see faces the same fears, insecurities, and battles as I, for it is Your love which connects us all, which teaches us of hope, of tolerance, of compassion.

Instill in me and grateful heart that I may walk with you in love and joy. That I may be thankful for the tranquility of Your presence, even when I’m surrounded by chaos, and strife is the theme of the day, trusting that Your yoke is easy, that Your guidance will see me through, that I may find solace with a prayer on my lips and peace in my heart.

Amen

~ SLM

1 Timothy 6:7, James 1:2-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Transitions

Letting go and letting God is much easier said than done. When our lives are unsettled, then transitions occur, our troubled minds find no rest. This is when we must resolve to trust the most, but is usually when we are the least willing to follow. We stand frozen, like Lot’s wife, mournful for what we are leaving behind, unwilling to fathom that what lies ahead could well be what we’ve always dreamed of. Instead, we allow ourselves to be convinced that the difficulties and strife we’ve just come through is far better than what may come into. We make many small transitions every day, a new boss, a road closure, an unexpected delay, without letting them stop us in our tracks, yet the larger ones paralyze us. How are they different? We have no trust that what we are being delivered into will be better than what we are delivered from. God’s timing is hardly ever our timing, and if it were, we’d probably never follow His plan. Matthew 6:34 tells us, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” I guess it’s human nature that we are more willing to “stay with the devil we know” rather than take the leap toward something more. It’s sure, it’s safe and trusting means we admit we are not in control, we admit we haven’t made very good choices.

But what about the God we know? Have we no trust in his ability to keep us? Why is it so difficult to cling to His promises? Psalm 23 begins with this line: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing – NOTHING! Even when it looks like there is no road, we must trust that God will provide. We see only a small portion of the puzzle, and when we reflect upon our journey, don’t we always see just how lovingly we’ve been cared for?  

It occurs to me that it’s our attitude toward our life’s events that needs adjusting. How different, more calm and blissful would our lives be if we stopped lamenting what we perceive as misfortunes and embraced God’s plan? What if we were to relish the twists and turns of this roller-coaster ride we call life, and face each day with this thought: These are exciting times that God has provided for me, I can’t wait to go down this road, to see how this will all shake-out, and to see who I will become as a result of it all!

~SLM

What Fills the Heart

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Isaiah 29:13 which states, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me,” and since it’s Valentine’s Day, the day we all like to give our hearts away, I thought I’d share my ponderings. So, just what exactly is a “far away” heart, what does it mean?  It means not near, estranged and lacking in closeness, distant. When we are distant from someone, we do not hear them, we do not feel them, and we do not see them.

The Message translates this verse like this: “These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it. Because they act like they’re worshiping me but don’t mean it,” and goes on to translate verse 14 as, “I’m going to step in and shock them awake, astonish them, stand them on their ears. The wise ones who had it all figured out will be exposed as fools. The smart people who thought they knew everything will turn out to know nothing.” This verse is so fascinating to me, because it seems to speak on so many levels. It’s about what fills our hearts and the actions that stem from our beliefs. It’s also about hypocrisy, about saying one thing while doing another. It’s about arrogance and pride and bearing false witness.

A far away heart means being unaware of what is in your heart, not knowing what you accept as true or why you accept it, not loving others as you would be loved, and trusting in God, but not trusting Him. Others may not know what is truly in our hearts, but God knows, and he can tell if we are near or far, if our hearts are filled with his love or something else entirely. One thing I know for sure is this: Whether we realize it or not, we live where our hearts are, holding in them all that we value, all that we hope for, all that is dear to us, and no matter what our lips say, or what we declare, our actions are always, always in accordance with our true beliefs, with what fills the heart.

May your heart always be close to God’s and filled with His love today and always…

~SLM

A Prayer for the New Year 2014

Finally, after all the “busy-work” of the Holiday Season, a moment of peace and contemplation – ahh! I have missed my quiet time of reflection and have resolved to be more disciplined about it. This is the first fruit, the rebirth of sanity for the new year, expressed in a simple prayer.

Heavenly Father,

All praise and honor belong to you for there is no other like you, none who compare to you. You know my heart, dear Lord, my sorrows and joys, my triumphs and troubles; all that I am is laid bare unto you. Send me your Word, your Wisdom, a guiding light in the darkness, for you are the rock upon which I have built my life.  Give me toleration for the weaknesses of my brothers and sisters, and remind me that I, too, am far less than perfect. Keep my eyes fixed upon your example, your consequence,  steering my every step to Your greater purpose, filling my heart with the tranquility of your presence, the comfort of your love that I may show others peace and encouragement in your name.

Amen.

SLM

Proverbs 10:22 Count Your Blessings

Sometimes, when studying scripture, you’re handed a big, fat, juicy morsel to chew on and digest, and for me, Proverbs 10:22 is just such a tidbit.

“It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich,
And He adds no sorrow to it,”

A simple sentence, packed with a complexity of subtle flavors, and a rich texture of nourishing truth that speaks on many levels.

On one plane, we are reminded that anxiety and pain often times comes from our want of something, from our coveting what others have, and when we focus on our lack, lack is all we can see. It tells us that what we emphasize in our lives is what we create for ourselves. So, when we emphasize God, counting our blessings, we underscore the many gifts we are given every day, our abundance, and it changes our perception, giving us the chance to see the world around us with new eyes.

On another level, it tells us to look at life through joyful eyes. If we delight in our many blessings, our lives become welcome, and our happiness permeates our entire being, making our daily lives a gift rather than a burden to us. Even if our road takes us down a few dark alleys, scary places we don’t understand or appreciate, we can still see the positive, find the joy, and know that we are loved and cared for. The Lord’s blessings enrich us, even if they are given through difficulties.

It also speaks to the fact that the things of this world, our clothes, our cars, our home, or our nifty little electronic toys, are very transitory. They do not last, nor do they hold any real significance in the overall scheme of things. The point we should hold in our hearts is this: It is God’s blessings that make us rich, and when we realize this simple truth, realize just how fortunate we truly are, our daily “toils” are no longer painful, they shrink away to nothingness.

~SLM