It Is Well With My soul

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Have you ever been in God’s waiting room? I am in the process of waiting for my new book, The Covenant Keeper to be printed. Because of technical difficulties, it has been a long process. However, that is not the only “waiting” I am doing.

It just seems many things in my life are shifting. I have heard the Lord speak about a new season, a new direction and my heart has said yes to His nudging. This means I have pulled back from some of our usual meetings and am waiting for the new thing.

Waiting…. Waiting… Waiting… Waiting for the new. As one friend put it, “You are in the waiting hall of the Lord. One door has closed and the new door has not opened as yet. And so you wait….”

This morning as I was “waiting on the Lord” I heard him ask me, “Is it well with your soul today?” I stopped for a moment to take inventory. Did I feel peace? Anxiety? Fear? Joy? After checking, I realized that yes, it is well with my soul.

You see, God’s waiting hall is not a place of emptiness where nothing is taking place. It is a place of preparation, of taking off the old clothes of the old season and being ready for the new outfits, the new mantles of the new season. A place to stop, take inventory, and learn to trust Him all over again for the new.

Earlier this week I felt anxiety over several things. I knew I was still in that waiting hall and I wanted out! Yard work to be complete, emails to answer, projects to complete, the book, the ministry, my life. And why were my new flowers dying, for heaven’s sake! I was ready to move forward. Ready for the new door to open. Yet, there was nothing I could do but wait. After venting all of this to my long-suffering husband, I realized the things that caused me to feel the most anxious were the things I could not control. After a few frustrated tears, His peace came and BJ was quite relieved. (BJ did buy me some new ferns to replace the dead flowers.)

 

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THANKS, HONEY!

 

This morning my prayer was, “Father, why was I so anxious earlier this week?”

His answer, “Look at your flower beds.”

That was a strange reply. Then I noted that all of my flower beds had distinct borders. Gently the Lord spoke, “You don’t enjoy flowers that might get outside of the borders. That would feel out of control to you. And neither do you like for circumstances in your life to be out of control, outside of the borders you have created in your heart or mind.” Ouch! I began to see the earlier anxiety had come from situations in which I was not in control. My children’s choices, the publication date of my book, our ministry, and so many other projects. I realized, yet again, that in order to walk in peace I had to learn a new level of trust. This is a lesson I have walked out over and over and over again but one I frequently forget.

Trust. Simple trust in the most trustworthy one of all. My Father.

So in taking inventory this morning, I smiled and said, “Yes, I trust you all over again. You have never failed me and you won’t start now. It is well with my soul.”

Will this next season require swimsuits or snowshoes? I don’t know, but I do know my Father is preparing me for either one as I wait in His waiting hall. Whenever the new door opens it will be the right door, the right time and I will be ready. Yes, “It is well with my soul.”

 

Trust. No Borders. My Next Room?

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Spring!

The first thing the Lord did when He created man was to place him in a garden. So many times Jesus spoke of farmers, crops, and flowers. One of my favorite scriptures is from Matt. 6: 28-29“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

 

I have been quite busy working in my garden and loving every minute. There is something about digging in the dirt that brings fulfillment to my heart and fullness to my soul. Psalm 23 that states, “He restores my soul.” For me, one of the best ways for my soul to be restored is to have dirt under my fingernails. Last year was such a busy year for us and by the end of 2017 I was quite burned out. I seemed to have lost the joy of everyday life. Talk about a dry spell. So the Lord in His mercy has had me to pull way back on many things, re-evaluate everything I was doing in ministry and just rest. No, not sleeping, but finding rest for my soul.

How would the Lord restore my soul? My body was fine. My spirit seemed to be in touch with the Holy Spirit. But my soul? Dry, tired, no joy and even a feeling of sadness. I needed restoration.

Matt. 11:28-30. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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I began to ask, “Lord, how do I walk with you, how do you do it?” I thought I needed to be at every meeting, in touch with every person I knew, take care of all the problems of my children (ouch!) and the list goes on! Talk about two big issues.

Number one: Who is in control? I quickly discovered it was not me!

Number two: I had a big case of FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out!!!

As I surrendered Number One to the Lord and am learning to release others to him and to say “No” to other things, BJ is still traveling to many meetings and prayer assignments. I am staying home, planting flowers, digging in the dirt.

The second one seemed to be a little more difficult. I had a big case of the “what if’s.” What if no one remembers me? What if I miss out on the Big Thing? What if everyone is there…. And no one misses me? You see, we all want to be invited to the party! No one likes to be left out.

And guess what? Most everything, all the meetings, went right along without me just fine. Does that mean I’m done, not important? Not at all. You see I have found peace working in my garden. The Master Gardner is right there with me, enjoying the beauty He created and I help to grow.

When the time comes, if it comes, I will be back out there, going and doing. But my prayer is that I will be wiser than before, I will pray to hear if I am to go or to stay.

If I go, he will direct me, I will walk in joy and fellowship with others and love the busyness of it all, especially the opportunity to teach, share and pray with others.

If He says stay, I will be content to stay, be quiet and be still and KNOW that He is God. You see, that is where my soul will be restored. That is where I will find his rest. That is where I will find Him: In the garden looking, smelling and enjoying the lilies. I will be walking in the unforced rhythms of His grace. In my garden.

 

 

Silent Night

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It’s Christmas and my cups are out! Can’t help but smile when you sip hot coffee from a cheerful Christmas mug. This year as part of my own devotion I plan to read a Christmas carol each day. The words are so rich, and I don’t want to miss the message behind the words. Often they were composed with a specific purpose, other times written from a moving experience of the heart, but they always tell the story of salvation in the language of music. Who doesn’t get teary eyes watching little boys in bath robes and sweet little girls with crooked halos singing “Away in a Manger.”

