Dark Night of the Soul

By Peggy Michael of Cantonment, Florida, USA

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry…When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:15, 17–18

Do you ever feel like you’re being pulled backward into a tunnel so long that you’ve lost your sense of time, direction, and feeling? Somewhere, are children laughing and friends greeting one another? Are mountains standing solid and secure?

If I ever believed in such ideas, I don’t remember them now. I need God’s grace, and yet I am afraid to make myself vulnerable.

Must I remain in this terrifying condition until death overtakes me, or will someone in the light show me a better way? They must search and pray, though, for I will be hard to find. I cannot find myself. If you have hope and tender mercy, call my name again and again, and I will try to follow your voice. For I do want to go out from this haunting prison. I do want to know my Lord again.

Are you the servant who can reach the hopeless with God’s grace?

Prayer for Peace:

God of light, bring us from our dark places. Forgive us for our doubt. Encompass our broken hearts with your healing spirit. Then in wholeness, we can resume sharing the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Encountering Scripture as Continuing Revelation

Read and pray with the Doctrine and Covenants as continuing revelation of God’s vision for the church and creation. Choose a favorite section or focus on recent counsel in Sections 156–164.

Pause to pray for deep understanding of meaning after the first reading. Pray for opening of your heart and emotions to the text. Prayerfully ask to hear the particular phrase or word that speaks to you or touches your life. Stay with this word or phrase. Listen as fully and openly as you can. What sense of divine presence or invitation comes? What is revealed?

Peace Covenant:

Today God, I will be the servant who shares love with one who is without hope.

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An Evangelist’s Focus

By Bruce Crockett of Kirtland, Ohio, USA

…Vital to this awakening is the understanding that the Temple calls the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls, as a fulfillment of the vision for which Jesus Christ sacrificed his life.  Doctrine and Covenants 163:8c

I’m preparing to give my first blessing as an evangelist. I have the privilege of getting to know someone, layer by layer, and hear their story. Sanctuary is a privileged role where trust makes up the pillars that support openness and vulnerability. The pillars support the expression of yearnings, needs, dreams, hopes, disappointments, and wounds. Sanctuary is a place of safety, and in that safety hope swells in the assurance of God’s love.

Sanctuary is a place where we are reminded that we are past, present, and future, beloved of God. It is a place where we have great worth. We are reminded that though the path isn’t easy at times, we learn lessons to share and reflect on for even-deeper wisdom.

Yes, I have the privilege to be with someone and to be open to the voice that will bless this person. So I must keep my focus and keep surrendering, listening, being vulnerable, confessing, and in the end, being affirmed and sent forth to love my neighbor, to express compassion, and to not judge or try to fix anyone.

We are called to represent Christ and provide sacramental opportunity for people to draw closer to God. We draw closer, not only in the moment of blessing, but in the days and weeks that follow as we engage in reflection and discernment. The evangelist blessing, as reminder and support, is an ensign of hope in times of doubt that God is near, that God cares, that God believes in us even in those times when our belief wanes.

Grace abounds. May I pay attention and observe its presence so grace may continue to mold me, shape me, and make me aware of the Spirit of blessing. This blessing swirls around us each day, perhaps unnoticed. Ah, the potential of that which awaits us, that which is possible. I must keep my focus!

Prayer for Peace:

Sacramental God, we await your blessing. Keep us focused on what matters most. Keep us focused on Christ’s mission.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Encountering Scripture as Continuing Revelation

Read and pray with the Doctrine and Covenants as continuing revelation of God’s vision for the church and creation. Choose a favorite section or focus on recent counsel in Sections 156–164. Pause to pray for deep understanding of meaning. Pray for opening of your heart and emotions to the text. Prayerfully ask to hear the particular phrase or word that speaks to you or touches your life. Listen as fully and openly as you can. What sense of divine presence or invitation comes? What is revealed?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will look for opportunities to bless as I have been blessed.

Uplift

By Karen Porter of Liberty, Missouri, USA

…but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth…  Isaiah 11:4

Jaeden, Charlott, Lori, and I went with Operation Uplift, a program to feed the homeless. Jaeden had been a few times before, so he was used to helping. One of our regular clients wasn’t able to come to the truck for his food and toiletries. His friend came with a list of things needed for both of them. He told us his friend had just been diagnosed with cancer.

