Are you accepting the invitation, my friend, as His beloved right where you are? There is nothing to do, except to accept.
(This is a re-post of The Invitation first published 10 months ago. The pictures are new and at the end, I’ve added a video blog so you can even skip the words if you like!)
Imagine this, or maybe you don’t have to imagine. Maybe you have an experience, a point of reference that allows you to dive into this story, in heart, in spirit.
Imagine you are peering into a window of a door that you have been invited to open. The brush of a cool wind, and the smell of the fall season’s leaves entertain your senses. You lift your hand to the door knocker, grasp the brass bar. And halt.
You see through the window a table set for two. But not just a table, but one laden with colors. You see so many jewel colors of blue, red, green, yellows that they blur in a melody like a rainbow in motion!
I tuck behind my ear a strand of blond hair that has escaped my ponytail. I wear no make-up and my feet are bare, my flip flops flipped off as soon as I relaxed in her garden chair.
It’s a warm spring day and although there are still marshmallow mounds of snow scattered in dry, wheat coloured grass, the day calls for flip flops.
It’s a big thing for us northerners, after months of knit socks and snug boots, to bear sun-deprived feet and then don a pair of flip flops.
A piece of heaven on earth.
But I digress.
It’s easy for me somehow, I reply to my friend. Her pink nails tap her coffee cup encased in her palms that cover a Starbucks logo. But then, I elaborate, it’s really not even that brave. It’s actually kind-of comfortable.
Her brown eyes widen.
Yes, bravery to me isn’t solo travel, airline flights to new places, navigating new roads in a rental car, exploring new streets on foot, and figuring out where the Air Bnb is that you booked on line.
Courageous? Maybe. But brave, no.
No, true bravery to me (and some may not agree), is when suddenly there is a call on you, a duty, maybe even unforeseen, with no preparation, and you step in. Bravery is when the call is so strong that saying no feels disobedient, and you say yes even though your life may be at stake.
Bravery is Mary, a young virgin, saying yes to the Lord.
Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” Luke 1:38
Bravery is Paul, a converted young man facing those who want to execute him for his past transgressions, on the call of the Lord to speak the good news of the gospel.
“So you know Greek, do you?” the colonel replied. “Aren’t you that Egyptian who not long ago raised a riot and led those four thousand assassins into the dessert”
“I am Jew,” replied Paul. “I am a man of Tarsus, a citizen of that not insignificant city. I ask you to let me speak to the people.” Acts 21:38-39
And BRAVERY is Jesus, the son following the will of His Father even though he knows the cross he will bear will lead to immeasurable suffering.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
I slip my feet back into my flip flops, lean back in my chair, close my eyes and turn my face up to the spring sun. What I glorious day, I say.
I feel my friend’s hand on my arm, warm and soft. Just be careful, she says.
And I still think you are being brave, she comments.
My eyes closed, the sun warm on my face, my lips curl up in a slight smile.
I sure hope so. I do want to step into action when God calls me to something that I cannot say no to out of obedience.
When called, I want to be brave.
And be a bearer of His light in this world.
Psalm 56:3-4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
It started when I was about 10 years old. I’d come home from school, grab a snack, and then open the door to the basement. I’d stand at the top of the stairs, nimbling on a Dad’s oatmeal cookie, and listen. Was she down there?
Yes. And if just starting, I’d hear first a sound like a hand clap, and then a whirling, like a spinning ceiling fan.
Sometimes I would take the 12 steps down, deep into the basement, red shag carpet soft on my bare feet. I’d see her, in the room off to the left, wearing hush puppy slippers to protect her feet from a cold concrete floor and the clay that splattered. A scarf held her sand curls away as she leaned over the wheel, her hands moving up and down the spinning, wet clay. The clay would rise with her gentle hands. Sometimes, after dipping a hand into a water pail beside the wheel, she’d press on top of the tower of clay, to decrease it, bring it down. And then, her encircled hands applying perfect pressure, she’d restore the clay into recognizable forms of mugs, bowls and vases.
She’d spin up the clay, my mother, and then flatten it down on the potter’s wheel, spin and press down, until the clay mixture was the perfect consistency to hold the mold she knew it could.
I didn’t see it then, this parallel, when watching my mother’s skilled hands, yet isn’t that what God is doing with us too? Even in our battles, our trials, our hurts and betrayals, when we are in the depths of the valley, God is molding us and restoring us. His hands hold us, and His words are living water, replenishing and nurturing. His grace spins us from destructive habits, from shame and condemnation toward strength and redemption.
Turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven. Then that time will come when the Lord will give you fresh strength. Acts 3:19-20
You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
And He rights our path and restores our soul.
He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name sake. Psalm 23:3
My prayer for you today, my friend, is that you know He will lift you up from any depth, restore you, and satisfy you with His presence.
Can you feel Him today, encircling you with His grace and love?
Usually I just scroll by or hit the delete tab, but this time I didn’t. Maybe the picture of an international city on my bucket list to visit or the tag line appealing to my growth mindset were the draws. Regardless, I clicked on the embedded video link in this email from the advertiser that I’d still not yet ‘unsubscribed.’
