The Call Part 2-The Present

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“I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” Nehemiah 2:2-3

It was my turn to share. I looked down at my notes. Paused. The circle of friends resting on the grass too, hold pages still for bibles and journals as the breeze played, wait.

Even though Nehemiah was very much afraid, he put himself into action, I read aloud from my journalling notes. Prayed first, always, and then even though afraid, put himself into action. Fear, being afraid is never from God, yet sometimes–truthfully–I see it as a reason to not take action.

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What am I so afraid of?

I look up, my friends locked on me, waiting, whole-heartedly listening, encouraging, and supportive. This is only the first station on this mornings Soul Formation event, the fourth I’ve facilitated from an idea emerged during a leadership course. Four other small groups are also rested on grasses that circle an urban pond, Canada Geese drifting in the waters, some with huddles of goslings following.

Why do I fear following whole-heartedly?

Nehemiah was sad, his heart breaking over the ruins of his city, Jerusalem, and the walls that had not been rebuilt.

His heart breaking, he wept, fasted, prayed.

And then he took action, approaching the king, afraid, but asking him favour to take leave to Judah to rebuild.

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His heart-breaking over a cause, he felt the fear but did not let the fear stop him to take action to rebuild. He refused to allow the fear to become more powerful than God.

He refused to allow the fear to become more powerful than God.

I continue to look down on my journal notes from the first station where we read, reflected, and responded to these passages I had picked in Nehemiah and Chronicles.

In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. 2 Chronicles 31:20

A King this time, not an exile, yet also sought God wholeheartedly. Hezekiah, like Nehemiah, fasted, prayed, obeyed and prospered.

And then it happened. The fear exposed, in blue ink, a playful breeze lifting the page corners.

I’m afraid of what prospering is. Feels like a lot of pressure….How will I be taken care of? 

Nehemiah, with guards set up strategically from his enemies, did build that wall. Hezekiah, although at a time did fall into pride, did always turn to obedience and prospered.

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For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called; he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8: 28-30

Called according to his purpose.

Called through the invitation to serve and honour Him, like Nehemiah and Hezekiah, whole-heartedly seeking God’s guidance through prayer, first,  in all things of this world.

Called in the understanding of being predestined through the knowing of God’s love that  changes us with a new perspective, a new mindset and an understanding of security in treasures in heaven, not on earth.

Called to live in the security of God’s love, His wisdom and His protection, always.

Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

My companions, my friends, these sisters ‘n brothers in Christ, affirm me. They understand the fear that can come from whole-heartedly following a hearts desire to serve in a way that may not prosper in money, in relationships, in treasures on this earth.

It’s a choice to let go, surrender, and do even when afraid.

It’s a choice to let go of pride, repent, and be obedient.

It’s a choice to trust, and follow the call.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

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We stand, my companions and I, on a solid ground of grass, the breeze rustling leaves in trees of the park. I glance to the pond where a mother goose awaits for one of  her goslings that has drifted behind. Her baby turns in the drift of the pond that leads back to her, and swims.

Is there a step you’ve been called into and like Nehemiah, stand before it afraid? Or like Hezekiah, been called to let go of pride and take a step into seeking His will again for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lifting the gates

 

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The Light of the World
“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.

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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.

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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

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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 handle is on our side. Jesus is just waiting for us to open the door so He can come in.

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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. 

Psalm 24:7-8

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….?

 

Learning to listen to His voice

As I started to gather my thoughts on what my post would be this week, I felt nudge to listen to a podcast, which then directed me to Psalm 46. And then as I read Psalm 46, and as I started to format the idea of a writing around Psalm 46, I heard, “Let My words be your words.”  I’m not sure why, but I’m following the Spirit’s prompting…and my hope is this is for you. 

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.

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Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

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There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall

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God will help her at break of day.  Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

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The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Continue reading “Learning to listen to His voice”

A Work In Progress-Learning to just listen

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“I don’t need much,” she said.

Glancing at her registration form that each evacuee had to complete prior to shopping in this space that was once a Target store but now filled with donations, I saw we would be shopping for three. Two adults and a baby, yet she was alone.

“My girlfriend stayed with the baby. She’s the one I’m more shopping for. Her and the baby,” she explained.

“Okay,” I said, pushing the Home Depot cart that had been part of me for the last four hours, shopping with displaced families that had fled their homes due to forest fires raging in and around their home city of Fort McMurray. “I guess we can skip the men’s clothing section then. The women’s is just around the corner, and you can have three outfits, three pairs of socks, underwear…”

“That’s ok,” she says, cutting off my listings. “I can skip that stuff. Just really need the baby things for my friend and maybe some personal items.”

“I think you’ll be the fastest shopper I take through yet,” I said grinning at her. Then asked where she was staying.

And her story started. Another personal story of those moments of leaving a home, with only minutes to gather items, and then to be stuck in a grid lock of vehicles on a highway surrounded with flames just meters away, and engulfed in smoke. Lots and lots of smoke.

I was renting a basement suite, she tells me. The house burned. I have nothing left.

Continue reading “A Work In Progress-Learning to just listen”