Monday, February 24, 2014

Beyond our imagination and aspirations

I usually spend most of January tying up loose ends from the year that’s past, and preparing for the year ahead. I try to include a few days away from the domestic daily routine, the phone and other intrusions, so that I feel rested when February starts. By then I have my diary for the new year sorted.  I’ve scheduled and planned for various events, social and family functions, speaking engagements, projects, trips away. I have some personal goals for the year, including what I want to accomplish in my writing and what areas of spiritual growth I need to focus on.

(I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes order, who plans, sets new year resolutions and goals, so I’m assuming at least some of you are identifying with this.)

However, with the arrival of February this year, and much of the above set out as usual, I still found myself still carrying a heaviness from some losses and struggles from last year. I’ve been wondering if I’m really ready for 2014, despite my planning. As I’ve reflected on this, God has graciously reminded me of what I most need.

A few years ago I was greatly impacted by the wonder of new life after darkness and devastation. It was during January of 2001 that I visited our church conference and camping site after fires had swept through and ravaged the buildings and grounds. I was so struck by the sight of new growth that I took a roll of film – bright green shoots of grasses and shrubs, pink leaves from the blackness of charred trees – all wondrous signs of what God brings from death and destruction, yes, even in plant life. His wonderful creation. His marvellous power. There for me to be overwhelmed by. I remember that year I began February with a sense of awe and expectation, assured that whatever had been or was to come, God would be doing something beautiful. 
This January I’ve been reading daily messages from one of my favourite writers, Richard Rohr, and just this last week his focus has been on God’s divine plan for our lives; the ongoing transformation He wants to bring about in us by His Spirit, until we are formed into His likeness, until we reach perfect oneness with Him. This won’t be complete, of course, until we are in heaven with Him, but it is the divine reality which is going on in our lives even now.

The following is taken from one of Richard Rohr’s daily readings. It’s a prayer offered by one of his colleagues at the Living School for Action and Contemplation:
May each of us be so fortunate as to be overtaken by God in the midst of little things. May we each be so blessed as to be finished off by God, swooping down from above or welling up from beneath, to extinguish the illusion of separateness that perpetuates our fears. May we, in having our illusory, separate self slain by God, be born into a new and true awareness of who we really are: one with God forever. May we continue on in this true awareness, seeing in each and every little thing we see the fullness of God’s presence in our lives. May we also be someone in whose presence others are better able to recognize God’s presence in their lives, so that they, too, might know the freedom of the children of God.
These reminders have swept through my heaviness and lifted me to a place where I can surrender all my plans, goals, aspirations and struggles to Him who knows it all and has plans for my year which are above and beyond anything I can conceive or even imagine, and who also has a much bigger plan for His whole creation, which is so much greater than anything that happens in our daily lives on earth. This is a much better perspective for me to go into 2014 with.  I hope any of you who are finding it difficult to get into the work of this year, will find this encouraging.
Carol Preston

Carol writes historical novels based on her family ancestry in Australia and include the Turning the Tide series; Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free. Her earlier novel Suzannah’s Gold has been re-released by EBP and will soon be followed by the re-release of its sequel Rebecca’s Dream. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website or her FB author page.
Her novels can be found at EBP



  1. Hi Carol,
    Thanks for sharing that prayer from Richard Rohr. It's a great one for us all to ponder and aspire to, and I can see how it would lift your heaviness. Beautiful photo too, reminding us that God does, indeed, make all things new.

  2. So true Carol. Another verse which gives hope is this: "The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were." (Rom 4:17b) When some things seem impossible we know He's always in control.

  3. Thanks for sharing that Carol. Your example of the new growth following the fire is a great illustration. Another passage I've found really helpful in those times is Eph. 3:14-21. I especially like the way the Amplified Bible puts verses 20-21: "Now to Him Who, by ... His power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—
    21 To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it)." I love that image of God working in our lives "superabundantly". Sometimes we don't always recognise it, but He sees the big picture and is working for our benefit even during the hard times.

    I pray God will do superabundantly for you Carol and that he will help you with all of the wonderful goals He has for you this year. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for sharing so beautifully Carol. It agrees with what I have been reading as part of my devotions these days - "Renovation of the Heart' by Dallas Willard. Loved that passage from Richard Rohr. Also loved the picture of new life within devastation that you showed us. May God dwell with us and within us and may others find His presence and reality through our writing and our lives. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. Hi Carol. I'm challenged by your ordered life style. How wonderful to take time to breathe and plan. I just take off and fall flat - well sometimes. I think I may need a year to feel as though i'm ready to begin. Yet God does things anyway.
    I love the picture. What a delicate pink against the starkness. God does amazing things all the time. I love Him.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks, Carol--a lovely, thoughtful post. And of course I love the prayer from Richard Rohr's daily readings. I especially love that phrase 'overtaken by God in the midst of little things'. God bless--and may 2014 be a wonderfully fulfilling year for you.

  7. Thanks Carol for your post. What a beautiful picture of regrowth after devastation - and so in line with God does in our lives. All that you say here, I have experienced - and though I don't enjoy going through the difficult times, I know that God has greater plans for me. Yesterday I read Ps 37:5-6 "Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him. And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday." Where we often want an easy time, He wants to build my character and minster through us.

  8. Good thoughts, Carol. Good for us to remember. Thanks

  9. I can identify with the concept of new and re-growth - in 2001 we had that black devastation all around our home, and it was amazing to watch the new growth out of charred stems and ashes. A good lesson from nature that we - too - need to DIE to self before the beauty of God's growth can take place. Thanks, Carol.

  10. Thanks everyone for responding and sharing verses that help and life you. It's encouraging to know that written words are so powerful and live with us daily. Makes it so worthwhile to read and write thoughts that may inspire others.

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  12. Thanks Carol. I think I needed to hear those words today that new growth can come out of seeming disaster. This is from one who is finding it difficult to get back into work after a significant setback.

    1. Sorry to hear that Dale. Extra prayers for you today