Finding Comfort in the Silence

I wrote last week about being physically stifled by the silence of my summer, and in doing so, I allowed those closest to me to know what I was feeling and had been unable to express. Breaking my own silence, allowed those individuals whom I love and who love me, to truly know what I was enduring and pray for me… help me to be able to pray for myself, once again. It has also been in this last week that I have stepped outside of my comfort zone a time or two and allowed for more of the people around me, to really see me. I have never underestimated the power of prayer, but in this last week I have certainly felt the comfort of prayer more than I have in a very long time.

It has been in this last week, that I was reminded by others, as well as myself that silence isn’t always a bad thing, in fact… just this morning I was reminded that I need to remember to “be still” in His presence. Allowing myself to meditate in the silence with Jesus and listen to His direction in my life.

 

So, I sit here this morning, coffee at my side, and listen… listen to what the silence has to offer. Nearly all sounds averted, yet, there are some that are reminders of all I have in my life. First sound, is that of the clock on the wall–ticking away, rhythmically, like a steady pulse; reminding me that within me, my heart too, beats with a steady pulse because God has given me the gift of life.

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Next, there is the sound of the rain that has been falling most of the morning… as it taps on the roof of my home, I am reminded that I have a roof over my head, I have a home that provides me with shelter and a gentle reminder that not all people are so blessed. As the rain falls on my lawn, I am reminded of our farmers in the community, harvest will be here before we know it and this rain will help them to have a bountiful crop. This crop will help provide many of us, even those beyond our little community with food for their tables. Listening to the rain fall, I am sadly reminded that there are so many who do not… that there are small children who might go without eating today.

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Then there is the sound of a train as it blows it whistle, as it passes through our sleepy little town. This is a reminder, not of the “noise”, but of what the train signifies for so many. Without trains, it would be much more difficult to transport so many different and important provisions all over the country. Whether it be food or fuel… the trains are vital, as well as providing jobs for so many people, allowing them to be able to provide for their families.

The next sound that breaks through the silence of my morning is actually that of two different sounds–first the dog quietly growling/barking at the noises and activities that our occurring outside our front door, and that of my daughter (who fell asleep on the couch) telling him to “be quiet”. It is through these two wonderful sounds, that I am reminded of all that I have that is comforting in my life, in this very moment. Today, I have my sweet daughter here at home with me. And even in her absence this summer, I had the comfort of our dog, to provide me with his unconditional love and protection. It is this thought, that of “unconditional love” that further reminds me of the One who also provides an unconditional love, if we so choose to receive it.

My devotional this morning (Jesus Always, Sarah Young) request that we “Come Rest With Me“, asking us to put aside some of the the tasks that may be urging us, to set them aside, ever so briefly and spend a few moments with the One who knows what we need. “I know what you need most” He tells us, “to be still in My Presence“. When we allow ourselves to take the time to find our balance, to set our feet on solid ground for the day; when we do so by meditating with Christ and doing so by reading His word… we equip ourselves to take on any given day, no matter how loud or how silent it may be. The Living Word of God gives us the necessary strength we need each day, as it “infuses” fresh life into us; moment by moment, throughout a given day.

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Once we are fueled by His Word, we can take on our day, and if we allow ourselves to–we can bring what He placed on our hearts, what He showed us in His Word; into our day, sharing and spreading His light and goodness to all. When you reach a moment that seems to hard, too difficult to get through on your own, whisper His name; quietly speak the name of Jesus and bring Him ever closer to you, His nearness will then provide you with the strength you need to move forward, stepping over any stone or hole in the path that lies before you. “In everything you do, put Me first“.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” ~ Psalm 46:10

 For the word of God is alive and active… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12

He will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:6b

So I ask you, no I implore you, to embrace the silence, not the darkness, but the silence that will always allow you to find comfort in Him. Let Him speak to your inner most being, listen to His prompting; as He guides your soul… When you allow yourself to spend those first initial moments of your day with Him, He will provide you with what you need to guide you through anything that may be a part of the day’s path. Trust in what He shows you, allow Him to bring you through the silence and darkness, into His warm and loving light.

Until the next moment,

 

 

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Find Your Zeal

I’ve been silent again. Too silent. Lost in a dark and lonely solitude of my own making. A silence that is not easily explained, or even identified for that matter. A silence that tonight was reawakened by one simple word. A word that in today’s world of instant this and immediate that, just isn’t spoken. A single word that could have only been placed on my heart and in my mind by the Spirit that lies deep within myself; the Spirit He placed with in me, within us all that believe.

ZEAL

What is zeal? Webster defines it as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Its synonyms include: passion, fire, devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, and intensity. With antonyms that include apathy and indifference. In my silence, I had lost; correction, have lost my zeal.

So as I set in the quaint setting of an old barn tonight, sharing in fellowship, with a sisterhood of women who like myself, love the Lord; I was reminded, as perhaps some of them were, that my life was missing a vital piece of God’s armor; the Cloak of Zeal.

