My Awefull Life » A Pilgrimage of Wonder

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It always pains me to take Lu’s braids out- thinking of all the work they are to create. Most often the majority of the style remains intact and neat, but the wear and tear in other places gets to a point where all you see is the messy surrounding the beauty underneath all that frizz.

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As I sit and gently undo each cord of three- so not to damage the individual strands- I can almost see Jesus standing over watching my work. His words acknowledging my thoughts like a kind squeeze to the shoulder.

For several days now I have been grieving a similar undoing in our family’s life. As with these simple braids, there is a mourning after the effort and time we have committed to building something beautiful but over years has become messy around the edges, dull from the stresses of living. Those stray pieces detracting from the canvas as a whole, we commit to a change – to a new design for our life for a season.

The only way to build again is to first undo.

So with care- and some tears, the dismantling of what was commences; not to leave us wayward and wild, unbraided from His vision, but to clear the grounds, wash us clean and strand by strand create something new. something beautiful.

 

Day Five:

Though the mirror I look through be dim, my path remains lit a step before my stride

While I wrestle with justice- grieving with mothers on either side of borders, still You are near

As I seek, You draw me closer, mind and temper afire calm, vision focuses and the mirror still hazy in places, reflects clearer in others

God, I ask and believe for my eyes to open to my weakness in Spirit, that I may know my need for You deeper

May my sin halt me in my tracks, causing me to mourn where I have hardened against Your heart

Grow in me meekness to soften hard edges, pulling up weeds of arrogance and self-righteous indignation

Increase my appetite for pure righteousness- cleansing intentions of heart and mind

Expand my capacity for mercy- for the wicked and the just- as I myself have been both, and merciful you are with me

Turning from my sin, create a purity of heart, that though I may not see the road ahead clearly I walk step by step to your Voice with integrity

Stoke a flame of peace within me, forgiving others quickly, with empathy and reconciliation spoken in sincerity

Thank you for the opportunity to come under persecution for your name, God. With hopeful resolve, keep my gaze set on the things above this earth no matter what people may think or say.   

Thank you for delighting in the prayers of your people. Hear our cry this day for Your Kingdom to come, here on Earth as we ache with every passing day to reign with you in Heaven. 

Amen

(1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 5)

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These photos were taken from the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus took his disciples to teach what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. The Bible tells us Jesus went up to the mountain because of the crowds following him. The acoustics of the cove where the Mount sits has been the subject of studies and discussion, because it is believed the masses on the hillside and shoreline below were able to take in Jesus’s teaching. Modern-day pilgrims continue to test the theory, finding it is possible to hear one speaking from on top of the Mount (where the above photo was taken), down on the hillside leading to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. You can read more here and here.

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  • Susan Bowman Cantrell - Words of Life still echo through the cove to the Sea…reminders that God’s Word is eternalReplyCancel

  • Allison Allen - Beautiful ReplyCancel

When it seems all the prayers have been prayed

We pray them again

When words begin to taste stale upon lips, we ask for fresh seasoning and speak them again

When our spirit is willing but flesh sleepy and weak, we reach for the Scriptures reminding us our  battle is against powers of darkness and our flesh needs to submit, get over it and pray on

When things appear to worsen- death tolls rise, protests grow, terror spreads not recedes; When discouragement whispers our prayers are like fruitless trees, we dig in our knees harder and refuse to give up

When it seems all the prayers have been prayed,

we rise up,

we link arms,

and we pray them again

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“The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil everywhere. Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventive. It purifies the air; it destroys the contagion of evil. Prayer is no fitful, short-lived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. It is a voice which goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things.
God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.” – E.M. Bounds

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 “I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain.  As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. He explained to me, “Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.” Daniel 9:20-23

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Day Four:

God, protect the innocent, bring forth your justice- not man’s revenge- upon the wicked, 

Calm the skies, the seas and the hearts of the persecuted and afraid

Unite us Lord, nation with nation sharing compassion and love for one another, drive out hate from our streets and squares,

In all ways make your Name and power known throughout all Creation, we pray today, tomorrow and forevermore,

Amen

 

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  • Susie - I am absolutely drinking in your posts…so profoundly transparent and richly deep in spiritual wisdom. Thank you…thank you…thank you…for this wonderful haven of faith.ReplyCancel

    • sarahrichmond - So kind and encouraging – thank you for reading!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Bowman Cantrell - What Bible translation did you use for Daniel…I really found it a wonderful passage…Loved this post…We all need to pray and then pray some more…We are just a breath away from His presence.
    ReplyCancel

    • sarahrichmond - I believe that was the New Living Translation. I felt like it explained the heart of Gabriel’s message a bit easier to understand without having to explain the Hebrew meanings of the words. Basically, wanting to communicate that Daniel’s prayer was heard from the first he had prayed – he wasn’t being ignored.ReplyCancel

