Spiritual Meaning in the Music of the Night

man-phantom

Last night I enjoyed an unanticipated spiritual connection as I watched Phantom of the Opera with my wife. My heart was moved as I found deeper meaning in the beloved song “All I Ask of You”. Looking again at these lyrics, I am reminded of the reciprocal love pursued through my deepening relationship with God. I invite you to read the following lyrics, seeing this scene through spiritual eyes (names changed to help you). Maybe you too will be touched.

(God)
No more talk of darkness
Forget these wide-eyed fears
I’m here, nothing can harm you
My words will warm and calm you

Let me be your freedom
Let daylight dry your tears
I’m here, with you, beside you
To guard you and to guide you

(You)
Say you’ll love me every waking moment
Turn my head with talk of summer time
Say you need me with you now and always
Promise me that all you say is true
That’s all I ask of you

[God]
Let me be your shelter
Let me be your light
You’re safe, no one will find you
Your fears are far behind you

[You]
All I want is freedom
A world with no more night
And you, always beside me
To hold me and to hide me

[God]
Then say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime
Let me lead you from your solitude
Say you need me with you here, beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go too
_______(Your name), that’s all I ask of you

[You]
Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime
Say the word and I will follow you

[Both]
Share each day with me, each night, each morning

[You]
Say you love me

[God]
You know I do

[Both]
Love me, that’s all I ask of you.

[Both]
Anywhere you go, let me go too
Love me, that’s all I ask of you

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING book!

Advertisements

The Subtle Signs of God’s Presence

cross-orange-life

Today I am posturing my heart to hear God. I do this by both listening and looking. I often take time to listen to his whispers. And I notice nuances throughout my day that direct me to Divine presence. Call it an active imagination or “childlike faith”.

I find the  subtle hints reassuring. Yesterday, one such “sign” came to me through the early morning alarm of a phone I had not used in months. Granted, my son had been playing with it the night before but how did the alarm get set for 5:40am? I remembered that a men’s group from my church was meeting at 6am. I lay in bed pondering my options then decided to follow the “sign”. I joined the men and was incredibly blessed both by what I received and what I contributed. It changed my day.

Today I choose to listen for God’s still small voice and look for his invisible hand. If I hear or see that which reminds me of his loving care or concern I will count it as an undeserved and welcome gift.

“But the monks lived in a world in which everything was a word of God to them, in which the tenderness of God was manifest in accidental signs, nocturnal communiques, and the ordinary stuff of our pedestrian lives.” The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING book!

Reassurance in the Rain

lightning-962789_1280

This video touched me many years ago and it touched me today. When we are in life’s toughest storms, God cares and carries us. May this message remind us and reassure us today.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

When You See Wounded, I See Mended

“Mended” by Matthew West

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you’d be

Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see him now, so lift your eyes to me

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
There’s nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won

So hold on, it’s not the end
No, this is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell

You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy

When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
You’re not too far gone
You’re one step away from home

When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet, no
When you see wounded, I see mended

Ooh, I see mended
Woah, oh I see mended
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

We Can’t Cry to a Book

baby father hold

“God, thank you so much that you are a Daddy to us. So much of our time as believers we can get lost thinking you are just a book that we read, you’re a goal that we’re trying to reach, you’re a place that we go to once a week, you’re a lifestyle, you’re some sort of worldview. But God, we can’t lean on a worldview. We can’t cry to a book. You’re a father. You’re a good, good Father. And you’re not loving us because we’re good. You’re loving us because you’re good. God, the more we sing and the more we pray, just remind us that this is a conversation with a person that loves us, that knows everything about us and loves us. You deserve every breath that comes out of us, every word, every note we could ever sing is yours.” -Mark Hall (Casting Crowns, from clip below)

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK

Transformed.

egg-721315_1920
“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis

What One Person Can Do: The Ripple Effects of Living in Alignment

sunset-697401_1920

We all experience moments when one choice changes the trajectory of our lives. For me, such an event occurred on February 6th, 2015. One year ago tomorrow, I was inspired to write the controversial piece “What One Person Can Do To Stand Against ‘Shades of Grey’“. To say that it had a “ripple effect” would be understating the truth. When I shared this article with the world, it made waves…HUGE waves. The views increased exponentially, arriving at 3625 in one day (February 12), with thousands of shares. It received both praise and criticism. To date, the article has gotten almost 18,000 views and 5,500 shares on Facebook. This was the starting line of an amazing and unexpected season, brimming with opportunities to writespeakteach, and connect with others. `And more chances to serve and inspire are on the horizon.

Of greater value than the opportunities this action opened up was the character created in me.  This was a journey of hope, trust, and courage. It expanded my perspective of what was possible. I am stronger, bolder, and more purpose-driven because of this journey. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even if the outward results were disastrous, it would’ve been worth the experience of inward alignment.

Of even greater value than my growth, others found hope and healing because of it all.

Priceless.

This all begs the question: What courageous leap lies ahead for YOU?

The pursuit of a dream?

The battle against an injustice?

The initiative toward an ambitious goal?

The commitment to recover from addiction or trauma?

I am convinced that when we boldly live in alignment with our values, we experience unprecedented possibilities and growth. We cannot predict the outcomes of our actions but our lives are deeply enriched when we stand up and speak up, becoming the change we wish to see on the world (Gandhi).

What can one person do?

You decide.

*If you enjoyed this blog post, PLEASE follow my blog to receive announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK and share this post with others…thank you!

-Written by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C 

Please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

 

 

Finding Higher Ground

delicate-arch-960279_1280
Today, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I am groggy, tired, and sensitive. I am not fun to be around. Realizing this, I seek strength beyond my own, higher than my own.

My soul whispers in unison with the Psalmist

“Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,

    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4

My success today depends on my steadfastness in seeking His higher ground. My Maker, not my mood, must mold my mind today.

To my amazement, my Abba’s response is one of attention, attunement, and affection.

He’s just that kind of Daddy.

God’s Joy in Your Presence

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

I have found that my relationship with God, just like any love-based relationship, has two essential components…

  1. Being delighted in God’s presence
  2. Letting God delight in my presence

This may sound blasphemous or prideful at first glance. What I mean, and what I believe the Biblical narrative reveals to us, is that God is a Father who delights in his children (Zephaniah 3:17). Not that we deserve this affection based on our behavior but that God’s very nature is love and He is a Father who runs to us. When we walk into the room, God’s face lights up with joy! Daily, I aim to practicing a few moments of imagining this kind of Divine interaction. And I believe it helps me trust more fully in God’s loving nature, healing wounds of fear and shame, preparing me to faithfully walk His paths of purpose.

I invite you to do the same.

Forest

 

Revived.

refreshment-438399_1280
One of my favorite restaurants was called Revive Cafe. It served some of the healthiest, most delicious food ever dreamed up. Every time I visited, I knew I would be filled with something worth savoring. This restaurant truly lived up to its name.

Did you know that God wants to revive our souls?

Isaiah 58:15 says, “For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

The word revive means….

To restore to life or consciousness

To regain strength

To experience renewed energy.

I am delighted to imagine that our loving Father, though He is great and powerful, is delighted to revive those who come to Him. He truly is the One who restores the weary soul, strengthening the ones He so loves, that we may again fly on wings like eagles.

May we not only seek out the product of His renewed strength today but also savor the process of receiving from our Savior.

Forest Benedict