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Archive for April, 2012

Ever have that feeling that you’ve stumbled onto something and you don’t yet realize its full implications? That’s me this morning. So I had to write it down, journal it out and share it. Maybe it’s not only meant for me. Or maybe I simply need to come back to it later…

My lectio passage this morning was Jeremiah 31:3-6. And as I read it all these random connections began to be made. Connections to things seen or heard or revealed by God to me within the very recent or less recent past. Mostly the past few months, though. And it seemed so many things were being strung together and woven into something grand. And that was only on the first reading.

And when my eye returned to the top of the passage to read again, verse two caught my eye. I suppose because I sorta feel like I am in a wilderness right now. Dry. Waiting. Struggling. Wandering. My health has been poor since February and my body is tired and weary. I am surrounded by unfinished tasks and projects and sometimes the piles seem unending and insurmountable. The new dream I was given and so excited about has largely been put on hold because of the two aforementioned things and so it is easy to find myself questioning the veracity (and the timing) of that dream… and that’s why I think verse two stood out.

Here is the passage as a whole. Jeremiah 31:2-6:

Thus says the LORD,
“The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness—
Israel, when it went to find its rest.
The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt,
O virgin of Israel!
Again you will take up your tambourines,
And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.
Again you will plant vineyards
On the hills of Samaria;
The planters will plant
And will enjoy them.
For there will be a day when watchmen
On the hills of Ephraim call out,
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
To the LORD our God.’”

And here is my journal entry:

“Found grace in the wilderness.” Grace in the wilderness… and “rest.” Rest. Grace and rest in the wilderness. ♫ Rest Easy. ♫ Easy… His yoke is easy and his burden is light*… he carries the basket… He has loved them – us – me – with an everlasting love. I am loved! And I am drawn – brought near – with hesed – lovingkindness – mercy! Grace and rest and love and mercy!

Rebuilt. Built again. Remade. Renewed… and we will dance… dance again! Dance and plant and enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy him – the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.* Forever starts now. And the watchmen cry. The watchmen – the ones who looked – who waited – qavah(ed)! Yes, now they cry! It is time! And it began with grace in the wilderness. Grace and rest.

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This is from a letter I wrote to God yesterday and it describes the basket imagery which has become important in my walk and to which I’ll likely refer back to from time to time. So here is what it means:

So Tuesday morning was rough. Well, every morning has been. But as I returned to bed to rest my poor body, my thoughts turned to you again. Oh, Monday night was so lovely! It was late and I was disappointed in the time but as I reviewed what led me to that late time I realized I had no regrets over those things! None! And I had this random chat with you as I was falling asleep… and that is what continued Tuesday morning there in bed. And as I struggled with anxiety for my day and all that needed done in it (and knew my mind needed calmed to get more rest), you took my hand and gave me an image:

We were walking along in a field. And there, scattered about like rocks, were all the things I needed to do or wanted to do or hoped to do. And the field was endless (and neither of us were surprised at that). And in my hand I had a basket and the basket was labeled “today”. I decided to ask you before putting any of those rocks into my basket. I wanted to know if you approved of how I was filling my day. And I thought things were going quite well. (How come I always think that before you do something even better or more profound? It seems I constantly short-change myself… and you.) And then we came to this one rock. It was larger and I looked to you, wondering if it was something I should attempt or wait. And it seemed to me like I wanted to hold on to it just in case it would fit in before we were done. And you held out your hand and I thought you were going to hold on to it for me, and I was so grateful! And I handed you the rock, quite excited by all this, and you took it, but you just kept looking at me with that sorta-smile on your face. And I knew there was something more. So I actually stopped. Stopped and looked at you so that I could listen. And you said, “actually, I was going to carry the basket for you.” For my yolk is easy and my burden is light. Oh! Wow! You want to carry the whole basket? This heavy basket I’ve been loading down while feeling so proud of myself to include you in on what I put in it? Hmm…!

