Tag Archives: Susan Hitchman

#UTCOP – A prayer for expanding awareness

A prayer for expanding awareness

by Susan Hitchman

A-prayer-for-expanding-awareness
Eternal Lord, by Your great mercy and grace, enable me to know Your presence within me; develop in me a sixth sense, a growing awareness of You, that I may: see the unseen, hear Your silent footfall, taste Your goodness O Bread of Life and Living Water, feel the touch of Your Spirit on mine like fire.

Blind me to this world’s vain fancies, my God. Force me to use my deeper senses to acknowledge and be open to You.

Every day, every hour, every minute, every breath, be thou my vision, O God of my heart.

Tweetable:

Discover a prayer for expanding awareness. by Susan Hitchman #UTCOP A Month of Prayers #prayer. (tweet this)

Here is a version of Be Thou my Vision.

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh

 

Can You Wait?

Can You Wait?

Photo credit: Jacob Bøtter, retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crocus-jakecaptive.jpg)

Photo credit: Jacob Bøtter, retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crocus-jakecaptive.jpg)

by Susan Hitchman

Why do we buy potted tomato plants in spring instead of tomato seeds in winter? Why do we see movies on their opening weekend instead of several weeks or months later? Why do we stop by fast food restaurants instead of pulling a recipe book out of the cupboard?

 Because we are a generation that just cannot wait.

Some things can’t be rushed, though. The crocuses and hyacinths that are flaunting their purple petals in the garden kept us waiting all winter to see their fresh spring faces. The newborn baby that was due a week earlier kept her family wondering, breathlessly awaiting her arrival.

 And prayer is a lot like spring flowers and babies’ births.

James, bishop of the first church in Jerusalem, wrote about the relationship between prayer and waiting, saying:

Be patient, then, brothers…( James 5: 7-18, NIV).

Just like the farmer waits for crops to ripen and rains to come, we pray and wait. Just like believers anticipate Christ’s return, we pray and wait. Just like Job yearned for better times and we long for suffering to be over, we pray and wait.

There is nothing instant about the process of prayer, is there?

James reminds us that even Elijah, the LORD’s prophet, needed to wait. He waited three long years to have his prayer answered, ending a paralyzing drought. And somehow, James invites us to be women and men like Elijah.

He coaxes us to accept the challenge, to see prayer as an identifying marker of our faith. It is an expression of our belief in the immortal, invisible, eternal One who exists outside of time. For Him, a day is no different than a thousand years, or a thousand years than a day.

From His vantage point, God can see when a prayer’s answer will most transform lives.

And while we wait, God is not idle. We who pray are being changed; our faith is stretched, our motives are purified, our concern for others is deepened. We become as we pray.

Make a mental note: the next time we see a spring flower or a baby, a new blockbuster or a fast food restaurant, let’s think about prayer and waiting. Let’s embrace the partnership between the two that can be, as James reminds us, powerful and effective.

We who believe are called to wait.

The One who calls us is faithful and He will do it.

 Tweetables:

There is nothing instant about the process of prayer, is there? (tweet this)

We who believe are called to wait. (tweet this)

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh

Am I Responsible?

Am I Responsible?

by Susan Hitchman

Am-I-Responsible

Wikipedia picture

A twinge of conscience pricked my heart as I walked past the older woman. The street was thronging with people coming and going from Seattle’s Pike Street Market, and panhandlers were everywhere. But as I stepped past her and stood with my family waiting for the crosswalk light to turn, I saw her wearily rest her head against the light pole.

Was it a ploy?

The other panhandlers were bold, flaunting cardboard signs linking love for God with supporting their marijuana habits. It was easier walking past them than her. But as our walk light lit up, I stepped out and crossed the street with my family. I was a visitor to Seattle.

Was I responsible?

The next morning as I sat reading my Bible and praying in a quiet corner of the hotel lobby, the picture of the street woman kept filling my mind. I saw myself doing what I should have done, my arm reaching across her shoulders as I simply asked, “Are you O.K?” I was looking into her eyes, granting her the dignity of comfort in human suffering.

