30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 17 – Relationship

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:13

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Sometimes we can become hardened in a world of busyness that threatens to undo the essential need at the core of our humanity. Relationship. We were made to know and be known. Our value does not come from our accomplishments (which are really God’s) or from our function in this life. It comes from Being. In. Relationship. With. God. And. Others.

Yes, I know that last sentence is incorrect. But I, too, wanted to pause and soak those words in. I get busier than I should be and need the same reminder to be still before my God and to make time for people in my life.

Abiding is not an easy thing. The natural thing is to drift away from God and others and to allow sin to separate us.

We were not made to be isolated, not made to be an island. We were made to relate to God and to one another in a redemptive way in this mystery called life. All too often relationships can be difficult as pride and self are on the throne more than people or honoring God in those relationships.

Christ exemplified perfect relationship with God the Father. He and the Father are one. He told us to be the same.

So how do we relate to a Holy God when we are unholy? By the mercy of God alone. How do we relate to people when we are different from one another? By God’s grace.

God has given us access to Himself though we did not deserve it. So often this access is not utilized and we can take this amazing reality for granted. God wants us to be in a relationship of dependence upon Him, where our needs are met by Him and we can enjoy His presence. He wants us to seek His will and understanding, constantly reading His love letter to us – His Word – and praying to Him. This is where we find our greatest peace, when we are living as God intended.

Religion is the complete opposite of this privilege of relationship we have with God in Christianity. Religion is man-made, dead, focusing on a performance mentality of doing good works. Sadly, for the one pursuing religion, they will never arrive at their goal or achieve real relationship.

In our relationship with God, it has all been done. This truth causes us to worship the One Who set us free so we could know Him. It also causes us to realize that we need to relate to one another in a way that God intended.

Do we see the people in our lives as precious gifts from God? Even the thorny relationships that bring us to our knees? How can we relate to one another in a humble, others-centered way? It might mean dying to our own agenda, building others up instead of ourselves, and pausing long enough to think, serve and pray for others.

In the end, relationships with people cause us to go deeper in our relationship with God. When relationships of this world fall short of our expectations, our God helps us to pick up the pieces and to be like Christ, Who laid down His life for others.

When Christ is at the center of our human relationships, it is a beautiful witness to the world of what it means to know God and one another and still be accepted and accepting.

Lord, thank You for drawing us near to You that we could know You – our God and Creator. Help us to never forsake this amazing privilege and to love others as You have loved us.

Worshipful Wednesday: Integrity is all in the Mind

jesus-is-our-integrity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus is our integrity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 101:1-3

1 “Of David. A psalm. I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. 3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”

Sometimes we can look over the landscape of life and wonder why so much evil is happening. When it happens in the church, we are often surprised. How do godly people acquiesce to wickedness? Very easily. Demonic influence and our flesh point us that direction naturally. But there is hope.

When we truly recognize the spiritual battle all around us, we see that the biggest battle will be that of truly living an authentic life of integrity. But integrity is not just our outward behavior.

Thoughts. The gate of our minds is the first place where we have decision after decision of what we will set our mind upon. Our thoughts matter – for they become our actions or, equally as pervasive – torment and distract us from a godly life – if they are not kept in line. But if our thoughts are brought under the authority of the Jesus filter, we can think clearly and recognize thought patterns that do not glorify Him.

Vain imaginations, prideful thoughts, thinking ill of others, dwelling on unrighteous deeds – all have to be brought underneath the LORDship of Jesus Christ. We are deceived if we believe that we can think a hateful thought about another person and be right in the eyes of God.

Action. But it is not enough just to refrain from evil. We are to be proactive and “Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8).

Content. What we feast our minds on is the largest impetus or detraction from integrity. God’s Word is living and active. Consistently meditating on His Word and applying it to our lives provides strength, conviction and enablement to walk in integrity.

Maintenance. Our thought life takes constant maintenance, we can never rest. But the beauty in feasting on God’s Word makes the maintenance of our minds a treasure trove and a delight. It does not have to become a daunting task of to dos where we think we could attain righteousness on our own. We just need to position ourselves to be soaking in God’s truth and ask Him to help us apply it to our lives.

