Oh my heart So worn, so torn Emptied of all No more to give.
Kneeling here At these Your feet What do I have To offer You, my Lord.
"My child" I hear Your gentle Voice "Here at My feet You have given all.
"An offering Of poverty But more Than ever before.
"Shed here your clothes Of old Let me clothe you In all newness of Life
"A living Hope An inheritance Imperishable I am your crown.
"Behold, the new has come Shed here the old Arise in Me Truth kissing grace.
"Stand in the light Of My morning sun Shining ever brighter Till the full light of day.
"I have not left you orphaned My Living Word A lamp unto your feet And a light unto your path.
"Behold Do you not perceive it? My way in the wilderness? My rivers in the desert?
"For, my righteousness Within I have forged My burning fire all dross In jealous love consuming.
"Refining To silver Testing Unto gold.
"In My streams of life Your trembling heart Shall now rest In my love One.
"My vine Not in one, but each And every season Harvests.
"The rivers from my throne Now streaming freely in you Shall wash all devouring And destroying tongues away.
"Here in my presence abiding Your delight shall grow In My delight Abounding.
"My Spirit now revealing A flood of beauty All desires buried deep Now powerfully unveiling.
"Promises true and pure You shall speak No longer in fear of man But in trembling awe of Me.
"My Word in you Not empty But accomplished Returning."
"In fruit for food And leaves for healing In My love abiding And My life abounding."
Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to me from ages past saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.
Psalm 16:2 . . . every good thing I have comes from you.
2 Peter 1:3 By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
In Psalm 119:71, David talks of learning (exercising) God’s laws through affliction (being bowed down). The word laws comes from a Hebrew Word meaning “to cut, inscribe, decree” (source: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3925.htm). It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 3:3 ESV: “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
Beautifully, trials and affliction cause us to drop down to our knees and cry out for God’s perfect understanding and His perfect living and breathing law – Jesus. It is then that any stones of pride, idolatry, doubt, unbelief, bitterness and unforgiveness that have been allowed to hide away in our hearts are exposed, dug out and removed.
Sometimes we can allow the enemy to accuse us in these moments of exposure and removal. But when we still and listen, we will be able to hear Christ’s heart calling us to come to Him, just as we are. To come boldly before His throne of grace in our time of need.
To help us distinguish His Voice from the enemy’s, God may also choose to repeatedly lead us in and out of places that trigger trauma in us. In doing so, He teaches us to recognize and release the lies we once embraced (as children). For, He longs for us to know who He truly is: a loving High Priest, who knows our every weakness and kneels down to extend kindness and mercy to us in our time of need.
Only He truly knows what we have been through. His heart breaks for us, and He longs to free us from the trauma and idolatry of our past. He longs to lift away the stones that are stopping the Word from rooting in our hearts, so that we might lean, no longer on our own or others’ understanding, but upon Him: our Rock and Redeemer.
When those stones are removed and piled up, one upon the other, they become – no longer a hindrance to the Word taking root in our hearts – but proof of Christ’s abiding work in us. They become a living monument to His saving grace, a testimony to His perfecting power in our weakness.
The cold stone tablets of the law prove us guilty of breaking the laws of God and make us deserving of death. But Christ has fulfilled the law for us. He became our sin and died on the Cross to annul the charges that once stood against us. And He rose again that He might take up residence in us to unveil His soft heart in us.
He has overcome the grave, rolling away the stone to rise in victory over sin and death. Now, we can walk in daily repentance, turning to our accuser and the accuser of our brethren to declare:
Romans 8:33-39 (ESV)
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And with each stone lifted away, Christ roots His Word ever deeper in us. Our hearts hearken more readily to His living Word speaking in us, to us and through us. For, rather than interpreting the Word from our own or other’s fleshly understanding, we learn to recognize and obey Christ speaking His living Word to us, from moment to moment.
Yes, through every trial sent our way, Christ shows that we are a letter sent from Him, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Thank You, Father, that like Paul, we can “count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus [our] Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled].”
Father, bring us to the point, that we, like Paul, may also be able to declare in response to Your patient pruning: “For [Christ’s] sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from [You] on the basis of faith.”
Thank You that through the trials we face, You are helping us to “know [Jesus] [experientially, to become “more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way [to] experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that [we] may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; [a]so that [we] may attain to the resurrection [that will raise [us] ] from the dead.”
Father, we know “that [we] have [not] already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] [n]or have [we] already been made perfect, but [we] actively press on [b]so that [we] may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of [us] and made [us] His own.(A)”
Thank You that You have promised to complete the good work You have begun in us. Help us not to become discouraged through the repeated trials and losses, but to recognize and bless You for the stones You are removing from our hearts through Your patient gardening. Thank You for making room in our hearts for more of You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
(Quotes from: Philippians 3: 8 – 12 (AMP) )
[a] Philippians 3:11 Lit if somehow.
