Tag Archives: service

I couldn’t pray out loud like they did.

Everyone prays differently. In church, they always prayed out loud, with lots of “Lord”, “just”, etc, and they prayed for a long time. I tried mimicking them and I felt so self-conscious! I dreaded praying out loud. This past year, I have been a member of my campus ministry’s prayer team, which has been a huge challenge and has stretched me in ways I didn’t expect.

I have a really hard time praying out loud. I am comfortable praying in my head and in my journal. Over time this past year, I got used to vocalizing part of what was in my head. I pray best when I have time to think, and especially when I have the Bible in my hands or verses floating between my ears. I think, “I have an audience of One”, but I can still only manage one-on-one talk with the Lord when I don’t have additional people listening to me.

A friend reminded me,

“Jesus already gave you what you’re going to say. You’re just sending it back to him. Why are you worried?”

While I am still way too self-conscious (read: concerned about my reputation, prideful), this makes me relax. I can humble myself to listen to what the Spirit brings up for me to pray, and use God’s own Word with him. I hope that the Lord will make me more versatile and confident in prayer that I may be a better tool for His work. But I am not a “failure” for being unable to stand in front of a crowd and pray like they do in church. Lord, teach us to pray.

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Dear Lord, why are you so cruel? Where is your justice?

I dread punishment. I am convinced that if I hear you ask me to do something, I will be guilted into doing it, despise doing it, and if I mess up, I will face your wrath. I don’t see you as a loving master, but as a cruel one. Why did you keep Moses out of the Promised Land for just hitting a rock??? Why did your blessing for Jacob/Israel come only with permanent damage (dislocating his hip)? Why did you make your Son suffer such terrible agony, the worst torture the Romans had conceived? Why did you let Samuel’s mother (Hannah) give up her long-awaited son when she finally had him? You let Abraham keep Isaac, even after you asked for him to be sacrificed. Why did you make David go through so much struggle when he was young, chased by the king, and then by his own son, Absalom! And his best best friend, Jonathan, died in the battle that made him (David) king. Why? You gave your chosen people 40 years in the desert, wandering, for a week of disobedience? It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t sound just. Punish them all??? And your martyrs – why did you let Dietrich Boenhoeffer die? Why have you called so many of your people (who love you, who are loved by You, you say) to death? To suffering and pain? How can you be a good God and yet visit such terrible, extreme wrath on us all, so much on even your friends? Casting Adam and Eve out for one fruit? I guess you demand perfection. Making Jeremiah weep, Elijah grow tired, Hosea marry a prostitute (Gomer), and all that happened to Paul (shipwreck, snakebite, stoned, imprisoned many times). “Gomer didn’t realize how wonderful her life with Hosea was – so she left being a wife and mother to go back to being a harlot.”

I suppose you did love Jesus, so you ought to be furious with anyone not burning with love when they hear what he did, what you gave up, to save us. I don’t understand. Where is the gospel in this? What is the gospel? Love hurts.

And why is there so much pain when I don’t do what you ask?

To protect the flock

Jesus is my inspiration. He says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” (Matthew 23:37). I love that picture of safe comfort under the Lord’s wings. I could not deny that to anyone. Have you ever noticed that the English language uses the same word for a group of birds as for sheep: a flock. Let the flock that he shepherds also be the flock under his wings. Come to Jesus, and Jesus, come!

I have just been surfing blogs and there are so many stories out there. There are so many people who are working, who are suffering, trying to live, to follow God. When I think “How would I like to be treated if I were in their shoes? How can I love this person today with what I have?” I am overwhelmed! I want to get to know everyone. I want to spend time with them, teach them, learn from them, live life with them. I want to jump in front of them on their way through life and stop our messy world from hurting them ever again. And I get tired just thinking about it, even before I do anything, and I so often give up. What impact can a drop of water make in the bone-dry desert? Yet, It’s frustrating I just don’t have time to care for everybody, though I so badly want to make everybody smile. In this, I have to give up my will to God, and trust that He will do as He has promised, and love everybody. His hands can reach further than mine and pull up the broken, embrace the hurt, tidy up someone who’s stumbled, and give direction to someone who’s confused about the next stage of their life. He can do all things. And I trust that he will direct me to where my love will work with his plan.

As silly as it is, I know a lot about grammar. So when reading blogs one of my usual thoughts is, “if only you let me edit that before you published it. I could have fixed it and it would be better, more perfect.” And then I see that I want to fix people. I want to make them perfect. Do I then love them? As much as I can, a flawed love when it’s not in God’s hands.

Lord, I thank you for the internet. Tonight I pray that you would alleviate my discomfort at being powerless to help. I ask that you would reveal to me your hand in the lives of people around me, and give me rest from my worry for them. Help me let go of my need to “fix” them and any pride I feed with that feeling, but let me love them with the love of your perfect son. In His name I pray, Amen.

And when I can, I try to find inspiration from this little boy.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

First – service

First post, however cheesy that sounds.

Dear Lord, grant me the strength to type out this first message. I am submitted to your will. I am afraid that I will start with a post and not keep it up. What I hope is to minister to the internet, and provide an outlet for everything flooding through my head right now. Because this is anonymous, it is safe for me to say whatever I am thinking. Thank you, Lord, for giving me the courage and power to start this, and thank you for the grace and mercy you have shown me every day of my life. I can’t wait to see you in heaven. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) I pray for any readers I may have, that you will gently make them receptive to anything your Spirit guides me to say to them. I ask that You keep your hands over mine as I type – keep me safe and I hope you can use this as a tool to build your kingdom. Give me the wisdom to know what to say and the boldness to say it, the discernment to know when to quit and do something else, and the encouragement I need to live my life for You and You alone. I praise your holy name, and I thank you for sending us your son. I try so hard to love you, Lord, and I feel my heart turning to more eagerly follow in your ancient way. Thank you. Amen.

Now, let’s get started! 🙂 What am I asked to talk about today? So, blogging. I have been looking for a way to serve for a while. I tried teaching Sunday School for early elementary school children, but I had no gifts for controlling the children or engaging them in the lessons. I have very limited people skills (I promise I’m not antisocial, just painfully shy!), so I find most areas that involve talking to people closed to me. I am reluctant to be a greeter or usher, because I am easily embarrassed and shy around strangers, and I come off as somewhat harsh. For the same reason, I do not want to serve meals at the local homeless shelter, because I am uncomfortable starting conversations with them when I’m by myself. (I’m not a good conversationalist, either, with anyone.) I can volunteer at a nursing home, because I am more comfortable visiting one-on-one with the elderly, though I rarely engage them in conversation, and I can go to an animal shelter and care for the cats. As a student, I do not have money to donate. I am having trouble serving my community and my church, and I don’t know what to do. I feel strongly called to do *something*, but what I can do eludes me. I will keep searching.

Meanwhile, my church emphasizes discipleship. While I was praying about that one day, I had a very clear impression come to my mind of one person I know. A few days later, she brought up church, that she had not been to one in a while. And she asked me to pray for her. Perhaps, even while I’m waiting for a message from the Lord (praise his great name!) on how I can volunteer regularly and consistently, I can “serve” less technically in this respect – I can spread His word directly and try to disciple my friend and bring her into our loving Christian community.

Peace be with you.

……………………………………

Now, this is a very hard thing for me, as a perfectionist, but I am trying fiercely to type out as the Spirit leads me, however much sense it makes to me. I am trying to hold myself to be perfectly open and honest. I apologize if anything is unclear or misspelled. Please forgive me. Feel free to leave comments and ask questions. You are my guest on this blog and you are welcome here. Praise the Lord for making you.

Peace.