Part 6: The Breath of God

Welcome to Part 6 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is introducing us to the Breath of God that arises in our open and honest laments. Bettie and Anna also welcome you to join them in prayer at the end of this post. We both look forward to sharing the chapters for this new part with you soon, which we will add to the bottom of this post.

Have you explored Biblical Lament?  I must admit, when I first read this phrase several years ago, I thought it sounded just a bit antiquated, for another era or time.  However, as I was reading Discovering Hope, by Cindee Snider Re, I found a beautiful perspective on the subject of suffering and expressing our hearts to God.

I realized that many of my favorite Psalms are actually Biblical Laments:

Psalm 63:1
“O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 13:1-2
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me
forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

I grew up in a strict church setting, where GOOD was always emphasized. Consequently, many have attributed a kindness to me personally that may have just been one more way that my church-girl self chose to keep the GOOD-RULE activated.  

My older brothers will never forget my “God-Forgive” Stage. Any time I saw myself (or anyone in my close circle, for that matter) speak or do anything out of line, I was quick to speak, “Better say ‘God forgive!’”  Cute, coming from a 7-year-old, but rather excessive when I’ve realized I still carry the trappings of that 7-year-old thought process in my heart today.

Speaking a dark thought?  “Say God-Forgive!”

Uttering a harsh phrase?  “Say God-Forgive!”

Mulling over doubt-filled questions?  “Say God-Forgive!”

But where does all of that leave a person who is cluttered with questions about the dreary days that chronic illness creates?  . . . 

Drifting in a barren land where the breath is quenched and searching is cut off.  In a culture that idolizes fitness and health, the quenching days easily multiply to become a state of denial.  And “OK” becomes the rote answer for how we are feeling. 

Have we, in the Church, missed something when we have emphasized GOOD-SPEAK, at the expense of Honest-Speak? 

So, as I heard God’s gentle prompting, I began the process of looking at the Lament happening in my heart:

Oh my Lord, I lay
my weary body down
The weight of this pain
has crushed my soul
for too many days

Yet my heart
still seeks and looks
to you
for a hand-hold in the cliff

How high must I climb?
How long is the journey?
How wide is the sea?
How deep is the trial?

In your hand is relief
The only tonic
to quench my thirst
In your embrace
will the comfort be found
far from the world’s taunts

My Jesus have mercy
My Savior sweet Lord.

I know I have much to learn in this place of honest lamenting with God.  It’s not a matter of learning how to complain–strange how being in a state of denial actually increases the ability to complain long and loud.  

No, this is a lesson in exploring the deep crevices of a rocky landscape, and finding God’s Spirit waiting for me there.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised for all those who love him.”  James 1:12

I tend to view my progress through these days, ESPECIALLY because I feel so weak, as so many failed efforts at learning what I am supposed to.  But if this Scripture is true, that perseverance itself is a form of obedience, then I need to shift my judgment of myself to a more grace-filled plane.

  God is giving me such grace here: 

Not only is Jesus NOT offended by my weakness, But He is actually pleased with my plodding and stumbling gait proving His persevering heart of flesh in me through the trial.

And now years later, after I wrote that first Lament to the Lord,

How high must I climb?
How long is the journey?
How wide is the sea?
How deep is the trial?

He has uncovered an even deeper cry in my heart. One that answers His breath in me, His life that has been growing in my physical body, His own body, His true temple.

In each breaking and pain-filled place He is uncovering more of His strength in me. His breath is becoming my very breath, as He is revealing the truth that we are indeed Temples of His Holy Spirit. And in every breaking with the larger Body of Christ, each lamenting has in fact only uncovered His deeper, wider, longer and higher love breathing and beating in me for each and every member of His Body. He is revealing His true transformation in me, as I hear myself now crying:

How high is Your love?
How long is Your love?
How wide is Your love?
How deep is Your love for us?

Do you also long to join Anna and I on this lifelong journey of lament? Do you also long to pour out your heart in all honesty before our LORD and Maker and to listen for His response? Then, we invite you to walk with us through this new part – Part 6 The Breath of God – as we recover the delight of living in the breath of our God.

We long to share with you how our very weakness – through chronic illness – has been leading us into honest and open laments before our Heavenly Father that are awakening the breath of our God and the heart of Jesus in us.

Will you join us as we begin this new part of Arise and Shine in prayer?

Father God, thank You that You are a God who sees our pain and the deep surrenders You are calling us to. Remind us that it is You who yield our hearts to Your will, that all You call us to do is to come, just as we are. Thank You that You have never ever left our side. Thank You that our very surrenders shall become a testament to the depth, width, length and height of Your love at work in us. 

Thank You that You stand there with open arms to comfort us, as grief comes calling, and we are reminded of all that we have already released into Your hands. Help us not to bottle up our pain in anger, or numb it away in religious striving, but to entrust our whole heart to You, that You may breathe Your Word of life and hope into us. For we know that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Inscribe the truth of Isaiah 51:12-16 on our hearts. Help us not to be afraid of man who dies, the son of man who is made like grass that withers. Help us not to forget You, our LORD, our Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. 

Let us not fear continually all day long because of the wrath of our oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy. Remind us that we who are bowed down shall speedily be released; we shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall our bread be lacking. For You are the Lord our God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is Your name.

You have put Your words in our mouth and covered us in the shadow of Your hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” Yes, from the depths of Your Son’s heart in us, we shall yet praise You from the rising to the setting of the sun. We declare that even at night You shall call forth praise in us through Your Holy Spirit’s breath in us and in our brothers and sisters in Christ You have placed around us

Thank You that Your messengers of light encamp around those who fear You, LORD. Thank You for surrounding us with Your Body, from near and far, as we bow our knees before You to pour out our lament before You. Open our hearts to receive You and the breath of heaven You are sending out even now to awaken us in Your love

Break the dams of our unbelief, that Your rivers of justice may roll freely in and through us, and that Your streams of righteousness may refresh us and many more waiting hearts. Make glad Your holy city, oh LORD. Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; for You, our LORD have created it.

Open our mouths wide to declare Your compassion in our weakness and Your kindness and mercy to us in our sin, as we turn toward You, and not away. Wash us as white as snow that others may see the hope and life and joy to which You call each one of us. Breathe mightily in our midst, oh LORD. Let Your glory be revealed in and through us. Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon our garden, let its spices flow. Let our beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

Awaken a hunger and thirst in us that cannot be satisfied in this world, that we may come to seek You not just with a part of our heart, but our whole heart, laying bare our sorrow, our longing and our pain before You that You might fill us to overflowing with Your Word and breath of life.

Take each one of us through these days of testing and bring Your truth out into the open. Let nothing remain hidden, as You are our Primary Caregiver.  And show us the peace that You have been planting already in us, as we walk into the new with You. Thank You for YOUR change of seasons as we live in Your love for those around us.

