Could anything be more precious than the morning mist rising from rich , green grass?
Than geese flying happily across the majestic blue sky?
Each and every part of creation obeying His command…
All except man….
May we watch the birds as Jesus said and follow the example of bird and flower…living our lives as worship for our great and mighty King….
The roads we travel are most often winding and unknown. We have a plan, but God directs our steps. He gives us the opportunity to make a plan, but if it isn’t in our best interest, He may not let us keep it. He really does have a plan for us. He really does know what is best. Sometimes what He views as best just doesn’t make sense to me. Of course it doesn’t. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. I wish I understood better. Oh dear..I wish I did. However, knowing the end from the beginning, the twists and turns that I would take, the flat tires, the rainy days…that would most likely be more than my senses could handle. Jesus knew that. When Peter asked Him about such matters He carefully said only enough to give a picture, yet not the full view. Peter wasn’t ready to handle the full view and most of the time I’m not either. It’s a dance. A day to day dance between where I’ve been and what I’m facing and somewhere in the middle is the now.
I took my oldest son to work this morning for the last time. We’ve been doing alot of lasts. The last guy night before he leaves. The last Sunday before he leaves. The last breakfast before work. The last search for a work shirt. The last early morning shared with him over coffee and hot tea. The last quiet moment when I can share something deep and spiritual. The last. And then he will go off where he will create his own. He will choose. He will see flat tires and rainy days of his own. He will also see sunshine. I will remember that God has carried us each and every day and nothing is beyond His watchful eye. I will remember that He calls me to His supper table each day…and some days I make it. I will remember that He walks us to that place of conversion. I will remember that He understands our frailty. He understands our journey. He understands our pain. He understands. When one seeks His face He does not turn away. He hears and He draws that one even closer. I will remember. His grace is so much bigger than anything I can comprehend. His love is so much bigger. Why do I feel the pain and not consider that He feels it with me?
This is the journey of life we all take. It is the path that is least understood and most often traveled. It is the reality of moments of bliss and equal moments of desperation. The mantra comes from a song I listen to when my son takes on a new season. “I trust You, I trust You, I trust You Lord I do” … over and over and over this comes to my mind as a concrete reminder that I do trust Him and He knows that. He will not fail me. Will everything go as I plan? I hope. But even if it doesn’t…I can trust Him to see me through that. I trust Him.
Twists, turns, hills, valleys…flat tires and rainy days. We see them all. We also see rest stops, sunshine, the perfect waterfall and the best place ever to fly our new kite. We see those things too. Our God is good. He lets it rain on the just and the unjust. Rain is a blessing. When we think of it we don’t often consider that part. In earlier seasons the people did think of it that way. They knew they didn’t have what it took to water crops without that rain falling. They counted on it. When they heard the rain falling they saw the blessing. They knew it was good. God gives the good to me. He also gives the good to a Hitler or a Bundy. He gives the good as long as He can…wooing and drawing and sharing the message of grace and love and purpose. He will do that till the very end. He seeks to heal us. He blesses us with showers to feed our crops and thus, to care for our families. He shows us His sunset and sunrise. He gives us the gentle kiss of His breezes. He offers hope to a mom and a dad who have taken broken roads and the consequence has been painful. He loves them. He knows their pain and He feels it as His own. He calls us to feel the pain with them.
In a perfect world no one would ever feel pain. No mom would feel the awful ache of having her child taken from her arms because her brokenness is just greater than her child can handle right now. No one would stand by the grave of their loved one. No marriage would fall apart. No one would ever use the word cancer. No son would ever go so far away that important moments shared with them would be lost to an unknown future. In a perfect world. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a broken world. We live in a world that God dearly loves, but it’s broken. It is torn all apart. It is not something safe. It is something scary. We have to rely on our Father or be broken further and further until we are past feeling.
Sometimes the broken places leave us with choices to make that are not very good. No…always broken places leave us with tough choices. If we act out of our brokenness we must eventually see the outcome and choose what to do from there. We must choose to be healthy. We must choose. We are blessed with a God who does not see it as we do. A God who is not the same as the local condemning congregation and BY CHOICE His memory is very short. He loves us. Truly. Honestly. Even to the point of causing pain to Himself. That is the God I trust.
“I trust You, I trust You, I trust You Lord, I do”
Sometimes trust is difficult. If you have ever been hurt you understand. Trust takes all you have. That is why it means so much to God when we trust Him. He has already written our story. He knows the end from the beginning. He only asks that we trust Him with it. Only. To us it is like a lifeline while we hang over the edge of a cliff. Trusting. Is He big enough? Can He be trusted with even this…this thing which means so very much to me? Yes, He can. It may not come out the way I hope. The way you hope. But He can be trusted to have done what was the very best in that situation. He can see what we cannot.
