Making All Things New

by Terry Tripp, Director, Spiritual Formation Program

What does it mean that the Lord will make all things new?  That God creates out of nothing, something that will glorify God’s name and bring righteousness to the earth? How does life come from death? How does it happen that we participate in this becoming new – in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth?  These are the questions of those who seek Jesus and His righteousness.  I’m pondering them anew as I begin a brand new season of my life; living in a new home in a new town with new spaces to fill.

This last year I have had the great privilege of watching my new home being built where there was nothing.  Stage by stage, the foundation was laid, the walls were erected, the roof covered the insides and the house took shape while we had the heaviest rainfall in recorded history in the NW!  Now, as I’m still putting away the “things” of my life – finding where to hang a beloved picture or the best drawer to put the silverware in, I’m struck by how this is a metaphor for choosing to discern what God is doing in new places when clouds cover the sky.  How does God fit together the pieces of our lives, chosen and mostly not chosen?

All done

God’s work of building our lives into the beloved daughters and sons of the Lord’s choosing is a mystery.  But we can long for God, desire God’s will, look for what is happening deep within our souls and name it in order to bring beauty and participation in our Lord’s action in and through us for the sake of the world.  For me, it might as well boil down to love.  How am I participating in God’s love today?  How am I not loving?  Looking at both is necessary to the self-awareness that brings God-awareness, which creates intimacy, which gives discernment around choices that fill in the spaces of your life.

Choosing what plants – what trees and flowers to populate my garden with has been lovely.  The roses and peonies, especially remind me of my Mom.  She was a great gardener.  I think the best part of her garden was the ability to give away the flowers she grew in order to bless others with beauty.  We give away all that God gives us every day, so that we can fill the earth with the aroma of God’s righteousness played out in real time in real people in real ways.  How is God making all things new in your life today?  Look within and without, and find yourself in the middle of a new day to play with life as the beloved of God in a world in need of your love; making all things new.

 

 

 

 

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Privilege

by Boni Piper, Spiritual Formation Director

Living in Seattle during this long rainy season has been like a long Lent.  And when a day like today happens, and the sun comes out and being outside is glorious, it feels Easter has arrived!  This Lent, like the several before it, I spent much of the time in Kenya, where there is no water and the sun shines hot and constant.  But that does not feel like Easter at all.  It feels like “being in a dry and desperate land where there is no water” that the Psalms talk about.

I never return home from Kenya the same as when I went.  God often uses this time to show me my false self, the unfinished business that drives my actions and my complaining spirit that always wants more.  This time was no different.  But being with the women of rural Kenya always changes my perspective.  How is it that these women can have no material wealth and be so thankful?  How can they endure the hardship of searching for water for hours and carrying home heavy jerry cans of disease ridden water and not be bitter?  In the midst of no real future for their children, how do they continue to praise God for his goodness?  How do they keep trusting God so completely?

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Isaiah 58 tells us to get rid of unfair practices, stop blaming the victims, quit gossiping, be generous, give yourself to those in need.  All wonderful Lenten commitments, that hopefully continue throughout our lives.  And the promise included in these verses is that we will be a “well-watered garden…that never runs dry.”  But I feel dry!  I feel worn out, tired and old!

Yet, as I contemplated these verses and looked within myself another truth emerged.  I wrestled with God and reminded him how old I am, how weak physically and prone to illness I am, he spoke another truth though Isaiah.  “I will always show you where to go.  I will give you a full life in the emptiest of places – firm muscles, strong bones.”  And certainly he has. I heard in my head, “after all, you are my beloved!”

That is what the women of Kenya know that I so often forget.  Whatever the situation we are in, God is there.  We are never alone in the joy or the hardship.  His love permeates it all!  His love fills up the emptiness, encourages the tired and protects the spirit of those who struggle. In knowing that love, I can sing and dance with my friends.  I can trust that though I don’t understand why there is such injustice in the world, being the beloved is the greatest joy of all! I can answer the call to do what I can and trust God with the rest.  Being his beloved is a gift bigger than we imagine.  It is true privilege.

 

Opening to Life

by Gwen Shipley, CFDM Faculty and Spiritual Director

 

It’s been a Narnian winter for sure—except there was a Christmas! The weather has been unrelenting across the Northwest, the kind meteorologists say we should expect every 20 years or so—but on steroids. Just when it seemed Spring was arriving, another round of flakes would fall.  Never mind that it has made for extraordinary photo ops and ensures much-needed moisture in the orchards and vineyards; the change of season can’t come soon enough!