Open the words that You pour over us in our lamenting to reach others who are longing to know the depth of Your love also, and to feel Your breath stirring in their own lungs. Show each one of us where You are breathing new life already. And never stop calling us into laments that awaken Your breath and heart in us, until the day You unveil Yourself fully in us.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

You may have noticed it’s been rather quiet here at Shalom Aleh. Bettie and I have been praying about the direction for Arise and Shine, just as we have throughout. The book has not followed the order we had set. Yes, man may make his plans, but it is God who orders our every step. And oh what a gift it’s been to see Him ordering our steps and taking the Word ever deeper into our hearts, as Bettie and I have waited upon Him here with you, at every turn.

Now, He has halted our plans. We know the Part He desires to start soon – Part 6: The Breath of God. But, He has made it clear that for that to happen, Anna must first complete another task He gave her long ago. That task will be her gift to you for the next ten days: a short book of 10 chapters.

If you have been following Bettie and Anna’s book Arise and Shine, you will recognize parts of this new book, but not all. As she shares this book with you, God has also asked her to be prepared for Him to work in her own heart in the editing and sharing. The irony hasn’t escaped Anna, as she prepares to go to hospital for various heart tests on the 22nd and 28th of this month. She would so appreciate your prayers also, as she prays for and with you these next 10 days.

Before Anna publishes the first chapter later today (Sunday), she would love to give you a taster of what is to come: the book proposal for Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil. I will add links to the prologue and chapters of the book at the end of this book proposal, as I publish them.

May God bless us all as He desires to through these next ten days together. May His Sword of Life breathe life into our lungs and awaken our hearts afresh to the beat of His perfect love for us all.

Book Proposal for Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

Are you burdened in prayer for your adult Prodigal child or grandchild? Be uplifted and moved to celebrate the life of Jesus in your own and your loved ones’ lives, by a true story of a Prodigal returning home after more than twenty years on the run. 

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil invites God to flame alive His Word in our grieving hearts. It invites Christ to break open fallow ground, that we might arise from our unbelief to see what Jesus sees.

Each chapter testifies to Christ’s saving and redeeming work and calls us into an acknowledgement and celebration of the life of Jesus at work in our loved ones’ lives and our own. For, even now, the train of Christ’s royal robe fills the Temple. It is finished. His work is done.

May God compel us through His living Word and testimony speaking through not just each chapter of this book, but through each chapter of our individual and woven together lives, to enter into His Sabbath rest. May we take ahold of His outstretched hand and run into the joy set before us. May the eyes of our hearts be opened to turn toward Him, to Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil, as He reveals His beautiful face to us.

DESCRIPTION

We live in an age, where more and more of our young adults are turning their backs on the God of their childhood. Anna never thought she would become one of these many Prodigals. Privileged to grow up watching God’s love at work in her missionary parents, she loved her Savior with great passion. Anna even dreamed of one day following in her parents’ footsteps. But slowly, this passionate Jesus follower hardened her heart in sin and descended into more than twenty years of wandering in unbelief.

When God opened her eyes to a newborn faith, Anna began to pray for answers to her wayward turning. She couldn’t understand how she could have ever become so blind. But through Christ’s words to Peter, God turned Anna’s prayerful questioning upside down. 

He led her to stop praying for answers explaining her turning away. He invited her to instead open her eyes to see His sovereign hand upon her life and His perfecting work in her weakness. He asked her to look for His Presence with her, at every point of her journey: to see His face reflected in her own and in those He had set before her.

God showed Anna that, just as with Peter, her sifting like wheat was ordained by Him to humble her and prepare her for His calling upon her life. All along He was leading her into His death and resurrection. God was busily giving Anna concrete evidence for His promise to us all, that He remains faithful in our faithlessness because “he cannot deny himself” in us (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV), a testimony He birthed in her, not to hoard, but share with you.

This devotional walks you through Anna’s voyage of discovery, as God opens her eyes to Celebrate Jesus at work in her, and in her loved ones. At the end of each chapter, Anna invites you to join her in sitting with a short portion of Scripture.

Come lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus, together with Anna, and listen for His personal Word to you, that you might arise refreshed and renewed in Him. May God open our eyes to see and celebrate our Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filling the temple! May God lift the veil hiding Christ’s beautiful face, as we turn toward Him to celebrate the finished work of the Cross.

PRIMARY MARKET –

Parents (40 years old +) and grandparents of adult Prodigals.

MARKET DEMAND AND FELT NEED –

I felt the need to write this book after I watched God fill parents and grandparents of Prodigals with such hope through my testimony. But also in response to my own experiences of interceding for loved ones, together with parents and grandparents God wove into my life and heart, some for a season, others for longer. 

I watched as one mother’s eyes filled with tears of hope, as she began to see her Prodigal son in my story. I marveled at the memories God began to recover in many other parents and grandparents, who began to see the fingerprints of Jesus, where they hadn’t noticed them before. 

I saw Jesus reminding us all, through His hand upon my own life, that “No one comes to the Father except through” Him (John 14:6 ESV). And that “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25 ESV). 

My testimony reminded parents and grandparents that Christ honors our drawing near as children in response to His calling. For, like He did for Peter, who recognized Jesus as his Messiah before his three denials, because the Father revealed it to him, our LORD prayed for each one of us, even before the enemy began to sift us like wheat. 

As parents and grandparents shared their own stories with me, and I shared my own story with them, we witnessed the LORD lifting our burdens. As our cries and tears have mingled with the Word of God speaking through each other, they have begun to rise as incense in praise and worship flowing from our hearts and lips. 

This book responds to a very specific call God gave me almost exactly five years ago at the YWAM base in Burtigny, Switzerland at Mary DeMuth’s writer intensive. The writing of this book has been Christ’s long and patient labor of love, as He has interceded in me, through me and for me (also through the grandmothers and mothers I met) to flame alive His Word in my heart. For, He has been faithful to the repeated prayer He has compelled me to pray: “Father let me not just pen the words, but live them.”

I now invite you, wherever you are in the world, to join me to Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil. May praise pour forth from our lips, as we each bow low before the LORD our God in trembling awe of His goodness.

Jesus be glorified in us all! Oh how we love You!

I will add links to the prologue and chapters of the book, as I publish them below:

Prologue: Never Stop Praying

Chapter 1: That We Might Live

Chapter 2: That We Might Hear

Chapter 3: That We Might Become One

Chapter 4: That We Might Acknowledge Christ Before Man

Chapter 5: That We Might Receive Jesus

Chapter 6: That We Might Become His Compassion

Chapter 7: That We Might Present Our Bodies as a Living Sacrifice, Holy and Acceptable unto God

Chapter 8: That We Might Shine Brightly

Chapter 9: That We Might Be Born Again

Chapter 10: That We Might Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 7: I Join You in Your Suffering

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie and Anna are bringing forward the final free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion). 

“Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord: blue, purple, and scarlet thread; Exodus 35:5-6

The color purple, woven into the curtains of the Temple, reminds us of the perfect kingdom that is promised for us in God’s Heavenly Kingdom.  But what if we could see the gift of this royalty that our Jesus won for us, here and now, as we heed His call to join Him in His suffering – in His royal compassion for His beloved children .

