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