quiet, confident STRENGTH

rockI have been thinking about strength lately (which tells you I’ve been needing some 😉 ).

The word brings to mind the Strengthsfinder book I was required to read for work back in the early 2000s. Its premise was that we spend too much time focusing on and improving our weaknesses and not enough on discovering and capitalizing on our strengths. It included a test that identified a person’s top five strengths. I took it and was told to “lean into” the strengths it told me I had.

Not bad advice, though I don’t remember now what my test results were. I do remember thinking that if I really leaned into my strengths and ignored my weaknesses, it would mossprobably result in my losing my job.

That’s not the strength I need right now.

“Strength” also makes me think of the Rocky movies, which my husband introduced our younger children to during our stay-cation spring break. They were hooked by the first one and quickly watched 2, 3, and 4 on consecutive nights (he convinced them #5 was simply too cheesy). I watched bits of them with the crew but was eventually asked not to because I kept cringing at hard blows and delivering lectures about the violence of fighting sports. “Strength” in Rocky is physical, of course, but it is also human determination and grit and perseverance.

Again, not helpful right now.

Then, a couple days ago, I read the prayer “For Quiet Confidence” in the Book of Common Prayer. I’ve prayed it a lot in the past few months, but this time I noticed the theme of strength in it. It speaks of a strength that is available even when we are bone- and soul-tired, when both the Rocky and Strengthsfinder kinds of strength are simply useless, when we’ve come to the hard-but-blessed realization that we must look completely outside ourselves.

The prayer, drawn from Scripture, tells me my strength is found

in returning,

in rest,

in quietness,

in confidence in the God of the universe,

in stillness,

in the presence of the Lord,

in the might of the Spirit,

in knowing who God is and

in knowing his unfailing love for us.

O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Morning Glory

Friday morning, before the getting-ready-for-the-last-day-of-school rush, I biked, Chai dog by my side, to the dog park, where I tromped around, fast, trying to avoid the mosquitos. I reviewed the Scripture passage I’m memorizing, but not a whole lot of thinking was going on. As I swung back on my bike, ready to pedal home, I thought, “Oh, I should pray.”

That’s not a bad thing. But there was a hint to it of “I have to do the right thing. I have to go about this the right way. This is what will please the Lord.”

My mind immediately went to confession and prayer for others—because that’s more “godly prayer,” right? That’s what pleases God most—my attempts at being humble and others-centered.

Right?

God was having none of it.

But rather than a thunderbolt from the sky, He got my attention with JOY.

The trees waved their branches at me—hey,

Em likes to make--and then photograph--food creations! Yummy smoothie.

Em likes to make–and then photograph–food creations! Yummy smoothie.

look over here!—and the wind flowed over my collarbone like it was trying to tickle my neck. Happy dog on a leash at my side, green grass on left and right, hum of bike tires, and when I pulled up to my house, two ducks—a mama and a daddy!—perched on our chimney!

The bubble of joy burst and showered me with droplets, and I shut down confession/supplication and let myself BE in God.

Gratitude welled up to meet the joy raining down, and an old hymn rose.

Morning has broken, like the first morning.

Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.

Praise for the singing, praise for the morning

Praise for the springing fresh from the Word.

Yes! Be in God. Let Him guide heart prayer into His glad fullness, His sheer joyful goodness, His eagerness to share Himself with me.

Romp in the revelation of right righteousness revealed. (Couldn’t resist the alliteration!)

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning,

Born of the one light Eden saw play.

Praise with elation, praise every morning;

God’s recreation of the new day.

 

“Morning Has Broken,” words by Eleanor Farjeon, 1931