In what feels like a repeat of Advent, I have grown impatient in the waiting. And, in fact, here we are waiting…waiting…waiting once again. Waiting for the promise of Resurrection awaiting us at the end of this season called Lent.

Originally, “lent” simply meant “the season of spring.” Eventually, though, it came to mean the forty days of solemn preparation leading to the commemoration of Christ’s passion prior to Easter. And, as is its nature, waiting makes the arrival of a thing even sweeter.

Growing up in a generally non-liturgical tradition, I found great meaning in the discovery of the church calendar. In the same way the Julian calendar marks the passage of time promising change when the natural seasons grow interminably long, meaningful moments in the life of the church when celebrated with others around the world, herald hope. They remind us that what can seem like a solitary journey, has been shared by others for centuries of seasons. The CFDM community and culture aim to provide a context in which we can share that same journey with our contemporaries. No one need travel alone.    

  • Some of you are “lifers” in this vein of Christian thought and experience known as spiritual formation.
  • Some are just exploring a vocabulary and set of practices that stretch the boundaries of familiarity.
  • Still others are experiencing the joy of discovering new life and freedom in your identity as The Beloved of God.

Thomas Merton likes to remind us, speaking especially of prayer, that “we will never be anything but beginners, all our life!”

Whatever your kronos timeline, we are all on the same path. Edna Hong calls it a path of “downward ascent…ending before the cross, where we stand in the white light of a new beginning” (Bread and Wine, 2003, Plough Publishing, p. 25).

“I have found only one religion that dares to go down with me into the depth of myself,” writes GK Chesterton, perfectly describing the “Going Deeper with God” experience, and the essential Lenten journey. Hong expands on this theme stating, “No other religion dares to take me down to the new beginning.”

The yearly recurrence of this Lenten/Easter period reminds us that just as Spring follows Winter in a cycle of robust, natural renewal, we, too, are invited into a life-sustaining cycle of releasing and receiving. My prayer is that we may continue to open to the Life, the new beginning we are being given in this and in every season.    

What is your experience of Lent? What are you reading, practicing? Comment below or jump over to FB. Share with us and with one another your experiences of Going Deeper with God in this season.

 

When God is Silent

by Rev. Terry Tripp, CFDM Co-Director

 

Just when I felt myself to be more grounded in love than in grief; I was reminded that they go together; never to be separated.  I don’t want to keep crying out for what I can’t have – my husband, John.  But I do and I will – maybe not as much or as hard as those first few years after he died, but it comes to me at times unbidden.  He is still loved.

My office window has a view of the Olympic Mountains and some of Lake Washington – I stare a lot!

420px-olympicmountainsnearhoodcanal
Common license photo by Stevekuo

 

Time to stare
Lofty white peaks
Deep blue sea
Green branches unfurled
Sprouting closed buds
Promise yet to unfold
Witness to Love’s
Unbroken promise
Filling the spaces
Left behind

The mystery of empty spaces being filled by grief as a sign of love has captivated my search for God; a God revealed in relationship, not prescriptive signs.  This is a lot harder than following a religion of rules which would make life a lot easier.  Rules would have outcomes that make sense.  Rather than a relationship that can’t be controlled.

Beth Slevcove in her book, “Broken Hallelujahs”, puts it this way, “So, how do we ‘stay on the way’ when we experience periods of prolonged silence from God, when we are forced to figure out which of the ‘promises of God’ are true and which ones are wishful thinking rooted more in a need for security than in the mysterious otherness of God?”

Traumatic experiences of loss or simply acknowledging that to be human is to lose, can in itself push us to grow into beautiful Formations, when we ask God to help us survive the un-survivable.  Holy grief is that process in which we accept the unacceptable, when we choose to believe that God is doing something in love that we have no idea about.  

As I prepare for Lent, for pondering again the sacramental nature of God, I hope to regain a piece of myself that is simply love made purer in the face of loss; in the face of God’s silence.  I wrote the following in January of 2011, eight months after John had died:

“Sacrament”

Body and blood
Bread and cup
Suffering holds me sacramentally
One with God
Life is a sacrament
Received as given
Falling into embrace
Only love matters

I grieve because I love.  And I love so many people, things, places, and values, that in themselves would be nothing if not infused with God’s creative mark – and when that mark is recognized, we fall in love with God through them.  The loss of them makes life larger if the Creator of them is the sought out end.  Then silence is broken.

