His mother seemed to store many things in her heart. She seemed to treasure wondrous things inside of her.
Tonight it was a struggle to have Angel join me as I was leaving for church. As it is more Sunday nights than not. Of course. I dont expect it to be any different. She is a fifteen year old. Whose dad no longer values or sees justification for gathering with other believers in a church building.
We arrived 35 minutes late, catching the last song. I was sitting, bent with my head in my hands. Perhaps she took my body language as – I was upset. She instinctively placed her hand on my back. And left it there. Immediately I thanked the Lord for this moment. Because I know her go to love language is not physical touch. Yet it lingered there until the invitation to stand.
Moments later, this verse came up in the message. Mary stored all these things in her heart.
And it resonated with me. She also treasured the angel’s words in her heart – when she was told she would deliver the Messiah to the world, as a virgin.
I want to hold and keep and treasure the little things in my heart. And when the big things happen I will treasure them all the more.
A picture slowly entered my mind over the course of the day, and it was a tree, from the perspective above ground and below. Initially, it started with the thought of one single root. It was as if this root was made to grow straight downward. Because in the deep soil was where all the nutrients lie in wait – those that feed all trees. Sweet nutrients such as eternal perspective, mercy, true shalom, grace, love for enemies, humility, servanthood, benefits of doubt.
The further down it grows, the more lush, colorful, vibrant and oxygenating the tree above ground becomes. It is almost as if far below it, there rushes an underground River, making flourishing ever-available.
Over time, without careful attention, this root slowly finds its way closer to the surface like the needle of an upside down dial. Subtly cutting its way up through the layers, abandoning its Creator’s original intent, to dwell in the good soil where truth is somehow unbiased, untainted. It just IS.
Still embedded in the ground, but becoming embittered by pesticides along the topsoil that trickle down with trodding and rain, the root begins to lose some of its carrier-capacity. Those pesticides boast of their labels: Righteous Anger, Justice and Scientific Superiority. But rip the labels off and look inside them – you will find poison. The poison of Fear.
Ironically, if the needle were to move in the exact opposite direction, past the rich middle and through the same layers of now opposing narrative, close to the same topsoil, only on the other side, it would still be embittered and weakened by the same poison of Fear. On this side, the labels are different. Well, two are. Protection. Selflessness. And Scientific Superiority.
All the labels claim to kill threats to life and growth of the same tree. Their claims are deceiving. Their poison distorts.
Balance is begging for a resurgence. That soft middle ground is waiting for the root to find its way back where love, not fear, fuels every response. Where the grappling for control over a loved one’s choice is revealed as fruitless. And that’s ok, because love is never controlling. Where thankfulness and faith are being siphoned up every thirsty vein to feed the most full, productive tree for onlookers to admire.
Its abundant branch tips almost seem to intently point up, far past the clouds.
As I was worshiping last night, this phrase came to me. The train of his robe.
Honestly, it has been quite a while since I have gotten anything I’d consider a revelation from Him, although I likely underestimate that term and he gives them to me daily. But last night I thought as this came to me, it seemed significant. So I thought I’d share it here on my blog. Wow, I have no earthly idea when I blogged last! Ha ha…
In scripture, the presentation or wearing of a robe can signify DIGNITY, ROYALTY, AUTHORITY, PRIESTHOOD, BELONGING IN A FAMILY, or HONOR. (The amplified vsn here states, “for the guest of honor”).
The once-prodigal disgraced, disgusting, undignified, defiled, sin infected son was presented with his Fathers robe. In fact, his rehearsed speech to convince his dad to allow him back as a hired hand was literally cut off midway, with the Father yelling at his servants QUICKLY! GET MY BEST ROBE! And DRESS my boy in it!
He is found worthy of this honor. Somehow, even amidst his sin, upon his return, he is found worthy.
In Isaiah 6, we read from the prophet, part of his vision of heaven, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up – and the train (hem, bottom edge) of the robe filled the temple…”
I asked the Lord when writing this down, “Train? Does this word even have significance?” Why not the whole thing? Because I knew the word robe did. And I also felt temple. But train? I was led to the original meaning and it stated ”hem”, or bottom edge of a robe. Lord? What? Yes! I see we are your temple! Our bodies are each your “temple” in which your spirit loves to dwell! What are you saying, we get only part of you? The bottom part? No, I felt.
My robe is so extensive and provides so much coverage, that just the hem fills you, entirely. And there’s more. So much more to my robe. More dignity. More authority. More belonging. More honor.
Let it fill your temple today. And I want to remind you what it was the woman with the 12-year long blood disorder, touched on Jesus, my beloved Son. At the very moment she touched his hem, POWER was released! So to this, add power.
Let it all fill you today. Reach toward me, like she did. You’ll see. And know that you’ve only touched the very fringe. I have more for you. More dignity, authority, belonging, honor. More healing power.
It is my delight to bestow upon you these things because I have found you worthy by the sacrifice Jesus made for you.
In the middle of the fight last night, I felt like I was spiritually suffocating in the darkness of the room.
I needed fresh air and went out front and sat on the concrete, bare feet on the cold grass.
I focused on the sensations I felt. I breathed the air in deeply. I looked up with my eyes and found in the sky above the house across the street, a cloud formation that was lit up as if it were taken from the day sky and placed in the night.
It looked like a large, soaring bird with long, flowing, stretched out wings.
There were no other clouds in the sky. I looked. I could not figure out what made it bright. It was too far past sunset to reflect the sun or atmospheric rays. I’m sure there is some meteorological explanation, but in the moment, I didn’t want to know one. I wanted to know – I needed to know – it was there like that, for me.