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. I Peter 2:9 ESV

When we find ourselves walking a path that breaks our hearts, we can be sure God is weaving His thread of royal compassion right there. But oh how we need Jesus to open our eyes to see His weaving and to join Him in His suffering that His Kingdom may come on earth, as it is in heaven. For, we can only see by faith, as Christ persuades our hearts to trust Him and seek Him in the pain.

We all face wounding from those in the world, and even from those within the church. Maybe your loved ones have also faced the effects of those woundings?

When Bettie’s family walked through painful hurts at the hands of those who were in church leadership, her sons later suffered a deep brokenness as the pain increased their wanderings.  It felt like there was an attack being directed by those very ones who were supposed to be family within Christ’s church. 

Similar wounding also formed a part of Anna’s and her loved ones’ prodigal wanderings and also met her upon her return to Jesus. God walked her through pain that brought back memories from her childhood. The trauma triggered led to a diagnosis of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and more recently, a chronic heart condition.

Oh how this world can hurt and break our hearts and bodies, but praise God, we have a Savior who understands! A Savior who bore our sin and afflictions, so that now, He can tend to our hearts in compassion – joining us through His Holy Spirit – to comfort us and to restore our vision and hope in Him.

By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. Hebrews 10:20 NLT

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV

He does not withhold His mercy from us, as our own hearts harden in the wounding and as our own eyes become blinded by sin. Rather, He continually beckons us into His arms that He might open the eyes of our hearts to see what He does.

Just as Jesus did, our Heavenly Father wants us to despise the shame of the enemy’s mocking taunts, as our accuser places that robe of wounding upon us. As our enemy accuses us and mocks our royal heritage, as our weakness is exposed through trauma and other (chronic) illnesses, God wants us to rejoice. He wants us to see how we are walking in His footsteps toward the joy set before us: a fully healed and whole Body of Christ.

They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, King of the Jews. Mark 15:17-18 ESV

Just like Paul before us, the thorns in our flesh give us reason to rejoice for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ. For, we are in fact filling up in our flesh – through that very suffering – what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church.

As Anna reflects on this Promise, she can’t help but think of the example God opened her eyes to recently. Anna’s Mum spent a large part of her life longing to understand Anna’s little adopted brother. In her final months, God allowed the enemy to attack Anna’s Mum with a vicious terminal brain cancer: glioblastoma multiforme. But in the midst of horrific suffering God was in fact weaving His royal thread of compassion.

He was filling Anna’s Mum up in her flesh, what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body. For, through the cancer that ravaged her brain, He gave Anna’s Mum the gift of a malfunctioning prefrontal cortex. The cancer stripped her of the very abilities trauma had stripped her adopted son of, as a baby.

During those final months of Anna’s mother’s life, Anna watched God make her mother and her little brother One in Him. Her mother wept in repentance, as she saw how she had responded to her adopted son’s sinful behavior without understanding or compassion. And Anna’s little brother embraced the compassion and grace extended to him that his heart had so longed for. God answered the desires of both their hearts in and through His suffering on the Cross, as He invited Anna’s mother to take up her Cross and follow Him.

In that place of divine understanding and vision, forgiveness flowed like oil upon Anna’s little brother’s head, as her mother recognized her own need for her son’s forgiveness also. Not only did Anna’s mother taste God’s mercy and compassion for herself, in her own weakness and pain, like never before, but God also beautifully positioned her to become His instrument of peace, to bring healing and wholeness to her heart, her son’s heart and through her living testimony- to His Body.

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 1 John 1:4-5 ESV

Do you see how as Christ reveals His compassion to us – His decision to join us in our suffering – that we too cannot help but cry: “I Join You in Your suffering.”?

Is there a wound, inflicted by someone within the church or by someone in the world, which has been festering in your soul? Perhaps the wound has even been carried over into the lives of your loved ones who are running from the LORD or (unknowingly) carried over into your own health and well-being now, years later. Will you then join us in prayer, as we too bring our own wounds, pain and chronic illness to the feet of Jesus?

Father, only You know the depth of the woundings we have walked through in our lives and the suffering we are now bearing in our bodies as we carry the impact of sin’s wounding through chronic mental and/or physical illness or even terminal illness, like Anna’s Mum didThank You that You carried not just our sin, but also every wounding and every affliction now present in our bodies to the Cross.

Thank You that You chose to suffer with us and still do today, through Your Holy Spirit who resides in us. We too, now long to join You in Your suffering, to willingly yield our diseased and broken bodies and hearts to You that You might make us Your instruments of peace.

Open the eyes of our hearts to see the miracle wonders hidden in Your Word today – Your Word that lives and breathes within us. Strengthen, fill and nourish us with Your living Word that we might arise with fresh faith, as we begin to see what You see. Shine Your Word as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Show us how You are using what the enemy meant for evil for good, that we might join You in Your labor of love and Your weaving of royal compassion. Cleanse us of all unrighteousness, let Your forgiveness flow as oil in and through us, oh LORD.

Break up the untilled soil of our own hearts and pull out any weeds that are choking the beauty of Your life and heartbeat in us. Thank you that even as You continue to cleanse us, You already declare us clean by the Word You have spoken to us.

Thank You for inviting us into Your royal family. We recognize that this honor comes with the great privilege of joining You in Your suffering and filling up in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His Body, that is the church. We stand in awe of Your great gift to us, and worship You, our true King

Oh how we long to become Your vessels of royal compassion, calling others into Your royal family, through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Empower us to join You in Your suffering, to pick up our Cross and follow You.

Empower us to boast in our weakness and to confess our sins freely before others that Your glory might rest upon us and so draw those around us to Yourself. May others palpably feel the peace and nearness of Your Holy Spirit upon us and know that You are a God who is so very present to each and every one of us in our suffering. Make us Your vessels of Your royal compassion and peace.

In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

God bless you today: may grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2, ESV). For we are His fellow workers, God’s field, God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9) and the very Temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 6: I Lift Up My Whole Heart

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the sixth free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion)

This morning, I woke up with this song on my heart:

I had gone to sleep pondering Bettie’s dream and this poem I had originally written in response to the d’Verse prompt.

See not your failing 
See my wind blowing
Each point of collision
A lifting
Divinely appointed
To winnow the seed
In husks beautifully
Hidden, bursting forth
Through the breach
Long opened in my
Body broken to heal
Your every division.

As I pondered the babies of pain Bettie had clasped tightly to her chest, and God has been inviting her to release into His arms, God opened my eyes to see something so beautiful that the above song only affirmed in my heart.

When we pray for those we love and that praying leads to God separating us from each other, it’s so easy to cling to the enemy’s accusations. It’s so easy to see that purposed collision and division as our or the other’s failing. But what if it is in fact God’s victory and deliverance of our hearts and souls?

