Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

As everything feeling like it’s tumbling down around my ears at the moment, it feels like a good opportunity to write about something different, that I’ve thought a lot on in the last few weeks. Distraction, and all that jazz.

Two years ago, I was finally coming out of a pretty hefty (and probably pretentious) existential crisis. Many of us have these stages at some point, and yet for me at least, my own one felt like something so deeply personal, so totally confusing, that no one else could possibly understand the conflict I was under. This is the human condition, my friend. I had started going to church in late spring, when I suddenly found myself leading a new student charity I’d set up, starting clinical medicine, mourning my first major breakup, and in desperate need of guidance. From the outside, I was soaring – I’d done very well in my neuroscience year, had just finished my term as elected president of one of the universities biggest music groups, and was totally embroiled in my patient volunteering scheme. In reality, I was sinking pretty fast, and using my drive and busy-ness to avoid thinking about things I didn’t want to face. Church seemed like a strange country with a language I didn’t understand – all of these common experiences I’d not had, all of these discrepancies and expectations and exuberance, when I was not exuberant at all.

Being analytical to the extreme, I tried to assuage my doubts by reading as many books about faith that I could get my hands on. By autumn, I’d read all of CS Lewis and moved on to Tozer, and yet still felt so very far from what a person called by God, should be. I fell in love with the familiar rhythms of the scriptures I had heard as a child, but found no chain to link them in to my own faltering courage. As a young person still reeling from difficult family years that were dealt with by pure denial, the idea of a God who saw right through me was just too painful. As a young person who had forged a path of survival by doing a lot of hiding and a lot of glossing over, I felt beyond grace and beyond Jesus. I did not know myself; how then, could God know me?

As I learned more of God in those winter weeks, I ran further and further away. The idea of a distant, obsequeous deity in the sky was one I could handle, someone to follow who did not not look too closely or notice when I wasn’t there. This promise I encountered of a trustworthy, constant care-driven God was more than I could manage. I had little experience of being looked after. I was used to going it alone, to independance and reliance on my own terms. The concept of God as a father pushed me further away; I’d already been there. I’d already been wounded. I didn’t want a God who could see through the layers I’d built around myself. I could not handle a God who knew me for what I really was.

At some stage, my church opened a prayer room and called everyone to go. Being generally quite ingenuous, I took this pretty literally, and, in all of my agnosticism and doubt, with all of my tangles and messes and fears, in I went, always in the smallest hours when my mind stood still and the silence threatened to drown me out. A quiet prayer room, in an empty church, on a November night, with the clock striking midnight, was where I learned to pray. Those prayers were not eloquent, lengthy or self-assured. They were not loud and proud, or certain in audience. They were small prayers, slight prayers, hesitant, stumbling, hoping, seeking.

Somewhere in those quiet, restless hours, I started talking. I starting talking about all those painful things I’d never told anyone – about my family problems and my dad’s alcohol problems and how so often my issues resulting from those made me feel so very cut off, so very isolated. I talked about how confused and afraid my heart was making me. I spoke of my reticence to believe what was laid down in the book open in my lap. It was not easy. And at some stage, I realised that it didn’t feel like talking to thin air, like talking to an empty room. It felt like someone was listening, at last. It felt like someone was caring. It was as though after years of being invisible, suddenly someone saw me. Someone, was there.

That was when I crossed the line between uncertainty and belief, when I changed from feeling lost to knowing that even when I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m heading, God does. God has only ever been gentle with me. I cannot say the same for our world. I am someone in dire need of shepherding. I am someone in dire need, of rescuing.

These two years have not been easier than the ones before, or lighter, or less disorientating, but without my dependance on God and his Son, I don’t know how I would get through the challenges I meet. God binds my wounds when I am bleeding, he steadies my feet so that I can keep going. He calls me through the white noise of depression and sends his star to guide me home. As a medic, I see pain and suffering and loss every single day, and it never gets easier. But with my faith, I also see grace every single day and it never stops coming. That bond never breaks. I don’t have all the answers, or many of them at all – but knowing that someone does, is a comfort. Knowing that there is a plan, gets me through.

Even now, my faith is not a loud faith, a hands-in-the-air faith, or a faith I shout from the rooftops. My faith is the certainty that in my most silent, most dejected hours, there is something there alongside my heart that keeps it beating. It is the hand on my shoulder that stays with me as I mourn. It is the bursting joy that, on the rare occasions that it comes, tells me that anything is possible and that everything is a celebration of creation. My faith is my own.

