how: facing seemingly unanswerable questions

 

Questions abound as we watch the news and read reports that make us keep asking how and why, in a futile attempt to try to make sense of what seems senseless and beyond our ken.

Such  questioning thoughts have crowded into my mind, especially in recent months when world events have left me reeling for answers to questions I barely know how to express. Because not everything in life is cut and dried and man’s inhumanity to man is beyond understanding at times.

So I ponder and pray, particularly where injury, and worse, to children is involved. My heart breaks, tears flow and words follow close behind, as in the lament poem below.

Questions without answers

How do you not let your soul grow old, as
calloused as the soles of your feet, when you’re
forced to walk as one displaced, a person
despised for ethnicity and race, made
homeless, rootless, orphaned and lost
in so many ways?

How do you maintain hope when your throat
is always parched and your heart aches for
news of your beloved ones, feared dead, while
you trudge on seeking shelter, trying hard to
assuage the pain of dread?

How do you carry the weight of the world on
your stooped forward, wing-like shoulders, when you
can barely sustain the weight of unshed tears and
the loss you’ve endured, as well as the meagre
belongings you have procured?

How do you cope when there is not enough food to be
found to help a body survive, drink is a desperate word
and your children, who have learnt not to cry
or ask for it, scratch around with stones and sticks
for lack of anything else to amuse themselves with
while their tummies hurt?

How do you keep on believing sufficient help is at hand
and endure the humility of need and receiving, when
you have nothing to offer in return, apart from grateful
thanks, relief and your constant broken state, as you
become yet another faceless, nameless statistic
on TV and newspaper page?

The human spirit has to endure many things as it exists
in this world, but few are called to become uprooted like this
and turned into homeless, displaced souls, whose hope is worn
so low, stretched wafer-thin, whose mind and heart are heavier
than we could truly know or bear
©joylenton

Let’s pray…

Loving Father,
Although we know that nothing is hidden from your awareness, so much distresses our souls as we witness children, weak and vulnerable ones suffering at the hands of others.
Help us to see these atrocities as evidence of sin being unleashed in hearts that are far from you. Enable us to understand that evil unchecked is full of malice and pain.
Teach us to rest in your perfect peace, dwell close to your heart and seek to release our anxiety and fear, while being your love and compassion in action wherever we can.
May we be voices in the wilderness pointing to Jesus. May we believe that all sin meets its match in Him and all questions meet their answer there too. May we trust your Word and promises to be a safe haven for the lost, hurting and dispossessed.
Amen

**Friends, though we might feel helpless, we can raise awareness, pray, give practical aid or donate to help displaced refugees, like my favourite charity does**

rigidity: when God needs to soften our cold hearts

 

Winter creeps closer and my fingers and toes act like a weather barometer. They blanch to match the snow, with white tips and stiff rigidity, a bit like icicles needing thawing. ⛄❄

They can become frozen by nothing much at all— like the merest drift of cool air, even during summer months—and remain that way until the stinging throb of feeling returns again, with a bluey-red flush of blood.

It’s a bad circulation problem I’ve had since childhood, when chilblains were a literal pain and paved the way for seasons of chilled numbness thereafter. It is known as Reynaud’s disease or syndrome/phenomenon. I’ve got minor, permanent nerve damage in some fingertips due to the changeable blood flow over many years.

Contributory factors include having a mother who smoked throughout the pregnancy and being born prematurely. The good news is my heart stays hot because the core of who we are always gets the best blood supply! 💓😏

Being cold-hearted is not a helpful way to live. 💙 Having coldness or rigidity in our hearts and minds is an unattractive attribute and an indicator that we need supernatural help from God to thaw and warm us up again.

Rigidity

Flake by flake falls, blanketing a world in white, signalling
virginal innocence, and as yet untouched softness blessed
with holy awe, as we watch it fall and marvel at the miracle

Before long, newly cold wintry ground gives up its hold, turning
snow and ice to slush, rendering a hushed wonder into mud
and ridges of rigidity, much like our hearts when left alone

And there’s danger afoot when icy patches remain rock hard
causing many to curse, slip and stumble their way on slippery
soled, treacherous ground where no firm footing can be found

Months can slide by and the ground remains hard, unyielding
and resistant to touch, until a thaw of sorts takes place, sun creeps
higher in the sky of our thoughts and we creep closer to arms of love
©joylenton

 

Heavenly Father,

May you brace us to face each season with equanimity, despite chill winds of adversity blowing. Help us to not stay frozen in our emotions, or chilled within by pain, but have hearts receptive to and softened by your love.

Enable us to avoid cold rigidity in our thinking. May we be grateful for what we already have and open to receiving and welcoming the new and the next you are leading us into.

Most of all, Lord, thaw our attitudes and thoughts where they have become hardened, wearied by waiting. Remind us that during Advent, especially, there is a Holy purpose behind our pain and that new Life and Hope can be birthed in us again.

We give you our grateful thanks and praise as you lead us warmly back into experiencing your love, your wonder, joy and peace anew during the demands of this season.

Thank you. Amen

When we need a reminder

when we need a reminder PJ

Days can bleed softly into one another and we so often miss being able to see and sense the sacred in the secular.

Holy and hallowed moments meeting with us in the mundane. Whispers of God’s grace in the commonplace.

My heart’s longs to live with greater awareness. To have my eyes open to wonder. To be present to Presence.

To know that whether I feel anything or not, God is always present.

And His active, living presence is what my soul needs most.

I desire to recognise holy in the everyday. God at home in my heart and mind, rooted in life’s reality.

I want to live in the light of His presence as I walk through this world, sense His peace and love, know I am His beloved.

And I want to make space for the entrance of grace to change and transform my mess.

