Saturday, December 31, 2011

Venturing to Inner Desire


“Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in a mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.”


~Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NRSV)


A mystery is whispered through the genome of time and it is heard silently within the soul of every living being, though many millions ignore it. This mystery is, of course, entwined in enigma and is, in very nature, the Lord—with us; within us; the intriguing inner desire that corresponds with truth.


Knowledge of the untenable inscrutability of God is most acutely known by the fact of how little we know even of ourselves.


We have evidence of this mystery in the longing that precedes our soul’s continual unease. Smothering the inner desire that can only be sated by God is a plethora of worldly and fleshly desires that overlay and conquer that sense-of-Spirit within, if we’ll allow them to.


And, as a matter of course, we do.


War of the Worlds


The battle of desires is a silent war raging within the anatomical region that is in and through one human being. Torrents of gunfire blast intermittently and relentlessly from cradle to grave and either frustration grinds or patience is built—yet, neither is the final answer.


A Sentinel stands there ready to defend, but we do not commonly defer to this Mighty Defender. We try our own way.


We beat our outer desire the best way we can, without the Sentinel, our God, but forlornly our endeavours fail, because we have not sought to venture into and meet the inner desire—that cherished destiny the Lord, our God, has wired into our psyches from the beginning. We need to seek re-connection to that.


Part of our problem is the inner desire is mysteriously hidden from everyday view; we only venture there by faith and it is a difficult journey because we must negate prevailing desire with an ennobled, quieter one.


But, what is not easy is still possible.


Hope’s Revived in the Achievement of Inner Desire


All manner of sinful desire perplex the goals of the would-be faithful. Yet, this considers the effect of being controlled over the state of wresting control.


Where the outer desire controls us, the inner desire—once harnessed; and it is not easy—facilitates control. The outer desire is a burden on our flesh; the inner desire is plentiful fuel for power to redirect one human being toward his or her goal: the achievement of the momentary will of God.


The inner desire does not fight with the outer desire; it simply operates differently, bypassing it. It has fallen out of love with the world and what its eyes and ears have been typically given to.


We must know by now, the things we must accept (spiritual things) and the things we must reject (worldly things that control us from the outside).


The Way There


Faith is a thing dripping with action-oriented diligence and prudence; all manner of blessed virtue toward the enactment of action, even without assurance of the promised vision.


Yet, on faith we must depend.


Diligence is the role of faith as it esteems common progress toward the inner desire; that which has sought God so fundamentally that the outer desire has been ripped clean away and does, though it remains, no longer wrangle with the flesh.


The harnessing of inner desire is a situational achievement; the blessing of God.


The way there to the inner desire is, firstly, the motive of love to know God and, secondly, it’s the habit of continually re-entering the very soul of the mysterious God existing within each one of us via prayer. The way there is first, interest, and second, practice.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.



Friday, December 30, 2011

A Winner’s Response To Bad News


Recalling Joseph of Genesis, and the fact he was wrought many a cruel blow, yet he suffered such indignities stoically, we are reminded of the winner’s response to bad news.


Of course, there are three archetypal responses to bad news; two are negative and damaging if they aren’t arrested, with only one a satisfactory response—the positive one—even out the grip of pain.


Let’s cover these in reverse order—the negative ones first.


1. Bad News Is Taken As a Crushing Blow


Perhaps we might see this response as the submissive one.


We’ve all felt like reacting this way: the unexpected bad news deals us an unchallengeable body blow and we are reeling. The terms which have been dealt cannot be handled right now, if ever.


This is a sinkhole response; with time things don’t get better, they get worse. Such bad news has been the catalyst toward sending us into a self-absorbing bout of anxiety-riddled depression.


2. Bad News Generates Anger and Blame


If the above is seen as the submissive response, this one is the aggressive response—we should know that only assertive responses are ultimately desirable.


Yet, to the reception of bad news comes instinctive anger. What was never expected has now come to pass, and the only way to respond right now is in a fit of rage, whether expressed or not, because from within there is unremitting panic. Fear swarms and the way we battle is to fight.


