A Time to be Silent (Part Two)

11 09 2014

If you didn’t read Part One, you must before reading this post!

*****

When we look at our lives through the lens of Scripture, we can make sense of our situations. Romans 15:4 states:

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

As I considered the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, I discovered many similarities between their episode and my own life:

  • I prayed diligently for God to intervene and resurrect a part of my life (Sorry, no details. Use your imagination!)
  • When this seemed improbable and utterly hopeless, I quit asking the Lord to move in my situation.
  • I resigned myself to a life of barrenness (not literally – I have seven children!).
  • God spoke to me through Isaiah 43:19 in January (and with this verse many times since) to say He would answer my prayer this year.
  • More bitterness, resentment, and anger toward the Lord erupted than I would have thought possible. “Now??? At my age??? Thanks a lot!”
  • Further, I didn’t believe what He said.

Interestingly enough, by this time, I’d found myself without a “voice.”

  • Every ministry I’d been involved in came to a close (except for Lessons by Heart).
  • I had nothing to write that was uplifting, encouraging, or even something with which to exhort others, which explains my few posts. :-/
  • We were at a new church, with few people whom we knew. I had no one to spew on!
  • Music was silenced as well – very rare for me.
  • Our circumstances were such that I couldn’t ‘process’ with the Lord in my customary way. It had to be done silently.

His timing was everything:

  • Much inner healing needed to take place in me before I would be ready for what He is currently doing.
  • I needed a preparation time; opportunities to practice the necessary skills in order to handle what was coming. This was done through our guest, and was what I suspected, as I wrote in Stupid Distractions.
  • My identity in Christ needed to be solid, or I would have self-destructed.

It would appear, then, that I am in labor…a messy process. At the end of all this is the delivery of a promised child. What it will look like is yet to be seen, but at last – and because of this story – I have hope.

His promise to me?

Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

Sadly, I had a lot to work through with the Lord when He made this proclamation. It took several months to get to the place where I believed again:

God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

 Don’t know the ‘due date,’ but I am, at last, rejoicing in the upcoming delivery!

*****

Some observations:

While Zechariah may have been unaware of what lurked in his heart, God wasn’t. It would seem that when He briefed Gabriel, their conversation might have been:

“Gabe, I need you to go tell Zechariah that he and Elizabeth are going to have a baby.”

“A baby? That’s…well…great. Hey, didn’t they quit asking for one years ago?”

“Yeah, but the time has come. He’s not going to be as excited as you might expect.”

“At his age, shocked might be more along the lines of expected responses.”

“Well, Zechariah and I have some things to sort out. His first reaction will be to question Me. You need to shut that down. We don’t want his issues with me to take the shine off Elizabeth’s joy.”

“How shall I do that?”

“Well, let him know that he won’t be talking to anyone until after their child is born. That will give us enough time to work things out.”

You see, although Zechariah had been offended by God, yet God called him and Elizabeth righteous and blameless. God understood the why of Zechariah’s reaction. It was time to address the matter. In other words, God does not hold our offenses toward Him against us, but continues to pursue and woo us.

He’s been doing this with me again. (And I thought I was through believing lies about Him. :( )

He loves us with an everlasting love. That amazes me.

Despite Zechariah’s lack of faith, God was faithful and answered their prayers at the right time. His delay went way beyond giving a couple a sweet little baby. He had something very special in mind for them all.

With God, timing is everything. He knows far more about what’s needed and precisely when. For this couple, having John so late in life was actually an act of mercy toward them. They would be spared the horror and pain of John’s untimely death. Instead, they would be there to greet their son when he slipped through the veil between this life and the next one.

This has been a lesson learned – even after I knew it all!!

His patience and lovingkindness overwhelm me. Concerning the issue at hand, I have been faithless. I gave up asking Him to act a few years ago…figured I’d have to wait until heaven for relief.

I doubted His goodness and His love for me. I didn’t realize how confused my understanding of Him had become. While I can state with conviction that you are loved by Him with an unending, deep, and passionate love, I’ve believed this didn’t apply to me.

In His perfect timing, He brought these things to light so we can get them settled. I am soothed by His gentleness as He tends to these wounds in my heart. Truth is the balm He uses to heal what was so diseased.

I wonder, what have you learned about your own life as you look through the eyes of Scripture? I’d love to hear about your lessons!





A Time to be Silent (Part One)

10 09 2014

Due to unexpected circumstances, the friendships forged here have been neglected. I miss you all more than you can imagine and pray for you often.

*****

I began reading through the book of Luke, looking for new, amazing things about Jesus. Because He was the focus, I nearly skipped the first chapter. It’s about John the Baptist’s parents. Nothing relevant for me there, right?

