I’m sharing my deeply personal journal entry today:

Sufficient Courage

Good morning, Lord!  (I typed ‘God’ morning and smile, knowing all mornings are God mornings.)

I just read Mathew 23 and 24.  My safety net regarding eschatology.  You are clear about how this is coming and I need not worry, what I need to do is stay in your priceless, timeless Word, listen to you and stand firm.

You have not let me down to date, nor will you ever.  My needs have always been met by you – especially clear to me these past 9 years – as I struggle to provide and take care of myself and make mistake after mistake, learning how to stand on my own, for Christ Jesus.

I come confessing:

I have been going to a prophesy class in my very excellent bible church – something new in my walk.  It is unavoidable (even for someone who left TV behind 26 years ago) to see the evil, black, roiling cloud of hatred huffing down upon the earth and would be irresponsible not to be in the Word regarding the coming wrath.  I cannot get the photo of the 21Coptic Christian men kneeling on that Libyan beach out of my mind’s eye, nor do I want to.

They join upwards of 74 million Christian martyr’s  and wait for the rest of us who will be coming along behind them, soon enough.  “How long, O Lord?” they cry out from under Your alter.  In Philippians 1:14 Paul speaks about others being encouraged by his suffering ‘Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly’.  Because of these men’s deaths, I am strengthened to seek sufficient courage in the face of fear.  God’s word makes no sense to the world, but to those of us who believe, this is an amazing comfort.

It’s one thing to study eschatology; it’s another when it becomes a reality in your lifetime.  And regardless of a lifetime of seeing evil perpetrated across this earth, we are unaccustomed to the threat and fear of evil of this magnitude descending on our own American soil.  Particularly frightening if we have held a dangerously complacent belief that we will be raptured out before the wrath of Satan happens.  And although I gave that belief up 19 years ago, expecting and preparing for the possibility of facing this in my lifetime hasn’t make it easy to swallow when it appears to be at hand.  I would crawl into a cave in the forest – my current option at off-grid living – if it weren’t for you, Lord.  Your Word never ceases to amaze me.  I run to it to find comfort and strength.

It’s frightening how easy it is to step off the narrow path of complete trust in You:

  • I’ve been overcome by a crushing bout of depression, thankfully now on the wane.
  • I have been waking up at crazy early hours with horrific visuals and deep distress worrying about my daughters, as possibly both of them will be overseas for who knows how many more years?
  • The realization that it’s possible I may never see them again, in this life, dawned on me a couple of mornings ago – an awful feeling and one I never imagined I would face. It is the very ache lodged in my heart after they were born; terror at the thought of losing a precious child.  So, conquering this fear by trusting in your love and protection of them is urgent in my never ending training to stand firm, not get unduly fearful, or grow cold in love.
  • I continue to grieve the loss of family life and close proximity to one another.
  • My right shoulder is injured from aiding beloved clients.
  • The realization that my ability to work as I did when I was younger came crashing down.
  • My car is beyond repair and I need to get another one – this week.
  • Do I go back to my RV transporting job? (think: Israel, buses)
  • Drive a city metro bus – why did I apply for that job?! (think:  Israel, buses)

After years of trusting you in the details, I was yielding to rising panic over safety, security, finances, work and a heart-wrenching need to cling together as a family unit.  I have to stop and trust You for all of this.

I admit it.  I am afraid and I don’t want this to happen, now or ever, and I don’t get a say in it.   I can only control my thoughts and actions and strive to walk worthy.  ‘I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  Phil 1:20

So Jesus, I confess that I have, yet again, been unfaithful to you in my level of trust.  Your Holy Spirit indwells me and somehow I have stepped outside His house (my mind and body) to worry on my own and leave His wise council which has all the answers I seek and comfort I need.   Forgive me.  I’m sitting on the porch of my life and I miss your gentle whisper, Holy Spirit, and I am so sorry for my wandering thoughts.  You have called me.  You need me to be reliable, as Tozer so brilliantly said.  Dependable.  Strong and standing firm.  I turn back to You now and rest in your love, comfort and earth-making, star-shaking power and protection.  You are Lord of the universe and King of my people, the People of the Book; beloved master of my mind, body, soul and strength.   I thank you for this test that I struggle through – may I never be this weak again.

You are coming with the angels of heaven.  Soon.  My job is not to cave in to fear, my job is to stand and share You and your wonderful truth with the world.  You love my children more than I do.  They are in your hands.  I speak of them to you – but I fear not if I don’t as often as I sometimes think I’d better (something like a baseball players rituals)  your watch-care over them is not in the least dependent on me.  You covet my prayers and I can’t stop praying to you, this symbiotic dance is one of the delights of my heart.  I am so grateful for your patience in my progress to be like you, to become holy, righteous and blameless, things that sound like hypocrisy when I once again find myself deep in the pit rubbing the slime of fear and worry over my arms, legs and face with unsteady hands.

