Friday, November 30, 2007

From Heaven to the Holidays

This morning, our breakfast conversation turned to Heaven--how this life on earth is only a mere shadow of what is to come. Hubs got so excited, he jumped up and went to his book shelf where he pulled down his anthology of The Chronicles of Narnia. He began to read Lewis' description of the new Narnia (at the very end of the last book of the series, The Last Battle), and both of us got teary-eyed. Our life on earth is full of beauty and wonder and love, and those are the things we'll experience more of in Heaven. The unsavory things of earthly life--the fear, the tragedy, the suffering--will be no more.


And as He [Aslan] spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. ~C.S. Lewis


Reading that thrills my heart! Somehow, reflecting on Heaven seems like an appropriate way to greet the holiday season. After all, Jesus came into this world to make Heaven possible for me. As November comes to an end (yea, NaBloPoMoers!), I really want to turn my heart and mind toward God in a meaningful way.

I like practicing some sort of spiritual discipline during the month of December because it helps me connect with God during the Christmas season and leading into the New Year, which always feels like a season of renewal and new beginnings for me. For the month of December, I'm going to be writing about and reflecting on prayer on my blog.

As I wrote in this post, I am inviting any of my blog buddies and readers to join with me in a month of prayer (not necessarily to write about it--though you can--but to practice it). Would you like to join me? My thought is that during the month of December, we can:

-take time (even if it is just a few minutes) to be alone with God each day.
-give thanks for the blessings He has given us.
-ask Him for something only He can do (He doesn't mind our bold requests. In fact, He encourages them!)


I also want to invite anyone to leave prayer requests in my comments section. It is fine if they are anonymous. I would love to pray for you.

Anyone is welcome to join me. Happy holidays!

6 comments:

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I have a theological question for you. Know that I was raised atheist, so I just don't know the answer myself. :)

You mention that one should ask Him for something only He can do (He doesn't mind our bold requests. In fact, He encourages them!)

So...my mind goes to Him stopping the kind of suffering that is not directly linked to human choice. Things like earthquakes, hurricaines, tsunamis, fires, disease, tragedies that kill thousands of people with no more appearance of thought than if they were ants. People have been praying for this for thousands of years, and yet, tragedies still happen. I'm not sure how one can get around that.

But actually, my REAL question was about asking for things for ones self. I remember as a girl, reading the Little House books, and being struck by a passage in The Long Winter. The town is starving to death, with no hope of a train with supplies for many months. Almonzo and Cap have gone out of town to try to procure some wheat, so that people might have bread to sustain them. A blizzard hits while they are on this mission, and Laura and Mary pray for their safe return.

Laura says to Mary something like (my books are packed, so I can't get the exact right quote for you), I didn't ask God about the wheat, because that would be for us. I only asked that if it was His will, would he please see them home safely.

That stuck with me, because so much of what I see people praying for is for them. Praying for a better job, praying for a sick child or relative, praying for the sale of their house, etc. Is this considered OK? Is the Ingalls' view, that one ought not pray for things for selfish reasons, even if it is for food to feed a starving town, one that anyone else has seen or heard of?

Sorry...that's quite a lengthy comment, but it's something I've wondered about for YEARS.

Anonymous said...

Hello Starshine. I would like to ask for prayer from anyone who is willing. You don't know me, but I read your blog and I am in bad shape.
A few weeks ago I had a miscarriage. It was our first pregnancy and I am devastated. I don't know how to get out of this rut and I am so scared that it will happen again. I am in my late 30's and everyone keeps telling me that I have plenty of time to have a baby. I know they mean well, but I am so tired of hearing that! How do they know that. I have already had a miscarriage and I don't think I could handle a second one. I have no friends where I live and I feel so alone going through this. It has not been the same for my husband. Sorry for the long post, I just got on a roll and you seem so easy to talk to.
Thank you for your prayers. SL

josey said...

starshine,

i have HUGE goose bumps. thanks for sharing that passage from the Chronicles. anyone who knows me knows those are my FAVE fiction books of all time!! thank you so much for sharing that. you exude so much joy, even over the blogwaves!

