May you be blessed today as you contemplate all that was purchased for us so that we might be saved, healed, delivered, preserved, protected, prosperous, and made whole.
Hope you enjoy this song by Keith Green.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 Berean Study Bible
An older, fellow coworker approached my brother at the machine shop and began quizzing him about his age.
“Just you wait,” the elder prophesied, “won’t be long until you’ll be gettin’ the finger when you go see the doctor.”
Mark replied, “Oh, I got that when I went to see the dentist last week.”
“Uh-ha, ha, ha, ha!” The man laughed and fell backward into Mark’s gigantic tool box on wheels.
Mark grabbed him by the shirt front and tugged him forward and upright. The old man laughed and laughed. “You need to get another dentist,” he slung over his shoulder as he walked away.
When I was in my 20s I never gave 40 much thought. It’s odd now to think that while 40 never seemed “old” to me, it must not have seemed young, either.
Thirty came and went without much fanfare. Even if there was, I wouldn’t have noticed because I was chasing 1 1/2-year-old twins around the house.
Forty seemed exciting…at first. Then it hit me like a sledgehammer. I thought I’d be one of those lucky, brave souls who didn’t waiver with numbers; I’m not. I had an aunt who said 40 didn’t bother her a bit but 50 nearly knocked her out. I have another aunt who won’t even celebrate her birthday anymore. I don’t know if she stopped after 50 or 60. The point is, she has stopped counting her years and we had better not remind her of them either. Kind of makes me wonder what 50 and 60 have in store for me. Hmm…
Some people handle age with flare. When I think of people like that I think of Betty Leonard. She had a style all her own and she didn’t apologize for it. She had dyed black hair that she kept in a hip hair cut, wore fashionable clothes (some cheetah printed), lots of gold jewelry, and painted her nails and lips vibrant colors. You’d a never guessed her age. I liked her. She was personable and good-humored and seemed to celebrate life and live it to the fullest.
I remember traveling on a four-lane highway years ago. Bob was watching the mirrors. A car approached, burning up the pavement between us. He was doing the speed limit +5. It wasn’t long before the sedan was at our side and then passed us by. We burst out laughing when we realized the car was driven by 83-year-old Betty. She didn’t let anything slow her down. What a way to live.
I don’t know if any of us are groomed to survive to old age let alone thrive. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’re not. I recently heard a d.j. say that he was 45 and figured he’d be spending lots of time in the hospital so he would like a hospital gown of his choosing. It is odd, that, how medical technology has grown by leaps and bounds but no desirable dressing gown has been designed.
If we do survive old age we are certainly not supposed to live it the way Betty did. Don’t believe me? Haven’t you seen a doctor since turning 40? That is, if you’re blessed enough to be that age. If not, heads up. You will immediately be cursed. Make a complaint, any complaint, and you’ll get a smug smile that you’ll want to slap off your health care provider’s face and a pat answer of: “That’s what happens when you’re 40.” Add to that, every genetic disease and disorder that has ever been in your family line is bound to invade your body beginning at 40. There are plenty of health screens and tests to take to prove that you are sick. And if you’re not, they may just help you along on your journey toward disease. Don’t believe me yet?
Haven’t you watched t.v. lately? Haven’t you noticed that most commercials are for some drug you can take for some ailment that you have? And you can supplant that drug with this drug. Don’t fret the drugs. They may cause dry mouth, cramps, headache, constipation, and the like, but you’ll live. Then again, maybe not. Some of them cause blood clots, liver problems, internal bleeding,etc., and death. But we need drugs to survive to old age…Don’t we? No fear. Even if the drug fails and you have suffered because of it, or perhaps have died, a lawyer will help you sue. Lots of commercials for that, too.
According to statistics I could find, the life expectancy for the average American is on the decline. One can expect to live to be about 80ish. However, no one wants to live to be that age if they “aren’t healthy”. What hope do we have given the fact that we are to begin feeling the effects of old age at 40? If we look to the bulk of the healthcare industry and our society in general, we are to officially begin our decline halfway to our checkout. Who wants 40 or more years of increasing vision impairment, hearing loss, weakness, aches, pains, and disease? Can you tell that I’m fed up with this world’s system and their take on it?
I’ve made a grave decision concerning old age. I’ve decided not to participate. At least not the way it’s currently accepted. I’ve decided to fight the doctors and their grim prognoses concerning 40 and beyond, the drugs and the harm they cause, and my elders who try to curse me with, “You wait!” That’s what started this mess in the first place: words, words, words–vile, destructive words. If I’m going to fight then I’m going to have to do so with the Word. Here we go:
Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 JOHN 2 NLT
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Psalm 103:1-5 NLT
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
I really like this:
But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!” Psalm 92:12-15
Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. Does that sound like the old age that our society has embraced?
