Wednesday, 28 November 2012

All In All

"’s always this willingness to suffer." (Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience)
Come Unto Me
Oh, for the time gone by, when thought of Christ
Made His Yoke easy and His Burden light;
When my heart stirred within me at the sight
Of Altar spread for awful Eucharist;
When all my hopes His promises sufficed,
When my Soul watched for Him by day, by night,
When my lamp lightened and my robe was white,
And all seemed loss, except the Pearl unpriced.
Yet, since He calls me still with tender Call,
Since He remembers Whom I half forgot,
I even will run my race and bear my lot:
For Faith the walls of Jericho cast down,
And Hope to whoso runs holds forth a Crown,
And Love is Christ, and Christ is All in all.
 (Christina Georgina Rossetti)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Everywhere, There is Grace

A cousin who takes time out of her own very busy life to pray for mine...
A friend who ignores the fact that I haven't called or emailed her for almost a year, and just keeps on doing the hard work of being a friend and contacting me despite my self-destruction...
A brother who texts out of the blue to see if I need any shopping done so I don't have to spend my precious time home doing errands (a brother who hates shopping maybe even more than I do)...
A boss who offers me a nicer apartment if I want, and buys lunch, and then takes me to the store to buy me a new TV (or whatever I want instead)...
A co-worker who, with a wink and a smile, changed the time on our time-punch machine so I am not always a minute late...
A Mom who is always praying for me...
Forgiveness and peace that comes creeping about my angry, hurt heart when I have almost given up...

Everywhere, there is grace. Even here. Even today. He has charged the earth with His beauty. Dear, kind God. How shall I give Him thanks? With all my heart and life and breath, I will say that He is Good.

Friday, 23 November 2012


My beloved spoke, and said to me, "Rise up, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.
For, behold, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth. The time of the singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens her green figs. The vines are in blossom. They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away." (Song of Solomon 2:10-13)
Woke up one morning this week to the inside-my-head sound of this verse. Why? What does it mean? I don't know, but I know my Beloved. He calls me, and I will go.

It were not hard to suffer by His hand,
If thou couldst see His face;—but in the dark!       
That is the one last trial:—be it so.
Christ was forsaken, so must thou be too:
How couldst thou suffer but in seeming, else?
Thou wilt not see the face nor feel the hand,
Only the cruel crushing of the feet,    
When through the bitter night the Lord comes down
To tread the winepress.—Not by sight, but faith,
Endure, endure,—be faithful to the end!
 (Harriet Hamilton-King)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

By Suffering

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)
Seldom have I been so cut off from God's perspective of things as I am now. I feel the need of vision. I long to see as he sees. I so often feel that whatever is being drawn out of this experience can hardly be worth it...but how I can speak of worth before that One who is worthy of all that I have and am; before whom there can be no waste...?
“For the glory and the passion of this midnight
I praise thy name, I give Thee thanks, O Christ!
Thou that hast neither failed me nor forsaken
Through these hard hours with victory overpriced..."
(H. Hamilton King)
Nevertheless, I know, deep deep deep, that He is Good. That He loves me. That all He gives, no matter how it hurts, is Good, and for my Good. And deep deep deep, I love Him. I love Him more than I love comfort. I love Him more than I love being in control. I desire His approval more than I desire the approval of those I can see and hear and touch.  Beneath my fears and my quakings; beneath my roiling emotion and my shaking, I trust the Jesus who cried, who became weary, who was frustrated, who hungered and thirsted, who died. I trust the Jesus who cried from his cross, "Why?!" He is altogether lovely, my Jesus. With all my breath and energy, with my sweat and tears and blood, let me tell who He is, that One who loves, who gives, who waits still, for me and for you...
Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (Philippians 1:29)
That most closely we may follow Him
By Suffering, have all hearts of men allowed.
Is Suffering then more near and dear to God
For its own sake than Joy is? God forbid !
We know not its beginning nor its end ;
Is it a sacrifice? a test? a school ? . . .
We suffer. Why we suffer— that is hid
With God's foreknowledge in the clouds of Heaven.
(H. Hamilton King)

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

But if, impatient, thou let slip thy Cross,
Thou wilt not find it in this world again,
Nor in another; here, and here alone,
Is given thee to suffer for God's sake. —

In other worlds we shall more perfectly
Serve Him and love Him, praise Him, work for Him,
Grow near and nearer Him with all delight;
But then we shall not any more be called
To suffer, — which is our appointment here.

