Chasing Joy

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

Category: interlude (page 2 of 3)

chasing joy | a cabin story: the foreword

my daughter never reads the forewords or the prologues in a book, declaring her disdain and sense of pointlessness with them on a regular basis.  i find that to be one of her endearing qualities and it makes me smile.  she is passionate about certain things and is free to share it.

a foreword is typically written by someone other than the author themselves.  it’s a word before the story meant to give insight into the story the book tells.  in my case here, i’m writing to create a level of understanding of the foundations laid in my inner man regarding who God is and what it means to be loved by Him.

if you also share in my daughter’s disdain and prefer to just jump into a story, than you’ll have to wait a couple of days for it to begin.   i’ve known i would have to go here in this series and have been struggling with how to go about it.  this is the way forward for me, (pun intended).

 

Chasing Joy | A Cabin Story

foreword

i once read the book:  The God I Love by Joni Eareckson Tada.  it is a book full of wisdom words such as these.  There is a chapter in that book where Joni wrestles with a friend over the concept of a God who is both Sovereign and Good (vs. either/or).  a mere inches could have meant a different outcome for her that day.  that chapter marked me.


in the dead of the night with my firstborn, i’d rock and nurse and hold this love of my heart.  and the God who knit her together in my womb would bring to my mind one song.  only one song; “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”  and so that became ‘her’ song, and the truths contained within would overlay my own thoughts and prayers and needs as her mom.

with my second born, again there was one song, only ever one song; “The Love of God”

our first born delight was a very cooperative baby.  this second born, not so much. about 8 months in we find ourselves far from home riding along in an ambulance wondering if he will survive the night.  leaving our girl behind with grandma and grandpa we spent the next 5 days in the fight.  the first hours included such depths of suffering and torture i will never forget.  my husband was allowed to remain inside the ICU assisting the various docs while they worked for hours upon hours attempting to insert an iv into his dehydrated and failing body.  i, however, was forbidden and exiled outside the closed and windowless door where i could hear his screams of pain, yet see nothing.  the God of Jacob and i wrestled that night and i still carry the limp.

a mere inches could mean a different outcome.

Sovereign.  yes.  Good? after about the 5th or 6th failed (and extremely painful) attempt i began to wonder.

sometime in the middle of the night i was made aware that we were running out of time and options.  i knew that the God of the Universe knew the outcome.  if He was planning on taking my son, then get it over with already, why this needless suffering?

the familiar song flooded my mind and i could not stop the words.

I Am.  I love you.  I love zeke.

as i melted into a puddle of sobs over the reality that appeared to state otherwise, i was able to surrender to His Sovereignty and His Goodness co-existing in this place of torture and suffering.  i leaned upon His breast and wept.

exhausted yet strengthened in my watchman’s post, a few hours later they handed me a limp body with an IV inserted into his scalp-the last attempt by the last person at the hospital that they knew to call in, inserted into the last place possible.

i have never understood that night.  there has never been made known to us any type of outcome that makes sense or lends purpose to the suffering we all endured. (for it wasn’t only zeke who suffered and was afraid.  hannah, barely 4, and jeremy and i also suffered and were frightened by that week.)  the mystery remains to this day.

“I wished God were like He used to be, a few notches lower. I wanted Him to be lofty enough to help me but not so uncontrollable. I longed for His warm presence, times when He seemed more… safe.”  -Joni Eareckson Tada

 

waiting through the dark night of the soul

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…in the early days of spiritual life, the soul often finds delight in devotional activities:  We love to read the Bible, we hunger for worship we long to pray.”

-John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

i sit with my Bible, Daily Light and my journal, and stare off into space.  i have experienced the life found in saturating my soul with His words, and yet, here i sit and there is nothing.  i attempt to read and it all just goes right out into space and i can’t take hold of anything.  i, the one who has been writing words since i learned to write, cannot form a sentence, cannot find words to pray.

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“But there will come a time when God will bid them to grow deeper.  He will remove the previous consolation of the soul in order to teach it….” In the dark night, my prayers feel like they reach no higher than the ceiling. In the dark night, the Bible I read turns to ashes.  In the dark night, words and books and songs that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.”

