Darkness Closes In

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“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).” Mark 15:33-34

Forsaken.

The very last words of Jesus Christ as he hung upon the cross were words that cry out with despair and abandonment. God’s only Son calls out to His Father seeking comfort and oneness. In the deepest and darkest place of Jesus’s life, where was God?

Why have you forsaken me?

Jesus had lived his life on this earth in communion with His Father. They shared a close bond and an ongoing growing relationship. With constant sharing in prayer, intimacy was woven between them – deep communion grew. They were intimate. Jesus was so one with the Father, that being about His kingdom was His passion and ministry.

Even as a young boy Jesus was most comfortable in His Father’s House.

“…. the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  Luke 2:43b-49

As Jesus began His ministry, He went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. “And a voice from heaven said, “…… This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17  God loved His Son, He was pleased with Him. Before even one item on the “to do” list was accomplished in the ministry of Jesus, God proclaims His love for Him.

His love!

Jesus spent time building His relationship with God. He communicated with Him through prayer. Jesus sought out the Father to rely upon, to entrust Himself to and to strengthen his faith. He prayed early in the morning, late at night, alone and for hours on end. Jesus was a man of prayer and this is how their relationship was built – with words.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

“…..Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12

 ….. he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” Matthew 14:22-23

Jesus prayed. The man who became our mediator knows what it feels like to need space, to feel desperate and to have to plead our case. For he pled His own.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” If Jesus Christ can ask this question, surely we can. When we can’t find our footing as we reach out to the Father. When we can’t find the peace which God provides. When we ask, “where are you Father?” When the darkness closes in.

Ask.

Wait for His reply. Yes, just wait. I know it’s hard. It’s brutal even. Yet God’s timing is the most precious and sacred time of all. Our Savior could have called 10,000 angels to relieve His pain. He could have removed Himself from the cross and ended His suffering. But He endured. He remained faithful. He agonized. He hurt. He stayed.

Have you ever wondered what were those early believers were thinking? The Teacher who performed miracles, who talked about a kingdom to come. Now what? Those followers who walked with Jesus, who heard His teaching, who witnessed the miracles.  Where are they now?

Darkness has come.

Their Teacher? Dead. Their Kingdom. A dream.  Their hopes and their faith rocked to it’s very core – as they scattered – just like Jesus predicted. (Matt 26:31)  They denied, betrayed and refused to admit their loyalty to Jesus. They hid in an upper room and mourned the one they loved in private. The communion they shared with Jesus, gone. They mourned Him, oh how they mourned Him!

What happens to you when darkness closes in?

Do you hide in your own upper room? Fill your time with distractions and consider that time sacred? Do you live in denial and refuse to confront the sin in your life? Do you betray your first love Jesus by seeking out other ways to fill yourself? Are we like the early Christians who spend time with the Holy Lord but don’t recognize His signs and wonders? Do we trust Him? Commune with Him? Wait upon Him?

Just wait.

For His perfect, sacred, holy time. All the disciples had believed in, seemed lost. All hope appeared gone. They felt forsaken, abandoned, alone. Like Jesus on the cross asking God why He abandoned Him, so too I suspect, are the disciples wondering why Jesus did the exact same thing. Have you ever asked Him such a question….where are you LORD?

Spend time with Jesus cultivating communion. Learn about Him and know His heart so you can recognize Him when He arises from that tomb in your soul. Do not look with your eyes alone, but with your heart. Have faith. Believe.

For the darkness does not win, it closes in, but never snuffs out the light.

The Veil Is Torn

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Sometimes we don’t see clearly. Do we?

We live our lives in an understanding of who we think we are. We tell ourselves we’re products of our environment, dependent upon the circumstances in which we live.  Our life as a child growing up created this framework in which we now engage and view the world. We are caught in this reality of a brokeness. No matter what you experienced in your home –  neglect, financial instability, additive behavior, abuse – difficult, oh so difficult life situations – whatever life threw our way, we feel like victims. Victims. We all have our own story don’t we?  Often there are things we have experienced that we wouldn’t wish on anyone, yet here we are. Hiding behind the curtain that shrouds our vision, our thinking – our very being. We’ve swallowed the lies.

