My Book of Uncommon Prayers: I Still Believe

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Your brokenness has broken me; what has shattered in you has sent thin shards, piercing my surety, and I have been left with disappointment and sadness, lying limp on this rock foundation. I still believe—help Thou my unbelief.

What has shattered you has shaken me, and I have to wonder if I could have done anything different to have kept you from flinging off faith like a childhood toy to the winds of the world—

could I do anything now?

My now is not as daring as it once was, so aware I am of my need. I am crawling heavenward, not so sure I have the strength to take on passengers.

When I feel cocksure confident, remind me of this weakness.

When I feel weak worn, don’t leave me alone.

***************

“Let the weak say I am strong.” Joel 3:10 (ESV)

The Lord God is my Strength, my…

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Your God is Too Small

A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

Your god is too small—

this science, this rational-dependent mind, this earthbound philosophy.

Since when did such a god ever come close to redeeming,

ever come close to blessing?

Does DNA love me?  Does nuclear fission long for my relationship?

How many prayers has biology answered,

and how many musical compositions have risen unbidden, undirected,

from tectonic activity and volcanic explosions?

Marvelous observations!  Yes.

Marvelous discoveries.  Certainly.

But if this is all there is, if this is how big your god is,

what a small god.

What a small pitiable god, this science.

Your hungering heart is not just chemicals and firing synapses.

Your weeping eyes are not just lysozome and water.

Open your eyes to the largeness—

to the other.

Beyond the brokenness, beyond the tainted veil, beyond this war zone,

open your eyes to wonder,

to the largeness of Creator.

Listen to the call of Love, wanderer, both bruised and blind:

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Asking you, asking me . . .

Does your faith-life even require Jesus?

Got the maxims memorized.

Got the rules down.

Is religion more your bulwark than relationship—

behavior and image more important than face-falling service,

open-hearted devotion to His worthiness?

Has purpose surpassed person?

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate this substance-hoped-for idea.

Are we a scattered and lost flock, devoted to a text but without a message?

I think I would rather falter on a rough road than walk resolutely down a worn and wrong path,

stuck in a form of obedience . . . but without a desperate, clinging trust.

My will is contrary to my dedication;

my rituals supplant my connection, offering a form without reality.

Am I so right-on religious that as a Christian I can do this thing without Jesus?

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Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. ~Psalm 51:10

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

~Romans 7:19

 

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Angel in the Rough

A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

She was an angel, I think, if angels can be plain, rough, and all crisp around the edges, dressed in hygienic blue.

I had read all the La Leche books; and so as it pertained to breastfeeding, I was good to go.  I was an expert—at least, a book expert!

I so wanted to nurse this child, this live wonder, lying in my arms.  After the loss of my first full term little girl Noelle three years before, and after leaving her lifeless body at the hospital and walking home to emptiness, I wanted bone-deep for all to be made right this time.  I wanted the pained watercolor memory of uterine life to be replaced with the vibrant flush of this squirming child in arms.

Christian nibbled, but would not latch on, as much as I coaxed and gentled and hoped and prayed and tried-cried.  But the book was just…

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Dream Streams

When light fades to black, and the chill comes,

when horizon and foreground meld to one, and minutes tick by slower than day;

I find myself alone with my thoughts—the rest of my world sleeps.

Invisible,

intangible,

dream streams of past, present, and never weave spells of narrative in my restless mind.

If I could make sense of it all, I could justify my tossing and turning,

my drifting and drama, but it all seems just a colorful exercise in nonsense-making—

so real,

but so not.

And I rise more weary.

I have done superhuman things in my dreams, but wake in silver light

as ordinary as when I went to bed.

And my dreams grow larger as my world grows smaller.

And my rest grows weaker as my need swells.

Are you in the visions, evanescent wisps, circling in cerulean night,

or is my unsettled soul strangled by the diary of a life housed in three pounds of flesh?

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Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

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A Limping Life

I heard your whisper in the wind, and

I leaned to listen; but

my lisping voice rose rough and rasping, replaying all the shame moments,

the named moments—over and over,

owning their bite.

I glimpsed your face in the greening breeze of spring, and

I opened my eyes wide to see and be seen, but

the haze of doubt drifted down like a curtain, so I was unsure of what was there; and

blinking long and hard only tired my eyes,

my heart,

my will.

I put my knee to ground in weakness,

convinced that my limping life would never be anything more than this,

that tears would ever flow; but

you met me there

where

words are soft and

light is clear and

belief is birthed from unbelief.

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Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10a

Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. ~Mark 9:24b

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Shadows Fall

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When dark shadows lengthen and pathways clash, we fight our way through,

each on his own,

but not,

bumping others, helping others, avoiding some; and

the destination is beyond this black—beyond these mere pinpricks of comprehension, beyond corrupted flesh, this plaguing weakness, this battle of Hyde and seek.

Shadows fall.

And we press on because there is no going back.

We press in to companions who are sure, until they

are not.

We press out, palms lifted to the One,

begging for a way through.

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Psalm 31:1: In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.

3: For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.

14-15a: But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in Your hand;

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The Whirring

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Pathways of the mind, wandering thoughts, detoured by suffering as much as certainty, and

attention to intention wanes with the onslaught of feelings—

vulnerable, sideswiped—

almost certainly erring, at least in part—and

the thoroughfare of mind-numbing thinking races unobserved behind this placid face and these guarded eyes.

And I would be lying if I told you it was all an exercise in mental agility.

And I would be lying if I said I didn’t care how things turned out or whether or not I solved my own difficulties, as well as the world’s.

And I could be trying to muffle the noise of all these crisscrossing thoughts and intertwined emotions, but this racetrack keeps running, lap after lap,

always seeming to drive nowhere—

nothing resolved, no destination,

but the whirring never stops.

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My Book of Uncommon Prayers: To Live a Noble Life

How can I make my ambition Your ambition?

Every now and then, unworldly inspiration and imagination penetrates t

his sin-chained  mind, this bone-bound spirit,

and I rejoice,

respond;

but just as quickly, flesh presses in—

pride presses in,

puffing me up, showing me what a wonderful thing I did for God.

Is there any hope to live a pure life,

a noble life,

when wriggling in skin and bone, a soul enslaved?

But to be free.  

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It’s What I Need

A p r o n h e a d -- Lilly

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Not a road map or a how-to, but a real guide–hand in hand, heart in heart.

How else can I find my way?

Not a manual with difficult step-by-step instructions

to follow and fail,

but concrete word and warm touch–lamp and lap, the knowing that I am not alone.

How else can I end my way

except with You and you.

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