How Often Do I Forgive?


A Prayer by Ken Gire

Lord,

How often do I forgive?

I’m asking not for an answer, only for an opportunity to come clean.

How often do I forgive?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.”

How often do I forgive the gossiper in my life?

How often do I forgive the exaggerator? The out-and-out liar?

How often do I forgive the talker in my life? The interrupter?

The person who sits around like a bump on a log and says nothing?

How often do I forgive a boss who’s demeaning?

A coworker who’s competing for my job? …

“Try me and know my anxious thoughts.”

How long is my mental list of hurt feelings?

How far back does the account of “wrongs suffered” go?

“And see if there be any hurtful way in me.”

How many people do I mumble to myself about, mentally rehearsing the scene where I tell them off and expose them to the world?

How many times do I hear bad news about someone’s who’s hurt me, and I’m glad because, after all, they had it coming?

“And lead me in the everlasting way.”

Forgive me, O God, for all the times I haven’t forgiven. For all the times I’ve only partway forgiven, or grudgingly forgiven, or self-righteously forgiven. Lead me into a better way of living, which can only be found in a better way of forgiving. Help me to forgive others the way you have forgiven me.

Not for a moment but for a lifetime.

Not seven times … every time.

 

I admit there are times I like to hold on to hurt feelings, protecting them yet simultaneously wanting to boast of them as I would a bruise or cut as a child. “Look at the size of this wound! I am so brave. I put up with so much.”

The victim mindset is not only easy. It’s comfortable. It’s natural. It lifts me higher in my own estimation even while placing the blame of my hurt on the perpetrator. It excuses me of the need to forgive.

But it also consumes my heart from the inside out, and slowly puts my spirit to death by bitterness. At some point, by God’s grace, I understand that to stay alive, I must forgive. .. And if I am true to my heart and spirit and God, I will continue to forgive.

I will recognize the truth and power, the freedom, in the words of wisdom on forgiveness. When Jesus spoke of the vital necessity of forgiving. Not once. Or a few times. But 490. And if I’m still counting at 491, it means I’ve never truly forgiven.

Measuring the Worth of a Word


words

We’re one month into the year. Each week, each month, each season, seems to fly past more rapidly than the one before it. Often with fewer things to show for the time gone by … at least it seems. But perhaps more depend on how we quantify accomplishments and deeds. Perhaps it’s not a matter of word count reached on my latest Work in Progress, or whether I manage to write a blog post per week. Perhaps it’s not about Facebook page likes or blog followers. Not even about works completed, or published, or copies sold.

But then what is it about? If my worth is not determined by my gains in the world of writing (or teaching, or whatever my chosen world), then what measures success? How can I know my life is worth the living and breathing, the laughter and crying, the wins and the losses, if not by the quantifiable methods I so often cling to?

What determines my worth?

Maybe the better question is, who determines worth? And maybe, when I’m brave enough to ask that question, I will find the courage to admit that I already know the answer.

That success by measurable means is far less satisfying, and far more fleeting, than many would admit. That worth is not always a thing determined, but it is intrinsic. That He who calls me worth calls me precious. Calls me loved. And He does not keep count of manuscripts completed or submissions accepted. But He numbers the hairs of my head, He stores the tears I cry, He bids me believe in my worth. More than sparrows. More than lilies. More than the accomplishments I claim as the days turn.

It’s February. One month of 2015 is gone. Soon this month will be past too … and the next. And the next.

God help me make the most of every moment, but to remember that what I make of a moment and what You make of it are not always the same. Let me see the days through Your eyes, that at the end of them, I lived for moments of truest worth. In the Name of He who is worthy, the Heir of all Things, amen.

A Prayer for Comfort


I attended a funeral last weekend. I wanted to go, but I also didn’t. I was afraid. Afraid of not knowing what to say. How to comfort the hurting family members. As if, somehow, I could.

Maybe I try too hard to fix things. To work things out. To know exactly what to do and how to do it. To read life carefully. Too carefully.

But some things can’t be fixed. Not here. Not now. Sometimes tears must be cried before the comfort comes. Sometimes many tears.

