Waiting… David’s Story

 

How many of you have ever found yourself in a place or experience you never expected? Yep. Just as I thought. Pretty much…we all have. When I think of ”my own story”, I think the ratio of unexpected to excepted is probably about 10/1 at best. Even being here at Fort Leavenworth for a second time was unexpected thanks to a very last minute change in military orders. Many of you know how that goes. We can often feel like the Army or some other outside factor is writing our story, but deep inside we know it’s God. Today I am not going to really tell you “my story”, even though I love to tell it. I feel the Holy Spirit leading me today to focus not so much on my story but instead what I am learning about my story through His Story.

Every so often, I feel the Lord nudging me to read the Bible in its entirety. Genesis to Revelation. This is probably my fourth time reading God’s Story this way and I have never completed it in a year. This would be why a Bible reading plan is not the best choice for me. I prefer a more freestyle approach if that is even a thing.  This year is no different in that it is November and I am only just know finishing 1 Samuel. Trusting Him to lead. He is purposeful and I know I am where I need to be when I need to be there. Even though this is my fourth time reading through the Bible, I love how the Lord is so faithful to reveal and highlight such freshness and deeper understanding each time. 

Right now, in 1 Samuel, I am completely captivated by David’s anointing and his journey to fulfill His calling as King. This journey begins in 1 Samuel 16 and continues through 2 Samuel. It is no short journey, 15ish years.  I am sure it looked nothing like what David expected when the Lord, through His anointing, set David apart. You can relax, we are not going to read through it all in this post. I will be honest and say that I have struggled for days to figure out how to share what the Lord has been highlighting here with out doing just that though!

Here’s the beauty of the interconnected nature of God’s Word and the beauty of how the Holy Spirit leads. I went to bed Sunday night praying about this and I woke the next morning with Psalm 27 pounding in my heart, As I read it, I realized this Psalm was David’s story. These were his words written in the midst of some of the hardest days in his journey recorded in 1 Samuel. This Pslam  reminds me of all the Lord revealed to me through 1 Samuel. So open up your Bible and hear David tell a part of His story. Take the time to quiet your heart and read Psalm 27.

I love this passage. To look at my Bible is to know that this has been a Psalm that the Lord brings me to time and time again. There is so much that resonates with my heart and spirit. Yet when I look at it in context of when David wrote this, I realize that my ability to relate is limited. David wrote this after Samuel (well really the Lord through His prophet Samuel) sought David out and anointed him, setting him apart to be the next King. He wrote this after he slayed the giant with 3 smooth stones. This was written after he played before the king to calm him and led the king’s army into great victories. This was written after the spirit of the Lord left Saul and he was provoked to jealousy and sought to kill the one that the Lord had chosen to replace him. This was written in the midst of Saul’s pursuit to end David’s life. David was driven from his home, his family. He was forced to flee and hide in caves… seeking aid and assistance from strangers and enemies all the while pursued by a man he once faithfully served. I am sure this is not what David imagined when Samuel pulled him from the fields and anointed him. In the midst of this, however, is where David pours out this Psalm to the Lord. Placing His trust again and again in His God even when the journey did not look like what He imagined it would.

This Psalm is rich and full and we could spend days unpacking it all. Today though I want to highlight a few verses that correspond to the truths I have been pondering while camping out in 1 Samuel this past month…

Let’s start with Verse 3:  “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”

Here and in the verse before we see that David is pouring out the reality of his situation. He is pursued and in danger yet not afraid. He is confident. Confident in himself? Absolutely not! He is confident in the God that had anointed him, called him, and was with him.

As I ponder this confidence that comes from David’s anointing, I am reminded that 1 John 2 tells us that we too, as believers, have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. We can claim and stand in that same confidence. We have been anointed, called and God is with us as well.

No one is trying to kill us though. At least not physically. God’s word tells us though that we have an enemy that is trying to steal, kill, and destroy us… our hearts, our spirits, our callings. Like David, we can stand in confidence. The confidence that comes from the Lord alone. That is very good news!

Now let’s focus on verse 11: “Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.”

Man, this verse has redefined how I have viewed my journey… my path! Before we go there though, it is vital that we recognize what David wrote prior to this verse. We need to understand where His focus was in verses 4-10. His eyes, his heart, his thoughts, his focus were on the Lord. He was fully submitting his desires to the Lord and recognizing that the victory was found there. Wow! Worship, surrender, and then verse 11…

David asks the Lord to lead him in a straight path BECAUSE OF his oppressors! Did you get that? Not regardless of or in spite of but BECAUSE OF. God was using all the hard in David’s life to lead him STRAIGHT to his calling. This is a game changer friends! You know all the hard in our lives. All the things that make it hard and messy, the things that hurt or make you angry, the things that make you doubt or feel forgotten, the things that make you want to quit, your oppressors, my oppressors… God, our heavenly Father will use them to lead us in a straight path. Let that sink in. He has overcome the world and so have you!

