Lead Me to the Cross

The road to life must first lead to the Cross before it leads to the empty tomb.

I would so prefer to avoid that part of the journey. I’d much rather skirt the mount of blood and pain and dying, and skip unawares straight to a garden of light and freedom. But there are no detours past the gateway of death. All must enter through its shadow.

Lord, remind me that You are there with each footfall. You never ask me to take even one step that You have not already traversed. Nor do You abandon me to walk this journey alone.

Faithful Companion, You are constant in Your presence and Your care as You prod me toward Golgotha. You willingly bear each agonizing moment upon Your torn and bleeding back. With ever-watchful eyes, You beg me to stay as You bleed out this love-life on my behalf.

As much as I want to turn aside and close my eyes and heart against the horror of Your suffering, I cannot. Like Simon of Cyrene, I am compelled to stoop near Your broken and bloodied body to carry this beam of death and life. In thinking I am helping You, I realize You are the One sustaining us both. It is Your love and strength which steadies the load and enables the task of bearing so great a burden.

Thorn-pieced brow wipes against my hand, bringing comfort even here. Here on the Via Dolorosa  — this way of suffering — You look deep into my darkness and see the light of resurrection ripping temple veil. Dismantling my soul, tearing apart the lies, and searing sin with a glory that is all Your own. Destroying death’s grip with a love strong enough to shake the gates of hell itself and release humanity’s soul for good.

Sweet Savior, stay my feet from wandering to a way that seems safe and free of struggles. Keep me here beside You as You surrender Yourself to cross beams’ hold for a moment so You can embrace me in Your love forever.

May I be one who lingers long at the scene of dying until the work here is finished. Then may I be the first to hear You call my name beyond tomb’s cocoon as I rise to step into resurrection’s glow.

Lead on, conquering Savior.

As You will.

Where You will.

Keep me close beside You along the way . . .  through death and into life.

© MereWhispers.wordpress.com

Finding Grace When I Need It Most

After spending a restless night warring against my failings, I found myself literally on my knees at my bedside, confessing my sins and asking God for the forgiveness He freely extends to all who come to Him. I was broken and fretting and apologetic . . . and guilty.

Guilty is not a word I like to use to identify myself, but it can be one I cling to for all I’m worth. Once I’m aware of the inward truth about myself, I see my sin blazing brightly and it breaks my heart. How is it that I have walked alongside my Savior for so many years and still struggle with such basic temptations? Why do I so easily stumble into a trap the enemy has set to snare me? And worst of all, why do I respond in a way that invites others to become prey with me?



After sending a facebook message asking for forgiveness from friends whom I unwittingly, yet knowingly dragged into my sin with me (an oxymoron to be sure, but I’m fairly certain I had both a conscious/subconscious struggle going on in my mind at the time), I began scanning through my newsfeed. My scrolling stopped abruptly when I came across the following post:

Godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.  – 2 Corinthians 7:10
I know my sins. Only God can blot them out. Having inward truth about myself opens my ears to joy, the joy that accompanies salvation. A humble heart is the only basis for outward acts which are truly acts of worship.

My heart resonated with the truth of those words staring me in the face, baring my heart wide to God’s call of humility and repentance. I’m so thankful for godly sorrow, even when it causes me to lose sleep at night. I’m even more thankful it leads to salvation. The “without regret” part still catches me at times, and maybe that is why God chose to place two simple words in the very next post beneath this preceding challenge:

70602-Forgive-YourselfTwo simple words that carry great weight and freedom when taken to heart.

Forgive Yourself.



I know my sins. Only God can blot them out and open my ears to the joy of His salvation. So I must choose to accept His merciful grace and go on to forgive myself, striving to surrender my failings into His capable hands in hopes of choosing wisely the next time I’m confronted with temptation.



