Return to Radnor Lake

“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature” (Henry David Thoreau).

Of all the choices and decisions I’ve made of late, precious few were any better than returning to Radnor Lake for a hike.

It’s been way too long since I last had a good long hike into nature and away from the things of man. I relish the quiet calm of nature, listening to my own thoughts, but more often listening to the still small voices of nature.

It almost seems like to speak would be to profane the sacred silence around me, so I often keep quiet and try to pay attention. Those two qualities work well not just on a hike but in any suitable occasion.

I counted 11 deer, plus countless squirrels, some turkeys, a swimming muskrat, and a busy little woodpecker. On the whole, the hike lived up to my expectations.

I often wonder if this current culture isn’t allergic to silence. You never hear dead air in any media format. People will fill any kind of silence with inane talk and chatter. It’s like we’re (me included) addicted to noise.

But there’s something curative and refreshing about peace, silence, quiet, and nature. I’m sure Thoreau was onto something with Walden Pond.

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More Good Music

I recently rediscovered the early solo recordings of one Rod Stewart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of just about everything he’s ever done, starting way back with the Jeff Beck Group and The Small Faces all the way to the present.

But there’s something about the Mercury recordings he did that are magical. I think most people will agree that Maggie May is a classic. There are plenty of other gems from this era, including Reason to Believe, You Wear it Well, and Mandolin Wind, among others.

I listen to these recordings and most of them sound fresh. Maybe it’s because they sound a lot like the Americana/Roots music coming out these days. Maybe ol’ Rod was ahead of his time.

It’s just good driving during rush hour/laying in bed with your headphone on/road trip/anywhere music.

Here’s the link if you’re interested:

Do Thou for Me

“Do Thou for me, O God the Lord,
Do Thou for me.
I need not toil to find the word
That carefully
Unfolds my prayer and offers it,
My God, to Thee.

It is enough that Thou wilt do,
And wilt not tire,
Wilt lead by cloud, all the night through
By light of fire,
Till Thou has perfected in me
Thy heart’s desire.

For my beloved I will not fear,
Love knows to do
For him, for her, from year to year,
As hitherto.
Whom my heart cherishes are dear
To Thy heart too.

O blessèd be the love that bears
The burden now,
The love that frames our very prayers,
Well knowing how
To coin our gold.  O God the Lord,
Do Thou, Do Thou” (Amy Carmichael).

There are times when we simply don’t know how to pray for a circumstance or a loved one. Try as we may, the words will not come.

I think even then God hears the groans and sighs of our petitions and knows what they mean. He hears the deepest desires of our hearts and knows best how to grant them.

Even when we have words, they aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes, we ask without such a limited point of view. Sometimes we ask selfishly. Sometimes we have too small a view of God and ask too little.

In Jan Karon’s Mitford series, Father Tim Kavanaugh always has his go-to prayer, or “the prayer that never fails,” as he calls it. The prayer goes “Thy will be done.”

You can never go wrong with leaving the matter in God’s hands.

Share Your Story

That’s what I’ve tried to do here with these posts. I may not have spelled out my autobiography, but I’ve thrown out little glimpses of who I am, my joys and fears, wins and losses, in the hopes that at least one person will recognize his or her own story in mine.

That’s what a good song or book or movie does for me. I find people I can relate to and I see a bit of my own story played out.

I believe the more I live out my place in God’s story the more my story will be compelling to others and the more others will find glimpses of their own story in mine.

Better yet, I hope they see Jesus in my story and find Him supremely compelling.

Embracing My Poverty

“How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves: ‘What is my poverty?’ Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That’s the place where God wants to dwell! ‘How blessed are the poor,’ Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty.

We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden” (Henri Nouwen).

I think of what the Apostle Paul said when he spoke of boasting in weakness because that’s where God’s strength is made perfect.

If you look at social media (for the most part), you see the opposite. You see people who cover up any hint of weakness and carefully edit their lives to give the illusion of the perfect marriage, family, career, and life.

Sometimes, it almost becomes a competition as to who’s life is more “perfect” than anyone else’s.

But in God’s economy, strength lies in weakness and riches lie in embracing poverty. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the poor.”

How rich are those who realize their complete dependence on God for everything and know that at every moment they have– and are– nothing without God. Blessed are those.

Becoming Real

I think I want to be real. I mean I want to be all that God meant for me to be when He made me.

I know it’s a process. Sometimes, it’s not a pleasant one. Those sharp edges have to be smoothed out somehow. But the final result is always worth the pain and discomfort.

When God is closely at work in your life and on you, chiseling away and sculpting, it’s impossible for you not to get closer to Him and to His heart.

Trust God’s process over the current pain, lean into all that you know of God, and let Him have His way with you.

It will be more than worth it.

Where Else?

“As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the twelve [disciples], ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope]'” (John 6:66-68), Amplified Bible).

Lately, I’ve been hearing and reading about a number of high profile Christian leaders and artists who are publicly denouncing their faith. In a way, it hurts my heart. Some of these have been people that I respected and looked up to.

I’m reminded that maybe I need to stop putting these people on a pedestal. Maybe we as believers need to stop deifying our Christian celebrities. They are just as broken and messed up as the rest of us.

Also, I remember times when I was tempted to give up on my own faith, when the situation didn’t seem to be working out like I wanted and I didn’t see how God could come through.

That’s when the words of Peter ring in my ears.

Where else will I go to find the peace that passes all understanding? Where else can I find security and purpose? What other god out there has promised to never leave or forsake me?

I echo the words of Peter (in a rare moment when he wasn’t sticking his foot in his mouth) when he said, “You [alone] have the words of eternal life [you are our only hope].”

Jesus is my only hope. I literally have nowhere else to go. If I decide that Jesus isn’t for me, I have nothing else.

My prayer is that those who have walked away will turn back. I pray their story will be like the prodigal’s when he came to himself and realized what he had with his father.

I know that in the end, it is not my firm grip on Jesus that will sustain me but His firm grip on me. His love, not mine, is what saves me.