My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Phantom

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I was a pebble, small but strong.

From where I sat, I clearly saw my place, and

those around me knew me, as I did them—

as light as song and as sure as breath.

It was community,

communion,

a fixed place in a wide world of opportunities.

But time went on, moment after day after year, and the view widened ever more.

It became harder to see the edges as light blurred.

Waves beat and wind blew.

Some pebbles shifted right and left, front and back, up and down, and soon

familiar was a memory and

distance seemed farther away.

Did I get smaller and smaller, or did context get bigger and bigger?

The bigger has swallowed me up—my pebble self is a grain, unimportant and invisible in this big, wide world. And I thought all along I mattered.

Maybe I was never important.

Maybe there never was a mission, because for now I have become a mere placeholder that no one sees anymore.

I am but a breath—a grain of shifting sand, a whisper on the wind, a phantom in the land. Show me, oh my Lord . . .

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Psalm 39:4-7 (NIV)

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.

You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.

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Psalm 90:12

12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 

 

I Wonder

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Do you ever wonder about all those people you have crossed paths with, crossed wills with,

and do you ever wonder what it will be like to spend eternity with them—those who pressed all your wrong buttons and abused your good nature?

They believe the same as you—except for all the details of doctrine where you are right and they are wrong.

But that should not keep them out of heaven, right?

It’s easy to segregate from the unfaithful, of course; that us-them thing works much more efficiently there. But it’s the faulty faithful I have trouble seeing alongside me as I walk on blissful shores. It is much more comfortable to see them in my mind’s eye punished for all the insensitivities, the lies, and . . . I think they were lies.

But then again . . .

Do you ever wonder when you accidentally meet up in a shop or accidentally stalk their Facebook page whether or not they have changed—whether they are sorry for the wrongs and whether they are properly chagrined at how they refused to value your wisdom and gentle spirit?

Do you wonder how God could love them the same as He loves you when their diminished character kind of makes you ashamed to call them brother and sister?

I wonder as I blunder.

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“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8