O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised…Amen
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I love this prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor during World War II. He bravely laid his life on the line to try and rid Germany and the world of Adolph Hitler. However, he was hanged just prior to the ending of the war. Some would say his life was wasted. Not so. He left a wealth of writings and an example of selflessness which can only testify to one thing...he really WAS a man of God, and he lived out what he preached, taught and wrote.
For my own life, there have been some really sad things which have happened in the past 16 months, not the least of which is my brother Michael being diagnosed with cancer. With the cancer now growing in his lungs, things are not real positive. Except for God. He is still in control. I do not understand what all God is up to, but I know that He has never one time shaken His head and tried to figure out what He Himself is doing. No, everything is working out a glorious purpose which will only be fully revealed in heaven.
In the meantime, we on earth are left needing to feel His presence and reassurance. This beautiful prayer by Bonhoeffer gives us a road map to bring us back to the One who can help.
He begins his poem where I need to begin...early in the morning...if I could learn this lesson once and for all, what a difference it would make in my life. Seeking the Lord first thing in the morning is such a help in being "stayed upon Jehovah" as the song writer put it.
"I cannot do this alone..." Bonhoeffer writes. Recognition that I, Sharmen, cannot do this alone. In myself I am nothing. Paul stated, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." It is only through Jesus that I can make it through the trials and valleys which lie ahead. I need to lay down my feeble efforts to cope and trust completely in Jesus alone.
Bonhoeffer makes several pleas in this prayer as he recognizes his limitations. They include, "In me there is darkness...I am lonely...I am feeble...I am restless...In me there is darkness...I do not understand your ways..." He is so honest. We need to be completely honest with ourselves and with the Lord. If we admit and confess our weaknesses, then, and only then, can we begin to receive the help that Christ died to bring us.
After each of these honest admissions, Bonhoeffer turns immediately to the help we can have in Jesus. "...with You there is light...You do not leave me...with You there is help...with You there is peace...with You there is patience..."
Psalms 121:1-2 says, "
1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."
Here we are reminded of where our help comes from...it comes from the Lord ALONE! He made heaven and earth as well as each one of us, He knows how to help me!!!! But, I have to admit I need His help and ask for it. He will never force Himself upon me.
He closes his prayer with praise, regardless of the outcome. We can and must always praise the Lord, no matter what. Psalms 34:1, "I will bless the Lord at all times..." Yes, no matter what, He is worthy of all of our praise. We can be honest with Him, ask for His help, and relax, knowing that the outcome will be for the best. Then, we can praise...