Part 7: Chapter 7 – Day 3: Stepping Into Grace

Welcome to Day 3 of Chapter 7 from Arise & Shine’s Part 7. Today, Bettie is bringing forward our third free will offering of The New Covenant of Love.

Have you faced a shift in your life recently?

I have felt so many shifts throughout the years. And I’ve found that the Seasons will change, and our lives most assuredly move to different rhythms. But our Living Word, Jesus Christ, remains solid and unchanging for us. 

As my life-rhythms changed dramatically this past year, I saw a new Rheumatologist this past fall.  A new Doctor for a new state, here in this season of transition. And he shocked me with his words:

“I see no need to try to add in any other medication. Your body has clearly rejected so many. You have actually been managing your flares wisely.”

Managing wisely? How could that be? I have felt so weak in knowing how to pace my days. When I mulled over the Doctor’s words the next day, I knew WHO had been doing the managing, and I felt like laughing–Holy Spirit guided holy laughter! In spite of my weakness and fleshly ways of trying to carry the burdens myself, God has always been the One carrying me.

Even when I have not acknowledged or seen His hand–He has always been shaping and molding my heart.  The pain might rage, or my weakened flesh might grow weary, but HE is my One unchanging steady point, keeping me in step with His plans and His safe boundaries.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

The Greek meaning for that phrase, “keep step” set my mind to remembering a time of physically “keeping in step” many decades ago, when I was a young teenager. (Follow this link to the Biblehub website to find more word meanings:)

4748 stoixéō (from stoixos, “a row, line, or rank“) – properly, walk in line, in strict accordance to a particular pace (“stride”); walk in cadence, “keep in step.”

Helps Word-Studies

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The young, chubby clarinet player fell behind at every practice. The Squad Leaders called out in frustration, “What is your problem? Why can’t you stay in step?” The clarinet player did not have an answer. Playing the notes while standing and moving around the field was hard enough. Even the hours of practice on the Band Camp field didn’t seem to make a dent in her progress.

She went home determined to learn. In the same way that her old clarinet was a puzzle to others, her inability to grasp the rhythm was a puzzle also. So she marched around her yard and her friend’s yard (the same one who climbed the willow tree with her in their younger days.) Left, right, left, right, … over and over again until she began to feel the words within the notes she played.

