“C.S. Lewis on Facing Trials”, with article by Gary Selby on the Screwtape Letters (Trusting God, Faith, God’s Will)

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The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis on Facing Life’s Trials

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
C.S. Lewis, (Spiritual Direction)

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.”
C.S. Lewis, (Mere Christianity)

This wonderful article by Gary E. Selby offers the wisdom of C.S. Lewis from “The Screwtape Letters”  was in Christianity Today 

Screwtape’s Practical Advice for Dealing with the Present

What you should do is imagine all the bad things that could happen. Picture each awful possibility as you lie awake at 3 a.m., letting image after image flood your mind. Think about how you would bear it if you were sick from the coronavirus, or if COVID-19 struck someone you loved.

That’s what Screwtape would advise. A lot of people are looking for practical counsel at the present, and one excellent resource is a series of letters “written by Screwtape” and published by C. S. Lewis. Of course the author of The Screwtape Letters (which fell into Lewis’s hands sometime during the relentless Nazi bombing of London in 1940–1941), does not speak to our situation specifically. Screwtape said nothing about the coronavirus in his advice to his nephew Wormwood, a junior devil tasked with temping one particular human in the World War II era. Nevertheless, there is much to learn from the senior devil, and the lessons can be applied to our present situation.

For example, Screwtape has suggestions for what we might think about when we’re lying awake in bed at night. He tells Wormwood to encourage the human’s mind to run. “We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear.” Humans love to have “courage.” They like to imagine how they would “be strong” and exert control over the universe in lots of different hypothetical futures. “Let him forget,” Screwtape writes, “that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practice fortitude and patience to them all in advance.”

Lewis, who was a rather old-fashioned Christian, tried to dissuade people from listening to this sage counsel. “Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar,” he wrote in the preface The Screwtape Letters in 1942. “Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle.”

Lewis would say that what we need to do in this situation is to “accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to [us]—the present anxiety and suspense.” For him, the anxiety we feel about our future is our present cross. The Christian challenge is to take it up, like Jesus took up his cross. We should acknowledge our fear, ask God for help, and then to pray as Christ taught us, “Thy will be done.” When we do that, an amazing thing begins to happen. The power that fear holds over us, if not eliminated, is at least diminished, and we find the strength to carry on.

One only has to lay awake for an hour or two, though, mulling over the facts from that informative article on the first symptoms of COVID-19, to know that Screwtape’s advice is far more compelling. The choice between trusting prayer and sleepless worry is hardly a choice at all!

Author, GARY S. SELBY 

Christianity Today Magazine

“All The Love in The World”, from L.Willows (The Lordship of Christ Jesus, Our Hearts, Day by Day)

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Many hearts are feeling the lament of the suffering that exists in the world right now.  We approach Holy Week, tomorrow is Palm Sunday – most of us are in the experience of home isolation. I don’t believe that anyone could have fathomed that this would be what life looks like a few months ago. Here we are. Our hearts seek the Lordship of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We must bring our hearts to God and trust that He hears every prayer now more than ever before. I am thankful that His Love is always faithful and Near.

In my own life, I have needed the Lord’s Presence countless times in these weeks. Remarkably, I have been witness to many miracles even though there have been times when I felt lost. I have seen bold prayers answered in the lives of many that I know. His Nearness is vivid and palpable.

These are not normal times. I find that there is no way to prepare for life “now”. The only way to live is by putting complete trust in God.  To me, that meant for everything, large and small and in-between.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I needed to pause and step back, to go again to God and ask for His Help. Prayer has been a way of life. Needing the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the most essential protection. Most of all, for my heart- I need to be filled with the Love of God. It is the Bread, the only Bread that will sustain and feed me or any of us throughout this and our lives.

John 6:35  “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Acts 2:46-47 “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

We are in days, unique times- but not the first times in the history of mankind when all have gathered in homes to pray to God and ask for His leadership and favor.

We need to open our hearts with gratitude for what we receive from Him. He offers us daily bread. Help us to see it and receive it. His Love, wisdom and the power of His Lordship is here for us.