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I kind of feel like I’ve stepped back into the fire since I got back from my trip away – as though a week of peace tricked me into a false sense of stability, and that letting things go for a week just made them come back amplified when I turned my attention to them once again.

In church on Sunday evening, I found myself crying and crowded out, the first time I’ve had that total, overbearing feeling of weight, that leaves me short of breath and panicking,  thinking,   pleasegodjustmakeeverythingstopandslowdownbecauseimjustnotbigenoughforthisanditstoomuch

I’m finding it hard at the moment with F and her depression, alongside trying to get myself as firmly sorted as I can. It’s exhausting. And sometimes, just sometimes, I can’t bear to be kind and clear and brave and supportive when she talks about ‘not wanting to give in’ and go for counselling, or ‘being strong enough to not need or benefit from it’. Sometimes, after cheering her up and stopping her crying, it’s me that ends up crying next door – I’m not nice enough to fully accept that she doesn’t mean to cause offence or that it’s not a personal gibe at me and my issues. Part of me just wants to start yelling that if she thinks I ‘gave up’ last year, she’s bloody wrong. If she thinks it’s an easy option, she’s wrong. If she thinks it takes more courage to bury her head and not try something that’s pretty well evidenced to work, than give it a shot, she’s wrong. Sometimes I get so annoyed that I can’t get away from depression at all, whether its mine or someone elses. I just want it to leave me alone. I just want to have a few months where it doesn’t rule every thing I do and think about, and choose. I’m no saint. I’m running dry again. I wish I could handle this better.

I’ve also realised that the last few weeks have been so busy and irregular and stressful, that once again, I’ve got myself off the right road and I’m feeling lost. I’m panicking. I stopped fixing on God, and lost sight of him. There’s been so much to think about that I didn’t notice when I stopped praying and stopped talking. And although I know it should be easy to get back, for some reason I just feel blocked off and shut off, shut out. And I feel like I need someone who knows me and know about last year to pray for me, and pray the right things, but there’s no-one at church I trust enough with it, not after last year. I feel like I need to find the way back home, back to God, but I can’t see it. It doesn’t feel right. I usually hate being prayed for, due to a combination of hating feeling like I’m the ‘centre of attention’ (please don’t look me in the eye, God), and other reasons. But right now, I feel like I need it. Right now, I feel like I need someone alongside.

As of next week, I will have been a Christian for two years, and yet so often I still feel so green and uncertain. After last year, depression moved my faith backwards and I had to unravel all of the wrong things it fed me. My faith is a panicking faith, an onmygoodnesspleasehelpgodpleasehelp faith. My faith, and the things depression did with it, almost killed me last year. My faith, and all the things God did with me, got me through, last year. And yet, at the moment, I feel like I’m shouting against white noise, into the wind. I’m trying to be still, and know. I’m still learning. I have so much to learn. I have too much, to learn.

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I’m coming to the end of my stint in Accident and Emergency, and although it’s been hectic, frantic, difficult, and I’ve not had much time at all to stop and think, let alone pray, I’ve actually felt quite close to God these last few days. I was working the nightshift over the weekend, and was aware that it was going to challenge me as, at the end of the day, our Friday night culture is pretty focussed on binge-drinking, and the ER is where they all end up, being assessed by people like me, with a white coat flapping round my knees, stethoscope poking out of a back pocket.

After a pretty labile week, I was dreading these shifts a great deal. I prayed on my way in that God would show me how to best use my hands, and be of use.On my way in, I found myself praying that whatever came through the door, God would show me how to use my hands and be of use. I prayed for strength to get through, and compassion to help treat my patients as well as possible. That prayer was answered. Although my head found certain things difficult, my hands never stopped helping.

My nights didn’t get off to the best start; within ten minutes, I’d been projectile vomited on by a woman I was trying to mop up a bit, leading to a change of scrubs and coat and derision from the nurses, and pretty much the minute I stepped back into the ER, I got covered in blood after trying to put a drip in someone on bloodthinners, as they jerked their arm halfway through. After changing once again (surgeon en route saying ‘weren’t you covered in a different bodily fluid like….ten minutes ago…are you going for some kind of record…?’), I managed to keep my white coat clean till morning, and the hours passed in a blur of seizures, overdoses, falls from heights, heart attacks, and of course, the angry, drunken, injured masses, bleeding on floors, shouting at staff, and dozing in corners. My hands were kept busy, though at times, my heart was heavy.