Guess again! Here is what I would have missed:

Zechariah was a priest; his wife of the line of Aaron. Both were righteous  before God, walking blamelessly in all the Lord’s commandments and statutes (verse 6).

Yet, Elizabeth was barren.

I imagine her wincing whenever Psalm 127:3 was recited:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

No doubt she wondered at this, carefully scrutinized her heart for hidden sin…and like Job, probably had friends who eagerly ‘helped’ her to do so. Cruel things were said that cut her sad heart deeply. There had to be something wrong. What was she hiding?

Scripture tells us there was nothing wrong with her. “Blameless,” it states.

How many years did she agonize over this?

“What’s wrong with me? Why hasn’t God given me a child?”

As a couple they, surely, prayed together in earnest.

I wonder how old she was when she finally resigned herself to her childless state. Did she hope against hope until menopause set in?

In their culture, a woman who could not bear children had to learn to bear the reproach, the stigma, of barrenness – the whispers, the rude and thoughtless comments, the bold accusations.

She had borne this for a lifetime, for now she was old.

What Elizabeth could not have known was that she had been set apart for a single – and immensely important – purpose. She was chosen to give birth to the forerunner of the Messiah. Her child would prepare the way for Jesus.

Her time was coming, but was not yet.

I suspect that Elizabeth went through a major identity crises. She and Zechariah probably visited many doctors and tried every ‘surefire’ remedy and method of the day.

They ‘fished’ all night…for many nights!…and ‘caught’ nothing. ;)

It wasn’t until Gabriel showed up on the right side of the altar of incense that everything changed.

And it was here that this story became a life-changer for me as well.

As I read the next bit, I was a little perplexed. Gabriel’s response to Zechariah’s question, “How do I know this is true?” seemed to be overkill on the part of the angel – kind of like, “What, Dude? Do you want a piece of me??”

Mary asked the same question – and got a very patient explanation.

Was it Zechariah’s words…or his attitude that caused the angel to render him speechless?

All his hoping, praying, and effort had come to naught.

Until now.

Now that he was old, no longer spry and energetic - now God would answer his long-forgotten prayers? Really?

Thanks a lot!

What should have been joyous news, perhaps instead opened an unsuspected wound in Zechariah’s heart. Down deep was a cauldron of bitterness, anger, and resentment.

Zechariah would have to work through these issues with God in silence. None of it would be voiced; would rob Elizabeth of the joy of her long-awaited answer to prayer.

His poisonous emotions would be resolved between the Lord and him alone.

*****

There is a lot of conjecture here, to be sure. None of this can be substantiated from Scripture. Of this I am aware. However, I’ve discovered that there may be a great deal of truth to what I sense went unspoken by the Lord. It bears great relevance to my own story.

You’ll have to come back tomorrow to hear the rest of the story! It’s pre-scheduled, so look for it!





Inside Out

8 08 2014

lessonsbyheart:

Bernadette packed this short article with truth. Enjoy this lovely sister’s post…then be sure to read her other Spirit-inspired writings! \o/

Originally posted on somebodylovesmeblog:

Last weekend, my husband and I took my mom to visit our relatives in Maryland.  We all had such a fun time together, just enjoying each other’s company and laughing a lot!

As usual, the food was delicious, and being that they live so close to the Chesapeake Bay, you know they picked up a bunch of steamed Maryland Blue Crabs.  All I can say about that is …YUM!

My cousin’s husband gave me some pointers on how to eat the crab, and I was armed with a mallet and a little sharp knife.  Although, I have to admit, my husband did most of the work for me, I proceeded to get down and dirty with those crabs, and it tasted like heaven!

On the way home, I noticed that I had cut my thumb…it was like a deep paper cut.  I hadn’t even noticed when the damage was done. …

View original 418 more words





Counterfeit Fruit of the Spirit

7 08 2014

lessonsbyheart:

Please don’t miss this excellent article on the Fruit of the Spirit. \o/

Originally posted on Derek E. Radney:

God used Tim Keller’s bible study on  the book of Galatians to change my life by giving me a completely different understanding of Christianity.  Before I worked through the study, I thought the gospel, that Christ died for my sin in my place according the Scriptures and rose from the dead on the third day, was for people who did not know God.  I thought that once I became a Christian, the gospel ceased to be relevant to my life and what mattered was understanding how I was supposed to behave and then obeying.

Whenever I read Galatians 5:19-24, I was either crushed by my failure to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit or incredibly prideful at what I thought to be successful compliance.  In reality, I produced counterfeit fruit, and Keller helped me see that the reason was that I was still living as if I was accepted before…

View original 702 more words





Truth = Free…If…

5 08 2014

I’ve been getting a massive dose of “reality check” lately…and discovered that while Denial may be a place to vacation for a day or two, it’s not somewhere to take up residency.