They needed many items. One person couldn’t carry everything and the plates of hot food to the camp. Our driver offered to help. With their hands full, off they went to the camp.

Later we went out again on the same Uplift route. This time our original client came to the truck with the help of a cane. I called him by name. He was surprised we remembered him.

As he stood at the truck door, telling us what he needed, I got out and hugged him. I was about to leave when he asked me to wait so he could hug me back. As he left the truck, struggling with the cane to stay on his feet in the snow, he said, “God bless you.”

On the way home we talked about how difficult life must be for those on the streets. We were cold even in our dry, heavy coats inside the truck. How can they possibly survive on the street? Surely he was one of the meek of the Earth and was able to express his appreciation for any blessing.

Prayer for Peace:

Compassionate God, hold before us the meek who are loved by you and will inherit your kingdom. May we respond to them with love and share with them the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Encountering Scripture as Continuing Revelation

Read and pray with the Doctrine and Covenants as continuing revelation of God’s vision for the church and creation. Choose a favorite section or focus on recent counsel in Sections 156–164.

Pause to pray for deep understanding of meaning after the first reading. Pray for opening of your heart and emotions to the text. Prayerfully ask to hear the particular phrase or word that speaks to you or touches your life. Stay with this word or phrase. Listen as fully and openly as you can. What sense of divine presence or invitation comes? What is revealed?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, the power of love will be my practice.

Lord, Let Me See

By Dave Brock, presiding evangelist

…Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” …Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” …Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46–47, 49, 51–52

The child turns to a parent or older sibling who has just unwrapped a box or opened an envelope and demands, “Let me see!” A teen watches her father trying to connect electric wires without injuring himself. In a combination of thinking out loud and some vague plea to the universe, the father mutters, “Let me see here!” An elderly woman with cataracts turns to the doctor just before surgery and says, “Let me see again, Doc!”

It is more dramatic when Jesus stops in his tracks to ask the blind man, “What would you have me do?” and Bartimaeus the beggar says, “Lord, let me see!” But, the tenor of the statement is the same as in the ordinary requests: petition, expectation, hope.

Why, then, if I’m honest, do I only infrequently and with considerable effort haltingly say, “Lord, let me see,” and mean it?

I think it is because the blindness from which I need healing, but don’t truly want, goes something like this:

“Lord, let me see where my actions are hindering the relationship with my colleague, Jennifer, at work.”  “Lord, let me see the positive traits and giftedness of Sam who, frankly, irritates me!” “Lord, let me see what gifts I have so I can say yes to the new priesthood call or the request to fill a tough leadership role in the community.”

If I’m honest, much of the time I’d just as soon not hear Jesus ask, “What would you have me do?” Then I wouldn’t have to confess that if it means blind spots will be revealed, new responsibilities may be added, other points of view to consider, I’d just as soon opt out.

God, give me the courage and the trust to say to you more often, “Please let me see.”

Prayer for Peace:

Revealing God, we confess to having avoided your light many times. We have turned our eyes away from opportunities and challenges. Keep us centered on peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Encountering Scripture as Continuing Revelation

Read and pray with the Doctrine and Covenants as continuing revelation of God’s vision. Choose a favorite section or focus on recent counsel in Sections 156–164. Read a few selected paragraphs slowly three or four times. Pause to pray for deep understanding. Pray for opening of your heart to the text. Listen as fully and openly as you can. What sense of divine presence or invitation comes? What is revealed?

Peace Covenant:

God, I will expand beyond my blind spots and do what you would have me do.          

Share the Hope

By Karin Peter of Adrian, Missouri, USA

All are called according to the gifts of God unto them; and to the intent that all may labor together, let those that labor in the ministry and those that toil in the affairs of the people of business and of work labor together with God for the accomplishment of the work intrusted to all.  Doctrine and Covenants 119:8b, adapted

“I look forward to Sunday morning! However, sometimes life’s business can sap the joy from the day,” Paula told me.

I was surprised because she had just described how she and others make multiple trips each Sunday to take children and young adults to and from church.

It is an awesome commitment that requires planning, time, and energy, all scarce after working all week at a full-time job. But Paula’s face shone with joy as she described her Sunday rounds. “Then you drive up to a house, and three little bundles of energy come running at you full speed, shouting ‘Pastor Paula! Pastor Paula! Are we going to church?’ How can I not smile?”

Paula continued, “When we drive them home after church, we sing all the songs we sang during church. Their sweet voices touch my heart, and I am renewed. I am the one who receives ministry!”