There came a day, and she couldn’t even remember when it happened, that the rhythm had etched itself onto her legs and into her mind. The music and the movements joined together, and she was flowing with the group. The years passed, and unbelievably, she became a Squad Leader. When a new recruit who could not stay in step joined the ranks, she remembered. And she waited. It would come, the rhythm would wrap itself around the new one’s heart also.

~~~~~~

Now, many years past that fresh-paced young life rhythm, my husband and I sold our home last year and moved in with our daughter’s family. As we were preparing for that move,  I paused and looked around one morning, realizing that the barren walls seemed to be speaking to me. I felt the Lord’s nudging to find expression for what He had placed within my heart:

The Barren Walls

The empty rooms
are echoing
And the barren walls
are speaking
What is it they are saying?

Listen to our stories
Hear the laughter
and the tears
Pay attention to the figures
from the mists
you will recall ...

Set down roots
the LORD had spoken
Settle in the land
I called you to.
Your work will be your prayer
as the years unfold and spin.

I will break up your flinty ground
in the gardens of your heart.
I will array your rooms with beauty
by the singing of MY heart.

And when the years are done
the rooms seem stark and bare
You will look inside your soul
and find that nothing's lost.

I have stripped away the outer
to fill the inner even more
with OVERFLOWING
OVERWHELMING
OVERSHADOWING
FULLNESS OF MY SPIRIT.

You are HOME
inside MY heart.

--bg

And suddenly, the years of that chubby girl in marching band melted together with the memories of a young housewife raising her toddlers who overnight became teenagers pushing their own boundaries. 

Isn’t that what we all do? We find ourselves chafing at the boundaries set up around us.

We think we know the right pace to set,  the correct rhythm with which our life should flow. But all the while, our Saviour has set a plan in motion and has invited us to come follow Him.  He has longed to inscribe His New Covenant of Life upon our hearts: the unforced rhythm found within His perfect boundaries and pacing and planning.

“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.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

When the seasons change and I am taken off-guard, feeling adrift from my usual rhythm,  He whispers His voice of comfort to me:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

Oh dear friend, would you join me in prayer to this wonderful Savior who calls us to live within His new Covenant of life for us?

Dear Lord Jesus, 

Thank You so much for the gift that You have set before us: New Life found in Your grace-filled New Covenant for us. Forgive us for thinking that we could manage our lives, and direct our steps ourselves. What a joy to know that You have already set in motion the perfect plan for each of us!

Thank You for revealing Your movements within us as we’ve looked back over the years. Even when we stubbornly resisted Your leading, Thank You for being so patient with us! 

We take such joy in Your planning and pacing of our days! We praise You for every change of season that You brought about in our lives. For we can look back and see that it was in the very change that You were showing us how to walk in step with You.

Keep us in Your ways. Keep us focused on You. We know our weaknesses too well–but then so do You! And in each place of weakness, You have come to give us Your own New Life flowing in our veins. Oh praise You Lord Jesus for being our great Saviour of our souls.

In Your name we pray,

Amen.

May these songs of worship bless you in the unforced rhythmic beat of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s ever-present grace for you in the season He is leading you in(to).

Part 7: Chapter 7 – Day 2: I AM Awaking

Welcome to Day 2 of Chapter 7 from Arise & Shine’s Part 7. Today, Anna is bringing forward our second free will offering of The New Covenant of Love.

I AM Awaking

There's not a day
Goes by
I don't remember
How far
You've come.

There's not a day
Goes by
I don't see
The labor pain
You've borne.

Always and ever
Into eternity
My heart's bleeding
In living waters rushing
For you to know Me

Ever more in My death
And resurrection
Sweet mercy
Tasting in heaven's
Dew ever glowing.

My manna's
From the sky falling
Know there's not a day
Goes by
You're all alone.

As you Sabbath
Rest your heart
Lift my Word afresh
In your bosom hid
My honey, now take eat.

My Body broken
My blood shed
Come and feast
At My table in the
New wine ever flowing.

In the tears
And groaning
See a new heart awaking
The love of the Father
No longer hidden, broken free.

In your hands I've emptied
See harmony's song
In My peace arising
Behold: truth's kissing grace
Dove's eyes, pure blue revealing.

Heaven's cloud opening wide
Tears now a harvest reaping in:
"This is My Son: Listen to Him!"
Run your race into kairos
See the Way in the wilderness.

Deserts into Eden blooming
In rainclouds here parting
See all things new unfurling
Behold the dry bones
I AM

Awaking!

Thank You Papa, that as we bow our knees in prayer this week, we can be so encouraged that it is Christ who fights for us. Thank You that all we do is yield to Your Voice, running into Your Way and truth and life opening in the wilderness. Thank You that even now Eden is blooming in every desert we see. Oh open our eyes to see by faith, to rejoice in Your victory for us, in Christ having overcome our accuser for us to open the Way of life to us.

Thank You that we can bear every testing because it’s not us bearing that weight but Your Son, for it is no longer we who live but Christ in us. Thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit who is leading us out of death into life, each day afresh through Your precious and intimate Word to us.

Thank You that You are so very faithful to Your every Word. Now, show us Your power, stripping every sin in us that is keeping us from running the race You have set for us. Thank You for the cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on. As we raise our voices together the world over to sing as One, open our eyes to see that cloud of witnesses and to recall Your sacrifice for us, also in and through the saints who have walked before us, paving the Way for us in Your Name.

