A Prayer for the First Day of School

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God thank you that I am part of a privileged few that get to experience graduate education. Help me to steward this responsibility well. I am excited for what I get to learn this year. Allow it to be formational, and please help me to understand more about my purpose. God be with me in my fear and my anxiety. As I learn to be a counselor, be with me as I mourn my own story. As I learn to hope for others, help me to hope for myself. Most of all, God help me to care well for myself, so that I can care well for others. Amen.

Psalm 7

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God I am not sure why you use me to create beautiful things.
I fail you every day in my sin.
I wake up and wonder, why depend on God, when I can be like God?
And yet every day, you give me so much more than I deserve.
In my brokenness, you create empathy.
In my depravity, you still shine through.
How dare I try to have purpose in your kingdom?
How dare I try to have a voice?
God I know that I still struggle with truth, and idols.
But I am thankful for the ways in which you use me. 
Thank you for trusting me to mentor and incoming student.
She is one of your unique and beautiful children.
Thank you for allowing me to help create a vespers service.
This time last year I was scared, and I felt inadequate.
Thank you that in my fear and inadequacy I still have a purpose.
It amazes me that it is not by what I have to offer, but whether I am willing to say yes.

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

Psalm 6

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I already know that I am not enough.
I cannot save myself. I do not deserve the grace afforded to me.
But please do not tell me that I do not pray hard enough.
I pray every single day. Out of desperation I add more and more.
Maybe if I read this book, do this devotional, or practice this spiritual discipline.
Maybe if I king this Bible study, this small group, or go to church more.
Before long, even more is not enough.
My prays, devotions, and Bible study begin to feel empty and meaningless.
God feels farther, and it is a deeply lonely place.
God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by a process of subtraction.
It is not about doing more, my relationship with is not about consuming more.
One who truly has God will have Him in all places, in the streets and in the world, no less than in the church.
But God and I are already connected, the obstacle is myself, the illusion that I can be more.
God expects but one thing of you, and that is that you should come out of yourself in so far as you are a created being and let God be in you
Perhaps it is not that I need to to pray more, but pray differently.
Perhaps differently means to come as I am not, and not who I think I should be.
God, thank you that I can be me.
Help me to remember that where I am not enough to conquer sin, I am enough to depend on you.
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A New Writing Territory

At school I am part of a student leadership group that is concerned with how we rest, wrestle, and play with God. This year in our meetings we are trying something new. As we rotate through meetings, we are all bringing a devotional. Today is my turn to bring a devotional, and in the spirit of trying something new, I tried to write my own. We are currently planning a vespers service on marking moments, making memories, and finding a point of locatedness. Hiking and climbing for me is one way in which I find a sense of marking moments, and being located.


 

Cairns: A Journey of Faith

Throughout our life we come across markers, which serve as anchors. Cairns not only help us to know where we are going, but also to remind us where we have come from. Our lives have been described as paths, and climbing a mountain feels like it parallels with our spiritual journeys. Like a mountain, our journey towards God may look different depending on which trail one chooses. They may not have the same terrain, but they all lead to the summit. We choose our path partly on faith, and also by looking at maps. An important thing to consider about maps is that the map is only as good as the mapmaker. The Bible, and the Holy Spirit serve as a map, directed by God, one’s ultimate mapmaker. Inevitably, one must make several decisions on a trail. Left, right, continue, or descend. Not only is it important to follow the cairns that God has laid for us, but also for us to mark where we have come from. Our cairns serve us as anchors; a place we can look back and remember that God has met me here. Whether God has answered prayer, whispered in your ear, or even blessed you with a miracle. Along the way, one may encounter inclement weather. Rain, fog, snow, and fading light can make it difficult to locate the next cairn. On a mountain trail, faith tells us that many have climbed this path before us. When the path seems unclear, our faith in God tells us that there have been many cairns before, there must be one ahead. The summit will not look like the valley, the path will be windy, sometimes terrain will be difficult, and the weather unpredictable. Take a moment to wonder, which summit are you climbing to? Who is your mapmaker? And how will you mark your path, so that when you start to stray, or the next marker is unclear, you can find your way back?

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Psalm 5

God help me to become wiser in regards to evil. Help me to understand what it means to be as sly as a serpent, and as innocent as a dove (Matthew 10:16). How is it that evil can be so easy to see, yet so difficult to name? I look around in my local and global community and see the violence and injustice, and it is easy to say, this is not right! However, there is both a stigma, and a fear attached to naming it as evil. I do not want to look too conservative, too pentecostal, too crazy, and so I look for other things to call it. It is just sad, confusing, or heartbreaking.

What evil wants most is to destroy what resembles the Kingdom of God. I, and we are the Imago Dei, and we are the image of God on this earth. If the accuser’s best trick is to persuade you that it doesn’t exist (Baudelaire), then perhaps its next best trick is to convince you that you do not matter. If one does not matter, then evil would not bother with them. Maybe to ‘matter’ is too much responsibility in the kingdom of God. Perhaps it is too risky to be seen or known. 

Help me God to know how much I matter to you, your kingdom, and you plan. God give me wisdom as I sit in the tension naming evil. And God, give me strength each day as I declare war on evil. 


 

This last weekend I was able to sit in on some of the sessions for the Story Workshop, which is part of the Allender Center. It was an amazing blessing and privilege, and these are some of the things that I have been pondering on since. 

Psalm 4

Your power to redeem has made it difficult to speak.
The work to restore one’s story is both painful, and necessary.
Today I heard story after story.
Abuse, evil, trauma, and pain.
Today I heard story after story.
Joy, redemption, holiness, and shalom found.

God thank you that our stories are precious.
I am not sure why I was so privileged to witness your redemptive work.
I saw the pain, and the contempt.
Stories were told with a new found kindness.
I saw the pain, and the contempt.
Stories were restored for the kingdom of God.

 

 

Psalm 3

I know that there is a season, and a time for everything. 
There is a time for life, love, and rejoicing.
Oh God, please not today.
There is a time for seeking, embracing, and laughing.
Oh God, please not today.
There is a time to mourn, break down, and weep.
Oh God, please not today.
There is a time to cry, to fight, and to die.
Oh, God please not today.

For today, God please bring rest.
My body is tired, and my soul is weary.
Physically I am weak, and too exhausted to cry.
I know that You make everything beautiful in its time.
But God, please do not ask me to step into hope
For today is a day for silence, healing, and sabbath. 
God please rest and restore my soul.