Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Asaph, Psalm 73:75
In conclusion, be strong–not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of His boundless strength. Ephesians 6:10
I remember the little Plymouth Brethren Chapel Alan and I were a part of when we first married. It was sort of cheating, an unmerited grace, to be part of a such a fellowship of believers, full of astute noticing from the poet Luci Shaw and the profound depth of Jerry Hawthorne, the Wheaton Greek professor for example.
And there was the breaking of bread service in which we filed into a silent room and took our places on the wooden pews surely intentionally designed for alert discomfort. And before us lay the body broken and the blood spilled for our sake. I seem to remember flickering candles but perhaps that was just the tone.
And we rested in the Spirit, and waited. And voice by voice a theme would emerge, a Scripture read, a hymn lifted up, an admonition offered.
Our God weaves together His creation to wrap around us that we might know Him. Know His heart, His mind, and His strength.
And today He is calling on me to know His strength.
And echoing Ignatius’ desire to have his desires and goals be His desires and goals, Lewis wrestles with his understanding of prayer with his friend Malcolm: Our struggle is to go on believing that there is a Listener at all. For as the situation grows more and more desperate, the grisly fears intrude. Are we only talking to ourselves in an empty universe? The silence is often so emphatic. And we have prayed so much already.
A good question. The emphatic silence.
And Lewis’ solution to this question is that so often we approach God as a suitor, a man praying on his own behalf. It is no sin to be a suitor. Our Lord descends into the humiliation of being a suitor, of praying on His own behalf in Gethsemane.
But I am not called to be a suitor, I am called friend. I am called to take up my cross and follow Him as a companion who co-labors so united with Him that I share His desires and goals, His foreknowledge.
And thus Mary prayed: I am the LORD’s servant. May it be to me as You have said.
In His strength alone.