The Stone Rolled Away

empty tombOn that cross He hung

He wasn’t alone.

For my guilt, my shame, my sin

Hung with Him

The nails driven through His flesh

The blood dripping down His holy skin

Breathing out His last

So that I could breathe in a life of freedom

Foolishly men thought death and a stone could hold Him back

The weight of the entire world couldn’t hold Him down

He arose

As the cross carried my sin

The stone carried my pride

As it shifted on the earth

He walked away from His burial

No longer would I be alone

The Spirit now walking with me

Living in me

The stone rolled away

Around the Corner

cornerAs I rounded the corner on my usual walking route through the neighborhood, my mind went directly to the disciples and the days leading up to Christ’s death. When I read through Luke 22, I read about the disciples shortcomings, their humanity, right there recorded in history.

Jesus’ disciples were incredible men of faith. Being used by the Lord, soaking up His teaching, and continuing to share the Gospel after Christ’s death. I am so incredibly thankful for their examples and the words they left us in the New Testament.

But, I am also thankful for their genuineness. I am thankful to be able to relate to their failures.

Sigh. That’s me, Lord. Whining, complaining, arguing, rejecting…sleeping when you are offering me love and instruction and about to work a miracle in my life. 

The disciples didn’t understand what was about to take place. Jesus had given them forewarnings, “In a little while, you will see me no more…”. But in their humanity, they didn’t fully understand. They saw their circumstances with their natural eyes. The disciples went about their days, arguing about who was the greatest, sleeping when Jesus was in anguish, and disowning and rejecting the Lord. They could have been standing with Him, learning from Him, serving Him, loving Him. They were entangled in their own lives. They were caught up  in what they saw around them.

I can only imagine the pain that followed for the disciples. As the hour came, and the land became dark, and Jesus took His final breath, Luke records about 3 hours of darkness. Continuing on my walk through the neighborhood, I swallow hard. The deep anguish of a sudden trial. The sting of pain. The overwhelming flood of heaviness.

They didn’t know. They didn’t know the pain would soon turn to rejoicing. They didn’t know what He was doing. They didn’t know what was around the corner.

Oh, Lord, it’s just like me. Caught up in my own life. Seeing my life with my natural eyes. Praying and waiting on what you are about to do. Not knowing what’s around the corner. Not living with the expectation that you are at work. 

But, when my eyes are focused on the One that does know what is around the corner, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, I can remember my place.  When my situation doesn’t change, or my trial is just beginning, or all seems dark, I can remember He sees around the corner. He knows the miracle coming.

Sunday is coming, complete with it’s life-giving resurrection.

Are you waiting? Are you stuck? Is your humanity getting in the way of what God is doing through you?

I think the disciples may have responded differently in the days leading up to Jesus’ death had they known what He knew. We can learn from them. We can stop our useless disagreements, our rejecting the truth, and our sleeping.

Now is the time! Lift your eyes. Lift your eyes from your circumstances. Lift your eyes from your pain.

Lift your eyes to your Creator. Lift your eyes to the One who loves you, the One who knows, the One who heals, the powerful One.

Lift your eyes to Jesus and know He sees what’s around the corner. 

corner steps

 

 

Heal

WordPress Daily Post Heal (one word prompt)

To heal. To fill in the holes. To cleanse the wounds. To dry the tears. To mend the break.

The Lord takes the weak, the needy and the broken and He heals.

He brings Clarity to situations that were once chaos.

He brings Wholeness to places that were just pieces.

He brings Wisdom to minds that were just confusion.

The Lord still heals.

I know this because each day

He is filling me,

mending me,

cleansing me,

Healing me.

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To Be Counted Among the Immovable

Will I let the moods of others dictate how I feel and act today?

This has been my guiding question over the last couple of weeks.

How does it work, to not be moved? Do I plaster a smile on my face? Go about my day as if nothing is happening around me? Humming peaceful songs under my breath as chaos erupts around me?

To not be moved. Not to be swayed. Not to fall away. Not to change course.

To accomplish that kind of stability, will I need to just have my head in the clouds, oblivious to what is happening around me?

No.

When I think about Jesus, that’s not what I imagine and that is not what I read in the pages of scripture.

He was real. He wasn’t floating around like a hovering angel, above the pain, needs and dysfunction around Him.

He saw the pain, the hurt, the need, and nothing kept Him from doing the will of the Father.

When people lacked belief. When people rejected Him. When people flogged and beat Him down. He didn’t stop doing the Father’s will. He continued in the trial set before Him. And, He continued to love those around Him. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

His purpose didn’t change based on the actions, feelings, or behavior of those around Him.

He was not moved.

