When I first gave my life back to Christ one of the first songs to capture me was based on Isaiah 55.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
Isaiah 55: 1-3
As we read and grow in our spiritual life it is amazing how you can read a familiar Scripture and have a new insight that never seemed to occur to you before! I was reading Ben Palpant’s book Letters from the Mountain and I was struck by his observation on verses 2 and 3.
I have studied meditation. I have practiced it for many years. With all my interest in listening for the voice of the Lord why did I not remember the admonitions in Isaiah 55? “Listen, listen to Me. Give ear and come to Me, LISTEN.”
I was hit like the Memorex man!
“Listen carefully. Hear and your soul shall live. Incline your ear to me and come.”
Father, open my ears that I may better hear You. Help me be sensitive to Your still, small voice. Speak but the word and my soul shall be saved.
Have you quieted your inner chatter to listen lately? Well worth the effort. I know it takes practice to turn down that inner chatter, but it is possible to do it. Only with practice have I made progress on that. Even then, there are times the chatter is loud and disturbing. Don’t give up. Read the word. Sit with the reading. Wait on the Lord.
I came across a journal entry from March 12, 2011. At the time I was working on improving my sketching skill. You can see, not a lot of skill there. But I also did not practice much. Was also working on a Sunday School class idea.
Here is a scan of the journal entry.
There is another good Scripture that talks about us and bits. James 3:3-6
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
With all the negative uproar currently in this country I thought going back to this image was a great idea. We need the Lord to help us control our tongue. Each one of us! It seems we teeter on the edge of destruction every week with accusations both political, medical, personal. The list goes on and on.
God help us to give You control of our tongue. Help us to honor You with every word we speak, I pray.
This is a selection from my journal. I hope it shows you one time the Lord brought healing to me. He is no respecter of persons. What was done for me can be for you also.
In 1994 I was having dental problems, extractions, etc. 1961 had been traumatic for me because I was in the Dentist’s chair when my father died. I cried out. The dentist stopped his work for a minute. I believe that was the moment my Dad passed from this earth. I was eleven years old. I want to share this entry as I think it shows how God can reach into our lives and bring healing, even 33 years later. My journal from July, 1994 reads in part as follows.
During an Inner Healing Nurturing Class that Betty led I created a composite picture of me and my dental history and tried to see Jesus in it. Nothing. I said, “OK Lord, what do You want me to see?” He said, “How did you get to the dentist on the day your dad died?”
I remembered walking from school to Doctor Pope’s office. I was terrified of the dentist office. I refused Novocain because of my fear of needles that began when I was 3. Making myself go, I was lonely, afraid, dreading with every step and suddenly – in the here and now- the eyes of my understanding opened! I had mentioned to Bob (the previous night) that I continue to abandon myself and what the Lord wants me to do. Why?
Well there I was walking from school to the dentist. The horrible aloneness of it washed over me. When I called home after my appointment for mom to come get me daddy was dead. When I got home there was no one to ask how my dental appointment went and how I was feeling about his death. I learned and believed that I was not important, that to neglect myself was good and right. From my class notes “Hurts can set patterns we use.” The Lord broke into the scene of self-abandonment saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deut 31:6c, Hebrews 13:5b).
And His words began to flow in my spirit.
“You will hear a voice behind you saying ‘this is the way, walk in it. When you turn to the left or turn to the right.’” (Isaiah 30:21 RSV)
“See I have carved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16)
“It was not right that you were left alone as a child to cope with so much pain and terror from your broken leg at age 3 to dental fillings at age 11.
“I am with you always.”(Matthew 28:20)
“Cling to me. Lean on me. Draw from me. Surround that girl- child with loving comforts. Nurture her. Do not give her up to terror. Soak Her in love and prayer. I WILL HELP YOU.”
I was blessed and amazed. Here were a few of the reasons I continually abandoned myself and the things the Lord wanted me to do. There was a song from The Haven of Rest that encouraged me during that time. Here is a version by someone else, same song though!
“I look to the shepherd. He meets all my needs, Beside the still waters He faithfully leads bringing peace to my soul as His love makes me whole, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, follow me all the days of my life. ” Walt Harrah
I’ve been touched deeply by the Lord’s revelation of the depth and intensity of my repeated childhood terrors. I know this is a serious call to more patience, love and gentleness with myself, more godliness in my life and activities. The Lord said, “I WILL HELP YOU.”
Giving her up to terror. I know how to do that so very well! And You gave me exact instructions how to do otherwise.
I am moved – acutely conscious – giving deep sighs of relief and almost breath sobs.