I was overwhelmed with the awareness of my selfishness.

As I inwardly moaned in repentance, I asked for forgiveness. That opportunity to show God’s love to an aching heart was gone. Would God’s mercy grant me another opportunity to do it right?

The young King Josiah was in a predicament not unlike mine. Upon hearing the recently discovered ‘Book of the Law’ read to him, he too was overwhelmed with an awareness of sin. Visions of the idolatries and cruelties his kingly forbears had committed rose in his mind.  He was more expressive than me, tearing his robes and weeping, taking steps to inquire through a prophetess the LORD’s verdict.

In this story we’re given an incredible glimpse of God’s perspective. We’re told that God observed that Josiah’s “heart was responsive and (he) humbled (him)self before the LORD”.

“Because you…wept in my presence, I have heard you”, God declares (2 Kings 22:19, NIV).

We’re not told that Josiah had actually prayed in so many words, yet God heard him. Josiah had wept in remorse and repentance. He had been responsive to God’s Spirit revealing Himself and His commands through His Word. He had humbled himself and took steps to repair the situation.

Perhaps you too have wept a tear or two over your awareness of failings in your life. Take heart. That is one form of prayer. If your heart is responsive to His convicting Word and you humble yourself in repentance, there is great hope. God has heard you and is willing to help you turn your tears into actions of obedience.

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, NIV).

Go ahead and cry; it speaks volumes to God.

Tweetables:

Go ahead and cry; it speaks volumes to God. (tweet this)

I was overwhelmed with the awareness of my selfishness. (tweet this)

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh

Are We Dressed for the Season?

Are We Dressed for the Season?

by Susan Hitchman

Dressed for the Season

Snow has begun to blanket the stately mountains in their winter garb. Early morning drivers peer out through frost-scraped windshields. It’s that season. So it is no surprise that my kids have begun digging through last winter’s snow garb to see what gear will be needed for the whitening slopes.

One pair of outgrown skis will be handed down to the next sibling. One new helmet is needed. Goggles are assessed. A selection of old and not-so-old specimens appear: scratched lenses, disintegrating foam padding, and decaying elastic straps witness to their many years of service. Some things can’t be reused or recycled. They just need replacing.

Jesus experienced a similar phenomenon. Entering His phase of earthly ministry, Jesus’ baptism was followed by a period of prayer and fasting. His objective was to bring about a major transition in human-divine dynamics. The Law of Grace would replace the Law of Judgment. The old garment was torn and in need of replacing.

But as Jesus’ ministry moved among the ranks of the disenfranchised and socially outcast, purveyors of the old tradition recoiled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law complained:

Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners (Luke 5:30, NIV)?

In other words, why are you breaking with our tradition of exclusivity? The Law of Moses defines us as right and them as wrong.

Jesus’ response, as often was the case, used an illustration. He likely looked around him to find the perfect example. Perhaps He stepped over to a nearby garment vendor. Picking up an old robe discarded by a recent customer He may have fingered the weakened cloth.

 No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old (Luke 5:36, NIV).

Jesus let that thought sink in. The old must make way for the new. It happens with clothes, and it happens in our relationship with God. The plan to transition from a law of legalism to a law of love was not plan B.

It was a change of seasons.
God knew the spiritual climate was ripe for it.

Each day we are faced with the same need to adjust our spiritual garments. We tend to cling to patterns of living that need to be replaced: patterns of bitterness, lack of forgiveness, sharp words and short tempers.

We need to follow Jesus’ example of prayer.

We need to draw apart daily in prayer, fasting from our usual busy-ness, and exchange robes; our weakness for His strength, our impatience for His patience, our anger for His loving-kindness, our pride for His humility. (Read those one more time, slowly now, fingering the garments carefully). The old garb is threadbare. It needs to be replaced.

Are you dressed and ready for today’s season?

Tweetables:

Each day we are faced with the same need to adjust our spiritual garments.