Your contributions to World Mission Tithes help emerging congregations such as Paula’s provide life-transforming ministry to children and young adults. Thank you for your generous giving.

Prayer for Peace:

Gather us in, God, as we welcome new friends. May we be open to receive their ministry, as well as to give them ministry. May we give ministry by sharing the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice:

A tree with superficial roots will wither during droughts or be uprooted by severe storms. A tree whose roots go deep is stable and draws from deep waters. Imagine yourself as a tree by a river or stream. Sense your roots extending deep into the earth in search of God’s Spirit. Write a reflection or prayer about what you hope to find as your spirit searches for deeper identity in God. (See Jeremiah 17:7–8.)

Peace Covenant:

God, as I go about my work today, I will share the joy in my heart.

God’s Care Given by Us

By Paul McCain of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!  Psalm 36:7–10

A co-worker fell and was taken to the emergency room (ER). Our administrator asked me to e-mail the worker’s supervisor and then go to the ER.

When I arrived, the doctor was putting stitches in my friend’s forehead. Shortly afterward someone came to X-ray her foot, on which I dutifully had kept an ice pack. My friend apologized for the inconvenience, but I told her I would stay as long as she needed.

After reading the X-ray, the doctor told her the foot was broken and he would have to give her a cast. My job was to talk to my friend, joke with her, and assure her whatever help she needed would be provided.

Soon a technician came and shaped the cast, wrapped it, and held her foot in the needed position while the material dried. A wheelchair was brought in, and I drove the car to meet the attendant and my friend at the ER door. When back at our workplace, I left her in the car while I found another worker to help us get her and her car home. The other worker also offered to help in any way needed, and we left my friend in her living room to rest.

As we went through the afternoon, I remember looking for ways to help, trying to be the hands and feet of God. We try to help so people do not feel alone in the world—to let them know they have a community that cares. We hope through us people will know of God’s steadfast love. May we always be bringers of peace wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Prayer for Peace:

Steadfast God, we look to you for light. We look to you for a community of faithful servants. We would be faithful, too. We would share the peace of Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Walk in nature with a spirit of “holy attention.” Or write a prayer of healing and blessing for the wounds of the Earth. Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping, such as recycling, simple living, fasting from over-consumption of resources. Notice the unique diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will be your hands and feet. Show me where I am needed.

Building Shalom

By Ron Dawbarn of Manchester, Tennessee, USA

Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God’s shalom, invites all people to come and receive divine peace in the midst of the difficult questions and struggles of life. Follow Christ in the way that leads to God’s peace and discover the blessings of all of the dimensions of salvation.  Doctrine and Covenants 163:2a

How do you build a relationship with a God whose creative force extends for light-years throughout a universe of countless galaxies? Each galaxy contains stars we still cannot number.

How do you start the conversation?

I am fortunate to live in the countryside. On a clear night I can lie on the hillside in front of my house and look into space. On those occasions I experience a feeling of awe and wonder, a sense of closeness to God. As I lie there, I realize the awe and wonder is not out there at all, but deep within me.

We are blessed to have God’s Spirit within each of us. It is unfortunate we often don’t recognize the presence of the Divine within ourselves or in others.

We can read of many ways people have tried to build relationships with God. Most are valid and worthwhile. But we often overlook our most obvious, most tangible, and most available contact with God: our companion human beings, our brothers and sisters.

We are told wherever two or three gather in God’s name, there will God be, also. We don’t even have to ask God to be with us. We just need to be aware of the presence of God’s shalom within us.

Prayer for Peace:

God of shalom, help us always be aware of your presence within us. Allow us to be aware of your presence in others. May we know the length and breadth of your shalom by sharing the peace of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Each day this week choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following suggested practices or create your own.

Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude and “holy attention.” Write a psalm of praise for the beauty of the Earth or a prayer of healing and blessing for the wounds of the Earth. Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping, such as recycling, simple living, fasting from over-consumption of resources.

Notice the unique diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will start the conversation with others to build my relationship with you.

Eagles

By Evelyn Spence of Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA

…but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

My husband and I are fortunate to live on a small lake that is part of a state park. On one side of our building lies an urban area. On the other side is the lake. The north side of our property connects us with the world with which we interact almost daily. The other side connects with nature.