God provides all the love in the world. The power of His love is here.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We are in the safe grasp of The Lord. His comfort is near to each of us. Nothing that happens in this world, no matter how grave the crises, or close up the danger feels- can or will ever alter the truth of who God is, and of His Promises to us. This time that we are all in, as difficult as it can be is to walk through, is part of a trial that we each are called to courageously face.

We cannot face it with our own strength alone. We need God’s strength. We need to call upon His Love. It is a remarkable Power.

God’s Love is granted to us as a Treasure to be given out.

Our hearts not only need to be filled by His Love for personal healing and restoration, but we are also His people- His ‘responders’, able to fulfill His will and purpose on behalf of others.  We do not have such knowledge but by allowing the treasure of His Love, His pure character to move through our hearts, we become instruments of His Love.  In this way, we are equipped to respond generously to the world around us. There is a call for us to love one another in courageous ways right now.

Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Christians who have spent years in prayer and had the privilege of community and study now have an opportunity to live their faith boldly, to entrust to God all of their hearts and with full belief in His enduring goodness – take all and every action in their immediate surroundings using every gift, ability, and talent for the benefit of others so that His Love is forwarded outward. What was entrusted to us, needs to be given selflessly.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

We are connected by our need for God.

Now, more than ever we live in a world that needs to be bound together by love. As we witness daily counts of how many are dying worldwide of COVID 19 our response can’t be fear. We need hope. We know that death is not the end of life. Yet the suffering that exists is in many other forms of loss. It is one that my words do not need to repeat.

Each reader knows too dearly what the sources of suffering are both in their own lives and in their communities near and far. It is a loss beyond words. It is economic, cultural, national, spiritual and deeply personal. It takes hearts and presses them in ways that I cannot write.

The most important thing is that suffering brings our hearts to God. We need Him desperately. He answers and is vividly Present. I am reminded that in scripture we have not been promised that life is exempt from suffering, but that it is like a refiner’s fire that strengthens us, more as we are given mercy and comfort from God- we are able to be merciful and comforting to others.

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

The Way that God Loves us.

We need to pray that God’s immeasurable Love runs like rivers of mercy. 

Today and in the next days and weeks, I pray that you will receive fresh fillings of God’s Love in your hearts. Jesus Christ is our Lord. Most especially, remember as I hope that I do- it is a time to love one another. If we each search our hearts we will find that there are some that we need to reach out to and others that we need to forgive. We may have burdens on our hearts that need to be brought to the Lord. He is There, miraculously able to be with each of us to transform it all in the Power of His Love. It is personal. The Lord Jesus Christ is a personal God that we can call at any moment of the day or night.  

God is always with you. His Love is constant, unwavering, steady and faithful.

1 John 4:7  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Each day as we mark this time, we can remind our hearts that it is also a beginning. We can start the days with a remembrance of God’s call to each of us to Love faithfully as He does, to remember to be generous with the Love that pours to each of our hearts and to open our hearts softly towards Him with trust, listening to the calling of His Spirit. We each have specific “instructions” on the way we need to walk forward. We will know. We will feel His prompting. God’s Loving Hand is always with us. He is always leading. Call upon the Lordship of Christ Jesus. 

 

He is giving us all of the Love in the world. He Is All of the Love in the World.

Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

Pray boldly. Be Strong and Courageous. Put your life and heart into the Lordship of Christ Jesus. 

© 2020 Linda Willows

“Living in Joy; Secured by God”, from L.Willows (Near to Christ, the Spirit of God, “this world”)

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The Joy of The Lord is Near, He Secures Each Heart

Living in degrees of confinement because of the threat and dangers co-vid 19 gives us new opportunities to refine the ways that we each find joy in life.

For me, my first sense of the loss of joy (after not meeting directly in church, of course) was not being in nature, in parks with blossoming trees, and watching the smallest details of each new flower that rose up every day from the ground. I missed hearing particular birds sing, even watch familiar ones make nests and prepare for the season and fly by. Each color and hue was appreciated as God-made. I could be found with my nose in a  fragrant blossom just like a busy bee, fortunate not to be stung. The parks are closed. I don’t have a private garden to tend to right now. I loved it when I did.

