Wow! Thanks so much for the encouraging emails and texts and other messages you guys have been sending - such a blessing to know so many people are willing to take the time to send an emal or an SMS or a card and stuff - bless you all.
I got two very special things today. One was a letter from my mum! She NEVER writes - because she is getting older and struggling with writing and things like that. I was so touched and really, really appreciated her sending me a letter. The other was a beautiful card from Debbie (my wife for those of you who don't know!) which has a quote on the front from Etty Hillesum. It says:
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two breaths.
How great is that! We so often rush through things and miss the beauty and the wonder of the moment God gives us. Buddhists call it the ability to 'be present in the moment'. Christians talk about centred-living or simplicity. Whatever we call it, it is the ability to really be present, to listen and feel and see and hear and experience the sheer and unadulterated truth of the moment in which we find ourselves. I've tried to do that today and in doing so have prayed the same thing for each of you. This morning, I lay awake from around 3am - 6am. At first I thought it was just because I was sore and couldn't sleep, then I realised it might be because God wanted me to do something with that time - to listen to him, to rest in the darkness of my room and be physically and spiritually still. So I decided to use an Ignatian spiritual discipline and simply pray the Jesus prayer in my head and heart. Over and over again, I simply mentioned the name of Jesus - and each time I felt myself sinking more and more into God's glorious love and grace.
The darkness became a blanket of safety and security and peace. The warmth of Debbie next to me became a tangible reminder of the promise of God's warmth and presence and love. The scent of my pillow began to remind me of the sweetness and intimacy with which God has wooed and loved me through the years. I heard the children getting up and down in the night, or one of my sons talking in his sleep and they reminded me of my dependency on God - for every breath, every thought, every second of my life. I heard the noise of deer in the car park outside and was reminded that God has set my feet on high places. I heard owls calling to one another and remembered that even in the watches of the night the Holy Spirit speaks and carresses and loves God's people. I started to pray for each of you - asking our Father to caress you through the challenges and concerns of today. I prayed that each moment of stillness today would become a moment of holiness - a thin place for you. I asked God to take the challenges and the strains and the difficulties of this day and wrap them in his soft and gentle love so that you might feel the impact of today - but not be hurt by it. Instead, I prayed that you would sense Him in your footsteps, feel Him in your shadow, hear him in the laughter or the cries around you. I prayed that whatever you did, you would know the unsurpassed pleasure of the God who loves us enough to hold us - and ocassionally let us fall, so that we might become stronger and clearer and deeper in our love for Him.
Then I got the card and the letter! How amazing is that? God is so much aware of all that we face and all that we need. I knew that these days of silence would be moments of blessing - but I had no idea just how much He wanted to renew my intimacy and connection with Him. He doesn't need to do that - He doesn't need me! Yet He chooses to draw me in, to protect and nurture and strengthen me - wow!
Wrote this prayer for you all today - God bless.
There are people I love today who will face unchartered waters.
Be the hand that holds their vessels strong and safe in the midst of crashing waves and howling winds.
Be the light that safely guides them through this storm. Like a North Star shining through the clouds, let the light of Your love and grace shine through the clouds that try to hide Your presence. Pierce the darkness of despair, the fog of fear and the haze of hopelessness. Shine Your light onto the paths in front of Your peoples' feet - guiding each step toward Your path, Your way, Your safety.
Be the breeze that blows upon Your people today Lord. A breeze that blows away the cobwebs of regret and scatters the drizzle of despair. Let Your breath whisper to Your people through the singing of a bird and the chatter of children.
May they hear words of hope and strength, words that remind them of a brighter and clearer tomorrow. As the storms cease and the waves subside, be the quiet lapping at their boat.
Let their vision be clearer.
Let the storm have cleared the skies to leave new visions and vistas for Your people to see.
Let the waves give way to a fresher, brighter and bigger horizon than they ever thought possible.
In the quiet after the storm may Your people see you once again - in their boat, where You have always been.
May Your presence and Your gaze drive away lingering anxieties and fear and may they hear you whisper their name - as only a Father can whisper the name of their child.
As You whipser their name, in that one word let them know that You understand and care and love them enough to never, ever walk away.
Remind them that is always enough that You are there - and that You will never be any where else.