When we moved to our lovely little town four years ago, we started attending a small but loving church a block from our house. One of the first sermons I heard Pastor Mac preach was one I still have not forgotten…
He has a beautiful view of the mountains from their house…stunning, really. And, as a good photographer, he had taken pictures of the mountains in various weather and times of day and used them as a sermon illustration about the unchanging faithfulness of God (or at least that’s how my heart remembers it).
On the shores of loneliness, in the fog of depression, God’s loving-kindness is unfailingly with us.
When the mountains crumble (and what we thought was stable is shaken), God’s loving-kindness is unfailing with us. Psalm 121 1 I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. 4 Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. 5 The LORD protects you; the LORD is a shelter right by your side.[a] 6 The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night. 7 The LORD will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life. 8 The LORD will protect your coming and going both now and forever.
(from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
and from Lamentations 3: 22-24 (CSB)
Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! 24 I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.”
So this year, once again, I will think about the mountains in Mac’s sermon, in all kinds of circumstances and weather, and hope to remember with the song writer, Great is your faithfulness, oh God, my Father.
Letting go of what’s behind,
Embracing what’s ahead,
Going through the changes
As I feel I have been led.
To learn and trust and grow.
Believing when I ask His will
He’ll give me grace to know.
Grasping for serenity
And fragile peace of mind
Praying for the power
To do what I may find.
I make now this commitment
(which I know won’t be the last
for it is but a stepping stone
along this winding path)
So now that I have given it
My all, my very best,
I have to LET IT GO
And trust in Him to do the rest.
In the Mending the Soul group I was in, the chapter we were on was on deadness – how abuse deadens your soul and how God wants to help you get out of that …. I was like – if I knew how to do this different, I would have done it by now!
Then, one night I dreamed of a coffin laying in the yard with a lid off as we tried to move on. Wondering who died. Had to make a decision what to do with this. Wanted to leave it but knew I couldn’t finish moving until I dealt with the body in the box.
Lazarus, what was it like for you?
You’d been with the Master, knew what He could do….
Did you feel abandoned when He let you die
Instead of coming to save your life?
(Did you cry?)
Your sisters wept in anguish
They hated to see you go-
You were all friends with Jesus-
(Or at least you thought so….)
(Why was He so slow?
Your friends bound you with grave clothes
And wept at your tomb
Comforted your sisters
While you lay in darkness, alone
He came when you’d been dead four days-
(Martha said that you would smell)
He didn’t hold back –this was nothing new….
(He knows broken people so well).
He came and he wept
Told your friends, “Roll back the stone”
He called you out into His light.
Said, “Unbind him and let him go.”
How did you feel when you saw His face?
Did it matter how long it had been?
Or were you just grateful to out of the tomb
To be able to live again?
I was born imperfect
(Not just the obvious imperfections of sin nature, self-will and human depravity)
But in an actual tangible, provable kind of imperfect way—
The kind of imperfection that you had to pay to have fixed.
This was unacceptable…. only a perfect child would prove their place in the world….
They both badly needed something to be proud of.
Instead, they got me.
(Battles over whose genes did it—
Who could take the blame,
Or why this happened were pointless….)
Back to the hospital I went…
Something as simple as being born
Could get complicated in their world—
(One brimming with anxiety and depression
Guilt, shame and fear).
But God’s saw things differently (as always): He formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate insides and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
He even formed every bone in my body when he created me in the secret place
carefully, skillfully shaping me] from nothing into something.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
His understanding of me brings me wonder and strength
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you did is marvelously breathtaking…
It simply amazes me to think about!
You saw who you created me to be before I became me!]
“From my mother’s womb, you have chosen me,
Love has called my name. I’ve been born again into your family
Your blood flows through my veins”.
I am perfectly imperfect. I am loved. I am blessed. I am His.
(excerpts paraphrased from Psalms 139-The Passion Translation
and No Longer A Slave by Zach Williams)
Dreamed tonight of my cup of sorrow–
Sitting in a garden on a stone table, moonlight reflecting off its surface.
Jesus said it was time to deal with the cup –
I tried to argue saying, “No, right now this cup is too full.
I can’t drink from this without it spilling all over…”
But the Man of Sorrows had seen each sorrow when it came into my life.
He walked with me into the garden as together, we approached the cup…. When I was an innocent child and the monsters came-it was not my fault
He too was hated and rejected by people (Is 53:3) When they told me never to speak of it again-and I locked myself in silence, gave up my voice
He too was beaten down and punished but he didn’t say a word. (IS 53:7) When I was raped at school and went home feeling violated and alone
He was wounded for this wrong (Is 53:5) When others dumped their shame on me, saying “If something bad happened, you deserved it.”
People would not even look at him either (Is 53:3) When they said I was worthless and everyone I loved would abandon me
He was hated and we didn’t even notice him either (Is 53:3) When I found the nest of snakes and memories came back of being covered with them
He was wounded and crushed for this evil (Is 53:5) When I could not carry Dad’s depression for him and wanted to die from the weight of it
He took our suffering on him and felt our pain for us (Is 53:4) When those I loved suffered and I could not protect them from
We are being healed because of his wounds. (Is 53:5)
Songs that help:
Under My Feet-Zach Williams
The Hidden Face of God-Michael Card …
The Suffering Symbol-Michael Card
Arise My Love-Michael Card
The room is empty
My heart is full
Sing redemption’s song
Child of God
Not trash, thrown away
I rejoice in His love
It is a new day
My heart like a tomb
Was locked and closed
But the stone’s rolled away
From that empty room
With all the witnesses surrounding us-
(Those who provided wisdom, comfort and courage)
Who show overcoming is possible,
(because they have done it!),
We let go of the wounds that pierced us.
