Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Now I Know...

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. (Psalm 20:6)

My trouble has not gone away, but God has at last dried up my tears. He has given me strength, and drawn out the barbs that continued my hurt. He knows why he let me hurt, and for so long. He knows what I have lost, and he understands the confusion of my heart. He alone has humbled and hurt me, and he will heal me.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Faith is the only thing that gives God his proper place; and, as a consequence, is the only thing that lifts the soul completely above the influence of surrounding circumstances, be they what they may. (C. H. Mackintosh)
I have spent too much time trying to "figure out" my circumstances - both what is happening and how I should be responding to it. I am frustrated at how little I can understand, and I feel, somehow, that God should be explaining it to me, if he is not going to fix it. I am wrong. I need to begin my "figuring" with God. I have denied him the place he deserves - the One who created me, and suffered for me, and cares for me still.

He is Good.
I make my students give evidence for every statement they make. So here it is. Evidence:
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:33-34)
He loves me.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1John 4:10)
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1John 4:16)
He is all-powerful.
It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.  (Jeremiah 10:12)
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
So, then, God is powerful enough to give me good, and he loves me, so he desires to give me good, and he is good, so good is what he gives. What else is there to say? I may bow myself to him, or not.
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (1Peter 4:19)
I will, Father. Draw my eyes from my pitiful little situation, and let them be fixed on you. You are Good. You love me. You are able to do what needs to be done. What you do will be good. For me. Whatever it is. Let me wait for you, not as a dog at the door, but as a friend waits for a trusted friend.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Whosoever Shall Not Be Offended in Me

In the Lord put I my trust: how say you to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids test, the children of men. (Psalm 11: 1,4)
As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is your God?
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disturbed within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of your waterfalls: all your waves and your billows are gone over me.
Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
I will say unto God my rock, Why have you forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
As with a sword in my bones, my enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is your God?
Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disturbed within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (Psalm 42)
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Are you he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Matthew 11:2-6)

Unto you will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if you be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. (Psalm 28:1)
O God, before you, I have hid nothing. You see my whole heart. I have bowed to you, and followed you with all my strength. I have chosen love, not hatred. I have humbled myself in front of you and before others. Is this what you want from me? If not, show me! I will do what you ask.

Why do you speak in whispers? Why do you allow me to be hurt and shamed continually? I seem like a child and a fool, and yet you don't step in to rescue me or defend my name. My hurt goes on and on, and I have no clear direction from you; no "this is the way, walk ye in it"... I have done everything I can think of, yet I seem to be drifting farther and farther from light and warmth. For what do I wait? Why do you feel so far away? 

Yet I will wait for you. There is none beside you. Creator of heaven and earth, my Friend and my Defender - you humble and exalt. I will be still until you tell me what to do. I will tell out of this place who you are.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Waiting for Jesus

Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy;
at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
(Psalm 15:11)

Friday, 11 May 2012

Good Gifts

Let me say it now, while everything is still a mess, and I am confused and worn and discouraged: God is good, and he gives good. This, too, he will turn to good. Watch and see the work of my God, all who may. This is not the end. I weep now, but I will wait for him, and he will make it beautiful. He is kind, and his love rests on me. He is faithful. He cannot deny himself.
The Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah61:1-3)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Strongest Force

Went running to God in tears again today, looking for answers. Instead, he met me with questions: Is Love the strongest force in the universe or not? Will it, or not, win over hatred?

This shook me from my deserved-but-destructive self-pity. Do I really believe that Love is stronger than hatred? Believe it enough to risk my pride? Enough to look like the kind of fool that returns bumbling kindness for calculated hatred?

Hate is strong. I have felt its power and its force in my life. I have been beaten and tossed by it. There is a wicked sort of wisdom in it that makes love seem by comparison foolish, naive, weak.

But Love is greater, and it must win.