Trust Him. Believe the truth about yourself from His perspective…no matter how beautiful it is. Recently I attended a day of reflection. During that event the speaker used a mantra with those words in it. I found myself questioning. All the years of religious training opposed that statement vehemently… until I considered it. What is the truth about me? About you? Not what we see in our broken lives. Not what the papers would write. Not what our “friends” would say. Not what the priest or the bishop hears in confession or your pillow knows about you as you whisper those prayers deep into it. No. I mean what is the TRUTH?
The truth…it is that Jesus…who is God Himself come down from Heaven…loves you. He knows you. Before you were formed in the womb of your mother He loved you. He knew you. I mean it in the most intimate way. He knows every inch of your body and your soul. He knows your thoughts. He knows your sins. He knows your weaknesses. He knows your pain. He knows your shame. And yet…He loves you. He is not ashamed to be known as your God. You do not shame Him. You are not so bad that He believes His image would be too tarnished if He claimed you. He loves you. He is God. Who would there be to look over His shoulder and make fun of Him for loving you? Who would there be to shame Him for calling you His own? And yet…every time we reject one of His sinning children that is what we do. Every single time. We deify our opinion. Oh Father, forgive us.
The truth….Jesus died to wash away the sins you carry deep in your heart. He died to remove your shame and replace it with dignity. The truth….people don’t like that. They like to hold on to your shame and to deprive you of dignity. Truth…that is wrong. Truth…you are loved by the Creator of the Universe. Truth…He wants you to stand tall and share that same message with the rest of His dearly loved children…because they don’t all know that. Many don’t care…their brokenness is deep…but some will listen. Truth…He doesn’t want you to hate the ones who don’t listen. He wants you to love them. To grieve for them. To NEVER see yourself as better than them. And if you feel like you are way below the rest…He wants you to know…you are good enough…just the way you are. You are ok. There may be areas the two of you will work on….but when He looks at you…the love is deep and real. The love is something only your Creator can share with you. It is real. You can trust it. Hold on to that.
” I trust You, I trust You, I trust You Lord I do” …. will you?
Good News Translation (GNT)
God’s Complete Knowledge and Care
139 Lord, you have examined me and you know me.
2 You know everything I do;
from far away you understand all my thoughts.
3 You see me, whether I am working or resting;
you know all my actions.
4 Even before I speak,
you already know what I will say.
5 You are all around me on every side;
you protect me with your power.
6 Your knowledge of me is too deep;
it is beyond my understanding.
7 Where could I go to escape from you?
Where could I get away from your presence?
8 If I went up to heaven, you would be there;
if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there.
9 If I flew away beyond the east
or lived in the farthest place in the west,
10 you would be there to lead me,
you would be there to help me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
or the light around me to turn into night,
12 but even darkness is not dark for you,
and the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You created every part of me;
you put me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart.
15 When my bones were being formed,
carefully put together in my mother’s womb,
when I was growing there in secret,
you knew that I was there—
16 you saw me before I was born.
The days allotted to me
had all been recorded in your book,
before any of them ever began.
17 O God, how difficult I find your thoughts;
how many of them there are!
18 If I counted them, they would be more than the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.
19 O God, how I wish you would kill the wicked!
How I wish violent people would leave me alone!
20 They say wicked things about you;
they speak evil things against your name.
21 O Lord, how I hate those who hate you!
How I despise those who rebel against you!
22 I hate them with a total hatred;
I regard them as my enemies.
23 Examine me, O God, and know my mind;
test me, and discover my thoughts.
24 Find out if there is any evil in me
and guide me in the everlasting way.
Studying Art. I don’t like Art. Never have. At least that’s what I thought. Really, I don’t like certain kinds of Art. I don’t like nudes. I don’t like most modern art. I don’t like violent art. I don’t like most abstract pieces. What I do like is that which lifts the heart and mind up to the Father. I like that which creates a picture of who He is. That which causes me to stop and think … “He was in that moment” or “He was in that painting” or that snapshot or what ever “that” is… I like those things that lift my mind to Him.
Lately it has been a challenge to be lifted. I mean…. I just don’t always “feel” it. Job didn’t always “feel” it either. He had to remind himself constantly that it was ok if He didn’t “feel” it. And God knew the whole time …..
I wonder sometimes….did the enemy go before God again and say… ” I want that one. You know she will deny you if you just put the pressure on. You know she will. She’s weak. Hit her kids. Hit her marriage. Hit the church she worships in. Hit her health. Hit the relationships she has had. Hit it all. She will deny you.”
And then….when all that has been hit… when I lift my hands to the Father…tears streaming down my face…and say…” I serve you still” …… the enemy goes again before the Father and says….
“Hit her joy. Take her joy. Don’t let her feel You there. You know she will leave if all she senses is empty darkness. Take it. Watch her crumble.”