[b] Philippians 3:12 Lit even if I may. Paul knew that he could not really reach perfection in this life, but his goal was to “press on” as if it were attainable.
Happy Resurrection Sunday! He is risen! He is risen indeed!!!
This is the fourth installment of Anna Smit’s personal testimony to the love and mercy of Jesus. These monthly installments of her testimony are God’s answer to all of us who have walked a path of trauma and heartache, believing our God has abandoned us. For He has never ever forsaken us and He wants us to know it, and to see the fingerprints of the Cross – and His unending love for us – all over our lives. For the first installment see: Love Never Ends.
As I was running through the red-golden forest, a few years ago, I reflected on the grief that had been building within me. It was coming up to the month, in which my world turned upside down and my heart was torn between two continents, as I traveled to the other side of the world with my one-year-old daughter to be with my mother before she entered a life-threatening operation.
I had to leave my three-year-old daughter, who had only ever spent two nights apart from me, and my husband, behind. My already tearing heart was yanked further apart, as we heard the diagnosis a few short days later: a terminal brain cancer with no hope of survival, with a life-expectancy of two to three months.
And yet, in journeying back to that time in my heart, I am reminded of God’s deep abiding presence and the many gifts He showered upon me during one of the hardest times of my life. There are three places and moments in particular His peace descended so powerfully upon me, that it shattered my understanding of who He was, is and is to come:
1. In the mountains
I surveyed the spectacular wonder of the mountains and lake, the way the sky broke open and I felt a love envelop me. In that moment I was completely and utterly broken. I felt torn between my own immediate family and my Mum. A heaviness rested upon me as the death sentence of two to three months Mum was given weighed upon me.
I was hushing my little girl into sleep, a wee girl who often refused to sleep and kept getting sick. But in that one moment, my hardened heart broke and tears flowed. A God who I had for years envisioned shaking His finger at me, covering me in guilt and shame, was holding me. And I couldn’t stop crying. Me the sinner, the one who kept failing, kept losing the control she fought so hard to hold onto.
2. In the dunes
When I ran alongside my husband, coming to a clearing where all I could see was dunes upon dunes, and a startlingly, beautiful sky. This was in the five weeks, when I found myself on one continent, but my heart was on the other, with my dying Mum.
My heart was torn in two, a grief I will never be able to fully explain in words. But in that moment God’s beauty poured out over me like a balm and all the tension and fear and ripping came to a halt and poured out into tears that kept flowing.
Psalm 23:6 (The Message) Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
3. With my dying Mum.
Our last Christmas together, a little more than four months before Mumentered heaven’s gates
The more she surrendered the greater the peace that settled upon her. I was anything but peaceful during that time, as I kept myself frantically busy doing everything I could for Mum and her home. So, the contrast was startling. The less she did, the more she surrendered to her Lord and Saviour, the more peace settled upon her. The more I did, the greater the fear, tension, unsettled feeling grew.
Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message) Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
And so, when I returned home, I vowed to seek after this peace that passes all understanding. And it brought me to the table of grace, to His broken body and flowing blood that covered all my guilt, all my shame, all that I’d sought to run and hide from, in my utter brokenness.
John 3: 16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Now, when I look back, my Mum’s greatest gift to me is not the years of beautiful service to me as her child. Not the hugs, the kisses, the way she looked at my girls, the giving of her heart till no more could be given. No, her absolute greatest gift to me is her testimony to the abiding life and peace of Jesus in her.
My Mum was not the same woman I grew up with. I saw the grace of Jesus change her, more and more, especially at the end. It’s not that she wasn’t a warm, loving and kind Mum, when I was little. Because she was.
But, Jesus kept plunging her deeper into His grace, stripping more and more sin and extending more and more of His love through her. I saw Christ’s patience, kindness, selflessness, a listening ear, forgiveness, such gentleness, but also blunt, much-needed truth-telling, grow in my Mum.
You see, Mum didn’t hide her light. She went to heaven declaring God’s peace to this world. At the end especially, she spoke freely of her own need for His grace and of His kindness and gentleness toward the least of these.
And she uncovered the truth. Thanks in part to the brain cancer taking away her social filter, she preferred to be genuine at the end, rather than hide behind a mask of self-righteousness to remain religiously palatable. Beautifully Jesus perfected His power right there in her weakness, using the cancer to bless her and others.
In bringing things into the open, God helped my Mum surrender her innate desire for earthly harmony and understanding. And through that painful, but freeing surrender, she was able to fully embrace the eternal wholeness and completion Christ set before her. Ultimately the jealous all-consuming love of our Jesus won.
Song of Songs 8:6 (NIV)
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
And so now, slowly, very slowly, I am learning to follow my Mum’s lead. I am learning to obey Christ’s call to come as I am to receive His grace. I am learning to release guilt, fear and shame in exchange for His arms.