Let’s try this scripture on for size:
Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120years.” Genesis 6:3 NLT
The LORD said, “120 years.” !!!
My husband blew my mind when I asked how old he would live to be if he could. He said 400 years. ! He said, “Imagine all of the inventions and stuff you’d get to see.”
And wives, said I, ’cause I ain’t plannin’ on bein’ here that long. Of course, that’s if health is not an issue for him. That’s what we all say. We’d all live to grand old ages if we could but be healthy. Moses was.
Moses was 120years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever. Deuteronomy 34:7 NLT
Is that our average senior citizen’s expecatation?
The scriptures don’t present old age like something to dread, but a blessing, something God carries in His hand–if we let Him. I’m rather partial to the idea of aging according to Moses’ version; I think it’s heavenly, so I’ll do the best I can to follow along those lines. Is it going to be a battle, living this way? You betcha! All uphill with a river flowing down it. But I think it’s worth it. Don’t you? With God, ALL things are possible…even avoiding society’s laundry list of old age woes. Join me in fighting old age as our society has come to accept it. I’d love to have the company.
Ken Davis’ comedic routine, TheConfused Stage of Life, sounds like someone I know and love.
This one’s for you, Dad.
Have fun with this song from Tom Rush.
God knows no age. He has no expiration. He has no limits.
Does anyone remember Vacation Bible School? Remember the little songs sung that burn in the brain forever? “Father Abraham”, I am sure, was one written by already weary adults to try to tire out high-strung kiddos. Then there’s the “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery. I may never fly over the enemy, but I’m in the LORD’s army. Yes, Sir!” That was another action packed song that probably juiced kids up more than calmed them down. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” which usually turned into a screaming response because the leaders kept asking, “Where?”
While scouring the internet, I came across a blast from my past, scripture memory songs. These are so cool! I can’t tell you how many verses I memorized through song and I’d like to share this one with you. You may not care for the style, but I hope you’ll give it a try as it just might help you memorize this portion of scripture.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7 NLT
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10 NLT
I burst out in songs ofthanksgiving! Can you picture that? I admit it. I eavesdropped on Laura while she was showering the other evening. I stood outside the bathroom door and listened to her sing and I could not help but smile. Singing is important! The girls sing often and I love to hear them sing. It’s joy spilling out of their hearts. Father God must feel the same way about us when we burst out with songs of thanksgiving.
Mom says that when I was younger I’d sit at the top of the stone steps in our yard and sing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of my lungs. I can only imagine what that must have sounded like to the neighbors as I have a pretty good set of pipes.
But sometimes singing isn’t so easy.
Singing in the rain is fun when it’s July, 80 degrees, and no one can stand the heat anymore. But when it’s a saturating downpour that lasts for an agonizing amount of time in a season that’s prone to being cold anyway, it’s no longer fun. It’s exhausting and frustrating beyond belief. That’s why joy, this supernatural gift of the LORD, is so important. It keeps the outer elements from penetrating our hearts. It’s glorious! But it’s difficult in certain seasons, isn’t it? So how do we do it?
I listened to a minister this past week who was encouraging the attendees to laugh. “Ha, ha, ha ha. Unpaid bills? Ha, ha, ha, ha. Sickness in your body? Ha, ha, ha, ha.” It seemed absurd but I joined the service via the internet. The laughter sounded mechanical at best, ridiculous at worst. I did it anyway. In a matter of moments it became sincere and I literally felt lighter. Why? Because the joy of the LORD is our strength. Laughter does good like a medicine. Through Christ we’ve been made more than conquerors. We win!
Try laughing. It you can’t do it on your own, try doing it with this video. Laughter really is contagious–Share some!