Open Doors

 

by David Hicks, CFDM Faculty

 

This last fall I heard a new word that I have been thinking a lot about especially going into the new year of 2017. It’s a German word, ‘schwellenangst’. It literally means the fear of crossing a threshold. It is often used simply as the fear of moving into something new. Thresholds are something that a person must step over or across in order to leave one space and go through a doorway into a new space. The phrase “on the cusp” speaks to this as well. It means to be on the threshold of something but not yet stepping through the door into that new space.

doorway

As we stand “on the cusp” of 2017 many of us are experiencing some “schwellenangst” about stepping through this doorway. What will the new year hold? How will I handle it? Will it hurt? Maybe the new year will bring the opening of some doors or the closing of others and we are not quite sure how we will discern our own movement through it. Take a moment at the start of this new year to become aware of any sense of fear or anxiety about moving forward. What are you leaving behind? What are you in midst of? What are you sensing lies ahead? Are you at all fearful or anxious about any of this?

 

In the midst of my own schwellenangst I have been reflecting on the words of Jesus to the church in Philadelphia recorded in Revelation 3:7-8. “What He opens, no one can shut; and what He shuts, no one can open…. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”

 

The thing about doorways is that we generally have a pretty good idea of what lies on the other side. Sometimes, not often, we are caught off guard, like walking into our own surprise party. But most of the time we know, “I am walking through the door from the hallway into my bedroom”, or “I am walking through the door from the parking lot into the grocery store”. If only it were that clear-cut in the spiritual life. We often barely know the space we are in much less the area we will be walking into. And thus the angst. The fear. That anxiety that causes our spirit to tighten up. We don’t know what is on the other side of this doorway. We don’t know if it will help us or harm us. We can’t see in order to prepare ourselves to go through it, so we are afraid.

 

But the ability to go through these doors is not based on knowing what is on the other side, but on knowing who is on the other side. If these are doors of God’s creation placed before us as invitations then our fear must give way to faith. Faith in the One who has placed it before us and who invites us to step through it with Him into a new space. This new space may be fun and exciting or it may be challenging and difficult. Either way we must go through the open door. After all, when someone is holding a door open for you it’s impolite to make them wait.

An Adventure

by Rev. Mona Chicks, CFDM Board Member
ad·vent
ˈadˌvent
noun
 the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
p20161217-091442

What does Advent mean to you? Is it a circle of oddly-colored candles, wrapped in festive greenery or simple on a silver stand? Is it a child reading a bible verse in corporate worship that sits oddly with the rest of the service? Is it a time ripe with meaning, in which the story of Jesus’ coming unfolds as we look back and look forward to when He will come again?

 

This year, I’ve been struck by the adventure of Advent. It’s not simply about telling the story, it’s a movement through emotion. It is the journey of spiritual growth. It is looking back on the first Christmas, and looking forward to Jesus’ return. It is the story of Jesus, but also the story of us.

 

During Advent, we move from hope and expectation, to peace, through joy, and into love. We listen to the story of Jesus’ birth each year as we prepare for Christmas, but also we are living it out as we move through the stages of spiritual growth.

 

A new Christian is full of hope and expectation – the first week of Advent. Jesus has reached in and changed a heart, making it new and drawing it into the eternal possibility of relationship with God.

 

With continued growth, peace inhabits that hope, fills it, and brings a solidity and fullness to it. The excitement of the new Christian is dampened by the struggles of human life that continue, but peace invades it with the realization that one does not now struggle alone. This is the second week of Advent.

 

Joy, the third week of Advent, breaks through as the Christian sees God’s faithfulness and leans into it – bringing all their struggles to God’s attention and leaving them there. Joy is not the absence of problems, but is the undercurrent of all of life with God.

 

And, finally, love. When all of life is centered in love, God’s will is done. Our Trinitarian God is, above all else, about love. That love that exists between the three persons of the Trinity is shared with God’s Creation from the beginning, but is not understood until a certain level of Christian maturity is gained. This is our goal in the Christian life – to live in that love, accepting it and expressing it in all we do.

 

The Christian journey is an adventure. Where do you find yourself on this journey? Which week of Advent resonates with your life right now? As you look back over your journey so far and look forward to where you want to be, where are you seeing Advent become relevant to your life?

