Part 3: Chapter 4 – Day 4: Abiding

 Welcome to Day 3 of Part 3‘s Chapter 4 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward our 4th free will offering for Chapter 4: The Golden Lampstand- The Lamb of God.

Hebrews 12: 1 – 2 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


As I biked through the rain with my girls to drop my oldest at school several years ago, it got me angry and upset. But as those feelings rose, so did a Scripture: “for the joy set before Him”. I couldn’t recall the full verse at the time, but these six words reverberated within me.

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to turn to the full Scripture and soak in it. I thirsted after “the joy”. And it brought me to Romans 5: 20 – 21 (The Message):

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

The joy set before our Saviour – His beloved children freed from sin and death and restored unto Him – was and is our invitation into “a putting … together” and “life – a life that goes on and on”. 

Now, I know that rain was God’s gift of cleansing, sent to heal me. To wash away my sin and pain, to create in me a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within me. To transform my mind and heart to believe that every moment given unto me is a gift. A gift to glorify the One in whose image I am made and who delights, not in my sacrifice, as I hold tight to a pseudo-control in anger and pain, but in His mercy. A mercy that enables my obedience to His Word to me to “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

I heard Him saying:

“Look up, behold Me before you. I have come to lead you forward, deeper and deeper into my JOY: wholeness and life abundant everlasting.”

If you look at the context of this joy, it is birthed in suffering, as Christ “endured the cross”. But look at the Greek root of this word hupomeno “to abide under, to bear up courageously” (under suffering) and you find the strengthened form of “to abide” (meno) (Thayer and Smith, 1999). And when you look at meno (“to abide”), you discover that this “abiding” is a gift from God, the Spirit of Truth. Romans 8: 3 – 4 (The Message) explains that:

“The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.”

I can embrace “the joy set before” me, because my Saviour is embracing it within me, leading me forward into it. My hope, “the joy set before Him”, is being birthed from the Spirit within me. It is He who sees the wholeness and life that awaits me, whose “assurance in things unseen” unburdens the weight that presses down upon me. It is my Saviour within me. 

“God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are”, walking into good and hard circumstances with us, birthing and growing our “unbelievable inheritance” from within:

Romans 8: 15 – 17 (The Message): This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Ever so patiently, my Saviour is teaching me the “unforced rhythms of grace”, as He opens my eyes to rejoice in Him. As He compels me to open my hands and heart to receive the hidden manna in His sovereign plans and purposes that have often far exceeded the discomfort of a simple rain shower. Plans and purposes that have been sent to humble me, to free me from my striving in pride and to cause me to rest: to abide in the labor of my LORD in and through me.

Do you also long to receive God’s cleansing rain afresh today, that the light of His love might shine brightly upon and through you? Then, I invite you to join me as I pray.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. 

Thank You for Your mercy toward us. Thank You for making Your home in us and moving us, through Your living Word, to make our home in You. Give us a thirst and hunger for Your Word, oh LORD. And open our hearts to receive the precious convictions of Your Holy Spirit as they come, that we might repent of our sin and be washed clean to receive the light of Your face shining upon us. For we long to rejoice in all circumstances, to taste of Your grace in the rain that falls. In Jesus’ mighty Name, Amen.

Part 3: Chapter 4 – Day 3: The Light Still Shines

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 3‘s Chapter 4 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is bringing forward our 3rd free will offering for Chapter 4: The Golden Lampstand- The Lamb of GodIn a poem she expresses the gift God’s light has been in her life. She speaks of the the Golden Lampstand’s (the Lamb of God’s) power to protect, comfort and transform us through the light of His Word in our midst, as He turns the darkness into light before us. And she invites us into a time of prayer.

THE LIGHT STILL SHINES

There are those who say the darkness is silent
I do not believe it to be so
I have heard the voices shouting
And I have heard the demons screaming
No, the darkness is loud, too loud, as my painful ears burn.

There are those who say the Light is uncomfortable
I do not believe it to be so
I have felt the warmth rising
And I have tasted the golden glowing
No, the Light is somehow soothing, a compress on my wounds.

There are those who say there is no way out of the darkness
There are those who say the cliffs of fear are too high for climbing
There are those who say the pits of despair lie too low for uncovering
There are those who say the Light would never venture that far.

But I have heard of another who speaks only TRUTH for the hearing
I believe what He says to be true
I have longed for Light shining
And I have sung the words honestly rising
Yes, His Ways point to Heaven, where LIGHT always shines.

Yes, I have heard of another who brings Light in the darkest of days
I believe what He says to be true
I have heard of Messiah’s coming
And I have lifted my dark to His shining
Yes, His candle of Love broke the darkness in me.

Dear Lord Jesus, We exalt You and Your Glorious name. You have shined your light on us, when we were in the darkness of our sins. Oh, precious Lamb of God, may we let You shine Your light into every hidden corner and crevice of our heart. Illuminate those areas which need Your transforming grace. We ask all of this in Your great name Jesus. Amen.

Part 3: Chapter 4 – Day 2: Sunshine Pouring

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 4 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward our 2nd free will offering for Chapter 4. It is a poem she wrote after running with her husband in the dunes, and watching as the ominous clouds broke into sunshine pouring. It reminded her of a vision God had given her at her former church, of her running as sunshine poured out upon her and joy filled her to overflowing. And it showed her what God has been doing in her life and heart – transforming her through the power of His Word. For, as she has been walking toward what she has been most afraid of, she has found Jesus exchanging her greatest fears for faith, peace and joy in the light of His Presence shining upon her.