Then we don’t fall back into the familiar sins,
(trusting ourselves instead of God,
isolation, deadness and locking everyone out).
Then we can run the marathon He set out for us
With passion and determination,
Journeying to the high places with the Shepherd of love-
The One who loved us even before we knew what love was.
He delights in us, He wanted us, He came for us
And calls us out of our darkness into His light.
He endured the agony of the cross
for the joy of knowing we would be his
And conquered its humiliation.
Because of Him, we can conquer ours.
If we focus on Him,
We will not be overcome
By the evil of those who oppose their own souls
Or be worn down or cave in under life’s pressures.
Thoughts on Hebrew 12:1-3
Paraphrased from the Passion Translation
(Grateful and proud of the adult, woman, mom my daughter Ruth has become! Tomorrow is her birthday)
Like Hannah in the Bible promised long ago
If she could only have a child, she’d give him to the Lord,
I prayed that God would give to us a baby girl to love
And promised we would care for her and teacher her about His love…
So God, in love, looked down on us and brought you to our lives.
I’ve thanked Him ever day since then and I’ll thank him all my life.
I pray that you will know Him too as your Savior and your friend,
Because, little Ruth, Jesus loves you with a love that has no end.
Lord, I give to you this child that you have given me —
Please help me mold and shape her into what she’s meant to be.
Keep her safe throughout each day-keep her in your tender care.
No matter what may happen, let her know you’re always there!
Too easy to leave the scene on Good Friday
Convinced Hope has died and the story is over …
Even the disciples,
These ones who were chosen
Who had seen water turned to wine,
Loaves and fishes multiplied
Dead people raised
Blind people seeing and lepers cleansed
Still left confused and afraid…thinking they were abandoned.
I am so like them….
When dreams die or hope is buried
When I am dead
In my woundedness
I so easily lose my way-sink back to the pit I came from…
But the finder of lost sheep (and lost disciples)
Does not abandon us on the shores of our desolation
Because He knows our hearts better than we ever will
He will meet us on the shore with fresh fish on the fire
To feed our hungry souls. He knows we are human.
There’s a little girl in a country church watching Daddy today
Wondering why he lifts his hands and tears fall as he prays.
She’s still too young to understand why Daddy’s heart does break
As he’s praying for the wisdom he knows raising her will take…
“Father God, I’m asking you for wisdom from above
To write a living legacy in the heart of these ones I love.
Please use my life, my words, my prayers
To show them how much their Savior cares…
Let them know they are precious in your sight.
And that trusting you can bring them through the night.”
The little girl is a woman now with children of her own
Life hasn’t always been easy but there’s something she’s always known:
She knows there’s a God in heaven who watches her each day
And that He sees her tears fall when she prays…
“Father God, she’s asking you for wisdom from above
To write a living legacy in the heart of these ones she loves.
Use her life, her words her prayers
To show them how much their Savior cares.
And let them know they are precious in your sight,
That trusting you can bring them through each night.”
When we stand before you on that great and final day
And look upon your splendor, all tears will be wiped away,
The heartaches will be over, the loneliness be gone
As together with the angels, we worship at your throne…
Father God we’re asking you for wisdom from above
To write a living legacy in the hearts of those you love
Use our lives, our words, our prayers
To show this world how much you care…
To let them know they are precious in your sight
And that trusting you can bring them through the night.
The world is full of big problems I am small, like a sparrow… I can do only small things But I can learn to do them with great love. My actions may not make a difference To anyone except the person I love and listen to, Pray with and care for, feed or walk beside. But to that one, it matters. Just because I am small and insignificant, It doesn’t mean the love God has given me to share Does not matter. It is still His love And those I love are still important to Him. God doesn’t abandon or forget even one small sparrow. He will be with us. We are valuable to Him.
##################################################################### Luke 12:6-7 “What is the value of your soul to God? Could your worth be defined by an amount of money? God doesn’t abandon or forget even the small sparrow he has made. How then could he forget or abandon you? What about the seemingly minor issues of your life? Do they matter to God? Of course they do! So you never need to worry, for you are more valuable to God than anything else in this world.” From The Passion Translation
A noise was made in heaven as the way parted and the Accuser entered the throne room. He came with a list…”See that little pot in the corner? It was made from defective materials. It is too small and weak for any good use. It’s broken now. Surely you have no remaining purpose for that one….It will never amount to anything…Can I have it? I’ll dispose of it for you…take care of the problem…It should be discarded. Surely there is no use for it…” (He inches slowly toward the pot and bends over to grasp it when the Lord’s strong voice booms out saying, “Silence! This one was made for My use. I designed it. I am not done with it yet. I have a purpose your eyes will never understand. It was bought and paid for with My blood: I ransomed this one! It has been redeemed! You will speak no more against it! It is mine!”
Satan slithered away and the Lord went and tenderly picked up each broken piece of the fractured vessel, missing nothing. He carried them to a workbench. The Holy Spirit came and together they labored with love over their broken vessel. The blood of the Lamb and the oil of joy covered each ragged edge as God reconstructed what the enemy thought he had destroyed. Slowly, from a pile of broken pieces, God fashioned a beautiful vessel of honor. At the banquet celebration He held, this vessel was on the table of the King of Kings — a beautiful goblet full of new wine. Its delicate, intricately shaped stem and ornamented sides were beautifully decorated with scenes declaring the victory of the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously.
From Psalms 30:8-12 NLT
I cried out to you, O Lord.
I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
9 “What will you gain if I die,
if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise you?
Can it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
Help me, O Lord.”
11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Teresa Norman April 6, 1991