The Still Small Voice

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This morning when I went out for my quiet time, I was assaulted by the rush of traffic from the street nearby. It seemed louder than usual, almost as if the cars were angry after the long weekend at having to go back to the daily grind. I don’t blame them. I am so blessed to have 3 and 4 days off in a row. The days I put in are long, but many people put in long days and have few or no days off. Ever.

It was a bit chilly so I lit up my little propane heater and I was reminded of those who have no heat, (thank you God for this warm little place where I can greet you.) I settled into what silence there was against the backdrop of the hum of commuters and I wondered about all the people passing and what things they might be facing. I wondered if they had a good weekend or if their hearts were still trying to recover from being battered and bruised and hurt.

Sometimes the battle we face in life is so loud and angry. We’re desperately longing for that quiet place, that little shady rest stop along the road. Or that little patch of sunlight where we can sit and warm up and lick our soul’s wounds for awhile.

As I was meditating on these thoughts of recovery and rest, I heard the soft coo-coo of a mourning dove nearby. “There it is,” I thought. That still, small voice against the roar of the world outside. Even now, with the hum of the clothes dryer here at my desk in the kitchen, I can still hear him (or her) outside.

How can I turn the world down and Him up? By being intentional. By not letting this world get to me. By minimizing all the political garbage on my Facebook news-feed. By throwing open the windows of my soul and letting some beauty in. By reading and focusing on the Word, His Words that will last long after this old world is through.

By remembering the sweet moments from the past weekend. How we laughed after the movie yesterday, over a glass of wine at the second of my picks (two in a row now) with a story-line involving an elderly mother dying. (Her Mom died this past year) I promised that the next 3 picks would be hers. And before that, in Macy’s after I almost put the jeans back twice because they cost too much and she wouldn’t let me, then finding out they were 50 percent off at the checkout.

We’ve got to hold onto the good moments when they come as if our life depended on it, because in truth, it does. Jesus promises us abundant life and peace in the midst of chaos. It’s crazy but true. Clinging to Him in the storm is the only way we can make it safely to the other side.

I love these verses from Romans 12 in the Message version:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1,2

I pray a day of recovery for you today and of some peaceful moments, knowing that the Lord will always bring us through, whatever it is. He has promised it. This life is a little river flowing out into a sea of eternity we can scarcely imagine.

But it’s there.

 

A Soul at Rest

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O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 131

It’s a wonderful thing to think about isn’t it? That our soul can be completely quieted by resting in the Lord, as rested as a weaned child. I love when I stumble on a verse I either haven’t read in a long time, or don’t remember reading at all. It’s like it opens up a brand new vista just when I need it most. This morning, I asked for a word because I had nothing and then after prayer the words flowed out without me even trying.

Jesus said,  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?

Yes, indeed. This morning was a gift, as I sat outside in the breeze I quieted my soul by noticing little things……a dried leaf skittering across the ground. The sound of the little bee wind chime which has a delicate sound that the big clanging buoy bell tries its best to drown out. A hummingbird chirp was coming from somewhere but I never saw it. When the world is turned down and the soul is quieted, you can hear these things.

Last night I went out and gazed at the bright wedge of moon and thought that faith in God is very much like that moon without anything shining on it. We know it’s up there but only when the sun is shining on it do we see it. Every day I see faith living itself out in the land where the shadow of death hangs.

I see the man who comes preaching and singing to Joyce’s care home. What a tough crowd, half of them have their heads down on the table. But He is doing what God calls him to do, and I don’t know how he does it week after week but he does. And with joy too.

I see Elaine having to change her Mom’s clothes, a thing that horrifies them both but they do what they have to do. And I don’t know how she does it, but she does. Faith living itself out no matter what, because like that moon, we can’t see Him but we know He’s there and there is hope because He lives and He’s with us, every step we take however painful.

Right now I am reading a wonderful book I  found called “The Green Desert” a silent retreat. It’s written by Rita Winters. She quit her high stress advertising job and went on a 3 week retreat in the Sonoran desert. I highly recommend it. As I read her descriptions of the desert I know so well, I thought how blessed I have been to have lived here in this Hermitage I call my home for 8 years now.

The desert speaks to you if you let it. It teaches you what no other place can, it speaks of lonely sun-scorched places and turns the quiet up in your soul. The death in the landscape all around you, the severity of it all makes it that much more beautiful when it surprises you with life. Powerful resurrected life that has the power to take your breath away.