I have wanted to know for a long time why I do this and how to stop – and You are leading me out of it. I pray Psalm 28:9 to You, King Jesus, my Holy Redeemer. Teach me, show me, save me from myself. Left to myself I do not know how to soak myself in love and prayer – but I am willing to listen and try. Keep me flexible Lord. I feel as if I could write ALL DAY, for days.
Was given this mum as a gift at our open house in August. As the blooms faded, I cut them off. Eventually fed it some Miracle Grow as there were many, many buds, but few open flowers. Then KABOOM! here it is now.
A walk at our favorite paved trail above the lake produced these lovelies.
Red so bright it made my eyes pop! And this just made me want a cup of sassafras tea! It was restricted for a time as someone found carcinogens in it. I can still taste it from my childhood though!
Our temperatures have been wavering between autumn and summer. The changing sunlight has effected the leaves greatly.
I just love that little oak tree to the left of our property. So vibrant!
Tree line to the right ….
Today the deck reflects the leaf activity during the recent rain storm.
PSALM 148 Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. 2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. 3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. 4 Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, 6 and he established them for ever and ever— he issued a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, 9 you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, 10 wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 11 kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, 12 young men and women, old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. 14 And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart.
This might not have posted on Wednesday. Let’s try this again!
Do you remember hearing, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? That might work when trying to keep peace among siblings, but not so much if you trying to be transparent with God.
In 1994 I recorded, “Bob insists I should write during the uglies. I did some – but he means put it all down – in detail, even violent detail. I find that abhorrent to my soul. I want to write helpful, pleasant pretty things. It seems a violation of the gift to record the ugly, the crude, the ungodly AND YET there is healing and wholeness to be found in the process of forming words, sentences, phrases.
“Bob is talking about something bigger than the 3 page Artist Way obligation. He is talking about writing as a form of reflection/self examination/therapy. My Franciscan rule of life does state I will have some form of daily self examen, but I don’t always do that. I hardly ever do that at the end of the day when it would do me so much good and be so easy to recall. Could this be the time to finally begin Molly Lin? Huh? Finally?!”
Now zoom to 2021. With the chronic pain of fibromyalgia and inherent fatigue from it I have never kept that evening appointment, journaling or not. Although I have allowed myself to journal ugly things since then. Mom never said, “Stay transparent with God.” This seems to be the most important thing in my life now.
Years ago touring West Virginia and Ohio glass factories we found this art piece. It expresses my desire to remain transparent to God. Yes, I know God is omnipotent and has vision to easily view our inner thoughts and intentions. I am talking about my effort to remain unhindered in my approach to Him. Ever since the Garden we all tend to try to hide things from God, though that is impossible.
Acts 3:19-20a calls us to “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”
It was D.L. Moody who famously said, “Keep short accounts with God.” In that one statement is the secret to daily victory and spiritual power. Sin piles up so quickly. Unconfessed and unforsaken sin is the cause of broken fellowship with God and brokenness in so many areas of our lives. It is a cancer.
Short accounts, clean slate, nothing in my own sin ignored. D. L. Moody also said he was so busy with himself there was no time left to accuse others.
Whether time is spent in examination and confession in the morning, in the evening, regardless of time slot, keep current with the Lord. A short list. Daily self examination of your heart, mind, soul.
The contemporary protestant church seems to have reduced this to a minute or two at the most before partaking of communion. I believe the Word and the Spirit call us to more than that. Transparency with Christ. On the journal page, in prayer, making a space to examine our lives and confess our failings, the uglies that we are responsible for, knowing that 1 John 1:9 is true.
If we confess our sins, He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 NRSV
Cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Sounds terrific, doesn’t it? Yet, no one can do it for us. We must each undertake this, not as self condemnation or unrelentless castigation. A time of confession, determining to turn and go a different way with help from God. Starting over. As the Benedictine’s say “Always we begin again.” Each time we swing less far on the pendulum of sin and error, making progress through repentance towards newness of life.
Keep a short account. Stay transparent with God.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
Well there seems to be some sort of “bug” in the quotes section. I contacted WordPress and they have not gotten it fixed yet as far as I can tell. Instead of putting my Quotes in blue when I quote Scripture, the site is highlighting it in garish yellow. Then I cannot turn off the garish yellow.
I will post again soon. I may have to just rewrite without any effects. Grrr. Of course, sometimes when there is great resistance there are great results later.
“So if I stretch out here in the sun, do you think I will be noticed?”
“Does this hydrangea make me look fat?, Really now, be honest!”
Walking at the lake on Prairie trail, first I noticed a hairy stem.
Glanced up and ! Wait! That is not a stem!!
Our first walk on Prairie Trail at the lake. Not paved, by grassy, fairly level and mowed. Our first autumn day with jackets. Bob in shorts and fleece jacket. Lucky leading the exploration, of course!
