With, not For

You are always doing great and inscrutable things with us, glorious and wonderful, and without number.

I am aware of glorious and wonderful things that God does for me every morning I wake up to family and friends, every afternoon I work in the garden, every evening when the stars shine in heaven above. But with us isn’t the same thing as for us. I’m sure God is always doing great and inscrutable things with me/us, but usually I don’t look for them. With means working together, not one giving and the other getting. With means cooperation and taking responsibility, perhaps even partial credit, for the innumerable wonders that come into the world through us/God with us.

This is the second line of this 1600 year old prayer, and the second one that’s shaken me. If I take it seriously, if I really pray these words, there is no going back. I’ll see the great and inscrutable things God is doing with us in people I love and people I don’t even like. Not just a few things I can count on one hand (exceptions), but so many that they are without number (commonplace).

Lord, give me courage to pray these revolutionary words.
Prayer of Saint Basil
We bless you, O God, most high and Lord of mercy. You are always doing great and inscrutable things with us, glorious and wonderful, and without number. You grant us sleep for rest from our infirmities, and repose from the burdens of our much toiling flesh. We thank you, for you have not destroyed us with our sins, but have continued to love us; and though we were sunk in despair, you have raised us up to glorify your power. Therefore, we implore your incomparable goodness. Enlighten the eyes of our understanding and raise up our minds from the heavy sleep of indolence. Open our mouth and fill it with your praise, that we may be able without distraction to sing and confess that you are God, glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, with your only begotten Son, and your all holy, good, and life giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
[Daily Prayers for Orthodox Christians (Brookline, Massachusetts: The Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1986), pp. 9-10]

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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