And lastly, lets move a verse ahead to the end of Psalm 27. Verses 13-14: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

This is where the Lord has really been speaking deeply to my heart. Remember David is writing this in the midst of a hard and probably terrifying season of waiting on the promise of God that came with His anointing. I am sure he never imagined the wait would be so long and so hard. On two occasions he had the opportunity to “expedite” the plan by killing Saul. On both occasions he chose to trust God. He chose to obey God and wait on God to bring about the calling. I read in a commentary earlier that the anointing of David was because the Lord saw his heart. The years that followed were all about his character. They were about turning the shepherd boy into a King after God’s own heart. That does not happen over night! The same is true for me…for us. It takes time to mold us for His calling. Even those oppressors, when used by the Lord, refine us into who He desires us to be. Wait on the Lord! It is hard to do that in the middle of the journey especially when that journey does not look or feel like we thought. Hard when it is long and the oppressors are heavy. Let us wait, however, in patience and strength. Know and remember this, my friend: God is faithful to complete his promises and his callings.

Let’s take heart! Even David, a man after God’s own heart, cried out to his God. We can do the same with the confidence of knowing….

We are anointed.

He makes our paths straight.

We will see His goodness…We just need to wait for His timing!

 

* Adapted from a talk given at PWOC Fort Leavenworth Winter 2019

The Comfy Chair (part two)

Yesterday I shared a bit of my story. (Be sure to check that one out before jumping into today’s.) Today we will look at God’s Story…

The part of His story that I am going to share actually begins in Genesis and takes us all the way to Exodus 15. You can relax. I am not going to ask anyone to ask you to read it all now. (I do recommend you take the time at some point. It is good… really good.) I do want to give you a quick “abridged” version of the back story…

So, back in Genesis 37 Joseph, favorite son of Jacob, (remember flashy colored coat and vivid dreams, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers) ended up, through what can only be the hand of God, becoming second in power only to Pharaoh in Egypt. Famine strikes the entire region. Egypt is prepared thanks to Joseph and the Lord granting him the ability to interpret dreams. 

Jacob’s family is not spared. Joseph’s brothers are sent to Egypt to find food. He extends grace and mercy on His brothers. Jacob’s entire household moves to Egypt to escape the famine.

Here they thrive, multiply, and live in favor. Their arrival and presence in Egypt was purposeful…needed… good… and, just like my chair, it was comfortable.

Eventually…Joseph and his brothers died and the new Pharaoh no longer knew of all Joseph had done for Egypt. The Israelites remained though and their numbers grew and grew. Soon the Pharaoh and the Egyptians grew jealous. Despite their numbers and the power they once held, the Israelites were enslaved and oppressed.  They were forced into labor. They were forced to remain and here they remained for over 400 years. Trapped by the lies that told them they had no power greater than Pharaoh. Trapped by lies that caused them to forget the promises God had spoken to their ancestors long ago. Generation after generation, this became life as they knew it. This was their life, who they were, and what they did. Hard and unfair yet comfortable in that they knew no difference. They were stuck.

Enter Moses. You know the story. Israelite baby put in basket to save his life. He was found by the Egyptian princess, raised as royalty, flees Egypt for his life, becomes a shepherd, and then the burning bush…. then God!

He and his brother confront Pharaoh armed with the call of God and His power. After numerous plagues that end with all of the Egyptian first born males being killed, Pharaoh relents.

Exodus 12:41 tells us “At the end of 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt”.

Moses led the people the out of slavery. He led them out of the life they had always known to what was to be the land promised to their ancestors: a land flowing with milk and honey. It was not an easy journey. Through Scripture tells us the Lord guided them the entire time, it was not the easiest way, the shortest way, or the safest way. It was, however, God’s way.

They soon find themselves pressed against the Red Sea with a fickle Pharaoh and his army closing in on them. It is here they cry out to the Lord and question Moses…

Were there not enough graves in Egypt?

Did you bring us to the desert to die?

What have you done?

Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone?

It would have been better for us to serve them than die in the dessert!

OR… very loosely paraphrased… Let us stay in our comfy chair!!!

But then God responds…

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring to you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still…. Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to MOVE ON…” Exodus 14:13-15

You know what happens next: Moses raises his staff and the red sea parts…

They have a choice.

Slavery or take a step towards the land of milk and honey. A step of faith into the scary unknown that is the parted Red Sea. (I can only imagine the courage it took to take that step. There was mud, rocks, and walls of water towering and pressing on each side.)

Comfy chair or the banquet table! 

Thanks be to God they took a step!  Thank the Lord I took a step and have a choice each day to take another and another and another.

We all have the choice!