And when it happens. When all that’s left is empty darkness…. I lift my hands….tears streaming down my face…and say….”I need You. I don’t feel you. I don’t know where You are….but I need You and I love You. I won’t let go. Hold on to me…please don’t let go of me….”
So the enemy goes before the Father and says….
“Make her wait. Let her see her kids leaving You…her bills unpaid…every friend denying her….let her feel shame…let her feel rejected and beat…let her feel starved and empty and lonely…let her feel the crushing blows I know how to offer….just give me a little time with her…she’ll reject You”
And the blows come…and the shame follows…and the loneliness is crippling….and the worry demands to be acknowledged…
With tears streaming and face lifted to the Father I say…. ” I have nothing left. Just these gray dots and this empty heart. No words. No feeling. No dignity. If I was You I wouldn’t want me. No one in the church wants me now. Do You? …. I still believe…but the passion is gone. I’m hangin on…but by a thread….will You take me? ”
I wonder sometimes if that’s not how it went. If that wasn’t the story. I wonder if that wasn’t the story for so many of us. You see…I listen to people cry over losses all the time. I hear the proud. I hear the broken. I hear the unforgiving. I hear the unforgiven. I know that the pain we all feel comes from a broken and sin stained world and only one is responsible for that. The enemy of our souls… the one who attempts to break us…to pull us away from the Father. I hear preachers pound shame into us and see pharisees throw stones at us…and I know the signature of the one who is the enemy of our future…the accuser. I know that signature well. I bet you do too.
I wish I could tell you it’s going to go away. I wish I could. All I can really tell you is hang on. Set the boundaries you need to. It’s ok. Surround yourself with those who are on this road too. Find those who understand what it means to live in the byways and stay close. When the enemy hits you are gonna need each other. If you just can’t find those folks yet, don’t give up. Jesus will not forsake you. He is your very best friend and He will be there on the journey.
I’m so grateful that feeling is not believing. I’m so grateful that refiner’s fires are a temporary thing. I’m so grateful that I can know truth without feeling it. I’m so grateful.
As I prayed this morning I thought about the crown of thorns. I thought about the Cross and how Jesus went obediently to that Cross even when He clearly would rather have avoided it. It was a selfless act for you and for me. I’m so grateful. I can’t live enough days well to repay Him….but I can say “I praise You” … In the dark when I can’t see… “I praise You” …. in the light when sunshine feels cold…”I praise You” … in days of wonder and days of worry…” I praise You” …. in joyful moments as well as sorrowful… “I praise You”…
I can choose to give up desires that are only earthly…. I can stop comparing and stop complaining and stop lusting after material things. I can just say…. “I praise You. I want to do with my life what You want.” And I can mean it. You can too. It’s a choice. It’s something that requires counting the cost. I’ve been counting it alot lately. But as I consider the homeless, the orphan, the hurt and emotionally bleeding…that cost looks alot smaller than I first imagined. And then there’s eternity….
“Father, we don’t even know the many ways You lift and protect us in a day’s time. We are so blind to Your loving care. Please forgive us. Forgive me. Help us let go of the material and to focus on walking in Your will. Even if it hurts. Help us to do what matters.”
“And God said…… Let there be light……”
In that brief description….scientists say….matter was formed. It is the best description they’ve been able to attach to light. Matter. That brings all sorts of possibilities to the creation story…at least for me…
I love the beloved passages of Genesis. I love the comfort of a familiar story. I love the hope of new beginnings. I love the possibilities as I trace each step the Lord took….speaking with a power and ability only He could use well…and, indeed, He did use it well. He was wise. He was beautiful. And what He made simply shined with the glory of God. Yes. Glory. New Beginnings. Hope. Light. These are pictures and phrases that come to mind when I read Genesis.
Often I find myself drawn to those passages. Whether it is a new year’s readings or a need to begin over…to hopefully find my way out of a web Satan has masterfully crafted over a portion of my life…or my heart…I find Genesis is where I go. It’s the beginning…and I often need a new beginning.
There is a certain comfort in the beginning. It’s hopeful. It’s familiar. It holds the promise that the Lord did all that…so what can’t He do with my feeble needs? It’s the promise of His return once He deems enough has been enough….when it’s time…. and just as the angels rejoiced over the birth of the tiny Infant Savior they will shout His return for all those who long to see Him come and all those who have feared or rebelled over His Lordship.
Until then….I trod this dry and cursed soil….I struggle through….but I find the beauty that still finds a way to reveal His glory…even in cursed creation……
With the beginning of Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year. So…in a way…New Year’s has already occurred for me. At least the one I count. All the hope. All the possibilities. The beginning. Genesis. Just as in my childhood I turned again and again to those familiar passages and read them…near memorized them….new beginnings.
