My Empty Heart

Compassionate Lord,

Thy mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day,

Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace,

          increase in knowledge,

          ripen for spiritual harvest.

Let me this day know Thee as Thou art,

          love Thee supremely,

          serve Thee wholly,

          admire Thee fully.

Through grace let my will respond to Thee,

Knowing that power to obey is not in me, but

   that Thy free love alone enables me to serve Thee.

Here then is my empty heart,

   overflow it with Thy choicest gifts.

This prayer from the Valley of Vision reads like poetry. The first line calls to mind Lamentations 3 but does something interesting by flipping the wording. The Lamentations passage acknowledges that God’s mercies are never-ending. They are new every morning. This passage is always a breath of fresh air when we feel like we’re at a roadblock, when things aren’t going our way. We recall this to be reminded that it is God who sustains and blesses us. We’re reminded that things can be better.

However, in this prayer the author takes it a step further to remind us that it is a mercy all its own that gets us to the new day in the first place. This is both a sobering reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow and a catalyst to action because we have been gifted another day to serve and worship Him.

But how are we going to do that? Historically, people don’t have a great track record at extending kindness in the midst of a pandemic. We’re captured by fear and suspicion. Sure, there are stories of selfless people sacrificing everything for others. Nevertheless, I fear that these stories are the exception. Things can quickly move to an every person for themselves mentality. What a great reminder for the mercy of a new day, “vain will be its gifts unless I grow in grace.”

This is not a call to ignore the dangers of this thing and to put other people at risk. Part of what it may mean to love our neighbors at this time is to remain distant from them. We use wisdom during these moments, but whatever we do, we don’t stop loving, caring, and showing people that they are not forgotten. This is, however, a call to be aware of your attitude toward those around you. How are you continuing to relate and grow in empathy rather than close yourself off and grow in distrust?

So, let us know and love God for who he is, and let us serve him faithfully by our love, extended not just vertically to God but horizontally to our neighbors as well. 

Prayer and Reflection

Pray that God instills in us a desire for grace rather than suspicion. Open your hearts and offer the empty vessel to the Lord that it may be formed into His likeness and filled with the Spirit’s fruit. Which of those fruits do you need most right now? Ask for that.

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