He Holds Us When We Fall

When we fall he holds us lovingly, and graciously and swiftly raises us.

In all this work he takes the part of a kind nurse who has no other care but the welfare of her child. It is his responsibility to save us, it is his glory to do it, and it is his will we should know it.

Utterly at home, he lives in us forever.

From Enfolded in Love, Daily Readings with Julian of Norwich

I will not forget you… I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…

Isaiah 49:16 (NRSVA)

Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… [teach] them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Matthew 28:18-20

This Lent Thing…

I have not really considered the nature of temptation before. Only the second day of Lent and already temptation is like an insect bite. You can scratch it almost without realising, which is rather mortifying. I’m not fasting, as it makes my illness worse, but I’ve ‘given up’ something which I am beginning to recognise stings more by its absence than I’d anticipated (or at least, I thought it would sting but that I would nobly put up with it, you know, all holy and what-not). I could put my nose in the air and polish my halo as I loftily inform all of Blogland of the nature of my ‘fast’, but firstly, the bible tells us quite clearly not to do that (Matthew 6:16) and secondly, well, to be honest it’s slightly embarrassing. I am realising quite how much of a temptation it has been, and for some time (not that it’s a sin in and of itself, but self-indulgence is). How easily sin hides in the clothing of ‘good’. We humans play games and lie to ourselves and it’s so easy.

“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
    a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
    and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
    I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
    not as they pretend to be.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (The Message)


Very timely. God is showing me what I need to be shown about myself, which is because it’s the right place and the right time to learn. I have prayed that God show me my weaknesses (after all, that’s got to be a large part of Lent, surely?). If we as Christ-followers are to be ‘the light of the world’ we have to be able to shine that light onto the things we’d rather hide.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner…

But how do I know that my prayer will be heard? How do I really know? I mean, I’m practically useless at this small thing – very nearly yielding to temptation when it’s only Day Two and without even realising it until the last second! How can this silly, headstrong, stubborn, passionate, unwieldy, slightly barmy mix called Sandy know that the King of Heaven listens to what she has to say? It’s absurd! If I was Him I’d be far too busy getting on with more important stuff.

Julian of Norwich puts it like this:

Julian with her cat. She was allowed a cat to catch rodents.

Julian with her cat. As an anchoress she would have lived alone in her tiny cell attached to St. Julian’s Church in Norwich, but she would have been allowed a cat to catch rodents. I like the way she’s stroking the cat.

‘Often, our trust is not full trust. We are not sure that God hears us, because we think we are unworthy and because we feel so insignificant (this is also because we often feel as bleak after praying as we did beforehand). We see how silly and foolish we are and this causes our weakness. I have felt this way myself.

As I was thinking this, God said to me, “I am the source of all your requests [your heartfelt prayers]: first it is my will that you have it; then I make it your will also, then I make you ask for it and you ask for it. How then can you not have what you cry out for?”‘

From ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ chapter 41

(paraphrased into modern English by me)

I love this way of praying! Now I know when to pray, what to pray for and I never cease to marvel at the ways God answers. Hallelujah! How can my prayers ever be unanswered if they are God-breathed in the first place?

Hmm. This Lent thing is getting interesting 😉

The Still, Small Voice of Calm

God is the still point at the centre. There is no doer but he.

All this he showed me with great joy, saying, “See, I am God. See, I am in all things. See, I do all things. See, I never take my hands from my work, nor ever shall, through all eternity. See, I lead all things to the end I have prepared for them. I do this by the same wisdom and love and power through which I made them. How can anything be done that is not well done?”

God wants us to know that he keeps us safe through good and ill.

We shall see God face to face, simply and wholly.’

Julian of Norwich, circa 1400AD

Mighty to Save

When I heard one of the founders of Celebrate Recovery speak, he made the comment that when choosing music for the weekly meetings’ worship time one had to bear in mind several factors: the music had to be appropriate and reachable for the CR attendees. He also said something which has stuck in my mind ever since:

Some people, when they come to Celebrate Recovery, will be so damaged that they will only be able to reach God through songs of praise.

It sounds counter-intuitive, yet I know that at my darkest times, the sacrifice of praise is one of the most moving and deep experiences a soul can experience. I nearly added humbling, but by this point you’re on your knees begging for mercy.

It is interesting that sometimes it is the most broken who truly experience humility. Yet we’re all supposed to be humble.

We’re going through some very difficult things right now, or I should say, I am. By proxy, my family are.  Praising God is a way through. I understand now when the psalmist refers to going through anguish, yet praising God and singing of His glory. Julian of Norwich says that prayer is the ‘deliberate and steadfast action of the soul’. Praise and worship are the same.

Be blessed.