Five Minute Friday: Lost

I’m joining up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday once again.  Her word prompt for the week was “Lost”.  

Posting late because I had a full weekend and because words just weren’t coming together.  Perhaps it’s because I’m feeling this word “lost” so sharply right now. My soul feels lost in life right now and not the good kind of lost that happens when you’re reading a good book and time loses all meaning to you; I mean lost in the scary, lonely sense of the word. 

Lost…

All efforts obliterated with one wrong turn, or so it seems.

No sense of direction while the soul is re-routing from the last wrong turn.

Lost…

Hope of freedom hides behind the bondage of yesterday and the failures of today.

Relationships charred by deception.

Lost…

Loved ones called home way before your time felt completed with them.

Memories still to be made now gone forever.

Lost…

Innocence of childhood robbed by senseless tragedies.

Joys of life sucked dry by grief and depression.

Lost…

Trust betrayed.

Unfeigned faith disenamored.

Lost…and wondering where to turn from here.

Lost…and feeling lonely.

Lost…and crying out for help.

Lost…in the maze of life’s trials.

Lost…in the labyrinth of the soul’s night.

LOST!

In my distressed state, I remember that Jesus went in search of the ONE lost sheep.  Jesus searched out that lonely, crying soul cowering in the darkness of night.  Jesus says He came to seek and to save all them that are lost (Luke 19:10).  There is hope for all that is lost.

And, dear soul, that moment when you are convinced that all is lost and there is no hope anymore – that moment is exactly when God can come in and work all things for the good of His Beloved.

You, dear one, are His.  Beloved.

He came just to find you, He’s not lost in the labyrinth of caves embedded deep in your soul.  Darkness is as light to Him and He knew you intimately before you were even formed.

You, Beloved, are found in Him once again.  Found by the Savior of your soul.  Found by your loving Father.

“I once was lost but now am found”! “Amazing grace how sweet the sound…”

Thank You, Jesus!

 

Linking up with Lisa Jo Baker: http://lisajobaker.com/2014/06/five-minute-friday-lost/

 Five Minute Friday

HOPE as a Habit

I’ve been reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Learning to Walk in the Dark.  She mentions that Abraham was “waiting so long [on God’s promise] that hope was little more than a habit”.  That phrase jumped off the page and grabbed me by the nose.  (grabbing by the nose, incidentally, is what I do when my horse is acting up and needs some firm guidance seeing as how a horse’s nose is very sensitive)

“Waiting so long that hope was little more than a habit”.  Can hope be a habit?  Is hope a habit for me?  What does it look like for hope to be a habit in the mundane life of the every day?  These are questions that are haunting me.  And I’m pretty sure I don’t have answers for these bold questions with subtle suggestions.

You see it suggests to me that one should have hope as a habit.  It whispers that no matter what my circumstance, hope should be a constant.  Is that even possible though?!?  And these questions are also bold in that they dare to challenge me to face the presence of hope or the lack thereof in where I am currently.  To be honest, I’d much rather not face it.

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You see I think Hope can be painfully poignant at times and also refreshingly sweet at other times.  What do you do with the painful Hope that pierces your soul?  It’s pretty tempting to retreat and hide one’s soul in the dark recesses of relative safety but yet in that safety lies suffocating death.  Because a soul without Hope is a soul that is slowly losing its life-giving oxygen.

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You ask, what is Hope?  Hope is the joy of the morning after the darkest night; Hope is the constant Presence of the Creator of our souls; Hope is the one-step-at-a-time forward journey of the weary soul.  Hope is the proffered hug of forgiveness; Hope is the out-stretched hand to help you stand back up again; Hope is the calming whispers of the Lover of your soul; Hope is the gentle prompts of the Spirit in a desperate time.  Hope is the nuzzle of your horse’s soft muzzle; Hope is the quick lick of your dog’s rough tongue; Hope is the splash of cold water on hot, dusty faces; Hope is the earnest prayer of a friend when the soul has lost its focus.  Hope is the little magic moments of every day, the sunrise of mercy dawning on your soul every morning, the rhythm of grace in every heartbeat, the gift of compassion with every breath that you take.

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You might also ask “What is hope as a habit”?  My friend, I’m not sure I can answer that.  I think Hope as a habit is a tentative exercise at first that with time may build muscle into being a strong safeguard for one’s soul.  Hope as a habit may well be at times frustratingly elusive but at other times maddeningly present.  Sometimes, if you are like me, you will rage at the audacity of Hope to show up in some of the most painful moments.  As one of my friends told me, “Rage away and heal on, my friend”.  In other words, sometimes it’s okay to want to take Hope by the throat and choke it out of your life, but in the end, Hope always persists as long as your soul stays tuned to God.  Hope as a habit is always your soul’s redemption in every circumstance.  Hope as a habit keeps your soul open to Life and the Giver of Life.  Hope as a habit is hard, no doubt about it, but hope as a habit is also rewarding, don’t lose sight of that.  When all else goes dark, when all else goes terribly awry, hang on to the audacity of Hope, the tenaciousness of Hope in the darkest corner.

