Conversations

Lost…

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
– Psalm 139:9-12

I’m sitting on the ground. Alone. Weeping. Exhausted. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how to get there from here. I’m overwhelmed. I’m tormented by worry overtaking my thoughts.

I feel lost and worse, discouraged.

The map lies smudged and tattered on the ground. I thought I’d taken the right trail to get to where The Father was taking me. So why do I feel so lost and uncertain? Have I been walking in circles? Did I miss interpret the directions? I need help. I need a guide.

The Father kneels down to the ground, laying His hand on my shoulder His gentle voice speaking into my darkness “What’s wrong, dear one? Did you forget I Am here?”

He picks up the map from the ground and begins to gently fold it. He doesn’t need the map. The map is for me. I wanted to know where I was going. I wanted to figure it out on my own…or at least I thought I could follow it. After all, He’d told me where He wanted me to go. Isn’t some part of this journey my responsibility? Aren’t I supposed to know how to follow His directions and not get lost?

I don’t know how to move forward. The path isn’t clear and I can’t figure this map out. I’m so confused and lost …

“I saw you focusing on the map and what I called you to. You were so busy looking at the map and figuring out the way to go, you didn’t look to see I Am right here with you. I’ve never left your side. I know the way to go, precious one. You’ve never been alone on this journey and you’re not lost because with me you are found. I know you’re scared and worried about how to get there. Let me be your Peace. Let me be your Guide. Trust me to get you there.”

Will I ever figure this out? There are so many things I don’t know! What do I need to be doing? How will I know if I’m walking the right direction and taking the right path?

Because I Am with you. Stay with me and you will always know the path. You will see great and wonderful things on our journey together if you stay with me and keep your eyes on me. I will take care of the journey and the destination. I love you and love that you want to get there. We will get there, dear one. Have peace. Be patient. I have so much more for you on this journey than just the destination.”

The Father hands the folded map to me to hold and gently gathers me in His arms, lifts me to His back, and starts walking.

Rest on me, little one. I’ll carry you a little while and when you’ve rested and you’re ready again to walk, I’ll lead you. But for now, just rest. We’ll get there right on time.”

I know I can trust The Father. He is the one who knows the way. He’s never lost. It seems like He’s come this way lots of times before…or maybe that He’s made this way. He made the destination, He knows how to get there and He’s taking me there with Him.

Father, thank you for lifting me out of discouragement and setting me back on the path with you. Thank you for calling me and taking me with you. May I know how to trust you with the next step. May I seek your lead with every step along this journey so that I don’t miss your wonder. May I learn to look for you, see what you see, and take from your strength what I need for this journey.

Conversations

Thorny Trials

The landscaping in our front yard has a very beautiful bush that blooms the prettiest pink flowers and grows more like a vine than a bush. It is not a very friendly bush, however. It has what I consider “killer” thorns all over the branches. A few months ago, my husband was doing yard work and noticed this bush was starting to get a bit more unruly and decided to trim back the branches to keep them from overgrowing onto the sidewalk. Cleaning up was difficult and a bit painful when a misplaced finger got pricked by one of the thorns. We carefully got all the branches cleaned up and out of the yard – or so we thought. A few weeks later, my youngest was outside in her bare feet and all the sudden I heard a gut-wrenching cry. It was the kind of cry that makes you feel your heart drop into your feet and your stomach jump into your throat. I raced out to find her gasping for breath between cries and standing frozen still. I quickly discovered she had a half-inch thorn directly through the bottom of her heel. I went into full mom-mode. I pulled the thorn out of her foot and scooped her up tend to her wound, comfort, and pray over her. The happy end to this story is that she was completely fine. There were no problems after the thorn was removed and the wound washed. It was almost like it never happened. But the memory is still there.

I  recalled this story when I read 1 Peter 1:6-7 recently:
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

How does that work?

How can this work?

“…for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…”

How is a trial necessary?

Reflecting on these verses, this story with my own daughter came flooding to mind. I asked The Father my questions.