I am not good enough.

I am not worth it. I am not lovable. I got what I deserved. Can you hear it? The doubt, the fear – the desperate need to be loved. It’s cries out from our deepest longings. We see glimmers of light shining as the curtain sways. We grab its edge, gently move it so we can peer out – yet all we see is skewed, distorted – untrue.  We have this veil covering our eyes, our minds – our very hearts. We just can’t see ourselves for who we are – or for whom we can become.

We move within our lives in ways which reflects what we believe. I think I am not good enough, so I act like I am not good enough. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. I won’t eat right or control my tongue and certainly not cut back on my internet use – I can justify these as ways that serve me – however do they not enslave me? I can’t speak for you – you will have to name the ways in which you do this to yourself. I am asking when did taking care of ourselves become a sinful thing to do?  Choices I now make reinforce this thought pattern in my mind. I say to myself, “I’m not going to take care of myself, no one cares anyway.”  If I think I don’t deserve to be loved I will allow myself to be treated as unlovable. Those in our hearts we long for to treat us differently, will choose to continue to treat us as we believe about ourselves.

It’s time.

It’s time to confront the lies we live in, the thoughts we combat, the ways in which we doubt. Sometimes the doubts keep us in that valley while we are eager for the mountaintop. We yearn for acceptance, we work hard to gain love,  we serve in a multitude of ways and we just get busy. These can be dark times and we keep ourselves enslaved by believing the lies. That veil covering keeps us from understanding who we are, and whose we are.

We must take off the veil – and see.

“But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last. At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces.” Matthew 27:50-53

The very moment Jesus Christ died upon the cross at Calvary, God moved. Immediately! Scripture says that the Temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. There wasn’t one jagged edge left to rip apart, it was completely torn in two – separated and a new way was born. In death life sprang forth. God ushered in a new way for us to be intimate with Him. In former times only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy of Holies but once a year. Now Yaweh has torn away the dividing wall and brought us, you, me – into our true identity.  He invites us to be one with Him in the most sacred place. We are His.

His.

Because we are His it’s time to embrace who we really are let Him mold our true identity. To live not as victims but as victorious. Rip away the curtain you are hiding behind, tear off the veil shrouding your sense of vision, let the Light shine deep into your soul. Because of Jesus Christ we can be intimate with the Father, we can have sweet, deep, intimate fellowship with Him. Your vision of the world can change my friend. But first, let Him change you.

It’s long past time.

 

Out Of The Shadows

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I can’t seem to find my way.

I see the light, it’s inviting me to step up, out and go onward.  And yet, my feet, they just can’t grab ahold. I take a step, the rocks they shift and scatter as my weight bears down on them. My foot, it slips. Sometimes I fall. I try to move, just move – my feet, yet when my feet fail me, what do I do? I could just sit there, gazing up and thinking how beautiful that light is. But, no! I stretch out my hands to grab ahold and feel for the rock under my grip. Maybe between my arms and legs I pull myself up and can climb out – and be free.

So why am I still here?

Sitting in my cavern of doubt, this place I know so well – questions rise to the surface faster than any sense of peace. I look up and see the light shining and I want to go to it, climb out and sit it’s in warmth. I want – the light. The warmth it brings, the comfort I find, the hope of being able to see in the darkness. That’s the thing about light, it shines like a beacon. Calling us to it’s presence.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” It is just that simple. Jesus is the light. He is the source of warmth, of comfort and of the hope that I seek. He is the every glowing, nonstop energy source we can cling to, we can hold onto, yes – we can trust. Trust.  As you sit in your own cavern surrounded by doubt and fears, you have a choice. You do! Take one more step- just one. Who cares if you are standing on the rubble of a battered life, of broken promises and shattered dreams?

Jesus does.

Are you grieving? Then grieve my friend. Feel the pressure of the rocks under your feet. Let the wounds they inflict bleed. As you reach for another cleft in the rock looking to climb out – know this. Remaining in that cavern may be the place that you need to be. The step you want to take to climb out, in fact may be the one you need to take to step out of the shadows you are hiding in and place yourself into the beam of His presence.