Thick black clouds 
Are gath’ring
Even so, I feel my feet
Treading here
Ever closer, ever brighter.

Hand in hand I’m running
His eyes are opening mine
Sunshine pouring
Light there pressing
Dark clouds away.

“Be not afraid,”
I hear His Voice
“I go before you
A light unto your path
A lamp unto your feet.

“What they may say
What you may hear
What you may feel
Be still and know:
Beloved, You are Mine.

“Go where I send you
Speak what I give you
Still where I ask you
I am Your Light
Awakening freedom.

“Watch the darkness fleeing
Watch my children coming
Knees are bowing
My Name
They’re calling.”

Thick black clouds
Are gath’ring
Even so, I feel my feet
Treading here
Ever closer, ever brighter.

Hand in hand I’m running
His eyes are opening mine
Sunshine pouring
Light there pressing
Darkness full away.

Penned early 2017.

Sometimes to follow Jesus means being sent back to a place where we once knew desolation and indescribable pain [. . . ]

What Jesus wants us to know is that his salvation and his protection extend to those old, horrible haunts. If he can break the death-grip Satan once had on us and set us free, then he can redeem the places of our former slavery and make them showcases of God’s omnipotent grace.

Do not be afraid. The Good Shepherd will walk with you and protect you on the darkest road (Psalm 23:4). Declare how much God has done for you. You are being sent because there are other tomb-people to free.

Jon Bloom, Not By Sight: A Fresh Look At Old Stories of Walking by Faith, Kindle location 1818

Part 3: Chapter 4 – Day 1: The Light Shines in the Darkness

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 4 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is bringing forward our first free will offering for Chapter 4. She is sharing what the LORD showed her about His light in her about two years ago, when she prepared to go through an infusion for osteoporosis. The LORD is leading us to republish an old blog post of hers, written in the winter of 2019 as Day 1 of The Golden Lampstand.

“Can I ask you just what an infusion is?”  I have had several friends ask me that question lately. As I have tried to answer that question, my heart suddenly realized it was another of those questions that is actually being asked of me by the Lord.

What does it mean to be infused?

The Oxford Online Dictionary has this definition for infusion:

infusion — Medicine
The slow injection of a substance into a vein or tissue.‘a four-hour intravenous infusion’   (from the Oxford Dictionaries, online)

By the time this post is published, I will probably be on my way to receive the first of several infusions.  The Osteoporosis medication has been approved for infusion today.  The timing has been in God’s hands, as experience has shown me (this is a repeat dosage from two years ago,) that I will be dealing with the after-effects of nausea and flu-like symptoms for about a week, and hoping to recover before the new RA infusions might be approved later this month.

Of course “infusion” comes from the words “to infuse,” which has a deeper meaning here:

  1. Fill; pervade.‘her work is infused with an anger born of pain and oppression’
  2. 1.1 Instil (a quality) in someone or something.‘he did his best to infuse good humour into his voice’  (from the Oxford Dictionaries online)

While I was getting a call from the Hospital approving that infusion, a dear friend was typing a prayer over me. She asked for the Lord “to infuse Bettie with the light of Your love.”  How could she have known the conversation that was transpiring right then?

His mysteries surround us every day, every moment. Just as His light is shining His love on us:

the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.  1 John 2:8

While the snow and icy cold seemed to cover most of the Country’s midsection this week, it felt that we were locked into a deep freeze that might never end. But the sun always breaks through, and the light begins to thaw the hardest ice with a soft melting.

2019-01-2-22-28-15

Is there a parallel between the physical infusing of medications and the heart infusing of my Lord’s life and character into my very being?

Are there places of ice and stone in my heart where He would long to infuse me with His soft-hearted compassions . . . places where He would turn me inside out, and fill me up?

My Soul Was Tipped And Spilled



When I was a child

I used to wonder . . .

If I could be turned

   inside out

What would my soul

   look like?

 

For all the years I wore

   the mask,

Was it to keep my soul

   from tipping out?

 

Because underneath the aching

   of a hurting heart

Lay a trusting child

   in love with God.

 

So when my soul was

   tipped and spilled,

What did God see

   bubbling thru?

 

A

   gift

      of

LOVE

            created

               by

                  HIM.

 

Surrender to spill

   Songs for singing

      A Savior’s Call . . .

–bg

I offer this paraphrased version from the Message translation as my prayer this week. I come before you my friends, acknowledging that I have still despised this place of being in so much need. I have felt ashamed of carrying this disease in this body that won’t tolerate medications.  And yet, as I bow before my Lord, asking His forgiveness, I hear Him singing His song of Love, infusing my neediness with HIS own pure light.

May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.  1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (Message Translation)

May we allow our Lord to soak and pour Himself into us, because “His love and compassion give us so much life.” (words shared from another Dear Loved One this week.)

Part 3: Chapter 4 – The Golden Lampstand

Welcome to Chapter 4 of Part 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to the Golden Lampstand: The Lamb of God. She is sharing a personal testimony of Christ’s sacrificial love for her, as He chose life for her in her desire to die. As He chose to honor her deepest desire and restore her first love for Him. As He chose not to take away His lampstand from her, but to preserve His life and breath in her, humbling her in her pride and uncovering her wounds for healing.

Join us here also, as we continue to share daily free will offerings of praise to our God – the Lamb who was slain to give us life, to shine the light of His love upon us and through us.