Pain entered our world when sin did. Sin was born when we humans chose to put our faith and trust in fear (our accuser), rather than in love (our deliverer). It’s then our hearts that were once united became divided.

Our deliverance from sin and death came to earth, when Jesus willingly chose to enter into the pain of our division (sin) to give us His undivided heart of love in exchange. Being the gentleman He is, Jesus doesn’t force us to receive this deliverance. But being our Father, He does allow things to take place to confront us and uncover our need for Him.

As we are forced to concede our lack of control, in His confronting, we are invited into the gift of receiving God’s sovereign plan and purpose for us. And as we choose to receive that gift, He wields His Word in and through us to lift off the burdens that were never ours to carry.

So often we don’t even realize that we are taking on burdens that aren’t ours to carry: that’s where illness can actually be a gift in disguise. I can now see how God has used Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to define His boundaries for me, as He has lifted off so much weight that was never mine to carry. 

He’s used this disorder to force me to confront what in the past I never would have. I would have just kept my mouth shut and kept pleasing and placating, sowing unto the flesh instead of unto the Spirit. But now the triggers stop me from doing so. For, each trigger alerts me to a division in my heart and compels me to seek God’s will for me, as I quiet my soul before Him to listen.

These times of seeking Him – through prayer, reading the Word and/or fasting – have so often led me to open my mouth and speak the truth to those I love. They have led to me choosing love (collision) over fear (hiding). Beautifully this has brought such sweet intimacy with those closest to me, as it has lifted away the husk that was keeping us apart. While with others, it has led me to releasing burdens that were not mine to carry, as God has uncovered idolatry in my heart.

Either I was bowing before others as if they were God to remain acceptable to them. Or I was setting myself up as an idol for others, as I was making them dependent upon me, rather than upon God.

These collisions with others caused me to seek God’s will, as He lifted away the husk to reveal the beauty of His undivided and whole heart in me.

A verse that has kept reverberating in me the past few weeks is:

And suddenly, as I sat to pen this piece I understood why. Jesus physically left those He loved also. Why? Not to cause them grief, but to give them something so much better: the gift of His Holy Spirit to take them by the hand and lead them into the truth, piece by piece by piece.

As I sat with that Promise God gave His disciples, I realized what He was saying to me. Every time He has asked me to separate myself from others, it was because He wanted each of us to ask that same question: where is Jesus going? And to receive the gift of His Holy Spirit’s leading in doing so.

God wanted us to receive something so much better than our idolatrous friendship with each other: the comfort and guidance of His Holy Spirit and an undivided heart of love for each other. A love that does not insist upon its own way, but gives each person free will.

When we make others dependent upon us, we take away their free will. Likewise, when people or even religious communities require us to think as they do to belong in their midst, they are also making us dependent upon their fleshly leading and taking away our free will to come to know Jesus ourselves, through His Holy Spirit.

But God never takes away our free will. For, love never insists upon its own way. Why? Because love – God – wants us to love Him from a whole and undivided heart. He doesn’t want us to love Him because we are terrified of Him. He doesn’t want us to love Him because we want to impress Him. He doesn’t want us to love Him because we are afraid He will reject us if we don’t. He doesn’t want us to love Him out of a sense of duty or to do the “right” thing.

No! That is not love! That is fear at work. That is us listening to the enemy’s accusations against us. God wants us to love Him because we have come to know Him in a personal and intimate way and because He has proven Himself to us, as we have come to realize just how deeply He loves us.

And that relationship of love can only grow, as God lifts away everyone and everything we are enslaving ourselves to and everyone we are enslaving to ourselves. Why? Because only then can we and others see Jesus for who He truly is.

Only then can we receive His pure and unadultered love for us and for others. Only then can we love Him with our whole heart – His undivided heart of love beating inside each one of us. Only then will we begin to join Him in His suffering for His children.

Compassion is giving others the gift of coming to know Jesus, by giving them the free will to choose their own path. Even if that path makes our heart hurt and leads our loved ones into suffering. Can we not warn them? Of course we can – and in fact God commands us to do so. But when they choose not to listen, we are to release them into His hands.

For, ultimately God uses those very moments of surrender not just to uncover His deep love to our loved ones and His steadfast faithfulness to them – but also to us, as He teaches us to see by faith and not sight. Only the Holy Spirit can awaken us to God’s Way of love, truth and grace. And that can only happen as we choose to get out the way, when God commands us to.

And that painful Way His Spirit leads them down might in fact collide with our human and fleshly reasoning. When we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from pain, God wants us to join Him in His suffering to see His Kingdom come: to see His children coming home because they have come to know His deep, deep love for them. Not because they are scared of us, want to please us or because they feel they owe us.

Only Jesus can free us to lift up our whole hearts to Him. Why? Because that whole and undivided heart in us is in fact His. It is the seed of Jesus in us that is beautifully hidden until the wind of His Holy Spirit begins to blow. Until God leads us into purposed collisions. Until He begins to winnow the beauty of Himself hiding in each one of us. A beauty He uncovers, as He invites us to join Him in His suffering for His children. As He invites us to join Him in prayer and watch His power be perfected in our weakness and our surrender to His much better plan and purpose for us and those we love.

If you want a beautiful example of this process of winnowing, I would encourage you to follow my friend Debbie’s blog and read of God’s continual call to her to surrender her adopted son Roma into His hands and to discover His deep deep compassion for her son, and for her: His decision to enter into their suffering and to lift off the heavy burdens they were each carrying. His decision to harvest the seed of Jesus in them.

Oh may Jesus empower us to join Him in His suffering, to surrender our thoughts and plans for His much higher thoughts and purposes for us and our loved ones. And may the Holy Spirit comfort us through the pain of each surrender, continually reminding us that those who sow in tears reap with joy. Much joy!

Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 5: I See You

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the fifth free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion). 

Anna loves her LORD and Savior with a passion. She has seen Him restore and heal her from so much and knows her God to be faithful. But then, her world is turned upside down, when He asks her to surrender all she knows to receive what she begins to realize, she does not – His heart for her and others. As she closes the door on the world she knows, she is filled with joy and expectant hope, even in the pain of all the letting go.

But months later, the waves of trauma begin to hit. She fights the best way she knows how. She speaks truth to the lies raging inside of her. But the waves just keep coming. Roaring and crashing with even greater force. They take her breath away. She tries to hide her struggle from those around her.

She feels so ashamed. She had declared herself healed and whole. She thought God was calling her to be His healing to others. How could she write that book of healing He had been calling her to? The very book she had only just invited her new friend to join her in writing. How could she be God’s healing to others, in her own brokenness?

It’s then, that very friend – Bettie – and others from near and far, begin to reach out. Women she thought she was called to love, pray for and hold in her arms, through her writing, reach out to her. In closing every door God had asked her to and becoming invisible to the seen world, she had unknowingly opened the door to the realm of the invisible. She had opened the door to the hands and feet of Christ, to those led by the moment by moment revelation of the Spirit of God.

