“God must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30
As I write, I’m tucked away in a solitary cabin in the woods of Minnesota. I pray that I’m able to partake in the sacrament of this present moment. I want to be held by the Divine and, if I’m completely honest, I hope to be shown some great truth or new spiritual insight. Yet I know that God’s ways are not mine. He often speaks in a quiet voice like the soft ticking of a clock and through seemingly ordinary things. That has been my experience more often than not.
When I am reading sacred Scripture and come upon the phrase, “Here I am, Lord”, I am struck by its weightiness. I sense a holy ground moment. A surrender to a mystery far beyond me and my comprehension. Maybe these words hold a key to the spiritual life. I am captivated by them. I want to make them my own. They seem to go along with other phrases I’m drawn to such as, Be here now and You be you.
A dear friend, with whom I’ve journeyed many a day, wrote to me recently and reminded me of a passage I had sent to her years ago.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
I’m grateful for that reminder this morning. I want to be attuned to the sacred in my daily life. As I turn my attention to the phrase “Here I am, Lord”, I sense it speaks to both who I am and who God is. It speaks to an attitude of heart and soul rather than to a physical place. God desires to show me who I am at the same time He shows me who He is, His “I am”. To receive this gift, I must be present in the moment, “be here”. Speaking the word “Lord” acknowledges my surrender. Years ago, a wise one in my life encouraged me to “remember who you are and whose you are.” Years later, I continue to come to trust the great “I am”.
I recently participated in a women’s spiritual weekend whose theme was Open my Heart to the Presence of God, another phrase that grabs my attention. During the weekend, we talked a bit about St. Therese of Lisieux whose brief life also captivates me. You could describe her as one who lived life like a child. She was able to live in the moment with great dependence on God and attentiveness to the other. She desired to treat ALL with great love. She loved flowers and saw herself as just a little flower. She was content being her beautiful self among the other beautiful flowers. What a powerful example to meditate on and to follow. I have heard it said that dependence on God is the pathway to holiness.
Some of my meditations of late have focused on nature and God’s creation as ways that God speaks to us. The Creator conversing with his creation. God writes His name everywhere. Reflecting on a rose, I see that the center of the flower is where life is most intense. I see the same thing in a candle that is lit and burning brightly. I would describe the center as intense, deep, full, true, powerful, and steady yet, at the same time, tender, fragile, and dependent. When I think of myself as God’s creation, I could describe myself that way as well. God’s spirit within me is full, true, powerful, and steady yet, in my humanness, I am fragile and dependent. My “Here I am, Lord” carries both an inner splendor and a brokenness.
“The glory of God will dwell in our land.” Psalm 85:9
Like the potter shaping his work of art, I see God as forming or “informing” me, the clay, with his very own Spirit. I am created in love, of love, and for love. My value does not rest in my own degree of perfection, but rather in God’s perfect plan for me. Something to remember when I’m questioning my inherent value or usefulness. I can trust in God’s ongoing creation of me and of others. When I sense a conflict or tension between who I truly am and who I seem to be, to others and perhaps even to myself, I remember that I am often deceived. When I go back to that well of troubled thoughts, that is so of the evil one and not of God. Instead, I reflect on my life and how God seems to be shaping me, and I pray to trust in God’s purpose for me and others. God grants me the kindness and patience with myself and others that are needed in this process called life.
My total surrender is always met with God’s total embrace. I experience the splendor of God that David speaks of in Psalm 104. God does indeed give me “food in due season”. When I open my hands, they are filled with good things. I can trade the me I’ve created for who God created me to be—my true nature, my deepest self. I remember the rose. I want to display my true splendor as a daughter of the King. To bravely walk out that path, one day at a time.
“I am quite confident that the One who began a good work in you will go on completing it until the Day of Jesus Christ comes.” Philippians 1:6
The love of Christ is always a gift. Fullness, wholeness, and freedom come in the receiving of the gift offered. When I say “Here I am”, I am welcomed home. A home that is at once God, and at the same time, me. All GOD and all ME—the true me, fearfully and wonderfully made for God’s purposes.
Lord, I pray for the readiness to respond “Here I am” to whatever you call me to, and for the willingness to let go of all that is not in accordance with your values.
(The meditations I refer to are taken from Love A Guide for Prayer by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and Sister Marie Schwan.)