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 ofLove.
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.