For those of you who can, do you remember feeling carefree as a child? Do you remember how easy the laughter and the wonder came? Make an effort to remember those things that cause joy to bubble up inside of you. Do you still allow yourself to indulge in those things? Wear your p.j.s for an entire day (unless you’re a nudie, for that may prove problematic 🙂 ). Have a movie marathon. Color. Enter the world of play with a child. Wonder again at the majesty of creation. Sing songs of thanksgiving for they usher you into glory. Laugh like a child, laugh for no reason at all. Let me remind you today that we are not God’s grownups, we are His children. Let us return to laughter and wonder because Jesus said,
“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3 NLT
Everyday is not going to be a joy-filled day. We live in an ever-increasing hostile and violent world. Bad things do happen that are beyond our control. Even without the “bad” things, life is sometimes just plain exhausting. The mundane things of life can make us feel like we’re being sanded down like a board. So then, it comes to this: CHOOSE. Choose to sing anyway for God inhabits the praises of His people. Saying you can not sing is not an excuse for the Word says to make a joyful noise as unto the LORD (Psalm 100:1). Choose to laugh anyway because our enemy is an arrogant cuss who won’t stay around and be a laughingstock. Join me in a conscious effort to try to choose joy on a regular basis and let’s see what a difference joy makes.
This is a fun video and a great song from King and Country. “Joy” is one of my dance favorites.
A smile creased my face when I came across a card Beth had made. She went through a phase when she was younger in which she signed nearly everything she made, “I love you I like you.” It’s cute. It’s quirky. It’s Beth.
I used to tell the girls when they were young, “I like you. I think I’ll keep you.”
I don’t know where that came from. I wouldn’t doubt that it came from my dad. He has such a corny sense of humor. As a kid, when I’d say, “I’m hungry.” He’d say, “Look in the mirror and get fed up.”
“Dad, will you make me an egg?” His reply, “Poof! You’re an egg!” I learned real fast to ask him to cook me an egg instead.
“I like you. I think I’ll keep you.” I never realized until years later that my youngest perceived that to be, “Sooo, if she doesn’t like me, she won’t keep me?” Although I found her take on it slightly amusing, I will confess that my heart hurt a little that my kiddo thought there was a possibility that I would get rid of her if I didn’t like her. Crazy, what kids think sometimes. Crazy, how we adults make them that way sometimes.
I don’t think we give much thought to our heavenly Father liking us. Heck, it’s hard enough wrapping our mind around His loving us the way He does let alone liking us. I wonder if there are some people who have never even considered it.
How does one get to be liked by God? And if He doesn’t like us will He not keep us?
What about me? What about you? Are we friends of God? Hmm…
I’ve been reading Grace Notes by Philip Yancey for what feels like a hundred years now. His passages usually leave me with so much to think about that I can’t read it everyday. I like to mull things over. What’s been coming back to me is a meeting he had with a woman named Marcia and he asked her about prayer. Part of her response:
“I’m a painter. I pray as I paint, and my painting becomes a kind of prayer. If someone asks me for help in prayer, I tell them to find what they most enjoy and do that, only do it for the glory of God….”
I like that. Do what you enjoy, let that be your prayer, only do it for the glory of God. If I like it, and it pleases God when I do it, Who made me to do that, then we’re hanging out as friends in a way. Just think about it. A hunter’s cathedral is the woods. Creating is what colors an artist’s heart. An athlete finds challenge and strength in the training. A musician’s song is on the plains of the angels. I am a writer. Some of my greatest revelations have come to me while I am simply writing in my journal. I am communicating with God in the language He gave to me and in that state, we are in fellowship, we are one as friends. Why do we make our relationship with our LORD so complicated at times?
I love to ride a motorcycle. I slide in behind my man, wrap my arms around his waist, and off we go. The freedom of no roof or doors to obscure my vision of the sky and the land is intoxicating. It is beautiful! A shooting star, a rainbow, lush, green fields–they all speak of a Creator with infinite imagination. My heart swells with praise and fellowship while on the back of that bike. God knows He’s always more than welcome to join. What a joyous adventure!
And campfires, the glow, the smell, the hot dogs, the s’mores…I can feel the smile of God when I am enjoying this life and the blessings He has bestowed upon me. My being vibrates with His presence. Isn’t that how we feel when we’re with someone we love, whose company we really enjoy? There’s such a…JOY. Yes, that’s it, joy. And a feeling of never quite having enough time together. That feeling is magnified all the more when I am in His presence, when my heart can’t contain His love. His want to spend time with me, for me to get to know Him better can be a wonderful kind of overwhelming. He’s SO good!
I really don’t think it’s that hard to be liked by God. We just need to do what makes us good friends to others and do that with Him. Spend time with Him. Be available to Him. Give ourselves to Him. Sometimes I forget that God’s whole plan for man came because of His want for fellowship, for family. I get so caught up with the cares of this life that I forget to take the time to enjoy Him for Who He is and let Him enjoy me in turn. Yes, I am a friend of God. Admittedly, I am not always the good friend that I hope to be, but I’m getting better. I try to keep this consciousness that He is always with me and He is always welcome, even when it’s for rebuke. Hey, like the good Book says, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6 NLT ) And there is none more sincere than Him.