The prairie trail will be more fun in spring when we are hoping to discover wildflowers there. It is nice to find new places for an easy walk. We wished later we had done two laps or taken the side path to see where it went.
Keep your eyes open for those treasures in plain sight.
In 1 Kings 19:9-13 Elijah was exhausted and hiding in a cave from Jezebel who wanted his life. Twice the Lord came to Elijah and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And twice Elijah gave the same answer. The story has been made known because the Lord said Elijah was to go stand on the mountain and watch because the Lord would be passing by. After the wind, and the earthquake and the fire, when Elijah heard the sheer silence, he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Some translations says God was in the silence via a still small voice.
There have been times when I have lived and moved in obedience to the Lord, not always even understanding that He was leading me. Yet His still small voice confirmed His presence, albeit later.
I was taught courage at an early age. Most every Sunday afternoon my parents would drop us off at the movie theater. Though she was two years older, my sister was too introverted to ask for tickets at the movie theater. The story goes that I could barely be seen by the lady in the booth. Regardless, I would ask for the tickets and probably gave her the money, too.
Many years later when my family fell into chaos it was my courage and willingness to speak truth that got my sister and I out of the house safely.
Another example started in high school. We had to choose a topic for a paper. I decided I wanted to write about the Cincinnati Workhouse. I obtained permission to tour the women’s section. I think my mom drove me there, but honestly, I do not remember. Why was that paper important? Many years later when given the opportunity to teach a women’s study in the County Jail it seemed just a good idea to me. No fear, no hesitation. Had I not written that paper or learned about courage, would I have been obedient to the Lord when the time came? I think He prepared me, His servant, for those events.
More often than not, I see the hand of the Lord over my shoulder, after the fact. This is not a mind game, but the reality of our Living Lord working through His Holy Spirit.
This hymn sums it up for me. Listen to at least the first minute!
Can you reflect upon your life and see how God has led you along the journey? Likely I could list many other examples, but more important is for you to reflect on your experiences and discern His hand at work.
James Hollis said, “Learning to live with ambiguity is learning to live with how life really is, full of complexities and strange surprises.”
Day that I love! Because the man I love was born this day!!
And one of his favorite characters ….
The Book of Common Prayer offers this and I agree for my husband.
“O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, I pray, on your servant Robert as he begins another year. Grant that he may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen his trust in your goodness all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.“
I have enjoyed keeping a journal using bound paper books and cartridge pens with flowing ink, Bic “crystal” pens, pencils, colored pencils, Flair felt tip pens, quadrille paper, bound journals, etc. The last few years I have typed most of my entries and pasted them in a paper journal or just left them on the computer. Arthritis has made my handwriting a mess.
From some entries I have created 3 x 5 reminder cards, then later 4 x 6 reminder cards to keep me on the path laid out before me. I have several decks of those cards. I cannot part with them as they have been important to my journey. My journals also have photographs, ticket stubs, magazine clippings, news headlines, all sorts of things in them.
As I go back and read this personal history the most important things are when I recorded interactions with the Lord. Reading those entries I also know how lame my words are to describe what really happened. Yet, I did make an attempt to capture the grandeur!
Sometimes I read an entry and remember vividly where and I was and what happened. Other times I read an entry in my own hand and have no recall of the event. So strange!
Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.
As with my baptismal vows, I reply, “I will with God’s help.”
Last Sunday a Pastor asked, “How do you make God smile? What pleases Him?” He stressed evangelism. Today in prayer I told the Lord, “I want to know what pleases You today?”
The response seemed to be Psalm 34 . Once I wrote in my Bible that Psalm 34 is VULNERABILITY UNLTD. Unlimited vulnerability, giving Him access to every hour of every day.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
Look to Him and be radiant;
So your face shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
And was saved from every trouble.”
Pastor also asked, “What can I do to help God have delight?”
Be honest with the 160 or so readers. That surprised me. Occasionally Word Press tells me how many people are following or reading my blog. I should not be, but I was surprised that the Lord knows, too. So to the 150 or 160 of you I will try to be honest as I write the blog.
Over the years in light of this question I have asked the Lord, “What would You like to do together today?” Today when I asked the response was:
Write and the day will unfold. Yes, He knows I try to reserve Monday and Tuesday (at least the mornings) for writing this blog and then post Wednesday through Sunday. So I am writing entries and trying to just let things unfold.
I am grateful for the time I have spent journaling. There were times it was very, very difficult. There were times it was good for me. Bob has always encouraged me. The fact that I have this written history for part of my life and material to share on the blog – likely more material than I will ever use – makes me joyful now. God knows how to keep us as His children!