The Mount

“I remember those days as if they happened yesterday; they were the most meaningful and remarkable days of my life. It was hot, of course, the desert always is but, the nights were cold and the journey quite long – almost two days.” Her face lit ups as she squinted her eyes with joy, “Wherever I walked following me was a cool breeze at my back, a blessing from above. I would never complain about the walk because there were some who walked three, four and five days, bless their souls. Now children, you must remember that it wasn’t safe for a woman to walk alone in the desert. Nefarious men traveled in groups throughout the desert looking to rob, harass and even kill people, but I felt safe, I felt covered.” The children moved in closer. “My journey was predestined, that I’ve never doubted. I walked to hear this one man speak.”

Natania tugged at the hem of her skirt, “Savta Issy, please, tell us the part when you arrived. The anticipation of telling the rest of the story, the best part, gripped her as much as it did David and Natania. She drew a deep breath and began.

“The sea was as calm as glass. I cooled my tired feet on the shore. I looked to the north and saw hundreds, maybe thousands of people – too many to count – sitting and standing on the mountainside. I tried to get as close as I could. This man was the talk of Israel. They said he was a prophet sent from God himself, wiser than King Solomon; some believed he was the Messiah! I wanted to see his face clearly, trying to make it all the way up the mountain but it was too steep for me to climb right up to the top after such a journey. I finally squeezed myself, in and out, between the men, close enough I supposed. Some looked at me – wondering what kind of a woman – travelling without a husband – would have the gumption to come to the mount. Hah! I didn’t care.”

“Twelve men stood with Him – six on either side. He raised his arms and all the people suddenly became quite and sat. I was captivated by his presence. He began to speak; the sound of his voice was soothing to the spirit. My soul was moved, inspired by his wisdom. His words washed over me like fresh, living water. It was as if he was there for me, only me. His purpose rang out – connecting directly to me, like an arrow hitting its mark.” “What does he mean by this?” some whispered. Others said, “He speaks with such wisdom and authority.”

“I closed my eyes momentarily, fixing on blocking out the chatter until all I could hear was him speaking. Every word he spoke was like honey on the tip of my tongue – resonating in my deepest being. Then, almost as in a fantasy, he slowly moved his eyes from one side to the other and, for the briefest moment, and I know this sounds impossible, but, in that moment we connected.  Time surely stopped, children, because he looked right through me. I felt it. ‘Follow me’ a whisper touched my ears then blew through my hair. My knees weakened, though only for a moment. I felt joined with him – forever.”

“We were there for days. Some left, but I couldn’t have left if I had tried. Why would I have? I tell you this story and yet my own words fail me. He spoke of His father with such passion and reverence – calling him ‘our father’. He said he was come down from heaven – sent by his father! This man Jesus … the son of God!

“He gave us a better law; a new covenant he called it. he taught us how to pray, how to love, and that there was no point in worrying. Children, you know how much your father worries. You must teach him what you have learned. He told us we must forgive all trespassers against us in order for His Father to forgive us. Yes – our sins forgiven. He said we must earnestly seek the kingdom of God. He told us we could live in paradise with him if we believe. ‘ Follow me’ he said. ‘Take the narrow gate, it won’t be easy’ he said with a comforting smile. I felt secure, loved, renewed in my spirit. “

“His friends dismissed us. The crowd began leaving in droves. Of course you understand, many had jobs to return to. The people who came left everything behind to hear his wisdom. After he concluded his discourse, he began making his way down the mountain toward me! I closed my eyes and prayed to the God that his son would stop near me – that I could just look into his eyes – look into the eyes of the Son of God! Suddenly, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. The warmth travelled from the top of my head to my toes. I was somehow afraid to look up – well perhaps not afraid, but I felt unworthy. Mere seconds felt like minutes. I looked up, into his eyes, and I could not look away. ‘My daughter, my betrothed’ he said, ‘peace be with you. Your sins have been forgiven.’ I knew my past, my transgressions – all of them. I was so unworthy. I felt as if he knew them too and he didn’t care what they were. They were nothing to him any longer because I believed. I left my guilt at the altar of his presence. ‘Follow me if you desire to live forever’ he whispered. And I did. And I do.”