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Hope summed up in one word, is this: JESUS.  Dear soul, there is no other Hope.  You can look for it in all the wrong places, but true Hope is only found in Jesus.  Hang on to Hope, my friend.  The sun will shine after the storm, the joy will permeate the sorrow, and in time your soul will dance hand in hand with Hope once again.

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Photo credits: Pinterest.com

Five Minute Friday: Release

Once again joining up with Five Minute Friday with Lisa Jo Baker.  Today’s word prompt is “Release”

When I think of release, I think of letting something go or of being set free from something.  True release occurs in and through Jesus.  Without Jesus, my soul can’t experience release from sin’s bondage.  Without Jesus, I can’t truly let go of my bitterness, my anger, my lust, my unforgiving spirit, my fears, my doubts, my grief, my pain.

So many times I am held captive by my own choice.  I choose to close my fists angrily and hang on to whatever struggle I’m in.  I choose to spurn Jesus’ outstretched hand of freedom.  I stubbornly refuse to release the anger, or whatever it may be, by spreading open my hands and releasing those sins, those doubts, that anger to Jesus redemptive freedom.

In this season of struggle, I am committed to release my heart to Jesus and through Him experience true release, true freedom.  And may you, dear friend, also in Him find true release from whatever may be holding your soul captive these days.

John 8:31-36

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  (emphasis mine)

 

Linkup with Lisa Jo Baker: http://lisajobaker.com/

 

 

What Happens to God in the Dark?

Where does God go when night descends upon the soul?

Where does the Light hide when Darkness surrounds?

What happens to God in the dark?

 

Where is God when hearts cry and souls weep?

Where is God when words, once packed with meaning in the day, disintegrate at night?

What happens to God in the dark?

 

Where is God when doubts bombard and questions taunt?

Where is God when the Tempter hisses and Sin’s glamour glows?

What happens to God in the Dark?

 

Where is God when pillows are drowning in our tears at night?

Where is God when arms are empty and loved ones are gone?

What happens to God in the dark?

 

Where is God when children go hungry and babies die?

Where is God when bad men hurt innocents and war rages on?

What happens to God in the dark?

 

Psalm 139:7-12

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

 

You Are Mine

But now thus says the Lordhe who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by name, you are mine.”  Isaiah 43:1

Maybe you are feeling unmoored, adrift in this vast sea we call life.  Maybe too, like me, you are wondering why God seems both near and far at the same time.  Why He seems near and yet so silent while you rage and toss about.  Maybe you’re wondering where you belong right now.  Maybe you question if you are where God wants you to be.  Maybe you strain to hear His calling but then you ignore the whispered promptings because it’s scary going toward the unknown.

It takes too much guts to step out of the boat onto the water, even though your boat is nearly capsizing and Jesus is calling you to walk on the water toward Him.  Doubt and fear, they are dead-weights that will negate your buoyancy in Jesus.  Doubt and fear will drag you down under the waves where it’s dark and suffocating.  All it takes is for us to take our eyes off Jesus and down we go.  But….

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, YOU. ARE. MINE.

Hear that?  YOU. ARE. HIS.  And that’s enough.  That’s all you need to know right now.  You need to know that you belong – in Him. You are safe – in Him.  You are loved – in Him.  You are rescued – in Him.  You are redeemed – in Him.  No matter how much your life is in upheaval right now.  No matter how unsure of yourself you are right now.  “YOU. ARE. MINE.”

Jesus doesn’t say you will be mine when you are ______________________.  Fill in the blank yourself.  Whatever it is that you think you should be more of in order to be loved and be claimed by God, all those criteria is just rubbish.  Jesus says you are His, right here, right now.  You just gotta believe.  Just rest in that truth.  If all the further you get is to just snatch that truth up like the Lifeline it is and hang on tenaciously, that’s all the further you need to get.

God will take care of the rest.  He’ll stop the leaks in your vessel.  He’ll pull you up out of the drowning depths.  He’ll even calm the waves right down.  And if you are all turned around and off the path, He will gently steer you a-right.  It’s His hand that reaches out when we go down.  It’s His ears that hear our desperate cry every time. He’s there. Every time.  He’s never left.  He’s been walking alongside your boat all along, waiting for you to ask Him to rescue you in the storm.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, YOU. ARE. MINE.

 

Photo credit: Google Images

Linking up with Unforced Rhythms: http://jasonandkelliwoodford.blogspot.com/

 

Messenger

Sometimes on Fridays I join up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Fridays.  She gives a word prompt to write about for five minutes with no editing.  Today’s word prompt is “messenger”.

 

Messenger:   One who bears a message, one who has a purpose, an important word or action to share with their audience.

Every day, I am a messenger.  What message are people receiving from my life?

Jesus commands, “Go and tell the world.”  Not, “go and tell your family or your close friends.”