Thank You that though we may make our plans it is You who establishes our every step. It is You who completes what You have begun in us. For You are faithful, true and just. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

No temptation has seized you beyond what people normally experience, and God can be trusted not to allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. On the contrary, along with the temptation he will also provide the way out, so that you will be able to endure.
1 Corinthians (1 Co) 10:13 CJB

Part 7: Chapter 7: Day 1 – The Weight of Glory

Welcome to Day 1 of Chapter 7 from Arise & Shine’s Part 7. Today, Anna is bringing forward our first free will offering of The New Covenant of Love.

I remember relating the spiritual battles I walked through to a friend and she tried to put me up on a pedestal: "Oh, you were so strong, so steadfast." And I remember trying to explain to her that in fact no! 

I had wanted to give up on my God, and even give up on life itself. But it was Jesus who held me, carried me and became my strength and my firm footing, when all I wanted was to die. All I did was cry out to Him, again and again and again, from the depths and He took over from there.

And yet, how little did I still understand how beautiful my cries were to my Jesus: how precious my tears and my lifting up of my heart and soul to Him truly is. How little did I understand that nothing is as precious to Him as our hearts poured out at His feet.

Oh how I knew how to serve. I grew up with missionary and pastoral parents who continually set that example for me. See a need: move toward it in love and care. But what I didn't yet see were the many groanings, tears, cries and late night prayers my parents poured out at the feet of Jesus that laid a foundation for those works that flowed from Christ's pure heart of love in them.

Oh how I loved to sit at my Abba Father's feet, but never did I realize that this was what was in fact most treasured by Him and that even when all tangible service comes to a complete and utter halt, our pouring out in fact becomes the purest and most costly gift we could ever give.

Until these past few weeks. When deep gutteral groans, a heart shattered in two and fountains of tears have become my daily praying. As I have become so overwhelmed by the deep burden of Jesus for His lost sheep and lambs - the sheep and little lambs He is pursuing into the depths of their suffering, surrounding them in His withness, even when they just cannot yet see it.

It has become a deeply personal burden, where now those far and distant stories I read of reflect souls and hearts I know personally, some who feel closer than my very own breath to me. Souls I am surrounded by on a daily basis.


And it has me repeatedly grieving so so so deeply and filled with a righteous anger against the injustices perpetrated against them, even in the name of our God.

And so I do all I know to do. I sit at the feet of my LORD and worship Him with my groaning and tears and cries for mercy. And yet, somehow it has felt just: not enough somehow.

But then, one night, when it all became too much, I had to step out into the cool evening ear just to breathe. And it's then I opened to a poem I had saved in my files to re-read - having forgetten all about it.


Streams of the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, August 6 entry, by L.B. Cowman


I had a tiny box, a precious box

Of human love--my spikenard of great price;

I kept it close within my heart of hearts,

And scarce would lift the lid lest it should waste

Its perfume on the air.


One day a strange

Deep sorrow came with crushing weight, and fell

Upon my costly treasure, sweet and rare,

And broke the box to atoms. All my heart

Rose in dismay and sorrow at this waste,

But as I mourned, behold a miracle

Of grace Divine.


My human love was changed

To Heaven's own, and poured in healing streams

On other broken hearts, while soft and clear

A voice above me whispered, "Child of Mine,

With comfort wherewith thou art comforted,

From this time forth, go comfort others,

And thou shalt know blest fellowship with Me,

Whose broken heart of love hath healed the world."



And that's when Jesus reminded me again, just how precious our worship at His feet truly is. And He reminded me of the power of prayer- of His Son's intercession at work in and through us in the depths of our grief- His grief in us. Oh how I cried all the more - so deeply moved by the tender compassions of my LORD breaking me open now, day by day.

Sending the poem to Bettie, we cried and cried together from afar, and sending it to one of my best friends we joined hands across the internet in worship also, into her quarantaine and into the souls her heart aches for daily.

And suddenly I realized how one action after another has flowed from my hands and feet from this gutteral broken praying. Effortlessly, again and again, since I buried my Mama, coming on 8 years ago.

No - thinking about it, really it has been since I traveled to post-Revolution Romania, as an 8 and 9 year old and saw injustice upon injustice. For, even as a Prodigal, through my teenage and early adulthood, my heart continued to be broken open in prayer and deeds of compassion for those God called my heart to love, as He loves His Bride.

It is from that place of prayer my "serving" has become His serving through me. All I have done and still do is: go where God asks me, speak what He gives me or just sit down and listen, inviting those He is hearkening His ear to, to tell me their stories. Oh such sweet hope and comfort has been born there, at the feet of Jesus in those He has set before me.

So, this is for You, Jesus - for Your Body around the world aching at all the injustice, for Your heart in them that is even now breaking them open in pure and costly spikenard pouring. Bless them, Papa, bless them in the knowledge of just how precious those prayers and tears and groanings truly are.

For, no! Love poured out in prayer is not a lesser expression of worship to our Papa God. For those prayers are in fact the very heart of Jesus breaking our own cold hearts open to flow in unison with Him, to pour out His mercy, His blood that was shed not just for you and for me, but for all.