Remind me

Living Lord,

Remind me as I go through my days

to know that the Lord is in this place

Awaken me to wonder

Alert me to Your Love

Bring a deep, abiding sense

of Your peaceful Presence

Calm this restless heart

Still my anxious mind

And as I sit and absorb

may I rise and go forth

share the beauty and grace I see

witness to Your Life in me

©JoyLenton2016

I definitely need to be reminded of these things. Maybe you do too?

Centering prayer is helping me to have that focus on a daily basis. Here’s a link to a helpful app I am currently using for that.

I also read quite a few devotional resources, use this bible app and dip into this prayerful app too from time to time.

What helps you to focus on God’s presence?

How are you best reminded of His daily grace?

remind me prayer PJ file pin

For God so loved

for God so loved PJ

Although the Advent season is now at a close, the message it brings continues to influence and change lives.

God’s love is eternal, everlasting and ever-available to us.

During Advent we are drawn into the wonder of the Incarnation, Christ made flesh.

It also pulls us into the holy awe of Easter where Jesus was willing to die a painful death for us.

They are inextricably linked, eternally bound by God’s purposes and plans.

We cannot view the babe in the manger without catching sight of the cross in the background.

Love comes at a price, and none have paid so high a price as the Son of God Himself.

Jesus literally died for love of us.

The wonder of it never ceases…

For God so loved…

Dear heavenly Father,

You loved; You keep on loving; You are Love

Love divine, Love Incarnate, Love excelling all other loves

It is Your defining characteristic

the essence of who You are and how You act

How can I begin to fathom the depths of Your love?

How can I experience it in all its simplicity,

its fullness and rich complexity?

Only by revelation

Only by faith

Only by acceptance

Only by grace

I read about Your love in Your word and it amazes me

I desire to experience it more in my heart and life

Would You live out Your love in and through

this weak mind and body of mine?

Would You find a way to touch the lives of others

with its heat, its power and all-consuming fire?

I rest complete in Your love

Because I need nothing else

Everything flows from it

Your love is the starting point of faith

and will be with me beyond the grave

In humble gratitude, I give thanks for all

I have already seen, believed and received

of Your inexhaustible, unconditional love

and all that is yet to be known,

lived out and personally owned

Amen

©JoyLenton2016

for God so loved prayer PJ pin

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” ~ John 3:16

During the last few weeks I’ve been mulling over the new ‘word’ for the year which God whispered to my heart ahead of time.

He has made it clear that the emphasis for me for 2016 is to be ‘LOVE’.

To see how this has already affected me while I absorb its fuller implications, you can read this introductory post on my main blog, Words of Joy. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what insights are given in the months ahead and sharing some of them with you here.

Do you have a ‘word’ for the year? I’d love to hear what it is and how it affects you. Feel free to join in the conversation below.

Being cloistered

cloistered file image PJ

‘Cloistered’

Impatient, busy feet

cross the street from sunlight

to shade, preferring dark

in the shadowed cloisters

of their barren heart

They do not see You, still

and patient in their midst

Nor catch the uttered cry

light as butterfly wings

that sings into the air

already thick with Your words

Blind eyes and stone insides

remain mute to their touch

What will it take to make

a world awaken to

the wonder and glory of You?

©JoyLenton2015

Dear Father,

As the storms of life arise,

may we be cloistered within

your heart, kept safe and

sheltered within the calm blue

sea of your grace, held fast and

secure by the anchor of your

love and tethered to you by

faith and trust in Jesus

Christ our Lord

Amen

Friends, I’ve been cloistered inside for a few weeks, needing a time set aside for necessary recuperation and rest. And I want to say how much I appreciate your kind thoughts, comments and prayers as I’ve been recovering some energy.

I’m slowly discovering there’s no safer place to be than in the shadow of God’s wings. May you also find the help, support and comfort you need during your own seasons of withdrawing unto Him.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (Whose power no foe can withstand). I will say of the Lord, He is my God; on Him I lean and rely and in Him I (confidently) trust!” ~ Psalm 91:1-2 (Amplified) 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

A heart unfurls

as petals fall to ground file image

Grace grows strong in a heart full of gratitude.

As we sow thankfulness seeds we are rewarded with a deeper appreciation of life.

Yet our hearts can be so cold, shrivelled by worry, anxiety, fears.

Casting our cares seems to send them into orbit for nanoseconds before they return multiplied and heavier than before.

How can we learn to live fully and freely? Is there a way to have lasting peace, joy and contentment?

I’m slowly discovering that joy seeps in when my heart turns heavenward.

When I lean heavy on God’s grace and less on my own understanding.

Hope replaces discouragement the more I trust God to take care of things.

Feeding on His word nourishes my inner being.

Daily reflection on and remembering His #1000gifts is an exercise in maintaining a grateful heart.

There are days when He feels far away and I forget to pray. Try to do things in my own limited strength. Neglect to seek His guidance and wisdom.

Yet He stands patient, ready and willing to step in as soon as I allow Him entry.

An open heart is a place He desires to inhabit and fill to overflowing.

Our task is to see our emptiness and be willing to ask God to fill it. And as He fills us with His love, joy and peace they will overflow out to others.

Joining here with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday and with Mel for Essential Fridays. You are very welcome and warmly invited to take part.

‘A heart unfurls’

Circle of thorns

surround a heart curled small

self-protective, bud-tight

against assailing light

Alabaster jar breaks

releasing its sweet perfume

of death, burial, rising free

into the waiting room

Piercing cruel, sharp,

upon the brow so deep

scarlet-red begins to seep

Dripping soft and slow

new life from old

flames bright and grows

The heart unfurls

as gently, one by one,

its folds embrace the Son

Warmed by Love

its fragrance fills

scent of gratitude spills

as petals fall to ground

©JoyLenton2014

gratitude poem heart unfurls file pin image ~ FMF