Offering Surrendered:

Exodus 25:31 “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand shall be made of hammered work: its base, its stem, its cups, its calyxes, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. 

Heb 9:2 – For a tent[fn] was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.[fn] It is called the Holy Place.

Promise Fulfilled:

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 

The golden lampstand (Ex. 25:31–40) was made of pure gold, hammered out of one solid piece. Resting on a base, the central stem had six branches, three on either side, together carrying seven lamps. The lampstand with its branches was modeled on a flowering almond tree. Although the Bible text does not specify the size of the lampstand, the text indicates that the lampstand (and the utensels) were made out of pure gold, weighing one talent (about 75 lb. or 34 kg). The lampstand may have been 5 or 6 feet (1.5–1.8 m) tall.

The Golden Lampstand (source: https://www.esv.org/resources/esv-global-study-bible/illustration-02-golden-lampstand/)

In Revelations 2, God praises the church of Ephesus for their unwillingness to tolerate evil and for their “works, toil and patient perserverance”, telling them that He sees that they have not grown weary and are bearing up. But He also warns them (Revelations 2:4-5, ESV):

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 

When God opened my eyes to a newborn faith, after more than twenty years as a Prodigal, I began to pray for answers to my wayward turning. I couldn’t understand how I could have ever become so blind. But through Christ’s words to Peter, God turned my prayerful questioning upside down. 

He asked me to stop praying for answers explaining my turning away. He invited me instead to open my eyes to His sovereign hand upon my life and His perfecting work in my weakness. He asked me to look for His Presence with me, at every point in my journey, and to see how He was the lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path. He showed me how He had been patiently shaping and moulding me into His image, my whole life long.

This morning I awoke to this Promise on my Bible app:

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Hebrews 13:8 KJV

I have recently returned to my habit of praying through my Bible app verse in the morning and returning to it in the evening to see how God has returned His Word to me to root it deeper in my heart. As this new Word returned to me, it broke my heart.

I remembered how as a teenager the Holy Spirit fell upon me at my school camp and I couldn’t stop crying as I confessed one sin after another. God’s mercy and tenderness toward me overwhelmed me. But I also remember words being spoken to my parents about my unusual and concerning behavior and how this recently returned missionary kid – who was already all too aware of being oh so different – cringed at once again being set apart from her peers.

God had removed the veil from my face, so that what was passing away could not be hidden from those around me, so that we would see Jesus – and His love, mercy and kindness – arising in our midst. But as God turned my face toward Him to remove that veil, I chose to turn my face back toward man, choosing to hide the light of God in me.

Then, I remembered God giving me verses in Hosea to pray over a friend at my former church, three years after He had brought me home. This happened only days before He commanded me to leave that very church and to cut all ties. But what I didn’t see until more recently, is how those very verses were not just given to me for my friend, but for my own heart also.

Recently, God led me to Hosea 2 and He showed me that what is described in this chapter reflects the process He has led me through. First, He showered me in blessings upon my return to Him, as I sought His face and humbled myself before Him. Then, I saw those blessings He had showered upon me as coming from my own striving – from the steps I had chosen to take that led to my healing from trauma.

And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness.

So, He humbled me anew. Sending fresh trauma triggers, He exposed my weakness and sin before my church leaders, as I openly confessed my need for God’s grace before them. Around the same time He began leading me to share specific Scriptures with one of my pastors. I now realize these Scriptures were not only directly confronting the false teaching going on behind the scenes, but also my own pride and idolatry.

The false teaching does what I had wanted to do, after I began to pride myself in my “healing” from CPTSD. For, I had begun to set myself up on a pedestal, wanting others to follow me and my example. But then, God humbled me with fresh trauma triggers, yet again exposing my desperately deceitful human heart. He reminded me of my own continued and moment-by-moment need of Him as my Savior, Rock and Redeemer. He reminded me that it was never my striving and my wisdom that had freed me – but Christ alone.

As I began to face rejection in my open confessions of sin and weakness, just as I did as a little girl, God first led me to stay at my church. He fed me Scriptures, encouraging me to fight in the Spirit and to intercede in secret for one of my two pastors – incidentally a man who had chosen to confess his own secret sin and weakness from the pulpit. Again and again, He broke open my own hardened heart to pour out blessings over this man and his family. Two years later, after I had already long left, He then gave me the privilege of briefly witnessing the fruit of His intercession through me.

Unbeknown to me this man of God was stripped of his pastoral position exactly when God had me groaning in pain for him and his family in the forest, crying out for mercy for them, after months of not having been prompted to pray for him and his family. After I had heard about what unfolded, God also gave me the privilege of hugging his wife and feeling the warmth of her heart toward me. She is a former Prodigal and pastor’s kid also and had shared her own heartbreaking and heartwarming story of running and being found again with me, weeks after I began attending their church, years earlier. But then He drew me back into hiding, as He began to expose wounds that needed healing.

Now, I know that God led me out of that church when I began to put myself at the head, abandoning my first love. I began to pride myself in the intercessory position God had set me in and in the ministry positions I had been given at the church. I now know that that pride was my way of covering over the pain of the woundings I was clinging to, that God longed for me to bring to Him.

And I now realize that a disciplinary hearing was being planned at the very moment God commanded me to leave. A hearing meant to remove me from the ministry positions I had been given. God had had me openly rebuke hidden sin and then, confess my own sin of looking where I shouldn’t have, which had led to the discovery of that sin in the first place. 

Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord.

But God in His great kindness to me, caught me as I fell, as I fell in my own choice to abandon the love I first had and chase after worldly status. He led me out before that meeting could take place. He caught me in His kindness to lead me to repentance. 

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

First, He placed someone in my midst who had had a dream about what just unfolded and that dream encouraged her to speak up and affirm the choices God had asked me to take through His Word: both to speak up about the sin I had discovered and to confess my own sin.

Then, He led me out into the wilderness, into a hidden place to allure me and restore me unto Himself. He revealed His deep compassion for me in my sin. And He met my desperate need to just be held safely in His arms. 

 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

I had walked through massive trauma triggers, in obeying God’s promptings to speak the truth in love, to share the Scriptures God was giving me for my pastor and to openly confess my weakness and sin. Each rejection of man I faced in response to God removing the veil, as I looked to Him and His will, took me back to my childhood experiences of being set apart.

I heard those same accusations from my past screaming at me, that I had chosen to agree with as a child: “God has abandoned you, you don’t belong to Him, you are evil, look at how sinful you are, you are inherently wrong, God made a mistake with you, look at how you repel other Christians.” 

But this time, strengthened by my experience of His mercy to me in bringing me home to Him after such a long Prodigal journey, I kept crying out to God. And He upheld me, even in moments I wanted to take my own life.

One night at my former church, as I wanted to throw myself into the canal across the road, I literally felt my feet become like lead. As I cried out to God asking Him why He had created a mistake when He made me, wanting to choose death above life, He chose life for me. He remained faithful in my faithlessness because He could not disown Himself in me, just as He couldn’t in the twenty plus years I walked in blindness as a Prodigal child.

Again and again, He lifted me up out of the pit of unbelief and pride to set me on the Rock of His Word to me, to slowly but surely restore my faith and confidence in His power to save me. He led me to lay down every accusation of the enemy at His feet, where He clothed me in the truth of His Word. He showed me that my identity and worth is rooted in Him alone and that no one can ever snatch me from His hand.

Interestingly, in my open confession of sin and weakness, non-church going friends and family (believers and unbelievers) have drawn ever nearer to me and I ever nearer to them. Sharing about my walk through Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and of God’s continuing rescue of me through that, has also been leading them to share their own stories of (continued) healing from spiritual and other abuse. 

God is truly sowing the Word of life so richly in our midst, as He is leading us to freely confess our weakness and sin before each other, to speak the truth to each other in love and to freely extend mercy to each other. We are learning and growing and healing together, as Jesus is, gently but surely, revealing Himself to each one of us in His perfect love.

I already recognize Jesus in those who are yet to have their eyes opened to confess with their mouth what they believe in their hearts to be true. Because of the Father’s faithfulness to His Son Jesus in me, my faith and trust is no longer in the enemy’s ability to stop God from loving and saving us. My faith and trust is in Him in whom all Promises are Yes and Amen. In Him who has promised us: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” I shall yet see with my physical eyes what I know by faith to be true.

Yes! God’s justice is coming and the Son of God shall be revealed for all to see, as the accusations that have enslaved my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ shall fall to the ground, as our knees bend in awe and tears of joy flow as His oil of anointing pours out upon our heads.

When God sends out His Word to us, to warn us that we have abandoned our love for Him, He does so, not to condemn us. But to lift our fears and perfect us in His love. Why? Because He sees our true heart, hiding beneath a mask of pride and self-righteousness. The heart of Jesus that loves His Heavenly Father, not just in part, but completely and wholly.

“And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’” and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;

Day 1: The Light Shines in the Darkness

Day 2: Sunshine Pouring

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 7: Beauty for Ashes

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Through each trigger of trauma, God is compelling my body – the Temple of His Holy Spirit- to groan for what only Christ can give me: Himself. Slowly, by the grace of God, I am learning to let the living law – Christ – fulfill what apart from Him, I just cannot do. 

I am learning to speak the truth in love, to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16). 

Recently, just before God commanded me to depart somewhere He had sent me, an older woman spoke of my sharing sometimes being like fire, meaning it as a rebuke. This came only a few hours before another woman had encouraged me to stop bowing before my idols and to continue to speak what God had been compelling me to speak. So, as the older woman spoke of that fire coming from my mouth as something to be corrected in me, I took it to God. He asked me to humbly thank her for her honesty and then to depart.

What I didn’t tell her, is that as I took her rebuke to the feet of Jesus, He returned it to me as a gift. He showed me that that fire was not evil in me, but His holiness burning in me. He showed me how He desired to burn the dross, not just in her, but the dross of pride and idolatry in me too. For, He knew of all those present, I most respected her word. So, He purposely allowed me to face her open rejection, for being His mouthpiece. He gave me the privilege of loving her as He loves us all: in truth and grace.

Fire departed from her and others’ mouths there also, and by the grace of God I was able to receive that fire as a precious gift from Him. Each child of His in that place changed my mind in one way or another. They filled me with such compassion and understanding for people in my past that I had failed to see and love as Jesus sees and loves each one of us in our weakness and need, whether that weakness and need is visible or not.

And it was because of God’s fire flaming in our midst that I was freed to confess a past sin of mine in public for the very first time, as the shackles of shame and condemnation fell off of me. God gave me the honor of glorying in His embrace in their midst and to thank Him for the gifts He poured out upon me in that place, as I departed.