Do you find yourself in need of a new beginning? Are you struggling with expectations of life that just seem to have fallen flat of all you hoped? Are you fighting tears as you pray for a prodigal child or a lost spouse or even a lost parent? Are you struggling through all three? Are you feeling empty when you attend church? Are you feeling like you are outside of the fold? Maybe you just don’t want to go and get the support you feel you need because you don’t want to be part of the gossip train….maybe the pain just reaches so deep for you that sometimes you can barely breathe.
I can’t promise you an easy road. I wish I could. I haven’t been able to promise myself that. What I can promise you is that with each step you take the Savior will be there. With each step you take. Remember, He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows you. Never run from that kind of intimacy. It’s not something you can change. He will always know you…but will you allow that intimacy to be your strength? Will you allow that intimacy to be your hope? Will you allow Him to be the Lover you never imagined? You see…those are intimate thoughts. Intimate phrases…yet the Savior is your Bridegroom. He is your Lover. If He isn’t…He wants to be. He is your strength. Abide in the Vine. He is the Vine. He is the very life source for each and every breath you take. How much more intimate can you be with anyone? He knows every thought you have….every sin you have committed. He knows you. He loves you. Never run from that.
In the warnings from children’s church and even Sunday sermons you may hear…just as I have over and over….”you can’t run from God. He knows what you are thinking. He knows what you have done!” Well PRAISE GOD HE DOES! How MUCH I count on that. How very much I NEED Him to know me just that intimately. When I don’t have words…I go…I sit with Him. I just say… “You Know”…..And He does. I can trust that there is not one place I will ever be that He won’t find me. Not one place.
If I sit in a ditch….wailing over a prodigal child….I will find Him there. If I find myself longing for a home where my husband leads our family in a godly way….I will find Him there. If I hurt over the unfaithfulness of an earthly husband…I will find Him there. If I hurt over the unfaithfulness of a church or a friend or extended family…I will find Him there.If it was in church my family was abused. If I’ve grown to mistrust the church because it seems they are leading my children away from the Savior…if I’m seeing the fruit of that even now…I will find Him there. Men can turn this to read for them… We can all find Him there….
I have listened to so many hearts. Women who say…”I was suddenly married to a man who didn’t just want me to be his slut and I didn’t know what to do with that.” So…because internal storms still live in that “tent” they act out …..I’ve listened to men who scream they don’t want to go through those storms again….and yet the storms come…I’ve seen tears of women as they have told me about sons in prison begging them to take them home. I’ve watched children put holes in walls and listened to them talk to me about cutting themselves because they feel so much pain.
You see….we all desperately need new beginnings.
There is a new beginning. A new hope. But it will not be found in all the places we are looking. It will not be found there. No. We want easy. We want pain free. But we are promised that in this world we will have trouble. We want freedom from it. We can’t find that here. What we find is hope. New beginnings. What we find is the realization that what is here…this is temporary…yet we spend so much of our effort trying to build those castles in the sand…so much of our time…but it’s all wasted….oh…it looks good…for a while. But the day will come when it will all be consumed in the fires of God’s judgement on this world. When that happens what will we have left? What will remain? Only that which we have invested in eternity. I know. You’ve heard it all before. It seems empty. But it isn’t. It may be for you…today…yes…it may be…but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes it feels empty for me. When I’ve neglected to abide in the Vine. It’s empty. When I haven’t sat with the Savior and drank in who He is …. when I haven’t been renewed by His love. Then I feel sooo empty. But neither one of us has to go through that…and the new beginning can come today. We will experience the pain. We will experience the desert. We will. But there are springs of living water in the desert. There are fruits abundant in the desert. We can have those.
If you are hurting..please don’t let this be where you give up. If you need a new beginning turn to the Savior. The words can be simple. “Jesus, I need you”. That’s all you need say. He will be right there. If you need to know someone is praying for you…I will. Let me know. I will pray for you. If you need someone to hear your story…I will listen. firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m serious. I will listen. I will pray. If you need professional help…get that. God is big enough to use those things. But you must turn to the Savior. He is the one who really has your answers. You must run to Him. He is a friend in the darkest of days. When you sit in the dark…when no one answers the phone…when no one is online at your favorite social network…He will be there. He never leaves. He will hear you. Believe that. You must trust. Will you feel His nearness? Not always. I have to be honest and tell you that. When I need it the most I don’t always feel it. That is when I simply trust that He is there. And then…in ways I would not have planned out myself…He is there. Maybe He brings a song..a verse…a book…a nature walk…a friend…or His presence known to me…but He is there.
New Beginnings….believe in the hope…believe…you can have a new beginning.
Father, please help my friends to find You…to find peace within regardless of the storms that rage in their lives. Please find them just as You find me over and over and over. I love You Lord and I trust You with this……