-John Orgberg, Soul Keeping (quoting The Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross. This Saint John of the Cross describes the dark night of the soul as not just the experience of suffering, but the suffering in what feels like the silence of God.)

my Rock has been silent.  for quite a long time.  He’s not a tame lion you see, as CS Lewis would say.  and yet, He hasn’t been altogether silent.  there have been the middle of the night awakenings, where His word pinpoints and brings comfort and conviction.  The moments of standing at the sink of dishes and being overcome with prayers that bring me straight to my knees.  He’s just been uncontrollable.  and i’ve been thirsty.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

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all summer long i’ve been sitting with Psalm 19

pondering what it means that nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun and the correlation between that and “the law of the LORD, the statues of the LORD, the precepts of the LORD, the commands, the fear, the ordinances of the LORD.

pondering that and wholeheartedly declaring as if it was my own pen which penned the words; Who can discern his errors?  Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins, may they not rule over me. and oh, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD my Rock and my Redeemer.

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When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes embittered and angry.  There are some who become angry at themselves at this point, thinking that their loss of joy is a result of something they have done or have neglected to do.  They will fuss and fret and do all they can to recover this consolation….Their problem is that they lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give them and when God chooses to give.

-John Ortberg Soul Keeping

as i’ve wrestled with this silence and distance, and then sudden nearness and loudness of my God-i’ve longed to tame Him.  i’ve longed to figure out what caused this riff and distance between us, i’ve longed to capture His nearness that i could control it and bring it forth when i need it.

because i need Thee every hour.

because He is my strength, i cannot make it without Him.

as if His silence means His absence.

except that it doesn’t.

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Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

and so, as i wait on Him in the darkness, i continue to show up with my Bible and Journal and pen, knowing that He is present whether i feel Him or not, whether i hear from Him or not.  and when my deep longings and deepest fears wake me in the middle of the night and He meets me there with balm and communion and connection-i drink as if a child in Uganda at a freshly drilled well.  i join my fellow sojourners on Sunday morning and close my eyes and breath in His word as it is spoken by them.  i receive His living water when He gives it, and flip over from psalm 19 to psalm 37, where He quiets me with; “Trust – Commit – Rest – do not fret”

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and i say to my soul; “Surely the darkness cannot overwhelm me, for my God is near.”


The Life series will continue-just as those thoughts come, not necessarily in series.  i know i’ve been quiet here, a by-product of this season i’m in.  thank you for grace.

to draw further in Psalm 37, 139, Isaiah 40, especially vs. 26-31

life | running

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the alarm goes off in the dark of summer.  the inability to quit on my girl is stronger than the mighty ability to quit on myself, so i get up and rouse her out of her slumber.  we push it to the very edge, she and i, giving ourselves first 20, then 10, and then 5 minutes to get ready. yes, 5 minutes will be enough, our sleep hungry bodies think.  this is the logic of one whose natural body rhythm does not include mornings.  so we run late and we don’t comb our hair, but we show up.  she has a swimming class.  and i will run.

my health is not where i want it to be.  and i am a simple minded person, not one to cook complicated food or start complicated plans.  i know two things that need addressing, an addiction to sugar and a lack of exercise.  there are more, but two things are enough to focus on for the time being.  so for the sugar addiction I’ve replaced my daily chai tea lattes with just tea and for the exercise, i’m running.

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i want to quit.  i really do.  mightily when the alarm goes off yes, but even still after my girl has sauntered off to class. i rationalize other things to do during this hour, maybe stay in the car and read, or go sit next to the other moms by the pool and get to know them-that would be neighborly and right wouldn’t it?  no, that still small voice replies,

run.

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I’m Brennan.  I’m an alcoholic.
How I got there, why I left there, why I went back, is the story of my life.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I was a priest, but am no longer a priest.  I was a married man but am no longer a married man.
How I got to those places, why I left those places, is the story of my life too.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I’m a sinner saved by grace.
That is the larger and more important story.
Only God, in His fury, knows the whole of it.