“Go and tell the world!”  The world is a scary place; they might not like your message.  Back in the day of the prophets, the recipients of their message often killed the messenger.

Am I willing to go to such scary lengths to share the Message?

Do I have a message to share?

Am I allowing God to infuse my soul with His message so I can then “Go and tell”?

I’ve been listening to Dan Allender’s series on the “Wounded Heart”.  Something he said grabbed my heart.  He says if you are totally at home in your home, then your life is already a violation of the Gospel.  Jesus didn’t limit the expanse of where we are called to share the message.  He didn’t say feel free to stick within a 10 mile or even 100 mile radius of your comfort zone.

Jesus says “Go to all the world.”   Am I willing to accept my calling as a messenger for God no matter where it may take me?  Am I willing to stop feeling comfortable in order to get out there and be a messenger?

“Go and tell.”  Go and be a MESSENGER!

Hands – In Honor of my Dad

In loving memory of my dear Dad, gone for 2 and 1/2 long years now……

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Hands that held so many responsibilities, so many stories, so many memories.

Hands that were rough-hewn and callous and bloodied so that your family would be well cared for.

Hands that lifted many a weary troubled heart to their heavenly Father.

Hands that could be both strong and tender.

Hands that cradled that well-worn Bible lovingly every morning.

Hands that patted the heads of many little ones.

Hands that gripped a basketball or a baseball bat to play with your baby girl even though you were weary from a long day’s work.

Hands that covered mine when you were teaching me how to drive tractor when I could still barely reach the clutch.

Hands on my shoulder to say you got my back, and you’re there behind me all the way.

Hands that would playfully “chuck” our chins when we were little.

Hands that constantly moved when you were talking, shaping your story in the air.

Hands that were firm when we needed punishment.

Hands that guided mine when you were teaching me how to cast a fishing line.

Hands that were lined with care, creased with love, and gnarled with hard work.

Hands that showed me the way to the Father.

Dad, I miss seeing your strong, big-veined hands.  As a nursing student, I picture your big “lovely” veins criss-crossing your hands – they would have been perfect to practice inserting IV’s.  (Sorry dad!)  I miss those hands emphatically waving in the air as you made a point or showed us the story you were telling.  I miss seeing those hands holding your Bible every morning.  I miss the guiding presence of those hands.  Most of all I miss seeing those hands on the small of Mom’s back when you were walking together.  I really miss you in every moment of every ordinary day and especially on the special days of my life.  But Dad, I just want to thank you for being such an awesome Dad and for always showing us love with your hands even when you were punishing us for bad behavior.  Thank you for never harming us kids with your hands.  Thank you for never raising them in anger against us.  For you and your example of what it means to live for Jesus, I am forever grateful.  Because of your loving, guiding hands I am a strong, confident woman today and I have hope of one day grasping your hand in eternity as a “welcome home!”

 

 

The song Daddy’s Hands by The Judds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzvN4qwqEIE

 

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On “Nothing”

Last week Lisa Jo Baker’s “Five Minute Friday” invited us to write for five minutes on the word “nothing”.  These are my thoughts on the word “nothing” (just a week late and longer than five minutes!).  But at the time I genuinely felt I had nothing to write about “nothing” although the brain juices have been swirling around the word since then and now it’s time to get it out of my system.

“Nothing” – it’s such an empty word and yet impregnated with meaning.  In order for it to be empty, one had to have once known something.  “Nothing” isn’t poignant if one’s soul had never known “something”.   “Nothing” is so hopeless unless the soul remembers the faint whispers of the joy of God-infused hope.

There’s so many ways that the Deceiver of our souls whispers lies to us about that word “nothing”.  He tells us it’s “just nothing”– those little things that make our souls cringe when we allow the Word to scrutinize.  Sometimes he tells us that “you’re worth nothing to God” – when you’re feeling messy and raw and like you’ve just failed your Father, Satan tells us God can’t use us then.  Don’t believe him!  No matter how messy, and no matter how far we’ve fallen, we’re always worth the life-blood of the Father’s only Son.  Other times he tells us “there’s nothing to God’s requirements, surely He didn’t mean for you to take Him so literally.”  He’s trying to rob you of the fullness of God with that lie.

Our culture tells us that we’re nothing if we aren’t smart enough, skinny enough, wealthy enough, busy enough, pretty enough, and the measuring stick by which we measure our worth just keeps growing and our souls keep shriveling.

Nothing drags us down like the lies we believe about the nothing-spaces in our God-thirsty souls.  Those “nothings” are so empty without the grace of God unleashed into those empty spaces in our souls.  The darkness of those nothings will suffocate us without the love of God shattering it’s light all across our dark-weary hearts.  The hopelessness of those nothings will break us down into a million pieces without the Presence of Jesus holding us together.

If you feel like you’re a nothing, allow Jesus to transform you into everything in His unending love and boundless grace.

A song to speak to your not-enough spaces:

 

Linking up with “Unforced Rhythms”   http://jasonandkelliwoodford.blogspot.com/