As I have pondered this portion of God’s story, I see within God’s response in Exodus 14:13-15 some keys for our own journey to move from our comfy chairs into the fullness of all the Lord has for us. 

The first key is…. Do not be afraid!  Our heavenly Father knows us and love us. He created us… emotions and all. The first thing He does in this verse is address our emotions. He speaks to give us peace. In this case, he speaks to the Israelites fear. The fear that holds them to that comfy place. Remember those emotions we listed early. I would say he speaks to those as well… any of those feeling, emotions, or circumstances that put us in our comfy places and eventually breed the lies that hold us there.

You know the lies: “It would be better to go back to slavery.” “If I stay here I will be safe from the fiery arrows.” He addresses those lies next with one command: “Stand Firm.” Stand firm, my friends, in what we know is true. Stand firm in His Truth, His promises, His presence, and His character

Next, He speaks hope. “You will see the deliverance of the Lord… He will fight for you”.  He promises to set us free. We don’t have to fight to break free from the web of lies. He does that for us with His Truth, His power, and His Word!  John 8:32 “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free”.  Friends, He will fight for us but we need to know His Truth. We need to be in His Word. This gives room for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Truth we need. Pressing His Word in our hearts is key. It is knowing the Truth that combats the lies.

It was because of and through His Word that I was able to move out of the comfy chair and it was because of His Words through Moses that the Red Sea was parted. We must KNOW the Truth. We must know the author of Truth in order to break free from the web of lies!

Next, the Lord tells us what we must do to move into His fullness. He tells us to “be still”. Not just that,  He says, “You need ONLY to be still!!”  Simple and yet so hard. You see this is not necessarily a physical stillness. It is an emotional and spiritual stillness. We have to quiet ourselves. We have to position ourselves in such a way that we are able to hear Him so that we can discern to what or to where He is calling us. In that quietening of ourselves, our emotions, our fears, and our ideas of what is best or what is needed, we can hear Him. We pray, we read His Word, we seek godly council from friends, and we listen for His voice. I can promise you this: He is speaking… He is calling!

And lastly, yet often the hardest of all, He calls us to MOVE. We have to take that step of faith. He does not force us. He only offers us the opportunity. He calls us. In the Gospels, Jesus calls to some fisherman in their comfortable boats, “Follow me.” They dropped their nets and did just that. It was not logical. It was not the plan. It was not easy but they did it. They moved. The 

Israelites took that step onto the rocky, muddy floor of the Red Sea. We too can take a step out of our comfy chair. We can all walk out of the comfort and into the fullness of what He has for us.

Frances Chan says, “God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

This stepping out of our place of comfort and into what or where He is calling us takes courage. It is a continual process. We will walk this journey of seeking His fullness over comfort throughout our walk as a believer.  But take heart… we do not walk alone. Look around you. Can we commit as the body of Christ to encourage one another? Can we walk our own journey in such a way that we invite others to journey with us?

Now we come to a Red Sea moment of our own. He is calling. He is always calling. Are we willing to quiet the emotions and lies that bombard us? Are we willing to leave our comfortable places regardless of how they feel or look? Are we willing to take a step into His fullness and join Him at His banquet table? The choice is ours.

* Adapted from a talk shared at PWOC Ft Leavenworth Spring 2018

The Comfy Chair (part one)

Today I want to tell you a story. Well, really I want to tell you two stories… one my own and another God’s. Today I will will spend some time on my own and then I hope tomorrow you will check back in for the best part, God’s Story. My prayer is that both of these stories will help us see ourselves and where we are in a new or different way so that we can truly enjoy all that the Lord has for us. So let’s start here…

Once upon a time… because all good stories begin with “once upon a time”. Right?

There was a girl (yep… me) who had just walked through an extremely hard, painful, and draining season. When I say draining, I am referring to every aspect of my being… emotional, mental, physical, relational and even spiritual. I needed rest. I longed for rest… rest, comfort and protection.

Enter my comfy chair. This chair was the place I sat for my quiet times and in this season, it was a physical resting place as well as a spiritual resting place. So needed… so easy. In this chair I read His Word. I prayed. I chatted with friends. I lived with my family. From this chair, I would step cautiously into life around me. Never to far away though and never for too long. I eventually mastered the “art” of doing life and still maintain the “comfy chair life”. The chair became less a physical place as it was a mental, emotional, and spiritual place. It was living life in a way that was comfortable, familiar, and in such as way as to not require too much courage or faith. I can look back now and see that it was a place in which I could “do life” in my own strength. I needed the comfy chair life… the comfort… all that was safe and familiar.  At least I believed that was what I NEEDED. My comfy chair was not where bad things occurred (except maybe the partaking of a little too much ice cream). It was a safe place… an easy place.  I was willing to stay there in order to avoid being hurt and drained again. It was a place where I was safe from the fiery arrows of the enemy.

