"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Prayer List: Simply Put

For the last 3 summers, some of the ladies at my church have gathered for what we call -- for lack of a very creative leader -- "A book read." 2007 found us pouring over and into Randy Alcorn's "Heaven." I can honestly say that book changed my life -- or at least my perspective of God -- and that in itself will change one's life. Last year the ladies picked up "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver, and yesterday we finished our 3rd year of our summer reading with Margaret Feinberg's, "The Sacred Echo." And once again, it has rocked my world -- or at least my prayer life -- and, again, that alone will change one's world.

In the introduction to her book, Margaret shares her conviction to get serious about her "yo-yo prayer" life, and so she decided to ditch her prayer journals and develop a more simple method. She simply opened her Bible to the back empty page and began to make a list.

Being one who could completely understand the frustration that comes with keeping a prayer journal, I thought, "I can do this." And do I did. I opened to the only available page in the back of my navy blue bonded leather NKJV Nelson Study Bible, and began. It was easy enough to start: my husband, my children and their spouses (my in-loves) made the quick top 7. Not that I needed a list to remind me to pray for them, but I wouldn't start a "prayer journal" without them. Through these two months of study, my list has grown as the Lord has laid people on my heart. Names range from my parents to young mothers and wives in my church; my pastor and our elders, to an old college roommate, a couple of special ministers, a former piano student, a neighbor and even my massage therapist and her fiance. How cool is that!

Upward swirls have been drawn around some names as I have prayed for covering; hearts surround others, and hedges around even more. Scriptures, such as Psalm 139:5, 149:4 , and Romans 12:1-2, dot the pages as do simple words which carry much strength: renew, protect, surrender, deliver, purpose, to name a few.

And at the bottom is inscribed this prayer from Margaret's book: "God, give me eyes to see people as You see them, ears to hear what You're speaking, a heart to love as You do, and hands to serve as You want to be served."

But more than anything, there is now a continuous flow of names, not just before my eyes, but before my Father's throne. And as Margaret says, it now forces me to live life with eyes wide open to see what God just might do.

Here are the wonderful ladies in our morning group. Couldn't have asked for a better bunch!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wonderfully Made

When I began preparing my Sunday School lesson last week, I really wasn't aware of the impact it was going to have on me come execution time. Psalm 139 itself is a favorite of many, myself included, and for that week, I had read it each morning trying to let it form something new in me.

No doubt, this particular psalm has some weighty theological stuff in it. The writer David worships an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God. But a theology that is all "head" can be cold, dry, barren and really of little value. Yet a theology that is all "heart" may be warm, comforting, and practical, but can lack substance, not to mention give way to any theological fad that comes along. So that's why Psalm 139 is so wonderful. It's heavily theological as well as strongly personal. It's indeed a practical psalm embracing practical theology. And that was never more evident than come Sunday morning.

I had the delightful pleasure of having my great-aunt and her two daughters (my first cousins once removed) visiting from Jacksonville, Florida join me in class. With no fear of sitting smack dab up under the teacher, Lynn marched to the front row and placed herself directly in front of me. She even responded to some of my questions. I couldn't have been more thrilled. You see, Lynn is 55 years old and has Down's Syndrome. And what an encourager she is. Never do I see her that she doesn't tell me: "You are so pretty, Nancy." Really now, who wouldn't love someone like that?

But here's where the lesson came home. At the end of the class, I had those in attendance pray with me Psalm 139. And thus we began. "I give You thanks, O Lord, with all my heart; I will sing Your praise before the gods." Immediately I noticed that Lynn was reading and praying with the class, but her words were a half second behind everyone else's. Every sentence ended with Lynn's voice trailing just a moment behind. And then we got to a point in the Psalm that left me stunned and almost unable to continue leading the class in this benediction. There on the front row, my precious cousin was praying these words with as much passion and conviction, if not more, than those surrounding her. "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous -- how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day has passed. How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered..."

Upon completion, Lynn came up to me, hugged me tightly in her normal and delightful way, and said, "That was good, Nancy. You should be a pastor."

No, precious Lynn. You are the one who preached this morning.

Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trash Day

Thursday is "trash day" around here, which means that on Wednesday night, all the trash is collected around the house, deposited into the outside container, and rolled to the end of the driveway. As I made my early morning walk, I realized that my neighbors have basically the same routine. The trash truck also has a routine, and this particular morning, it and I played tag a number of times, eventually with my out running it -- only because I opted out of a cul-de-sac tour.

It's quite funny what one can tell about his or her neighbor from a walk around the block on trash day. For one, over flowing containers may reveal what the home owners had for dinner the night before. Because several cans boasted a number of empty pizza boxes and soda and/or beer cans, I mentally recapped the evening prior and wondered if I missed some special ballgame on TV the night before. I noticed that one yard had been fertilized due to the bags hanging over the edge of another trash bin. One family had been doing some spring cleaning because they had not one, but TWO, overflowing "Advanced Disposals" at their corner. Another decided not to try and make their overly used mops fit, so they were laying flat on the ground waiting their personal pick up. And some neighbors had just purely forgotten it was trash day.

But the loudest thing and what always catches my attention on trash day is ... the smell. On any other day of the week, especially in the spring and summer, the air is so fragrant. If it's nothing but freshly mowed grass, the smell is sweet. Lately, much lantana and a number of blooming rose bushes have graced the curbs. But not this morning. Pure, unadulterated eau-de-trash.

Except for one house. The occupant of this home was up early doing laundry which, by the time I was passing, was already in the drying stage. And so what wafted from this place was not the stench of garbage that had been brought out to the street but the sweet smell of detergent and fabric softener from the cleaning taking place within. And I couldn't help but pour forth my heart: " O God, I want to be like that! I want the sweet smelling fragrance of Your cleansing Word each morning to overpower and subdue the stench of sin in my life!" After all, are we not to God the aroma of Christ among those being saved as well as to those who are perishing?

Just an ordinary moment...