Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

for understanding | composition

Her eyes give away the anxiousness mixed with anticipation.  in her thoughts she reminds herself that her God is both good and sovereign and can be trusted with what He gives and where He leads.

quilt sillouette

Photo taken at a Quilt Show in 2011. I do not know the artist’s name.

composing  those words and this picture amidst a scene of other excited travelers embarking on a wonderful week-long artist retreat in Normandy France  would carry the statements about God into a specific place in a receiver’s heart.

composing those words and this picture amidst a scene of bomb-destroyed rubble and other weary and frightened travelers embarking on a long journey to a refugee camp would carry the statements about God into a very different place in the receiver’s heart.

same words, same picture.  different understanding.

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the places that the Lord is inviting me- you know, those places of feeling inept, the pain of being misunderstood, of struggling with communication.  i have become aware of a myriad of ways this is playing out in my life these days.  Providentially showing up it seems everywhere i turn.  and so my Father has my attention and i am seeing various places for tearing down idols and building up strength in Him.  so here i am with another unplanned series.

today is a lesson in composition.

i have mastered enough of the English language to effectively use words to communicate.

however, that composition thing-the way words filter in through the composition of a person’s life and land where they will within that- Jesus alone is master of the skill of weaving words perfectly and personally, getting to the individual heart of things.   He is also the master of the skill of giving enough detail in such a way to gain understanding.   me-i am inept at all of that.  and so if anything i say is to be understood the way it is meant to be understood-He will have to intervene.  and if anything i say is to be understood the way HE means it to be, He will have to intervene there too.

…”for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

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and so the Master Communicator invites me to pray over my words….

….and then release them into His capable hands.

growing quiet

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i sit amongst a group of folks and attempt to share a glimpse of hope from my tender Father.  the response is clear-they don’t get it. in fact what they hear is completely opposite of what i am actually saying.    it’s important to me, so i try again.  i give it a third go.   driving home, sifting down the frustration  and i can name it-misunderstood.

i resolve that i must be inept and unable to communicate.  and so i grow quiet. everywhere.

later, i’m back amongst these folks and 4 people, yep 4, share the very glimpse of hope i was attempting before and everyone, yep everyone gets it.  i resist the temptation to declare (read shout) “That’s exactly what i was saying!”  but i don’t.  instead i write in my journal-what am i going to choose to do with this?  What are You inviting me into here?

i am very well aware of the churning and battle going on that is specific to me and there is no coincidence here-this pain of misunderstanding, this awareness of my lack in communication-it is purposeful and i know the Lover of my Soul is inviting me into something other, something new.

so i do what makes the most sense for thinking deeply and processing through what is going on in my heart…..

i clean odd and random places; the drawer under the stove, the top of the fridge

i dash outside facing off that wind blowing the fall out and winter in and rescue a few branches with leaves on them…you know to decorate with.

i sit down and read one of the Anne of Green Gables books.

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Gilbert had finally made up his mind that he was going to be a doctor.

“It’s a splendid profession,” he said enthusiastically.  “A fellow has to fight something all through life…..and I want to fight disease and pain and ignorance…..I want to do my share of honest, real work in the world, Anne….add a little to the sum of human knowledge that all the good men have been accumulating since it began.  The folks who lived before me have done so much for me that I want to show my gratitude by doing something for the folks who will live after me.  It seems to me that is the only way a fellow can get square with his obligations to the race.”

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily…..

-Anne of Avonlea p.53

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me too, Anne, me too.

 

 

food for thinking on

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God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.

-John Piper

Starting anew

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shortly after the Barn Event came the 31 days challenge and i’ve been immersed in the concept of prayer.

today there has been some churning within.  i turn on Pandora and Christa’s Frame the Clouds is first.  because of course it is.

and so i’m taken back to that Barn and all the tending of my soul that was done there.  i’m being led to a new place of trust with my Guide-always a new place of trust.

Christa takes the depths of my being and crafts words and music around it and the result is this; have a listen.

 

that’s all this space is really, simply my attempt to “frame the clouds”

Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

wrapping it all up

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“You don’t learn to pray by studying prayer. You learn to pray by studying God.”