Now, I see how that fire of His in that place was just like the fire in the burning bush before Moses: the holy fire of God’s Word, setting Moses apart unto Himself and burning away the dross of his sin and shame, turning the ground Moses stood upon, into holy ground. 

No longer did Moses remain a fugitive after taking the law into his own hands to try and save his people. No, because of that burning bush, Moses heard the Voice of His God. He bowed his knees and walked into a new life, set apart unto His Maker. The Word of God, through whom His people would be freed from their slavery and a generation later, upon the death of Moses, be led into the Promised Land.

As John 12:24-25 (ESV) puts it:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Thanks to the gift God gave me as a freshly returned Prodigal to intercede for my pastor in his weakness and need, and many others since, my own weakness and need has been repeatedly exposed. Through each trigger of trauma, in all the intercession and iron sharpening iron, my God has been lifting the enemy’s accusations and causing me to arise in His holiness. 

He has been leading me to throw off the old of pleasing and hiding behind a mask of self-righteousness, to instead speak the truth in love and to confess my sins and weakness freely before my brothers and sisters in Christ. He has been rerooting me in His love: “so that [I] may no longer be [a] [child], tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV).

When I first began praying for my pastor and my church as a freshly returned Prodigal child, God gave me this Word as a Promise, as trauma triggers began to shake me (Ezekiel 3:8, ESV):

I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”

Now, looking back on the past four years, I can see that God has been fulfilling this Promise to me. He has placed the helmet of salvation upon my head, so that when the sparks fly as iron sharpens iron, I no longer take it as proof that God has rejected me. 

I receive it as proof that God is in our midst, leading us all to repentance. I now know that He is giving us beauty for the ashes of our dross that He is consuming by the fire departing from His mouth. I am learning to embrace those flames as His desire to fashion me into His image, by His transforming power. 

He is strengthening me to (Romans 12:2, ESV): “not be conformed to this world, but [to] be transformed by the renewal of [my] mind, that by testing I may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

At first, after every breaking, I have spiraled into shame. I have focused on the sins I committed in each place – sins I have openly confessed before my brothers and sisters – even as God has called me to bow my knees and humbly accept His victory at the Cross and His rescue of me from sin and death. I have even tried, in various ways, to go back and undo what God has worked in me and through me. I have received the enemy’s accusations as God’s, rather than walking into the forgiveness of my sins and the clean slate God has given me.

But praise God that His mercies are new every morning. Each time I have wanted to return to the old He has purposely cut off, or I have wanted to put myself on a pedestal of self-righteousness by slandering those I have left behind, God has opened my ears to receive His Word of truth and grace. He has rebuked the sin in me and called me to walk in His holiness, to declare before Him: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment…O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:4, 15-17 ESV).

He has continually rescued me, softening my hardened heart and teaching me to draw upon His love and affections for me. He has led me to deny myself, to take up my Cross and to follow Him. And, through the precious Spirit-led sharing of Bettie, who He wove into my life right before my first church breaking, He has repeatedly lifted my pain and exchanged my sackcloth of mourning for a garment of praise.

Praise God, Christ’s fire of holiness is flaming me alive. Jesus is compelling me through His living Word to me to throw off all that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles me. He is empowering me to run with perseverance the race marked out for me, to fix my eyes on Him, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. For the joy set before him my Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Oh let us ever consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that we might not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Through each physical departure, my God has been teaching me to depart my own thinking (that has told me to stay and fight in the flesh or to stay and bow to my idols to be loved and accepted) to instead die to myself and live unto Jesus. Interestingly, literally to “go” and bear fruit that abides means to “depart under a new authority”. Isn’t that beautiful?

And, by faith, I also believe God is bringing this same beautiful resurrection life in Him for each person He has led me to intercede for and depart from. For, just as my pastor spoke over me: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in [us all] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 4:6, ESV). And He who is faithful, will do it! For all Promises are Yes and Amen in my Jesus!

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 6: The Song of My Father

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Over 20 years ago I had a dream that is still crystal clear in my mind today. In the dream, I was carrying a baby, and walking through a church parking lot. Standing under the awning at the Church’s entrance was an older man who was singing this song:

I will pour on you

the oil of gladness in the morning,

I will pour on you

the oil of my joy.



I will burn off all the dross

Stir up what remains

And I will pour on you

the oil of my joy.