Step my friend, into the light.

His light. You may be wrestling to climb out when He is inviting you to sit with Him. The light Jesus can shine, it can move into every crevice in that cavern, every place of darkness can be aflame with His truth. But first you must step out of the shadows of the doubt and into it. Let it cast it’s beam right into your personal pit of pain and insecurity. He’s there, with you, now. No matter what you face, no matter how much you feel overcome or are discouraged. His light shines forth.

Its an invitation!

He is the light of the world. That word light in Matthew 5:16 means, “the light by which true life is gained.” Jesus is proclaiming that He is the way in which true life is gained. LIFE. Oh, Jesus is the way. It reminds me of this verse in John 14:6 when Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is calling out like a lighthouse beam on the oceans shore – shouting out His Majesty that He is the Savior of the world, and through Him you can have eternal life. It’s a ray of hope revealing the goodness and the mercy of God’s favor, His delight. His love can reach us into the darkened places of our hearts, reveal our doubts and is present in moments of weakness.

Can you see Him shining through?

Sometimes you might have to be in the process and grieve. Feel the pain – endure suffering. Your dreams you had, they may not be what has played out before you. You may find the walls of your cavern scribbled with words of despair and loneliness. You might be keeping yourself cloaked in regrets of the past. You may be blinded by fears of the future and of the unknown. Whatever your situation is, regardless of the circumstances – it doesn’t matter – we all have our own caverns and pits -our places where we are more comfortable in the shadows than in the light.

I encourage, my friend, His light can shine through that hole in your heart, my heart, and cast a beam of hope. Don’t get comfortable in the darkness, place yourself in His care. Trust Him. Let Him shine into your heart. Invite hope to rise.

Maybe the way out isn’t up, but through.

Follow the Light.

In the most unlikely place

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I was sitting in a courthouse of all places –  a courthouse.

The place were laws are made, upheld and enforced. Peering into the reality that what I was about to face -well – it’s wasn’t going to be pretty. I owed a debt. Not a large debt, but one that had gone unpaid. Questions surfaced and attacked my sense of reality – just how had this debt accumulated that I was unaware of?  Why hadn’t this been handled earlier? I had always been a responsible person. Exactly how did I get here?

Perhaps that story is for another day, for what came from this experience is so much richer than how I got here. This story needs to be told, why else would I admit such hard things?

My arrival on the courthouse steps wasn’t this scene from Law & Order or anything significant. When I walked in, not one person recognized me or was there to fight on my behalf. I walked in – alone. As I opened the doors to the crowded courtroom I could hear the judge as he read off the names of people waiting in the gallery for their turn to speak and be heard.  When my case was called, I somehow needed to find my feet and rise up to stand. All eyes from that sea of faces were upon me, gulp, yes me. I knew in that moment, I was no longer alone. I was a part of this plethora of people who hurt, who are broken and have fallen and just might need a new contract on life.

Make no mistake I was there to take ownership and  be responsible for the things that transpired. Yet somehow I realized this debt that accumulated over time, had brought doubt and shame to my own sense of who I am as a person. Who had I become that I let a small amount of money determine  my sense of self and purpose? This is what I truly had to face – not the debt.

Myself.

As the judge dismissed us, more waiting began outside in the lobby of the courthouse. The benches filled up with souls awaiting their turn to speak their story, to tell their tale – and to be heard. I sat among them and as I looked out at the morning sun, I smiled at the beauty of another day, even the hard ones. The benches filled and chatter ensued. Yet I stay enclosed in my thoughts, sitting on my bench all alone, just me. Until.

Until she sat down.

We both looked more alike than the rest of the crowd, our clothes were a bit cleaner, our hair a bit neater and our conversation much quieter. I don’t remember how it happened, but somehow we talked, sharing our stories with one another. I found this such a gift to prepare myself to speak to the lawyer when it was my turn. As our stories unfolded I found our lives intersected in so many ways, our dreams similar and our hopes just as dashed. At one point she leans over to me quietly and says, “you know, you should really talk to the free legal team here, they have really helped me.” As I awaited justice, judgement and punishment, I heard the first whisper of mercy.

