Taking Off My Shoes

Poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote these words:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit ’round it, and pluck blackberries,

It caught my attention me this week. After seeing this piece of her poem, I went to the book of Exodus and to remind myself of God’s instruction to Moses.

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” -Exodus 3:5 

Continue reading “Taking Off My Shoes”

He Is Mighty In Strength

 

I believe people are creatures of habit. Some more than others and myself more than most. This phrase is repeated several times in Exodus 13: “for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place.” This had to be repeated over and over again to remind and encourage Israel to fear the Lord and not their adversaries.

It is a beautiful statement that also reminded them of His power. It was only by His strong hand that the people were brought out of Egypt. By the same strong hand, God made a way for me by sending Christ, so how much more should I be encouraged by His power and love?

In that same chapter in Exodus, God decided not to take the Israelites straight to their destination, but took them the long way around so they wouldn’t be scared by arising conflict. Perhaps God knew they were so close to Egypt, they would run back. Even though their circumstances in Egypt were terrible, maybe He knew that they too, were creatures of habit. They would rather return to the only thing they knew than press on and trust Him for better circumstances and a life of serving Him.

Just like the Israelites God doesn’t always lead me the shortest path. Thankfully He sees all the obstacles. He knows my heart better than I know my heart. He knows what will trip me up and where I will doubt Him and His strong hand. I too forget that whatever God calls me to face is better than simply remaining where I am.

Following God usually requires change. It usually requires work. It usually requires doing things that are not easy or fun. If that seems like a total bust, there is some good news. His strong hand will be there guiding us. Those are not just words on pages; but real promises, power, and strength that we can wholeheartedly believe in.

By the end of the Chapter 14, after seeing the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites finally start believing. Sadly, it takes me just as long to start believing God, and I have scripture showing me over and over examples of His steadfast love and faithfulness. His strong hand is exemplified over and over, yet I still question His guidance.

He is wise in heart and mighty in strength (Job 9:4). He exhibits mighty strength by saving the day while gently loving and guiding us. He raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power (1 Corinthians 6:14). His power is beyond our comprehension.

His hand is strong. His love is good. Whatever you are being called to face; whatever change you are looking at, you can trust in His strength. His power and strength are bigger than what He has called you to.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…and I love you.

-Isaiah 43:1, 4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

-Ephesians 6:10

Actually, It Is Very Near To You

 

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us…” -Deuteronomy 29:29

No other time in my life have I been more convinced of that verse. I am taking baby steps and giant leaps both at once into a direction that seems to be off my radar most days. I am not completely confident of this direction. Some things I know, other things I Continue reading “Actually, It Is Very Near To You”

Cease Striving

I’m alive. Apparently not very good at keeping up a blog, but I’m alive. Can’t even muster up a  picture at the top of this post with a coordinating quote, because if that picture indicated my life right now it would be a stack of books I’m confused about, a schedule for a job I never thought I would be doing, and a “To Do” list I might as well throw away at this point. My intention was at least a monthly post, but you know, life and stuff. We’ll call it a summer sabbatical because that sounds better than my first summer in 14 years without a job. I would love to be able to have something profound to say after so many months of writing nothing, but I really don’t. With weird transitions come weird feelings. I am thankful to be able to come before the Lord honest about my feelings toward His plan for my life. I have found peace in the midst of the confusion. Mainly in this:

It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him. -1 Samuel 3:18

I don’t know why the Lord chooses to reveal His plan in ways that are the exact opposite of my own plan. I don’t know why my plan wasn’t His plan, because, in my opinion, my plan was awesome. I do know that maybe His plan seems to be failing because I’m still holding on to my plan. I do know that my awesome plan will look like a trip to Walmart in comparison to His plan. I do know that each day I feel I’m failing, God reminds me that He is faithful and in Him I have much hope.

I’m weak. I’m selfish. I want my plan and my way. But God is a God of grace and mercy and love. I’ve asked Him several times to reconsider my plan, but His love for me is too great to let me have my own way. My life is His and His instruction will come in His own time and in His own way. By His grace, I will stand in this confusion and say, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”

Cease striving and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:10

Born to Set Thy People Free

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As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, for the promise of a Savior, I can think of no better hymn:

Come Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel’s strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of every longing heart

Joy to those who long to see Thee

Day-spring from on high appear

Come thou promised Rod of Jesse

Of Thy birth we long to hear

O’er the hills the angels singing

News glad tidings of a birth

Go to him your praises bringing

Christ the Lord has come to earth

Come to earth to taste our sadness

He whose glories knew no end

By his life he brings us gladness

Our Redeemer Shepherd Friend

Leaving riches without number

Born within a cattle stall

This the everlasting wonder

Christ was born Lord of all

Born Thy people to deliver

Born a child and yet a King

Born to reign in us forever

Now Thy gracious kingdom bring

By Thine own eternal spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone

By Thine all sufficient merit

Raise us to Thy glorious throne

-Charles Wesley

I love this video done by the Skit Guys (song by Marcy Priest):

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

-1 Peter 1:8-13 (emphasis mine)

Jesus our King came. We wait eagerly for His return. Come Thou long expected Jesus.

Guest Blogger – How to Make the Painstaking Exchange From Controlling Behaviour to a Peaceful Heart

I’m happy to have Pirkko Rytkonen guest blogging today. Pirkko lives in Canada and is a retired teacher. She is originally from Finland and has lived in three different countries and ten different cities. Pirkko writes to inspire and encourage people to grow in God’s grace through tough situations. You can read more about Pirkko and her blog here. Hope you enjoy her words below!

 

Who’s controlling your life? What’s controlling your life? When trouble comes do you try to control the situation to your advantage? Or will you place the problem in God’s hand? Or will you manipulate others to get your own way?

Are you a controller or someone who is easily controlled by another person? Unravelling the truth about control issues reveals different emotions behind this. Many of us may not even recognize controlling behaviour until we hit a wall and we’ve had enough. Continue reading “Guest Blogger – How to Make the Painstaking Exchange From Controlling Behaviour to a Peaceful Heart”

Beginning

Some say the art of blogging is dead, so I’ve decided to start one. Because when I jump on a bandwagon, I jump hard…onto an empty wagon…where everyone else has already jumped three carts over. I don’t get memos. I still read from paper books and sometimes take my iPod nano (2nd generation) on trips. I’m not cool but I think I have something to say.

I want to write to encourage others to see God’s grace and live to glorify Him. I want to make Jesus look desirable to a society who seems to believe He is not. I want people to find hope in Him and I want people to rest in His faithfulness. He is good.

That is the story behind my blog. I think what I am most thankful for along the way is learning to depend confidently on Him. I better understand the importance of asking Him what to pray for and allowing Him to guide my next step.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give it to you.
-John 15:14-16

Jesus is faithful. Even when I didn’t – and don’t – have much faith in myself, he remains faithful.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.
-2 Timothy 2:13