I believe it. I will allow Love to demonstrate itself in my life.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
For if you love them who love you, what thanks have you? for sinners also love those that love them. And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks have you? for sinners also do even the same. And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (Luke 6: 32-35)
Hatred stirs up strife: but love covers all sins. (Proverbs 10:12)
Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Does not behave itself rudely, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, keeps no record of evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails... (1Corinthians 13:4-8)
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the wealth of his house for love, it would utterly be rejected. (Song of Solomon 8:7)
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be men, be strong. Let all your things be done with love. (1Corinthians 16:13-14)
Love is as strong as death... (Song of Solomon 8:6)
  He will not leave me alone. He will not allow me to be defeated. He will rescue. He will triumph. He will fill my life with love's rich resonance.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1-4)
He will.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Whom Jehovah Has Afflicted

Who shall I blame for my troubles? I may point my finger here and there..but whom shall I accuse?  Who has the power to hurt me? 
Then said Pilate to him, Speak you not to me? know you not that I have power to crucify you, and have power to release you? Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above. (John 19: 10-11)
I must make my complaint before the God of Heaven. My quarrel is with him, and him only. He has allowed me to hurt. He has ordered all my pain. Without his express consent, there is no hand that may rise against me; no harm that may come crawling near. Who has power to humble me but the God to whom I belong? No, I am his responsibility. His alone.

Why struggle to forgive those who have no power over me?

Father, I will lay my grievances before you, who have promised to undertake for me. You lack no power, no understanding. You know my heart, and you have come this way before me. You, who taught fathers to care for their children and defend them; you, who taught mothers to comfort and weep: you are the one who has designed this for me. If such a one as you choose this way for me, how shall I hold mortals accountable for playing their part in the story you have written me?

But you are kind. But you are good. I cannot see or feel or think how these truths co-exist, but I will run to you. I will cry out my complaint to you, who break me and heal me.
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will defend my own ways before him. (Job 13:15)
Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none on earth that I desire beside you. (Psalm 73:25)
These all are mine, and though you have set them from me for a while, I must have them in the end, for you are a God who cannot lie!
...them that honor me I will honor. (1 Samuel 2:30)

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)

The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord. (Isaiah 38:20)

When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. (Psalm 72:12)

Monday, 7 May 2012

Falling On the Everlasting Arms

It is impossible to obey God with my own strength. It's not that stubbornness and pride won't carry me through. They probably would if they could just figure out what they are supposed to do.

Oh, Father. I need you to come and teach me. Put your love in my heart. Let Jesus live in me. Otherwise, I fall flat on my face. Your name suffers dishonor when I do.

It's one thing to talk of forgiveness and loving your enemies, but what does it look like? How did Jesus talk to Judas before he revealed himself? Did he treat him just the same? Did he pull away because he knew? If I could just imagine it, I think I could replicate it...

But you won't let me and my pride have any piece of this one, will you, Father?  This is going to be your victory in me and through me...I'll know it's yours because I'll have tried so hard and failed so often.

I can't do this. It's not only the strength I lack. It's the imagination.

Come and get me, Father. I want to go your way. I want to act like your daughter. But I don't even know where to start. I feel like a fool at every turn. I need you to do this one for me.

And I'm so tired. I know that love could give me eyes to see and wings to fly...must I wait?
Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