— @hbcharlesjr #ExpositorsSummit

all day yesterday i searched for the words to conclude this series on prayer, but they never came.  so i waited-having learned this month to hold the commitment to write each day loosely when the words aren’t there.  This morning at Bible Study i heard this quote and knew these were the very words i was waiting for to end this series on.

i started this series with questions and as i glance back through i see this focus on knowing Jesus emerging.  and i find myself settling in on a new question;

 Lord I know that you are with me, what can i know about You here in this place, in this circumstance?

i’d say that’s been a shift from studying prayer to studying God, wouldn’t you?


post scirpt

One habit that has greatly influenced my prayer walk has been the habit of Adoration.  i don’t remember how i came upon Sara Hagerty’s blog, but i will say that i joined instagram so that i could daily meditate on Who God Is. because daily she posts these:

adoration


i think there were over 1600 other bloggers who took on this write31days challenge.  Here are a few i enjoyed:

              

how to save a life

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I would have stayed up with you all night,
had i known how to save a life.
-The Fray

but it’s been a long time since i’ve been a witness to His working in that way i spoke of.  and i had forgotten all about it until yesterday when He gave me those words.

and i began to grow weary and i began to ask all the questions.

and i began to loose sight of the only Goal worth having; which is to know Him deeper, wider, more.

and i began to lose heart.

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There are those for whom prayer is all i’ve got left.  and apparently if i don’t believe something is working, than i fail to see it’s value.  which reveals to me that prayer had become merely a means to an end.  and it reveals how little i really know.

i wasn’t there when earth’s foundation was laid.  and i don’t know how to save a life.  but there is One who knows the number of hairs on my head and His Eye is on the sparrow.

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Then Job replied to the LORD:
“i know that You can do all things;
no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures My counsel without knowledge?’
Surely i spoke of things i did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.
My ears had heard of You
but now my eyes have seen You.
Therefore i repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42

31praytag

the invitation

 

Amelia Taylor…. ever heard of her?

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Amelia Taylor, the beloved sister of Hudson Taylor, was a faithful supporter of her brother’s ministry through prayer. …In 1859, Amelia Taylor married Benjamin Broomhall (1829-1911). This marriage led to the deep-rooted and long-lasting affiliation between the Broomhalls and China.”

The Broomhalls and China

long before Hudson even had a ministry, Amelia faithfully supported her wayward brother with prayer…

Some little time after [my conversion], I picked up a pocketbook exactly like one of my own, and thinking that it was mine, opened it.  The lines that caught my eye were an entry in the little diary, which belonged to my sister, to the effect that she would give herself daily to prayer until God should answer in the conversion of her brother.  Exactly one month later the Lord was pleased to turn me from darkness to light.

-Hudson Taylor-from his autobiography

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From Amelia, i see the invitation into something invisible.  something unknown.  something powerful.
It’s prayer.

would i be content to be as she?  faithful in prayer, unseen and unknown by most.  content to be known and seen by my Father alone?

i’m getting there….i’m getting there.

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there are those times, when another is sharing from their heart the amazing thing their Jesus has done.  and i wonder if the gasp is audible.  i have their name written by those very words in my own Bible-and i’m left to wonder;

did i do that with my prayers?  or did You simply invite me into the plan You were executing in their life?

i don’t know the answer to those questions.  but i do know that He prompted the pouring out on their behalf.  and He granted a witness to His answer.  and my view of Him is higher and deeper-

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He invites me into this intimate communion.  this sharing of mysteries too much for me to grasp.  it’s hidden, unseen, known only to Him and i.  the fruit of which is beyond anything i could conceptualize-as i’m sure was the case with dear Amelia.  Her heart was stirred for her brother-that was all.  and millions in China will never be the same because of it.

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Who is a God like our Lord?
Oh the depths of the riches of
the wisdom and
knowledge of God.
How unsearchable His judgments,
and His paths beyond tracing out!

31praytag

in sickness

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But I have not found myself that illness makes prayer easier, nor do any of our family who have been ill tell me that they have found it so.  Prayerfulness does not seem to be a flower of the spirit that grows of itself.  When we are well perhaps we rather take it for granted that it does, as though what is sometimes called a “sick-bed” offered natural soil for that precious flower.  I do not think that it does.  A bed can be a place of dullness of spirit as well as of body, and prayer is, after all, work-the most strenuous work in all the world.

