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The roses out back are over the moon. After the February -20 temps, I wondered if they’d bounce back. I hard-pruned the branches, leaving them 6-8” tall. They looked like sad, dead sticks coming out of the ground. I talked to them and sang to them (because I’m weird like that). Their longing to be closer to heaven, close to the heart of their Creator, won. They keep reaching higher and blooming deeper than I’ve ever seen.
Like the branches, you and I can not stop our longing for a deeper experience with God. It is with us always. A quest from which no one can hide. Even the emptiest and coldest heart longs for relationship with Christ. The pull on you and me – the pull by God Almighty is far more potent than
any dire need,
and, that is why the Most High has led us here … to this moment … to be reminded.
We have a serious task ahead: to face challenges at odds with
We face trials.
We are driven red with anger.
We will be falsely accused.
We need walk-away strength.
And, we need stand-your-ground courage.
DearOne, answering the call to follow in the footsteps Jesus Christ requires that we are sometimes stripped bare. We are sometimes reduced. to. ashes.
Once that happens, from the pit, life yields growth:
Releasing old wounds.
Letting go of grudges.
Replacing hurt places with forgiveness.
Rising out of grief into new life with The Most High.
When your soul is called out, drive erupts that will will take charge of your life.
‘Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.’ (Colossians 3:2 HCSB)
Good morning, DearHeart. In the past I’ve written often about the prodigal son. Every time I read it brand new insight eeks out. Sometimes, truth so simple that it is profound. God is Love. Simple. So powerful. God loves us for ourselves and not for anything we can do or give Him. We can’t cause God to love us more, or less, than He already does. Yet … we live in a performance-based culture, causing us to think we need to earn God’s love. I can relate with each person in the story:
The younger son, who the father restores all the rights of sonship, so that he loses nothing.
The older brother, who had remained faithfully with his father, had a problem with the grace extended. Sometimes we can be just like the older brother – stuck and smug in our self righteousness, forgetting our God is gracious to all.
The father who extends forgiveness, grace, and love in spite of all of the heartbreak that he had experienced. In my life, I have been the prodigal … the one in need of God’s forgiveness and grace. I have also been the older son … wanting to withhold God’s grace and celebration of another. And, I have been like the father … having to embrace, and forgive, and restore position to another. Maybe that is why I love this story so much. We can see ourselves in the story and recognize the depth of God’s love and mercy and grace in our own lives. With the prodigal in mind, flipping a few pages to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I read verse 7 over and over. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” The word “endures” stood out. God’s love lasts – it has stood the test of time. In Psalm 136, all 26 verses end with the words “His love endures forever”. God knows we need reminding and repetition. God’s love toward you and me is higher, deeper, wider, and longer than anyone can comprehend. Throughout all the craziness the past year has delivered, through each trial and each victory, God’s covenant love for his people, like a mighty river, flows into you and me – as strong into the future as when it first began in the ancient past. This means that you and I receive the awe-inspiring wonder of being the special object of His everlasting love. God’s love endures forever. Wake up. Remind, repeat, and receive fully His enduring love. Go.
Good morning, DearHeart. There is something about the stillness of the morning, when the wind doesn’t blow, that creation seems to be heightened. In the stillness, Russell Crow (our rooster) begins to sound off about 4:30AM. (He has chilled a little and hasn’t tried to attack me since before the February freeze). His early morning crowing seems to echo off of the trees on the creek. Dale’s coffee pot, on auto-start, brews and wafts into each room. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but love the smell of coffee the morning – especially mornings that are calm and easy. The tree that sits north east of the porch begins to come alive with chirping around 5:45. The songs of the morning birds build and build like an orchestra delivering the peak to a movie plot. All, a part of my early mornings. All such a contrast to mornings when the force-filled Oklahoma winds are humming. The sounds all remind me of Elijah … running for his life, has an encounter with God. The Lord tells him to go out on the mountain and stand there. As he was standing there, Elijah experienced a windstorm which was so terrible that the rocks were torn loose. But the Lord was not in the wind. He then experienced an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake either. After the earthquake, he experienced a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. “And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19:12, NLT) And Elijah encountered the Lord. At times, the storms of life will blow cold and harsh upon our days. Our foundations may quake and shake a bit on those days when unexpected (and unwanted) news is delivered to us. With a single strike, our emotions can feel like they have been set ablaze. And it is right in those moments, if we lean in ever so slightly, our souls will encounter the Holy Spirit of our God … “I will never leave you nor forsake you!” “I have loved you with an everlasting love!” “You are bought with a price, you are Mine! “I am the Lord, your God. Is anything to hard for Me?” Perhaps it is why I love this story in Elijah so much. The winds, the earthquake, and the fire could all be experienced by others… but, the gentle, small whisper? It is meant for the audience of one. His child. It is heard only by the one to whom the Lord is speaking, to the one who is listening. The one who is expecting a Word from their Savior. Wake up. Expect His whisper. Listen. Go.
