I don’t know the tunes to the hymns so I treat them as poems. The poet in me pays attention to meter and rhyming schemes. I make notes for future reference. Here are a few lines from this morning:-
Your peaceful presence giving strength
And fallen men may rise again
On wings of prayer
I am a praying person. I don’t always end in a place of peace at the end of my prayer. Maybe I rush out the God’s presence too quickly and don’t loiter long enough for the peace to come. Perhaps I am to swift to tell God my side of things, to get something off my chest assuming that in the speaking it out in His presence the peace will come. I don’t wait for God’s wisdom to deal with it.
The psalm for today was Psalm 86.
“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (v11)
All too often it’s other things I fear, not God. It’s not with a crippling or paralysing fear, but with a low-level knot twisting somewhere inside.
One of the lines for intercession read:-
“You are sole master of the future – keep us from despair and the fear of what is to come.”
I forget that God is the sole master of my future – or of the future of the people I care about. I begin to think my future or their future rests on me. Yes, I have a part to play. I have a responsibility that I must take seriously, but what happens or what doesn’t happen doesn’t rest on my shoulders alone. There are burdens God asks us me carry but when they get so heavy that the shoulders drop and the legs drag I can be certain that I carry something more than the God-assigned burden, or I am not using the resources He’s given me.
Another section for the day came from Isaiah 33
“Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning? Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion, and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil.” (v14-15)
We live in a world that sometimes feels like a consuming fire – a world where God’s people are mocked and God himself downgraded to superstitious nonsense. I don’t do the extortion bit or the bribes bit, but I watch the news. I can’t stop my ears from the hearing about the plots of politicians and world leaders. I can’t shut my eyes from the evil that happens at the hands of some people. I don’t contemplate my own evil plans but I live in a world where I have to deal with someone else’s evil.
I know people who don’t watch the news because of the lack of positive press. The media are the people who are crafting the world they want people to see and believe as reality. So, not everything printed is to be believed. But neither is it all to be dismissed. Our prayers need to be informed prayers and we can’t stick our heads into the sand and pretend a perfect world.
It is in the reading and the watching that I take on burdens that God never intended me to carry. The solution is not to stop reading or watching the news, or to subscribe to a charity’s newsletter to get my information.
I need to build into the prayer times the truth that God is sole master of the future. As I lay before God the troubles of a burning world I also surrender the despair and the fear of what is to come – these things that tie the knots inside.