Prayer. When we ask the God of this universe to help us live in accordance with His word, He honors a prayer like that. Even better – we can pray for those who appear to be against us. This is spiritual warfare that makes the enemy flee!

Humility. When we see the fruit of integrity in our lives, we cannot think it is us doing it. That sounds strange, huh? After all, we are seeking to do our part. But apart from God, there is nothing good in us. We are just yielding and letting Him live through us. Jesus is our integrity.

Fellowship. We truly were not created to be islands, isolated from others while we struggle and battle against resident and outward evil. We need to point one another to truth every single day, for the days are evil. This accountability is not to be judgmental, but caring enough to get up close and personal win sin is waging war and seeking to destroy people’s lives.

The life of integrity is a pleasant one, despite all the battles to get there. No need to hide anything, no fear in discovery, for all is exposed. Thank God that as we seek to walk uprightly with Him and make our mistakes along the way, that His forgiveness is eternal and His grace overwhelming. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even now we can choose to be people of integrity for God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for your mercy – new every single morning. Thank You that You walked a life of perfect integrity. Give us the mind of Christ and may the people of God be Kingdom-minded. Help us to not get involved in civilian affairs that distract us from our God-given purpose – knowing and enjoying You and making You known, oh my God.

Sabbath Reflections: Nation on its Knees

Prayer Can Move the Heart of God and Man

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Scriptures:

Psalms 99:4

“The King is strong; he loves justice. You ensure that legal decisions will be made fairly; you promote justice & equity in Jacob.”

Proverbs 21:1

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD like channels of water; he turns it wherever he wants.”

As we near the culmination of a lively political race in just a little over a couple of months, the LORD reminded me while I was praying for both candidates that He is much bigger than our election. He not only controls the outcome, but is our great, sovereign God over all. He rules the entire universe, every government, every people, every land – and is able to affect the heart of our next President. It is to that end that I will pray.

Our nation needs more now than ever a people committed to pray for her. May we fill the next eleven weeks with intercession for our nation and for both candidates to turn their hearts back to God. Will you join me? We each play a key role in the next election – praying – and prayer can move the heart of God and man.

Oh God, this great land is Yours and Yours alone. Help us to not forget that truth. Help our people to turn from sin and to see Your worth is far above the worship of lesser things. Please draw our nation back to You and cause our leaders to bow to no other God but You. Move in the hearts of our Presidential nominees and help them to see their need of salvation. Your will be done. We trust You, Lord, to place Your person in office.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day Two – Our Faithful Intercessor

Day two thankfulness

Hebrews 5:1-10: 22-28

“Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.  

Hebrews 6:16-20

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 7:

22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.  23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins,and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”

King of kings and Lord of lords, and yet we were on His mind.  More than that, He still prays for us, perpetually.  And Who is this prayer warrior?  Jesus.  The One true living God, Holy, blameless, selfless and the bearer of all of our sins.

The prayers He offers up are sovereign, perfect, offered by a God whose purposes NEVER change and Who is incapable of lying.  Wow.  His prayers are outside time, always exactly what we need.  Perfect.

I am thankful for Christ’s modeling of what our prayer life should look like.  Being God incarnate, He humbled Himself and cried out with “loud cries and tears”.  He understands.  He became man and demonstrated what a passionate life in God should look like.  He did not pray for His own comfort, instead He prayed for His enemies and strength to do the perfect will of God.  God answered and we are the fruit of those prayers all those years ago in the Garden of Gethsemane.

How humbling that the imperfect would be the very apple of God’s eye, and the very ones whom Christ cried out for and laid His life down for.  May our prayer lives imitate the Master’s.

When it appears that His answers to our prayers are wrong or God does not hear, we begin to understand that His ways are far higher than our own.  When the cessation of pain is our goal, His goal is that we will be changed in the midst, become more like Him and that we would know Him.  Our faithful Intercessor is our faithful Friend, always knowing how to pray for us.

