Without intending to make too strong a case, it is worth noting that most leaders are at their best when facing a challenge, and that the desire for safety and security can lead us into the most insecure, indeed, precarious personal positions.
-Bolsinger, Tod. Canoeing the Mountains. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, Illinois.
Union may be symbolized by two wax candles, the tips of which touch each other so closely that there is but one light; or again, the wick, the wax, and the light become one, but the one candle can again be separated from the other and the two candles remain distinct; or the wick may be withdrawn from the wax. But spiritual marriage is like rain falling from heaven into a river or stream, becoming one and the same liquid, so that the river and rain water cannot be divided; or it resembles a streamlet flowing into the ocean, which cannot afterwards be disunited from it. This marriage may also be likened to a room into which a bright light enters through two windows—though divided when it enters, the light becomes one and the same (The Interior Castle, 272)
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”
God is the means of blessing, the modern Judaizers say. Implied, but never stated, is that God Himself is not the blessing we seek. It’s therefore right, and actually His plan, that we use Him to get a better life. But “using God” sounds harsh, manipulative, so modern Judaizers speak of trusting God for good things, of claiming His promises, of meeting His terms to win the blessings we want.
-Larry Crabb, The Pressure’s Off (Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2002), 57.
Grant my prayer, Lord, and do not allow my soul to wilt under the discipline which you prescribe. Let me not tire of thanking you for your mercy and rescuing me from all my wicked ways so that you may be sweeter to me than all the joys which used to tempt me; so that I may love you most intensely and clasp your hands with all the power of my devotion; so that you may save me from all temptation until the end of my days.
You, Lord, are my King and my God, and in your service I want to use whatever good I learned as a boy. I can speak and write, read and count, and I want these things to be used to serve you, because when I studied other subjects you check me and forgave me the sins I committed by taking pleasure in such worthless things. It is true that these studies taught me many useful words, but the same words can be learnt by studying something that matters, and this is the safe course for a boy to follow.
Imagine sitting down to write and your mind is completely at rest. Your thoughts are focused, your body is prepared but relaxed, and you have a reassuring confidence that the project you’re about to begin aligns with God’s calling on your life and the unique gifts and talents you’ve been given. Imagine what a rested, peaceful, focused mind is like as you begin writing.
Such a scenario was a far cry from my experience as a writer over the years. Only until I started to pay attention to my body and my mind did I even begin to make some positive changes in order to inch myself closer to that ideal of writing from a place of peace, rest, and prayerful focus. It’s my conviction that prayer and writing both come from a similar practice: attentiveness. If we have spent our days, weeks, months, and years attentive to the wrong things, then meaningful prayer and writing will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
-Cyzewski, Ed. The Contemplative Writer. Ed Cyzewski, 2016. Kindle Edition.
…Secondly, you may say that you have neither the power nor the means to lead souls to God; though you would willingly do so, you do not know how, as you can neither teach nor preach as did the Apostles. I have often written an answer to this objection though I cannot tell whether I have done so in connection with the Castle. However, as the difficulty probably often crosses your minds on account of the desires our Lord gives you of serving Him, I will now speak of it again. I told you elsewhere how the devil frequently fills our thoughts with great schemes, so that instead of putting our hands to what work we can do to serve our Lord, we may rest satisfied with wishing to perform impossibilities.
You can do much by prayer; and then, do not try to help the whole world, but principally your companions; this work will be all the better because you are the more bound to it. Do you think it is a trifling matter that your humility and mortification, your readiness to serve your sisters, your fervent charity towards them, and your love of God, should be as a fire to enkindle their zeal, and that you should constantly incite them to practise the other virtues? This would be a great work and one most pleasing to our Lord: by thus doing all that is in your power, you would prove to His Majesty your willingness to do still more and He would reward you as if you had won Him many souls. Do you answer: ’This would not be converting my sisters, for they are very good already?’ What business is that of yours? If they were still better, the praise they render God would please Him more and their prayers would be more helpful to their neighbours.
-St. Teresa of Avila. The InteriorCastle. Third Edition. London: Thomas Baker, 1921. Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.
The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream:
‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.’
The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.’
Thankfully, God uses cracked pots! You do not need to be perfect for God to use you. We want our lives to count for something. If you want to be useful to God, here are twelve keys:
The Vespers Office To Be Observed on the Hour or Half Hour Between 5 and 8 p.m
The Call to Prayer
Let everything that has breath* praise the LORD. Hallelujah!
The Request for Presence
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you;* my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water. Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place,* that I might behold your power and your glory.
Your loving-kindness is better than life itself;* my lips shall give you praise. So will I bless you as long as I live* and lift up my hands in your Name.
The Hymn God of Light
Holy Spirit, God of light, Fill us with your radiance bright; Gentle father of the poor, Make us, by your help secure; Come, your boundless grace impart, Bring your love to every heart. Lord of consolation, come, Warm us when our hearts are numb; Great consoler, come and heal, To our souls your strength reveal; Cool, refreshing comfort pour, And our peace of mind restore. Give to every faithful soul Gifts of grace to make us whole; Help us when we come to die, So that we may live on high; Ever let your love descend, Give us joys that never end.
The Refrain for the Vespers Lessons
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?* the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?
The Vespers Psalm With the Faithful, You Show Yourself Faithful, O LORD
With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God;* with the forthright you show yourself forthright. With the pure you show yourself pure,* but with the crooked you are wily. You will save a lowly people,* but you will humble the haughty eyes. You, O LORD, are my lamp;* my God, you make my darkness bright. With you I will break down an enclosure;* with the help of my God I will scale any wall. As for God, his ways are perfect; the words of the LORD are tried in the fire;* he is a shield to all who trust in him.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?* the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?
The Cry of the Church
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me. O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me. O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your Name. May your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
I thank you, heavenly Father, that you have delivered me from the dominion of sin and death and brought me into the kingdom of your Son; and I pray that, as by his death he has recalled me to life, so by his love he may raise me to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that I, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of public worship, and grant as well that my Sabbath upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
-vineyard church of ann arbor presents: The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle
Jesus taught us, saying: “Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
And they will say, “Surely, there is a reward for the righteous;* surely, there is a God who rules in the earth.”
The Morning Psalm
If You Would but Listen
You called on me in trouble, and I saved you;* I answered you from the secret place of thunder and tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you:* O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
There shall be no strange god among you;* you shall not worship a foreign god.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said,* “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
James B. Torrance notes that probably the most common view of worship is that it is something “we, religious people, do—mainly in church on Sunday. We go to church, we sing our psalms and hymns to God, we intercede for the world, we listen to the sermon . . . we offer our money, time and talents to God. No doubt we need God’s grace to help us do it. We do it because Jesus taught us to do it and left us an example of how to do it. But worship is what we do before God.” Torrance’s questioning of this view might catch us off guard. Isn’t worship all those things we do together when we gather before God—pray, sing, preach, and so on? If this is not worship, then what is it?
Yet Torrance describes the above view as unitarian rather than trinitarian because the agent of worship is the self. The emphasis falls on our decision, our faith, and our response. When we become the primary agent of worship, it is difficult to resist the belief that worship is primarily about us: our feelings, our experiences, even our gifts and talents. It is then difficult to resist the idea that wherever we feel closest to God is where we ought to worship. If I feel the grandeur of God on a mountaintop, then why do I need to sit in some stuffy church sanctuary? Or why do I really need to gather with other people to worship? This view leads to the idea that the church might be valuable but it is not necessary. It may be an important source of support, but it is secondary to the individual and his or her relation with God. Such an understanding, however, is deeply flawed (Newman, 2007).