To Live as Ones Remembered

I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four corners of the wind. Not one is missing, not one forgotten . . .

Such begins the first letter written by a man on mission, a friend determined to turn the world upside down with his faith in the One who turned Peter’s own life upside down with amazing love. A man bent on sharing the Good News of salvation in Jesus, God’s Son. A man unwavering in reminding his companions that they are not forgotten, no matter how desperate the circumstances in which they find themselves living.

Not one is overlooked.

Not one is missing in action.

Not one is beyond the Savior’s eyes nor past the reach of His gracious goodness.

Not one is forgotten.

This letter is a timeless call to remembrance for Christians everywhere.

In remembering, our faith is strengthened and our resolve to continue on is renewed. It is here we are fortified to look toward the future with hope in our Lord’s coming, and to believe we will be held firmly until that day.

Jesus is the Keeper of our faith. The Constant Companion when our hearts seem as dust scattered to the four corners of the wind, with no way of being pieced back together. We may not have been displaced like the early disciples, fleeing from our homes for our very lives, but sometimes our souls can feel like refugees.

Exiles in a land not our own.

The aches and pains of living press upon us, crushing us from the inside out, pushing us beyond our limits of rest and comfort. Sometimes we feel pursued, anxiously looking over our shoulder for the enemy lurking in the shadows, determined to take us out when we least expect it. And sometimes we falter beneath an enemy of our own making, bending under the weight of burdens we were never meant to bear on our own.

No matter the source, thoughts gone astray can carry us far from truth’s dwelling, tempting us to feel alone and abandoned.

Overlooked.

Forgotten.

This is why we need the reminder of remembrance.

As Peter states: When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory.

This victory does not hang on our own accomplishments or the riches we’ve attained in this life, nor is it contingent upon our own power to persevere. Jesus is both the Giver and the Keeper of our faith. This faith is His victory trophy to flaunt before Satan and all of hell’s demonic hordes. A total win of blowout proportions! A salvation that is complete and final in the grandest of all upsets!

So then, let us live as ones pulled into a way of life shaped by our Savior’s own. Given over daily to the One who gave it all to hold us steady through it all. Surrendered body, mind, and spirit to this God-life freely granted.

May we celebrate our salvation, even when we seem distanced from our final destination.

Even when hope hangs precariously in our grip, dangling by a thin thread of frail belief.

May we look to the One whose gaze has never wavered, whose hand has never loosened its hold on the assurance of our victory. And who even now is preparing for a celebration, the likes of which humanity has never known.

Here in this scattering, may we live as ones remembered. . . by the One who never forgets.

© MereWhispers.wordpress.com

Where Spirit and Dust Collide: An Advent Devotional – Day Nine

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel. — Isaiah 7:14

In fulfillment of prophecy, the Messiah descends to bridge this union of dust and Divine. Jesus turns toward, arises with compassion, stands near and with. He comes among His people to thwart the lies of Satan with the realness of a Savior’s existence. Here — in our midst.

But He doesn’t enter with the fanfare and pomp reminiscent of earthly kings. He does not descend as a conquering warrior in ways that are familiar to men. When you look at it from the stance of human logic, there’s really nothing to make one think a babe born one night in a nondescript Israeli stable was anything other than the infant son of a humble carpenter.

If a room is dark enough, even those with perfect vision will struggle to see.

Although all of Israel was looking and waiting for a Messiah, the darkness of living in Satan’s domain had blinded them to God’s ways. Most could not fathom the simpleness of Jesus’ entrance into mankind’s dwelling. Yet still He came. Knowing He would be misunderstood and overlooked, rejected and denied by the very ones He came to rescue. But come, He did . . . with eternal plans in hand.

Plans to reclaim His own and to reestablish His kingdom in the likes of you and me. Mixing Divine with dust of the earth. Molding, shaping, creating. Making and remaking. Bringing forth beauty from this combination of dirt and Spirit breath.

Jesus Christ brought life into death’s confines, shattering the shadows of darkness with the light of His presence come — again and again.

And still.

Here in our lives today.

This is the gift of Christmas past, present, and future.

This is the gift of Immanuel — God with us.

FOR REFLECTION:
God has set eternity in our hearts, but sometimes we forget. We forget, but we still know. This Christmas, let’s make remembering the truth of Jesus come to earth the focus of our holiday celebration. After all, remembering God’s word isn’t merely calling to mind some fantastical stories; remembering is recalling reality. Take time to read the account of Jesus’ birth as told in Luke 1- 2:20, then thank God for the reality of a Savior come to you.

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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…

 

 

 

A Hope That Does Not Disappoint

The last few months I’ve been bumping up against the word Hope. I’ve also been bumping up against people who are either walking this life’s path filled with it, or seemingly strangely empty of it.

It’s comforting to meet folks filled with hope. You can’t help but smile and walk away from their presence a bit lighter than when you entered it.

