The Valley of Vision is a book of Puritan prayers and devotions that Ian and I occasionally use for prayer before bed instead of saying our own. The prayers are amazingly written and are nearly always perfect for what our hearts need to say. The one we read tonight was so relevant in fact, that I had to get back up and write some thoughts about it after the day we have had. Here is the prayer:
Giver of All,
Another day is ended
And I take my place beneath
My great Redeemer’s cross,
Where healing streams continually descend,
Where balm is poured into every wound,
Where I wash anew in the all-cleansing blood,
Assured that thou seest in me no spots of sin.
Yet a little while and I shall go to thy home
And be no more seen;
Help me to gird up the loins of my mind,
To quicken my step,
To speed as if each moment were my last,
That my life be joy, my death glory.
I thank thee for the temporal blessings of this world –
The refreshing air,
The light of sun,
The food that renews strength,
The raiment that clothes,
The dwelling that shelters,
The sleep that gives rest,
The starry canopy of night,
The summer breeze,
The flowers’ sweetness,
The music of flowing streams,
The happy endearments of family, kindred, friends.
Things animate, things inanimate, minister to my comfort.
My cup runs over.
Suffer me not to be insensible to these daily mercies.
Thy hand bestows blessings; thy power averts evil.
I bring my tribute of thanks for spiritual graces,
The full warmth of faith,
The cheering presence of thy Spirit,
The strength of thy restraining will,
Thy spiking of hell’s artillery.
Blessed be my sovereign Lord!
This day was a difficult one for Ian and I. We have both struggled over the holidays being away from family and friends, and that has been intensified by the fact that a lot of our friends here were also gone, and most of our usual activities have been put on hold until the holidays are over or the new semester begins. Ian has been kind of ill the past few days and that never helps those feelings either. As the day came to a close, we cozied up with some lit candles and just talked. We talked about things we have learned since coming here. We reminded each other of times past. We talked about how thankful we are for the amazing things the Lord has brought into our lives by moving here, as well as the ways that we have been pushed and prodded and grown through many of the difficulties we have experienced by moving here. We just took some time to reflect. And it was so good.
It reminded me that more than the question of ‘Where will we be next year?’ is the question of ‘Where does the Lord want to use us next year?’ It reminded me that so often I find myself just waiting for the Lord to pull the rug out from under me – to say, “Well Corrie, I know you’ve enjoyed that, but you’d be a much stronger person if I just suddenly took it away.” It reminded me that every time I lose myself in that thought, I miss an opportunity to revel in the blessings my Father has poured out over me. To give Him thanks and praise, recognizing that yes, there is a plan for me that may include some difficult things.. But that for each one of those difficult things there is a Savior that will carry me through.
We stepped outside this afternoon and I can’t tell you how good that air felt in my lungs. I was so thankful for the sky, so thankful for this earth. Last night while we were falling asleep I was convinced I could hear the crickets, bugs, tree frogs and other creepy crawlies that kept the summer nights I grew up in so cheerfully and comfortingly noisy. It turned out it was just the heater, but I have never appreciated those noises like I did last night. It’s amazing how the Lord gives us just what we need. Like friends that you get to know and aren’t sure how much you should invest in them because you know this might be the only time of your life that you’re ever even in the same country. But you invest nonetheless, and after a while, you just know that it’s going to last regardless.
My cup runs over, and this is the prayer of my heart: “That my life be joy.” Not happiness necessarily, but joy from my heart. My heart that is held by the One who knows my steps and all my days. I know I will wake up tomorrow and be the same sinner. I’ll be in the same apartment still wondering what we’re going to eat for dinner – wishing the food would magically cook itself, and I’ll probably wish at least once that I was somewhere else, and I’ll probably be discontent for a while. That’s just the way it is right now. But my prayer is that I will always come back to this. That I will always find full contentment and joy in the truth of the Love that holds me, and just be thankful for Jesus.
Good night, with love.