… For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.

Daniel 9:18b-19

Lord God, our King and our Redeemer, today I come before Your throne in humility and in repentance. Once again, I have allowed fear to eclipse my faith in You. Once again, I’ve given way to anxiety instead of clinging to Your promises. Again, my mind has strayed from contemplation of Your faithfulness to mull over my own failures.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

2 Corinthians 10:5

Forgive me, Lord, and help me to truly take every thought captive to obey Christ! Let me not fall prey to despair when my family seems to be far from You, but help me instead to rejoice in You no matter what.

Forgive me for being silent in the face of those who resist discussing Your goodness. Instead, Lord, let my mouth be full of praise to You and my heart filled to the overflow of my love for You. Remind me that even when it seems I walk alone, I am never alone. You are with me.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Despite my frailty, despite my weakness and my ineptitude, Lord, You are still King. You are still on Your throne. Help me to be mindful of this fact, trusting that You can reach the hearts of my family and awaken in them a knowledge of the true depths of Your grace – even if I have failed in every way to present You to them.

For though You are gracious to use me, You do not need me to do Your work, Lord. Like a loving Father, You allow me to participate in Your work. But You are the Craftsman. You are the Master – the One who reshapes my blunders and does the work I cannot do.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:*

I look to You to bring all of my family into right relationship with my Lord Yeshua Messiah. I look to Your Spirit to move in their hearts, shattering idols, quickening true passion for the things of God, slaying pride, and stirring up a keen desire for righteousness and holiness.

I cannot do this work, Lord, nor can my worry over it accomplish anything more than exposing the weakness of my faith. Return my mind once more to a contemplation of the glory of my King, and keep my eyes fixed forever on the light of Your goodness and grace.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:2-3

May my heart be so filled with Your Spirit that the natural overflow of my lips is praise to You. Let my vocal and constant worship of You point others ceaselessly to Your glory.

And Lord, do a mighty work within my family, please. For Your Name’s sake, do not delay but act. Change our hearts so that we seek first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness in unity, together walking in Your light through this dark world. May our family truly be one who can say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;” Amen!

Migraine Chronicles: A Matter of Focus

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

I remember just a short time ago when my three-year-old responded to my admonition that he behave with an outburst somewhat, ahem, telling of his personality: “I am being have!”

Oh, wait… that only seemed like a short time ago. In actuality, it was thirteen years ago, and that same little boy is now driving, holds a purple belt in Wado Ryu karate, and is navigating his first boy-girl relationship that is not based primarily on who is ‘It’ in a game of hide-and-go-seek.

My how time flies…  And time has also softened the edges of that memory so that the humor stands out clearly, unencumbered by the emotional barrier of dealing with a defiant toddler.

Often these days, I look back with fondness at the years when my children were small. However, I have to admit that at the time I often felt overwhelmed by the sheer mass of needs that ruled my day, particularly since it was when they were all small that I first began to struggle with chronic migraine.

Yet today even the towering needs of three toddlers seem trifling in the face of the more complex emotional needs of teenagers. And I know that someday, I will even look back on these hormone-fueled clashes with some degree of nostalgia – as well as with a better understanding of which battles were truly important and which only seemed critical at the time.

Hindsight can be so illuminating. pict0460

To be honest, this is the very thing I have to remember when I’m in the middle of a bad migraine cycle. I must remember that time marches on and one day the long, dreary days of pain and fatigue will be mere memory, softened by time and no longer full of sharp spikes and energy-depleting edges.

Although now the battle against pain is furious and intense; although now pain may color the days in  browns and grays like a typical overcast Tennessee winter, it will not always be this way.

Here in Tennessee, spring has already made an early incursion, and on its heels color slowly seeps back into the landscape until the days are once more awash in lush greens and deep blues with every imaginable shade and combination of reds and yellows mixed in.

Even so, at least for those of us who are in Christ, the pain-filled days are merely the winter of our time of exile here on earth. But spring is coming.

And for those who do not know our God, the invitation remains open to you as well. Come, cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you.

For there will come a day when, just as we look back on the previous trials of our lives, we will look back on all of this life through eyes of experience, and though it is difficult now, it will be but a little moment in the vastness of Eternity.  Then we will remember the days of weariness and toil and be glad of the lessons we learned in the midst of them. Then, too, we will be fully aware of the glory of God which we once overlooked while keeping our eyes locked on the next step of the tiresome path at our feet.

But we do have another option.

Instead of keeping our eyes downcast now, fixed on these earthly problems of pain, why not set our thoughts on the things above?  Through His power at work within us, we truly can shift our focus from this small, shrinking self and onto the eternal nature of our glorious King with full assurance that all of this – even the most agonizing moments – will be used for good in His perfect and eternal purpose.

As a matter of focus, we can learn even now to see slivers of beauty peeping through the links of affliction, for even in pain, our King has walked before us and knows the way.