Draw apart daily in prayer, fasting from our usual busy-ness, and exchange robes.

Draw apart daily in prayer, fasting from our usual busy-ness, and exchange our weakness for His strength.

Draw apart daily in prayer, fasting from our usual busy-ness, and exchange our impatience for His patience.

Draw apart daily in prayer, fasting from our usual busy-ness, and exchange  our anger for His loving-kindness.

Draw apart daily in prayer, fasting from our usual busy-ness, and exchange our pride for His humility.

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh

Where is God’s Sanctuary?

Where is God’s Sanctuary?

by Susan Hitchman 

sanctuary

While I love reading Isaiah’s chapter six account of God enthroned among the seraphim, thresholds shaking and temple smoking at the sound of their worship, it is a bit otherworldly. It takes a great deal of focus to connect that reality with my pedestrian, somewhat mundane existence. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize we all want a temple experience. We want every sense thrilled.

We want epic moments. We want to feel fully alive.
We want to see God.
(tweetable)

Unfortunately, we have often made the incautious error of thinking the thrill of theatrics is comparable to the rush of the real event. We have embraced the credo of the tangible temple where we have enthroned ourselves, and thought it was the real thing. We have become devoted to thrilling ourselves with extreme sport, extreme fashion, extreme entertainment and extreme adventure. And those of us who have somehow missed out on those adventures look on a little enviously. Ever felt that way?

The Psalmist Asaph describes a similar experience (Psa.73). He admits, “I envied the arrogant”. Looking at the attractive lifestyles of the urban socialite of his day, Asaph admits yearning for the tangible temple experience too. “Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure”, he bemoans. “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me.” Sound familiar?

Just as we begin to feel, like him, that God’s calling on our lives is too mundane, Asaph reveals his ‘mono no aware’ moment. He suddenly becomes aware of the transience of things material; “til I entered the sanctuary of God: then I understood…” In the sanctuary of God, we finally understand. There, all that is real and true and timeless falls into place.

Where is this sanctuary? For now, it is found in none other than our own hearts. There we enthrone the King, the Almighty One, Lord of our lives. How do we worship at His throne? Through prayer.

And as we pray, something amazing happens
in the throne room.
(tweetable)

Our perspective changes. Like Asaph, we begin to understand others better; we begin to understand ourselves better, and, by God’s grace, we begin to understand God better.  We see the self-enthroned adventurers as transient. We see our envious selves as senseless, ignorant beasts. And only when we finally bow before the true King in the sanctuary of our souls do we begin to appreciate the Great Treasure that is willing to abide with us. We begin to understand that earth has nothing worth desiring besides Him.

Isn’t it time you met again with God in His sanctuary?

 

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh

Are You Immune?

Are You Immune?

by Susan Hitchman

lion

Daniel, man of prayer, experiences immunity from the jaws of hungry lions.

A Mexican Press attaché steals the cell phones of numerous White House staffers during the 2008 summit meetings. Caught at the airport attempting to slip home unnoticed, the phones are safely recovered. But what of the red-handed visitor? Diplomatic immunity protects him from being held accountable and he is free to fly home unscathed.

Immunity protects us from the natural consequences of life. While diplomatic immunity might cause a twinge of conscience to the ethically sensitive, immunity from disease by vaccination is highly regarded. The Latin word ‘immunis’ was coined to describe exemption from military service and tax payments. We want protection from the negative influence of cause and effect.

Spending a lifetime exiled in Babylon during the fifth century B.C., Daniel, man of prayer, experiences immunity from the jaws of hungry lions in his famous ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’ story. Notice the story’s climactic statement, “no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (Dan.6:23).

It’s an interesting comment.

Trust engenders immunity. (tweet this)

I don’t believe this means that those who pray are immune from every trial life tosses at us. History shows us many examples otherwise. While Daniel was protected in this case from the wounds of lions, the deeper, more durable protection he was granted was from the effects of anxiety. Prayer protects us from being devoured by our adversary – the devil’s attempts to destroy our peace of mind through worry.