“That, my little children, must be the closing of my story; it is time for sleep.” She walked with them to their beds, kissed their foreheads, and returned to her chair facing the fireplace. “Oh, most holy heart of Jesus – bless your holy name” she began to pray.

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

 

The Widow of Zarapheth

HopeHave you ever come to a place of utter desperation? Maybe financial problems plaguing you. Maybe a separation or divorce. Maybe dealing with a wayward child, or dealing with a potentially terminal illness. Days, weeks and months go by as you do all you can, in your own strength, to handle the issue that never seems to come to resolve. You come to the end of yourself – the desperation has overtaken you.

 

There’s a story of a widow who lived in the town of Zarapheth with her young son. They were dirt poor and starving – to death. She was hopeless and contemplating suicide. Holding on to her son tightly, she called out to God as a last resort; her pleas returned to her like a boomerang.

 

Whether believing in God, or not, everyone eventually prays for help.

 

Someone came alongside the widow and prayed for her, standing in the gap for her and her needs.  Her prayers were answered. No doubt she was grateful for her blessing; it saved her son’s life as well as her own.

 

Sometimes, when we believe all hope is lost, that can be the moment God steps in and answers our prayers – rarely the way in which we expected. Once there is a resolution, even if its not exactly what we were hoping for, our peace returns to us, or, for the person who doesn’t believe in answered prayers – a type of homeostasis returns.

 

The widow and her son lived on for some time, enjoying everyday life. Some time later, her son became seriously ill. Her faith was again lost. Forgotten was the answered prayer of the past. All focus remained on her very dark and present situation.

 

So often people quickly forget that hope is real and mustn’t be forsaken. Hope is something we need to breathe in – it’s a living thing inside us that needs nurturing. Hope is the anchor, the anchor of faith that we all need in our lives.

 

The widow gave up hope as her son came sank closer to death. She lashed out in anger. She lost her hope. But God, once again made a believer out of her.

 

How many times have our cries resulted in our tears being wiped away, only to find that at the next crossroad, we keep taking the same left turn over and over again. What is the answer to remain at peace always and filled with hopeful expectation? “This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells].” Hebrews 6:19 Amplified.

 

Stand firm. Believe. Hope. Give thanks.

Rescued from the Pit

Female Warrior 2From the beginning, you had your sights set on me. You watched me from afar – every move – every single step, until you could predict my comings and goings.

You moved in closer, only enough to hear the sound of my voice and my cries. Listening and watching a small girl . . .  you stalked me – raping my innocence after his wickedness had violated me. He shut me up. You moved in closer, serving me a deadly cocktail of shame, guilt and fear. I didn’t know any better and I drank.

He couldn’t leave me alone – his sin was your entry point – your pleasure. You observed intently, missing nothing. You listened to my pain, pain that left grooves in my mind. I stopped feeling. I hid everything from everyone. I was dead on the inside, buried alive in my own life.  You treasured my pain because it birthed a diabolic plan that you would stick around, a very long time, to execute. You thought you had me – an eternal conquest.,

But you were wrong. I grew up like we all do. I made a choice that didn’t include you. You see, I’ve been rescued and redeemed from the pit you sentenced me to live in. He has other plans for me – plans that don’t include harm, plans that will prosper me. He’s everything I’ve ever needed or wanted. He is my fortress. He is faithful and strong. He is my refuge in a storm, and shade from the heat. He is my Rock and my Provider. He is my Comforter, my Hope, and my Advocate. He is my Redeemer, my Saviour and my Lord. He helps me and guides me. He is compassionate and very jealous, very powerful, ever present and all consuming. He is with me and in me and for me. So, there’s no room for you anymore.

