Renew My Strength
September 8, 2013
In these last few weeks of summer, I am looking back on my newfound adventure in faith. It is one that includes being more committed to a disciplined approach of opening my mind and heart to God's presence through quiet morning devotions. I always looked at "suggested daily devotions" as a routine too restrictive to my free spirit, not unlike brushing your teeth, washing your face and taking your vitamin. I felt it was one more "to do" in a long list of many for my already tight morning schedule. Retirement has brought me so many new joys, but this may be the finest of them all! I truly have time to spend with God in meditation, prayer and reading each morning.
In this new summer adventure into faith, I am able to take time to notice special words of encouragement, hope and faith from (who would believe it?) Facebook. Let us be honest for a moment. We must be "part of the world, but not in the world" as we are admonished.
Romans 12:2 and be ye not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
You cannot make a positive difference in others' lives if you have become monastic in your faith for fear of being exposed to the "negative" influences we see. I love that the United Methodist Church, who I "friended" on Facebook, by the way, leaves me a positive thought and a Bible verse to consider with each new morning. The same is true of a special congregation in the Golden Isles of GA, named The Grace Place, which is a Baptist Church lead by and attended by many high school friends.
Each morning, as I weed through the cranky discourse associated with current events and politics and the endless recipes which make me salivate while trying to read, I can keep up with friends recent adventures while coming across words of encouragement and strength and hope. I remember shortly after the election I was overflowing with fury and disatisfaction in the results and was "babbling" not "bubbling" over with contempt. I was in the world without any connection to God each morning. I was all me running amuk on the internet with confusion and revulsion until finally, one morning, I woke and was silent. I made the choice to "give it up." All the angst was making me weary and beginning each new day with negative thoughts. Something had to be done to end the effect it was having on my life. I was not only "in" the world, but I was "of" the world.
Friday, I read the following post from The Grace Place, 'Lord…give me the gift of faith to be renewed and shared with others each day. Teach me to live this moment only, looking neither to the past with regret, nor the future with apprehension. Let love be my aim and my life a prayer.' ~Roseann Alexander-Isham
I immediately responded heart and soul to the words I read while experiencing an old memory swirling in my mind. It was the words to a prayer we sang in church every Sunday morning.
Create in me a clean heart, Oh God!
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
I am beginnning to recognize the feeling of "having something touch my soul." I understand how when we are daily connected to God through conversation that we are more open to being touched in some positive way by what we experience through reading, speaking, coming in contact with others, etc.
I have a tiny library of devotional sources that I keep by me in a large purse/storage bag that once held my laptop securely for flying to Nashville. Those books are the sources I turn to in my morning readings. A new one, which was recently added, came from a dear friend of 45 years! Sandi Lloyd sent me a precious "Pocket Prayers for Women~Simple Prayers of Blessings". As tiny as it is, it is packed with amazing, encouraging words. She is a blessing in my life over decades of trials and joys. The quote for today reads as follows, "Blessings, like miracles, appear only when we believe in them. Faith gives us the eyes with which to see and to believe what we see."
One of the sweet gifts I have received this summer is the sense that blessings flow so gently and await each of us around the next corner. Yes, the world and our daily routine flood us with challenges, but, if we keep our hearts filled with faith, we will see and experience daily blessings that hold us strong.
The blessing I received from the tiny words on Facebook Friday said, "....give me the gift of faith to be renewed....." Zap! The light went on in my brain! Faith is an active participation of our minds, hearts and souls in a chosen decision to answer God's calling to us to speak with Him and in doing so, we open ourselves up to daily renewal of faith and so many blessings.
How amazing is that? I wrote a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) lyric with a wonderful, Christian, composer and minister of music in Panama City which later lead to completing lyrics for his CD. The title of our first song was, "Is It True?" In my first moments of renewal of faith and my own personal relationship with Christ in 2004 the thought hit me like a truck! What am I waiting for? If God is right here and He wants to communicate with me, love me, lead me, give me everlasting Salvation, grace and hope, what am I "thinking"? "What am I waiting for?" Jesus is right here! He is waiting for us to ask Him to enter our lives for abundant forgiveness, blessings, grace and salvation. So the question really is, "why would anyone wait?" I felt like a huge light had lit up my mind to clarify my own thoughts.
When I saw this line about renewal of faith and I remembered the song in church, ".....Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a RIGHT spirit within me...." I felt this total realization that our faith is not stagnant. it is ever moving, ever changing and ever growing. In that moment, I smiled and realized, "Oh no! There's another step to this summer adventure!"
I need to not only start my day with morning meditations and fill my day with whispered conversations with God. I need to add evening prayers of confession, asking God for forgiveneness. Before I go to bed at night and spend the night tossing and turning, maybe I should take in a deep breath and thank God for the day and all its blessings. Ask forgiveneness for all the things I did and didn't do that I should have done. Finally, I should ask Him for blessings for others. And in releasing the burdens of the day, I should believe that God has taken those burdens, forgiven my sins and granted me a place of rest in His comfort, believing He renews my faith each morning.
Hebrews 10:22 (KJV)
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
New International Version (NIV)
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
By ending my day in prayer and meditation and forgiveness, I can truly experience receiving a renewal of a right spirit within me with the morning. Each day truly is a new day and a new opportunity to be a blessing in the lives of others. It is important to take time to reflect on daily things we have done poorly or neglected doing, asking and accepting God's forgiveness and then sleeping in the comfort of forgiveness, confident we will be renewed in the morning with a fresh daily abundance of blessings and a renewal of our "right" spirit.
Once again, I have grown in knowledge and understanding because of one tiny positive thought from The Grace Place that connected to another and grew into a realization of joy. Not only am I connecting with God each morning through devotions and prayers, but my faith is renewed with each new day! I am so grateful for the friendships I have made in this time of studying and writing and prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father,
It is you who calls us and you who waits patiently for us to come to you. You give us the choice, but your hope is that we will come in faith, believing as a child as we grow in faith. With each evening hear our prayers filled with the days concerns and mistakes and forgive us so that in the morning, we will experience joy in the morning as our faith is renewed!
Praise God for all that is Good!
In Jesus' Name,