  • Pete Ekle - Thanks for sharing this piece of your prayer life with us. I am currently very far from home and all I can do is pray. It seems so futile sometimes because I want to be there and do it myself. I want to rescue, fix, encourage, hug, supervise and the like. But I keep hearing the Holy Spirit say that God has always done that for my family. This was a timely reminder that our prayers are not in vain.
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Protests and riots, hate and vengeful intolerance – it is all there in the happenings of the world, scrolling across my screen from what feels like another world away. And yet is it so far from my own reality? Beyond what could ever knock on my safe and secluded door? Naiveté and fear whisper, ‘No, it could never happen again,’ coddling an apathy all too rooted in mind’s thinking. Visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s national memorial to the victim’s of the Holocaust, and walking through the chronological history of events one can’t escape how seemingly small and at times insignificant the steps leading to the mass murder and persecution of the Jewish people actually were in the beginning. A newsletter here, a rally there, small elections, leading to larger elections, sanctions…

protests and riots, hate and vengeful intolerance.

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It all starts somewhere, and we can’t pretend it’s not real. We cannot ignore the happenings in the streets of Europe today- arrogant and oblivious- lest we wake one day to fists and shouts of anti-semitism filling our own squares on Main street.

Awareness not paranoia; mindful not fearfulyadvashem-4

 

In order to halt the gradual plague of deception and evil, we must first recognize its tactics. I personally have been most guilty of the “if-I-avoid-eye-contact-with-the-ugly-it-can’t-be-real” approach when it comes to world affairs. The past decade, my world affairs have consisted of having babies, surviving an international adoption and keeping a marriage alive and well. The only gradual tactics of evil I spent time contemplating were topics like, how is it possible for a Backyardigans songs to be stuck in my head for 6 days solid, or why can we put a man on the moon, but for the love of nap time, a leak-proof sippy cup escapes our collective abilities? Surprisingly, I have never seen these topics come across the nightly news crawl. My dear friend, and fellow-juggler of hats wrote an endearing and honest post about the mental whiplash we can experience between our roles as parents and our roles as world-changers and Kingdom-shakers. I know she shares the thoughts of many of us- it is hard to balance, but balance we must. The sippers of those leaky cups are counting on us, and burying our heads in the bubble is failing them- plain and simple.

This morning I was reading through Jeremiah 28 & 29, where Hananiah gives a false prophecy declaring the exile of the Jews in Babylon would last only a couple of years. Jeremiah is then given the charge from God to call out the false prophet, while also delivering the much harder news of a 70 year exile. I couldn’t help but think about the people on the receiving end of the message and how we so quickly can cling to what in our understanding appears as the “good news,” turning our heads and hearts off to the difficult, uncomfortable truth. Imagining the denial and desperation of the people of Jeremiah’s day- hungry to believe Hananiah’s fabricated, easier to stomach report, my understanding of those deceptive tactics widened, deepening my resolved conviction to embark on this new journey of courageous awareness and prayerful knowledge-seeking. Recently I read the following from Eugene Peterson’s book, Run With the Horses, and it bears repeating; Just as God’s hard-truth by way of Jeremiah also held a Hope and a purpose, so does the hard news we face today:

“It is certainly true that there is evil in world; a great deal of it. and it is frightening. If we live realistically, with our eyes open, we see a lot of evil. Seeing all that evil, how can we relax?… The evil is not everything, and it is not everywhere. It is named. It has an origin and a finish. The evil that has its paralyzing grip on everyone is not a wild uncontrollable evil, it is a carefully commanded judgment with God as the commander… We cannot afford to be naive about evil, it must be faced. But we cannot be intimidated by it either. It will be used by God to bring good, for it is one of the most extraordinary aspects of the Good News- that God uses bad men to accomplish His good purposes. The great paradox of judgement is evil becomes fuel in the furnace of salvation. Uninstructed by this vision, or something like it, we lose our sense of proportion and are incapacitated for living an open and adventurous response to whatever comes to us through the day. If we forget that the newspapers are footnotes to scripture and not the other way around, we will finally be afraid to get out of bed in the morning. Too many of us spend far too much time with the editorial page, and not nearly enough with the prophetic vision. We get our interpretation of politics and economics and morals from journalists when we should be getting only information. The meaning of the world is most accurately given to us by God’s Word.”


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Day 3:
Lord, thank you the opportunity to join together in unity of heart with so many around the world as we pray over the turmoil filling the lands of this earth.

Thank you for your Holy Spirit to instruct and guide as I navigate the often confusing and complex issues of our day.

Please reign down in wisdom on my mind, compassion in my heart and conviction for my soul to seek and seek again after You.

Give me discerning ears and mouth, expanded understanding and divine opportunity to love and serve those in persecution, specifically the Jewish nation of Israel. 

Build in me courage over crisis, trust over tragedy. Equip me so I may reflect You to all Your Creation.

Amenyadvashem-1