Maybe we could join Beth today and tell God, “I love You I like You.” And if we’re quiet enough, I bet we’ll hear the same in return.
You might find yourself singing, or jigging. or doing a little of both to the following song.
Have a wonderful day, my friend. Be sure to spend some of it with the Friend of all friends, the One who sticks closer than a brother.
Several years ago, our “5 family” took my edited version of a test. The idea came from Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. It’s a good, easy read and a real eye opener as to how to love the ones closest to you so that they actually feel loved. We girls scored high, if not #1, for words of affirmation. I have to remind Bob from time to time that he needs to love the women in his house with words–lots and lots of words. Tell me how good I look or what a great job I did; spend time with me without the t.v.; brew me a cup of tea or wash the dishes–PLEASE! Those are a couple of examples of what love looks like to me. But what does it look like in our relationship with God?
In light of Chapman’s book, it seems a little more challenging to feel the love of God. I would guess that most believers at one time or another have felt abandoned by God. That is a lie we have to fight through because He says He will never leave us nor forsake us. This has really been weighing on me because I have heard the cries of some of those closest to me who are, for lack of better words, going through a crisis of love. I get it. We don’t doubt God’s existence, there’s too much evidence to support it. We don’t doubt Jesus’ work at the cross because we’ve seen how it has changed us and our perspectives. But what about the rest of it? By His stripes you were healed? He will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory? Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think? Sometimes it just doesn’t look like it adds up.
I thought about what love looks like God’s way. Sometimes the way seems dark. The way to the light is through thankfulness. Satan is a flesh devil. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and truth. Instead of answering my questions, God began to remind me of the ways He has shown love to me.
He reminded me of when I was pregnant with our twins. The doctor said they were in the wrong position for me to have a vaginal delivery and if they didn’t move, I’d have to have a caesarean. I was anointed and prayed for at church. I figured having twins was going to be enough to adjust to, I didn’t need the complication of healing from a caesarean added to that. The next morning I had what looked like huge fingerprints spread out on my abdomen. Sure enough, the doctor confirmed that the girls were in position.
From there I thought of other things for which I’m thankful. We have long-lasting appliances. I honestly don’t know how old our upright freezer is. It was used when we bought it and it’s still working. Same with our vehicles. We’ve never had a brand new vehicle but we have been spared from absolute clunkers.
God has provided outrageous deals on things and we are blessed with ridiculous bargains.
Our food stores are full. Our closets are overflowing. We have a home and it is warm.
We have a beautiful camper for recreation.
My life is enriched by wonderful family and friends.
All these are whispers of God’s love.
I think the quickest way to hopelessness is ingratitude. Seriously. You know when I begin a downward spiral? When I cease to give thanks. When I dwell on unfulfilled hopes instead of the many blessings that are. I mustn’t dwell on what I don’t have or what didn’t happen the way that I thought it would.
LORD, I don’t understand. Some day I will. Then again, maybe I won’t. So what? Does that change His love for me? No, it opens up new compartments of it. If I let Him. If I’m thankful. If I remember that He’s not only able but willing. If I’ll just wait.
“I love you. I love you with an everlasting love. I knew you when you were a child. No, I knew you before I hung the stars, before I spoke a word. There is no mountain I would not climb, no ocean I would not swim (for you). I love you just the way you are. But you say you have sinned. I have made provision for that. Confess your sin, repent of it, and receive My love. My love is for this life as well as for all of eternity. I have plans and a purpose for you. I love you. I love you. I love you.” ~God
Maybe you’re a visual-type person, like my husband. Then you might enjoy this video of love. The girls had an assignment recently in which they were supposed to write dialogue for a movie segment. Laura picked this cartoon short.
We listened to Laura’s dialogue while it played, and with her voice quaking a little, she ended with, “And I thought of this scripture: ‘Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.'” (John 15:13)
We watched it again, in a sort of awe-filled silence, without her dialogue. Tears streamed down Laura’s face. The video moved all of us. When we saw what remained of Rock’s head, Laura said, “Look how happy he looks.”
By then we all had tears in our eyes. We were quiet for a few moments.
“That reminds me of another scripture,” I said, “the one about Jesus enduring the cross because of the joy set before Him. He loves us. Really, truly loves us. That’s what He did for us. He died so that we could live.”