Mercy.

I thought for a moment, could this be? My questions were answered as quickly as I posed them to myself. The free legal team was searching me out, they called my name. We met and discussed my case. In fact, I didn’t have to discuss much at all. I walked in alone to the courtroom but now I had someone to defend me, someone who heard my story. Next thing I know I am filling out paperwork and they meet with the judge.

Case dismissed.

Just like that. The wheels of justice turned and once set in motion, they blew right past me. Not only was my case dismissed, it will now be expunged from my record. My name, my good name, is back intact.  My years of hard work and reliability, of consistent payment of debts, restored.   Erased. Redeemed. Forgiven. Like it never even happened.

Mercy.

Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone when it is within one’s power to punish. This is what I experienced today, awe inspiring mercy. It was within the courts rights to hold me to this debt, yet I was freed. I can’t ever express what this has done for me. Not for my bottom line financially, but for my spirit. I tasted mercy and forgiveness and now I am  called to offer the same. Freely I have received and freely I must give.

Parable of unmerciful servant.

“At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Mercy.

I was now walking within this very parable, in God’s story for my own life. Like the man forgiven of his debts, I too had been forgiven. Okay, so I didn’t owe 10,000 bags of gold, but I had a debt, one I couldn’t pay. What would I do? Would I return home from the courthouse, renewed with hope, and show mercy? Or would I be like the unmerciful servant who demands from others more then he himself could give? Could I truly grasp the gift of mercy God had bestowed upon me? I. Couldn’t. Breathe. I needed to stop and take it all in –  and weep.

This wasn’t about money, oh no. It was about me.

About me loving, trusting and believing in God  – and receiving mercy. The most precious gift of all, compassion touching my heart in places that laid bare before Him. Places I didn’t even know existed, but He did.  Remember, I had let money define and determine my value. Money is a currency – but not one of the heart. There is no price tag on our value, no balance sheet that can hold all our debts. No. We are valuable because of His love. We are valuable because of His mercy. We are valuable because we are His.

His.

I don’t know what debts you owe. . What situation you have in your life that might throw you into your debtors court. This I do know, it’s humiliating. But if I had never walked up those courthouse steps, I wouldn’t have been able to experience the incredible mercy of the Living God. YWHW. Perhaps your debt isn’t financial – but you feel it. There is forgiveness that needs to be offered, hope that needs to be restored and hearts to love and encourage to turn to Him.

Just take one step. Let mercy win.

 New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986 

 

Standing on the Word

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The waves of doubt come crashing in, surrounding me and encasing me in fear. Yes, fear. That thing we dread and we pretend doesn’t happen to us – the uncertainty we can battle each and every moment. Yearning to answer the question – do we really believe? No, let’s get real.

Do I really believe?

Jesus, the Eternal One, the Most High God, my Savior – do I believe, in You? Not just your words, your story, the parables, the miracles and the victory. But YOU. If you asked me to share a Scripture, I could probably quote it. If you asked me to serve on a committee, I may just be able to lead it. But if you asked me to trust you – I would doubt. Oh, I would doubt.

Doubt your love, doubt your care – doubt the truth that you are really there. I look for signs scattered about, of your love and your compassion. It’s like a treasure I seek, a yearning to be filled – that shall never satisfy me.

Ah.

The water rises higher, I gasp to get my breath but I sense the truth you want to eradicate from the depths of my being. You see – it’s me. Me. I am the one who sinks into doubt. No. One. But. Me. No pointing fingers for the reasons for my doubt, only the realization that fear starts – with me.

Will my soul ever be comforted? My heart cease it’s taunting? I crave intimacy I can only find – in You. I have searched for it in relationships – with family and friends, expected it from people who just couldn’t give it, desired it in ways I regret. Yet, with each failed hope and lost opportunity – the waters rose and waves began to lap at my very soul. Experiences became etched together like a tapestry in my mind. My lack of faith kept me still. Not a stillness as in being still with God, oh no. Still – in not knowing what to do – where to turn or how to go. That stillness that immobilizes you, is fear.