Lord, what a faithful intercessor You are!  Thank You for giving us what we need and not what we want.  Thank You for being our ever-present help in times of trouble.  Thank You, God, for never changing and for being perfect, righteous, faithful.  I love you, Lord!

It’s Your Move

Photo credits: journeychurchcolumbus.org

Photo credits: journeychurchcolumbus.org

1 John 5:14

“And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

John 14:13

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

John 16:4

“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

Principle: “If we want to see God move, we need to make a move.” – Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

My church is going through the 40 Day Prayer Challenge in the book, “Draw the Circle” by Mark Batterson.  While I have written songs about prayer and daily write in my journal, this book is opening my eyes to the need to go even deeper.  I always love it when God brings fresh insights to draw us nearer to Him!

Much like a game of chess, checkers or backgammon, prayer is an opportunity to risk something and dare to ask for more than we could ever dream possible.  I confess I have sometimes not been as bold in prayers and have been content to just trust in the LORD.  This is not a bad thing, but what struck me was that relationship with God means He wants us to ask and not just accept what life brings.

Sure, I have fallen to my knees and begged God for strength when challenges seemed insurmountable, but the fervor of prayer seemed to dim when I was not in the fire.  I have seen God move in miraculous ways and notice as I look over the landscape of my life that those times were most often when I was desperate for Him.  How sweet it is to run to our Abba Father and pray.  He wants to meet our every need.

Fervor is reignited when we cry out to God for His Name’s sake rather than for our own.  The desperation of our hearts should be for His glory and the need for Him to move so that those around us see Christ in us, not us getting what we want or having pain diminished in our lives.

God is watching to see if our hearts will be moved with His passion and our prayers energized with His love and vision.   Writing this blog over the past year and a half has been a prayer – borne out of my personal time with the LORD.  I realize that although it was sickness that caused me to slow down, as I began to rest in His presence, prayer became a way of life as I journaled what God spoke to my heart and then blogged about it.

The ball is in our court . . . will we dare to fall to our knees consistently and inquire of our awesome God Who is ready to answer?  As we tarry in prayer, hoping for things to change, it is us who are changed – more and more into His image and after His purposes – all for His glory.

Lord, purpose in our hearts prayers You would have us to utter.  Help us to make a move and to be moved in our spirits to worship You and pray to You passionately. 

Worshipful Wednesday: Determined Praise

Proverbs 16:28

“A perverse person spreads dissension, and a gossip separates the closest friends.”

Psalm 108:1-3

1 “A song, a psalm of David. I am determined, O God! I will sing and praise you with my whole heart. 2 Awake, O stringed instrument and harp! I will wake up at dawn! 3 I will give you thanks before the nations, O LORD! I will sing praises to you before foreigners!”

Psalm 109:1-4, 21, 26-30

1 For the music director, a psalm of David. O God whom I praise, do not ignore me! 2 For they say cruel and deceptive things to me; they lie to me. 3 They surround me and say hateful things; they attack me for no reason. 4 They repay my love with accusations, but I continue to pray. 21 O sovereign LORD, intervene on my behalf for the sake of your reputation! Because your loyal love is good, deliver me! 26 Help me, O LORD my God! Because you are faithful to me, deliver me! 27 Then they will realize this is your work, and that you, LORD, have accomplished it. 28 They curse, but you will bless. When they attack, they will be humiliated, but your servant will rejoice. 29 My accusers will be covered with shame, and draped in humiliation as if it were a robe. 30 I will thank the LORD profusely, in the middle of a crowd I will praise him…”

If you have ever been talked about, it is not much fun.  Inner turmoil is a possibility, but it does not have to be our reality. David was bugged by people spreading false rumors about him.  He told God about it, but what is so beautiful is how He rested in God as His Defender.  He did not need to refute the lies.  He just trusted that His Daddy would take care of it for him.  Even more amazing was that He knew that falsehood spread about him hurt God’s reputation because His child was being spoken about in a hateful way.  David was jealous for God’s glory and wanted His reputation cleared.  People were jealous of David and wanted his reputation marred.  David just cried out and rested in His loving Father’s acceptance and love.