So now, bless me, Lord.  I covet your hand upon my head, I need to catch the scent of your immortality that wisps invisible throughout this fallen earth; to feel and smell the cool breeze, hear the sweet sound of birds singing and rest in the knowledge of your complete control of all you have created.  Today I will go for a long, long walk and tell you how much I love you as I bask in your creation.

‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.  This is a sign to them…granted to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.’  Phil 1:27-29 

           

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America, America….God shed your grace on thee….

Recently I moved to the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington, the state I was born and raised in. I bought a great London Fog rain jacket from my new favorite thrift shop and a pair of inexpensive black, high top rubber boots, which I can be seen wearing at the slightest provocation of dampness. I’m home!

Today, I am humbled and thankful for my national Christian ancestors; those who fled the beautiful, history making, Monarch-mandated-church in England, in pursuit of peace to worship as they saw fit. Simple people of that land, boarding and sailing on ships; most leaving behind their home, forever; faced with possible death at sea, certain illness, probably at times terrified, yet trusting God for an unknown future. After many weeks at sea, they can be imagined disembarking on the stark, frigid shore; cold, fearful yet hopeful; surely in any number of long dark nights, longing for home and routine. Setting foot upon a land without civilization’s comforts; no welcoming raucous band here, no boardwalk, no streetlights, no Dickensian world awaiting; a foreign, vast unknown. Plymouth Rock – a small, flattish – but now iconic cracked stone – that our weary ancestors first set a wobbly foot upon, lodged in the windswept, stinking coastal mud, surrounded by shrill seagulls, greeted with a handshake by the damp cold, an embracing hug by bone chilling winds. No handy cobbler available, to provide yet invented, wonderfully dry rubber boots for wet, cold feet; no general store filled with cloth to repair or remake clothing in ruins and tatters and no hope of supplies of coffee, tea, flour, basic food supplies or anything else for months and months to come.

These people were Bible believing, bible toting (the fortunate few that possessed one) Christians; a people hatefully maligned for their staunch faithfulness to God from the beginning of the church to this day. The lists are long of those who burned at the stake unwilling to deny God and his Word. Hear this sobering statistic: there are over 74 million martyrs under God’s alter, waiting somewhat impatiently for clean, white robes and Christ’s second advent, and the number grows daily somewhere between 400 and 500. While we view mind numbing repeat plays of close up shots of an inch of snow – when it dares to fall in balmy western Washington – and while the national news pummels our minds non-stop with every imaginable evil they can voyeur for our viewing satisfaction – remember this: Today, and every single day, around 500 bible believing, Christ following martyrs are murdered, sometimes heinously, and our media is silent.

On my recent trip to England I stood before various memorials, alternately humbled by those uncompromising souls and sharply aware of the ignorance of tourists clowning for a photograph before a marker ‘near the location’ where the likes of William Tyndale and many, many others gave their lives, rather than tolerate oppression and the slippery slope of concession. I am emboldened by their fierce faith.  Awestruck by those that decided to make a run for it, to the shores of America.

Many Pilgrims starved – hunger most of us in America rarely, if ever, have known. They walked on bloodied, frozen feet. It is nearly impossible for a warm, housed, comfortable American to consider the enormity of what they gave up and what they endured – because of their desire to practice their Christian faith – so that we could arrive at today looking forward to the smell of a roasting turkey; friends, family, football; traditions that are deep and dear to our national psyche.

Today at some point, I am going to pull on my rubber boots and go down to the inlet, near my home, here in Washington. I will stand there, likely alone, and talk with God about our country and how and what I, a simple woman, am to do to help us remember the great cost that was paid to get us here, to shine light on the spiritual battle that continues to pound this country into a tolerant, politically correct, weakened, lukewarm stew of willful ignorance, spouting arrogant demands for innumerable ‘rights’ and ‘choices’.

The spiritual boundaries that kept us safe for so long have been stepped over, broken and trampled into near oblivion. Our country tolerates every kind of evil. Drugs continue to destroy our loved ones, pornography is rampant and destructive, the sex trade is booming, the media is our unofficial god, athletes and actors our idols of choice. Pharma and insurance reign over the medical world (what happened to the country Doctor who knew and cared for his patients?). You surely know these things. We that try to stem the flow are like little children with our fingers poked in the hole in the dam. We stop and see we are in trouble, but are overwhelmed by so much that we throw another log on the fire, put our feet up and turn on the news, because we can’t cope with the magnitude. Guilt is a worthless motivator, conviction is what moves us. I’m thinking out loud and hope you will think, too, in your own slice of solitude, sometime during this holiday weekend, about our country and about your concerns for her.

God alone can help us. May we unashamedly seek Him; ask him what we, as individuals, are to do in our little corner of this massive country and listen to Him as he continues to shed His grace upon us.

Blessed Thanksgiving.

Worth a read: http://www.history.com/topics/pilgrims

A Risky Endeavor

Sometimes the naked cruelty and sin of others is like a jackhammer right over my heart. I am wallowing in misery. I want someone, anyone to get it. Sheep that I am, I need compassion, understanding, support; I cannot right myself when I’m flat on my back and feel oppression and the seeming tears of the universe battering me with more than I can bear.