As my sons have grown from little boys to men, our conversations have grown, too. We talk a lot of how life throws in unexpected curve balls.
I find myself wondering sometimes … have I been wise and right to remind them to continue to live with character and integrity in spite of the odds seeming to go against them?
Had a tough conversation yesterday about fair/unfair that left me searching … how do you hold onto integrity when it seems like those with none seem to get it come out on top? Or, when those with pizazz and pop out-dazzle the rest who thrive on steady “do-the-work” principles?
Should I have instilled in them to be more aggressive, more conniving, to plot more? Should I have taught them it’s a dog eat dog world and be certain to be the stronger dog?
I woke up wrestling these questions in the still of the night … went to my Holy answer book, and was reminded:
“Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in His holy place?
Those whose hands and heart are pure, who do not worship idols or tell lies.
They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.
Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.” (Psalm 24: 3-6, NLT)
He desires a people, you and me, with pure hearts and hands who commit themselves fully to the Lord and the evidence is seen in their strength of
And, I find myself this morning, asking … ‘Lord, help me, help them, to desire hands that are pure. Hands that uphold truth and stand for just ways – ways that are right, true, good, and praiseworthy. May our lives testify of You Who deposits character and integrity and ethics into Your people.
It is then that we stand in Your presence with hands and a heart that is pure.
Philippians 4:8 ‘Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies. (Msg)
Of the vices I carry, one I would leave in a heartbeat is tears. I cry. It drives me insane. The more I will it to stop, it seems the more intense it becomes. I’ve researched and tried every determination technique I can find. And, still. Ugh. It’s embarrassing and it makes people uncomfortable – it makes me uncomfortable. It’s a pain. If you are a crier, then you can relate. I realize they are a common occurrence in many, although the reasons may differ. Some cry out of sheer joy and laughter, others from stress, anger, or sadness. Or, all of the above. Jesus cried, too. The shortest verse in Scripture tells us, “Then Jesus wept”(John 11:35).
We are also told Jesus shed tears in prayer (Hebrews 5:7) and was well “acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Tears were no stranger to Jesus.
While the world may often see tears as weakness, they may well be indicative of a deep strength – compassion. This hit home:
“I strongly repudiate any man who is so haughty as to condemn tears in men. He may think himself brave for not shedding tears. He may deem himself as nobler and superior to others. But facts just do not bear this out! Let me tell you, a dry eye reveals a dry and hard heart. Such a heart has become rebellious, void of feeling, insensitive as wood and stone. Oftentimes, tears betray the true heart condition of a person. It may be said that nothing discloses the inward state of a human heart more than do tears. Let me say from conviction that tears are the outlet of the heart.”
(by Watchman Nee, Practical Issues of This Life, page 2)
I suppose they have purpose … a cleansing effect. “For the kind of sorrow God want us to experience leads us away from sin and result in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow …” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NLT).
I believe they also develop us- move us. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (Romans 5:3-4, NLT).
I do know this, tears matter to God. He sees every one. Not one falls to the ground unnoticed …
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8, NLT)
Tears in our darkest times are truly precious to our God.
God has promised to one day wipe every tear.
And I believe He will do that with His very own hand.