And I did this.

For far too long.

Lately, the Lord has been peeling my hands off my eyes and revealing things that I need to see.

Sad, painful, ugly truth.

However, seeing truth is not enough.

It’s what I choose to do with this truth that will set me free -

- or leave me in bondage.

Often, the mere task of deciding what to make for dinner has been so overwhelming that I have a meltdown. Simple meal preparation feels like more than I can handle.

That’s pathetic.

These are days of sorting out unhealthy behavior, taking in the whole counsel of God, being brave, and standing firm. 

There comes a time when we must say, “Enough!”

I feel like a field that’s being thoroughly plowed at the moment. Things previously unseen are being brought to light.

This is good news, for after the plowing comes the planting – then growth – then a harvest.

God is good at what He does, so I am in good hands.

When one has walked in denial, though (as I have all my life), learning to face the truth – and then bravely doing what needs to be done is hard. It is scary.

Thankfully, the Lord let me know that I can trade in my headless collar for an Anchor!

I’ve learned the lesson of an unmanageable life. A life beyond my control – circumstances beyond my control.

Having done so, I no longer need my rhinestone circlet to hang on my wall as a reminder.

Instead, I’m  in the market for an anchor… which is kinda’ funny, because I got rid of the Asian decorative stuff in my house and have been replacing it with ocean-ish stuff. (I love yard sales!)

In 2005, I realized that I had four main Scriptures to which I would cling in times of adversity:

Jeremiah 29:11 – His plans for me are for good, and not evil, this will end gloriously!

2 Cor. 4: 19 – in light of eternity, this is momentary…and will end gloriously!

Deut. 33:27 – God is my refuge, underneath me at all times are His arms, ready to catch me if I fall.

Romans 8:28 – This is all being worked together for my good – and will end gloriously!

Now I have new ones:

Isaiah 42:9:

“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”

Isaiah 35:3-6

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

Being transformed, I’ve discovered, means having what I believe and how I think adjusted to what is true…about the Lord, about me, and about life in general: a renewed mind.

Sometimes the paradigm shift this brings alters the course of life by a few degrees. At other times, it’s more like a 90-degree adjustment. These days it’s more like a 180! The greater the shift, the more stressful it can be due to opposition from others.

So I ask for your prayers: that I will continue to allow the Lord to transform me and not harden my heart; that I will stand firm and be brave; and that I will walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord.

Thanks for “listening.”





Remote Control Words

31 07 2014

Most of my adult life has been spent ferreting out the lies I believed about God as a result of treatment by the men in my life. It’s sad, but true.

Children do not have the emotional maturity to distinguish between their parents behavior – especially their fathers – and God’s character and nature.

Because these are our parents, it is assumed by every child that they love us. Consequently, we define love by their words and actions. We lack the experience necessary to discern our parents’ shortcomings, and assume that we are the ones to blame…that we are bad and don’t deserve any better.

They are all we have in the way of security. They are all that stand between life and death for the child, by his or her limited understanding.

As we get older, and interact with more people, we may begin to feel a sense of injustice about our relationship with our parents, but due to utter dependence upon them, are powerless to change our lives.

Many end up with a shut-down heart, and an intense hatred for and distrust of God.

As a child, I went to a vacation Bible school, and fell in love with Jesus. He didn’t seem to share other’s opinions about me, and that made Him as attractive as a magnet to a fridge in my mind!

We didn’t go to church much, though. After while, He faded into the background…

…until I made a mess of things at the age of 12.

My cousin and her friend decided to have some guys over while her parents were gone. We set up a table in the garage with booze and snacks. (Where it came from, I’m not sure).

However, I’d never me the fellow they’d invited to keep me company. I was a nervous wreck, so helped myself to some of the alcohol…then more…and more.

I don’t remember anything about that evening. I was already blacked out by the time they arrived. Still on my feet, but completely unconscious.

By the time my aunt and uncle returned home, my body was rejecting the alcohol. I ‘baptized’ their house from one end to the other.

The next day, instead of yelling at me and carrying on, my aunt sat me down and gently spoke to me about her concern for my future, and how sad Jesus was about what I’d done.

Grace.

Her act of lovingkindness caused me to determine to become a “good girl” and go to church. I picked out the nearest one and began attending Sunday school, morning and evening services, a prayer breakfast for teens, the mid-week service, and youth group.

Jesus loved me, I knew this for sure.

Too bad His Dad hated my guts!

Just like my dad and step-dad…and nearly every other man I’d ever met.

Religion became a chain tightly wound around my neck, choking the life out of me. God had so many rules, and seemed so hard to please. I never knew what was going to set Him off.