Agonizing pain, a gruesome death, and beneath it all: JOY for what lay ahead. And what is ahead? Eternity with our resurrected Savior–if we so choose. That was His vision. It still is. Praise His holy name.
Pay close attention to the lyrics of this song. I hope you enjoy it.
Take your eyes off the mountains, Friend, and look at your story. Do you see God’s fingerprints? Do you see Jesus’ smile? They’re silent reminders of His hand on you. What would your story be if Jesus had not entered in just when He had? Is this enough to be thankful for, even though you (and I) sometimes grope in the dark with our many unanswered questions? I know that if you’ll join me in worship and look for His fingerprints and His smile, we’ll find them, and joy will follow. He’s never let us go. And He never will.
Let the following scripture verse sink in. Think about it. Meditate on it. Let it take root in your heart today. Isn’t this what we’re wanting? To be “perfect and complete, needing nothing”? Here’s how:
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT
My hope is that through today’s post, you have heard, seen, and felt the love of God and that you have been encouraged. If so, pass it on.
It has been brought to my attention that two of the things enclosed in “I Don’t Get It” did not have a play button. I did not realize that as these looked playable from my site. Please take time to listen to Psalm 46. It is a reading with lovely photos and instrumental music. I think it will be a blessing to you.
I’m also re-posting Chris Tomlin’s song, “I Lift My Hands” and pray that it, too, will inspire you for the day.
I will try to pay closer attention to this in future posts. Thanks for viewing and for listening!
The verse from Psalm 46:10 had been turning up for two weeks. It caught my attention before that, but then it really began to peck at my brain. On a near daily basis, if not daily, I’d say, “LORD, what am I supposed to get out of this?” I began feeling like one of our nieces. At almost every one of our family gatherings she utters, “I don’t get it.” It’s maddening. The blank expression on her face causes the joy from the wit or the joke that was shared be sucked out of the room whenever she says, “I don’t get it.” Aargh!
That’s how I was feeling. Over and over I’d hear this verse, see this verse, dwell on this verse. Over and over I’d say, “What, LORD? What am I missing?” I knew there was something here that I desperately needed or He wouldn’t continually bring it before me. But, what?!
I searched the web for commentaries. I scanned the multitudes of books on my shelves. I read the study notes in my Bibles. I tore it apart in Hebrew. I did find something there. Although the verse is really quite literal in meaning, I found a reference to the word “still”. It pertains to healing and it was in a scripture the LORD gave to me two years ago when I faced surgery. I sensed, though, that this was not quite “it”; maybe in part, but not the whole.
After sending Bob off to work, fiddling with the coal fire a little, and reading a bit, I went back to bed. I was beyond tired in every which way. The weariness of life was having me for breakfast. Couple that with the fact that I couldn’t shake Psalm 46:10 nor could I understand it. My eyes filled with tears of frustration. I needed a good word. I needed to hear from Heaven. “God,” I whispered, “tell me. Make it plain.”
That’s when a couple of the notes I read came back to me. God was telling His enemies to “Be still and know that I Am God.” Ah. Yes, there is a time for us to be still, to rest, to be quiet, to listen, and I was doing that, but the dawning came with the notes.
“Christi, tell the enemies within you to ‘Be still and know that I Am God’.”
Tears of gratitude flooded my eyes at the revelation. I’d been assaulted with so much garbage lately. “Thank You, thank You, thank You,” I breathed. Then I fell into a long, overdue peaceful sleep. When I awoke, I told the nagging, lying voices in my head and the things I am battling physically to, “Be still! And know that He is God! You are defeated!” I went on to have a productive, peaceful, joyous day. All because of a revelation from the LORD in His Word.
What are you wrestling with today? Financial fears, doubts you’ve heard God’s word, sickness/disease, mental tsunamis, false accusations, stress over broken relationships, rejection, a weighty decision, work? Whatever it is, tell it today to “Be still! And know that He is God!”
Hope listening to this reading of Psalm 46 with a soothing instrumental and beautiful photos in the background blesses you.
The LORD of hosts is with us! Read this from 2 Kings 6:15-17 NKJV:
15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Let’s ask the LORD to open our eyes today. He has us covered. He is our champion, deliverer, healer, rescuer, defender. It is because of this that we can boldly tell our enemies, “Be still and know that He is God!”
Take a listen to Chris Tomlin’s, “I Lift My Hands”.
I know that there are a lot of poems and sentiments out there like what I’m writing today. It is not my intent to take from any artist who may have written something similar. This is simply something I was jotting down one night and would like to share. I hope this is a blessing to you.
