Monday, June 20, 2016

Contend, O Lord, With Those Who Contend With Me

In reading Margery Kempe, a 14th C mystic, I was reminded of a verse that I have found alarming in the past. The Psalmist prays, “Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me” [Psalm 35:1]! In her prayer Margery asks the Lord not to punish those who contend with her. Several churches ago, in another state, I was in a church that was under severe stress, and as the parish priest I was targeted by those who needed a target. Like Margery I prayed, “Do not contend with them on my account!” Sometimes in our prayers we love to tell God what to do, and sometimes what not to do. There are times that the Lord tells us to butt out and let us do what he needs to do for sake of his Kingdom.

An older woman in the congregation, a Margery Kempe in her own right, called on me one day at the rectory. She was very hesitant and humble but finally told me that the Lord had given her a word for me. Usually my response to that is, “Then pray for me that the Lord will give it to me himself.” But her hesitancy and humility moved me, and I told her to go ahead. She said, “The Lord will contend with those who contend with you.” I tucked that away in the lumber room of my mind and went about my business. A couple of weeks later I was at a Woman’s Aglow Meeting and another pastor asked if he might pray for me. He prayed, “The Lord will contend with those who contend with you.” Shortly thereafter the central vocal opponent to the Kingdom had a massive heart attack and I apart from the paramedics I was the only person present at his death. As he died I prayed the Office for Ministration at the Time of Death for him, “Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light” [BCP p. 465]. 

I have a point in sharing this. When the Lord speaks to you, zip the lip; sometimes it’s not about you but about the Kingdom and the salvation of others. Pray the Palms and stop telling the Lord how to answer your prayers. The Lord is God, you are not.

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