-Brennan Manning from The Furious Longing of God

there is a storm swirling around inside, dark clouds looming thick and strong.

and when i run it rises up from those deep places within and spills forth into view and i see it.  like Brennan, this is not my whole story, only one part of many other parts that make up the whole of me.  but it is an important part to look at and sit with.  today, however, i resisted for 30 minutes.  i just sat in the car and kept the storm just below the surface, glancing at it a little, forming words around it a little, only a little.  but the One who always wins had His way.  knowing the invitation for what it was, i opened the door and got out of the car.

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too often i think satan is winning.  too often it feels like he is winning.

he is not winning.

he does not win.

O LORD, the king rejoices in Your strength.
How great is his joy in the victories You give.

-psalm 21

i am no king, but i too rejoice in the victories He gives.

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today as my feet hit the pavement the tears flowed freely.  out here on these public streets we wrestle, He and i, deep calling to deep, mining for the treasures He’s promised in the dark places.

personal words with real and deep laments brought before me to hold in my hands and look at from all directions. invited to know that He is the Lord, the God of Israel who summons me by name.

i have no hope for change or remedy or relief.  these are the places the fight has gone, He knows this.

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but i am still running.

and there is hope in that.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in:  Psalm 21:1 and Isaiah 45:3

 

life | when you’ve really screwed up

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he took something that didn’t belong to him.  when caught he lied.  when sent to the principle’s office he got scared and confused and went back to class instead.  i discover this last bit on the way home and turn the car around and walk beside him as he reluctantly faces things.

this 12 year old is having a very bad day.

this mother of a 12 year old is having a very bad day too.

the problem is that the thing he took is lost.  somewhere in his room.  so he’s tasked with cleaning, looking as he goes.  after dinner i decide to join the hunt, only to discover how my boys have been cleaning their room.  you know, grab a handful of stuff and shove it under or behind or i know, these dirty socks and odds and ends will disappear nicely into this empty Lego box.

now there are 2 boys having a very bad day and one mom who needs a time out.

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while the boys clean their room like they’ve never cleaned before, i pray the prayer that never fails.

Jesus, i need help.

He leads me beside still waters and i sit with His words and let them soak and settle in.

gathering the boys to my side we kneel to pray- the thing we should’ve done in the first place-regarding the lost toy.

the first offender begins, and i hear the words he’s been telling himself all day.

he wants to be a better person.  he wants to be responsible.  he wants to think before he acts.  he wants to want to return to school instead of dread it.

underneath those words i hear the self-loathing that i know full well.

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i move toward him, i cup his head in my hands and look straight into his red puffy eyes. he tries to look away.

“son, look at me.”

our eyes lock

“you are my son and I love you.  this does not change that.”

he melts into a puddle of sobs

i rub his back and speak the words that give life.

words of Jesus seeing over the span of time to that day last week when this all began.

words of His deep love.

words of the cross.

words of a standing that is secure.

“you are His son and He loves you.  this does not change that.”

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 yes, the wages of sin is death.  oh don’t we all know it?  haven’t we all felt it?  especially when we’ve screwed up?  screw-ups of the 12 year old sort and screw-ups of the beenwalkingwithJesusalongtimeandknowbetter sort.  the weight of the death feels heavy on the chest.

and we want to be better, more responsible, think before we act.

and it’s easy to slip from real sorrow and repentance down down down into the self-loathing.

that’s a sorrow that leads to more death.

there is another way.  a locking of red-puffy eyes with the eyes of a Father who knows it all.

and breathing in His words….

you are my child and I love you.  this failure cannot change that.

….His words that bring the dead to life.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in, Isaiah 53, Psalm 32, Romans 6-8

 

 

life | through grief

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Three days of mourning have been declared in Haiti after a power line fell on to a carnival float in the capital, Port au Prince.

-bbc news

Moses was 120 years old when he died… The People of Israel wept for Moses in the Plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.

-Deuteronomy 34

OSO, Wash. — Washington residents paused Saturday to observe a statewide moment of silence at 10:37 a.m., exactly a week after a devastating mudslide tore through this rural mountain town.

