..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Julian of Norwich on Getting in Our Own Way

And when God Almighty had shown me some of His goodness so plentifully and completely,
I desired to learn whether a certain creature I loved continued in the good living I hoped had
begun by the grace of God. And it seemed that I got in my own way with this desire to
know about a particular person, for I received no teaching about it at this time. But then I
was answered in my reason, as it were, by a friendly advisor, "Take what you are shown as
general, and look at the courtesy of the Lord God as He shows it to you. For it is a great honor
to God for you to see Him in everything than in one, special thing.

I assented, and thus I learned that it is a greater honor to God for us to know all things in
general than to delight in any one thing in particular. And if I want to act wisely according
to this teaching, not only should I not be glad for any one thing specifically, I should  not be
greatly disturbed for any kind of thing, for all shall be well. The fullness of joy is to behold
God in everything, for by the same blessed power, wisdom and love that He made everything,
our  good Lord leads it to the same end continuously, will Himself bring it there, and when it
is time, we shall see it.

--Julian of Norwich, The Revelation of Divine Love, chapter 35.

photo taken in S. Deerfield, MA

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Julian of Norwich on "Wellbeing and Woe"

All of us who shall be saved have within us during our
lifetime a marvelous mixture of both well-being and
woe. We have within ourselves our risen Lord Jesus Christ,
and we have within us the wretchedness and evil consequences
of Adam's falling. Dying in Christ, we are everlastingly
preserved, and by the touching of His grace, we are raised
to a real trust in salvation.

By Adam's falling we are so broken in our feelings in
different ways (by sin and by various pains by which we
are made dark and blind), that only with difficulty can
we find any comfort. But in our intentions we wait for God
and faithfully trust we shall have mercy and grace--and this
is His own working in us. --Julian of Norwich

photo taken on Gold Camp Road, Colorado Springs, CO

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Holy Curiosity: Contemplate the Mysteries of Eternity!

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” ~Albert Einstein

photo taken near Abergavenny, UK

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Tender Heart

“Because thine heart was tender…” 2 Kings 22:19

What a desirable thing is a tender heart. How earnestly we should aspire after one. And when such has been graciously bestowed upon us, what diligence we should exercise in seeking to preserve the same. The tenderness of Josiah’s heart was precious in the sight of the Lord, and in consequence thereof his prayers were answered, as the remainder of our opening text declares. There is nothing like a tender heart, my reader, for obtaining the ear of the Lord. A tender heart is one which is responsive to the voice of God, and unless we possess this how can we expect Him to hear our calls? A tender heart is the only one which truly honours God, as it is the only one which ensures our growth in grace. How deeply important, then, is the question, Have you, have I, really a tender heart? May we be enabled to answer truthfully.

…it is probable that not a few readers would prefer for us to tell them how a tender heart may be recovered. They are already persuaded of the great excellence of this spiritual treasure….What grieves them is that they are conscious of guilty failure in safeguarding this Divine gift. They are sensible that the fine gold has become dim, that little foxes have spoiled their vines, that their conscience is no longer so sensitive as it once was, that they do not respond so readily to the motions of God’s Spirit; that much hardness now resides in their hearts.

It is sadly true that a tender heart may be lost: not absolutely so, but relatively; not permanently, but temporarily. But sadder still is the fact that many who have suffered this deprivation are unconscious of it. It is with them as it was with Ephraim of old: “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not” (Hosea 7:9). They may still attend the means of grace and perform their outward devotions, but their hearts are not in them. They may still be respected by their fellow-Christians and regarded as in a healthy spiritual state, while in reality they are backsliders. Sights from which they once shrank appall them no longer. Things which used to exercise their conscience do so no more.

