PSALM 79:11

Lent 11 ~ Freeing Prisoners

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;

            with Your great power free those doomed to death.   ~  Psalm 79: 11

          There’s a superior at work who has given me nothing but grief for almost 20 years. Even though there have been times when he has reluctantly acknowledged the quality of my work, the underlying current of tension remained. A man governed by jealousy, pride and love for money, several times he has crushed me to the point of tears, and many more times when he has filled me with an equally crushing rage and hatred for him. There were others who were wounded by similar blows but they were not as severe as the ones I endured because all my other colleagues were Muslims, like this man, and I suspect that made him hold back a little. I being the only Christian in the organization, received the full brunt of it. I cried a lot about it to God because I suffered, not only from his viciousness, but from my own rage too.

          Then, one day at Mass, upset over something he had done, I saw the words, It is in his bloodline, appear in one of the Readings. That was when I realised that whatever it was that was making him this way came from very deep within, that it was likely intergenerational too. He might have needed a family tree healing prayer of some kind but honestly, I just couldn’t do it. That was beyond what I could manage.

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You

          One year, God suddenly let me know that this man was in fact a prisoner. Until that moment of illumination, I never saw it that way. All I saw was his capacity for heartlessness. But once I knew, I also realised that God was calling me to the impossible – to pray for this superior. It was something I struggled so hard to do but eventually, I began to pray for him. Each time though, I had to ask God for the prayer because I could not love this man enough to pray my own prayers.

          And each time, God answered me.

          Still, there was one that stood out and which I will never forget.

Replace his blood with Yours

          That prayer was prayed many, many times over the years, through wounding-s and through times of tremulous peace between us. Many times too I took this man to the Heart of Jesus during Mass and during Adoration. There were times when the prayers came easy; often, I had to drag myself to it because I still could not get past my hurts and dislike of him. But over time, it became easier.

          These past 2 years, I began to sense a change in him. He began to be more civil towards me. Still, the unease remained. Nonetheless, towards the end of last year, it was clear that he was trying to change and that brought some relief to me because I was tired out from walking on eggshells around him.

          Just this afternoon, we had a brief conversation which made me see something about myself too. We had a virtual meeting and he told us that he had tested positive for Covid. Right after the meeting ended, I hurried to contact him to share a home remedy which I thought would help. He told his wife about it and then assured me he would give it a try. Our conversation ended with my comforting him,

Do not be afraid

          It struck me then how far I’ve come. That I didn’t have to think about it before giving that remedy to him, that I didn’t have to persuade myself or even force myself to go to him.

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You

with Your great power free those doomed to death. 

          I know I’m not the only one who prayed. My closest friends here and elsewhere in my life, have carried my cross and prayed very hard for this man, and it is bearing fruit – freeing both him and me.

          Because as much as he was a prisoner, so was I too.

Lent 12 ~ Open the Prison Gates

Little-Mickey

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You;
with Your great power free those doomed to death.   ~  Psalm 79: 11

 

Yesterday, I told Jesus, Help me to pray the prayers You want me to pray. Then, I had a very brief and quick vision: It was daytime, perhaps in the morning. I saw a clear blue sky and a mountain range. And from behind it, a small, very bright sun rose quickly. Reaching the highest point in the sky, a burst of light came forth from the little sun.

          I understood this to mean that yes, God would give me a prayer, and pray it I must.

          Early today, God placed before me one of the women He wanted me to fight myself to love. Actually, I only saw her back as she was walking some distance in front of me – I was not treated to a hard look or even the usual scornful swish as she strode past me. Even then, my first reaction was disgust.

          It was only a little later that I belatedly recalled the prayer I was to pray for her, I love you because Jesus loves you.

          Today, Psalm 79’s Let the prisoners’ sighing come before You; with Your great power free those doomed to death, arrived once more at my consciousness, as it has since 2017. Each time that verse has caught my attention, it has always been for one of my superiors at work.