You know you are loved, she says, this beautiful woman gowned in a dress that flows gracefully to the top of her knees, and wearing such high-heeled shoes that I wonder if she practices walking on stage prior to addressing the few hundred woman that attend her conferences.
The camera spans across the women at white-clothed tables, women eager to better themselves and their businesses, of different nationalities and faith.
Her bracelets dangle as she sweeps her arms up and around as if to embrace someone. You are absolutely loved and it is from knowing that love, that you can give your best to the world, she continues.
“This reminds me,” commented G, “of an 18th century painting where Jesus is knocking but there is no handle. Only the one inside can open it.”
“I wonder where that painting is now?” C questioned. But G was not sure.
We were gathered together, our group of four, to discuss what the Spirit showed us in the scripture passages we’d been led to read, to re-read and to reflect.
It is a cold Monday evening, the temperature just dipping below -20 Celsius and I resisted to take the 10 minute drive to my church to attend the first evening of Solemn Assembly.
The church auditorium is open every night this first week of the calendar year for a gathering of guided prayer and meditation. It’s a time to ‘take an extended pause….to turn to God in prayer’ the printed guide defines.
But I found myself resisting the invitation, this invite to be present in prayer.
What if, I think, He stays quiet, like I feel He has for these many months past?
So many unanswered prayers (at least in my perception) had me discouraged and my intellect mind challenged.
But I gathered up my bible and my favorite blue pens, and drove the snowy roads, grateful for the heated car seats. Yet, in a small act of defiance I see now, (I’ve shown up for you front and center God, now it’s time for you to show up for me!), I slipped into the second row from the back instead of my usual third row from the front position.
A few moments later, on the other end of the pew, G and B take a seat, B being the woman I wrote of here, whose welcoming act and invitation when I first ever attended this church, began the breaking down of my defensive barriers as a single attending a church.
When we move in our seats to be closer together, G, B, C (a lady who took a seat behind me) and I, B asks a question of me, a confirming question that is. And, I ponder, is this an answer to prayer?
And C and I, we learn, have a mutual friend from another church. And our smiles mirror, as we reflect on how lovely this lady friend of ours is, and oh! what a small world it is!
But is it?
Instead of a small world of random chance, could this time be divinely orchestrated by the One who always is there to prosper me, because I showed up?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
Maybe, just maybe, rather than waiting behind our gates of resistance, our gates of uncertainty, or our gates of discontentment, it is when we move, take a step in faith by taking a step of action, is when we open the door for Christ.
Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:21-22
The handleis on our side. Jesus is just waiting for us to open the door so He can come in.
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty the Lord mighty in battle.
Is there an action of faith you are resisting to take? Are you waiting on Christ to make the move? Or maybe, just maybe, He’s waiting for you to lift open the gate….?
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for awhile, will yourself himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:1
I started something new today. In a spiral notebook, using my new gel coloured pens, I created the following legend:
Gratitude Miracle Where I am atSuccess Quotes and Scriptures
With my pink gel pen in hand, I wrote today’s scripture verse which is also my verse for the year as it encompasses my word for 2017: RESTORATION
But do you notice the strike-through, the mistake I made when writing? Instead of himself, I originally wrote ‘yourself.’ In other words, I slipped (unconsciously) into restoration by my own efforts.
God sure does work in mysterious ways doesn’t He?
The other day, after opening up to a friend where I am at, questioning, she said, “It sure isn’t always easy during those times when God is silent.”
I stared silently back at her. Silent? I hadn’t even contemplated that God is being silent. I’ve been asking a lot of ‘why’ questions lately, and praying for something, anything to show He works here among us, while in this world of flesh. With my own intellect and reasoning, I want to know and see.
In today’s reading time:
Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
“The childlike heart is vulnerable, teachable, joyful, creative and filled with wonder. There’s a difference between being childish and childlike. Childishness is a posture of stubborn challenge. Childlikeness is a perspective of hopeful curiosity. Every question you ever ask is one of challenge or curiosity. Let childlike wonder awaken you again as you let go of all offense at the past and fear of the future.”The Creative Way Meditations, Ted Dekker
Yes, I’d say His ways are mysterious but hopeful…
As this year of 2016 comes to a close and if, like me you are in this season where God seems so silent, my hope for you is that your childlike wonder is awakened and that you know God’s grace restores making you, as He has promised, “strong, firm and steadfast.”
Happy New Year, my friend. Thank you for sharing in my travels this past year, and for sharing your perspectives which has ministered and blessed me beyond words. I look forward to our continued awakenings and wonders expressed in 2017.
I heard the snap first. But still didn’t dodge in time. And as I stared dumb-founded at the pine bough in my hand dislodged from the threads of my fleece hat, the tapping sound from above became fiercer. I glanced up at the tall pine trees, and then quickly side-stepped as I watched two more pine boughs tumble down and grace my hikers.
What’s going on?
Grasping my camera with one hand while shielding my eyes with the other from a sun that only a cloudless, fall Alberta sky day can spawn, I took a couple steps back, and waited for the mischief-maker.