The Words of truth she had once fought so hard to religiously wield, to slice through the accusations screaming inside of her, are now being wielded for her. The Living Word she sits with daily is now arising from within her, and wrapping around her, as she and her friends pour out their hearts to one another and send each other Scriptures and hymns God is bringing to their heart, daily.

But not only that. She is also finding her heart opening to receive the love, truth and grace of her living God in those most precious to her. In the very ones she was once too afraid to be real with – the ones her religious thinking told her, were not of Him.

Now, when the waves begin to surge within her, she is letting the hands and feet of Jesus in her loved ones meet her there. And in pouring her heart out before them, she is finding them pouring their own heart out before her. Jesus is making them One – by the power of His love, truth and grace in their brokenness. She now often finds herself weeping, as she reflects upon her Savior having borne the full force of those waves not just for her, but for all His children.

She is learning that trust is not fighting the rush and roar of perplexing and frightening emotions nor the lies hissing inside of her, as she once thought. She is learning that trust is letting the waves come. It is pouring out her heart freely before God and others. It is coming just as she is and inviting God to unravel her heart and to speak His blessed truth and grace into her heart, also through those He has kept in her life for a purpose. Right there she is experiencing His power in her weakness.

She now realizes it’s not our healing and wholeness that heals others and calls them unto God. It’s our own brokenness, before Jesus and before others, that does. For, as we gather in love and truth and grace, pouring out our hearts in all honesty and openness, His healing and wholeness pours out in our midst, as He awakens His heart of love in us.

Like her friends from near and afar, Anna now listens for the gentle Voice of her Savior. She now deep down knows that no weapon forged against her can ever separate her from the love that is in Christ Jesus. For, when her heart condemns her, she knows her God to be greater than her heart.

She now puts her faith in the living Word of God – Jesus – who came not to condemn the world, but to seek and save us all through His power that is perfected in our weakness. The God who is not ashamed of us in our brokenness and who does not punish us for it, but who welcomes us just as we are. For, the God I know willingly chose to suffer with and for all His children at the Cross, to testify to us and to the world around us in our brokenness today: I see you.

I See You

"I see you
I see the light
In you
In the dark
Of night
You see
I see
The wounds
I bore
For you.

"Come, feel
My nail-pierced hands
And let them
Remind you
Again and again
I know all things.

"Come, be My child
Let Me soothe you
In My arms
And balm
Your wounds.

"Come
Let me take
Each curled
And twisted knot
And in My living
Breathing Word
Unravel
And release.

"For then I'll pour
Back out of you
My honey sweet
Of grace
And truth.

"For, when your heart
Condemns you
Know this
I do not
For, I am the God
Who knows
All things.

"I am the God
Who sees you
And all my children
Not just in part
But full."

Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 4: We Receive You

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the fourth free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion)

We Receive You

Taken out of their midst
God asked him: "return"
And he full of fear cried:
"But what shall I tell them."

I AM WHO I AM

Drawn out of water
In a basket
Wonderfully and fearfully woven
God's people out of Egypt to lead.

Not his own merit
But the Voice
Of I AM WHO I AM
Slavery's heavy yoke would lift.

Not just his people's
And his very own heart
Breaking in mercy
But ours too.

Into a desert
The Living Word
Led them
The Spirit ever interceding.

The Promised land
Moses saw from afar
And trusted by faith
Would one day be his.

Through all the heat
And longing of the desert
Overshadowed in mercy
By day.

Through all the darkness
And unknown of the night 
In the jealous heart of God
Aflame.

And yet
In Moses' body
That Promise
Was buried on a mountain.

But to that mountain
One day He returned
The I AM WHO I AM: Jesus
With Moses, before a Cross.

Christ walked
To that Cross
For the joy
Set before Him.

Sin and pain
In His royal blood
Exchanging
Compassion unveiling.

The Promise
Died on a Cross 
Eternal life from a tomb
Resurrecting.

The seed
Breaking open
Multiplying life
Everlasting for all.

Now Gentile and Jew
Together as One
We receive You -
Jesus - in each other.

Hebrews 11:23-29, 39-40 (ESV) By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them. By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned . . . And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Matthew 17: 1 – 3 (ESV) And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

Deuteronomy 33:18 – 19 (ESV) And of Zebulun he said, “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
    and Issachar, in your tents.
 They shall call peoples to their mountain;
    there they offer right sacrifices;
for they draw from the abundance of the seas
    and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

Isaiah 9:1 (ESV) Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

Dear Holy Father,

We are amazed that You would choose to come to us, to make Your dwelling here in our heart. We have nothing to offer you except these shards and pieces that are the bones and bodies holding our vulnerable hearts. But we thank You that Your Word declares these very bodies Your holy Temples.

We thank You that where we, and others who look at us, see nothing but brokenness, You see Your chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Your own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of You who called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light.

We thank You that as our bodies, minds and hearts are failing us, Your Son, in whom all Promises are yes and Amen, is awakening His strength in us. Thank You that You have placed the seal of Your Holy Spirit upon us, securing our eternal inheritance in You, and that nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus.

Thank You that the light momentary affliction we are walking through here on earth is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. For, in You, we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For we know that the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Thank You for compelling us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but to lay up for ourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Thank You for setting our hearts on You, as we walk through the fire and are met by storms. Thank You for uncovering hidden treasure in the darkness.

Thank You that You dwell here within us, in this secret place, created to be our home: Your heart in us. Thank You that You have hidden us in the clefts of the rock to protect us from every scheme of the enemy. Thank You for the love of Jesus that has been shed abroad in our hearts that we might love You as You love us.

Thank You for Your great and wonderful promises to us. Thank You for compelling us to cleanse ourselves in the light of these Promises from everything that contaminates body and spirit. Thank You for prompting us to live our lives set apart for Your purpose in holy awe of You alone. Thank You for fulfilling the prayer of Your Son in us to make us One in You.

As we come to Jesus, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by You and precious to You— thank You that You are building us like living stones into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to You through Jesus Christ, just as You have promised us in Your Word.

In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we praise You today,
Amen.

John 16:13 – 15 (ESV) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 3: I Give You My All

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the third free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion)

When we walk through the aftermath of loss and trauma, we often feel the weight of our broken humanity so much more. Rather than listen to God’s still, sweet voice, it can feel safer to hold onto the accusations we hear inside of us.

When the LORD began to call me to share the Words and visions I saw with a family I had been praying for, I struggled. What if these were just figments of my imagination? What if they gave them false hope or upset them? I could hear the enemy breathing down my neck: “God would never call someone like you to intercede for others in prayer. He would never give someone like you these kind of Words and visions.”

Then, a leader I deeply respected, most likely trying to protect me in my fears, affirmed the very accusations I was already hearing, when I asked for advice. And so a tug of war ensued. Until finally, I cried out in frustrated anger.

I told God enough was enough. Either I was going to zip my lips, or God had better show me that it was indeed He, who had called me to speak His Word into this family’s situation.