When I think of practising medicine, I think of doing it with my hands – percussing chests, feeling pulses, testing coordination. I think of my hands getting method-memory at how to position IV lines, feeling bellies, and test joint stability. Obviously, medicine is also about listening, and speaking, and hearing – but so often, it’s the palm on a shoulder that patients are comforted by. It’s the fingers that push pain meds through their line, that quiets them. It’s the hands that compress their chest, that keep them alive. It’s a practical profession.

These are the hands that stitched up bleeding heads, sampled a lot of blood gases, and put in more cannulas (drips) than I could count. These are the hands that held the hands of an old man whose wife lay dying. These are the hands that were squeezed in solidarity as a broken leg was straightened. These are the hands I use to learn my trade. These are the hands God gives me, to love my patients. These are my hands.

I have moments, sometimes, where I look at what I’m doing, and wonder if it’s been worth six years to get my basic medical degree, and at least another ten, before I am near the top of whatever training scheme I chose – I spent two hours peeling a dressing off an infected leg yesterday, which to be honest, is a job anyone with a strong stomach, could do.  Then, however, come the rare moments,  that remind me that I am exactly where I want to be, in both the good, speak-easy weeks, and the ones which challenge and threaten to break me down. It’s those rare but beautiful moments of true connection, of one hand on one shoulder, of one person comforting another, that make me love the path I have chosen more than anything. It’s those fleeting experiences where I can put all of my knowledge and training into practise, to help someone, whether it’s by explaining a bit about chemotherapy, or how a chest drain works, or just listening to their story, that remind me that being in medical school is the best gift I’ve ever been given. These are my hands. These are God’s, hands.

When I am working with my hands, my head is less busy and less chaotic; it focusses on the task, and blinds everything else out. Last week, with its triggers and tempers, I benefitted from being able to switch off, though as always, there’s only so long I can go before I start to crack a little. Now, I just need to get through my next exam on Friday, before I really collapse. By my calculation, this is then 29th exam I have sat since starting medical school and not including my year out to do a BSc. No wonder I’m tired….

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Although I am generally more of a Jeremiah girl than an Isaiah one, I’ve been thinking about this particular book and its prophet a lot recently. Isaiah, like most of the prophets of the Old Testament, doesn’t get much air time in an average church – he’s brought out at Easter and Christmas to remind us that, as Christians, we believe that Jesus’ coming and actions were predicted long before his birth, that promises and prophecies do come true, and that with him, the harshness Mosaic law died to the gift of grace, the gift of the Son, but aside from that, he’s kind of like the weird spices you buy on a whim that just sit on a shelf gathering dust, out of sight behind the ubiquitous mixed herbs and chilli powder, just waiting for the day when you’ll get your act together and cook up something a bit different.

I sort of forget sometimes that although my Bible is in a single, nice, portable volume, that’s not how it was written – that the little book I carry about with me represents centuries of documentation, hundreds of authors, thousands of revisions. There’s something amazing about knowing that the apostles (the Jewish ones, at least) would have read the OT as I do (and much more regularly, I imagine!), that they would have read about Elijah and his fierceness for the Lord, and Jeremiah and his tentative courage, and Isaiah, the picture of zealousness, with his strange visions of a man, pierced and beaten for the sins of the Earth, sent for redemption and returned broken and bleeding, to God. And, inspite of Jesus laying down history in front of them, like a well played hand at cards, they would still fail to make the connection, they would still fail to realise that the prophecies they had heard from the cradle, were being fulfilled before their very eyes, under their roofs and around their tables. The old has gone, the new, has come.

I was thinking about the eagles in the last part of Isaiah 40 again this week, about running and not growing weary, and walking without stumbling. In the last few weeks, despite feeling so much better, something still hasn’t been sitting right. I’ve been feeling so much better, making plans for moving forward, getting new projects on the go, and thinking of how to reduce the impact of this year – but something still felt like it was jarring, sticking somewhere. This passage cast some illumination on that unease, as, to some extent. I got through the depths of depression by relying a lot on my faith, weak as it was – and then, once it started, finally to lift, it was as though I turned to God and told him ‘I’ll take things from here, cheers for the help, but now, I’ll go my own way. Again. I’ve got this under control’.

