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Sunday grace

 

Lord, we thank You for all of Your good gifts.

Scripture says You satisfy the thirsty and fill the hungry with good things.  I believe this is true, though sometimes your good gifts are shrouded in mystery, dressed in darkness, and accompanied by confusion and pain.

Yet, in Your wise and wonderful way, you plan to redeem each difficulty and bring beauty out of the ash heap. You teach us through our hardships, things like compassion, patience, kindness, endurance, and trust.

You hold us in the cold reality of calamity. When winds of adversity threaten to sink our fragile vessel, You ride the waves with us.

Sometimes you calm the storm. But mostly You offer Yourself as our Peace in the middle of the squall.

As Your child, I believe Your love for me is everlasting. You are sovereign over all my life and what you allow to come into it. I am not a victim of my circumstances. You are watching over all my comings and goings.

You plan good for me, a hope and a future. Your love for me is strong and determined. You have purpose for my pain.

And so I, the sometimes doubter longing to be a faithful believer, once again reaffirm my trust in You, the great God of Heaven and Earth.

Lord, I thank You for all your good gifts.

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Sunday grace

Sometimes the heart is heavy.

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Sometimes it’s caused by the same burden I’ve carried before, the same one I’ve laid at the feet of Jesus again and again. I go back and pick it up too many times. I finger it and examine it, wondering if I will be able to figure it out this time, will be able to  make some sense of it.

But I don’t. My mind won’t wrap around this thing that weighs down my heart, makes me sad and weary, brings me to tears.

It is like that thorn in the flesh Paul talked about, that one thing he prayed three times to be removed. Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ, the one whose faith amazes me, who learned to be content in the most horrendous of circumstances, who had one focus and only one; this Paul could not get a “yes” answer to that one prayer he prayed three times.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

That was the answer to Paul’s prayer. Grace.

Grace is always the answer. Always sufficient. The undeserved mercy from a merciful and compassionate God who knows the beginning and the end of my life and all the days in between. He planned me, planned for me, and has a plan for this day and all my days to come.

He invites me, compels me to come, me who is weary and heavy laden.  Me who often is faithless, doubting My God is who He says He is. Me who wonders who I am and can I really do all things through Christ?

He offers rest. His admonishment is this:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.”

There are lessons to be learned here at the feet of Jesus. Lessons I seem to want to skip over. Things like surrender. Things like trust.

“For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”

My Savior is gentle with me. His call is tender and sweet. He sings over me with words that soothe the ache inside, calling me to come and find rest for my weary soul.

At the feet of Jesus I will lay my burden down.
Once more, I will lay my heavy burden down. *

Sunday grace.

* [Click on the link above to hear Steven Curtis Chapman sing “At the Fee of Jesus.”]

 

Sunday grace

This song, this morning. It’s what my heart sings. My fingers touch the keyboard. I open my mouth to voice words that lift my eyes to Jesus. He alone is worthy of my trust.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, 
and to take him at his word; 
just to rest upon his promise, 
and to know, “Thus saith the Lord.” 

O how sweet to trust in Jesus, 
just to trust his cleansing blood; 
and in simple faith to plunge me 
‘neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, 
just from sin and self to cease; 
just from Jesus simply taking 
life and rest, and joy and peace.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! 
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er! 
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! 
O for grace to trust him more! 

              — words by Louisa Stead

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him these many years. O for grace to trust Him more.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

Oh Lord, You know me well, better than anyone else.

You know my grace-filled ponderings. You also know when I am anxious, angry, disgruntled, unbelieving.

You have a window into my heart that no one else has ever seen. The place where I battle to bring every thought into subjection to You.

I want to dwell on things that are pure and lovely, honorable and true. Sometimes I struggle.

Oh Lord, You love me like no other, even though You know me so well. How is that possible, that Your love goes beyond my ability to be lovable?

I don’t understand Your ways. They are too high, too deep. I cannot grasp Your affection for me. You give love like an ever-bubbling stream, a fountain of fresh life. It washes over me, calling me to climb higher and dwell peacefully in hope.

Why do I worry and stress when I am Yours and You have me in Your hands, working out Your perfect plan? Why do I let anxiety get the best of me? You are my Lord and Savior, my Redeemer and the God who sees me.

You are the Lover of my soul, the Shepherd who leads me beside still waters and restores my soul.

Still my apprehension and my fear as I put my trust in You.

Sunday grace

Second Tuesday in November

Today is election day in the United States of America. It seems we have not been particularly united of late.

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I woke with the thoughts of campaigns ending, the circus it has all been finally leaving town. And the Spirit sings to me, “Our God is in control.”

