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….?
“Oh, no. Now what?” I mumble to myself, my arm tiring from creaming together the ingredients that I thought were right. Except glancing at the recipe on my Ipad screen, I see I was to add in 1 cup of coconut sugar, not the 1 cup of coconut flour I was trying to blend. Worse yet, reading further, the recipe only calls for 1/3 cup coconut flour.
Interrupting the expletives piercing my thoughts, I come up with the only solution that may redeem these gluten-free snacks I am making for my daughter’s family.
Triple all the ingredients. And hope for the best.
As I search my pantry, praying I have enough of the necessary ingredients times three, I chastise myself for not reading the recipe closer in the first place. See, it is not the first time I’ve made these treats. So I guess I figured I already knew how.
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.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. Isaiah 35:8-
During this season, just before another year has ended, I’ll often find myself looking back down old roads. Some of these roads were crowded highways of twists and turns with various travel speeds dictated by traffic ahead. Also on these busy roads were detours created by others mishaps, or necessary repairs, or new construction.
Other roads were quieter, with a clear destination ahead. Sometimes there were a few twists and turns to reach these new places, new people, new learning, however never was the way removed from my vision.
And then there were those roads that I started on, with excitement and anticipation of hopes and dreams coming true. But to only lead to a complete dead end, barren and dry except for my own grieving tears.
There were roads with bridges to cross but never to burn, and roads with intersections to navigate, choices to make.
And then there were those times that the road could be barely seen, if at all. There seemed to be no way to go, my vision of my future gone and not seeing any new route at all. And I wonder if Mary felt this way when suddenly her life road was gone with the news from the angel Gabriel.
The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace.Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. Luke 1:30-31
Many plans of the road she would be taking as a young woman engaged to be married, now gone with this startling news.
And she chose a new route, a new way by surrendering to this unseen road.
Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away. Luke 1:38
I don’t know what twists and turns, detours and dead-ends, completions and horizons are on the roads ahead in this soon turning of a new year.
What I do know though, The Way is always there even if unseen. And sometimes surrender brings the best gift of all.
Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23
Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
(All photos are mine taken in Iceland, summer of 2015).
“And honestly, the loneliness of self-protecting barriers can feel like it will kill you–and the heart-breaking risk of intimacy and vulnerability can feel like it will kill you too.” Ann Voskamp from The Broken Way (2016)
“I wouldn’t even know,” he says, his eyes becoming half moons with his warm grin. “Truly. You’re all heart girl but I wouldn’t know how you feel.”
I pierce my lips, furrow my brow, wondering, his eyes now wide open with chestnut eyebrows lifted. He shifts in his cafe chair, waiting.
“Really?” I finally let out, let my breath release.
“Girl, just tell him. What do you have to loose?”
“What?!” I suck in air, hold it, a faint smell of vanilla and chocolate from our hot drinks dusting my senses. I let it out. “I can’t do that!”
“What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
“Well,” I start, my hands twisting my winter scarf on my lap, “it could mess up the friendship we already have.” I bite my lower lip, my eyes darting to the right and then back again, at my companion whose bronze eyes are once again partly disappeared in half moons.
He shakes his head slightly from side to side, then stills my busy hands with his. “Maybe but maybe not,” he says. “No matter the outcome, you’re still you–beautiful, fun you but more open and vulnerable to allow someone to know how you feel. You’ll take a chance, let down the self-protection walls you’ve been creating. And no matter what happens, at least the walls are coming down and I promise you, it won’t kill you!”
I’ve been feeling a little bluesy lately, so decided to combat it with my song for the year, Overcomer by Mandisa, and by trying out the movie function on my new camera! Below is it, completely unedited and the first take!
I’m learning that it is when we show ourselves in our truest states, raw, unedited and broken, that our light shines brightest. Why do we hide so much in self-preservation believing we are safe within our walls of control? That is the subject I’ll be tackling every week in December.
But for today, I just leave you with a bit of the ‘out of comfort’ zone, raw me!