Day 11: A Garden of Grace

A tree around the corner from our family’s favorite ice cream café, where our girls love to gather with friends to play. There are always new gifts awaiting us there.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins;

they will restore the former devastations;

they will renew the ruined cities,

the devastations of many generations.

Isaiah 61:4 HCSB

Today, I bless our souls to rest in God alone, to remember that our hope comes from Him alone. I bless our hearts to know that He alone is our rock and our salvation, our stronghold; and that we will not be shaken. I bless us to remember and take to heart that our salvation and glory depend on God, who is our strong rock. I bless us to know our refuge is in Him. I bless us to trust in Him at all times, as a people; to pour out our hearts before Him, to seek and know Him as our refuge and peace in every stormy gale.

I bless us to keep silent, even as we face attack, to wait upon our God, knowing that as we do so, the LORD will fight for us. I bless us to surrender our right to be vindicated, to trust in the LORD’s vindication, in His appointed Way and timing. I bless us with the knowledge that everything that is now hidden, will one day be revealed by God.

I bless us to wait silently for the salvation of our God, knowing that His grace is sufficient for us. I bless us to know that the messenger of Satan that is sent to torment us in the flesh is God’s Way of keeping us from becoming conceited. I bless us to rejoice in our afflictions, knowing they are producing for us an eternal weight of glory.

I bless us to remember and deep down know that God’s power is perfected in weakness. I bless us to boast in our weakness, so that God’s power might rest upon us and be revealed to all in our midst, that they might know it is no longer we who live, but Christ in us.

I choose
Behold
You, my Joy
And my Delight.
 
It’s at Your feet, I rest
A garden closed 
A spring yet locked 
A fountain sealed.
 
Living streams 
Within me flow
Gurgling strong 
I wait.
 
I know You here 
Even as the shame
And pain each beckon, call
I hear Your Voice here still.
 
Your cloud upon me rests
I know My Father’s Voice 
And hear
You call.
 
It’s as the ark
Before me moves 
Rise up, oh Lord 
I hear them cry!
 
May Your enemies
Be scattered!
May Your foes 
Flee before You!
 
Awake, North Wind!
And come, O South Wind!
Blow upon my garden here
Let its spices flow.
 
I have waited
For only You
My heart has yearned
Your call to hear.
 
Crashing as the waves
I hear the rushing wind
Breathe in storms
My soul You stirr awake.
 
It’s there the waters
And the rivers rise
And yet 
You’re with me here.
 
They shall not sweep me up
I shall not be moved
For the word of my testimony  
And the blood of the Lamb upon me lies.
 
None can deliver 
Snatch from Your hand
For when You act
Who can reverse Your mighty plan?
 
Oh yes the waves have come
As spring and fountain break within
But only healing rain
Comes gushing strong.
 
For You are He who gives
Rain for seed You sow
Rich and plenteous
Shall here the harvest be.
 
For it’s here my cries release
And my Father hears
And answers me
My tears in rivers sow.
 
For here upon this Holy ground
Upon the tear-stained earth 
My Redeemer 
His foundation lays.
 
Each Word He speaks
In truth fulfills:
“Let it be rebuilt 
Its foundations laid.
 
“For I am He
Who blots out every sin
Come let us review your past 
Let us argue together.
 
“Holy Spirit sealed
Woven in your mother’s womb
You’re called and chosen
Appointed, Mine.
 
“In sheaves of joy
You shall here return
Your eyes upon Me fixed 
And hands in worship raised.
 
“Behold your deserts
My Eden have become
Your wastelands
 The Garden of Your LORD.”
 

Strangers will stand and feed your flocks,

and foreigners will be your plowmen and vinedressers.

But you will be called the Lord’s priests;

they will speak of you as ministers of our God;

you will eat the wealth of the nations,

and you will boast in their riches.

Because your shame was double,

and they cried out, “Disgrace is their portion,”

therefore, they will possess double in their land,

and eternal joy will be theirs […]

For as the earth produces its growth,

and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up,

so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise

to spring up before all the nations

Isaiah 61:5-7, 11 HCSB

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 1 – Even Here, Even Now

EVEN HERE, EVEN NOW

The earth beneath you
Trembling.
All you've ever known
Shaken.
The ground beneath you
Quaking.
All you've ever known
Taken.

You're groping.
Choking.
Falling.
You reach,
But no hand to hold.

You hear those voices:
“Too little.
Too much.
Not enough.
Your punishment alone to carry.”