But, I realize that our lives and the world around us have seasons (not of this world) that we do not control that God alone predestines.

 

I realized that I did not lose anything. Everything that I just described is still there, still growing and blossoming in God’s timing. I just cannot see it or touch it. I can’t smell it. My senses have been removed from the experience. My senses have been removed from the experience of “going to church” as well. There are beloved people that I long to see and be with. Voices that I wish that I could hear “LIVE”; sparkly faces that tell me a thousand things just by looking into Expression up close. It is all still there, but it is preserved by God’s deepest loving care and protection.

I believe that there is a gift of joy that is being offered at this time to each of us that is greater than the losses that we are experiencing. He offers intimacy with Himself. He extends His own Heart and invites us into the Aroma of His Spirit.

Every day we each have countless opportunities to know God in new ways. We need to recognize these invitations in our lives, the lives that we are leading in our homes in isolation and protected spaces. First, we need to remember that we are protected by the Lord. We are not isolated from God, especially not from one another. We are and always have been connected by His Spirit. This is a gifted opportunity to enhance the ability to be strong in Spirit and to heart-fully connect in that way. The more that we pray together and feel Unity as one body in Christ, the greater our sense of joy will be.

1 Timothy 2:1 -First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.

The first path to joy is Unity by the call of the Spirit of God.

We also have unique individual opportunities to discover joys in our hearts and in our lives (right now). Heart joy is spiritual. It starts with Prayer. Prayer begins with being connected to God’s Word. We have a special gift of time now. Each day needs to begin and end with the joy of meeting with God in scripture, contemplation, and worship. We can’t find unity with one another before we each have personal peace with God. The “verticle” relationship needs to line up first before the “horizontal” one can flow and the point of Meeting is at the heart.

 Prayer leads us to know the Spirit of God. It fine-tunes our hearts to be sensitive to His Calling not only during prayer but throughout the day.  It changes our hearts. We look at the world and life around us with spiritual vision and a perspective of love. When you live in personal worship, you “see” goodness. When you live in fear and despair you experience the same.

Acts 4:13 –And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Joy is like a spectrum that is There. It is living with the Spirit of God.

Living in this kind of closeness with God gives a sense of true security. It is possible to withstand the shakable circumstances of this world and though we do and will still mourn, weep, and know great loss- the heart’s security remains with God. In times when we witness or may have personal suffering, we need to remember that nothing in this world can separate us from the love and protection of God.

Wherever we are and whatever state our mortal bodies are in, God is able to hear our individual prayers. More, they are answered. His Mercies never cease. We call upon Him by Name. Lord Jesus Christ, hear my prayer. Calling Jesus

Romans 8:38-39 —For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 55:16 –As for me, I shall call upon God, And the LORD will save me.

We are Secured by God.

Sometimes we need to remember and be grateful for all of the ways that God has secured us in the past. Gratitude is not only a way of replenishing joy, but it also restores our worship and places value on what is most important to us. Times like this are a good chance to view what we value most and to be grateful for all of the good that God has given. Remember that “where your treasure is, there will be your heart”. (Matthew 6)

 One way to experience the Security of God’s Presence is to read His Promises to us in Scripture. We are secured by His Love. We have nothing to fear. The Joy of the Lord is Near.

As I read through what I have written, I realize that I valued nature (in this world) much. I loved what I received through my senses. But there is a greater treasure that God wanted me to find. He gave us each “Senses of The Spirit”. They are far greater riches. I value them so much more. God’s Garden is greater than any worldly splendor. He asks that I explore and roam through the beauty and majesty of His Kingdom. What a breathtaking invitation!

Thank you, Lord, for this time with You.

© 2020 Linda Willows

Psalm 27:1 -The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 4:8 -In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

and the one that we all need to keep near to our hearts~

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.