Though the rest of the choir goes silent, sing anyway.
Though the music stops, dance anyway.
Though you feel bankrupt, give anyway.
Though the world around you is filled with hate, love anyway.
Though you have insurmountable reason to doubt, believe anyway.
Though your prayers seem to go unanswered, pray anyway.
Though there’s much to fear, have courage anyway.
Though there seems much to complain about, praise anyway.
Though your light seems small and insignificant, shine anyway.
Though you are tempted to give up, go on anyway.
~Christi Marie Jan./Feb. 2019
Holy Spirit reminded me in my devotion time today that He told me some time ago, “What God has been crafting in the dark, He will reveal in the light.” I am to share this with you today.
Some of you are incredibly battle-weary. You feel like you have been in the trenches more than in the light. It’s been so hard and so incredibly lonely. There were times you felt like you couldn’t take one more second of your life being the way it was. But that second passed. And the next minute passed. And the next hour, day, week, month, year, possibly years, passed. There were times when you asked, “How long, LORD? I just don’t know if I can take anymore.” But you did. He has seen it all. Every tear. Every time your spine stiffened with determination. Every time you fell and like a righteous man, rose again.
New American Standard Bible
For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity. Proverbs 24:16
He saw it and He held you…just as He held me. What He has crafted in the dark, He will reveal in the light. And that time is upon us. Let’s receive it with child-like faith. Today He is doing a new thing.
This post is dedicated to my Robert, “a great man of faith” ~ although he doesn’t realize it…yet. I love you.
In my estimation there are few things as bleak as literal dark and cold. Put them together and you’ve got a recipe for disaster of about every kind. Ever have a sick child? Ever been sick yourself? Isn’t it worse at 2 a.m. than it is in 2 in the afternoon? Ever needed, I mean needed to go to work or go to school or go grocery shopping or keep an appointment and cringe because it’s 4 degrees instead of say, 40? (Yes, I know my Florida friends are shivering at the thought of a modest 40 degrees).
We had yet another disappointment this past week. It was both dark and cold. It was so…disappointing, (that’s all I can think to say) that my husband gasped. Bob does not gasp, so hearing him do that made me spin around on my heel to see if maybe he was having a heart attack or something; he wasn’t. Thank God. But there we were, speechless as to yet another heart-breaking revelation, seeing yet one more thing that we were hoping for, praying for, believing for, slip from our fingers.
I do what I usually do when I’m upset: I went to the kitchen and got busy and kept quiet. At least that’s one thing I’ve learned, well, mostly learned 🙂 keep quiet. I still do find it a tall order at times but that evening I was so dumbfounded that my mouth was quiet even though my mind and my heart were turning rapid-fire. Bob joined me for a little while in the kitchen, neither one of us saying much because we simply didn’t know what to say.
A ray of sunshine broke through at the supper table when Bob shared our disappointment with the kids. I’m not going to tell you what Rachel said because it was specific for us, but I’ll give you the gist of it: “So, it’s not going to happen the way we thought. Maybe God is going to do it another way instead.” Huh.
I do some of my best thinking while in the shower and it was there that her words hit my mind and heart like a freight train. I absorbed them. I breathed them in and let them quiet me like the steam that opened my lungs and the warmth from the water that soothed my tired soul. Word mixed with water: what a wonderful combination. I became even more quiet and reflective.
There are promises I have been waiting for for years, actually, decades. And this recent heartbreak just sliced me again. Waiting and waiting and waiting wears on a soul. I found myself telling the LORD, “I am weary! LORD, hear me, I know that with You time is not but I am a vapor, remember? Jesus, tell Father what it’s like here, remind Him. I don’t have the luxury of waiting an eternity for things to come to pass here like You guys do.” A few days later I sensed Father saying to me, “Jesus came to Me and was saying something about time…” Ha, ha, ha. Yes, LORD, but I’m still waiting!
I wholly agree with Inigo Montoya: I HATE WAITING. That’s the weight of what I carried into the following morning. Yes, I had fresh faith, fresh eyes from Rachel’s passing statement, encouragement to think outside of the box and let God be God. I also, however, had residual pain so I prayed and admitted to God that I feel I’m in an emotional/spiritual tug-of-war of sorts. Oddly, I didn’t feel condemnation at my confession as I feared, but hope. A tug-of-war at least lends to a battle; I have not quit. I won’t quit.
