Those Puritans had it goin’ on

“Help me to hold out a little longer

until that happy hour of deliverance comes

for I cannot lift my soul to thee

if thou of thy goodness bring me not nigh.”

– From “Need of Grace” in The Valley of Vision

I love reading and praying the prayers of saints who have gone before me. The Psalms, for example. Another one of my favorite books is The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. The beautiful language of the prayers illuminates truth to my soul and inspires me to pray and write deeply. The Puritans had faults—no doubt. But the writers of these prayers also had the Spirit. For anyone, but especially for my fellow Christian writers, I highly recommend you get this book.

What books (or articles) do you recommend on Christian art, poetry, or prayer?

(I also just got Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth by Walter Brueggemann, but I haven’t read as many of the prayers yet.)

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Thank You, Father

Sometimes God amazes me. Oftentimes God amazes me.

This week started off with an off-the-charts “meh” level. I was stressed about school, anxious about life, and feeling very lonely. A few days ago I thought to myself: I cannot live like this. I could not make it through this semester if nothing changes. I need more of God.

I don’t always like to draw a direct cause and effect link between these things, but last week I was not spending enough time with the Lord, especially in the Word. I’m fairly sure that had some effect ton why I was feeling so down and anxious. While I was praying about my anxieties, I wasn’t listening to God’s words in Scripture.

So the next morning I woke up and put aside the excuses. It didn’t matter if the house was burning down, I was going to read the Bible. I don’t think it was really the checking of the “read Bible” box, but it was the turning toward God and relying on Him that changed my outlook—saying, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Perhaps what amazes me most is how God prepares me and refines me through trials. A week ago I posted about how God always holds my hand. It was inspired, as I mentioned, by someone else’s hardship, and yet even as I posted it to my blog, I was beginning to realize how much my heart needed to hear that message. I believe God is always with me, holding my hand in the valley of the shadow of death which is this life. But I want to share a couple ways God “squeezed” my hand to remind me of this in the last 24 hours.

  1. Financially – There’s a good chance I will have a free place to stay when I’m traveling for a wedding in a few weeks. I was getting a little worried as I was searching for hotels earlier this week, but I think I now have another option. It’s not 100% settled yet, so I’m continuing to pray through this, but it was the greatest relief.
  2. Relationally (a) – I was sad that a particular friendship seemed to have ended, and I was praying for some sort of reconciliation, and yesterday, I saw concrete progress in that direction.
  3. Relationally (b) – I am absolutely overjoyed right now because I just learned that at aforesaid wedding, I will get to see a dear friend whom I’ve not seen in over a year!

And now, I’m off to finish my writing assignment for what I’m sure will be a long night (early morning), and yet, even in this, I’m encouraged as I was reminded today about where my identity is (not in academics):

Thank you, Father,
That whatever I do,
To the heights I’ll reach,
To the lows I’ll fall,
When the As become Cs or the Cs become As
When the undesirable becomes desired,
Then returns to ugly again,
My identity is secure above
As beloved, child of the Most High God.

He always holds my hand

I know God promises to never leave me or forsake me. Yet sometimes, I want a reminder. The doubt becomes too much. The struggle becomes too much. And I ask God to make His love real to me. I ask Him to show His face to me.

The other day a Facebook friend was struggling and posted on Facebook asking for prayer. So many people responded with genuine comments and prayers. Those things—little things—prayers, verses, sermons, songs, or uplifting words of a friend can be the beautiful signs of love God shares with us.

~~~

He always holds my hand,
But sometimes I need a squeeze
To remind me that He’s there
While looking after me

Promise still enduring
To be with me to the end
My ever-present Savior
My ever-faithful friend

He always holds my hand,
But sometimes I need a squeeze
To remind me that He’s kind,
And tenderly He sees.

His love still effecting,
To relieve my restless heart
My ever-gentle Savior,
I know, will not depart.

He always holds my hand
But sometimes I need a squeeze
To remind me that He reigns
Sovereign o’er my needs.

His hope still persisting
To subdue my mind’s despair.
My ever-winning Savior
Still holds my hand with care.