Perspective in the midst of Injustice- Musings and Prayers

There is more than enough injustice in the world, and sometimes we can get very stuck when confronted with it, whether in the public arena or in our personal lives. How can we deal with injustice without getting tied up in knots or overwhelmed by it, without giving in to discouragement or exploding in unproductive anger? This week let’s see what Psalm 37 tells us about moving from agitation to peaceful trust.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
 for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

 Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him…
Psalm 37:1-2, 5-7

Monday: What is your natural response to injustice and evil? Anxiety? Anger? Agitation? Discuss the situation and your feelings with God and listen for his response.

Tuesday: It’s easy to slip into being resentful or envying others and their achievements. Let’s examine our attitudes today to see if we’re motivated by envy in any way.

Wednesday: God assures us that those who do evil will not last forever. Pray for faith to have this perspective and to be able to trust God in the meantime, even when it seems that evil has the day.

Thursday: Instead of fretting, we can commit our way to God and trust in him. This isn’t always easy, but let’s ponder how powerful and trustworthy he is and commit ourselves to following him.

Friday: If we commit our way to God and trust in him, we can count on him to make the justice of our cause clear before others. Let’s ask him to help us continue to trust and live in a way that honors him.

Saturday: Let’s take time today to be still before God, quieting our whirling minds and churning thoughts, and waiting patiently for him to act in his time.

Salt marsh watercolor

The Gift of Sleep– Musings and Prayers

 

I took the red-eye home from California last Wednesday, and I didn’t sleep at all on the flight (because I was fascinated watching out the window, seeing the brilliantly lit cities, solitary lights shining in the dark, and the deep dark of uninhabited regions). Consequently I was as tired as I can remember all day Wednesday and am only now caught up on sleep, so sleep has been very much on my mind.

I love the way Milo curls into a ball when he sleeps

Because of my sleep-deprived state, the following verses about God giving sleep to those he loves came to mind when I thought of what to ponder this week. Then I decided to look up my old records and see what verses I had written on around this date in previous years, and I found that on June 26, 2011 I had written on these same verses! I don’t know why I had, since this was my first red-eye flight and probably my first completely sleepless night since college days, but it seems very timely, so I’m using it again on June 26th, just slightly revised.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127: 1-2

Monday: What different kinds of work do you do, whether as a job, or in your home, or in some capacity as a volunteer? Bring it all before God and ask him to work with and through you, making your work effective and good and of eternal value.

Tuesday: Ask God for wisdom about your work. Are there any changes you could be making in what you’re doing? How about in how much you’re doing? I know that I tend to say yes to too many requests for my time, so this is a question I need to ask myself often, remembering that it is ultimately God’s work and not all my responsibility. Let’s listen carefully for his guidance today.

Wednesday: What or who do you try to protect or safeguard? Yourself? Someone or something else? Ponder the statement that unless the LORD watches, our watching is in vain, and commit yourself and that which is precious to you into his care.

Thursday: Does anxiety drive you to work too much? If so, think about God’s promise to supply your needs and protect you, then entrust yourself and your needs to him.

Friday: As you go to bed tonight, thank God for the gift of sleep, and ask him to help you receive it peacefully.

Saturday: God wants us to be fruitful in our work and to have peace and rest. Praise him for his love and goodness that bless our lives every day.

The sweet sleep of a newborn :)

Moon, stars, and the wonder of creation– Musings and prayers

“O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
                                                            Psalm 8:1, 3-5, 9

God reveals his glory in all of his creation, and this coming week I will be reveling in the glory of creation as I spend time on the Maine coast. We’re close to a new moon, when the sky is dark, with stars  unobscured by moonlight, so, weather permitting, I am planning to go to a location with no lights and stand in wonder under a dazzling canopy of stars.

With an abundance of natural beauty all around me, I’ll be pondering the magnitude and splendor of the universe and what that says to me of the God who created it all. I hope you will also be able to make time to go outside some clear night to look at the stars and meditate on what they reveal of our great God. Here is the url for a website that puts the size of Earth in perspective with the rest of the Universe- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nroo-i8t8vg

Monday: Ask God to open your eyes and your mind to what he is telling you through the world he created. Slow down long enough to look about you and savor some aspect of creation.

Tuesday: Take some time today to consider the vastness of creation. What does it tell us of God’s power? Praise God for his creation and for what it reveals to you of who he is.

Wednesday: Meditate today on the wonder of God’s love for us, small as we are in the world he has made. What does that reveal to you of your worth to God? Let’s carry that thought with us throughout the day today.

Thursday: Think of the many peoples of the world who are treated as though they have no value or honor for any of a variety of reasons. Ask God what you can do as an individual to make a difference in some small way. What can you do to help the people you encounter on a daily basis have a better sense of their inherent value?

Friday: Recently I’ve been stepping outside several times a day on overly busy or stressful days to simply focus on the sun shining on treetops, or dewdrops sparkling on morning grass, or on stars watching over the earth at bedtime. Doing this has calmed me and has often helped me regain perspective on who God is and who I am. Think about how you can plan in some intentional moments of creation observation today and in the coming days.

Saturday: Let’s wrap this week up by looking for things great and small in creation that fill us with wonder and awe at God’s greatness. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Full moon sketch
Night sky sketch

 

Shelter and Refuge– Prayers and Ponderings

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Psalm 91:1-4

As I mentioned last week, I loved hearing this psalm read in Hebrew when I was at a funeral recently. Psalm 91 is one of my favorite psalms and I especially I love the imagery of the first few verses. Seeing a small tree growing in the shadow of a large one or a mother bird sitting on her nest sheltering her young always brings the words of this psalm to mind for me. Here in New York, we tend to welcome sunshine most of the time (except maybe for this week of blazing heat), but the idea of a shadow being a safe place makes a lot of sense when I remember that David, who wrote this, lived in the blazing sunshine of the Middle East, where shade could mean the difference between life and death. This week let’s meditate on these images and also look for reminders of God’s care for us in the natural world.