As the man sang, it was the most beautiful voice that I had ever heard, and somehow I knew it was an angel singing God’s own song over me. However, I barely paused to listen and hurried on my way to complete my task. In the dream I returned to the parking lot, still carrying the baby, and as I walked past, the man was still singing the Father’s song over me. And then I awoke.

~~~~~~~~

All these years later, I recognize the voice of my Father calling me to come with Him, to allow Him to pour out His oil over me. He has stilled my busy caring and serving, and I have been brought to a place of rest at His feet.  Yet, even in the resting, the pain and fatigue have threatened to steal every drop of joy that I have known. In the instinctive reaction to physical pain, there are days that my arms are curled into my side, hunching my shoulders and neck into a place of self-protection.

The spasmed fascia in my neck shows how that hunching and curling has contributed to yet more pain. Last week as the physical therapist gave my neck and spine the gentle prodding and stretching that is part of the Myofascial Technique, suddenly I realized my arms were pulling up to my chest as a flaring of Rheumatoid Arthritis pain in my wrists was triggered.  But in that jerking, the Lord of Love brought a release.

“Offer the pain up to Me now,” He invited.  And He reminded me of the word that He has been speaking to me all summer: Incense.

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8 NIV

 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Revelation 8:3-4 NIV

As I thought about the incense and the prayers of the saints, and as I thought about the anointing oil, neither the incense nor the oil was created without pain. The spices for both were ingredients that were scraped, chiseled or gathered from various trees and herbs. They were then crushed, and pounded, and boiled through a distillation process to remove the dross before they were finally pure enough to be used for the proper purposes. (You can read more in Exodus 20 for the Lord’s specific instructions.)

I have become acquainted with crushing and burning and boiling away the dross of my life.

During the time when that dream was first given, I was deeply burdened and interceding for dear ones in a former church. Some of that intercession was never acknowledged, in fact, it was rejected and spurned.  I returned my prayers back to the Father, and found forgiveness for those who had rejected me.  But I never understood that the pain could be offered as a gift also.

I tucked the pain down deep, moved on, and asked God to show me His next steps in my life. But the explanation of the setting for the dream was never fully understood until just this week when these verses came to mind:

 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:22-27 ESV

Truly, those prayers that I carried felt like a kind of labor pain, Holy Spirit birthed praying. And through all those years of serving and praying, I carried those babies–those prayers–close to my heart. It was a natural, instinctive reaction to the pain that I felt.  But the Lord now whispered a gentle invitation to me from within my place of resting here:

Offer that labor pain, that baby, up to Me now, letting My Holy Spirit carry the incense of your prayers to Me fully. Allow My Holy Spirit to carry what you were never meant to hold onto. The pain is too heavy, it will always leave you hunched and curled. But I will pour my oil of joy on you as you release the incense of your prayers and pain.

“Incense”



The prayers of God’s people

rose

The smoke of incense wafted

behind

The Holy of Holies curtained

between



The priest in anointing oil

covered

Entered the curtained room

unveiling

Cloud of incense fragrance

trailing.



And the Father sang His song over His people.



As the fragrance of our Savior

wafted

the offering of His pain

became

the prayer that rescued our souls.



His blood shed for me.

His pain borne for mine.



My pain and prayers lifted as

offering

Fragrance wafting with Savior’s

joining

Gift of rescue now

delighting.



And the Father sings His song over His people.



My heart now covered in oil

anointing

Enters into His Holiest Heart

releasing

Cloud of incense fragrance

trailing



The oil of HIS joy is pouring.

And while the Father has been singing His song over me, He has been pulling the pain up from those hunched over places. His oil of joy has been seeping into every hunched and curled place.

Are you acquainted with crushing and pounding and hunching and curling?

Could you hear the Father asking of you the same thing He has been asking of me?

Sing with Me here.  The pain and prayers have always been woven together, and I long to hear your voice singing with mine.

From within my own place of weakness here, I offer His song back to Him now, and I ask Him to bring to you the blessing of His oil of joy flowing over you:

Dear Father,

We come before You now confessing our weaknesses and seeing the dross that has accumulated. We long to lay down the pain that has been too heavy for us to carry. Will You open our hunched and curled arms to lift this incense up to Your Holy Spirit to carry now? Thank You for allowing us to join You in the prayers we have carried. Oh, but thank You that You see the weight that was never meant to stay on our shoulders. Receive the offering of this pain now. We give to You the prayers and the pain alike. Pour the oil of Your joy upon us now, as we rest within Your singing love.

In the precious name of Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 5: Here I Am, Send Me

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Have you ever reflected on the end of Moses’ life? Of God taking him home, rather than allowing him to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land? Recently, I have been doing so. A prophetic Word of encouragement I listened to, caused me to pray for God to humble me and show me what part I have played in His decision to call me out of particular places and break friendships with particular people.

After each breaking, He led me to so much repentance and into more and more healing. But as I prayed this time, I invited Him to help me see the full picture and to help me shift my focus from His protection of me to His love for His church. As I did so, He brought to mind various instances, where rather than directly confronting people He asked me to, I chose to do it “my way”. I walked in fear and pride, rather than in faith and love. I skirted around the issue, rather than confronting it directly.

He also reminded me of how I had clung to my pain, blaming my brothers and sisters in Christ for it, rather than inviting Him to heal the wounds the enemy had inflicted upon me. He showed me how He purposely uncovered and exposed these wounds in me through each fresh attack, not to hurt me, but to heal me: to teach me to see with His eyes and to fight in the Spirit and not in my flesh.

He showed me that in taking me out of each place, just as He did with Moses, when he too became frustrated and angry at those God had sent him to shower His grace upon, He was not just protecting me, but He was also protecting my brothers and sisters in Christ from the unthankfulness and evil present in me. He continually led me out to take His grace deeper in my own heart and to invite me to bring Him my pain, piece by piece, that He might lift it from me, by the power of His Word to me.