I am serving you with an eviction notice; that’s right – no apologies. You’ll need to pack quickly. I will no longer be troubled or harassed by you. You’re no longer welcome here. You have no power or authority over me. You can’t steal anything from me anymore. You’re done. Finished. From now on, I’ll see you coming from afar. We’ll be ready for you. I have the power and authority to trample serpents and scorpions and you, sir, are a snake if I ever saw one. You can move into the pit; it’s already been decorated for you.

“But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.” 1 Kings 5:4

You are my Desire

mountain landscapeYou have called me from the pit and raised me up by your strong and mighty right hand. You placed my feet on solid ground – a lasting foundation of hope.I will not fall, for I lean on you, my Cornerstone.

The morning dawns, I awaken to thoughts of you.

I see you in everything – everywhere I go.

 

I see your face in flowers, in the landscape, in the clouds and by the sea – your beauty is reflected in all creation.

I hear your still small voice and your whisper through the leaves rustling in the trees

I feel your touch as the sun lights on my face and wraps me in your warmth.

I weep at the thought of being alone – of being separated from you. You are all I need and more.

I have desired you with all I am. I seek you with all my heart.

You are with me in soul and spirit.

Your counsel is my comfort; your wisdom is my strength.

You shower me with love and tender mercies every morning.

You have put my past far from me and set my eyes on tomorrow – a future with you – eternity.

Your blessings are countless. I speak of them often to those you set before me, a testimony to your unfailing love.

My love deepens with the knowledge and wisdom you impart to me. Your Word illuminates my life.

I am filled with you. Your promises sustain me.

I am complete in you alone, my true love, my Saviour, my God.

My Beating Heart

love boxBlue skies darken. A stark gray moves in slowly as the clouds engulf the sun. Cold winds pass through me. The day is hardened. A new season begins – trials and tribulation abound.My heart beats for you and I trust.

My enemy stands against me, tormenting me. Fear knocks – I dare not open the door. Announcing a grim destiny – but you offer eternity.

My heart beats for you and I turn.

Hanging on. Counting on – your saving words. I battle from victory. Believing is seeing. He relents. You remain.

My heart beats for you and I rest.

The light of dawn shines forth from the east – a refreshing mist … a rainbow of promise. Your presence follows.

My heart beats for you and I worship.

From existence without life – my past washed away by your love. Forgiven. Restored. Reconciled.

My heart beats for you and I rejoice.

In your arms, your strong right hand – your protection, your healing, your promises and peace. Life reborn.

My heart beats for you and I serve.

A Star is Born; She Should Light up Someone’s Life

StarlightShe lived in a frigid room for nine months. There were no belly strokes, no songs sung, only the negative vibrations filtered down through the lifeline. Unwelcome.

It frightened her – reluctant to stay and equally reluctant  to leave. What if the outside was as uninviting as the inside? She was not chosen. There was nothing between the donors but anger and resentment echoed by the shrill but unspoken words between them. I don’t want to be with you. You make me sick. But the worse words of all meant to curse the womb – I don’t want this baby – your baby. A shock reverberated to the depths – stinging, poison, scarring the one within – a sentence meant to deliver a death blow. Little chance. Little hope.

Deeper than the pain that seared to her core,  a small beating heart began to pound. She began to move, making her way into the cold arms of a stranger.

Before it all – a seed sown that would one day grow. There was hope. She had been chosen by someone. She would light up His life.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

 

The Funk

TreibsandHave you ever felt it? Have you ever been in a dark place where any movement on your part will only bury you alive? Have you ever felt so naked, so stripped down, unveiled, exposed, unmasked, vulnerable, defenseless … have you ever felt raw? There’s hope.