Philippians 4:5-7 reminds us that,

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer guards. It protects.
It provides immunity for our hearts and our minds.
(tweet this)

So go ahead. Get on your knees and receive the vaccination. Then get on your knees again tomorrow, and tomorrow’s tomorrow for your booster shots. The immunity is worth it.

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh

How Long Will You Wait?

How Long Will You Wait?

by S.D.Hitchman 

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (il...

The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan (illustration by Gustave Doré) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Apparently Pablo Picasso once said:

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.

Interesting thought. This puts a new spin on procrastination. It shows us that procrastination is a tool for prioritization. Whether actively or passively, when we ‘put off until tomorrow’ we are making choices. Both the things we do ‘today’ and those we delay until ‘tomorrow’ reveal our values. You might even say that we always do the things we really want to do.

In the eighteenth chapter of Joshua, the leader of the Israelites observes the divvying up of the recently possessed Promised Land. Five tribes have their allotments. Seven have not. Forty years of wanderings in a desert followed by the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River and conquest of Jericho have effected five tribes’ action. Seven remain in passivity. In exasperation, Joshua challenges the hangers-on:

How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you (Joshua 18:3, NIV)?

Perhaps this is a call many of us need to hear regarding our prayer lives. What if we were to imagine our ideal relationship with God. How much would we praise Him? How often would we thank Him? What great mysteries would we want explaining by Him? How often would we sit at His feet in quiet comfort? Let’s call all of this our Promised Land.

Might it be fair to say that having been given new life in Christ we have come into our inheritance?

Is not communion with God something waiting
to be possessed by those who will actively choose it?
(tweet this)

I hear those words, “How long will you wait?” speaking directly to me.

My prayer life must expand. The territory is vast. (tweet this)

It’s flowing with milk and honey, clusters of fruit too large to carry. To have been given the opportunity to communicate with the Creator of the Universe is an awesome gift. Enough passivity; no more procrastination.

I am not willing to die having left undone
a greater focus on prayer today.
(tweet this)

How about you?

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh

Am I Mule-ish?

Am I Mule-ish?

by S.D. Hitchman

mules

Photo by Joe Schneid, Louisville, KY

 A sturdy, tall-eared mule hauled the wagon on which I rode. His driver asked me what sound a mule makes, then saucily informed me it was a ‘brinny’—a mixture of the ‘bray’
of his father and ‘whinny’ of his mother. While mules may be known for their sure-footedness and even temper, there is something about them we are instructed to avoid.

The Psalmist, David, quotes God as saying:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.  Do not be like the horse or the mule which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you” (Psalm 32:8,9, NIV).

I say I want God’s guidance in my life. I claim to want to know His will for me. I profess to trust His counsel given in the Word. But just how deeply am I willing for life-change to happen, if that was prerequisite to God’s guidance? Do I act like I need to be moved by bit and bridle?

Earlier in the Psalm, David describes his own life experience: he discovers something essential to a deeper understanding of God’s interest in the internal affairs of our lives.  David comes to realize the need for complete honesty with God, especially in the arena of confession of sin.  He learns he has been mule-like, tending to move in the direction of his own preferences.

We are not dumb beasts. God does not want to externally control us.

God wants to invest His divine qualities into the heart of our being,
moving us from the inside out. (tweet this)

Like David, we must daily realize our need to submit to God’s will for us. We must confess sin. We must open our spirit, soul and body to His ways. Then He will be free to move us in life-changing ways.

David sums it up well: “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you…”

Let’s be the people we were designed to be, and let mules be mules.

Sue Hitchman

Susan Hitchman

Sue  seeks to integrate the adventure of following Christ with her roles as wife, mother of five, co-leader of a women’s Bible study group and parent prayer group, and retreat speaker.  She is a member of The Word Guild and NCWA. Outdoor pursuits (cycling, gardening, hiking, & kayaking) remind her of God’s creative bent and constant presence. She writes to encourage others in their journey of faith in God.  Visit her blog at: Word Made Flesh