-LA Times

I remember when i first read of Haiti’s 3 days of mourning in the aftermath of the carnival tragedy.  not only did they cancel the last day of the event, but 3 whole days of mourning?!  i wondered what that must look like.  businesses closed, schools closed, families gathering together talking about it, openly weeping? i only imagine-not having ever experienced such community grieving.  i read of how Israel mourned for 30 days when Moses died. 30 whole days until the days of weeping came to an end.  wow.  this contrasted against how we do it in the States.  we pause for moments.  and they are moments of silence.  that feels like a slight acknowledgement and then back to work and moving along as ‘normal’.  i have felt the shock of that.  in the face of deep personal loss, i can recall being perplexed by the moving about of others-folks who know nothing of the loss i’ve experienced-doing normal things like getting groceries and picking up their kids from school.  i know in my head; “of course they are, why wouldn’t they be?” while my grieving heart can’t figure out how to make one foot move in front of the other and my grieving mind can not be trusted to work the stove.

our bodies are made to feel.  and some feelings need time.  life follows death, healing follows brokenness, rivers of joy follow valleys of sorrow.

i learned as a child that pain and grief were not to be felt.  count backwards from 10, breathe deep, but by all means, don’t cry.

it takes courage to feel.  i come from a family of wimps.  i mean no offence by that, we wanted to be strong, it’s just that the understanding of what real strength is got mixed up somewhere along the way.  and so i grew up stoic, priding myself on my lack of tears and pretend indifference.  but the color of my world grew more and more gray.  and my heart shriveled.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

-Isaiah 35:3-4

This One who wept and groaned loudly, He did come.  and He taught me how to grieve.  and through grieving all the losses past, and continuing to grieve losses big and small as they come, color has returned to my world.  and my heart has opened…

…and i have come to life.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


All photos except for the first one taken by Hannah Lucas

To draw futher in:  John 11, 16:20-22; Hebrews 5:7; Ecc 3; Deuteronomy 34

when the journey feels like death

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been walking alongside the nation of Israel as they journey from slavery in Egypt to the land promised to them.  it’s been a long journey, and all along the way they have talked about death….they seem so often to be fearful and obsessed with death:

at the very beginning of their journey:  “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Part way through: “But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

at their destination-right outside the land: “And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

At the beginning of their wilderness wanderings (the result of the above rebellion): “And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the LordWhy have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.”

it has been a hard road-this journeying out of slavery and into freedom.  it seems to me that their early cries are a question of; “is the Lord with us or not?” but then move into “is the Lord for us or not?”  so often thinking that anything else, even death or slavery would be better than this.

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i’m moving along on a journey out of slavery and into freedom too. and i ask the same questions.  it comes as no surprise really, these questions all got started in that garden with that theiving serpant.

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she says words that make me cringe and my blood begins to boil.  i halfheartedly try to talk my pounding heart down enough to get past the hot button words she’s used and  actually listen to what she is really saying; “compared to the alternative, followers of Christ do get a better life.”  i don’t hold back and give in to the pounding heart rather then the listening one; “that all depends on your definition of a better life.  followers of Christ get beheaded.”  my cynicism wounds and i see it too late to take the words back.  she stumbles over her response and the pounding in my heart gives way to the sting of understanding my sin and my cynicism.

in many ways i’ve been being made aware of my tendencies towards cynicism-and i’m beginning to see it for what it is; hopeless acceptance of grief.

i’m right there with those Israelites-wondering if the Lord is for me or not- if the path the Lord has sovereignly brought me on is meant to destroy me and my children and my livestock.  i see that going back to Egypt is not an option, and so i resign myself to wandering around in the desert-because i’d rather be wandering around in the desert with the Presence of the Almighty God, than back in Egypt without Him.

but oh the difference it all makes when i move out of that acceptance without hope cynicism and into the truth that…..