          In 2018, after the verse came, I prayed for those who needed it. And then, I saw the word, Gates. I wasn’t told what it meant, and till today, I hadn’t come any closer to an answer.

          Seeing the verse once more now, I wondered if my prayer for today was to once again pray for my superior’s release from the sin of loving money.

          And then, as is always the case, I clean forgot about it.

          Past 3 in the afternoon, I saw this man’s car and was a little surprised that he was still around. But I had a list of things to tick off and that was that.

          Buzzing around town, about to pull into a parking lot, I saw another car. It belonged to one of the local business owners whom I had approached some weeks back for sponsorship. He hadn’t been happy to give and the brief encounter had left a bitter aftertaste. I avoided him after that, but here now was his car.

          Without pausing to think about my annoying sensitivity to the slightest nicks, I took the plunge and prayed from the heart, I forgive you – although, honestly, that was the last thing I actually felt for him.

          It was late in the evening that I recalled Psalm 79:11 once more. I remembered my desire to want to love God. Then, it came to me that God had used cars and registration plates to remind me to pray. Today too He didn’t bring me face-to-face with those who hurt me but who needed prayers. Instead, God showed them to me but He showed me their backs.

          On each occasion except for one, I failed to pray. I gave in to myself – my feelings, my busyness – and the moment passed.

          I could easily pray for my boss now that I remembered, and also the I love you prayer for the two women. But I had not prayed them at the moment of call.

          So, I wanted to make up for it.

          I looked about my day and there was scant little to offer, except that it had been a long and tiring day. So, I took each little difficulty and offered them to heaven.

          Everything endured today I offered for prisoners, as mentioned in the psalm.

          In a quiet moment, I suddenly understood the meaning of Gates: they were prison gates. Each one of the three people God had brought me today were prisoners behind different prison gates – money, pride, hatred, jealousy, revenge. Yes, they had hurt me, and it was very difficult to pray for them.

          Yet, each one is loved by God. He loves them as much as He loves me. If I want to love God, I have to love them as well.

          Because only love will open those prison gates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 11 ~ Gates

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Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.   ~   Psalm 79:11

 

          A year ago, this exact verse came before me, and with it, the face of someone I honestly despise.  But something stirred in me that however much that nasty man had hurt me, he was a prisoner who had to be set free – because the root cause of his darkness was a dangerous love and worship of money and wealth.

          Yesterday, not knowing this verse was going to appear again, a friend mentioned this same person to me. It was from her that I heard again about this man’s growing desire for money.

          I saw that he was fast sinking into a deadly spiral.

          I honestly didn’t want to pray for this man except to pray for protection from him because being my superior at work, he has hurt me deeply and still possesses the power to harm me. In my moment of reluctance, I saw these words pass before my heart:

Before My Eucharistic Face

          Jesus was asking me to bring this man to Adoration.

          Since I do not live close to any church, I did what I could. I went to the live streaming link to the Divine Mercy Chapel in Poland and I went before the Blessed Sacrament. My spirit knelt before the Miraculous Image, and I placed this man before the Face of Jesus. No words did I fuss over except to utter his name.

          I then felt I ought to bring other names as well and so I did. With each name I pressed, I leaned in to determine His will, to see if I was truly called to pray for that person. 

          Groups of people passed before my spirit’s eyes. As I touched each one to take them before the Eucharistic Face, with some I could sense a yielding, like some invisible latch had fallen and its gate opened; with others I felt a shrinking away, like they were closing in on themselves. 

          After yesterday’s dying to myself, I was not in the mood to be disobedient by feeling guilty for not praying for more people. I was here to bring before the Eucharistic Face only those whom Jesus called for through me today.

          When my Adoration had ended, I sat back and rested my heart against the morning winds as they sang their silver and gold hymns among the leaves.

          Slowly, I became aware of a single word.

Gates.

 

 

 

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