My doubt was drowning out His voice.

“Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” – Isaiah 41:10

It’s Him I need to fill me.

To complete me. To hold me steady. To keep a firm grip on me. It’s Jesus. Him. He wants to redirect the waves and let them gently drift over me. He can allow them to rise, and to fall – cascading and flowing, yet never drowning. You see these waves, they redirect our focus. Sometimes we get overwhelmed by their pull and fight the undercurrent. Other times we are crushed to the ground as the waves pound our backs. As we tread water to survive, we look for places to rest our feet.

On His Word.

Trust. I must trust. I must engulf myself with His presence, His love, His Spirit and His truth. To trust you more Jesus, I need to love me – less. I need to let go of my fear, my doubt and the voices which assail me. That tapestry in my mind may be unwoven, yet it does not have to suffocate me.

Do not panic. Do. Not. Panic. Do not.

I’m with you.

It’s time, He’s calling me and perhaps He’s calling you too. To trust Him and only Him. To let go. Let. Go. GO.  Knowing that He will help. He will give strength. He will hold me and hold you steady. Steady. Not tossed back and forth like the waves. Steady. Firm. Constant.

Stand on the Word and it will lift you above the water. Gasp for breath as you need to. Dive into the waters when you slip. When you are ready, let Him guide you back up to stand with Him. Right back on His Word and into a deeper relationship with Him.

Keep your eyes above the waves. and focus.

On Him.

Reclaim The Captive

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What do you see when you look at me?

Go ahead, rattle them off, say what you think, what you believe, I won’t stop you. In fact, I can’t hear a word you will say, so go ahead – speak. Utter the words that you see as true, in me.  And you know what? I can’t change one thing you think or believe. Not one bit. But man, have I spent years trying!

I’ve invested time into trying to change, rebuild, transform something deep within me. Something I can’t even put my finger on. Yet it’s something I continue to hide, to run from and to fight with every ounce of my being.

I’ve been held captive to the expectations and the thoughts of what others think of me for way too long. Thoughts of how I look, how I act, what I choose, what I don’t choose – on and on the list goes – endless, it seems. Sometimes it’s the list others expect of me, but often it’s the list I churn out for myself. Constantly seeing just one more thing, adding to the stack already piled all over my heart and my mind.

Well I ever measure up?

The very first moment Jesus stood up to read from the Scriptures to announce His ministry, He spoke these words as the bedrock and foundation.

 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.” Isa 61: 1-2

You see, what you might see in me or not see in me – will never be  what I see. I look in the mirror and what is reflected back to me are the thoughts that swirl hidden beneath the surface of my reality. The doubts that creep in, the fears which begin to assail me and I wonder -how did I get here? With all my God has done for me, why do I choose to live here?

I am a captive.

I have bound my head and my heart by living to the expectations that I place upon myself and accepting what others think as a truth to be lived by. You don’t need to tie up my hands, or clasp my feet, I did so for you. I’ve made it so simple to live a defeated life. I never saw a way out, even as I fought and rebelled against the oppression, I quietly and sometimes not so quietly, yielded, and lived a self defeated life. A lie.

When Jesus says in Isaiah 61 that He came to release the captives, the Hebrews most often rendition of being a captive means to be “carried off.” While engaged in battle, the Hebrews often carried off their plunder. As they raged war on the land, they surveyed the things of value and sought out the most precious things of all and captured them. To be a captive, a slave, was not considered a good, or a healthy thing. Often you had no choice, it was life – or death.

Isn’t that the way it goes? Sometimes in your life you have no choice.

Things happen that are out of your control. And in an instant, you are taken captive to the experience, the situation and the fear that often surrounds it. Trauma takes center stage, abuse, neglect, an accident, a sudden loss of a loved one, an illness, financial ruin. Whatever the situation, you move from being a victim – to be bound and captive to it in your life.

Your experiences shape who you are, who you see yourself to be and somewhere along the way you give them permission to define you. And it’s in those moments, the shackles go on. You clamp them around your wrists and your feet. You may not hear it at the time, yet their grip is secure.

We give control away.