Moments later, three separate affirmations arrived. But the most amazing affirmation of all was what unfolded with a stranger, mere minutes after my prayer. I was standing at a train station minding my own business, when a man approached me. He asked to borrow my phone to call his brother to let him know he’d be late. I was frightened by his dishevelled exterior, but didn’t want to be rude, so I offered to call his brother for him and tell him.

After doing so, the man thanked me profusely and suddenly began to share parts of his life story. He started by sharing his full (Hebrew) name and his Christian upbringing. And went on to share of the incredible suffering his parents walked through and their inability to love him as he needed to be loved. He then shared about his struggle to believe and to be freed from his addictions.

I listened intently, praying for God to fill me with the wisdom I lacked. I longed to help this man see how much God still loved him and yearned to comfort him and bring him healing. It’s then, as we sat together on the train, that the Holy Spirit prompted me to openly share about the trauma I had walked through as a little girl and how God was leading me to a place of healing and forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit also provided a question to ask the man. It is this question that visibly moved the man. He kept repeating it and working through its implications. Suddenly, I saw compassion enter the man’s eyes as he spoke of his parents, rather than the hurt and bitterness that had been there moments earlier. The Lord was so clearly working in his heart.

I sat there beside him on the train, amazed. If it was not for the Lord’s promptings I would never have gone near this man. He stunk of alcohol and his dishevelled appearance both frightened and revolted me. But God was not put off by my fears or my fleshly judgement. He pressed until I responded in grace and love as He wanted me to.

After this experience I knew. I knew that even in my broken, newly returned Prodigal state, God was calling me to intercede and speak encouragement into others’ lives. It’s then I knew the Scriptures and visions of Bible stories I was receiving in prayer were gifts from God, not given to hoard, but share.

Oh there have still been moments since then, that I have turned to hide and dim my light. But my God has been so faithful to return me to Himself and to remind me that His power is perfected in weakness. He has lifted me back out of the mire to set my feet upon the Rock and to shine the light He’s given me, brightly, in the places He has set me apart to make His glory known. He has bowed my knees before Him – my King of Kings and LORD of Lords, as my lips have cried out: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

A Sea of Mercy

I look behind me
And see the train
Of Your robe
Billowing royal.

Every surface covering
A flowing
Sea of purple
Mine.

And I weep
Broken
In Your mercy.

Broken
By a King
Who bore the Cross
For me.

Broken
By the Son of Man
Who would call
A woman weak and frail
His own.

Who am I
But dust?
Who am I
But caged
To fear, pain
And shame?

And yet
I hear Your Voice
Resound before me
Calling
Come!

It's then I find
I AM stepping
Where even angels
Fear to tread.

It's then
In my weakness
I watch You
In power rise.

I watch You
Snap my fear
And shame
In two.

The accusations
Of condemnation
No more claim
Can lay.

For, clothed
In royal thread
I see my King's face
Reflected in my own.

For, it's no longer
I who live
But Christ who lives
In me.

I bow
Before my
King of Kings.

And with my heart
And tongue
Confess Him now
As Lord of all.

Holy, holy, holy
Is the LORD God
Almighty!

Before, behind
Above, below
All around
His Temple

I see the train
Of my King's robe
Billowing purple.

Every surface covering
A flowing
Sea of mercy ours

Christ alone.

As I learn to sow unto the Spirit and not the flesh, my God is using my very weakness to glorify Himself. Precisely because my prefrontal cortex is not functioning as it should, in the wake of trauma, I am being compelled to immediately respond to the impulses coursing through my body. And the more Jesus – the living and abiding Word of God – is growing in me, the more those impulses are becoming Holy Spirit-led, awakening a holy and royal courage and compassion in me.

As my God cries: “I Give You My All”, I hear my own heart crying: “I give You my all too.” as I watch Him exchange my weakness and need for His perfect love and provision.

Thank You, Jesus, that You call the foolish of this world to shame the wise. Thank You that You call the weak of this world to confound the strong. Thank You that You call us, Your broken open vessels, to shine Your love brightly into the lives of those around us.

Father God, thank You that You are filling us with Your holy courage to shine the light of Your love, where You call us to. Thank You that You are lifting the accusations of the enemy against us and those You are calling us to love. Thank You that as we look into the mirror, we can see Jesus there and that as we look into the eyes of those You set before us, we can see Jesus there too.

Thank You that You are melting away our insecurities and fears in the truth of Your holy love for both us and for those you are calling us to bless. A love You expressed by pouring out the judgement each one of us deserved upon Your very own Son, so that we could be freed from our sin and shame, to run with joy into Your abundant life. Thank You, Father, for Your incredible sacrificial love, a royal compassion like no other.

Forgive us for the moments we have followed after the impulses of the enemy. Thank You that You are not ashamed of us in our weakness and need, but that You are growing us up in Your Word to follow after Your Voice alone. Thank You that You are persuading us to put our faith in Your Name above all else.

Thank You that when our hearts condemn us, You, our God are greater than our heart and know all things. Thank You that we can believe in the name of Jesus Christ and that in Him our hearts cannot condemn us because in Him we have confidence before You. And in Him whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him, because in Him, we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Thank You that You are causing us to tremble in awe of who You are and no longer in fear of the enemy. Thank You that You are awakening us in the light of Your loving countenance. Thank You that You are clothing us in Your royal and holy compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 2: I Know You

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the second free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion). 

Isaiah 40: 27 – 31 (The Message)
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
    or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
    He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
    And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind.


As the first anniversary of my Mum’s departure for heaven crept ever closer, I was genuinely fearful of what this day would bring. My heart was heavy with grief and my mind anxious from the memories of crippling flashbacks. And yet, God chose this day of deep mourning to display the wonders of His compassion. He chose to bring deep, abiding joy into the depths of loss and sorrow, not just for me, but also my Dad, who was staying with us at the time.

I recorded the day in my journal:

Yesterday, we commemorated one year without Mum and Grandma. I was fearful of what this day would bring, fearful of the tears, of the pain. Yet, as the day progressed more and more joy took hold of me, held me and embraced me.

Balloons bubbling into giggles of delight. Joyful purple bubbles catching a powerful gust of air and being drawn up high, high above the cloak of mist that covered us below. Delighted girls watching the sight and thinking of their Grandma, a warm embrace from a Dad whose heart felt as heavy as that cloak of mist, but whose tears found release.

A café of remembrance bringing God’s gift in a basket speaking of a Grandma’s kindness, of a Grandma’s deep love flowing over, from beyond the grave…speaking of a God and Saviour sowing a garden, a Garden of Joy, Gladness, Peace and Thanksgiving, where a wife’s, a mother’s, a Grandma’s soul can find a rest eternal in the Sun and Son of Life. A Garden waiting to call all its children home to their Father of compassion and love abounding.

As the afternoon dawned, so did the sun in all its warmth, as children played and laughed, sliding, jumping, swinging high and adults smiled, joy lifting heavy hearts. Children’s joy a balm to weary souls. A day ending in thankfulness for gifts overflowing from a Father of Grace.