 

My prayer this Advent season is that I will continue this journey to engulf myself more and more deeply in hope, peace, joy, and love. I pray that for you as well.

 

Amen. Let it be so.

 

And There, the Jesus Chair   

 

by Mark Cutshall, Spiritual Director and Board Member

When I opened the door and looked around for the first time, I figured it was probably the smallest room I could have imagined for being a spiritual director.

Here was this little L-shaped church office of my wife’s. When Linda handed me the keys at home, she looked at me with raised eyebrows and said, “You’ll like the Jesus chair.”

And there it was in plain view.

The Jesus chair is actually a slightly worn, wing back chair. It’s where people who visited with Linda shared their stories, and it’s where I would invite my directees to sit. The chair was draped with lovely green shawl, and its upright posture seemed inviting. It looked like it belonged in my late grandmother’s living room, next to an end table and a little dish of mints.

the_jesus_chair_11-1-2016

But where was Jesus in relationship to this chair? And where would he be for the directee and for me?

I pondered all of this as I plopped myself swivel desk chair. Even as I thumbed through a book of prayers and tried to make sense of my earlier handwritten notes, my eyes kept returning to the green shawl and this apparently unoccupied space.

I told myself, “It’s time to pray.” So I bowed my head and pictured my directee in the Jesus chair and asked God to come near. Then, I began to look around and check the clock a few times to make sure I was still spending time faithfully in prayer. It had been a long day at work, and I needed to blow out all the crummy stuff inside. I decided to be brave, and with the window shade up and the world looking in, I spun myself around in the swivel chair. And not just once. It became my own Prayer of Healing Thanks to Centrifugal Force. And on every revolution, I noticed the Jesus chair looking on–legs still, arms open, freely giving me whatever room I needed.

Soon, my directee arrived, and given what followed during our hour together, I was beginning to see the goodness and meaning of the Jesus chair.

Several weeks went by, and before a direction session I went to the room a little bit earlier. The day had gone well, and I just wanted to get off my feet. For the first time, I decided to sit in the Jesus chair.

Oh, those cushions. It was snug, yet roomy, all at once. My back agreed. The bones of the Jesus chair held me upright, and I didn’t want to get up.

With my eyes shut, I surrendered to God my work assignments I hadn’t finished that day. I offered the Lord my two teens whom I dearly loved but couldn’t figure out.

There, in the Jesus chair, I sighed with a whole lot of questions that were still raising their hands needing to heard. With my shoes now off and my toes now curled up in a crevice of fabric, I started to pay attention to my grateful yet somewhat frayed soul.

In the Jesus chair, honesty and freedom came ‘round. For a long, seamless moment, I sat with my directee and with Jesus. To put myself in this chair was to know I belonged with both of them and that in God’s design the three of us would bless one another.

In this chair, Jesus—through the immense company of Father and Holy Spirit—was already present. In fact, I wasn’t going to be surprised if he skootched up and leaned in a little closer. Why not? In spiritual direction, the posture of Jesus is always to listen, abide with the one he loves unconditionally and forever. And to think such love could somehow be contained and flow to another person through the cracks of a broken vessel like me, like each of us.

It wasn’t long before I heard a small knock at the door. I stood up and smoothed out the green shawl of the Jesus chair. The time for both my directee and me had come. I opened the door, and in that quiet, little room perfectly furnished for two persons, I gladly noticed three.

 

 

 

Mark Cutshall, Spiritual Director, Board Member, completed the CFDM Spiritual Direction Program in 2016. As a spiritual director, he enjoys companioning others in their deepening journey with Jesus. A professional writer, Mark is grateful anytime he can get the words going in the right direction. He stays out of trouble by going to the gym, reading theology, and shopping for used vinyl records, including modern jazz which he’s still trying to figure out.

 

 

 

 

 

Hands

by Margie Van Duzer, DMin, CFDM Spiritual Director

How do we notice God’s active, loving presence in our world?  How does God “speak” to us?   How do we have the eyes to see what God is doing and ears to hear what God is saying?  How do we come to deeply know that we are God’s beloved?

I am not one to regularly say “God told me this or that.” I certainly know folks whose experience of God makes it easier for them to use such language, but I am hesitant to do so.  There have been times, however, when my prayers, my reading of Scripture, and the daily circumstances of my life somehow end up fitting so well together that I can’t help but recognize that God is getting my attention and lovingly communicating with me.  This summer I had such an experience.