Said the Apostle to the Galatians, “Ye did run well, who (or “what”) hath hindered you?” (5:7). What are the things which destroy tenderness of heart? Ungodly companions is one. Satan will tell the young Christian that he or she may keep old friends and suffer no loss, but God says, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). Friendship with worldlings will soon have a paralyzing influence upon true spirituality. Prayerlessness is another thing which speedily affects the heart. Unless a close fellowship with God be maintained—and that is impossible if the Throne of Grace is neglected—coldness and hardness will soon steal upon us. Equally so will a neglect of the Word. This will not necessarily mean the omission of reading so many chapters each day, but the absence of actually communing with God therein. The spirit of hypocrisy, pretending to be what we are not, hardens—for guile and tenderness are incompatible.

Yes, a tender heart may be lost, as truly as first love may be left (Rev. 2:4). Can it be regained? Yes, though not as easily as it may be hardened. How? First, by warming afresh at the fire of God’s love. This is ever the most effectual means of removing hardness of heart.

What was it that melted and broke you down at your first conversion? Was it not a sense of the Divine grace and a sight of Christ’s dying love? And nothing is so calculated to soften the backslider: it is “the goodness of God” which leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

What was before David when he commenced his contrite confession? This: the Lord’s “lovingkindness” and the “multitude of His tender mercies” (Psa. 51:1).

When was it that Peter went out and wept bitterly? Was it not when the Saviour “turned and looked upon him” (Luke 22:61)? Was it not the sorrow which Peter saw in that look—a sorrow which issued from love for him—which broke his heart?! The Lord had given him every proof that he was dear unto Him, and how had Peter requited that love? And has not the Lord given you, my brother, my sister, abundant evidence that you are precious in His sight? Did He deem any sacrifice too great to make atonement for your sins? Has He not favoured you above millions of your fellows in bringing you to a saving knowledge of the Truth? Has He not bestowed the Holy Spirit upon you? Has He not borne with your dullness with infinite patience? Can you dwell upon these things with unmoved heart? Surely not. Seek unto Him, then, and your coldness and hardness will indeed be thawed. --A.W. Pink, A Tender Heart

photo taken in Astoria, Oregon. ....this is a wild deer.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

An Amazing Coincidence: Some things never change, some things do!

I was so excited to post the picture of Kirkstone Pass yesterday with a wayfarer quote that I had just found. Then later in the day, I was cleaning out a file of old postcards and found the exact same scene,
photographed at just about the exact spot OVER !00 years ago. It was so amazing! Little had changed in the picture--the telephone poles were gone, but it was basically unchanged. What a blessing! I just wanted to share the postcard with you, and the original scene again....In the midst of a world of change, I am just so glad that some of the most beautiful scenery in the world has not been
spoiled. Thank God!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Thou Wayfaring Jesus, a pilgrim and stranger

Thou wayfaring Jesus, a pilgrim and stranger,
exiled from heaven by love at Thy birth:
Exiled again from Thy rest in the manger,
A fugitive child 'mid the perils of earth--
Cheer with Thy fellowship all who are weary,
Wandering far from the land that they love;
Guide every heart that is homeless and dreary,
Safe to its home in Thy presence above.

... Henry van Dyke (1852-1933),

photo taken near Kirkstone Pass, Lake District, UK

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Life Itself is Grace

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
— Frederick Buechner (Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation)

photo taken in Glencoe, Scotland

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Sweetness of Devotion

Devotion is the real spiritual sweetness which takes away
all bitterness from mortifications, and prevents consolations
from disagreeing with the soul; it cures the poor of sadness,
and the rich of presumption; it keeps the oppressed from
feeling desolate, and the prosperous from insolence; it averts
sadness from the lonely, and dissipation from social life; it
is as warmth in winter and refreshing dew in summer; it knows
how to abound and how to suffer want, how to profit alike by
honour and by contempt; it accepts gladness and sadness with an
even mind, and fills men's hearts with a wondrous sweetness.

... Francois de Sales , Introduction to the
Devout Life [1609]

photo taken near Monsale Dale, Derbyshire, UK