Ora et Labora

My old school motto, pray and work, is actually a Benedictine value from the Rule of St Benedict. I had to do some research on my school in England recently which jolted that memory.

Myakka photo by Mick Hales

Looking back over my life I think I may have changed the word order to Labora et Ora. Or working more than praying.

The Benedictine concept was to stop work five times a day for prayer, or an ‘Office’, and then resume working, eating or sleeping. 

So many things in our Christian lives are about getting the right balance between our personal time with God and all the other issues we deal with constantly. Now that I work as a Chaplain, I find my personal time with God, can get squeezed out by time ministering to people.

I need to remember they are different but interdependent.

So, I took a morning to myself recently to visit Myakka Park which is close by and is as wild a landscape as we have; made up of palmettos, palm trees and live oaks all creatively interwoven as only God can manage.

Myakka Photo by Mick Hales

I took my bible with me and when I was deep in green solitude, I started to read Romans 8 out loud. Romans 8 has been transformational for me at different times of my walk with God, but on that day I felt such an oppression, I could not read past; ‘The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs with God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him.’

My heart seemed to sink deeply and I felt an immense resistance to continue with the reading.

I realized to stand as a child of God there needs to be a strong consistent parental connection, a living relationship, as Jesus pursued with the Father. Children tend to neglect their parents after they have left home. Their lives become full and connecting to their parents grows less rewarding. I had fallen into that trap and was being awakened to my failings. I was not spending quality time with God.

Two things seemed to happen simultaneously at that point. I received a text telling me, one of my flock had just passed away. I had prayed for her, alongside her son, the previous day.  Also, I heard God requesting me to finish reading Romans 8 out loud. 

As the words finally came out of me, ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus,’ the awareness of the loving Father was so powerful for me in that wilderness.

God gave me a lesson in undeserved love, by the depths of His Grace. As a parent does to their child. 

Saint Francis by Christine Hales

Please let us know how we can pray for you. Christine Sends her love, too!

Love and prayers,

Christine and Michael Hales Mick’s Photography Christine’s Icons

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