Hope is meant to be contagious, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it can be downright irritating to those whose perspective is jaded toward goodness. Unfortunately, I’ve met a few people in this condition recently. Worse yet, I’ve sometimes joined them in their cynicism toward hope.  And that thought saddens me.

How often have you found yourself living with a jaded perspective toward goodness and truth? How often have you allowed tiredness or boredom to drain your enthusiasm toward the joy that is ours in Christ? It’s unsettling how easily apathy and cynicism creep in, turning our thoughts from the pathway of peace.

The other day I saw a facebook post which stated: Expecting is my favorite crime, and disappointment is always my punishment. I couldn’t help but cringe when I realized the heaviness of that phrase. And the utter lie that it is. Or how easily we buy into it.

Expecting is not a crime. As Christians, we are asked to live expecting always. Expecting God’s goodness and faithfulness to overcome the worst in this world. The worst in us. Yet we are duped into placing our expectations in temporary things instead of in eternal truths. No wonder we reap disappointment.

When our focus shifts to the shaking of a fallen world instead of the timeless sureness of a faithful Father God, a jaded hope is our reward.

When our thoughts are consumed by rapid-fire agendas in place of the natural rhythm of the journey, we become weary and worn out. When our vision is near-sighted instead of far-reaching, we are bound to become discouraged. When we cling to people instead of to God, we are certain to be disappointed. When we fail to embrace grace, our hearts become hardened. Embittered. Jaded. Disenfranchised with hope. Distraught by change or by the continuing sameness of a trial appearing to stretch before us for miles on end.

Instead of living at peace in the known of God, who remains stable despite our floundering, we allow our hearts to become disenfranchised. Unable to rest easy. Tempted to go on a rampage against the very hope that has been given to hold us steady.

I found it of great interest to note the actual meaning of the word disenfranchised comes from the French root enfranchir – to make free. When the negative prefix is added, we end up in bondage – made unfree.

Made unfree.

This is where a jaded outlook leads – straight into the bonds of captivity. Made unfree.

I can’t help but wonder how many folks are wandering this earth disenfranchised with faith. Disenfranchised with what they thought they were entitled to in a relationship, or in a career, or in a ministry, or in a religion. Disenfranchised with life in general.

The good news is, if you are in Christ, you will never have to experience this. You will never be cut off from hope nor separated from grace.

But you can choose to walk away from it.

Today I challenge you to fight against the temptation toward jaded disenfranchisement. If you’ve found yourself teetering toward the cynical or reaching out toward disappointment, just stop.

Stop.

Stop and think upon the One who has plans of hope and a future for you. Ponder His promises. Remember His past faithfulness to you. Look again upon the cross of Christ and know the greatness of a love that has no limits. A hope that overcomes the very gates of hell. A peace that shakes the dust from empty graves in overcoming victory. For good.

Things are not always what they seem in this tilt-a whirl world. This life is so very fleeting. Even the longest of human breath is a mere gasp in eternity’s lifespan.

This trial. This painful relationship. This sickness. This hurt. Whatever your this is. It will not last, my friend.

In the span of a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be changed. Changed into eternity’s form and granted eyes to see the One who will cause every knee to bow in absolute and final declaration of His glory and dominion.

But we don’t have to wait for the end of this life to experience His hope. You can break free from the delusion of disappointment today.

Liberate your heart to remember.

Open eyes to see the eternal and the true as you revive a grateful spirit.

Cling to goodness and to Jesus.

Expect to find hope… and you will.

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And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. — Romans 5:5 (NLT)

 

 

 

 

 

And Then I Remember…

And then I remember…

This statement is at the bedrock of my day-to-day faith. Those times when living this Christian life doesn’t seem miraculous or remarkable in the least. Just mediocre and mundane. Just laundry and car pools and schoolwork and the endless assembly line of to-dos.

And then I remember…

I remember the stirring of a young girl’s heart rushing into the outstretched arms of a Savior.

I remember the moment Jesus became real to me for the very first time and for the scores of “first time” moments that have occurred throughout my years.

I remember the miracle of healing touch as a shortened leg stretched out to catch up with its partner, and the thick, insole insert was removed from my shoe and ceremoniously dumped into the trash can.

I remember the bubbling of Spirit’s presence coursing through me, spilling out with sheer joy in a high no earthly drug could offer.

I remember being convicted of sin and of righteousness, gently turned to yield to a better way.

I remember the untold times when peace has stilled my quaking heart and calmed my racing thoughts with the simple truth of I AM being known in me.

And as long as I remember, I am held.

Steady.

Firm.

Grounded.

Graced with the faith to hope and believe still.