Like the above reaction, however, this too is a sinkhole response; unless we get over our anger and travel on to the third response (below) the anger will see us bitter and never better for the experience because, quite frankly, we cannot bear the truth right now.


Only when we can bear the truth can we entertain the third option of response.


***


Before going on to the third response, however, it is important to note that initial reactions in the vein of the first and second responses are completely normal and forgivable; but, we need to turn these responses over to the response below to win our day.


3. Bad News Invites The Question – “Okay, What Now?”


This is the Joseph response.


Whether he was cast into a pit, or rejected by his brothers, or convicted innocently and thrown into jail, or for any other reason, we suspect Joseph had basically the same response each time: “Okay, (Lord) what now?”


This is the healthiest of the three responses because neither is the bad news ultimately a crushing blow nor something to derail life at the quest of blame. No, bad news is simply the revelation that there is a longer way than expected to the goal. This is no doubt disappointing, but the winner in such cases takes a situation like this, affording some despondency, and they react with eventual resilience. It proves inspiring.


Despite what they might feel they will act in faith and continue along the path that has been started, not giving up. Very soon they find the temptation to give up was the false veneer of hopelessness in plain view from any bad event. Only after such an act of faith can this lie be seen for what it is.


The winner keeps going despite their disappointment.


***


It bears repeating: the winner keeps going despite the disappointment. They know with gritted teeth and a smile all the crushed expectations in the world mean little if they have the true grit to continue on. They keep their goal firmly in sight and they eventually achieve it, which makes life only more satisfying.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Steps to Turning Life Around



Times for change commence at a thought, progress with a plan, and are achieved by resolution sufficient to sustain a new habit. That initiating thought is our mark.


The mark of change can be thought of as an acronym: a Circumstance is Heightened in Anxiety for a New thing to Grace life, Everlasting. We want change to stick.


In other words, the mark of change is the instant, perhaps felt now, where dissatisfaction for an element of life reaches that point where change must now occur.


It’s distinctly uncomfortable, but from the vision of hindsight, having met the goal, or gone a long way toward it, we are ever so thankful—that God pushed us into such territory that we demanded much more from ourselves; change that we knew was within our grasp; change that we knew we had to make.


1. The Mark of Change Manifest In Dissatisfaction


The role of dissatisfaction in change cannot be overstated; we often need to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.


Such dissatisfaction is nurtured, indeed transformed, into a driving passion to see change take place—where teeth are gritted, and eyes are focused for a place out of such despairing.


A weird convolution of emotions is experienced ranging from the raging will to fumbling disbelief to outright fear to desperate measures entertained. But such a headspace is tantamount to motivation rarely experienced.


Such a motivation must be harnessed; focused into a usable medium—a vision to get our aim right.


2. A Vision to Inspire Us


Vision takes us many good places that a lack of vision could never see.


It, therefore, requires a fundament of belief—the cherished nexus of an action-oriented faith; one that acts on the belief coveted by the vision and pushes us to continue along the path from thought – to plan – to execution – to finalisation of the dream beheld.


The vision will take us from A to Z and it will help us survive through the twisted augury of many forlorn fears, deceiving promises, and premature celebrations for pride.


3. A Process to Get There


This is where the rubber surely hits the road!


There is little good in bearing a world of dissatisfaction and nurturing the vision to climb out of such hellishness if there is no process—a plan in its simplicity—to restore sanity to a world of chaos.


The process needn’t be complex. Simplicity is more blessed if we’re able to keep it that way.


***


The mark of change is an anxiety-producing dissatisfaction, which generates a vision for change, which requires a process to get there. These three will help us achieve change: sufficient dissatisfaction with the status quo; a vision for a better future; and finally a simple, workable plan.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prayer In The Moment’s Need


Prayer may be thought of as a Plea Requesting Assistance; a Yearning for Encouragement and Respite. The moment of prayer is a sacred one; a moment between one human being and their God.