He whispered back, in His still, small, wise, loving, tender yet authoritative voice:

The thorny trial is not what is necessary. The trial is what happens in the midst of life. Just like your heart broke to see your daughter in pain, so does my heart break when I see you in pain. In the same way that she knew you would come to help her and comfort you, you know that I do that for you too, little one. You know that I care for you. You know that I weep when you weep and I rejoice when you rejoice. My precious one there is still good for you, yes even in the thorny trials because when you have one, your faith is strengthened. You see something more about Me that deepens our relationship and the joy you find in me. Those amazing worship experiences you have are often birthed out of a thorny situation.

You didn’t “allow” your precious daughter to step on that thorn. It happened as a result of nothing more than living her life unaware. But when it did happen, you came to her rescue and comfort. She learned an unfortunate but valuable lesson in wisdom but more important than that is that she knew once again her mom loves her tremendously.

The same is true for me, your Heavenly Father. Thorny trials in your life have and will come. But remember precious one, I was there with you for all of them and I will be right beside you with the next one. Remember, I helped you through it – I will help you through again. I cared for you, mended your heart, comforted you and restored joy to you each time and I will do it all again because I love you so much more than you know. Through every thorny trial, I have been The Rock you can cling to and The One you know you can cry out for. No matter how many thorns you encounter, I will always be your Rock, your Refuge, your Strength, your Joy, your Comfort, your Father who loves you unconditionally and forever. I will always be I AM.

Conversations

Best Day Ever

Come on. He whispers. Come with me. 

“Where are we going?” (For some reason I think I always need all the details)

We’re going for a walk.

I often find lots of excuses (I call them “reasons”) why I don’t have the time or focus or energy, but this time I wasn’t making any excuses! Yes, I want to take a walk with The Father!

We walk along quietly for a while. It feels like a slow, un-hurried, almost aimless pace. The weather is perfect. The sun is shining to keep us warm and the breeze blows every now and then making sure we aren’t too warm. There are no annoying bugs or critters and there’s what looks like a path laying smoothly in front of us. There is a majestic chorus being sung by the birds, not too loud to be distracting, more like background music. Its as if The Father is orchestrating, painting, and perfecting everything around us while we are walking! I stop for a moment, closing my eyes to just listen and take in the sounds all around me.

I couldn’t help but blurt out clumsily amid the chorus, “The music of the forest is beautiful!”

I am so glad you like it, little one. I made it just for that reason – so you could enjoy it. 

A slow, distracted smile forms on my face. I’m so glad I came on this walk today.

We continue walking and step through the tree line into a wide-open, spacious meadow filled with color from wildflowers and green grass with the bluest sky I’ve ever seen as the backdrop. It looks like we just stepped into a painting! I feel giddy with joy. I want to run and twirl and fling my arms open and fall into the tall wildflowers and soft grass. I look at The Father. He is smiling, almost chuckling as if to say “go ahead!”. I am giggling now running and twirling before falling into the soft ground looking up at the clouds. I’m not even wind

ed. And there The Father is, right beside me on the ground looking at the clouds with me.

 

“This is so beautiful! All these colors and the sky and the grass! Its so wonderful.” While I don’t feel breathless, its almost difficult to get the words out. 

I am glad you like it, little one. I made it just for that reason – so you could enjoy it.

“You make so many beautiful, amazing things. Thank you for bringing me on this walk with you today.”

It feels like time has stopped for a moment. As I lay here smiling and soaking all of this in, I start to wonder what could be on The Father’s mind? Why did He want to bring me on this walk today?

I can tell something is on your mind, little one. What do you want to ask me?

“This is such a wonderful, amazing, beautiful time with you. I really don’t want it to end, but I know we’ll have to go back soon but I don’t want to miss anything before we do. Was there a reason you brought me here? Is there something you want me to know or see or learn?”

Locking His gaze with mine He answers, This right here. He points to my heart and back to His creating a motion as if there were an invisible chord connecting our hearts.

This is what I want you to know. My heart is for you and I long to be connected to your heart in an unbroken way. I desire just to be with you. I want you to want to be with me and to enjoy my company. This moment right here, right now is what I want you to know. What do I want you to learn? I want you to learn that I love you and all this is for you. I want you to learn to be still with me. To seek out these moments and remember them, to hold on to them and foster them. I want you to know that the depths of my heart cry out to the depths of yours, longing for your heart to chase after mine because mine chases yours.