IMG_4558This I recall to my mind, therefore I have HOPE. – Lamentations 3:21

Whispers of Thankful

To the One who knew me before I was…

Who sees all my days lived and those yet to be…

Who holds in His hands this string of moments called my life…

Who promises to untangle and lead me along the path of goodness and blessing…

Who lifts me when I stumble and carries me through my heartaches…

Who rescues me from endless to-do lists meant to earn favor and please an insatiable crowd…

Who reminds me of His presence from smallest to greatest and all sizes in between…

Who fills the empty and barren with His Spirit breath…

Who nourishes and steadies my soul-weary heart…

Who makes me brave when I’m quaking with fear…

Who is sure and certain when life is not…

Who cloaks me in mercy amidst the mystery of each unknown…

Who holds me safe through the breaking with redemption in mind…

Who spills out His love and seeps into the deep of doubt…

Who gathers shattered shards into works of beauty and wholeness…

Who refuses to let the hard-to-be-thankful-for things be wasted…

Who chases me with His laughter and quiets my anxious with love songs…

Who heals with hope and holds me in the hollow of His hand…

Who encompasses the mundane and turns it to miraculous…

Who shatters my safe places, freeing me to step beyond their borders…

Who finds me in my hiding and continually seeks me from dawn to dusk…

Who shelters me through the night watches, keeping me in constant care…

Who loves me wildly and lavishes me with relentless grace…

Jude125_5by7_300dpiAmen and amen.

 

To Embrace the Turning

I found myself feeling remorseful this morning as I read the verses staring up at me. It was one of those times when my Bible randomly fell open in my lap, exposing my heart with the strength of the letters dancing before my eyes. Like a mixture of raindrops and hailstones, the words coursed and bounced through the crevices of my soul, seeping into its depths with a sensation that was simultaneously refreshing and stinging.

It’s no secret that I have been fighting against the turning of the seasons this year more than ever before. Like a defiant toddler, I’ve been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the beauty of autumn days. I’ve been throwing such a fit, that I’ve denied the beauty of the colorful surroundings and the crisp, starry nights staring me in the face. Stubbornly digging in my heels, I’ve tenaciously clung to the residual signs of summer, grasping for the last vestiges of sunshine and warmth which continue to slip faster and faster through my clutching hands.

And I’ve been irritated by it all. Irritated because I feel gypped out of summer. The days were far too cold, too rainy, too overcast, too short-lived for one so addicted to the sun.

In short, I’ve been facing the approach of what’s before me with a longing for what lies behind.

By looking back to hold onto and hold out for more of the same, I’ve neglected to enjoy what lies before me this day. I’ve failed to gasp in wonder at the debut of autumn’s unveiling, closing my eyes against the buttery yellows, stunning reds, and creamy tans making their way across the treeline. The crunching of fallen leaves has frustrated me rather than issued an invitation to dive into their piling depths with childlike abandon. Instead of being soothed by season’s changing, reminding me of life’s steady continuance, I’ve been saddened by it all.

Could it be that I have simply forgotten?

In my anxiousness to hold onto what is known and loved, have I somehow neglected to remember that God is the Shaper of seasons? Every. One. Of. Them.

With the purposefulness of all that Father does, He brings each season’s changes. He is the One who allows days to either shorten or lengthen, sustaining the precise hours of each with His own timelessness. How’s that for an oxymoron?

He who is timeless holds all time in His hands.

He who spins the axis of Earth upon His fingertips steadily turns the pages of each season of my life – those within and without.

And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.  (Daniel 2:21-22)

God changes the times and the seasons because He realizes each specific moment of every day is imperative to the next. He knows that spring and summer could not produce to their full potential without the rest that winter and autumn afford. As much as I long for all sunshine and warmth, even I can appreciate the cool, reviving rains that fall in order to soothe the soil and bring forth new life.

In the smallness of my wisdom, I turn my gaze heavenward and once more ask for more. I ask God to come and bring a greater abundance of knowledge into my stubborn heart. I pray for a larger portion of  understanding to allow me to see beyond what I feel. For truth to nestle deeply when my faith seems so tiny, so fleeting. I ask for Light to shine brightly when darkness encroaches upon my days, squeezing itself into my waking hours and tempting me toward despondency.

For if He is light… and He is.
If He is always with me… and He is.
If He is both the Shaper of seasons and of souls… and He is.

… Then I can rejoice always.

ALWAYS – whether all is green and sunny with flowers and gardens in full bloom; whether dry and crunchy with wind stripping trees bare; or whether icy and snowy with all signs of the living silenced beneath clouds of gray and heavy blanket of white.

Life is still very much living throughout each and every season.

Not one heartbeat has ceased, no matter how dormant things may appear. The buds are being revived in secret places of hiding – held firmly by the Holder of all creation. Life is being formed anew in the darkness that is not merely fully known, but fully encompassed by the Light of the world warming its depths.

No shadow of turning.

Not one spot of gray able to dim so bright a truth as God in me and me in Him.

So I look to this turning season rushing toward me, and instead of fleeing from its storms or fighting against its cold, I reach out to embrace it.

With wind whipping through my hair and hailstones pounding for all they’re worth, I stand with arms outstretched and face lifted to the heavens as I open my eyes to look upon the One who steadily turns the pages of time.

And I whisper a prayer of thanks for each and every moment, trusting He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.

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