I felt somewhat defeated when I thought about writing another post. I tire coming to the world-wide web, throwing out my fears, doubts, failings, and the like when I’d much rather come with a HALLELUJAH story. The thing is, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of you maybe feel the way I currently do or at least you have in the past. You’re banged up waiting for breakthrough but you’re willing to go on. I need encouragement myself and thought maybe some of you could use a little, too. I looked up some things that have been a blessing to me and I hope they will be a blessing to you. Here’s a short excerpt from Reverend Jesse Duplantis that may bolster you.
“Don’t bend to the pressure of time.” Doesn’t that seem impossible? But it isn’t. We know it isn’t or we’d all be dead from waiting. We go on because there’s no other agreeable choice. And we go on with Jesus because there is no better Companion.
I also want to encourage you with this song that I heard for the first time. Maybe I heard it before and didn’t realize it. I think a lot passes us by until we need it. Today, I must have needed it. Maybe you do, too.
Haven’t seen it…YET. Not yet isn’t never. Dear Heart, let’s not give up! God is worth the wait!
I know that today’s post is a little different from what I usually do, but I felt it was necessary. A lot of people are hurting and it seems we’re hurting for waiting and seeming unmet expectations. Such things can be so crushing. I said can be. That doesn’t mean that it will be and it certainly won’t be forever. As the saying goes, It ain’t over ’til it’s over…and it ain’t over yet. Let’s hold on together and trust the good LORD to bring beauty from the ashes of all of our broken dreams. He willfulfill every Word He’s ever spoken because He can not lie. Oh, don’t shrivel up waiting! Praise Him! For He is worthy, so worthy!
There is one more thing I feel compelled to leave you with today. It is the word: SUDDENLY. I hope you enjoy this devotion from Dr. Tony Evans as much as I did.
“I foretold the former things long ago; they came out of My mouth; I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” Isaiah 48:3 Berean Study Bible
One day she just appeared; a scraggly kitten with fluffy black fur, yellow eyes that shone out of her head like spotlights, and a fear of man. My heart went out to her. I wanted to hold her, comfort her, but every time we opened the door she fled. By and by she didn’t run as far as fast. Eventually she tolerated a mini-petting but only while she was eating and shrunk a little when she realized it was a human hand stroking her back. With time and meat broth, our little kitty became a smidge more amicable.
From Thanksgiving on, all of our pets received a little fat or skin or tantalizing scrap on a semi-regular basis. It was then that I noticed that Whiskers (Rachel named her that on account of how her bleach-white whiskers stood out against the black of her furry face) was a lot more amicable. She would forego the food and reach up my leg for a petting first. She chose contact with me before the filling of her belly. I smiled to myself as I realized I had won the heart of a rejected, lost animal. A sense of small wonder welled up inside of me for the simple yet complex trust that had been cultivated between us.
One Saturday morning, she was here, like always, then that Saturday night, no sign of her. Sunday morning and Sunday evening passed without sighting of her. I lay in bed that night, fretting. What if someone had taken her? What if a bird of prey or a coyote had snatched this little one?
“I was in the garage yesterday,” Bob offered. “Maybe she followed me in.”
I was about to jump out of bed and go open the garage to see if she were there.
“Then again, I was right back in it to put stuff away and I didn’t see her.”
My heart sank again.
“Should I go look?” I asked.
“If she’s in the garage, she’s safe. Check tomorrow.”
I admit, I fretted a little longer, but if God’s eye is on the sparrow, wouldn’t it be on this stray who tugged on my heart?
The next morning, I checked. I was kind of afraid of what I would or wouldn’t find but the driving force to know drove out all other fears. I unlocked the door, stepped inside, and queried, “Whiskers?”
And there she was, sleeping on foam we had trimmed from a mattress. She gave a slight stretch and a yawn to match, and then happily came to greet me, wrapping herself around my ankles, purring. I stooped to pet her, (she still resists being picked up), and couldn’t contain the joy in my voice that she was safe. Her day and a half adventure proved her none the worse for wear. Surprisingly, she didn’t vault for water and food as I anticipated but continued to circle my legs and purr and beg for my affection. I was astounded. But no more than I was a couple of days later when…
I lifted her onto a bale of hay so that I could pet our orange Tiggs and her at the same time. Tail-end facing me, I rubbed and rubbed her head and neck. Amazingly, she was so engrossed in my administrations that she lay parallel on my arm, only the pads of her feet of her sidelong body grazed the side of the bale of hay, I suppose giving her the sense that it was still beneath her. My arm bore her full weight and was her only support. Had I picked her up and tried to cradle her, she would have wriggled and fought to be free, but she had no realization so totally rested on me. I couldn’t help myself, I stood there and wondered at it all because I sensed there was so much here than what met the eye.