Many of us are familiar with the Armor of God. Ephesians 6 reminds us that this armor includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the word of God). Tonight it was also revealed to us that there is one more vital piece of armor that no soldier should take the battlefield without, the mysterious cloak of zeal.

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     To learn of this lesser know part of His armor, we must venture back to the Old Testament, to the book of Isaiah. Chapter 59, verse 17 states: He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (NIV) The New Living Translations reads: and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.

Zeal. Passion.

     He wants us to wrap ourselves in this attribute, to be entirely protected by His armor, allowing the final piece, the cloak of zeal to cover all the other pieces, further protecting us from the enemy. We must remember to put on each piece of this armor, each morning as we prepare to face the day. Allowing us to be properly equipped to take on anything the enemy may bring our way.

The speaker asked us, what are you passionate about? I instantly thought about my desire to write, to share my thoughts and revelations. To share what He has done and continues to do in my life. My passion to share how with His love and direction, you can overcome anything. That with Christ in your life, you can accomplish anything that is a part of His will for you. I know that with His guidance, I have so much to say, so much to share… that my voice, directed by Him, just might have the ability to change a life.

I have previously shared brief glimpses into some of the darkness that was my former life, my life before I learned to trust Jesus Christ as my Savior; trusting Him to get me through the hardships that had been all to often placed before me. I have battled depression for decades and sometimes, even with the truth and understanding, and the hope He brings; the darkness can creep in and with it the silence that eventually engulfs me. It sneaks in slowly, quietly… sometimes I notice it, but it is just so comfortable, so familiar, that I don’t stop and think about it being harmful for me. Forgetting how much it will hinder the progress I have made in my growing relationship with the Son of the living God.

So here I am, smack dab in the middle of another bought of silence, brought on by the stress of life, the fear of the unknown, and simply listening to the enemy repeat the familiar old lies of why I will never be more than I am, why I will never succeed in my life. I know better, Christ has brought so much more to my life than I could have ever imagined. Yet, with life gets tough, when there are too many unknowns; it is all too easy to believe those old recordings, to look in the mirror and see who I used to be, instead who He has helped me to become. It’s difficult to have passion, to live with zeal, when your life seems to be nothing more than a black and white movie that lacks even the possibility of a remotely happy ending.

As I listened tonight, to our speaker, a woman whom I love and am blessed to call my friend, I was/am reminded that I am responsible for my own zeal. I am in control of what I am (or am not) passionate about in my life. If I want to be able to share what He has done in my life, I need to be spending time with Him,so that He can continue working in my life. I am disheartened to admit that my time with the Lord has been minimal. My time in His word, even less. I pray, occasionally, and the only time I open my bible is on Sunday morning as I sit with the rest of the congregation while our pastor leads us through His Word. Tonight I was gently reminded that this is not enough. Not even close. He needs and wants more from us, He deserves more from us. As our faith grows, we learn to call him friend, companion, even father. These names signify a relationship and we should be nurturing this relationship, allowing it to become stronger every day.

I can often find myself complaining about being tired or not having enough time to get certain things (like the dishes) done. Yet, I can stay up late, watching one more episode of my favorite show on Netflix, or playing a game on the computer. Or take my weekend off and spend it nearly motionless on my couch, instead of catching up on one of the many things that could be done. Most every morning I hit the snooze multiple times instead of simply getting out of the bed and hitting my knees and spending five or ten quiet minutes starting my day in prayer. Its a conscience choice, one that I have been making poorly for a few months now.

So, my zeal has been renewed. I once again have a fervent urging to find time, no, to make time to spend in prayer and more importantly in His word. Utilizing even the smallest of moments to help strengthen my faith, but better yet my relationship with Him, the One who never stops wooing me. And He doesn’t, He is always pursuing us, all of us, even when we stop pursuing Him.

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So I leave you with a few questions, including the question that was asked of me tonight… what are you passionate about? Are you lacking zeal? Do you take the time to arm yourself every day with the Armor of God? In closing I also encourage you to find that passion and give it to God… allow Him to direct you and how you can best serve Him with your passion. Go to Him in prayer, and in those quiet moments, be reminded of all He has, can and will do for you… if you only let Him.

 

Until the next moment,

 

 

 


Learning to say “I trust you Jesus”

As I read through my Jesus Calling devotional this morning, I was quickly reminded that it is certainly the start of a new year. The first sentence read: “I want you to learn a new habit.” It quickly lead me to think, what is the difference between starting a new habit versus making a new year’s resolution. So I wandered over to the online Webster’s dictionary and looked them both up.

Habit: a usual way of behaving, something that a person does often in a regular or repeated way.

Resolution: finding an answer or solution to a conflict or problem; the ability of a device to show an image clearly and with a lot of detail. A promise to yourself that you’ll make a serious effort to do something.

I also found that the word resolution has an interesting antonym: hesitation. Maybe that is why “resolutions” are so hard to keep…

The reading continued with “Try saying “I trust you Jesus” in response to whatever happens to you… This is certainly easier said then done at times, especially for our children.