And it gives you the sense at night when you look up at all those stars amidst the shadow of those towering sentinels, the Saquaros, that they are bearing witness to something older and bigger than you.

You recognize there is another side to it all and you can sense it. Beyond the blackness, beyond space there is a ring of light so brilliant we aren’t prepared to see it yet. Our eyes are still too attuned to this world, but just the same they are there. The crowd of witnesses the Bible talks about is there. And just today I realized I didn’t have to question if they can see us, because a witness sees who and what it’s witnessing.

And like the moon, like God, just because we can’t see them unless the light is shining on them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

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Lent Day 24: The Wall of Waiting

Blessings in disguise

Lamentations 3:25   The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

We all seem to be waiting on something, and as the world moves faster we just seem to wait for more things. Waiting isn’t all bad. I tend to think of waiting as a wall to get over, something to be done with so I can get where I want to be. Sometimes things flow along smoothly and even the waiting seems effortless. Then there are times the waiting seems agonizing. As I grow older, God has taught me the beauty in the waiting.

Instead of a wall to get over, I think of it as a wall to sit next to and take in the view. This Lenten writing has taught me a think or two about waiting. There are different kinds of waiting for one thing. At first I was waiting with certain expectation that the words would come, and they did.  Waiting with expectation doesn’t seem nearly as painful.

Then like a brick wall, in the middle of this process I lost the sense of expectation. I groped around to find it, then I stopped trying to find it altogether. I wandered. And I guess that might be a little of what Jesus went through in the desert. But that’s the time when you find a quiet shady place to rest and surrender it up all over again. That’s why there are times when we are expressly commanded to wait. And instead of trying to scramble over the wall and figure things out on our own, we sit down, look around and enjoy the view.

Tomorrow I will go and see my niece who is beside herself with expectation that “Aunt Nori” is coming. Waiting for her is a painful and agonizing process. It’s hard for special needs kids, though she is getting much better; even so, she’s still on pins and needles. It’s not that we do anything extreme like go to theme parks. She doesn’t care nearly as much about that as just spending time with me doing the little things she loves to do because she loves me. She loves it because I enter her world.

And that my friends is what God wants from us too. He wants to enter our world and loves it when we enter His.

Because He loves us. Happy Waiting!

Isaiah 40:31   but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 30:18   Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

He will give us rest…..it’s a promise.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

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Yesterday, I found a little island of peace in the middle of the day. I should have been doing things, I had a list after all, and still had several things that hadn’t been checked off. I felt like I was spinning my wheels……

digging a rut in the mud and going nowhere. Sometimes you just have to grab a bit of rest where and when you can. I decided to join the cats, they have perfected the art of relaxation.

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Sometimes the cares of the world just become overwhelming and they crowd out the rest, I remembered what Jesus said about the seed that fell among the weeds…..who and what is crowding out your rest today?

 “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.”

I was forgetting where my seed was planted……I was forgetting the soul rest that Jesus promises for every day.

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As I layed there, listening to the sound of two cats breathing heavily in their sleep, I wondered where my own sense of rest had flown to recently. I wanted it back.

It is a promise you know, that rest that Jesus gives…….but sometimes we strive so hard for it that we miss it. Until we remember that all we really have to do is trust Him.

And let go.

By letting go, we open our hands and our hearts to receive it.

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Keep trusting my friends. This life is not easy, but it is worth it. The rest will come when you least expect it.

Sometimes it comes in the form of a friend who comes quietly alongside and offers to lift part of the burden. Just a little spark of kindness can put back what everyday stress can so easily take away.

Join me today in expecting that rest at unexpected moments

This morning I wanted nothing better than to climb back in bed…..the sky was dark and the temptation of extra sleep was overwhelming. But as I headed to work, I was given a little unexpected helping of peace when I looked up at the big yellow moon rising on the other side of the world along with the sound of Yo-Yo Ma’s Cello filling the car.

I know where it came from.

 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NLT

When everything gets loud

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When everything gets loud and you can’t hear yourself think…….go to the Word. It will always lead you back home.

Let the voices within and without go dim.

Hear His voice only, and you will notice the clamouring voice of the world will be silenced into submission.

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The clouds will part.

And the sunrise you feel will be the one in your heart.

When it breaks free.

Nothing matters except His giant presence filling your soul.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-5

The Word started it all, and when it’s all over, the Word will still be standing.

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