Enter: Jags. Our heavy weight gray cat. I was on the way to tend our other animals so didn’t stop to love on him right at that moment. I had fully intended to scoop him up, straddle him over my arm longways (just like he likes) where he’d hang like a limp 10 lb. jacket, head dangling over the tips of my fingers, and pet the purr right out of him. When I returned, he was not along the path waiting for me. That was odd. I called for him, he did not come. Do you know where I found him? Sitting in the middle of the highway in front of our house. I’m talkin’ on the yellow lines, with his back turnedtoward me, ignoring my calls, as the sound of oncoming traffic in the distance was getting closer and closer. The insolence! The impudence! The audacity! The picture of *gasp*…me? Not me, LORD. Oh, yes, Christi, you. ouch, Ouch, and OUCH!
The Jags part of me is impatient. The Jags part of me wants answers now and in triplicate. The Jags part of me knows that I am loved and wanted but sometimes I want loved and wanted when I want loved and wanted and I want to experience it in my own way. And sometimes when that doesn’t happen, I go sit in the middle of the highway with my back to the LORD, while the enemy approaches, as if to say, “You didn’t answer me, I can’t hear You”.
Oh, that’s awful, Christi. And stupid. Yes, yes it is. But there’s something very liberating about confession so today is my day of liberation. Here’s another confession: I don’t wholly trust the LORD but I want to. I’ve been doing some serious soul searching as to why I feel this way. I think it basically boils down to the thing about the answers. I know I have faith, I do, so then why do the answers not come in stride with my faith? Hmm…
That’s when God Whispers are so cool. That’s when He gently comes and wraps me in His arms, and we have a discussion, He and I. This faith walk has been so hard because I have made it that way. Think about it: God gave me life. I did not create myself. It’s His breath I breathe. However, I get to choose how to live this life and since I chose Jesus, He’s a vital part of nearly every part of me.
Here’s the dawning: God also gave me faith. I could not create it on my own. It, too, is a gift from my Creator. But I took responsibility for my faith as though it’s very existence depended on me, so when it failed to produce the results I anticipated, I felt condemnation and, more often than not, frustration at myself, God, or both. That’s where I erred. As absurd as it sounds, I wasn’t including Him in this facet of my Christian walk. I took His gift of faith on as a one-man-show instead of the partnership that it was meant to be. It’s His faith that works in me, but I was carrying the burden of working it alone. And what a burden!
God began to explain to me in a way I could understand, in terms of a garden. He makes the seed; I plant it. I give it the best environment that I can by planting it in nourished, fertile soil, where it will receive the appropriate sunlight, weed it, and water it when it doesn’t rain. But I cannot make the sun. I cannot make it grow. Like Adam in the Garden, I am responsible to tend my seed of faith and to guard it, but I can’t make it grow or produce answers by sheer will. The explanation God sent in the form of a garden and visuals of my feline friends were priceless pictures of what I was doing. What a loving, gentle, and patient Savior! I was never meant to carry my faith alone. Thank God!
I was also complicating my faith by “formulas” and was thereby bewildered as to why it didn’t “work”. That’s when God showed me that the formula for faith is actually quite simple: BELIEVE. And I show that I believe by providing the environment that faith needs to grow. So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I fill my surroundings with the Word, prayer, obedience, praise, and proclamations and release (and that is key) all of the growth to the Son.
I also need to be careful that I am seeking God’s heart, not only His hand, just like Whiskers did after her stay in the garage. I get so desperate sometimes, especially when someone in my family or I am suffering physically, that I allow myself to be consumed with the gifts rather than the Giver. I don’t believe God is disappointed with me when this happens, it at least shows that I know He provides. But my attitude has got to be right. I cannot be so consumed by my needs/wants that our fellowship goes by the wayside and my soul begins to shrink.
And then there was the picture of Whiskers resting on my arm although she was totally unaware of it. Why? Because she was consumed with love.
That there is my ultimate goal: consumed with His love. Not that I haven’t experienced it, but I want to live there on a continuous basis. To bask in His presence in such a way would be Heaven on earth. And isn’t that part of our LORD’s prayer? Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…
Ah, to know Him, to love Him, to rest in Him and let the growing up to Him–this is my heart’s desire.
Rest and be thankful. ~William Wordsworth
Bask in God’s love with me through the song Just Be Held by Casting Crowns.