And this is to be remembered, each time, for all time: whenever there is need, there is need of prayer. What could reach out for the moment better than a word of pleading toward one’s Creator?


No, nothing is more appropriate.


P.R.A.Y.E.R. Meets The Needs Of The Moment


There are needs all about, whether we consider the definitiveness of our personal lives, or the incomprehensible size of global need; this thing of need is so massive, to sincerely consider it possibly wears us down.


But the moment of prayer avails for us, peace; not despair.


As we pause, even in the midst of resolute action, the mind resolving to be with its God, we attain a destined oneness that possibly sees the incongruence of reality as it is; however unacceptable that might be.


As we grapple with the moment, a convolution of emotion spilling over from within, prayer steadies us. It affords the instant of escape, even by the cause of an irrepressible reality that imposes itself upon us. It is a moment of survival that can be joined, each moment at a time with each other, to produce a season for survival.


Prayer meets the needs of the moment, without explanation, and where there is no reason there is also no complaint, just praise, for that sense of peace redeemed.


P.R.A.Y.E.R. Is A Worthy Acronym


Again, we might favourably consider prayer as a Plea Requesting Assistance; a Yearning for Encouragement and Respite.


Such an acronym, compartmentalised into the psyche for the moment’s need, can be a great blessing; to think that God, by divine wisdom, has designed such a tool for progression through trial is a true marvel. Again, we know we are not left alone in difficulties, distress, or despairing—even from a waking moment! God is with us as we pray.


Prayer may be many more things than a Plea Requesting Assistance; a Yearning for Encouragement and Respite, but contained within the moment’s need little truly matters more than divine provision of a safe house in the cold of night.


In that moment of need, let us prove worthy of this sensibility: make the Plea Requesting Assistance; a Yearning for Encouragement and Respite, for the Lord will help.


Know that God has proven once, if not infinite times, worthy of the plea made requesting assistance beyond personal capability; that yearning for encouragement and respite beyond personal grasp without such prayer.


Prayer is the help we all desire.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.


Postscript: this is a partner article to the biblically-based, Every Temptation, Need to Pray.



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Judgments of Conscience



“Every judgment of conscience, be it right or wrong, be it about things evil in themselves or morally indifferent, is obligatory, in such wise that he who acts against his conscience always sins.”


~Thomas Aquinas


This above quote may need to be read several times before its meaning sinks in—it is worth rereading. There is only one rider to it. The worth of a pre-seared or restored conscience is incalculable.


The Searing of Conscience


There are so many almost completely beyond the reach of God; there is no conscience left, or that conscience is confused or undermined. Hence, so often the conscience is betrayed of true Spiritual sight and sound and, therefore, God doesn’t get a look in.


Satan has his part in the world to do these things—to meddle with and muddle our sense of morality; and our flesh adds further weight. If we are fortunate what we have left is enough to work with in restoring that original frame of conscience—the God-conscience.


Life, itself, through our experience of brokenness, has produced—in select parts of our lives to the whole of our lives—the effect of conscience-as-barbecued; its outer structure has been scorched on all sides so as to prevent the entrance of discernible moral stimuli to affect obedience, even lasting change. In simple words, plain judgments of the good path (straightforward morality) become invisible, confused, or betrayed by compromise and self-justification.


The product is sin and at different levels we know it.


Searing of conscience merely adds to the weight of our problem; the rearguard against sin is weakened significantly against such a thing as can be seen via a cooking process.


Rebuilding the Conscience


The Spirit of God never forces anyone to change. There must be willingness within the vessel for the Holy Spirit to agree, and to cohabit. This must occur at the level of the conscience; convicted against its own things; mortified by its own contempt of its Maker; an agreement that the seared conscience must now be tenderised by the Word and will of God—that it will be subject to truth.


This is essentially what the rebirth into Christ facilitates.


And this is precisely why so many are stunted in their growth to the ends of Christ when Satan gets at them to stifle their need of growth; the conscience is nowhere near convicted enough. We need to recommit and regularly so.


The Lord can only do a work of the miraculous in us through our absolute obedience and total adherence to the truth as it applies to discrete compartments of our lives.


