The pastel palette painting spreads before my eager eye—
Overwhelming majesty of softly splendid sky.
Somehow the Master Painter once again has won my heart.
All I can do is marvel at God’s gift of Master Art.
The pastel palette painting spreads before my eager eye—
*This is not what I consider good poetry (not really), but it’s what was on my heart.
I want to finish well, O Lord;
I want to finish well.
Help me complete what I’ve begun.
Help me to stay the course and never stray.
I need to know Your grace, my God;
I need to know Your grace.
For only by your grace can I keep on.
Everything I give to You, Your mercy keeps.
Help me to keep my word, Lord God;
Help me to keep my word.
I want to fix my eyes on Your Son.
I want to deny myself and my desire to stray.
I want to win the prize, my Lord;
I want to win the prize.
The race you call me to is worth the run—
The crown of life You give to cast at Your feet.
Awake again… again…
I find I’m drawn to Your light.
Like moth to flame, I seek consumption
In the fire of Your presence, Holy God.
Till I am ash before You.
Although at times I find it hard,
I choose to trust without regard
For any circumstance or voice
That comes to try and sway my choice.
For You are God, and no one here
Can change that You catch every tear.
For You encompass me with peace
Whenever there are stormy seas.
Conform me to Your image, Lord.
Come sunder me with living sword.
‘Tween soul and spirit cut right through—
Joints, marrow, thoughts, and intents, too.
Through trials, You refine my life—
With fire and flood, through stress and strife.
Still, I find shelter in Your wings.
Within Your shadow, my heart sings.
You give me strength when I have none
To focus on Your risen Son.
I long, dear Lord, to see Your face,
So thanks for your amazing grace.
Rise up in us, O God.
Well up with the voice of thunder,
The roar of the Lion of Judah,
To trumpet your righteousness over this place.
Let your holy presence flash like lightning,
Bringing revelation and conviction
Till we bow in humility,
Till we acknowledge your mercy!
For, Lord God, it is only
Because you stayed your hand
That we can breathe.
The blood of the Lamb
Has covered us, bringing healing,
Filling in all the broken places in our lives
With the sufficiency of your grace.
O Lord God, rise up in us
That we may be your voice to this generation,
Shouting your grace and mercy,
Your power and glory to the earth!
I saw a giant, pure white eagle (and I mean GIANT — I was seeing the angel of the North… as in North / South / East / West) leap up off the ground to take flight. When he did, everything under his claws was torn up. He flapped his wings mightily in order to gain altitude and had to work at it for some time before he was able to soar on the heights.
- The surface he had been resting on was very messy.
- The air turbulence created by his wings also disturbed the environment around him.
- He had to work very hard to gain height.
The Holy Spirit said to me that I was to note these things because whenever God is doing something new, there will be messiness, turbulence and hard work before we are able to soar on the wind of His Spirit. It takes A LOT OF EFFORT to get off the ground!!!
In the process of preparation, there is no substitute for time. This is true, whether you are preparing a meal, preparing for a journey, or preparing for battle. I thought it this morning when I was trying to clean my cup from yesterday’s breakfast. To get it truly clean required that I let it soak in soap and water for a time. I tried to speed up the process by using boiling water from the coffee maker, but that only speeds it up some. I still had to let it sit for a bit. That’s when I had the thought, There is no substitute for time.
The addition of heat, or pressure, to the process can help it along, but without enough time, preparation will be inadequate. If you don’t let the turkey cook long enough, then it won’t get cooked all the way through. If you don’t take time to plan your route and prepare your suitcase or bag, then you will either have trouble finding your destination, or you will have insufficient changes of clothing. If you don’t gather enough supplies or train properly, then you will probably lose the battle you have to fight.
There is no substitute for time. When God makes us wait on things we don’t want to wait on, and we can’t figure out the reason why, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. It simply means we can’t see the big picture. All these long months (or years maybe) of waiting have their purpose, even if the only purpose is to test our trust in God. Building character is something that cannot be done in a hurry. Learning patience only comes about through having to wait on the Lord. Beyond that, we have to realize that our finite understanding cannot comprehend the mysteries of God… like, why do I have to wait for my husband to get a job? As Jeremiah put it, why do the wicked prosper? Why can’t I have “___” when I think I need it now? Why did a perfect man like Jesus Christ have to suffer and die for other men’s sins? Why do children suffer?
These are unanswerable questions in the realm of reason. Sure, there’s the problem of original sin and how God is waiting patiently waiting for the wicked to turn to Him (Ez. 33:11); but, honestly, how does my waiting affect the world around me? I am reminded again that in the preparation process, there is no substitute for time. Time is probably the most important ingredient in any recipe, journey preparation, or in getting ready for any kind of battle. Perhaps, this time of waiting will produce a savory meal suitable for my God’s table, or maybe the next season will be one of change and travel… or maybe the next season will be a season of war, and I need to be spiritually prepared.
Whatever the reason is for waiting, Paul said, “I have learned in all things to be content. (Ph. 4:12)” This means that even in the times of waiting, he learned contentment. Truly, truly, it’s a long journey that we travel in this life. Sometimes we have to stay in one place. Other times we have to race as fast as we can to the next place. Wherever we are at on the journey, in the process, or whatever terminology you choose to use, there is no substitute for time… and the only way to pass through time with any degree of contentment is to trust that God really does know what He is doing.