When a person is in that state they are unable to articulate their pain. They become withdrawn and reclusive. Suddenly, they have nothing to say, no opinion to contribute. Nothing is worth the effort of stringing words together to form a thought. Everything they say and do comes from a place of emptiness, an emptiness that just can’t be filled by another human being, no matter how much they love you. You might not want to die, but the thought of continuing in life is exhausting. There’s Hope.

People seem to need a name for this “condition”. Some call it depression. Others call it Seasonal Affective Disorder and some just refer to it as a lack of faith.

Against every bit of judgment, good or bad, I am going to expose myself … there’s a reason this blog is named “Unveiling Hope”. At the risk of worrying my family and friends, let me state for the record that I am not suicidal so don’t rush over or call; don’t worry and don’t feel guilty if we haven’t touched base in some time. This post serves a purpose.

Several times a year I go through what I call a grand funk. It is a state that I seem to slip into ever so slowly that I don’t even recognize what is happening until I am full on engulfed by it. Most often, by then, there is nothing anyone can do to help me for the most part because they don’t know what is going on. I have become quite adept at hiding the ugly little truth.  For certain, there is that part of me that wants people to think I’ve always got it all together and I can handle everything that life throws at me – even though I’m sure no one actually thinks that. No, this “thing” takes hold of me. It wraps itself around me and squeezes until there is almost nothing left of me. My silence gives it power. I become fearful that people might misunderstand if I tell them what is going on. I’m cruel to myself. I yell inside “Don’t cry! Whatever you do, don’t cry!” Those words still resonate … haunting voices of days gone by.

I’ve also become accomplished at changing masks, wearing whatever mask I believe needs to be worn at any particular moment. I’ve been afraid to be the real me so much so that there are times I’m not even sure where I begin and the mask ends. It sounds rather pathetic to say but when I’m in this state, I haven’t the foggiest idea who I am. I believe however that it is the very action of veiling my truth that becomes a generating station of denial that only serves to sink me deeper and deeper into the funk. Who am I trying to impress?

So, you might be wondering, why I am sharing this? Or perhaps you’re thinking you should call 9-1-1. Why am I exposing my pain for all to see? Why am I doing the very thing that I have kept private and hidden from so many, so well, and for so long? It hurts too much to bury it. I feel like I’m being pulled into it deeper. Keeping it in doesn’t seem to be serving me any purpose. The funk must have a function. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Do I actually benefit from the state of raw? Is there any good that can possibly come out of an experience where someone is so exposed that every nerve throbs and the thoughts they think hurt? I think there is.

I have heard some well-meaning people tell me that I should pray more or that I lack faith and that is why this happens to me. But they are wrong. Maybe this doesn’t happen to me but happens for me; maybe it happens to me for others. There is only one certainty when I am in the funk: by God’s grace and mercy, I will prevail. I will be victorious. Some would argue, what kind of God would allow you thrash about in quicksand for an indeterminate period of time? The fact is that only a loving God would allow it because there is something that needs to be learned and shared. Experience tells me that no matter how long the funk lasts He will rescue me and I will always come out better than when I went in. I have learned to ride the wave and hang on to Him for my very life. There are absolutely times that I FEEL I’ll not make it this time, but I KNOW that I will because He has NEVER left me or forsaken me … never. He is the Hope I hang on to.

Each time I go through this, I become a stronger person, but more importantly, I become a more compassionate person. I know what people are going through and I can usually see it coming before they become fully overtaken by it. My journey has taught me (keeps teaching me) that I am able to stand along another and say, “I know Someone who can help.” Faith is believing in what you cannot see because you know it will be, even though it doesn’t feel so.

If you’re in a funk at this moment, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that you’re not crazy. I want you to know that it is not a lack of faith that got you to this point but faith will sustain you whilst you are there and He will lead you out. You will overcome. You will be victorious.

Be the best you that you can be today and don’t measure your goodness and value by someone else’s standards. If you can barely “be” at this moment, hang on to all hope. Hang on for dear life because life is precious.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

My Hope is in Jesus.