I am learning to confess my sins and weakness openly, to shine the light of Christ’s love and grace into the world. And like my Mum, I am learning to be genuine, by bringing things into the open. I am learning to let go of my innate desire for earthly harmony and understanding to embrace instead the eternal wholeness and completion set before me.
And most importantly I am learning that what matters most, above all else, is not this world’s love and approval, but that my LORD and Savior is with me and will never leave or forsake me.
Will you join me today, as I sit afresh in Hebrews 12 today?
Hebrews 12: 1- 4 (The Message) Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls.
Father God, thank You that You know just what I need. Thank You that You set me apart to draw me near. Thank You that when all else fades away, You remain. Thank You that You have promised to never leave or forsake me.
Forgive me for clinging to fear and shame, for believing that You have abandoned me in this time of waiting. Help me to resist the devil, to stop listening to the accuser’s claims and to lean ever deeper into Your open arms of grace.
Father God, thank You for giving me a front row seat to the transformation You worked in my Mum. Help me too to trust You now with this path You have set before me, that just like my Mum experienced, is not what I expected or what I thought I needed or wanted.
Help me to see what You see. Uncover the true desires of my heart and make me a blessing to all those You put before me. Shine Your light of love and grace brightly in and through me.
Thank You for the Cross. Thank You that it is finished. Thank You, Jesus, for dying to make us, Your Body whole and complete, with YOU at our Head. Thank You that You have the final say. Thank You that we will all yet see Your full recompense: Your eternal wholeness and completion come.
Help me to keep stripping the sin that hinders me from being who You have made me to be. Empower and embolden me to run the race You have set before me with expectant joy, to complete it and to make You proud in doing so. Amen.
Today, my thoughts have turned to answered prayers. As I reflected on Easter, I thought about Jesus being the answer to generation upon generation of prayers. And how that answer to all those prayers came in such an unexpected way that many missed the answer. They missed our Savior’s coming, misunderstood or even helped bring about His death and couldn’t believe in His resurrection.
But what a gift Jesus was and is to those of us who, through the touch of the Holy Spirit, have recognized His coming, His death for us and His resurrection to give us new life. As we walk toward Easter weekend and remember Christ’s death on the Cross and His resurrection, may He open our eyes, ears and hearts to recognize the many answers to prayers He has brought. May we also become His answer to the prayers of others as we obey His calling. And may our ears continue to hearken to His promptings to pray in the Spirit for the return of His children and the coming of His Kingdom.
May the beautiful answers He brings us, through His Presence with us, also become answers for others also. May we share the hope and comfort He has given us with those He places before us.
Happy Easter! As you celebrate Jesus this week, may this poem and song encourage and uplift you:
Reeds are swaying Rustling wind Waters green, there below Basket woven, her hands
My heart it grips I see my own Precious gift From my hands,
No, not in trust But in tight clenched hands Lies, they ripped Precious life,
I am making all things new
Christ speaks, deep unto deep
And my heart it rips Opens wide.
And pours Longing deep Yearning cries:
His precious gift Returning.
Reeds are swaying Rustling wind Waters green, there below Basket woven, my hands
Weeping heart now flows I see my own Precious gift Into my hands,
I am making all things new
Christ speaks deep unto deep
My eyes turn to waters green Resting now in all things:
Almost seven years ago I came back Home to my Heavenly Father. Since then, Christ has been opening my palms to release one basket after another, trusting in their return, just like I watched my Mum do, upon her death bed, as she arose into the arms of Jesus, surrendering us all into His loving hands.
Oh how it hurts. Oh how my heart is ripped open in the process. But oh how precious the touch of Jesus is in those deep places of hurt within my heart. In the ripping open He is entering my heart to open my eyes to His eternal restoration and redemption. To His hands wrapped around those He has asked me to surrender; and that includes myself.
Oh yes, the enemy knows how to steal, kill and destroy. But our mighty God knows how to restore, resurrect and redeem. And He is faithful till the end. Even when we have clenched those hands tight in distrust and not released what was never ours to hold tight to in control, His mercy runs deep. His heart of compassion and justice have gone ahead. Walking toward His Cross He wept, saying: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
Oh there are many days I still struggle. As a little girl God gave me the spiritual gift of mercy. It is this that has broken my heart so very much. As a Prodigal I cursed this gift that only seemed to steal, kill and destroy from me. And even now there are days I retreat with my pain and ask: “Why, oh why, my Lord?” But slowly God is teaching me how to receive this gift, by unclenching my hands and releasing my heart and others’ hearts into His heart, to be made new in His love for us: His Body. A Body that was broken to make us whole.