So in this comfy chair I sat and rested and healed and rested. Then I sat and sat and sat.

Can you see where I am going with this? Psalm 23 says “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. We will walk through hard season and the shadows they cast over the days following. Rest is needed! However, that passage does not tell us to stay in that valley… pull up a chair and sit and sit and sit.

I was stuck and, in all honesty, I had no idea. That is the thing about our comfy chairs. They are just that: comfortable. You see I was still engaged in life…comfortable life, safe life.  Remember, while I was here I still did life. I was a wife. I maintained our house… to the degree that is normal for our then full and active household. Laundry was then and always will be an issue… with or without the comfy chair. I “mommied” (through a deployment, I would add). I went to chapel & was involved in ministry. I was busy but I was still in my “comfy chair”.  If you saw me, you may not have known I was sitting in it by simply looking on the outside. I was, however, “sitting” all the same. Again, this was not a bad place. It was just not the place the Lord desired me to stay. He desired more! He was calling me to more.

At some point I knew he was calling. I could feel His nudging. I could hear Him speaking to my heart through His Word. I knew and yet I stayed. You see there were reasons I needed the comfy chair.There were reasons I needed to rest and heal and there were reason I stayed. The biggest reason being safety. Comfortable is safe, right? So despite His nudging and despite His whispers (and at times grand proclamations) to get up and move. I stayed. As I sat… a web of subtle lies began to form around me. Lies that told me why I needed to stay even when the Lord desired me to move. Lies that were logical. Lies that we justifiable. Lies that spoke to my emotions. Lies that sounded “good”. Lies that were not from the Lord. Lies that tied me to the chair and had me trapped. I was “comfortable” (or so I thought) but I was trapped all the same. In the midst of the self perceived and self maintained comfort, there was a restlessness of emotions and spirit… of mind and heart. I was comfortable yet deep inside discontent. My perception of all around me was not quite right. It was off in how I both received the things around me and how I responded. All clues that I had moved from a time of healing, rest and comfort to comfortable disobedience. I was stuck and had been for a while.

But then God….

This was not a quick journey for me. I stubbornly sat in my comfy chair for over 2 years. Remember, at first it was needed and purposeful. Only later did it shift to an excuse and then an act of disobedience.

I am thankful that even in the “comfy chair” I was still connected to Him. I was reading my Bible (some weeks with more consistently than others). I was still praying, I was still in relationship with friends who encouraged me and spoke truth to me. I was still in chapel and Bible Study. All are good things. All are important things! ALL key to getting out of the chair.

I remember the day vividly…. The day I finally heard Him. There was no mistaking it…

“Awake oh sleeper, rise up….” (Eph 5:14)

“If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river…”  (Isaiah 48:18)

These are the words, His Word, that He used to open my eyes to what HE desired vs. what I thought was best (or easiest, or safest, or most reasonable, etc…) I was awake! I was aware! Now what? Now it was time to move… take a step… respond!

It was time to get out of the comfy chair!  It was time for me to MOVE…

If I had to guess, we all struggle with the “comfy chair” in one way or another or at one time or another. Our situations, reasons, and what our chairs look and feel like may differ. My being stuck in the comfy chair would be like making the decision to wear a big comfy sweatshirt, leggings, and my hair in a messy bun to an event where my husband would be wearing His dress blues -OR- choosing to stay in my comfy chair eating ice cream when I had a seat of honor at a banquet table filled with the yummiest of foods. (Which could, of course, all be consumed without worry of the calories!) At some point we all come to this moment where we have to decide: Do we stay where we feel safe & comfortable or do we step out in obedience to what He has for us? Sometimes the step is big. Sometimes it is small… all the time it is a step of faith.

And now God’s Story

*Adapted from a talk shared at Ft Leavenworth PWOC Spring 2018

New Life!

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB)

New… fresh, novel, unused, “of a kind never before existing”.

Don’t we all like the thought of something being new?

A new car, a new friend, a new idea, a new baby… the list could on!

But a new life? After all I have experienced…after all the stuff life has thrown at me?

Most days I feel far from new!

I confess, it is hard to see myself as new. Honestly, I feel far from new.

I feel tired, saggy, worn, weary, embarrassed, and slightly bruised from the journey.

My feelings scream anything and everything but new!

Truth… in my own flesh, after all these years, there is no newness. 

The old is very visible and very felt!

YET… His word is Truth and in His Word He declares over us:

In Christ, you ARE new! The old is gone!

This Truth has nothing to do me; yet, everything at the same time.

My newness has nothing to do with the life I’ve lived, the journey I have walked, the wounds I have received.

The newness has everything to do with the life Christ lived, His wounds, His death, and HIS resurrection.

My feeling twist my understanding of this Truth.

My feelings prevent me from walking in the fullness of this Truth.

My feelings scream and seek to paralyze me from living this Truth.