My Strength and Song

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Saving of Tamlane

When my sisters and I were young, there was very little we liked better than reading. We read stories over and over again, and discussed them at length. Even now, when something happens to remind us of the old stories, we talk about the characters and their experiences almost the way we remember people we knew. It was Janelle that reminded me of this one - the Celtic legend of Tam Lin or Tamlane:
Young Tamlane was son of Earl Murray, and Burd Janet was daughter of Dunbar, Earl of March. And when they were young they loved one another and plighted their troth. But when the time came near for their marrying, Tamlane disappeared, and none knew what had become of him.
Many, many days after he had disappeared, Burd Janet was wandering in Carterhaugh Wood, though she had been warned not to go there. And as she wandered she plucked the flowers from the bushes. She came at last to a bush of broom and began plucking it. She had not taken more than three flowerets when by her side up started young Tamlane.
"Where come ye from, Tamlane, Tamlane?" Burd Janet said; "and why have you been away so long?"
"From Elfland I come," said young Tamlane. "The Queen of Elfland has made me her knight."
"But how did you get there, Tamlane?" said Burd Janet.
"I was hunting one day, and as I rode widershins round yon hill, a deep drowsiness fell upon me, and when I awoke, behold! I was in Elfland. Fair is that land and gay, and fain would I stop but for thee and one other thing. Every seven years the Elves pay their tithe to the Nether world, and for all the Queen makes much of me, I fear it is myself that will be the tithe."
"Oh can you not be saved? Tell me if aught I can do will save you, Tamlane?"
"One only thing is there for my safety. To-morrow night is Hallowe'en, and the fairy court will then ride through England and Scotland, and if you would borrow me from Elfland you must take your stand by Miles Cross between twelve and one o' the night, and with holy water in your hand you must cast a compass all around you."
"But how shall I know you, Tamlane?" quoth Burd Janet, "amid so many knights I've ne'er seen before?"
"The first court of Elves that come by let pass. The next court you shall pay reverence to, but do naught nor say aught. But the third court that comes by is the chief court of them, and at the head rides the Queen of all Elfland. And I shall ride by her side upon a milk-white steed with a star in my crown; they give me this honour as being a christened knight. Watch my hands, Janet, the right one will be gloved but the left one will be bare, and by that token you will know me."
"But how to save you, Tamlane?" quoth Burd Janet.
"You must spring upon me suddenly, and I will fall to the ground. Then seize me quick, and whatever change befall me, for they will exercise all their magic on me, cling hold to me till they turn me into red-hot iron. Then cast me into this pool and I will be turned back into a mother-naked man. Cast then your green mantle over me, and I shall be yours, and be of the world again."
So Burd Janet promised to do all for Tamlane, and next night at midnight she took her stand by Miles Cross and cast a compass round her with holy water.
Soon there came riding by the Elfin court, first over the mound went a troop on black steeds, and then another troop on brown. But in the third court, all on milk-white steeds, she saw the Queen of Elfland, and by her side a knight with a star in his crown, with right hand gloved and the left bare. Then she knew this was her own Tamlane, and springing forward she seized the bridle of the milk-white steed and pulled its rider down. And as soon as he had touched the ground she let go the bridle and seized him in her arms.
"He's won, he's won amongst us all," shrieked out the eldritch crew, and all came around her and tried their spells on young Tamlane.
First they turned him in Janet's arms like frozen ice, then into a huge flame of roaring fire. Then, again, the fire vanished and an adder was skipping through her arms, but still she held on; and then they turned him into a snake that reared up as if to bite her, and yet she held on. Then suddenly a dove was struggling in her arms, and almost flew away. Then they turned him into a swan, but all was in vain, till at last he was turned into a red-hot glaive, and this she cast into a well of water and then he turned back into a mother-naked man. She quickly cast her green mantle over him, and young Tamlane was Burd Janet's for ever.
Commentary by Janelle:
God's love comes to us in really awful ways sometimes - and sometimes it feels the same as embracing a monster and holding on tight when i wish to let go and run home - but God wouldn't ask me to hold the monster if it wouldn't bring some blessing ... and in the end, when i've held on tight to all the monsters He sends - it'll be so so so so worth if we're tempted to look at things the way the world does - if it hurts you, why keep at it? - we know that love hurts, a lot, sometimes.  but it's always, always going to be worth it.  and there are worse things than pain.  tam lin would have been led off with the goblins if his true love hadn't counted with worth it, and they both would have been the poorer.  Jesus embraced the monsters for us, and wants us to follow Him ...  to hold on for dear life when the thing we want most is to just let go.