Life is hard, so very hard. Oh yes, we know the truths of God’s beautiful Word, don’t we? But there are days the darkness presses in. Days our hearts, our minds, our souls struggle to breathe, to believe.
Where do we go on those days? When waves of crashing grief pull us under? When triggers of our past rip open deep wounds and leave us gasping for air? When it feels as if someone has strapped us into a frightening rollercoaster and our screams cannot escape?
Is there a place for us, for us wounded and broken, for us who have been told if we’d “just trust God at His Word” our storms would subside? For us, who run to hide behind closed doors, ashamed, weeping and fearful?
These are questions Bettie Gilbert, Anna Smit and their friends have wrestled through, lashed by the winds and waves of physical, mental and emotional turmoil. In Arise and Shine: Beloved, You Are Mine, a series of poetry, prayers and devotionals, we share how God has been meeting us right there. Not just once, but again and again. How He has been revealing hidden treasures in our struggles to breathe and believe.
These are treasures shrouded in the materials God’s people brought forward for the building of a Holy Temple centuries ago. Treasures now ready for the unveiling.
There is a place for us. Right here, right now. For the wind and waves, they define us as HIS. As fiercely loved, eternally chosen children of God, divinely called to “Arise and Shine!”
Song of Songs 2: 8 - 17, ESV The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains.
As the Lord calls us to Arise and Shine, He has let us know that we, His people, have now become His own dwelling place: the Temple of the Lord.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ 2 Corinthians 6:16 (NIV)
Is there a parallel then, between the setting up and arranging of the early Tabernacle and the building up of our souls, God’s Holy Temple, in Jesus Christ, today? We have experienced and still are experiencing it to be so.
Come, let’s invite Jesus, through His living Word and testimony in us, to uncover our Abba Father’s desires within us. Come, let’s listen for the free-will offerings of His grace that He is calling us to bring forward to Him today, so that we may obey Him and see the unveiling of His new Temple in our own physical bodies and in His unified Body, His Bride, as a whole.
We invite you, through the poems, prayers and devotionals of Arise and Shine: Beloved, You are Mineto take ahold of Jesus’ hand and our own. Come, let’s together discover and rediscover the power of:
The Bread of Life to feed and sustain us.
The Blood of Christ to move us to repentance and freedom.
The Living Water of God to wash us in the truth and grace of God.
The Fire and Salt applied by the Holy Spirit to purify us.
The Breath of God to fill and empower us in our weakness.
The Oil of God to anoint us in the presence of our enemy to taste and see the goodness of God in the salving of our wounds.
The Sword of God wielded in and through us to cut through the lies of the enemy and see the deliverance of the Body of Christ.
Take these simple offerings that you ask of us, and transform them into a sweet-smelling aroma where Your Truth will be clearly heard. We pray for each child of yours You have led to read these words. May each one hear the calling of Your Spirit to join in with the offering of herself.
Thank You for shining Your light on the dark places that You want to transform and redeem in our hearts. May Your Spirit bring a beauty to Your people, and join us together as Your own Temple. May we hear Your call to us, as You ask us to show You our hearts, and come when You call.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name,
May you arise and shine in the light of Christ, for Beloved, you are theLord’s!
Bettie Gilbert and Anna Smit have been compiling Arise and Shine to publish in a book (since 2017). But we both sensed God’s call to instead release the book He has been writing through us and on our hearts, these past few years, here at ShalomAleh.com. We will publish the poems, prayers and devotionals, piece by piece, as He directs us. You will be able to find these posts under the category Arise and Shine: Beloved, You are Mine.
Is there a situation you are currently struggling with where all you see is your insufficiency? What if this situation is God’s invitation into healing, to open your eyes to see Him present, where you couldn’t see Him before? What if Jesus is about to bend our knees in awe of His sufficiency in our insufficiency, through your beautiful surrender in obedience?
In man’s eyes, Moses was the least likely candidate for leading the Israelites out of slavery. He didn’t grow up as one of his people, he had no status amongst his people, he had murdered an Egyptian, he wasn’t eloquent in his speech. And yet God chose him.