Everything about the day reveals God’s deep abiding Presence to me:

  • the heavy mist that covered us as we arrived at the beach (my Mum’s favorite place) to release the purple (my mother’s favorite color) balloons, which mirrored the heaviness of our grief,
  • the delighted giggles and energetic limbs of our little girls, who lifted our heavy hearts,
    the strong gust of air that lifted the balloons up high and away, which spoke of the strong arms carrying our mother, grandmother and wife into His Presence,
  • the basket that met us in the café we went to, a café we had taken my parents to many years ago, that was filled with happy memories.

    What is so astounding about this basket, is:
  • the words inscribed on the signs were in English, not Dutch,
  • that it was about a Grandma, what my Mum was to her six grandchildren, a role that gave her such incredible joy, especially in her final days on earth, when the biggest smiles would spread across her face at the sound of her grandchildren crying, giggling or playing, or as they would come sit at her bedside to clasp her hand in theirs or playfully run around her bed,
  • that at the bottom of the basket there was a pine cone, something my parents would often go out to collect at the back of their beach property with their grandchildren.

We ended the day with our girls at the outdoor playground of the pancake restaurant we visited,  delighting in their exuberance and reflecting on the wonder of the day.

God truly is the God who “knows [us] inside out” (John 4: 29), “the God who sees [us]” (Genesis 16: 13), the God who comforts us “as a mother comforts her child” (Isaiah 66: 12 – 13) and the God who, full of compassion, pours out joy, gladness, thanksgiving and the sound of singing into the depths of our grief.

On this day, He brought the Promise He had given me, not long after we had buried my Mum, to life. And He would continue to do so in the years to come:

Yes, only His tender compassion, His decision to suffer with us, can reach beyond our weakness to our need. In each and every tiny detail, He cries: “I Know You” until we too begin to cry: “Now, I know You too.”

Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 1: I Remember You

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the first free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion). 

Isaiah 49: 14 – 16

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.

Dear Traumatized Child,

When you come home to Your Abba Father, you will be so excited. Like the woman at the well, you will run to tell others in your church about the depths of His love for us all. You will see women weeping and you will know they too have just experienced what it is to be seen and known in the depth of their wounding. You will rejoice as they too see that their faces are not covered in the shame of their sin, but radiant in the redeeming love of Christ.

But then, as you step out in faith and go where your Father asks you to, the thorns given you as a gift will at first pierce your resolve. You will share of the piercing with leaders you trust. You will share of the waves of fear and shame that are pursuing your body unto death, but instead of arms reaching out to hold you and truth arising to defend your soul, the thorns will be pressed even deeper still. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

In the thorns piercing 

Again and again and again

I remember

My shame.

But it’s then, God’s healing will truly begin to flow. As you join Christ in His suffering, His compassion will overwhelm you, as you see your past through His eyes of mercy for you. This time, you will turn toward your God in trust: you will cry out from your own heart that is failing you and listen for His Voice and His new heart rising from the depths. 

Then, ever so slowly, through His patient teaching, you will learn to stop seeking sanctuary in a building, in religious leaders and in your own perfection and strength. You will learn instead to seek the sanctuary of Jesus Christ: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

When you cannot stand through the attacks that come, He will hold you and you will watch as He tethers your feet to the ground, as you long to die. Your feet will not be moved, as you watch your very weakness testify to His power, the hope of glory, Christ in you. 

Each day, when the waves return, you will pour out your heart in Laments. You will be overwhelmed by His precious Word to you. Joy and peace will rise from deep within you, thanksgiving and the sound of singing, as He lifts you above the waves, even as you feel them crash and pound your flesh. You will arise in Him to glory in each and every Promise fulfilled. 

But You 

You remember

A covenant new.

You remember

My sin 

No more.

You remember 

Your Son’s blood 

Covering me.

You remember

Grace 

You remember

Your daughter

Adopted, Yours.

Then, as He draws you out and sets you apart for His purposes, you will watch Him lift every accusation against you. He will use every weapon forged against you to perfect and complete you in Himself. He will persuade you to put Your trust in Him alone. For, He will teach You to walk in the light of His truth – His living and abiding Word. A Word that will reveal His undivided heart in you, a heart that fears Him above all else, answering the prayer He gave you to pray so long before.

He will open your mouth to celebrate His authority, His character and His warmth growing within you. Clothing you in His reputation, He will fix your gaze on His face, melting your frozen heart to reveal His heart of compassion there, giving you a Crown of beauty for the ashes of your dross.

You will rediscover the joy of praise and thanksgiving springing up out of your anguish. You will experience the healing power of the Spirit of God arising in you, slaying the accuser of your brethren and freeing you from your sin and pain to love others as Christ first loved you. Held in His nail-scarred hands, you will die to pride and self, becoming as nothing to the world to gain your eternal inheritance, your portion in Christ alone: your All.

It’s then you will begin to taste the freedom of humbling yourself beneath the mighty hand of God. You will daily learn to embrace His grace in your weakness, turning from your sin, as you grow in discretion and discernment, watching Him raise you as His own beloved daughter.

Your knees will bow in awe, as He strengthen your relationships in His holy Word and begins reaping fruit in and through you that you have so longed and prayed for, but all but given up on. And oh how you will experience the peace of being still and knowing that He alone is God.

It’s then as the thorns continue to pierce, you will weep in thanksgiving for a God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. A God who clothed Himself in wrath: who took upon Him the thorns of all our sin and pain. Why? For the joy set before Him: a healed and whole Body of Christ.

So that you and all His beloved, traumatized children would never ever have to bear the weight of these awful thorns. So that these very thorns piercing you would become a gift of healing and redemption through the resurrection life of Christ at work in you, through the living Word of God ever calling you to remember HIM, the joy set before you: a healed and whole Body of Christ. The God who chose you to become His compassion and gift of mercy to an aching world.

One day, you will weep for this one and only God who chose you, even knowing you would harden your heart in sin. Knowing that you would turn away from the very piercing sent to heal you, sent to smash your idols and free you of your chains. 

You will come to see that this God chose you to give you a future and a hope – putting plans into motion not to harm you, but to bless you and His Body. For, through His piercing, He is rewriting your and His Body’s story of sin and death into a story of grace and resurrection life, ever unfolding. 

One day, instead of believing He turned away from His little girl, you will finally see how He turned toward her. You will see how He held you in the nail-scarred palm of His hand all those years that you thought He had abandoned you. 

You will see that He placed you exactly where He wanted you, right where the thorns being sent to hurt you would in His beautiful timing, in His sacrificial blood, redeem you and His Body, as you bow at the foot of the Cross. 

And now 

You’re teaching me 

To remember too

To remember 

You.

To remember 

A crown of thorns piercing

Again and again and again 

To remember 

Love pouring forth

From a Cross.

To remember  

Rejoicing

To remember  

A cloak. 

To remember 

A ring 

To remember 

A table set

In the presence of my enemies 

To remember 

Oil 

Pouring on my head.