My husband had a work commitment that took him to Oxford, England. I tagged along. Getting ready for the trip, I found myself growing anxious and controlling.  I filled my journal with prayers for all the logistics of the trip and for what might happen while we were gone.  As an act of surrender, I prayed that both what we were leaving behind and what we were about to encounter, would be in God’s hands.

The day we arrived in Oxford, before any planned events started, my husband and I walked around, trying to stay awake until the evening, in hopes of managing our jet lag.  There was certainly much to see, but when we were walking through a park, I noticed a plaque on a park bench that had the words of one of my favorite Celtic verses:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

celtic-verse

It was the last line of the verse that grabbed my attention.  I remembered my prayer from earlier in the week about trusting that God would be holding the circumstances of my life.  Over the rest of my times in Oxford, I found myself regularly musing on what it meant for me, as well as for my circumstances, to be held in God’s hands.

After Oxford, we travelled to Ireland, a country I had never visited before.  On our first night we stayed in County Clare, in a small town called Ennis.  Directly across from our old hotel stood a church – one of the many we would see in Ireland. What made this church unique was the large sculpture outside directly facing our hotel.  It was simply called “Hands”.  Two large hands, the right one facing upwards, palm towards the left, and the left one held with palm up and open. No signs were posted that said “Do not touch.”  Just the opposite. The sculpture practically invited one to sit in that open palm.  Self-consciously, I did so. Again, I found myself musing on what it meant to be in God’s hands, and, adding to my musings, what did it mean that the right hand was like a shield of protection?

hands

Photo by Margie Van Duzer

While traveling in Ireland, I was using the Irish Jesuits’ devotional web site Sacred Space for my devotions.  The prayer I read on that site the morning after I saw the sculpture was a prayer of St Ignatius:

“There are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands.”

More food for thought and prayer.  

And, as we traveled for the rest of the week in Ireland, I ran into that same Celtic verse over and over.  It is everywhere.  A greeting as one enters a pub, or sits on a bench or explores ancient churches.  It is almost the Irish equivalent of what we mean when we say “Have a good one.” But I must say I found the Celtic greeting far more satisfying.  Every time I saw it, it drew me in, called forth further prayer and reminded me again of God’s loving care.

Earlier in the year I had been reading from the middle of Isaiah, specifically chapters 40-55. The Irish reminders of being in God’s hands drew me back to what I had read earlier:

“See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16a) and “Fear not.  I am with you.  Be not dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you. I will help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)  

These readings now spoke more loudly – came more alive.

God was knitting it altogether.  My prayers, my reading of Scripture, the Irish Jesuit web site, and reminders of verses from Isaiah, were woven together with the Celtic verse and the sculpture of the “Hands.”  In so many ways and at so many times I was being reminded that I am God’s beloved, held in the palms of God’s hands.  It was obviously an incredible privilege to travel overseas and all that goes with such an experience.  What I will remember most from this trip, however, is that God “spoke” to me – wanting me to know, really know, the reality that I am held in God’s loving hands.

This fall, how might God be fitting together your spiritual practices and your daily life’s circumstances?  How are you being reminded that you are abundantly loved by God?

 

Everyone Needs a Summer

by Gwen Shipley, CFDM Spiritual Director

This morning I woke to the whispers of my nine-year-old granddaughter who spent last night, asking for her favorite breakfast–eggs from our chickens. If a full day staying home is her definition of exile, sleeping in her own bed is anathema! So I rescued her. She spent the night and scored a rare, after-dark motorcycle ride with Papa, followed by a popsicle, then crashed on the couch–which she is outgrowing. It was a definite diversion from her regular routine.

Everyone needs a summer.

After breakfast, I trailed her to the henhouse to check for more eggs. Intimidated by the Banty rooster who is more bark than bite, she won’t enter alone.

On the way back, she detoured into the garden insisting we check under “just one plant” for potatoes. Her slightly-older cousin joined us there. A full row later, we were rewarded with a wire basket full of golden nuggets, then meandered back to the house alive with the energy of the hunt and the sheer pleasure of getting our hands dirty.

spuds4_resized

Photo used with permission by Nature For Kids, http://natureforkids.net/

My intentions for the morning had been entirely rerouted but on the way I found rest for my soul. I had set out to write, shower, return at least one kiddo home, view a motivational training video, pay a bill, continue a DIY project, pack for a trip…It never ends does it?