There we are – a captive. Being led from the land you once knew – to a new place filled with fear, questions and uncertainties.

Long ago, I accepted that one’s life is constrained and defined not only by personal experiences, but by the power of the living God. It was here I began, in the pages of Isaiah 61 to meet Jesus, the Christ. Who came to announce the freedom in which we already stand because of who Jesus is and release those who are held captive.

Announce and release – just like that. So simple, so divine, such good news!

Yet, as a fellow captive to another, not so easy, is it? Perhaps you are not captive yourself, that’s okay. I admit I am personally bound up so tightly in the grips of the past and my own experiences, that I am not fully free and released to live in the freedom in which I now firmly stand. Somehow I throw the shackles back on, I pick them up, I revert to what seems the easiest at the time.

You see, what we know, how we have always handled things in the past – is often easy, comfortable and “normal”. However, is it always best for us?

The way of Jesus is hard.

There is a cost in following Jesus – forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration come through His sacrifice and life. He’s done this for us on the cross at Calvary and He wants us to do the same for others. To forgive, reconcile and restore relationships in our lives. It’s hard, but not impossible!

You see, we do have a choice – we can let go and release the shackles we place upon ourselves. Release ourselves from the expectations that we place upon ourselves and the ones others try to impose upon us. We can let go.

We might have been carried off in battle and held captive, but Jesus Christ can carry you now as you release yourself to Him and rest. Give yourself over, to rest. Rest in the arms of Jesus and be free.

Reclaim the captive!

A Wandering Sheep

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A sheep, that’s all I am.

My needs? To be fed, to be tended to, cleaned up once in a while.  Just like any other animal, that’s all there is. Basic necessities of life. If I am hurt, care for me. If I am wandering, find me. If I am broken, let me heal.

A sheep, that’s me.

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me.” John 10:14

Jesus Christ calls Himself the Good Shepard. Not just the shepard, but the good shepard. The One who tends to the sheep, the One who looks after the flock and the One who searches for scattered sheep.

Jesus promises to provide these basic necessities of life. If you are hurting, the shepard cares for you. If you are wandering, the shepard will come find you. If you are broken, he helps heal you and waits patiently as you do.

Sometimes, I scatter.

I run. I turn my back on the shepard, on the flock I am foraging with and the insistent nudges of the staff guiding my way. I just go. I get scared. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t understand the road I am traveling on. It doesn’t make any sense to this sheep. So, I run.

What does a shepard do with a sheep that has once again left the fold? How does Jesus, my Shepard respond? He searches for them. He leaves the flock and looks high and low, to reclaim that sheep. Not giving up until it’s found. I love that part. Jesus searches, looks, and doesn’t stop, until I am found.

Ah, comforting, isn’t it?

How does a shepard get the sheep back to the flock? He lifts them up from right where they are, no matter what condition they are in, He wraps His arms around them and carries them. Yes, Jesus accepts you just as you are, and lifts you up and carries you! It’s here, in this moment, I abandon myself to His arms and let Him carry me. I allow Jesus access to my heart to take my hurts, my brokenness and care for me. Heal me.

Do you want to be healed?

It’s a curious thing about how the shepard brings that sheep home, lifted high upon his shoulders with a firm grip on their feet. See that? Jesus Christ, our good shepard,  carries us and then He makes sure we stay right there on His capable shoulders. I suspect the shepard needs to keep that sheep in it’s place, secure and safe. Otherwise it might try to scurry off. I know I would.

You see, the closer I get to the destination that the Shepard is bringing me towards, the more I fight Him and want to run. I seek His comfort, yes. But I may not like where we are walking. Do you know what I mean? Walking down the road, not liking the sights you see, but knowing you have to take another step, move through one more thing, to get where He’s bringing you.

You ask yourself, do I really want to go?

Jesus is the Good Shepard, He knows me. He is leading me along the way, He is nudging me forward, He is picking me up helping me walk and going after me when I run. How blessed am I to have such a shepard?

You may not like the road you are walking down, or the ways in which you get there. But fear not, you have a Good Shepard leading you, guiding you, protecting you, carrying you and healing you. All you have to do, is walk.