Jesus’ command to me and to you in John 13:34, is to love one another. Although I search for a footnote explaining the times when I am not required to love, it is not found. I am to love. I am to love and not to be moved to do otherwise.

No matter how those around me are behaving. Rejecting my words. Arguing. Acting in an unpleasant manner.

The call to love remains.

When Paul was about to face certain danger by traveling to Jerusalem, he told of his immovability. He would not be moved or led away from the calling Jesus placed on his life.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24.

Oh, to be counted among the immovable. The saints in the Bible who remained firm in their call to love. Remained firm in their call to share the gospel. Remained firm in their devotion to Christ at all times.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer…Psalm 18:2

Today, I will not be moved.

I will not be moved by the behavior of those around me.

I will not be shaken.

I will not waiver from the path the Lord has for me.

I will not turn from love.

Today, I am not moved.

Not because of my strength.

Not because of my righteousness.

Today, I am not moved.

I am not moved because of His abundant love living in me.

I am not moved because of His unchanging ways.

I am not moved because of His Spirit powerfully filling me.tree

I Will Seek You in the Morning

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. Psalm 5:3

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Morning is a gift from the Lord. To wake up once again, open my eyes, breathe another breath, stretch out my limbs, and begin another day, is a gift. How often do I forget to enjoy this gift of time given to me by the Lord? How often do I just go into automatic mode, put my head down, go about my morning routine, barreling through? But, when the girls are still sleeping, the house is completely peaceful…this…this is the time the Lord has given me to use. No distractions. No stimulation. Just time for me to hear from Him and be still.

Teaching the pre-K Sunday school class at church leaves me tired and happy. The goal each class is to gain their attention and hold it long enough to teach and encourage them in even the smallest of ways.

The cheerful chatter fills the tiny room. Girls reconnecting after a long week apart. Boys knocking blocks to the ground. The hugs. The sharing of toys. The whispers between friends. The excitement dwindles slightly and I sense my opportunity is nearing. I do some crazy song and dance to get their eyes and ears to turn my way. Got it! Okay, here we go! Let’s pray! Short, sweet prayer, don’t want to lose their attention now. Jump into the Bible lesson, while I still have the majority of them looking in my direction.

Eager hands are raised to share their thoughts about the Bible lesson. Some have questions, both on topic and off topic. Many want to share what they know about Jesus and the Bible. All come with prayer requests.

Entering distracted, but now fully engaged in learning the Word, the 4 and 5 year olds  soak up all the knowledge. Although challenging to gain their attention, once they become engaged in God’s word, they are captivated.

After pouring my coffee, my automatic, mindless routine is coming to an end and I sense the Lord calling me. Beckoning me to turn my heart and mind to Him. Asking for my attention.

How do you want me to spend this quiet, Lord?

In My presence.

Seeking Me.

Receiving from Me.

Growing in Me. 

Just like the distracted preschoolers, my attention isn’t automatic. I see the distractions around me. My eyes focus all around the house. But, the One who knows what I need to start my day off prepared for the Spiritual battle that awaits, doesn’t stop calling to me.

Once I open my Bible, close my eyes in prayer, or even just simply utter the first words to the Lord for the morning, I am hooked. Just like the preschoolers. I want more. He’s got my attention. My thirst is quenched. My dry bones are filling with life.

Is it dark where you are? Are you full of dread for the upcoming day? Is each day leaving you drained and empty?

Can you give Him your morning? Your first moments awake? Can you look to the sky, above your own situation, to Someone greater? Someone who holds the answers? Holds the peace you seek?

Someone who is calling to you.cherry blossom

 

 

Waiting On Spring

In my home state of Washington, we have been waiting. We have endured more snow, rain, clouds, cold, gray, yuck than usual for our Pacific Northwest winter. We have been waiting for the change in season. Waiting for colors to reappear. Waiting to feel the sun warm our bodies. Waiting for more time in the fresh, warm outdoors. Waiting for freedom from our cozy couches covered with blankets.

All through this lengthy winter, the plants, shrubs, and trees have held life. My hydrangea plant held the dried brown leaves throughout most of the winter, until I finally pruned them off. But, even on the cold, damp days, when the old dead leaves barely hung on the branches, new life was surging deep within the plant.

Abundant life, just as Jesus promises to us.  John 10:10 says, The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

Abundance. Extremely plentiful. Oversufficient quantity or supply. Overflowing fullness.

A blogger I follow, Wilderness Joy, wrote the most beautiful words about abundance,

As we notice the way nature abounds with God’s goodness,
and overflows with the wealth of His provision,
we are reminded that He is working in us to bring about
the abundant fruits of His tender planting.