My dad told me yesterday, sometimes just your presence, and your prayers, are the best thing you can offer to a hurting heart. Yesterday I offered my presence. My timid, unsure presence. Such a small thing in the face of death and the pain it causes.

Today I offer a prayer. Also such a small thing. But somehow, perhaps, calling on the Giver of Life, of Comfort, of Hope, will do more than anything my presence, my words, could ever do.

I hope so. I pray so.

 

Lord, I woke up with the verse running through my mind, entrenched deeply as though it was something I dreamed, but I can’t remember. “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

I don’t remember any dreams, but I know it was the verse that the Father spoke of yesterday at the funeral of a young man who left this life too soon. They were the words You spoke at the grave of Your friend, who left this life too soon. You raised him from the dead.

Father, Your power is not limited. You can do the same today. You have, time and again, worked miracles in this age. So when You don’t, when death’s finality resounds and the curtain is drawn, it conveys a painful message that is hard to understand.

You have a purpose. And though we cannot see or know, that purpose will be accomplished.

But it seems so harsh to say or conclude that You have a purpose in death. Perhaps, if nothing else, it is the effects of a fallen world. A world of sorrow and the harsh reality that Satan is prince of the world, of its pursuits and the way it has minimized those things that truly matter, and glorified those thing that have no meaning. No wonder we grow so weary, so confused, in the midst of this.

God, bring hope to those who are hurting. Bring strength to those who are weak. Your strength. Bring comfort to the weary and let them rest their heads on Your shoulder. Lord, You promised to glorify Your name. Glorify Your name now, even in the midst of sorrow and death. May Your name, oh Lord, be glorified, and let it bring hope and Light and Life to those who are lost, hurting, and broken.

You are the resurrection and the Life. Those who believe in You, though dead, shall live. We were all dead in sin until Your light broke through the darkness of our souls and brought life. So that we who cross the great divide might step from life to Life.

Thank You for that life. Thank You for that hope.

Bring Light to those who wake in darkness.

Bring Hope to those who have none.

Bring Life. Oh Lord, bring Life.

The Unbalanced Balance


juggling pinsOne of my ongoing struggles is with balance. I sometimes feel like a tightrope walker. Sometime like a circus clown with a juggling act … a clown because if anyone were to look closely enough, they would realize how comical it really is. “Why are you trying to juggle that?” I’m not sure if I would have the answer. So I hope no one looks too closely while I keep up the act.

And I get frustrated when I drop a pin or two. Or I get annoyed that no one notices how hard I’m trying to maintain. Or I sink into a dark morass of self-inflicted disappointment, because of self-set goals I’ve missed.

And still, I try to find a balance.

I’m editing a project for a writer, who is also a painter. In order to get a better sense for his writing style, I began reading one of his previously published works, and something I read did more than whisper to me. It spoke, loudly. “Hey, this is you. Listen up!” Maybe it was the timing. Maybe it was just the simple truths. But I saw myself in the paragraphs:

We all struggle with our desire for balance, that place of imaginary security. We all admire balance; we even envy it when we perceive others are living a more balanced life than we. But this balance we see and the balance we desire, is it from God? Is it from a need for God? Or is it personal, prideful gymnastics?

… My pride, desiring to appear balanced, balances on my remaining leg of abilities, my understandings, even my virtues. It takes all my effort and focus just to maintain this appearance of balance. How long I can continue the effort will depend on my resolve.

Eventually, in exhaustion, God offers me merciful futility. I fall down. Gratefully defeated.

There is an unbalanced balance that pleases God. You see it throughout the Bible. It’s only when I accept my imbalance and acknowledge how weak and crippled I am, that I become dependent on God.

That’s where I find the paradox of balance, leaning totally on Him. – Quote from Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies, by Stephen Shortridge

A strange paradox indeed. It drew me, on the threshold of a New Year, to make this my prayer …

Heavenly Father, it’s 2015. I meant to have everything worked out, my goals and vision and to-do list for the entire year. Okay, maybe not that, but probably just as bad.