My feelings distract. My feelings betray me. My feelings blind me. 

So how do I walk in newness when my feelings scream the opposite?

I turn my eyes to the Truth. I read it. I speak it. I pray it…. even when I do not feel it:

I AM a new person! The old is gone! The new has come!

Simply and only because of what Christ has done and the life changing truth that…

I BELONG TO HIM! I am His! HE makes me new!

I put this on repeat. I recite the Truth again and again… day after day…

regardless of how I feel, regardless of what the day throws at me, regardless of me!

I speak it until I believe it in the core of my being. 

I speak it because of the magnitude of what Christ did to seal this Truth.

I speak it because regardless of how I feel… I am, indeed, NEW:

fresh, novel, of a kind never existing before He gave His life for my old one!

Oh Lord…. “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

How Much More?

The Lord has had me pondering questions of late. You know the questions I am speaking of the “hows”, the “whens”, the “why’s”. Those big questions that can rattle around in our hearts and spirit for days. Those questions that often we do not ever receive the “concrete” answer we seek yet, instead, we discover the answer is simply God… His promises, His Truth, and His character.

Since I love when ideas and thoughts connect, I find it quite exciting that the our theme for Gather this year is just such a question…. “How Much More?” As we read in Matthew, we discover that this concept of the “how much more” is a part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He was preaching on a mountain side to His disciples. He was there on the mountain probably in part because word of all His mighty acts and teachings had grown and he needed to break away from the people. It is here in this moment, following his time of teaching, proclaiming and healing in Galilee (Matt 4:23)….displaying God’s power in and through Him, that He stops to teach His disciples some important Truths. It is near the end of this now famous “sermon’ that we hear him declare these words: “…how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” 

As I ponder these words today, I am a bit blown away. Jesus declares this idea of “how much more” to the disciples after just they have witnessed Him “healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matt. 4:23). They had just dropped everything in their lives to follow this man who was drawing people to God with His words and His power. I am sure they thought to themselves there is not much more that God could do or give than they had already seen!

YET… we know there was, indeed, SO much more in Jesus’ ministry on earth and, even more in His sacrificial death and resurrection. This was a “much more” that even the disciples could not at that time even begin to comprehend. Oh the good gift waiting to be revealed to them!

So why the question now? Why should we continue to press into the “How Much More”? We sit on the other side of His death and resurrection… we have beheld His power. His Word is active and alive still today. This proclamation is for us as God’s children today as well. While we have seen how much He can do and give us, there is MORE to come…. “exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine.” (Eph. 3:20) 

Take a peek at the promises in Revelation 21… the promise of all things new. A promise for which I believe we can read, believe, and long but I am not sure we can truly grasp. While our loving Father does have many good gifts He desires to bestow upon us here on earth, the greatest gift is His promise of eternity through His Son, Jesus Christ. An eternity, a gift, that I believe is SO MUCH MORE than we could ever, ever imagine. So as we ponder this question: “How much more?”, let us purpose to set our hearts on eternity in order to grasp the fullness of the answer. This really means that the ultimate answer is MORE OF HIM! Thanks be to our Heavenly Father who loves us beyond what we can imagine.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4

I

From Hosanna to Hallelujah

Published on Worship Wednesday: http://www.plantingroots.com

I am known by those close to me to be a collector of words. I love words. Reading them. Writing them. Sharing them. Pondering what they mean, what they speak, and what they convey. Sometimes a word jumps out and just seems to hang around in my heart and mind. It becomes highlighted and continually leaps into my view. One word in particular has been resonating in my spirit for more than a month now. Here we are months past Palm Sunday, and “Hosanna” decides to start pounding in the deep parts of me.

Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! 

A word cried out in distress in the Psalms and shouted in triumph in the Gospels. (Psalm 118:25, Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:9-10, John 12:13) A word translated from Hebrew and Greek to mean “save, please”. 

A word I hear my spirit crying out to the Father: “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!” Crying out with a rhythm and energy that my voice cannot match. It is an inner cry. A cry driven by emotion. That overwhelming feeling that calls for a rescuer… a hero… something or someone that can pull us up, hold us, save us.

There are hurts and hard. There are things that are heavy on my heart and heavier on the hearts of so many I love. There are aches and weariness. There is the stuff that just comes from doing the busy and big of life. Can you feel them too? Do the emotions stirred from the press of it all swirl within, bubble up from the deep places, threaten to drown your hope, cry out for something… anything that will bring peace. If there was ever a need for a rescuer, so often, I feel it is now. We are crying out: save, please. Crying out: hosanna!

Hosanna has been pounding in my spirit yet the Holy Spirit has been whispering to my heart…

Be Still! 

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Wait!

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! 

Psalm 27: 14

Behold!

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

Believe!