Couldst thou not suffer then, one hour — or two ?
If He should call thee from thy Cross to-day.
Saying, it is finished ! — that hard Cross of thine
From which thou prayest for deliverance, —
Thinkest thou not some passion of regret
Would overcome thee ? Thou wouldst say " So soon ?
Let me go back, and suffer yet awhile
More patiently ! — I have not yet praised God."
And He might answer to thee, — " Never more —
All pain is done with !"  (H. Hamilton King)

Your grace is enough
More than I need
And your word I will believe
I wait for you
Draw near again
And your spirit make me new
And i will fall at your feet
I will fall at your feet
And i will worship you here
Your presence in me
Jesus light the way
By the power of your word
I am restored
I am redeemed
By your spirit i am free
And i will fall at your feet
I will fall at your feet
And i will worship you here
Freely you gave it all for us
Surrendered your life upon that cross
Great is your love
Poured out for all
This is our God
Lifted on high from death to life
Forever our God is glorified
Sovereign king
Rescued the world
This is our God
And i will fall at your feet
I will fall at your feet
And i will worship you here
And i will fall at your feet
I will fall at your feet
And i will worship you here
Freely you gave it all for us
Surrendered your life upon that cross
Great is your love
Poured out for all
This is our God
Lifted on high from death to life
Forever out God is glorified
Sovereign king
Rescued the world
This is our God.

Friday, 16 November 2012

But the Lord is Faithful

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that you both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:2)
A sense of being carried today. I know someone is praying. And this gave me courage.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

This Testimony; His Just Due

"He has done all things well." Mark 7:37

Yes, from first to last, from our cradle to our grave, from the earliest pang of sin's conviction to the last thrill of sin's forgiveness, from earth to heaven; this will be our testimony in all the way the Lord our God has led us in the wilderness: "He has done all things well.
In providence and in grace,
in every truth of His Word,
in every lesson of His love,
in every stroke of His rod,
in every sunbeam that has shone,
in every cloud that has shaded,
in every element that has sweetened,
in every ingredient that has embittered,
in all that has been mysterious, inscrutable, painful, and humiliating;
in all that He gave,
in all that He took away, this testimony is His just due, and this our grateful acknowledgment through time and through eternity:
'He has done all things well.'"  (adapted from Octavius Winslow's, The Sigh of Christ)  

Truly He has. Let me say it from here, while I feel the "taking away" far more deeply than the giving: His way is perfect. He is Good. He does all things well. I will let my hurting heart thank God, who always hurts in order to heal. I believe it. Let everything that belongs to Him praise Him for His goodness.
...we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Let Us Have Grace

Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
Lest there be any immoral, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
For you are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, or unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
(For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as an animal touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a spear:
And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)
But you are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, who are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel.
See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven:
Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:16-29)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Sacrifice Thank Offerings

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5: 14-18)
Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
...He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,
and he prepares the way
so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:14-15, 23)
Sometimes the thank offering really is a sacrifice. But He is worthy.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Lead Me To Calvary

King of my life I crown Thee now,
Thine may the glory be,
Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Thanksgiving, At Last

Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope
in his unfailing love. (Psalm 147:1-11)
At last I can offer thanksgiving from my heart to Him who loves me. He is able to restore and rebuild even me. All hurts find their place in his great heart, and grace is free. Even for me.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

These Strange Ashes

“From this one place I can’t see very far; in this one moment I’m square in the dark. These are the things I will trust in my heart: You can see something else, something else.” (Sara Groves)
But these strange ashes, Lord, this nothingness,
This baffling sense of loss?
Son, was the anguish of my stripping less
Upon the torturing cross?
Was I not brought into the dust of death,
A worm and no man, I;
Yea, turned to ashes by the vehement breath
Of fire, on Calvary?
O Son beloved, this is thy heart’s desire:
This, and no other thing
Follows the fall of Consuming Fire
On the burnt offering.
Go on and taste the joy set high, afar -
No joy like that to thee;
See how it lights the way like some great star.
Come now, and follow Me.
(Amy Carmichael)
“Had I come here, leaving so much behind, on a fool’s errand? If this was how the Lord of Hosts looked after His servants and His glory, if this was a sample of how He answered prayer for His work and His workers, it certainly fit none of my categories…. As I look back on that time, I think it was Lesson One for me in the school of faith. That is, it was my first experience of having to bow down before that which I could not possibly explain…. Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain. If God were God, if He were omnipotent, if He had cared, would this have happened? ...Over forty years have passed since this story took place. Nearly every time I have told it and tried to explain what I think God wanted to teach me in it of absolute commitment and trust, someone has asked, ‘but why did God let it happen?’ Someday they and I will be satisfied with His answer. Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.’”  (from These Strange Ashes, by Elisabeth Elliot)
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. (Galatians 2:20)
"These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me, I must do it myself. God may bring me up to the point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot put me through it. It means breaking the husk of my individual independence of God, and the emancipating of my personality into oneness with Himself, not for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus. There is no possibility of dispute when once I am there. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ - "For My sake." It is that which makes the iron saint.
Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud. The one point to decide is - Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realization, and immediately that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural identification takes place at once, and the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable - 'I have been crucified with Christ.'" (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)
"On July 28, Saturday, I sailed. We had to come on board on Friday night, and just as the tender (a small boat) where were the dear friends who had come to say goodbye was moving off, and the chill of loneliness shivered through me, like a warm love-clasp came the long-loved lines--'And only Heaven is better than to walk with Christ at midnight, over moonless seas.' I couldn't feel frightened then. Praise Him for the moonless seas--all the better the opportunity for proving Him to be indeed the El Shaddai, 'the God who is Enough.'" (Amy Carmichael)
What is there to say? The One who loves my soul has brought me here, right here...

