Prayer to the Holy Spirit #2

O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart.

Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.

Saint Augustine

For more prayers see these posts:

A Prayer for One Another

A Penitent Prayer

A Prayer from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Lost

I had a dream the other night about being lost.  In fact, I have recurring dreams of this sort — I’ve lost my purse, my keys or my car.  I’m lost in the Mall or at a school and can’t find my class.  Along with the “lost” feature, I’m also usually worried because I’m going to be late.  I call them “anxiety” dreams, and it turns out they’re not uncommon.  Many people have them.

It recently dawned on me that maybe there’s a reason so many of us feel lost in our dream lives.  It could be quite simple — we feel lost, we worry about being lost because we ARE lost.  It tells us this quite plainly in the Bible:

All we like sheep have gone astray”  Isaiah 53:6

We are lost because we are displaced, never quite feeling quite at home in this life, as Peter acknowledges in this exhortation:

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” 1Peter 2:11

We are constantly searching for our permanent dwelling place:

“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:14

On the surface we may seem comfortable in the life around us, but unconsciously we know that we were meant for something different:  a life described in chapter 21 of the book of Revelation.

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:3-4

Until then, we’ll always feel a little bit lost.  We’ll always be looking for something.  We’ll always be unsettled.  Or, as St. Augustine once wrote:

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

 

Hidden Memories

I’ve just read two novels with a common theme — children, who as adults find that the parents who raised them are not their birth parents, and they have not been given the full truth of their childhood stories.  (if you’re interested in these books, the titles are The Tenth Muse and House on Endless Water).  Because of such “hidden memories” these children never quite felt comfortable in their own skin;  there was always a feeling that they didn’t belong, and they had difficulty establishing intimate relationships with others. They knew that something about their lives wasn’t quite right.

It occurs to me that all of us are like those characters.  If sin is part of our DNA, so it the memory of Eden–the memory of our true Father and the perfect relationship with Him we once enjoyed. Saint Augustine said it like this:

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

The author of Hebrews says this about the many faithful followers who have gone before us:

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” Hebrews 11:13

We’re out of place because we’ve lost our home. We have problems with our relationships because the most important one was broken.  Yet the memory and the longing for life in Eden and that perfect relationship is still with us  Unlike the characters in the novels I read, we are fortunate because we do have an accurate record of our beginnings– the Bible.  It isn’t a mystery we have to solve, it’s a truth to which we can cling.  Through faith and the sacrifice of our brother, Jesus,  we can have a restored relationship with our Father, and a firm hope in our future return to life with Him.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God'”. Revelation 21:3

For more on the Garden of Eden see these posts:

Back to the Garden

What’s a Libretto?

Free to the Max

The Wrong Bread

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”  John  6:27

These words of Jesus are to the crowds who follow Him after he feeds 5000 people with five barley loaves and a few fish.  Who wouldn’t follow?  Free food for life, and all I have to do is listen to this rabbi.  What a deal!  Jesus sets them straight.  This food will only fill us up temporarily;  the food we really needs leads to eternity.

Times have changed, but people haven’t.  Human beings are focused on the needs they perceive as primary, starting with food and shelter, moving on to love, self esteem, and other things that make life worthwhile(remember Maslow’s Hierarchy?).  We spend our time chasing after them, only to find in the end we’re still not completely fulfilled.  That’s because, as Saint Augustine said:

Sometimes we also seek Jesus for the wrong reasons;  we think Christianity will make our life easy;  we want to have “nice” friends; we want to be admired and respected for our piety;  we may even think God will bless us by making us successful in a worldly way. These things aren’t only wrong, they aren’t even necessarily true.  We need to seek Jesus because of who He is:  the way and the truth;  the bread of life;  the only one who can truly satisfy all our hungers.

 

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3–What Stands Out

I love it when one of the Lutheran Ladies does a study series, because it encourages me to get out my Bible and read the same passages.  So I have been following Leslie’s posts about Ecclesiastes chapter three, and here is the verse that stands out for me:

“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart…”  Ecclesiastes 3:11″

Later in the chapter, the author talks about how we are no better than animals in some ways — we’re born, we die, our bodies turn to dust.  However, in this verse we see a hint of how God made humankind special.  We have an innate sense that there is something beyond our own daily concerns, a yearning for something more than mere subsistence.  St. Augustine put it this way:

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

This is the issue that Solomon or “the preacher” is struggling with throughout Ecclesiastes.  What are earth are we here for?  What is the meaning of life?  If money, fame, and success don’t fill us up, what will?  Or, as we’re exploring this month, how do we spend our time in a way that is meaningful?

The answer to all these questions is the same:  God.  He is the one who is eternal;  He is the one who can fulfill us and make our existence worthwhile; He is after all, our Creator.  Knowing Him, obeying Him, praising Him, these are the things that will bring us true satisfaction.

Have you read chapter three of Ecclesiastes yet?  If so, what stands out for you.  We want your comments and questions.