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Acts:16:31

So here I sit on the other side of Holy Week. I sit here weeks later knowing the “end of the story”. He conquered death… the death He died for us! He did so for us…to save us! In saving us… His power resides in us! (Luke 24:6, Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 8:11) Knowing this yet still crying out to be saved, I am sitting on the Hallelujah side of the resurrection and still living in the Hosanna. Crying out to be saved instead of leaning into the truth of our Savior.  

The word Hosanna pounds in my spirit now to remind me: He has already done the work. The work we can’t… no matter how hard we try or how hard we search for a hero to rescue us. The hard of life will always be here. It will always press. Our emotions will continue to be stirred. But the good news is our salvation has come. We have a hero.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” Galatian 1:3-5

Friends, let’s purpose to be still in the midst of our cries and just breathe Him in deeply. He has done the work. Through Him we have the promise that He will fight for us. In the midst of it all, whatever your “all of it” looks like, The Lord is mighty to save and we can rest in the Truth that He has already done it. So today I pray we will truly allow our Hosanna to be transformed to Hallelujah by the power of Jesus Christ… our hero!

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love…” Zephaniah 3:17

A song stopped me in my tracks and interrupted my Hosannas a few weeks ago. Take a moment and breathe as you drink in the big truths of  “Save Me” by Steffany Gretzinger. Let it speak to the the deep places where you are seeking to be saved. Let your eyes be drawn to our Savior, our Hero. As we worship Him, may we truly do as she sings…. may we stop striving, stop trying to find our hero or trying to be our own hero. It all starts with breathing Him in deeply. He is the only one who can save us and good news: It is already done!

Because of His Big Love ~

Margaret Franklin

Save Me by Steffany Gretzinger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PZ1a2TK9KQ

LEFT BEHIND: the other side of moving

Published on Worship Wednesday: http://www.plantingroots.com

When asked the question “What causes you the most fear?”,  snakes, spiders, and most things creepy & crawling leap to my mind. Lord forbid I unexpectedly come face to face with a snake and imagine the shrill of my scream when I discovered that lizards, when surprised, do leap! If I am completely honest and real though, what scares me most is being alone.

I am not talking about being alone in the physical sense. I am fine to spend time by myself. (However, in the spirit of being real, I confess I would much rather spend my time with someone. You know the whole plight of an extrovert thing!) I am talking today about that deep, heart feeling of being alone. Alone regardless of who you are with or where you are. Alone even when surrounded by people. This type of alone is akin to desiring a drink of water while swimming in the vast ocean. Water all around you yet no way to quench your deep thirst. 

We were created to be in relationship. Relationship with our Creator as well as relationship with one another. Our spirits long for it. I long for that sense of relationship…. of being known, supported, encouraged, loved. “Alone” goes against that longing which our Heavenly Father purposely placed within our hearts. “Alone” is counter to how we were created. (Genesis 2:18) Emotions can rise and swirl when this longing for relationship is challenged. Loneliness sets in and can begin to lead us down a rabbit hole of deception. Ideas take root that tell us our feelings of loneliness mean that we are alone.

Today, I am challenged to yield to this very real struggle between emotion and reality. As I share this with you, moving trucks surround me. Half of the families on my sweet, little street will be moving this summer…. HALF! This does not even account for those friends moving that do not live on my street. This is the reality of this military life. Moving happens. Lots of moving! 

This year, however, there is no moving truck coming to my house. I am not one of the half leaving this street I call home. I am one that is left behind. Left behind with not only empty places on the street where these precious people once lived but with empty places in my life and heart. Theses are some of the people who fill my daily life with support, encouragement, laughter, joy, love, and even a cup of whatever was missing from my pantry. Their leaving leaves a physical and emotional hole. I know the heart connections will remain and can grow. The bonds of friendship are not diminished by miles. The truth is, however, I just don’t want to do life in this place without them. They are part of what makes this place comfortable… good… sweet. They are part of what makes it home.

So often in this season, we recognize the hard of moving… leaving… transitioning… and recreating home in a new place. Yet, as I sit here in this same place, I struggle with the emotions. I struggle with the hard of not moving. The hard of being the one “left behind”. Left behind to find a new normal and fill the holes left in my daily life. This side of the moving is not easy and, when you are the one left behind, it stinks. I struggle with emotions that tell me that I am lonely or will be lonely regardless of all those that still surround me. Emotions that lead me to feel unsettled and a bit unbalanced. Emotions that entice me to follow them down as they spiral from truth to deception. A nagging sense of loneliness that tempts my heart to believe that I am alone.