*I ran across this piece that I wrote in the fall of 2009. As far as I can tell, I’ve never published it anywhere, so here goes… 🙂 Maybe it just needed to percolate on the back burner for the past few years so I could really appreciate it, thus proving the point. I did make a few minor editorial tweaks, but for the most part, this is as it came out of my head in the first place.
One’s moral compass should not be calibrated by the socially acceptable or civilly legislated standards of the day. True north is always, always God’s standards set in His word. When the Sanhedrin told Peter and John they should stop preaching Jesus, Peter’s response still holds true, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20) My experience, my heart, my changed life, tells me over and over and over again that I can trust God, that He is a good God, that His love shapes me for my ultimate good. Thousands of years of believers stand testament to this, so WHY would I have any interest in conforming to make others more comfortable?
Truth is supposed to make you uncomfortable; otherwise, you would have no reason to change. The goal is to become more like Christ—not some fictional, socially acceptable, wimpy Jesus—but like the Jesus who stood up to the Pharisees of his day and said, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:6-8)
Governments may legislate; Churches may decree standards (by democratic vote! …and where is that in scripture?); but God’s word reaffirms that when we stand before His throne, we will not be able to excuse our behavior by saying, “But they said it was okay!” We are accountable to God, and to God alone, for our own choices and our own actions. I leave you with the words of Christ in Matthew 10:
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell…. 34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
When I think about my childhood, all I can remember is trying to be older, more adult, part of the grown-up crowd. I spent most of my time listening to the grown-ups talk or reading to escape my childhood.
I’m sure I must have played sometimes. I had toys and games, favorite dolls and stuffed animals—although those last were mostly because I felt I needed comfort. I was happiest deep in a book, far away from my environment. I had no idea how unhappy I was, though I remember long periods spent staring blankly, without thought or focus.
There was the interlude when my brother and I were on the local swimming team. It got me out of the house and into something competitive and physically challenging, but after less than two years I lost interest and stopped competing.
By the time I was a teenager, I became conscious of my unhappiness. My first remembered bout of depression came when I was somewhere around age 13 or 14. My parents had left for the Sunday evening church service, and I was waiting on my ride to youth group. I recall standing in the kitchen, staring at the oven, and thinking I could just slash my wrists with a knife and be done with “it.” In all honesty, though, I’m not really sure what “it” was. Thankfully, I did not act on the impulse, and it passed.
School was actually a good place for me. I enjoyed learning things, even though I hated the homework assignments. What kid doesn’t hate homework? I mean, like all kids, I preferred controlling my own free time. But, I was a loner, a thinker, and an outsider for the most part, at least as far as I can remember it. Middle school and high school band offered me a new outlet…music. Music came to me like breathing, and I dove as deeply into it as I ever did into reading, because it was another escape from my home environment.
Still, being a child is not something I remember ever really “being” in all truth. Moments, yes. Brief interludes, yes. Childhood…no. What was that? I had to take care of my younger siblings from the time I was between six and seven years old. I had a depressive, suicidal mother and an abusive father. It is interesting to me that when I think of my childhood, I have this sense of everything being overlaid with a brown-colored filter, like a sepia photograph. It speaks to me of fear (of my father), sadness, uncertainty…hunger.
These last few years as I have begun exploring more spiritual experiences, one thing that has stood out for me is the Lord’s repeated references to the joy of being a child, to playing with Him—on the beach, in the fields, and on the clouds. One of the most powerful experiences happened this spring (2016) when He took me to a place in the Spirit…and I was nine years old again. I don’t even remember all the intimate details of what He talked with me about, only that I found myself weeping in some kind of inarticulate grief for something of myself that I had lost.
I would like to think that I can find childhood again somehow, even if I am in my late forties now. All this adult, super-spiritual thinking about resting in the Lord seems to point back to the attitude of a child that Mom and Dad take care of everything. Good parents do, after all, put the food on the table and the clothes on the bodies of their children. They provide protection from people that pose a danger to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of their children.
In actual fact, God is the ultimate parental role model. Father offers love, protection, and provision. Holy Spirit offers comfort, guidance, and encouragement. Jesus is our best friend, our oldest sibling, leading by example in His reliance on the Father and the Spirit. I’m trying to figure out how to stop trying to figure things out all the time. I want to rest and be a child in His presence who trusts without question, but I keep banging my head up against this internal wall of intellectualism, fear, and an overwhelming desire to escape reality again.
Please, Lord Jesus, help me to trust without question and rest in Your presence again. Help me, Lord, to be a child again.
Like the waves rolling into the sand,
Your Spirit is powerful, inexorable.
You resonate within us—
Unstoppable, bringing change.
Even when we resist,
Your grace never gives up on us—
Saturating our hearts with love…
Till the rough places are made smooth,
The mountains are brought low,
And our hearts bow in humble gratitude
For all the transformations You’ve wrought.
Let the susurration of Your waves
Spread peace across the valleys in us
Where we have tried to hide our secret rebellions.
Bury them in the depths of Your love and power,
So we can release every part,
Every place to Your Lordship.
susurration — noun 1. a soft murmur; whisper.