Trust the Good Shepard of your soul. Abandon yourself to Him today. Release yourself from figuring out the journey. Let Him fight for you.

Just take one more step.

Uncovered

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Walking along the beach I often am overcome by the beauty of it all. The sound of the surf as it gently moves in and out, the ocean that stretches out as far as the eye can see and the soft sand under my feet. There is just so much to be captivated by at the beach, I get caught up in the mystery and wonder of it all.

Do you do that too?

Walk along gazing out upon the grand schemes of your life and find yourself, overcome? Perhaps it’s not an overcome with the beauty of it all feeling, oh no, maybe you just feel overcome by moments of regret – dreams unfulfilled, longings unmet and hopes dashed.

You mean it’s not just me?

Often the sand of my life that I walk upon, it’s not so soft upon my feet. It’s full of broken shells, rocks and bits of sand that just irritate me as I go. I need to stop and shake the dust off, perhaps grab a pebble or two and remove the things which stop me from taking another step.

Regrets.

That’s what stops me from taking another step. We do need to keep on walking, taking another step, so that we can marvel at the beauty around us. Sometimes the ocean that stretches out for miles might look like a river to us rather than the grand expanse that it truly is. Or the sound of the surf and the oceans roar might deafen our ears to the gentle lap of the waves on our feet. We have to force ourselves – to see.

Take a moment and think right now. What is scattered across the beach in your heart? Broken relationships. Health problems. Jobs denied. Uncertainty, instability, insecurity. It’s not a very pretty sight, is it? We want to run from it, deny it – we fear it.

“There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.” 1John 4:18 Good News Translation

Fear. Regrets. They go hand in hand. Interlocking their fingers and holding us captive to the worries and doubts of life. If we fear, we don’t fully grasp love. God says there is no fear in love. None! When we live in love, experience love, focus on love – we see. Love can uncover the fears nestled in the sandbars of our heart and release them. Deep within our hearts are the things which we regret – the relationships we mourn, the innocence lost, the hopes left unfulfilled – hidden.

We must be brave. Let God uncover you.

Face your fears, search your heart- these are not acts of defeat or a life of regret. No – far from it! These are ways in which we love ourselves and  love our God.  Don’t remain buried any longer. Live your life.

Uncovered.

Encaged…

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It’s just some sticks, some wood. Nothing, really.  I pick them up and use them to make a fence, a wall.

Piece by piece.

Sometimes we encircle our hearts thinking we are protecting ourselves. We try to ease our pain and calm our fears. We build these walls stick by stick, tying them together with fishing line, or rubber bands that snap, as we desperately piece them together. We do it as quick as we can – thinking perhaps the faster they go up, the less pain we might feel.

Uh huh.

We erect them to keep out painful memories, hurtful times, difficult moments. All the while we build thinking we are helping ourselves, when we are in fact encaging our very own heart. It’s not a fence or a wall, it’s a cage. Isn’t that what it feels like?

It does to me.

We sit inside these boundary walls which are meant to help as we peer out at the world. We gaze across meadows, pastures, see the sun rise and fall, squirreled away in our nests along the fence. For a while we look inside and tend to the garden of our hearts. We weed what’s inside, we plant new seed, we till the soil. Yet, we remain, trapped inside. The very thing that was meant to protect us, made us a prisoner.

It’s time we choose to set ourselves free.

See, we can point the finger and talk about what others have done to us. We can examine our circumstances and ignite sympathy and compassion. We can seek comfort in the arms of those we love. But the only one who can release us from the cage, is us. We built it, we must demolish it. Funny thing is, as we try to do so, we find the cage  door has rusted shut, the key has been lost, the way out isn’t the way you thought was out. See, you don’t have control after all.

When Jesus Christ first stood up in the Temple and read from the scrolls of God’s Word, these are the words he spoke.

“The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me.
The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to repair broken hearts,
And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison,
“Be free from your imprisonment!”” Isa 61:1 The Voice

As much as I try to pry open the door, it is Christ I need. As often as I think I can handle it myself, it is Christ I need. As I pound on the doors of my cage trying to rip it open, it is Christ I need. He says to me, “be still.” For He is the gatekeeper. He’s been appointed for a special purpose, for just this time. He’s here to release you, release me, and declare freedom for those enslaved. He’s been doing it since the very 1st century, and He wants to do it now, today, for you.