If you are struggling with a weakness or find yourself stepping headlong into an act of sin, I encourage you to look up and to fall down. Allow God to get your attention and draw your eyes toward inward truth, especially in those moments when the truth within is less stellar than it should be. But don’t stop with just recognizing the truth; humble yourself with godly sorrow so He can lift you up and restore you to a place of righteousness.

Then move on.

Confess your sin, accept the forgiveness, rise from your knees, and live a life of worship recognizing His sacrifice of love that has cleansed you. Forgive yourself and lean heavy upon Father’s grace.

It is enough for this moment.

It will be enough for the next moment, too.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  – Hebrews 4:16

Finding grace when I need it most . . . that’s the treasure of belonging to God. Even at my darkest times, He shines His love brightly upon me and draws me near.

Forgiving. Redeeming. Restoring.

And sending me out once again to bring His kingdom to earth.

To Rest the Heart

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

In a list of mostly “thou shalt nots,” the command to rest is first issued with a charge to remember. Probably because we so easily forget to slow down in this tilt-a-whirl life rushing past us.

Remember to set aside time for holiness.
Remember to desist from your long list of “to-dos.”
Remember to make space for rest in your lives.
Remember to ponder your God and give Him the honor His presence deserves.
Remember your roots of slavery and celebrate your freedom.
Remember this day as a sign between God and His people.

Remember to keep this call to holiness as you focus upon the overwhelming gift of salvation granted by a Savior whose love for you is limitless. This day, take delight in the Lord and be grateful.

Make the Sabbath a time of rest for your heart as you accept this invitation to lean into the Sacred. To breathe the scent of holy.

To celebrate the Sabbath means I must step back from the hustle and flurry of life’s activities while stepping into God’s peace. Releasing my tendency to rush. Slipping quietly beyond the veil of hurry, and wrapping my hands and my heart around tarry. Choosing to sit at my Savior’s feet while calming my heart in the presence of grace. Abiding. Stilled.

Inhaling the refreshment of a soul settled by Savior’s signature tracing images of love across my life.

Sabbath – an intermission from all that drains my energies day by day. A call to desist from the everyday activities of a too-full life and honor God with rest. And in the process, be honored with His presence in a deep and special way. Set aside to be sealed with love in this lingering. A coming away to a place where my spirit is both undone and restored simultaneously.

As humans, we can quickly turn the sacred into sacrament, creating a tradition out of most anything. I pray we will not do this with the Sabbath. I hope we will not make this just one more religious obligation. That our intent to honor God does not become a duty-bound ritual with a list of rules to follow.

Instead, let’s allow the substance of the day to belong to its rightful owner — Jesus.

Let’s invite Him to come as He wills. However He wants. Wherever He chooses. In ways not our own.

For it is not the traditions of men that initiate the presence of God; it is the presence of God which initiates the connecting of souls with Spirit. This union of dust and Divine.

It is His mercy which generates the true essence of Sabbath.

It is His working which gives us this celebration of rest.

So remember the Sabbath, my friend, by thanking our Lord for His faithfulness. Breathe in the gift of freedom granted you through Calvary’s cross. Claim the promises of redemption and abundant life.

Come away and rest your heart.. here in these sacred moments of Sabbath.

sab-rst

Perspective Unskewed

The other day my adult son was tearing out our bathroom fixtures and flooring for an upcoming renovation project. In the middle of his scraping and banging to remove the ceramic tile, he uttered a loud cry of distress. As my husband and I went running to check on him, I called out, “Are you okay?!?”” only to be answered with an anxious response of, “No, it’s bad!”

Anticipating a severe cut on Joshua’s hand, I nearly melted in relief when we opened the door to find our soaking wet son standing there in a panic, desperately attempting to staunch the shooting stream of a broken waterline. Despite the mess that was not only spraying upon him, but rapidly pooling across what was left of the floor and walls, relief was the only feeling I experienced. No frustrations at watching water jet like a fire hydrant, gushing across the room and pouring into open holes. No anxiety over the fact that we now had no running water in the house and I was unable to wash the lunchtime dishes piled in the sink or run a glass of water to drink. No qualms about my husband having to replace a waterline. I was too busy being grateful. I didn’t have time to ponder the pool of water seeping across the floor, because I was otherwise occupied with thanking God that Joshua was unhurt.