Our walk back was just as quiet as our walk here but it wasn’t an empty quiet. There was fullness in the silence. All that The Father had said still filled the air and my mind. My heart was full. What could possibly bother me or interrupt this great, full love of His for me? I felt safe in His presence. I felt strong in His presence. I felt peace in His presence.

We walked up the steps of the porch and sat together on the swing, examining the sunset together. Taking in the atmosphere with awe, I wonder how I could have never seen a sunset so beautiful, so colorful? I lean my head against The Father’s arm, soaking in every moment, trying to remember all the smallest details and every word, trying to hold it in my memory as if they were a jar full of lightning bugs like the ones now starting to flash in the dusk.

He wraps His arm around me and with a voice of tender reassurance He tells me,

No need to worry, little one. All you ever need to do is seek me out and I will tell you again how much you mean to me. I will always say ‘yes’ to the chance to walk and talk with you, to comfort and reassure you, to bring beauty and praise into your day, and to listen to you. Remember these moments. Remember I am always right here, always ready for the depths of your heart to cry out to mine, always ready for another afternoon walk or sunset swing. You are my most valued 

Kingdom Living

I Can’t

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
1 John 1:16

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

“I can’t” is not a phrase I’m comfortable with. It’s certainly not a phrase I want my kids saying. I’m not the only one that doesn’t like this phrase either. It’s frowned on from a societal and cultural perspective.

But right now, I need to say it. It’s the truth. This is the one circumstance where this is true.

I can’t – without Jesus.

I can’t parent well – without Jesus.

I can’t do my job with excellence – without Jesus.

I can’t live healthily – without Jesus.

I can’t succeed at anything worthwhile – without Jesus.

I can’t stop worrying – without Jesus.

I can’t – but God can.

There are some very worthwhile things that I want to do and am working hard to do, but trying to do them successfully on my own is wearing me out. I’m not purposefully leaving God out. I have grown up learning that anything I want I can get, if I work at it hard enough. It’s not easy to re-train my brain to remember that it is by the grace of God that I can do anything. Even for that I need the grace of God! I’m having to unlearn the concept of complete independence in everything I do, and learn anew that my hope for success only comes as I put my hope in Christ.

I wonder if this was sometimes how the apostle Paul felt too? He grew up in a very “do-ing” oriented society too. Everything in his world was saturated with understanding the need for God, but everything they did and said was still heavily based on doing all the right steps to make sure God was happy with you so that you would be blessed. All the “do-ing” led to a culture of believing that if a person didn’t do the right things, bad things would happen to them and any kind of success would elude them. Yet, God’s reply to them, and to me too is that “He [God] gives more grace…God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble…Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:6-8a)

“I don’t know how to do this though, Father.”

“That is why I’m here to help you.”

“But I’m a fixer. I’m a do-er. I need a step-by-step guide of how to depend on you and not try to do everything myself.”

The Father laughs.

Through His chuckles The Father replies, “Even as you are learning to depend on me and how to use the grace I’ve given to you, you still are trying to get a list so you can do it yourself, little one.

You are like me in many ways. I created you that way. But remember, I AM the Fixer. I AM the Restorer. I AM the Success Maker. I AM the Wisdom you seek. Yes, you can learn from me, but there will always be things that you will need my help with. Take My Son for example. While He was on the earth, He still had to depend on me for many things, from simple things like food to very hard things like willingly putting Himself on the cross so that you and everyone would be able to have everything you need for life and godliness. He didn’t do it by Himself – you can’t do it all by yourself either, little one.”

“But I can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. You’ve called me to so much. So where do I start with depending on you?”

“Right here. This is where you start. Start with me. Start with asking for help. I have grace even to help you with that. A little later today, when you need to speak to your daughter differently – stop and ask for my help. When your patience is wearing thin – stop and ask for my help. When you feel like giving up – ask for my help. When you wonder why you’re doing any of this or when the next difficulty will ever be over – talk to me. Bring it to me. I’m here to help you. I’ll be the strength you need in those times when you feel your weakest. I have all that you need. Absolutely everything.

You can do this, if you do it with Me.