This is a strange time to be living in. For many it is a devastating time. But even for those who have not lost income, faced health scares or, at worst, lost loved ones to the current pandemic, it’s a hard time in which to feel good about life. I find it is all too easy to get lost in a sort of depression: a heaviness and listlessness, a sadness and unarticulated anxiety for the future. And that’s not a place I want to remain in. But what helps alleviate it?
I was recently reminded of one of my favourite stories from the Old Testament.
“And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15-17)
I love this story for the simple yet profound power in the words “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Even in this time of isolation and distance, uncertainty and loss, we are surrounded by the invisible forces of Good, forces too great to number. And we are strengthened by the multitudes of people rising up to offer help in any way it is needed.
Continue reading Restoring Trust
Last August, a group of women gathered for our first Australian New Church Women’s Weekend together. That was such a success that, in early March this year, we did it again! Both times we shared delicious home-made meals, fun ice-breaker games, insightful instruction on a woman from the Bible and other spiritual topics, relaxing & enlightening meditations, a charitable project, fresh air & sunshine and down-time to develop relationships with old friends and new acquaintances. The woman from the Bible whom we studied this March was Rebekah. Below is the essence of what was presented; it’s kind of heavy, but hopefully informative. It might be helpful to read Genesis chapters 24-27 to familiarise yourself with the different parts of the story as it is presented in the Bible.
The internal sense of this story is about the process of conjunction of good and truth in the Lord’s Divine Human. Rebekah represents the Divine truth that was to be conjoined with Divine good (Isaac) of His rational. Rebekah, before they were betrothed, stands for the love of truth from doctrinal things, in other words in thought but not yet in action.
Rebekah’s drawing water for Abraham’s servant’s camels and giving them to drink has to do with enlightenment in a person’s natural level, i.e. gaining factual knowledge. Her being sent away from her family (going with the servant) is about truth being elevated and separated from the natural, which happens when a person doesn’t look from truth to good any more (knowing what is right and doing it), but from good to truth (doing it because she loves it, and recognises it as true). Here’s a concrete example: ‘don’t hate’: first we do it because we know we shouldn’t, and eventually we truly love and believe and live it, not because we’re told but because we love it; it’s lifted out of the natural.
Continue reading Rebekah
“And He who sat on the throne said◦, Behold◦, I am making all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:5
Spring seems to be here early this year. New life is evident all around us. Sprouts and some flowers are already up. Easter is coming soon too. It seems like a perfect time to turn my thoughts to renewal; A new dedication to learning about how the Lord ordered heaven and conquered temptations. Warmer air and sunlight has a way of giving hope and inspiration that were harder to find in the darker days of winter.
Continue reading I Make All Things New
“In the world regeneration is represented by various things, as by the blossoming of all things on earth in spring, and by the gradual development of the blossoms even to the fruit; also by the growth of every tree, shrub and flower, from the first warm month to the last. It is also represented by the progressive ripening of all kinds of fruit from the earliest germ to the end of the process; then again by morning and evening showers, and by dews, at the coming of which the flowers open, while they close at the approach of the darkness of night; also by the fragrance from gardens and fields; by the rainbow in the cloud (Gen. 9:14-17); by the resplendent colors of the dawn; and in general by the continual renovation of everything in the body..” True Christian Religion 687
What comes to mind when you think of prayer? My first thoughts tend to be of the words I use and the act of reaching out to the Lord. I think of gratitude, and acknowledging the need for the Lord’s guidance. While these are important, I recently questioned whether I do more speaking or listening when I pray. It seems so obviously misguided to approach prayer with the mindset that I’ll do the reaching out and the Lord will do the listening, yet I find myself falling into that mentality. I often find myself praying more for the sake of talking than for the sake of listening. Prayer should be a two-way conversation though, and sometimes I forget that I have a responsibility to listen.
There are various ways to listen to the Lord. A few examples might include reading the Word, being willing to learn from others, and noticing the small blessings in our lives. During prayer however, I sometimes find listening to be much more difficult.
Perhaps being a verbal processor is part of what makes listening difficult for me. I tend to feel a need to perfectly and exhaustively articulate what I’m struggling with, or how much I want to accept guidance and to do the right thing. As if He won’t understand if I don’t. As if it won’t count if I’m not thorough. As if my words have more power than the Lord does. How silly.
Continue reading Listening in Prayer