I do not have this under control.

God doesn’t just sustain me when I’m at breaking point – he sustains me every day. I need to stop thinking I can act out of my own strength, and get by without His input, aside from when things crumble and I get truly desperate. He’s not a last-chance God that I stick on a shelf until all other avenues have failed – I need to get better at relying on Him permanently, through the easier times as well as the hard ones. I’ve made myself busy with all these plans, but I haven’t really prayed about them, or relied on God’s hand to guide me through the decisions, and because of that, once again I find myself wearying and tiring. Depending on God is something I don’t find easy – having grown up being fiercely independent, making my own decisions and not really having anyone to ask for guidance, learning to pray and ask for this, and to stop being so self-reliant, was a lesson that took me a long time to learn, and even longer to put in practise.

Sometimes, we talk about God’s power to rescue as so situation specific, when really, we need that rescuing every day, as every day, we live our lives under sin, outside of godliness. We need grace, every day, not just the day we commit to Jesus, not just in the darkest hours when all hope seems lost, not just in the lonely hours before the dawn, when our separation seems most painful. My need for rescuing doesn’t change; my need for Jesus, doesn’t change. If anything, I need God more now, that I’m trying so desperately to stay on an even keel. I need that guidance to keep me going, to lead me as far away from the grip of depression as possible, to stop me wearying and tumbling down. I need a steady hand and a level road. I need God, who weighs the islands and names the stars, who brings down nations, yet still gathers the lost as sheep, who knows us, you, me, by name. I need that man, pierced for my transgressions and hung on a tree before the crowds. Salvation isn’t a one-day event that tarnishes with time or wears out with use; it’s eternal, unchanging. I need to remember this.

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I took a long walk up and around a nature reserve in my city this afternoon, after realising that even though it’s been pouring with rain, I really needed some ‘outside time’. I need to get near trees and open spaces every so often, and being surrounded by the sounds of nature as opposed to the city, always frees me up a little. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time sitting down by the river in my home town when I needed to escape home for a while, even sleeping there on occasions (unnoticed by family). Being in the outdoors is quite a spiritual thing for me, and makes me feel more connected to both the environment around me, and mankind – I think about all the people who have walked the same steps I have over the years, and seen what I have seen, and wondered what I have wondered. I think about the trees that have lived through so much and had so many people sitting under them for shelter and shade. I think about the rivers, and how Heroclitus said that you can never step in the same river twice, as both you and the river are always changing. Two years ago, I had just started going to church, and was at that stage of deciding whether to stick with it, and investigate further, or leave it as something that just wasn’t for me. I was on a trip to the Scottish Highlands to present some research I’d done, and when I couldn’t sleep, got up and sat looking out at the Loch, watching the sun rise, the mountains a perfect reflection in the water. It was then, in that true peacefulness, that I felt a sense of God that I hadn’t had before, and a feeling that church was just what I needed to be doing. It’s when you’re faced with something so big and beautiful, and lasting, that your own transience and frailty resounds so strongly. I am so human, and when I look out at scenes like that, I know, I know that there is something else out there who exceeds me in every way, and this is who I call my God. When I got back from that trip, I emailed the student worker at church (I’d been too scared to before, despite the fact that she was one of those people you know is completely lovely before you even meet them), and that was when things started rolling. Things have come a long way in two years.

I’ve avoided this particular route for a few months now, as it’s where I went when I was thinking some of my darkest thoughts – I stayed away, afraid that maybe going back would bring those things to the surface again. It’s been raining enough that for a whole two hours, I didn’t see a single other person. I sat on top of the tallest hill and looked out at the skyline, and the clouds chasing in from the sea – storm watching. I sat and looked out at the vastness and thought about God, and how I am such a small part of such a great whole. It’s times like this that I feel so very young, so incompetent and unequipped. So often, I feel like a fragile leaf tossed in the storms, so very small, with such a quiet voice that barely carries. So inadequate, so easy to pass over and forget. It was strange, going back and retracing my steps. There were a few times I was up there before when I was in such a state that had things been just that little bit different, I might have died up there, either through cold exposure, or more deliberate means, and that’s a hard thing to let go of. Retracing what felt like last steps at the time, is a strange thing to do. Back then, I lived everything as though it was the last time I’d do it, I was living on my own marked time, and didn’t care, I just felt relieved. Today, I spent a while praying, in the way I like the most – just sitting, and talking to God, open and intimately, as someone I don’t need to explain my words and metaphors to. I am mostly so grateful that I am still here, still living. I’ve had a lot of near misses. It could have been so different.