Recently I came across an old journal of mine from 6 years ago. I began reading it, eager for encouragement. The Lord has brought me so far in 6 years, surely I’d see evidence of growth.  As I began reading, my eagerness quickly faded. My eyes fell on words that could have been written yesterday, “Lord, fill my mouth with Your words. Help me to love my family the way you love.”

Oh, Lord, you have brought me through so much. My dependence on you, my faith in you, and my love for you is so much deeper than it was 6 years ago. How can my prayers be the same? For 6 years, my prayers regarding my words and my heart have been the same. 

Closing my eyes and focusing my heart on the Lord, I begin to think about the budding plants from my walk that morning. They hold abundant life from the Creator all during the biting storms of winter. There is no evidence of the abundance contained inside, but any scientist or gardener knows it is there.

During the 6 years that passed since I wrote in that old journal, many trials and triumphs have come.  Growth, pruning, and dying off have taken place. New ways have taken root, while old patterns have died off. Many stretches have gone by that look like winter. No evidence of any growth, change, or beauty. Downright discouragement and defeat have shown themselves.  But, the Creator was still and is still at work.

When I don’t see evidence of spring coming, it doesn’t mean it’s not coming. The growth is happening, where I cannot see it. Just because I cannot see or feel something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just like the changing of the seasons, one day the new life, the new growth, just springs forth. A bright flower or a fresh leaf will open up and the evidence of what was happening all during the winter is now visible to all.

Although many of my prayers are still the same as they were 6 years ago, I imagine and actually hope some of them will always remain the same. I pray I always have the desire to speak and love the way Jesus did.

Thumbing through the old journal a little more, I see it. “Lord, please help me to live like you are near. “

I can remember the desperation. The distance. The discouragement. My desire to be closer to the Lord was there. I was right to be praying for it. But, I wasn’t experiencing it. I continued in the dark of winter. Putting one step in front of the other. Never fully turning my back, but not experiencing the beauty of growth.

That’s what I was longing to see in the journal. I longed to see evidence of how far the Lord has brought me. Yes, I am aware of the distance left to travel, but so incredibly grateful for the growth and beauty the Lord has created through the trials. The fruit is now there. The close relationship I desired is now there. The dependence I longed for. The trust I needed. It’s springing forth and giving beauty to my soul.

Dear one, is it dark where you are? Hopeless? Are you growing impatient as you wait for renewal? 

As you look for signs for change, dear one, do not lose heart. 

Take hold of these promises from God:

  • And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9
  • And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
  • Do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12 

The Lord is with you. The abundance you seek is within you. It may not be visible, but spring is coming, dear one. Just hold on to the One who will never fail you. 

Father, thank you for your promises. Thank you for the budding growth you promise in your time. Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. Thank you for lovingly carrying us through the winter. Amen.

I Am Yours

Backing up against me, she regained her strength. Her face flushed with the question she was asked.

In certain situations, our youngest daughter needs a little reassurance. Don’t we all? When she was younger, it meant squirming, clamming up, and backing her body into mine, disappearing into my arms. Some level of discomfort would hit her, and rather than stepping forward or remaining where she was, she backed into the arms of one who loves her so much, one who offers protection, one whose shadow envelops her small frame.

abby shadow

Be still, and know that I am God.

An author/blogger I follow, Emily P. Freeman, writes about the importance of just being still. She recommends setting a timer. There aren’t really any other rules for this practice, and I am intentionally not creating any rules for it. I am, however, sticking to Emily’s idea of setting a timer for 5 minutes and whenever my brain kicks in during that time period, I take a deep breath and exhale, as if I am blowing the thoughts out to God.

I have spent my five minutes in my prayer closet, the couch, our office, my bed, and out on my walk. It’s my 5 minutes of  just being in the Lord’s presence. Not praying. Not talking. Not reading. Not listening to anything or anyone. Just being. My favorite image during this 5 minutes is one of being in His shadow. His position is above me. Bigger than me. And, my position is close. Smaller. Lower.  So close. So welcomed. So loved.

When my mind wanders (even in the 5 minutes, my mind wanders), I mediate a short phrase, like, “I am yours” or “I am under you”, or “You are over me”, or “I am in your shadow”. Those short phrases remind me of what this time is, a time to remember my smallness and His bigness.

shadow

Just like our youngest daughter, seeking the grounding, stabilizing, protection I offer her in the midst of an uncertain time. This time just being with my creator fills me with the certainty I need. The incredible peace of knowing that even on this crazy earth which seems so unpredictable at times and downright scary, I am His.

His shadow envelops me.

My security is found in Him.

My peace is provided by Him.

I am yours, Lord. And, you…You are mine.

Ephesians 51 says, be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and self professed to God.

 Lord, I love my time with you. But, I especially love to stop, back up, and be in your presence. Gaining my strength, remembering my place. I’m your dearly loved child, always walking with you. Amen.