So I handed over the basket and realized that you could hand me each task as its time came and I wouldn’t have to worry so much. Not stress over the whole load. Not be anxious…

On Wednesday I was again thinking of the field and the basket. And on yesterday also. Yesterday as I was trying to exercise, walking at a too-fast pace and you were laughing at me – with me – listening to that funky electronic cardio station… I thought of the basket again. And how you hand me the rocks as I need them. And I realized then how that image flows with what you’ve been teaching me from the one thousand gifts book and list! About having open hands and taking what you give. We accept the bread with thanks. Even the manna unknown – when we don’t know what it is – we accept. We have open hands. And this is something you ask of me every day. You carry the basket and I accept from you whatever you put in my hands. My open hands.

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Laid bare

Today’s passage was Hebrews 4:12-13

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

v. 12 is a familiar verse. So much so that my initial thought as I read it was, “perhaps I should meditate on it?”

Then I got go v. 13. Have I ever read that verse before? Oh, certainly! And yet it sticks out anew, as less trodden ground. So here I pause:

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open…

Nothing hidden. All open, laid bare…

You know, I would normally want to cover myself when reading this. Pull that lap blanket that keeps me warm on a chilly morning in my rocker by the window the whole way up to my neck. Or over my face. In shame. Unworthiness.

Yet this time I am stilled in this running to hide. I don’t have to hide! I can’t. He sees it all anyway. Through my facades. Somehow, being bare and exposed is no longer shameful. When did that happen?

My eye catches the “therefore” of verse 14 and again at 16. I know those verses. And I realize why I am okay being laid bare. Because of Jesus. He cleanses, purifies and covers. And in him I find confidence to approach (not run)… and I find grace and mercy.

I am loved.

And that truth is finally taking deep root.

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Alert thanksgiving

From Tuesday 17 April 2012, reading Colossians 4:2-4:

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;  praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;  that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.

“Devote yourselves to prayer” it says. And it talks about praying for “them” and for doors to open and words to say.

So my first thought was, skip the journaling and pray. Pray for the requests in my prayer journal and especially pray for Mei Mei and her team in undisclosed parts of the world.

And then I reread the verses (to see if it described more how to pray – you know, get it in my head again before starting my prayers)… And something caught my attention:

Keeping alert with an attitude of thanksgiving.

And suddenly the random verses I had pulled for my current lectio series, the ones that came from the previous study book our ladies’ group did… suddenly they connected with the book we are doing at present. The one about the gifts*. The one about counting to 1,000 gifts because when we count the graces we recognize the graces and when we give thanks then joy comes. And eucharisteo means to give thanks but the root word is charis meaning “grace” and then we find that chara “joy” also comes from that root. And eucharisteo precedes the miracle. And when we count the gifts – the graces – we recognize the graces….

And that’s where it connected. As though again for the first time! When we’re being thankful, looking for gifts – we are being alert – and being alert we see what God is doing and therefore we can know how to pray! HA!

Thanksgiving leads to watchfulness and so together they help us to always be in prayer and to know how to pray!

Oh, Lord, may I be alert with thanksgiving!

*Our current study is the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

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From Saturday 14 April 2012, looking at 1 Kings 19:9-12

I’ve loved this passage for years. Form the first time a preacher touched on Elijah’s depression and God’s provision to the camp speaker who used these few verses to encourage us that while we often meet God at camp “mountaintop” experiences (ie. big & loud), He was also in the whisper. I remember staring at the flame of the small candle in my hand as he spoke…

So I am sitting here this morning with a passage I love, wondering what I can “get out of it” this time, being chilled in the room, distracted by noises both inside and outside and the endless “to-do” of the rest of my day and…

I realize I’m distracted. Eager to “be done” with devotions. Unfocused.

Then I remember I was the same yesterday. All day long. Struggling with being quiet – with being in the moment – present. Being present to His presence.

v. 13 says, “When Elijah heard it…” Heard what? The gentle blowing. The whisper. To hear it he had to be listening for it. Quiet. Aware. Present.

Lord, you are speaking to me, or trying to… help me to hear – to listen – to quiet down – to be present – to not rush forward into the next thing… to see You.

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