Amy Carmichael | Rose from Briar p.55

31praytag

Signposts

market kampala

 i like to take pictures of signs-i don’t know why, but i always have.  this week as i’ve been reading on the beginning of Israels’s journey from Egypt to the Promised land, i began to see signposts-marked out for them along their way.  i saw God’s purposeful bringing them to the end of their abilities, inviting them to know Him.  i saw truths for the battle that is within, and the battle from without.  and it all relates so much to prayer-the knowing and the battling. all opening my eyes to more pieces of the puzzle of who God is and the signposts left for me on my own journeying through this life to the promised land.

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Look to God for direction and provision.

stop one is 3 days without water, and then water is found that is not drinkable.  Moses cries out to God and God provides him with a solution.

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seek to know the Lord my God

Next up we have the problem of food in the desert.  “The LORD said to Moses, ‘I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.  Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”

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obey without understanding, because the God i’ve come to know is the One giving the instructions

The instructions for gathering the manna are very specific-along with an introduction into the concept of Sabbath:  each day only gather one day’s worth, any extra will spoil.  except for on the 6th day-then you can gather 2 days worth and it won’t spoil.

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write it down, take a photo, keep a souvenir.  do something to help me remember the ways He guided and provided.

“This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.’”

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Every need is an opportunity to experience God’s character.  His provision.  His help.  His nearness.  Himself.

again we have the need for water.  again a situation that we cannot solve ourselves.  God lead them here-they are completely in His will.  and they are thirsty.  it’s not a small problem, but a major concern.  and they are asking; “Is the LORD among us or not?”

big. sigh.

um, well, there is the parting of the red sea, the water that came out of a rock, that daily stuff that just appears for food.  but if a legitimate and major need for survival is not being met-what else is one to wonder?  oh, how many times and in how many ways have i been asking this very question?

 

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Strength for the battle comes from the Lord’s power.  Victory comes from the partnership of those on the front lines and those praying.

So those other’s were signposts for the battle that is within.  Now they are faced with the Amalekites attack-the battle without.  Joshua and his men fight in the battle as commanded, and Moses, Aaron and Hur go to the top of a hill.  As long as Moses holds up his hands, Joshua and his men are winning.  When Moses grows tired, Aaron and Hur hold his hands up for him.

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write it down-it is something to be remembered.  but not only that-this is training for Joshua who will one day lead Israel into battle.  He doesn’t know this, but God does.  And God finds it important for Joshua to understand how this battle was won.  i too need to understand this-and so do my children.  when they are ‘on the front lines’ (off at school) and there is victory in their day-and i have been home praying for them-we all need to ‘review the report’ and make note of where the victory came from….lest we think it’s from ourselves.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

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Repeatedly Israel faces problems that they are not able to solve by themselves-divinely purposed!  Repeatedly God gives them more pieces of the puzzle of Who. He. Is.-divinely invited!  Their journey is my journey too….my journey specifically with prayer. and these are signposts along the path showing me the way through:

 looking to God for provision, seeking to know Him,  obeying without understanding, remembering the ways He guides and provides, allow my neediness to usher me into a deeper experience of Who. God. Is., know where my strength comes from, when my ‘arms are too tired’ ask other’s to pray for me, remember where the victory comes from, and write it all down.

In Your unfailing love You will lead
the people You have redeemed.

In Your strength You will guide them
to your holy dwelling.

to draw further in: Exodus 15-17

all photos taken in Uganda in 2010- it was fun to have a reason to share them.

31praytag

the impact of knowing

“The Christian Life is a dynamic journey of knowing Him-anytime i am living out of old pains and drives to achieve means i’m missing a piece of the puzzle of who God is.”
 -Robbie Ankarlo

if i believe God to be distant and annoyed with me-my prayers (or lack of prayer) will reflect that.

if i believe God to be near and delighted to be so-my prayers will reflect that as well.

Each aspect of His character i’ve come to know influences the way i am communing with the One who invites me to call Him Father.  Each reminder of who He is that i give to my heart draws me deeper into authentically relating with this One who invites me into His Throne Room.

knowing

As time goes by i find myself more and more aware at how very little i know about life, about my own life.  i don’t know what is in store 5 minutes from now.  i don’t know how my children interpret my words and behaviors.  i don’t know what God is doing in the places He’s told me to go.  This One who knows everything has whispered to me time and time and time again; “you don’t need to know”

today, this One who makes Himself known is adding to that statement; “you don’t need to know about all the things. You only need to know Me.”

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