So I sat, trying desperately to slow my breath, feeling the chill of the blades under my feet, and looking up – with thoughts still too anxious to contend with tears.
I silently asked, “What does it mean?”
And I heard a silent, “Peace. Power.”
It seemed as if these two words did not go together. I wondered if I heard right. Or if I just conjured up in my own grasping mind what I thought the bird represented.
Within the hour, because three people we knew were praying passionately with faith, and because our God is merciful to lean down low and listen, breakthrough came. With it, words like a salve. Touch of tangible love. Forgiveness requested and received.
From the beginning of creation, the One who created all things decided to make human beings in so many ways like Himself. One of those ways is he gave human beings the gift of choosing.
He chose the millions of kinds of vegetation to plant in the earth, and in the sea. He chose what colors to paint the stripes on a lemur and the feathers on a Burrowing Owl. He chose the shape land would take and the shape of the first man’s eye. He chose us. He actually calls us his chosen ones.
He still chooses us. Even when we choose other affections. His gaze is still on his masterpiece, his finger still pointed at our soul with purpose and intention. One result of us being made like him is we have the same ability. Some call it free will. I call it the gift of choosing. It is a sort of… side effect of love.
“For God so loved the world, he gave…”
So every day we get to wake up and breathe in fresh air, and one of thousands of choices we get to make (after making our coffee, of course) is, “will I place my attention on Him today? My trust in Him with that one thing?”
Will I choose Him back?
Something that flew off one of Paul’s letters (the first one he wrote to the believers in Corinth) and seemed to float in front of my face for a while, was one thing he wrote about love. He wrote about what is is, what it isn’t, what it does, what it doesn’t. One thing he said was that love does not insist on its own way. It does not seek its own interests. In my mind, this statement was directly correlated to that gift of choosing.
If God is love, and love does not insist on its own way, and it does not seek its own interests, we’d see it plainly in the life of Christ. As Hebrew 1:3 states, Jesus was the exact representation of God the Father … only tangible. So we would see Jesus never insisting on His own way. And we do. We see this time and time again.
What I read, whenever there are letters in red, is a submission of his will to the will of his Father. It is His way that Jesus insists on. In this, his own way is yielded and set aside.
When he cried and sweat blood in the garden the night before he was murdered, he called out to His Father to see if there was any other way. But he left that garden yielded. Left his will, set aside. What does this speak about his use of control?
He had control over all of it. Even Satan used this to tempt him 3 years prior. But He wouldn’t use his control if it was to accomplish something his Father wasn’t ok with. That would be abuse of a gift from God.
Do I abuse gifts from God? I wonder what they are. How often I do.
Choosing is a gift. Like money. We get to use choices in a way that will bless, encourage, make the most of a moment, exalt the Lord – or in a way that will keep our thoughts on ourselves, ignore or berate others, waste a moment. Neglect our Creator. In all these things, in the choices we make, we exert control over our lives. He’s ok with that. He made us like that. Like Him. But perhaps this is something that we would benefit from remembering:
Love controls oneself, not another.
He chooses us and in his love, he lets us choose who we want in return, because real Love, agape love, lets the other choose. Real love pours out, does not withhold, and does not manipulate or attempt to control because of fear or insecurity.
As we choose Him, Let’s let others choose.
And in doing so, let us stay steadfast in our trust in the One true God who is Love.
(A writing I originally typed out and on September 23rd, 2015 and then forgot about. I re-read it today and still believe every word. I still consciously pray this way leading with thankfulness)…
I asked myself the other day,
Do children ever ask for gifts they know they already have? Like, put them on their Christmas or birthday wish list?
Probably not. Unless they’re greedy little ankle biters, I bet the only reason they’d do that is ignorance. Kids, at least many American kids, are used to having so many things – games, toys and devices – that sometimes they forget what they own.
They’ll ask, but not check first – “do I have that already, in my bin?” Maybe they’ll ask for it because they never opened the first one, or used it once and then it got lost in the chaos of the bedroom.
It came to me today, we are like that. I hear and read prayers all the time, asking God for things he’s already not only already promised us, but given to us in the person of Christ or in the gift of His Spirit who came to make our heart – mind – body – his home, here on earth after Jesus ascended. So it seems to me that we HAVE what we need.
Well, I’m not sure about some tangible or material things like braces or loans paid off, but we know we have all we need pertaining life and godliness.
Peter writes just that…
God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. This power was given to us through knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and integrity. (2 Peter 1:3 GW)
So now what? Do we sit around and get self conscious about how we’re praying? God forbid! No, I believe that a worthy response to this news of praying for what I already have would be to simply reformat most of my prayers into those of thanksgiving.
Just think it through first, do a bit of an inventory-check and you’ll find that what you’re about to ask him for – I bet you have in some form, already.
Here are some down to earth examples:
If you need to manage your anger, instead of praying, Help me not to sin when I am angry…thank him for his peace that enables you to do so.
If you lack financial provision, thank him for his promise – God you said when I seek first the Kingdom & your righteousness, ALL these things shall be added to me. (Matthew 6:31-33)
If you feel completely alone, or want to ask God for his presence, perhaps you’ve forgotten, he said he will be with you always – even til the end of the age. You can thank him instead for what he’s promised – Father God, I know you will never leave or forsake me. You’re always there. Instead of: Be with _______ (us, them, so & so), how about, “Thanks god, that there is no place your presence cannot find us. If I go to the depths even there, your love will pursue me. You draw us all to you.”
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you.”
John 14:16-17 AMP
There is something powerful about the declaration of a promise and of thanksgiving. The acknowledgement of Him in all our ways – it will be the very thing that will direct our path and straighten our perspective.