As God brought the story of Moses to mind, He reminded me of the verses I had sat praying through at 2am for the day to come. In these verses, I discovered that the “unthankful” are those who have not experienced God’s grace and that the “evil” are those who are “pain-ridden”. As I prayed for those who have been openly hostile toward me (the meaning of enemies), I was convicted of my own open hostility toward others. God returned the Word I was praying over others to me, to draw me deeper into His grace and lift away my pain, in transforming my thoughts and my vision.

Only through the last breaking did I realize that the very thing that has frustrated and angered me most, has also been frustrating and angering my brothers and sisters in Christ. As I pointed the finger, God wanted me to see the log in my own eyes: my own unwillingness to acknowledge the grace He has repeatedly poured out upon me and to bring Him my pain that He might heal my festering wounds.

Interestingly, the day before I had wept in thankfulness for God’s grace for me, as joy filled me to overflowing. And what had I prayed through that morning? A verse that included the Word “joy” that I discovered in this instance, according to the Bible lexicon I consulted, literally meant acknowledging and recognizing God’s grace in our lives.

As I reflected on that once more, my heart was so convicted at my lack of thankfulness for God’s grace in each decision I made to become angry and frustrated at my brothers and sisters. Like Moses, I had fled as a young person. I had run into the desert, after taking matters into my own hands to “save” my brother, and failing miserably.

Moses had murdered a man to take revenge for the harm inflicted upon his brothers in the LORD. I had murdered too – for Christ tells us that anyone harboring hatred in his heart toward another is guilty of murder also. I had harbored hatred toward those spreading false teaching, who I saw as responsible for my parents’ decision to discipline in the flesh, rather than in the Spirit of God, a decision that caused considerable harm to my adopted brother.

And I now realize, by not confessing that hatred when He brought me home to Him, I allowed it to grow and fester, rather than allowing God to free me from it and fill me with His love, in remembering His grace to me. Ironically in my own hatred, frustration and anger, I have been lifting myself up above God and I have been striving in pride, rather than abiding in the Vine: exactly what I have accused others of in their decision to support and spread the false teaching.

Like Moses, I too experienced the depths of God’s grace as He met me in my weakness and sin. As He chose to descend in power into my midst to lead me back home and into His purposes for my life. But also like Moses, I became unthankful and evil, as I chose to do things my way and not God’s.

Like Moses, I never wanted to be God’s mouthpiece. Perhaps, Moses, like me, assumed that his people would struggle to receive someone they saw as being undeserving of God’s favor, someone who had been lifted out of captivity and showered in the riches of God’s grace. And perhaps Moses, like me, was resting too much in his own lack of status amongst his people and his inability to persuade them, when he asked another to speak for him, rather than trusting God to speak through him and perfect His power in Moses’ weakness.

Crazily it is precisely the extravagance of God’s grace poured out upon us in our sin that best equips us to become His missionaries. For, as God’s Word reminds us: “he who is forgiven little, loves little.” But we who know the extravagance of God’s love and mercy – woe to us, when we forget our first love and do not recognise how far we have fallen from God’s grace.

Yes, like Moses, despite God extending me such incredible grace, I chose to have others speak for me and to get frustrated and angry at my brothers and sisters, rather than doing exactly what my God had commanded me to do. It broke my heart reflecting upon that today. But my fresh experience of God’s grace in my discouragement yesterday and remembering the mercy God showed to Moses after he was buried, fills me with hope that God can still make something beautiful of the mess I have made.

Do you recognize yourself in any of my fresh convictions? If so, I invite you to join me in prayer.

Father, thank You that You are slow to anger and rich in mercy toward us. Forgive me for not doing exactly what You asked me to do in the past. Forgive me for leaning into fear and pride, rather than into the arms of Your Son and the faith and love He was waiting to fill me with by the power of His Word to me.

Forgive me for pointing the finger, and choosing not to address the log in my own eyes. Forgive me for not confessing my own sins and pain and not trusting You to speak through me and to perfect Your power in my weakness. Thank You for setting me apart to make me holy as You are holy. Thank You for continuing to pursue me and call me into Your purposes for my life. Thank You for perservering in love and mercy toward me.

Father, Your Word tells us:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

Father, I confess my unbelief. I confess that I have not believed that You will reward me for diligently seeking You and Your will. Forgive me for fearing my own lack of status, inability and weakness above Your holy Name. Forgive me for resting in myself, rather than in Jesus and His love for me and the Church. Forgive me for becoming weary of doing good.

Father, here I am, just as I am. Weak, needy and without any standing before my brothers and sisters, but ready for You to use me, mould me and shape me, as I do what You ask of me. I invite You to send me out afresh. But as You do so, help me to stay like a little child before You.

Keep me humble, rooted in Your love and affections. Whenever I turn to the left or to the right, thank You that I will hear a Voice from behind saying: “This is the Way, walk in it.” Embolden me to walk in it.

Cause me to be more in awe of Your power and might than in my own lack of status, weakness and inability that I might do exactly what You ask of me, without waivering in unbelief and pride. Do not allow me to get angry or frustrated at my brothers and sisters, nor to condemn myself and spiral into shame, but continually lead me to repentance that I might abide in You and Your love for me and Your Church.

Continually remind me of Your overwhelming grace toward me that I might turn toward You in my need and receive the grace that You long to pour back out of me onto my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to be slow to anger and quick to listen to You and Your Word to me.

Cause me to not just listen but do every Word You speak to me. Cause me to release every accusation of the enemy that I might dwell secure and be at ease, without dread of disaster. That I might love others freely and without expectation because You first loved me and will always love me in that way.