We do not know fully what the attacks were on David, but He defeated it with prayer, faith and worship.  In His prayer, He uses the future tense – He had already decided and determined that He was going to praise God and He was confident that God would move on His behalf.  That is the place of peace and sincere worship.  When people attack, whether it is due to jealousy or presumptions, we are not accountable to people’s perceptions, but we are accountable to God.  In that place of suffering, a catalyst for drawing nearer to God is formed.

Our response at such times can bring Him glory, or can drag us down into the mud with the mudslingers.  Not much decision there.  I confess that when I have been in similar situations, I am hurt but I do not wish for people’s demise as strongly as David did.  I just wish people could believe the best and be all about God’s glory instead of finding things to be bugged about. The time is short and we need to be upset about things that really matter … like Christians persecuted and murdered for their faith, or a nation that is falling from within.

If we are honest, we have all spoken about others at one time or another.  We have also probably been the recipient of such treatment.  This ugly behavior even enters the church.  Although it can be painful to endure when people attack us for no reason, it is a beautiful tool in the Master’s hands, freeing us from the fear of man and stirring up fervent praise.  He is worthy at all times!

Lord, thank You for helping us to have Your perspective and for bearing all of our burdens.  I worship You, Lord, and thank You that You are our Defender.  May You be glorified in our moments of blessing and in challenging times, as well.

Truthful Tuesday: Temptation’s Opportunity

Photo Credits: vineoflife.wordpress.com

Photo Credits:
vineoflife.wordpress.com

Luke 4:13

“So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

James 1:13-14

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”
Luke 22:40
On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Matthew 6:13
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Romans 6:14
“For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.”

“The devil made me do it”.  “I couldn’t help myself”.  “I wanted to do it”.  Ever said similar things?  Mankind’s tendency is to rationalize why we do the things we do.  Paul understands.  He battled with the flesh, too, and left us excellent advice on the subject in the book of Romans.

The key is in the word, “battle”.  Many times we do not recognize that we are indeed in a battle, whether we want to be or not.  Doing nothing is doing something.  Resisting temptation is not enough when the forces of evil are seeking to plummet our walk with God.  Having a good offense and storing God’s Word as well as praising God in the midst are excellent tools to have in our arsenal, but we also must exercise our will by the grace of God in the midst of our moments of temptation.

I find it ironic that “Truthful Tuesday” was on my heart today, when my youngest child was writing the verse from Psalm 34:13 for me 100 times – “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies”.  Convincing my son that lying is not the solution to his problem with sin is a challenge.  Yet, just like his forefathers, he attempts to cover up his iniquity with excuses or falsehood.  We could never cover up all our transgressions nor face the temptations that come our way if it were not for the grace of God and the His covering of our sins by His own blood.

So who is to blame?  Certainly the enemy’s hand is ready to make us stumble.  Our own flesh,too, fully corrupt in its desires, is prone to influence us toward it’s will.  As humbling as it is to admit, we ourselves are deceived if we think we have triumphed over temptation.  It is not a once and done deal.  Hence the need for our dependence on God in relationship with Him.

When I was reading again of Christ’s victory over satan’s temptations, the words, “he departed from him until a  more opportune time” stood out to me.  Christ approached his temptation with fasting and prayer and overcame.  Yet his time of dealing with the evil one was not over.  He would undergo temptation to the point of sweating blood and deny self in every way, providing salvation for the entire world.  He was fully God and fully man and it was not easy.

In our culture, our goal can often be to take the easy route, to pursue comfort.  Such an endeavor is fertile ground for temptation to woo its victims.  Catering to the flesh fosters growth of that same flesh and will make it much more difficult to quiet its demands when tempation seizes its next opportunity.  We must never take the stance that we are done with temptation.  God’s salvation opened the door to our heart to discern sin, but we must be watchful and in prayer, so that we might continually be overcomers in Christ.

Lord, give us a holy fear to stay ever close to you.  Help us to recognize when we are being tempted and to flee all temptation, running to Your perfect arms.