It’s amazing how expressing gratitude can pull things into proper perspective.

Had I opened the bathroom door with the assumption that nothing was out of place and instead found the spraying waterline, I imagine my frustrations would have loomed much larger than the situation called for.

So the question is: How do I keep my perspective inline with truth every day? How do I face each challenge before me with the thought that things could always be worse than whatever it is that momentarily seems so large?

The answer: Gratitude.

Gratitude in remembering that our God is present in every moment of our lives. Not only present, but actively involved in each specific detail, whether I have eyes to see Him working or not.

So today, I offer a prayer to our heavenly Father, and I invite you to join me in expressing thankfulness to the One whose ways are perfect and whose heart is kind in dealing with His children:

Father,

I am so thankful that all Your ways are much higher than the meager lengths to which this finite mind can stretch. Not just higher, but perfect, and this I know well because the truth of Your word and the wisdom of Your ways has been proven time and again.

There is no one who has my best interests at heart more than You do.

There is no one who rises to shield me from danger faster than You.

There is no one more capable of equipping me and fortifying me to persevere throughout this obstacle course of life.

For who is God, except You, my Lord?

While others rise to accuse, You rush to defend.

While governments shift and tumble, You stand firm; solid and capable throughout the centuries.

When men betray and desert, You remain loyal and constant; steadfast in Your love for those who trust in You.

When I’m bombarded with questions, Your truth shines forth its timeless wisdom, pointing me to a better way of living. Of being.

When life’s struggles threaten to wear me down, Your promises strengthen me to continue on.

When the journey dips into perilous valleys deep, You lift me to high places and grace me with power to dance upon those heights.

When violent storms rush upon me, Your gentleness quiets my spirit; Your right hand holds me secure and soothes the anxiousness of my soul.

When the ache of loneliness threatens to crush me with its heaviness, Your steady rhythms of mercy accompany the beat of my heart and bring joy, reminding me that I am never alone.

When the world is in the throes of upheaval, You deliver me from the strivings of men, infiltrating me with a peace that shatters all earthly limitations.

When nations curse Your name, I will continue to give thanks to You and sing praises to Your greatness.

When men glory in themselves, I will glory in the cross of Christ and find my hope in You.

And when things as ordinarily irritating as broken waterlines challenge me to become frustrated, I will choose to live with gratitude toward the One who does all things well.

For truly, there is no God except the Lord, the One who deals kindly with me and with my descendants both now and forever.

In gratitude, I stand redeemed.

gratitude-changes-everything-drak-gray-linen-free-printable

 

 

 

 

 

To Be Amazed Again

How easy it is to become lulled into apathy by the day-to-day happenings of life, steadily succumbing to the rhythms of routine. It’s astonishing, really, how readily I am rocked to sleep, nodding off to the wonder that surrounds.

Until I remember…

Until I purposely take just a few moments to step away from the ordinary and open my eyes and my heart to the spectacular, seeping from every nook and cranny of creation.

Until I pause from my hectic frantic long enough to notice the beauty flitting beside me in things as simple yet profound as a butterfly’s wings or to tune my ears to the intensity of joy bubbling from my grandson’s full belly giggles.

Sometimes the only way to be amazed again is to slow down.

To embrace the wonder is to command my mind to cease and desist from hurrying toward the next thing on its to-do list. Instead of rushing to complete that “one more thing,” I must choose to meander through the memories, retracing steps over pathways of grace.