So those sticks you picked up and thought you could master. Those walls you built to protect your precious heart. That cage you now sit in. Stop rattling the walls, stop pounding on the door, stop fighting it, stop – just stop. For there is good news! Jesus has the key.

Let Him open the door of your heart and release you.

Change = Life

Fall Leaf (1 of 1)

Sometimes we are meant, to stand out.

Just recently I was driving along enjoying a beautiful Fall day when down dropped this red leaf onto my rain soaked windshield. Amongst a sea of yellow, ambers and greens this small little leaf, shone. The contrast of colors is what made me stop the car and take notice, and in fact – take this photo. As the bright sun lit it up there was no mistaking the beauty of this leaf.

This dead leaf falling to the ground can bring joy.

Cast off from it’s home, from it’s perch and connection to all it knew, at just the right time and season – it let go. Releasing itself to the wind, the sun, the elements all around it. It could have fallen by the road, into the piles and piles in my yard, but for that one moment, we met. Beauty on my windshield and a gentle reminder from the Heavenly Father to my heart. Sometimes we are just meant to stand out, let go and be who we were destined to be.

How do we do that?

Being real, authentic and true to the design of our very souls and inner beings means to have an awareness of who we are. Dare I say, we must learn to love ourselves. Loving ourselves challenges us to first look.  Gazing around and seeing the beauty of the leaves is one thing, but to sit, ponder and examine the sinews of that very leaf and understand it’s process, this is work. So too, with our delicate and precious souls, minds, hearts. If we want to believe differently, feel differently, respond differently – we must stop and meditate, examine ourselves and submit to be transformed.

This is work. Hard work.

That red leaf, you see, it wasn’t always that red color. It was a green leaf just like all the others leaves on the tree. It was the same, it was no different, it just was – a leaf. But time had taken it’s toll on it, the available light cycle had changed and so it began to change it’s color and it’s luster – it transformed. So too with our hearts. They undergo change through trials, through pain, suffering and the choices we make. Some things we have no control over and we are victims of circumstance and the sin of others. Yet, it still hurts, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, we have a choice in how we respond, how we love and how we handle the gifts bestowed upon us.

“Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.  Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.” (Romans 12:1-2 The Voice)

God clearly tells us in Romans 12:1-2, that in view of His magnificent mercies, His compassion and His love that we are to offer our bodies as living and holy sacrifices. Our very bodies and lives can be offered up to the Eternal God of Heaven – um, what? Can you grasp how important becoming a living sacrifice is to our God?  Like Jesus offered Himself on the cross, so we too offer our own bodies as we walk.

How so?

Scripture says we do this with our minds – our thoughts, our fears, our hurts, our pain. Those things which we often push away, God says, ‘be still.’ Sit and ponder the sinews and depths of our hearts, our pain, our suffering. We no longer deny that it’s there – we look, we feel and we let go. The tentacles of suffering may be far reaching, and digging in these places will be painful.

Don’t let it stop you.

God asks us to be transformed from the inside out. This is not something that can be done to us, that we inflict upon our bodies  – rather it is the mercy, love and grace of God moving in our very hearts and minds – transforming how we think, feel and believe. We choose, we must choose, to love. It starts right there, in your very own heart, in mine.  Love yourself, give yourself permission to be loved and to be seen for who you really are. It’s time.

Our hearts, they are this ugly and beautiful thing. We have darkness there, let Him transform it. You don’t want it to hurt anymore? Bring it into His light. You don’t want to respond in anger anymore? Nail it to the cross.  You might need a friend to carry the light for you at times. God will provide. Walk. Trust. Let Go – and let God transform you, change you to be who you were destined to be- and live.

Like that red leaf I met one Fall day shone in the beauty of the sun. Let God meet your deepest longing in your heart and begin to transform you, change you, love you – free you. So you too, amongst a sea of people – shine.

For sometimes we were meant to stand out.