Thoughtful Thursday: Perspective

Photo Credits latinegro.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
latinegro.wordpress.com

Psalm 41:6-7

6 When someone comes to visit, he pretends to be friendly; he thinks of ways to defame me, and when he leaves he slanders me.

Psalm 39:1-7

39:1 I decided,  “I will watch what I say and make sure I do not sin with my tongue.  I will put a muzzle over my mouth while in the presence of an evil man.” 2 I was stone silent; I held back the urge to speak. My frustration grew; 3 my anxiety intensified. As I thought about it, I became impatient. Finally I spoke these words: 4O Lord, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life!  Let me realize how quickly my life will pass! 5 Look, you make my days short-lived, and my life span is nothing from your perspective.  Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.  6 Surely people go through life as mere ghosts.  Surely they accumulate worthless wealth without knowing who will eventually haul it away.” 7 But now, O Lord, upon what am I relying? You are my only hope! 

Matthew 26:36-39

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

1 Peter 4:12

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

David was acquainted with suffering.  Even on his sick bed his enemies were plotting against him.  But David’s hope was not in the present – it was in the future.  He had dealt with people being jealous of him and attacking him.  Life’s joy was seemingly sapped from him, but He held on.  He held onto something greater.  God alone.  God granted him perspective to realize how brief life was – but not before David cried out for this understanding.

Jesus knew the agony of betrayal and what it was to have even his closest friend kiss him in the very act.  He cried out to God the Father, as well, and gained all of our souls with his suffering.  He knew the prize for obedience was far greater than momentary suffering.  Perspective makes all the difference.

Ever feel like the world is against you?  The world abounds with jokes and suggestions at comforts that can appease this pain, but the only real relief comes from being immersed in Jesus and His Word.  Searching His Word brings perspective to the sincere seeker.  Running to God in prayer grants peace that the world knows nothing about.

Instead of wanting deliverance from the enemies, David wanted understanding.  Instead of wanting deliverance from the cup He was about to drink, Jesus sought obedience as far more precious.  Only God can change our hearts and minds and give us His perspective.

When our expectations meet God’s perspective, we are undone.  Where were our expectations formed?  God’s Word clearly describes troubles we will have in this world, but our flesh desires peace and comfort.  Peter knew troubles, too, and expected them.  Knowing the purpose of life’s challenges makes our perspective of trials even clearer.

Lord, thank You for opening our eyes to see that Your purposes are far greater than our understanding.  Help us to seek Your glory in all things and to trust You, even when our perspective is a little blurry.

41:7 All who hate me whisper insults about me to one another; 19 

they plan ways to harm me.

Scriptural Sunday: We Have the Mind of Christ

Photo Credits: christintheclouds.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
christintheclouds.blogspot.com

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”  God has revealed these to us by the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”  11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him?   But we have the mind of Christ.”

Philippians 2:5

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

On Sundays, I want to simply share Scripture and a prayer from my devotion time to reflect on.

Lord, what is man, that You would give us Your Spirit and reveal deep mysteries to us?  That You would grant us the mind of Christ?  Wow.  We cannot understand the simplest words from Your Word without You mercifully opening our eyes. We are humbled, oh God, by Your kindness.  We are blessed to have seen any revelation from You.

Lord, help us to fill our mind with only what pleases You, to choose to dwell on thoughts that bring You glory.  Thank You for opening our eyes to see and to know You!

Writing 101, Day Five: Be Brief

10144150-close-up-of-a-hand-holding-blank-crumpled-note-on-white-background-with-clipping-path

You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

Eyes focused on the path ahead, a white shape stood out amidst the crisp leaves.  “Probably just trash someone left behind – ugh, but it ruins the landscape, better pick it up,” I told myself.  Panting from the sudden cessation of running, I leaned over and spied this seemingly unimportant scrap piece of paper.  “Prayer” was written in dark marker on the outside.  Intrigued, I opened the note and found written inside a prayer written messily, probably by a child.  Engulfed by the message inside, I realized it had been written by my own child’s hand.  Hidden out here in the forest, the intent of the note was now clear . . . and now those words remain forever etched in my heart.