We’ve moved and now attend worship at First United Methodist Church in Omaha. At this church during the Prayers of the People, congregants can visit one of the three prayer stations in the sanctuary. My favorite station is the one next to the baptismal font, which in this church is a mosaic-tiled fountain (photo above).
This morning after a sermon filled with water themes, I made a point of reaching into the font to touch the holy water. Unfortunately, I misjudged the distance to the surface and touch more of the water than was my intention. Embarrassed but undeterred, I next moved to the prayer station and accepted the small candlelighter from the woman who had just finished her prayer. (Making sure to take hold of the candlelighter with the hand that wasn’t dripping water on the carpet.)
After lighting a votive in the back row of the candleholder and passing the candlelighter on to the next person in line (all done without further mishap thankfully!), I returned to the pew and remembered in prayer all those who will be returning to college on Monday.
I’ve spent this past week working away on an assignment that is due tomorrow; hoping that I understand the directions of a professor whom I have never met. My uncertainty made it hard to sleep last night.
In prayer in the pew, the image of a horse came to mind. This horse was both powerful and restrained. It moved with confidence and purpose as directed by its rider. That feeling of intentional, forward progress is what I want to feel as I move through the graduate program. Instead what I usually feel is an anxious, sped-up energy while trying to keep up with assignments.
A memory from a UM college fellowship retreat returned. The speaker compared meekness in the Beatitudes to a horse controlled by a bridle. That’s how I want to move forward in my studies. I want to be meek, and I interpret my worry as a sign that I have yet to reach that goal.
Once home, I read the lesson for today in E. Stanley Jones’ devotional, Victorious Living. The message was appropo--
A missionary came to our Ashram with a serious, drawn countenance. He did so want to be good and effective as a missionary, but both goodness and effectiveness eluded him the more earnestly he pursued them. When he was getting nowhere, I saw at a glance where the difficulty lay, got him to relax and trust -- which, of course, meant a self-surrender-- and, lo, goodness and effectiveness are now his. He is a relaxed soul!
Relaxation means that you have ceased to worry. You are trusting, and trusting means drawing on the inexhaustible resources of God.
O Christ, we thank Thee that amid all the strain of things Thou didst have the relaxed spirit. Give that to us, that we too may fully live. Amen. (pp. 160, 161)