He Delights in Us

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If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Zephaniah 3:17

God delights in us! Is it possible the One who hung the moon and the stars, personally delights in me? Is is possible the One who created the earth and sky and sea and everything in them, personally looks forward to my little prayer time with Him?

Yes, a resounding yes!

Even when I bring all my junk from the past week, even when I drag it all in with me, He still delights in me and looks forward to our meeting. Can there be anything more astounding than that? Scripture also uses words like “passionate”and “jealous” to describe His love for us. In God’s world there are not 50 shades of grey, there is only light and dark and no room for anything in between. He loves us with a love that is total and complete and perfect, lacking in nothing.

He went to the ends of the earth and all the way down to hell for us. He left perfection to come to this soiled planet to rescue us, and He smoked the Dragon of death forever. That’s the kind of God worth knowing, worth committing my life to. His commitment to me is total. He said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” When He said, “I do” to me, He meant it.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of God I want.

Big enough to create everything we see and hear and touch. Small enough to fit inside my heart. He delights in me and loves our time together and I love that about Him.

My “War Room”

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 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you………” Matthew 6:6

I have yet to see “War Room” but I plan to soon. Miss Clara has her closet I have heard. And me?  I have this little shop which has become so very dear to me. I guess you could say it’s also the birthplace of this blog. When I determined to take the first portion of my day out here back in 2009, I didn’t know what would come out of it, I just knew it’s what I needed to do.

I can’t begin to say how this one simple thing has enriched my life. I miss it on my work days when I can’t come out here. On those days, my car turns into a “prayer closet.” Of course we all know we can pray anywhere, that to me is the essence of a relationship with God, that we have this ongoing communication with our Heavenly Father, anywhere at any time.

But there is something to be said for having a central place to go when you need to be alone with God with only the silence as your backdrop.

I love being out here surrounded by all the buckets, storage bins, paint, projects, Christmas decorations, you name it.

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“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

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And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people…….Revelation 5:8

It’s a miracle isn’t it? That we have this gift, the knowledge that God Himself hears our every prayer, that every little whisper is captured in His bowl for all eternity. Every word we speak will be saved, every word is treasured………My bowl isn’t exactly gold, it’s a Longaberger ceramic.

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After my Birthday I took the names of everyone who posted on my timeline and placed them in this bowl. Each day I draw a name, and then I add whoever else God brings to mind. And sometimes, I am just silent for a while.

Sometimes I like to think of what’s going on in Heaven right at that particular moment. I like to think of Jesus interceding for us, for He is you know……

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

The world is outside…….but in here it is well with my soul. The world batters us, and like shipwrecked survivors we come in out of the cold…… we cling to the promises because we know the gates of hell are powerless against them.

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I encourage you to find that quiet place. Carved out a little niche somewhere, just for you and God. I promise you won’t regret it.

Until next time……..

Wholly Holy

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This morning, I found it impossible to go to my usual place of prayer. I had to go out and greet the day, be there before the sun crested the Superstitions. I was on the search for a whisper of air and I needed to be physically present when the day began. I crumbled up some bread and left it in the usual spot. The grackles were the first to find it.

I wandered out front and swept the area in front of the doorways, part of my Holy ritual….I would have been a good little oriental shopkeeper, part of the morning should always be spent setting things aright…..making the bed, sweeping the porch. After I did that, I cleaned the cat box, not so Holy but just as necessary.

I went inside then, and grabbed my mug of coffee and three little books, journal, Jesus Calling, and Frederick Buechner’s Sacred Journey. When I went to go outside I noticed that around 20 assorted quail and dove had found the bread. Being me, I couldn’t disturb them so I quietly took the “prayer chair” from the shop and brought it around the other side so I could be outside and see them but they wouldn’t see me.

I finished Sacred Journey……I heartily recommend it. I highlighted many places in the book that I know I will go back to. As I sat there listening to quail and dove cry, I watched the clouds turn pink from the blush of the sunrise.

An hour of worship outside, though it’s not a substitute for church, I find it just as meaningful and just as necessary a part of our walk with Christ. And as I sat there, another Holy thing happened. A hummingbird came to the red yucca I was sitting right next to and took his time going from bloom to bloom, even stopping the beat of his wings to light on the branch as he drank. As I looked at his little curled feet as he hovered there, I thought what a little gem of a bird he was.

And I thought, if I had been in my usual spot, I would’ve missed him.

How incredible are God’s works; how wondrous His eye for detail in every little thing. It’s the day before my 56th Birthday and I can say that out loud. In reverence, praise and gratitude I thank Him for bringing me thus far on the journey.

Wholly Holy.

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The Art of Resting

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There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11

This morning I have been reflecting on just what it means to have a “Sabbath rest.” Jesus did many “works” of healing on the Sabbath. He also walked many miles on Sabbath days. He didn’t follow the traditional Jewish Shabbat of not lifting a finger and he was sharply criticized for not “honoring” it the way the Jewish religious community thought He should. But honor it He did. Each Sunday, we celebrate all over again that He rose from the dead on that day. I can’t think of a better way to honor the Sabbath.