Today the song on my heart is Silent Night. Most of us know the story of the broken organ in a small Austrian village. Joseph Mohr, the priest, had just watched a troupe of traveling actors present the nativity play and his heart was deeply moved. Rather than going home he walked in hushed silence to a hill overlooking the little village. His heart swelled as he reflected on the birth of the Messiah in the stillness of the snowy evening. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Could he visualize the events that quietly took place so long ago in another small villiage in Israel? In Bethlehem? “Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild.”

Suddenly that tranquil night was filled with light and angels! “Shepherds quake at the sight!”

The next day he shared this moment and poem with his friend and fellow priest, Franz Gruber. Franz composed a simple melody on the guitar and Silent Night was sung in the tiny little villiage of Oberndorf, Austria, at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Silent Night

By Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star lend thy light;
With the Angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

The first verse ends with “sleep in heavenly peace.” I hope today you will sing all of the verses to this beautiful carol and may you also sleep in heavenly peace, because he came.

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“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

Salt

saltRecently a friend was going through a difficult time in her family life. As we spoke she made the statement, “I need the community of believers right now. I need to worship with others. I have prayed, read and listened on line to worship, but I just need to experience Jesus with skin on.”

A few days later I learned that some women from her prayer group had kidnapped her and taken her out to dinner. They laughed, talked and cried together. They prayed for her and simply loved her. When we spoke again she sounded very different. She had been with believers, not in a church service, but in a restaurant where they laughed, talked and cried together. They prayed for each other and my friend was restored in her spirit. Her situation had not changed, but her total outlook had been refreshed and she had the courage and strength to go on.

I was reminded that years ago I made bread. I had put in the yeast, the flour, honey and oil. I had kneaded it and it rose and became five beautiful loaves of bread. The aroma filled the house and I sliced a piece right away. I watched as the butter melted and mixed with the honey on this delicious looking, amazing fresh hot bread, straight from the oven.

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Publicdomain.net

WELL YUK!!! What was wrong with this bread?!

I had forgotten to add the salt. I had baked five beautiful loaves of bread. And I threw away five beautiful loaves of bread.

No salt.

Jesus told us we were to be the salt of the earth. My friend had all the ingredients to walk through this pain. She had the Word. She had the Spirit. She had Prayer. But sometimes we all just need a little salt to complete the recipe. We need the salt to make the bread of adversity  palatable. We need the salt to help us share the load so we can grasp hold of the hand of the Lord and just keep walking forward.

We all need a little salt sometimes. And at other times, we need to BE the salt. The Lord told us to bear each others burdens. The Book of Proverbs tells us that when one falls the other can lift him up.  Building community with other believers in so important in our lives. God created community in the garden. Jesus walked in community with his disciples. We were created for community. We need each other.

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So go and be salt to your world!

GRACE, The Pleasure of His Company

 

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From http://www.Biblestudyquestions.info

The word Grace appears 132 times in the KJV of the Bible. The first time it appears is when Noah found ‘Grace’. God was in the middle of saying he was sorry he had created man and then the words: But Noah found grace! Grace here means ‘an object of beauty, favor, precious and to show mercy.’ Noah found the Pleasure of His Company and was saved from destruction.

In the New Testament the first time Grace is used is in Luke 2:40. And the Grace of God was upon him (Jesus as a child). Here Grace has a slightly different connotation “Full of cheer, liberal joy & pleasure, divine influence and favor.” Jesus walk in the Pleasure of His Father’s Company, in joy and favor.

Have you ever gone through a dry spell spiritually? Our past several months have been quite busy and disruptive with home renovations, the holidays, and guests in our home. Then at the very end, I caught a cold and was in bed a few days. Now I’m up and going, but feel like a dry crust of bread or a cracker spiritually. During this hectic time my reading was in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There I saw God’s great wisdom in His law in new ways and felt a Holy fear in my heart at His awesomeness. Yet rather than move on over into the New Covenant, I camped out on Judgment and began to meditate on it.

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Dry as a cracker!

After a few sleepless nights looking at his judgment, I really ‘worried’ rather than prayed my prayers to him. “Lord, what about my family? What about the nation? ISIS? The presidential election? Human trafficking? The lost people in Mongolia?” My mind was spinning. I realized that sometimes I pray as though the Lord doesn’t have all the information I have and I should explain to him all of the circumstances and the possible solutions to all of these problems. Have you ever prayed this way?

Then, as the morning light began to dawn I heard the Lord say, “Ruthie, believe it or not, I am aware of all of these situations. You have explained them well to me and I’m actually big enough to handle them all. They are not for you to carry. Can you trust me to carry them for you? Today, I want you to look up, print out and meditate on the word ‘Grace’.”

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From Christian Clipart

And so I did.

Grace is a gift and I began to reach out and receive His gift of grace. Grace says to my heart, “You are my joy and pleasure. You are what I came to earth to redeem, rescue and love. Soak in the thought that when I look at you, I smile. I long to just sit a while and simply enjoy your company. Will you sit with me?”

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And so I did that too.

THAT, my friend, is grace. The Pleasure of His Company! His joy, His pleasure, His love poured out on me. The price of judgment (My Debt) has been paid and He has torn up my bill. Now He simply desires the pleasure of MY company. This dry crumb has now become soaked. Maybe even to the point of bread pudding! Moist, sweet, and pleasant for the King.

I challenge you today: Sit a spell with the lover of your soul. Meditate on His marvelous, amazing grace. Realize that when He looks at you, he smiles. Know that you are His joy! His treasure! His child, bought, paid for and fully adopted into His family! Not because you deserved it, but because He saw you, loved you and wanted you for his very own.

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He desires the Pleasure of Your Company.