I was halfway through writing this last week, when I got a call that a deer had leaped onto the driver’s side of the windshield of my parents’ car, when they were going 60mph on a highway (which is why this didn’t get posted last week). Amazingly, despite the shattered windshield and many small pieces of glass in his eyes, my almost 92 year-old father was able to drive 100+ yards till there was a safe place to pull over. There also just happened to be an EMT right behind them, so they got immediate assistance. Both my parents are doing fine now, and this was a big reminder to me of how God doesn’t keep us from hassles and difficulties, but is with us through them.

Of course we are all very thankful for how this experience turned out, but even when things don’t turn out as we would like, God is, in some way, our refuge and fortress, our God in whom we can trust. I haven’t always understood or recognized God’s care at the time, but, looking back, I know he has sheltered me and brought me through to the present.

Monday: From what do you need or want protection? Think about what it means that God is the Most High, greater than anything that could threaten us, and that he offers us shelter.

Tuesday: Throughout Scripture we are urged to dwell in God’s love, care, and presence. Meditate on what it might mean in your life to dwell in God’s shelter.

Wednesday: Are you tired, weary? God invites us to rest. How can you accept that invitation and rest in his refreshing shadow?

Thursday: Meditate on the imagery of a hen watching over and sheltering her chicks- they run to her whenever danger threatens and find safety and comfort under her wings.

Friday: Where do you run when you feel threatened or afraid? Take some time today to think about the things that stress or frighten you, and then imagine how you could find shelter, comfort, and peace in God’s care, even while the danger lurks nearby.

Saturday: Let’s look for images in nature or the world around us that can remind us of God’s care and protection– a Robin covering her young with her wings; a sapling standing in the shadow of larger tree; a woodchuck standing guard at the mouth of her burrow… and please comment if you have images to suggest.

“In the Shadow”

The Lord is my Shepherd– Prayers and Ponderings

This past week I attended the first Jewish funeral I’ve been to–a moving experience, as it was the funeral of a gentle and kind man, whom I met through dog training. The prayers and psalms were read in both Hebrew and English, and as I listened to the 23rd Psalm and Psalm 91, of course I didn’t understand the words in Hebrew, but I listened to those words with a feeling of awe, knowing that these were the words as they were originally written, thousands of years ago, and as Jesus would have heard and prayed them in his time on earth.

The 23rd Psalm, with which we are so familiar, was written by David about 3,000 years ago. Psalm 91, one of my favorite psalms, was written by Moses about 3,400 years ago. Hearing these psalms read in Hebrew reminded me that we are part of a long, long history of people of faith. This week I’d like to ponder and pray through a few verses of Psalm 23, and next week we might look at Psalm 91.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul… Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:1-3, 6

God loves us with a nurturing love that meets our deepest needs, by providing rest and refreshment so that our souls will be restored. This week let’s avail ourselves of what God so graciously offers us—his leadership as a shepherd who leads us to what we most need.

Monday: Good shepherds are gentle with their flock, as well as strong and protective of them when danger threatens. Thank God for being both gentle and protective, and entrust yourself to his care for the day.

Tuesday: Because our shepherd meets our deepest needs, we can truly be content. Thank God for the many riches he’s blessed you with— a sense of belonging, friends, forgiveness, access to him, love, peace, and much more.

Wednesday: As shepherds want their sheep to feel safe enough to lie down and rest, God wants us to trust him, so that we can rest from our work and not live with constant stress. Ask God to help you trust him more fully and let go of your anxiety.

Thursday: Take time today to drink deeply of God’s thirst-quenching water for your soul as you read your Bible and spend time in prayer.

Friday: Think about the many ways God has restored your soul in the past. Allow him to refresh and restore your soul today. Praise and thank him!

Saturday: Take some time today to meditate on God’s goodness and mercy. Rest quietly, knowing that you are loved and cared for and will be always.

He makes me lie down in green pastures…

Fingerprints of God in Springtime– Prayer Guide

Last year’s Robin’s nest

This time of year is exciting for birders, as spring bird migration is in full swing, and there are also numerous birds courting, gathering nesting material, and sitting on eggs. I’ve been watching a pair of Robins in my yard in the past week; each day for four days the female laid an egg, then sat on them keeping them warm. Now there are two little nestlings and two eggs, which I expect will be hatching over the next couple of days. As I see new life unfolding with the leafing out of shrubs and trees, the blooming of all sorts of flowers, and the exuberant life of birds, I am reminded of God’s creative work that is constantly happening in this world. This week let’s look at some passages that tell of God’s work in the natural world and how creation can speak to us about God.

The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work…
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests…
Psalm 104: 12-13, 16-17

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made… Romans 1:20

Monday: Ask God to open your eyes and heart to see his invisible qualities in the ways he makes them apparent through his creation.

Tuesday: Think about ways in which God’s eternal power has been made evident in creation recently. Let your mind dwell on God’s power. Worship him in awe!

Wednesday: Look around at springtime unfolding. Meditate on what you see and ask yourself what it tells you of God’s divine nature. Praise God for the ways he reveals his nature in nature.

Thursday: Ask God to renew a sense of wonder in you, so that as you observe his creation, you will be seeing reminders of God and be drawn closer to him.

Friday: Look for opportunities to share about God’s nurturing and creative nature with others as you share your appreciation of and joy in springtime.

Saturday:  Praise God that he leaves his fingerprints in the world as a means of revealing himself to those who have eyes to see. Take time today with God, enjoying some aspect of his creation with him.

This year’s Robin’s nest