Life in Christ is essentially the process of rebuilding the conscience; to allow the Lord to open our eyes and ears afresh to the significance of Divine sight and sound as motives to be acted on, leading to the obedience of faith.



© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Primary Odyssey



The Lord says: You have long anticipated this new season I am taking you to, for there have been many false starts when that anticipation went ahead of Me. You have learned to wait in advancing, to retreat upon pride, to know the folly of running off in veiled excitement.


As you watch for Me now, the sound of My voice within you, you steel yourself for the required moment. Anticipation has given way to calm deliberation; not pensive, but just simply ready.


The Primary Odyssey awaits. This is now what life is about. The preparations have finished and all waiting, concluded; though the preparations and waiting have only just commenced.


Many might call this the coming-of-age. It is not. It is the eternal thread of purposeful movement, in and through the fabric of life itself.


The Primary Odyssey has always been there and always will be there, ready. Even by further lapses.


As for you, My dear child, hear Me now as you ought to eternally. At your consent, because you are ready, I am taking you to the journey of your destiny.


Where we are going—on a spiritual trek, not without trepidation—is what you have always wanted, but never quite knew why or how or when. There will be doubting; trust will be required of you as you turn back at each opportunity to My way: the only way.


This pilgrimage is not one of perfect means or ends. Only the enemy will sell you that lie. No, you are ready for the humblest of journeys to within yourself, and to without—regarding your world. All of life now stands before you. You are ready.


***


This Odyssey, called Primary because of its innately personal and destined nature, is a path etched out by the Creator God for each and every person to inhabit.


It is only as cryptic as we would have it be; the Spirit of God is not one to make such great an expedition any harder than the simplest thing. This is when we can know the patience of God; the Spirit waits... for years, or ever... for when we, personally, ready ourselves.


The journey to the life that God has for us, today, is and was always ready—but we, perhaps, were not. We may now be ready. How exciting it is, then, to take grasp not of tomorrow, but of today. The Primary Odyssey awaits.


I take it with both hands, with a freshened mind, and a stoic heart, knowing that God is with me in all I do.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Pinnacle for Change



“Just how and when we tell the truth—or keep silent—can often reveal the difference between genuine integrity and none at all.”


~As Bill Sees It (1967)


We may perhaps be thinking of change. Truly, we may not know how to go about it; just as these problems swarm, and in a debilitated state we feel for our response, we can know one simple thing that will lead us to change every time.


People might say it is self-respect, but of course it’s deeper than that, though its manifestation is central upon the achievement of self-worth (critical for lasting change).


The pinnacle for change is honesty. The condition of the blessed life, without exception, is that cherished ability to be truthful with others, yet never less with ourselves. Honesty is the key to humility.


Plans Are Important... But


Drilled into us from the very beginning are clich├ęs like, “Plan the work and work the plan,” or, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


These sayings are 100% truthful.


But like speaking in tongues of mortals and angels, whilst being without love, is just a noisy gong or clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1), planning without the underpinning modus operandi of honesty, generating the motive of self-respect, is forlorn.


Plans are necessary, and just as they are critical they need to be flexible, also. One thing, however, that is not flexible is our driving M.O.—we are brutally honest with ourselves; responsible to each thought, accountable for each and every feeling. Then, alone, is change possible.


Belief Is Important, Too


Whilst plans provide the roadmap to get where we need to go regarding change, and a rigorous self-honesty will take us anywhere good we would like to go, self-belief, which is generated from a healthy and functional belief in God, gives us the confidence to be honest.


Such a belief means we can afford to be courageous, especially when we are required to take risks in demonstrating our honesty, for such truthfulness will often bear costs—a price we should always be willing to pay. The unspeakable rewards make it abundantly worth it.


The truth is, at accord with our truthfulness with ourselves—our integrity—we can change anything we want about us that is changeable.


Any sin, habit, trait, or any vice, can be vanquished and, therefore, transformed into practices for living that bless our lives and others’ lives. Do we believe this? We need to in order to change.