But once in a while, a good detour helps restore us to a peaceful place from which to do all our living. Sometimes we just need to leave the planning, organizing, the constancy of life’s demands. To pull heart and head back together–at least I do. It grounds me in the present in a way little else can. And if you do it in the dirt, so much the better. Science tells us that interacting with organisms found in the dirt helps build a healthy immune system that fortifies us against disease.

Come to think of it, my potato dig via the garden detour, is a little like investing a year with CFDM in Spiritual Formation. I spent many years in a sterile, religious cocoon. But a willingness to disrupt the soil, to expose some roots, to uncover the fruit of what was growing in unseen places–and to do so in the company of others, put me in touch with my own lived experience and strengthened my connection with the Source of all life from which mine flows. It’s messy work. It requires some effort. Your legs fatigue and it will mess up your manicure. But good things are found there.

The Benedictines gifted us with this helpful matrix: Work, play, rest, pray. If you’re feeling tense, tired or just plain dry, you might want to sit down with a cold drink–it’s been in the triple digits here in the Northwest–and spend a few minutes reflecting on how you are specifically attending to each domain–which is really making space for God. How we decide to do that will differ for each of us. The important thing is that its function occurs. Getting in touch with where we are is the first step in determining the next step to take. Our desire can help guide us. If you’re desiring something more, consider that it may also be God’s desiring that thing for you–maybe even a little more play.

You might be in the middle of a busy season.

You might be in transition and seeking direction for the next season of life.

You might be simply seeking a period of rest and renewal.

Whatever your felt need, if there’s a child tugging on your sleeve–literal or figurative, perhaps the video or the project can wait (probably not the shower…!). I worked yesterday, turning down a movie with a friend to paint part of the DIY project after spending the morning working. Today I planned more of the same but instead I turned left into the garden–and what a gift it turned out to be. After all, everyone needs a summer.

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A few spots are still open for CFDM’s 2016-17 Spiritual Formation 1 Program beginning in September. It could be just the detour your soul needs, the change in routine that makes more space for God, space for attending to the needs of your soul. For more information and to register or just check out what’s happening at CFDM click here.

The Secretary of Creation’s Praise

 

by Rev. Mona Chicks, CFDM Board Member

 

We’ve just spent a few days in the Olympic National Park in Washington State. It is a place of pure beauty – stunning views, amazing wildlife, and an endless supply of hiking opportunities. Or so we hear. While we were there, the area we visited was shrouded with clouds, hidden behind layer after layer of thick, wet blanket.

2016-07-13 11.19.37

Being there in that place and knowing but not seeing what was hiding behind the clouds felt somehow appropriate, though. This has been a season of tragedy for our world and our country, one in which it feels like everything is spinning out of control. We humans are so shrouded in our own anger, fear, and self-interest that it is hard to see the beauty with which we are endowed. It feels like hope is hidden from us, like the vistas from mountain peaks hidden in cloud.

But even in this chaotic time, we can be harbingers of hope and beauty – because we know the Author of this story. As P.T. Forsyth said,

The weakness of much of the current mission work is that we betray the sense that what is yet to be done is greater than what Christ has already done. The world’s gravest need is less than Christ’s great victory.

We can be assured that, even in this time of despair, frustration, fear, anxiety, and chaos, that God’s victory has already been won. Jesus Christ did it, once and for all, and we can celebrate what is hidden behind the clouds because we know what is there is God’s Kingdom. In the meantime, we have a map to guide us – a revelation given to us in the form of words and the Word – to tell us where we are and what to look for.

2016-07-13 11.59.43

We can find beauty and hope in the midst of the obscuring clouds. We know what we’re looking at, even if we can’t see it in front of us. Prayer is the key for us to continually connect with God’s goodness and remind our world that God is the Ruler – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is through prayer that we coax Creation toward its Creator. It is prayer that lifts us when we are down. It is prayer that continues to reveal to us both God and ourselves.

Again, P.T. Forsyth:

The Christian [person] at prayer is the secretary of Creation’s praise.

Through prayer, we illustrate and enscribe the story of God on the tablet of Creation. We bring Christ’s redemptive power to fruition as Creation itself is “groaning with the pains of childbirth.” The clouds might blind us, but the scenery that is hidden is more stunning than we can imagine. And that is where our hope lies in these dark times.