In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Isaiah 6:4-8 (ESV)

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 4: An Irrevocable and Coming Kingdom

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Recently, I was so struck by the childlike faith of Corrie ten Boom in an old interview. She reminded me that God’s peace – a joining of all broken parts into a whole in Jesus- is birthed in the confession of our weakness and sin, as we invite Jesus to meet us in our need and to fill us with Himself. 

As she was put in solitary confinement for four months, she noticed her discouragement growing, so what did she do? She simply confessed her sin of discouragement and asked Jesus to help her. And He did. 

Each time she came afresh in her confessions of sin and weakness, Christ met her and filled her with fresh hope, faith and peace. She explained how until that time in isolation, she hadn’t really gotten to know Jesus, but that during that time He invited her to let Him become her hiding place, a hiding place that sustained her through the many trials still awaiting her in a concentration camp thereafter.

As I listened, my heart was both convicted and blessed. It made me see how recently I have become discouraged, and how in not confessing it, I have stopped coming with my whole heart before God. But as I simply confessed my own sins of discouragement and unbelief, in response to Corrie ten Boom confessing hers, something so precious unfolded. God lifted the accusations of the enemy I didn’t even realize I was believing, as He showered me in His affections.

He did so, by reminding me of one time after another, where He had set me apart in the past to hide me in Himself and to have me walk into His purposes for my life that were so much greater than I had wanted to settle for.

It’s then, I knelt back down to pick up the Promises He had only recently spoken over me, just before He had set me apart once again. Promises I had let go of, as I clung to the enemy’s accusations, even as what He had spoken over me has amazingly begun to unfold before me.

It’s then, I realized that I just could not believe that He would indeed do what He has promised me, because what He has promised me requires a miracle and my complete surrender. I just couldn’t believe that His love for me and my loved ones could go that very deep. But just like our God, what Scripture did He drop into my inbox, as He uncovered my doubts:

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” MATTHEW 16:15-17 NIV

If you’ve been following along with us, you will have noted that I had only just published a piece quoting this verse. But what I didn’t tell you is that it is also part of another book – Celebrate Jesus: His Veil Fills the Temple – that God had asked me to write 4 years ago about my Prodigal journey home that I finished, in its first draft, a few days ago.

This is a book I didn’t want to write, but a book He knew would heal me in the writing. Why? Because He showed me that His wounds have paid my ransom. That the cost I wasn’t willing to pay to walk into His purposes for my life, as I denied Him at every turn just like the disciple Peter, He paid for me. So that like Peter, I would come to deep down know I am my Beloved’s and He is mine – and that nothing could ever take away His hand upon my life and upon all those He has called according to His purposes.

From the outset I was called, chosen and destined to walk into the purposes of my God. For, His purposes for us – His children – are irrevocable. Not even our repeated denials of Him can ever undo what God has already finished at the Cross.

Just like Aaron and Moses discovered, when some of their brothers in the LORD became jealous of the undeserved favor God was pouring out upon them, I too discovered, as I wrote this new book, that God does not change His mind about those on whom He has chosen to pour out His favor and those whom He has called according to His purposes. And He will not stand by silent, when the enemy attempts to shut us down with his accusations. Christ will avenge His elect in the budding of a staff. Why? To reveal that that staff that has always been leading and guiding us has in fact never ever been our own, but His.

And this is a staff that leads us – and others through us – into the valley of the shadow of death, not to harm us, but to awaken us unto new life, as we join Christ in His death and resurrection. For, our Savior longs to open our hearts more and more to see by faith and to walk into His irrevocable calling upon our lives – to above all seek first the Kingdom of our God and His righteousness.

Perhaps, like me, you grew up singing this beautiful hymn:

It was one my Dad chose for my Mum’s funeral in 2014. And of the many old hymns, it is this one that came to mind, as I sat writing to you. For, O what peace [I] often forfeit,
O what needless pain [I] bear,
all because [I] do not carry
everything to God in prayer!

And yet, even still, our faithful God has never ever left my side. My whole life. Instead, He has kept extending His hand toward me, calling (Matthew 11:28, KJV):

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

And it’s now, I can see my Dad’s prayerful longing for me as a Prodigal being fulfilled in my life. He penned a letter to me speaking of God’s calling upon our lives requiring two vital ingredients – mercy and the courage to do hard things. He told me He could see I had the first in great measure and that He understood that the second was a difficult one.

But now I know that second one, just as the first, is impossible for man. But, as Jesus reminds us in His Word: “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27, KJV). For, we serve a mighty God who does what He promises. Nothing can undo what He has already finished upon the Cross for us all.

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 3: Break the Night

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a poem the LORD gifted her in her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new.

who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV)
Break the Night

Do you hear
The voices speak of you
As too broken
And frail?

Too foolish
And shameful
My holy Word
To wield?

Cut down
Each step you take
As in My purposed Way
You walk.

Now still
My child
Feel My heart
Burn within.

Your blessed
Childlike soul
Your inmost being
Praises still.

Fearfully
And wonderfully
From the womb
Overshadowed.

My Word
In Spirit breath
Is flaming
You alive.

For, the foolish
Of this world
I have chosen
To shame the wise.

The weak
Of this world
I have chosen
To confound the strong.

Do not dim Your lamp
But shine it brightly
For all to glorify
My Son in you.

I've created you
To unleash
My glory
And praise.

Trust Me
Child
You're spoken for
You're Mine.

I am your light
Your shield
Your glory and
The lifter of your head.

For, I am
Your portion
Your Rock
And Redeemer.

Arise and shine
You're sent
To shine your light
And break the night!

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:7-18 (ESV)

Behold, at that time I will deal

    with all your oppressors.

And I will save the lame

    and gather the outcast,

and I will change their shame into praise

    and renown in all the earth.

Zephaniah 3:19 (ESV)