A late-winter occurrence here is the presence of eagles. They perch in trees around the lake. As the lake begins to thaw, it becomes an expanse of ice floes and open water. It is thrilling to watch these mighty birds soar from a grove of trees across the lake to a lone tree, probably a quarter-mile distant.

Soon they swoop down to a floe of ice and watch for fish. They dip their heads into the water and bring up fish. Sometimes they sit on the ice and devour their prey.

If other birds are nearby, the eagles will carry the fish to the trees.

Eagles are highly admired. Friends ask us to call them when the birds are easily viewed. Watching wildlife is relaxing and meditative. Through the practice of patience, observing God’s creation blesses us with inner peace. It assures us of the continuing cycle of nature and God’s presence right in front of us, beside us, and within us.

Prayer for Peace:

Creator God, thank you for blessing us in nature with symbols of strength and endurance. May we always be aware of the Sacredness of Creation. May we be aware of ways to share Christ’s peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Each day this week choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following suggested practices or create your own.

Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude and “holy attention.” Write a psalm of praise for the beauty of the Earth or a prayer of healing and blessing for the wounds of the Earth. Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping, such as recycling, simple living, fasting from over-consumption of resources.

Notice the unique diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will take time to be aware of and appreciate your creation.

Freedom of Obedience

By Donna Boyd of Independence, Missouri, USA

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:30

When I was a child I often said, perhaps like most children, “I’ll be glad when I’m grown up and don’t have to do anything I don’t want.” I thought when I became an adult there would be no one to tell me what to do, so I would be completely free.

In my teen years, I constantly rebelled against authority, straining for the freedom I craved.

Almost too soon it was mine. There was no one to tell me what to do. I soon discovered I must be my own boss and push myself through tasks others had once guided me through.

One day I decided to do nothing except what I wanted. As the day progressed I grew restless. The confusion and clutter resulting from ignored work made it impossible to accomplish what I wanted. Realizing that my work made a difference, I carried out my tasks with a new respect.

So I learned of the freedom that comes from attention to what matters most. When we do what we must with enthusiasm, we enjoy our work. We finish quickly and have more time to appreciate our blessings. We find Christ’s mission is a light burden.

Prayer for Peace:

God of blessing, may we hear your call for us and respond with enthusiasm and without delay. May our yoke be Christ’s mission, and may we willingly share his peace with the world.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Each day this week choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following suggested practices or create your own.

Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude and “holy attention.” Write a psalm of praise for the beauty of the Earth or a prayer of healing and blessing for the wounds of the Earth. Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping, such as recycling, simple living, fasting from over-consumption of resources.

Notice the unique diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will exercise my freedom and choose to bear the burdens I am given with joy.

Each Faithful Step Taken

By Vera Entwistle of Forster, New South Wales, Australia

Collectively and individually, you are loved with an everlasting love that delights in each faithful step taken. God yearns to draw you close so that wounds may be healed, emptiness filled, and hope strengthened…Come before your Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew. Be vulnerable to divine grace.  Doctrine and Covenants 163:10

Our 3-year-old grandson is having problems pronouncing certain words, and so “Grandpa” has become “Frumpa.” Jaiden idolizes his Frumpa and has come to believe that whatever breaks, Frumpa can fix it.

On a recent visit to their home we were watching television when a news bulletin showed a plane crashing and bursting into flames. I must have looked shocked because Jaiden ran to me and patted my knee saying, “Don’t worry Nanny. Frumpa fix it.”

Later that day a dog owned by our grandson’s family had puppies, and one died. Our son asked Jaiden if he wanted to help bury the puppy. “No!” he shouted. “Call Frumpa. He fix it.”

The more I thought about Jaiden’s faith in his “Frumpa,” the more I was reminded of a similar faith I need to have in my heavenly Parent—that no matter how bad conditions may seem, we can ask God to fix it.

Concerns may not always be fixable, but we’ll feel better for praying and being vulnerable to divine grace.

Prayer for Peace:

Eternal Creator, we open our minds and hearts to you. We place our faith in your healing care. We find peace in your divine love.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Each day this week choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following suggested practices or create your own.

Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude and “holy attention.” Write a psalm of praise for the beauty of the Earth or a prayer of healing and blessing for the wounds of the Earth. Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping, such as recycling, simple living, fasting from over-consumption of resources.

Notice the unique diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant:

I will take a faithful step today, God, and be vulnerable to your grace.