Thursday, January 14, 2016

And on another happy note, I am getting really good at solving algebraic equations.

Let my mouth be full of Your praise and Your glory all the day long. Psalm 71:8

In the messy, Jesus whispers, “What do you want?” and in the ugly, I want to cry out, “I want to see–see You in these faces.” He speaks soft, “Seek My face.” I want to answer with David, “My heart says to You, Your face, LORD, Your face do I seek,” but I am desperate to grab someone, anyone, and shake hard, ”How do I have the holy vision in this mess? How do I see grace, give thanks, find joy In this sin-stinking place?” –Ann Voskamp

You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies­‑though that ever occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet (God’s) beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is. -Jean-Pierre de Caussade

A blasphemer.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:11

And my verse for today’s fixed prayers: Be still, then, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.  Psalm 46:11

And my prayer for myself on Wednesdays has more profundity somehow today: May I not lean on my own strength and understanding, but in all my ways may I acknowledge you and have a heart of thanksgiving and be filled with Your wisdom and grace.  And may I live in the joy of the Holy Spirit.

And that joy of the Holy Spirit carried me under His wing all tumultuous day long.  Through some very dark stuff and a few shining celebrations. A veritable shield of faith turning away every flaming single dart of the Enemy. And I am quite sure that this shield of faith is being wielded not by me, but by my prayer warriors who are standing in battle with me, even as my knees are buckling under the onslaught.

And Nicole is leading the singles group at her church tonight through the Lord’s Prayer. And what does it mean for Him not to lead us into temptation? Why do we have to ask that of our loving Father? So I turned to my friend Mr. Google with my question this morning and found lots of insight. John Chrysostom teaches that this petition encourages us to be prepared for anything and everything, “suffering of the body, illnesses of the soul, the plotting of others, the uprising of enemies, the guile of false friends, hunger, torment, mistreatment, legions of demons, and the frenzy of the devil.”

Yes, deliver me, O God.

I know that frenzy first hand.

And when I slid into my car this dark morning, Audrey Assad once again greeted me, and I joined her in this prayer:
From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want

when I taste Your goodness I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

So every day is chock full of the ugly beautiful that both Ann Voskamp and the impressionist painter, Paul Gauguin, encapsulated as, “Le laid peut-etre beau…” Right now the kids are getting yelled at again. With words like crap and exasperation. And I have difficulty making eye contact with all of those student eyes in their general sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. What does anything matter?

But Ann encourages me: Because, somewhere, underneath the grime of this broken world, everything has the radiant fingerprints of God on it. With Jesus eyes, we have the astonishing opportunity to daily love the unlovely into loveliness.

And during one of my parent teacher conferences the momma with pink and purple hair wept a lot. Life is pretty hard. But she said that the little haphazard note I wrote to her child for Christmas about how much joy it brought me when his eyes lit up with the answer, well, her child has posted the note on the refrigerator and reads it out loud to every single visitor. And another kid raised his hand yesterday during the discussion, the kid whose mom just got out of prison and makes all kinds of bad choices all day long, and said that even though he had three F’s last quarter he was feeling optimistic because he and Miss had a good plan in place for this semester. And I showed the guy who has scrawled hate and death onto his forearm with black marker how to use the free version of Sketch Up and his “student desk of the future” looks so cool that it is getting posted on the school website and he has worked on it two straight class periods, rocking his head back and forth to Slipknot, his favorite band.

I shall not want.

Grateful for the startling graces of God today.

The ugly beautiful.