Yet, this morning, as I indulged in a little “my friends are moving pity party”, I look out my door to the empty houses that were just days ago filled with the precious families of precious heart friends. In this quiet moment, the Lord sweetly whispers Truth to my heart and reminds me…

“Be strong and courageous. Don’t fear or tremble before them, because the LORD your God will be the one who keeps on walking with you—he won’t leave you or abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” Psalm 23:4 

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” Joshua 1:5

“The LORD… will be with you. He won’t abandon you or leave you. So don’t be afraid or terrified.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” John 14:16

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Friends, hear Him as He speaks powerful Truth… we are NEVER alone. Regardless of how we feel, He is always with us! Emotions are fickle and so easily swayed and stirred. Emotions can lie and twist themselves around our hearts in an attempt to deceive. Neighbors change. Life can change. Emotions change. But the Lord and His promises NEVER change. I may feel lonely but I am not alone! He will never move. He will never leave. We will always feel as though there are holes in our lives when change comes, physical and emotional holes. He, however, lovingly created us with such detail that He fills each and every hole…. each and every need. 

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

He is our Faithful Friend… Abba Father… Lover of our Soul… Mighty Counselor… Strong Tower… Emmanuel. He is God WITH Us! 

I love how when in worship, we find the Lord speaking to the cries of our prayers . While worshipping one morning, I was struck with the Truth in the song “Never Alone” by Brad & Rebekah. I heard with fresh ears the truth of His promises. He will never leave me. Nothing can separate me from Him. Nothing can come between us. There is not one moment that He is not with me. He speaks straight to my heart and restores what is needed. He knows! Friends, take a moment to listen and let this simple but powerful truth sink into the deep places of your heart regardless of which side of moving you find yourself: You are never alone!

Because of His Big Love ~

Margaret

Never Alone by: Brad & Rebekah   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5-ApnSH52Q

A Treasure Pressed Deep

Words from my heart on a day when words and emotion overflow and mingle…

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” Luke 2:19

Pressed deeply in her heart. Moments. Sacred moments.

We sense in our soul the magnitude and attempt in our limited ability to capture it. What is seen, heard, felt, communicated, experienced. Each detail noted… treasured.

Mary knew. She did not let the moment escape. She treasured it. She pondered it. She embraced the gift. Aware of the significance yet not fully aware of the eternal magnitude.

Mary had the advantage of being visited by an angel who told her in no uncertain terms the significance of the child in her womb. She knew this was a moment not to be missed. The moment, however, was far from calm. In the midst of all that was happening… all the stress of giving birth in a stable, learning how to mother a newborn, and navigating a not quite formalized marriage while surrounded by animals, angelic announcements, a celestial show, unfamiliar visitors, unwanted smells, and an unknown future… Mary paused. Scripture tells us that she took time to treasure the moment and ponder it in her heart. Yes, this was the Savior of the world but He was also her son. A whisper in her soul said this was a moment not to be forgotten. Details that needed to be remembered always!

Tonight I am unpacking treasured moments. Moments I have pressed deeply in my heart. Knowing that there are many that have slipped by, I cherish those that I purpose to keep alive in my heart.

365 days ago I hugged my father at the curb of the airport having no idea it would be the last earthly hug we would share. I remember his words, the longer than normal embrace, the look in his eyes… the glimmer of a tear and the love reflected in them. The leaving always hurt. I remember yearning for a picture of the moment or wishing the moment did not have to end as I pulled myself away from him. One last look and deep love exchanged in a glance as he told me to “come home again soon”. I walked away with a tear in my eye thinking how exceptionally tender the moment had been. I knew this was a moment to treasure. I am thankful I heard the whisper. I pondered it in my heart and pressed it deep. I would not know the magnitude of the moment until the following day when so unexpectedly he left us for his heavenly home. The moment captured in my heart became so much more. That tender good bye became a gift of great worth. Though bittersweet, I have treasured it for these 365 days. I cling to it; pull it out and ponder it. For even in the ache of it there is love and joy and beauty. It is a treasure.

There are other heart treasures. Some bring tears. Some bring laughter. There is new love, vows exchanged, holidays gathered together, holidays spent apart, hard good byes, joyous hellos, the last words of my mother and her fingers in my hair, the birth of my children, milestones as they have grown, prayers shared, leaving homes, fresh starts, hard endings, honest words, and love expressed. The list and details could fill pages. Each moment a treasure.

I find myself also keenly aware of the moments I missed. Moments lost in the fullness of my days. Moments just as tender that I cannot revisit or recreate. Wishing now that I had been still enough, aware enough to hear that whisper that alerts me to the significant. Moments remembered yet not treasured. Sounds, sights, smells that fade with time. Reminders to my soul to pause… be still… treasure and ponder.

So today, I pull out the treasure of that last moment with my dad. I remember. I ponder it once again and I purpose to hold it as the treasure it is. Thankful for the gift and the Giver of the moment. With that treasured moment, many others tumble out with it. While tears do flow because sadness is intertwined with the memories, there is joy too. Joy over a life of treasures. Treasures shared. Treasures pondered and pressed deep in my heart. Those treasures bring peace and fill my heart with a love. Love that is a balm when the hearts hurts. Thankful.