Good morning, DearHeart. It’s been quite a week. The other morning I reached for the shower door, the hinge at top broke, the bottom edge of the glass door hit the tile causing it to explode into a million pieces. It happened in a split second – I screamed. For some reason my first thought was “have I been shot?” There was blood everywhere and I was covered with glass. I froze in place, scared to move – Dale came running. He got me to safety and cleaned up, put his first aid skills to use, and then cleaned up glass for over an hour. I feel sure tiny, broken pieces of glass will be found in there from now on. Broken glass … it’s amazing how brokenness can raise so many questions. Is it any different with the brokenness in our lives? I don’t think so. Brokenness comes to each of us in different ways…
a job loss
a relational loss
a failure of any sort
betrayal Dictionary.com defines “broken” as…”reduced to fragments, out of order, not functioning, changing direction abruptly, incomplete, infringed or violated, weakened in strength, disrupted, divided.” I think you get the picture & it is not pretty. Psalm 34 is probably one of my favorite passages of Scripture, if not, my favorite. When you have time, read it all. There is not one part of it that will not speak to your heart. This verse came back to me. It simply says: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (verse 18 NIV). It is those very times that we are broken that He is the closest to us. It is also those times that the enemy of our souls would taunt, “Where is your God now?”. May you and I be wise to His ways & quickly respond, “He is right close to me.” The Message words it this way: “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.” If your gasping for breath, trying to come out from under your circumstance, KNOW that He is right there with you to help you catch your breath. It is God Himself performing the CPR at those times. The funny thing is this….I couldn’t put that shower door back together even if I wanted to. But our God takes every bit of our brokenness & somehow He “saves those who are crushed in spirit”. He puts us back together. He brings wholeness. He is “Always Enough” to take care of us in our brokenness. Wake up. Trouble will come. God will carry you. God is way more than enough. Go.
Good morning, DearHeart. I led a women’s retreat recently where we listed each year of our lives and wrote a memory or significant event of that year … all the way back to the year of our birth. Looking back over the timeline, the stellar years and the tough years, we found that the God that has been faithful through every victory, trial, and ugly tear of our lives can also be trusted through this season, too. ‘Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.’ (Ephesians 1:11 NLT) Looking back – especially at the most difficult years, the Hand of my Savior, the One that chose me in advance, made things work out. He delivered me. As I enter His presence and take in this promise in a fresh, new story, I’m absorbing … NOTHING can happen in my life that He cannot work out according to HIS plan. Read that again & let it sink in. The same is true for you. We all have things occur in our lives that we’d rather edit out. For whatever reason, it was allowed. He somehow takes the ordeal & works it. His plan … my story. In the midst of pain and trials, He is still at work. Because of His sovereignty, He gives the energy, the power, the fortitude, that enables us to get through … to stand in spite of it all. I won’t pretend to understand it, because I truly do not, but everything, ALL OF IT, somehow works out to bring Him the glory & praise He deserves. Each day that we endure in the middle of our deep pain & hurt is a testimony to the enabling of the One who lifts us to survive. Each day makes the statement that we can, & do, & will overcome because of the shed blood of the One Who has been victorious & gives us … shares with us, the victory. Chuck Swindoll once shared: When God Wants to Drill a Man When God wants to drill a man, And thrill a man, And skill a man, When God wants to mold a man To play the noblest part; When He yearns with all His heart To create so great and bold a man That all the world shall be amazed, Watch His methods, watch His ways! How He ruthlessly perfects Whom He royally elects! How He hammers him and hurts him, And, with mighty blows converts him Into trial shapes of clay which Only God understands; While his tortured heart is crying And he lifts beseeching hands! How He bends but never breaks When his good He undertakes; How He uses whom He chooses, And which every purpose fuses him; By every act induces him To try His splendor out- God knows what He’s about. – Anonymous
God knows what He’s about. He works everything out according to His plan & purpose…. the struggles, the doubts, the insecurities, the rejections, the betrayals, the loneliness, the deaths, the changes, the brokenness and disappointments. God has a plan. Wake up. Hold on to Him. Trust His ways. Go.