Nowhere to go

Not usually the poet, but Susan and I have spent extra time in praying and seeking God here at the end of our first year serving in Padova, Italy. The below has come from our life this first year. (The Apostle wrote “to live is Christ.” Any other “thing” that might gain our life’s devotion will disappoint. He also wrote “to die is gain.” Anything we live for we lose, except Christ Jesus – we gain Him!)

To follow, follow you – nowhere to go but to follow you.

You oh God, you have hidden me in the place prepared for eternity.

To you, you God, I have hidden your truth where nothing can disparage me.

May the steps I take lead to holiness

May the sins I have drive me to my knees

Let my lips rejoice when I face my fears

Let my heart embrace every truth I dare

To follow, follow you – nowhere to go but to follow you.

You oh God, you have hidden me in the place prepared for eternity.

To you, you God, I have hidden your truth where nothing can disparage me.

For you are the Holy One, you are my cup

You are the sacrifice poured out for me

You are the Promise, You are the Righteous One

Absolute faithfulness, eternally.

For you are my holiness, you are my cup

You are my fullness, poured into me

You are the Promise, You overflow in me

Faithfully filling me, today and always.

To follow, follow you – nowhere to go but to follow you.

You oh God, you have hidden me in the place prepared for eternity.

To you, you God, I have hid your truth where nothing can disparage me.

May the steps I take lead to holiness

May the sins I have drive me to my knees

Let my lips rejoice when I face my fears

Let my heart embrace every truth I dare

(Quando vado, mi guida alla santita’

Quando ho peccato, mi prendi all’ gnicchocci

Quando io gioisco, la mia paura spedì

Quando io ti e braccio, dai mi coraggio

Tu, o Dio, sei mi stato secreto dove e’ l’eternita’

A te, o Dio, ho segreto tua verita’ dove non può essere rubata)

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One of these things is not like the others…

Since moving to Italy, I have noticed how easily it is to take on the the mantle of fault-finder. Granted, it seems that sometimes our new culture collectively looks askance at anything or anyone that diverges from their own. And mostly in a negative light. So, this has got me thinking.

How can I guard my eyes from focusing on the “big negative” among all the positives around me? If I only find what’s wrong, talk about what ought to change, or get consumed by the one thing I don’t prefer – then, I’ll miss out on all that’s beautiful and good and astounding and rich.

Here’s an example: we have a lot of immigrants and refugees in Padua. A half-IMG_3830million live in our region (that’s the legal ones), and that’s a very visible part of the stuff that goes on in the city – buses, trams, clinics, parks and street corners.

I can choose to see them different negatively (how they act, talk, dress, interact, etc.) or I can see the beauty (in how they act, talk, dress, interact, etc.)

My wife is my tutor in this. We were standing at the train station bus stop surrounded by immigrants and refugees. And I got frustrated with one who was… well, just in my way. Susan says to her, “the color of your scarf is beautiful.” Simple. But the most beautiful conversation followed. I was dumbstruck.

We got on the bus and we were completely surrounded by Africans. It only took a few minutes to realize everyone on the bus was on the way home from a church meeting on prayer. It was an experience that shifted my grid, perhaps for good.

All the good, beautiful, gracious, astounding, and rich around me can shout down the one thing I might find negative. If I’ll take time to listen.

Listening in the city – Rick