The other day I unhurriedly (unhurriedly being the key word here) opened my Bible to the very first pages of Genesis. While I’ve read these first chapters numerous times and have taught and retaught the Creation account to children in various Vacation Bible School and Sunday school classes throughout the years, this day I purposely slowed down with the intent of recapturing the wonder of God at work. For myself. And guess what? I caught a bit of it again. I’m hoping that, if you have been a soulmate in losing sight of amazement, then perhaps you can reclaim a bit of its territory with me:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Can you envision it? The Spirit of the timeless, omnipotent Ancient of Days moving and brooding, hovering in anticipation of what He was about to do. Can you imagine the divine power just waiting to be released? The over-the-top excitement stirring up the Trinity?

God spoke, and creation came into being. Light shattered the darkness, separating day from night. The heavens expanded, spilling across galaxies beyond human comprehension or reach. The earth took shape, and planets and stars and moons went spinning into solar systems. Waters tore away from land, filling crevices miles deep below the surface. Land splintered into valleys, and rocks rushed into mountains as high as Everest. Flora and fauna filled the oceans and the soil with all manner of creatures — orchids and coral, whales and rabbits, rhinos and ospreys erupted from the waters of the deep to the blue of the sky to the grasslands of Earth.

Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”

It was God’s touch and breath that separated man from all creation, and in that touch and breath was life and honor, a “set-apartness” that drew us to our Creator like no other.

The fingers of God reached down from celestial dwelling to scoop a handful of ordinary dirt and fashion it into His most precious creation. Master Potter molding and framing with purpose, intently squeezing into perfect shape the desire of His heart. Man.

Set apart from all else, honored beyond merely a spoken word, and graced with not just touch, but with Holy Spirit breath.

The breath of the living God Most High.

This breath resonated throughout the chambers of man’s heart and soul initiating the first Pentecost experience. Imagine the power manifesting itself through dust particles, squeezing Divine image from the chemical elements of ordinary dirt. Heavenly inspiration unleashed — vital signs come into being, a soul stirs from shifting soil, and man rises to join his Creator for the very first time.

Sweet communion birthed by the breath of God sweeping through each atom, bringing life. Presence filling every molecule; forming, shaping, piece by piece, framing the network of systems and organs. A patchwork of precision carried out in the joy of the Godhead celebrating its final crescendo of creation’s symphony.

God breathes… and His plan comes into fulfillment.

This is LIFE with the ability to feel and to reason, with personality and intellect and the capacity to converse and to love. Characteristics yet flawless, unmarred by sin. A perfect innocence set apart to connect with God in complete trust and awe. A soul created to dwell in the presence of Yahweh as naturally as the heart was created to beat and to sustain life.

This is AMAZING! This is the beginning of us as designed and desired by God Himself.

No matter how much we are swayed toward spiritual amnesia through the daily happenings of “life as we know it,” the reminders of grace are active and moving. The story is far from over. WE are the continuation of this sweet communion tale, and God’s touch and breath are still available to us, despite the fact that Eden’s perfect garden is long overgrown with sin’s tangled deceptions.

So what say we shake the twisted vines of monotony’s temptation and return to our roots? The AMAZING roots of God in us. Here and now. Right in the middle of our ordinary. Smack dab in the midst of our too-full schedules crammed with carpools and time clocks and home repairs that seemingly never end.

Let’s revisit the pages of our creation and invite God’s touch and breath to bring to life our purpose once again, though it may feel as lifeless as dust.

After all, creating destiny from dirt is Father’s specialty.

Let the masterpiece arise…

 

 

 

The Space In Between

What happens in the void of waiting?

This space in between the trial and the victory?

These moments of unknowns and not yets and hoped fors?

Often, this is where the struggle seems most real. More real than the adrenaline-pumped throes of battle when sword is in mid-swing to strike against a foe. More real than the victory shout of routing the enemy and occupying territory long desired.

This space in between is where hearts are either confirmed in convictions or destabilized by the questions filling these moments of silent waiting.

The struggle lies in the stillness.

In the calm before the storm where we grapple with extremes – of either good or bad, victory or defeat, relief or devastation.