I love you Daddy!

 

 

Just Take A Step

Just take a step.

Would you laugh if I told you that it seems too hard…too big?

It feels hard when you don’t know where that step will lead you.

How do I even know where to step? What does that first step feel like, look like?

What if I step in the wrong direction? What if I step on someone’s toes because they are already going there? What if there are so many people there already that there is no room for me? What if the step does not take me anywhere but in circles?

How can I take a step when there is more I need to know? The road map or GPS with step by step directions has not yet arrived.

Questions loom…. emotions rage… doubt assails. Each whirling, pressing, pounding on my mind. Each screaming their own warning or doubt. Adequate answers do not seem to come.

Just take a step.

Paralyzed. Unsure. Yet convinced that there is a step to be taken. Heart pounding, spirit pulsing sure there is a move to be made. Mind vs. Heart. Emotion vs. Spirit.

Doubt and fear are powerful roadblocks. They have the power to keep us… to keep me… frozen. Stuck in a place that is not “bad” yet is not the “fullness” of His will for me. A place that feels familiar and in that it feels strangely “good”. I am not moving but I am safe. Comfortable.

“Do not be afraid…” (Isaiah 4:10 ) But I am!

“…only believe.” (Mark 5:36) I want to but…!

“Press on…” (Phil 3:14) I am too tired!

“…move on.” (Ex. 14:15 ) It looks to scary!

“Follow me…” (Matt. 4:19) I don’t know where that will take me!

Walk forward… (Isaiah 43:18-19) The other direction is familiar!

I do hear You! I do believe You! My doubts and inaction betray these best intentions. Day after day, I sit and cry out “Show me, Lord”. Day after day you lovingly remind me…

Just take a step.

Obedience is hard. Pressing on, moving, following, walking forward…. hard.

Today though I choose them over sitting, doubting, questioning, and fearing. They have stolen too many hours…too many days… too many years.

“I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go. If you had listened all along to what I told you, your life would have flowed full like a river…” (Isaiah 48:17-18 The Message)

“…peace flowing like a gentle river” (Isaiah 48:18 NLT) What a difference that would be from the relentless restlessness in this “comfortable place”.

I told my sweet girl once… “the first is the hardest”. I remind my own heart of that today. I choose hard and am promised peace… exchanging comfort for peace. Hmmm… As I begin to move, I feel it. Peace feels good. My little world is still very much the same but my perspective has changed. I am still sitting in my favorite chair but I am seeing all that is around me and within me from “a new place”. The first step changes me!

Taking a step… starting the journey. I have no idea where this will lead. I am so glad that He does!

Now on to the next step!

Lord, I do not know where you are leading. I am unsure how to move forward into what feels very unknown. I am thankful though for these truths: You know! You will equip me! You alone will order my steps! And, best of all, You go with me! When I fumble or fail, your grace will cover me, pick me back up, and place me back on your path. Those truths alone demolish the roadblocks of fear & doubt. I am so glad You are bigger and that you love me so much. Thank you, precious heavenly father. May this first small step make you smile! Your will be done. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Let me ask you, my friends…
Is He asking you to take a step?
What is keeping you from moving?
What small thing can you do to move?
What promises does He give you in response to His call?

Let’s Ponder Together ~

Margaret

Hello world!

World? Is that really who I am greeting? The computer generated title seems to tell me so.

I am not sure I am quite ready to say hello to the world! World seems awful big! World seems too large…too impersonal.

I wonder if the few sets of eyes that will actually read this can constitute a “world”?  A very small world.  A simple world.  An intimate world.

A world consisting of friends. Friends gathering together to ponder. Yes…This feels a bit more comfortable.

Friends gathering together to ponder the deep Truths that He presses on our hearts. That’s the kind of world that inspires me!

A world that can fit around a table, look each other in the eyes, and be real…honest…vulnerable. That type of world is life changing and life giving!

We are scattered though. You and me… all of us… in so many different places… different seasons…different circumstances.

We are busy!

We have lists!

We have lives!

We have hurts!

We have fears!

Can we find a way to gather together anyway? If not around a table then maybe in our hearts?

Can we find a way to create a place… a space… a moment to allow our worlds to connect? Can we find a way to allow our hearts to connect? Can we find a way to change our little world right in front of us?

The title says “Hello World” yet my heart cries “Hello Friend”!

As I say hello, I am not sure where this gathering of words will lead. I am not sure how The Lord can use an offering of words. I trust Him though. He is faithful. He gives so that we can in response give back. He has given me words… lots of words! So in this place, I will place some of these words. Not because they are profound or important but simply because He gave them and in response… I am giving them back.

So… “Hello World!”… “Hello Friend!”

Let’s ponder together!

~ Margaret