if i may, i would love to join you in the month of prayer for december. actually, just the other day, for the first time i started a prayer journal. it feels good to be able to talk to God about all the things that come up throughout the day, and also to see how prayers are answered--on paper! its so easy for us to forget that He DOES answer, just not always in the way we want or think He will. me and God havent been talking as much lately, either, and i'm trying hard to get that closeness back. so, thank you for inviting us to do this with you!

j--since this isnt my blog, i wont jabber on and answer your question, but i do have an opinion about it and i think your questioning is something EVERYONE asks. i'm curious to see how starshine feels about it, too.

and SL, if you dont mind, i would like to pray for you, too. i am so, so sorry for your loss. trust that God has a plan for you! he will be there to comfort you and help you through the grief.

starshine--this is just what i needed...right now...so happy to have found folks like you!! i hope you have a beautiful day!

Jilly said...

Hello Anon at 12:40pm. I am Tracy's sister and I too lost a baby a few years ago at 12 weeks and had a D&C at 15 weeks. It was my first pregnancy and 4 1/2 years later I still get teary about it at times. I understand about how it doesn't help when people say things like "you have plenty of time." It was hard for me when people said that this happens all the time. I felt like screaming "It doesn't happen to ME all the time!" I think that at the bottom of all those things people say is they are just trying to encourage you despite the fact that maybe they don't understand. It is okay that you are sad right now. Just because that baby didn't get born into this world doesn't mean he or she wasn't a member of your family for even a short time. It's also impossible for any husband to fully understand the bond you had with a tiny little baby inside you. It's very real though and you need to be able to morn the loss. Sometimes I think people try to rush us through grief, but probably only because they want us to feel better. It's okay that you are sad. You can move forward, but you might need a little more time to grieve. I'll be praying for you and this process you are in.

Starshine said...

J - You ask some really good questions. The first question about suffering is one of the hardest to answer and among themost debated. I agree that it isn't a question that one can easily get around. And perhaps we aren't called to do that. One of the difficult things to fathom about God's character is that although He doesn't cause human suffering, He does allow it--for what purposes, I'm not entirely sure. I can look back at some very dark and difficult times in my life and see how God either redeemed those situations or used them for my good, but that doesn't necessarily take away the bitter sting of the experience of suffering. I do look to the example of Jesus who submitted His will to the Father's and endured the most painful of deaths--even after pleading "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." God allowed His own Son to suffer and die, yet it was His most redeeming act on behalf of mankind. That is why when Christians "celebrate" Good Friday, it is a day to remember and even grieve Jesus's suffering on our behalf, but the day is still called "Good" because of the the redeeming act of forgiveness that it was for all humankind. It is not an all-encompassing answer to the problem of pain an suffering, just one angle to approach that mammoth topic.

As for your question about praying for oneself, you are certainly not the only one to wonder about that. I believe that God invites us to pray for ourselves and for our own needs. When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he gave them to make such petitions as "Give us today our daily bread" (praying for food/our physical needs) as well as "Forgive us our debts...And lead us not into temptation" (praying for our spiritual needs). So, yes, I believe it is most definitely okay to pray for oneself.

SL - I am so sorry for your loss. I think my sister Jilly's response above will bring your more comfort than anything I can say. I will pray for you--that God will meet you where you are, that He will heal your hurting heart as you grieve, for friends and family to surround and support you as you walk through this difficult time. *Big hug from me*

Josey - Glad you will be joining me in prayer this December! I agree that writing down your prayers can be so powerful...especially when you look back and see how God answers. Monday, I was journal-praying for acting work, and my phone rang not 5 minutes later for an audition. I ultimately didn't get the part, but I think God allowed it just to let me know that He is listening and hasn't forgotten about me!

Jilly - Thank you for sharing. I love you!

Dee said...

I love "The chronicles of Narnia"...so your references to that made me smile!

And what a wonderful idea, to take time to reflect and connect with oneself. (Prayer to me is looking inward and meditating and seeking)
Great idea!