***


Planning is important, and self-belief too, but to achieve self-respect, know that honesty keeps us true.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessed Family Intercessions



Whatever we think about our familial relationships, we cannot help interceding for them in our thoughts and, therefore, our prayers. God hears them all.


Prayer makes for reality in ways we don’t even realise. Most Christians think they don’t pray nearly enough, but is it perhaps that God hears every single concerned thought and discerns them as prayers?


Do we also maybe live a life that is foolproof in these ways? Simply put, the love and devotion we have for our families, or the pains we continue to endure because of them, is felt intrinsically by the Lord of Glory—the King of Creation.


Resting Easier


Just the simple fact of knowing God’s there and approving every concerned and worriedly prayerful thought is enough—despite our pain—to breathe easier.


From the beginning we were designed to know peace and joy and grace, that these portents were qualities God shaped for us, and to realise that everything of life—and particularly family—was to be a cherished blessing. We know the Fall destroyed the magnanimity of that vision, but we still have the majority of it preserved in God.


From the ideal to the real to now, the realised whole, we can find in family the object of our passions and the stanzas of love we always wished for. There is peace in the fact that our families push us, conform us, inspire, and rile us. And still, we’re there for them, and they are for us.


It’s an awkward ease we can feel; it’s because we care.


Improving Our Relationships Through Intercession


As we prayerfully think about our familial situations and come to be thankful for them—whether they bless us or not—we come into a different arrangement with them, one that comes from within our hearts. It is something that has not much to do with them. These extra portions of deep thought project for us something that occurs deeper below even than our own consciousness.


We begin to love longer, better, wider and deeper than perhaps we were capable of beforehand. Our prayers are blessed of God for they’ve reached our hearts and we’re being changed and transformed.


It is simply wonderful to know this experience and to nurture it.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Only One Easy Answer


About the Source of Wisdom: “That path no bird of prey knows, and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.”


~Job 28:7 (NRSV)


A life without problems is no life at all—when we are of our right mind, we wouldn’t believe anyone who might say, “Life: got it sorted.” No, time sorts them out. Problems are so implicit to life that searching for solutions, and preferably an easy answer, is our common default.


We have learned to run to the next thought—the easy, or easiest, way through the problem. We commonly find the hard work option less palatable.


The way we leap from one quick-fix to another in the hope of the grand elixir or panacea is indicative of where and how we place our faith.


Our allegiances are clearly to this apparent wisdom of ‘discoverable’ ease when deep down within we know we’ve been there a thousand times and more; it’s an everyday experience. And we still follow, blindly, because of faint hope in the promise, and because it’s where the crowd lingers—many follow, so the advice must be good!


While we follow as sheep we don’t realise our results that way; we reach square one, back to the drawing board, singly, alone, despondent. We follow in a huddle, yet feel abandoned when the sought-after results fade from vision.


Failure has a certain loneliness about it.


Wising-Up to the ‘Easy Answer’


If there was an easy answer for our problems everyone would be doing it and no one would make any money from the so-called easy answer. That, unfortunately, is not our world.


There is only one easy answer and it is not a popular one, unfortunately.


It’s the direct path; one most people shy away from: the path leading to God and the right way. That path gets us there, wherever ‘there’ is. Only that path is the guarantee.


The glaring truth regarding this path, however, is this ‘easy way’ is no easier than we originally perceived it to be. Yet, it’s probably no harder, either.


Taking Active Part in the Only Operable Easy Answer


Why life is hard is a mystery, but at least the challenges are similar if not the same for everybody. Sure, some people have it much harder than others, but the human condition is basically the same across the board.


Taking an active part in the only operable easy answer is partnering with God upon the work before us today. This is no wild goose chase, and the path is utterly trustworthy.


There is no easy way to do the hard thing, but the easiest way is doing it.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Forever Young I Want To Be



Ageist depression can occur at any age and stage of life; some feel too old, whilst others feel far too young and inexperienced to make an impact in their or others’ lives.


