Between Midnight and Dawn: Man Became Less

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Christ must increase and I must decrease.
~John 3:30

 

By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.
~Augustine of Hippo, The City of God

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.
~St. Francis of Assisi

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Humans don’t come by selflessness naturally.  We are survival-programmed to seek what we need from others from the very get-go, whether it is filling up our hunger, having a wet diaper changed, or cuddling for comfort.

And for some, that demand to be first in our tiny universe never changes. Certain presidential candidates seem to suffer from this affliction more than others.

How do we reconcile the paradox of first becomes last and the least becomes first?  We accept the gift of grace from Christ to become less rather than seek more, to give up the all-important self to sacrifice for the life and well-being of the other.

We are overcome.

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Between Midnight and Dawn: Our Forgetfulness

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I weep over the sorrows and disgraces of our Lord,
and what causes me the greatest sorrow
is that men, for whom He suffered so much,
live in forgetfulness of Him.
~St. Francis of Assisi

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.
~from Psalm 51

It doesn’t take committing infidelity or murder,
like King David with blood on his hands,
to feel estranged from God.

It can be as simple as
living each day within
a delusion of self-sufficiency.

But I am never sufficient.

Unable to fix my own heart,
I seek relief from the mud of
remorse and regret.
I bring my broken heart to Him.
May my tears no longer just be wept
in guilt for my wrongdoing,
but that I weep for our
God forgotten.

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Listening to Lent — A Clean Heart

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Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me
Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me

Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord
And take not Thy holy spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation
And renew a right spirit within me
~Keith Green from Psalm 51

 

It doesn’t take committing infidelity or murder,
like King David with blood on his hands,
to feel estranged from God.

It can be as simple as
living each day within
a delusion of self-sufficiency.

But I am never sufficient.

Unable to fix my own heart,
I seek relief from the mud of
remorse and regret.
May tears no longer just be wept
in guilt for my wrongdoing,
but that I weep for our
God forgotten.

 

I weep over the sorrows and disgraces of our Lord,
and what causes me the greatest sorrow
is that men, for whom He suffered so much,
live in forgetfulness of Him.
~St. Francis of Assisi

 

Chasing Shadows

sunrise81“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”
–  St. Francis of Assisi

I will remember today the power of one sunbeam among the gray clouds to illuminate beauty hidden by darkness.

I will remember I can choose to be light or shadow.

I will remember the difference I can make.

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Lenten Reflection–Fiery and Sweet

photo by Josh Scholten

May the power of your love, Lord Christ,
fiery and sweet as honey,
so absorb our hearts
as to withdraw them
from all that is under heaven.
Grant that we may be ready to die
for love of your love,
as you died for love of our love.
St. Francis of Assisi

This is a week of letting go while holding on.

If I am to see Jesus and know the power of His love,
I must let go of this life and walk with Him with every step to the cross.

No falling asleep.
No selling out.
No turning and running away.
No hiding my face in denial.
No looking back.
No clinging to the comforts of the world.

But of course I fail again and again.
My heart resists leaving behind what I know.

Plucked from the crowd,
I grasp and carry the load, my load, alongside Him.
My turn to hold on and not let go, as if life depends on it.
Which it does, requiring no nails.

The fire of His love leaves my sin in ashes.
From those ashes rises new life.
Love of His love of our love.