You have a Father’s heart
and a love that’s wild

J.J. Heller Who You Are

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because i’m reading the Israelite’s story, i am able to see beyond their current circumstances causing them to fear death.  i can see the Father’s heart and wild love.  i can see that it has never been the Lord’s intent to bring them out of Egypt to starve them or kill them.  it has been His intent all along to bring them out of slavery and into His presence.  to be their God, their hero, their provider. To give them not just a land flowing with milk and honey, but to give them the gift of Himself, of knowledge of Himself.

and so it goes with me.  He is with me and for me.  He is for you too.

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During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.  You ate no bread and drank no wine.  I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD Your God.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of His great power and Mighty strength
not one of them is missing.

collect wages from your grief work….there is hope…


to draw further in:  Exodus 16, 17; Numbers 16; 20; Isaiah 40:26-31; Jeremiah 31-in The Message

 

 

 

 

 

 

overshadowed

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while driving, i glance over and the perspective i see of those massive white peaks above massive blue ones is stunning.  it is such a contrast as i can almost see the entire bustling city at its base.

they stand there-so strong, so constant, so unmovable, so still.  i know that if i were to turn the car towards them and drive closer closer in, i’d lose that picture and see the hustle and bustle happening in their midst too, but here-this view- and they are saying something else.

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arrows fly at lightning speed, aimed straight at those sore and weak spots of my heart.  they fly from words without, but mostly from words within. they beckon me back into the courtroom before the prosecutor who always comes to steal and kill and destroy.  the attack is always strategic, wolves tearing at flesh striving to snatch joy away. always striving to snatch joy away.  and they come in all sorts of clothing.

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those massive peaks remind me of what is true.   like the city nestled at the base of those Rocky Mountains, i am small, resting in the Shadow of a Mighty Warrior.  He stands behind me and the wolves scatter.

“But was you not afraid, good sir, when you see him come with his club?”
“It is my duty,” said he, “to distrust mine own ability, that I may have reliance on him that is stronger than all”.”
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress    

this Stronger One has adjourned the court-the verdict is in.  why do i persist in returning?  my identity has been determined by the only One who knows everything, the One who calls me beloved even tho He knows everything.  He is majestic, He is massive, He is formidable, He is mighty, and He is kind.  The Lord Almighty is His name.


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 in my moments of clarity and hope, i entertain longings, desires, dreams;  i look at my laundry/everything/dumping room and form a picture in my head and the steps to take to get it there.  i look at my front yard full of hundreds of years of neglect and the weeds that love to grow and i imagine a new picture and all the ways to get there.  i imagine the hospitality that i will offer and the enjoyment we will all share with the new space i will create.  i look at my 40 year old figure and see the form of my days and how exercise fits just right-right there. i can visualize the enjoyment and joy of all 5 of us getting our heart rates up and the energy and whole body health that will come as a result….. just to name a few.

hope deferred makes the heart sick.

but then i get a call and bring 3 extra little boys home and it’s everything i can do to come up with enough dinner for all of us and a bit extra to send home with them to their sick mom.

but then i’m rinsing out a throw-up bowl one more time and making honey toast for another one who can now keep food down.  i’m washing sheets and learning how to sanitize silverware and cups with no dishwasher.

a couple of days to recover, the desires and hopes flood in only to be hit with another round of illness or something else.  and the only thing constant is my need for strength from the only One who can give it.

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just three days ago i began to formulate a plan of execution for that laundry room.  today as i’m walking though to bring medicine to another sick one it stands there mockingly.  i let myself sob at all the ways it’s a representative of even deeper things, crying out to the One who delights to show Mercy to me.  and together we go to all of the places of deferred hopes.  i breath deep and remember that even if my children flunk out of school, even if we are not able to get well, even if i never tackle that laundry room, even if my husband’s travel schedule never ends, even if on this green earth all the people who want answers to our questions will never get them and will go on assuming how if we only did this or this we could be happy and healthy and wise.  even if, even if, even if….those mountains crumble and fall into the heart of the sea…

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…our standing, my standing, before the King of Kings will not be shaken loose.  His delight in me will not be effected by failing grades or messy spaces, or sick bodies, or cancelled responsibilities.

i think back on those mountains,  i can’t see them from where i stand, but i know they are still there.  and i think of how sure and strong and steadfast my Mighty God is, how He is present in all His grandeur and glory, overshadowing the ins and outs of what feels like a crazy life.  deep within i am filled with joy and awe at the constancy of my Everlasting Father.

i will rejoice in the LORD,
i will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights.