Just like my dad.

Meanwhile, Jesus loved me, coaxed me to walk with Him, to trust Him.

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I realized all the lies I’d believed about God because of experiences with men.

I thought God was altogether like them.

Today I have a loving relationship with my heavenly Father.

He is nothing like my dad.

For many years, I was angry with God for choosing the parents He gave me. After all, He could have given me healthy, whole, God-fearing parents. Was this all He thought I deserved?

Then I realized that in order for me to be created, it took a specific sperm, and a specific ovum to combine. Any other combination, and I would not exist! This had to come from my mother and my father…no one else on the planet could have done it.

He didn’t hand-pick them; He chose me!

All this to say,

“Men, you have been given the responsibility to bear the Father’s likeness to the world. It’s a high calling.

“These are big shoes to fill, and you will fail in some respects. You will need Abba’s heart if you are going to do this well.

“The men and women in your life need you to reflect the Father’s love, to speak His heart to them, to empower them to become the person He intended the day He chose them.”

A woman’s voice does not carry the same weight as a man’s.

Not when it comes to identity. 

Here are a couple of quotes by William M. Struthers (from Wired for Intimacy, p. 150):

“The masculine voice of affirmation spoken to a woman lets her know that she is loved because of who she is and that she is worthy of pursuit.”

“The masculine voice is received as a voice that speaks unchanging truth. Just as we think of the Word of God being truth that is unchanging, so a man’s words speak what he knows to be true.”

Because men are not nurturing, as a rule, their words are received as concrete truth – whereas a woman speaks from her heart to make things better. Man ‘sees’ the truth and speaks it out.

That’s how humans perceive your words. Did you know that?

It is for this reason that we are told that there is power of life and death in the tongue.

When a man we perceive to be an authority figure makes a judgment call about us, good or bad, we believe it.

Please be certain that your words reflect God’s heart. They will remotely control people for years to come.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29





A Heart on Lockdown

29 07 2014

I’ve discovered that my home reflects the condition of my heart. When my home is tidy and well organized, so is my heart.

When it’s a disheveled mess, well…you get the idea. I was going to post a picture of my work space, but it’s too embarrassing.

Every adult in the house has taken major hits over the last few months. In one way or another, each has locked down his or her heart.

It’s safer that way.

Waves  continue to buffet our vessel. While the Lord is in the boat with us, in His wisdom He has chosen to let the storm rage on – although He could silence it with a word.

There must be something we need to learn from this experience. We’ll be debriefed later, no doubt.

Over the sound of the rushing wind, and between crashing waves, I hear Jesus call out:

“Let down your nets for a catch.”

He isn’t crazy, you know, but infinitely wise.

However, we’d already ‘let down our nets,’ each one in his or her own way…

…and were let down in the process.

This was hard enough to take when the seas were calm…

But this feels like a Category Five storm.

“Now? You want us to fish now?”

Each one clutches his net a little tighter to his chest. The idea of being let down once again, and in the midst of this tempest is to risk more than we care to lose.

While cleaning my computer’s desktop this morning. I found the following quote. Seeing it today was a divine appointment, and a warning from my loving Father.

The Risk of Love (C. S, Lewis)

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to be sure of keeping your heart intact you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safely in the casket of your selfishness.

And in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will not change, it will not be broken. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from the dangers of love -

-is hell.

Hell. Hmm, now isn’t that interesting?

What I’ve been describing is, for us, a living  hell. 

Whole days pass with little to show for them…a completed jigsaw puzzle, a bit of needlework. New levels attained on stupid iPhone games (Crowd gasps: “Oooh!”) Mostly, I wander aimlessly through the house.

It feels very much like being buried alive.

Are you sure that the Exodus took place on land? It feels like another lap around the lake. I’ve seen this terrain before, in this same boat! Only the faces are different. ;)

I don’t want to do this to myself anymore. The journey back out of this self-imposed grave is painful and laborious. I don’t have to lock away my heart again.

It’s risky; I’ll have to feel the pain instead of being numb. Can I trust the Lord? I did in the past, and He let me down – or so it seems.

(Or perhaps I didn’t see the whole picture?)

But He calls to me. I dare not decline. His plan for me is for good – not evil.

He does not have a dark side.

(I’ve stated this in many of my posts over the last few months – mostly to remind myself that He is pure Light, not a type of “Jekyll and Hyde.”)

A glance down memory lane shows countless times where He has been faithful.

He has  been good; I must trust that He will  be good to me.

Hmm. Looks like it’s time to go fishing.

Ever so slowly, I’m unlocking the door to my heart. It will probably get kicked around like a soccer ball. At least I’ll be feeling something.

I’m saying “NO” to a locked-down heart!








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 845 other followers