To remember

In each and every thorn 

I find more of

You.

My crown of thorns

You wore

You bled and died

To exchange my sin and death

For a crown of life

Beauty

Everlasting.

Beloved traumatized child, rejoice! The pain of those thorns has been lifted. Because of the joy set before Him, His Body healed and whole, Christ died on that Cross to take your crown of thorns upon Himself and to exchange that crown of thorns for a crown of life everlasting!

Much love,

Your Future Self, redeemed, restored and being transformed from glory to glory, by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of your testimony in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 73: 21 – 26 ESV

21 When my heart was grieved

    and my spirit embittered,

22 I was senseless and ignorant;

    I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;

    you hold me by my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,

    and afterward you will take me into glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?

    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

    but God is the strength of my heart

    and my portion forever.

Colossians 1:24 (ESV)

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotions, L.B. Cowman, p.388

It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds or kernels. And so it has always been, down through the history of plants, people, and all of spiritual life—God uses BROKEN THINGS.

Part 5: Chapter 2: Purple Thread – Royal Compassion

Welcome to Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is introducing us to the freewill offering of purple thread: royal compassion. Join us in the coming days for our personal free will offerings in Christ Jesus, praising Him for His compassion to us.

Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord:
6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread;

Exodus 35:5-6

Is it possible to be poured out and yet be more full than before?

Is there a fire that quenches thirsting?

These are questions that have haunted me. The first one was a longing that rested deep in my heart throughout so many years of serving. After giving and giving and serving and serving, I would find myself lying depleted at the feet of Jesus. I let Him pour His heart more deeply into mine, and then I would return to serving.  Inevitably, the cycle would begin again. Fill up, serve, deplete. Fill up, serve, deplete … Something was missing.

And then the fires began. In my joints, in my aching bones, and in my searing soul, the fires brought a thirsting I did not know I was capable of feeling. How long until this dry season would be changed to life giving rain?

Instead of being filled, I was emptied.

Instead of being relieved, the heat became hotter.

And in the middle of the weak and weary days, God spoke a word that felt impossible for me:

20170810_174442-picsay-02

The point was not lost on me. Of course I was and am INsufficient. There is only ONE who can meet that title, and in the listening He  began to uncover more of His all-sufficient grace than I ever dreamed possible.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

He carried me when I thought I could not stand. He kept me resting when I thought the weary rest-less-ness would consume me. And in it all, He brought me to His feet, just to enjoy HIM there. There were no pressures to fill up just so that serving could deplete the storehouse once again.

As my Rheumatoid Disease progressed, and it became apparent that the medications were not bringing remission, and it became apparent that my weaknesses could not be hidden any longer, I heard those questions being asked of me again. HE was asking me,

Is it possible to be poured out and yet be more full than before?

Is there a fire that quenches thirsting?

Along with the questions, He began to stir a prompting for the word Compassion. The Scripture accompanying that word was filled with its own set of questions–questions that the Lord had asked Himself:

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused. Hosea 11:8 NIV

At a time in history when God’s own people had turned away from Him, when He had every right to reject and leave them, His compassions were stirred within Him. I turned to the Commentaries on BibleHub’s site for more thoughts on these verses in Hosea. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary expresses it this way:

Man’s compassions are nothing in comparison with the tender mercies of our God, whose thoughts and ways, in receiving returning sinners, are as much above ours as heaven is above the earth.

and further,

Holy trembling at the word of Christ will draw us to him, not drive us from him, the children tremble, and flee to him. And all that come at the gospel call, shall have a place and a name in the gospel church.

And just what does that compassion of Christ look like? He was rejected and had every right to leave us to ourselves. Yet He looked on us, and His compassions–those same compassions of His Father–were stirred within Him:

He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 

Matthew 9:36 NIV

They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, King of the Jews.

Mark 15:17-18

The Oxford Dictionary says the origin of the word compassion is derived from two words: “suffer with.”  And I began to see a connection between those two words, “sufficient” and “compassion.”  Over these last few years, while feeling the depth of my own weaknesses, Jesus has asked me to be willing to join with Him in the fellowship of His suffering. He began to show me the depth of HIS sufficiency for me last year. He began to work in me the longing to “boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ might rest upon me all the stronger.”

In the midst of that longing I heard a whisper, “Are you willing to be broken for Me, as I was broken for you?”

Can I do that? Can I begin walking down this road of compassion, rejoicing from within my own brokenness? Can I say that I want to taste compassion, knowing that it means to suffer alongside?

Mercy River


Oh Lord Jesus,

In my weakness returned

In my weary o’rwhelmed

I hear my heart crying, NO MORE!

Please can’t I stay here, on the shore?



Oh Jesus You cried,

In this sorrowful cup rejoined

In this painful drink o’rwhelmed

I heard Your lips crying, Take from Me!

Yet Not Your will, bore Father’s freely.



So Come My Lord,

In Your calling returned

In Your way o’rwhelmed

I fall in Your river, MERCY plunging!

In Your arms of Love, Compassion holding.

While I was looking for the answers to those two original questions, He asked me to praise Him with ALL of my inmost being, EVERY cell, even the broken and weak cells.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,  Psalm 103:1-5

The ONE who asks the questions is forever faithful. I can trust Him in these places of mystery, because the ONE who came down from Heaven’s Royalty to suffer alongside of us, is the fire burning within my soul now. 

He is the flame of the Holy Spirit lighting up our night sky, declaring to His broken and weary Body: come and taste of Christ’s compassions, of His tender mercies, of His comfort like no other.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:16-20 (ESV)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

I can praise His name with everything within me because it is HIS compassion gifted to me–in me–through the Royal blood of Jesus now pulsing through my veins. It is HIS compassion now freely pouring out of me upon other thirsty hearts and souls through Christ, the hope of glory in me.

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

1 John 1:4-5 

Would you pray with me today?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for showering us with compassion. Before we even understood that we needed it, You met us and prepared the way for us to return to You. 

Forgive us for trying to manage the serving and the giving on our own. Forgive us for looking for relief from the heat of pain in our own ways. 

We come trembling before You now, and acknowledge that we are too weak to find it in ourselves to say “yes” to join You in Your suffering. Oh but thank You for being the all-sufficient One who would carry us into Your own heart of compassion. 

Thank You that Your Royal life-blood covers us, and now flows within our veins. We lift up our praises to You now. Our every cell, even the weak and diseased, cries out to worship Your greatness here. There is NO ONE like You, our great King and Savior.

As we worship You here in our brokenness, let Your light be seen in us. Declare Your compassion in and through us, LORD. Clothe us, Your children, in the royal thread of Jesus. Make us One.

In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 

1 Peter 2:19 – 23 (ESV)

Day 1: I Remember You

Day 2: I Know You

Day 3: I Give You My All

Day 4: We Receive You

Day 5: I See You

Day 6: I Lift Up My Whole Heart

Day 7: I Join You in Your Suffering