 


 

 

to draw further in:  chapter 4 of Pilgrim’s Progress; The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller, Romans 8, Psalm 46, Habakkuk 3

 

 

 

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.

 

 

treasure hunting

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i lay there fighting for sleep.  (not to be confused with fighting sleep like a toddler does. no. i wanted sleep-sleep was fighting me)  finally i give up and get up at 1:30 in the morning.  the thought comes to me that prayer would be a good thing to do.  i laugh cynically; “i wish…”  i start talking about that with that One who never tires or grows weary.  i sit with Him and find myself redirected from the mind numbing reading (which i do believe has it’s place.) tonight in the darkness there are treasures to be mined for.  i don’t know this of course (see also: laughed cynically)  but my Master Gardner does.  Sara’s words* give me a push down into the mine shaft.  i cup open my hands to receive what might be described as rubies or sapphires, if only they were beautiful enough.  it is dark outside and dark in my soul, but He has promised…..

You promise treasures in the darkness and You are that treasure
-Sara Hagerty

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He delivers on that promise as words come to mind…vaguely they come and i flip open those thin and well worn pages and hunt for them.  i take Sara’s advice* of carving out at least 200 words back to Him about these words of His;

Lift up your eyes and look at the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
“do not be afraid, oh little worm, for I Myself will help you,” declares the Lord
Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
if i say; “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.”

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only Christ knows the depth of meaning these very words have personally and specifically …to me.  it’s a looking back on these recent years of walking in the dark in so many ways. it’s a remembering of what He told me about what was ahead-words i didn’t completely understand, nor do i now.  words that only gave me the next step to take, and i’ve been waiting ever since to hear His voice in that way again.  these are comforting words, encouraging words.  He takes them deeper still, the meaning becomes deeper still.  oh, this darkness may or may not lift.  but the hand holding on to mine?  it will remain constant whether i feel it or not.

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sometimes my husband and i will be holding hands.  time passes and i grow accustomed to the feel of my hand in his.  but then there will be a slight squeeze-indicating a knowing, a loving, a depth of communication only we grasp.

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tonight in the darkness, i feel my Shepherd’s squeeze.

 

to draw further in; Isaiah 40 beginning at verse 25; 41:13-14; 42:16, 45:18-19; 50:10-11; Psalm 139:11-12

*Taken from Sara Hagerty’s Adoration devotional available now free with a pre-order of her upcoming book: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet|Tasting the goodness of God in all things.  You can also learn more about Adoration via her blog.

how long, O Lord, how long

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Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died.

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them……
so they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor.

But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land….

But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.

But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land……

The King of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, when you help the Hebrew women in childbirth….if it is a boy, kill him, but if it is a girl, let her live.
but they wouldn’t do it. so Pharaoh gave this order to all his people:
“Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land…..

Moses life is spared, and he is taken to live in the palace.

and if i were living then, maybe even if i were Moses’ mother, this would have been my plea for oh so many years;

Oh Lord, the God who avenges,
O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long will the wicked,
O Lord,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?

They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush Your people, O Lord
they oppress Your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the alien;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob pays no heed.”

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But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land….

Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.  At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath.  He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”

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“Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When i said, “My foot is slipping,
your love O LORD, held me up.
In the multitude of my anxious thoughts within me,
Your comforts cheer and delight my soul.”

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“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is His, for He made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.

Come let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for He is our God
and we are the people of His pasture,
the flock under His care.

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i don’t know where you are this day. but i am so very well aware of the oppression at all sides on this great land we traverse. i have been crying out with the Psalmist these days; “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

has this been your plea? are you personally in need of aid, just as much as it seems every entire nation is?

take heart, dear one

for God will surely come to your aid.

to draw deeper in;
Genesis 41:41-49; Genesis 50:22-26; Exodus 1, 12, 13; Psalm 6; Psalm 94 and 95; a search on the phrase; “How Long” in your Bible.

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