As I sit in my rocker in the pre-dawn hours, coffee and Bible in hand, I pray for my country, sweet land of liberty, land that I love. Today marks a day of changes, no matter how the pendulum swings.

Sweet William and I went early to the polls to cast our ballots. The parking lot was full and people waited in line to vote. I hope that is an indication that we care about the election outcome, that we are willing to be responsible citizens, that the invasion of lethargy and hopelessness has not won a battle.

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No matter what tomorrow’s result, I know this one thing for certain: My God is in control.

An old refrain echos the same, “I don’t know who holds tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand.”

And still another melody from my childhood offers comfort,

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon His promise, just to know ‘Thus saith the Lord’.”

Today I will hope in the Lord. His Truth still marches on.

Today I will trust in Jesus. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Today I will sing and rejoice in my salvation with thanksgiving, for this is God’s will for me.

Today I will choose joy no matter the outcome.

Because my God is in control.

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Strength will rise

Lines were drawn in the sand months ago. The games have begun; opponents faced off; and I hear in the distance, “Red Rover, Red Rover, we dare you come over.”

This side says one thing. The other side contradicts. The first side rebuts. And the air feels hotter than my outdoor thermometer indicates.

Who do I believe? When the words are conflicting, but each declares it to be the honest-to-god truth, who really is the truth teller?

Can one look polished, smile and shade the truth while reading from a telemonitor?

I wonder who we are. One nation under God? Indivisible? With liberty and justice? For all?

My mind whirls. There are choices to be made, and I must choose wisely.

In the thick of spins and commentary and promises that sound convincing and too good to be true, who is really speaking the whole truth and nothing but? I wonder.

The atmosphere is tornadic. Yet I hear a melody in my heart, coming from somewhere deep, my spirit connecting with the Spirit.

And He sings,

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won’t grow weary

You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

 

There is One truth-teller. There is One who always keeps His promises. There is One who is strong and able to do what seems impossible. There is One who gives hope to the weary, the downtrodden, the helpless, the defenseless.

He is the Everlasting God. I will lift my eyes to Him, away from the noise and fray of the crowds, so that I am not afraid of the future.

Strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord.

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Thou O Lord

The engines roared into our quiet close-knit community, sirens blaring and lights flashing.  The dark night was ablaze with fire coming from our neighbors house, people who are more than neighbors.  They are my family.  My near kin.

“Oh Jesus!” was all I could say, all I could pray.  Over and over, it was a moan of desperation in a desperate situation.

Neighbors and friends came out of warm cozy houses and family celebrations, not knowing what to do, only lending their presence.  And when the sky falls what is there to do but huddle close, be there to hold onto and cry with, to pray for grace and mercy in a night of horror?

Our thankful prayer was that all souls were safe, unharmed, spared the smoke inhalation and burning.

Christmas Day suddenly became something different for us.

 “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.   Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.”

We watched from a distance, as firefighters risked life and limb to try to salvage what was so far gone, to put out flames that burned hot and ferocious.  They did what they were trained to do.  All we could do was stand back and let them.

Gathered at the closest house, we sat on the deck in the cold night, tears streaming down wondering how and why and what to do next.  Silent prayers echoed in our hearts.

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.  I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.”

 And yet, underneath are the everlasting arms of a God who knows all.  I don’t understand His ways, but I know that He is wise beyond me.  We know that His mercy is plentiful and His grace is sufficient.  His love endures when nothing else will.

Late into the night people part, go to their own places of sleep.  I tell Sweet William that I almost feel guilty for having a home and bed tonight.  What we count as treasures, what we invest our time and money and very lives into can be gone in a breath.  And what do we have left?  What can we count on?

” I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.”

We lock our doors and feel secure.  We set our house alarms and expect safety.  We drive on the highway observing the traffic laws and don’t know for sure if we will return home whole.

There is no security in this life.  None.  Zero.

God is all we have.  God is all we need.

“Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.”

When there is faith in a God who cares enough to send a Savior, there is hope.  Hope for tomorrow.  Hope for a future.

My family/neighbors have much ahead of them, decisions to be made, grief to work through, loss to accept.  They will because their hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness.  They will move forward, rebuild, though they will be forever changed.  They will continue to trust in their God because there is nothing else.

Dare we set our dreams on things of this earth when it is so quickly gone?  Dare we trust anything except a mighty God who saves?

We stand firm on the Truth that God is good, God is strong, God is loving, and He will bring beauty from ashes.

And no matter what the enemy means for evil, God will use it for good.  Our adversary does not have the last word.

The last word is:  But Thou o Lord.

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sings But Thou O Lord

Scripture from Psalm 3, KJV