As I walked through the pastures this afternoon, He showed me how every time I have said: “Here, I am, send me.” It has been the great I AM who has awakened me to His call and it is also the great I AM who has enabled me to walk out that call in the world, no matter how much it hurt and how impossible it seemed.
As I prayed, walking further, through a forest, a song sprung up within me. It bubbled over, moments after His kindness had walked itself out in me. HE put a person I knew on my path, enabling me to extend a kindness I had wanted to extend from my heart, but couldn’t. But right there, in that moment He had destined, right there in my lack, His heart of love flowed out of me effortlessly, in such tenderness, and covered us both in His love and mercy.
This is His song of mercy that keeps on singing in me through every surrender. A surrender not worked by me, but by the One who lives and moves and has His being in me. For, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me:
Yes, His favor keeps on pouring, because we find favor in His sight, through His Son at work in us:
This guest testimony is written by a blogging friend of mine, Lisa Anne Tindal who reminds me to look for God’s presence in the tiniest details of my day. She is a writer and painter inspired by stories of redemption. Her artwork can be viewed on her Etsy page or Instagram. She blogs at https://quietconfidence-artandword.blog. Lisa Anne is the author of a soon to be available children’s book, “Look at the Birds”.
With a burst of energy and a desire to clear the clutter, I gathered all of my collected feathers, and along with other found items, I stuffed them into the trash. I saw no need for what had become a little embarrassing, various corners, vases, books, and other spaces became the tucked away place for a feather and what I told myself was a God message. Quite often on my walks, I found a feather, gathered it up, and held it up towards heaven. I’d snap a photo and share it on social media. In my mind, I was sharing hope, I was urging others to be sure of the nearness of God.
Nevertheless, in times of pandemic and cultural upheaval, confusion over my faith, I began to surrender my feathers. I continued to notice them; but, told myself I’ll leave it there for someone else to see, maybe they need it more. Or could it be my thinking had become, “Maybe they will believe it more than I?”
In a sense, I decided to give it a go on my own. Many plans were coming together. Art in galleries and a children’s book written and illustrated, of all things entitled “Look at The Birds”. I suppose I believed it was my time to soar. I ran towards opportunities and I looked for more to come. I became less quiet about the talents God had given me and I struck out on my own greedy for more.
My life passage is found in the book of Isaiah. If I’m honest, I chose this passage because of two words that felt comfortable, so very well described the woman I felt I should aspire towards. I wanted to be quietly confident and although the confidence should have been in God, it had become myself and others on my path. A slippery slope when it comes to dependence, neither dependence on self nor others will keep us aligned with God. Quiet confidence led to sullen despondence. Quiet confidence led to a lack of motivation and bitterness over ideas and hopes not coming together. Isaiah gives a stern warning against striking out on our own. Innocently enough, going it alone doesn’t always feel like rebellion. I am learning that any steps I take alone are not the steps God has for me. Perhaps in my exhilarant ability to soar, God would clip my wings, cause a difficult landing to humble me. Naturally, I’d struggle with shame and remorse; but, this time, this daughter of God didn’t linger there nearly as long.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning[c] and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling, 16 and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. 17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five, you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill.
The Lord Will Be Gracious
18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
“Come back, daughter” is front and center on my bulletin board. A conversation with a trusted friend, my counselor who knows all of my childhood and adult trauma. A wise and strong woman, consistently she lives out her convictions and without mincing words. I sat with her, my Bible in my lap and I told her, “I don’t think I understand Isaiah 30:15 in the way I should.” I asked her what she felt God wanted me to embrace. She answered, “Come back, daughter.” Her eyes were kind, her reply was confident. Isaiah is warning against me running ahead of God’s plans and he beckons my return, calls me his daughter. The message for us all in this passage is God waits for us even when we act independently of His will. I imagine Him saying, I’m glad you returned, now rest and stay in step with me and let me show you my plans for you that you’ve yet to see.
Victims of trauma have significant learned behaviors. We do not like to ask for help for fear that help will be denied. Often, we don’t acknowledge our need to be helped. Being helped looks like rescue and for many of us rescue came with a price, a fee we were required to pay with our tender physical selves. Women who have been abused by men do not respond well to demands, we fear manipulation or grooming in the guise of promises that won’t ever come true.
But our heavenly Father is good, and He is none of these things. He loves to see us joyously soaring in fearless ways to accomplish glorious things. But he loves us too much to let us fly on our own. He knows we need the strength of His sure navigation and we need most of all the love and mercy we find tucked safely under the shelter of His wings.
Have you tried flying on your own? Are you soaring too dangerously lofty?
Come back, daughter. Your father doesn’t want you to go too far alone.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of words, the understanding of your word, and the pleasant chances to express the unique voices we all own. Bless the reader of my story of wings and feathers. Open our hearts and minds to one another. May we learn and love as we soar. May we never fly alone. In Jesus Name, Amen.