I find it much easier to pray for others than for myself. At the moment, my one promise to God is that no matter what, no matter how hard it gets, or how isolated I’m feeling, or how painful it becomes,  I’ll keep going to church. I know I need it, though when I’m low, it’s often the hardest place to be.  Being surrounded by celebration when I am drowning in depression, can be so very suffocating.  I have so much to learn, so many spaces to fill. I have so far to go, so high to reach. I wish I could say that my church has gathered round me and been there, supporting me through this, but I can’t, as by the time I was ready to fling myself into church life, this depression had me my the hand, and I started running from, rather than throwing myself into the community, and as a fairly quiet person, no-one noticed. I wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Nevertheless, the House of God is where I go to learn and remember, and let down my barriers. It’s where I can drop my defences, and in the silences, know that God is moving through the pews, and sitting beside me, just as He did that first time I went, alone and afraid. I need something to ground me each week and can’t trust myself to be strict with my own schedule of Bible studies at the moment. I need God, so need church.

So this afternoon, I spread my arms and let the rain fall down on me, soaking to the skin, and made a promise that I won’t stop going, and trying, and praying. I’m adopting the house of God, as a house of my own. I won’t be driven out. This isn’t all that in line with what I should be praying for at Easter, but a prayer off the mark is better than no prayer at all, I like to think. Making that promise, feels like a comfort. God, I’ll keep going. I’m still going. I’m moving, albeit slowly, forward and away from the last few months. Comfort in rain – I couldn’t be more British if I tried…..

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Different Hallelujahs

In our last concert, my choir sang an arrangement of ‘Hallelujah’, originally by Leonard Cohen. The song has really done the rounds in the last few years, and I think it’s interesting that it seems to have touched so many people in secular society, given that so many of the lyrics refer to Biblical characters, and essentially, at least when I listen to it, the closeness to God that comes from prayer when feeling brokenhearted. I like the fact that it’s a song that (disregarding Jeff Buckley’s more radical interpretation of meaning….) spans from spiritual to secular, and that we sometimes treat our relationships with each other, as we do our relationship with God, wishing we could outshoot and outrun, when the going gets tough and we feel the need for space. When you love someone, you carry the burden of also knowing how to hurt them, and the promise that you will not do so, when voices are raised and opinions are opposed, and this is something I hear in this song, too. I remember first hearing it when I watched the film ‘Shrek’ years ago, before we had internet, and learning the lyrics by replaying and rewinding the same two minute segment, then bashing it out on my piano.  When I listen to it, I think about the different ‘hallelujahs’ I give up to God, as I go about my daily life, and wonder how He hears them in all their manifestations.

Hallelujah is a word with many voices but only one meaning. When I walked back recently from a meeting with the manager of the hospital I’m trying to source a patient library for, I felt more alive than I have done for a while – this is a project near to my heart, and seeing it grow whilst, a lot of the time, everything else seems to be collapsing round my ears, has really given me something to lean on. I was walking home in the sunshine, talking to God, thanking him for all the emails that had been replied to, the willingness of the hospital to hear me out, the patients who’d given me the idea in the first place, the shops who have given generously to us, all these things – excited enough that no doubt, if God (or actually, anyone, for that matter) had been standing beside me, there would have been some serious high-fiving going on, maybe even with the occasional whoop for joy. It’s these little positves that make me feel more hopeful that there is a life for me beyond this depression, and I am grateful that God gives me these reminders and promises that one day, the heaviness will leave me and I will feel myself again. Joyful Hallelujahs, voiced in mental capital letters (for me, at least) and at top speed and volume must be wonderful to hear, but perhaps, also a reminder to God (not He needs reminders like the rest of us…) that so often, we, I, am a fair-weather friend. It is easy to be thankful for the things God sends our way that feel so positive and meaningful. It’s harder to get down on our knees and be grateful for adversity.