My youngest has been having a tough time adjusting to 7th grade. She started at the public school after spending 5 years in a wonderful Christian school in the same community. Because they were in the same small town and I became keenly aware I would keep her in the smaller school system I made a very conscience effort to involve her in activities that would allow her to become more involved with her soon to be classmates. So for the two or three years prior to this year she played softball in the summer, volleyball in the winter and took elementary band at the public school. Even with all these efforts; there has still been a sense of occlusion at school this year. More moments than not when she just didn’t feel like she fit in. Needless to say, there have been a lot of tearful moments with my gentle spirited, youngest child.

There is another Christian school fairly close by and shortly after the start of the second quarter, we looked into her possibly transferring. I gave this consideration because my daughter came to me and was able to list the reasons why she wanted to change schools. Yes, part of it was feeling “left out”; not included in some things and that some of her classmates were being “mean”. But, she was also able to express that she missed the enviroment of her old school. Participating in chapel, praying and studying the bible. I reminded her that it would be more expensive than her other school and that there might not be as much available as far as scholarships (which is how she attended the other school for five years). Yet, I have taught my children that God does indeed provide when we listen and follow His guiding. She was expressing to me that she felt this was God wanted her to do, so I listened to what she had to say. We checked into things at the other school and found out that there were some small funds still available (especially since it was the middle of the school year) A few weeks after going through the application process we learned that she had indeed been accepted! We celebrated and I even added it to the Praise portion of my Prayer Board. We marked the calendar with the last ten days at her current school, crossing them off one by one.

As the final two or three days were nearing, I sensed a change in my daughter… I couldn’t really pinpoint it, but something was different. The final Friday, I got her off to school and I went to work. I got home after 5:00 and asked her how her last day was. She became tearful, stating she was having second thoughts; that she wasn’t sure what God was trying to tell her. Asking me, “Why is it so confusing?”I gave her a hug and asked what had happened that had her confused. She then explained that she was going to miss certain people, that one of the girls who had been the most unkind to her apologized for being mean. She said “Maybe leaving is just running away.” She continued, “What if God wants me to stay and be an example of kindness, to help show others how to act.”

I had silent tears slowly falling by this time. Such wise, God lead words coming from my youngest child… still thinking about those around her, even in the midst of her own uncertainty and discomfort. I explained that because I had been so busy working both of my jobs, that I had not yet sent in the final paperwork for her transfer. I told her, that it was OK to change her mind; especially when she felt it was God redirecting her. She was wise to listen and He would certainly reward her for that. I then quickly sent a message to two members of the staff of the public school explaining the conversation that I had with my daughter and that she would be staying. They were both excited and happy that she would continue to be a part of their school system. I also sent a short note to the Christian school explaining the course of events and that Jess would not be attending their school this upcoming semester.

Christmas break was uneventful after the family celebrations; other than her planned sleepover on New Years Eve with two classmates being cancelled due to her being quite ill that day. However, last night I came home from work once again to a very tearful, fearful young girl. Satan was working his dark magic and bringing nothing but fear and uncertainty to my child’s heart and mind. She told me that maybe she made a mistake by not changing schools. She couldn’t give me anything specific or concrete, just more tears. I sent her to the shower and once the water was running, dropped to my knees and prayed for my child. I asked God to protect her from this attack, from continued attacks as the evil one knew my daughter had a plan, an agenda for the Lord and he wanted to try and thwart it. I asked for her protection, for strength, for peace and comfort. I asked Jesus to wrap His loving arms around her and carry her if needed; so that she could be His light. She came out of the shower, we prayed and I kissed her good night. She continued to softly cry until she finally fell asleep. This morning I prayed for her again before I even left my own bed. I prayed for her and her classmates; as well as the staff, as I headed back home after taking her to school.

When she made the choice to stay at her current school, I was very mindful of one of her reasons for wanting to leave; her desire to be able to study the bible like she was accustomed to. I shared with a dear friend who had been praying with us since the beginning that I realized that teaching her in the manner she was wanting really was an easy fix… Perhaps, it was my job to do so. She simply smiled and nodded. I told Jess that I had found a new devotion/study for us to do together; I just couldn’t order it until next month. She immediately went over to the spot where the devotion we did together the year before last was on the shelf and brought it to me. We then sat down together on that Saturday eve for our first time in 2016. We were blessed with a great time of prayer and a wonderful discussion lead by the devotional. As I write this it is no wonder Satan decided it was time to attack! He saw me equipping my daughter; helping to prepare her for battle and he didn’t like it. Well all I can say is “too bad, so sad” and “You loose Satan; God Wins–Always!”

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I guess my question for you is this; did you make some sort of new year’s resolution? If so, how can you make it instead a habit? How can you make it become a regular and repeated part of your behavior? Don’t allow yourself to become lazy or hesitant; instead allow Him to guide you through the tough moments, no matter how many. When you feel weak, allow Him to be your strength. You are never alone. Trust in Him, always.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10   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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Until the next moment,