Each person must decide in their heart how best to do that by looking at the examples found in Scripture. Some people decide not to shop or go to stores. For me, it’s more important that I spend some quiet time reflecting, and resting my mind (and body) thinking about what it all means. To carve out a special day is a Holy thing. It’s a way of saying, “This day is different from all the rest.”

It’s hard sometimes to slow the mind down. Harder for some than others. One way to do this is by refusing to think about the task list I have set up for the next day. Another of my favorite ways is by taking a walk. When we went on our recent road trip, I took a walk one morning on a meandering path along the beach. All along the way, someone had left some memorial stones. If I had been distracted I might have missed them but I am so glad I didn’t. It was a Holy walk.

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Jesus is, in fact our very own Sabbath rest. Without Him, there is no rest. He is rest personified.

Happy Holy day to you all…….leave your burdens outside the door. Still your mind and know that you are part of a miracle.

The world is outside……many voices clamoring for attention and the headlines all seem to be screaming. But……the Lord of the Sabbath is still here.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Can I get a witness?

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Devotional: “Hold my hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step.” Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling.”

This morning prayer time was something of a miracle. Well, they all are really, but some more than others. Sometimes I just go out there and sit. I know He is there, He just doesn’t make Himself known. It still amazes me how I can come out here with all my junk, all my worries and fears and He reveals Himself to me. And for just a little awhile, it’s just Him and me. I recognize Him and I feel a little bit like Mary Magdalene in the garden…….as she gasps, “Rabboni!”

Or John as he turns to Peter and says, “It is the Lord!” And there’s Jesus on the shore stoking a campfire asking if they’ve caught any fish. And sitting there in prayer, it feels a little bit like Easter.

There is something Holy in being present when dawn colors the sky. Being a witness to it is beholding His Glory here on earth. As if to second that, from the rooftop a mourning dove coos. That doesn’t always happen but today it did.

I am learning that even things like despair have a purpose, God never wastes anything. For in it, there is no denying that those sparks of joy are coming directly from You Lord.

It was a good prayer time today, well they all are really.

And after months of not attending church, of having my own church where and when I can have it, I need to hear the words……I need to hear the songs.

“As for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.” Psalm 73:28

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Thoughts at week’s end

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You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3

There is a day set aside for all activity and clamor to cease. Sunday is a day to take a deep breath, look back on the week and breathe a prayer of thanks that God got you through it all. That’s what I did this morning. I think it’s important to have one day singled out where we: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

We live in a loud brash world, and each day it crashes in on us. Yet throughout the workweek there are those moments of peace that come. One night on my way home I was sitting at a stop light waiting for the green, when overhead there came a flock of Canadian geese. I watched as the lead goose took his place at the front. I watched their perfect flight formation and I marveled at how God has created them to do that. What is it about nature that makes us stare in astonishment at times? It’s as if the whole world stops for a moment.

Or maybe that’s just me. Nature has always brought me a strong sense of wonder, but that wonder only creates in me a powerful sense of God Himself. Some people just marvel at nature and stop there. While that is possible, I believe we miss something huge when we don’t then turn that marveling into Worship and Praise to the God who created it all.

How hard is it to imagine eternity when you are standing at the edge of the ocean? I believe God gives us these moments in order to point the way to something even bigger, even more perfect. I can just hear Him say, “If you think there is beauty here, just wait until you see what I have prepared for you in Heaven!

Now, all the noise, all the rushing, all the driving, all the phones are silent.

Today, I receive God again here in the place of pausing. Once again, He has brought me through another challenging week as He always does.

Selah.

Today I fly out to California to see my family. I am looking forward to the moment I see those faces, and one very excited girl……..her “Aunt Nori” is coming.

Eventide

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As shadows lengthen and the day stretches behind us, we pause. The last bird calls to the others tree to tree, as if he’s calling them all home. They know it’s time to find a place to huddle together heads under wings, feather to feather in the dark boughs.

All day they have taken flight and we have taken ours. Here and there, crisscrossing roads and skies.

But now the moon and God say: “It’s done.” The stars concur  from where they shine high in the sky. Now I wonder as I often do, what’s going on in Heaven where there is no night and not for the first time, it feels just as real as being here down below. For that’s what Sabbath is: Knowing that Jesus is our Sabbath wherever we go. Now and forever more.

“Father, as I reflect on this day, I see the faces of my loved ones near and far. Thank you for keeping us all safe another day. Thank you as we live and breathe to enjoy another evening benediction.”

The breeze has stopped and it feels as if the earth is taking a deep breath. There is not a sound, save motorized vehicles here and there and every so often that one pesky mosquito buzzing my ear out for blood.

Still I persist. I don’t want it to end. Some days are just like that.

One more stinging bite on my ankle and I am gone………….the curse of the Fall nips at my heels even as Heaven fills my heart.

Day is done……..And it was evening, and it was the seventh day……and it was very good.

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