Despite our age, let us acknowledge this:


We are forever young: God sees each of us as forever young. We never outgrow being children of God. Age is merely a barrier of vanity.


The desire to be forever young—or old or experienced enough to be respected—is a perfectly natural, normal yearning.


As the years advance, and with grace we take our age in acceptance, we can still know the safe assurance—we never outgrow God.


Whether we like it or not, despite our ailing bodies, we are forever young—of spirit.


Even as our minds fog up due to underuse or misuse, the capacity of our soul never diminishes; indeed, the maturing of the years merely tempers our brash hardness.


The One Aspect of Ourselves That Questions Our Real Age


As is alluded to above, it is the age of our spirits—if we can even understand them as having an age—that truly quantifies our age. (But, what is eternal has no age.)


The body, whilst it does decay, and the mind, whilst it does take time to mature, and of itself decays in our twilight years or through lack of use, these both are not our true us—they, both, are just vehicles to the transportation of the real us to our world, and that world to us.


We use the body and the mind to achieve an end—the living of mortal life. Without the body and the mind we cannot live mortally, but without spirit—our very soul—we cannot live at all.


Age, therefore, truly is one of the great veneers of vanity we will ever know; it is the brokenness inside each of us that mourns for youth or the respect of maturity—whenever there is a perception we don’t have the one we seek.


Going Beyond Age


If we believe what we have read—that God, in his wisdom, has sought to give us eternal souls—and there is no reason not to, we can so easily go beyond our age, and think and feel from a basis that comes from beyond age; that reclaims any memory and any hope and sees both past and future from the present-tense context.


That is, to see the entire flow of life as a plane along the lines of eternity.


When we go beyond age, for ourselves and others, we look into the essence of eternity; God has our interest and our inspiration. We see, with immediacy, all of life as it is. Age, as we think and feel, is a thief, but only if we allow such larceny.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When Commitment Is Wrong



“To be weary and heavy laden is to have the highest fitness to receive that rest which Christ alone can give.”


~William Law, A Collection of Letters


Upon times of sharp distress, where life is somehow betwixt in a flux of numbness, change being the very definition of change, there is a probing temptation, yet no justification, for making commitments that will bind.


Commitment, at such a quavering time, would be to turn from reality into a fantasy of hellish discord; a road with which one could only sensibly turn back upon. Yet, many that have travelled such a road have continued to beat its harrowing path, where regret—and remorse, underpinning—resounds.


There is a way through hell and the making and breaking of commitments—from that space—is not, generally, the way there.


A Process for Rest


At such a place all commonly find themselves at least once: The Place of Disconsolation. It is the rabbit warren of fuming madness; a bridge to nowhere; the place where time stands still for all the wrong reasons.


Life as it was, for myriad reasons, has ended; a new, perhaps transitional, period we are now transported to. “Such is life,” people might flippantly tell us—but we know differently. (This, in the midst of it, is no life at all.)


At such a place—one beyond recognition of the Divine—there is no rest unless we take leave of absence, venturing into the heart of God, which is beyond perplexing self-thought, the ravages of the world, and past and present dilemmas.


Here, as we find ourselves suffering at fear, for anxiety, in a deep depression, for however long, and for whatever reason, we must rest—finding that rest which subsists in God alone as it prevails to us, for us, and through us; in ways that are relevant and meaningful to us, alone.


God is personal when he meets us here.


Hell Is Not a Place for Making Commitments


Notwithstanding a previous article, The Sword of Love—an exhortation to commit to the processes of life—one place we do not commit, unless God makes it palpably plain that to do so would be good, is in the location of a living hell—where our minds and hearts are not of one, or sensible, accord.


The only sensible commitment might be that commitment to not commit; to be free simply to bathe in the powerful Presence of the Spirit indwelling us, at The Peace That Transcends Understanding.


Wisdom finds itself acknowledging such times of scant regard to sense much like we might answer a difficult question; it utters the response, “I don’t know, and may never know, and that’s okay.”


Commitments for the making are designed for the sensible mind.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.