This is where the wrestling of my spirit is most agonizing. Caught between the what was and what will be — here in this moment of waiting for the dawn of resurrection.

Is it any wonder the world scoffs at hope? Shakes its head at the fantasy of joy and anticipation for a life that is anything other than what it has always known?

Just another day. Another typical, ordinary, common day. Another Messiah come to declare His place as the long-awaited consolation and hope of a nation at odds with the world in which it’s living. Of a people not belonging, yet desiring to belong.

The beloved aching to be loved.

These moments in which the majority of life is lived out seem all too mundane. Monotonous ticking of seconds turned to minutes turned to days, then weeks, then months, then years until we’re almost tricked into thinking there will be no coming dawn. Just the sameness of these twilight hours.

Forever waiting in this void of wondering what’s left to hope for.

Until… the crack of light seeps slowly across the horizon. So subtle in its approach that untrained eyes will not notice the gradual shifting of shadows surrendering to its glow. So slow in coming that unprepared slumberers may miss out on it altogether. Those who refuse to look for light will be deceived into closing eyes against its unveiled brilliance, thinking all is but a dream.

But for those willing to anticipate through the silence and the empty, these are the ones who will be roused from stupor with divine awakening of heaven’s Champion.

While the world slumbers on, tuned hearts will hear the growing roar of tomb door’s rolling as death’s grip slackens, cut free from stifling hearts with its finality. Ever. Again.

Can you hear it, my friend?

In this space of solitary confinement when the world would have you numb to hope, can you hear the stirring of heaven’s gracious whispers through the silence?

Can you feel the gentle brush of angel wings in flight, hastening to greet you in your quest for a Savior come to overcome?

He is there to meet you with the hope of Easter dawning, breaking through the stillness for once and for forever. Nail-scarred hands extended, reaching for one and for all who will rise to see Him coming.

Here in this moment of joy unspeakable and full of glory, He cannot be contained.

Hope cannot be denied.

Mercy cannot help but have its way as this space in between gives way to His place in this space of souls He has come to save.

Lift up your head, dear one, and wait no longer. Your redemption is here.

IMG_4267

To Walk Into This Calling

“Things like this don’t just happen,” I ponder.

But they do.

God initiates a conversation. A pointed question is asked.

Without hesitation, I respond from my heart. And the adventure begins…

God calls. I answer.

Step by step, I walk deeper into this calling.

My calling.

The road isn’t paved. In most places, it’s rocky and rutted, thorny and overgrown. There are roadblocks and detours, to be sure, but there are also soft places worn smooth from the passing of others. Weathered signs left behind from footfalls of wizened sojourners, beckoning me onward. Ever onward.

Sometimes the way is dark and scary. There are damp, foggy mornings where the thickness of air seems nearly suffocating, causing me to gasp with panic. These moments make me hesitant to continue this journey. Until the sun peeks through, calming my fears, urging me to rise and rush toward its warmth.

And all along the way, there are glimpses of Father’s glory.

Signs of life tucked within the dry and barren. Blossoms of beauty among the crags and outcroppings, tenaciously twining their way through briars of doubt. Blooming despite the challenge to remain dormant. Traces of spring nestled in frost and cold, inviting me to believe still. To trust. To hope. Drawing me toward the dawn of resurrection.

Spurring me to travel onward.

Day by day.

Simply onward.

Though the temptation to turn back does cross my mind, I never do. Instead, I yield to that persistent tug forward. I lean into the Voice whispering its love songs, no matter how heavy the shadow of darkness threatens.

Even when the path seems obscure, the call to find glory beckons still.

And I am almost surprised to realize the glory I long to find is not my own, but His.

All His.

The world would taunt me to believe things like this don’t just happen.

But they do.

They did.

And they will again.

Just you wait and see.

Snow-Spring-Flowers-Desktop-Wallpaper-Free-DownloadsGod is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. – 1 Corinthians 1:9