God, give me the strength and the faith, since I have the will, to break this "husk of my individual independence" of You. I will trust You. I will seek the friendship and the fellowship of your Christ. Before him, there is no waste, no second best.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Then Shall the King Say...Come

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
...I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings...
Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:34-35)
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father... (Matthew 25:33-34)
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you... (John 15:9)
What is the joy set before me? It is no crown, no promise of position, no honor. Deep down, beneath the desire for comfort, beneath the weakness that overcomes me in dark moments, is my true desire: to know the Christ; to work beside him; to give joy to the One who loves me best. I wait not for pleasures, nor public praise, nor a throne.

His word, the spoken "Come..." will be worth the loss of all that is mine. Gladly let me lay it down.

The Answer

Jim Elliot to Elisabeth in 1948:
Dearest Betty, I charge you in the name of our Unfailing Friend, do away with all waverings, bewilderment, and wonder. You have bargained for a cross. Overcome anything in the confidence of your union with Him, so that contemplating trial, enduring persecution or loneliness, you may know the blessings of the ‘joy set before.’ ‘We are the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.’ And what are sheep doing going into the gate? What is their purpose inside those courts? To bleat melodies and enjoy the company of the flock? No. Those sheep were destined for the altar. Their pasture feeding had been for one purpose, to test them and fatten them for bloody sacrifice. Give Him thanks, then, that you have been counted worthy of His altars. Enter into the work with praise. (from Shadow of the Almighty, by Elisabeth Elliot)
I, too, have bargained for a cross.

Thank You, Father and Friend. You have read my heart to the very depths. You know what I desire most, and You are faithfully fulfilling that desire. Let me lie myself down on Your altar daily. Remind my dull heart what is that "joy set before", so that I may have courage to "do away with all waverings, bewilderment, and wonder..."
Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight. (Matthew 11:26)

Friday, 2 November 2012

His Love Endures...

Someday I will come back here and tell how good God is, and how even His hurts lead to joy, but just for a moment let me be honest about how I feel right now. The Enemy of Souls whispers softly that God has betrayed me, that He is making a fool out of me, and that he is cold and silent while I cry out for Him...and I know that is a lie - truly I do - but it seems so easy to believe. I am so tired of struggling to reconcile what I know with what I feel, and why is this taking so long!? and this all felt bad when I was young, but it didn't feel so hopeless because when you are 25 or 28 or even 30, everything still feels like the beginning, and there's a chance to change the ending, but why do I feel like it's too late to change the ending now and where is God and why doesn't he care that I'm failing now when it's too late to fix?? and my hair is falling out and I have a knot in my stomach approximately one third of the time that I am awake and why do I feel this way??? and shouldn't I be better able to manage myself at this age?! and why doesn't God just change the way I feel, because I am willing to accept any outcome; it's just this whorl of emotion that I loathe and can't control??! and will I ever have real friends here that I can count on? and should I just accept the fact that I am a big failure and go home to my parents? and please stop the world because I WANT OFF RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW.
That is how I feel. And this is what I know:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
 (Psalm 136: 1-3)
What do I do with this disconnect? Why am I so helpless? Why can't I get some perspective? What is wrong with me? What is God doing? How do I thank Him for this and mean it?

God, please have mercy on my weakness.
Your love endures forever.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Be Near Me

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.
Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack'd with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.
(Lord Alfred Tennyson)