A Prayer of Trust in Busyness

Motion blur traffic in city

“As for me, I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God;
my trust is in the tender mercy of God
for ever and ever.” (Psalm 52:9, Coverdale)

Only You do I trust, my God,
to be my refuge and strength—only You.
Only You do I trust, my God,
to bring me comfort and peace—only You.

All round me whirls the busyness
of a raging world and my tumbling life.
People come and go—kind and unkind, gracious and bitter
—but You alone, my God, are ever true and constant.

As the dawn shatters the pane of night’s darkness,
so shatter the veil of troubles around me—glorious.
As the tree roots slowly sink deep and strong in the soil,
so slowly grow me in Your grace and truth—rooted.

Only You do I trust, my God,
to guide my path and relieve my heart—only You.

A Morning Prayer of Closeness to God

“Let the dawn bring news
of Your unfailing love
for I put my trust in You.
Show me the road
that I must travel
for You to relieve my heart.”

(Psalm 143:8, NJB)

Early in the morning I draw away
to be only with You.
The time seems to move too quickly
and I know I must step toward what comes next.
But here, in this treasured hour,
this spot of rest and place of being,
I draw near to You—
to hear from You,
to savor You,
to delight in You,
to rest in Your love,
and to share my love with You.
I have nothing in me that is good
save the goodness You planted in me.
Neither am I overcome by evil
because You lavished grace upon me.
Keep me close to You today, God,
for You are my true joy, life, and peace.

A Prayer of Trust and Abiding in Christ

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Teach me, Lord, how to abide in You,
to remain in You,
to rest in You.

When so many confusing words,
false words, and harsh words
come into my ears, my mind, my heart—
teach me to remain in Your words,
Your truth, Your commands
like a branch in the vine.

When egotism and self-doubt,
pride and insecurity
lead me to become self-focused—
teach me to refocus,
recenter, realign
myself in You
like a branch in the vine.

When lessons I have already learned
need to be learned again
and breakthroughs I have already had
need to break through in me again—
teach me to kneel, to be still and know,
to listen and see You afresh—
like a branch in the vine.

My life in You
and Your life in me,
resting, remaining,
abiding in You, Lord.

Tu Fu, “Clear After Rain” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.


Here is Tu Fu’s poem “Clear After Rain” translated by Kenneth Rexroth from Collected Shorter Poems. Tu Fu is an 8th century Chinese poet, widely considered to be the greatest poet of the Tang Dynasty.

Autumn, cloud blades on the horizon.
The west wind blows from ten thousand miles.
Dawn, in the clear morning air,
Farmers busy after long rain.
The desert trees shed their few green leaves.
The mountain pears are tiny but ripe.
A Tartar flute plays by the city gate.
A single wild goose climbs into the void.


Previous poems in this series:

The Weekend Wanderer: 24 July 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


Keller - Sabbath Wisdom“Wisdom and Sabbath Rest” – Tim Keller at Redeemer City to City: “Leadership is stewardship—the cultivation of the resources God has entrusted to us for his glory. The Sabbath gives us both theological and practical help in managing one of our primary resources: our time. In Ephesians 5, Paul invokes the biblical concept of wisdom:

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

— Ephesians 5:15–17

The King James Version translates verses 15 and 16 as, ‘walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.’ Living wisely (or circumspectly) is to a great degree a matter of how we spend our time.”


Burge - Mainline & Evangelical demography“Mainline Protestants Are Still Declining, But That’s Not Good News for Evangelicals” – Ryan P. Burge in Christianity Today: “Religious demography is a zero-sum game. If one group grows larger that means that other groups must be shrinking in size. So that rise in the nones is bad news for churches, pretty much across traditions. When you sort Christians by denomination, mainline Protestants are continuing to show significant decline. By their own membership tallies, mainline denominations are showing drops of 15 percent, 25 percent, and even 40 percent over the span of the last decade. There is little room for triumph on the evangelical side; their numbers are slipping too. Examining these two traditions, though, shows us two different stories about how their churches are losing members and could offer a trajectory for what the American religious landscape will look like in the future.”


nubian_church“Ruins of Monumental Church Linked to Medieval Nubian Kingdom Found in Sudan” – Livia Gershon at Smithsonian Magazine: “Archaeologists in northern Sudan have discovered the ruins of a cathedral that likely stood as a seat of Christian power in the Nubian kingdom of Makuria 1,000 years ago. As the Art Newspaper’s Emi Eleode reports, the remains, discovered in the subterranean citadel of Makuria’s capital city, Old Dongola, may be the largest church ever found in Nubia. Researchers say the structure was 85 feet wide and about as tall as a three-story building. The walls of the cathedral’s apse—the most sacred part of the building—were painted in the 10th or early 11th century with portraits believed to represent the Twelve Apostles, reports Jesse Holth for ARTnews.”


sliwka-fig-6“The Painter & The Preacher: Botticelli’s Mystic Nativity and Savonarola’s Sermons” – Jennifer Sliwka at The Brooklyn Rail: “On February 7, 1497 the Piazza della Signoria, the civic heart of the city of Florence, erupted into flames as piles of artworks, books, mirrors, fine clothes, and musical instruments were stacked high and lit on fire. Known as the Bonfire of the Vanities, these pyres were the result of years of preaching by the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola who petitioned Florentine citizens to sacrifice all objects that might tempt one to sin, to redress what he deemed the corrupt and vice-ridden aspects of their lives….Savonarola criticised pagan and mythological artworks in particular. One of the many artists specialising in these genres was Sandro Botticelli, perhaps best known for his poetic mythological paintings of beautiful lithe goddesses in the Primavera (Springtime) and the Birth of Venus (late 1470s–early 1480s), painted for the Renaissance palaces and villas of Florence’s elite. Less well known are his smaller religious ‘Savonarolan’ works from the 1490s, such as the so-called Mystic Nativity (1500), arguably the most personal, complex, enigmatic, and powerful of all his works.”


Snyder - Embodiment's GraceEmbodiment’s Grace: Recovering the gifts of human finitude” – Anne Snyder at Comment: “Summer is a time portal. Every July at the local ice cream counter I hear a child chirp a request that echoes something of my own from earlier innocence: ‘Dad, I’d like the super-size whippy dip, dunked in fudge, caramel, all the fixings. Trust me, I can handle it.’ The magic of anticipating a supreme level of sugary joy never fails to bring a smile. Kids generally don’t appreciate the value of limits. Most if not all of what is great in a child’s mind is something huge, more, whatever that alluring curiosity is beyond the parental boundary. Limits are something we learn to respect, typically by experiencing the consequences of exceeding them.”


Bob Dylan gospel“A Closer Look at Bob Dylan’s Confounding and Compassionate Christian Trilogy” – Timothy Bracy at Inside Hook: “Following the gender-fluid liberations of glam, the volatile excesses of The Who and Led Zeppelin and the high-voltage course correction of punk, it was not so easy to shock rock ‘n’ roll audiences in 1979. They’d seen and done a lot in that decade — things you can’t unsee. Bob Dylan had helped it all along — the tip of the spear in so many vanguard movements, two decades spent subverting expectations, coloring outside the lines and constantly moving the goalposts. But his newest gambit wasn’t like any of the others before. In 1979, the world was introduced to Bob Dylan: Born-Again Christian. Now that was surprising.”


Music: Bob Dylan, “When You Gonna Wake Up” (Live), from Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series, volume 13.