Editorial pause here: I went to Google, thinking ‘bear’, above, wasn’t spelled correctly and a video I’ve never seen before pops up on You Tube of Kirk Franklin singing, ‘He’ll Never Put More on Me, Than I Can Bear’. I bawled my eyes out for about five minutes.

Lord, I know this. I know I am yoked with you, that you understand my heavy heart. The gift of this surprise video moment is that reminders of your boundless love for me bring me immediate connection to your empathy and validation of my suffering.

Way before I opened my journal this morning, to start writing to you Lord, I noticed a FB post from Renee Swope, Proverbs 31 Ministries, talking about how negative words can hurt us and cut us to the quick, ending with Hebrews 4:12: “The Word is sharp and active, sharper than any two edged sword” and I ran back to your feet, ready to learn. Your sword will cut through my cocoon of misery and sear the wounds in my soul with the white-hot power of your great love for me. Just typing this centers me.

I know whom I believe and I need to run to you alone, to your presence, and pour out my deep wounds and let you nurture me while I recover. Why do I do this again and again; expect people to do what only you can, simply to end up feeling worse for my trouble? It’s the awful, down side of isolating loneliness. When I am at my lowest point I turn inward and think the thing I need most is someone, anyone, to wrap their arms around me and say it will be OK, to make me a cup of tea, to let me pour out my tears and then point me to you. But human comfort is sometimes a risky endeavor. Baggage can come up and twist itself into an arrow pointed at me whispering a translation that pronounces ‘you must have done something to deserve this’ or, ‘I’ve had worse hurts than you, get over it’ or any other self-righteous, or even well-intended suggestions which my hyper-sensitive mind can pounce on and flail myself further. So human; so sheep-like; to want my Shepherd in person and because that’s just not possible, reach out to whomever is in the ripple effect of my dive into the black lake of misery.

So here I am, dry eyed for now. Sometimes the healing is quick, sometimes we have to recover. This complex wound will be a recovery and will take time, prayer, and all the moments I can spend in your Word. Instead of isolation and soul vulnerability, I need boundaries; to keep myself close to you, pour it all out to you, striving for gentleness to myself, in the process. When I do that, I can pray about those whom I am heartbroken over, then watch you do what only you can. How I love you, Lord. I can never repay you, but I can love you with all my heart, soul, strength and spirit, which is what you’ve asked for. I so look forward to the moment I see your face and hear your beautiful, kind voice.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Math 11:28-30

His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let he righteous fail. Psalm 55:21-22

Dark Night of my Soul

September 26, 2014 5am

I woke unguarded, loss twined around my heart like razor wire. Silently, I stepped out the front door, and raised my eyes to the magnificent canopy You saw fit to relieve nocturnal solitude.  A shooting star whizzed left to right, perpendicular to the swath of cotton candy that is the Milky Way.  Wish upon a star?  In this dark night of the soul, silent though you are, I know you are there and that you love me.   The unlit sky is the closest I can get to you, to your vastness; untouchable, unchangeable, unreachable proportion. The molecules in my body yearn for you; iron filings irresistible to your magnetism.

It occurred to me that Jesus surely lay on his back on the dark Mount of Olives and felt something akin to this need to reach you.  There were no streetlights in Jerusalem.  No lights at all to speak of, just pure, clean, unpolluted air.  Did he pray on his back with open eyes? I cannot imagine otherwise.

Your Word upholds me day and night; ‘the heavens declare the glory of God, the sky proclaims the work of his hands’. Contemplating your agony in Gethsemane.  Rejoicing that your divinity and humanity was revealed via the inhumanity of the cross; ‘Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani’, remembering with soberness that Paul did not live in ease, but suffered greatly in his passion for the great commandment; ‘for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison’.

In ancient days the Holy of Holies was filled with the glory of your presence.  The High priests walked about with the soft tinkling of golden bells on the hems of their garments, ornamentation You required.  Pomegranates:  symbol of righteousness, representing fruitfulness, knowledge, learning, and wisdom.  Golden bells:  resounding the command to complete obedience to God – that he might not die.  Pomegranate, bell; pomegranate, bell; ringing the hem of his garment, encircling him in the commands of God, with each and every step he took.   Righteousness, fruitfulness, knowledge, learning and wisdom, appreciated by God, evidence to man.

I find conviction when I hear your commands in first person.  You live in me; my Christian body is your temple.  My Christian life is appreciated by God and obliged to be evident to man.  May my righteousness and the fruitfulness of knowledge, learning and wisdom be evident to others and fulfill the great commandment you have given me.  May my words be as sweet to hear as the golden bell, the way to Truth.

Even while you are silent as the black night sky, I will trust you, love you and obey you my Rock, my Strong Tower, my Mighty Fortress, my God and my King, the One and Only, Jesus my Savior.