An unbalanced balance is probably what I need to embrace this year, at least in the beginning. Please help me, Lord.

I don’t have everything figured out and that’s okay. Rather than patting myself on the back because of my misguided sense of control, it will force me to depend on you. And that’s what I really want. And even when I don’t want it, it’s what I really need.

Forgive me for trying to figure it all out instead of resting in You and allowing You to work in me and through me.

Help me to understand that the things I try to do without Your power and guidance will only fall flat. And the things that You do through me, often almost without me even knowing or realizing, are the things that really matter. The things that go farther than those things I am grasping to control.

It’s the start of a new year. Let me be led by Your Spirit, guided by Your hand. Let these not be just words but the deep prayer of my heart. Help me to surrender to You in every way, even when it means giving up some of my so-called rights.

Lord, You had every right, and made Yourself a servant. I have no rights, and make myself a queen.

Forgive me.

I know you have. Your grace is renewed each morning. Thank You for that, dear Lord. Help me to lean on You and in leaning, find my strength, my joy. My true balance.

The Edge of a Moment


Thank you, God, for peace and beauty, for mornings that glimmer with the promise of something otherworldly. Something like peace. Thank You for mornings so bright they are almost too harsh to look upon for fear of hurting the eyes. Such mornings promise a day dawning brighter than anything that has been seen or known. A day that all will look upon and not have to squint or cower, but instead finally rejoice.

Thank You for the promise of Your return, which whispers on the edge of every lovely thing in nature, and every thing that is mixed with a little bit of unloveliness, a little bit of sorrow or pain. Like a rose bush with thorns.

Or even the birth of a child. So beautiful. So joyful. And so sad. More than the pain of birth, it stems from the knowledge that the child coming into life so fresh and new will be beset by pain and surrounded by so much that seeks to take away his true joy, and block his search of truth.

Bring children the joy of the silence and peace of a morning like this, the knowledge that You are with them, and they have nothing to fear. For life and beauty waits at the edges of every moment, almost too bright to look upon, yet bidding us to glance again. And to believe.

For their sakes, fill our hearts with that same mixture of joy and truth even in the midst of pain or vanity. So that we can share it with them with a whisper or a song, a word or a shout, a clasped hand as we gaze together upon a morning of blended beauty. Help us to keep our eyes on the beauty, on the light.

On You.

In the Silence and the Shouting


rays of light through the forest

A prayer, after reading a quote by Frederick Buechner.

Speak to me, Lord, in the nonsense of my day. In the silence and in the shouting. In the laughter and in the tears.

Speak to me through it all, that through it, I may come to know who You are. And who I am.

Speak to me through it that I may know Your plan, and my part in it.

Your desires … and how I can fulfill them.

Your words … that change hearts and minds.

Speak to me, Lord, and do not let my heart, my mind, my soul, be so full of the things that do not last that I miss the one thing that is needful … that better part that shall not be taken away.

Let me sit at Your feet in the silence and the waiting.

Yet let me also sit at Your feet in the hustle and bustle and busyness.

For both are a very real part of life. But so often the listening in silence is drowned out by the constant noise. This is why I need to hear You speak through both. And why I need to turn my heart to listen.

Let me not neglect my Mary times at Your feet.

But when I must be in the kitchen, let me not be working so fast, nor my mind so full of myself and my own thoughts and feelings that I miss hearing Your still, small voice whispering comfort and peace to my heart.

Speak to me, Lord. In the silence and in the shouting.

And when You speak, may I always hear You and respond. 

To Know That You Know


Dear God,

When things disappoint me

When I disappoint myself

By the things I do

Or fail to do

Help me to believe

That all will be well

 

When I have hopes

And dreams

And goals

But every day

They seem further away

Or to disappear altogether

Like vapor

Help me to trust

That You know best

 

When all I’ve done

Seems to fall apart

And not really matter

Or make a difference

And no one notices at all

Help me to know

That You know

My steps

My dreams

My future

 

Help me to know

That I am Yours

And that it is enough