And so you fall,
Deeper still,
Till deep dark mirey cave
You feel beneath.
And though its darkness weighs as lead,
It numbs the pain so deep,
The shame too cruel.
"Safe here" you breathe at last.

"Object of dread,
I am.
Forgotten, broken vessel,
Is who I am."
Terror thickens air,
Lying tongues to pour.
Lead weighted more.

Strength does fail.
Body waste.
Tears no longer flow.
A loss so deep,
No words to find.
And still no single hand to hold.

Your breath you feel
Anxious grip.
All that leaves your trembling lips
"LORD, My God."
Silence piercing.
Weeping, tearing heart.

But then,
You hear it.
Tender, loving Voice.
Still, sweet sound
Arise.

"My beloved.
My pearl.
My precious daughter dear.
The work of My own beating heart,
Come now.
Take this, My outstretched hand.

"The ground may tremble,
Earth may shake
And all you've ever known,
Ripped from beneath your feet.
But I, your loving Father, do rest beneath,
Even here, even now.

"My hand upon you.
My breath within you.
My countless thoughts of you
So very precious still.
Even now, I hem you in
Before, behind
Even here, no lying tongue
Does from My own
True gentle mouth depart.

"Be still, and know
YOUR one true God I AM.
Never have I ever,
Never will I ever,
Leave you all forsaken lone.
For each and every tremble, shake
Does purposeth My crop
Too bountiful
For any human hand
To seed, thresh, harvest true.

"Hold fast, My girl,
To sword of truth,
To promises birthing here, even now,
To heaven's coming
Here on earth.
For, to each and every
Prisoner of Hope eternal strong
Who turns My way
Restoration double I do declare.

"Hold fast, my child,
Not to lying tongues
But tender loving truth.
Hemming in before, behind
Grace so precious, pure.
Roaring, rushing waters
Pour and cover still.
For I, Your God
I AM.
Even here, even now."

In Psalm 31: 18, King David cries: “Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.” (NIV). Those lying tongues often go into overdrive, when our world is shaken by deep loss, grave illness or seemingly hopeless situations. 

But what our enemy knows and wants us to forget is that the Great Overcomer resides in us still, even here, even now. For “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NIV). 

In fact, the losses and trials we are walking through have been permitted by God to strip away our reliance upon ourselves and upon all others, so that Christ’s resurrection power may be unveiled in us. Or as 2 Corinthians 4:11 (ESV) puts it:

For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

For, our Abba Father wants us to learn to receive from Him. He wants us to learn to rest upon the foundation of His love for us, so that our strivings might cease, as we learn to enter into His Sabbath rest. So that His labor of love may begin to flow out of us, fully and freely, as we drink deeply of His living water. 

In that place of resting upon Him, He longs for us, like the Israelites, to discover His provision for us, that has nothing to do with our our own labor or perfecting work, but rather everything to do with Christ’s work of redemption: Him buying us back from sin and death that He might lavish His love out upon us:

Joshua 24:13 (ESV) I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

1 John 3:1 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

No lie can ever separate us from Christ’s eternal love for us. No matter what emotion we feel and what accusations the enemy plagues us with, these do not define who we are: God alone does and always will. And He says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, precious sought-after pearls: His own true and beloved sons and daughters. 

And because He has gifted us the pure and righteous heart of Jesus, we are worthy in His sight. All our sins, in thought, word or deed are covered in the cloak of grace. All He asks of us is: “Come now. Take this, My outstretched hand”. And He will guide us until we die (Psalm 48:14) and Christ is unveiled in us, fully and wholly.

Will you join me in prayer today?

Thank You, Lord, that You are the strength of my heart and promise to remain faithful to me to the very end, even when I turn away in fear, shame or despair. Thank You, Lord, that lying tongues can never define who I am. 

Lord, just as your humble servant David, I beseech you to silence all lying lips that are plaguing me now. Help me cast down and pour out all the lies I have come to believe that are shackling me and pressing me away from You. Help me to turn toward You to receive Your loving arms and all-covering grace. 

Lord, I claim your beautiful promises over my life today. As a prisoner of hope, whose stronghold is in You alone, I now receive double of all that has been torn from me, believing You have granted it to me and I will yet see it with my own eyes. 

As a daughter/son of the Most High King, I now receive Your strong hand upon my head, Your protective wings, as You hem me in from before and behind, and Your countless precious thoughts of me

Lord, I am yours alone. Lead Me on in Your way everlasting, into all the Truth there is that I may dwell in Your beautiful house all the days of my life, to gaze upon Your beauty and seek You in Your temple.

In the Name of Your precious Son, Jesus, Amen.