There’s a line in a verse of the song not often included in more populist recordings that goes, ‘yet even now it’s all gone wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue, but Hallelujah’ which made me think that although we are told time and again that God hears all prayers, whether the sky feels full of Him, or empty, that perhaps it is the prayers that come in moments of desperation and utmost futility, that He cherishes the most; the prayers we say when we’ve given up belief that anyone’s even listening; the prayers we use as  flares in the night when we are drowning. Praising the Lord from the bottom of a dark well of seemingly endless hopelessness, is a tough thing to do. So often in the last few months, I’ve felt a lot more like quitting church, chucking out my Bible, burning journals, and forgetting the God I have come to follow, than getting down in the dirt and being thankful for lessons and learning. When I’m empty, I’ve felt a lot more like being angry and indignant, and giving up altogether, than remembering, in the cold black of depression, to continue to praise, continue to pray. Yet when I do (aside from the highly acute weeks when my grip on reality wasn’t exactly firm) I do feel close, and sometimes, comforted. It’s the smashed-up and broken-down hallelujahs, the end-of-the-road and bottom-of-the-mountain hallelujahs, that make me lean and learn. It’s when I don’t have a song in my heart to sing, or eyes sharp enough to glimpse the dawn, or hope strong enough even to get me through till morning, that those hallelujahs come into their own. It’s the whispered, not the shouted, hallelujahs, that I think God loves the most.

I’ve felt in the last few weeks that my mood is slipping down again, and am getting afraid – the more I came out of the depths of my depression, the more I’ve come to realise just how serious it really was, and that if things had been just a little different, I really might have not made it through. The thought of going back there is terrifying, and it’s hard to know how to best manage this feeling of unsteady ground. It feels kind of like standing and watching the sun go down, and being powerless to stop it – like watching a clock, and knowing, that time will continue to tick by, no matter what I do. I’m feeling numbed again, and cut-off, detached from the people around me, and hollow. Hollow – it doesn’t sound like it would be that bad a feeling, does it? And yet, the feeling of empty, unfilled, stifling space is so treacherous. When you’re so full of empty, there are few words left, except Hallelujah.

My favourite cover is by the London Community Gospel Choir, but that’s not on Youtube (though it is on spotify)- but this is a good standard one too, just incase you’ve somehow managed to miss the song (no judgement, if slight bemusement)

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Turnabout Prayers

It’s true that this blog is mostly about working out my own path at the moment – but, although all of us need to be inward focussed sometimes, there’s also moments when it becomes so apparent that we are such small parts of a whole, and that just maybe, our prayer life, or inner life, should reflect this, at least for a moment.  I mentally call these ‘turnabout prayers’ – because often, it’s when I’m thinking deeply about something going on in my own life, that I become aware of context and that there are an awful lot of people in much direr situations than I am in.

I wrote about storm imagery yesterday and have been continuing to think about psalm 46 (be still, Char, be still!)- and today, realised that although there is a place for metaphor, unfortunately, some people don’t even need the imagery as they have the real thing to deal with. Christians bang on a lot about spiritual journeys, hardships, persecution, and battle, and I think in between all those analogies that aim to ground our experiences in something concrete everyone can identify with, we forget that across our world, people are experiencing all these things in heartbreaking reality. Comparing the persecution of Christians in this country for example, falls more than a bit flat when we compare it to the situation in the Middle East or Asia, or the persecution of other faiths and groups in so many countries. This is what I mean by a turnabout prayer – something that stops you in your tracks going inward, and refocusses you outwards on the big picture. Something that makes you think ‘WHOAH’ and swings you round by 180 degrees so you see things cast in a different light and from a different angle. We have these moments in both spiritual and secular life – we’ve all experienced something catching on our heart and forcing us to re-evaluate our current preoccupations and stance.

The people of Japan are facing pretty real and dangerous storms at the moment. Some of them no doubt will have actually fallen into the sea. Many have lost their lives. Psalm 46 to them, at this moment, is not an expression of God keeping us safe in the storms of everyday life – it’s reality, and they have every reason to be afraid. As I write this, it’s true that my mood is low, my heart is aching, and I am anxious about the next few weeks. But it is also true that I am safe and dry, warm and sheltered. My family and friends are safe. A lot of Japan are facing problems with those things thanks to the earthquakes and tsunamis. My heart is hurting for them, and I’m praying for them – please pray, too.

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