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.

 

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 Refiner’s Fire

Recently, a show aired on television that showed how the ancients refined gold and silver. The refining of metals dates back to 550 BC at Sardis, where the first coins were minted. The refiner would heat the fire to 700 degrees to melt the silver and then pour it into clay jars. The impurities would float to the top and stick to the edges of the pots. How did the refiner know when the silver was pure? He knew when he could see a perfect reflection of himself in the silver.

I have to admit that I often struggle with the knowledge that I have been made in God’s image because at any given time I can take a spiritual look at myself in the mirror and I have yet to see His perfect image staring back at me. After watching this show, it became clear to me that the fact that I do not see His reflection it does not mean that I am not made in His image and it does not mean that I will never see His reflection looking back at me. Refining gold and silver is a process.

Malachi 3:2-3 describes Yeshua’s coming as follows: “For He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”

When I accepted Yeshua into my heart, my life changed immediately. My image did not. I became a child of God, but I did not always look like one to those around me, especially in the beginning. The process however commenced immediately.

I look at many circumstances, events – and from time to time – a crisis here and there. In retrospect, I can see that in all of things, God has allowed the heat to be turned up in order to separate the dross from my character by this very process. I am called to reflect grace and mercy, not unkindness and judgment. I am called to reflect courage and faith, not cowardice and fear. I am called to live and walk in integrity, not dishonesty. The purification or refining in my life is a continuous process, one that deepens my dependency on Him, one that brings me into a more intimate relationship with Him, and one that brings me closer to having His reflection look back at me in that spiritual mirror.

Knowing Him is loving Him. Loving Him is doing as He did in the same nature and spirit as He did. His Refiner’s Fire is not limited to the Levites….

Send

ImageI’ve been in a dark place recently. In truth, it seems as though I have been doing a world tour of dark places and yet, even my closest friends were not privy. I’ve hidden the worse of it from those who love me the most because I have always been rather particular about just how vulnerable I’ll allow myself to be. I don’t mind if my best friend knows about a bad day or two at the office, or that I’m feeling a little blue from time to time. But I can’t tell her that I cry myself to sleep every night. What would she think!? I don’t mind telling my children that I still mourn the recent death of my dog, but I can’t tell them that his death ripped a gaping hole in my heart that seems as though it’s destined to keep growing. This list goes on, but I think you get the picture. My pride dictated that I “suck it up”. I thought I could handle things on my own but I let things get out of hand. The worse things got, the more I withdrew into darkness. As scary as it was, it seemed familiar and safe.

Maybe you’re familiar with the place – the abyss where solitude has a strangle hold on your life? Every breath you breathe you long to reach out, but with each passing breath it becomes more and more difficult. The paralysis of analysis has set in; hope is all but snuffed out. You cling to your faith with your very life. You feel as if your already half buried; part of you wants to stay there and rest a while but the other half is struggling to get out of the grave. You need to connect with someone but you’ve been fighting it for so long that everything has piled up. Fear and shame are standing guard to make sure you don’t slip up and use a life-line. The truth is – if you reach out now – you’ll fall to pieces and they’ll know that you’re not … perfect! They’ll think that you’re one of “those” people who have problems, issues, unfulfilled desires, fears – they may even catch you in flagrante delicto perched upon the proverbial pity pot.

I can’t call now. I won’t even be able to mutter the word, “Hello”. The courtesy of asking the person on the other end of the phone how they are will, in all certainty, show itself for the requisite attempt at cordiality that it is – truth be known – it has to be all about me now. I need to keep some form of control over my quickly fading dignity so I decide an email is best to cover up the tears and blubbering. At the end of the day, I can always edit and – I don’t really have to choose “send”. Maybe just writing the email will be the cathartic experience I need to kick me off the pot. My pain splatters upon the page with every key stroke. Nothing is held back. Truth is leaking out through my fingertips. I don’t care who knows now. Who am I fooling? I don’t have the energy to continue the masquerade.

The silence is broken. The truth has set me free. I didn’t want anyone to see me naked. I just wanted to break the bonds of guilt, self loathing and condemnation that my adversary had so wittingly cast upon me – something I permitted. Ah, he didn’t count on me setting my pride aside. He didn’t think that the removal of the fig leaf would bring strength and healing. He was counting on me to use it to cover my fear and shame. He didn’t know that love casts out all fear. He didn’t know that God was able to show me His love through the one I connected with. She was His light.

Silence perpetuates darkness. Don’t let your enemy convince you that anyone thinks you’re perfect – or that you have no problems, or pain and suffering. Don’t let him think you’re alone or that no one has time for you. Don’t let him convince you that you’re a burden; this is the trickery and deceit that he uses to keep you isolated – in darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:5.

If you are in this place right now, please – hit the send key and let me know how the light defeated your darkness.

When You Believe a Lie

You are beautiful

You are beautiful

You may not recognize it in the beginning, but there’s a feeling in the pit of your stomach that says, “that cant be true”. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones, it just doesn’t resonate with the truth – what you know – so, you tuck it away. But, you can’t unhear it – it’s been said.

Maybe it’s your bff who tells you that she’s doing you a favour by telling you that you’ve gained weight and that new guy on the block or at work clearly likes his girls slender and petite. She only said it once but it went deep because she wasn’t the first to say it, or something like it.

Maybe it was Mom – the woman who bore you, who nursed, who told you how loved you were but whispered in your ear, “Don’t worry about your grades, sweetheart. You’re the pretty one, your sister is the smart one.” Then a few days later someone else said, “Are you stupid, or what?” Before you knew it, it was ingrained, piled up on all the other stuff. You used to think you were quite a spark and now they call you Sparky to mock you.

Maybe it’s him – he’s been putting you down since day one. You’re useless, worthless, you’re fat and ugly and no one else would have you. Suddenly it seems true. You can’t even be in a room with your friends anymore because you’re so afraid someone will talk about something intelligent and they’ll see you for who you really are – or at least as who he said you are.

History is replete with stories of people who incited rebellions, war, and discord that started by one little lie – a seed. The real concern is that power those words had and the destruction they caused. How many people have ended their lives because they believed there was no goodness in them, or they were insignificant, or unloved? Even one is too many.

You know, you KNOW, that there is something good in you! You know your heart. You feel the longing for love inside you so you know that you can recognize the need – whether inside yourself or in someone else. You can recognize someone who is like you – because those kinds of feeling are like scars you can’t hide.

When you believe a lie, you give power – your power – to the liar. Whether it’s your bff, your boyfriend, mother, husband, sister, teacher or boss – you know a lie when you hear it because you are intelligent. You are valued. You are lovable and you are beautiful. When you believe a lie you begin to live the lie and then, each day you die a little more inside. Choose the truth. Choose to live. You are beautiful in every way.