We often make much of the miraculous rescue of God’s people, as Moses chose to walk in surrender and obedience to his God. But if we look closely, we see that God’s preparation for Moses’ surrender and obedience began so much earlier.
Put yourself in Moses’ shoes, knowing all we do today about the horrific impact of being separated from your birth mother at the young age he was. If we look closely at what happens in his adolescence, we see how Moses still has to grow in faith and trust and heal from the wounds of separation from his mother and family.
We see this when Moses takes things into his own hands by murdering an Egyptian for his cruel treatment of the Israelites. Here, we see how Moses’ heart has remained with his own people but that he still needs to learn to trust in God’s justice, rather than taking matters into His own hands.
Years later, when Moses is living in the desert, after having fled in fear and shame in the wake of his murderous actions, God seeks Moses out and calls him for His purposes. This time, Moses learns, through God’s incredible patience and encouragement, to surrender his own insufficiency into the hands of his all-sufficient God. From a place of weakness and lack God calls and builds Moses up to become a hero of faith.
So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the Israelites and that He had looked [with compassion] on their suffering, then they bowed their heads and worshiped [the Lord ]. EXODUS 4: 31 AMP
Do you see, as I now do, how God was, in fact, not only redeeming His people from slavery, but also redeeming Moses’ own story? Do you see how He was opening Moses’ eyes to see Him present, where Moses couldn’t see Him before? I believe God was rewriting Moses’ story of trauma and sin, into His story of steadfast love, mercy and redemption.
I believe that now, Moses could finally see that as his mother laid him in the basket she lovingly wove to protect him and keep him warm, that neither she nor their God were ever abandoning him. I believe he could finally see how God had in fact compelled his mother to yield him up to a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. A love that never ends.
Jochebed trusted in her God’s sufficiency in her own insufficiency. Just as her precious son would one day learn to do also. Moses continued in his mother’s legacy to God’s goodness and mercy. A goodness and mercy that still follow each one of us – God’s precious children – all the days of our lives.
Father, today, we bring before You each situation in our lives, where all we can see is our insufficiency. We thank You for Your sufficiency in those situations and we invite You to open our eyes to see Your Presence with us in these places of Your divine will for us.
Thank You, that You are our great Redeemer. Thank You for awakening our hearts to rest in Your great and precious Promises through these trying circumstances. Open our eyes to the healing You are wanting to gift us through these situations. Bring past situations to remembrance, where we could not see You and reveal through these new situations just how present You have always been to us.
I invite You, this very day, to bend our knees in awe of Your sufficiency in our insufficiency. Open the eyes of our hearts to Your living and active Word and set our hands and feet to move at the sound of Your Voice, to walk into Your redemption. Thank You that even as I pen this prayer, You are rewriting our narratives of trauma into stories of joy, peace and hope in You. Father, wrap others in Your compassion and mercy in and through the redemption You are bringing in our lives. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.
Is there a situation you are currently struggling with where all you see is your insufficiency? What if this situation is God’s invitation into more healing, to open your eyes to see Him present, where you couldn’t see Him before? What if Jesus is about to bend our knees in awe of His sufficiency in our insufficiency, through your beautiful surrender in obedience?
We the faithless turn away But our Father, He the Faithful, does remain For He can never, ever Disown Himself. When heart He opens To confess Him Christ as Lord There He does bind us to Himself, Promise spoken: Work of faith He will complete.
No weapon forged against Can ever prosper He holds us fast Even when we turn. Lies may lash and whip Hearts begin to doubt, Hardening where once soft and true And yet He holds us fast.
Each cell and fibre Woven there in mother's womb He knows, His Word made flesh did bleed Not just for sin, but for each shard of lying lips Sown in accusing shame and fear.
His compassion faileth not His mercies they still fall Each morning dew anew For blood did flow to silence Our accuser's many schemes. And so our Faithful Father, He does wait Love so kind, love so patient He faileth not.
Each cocoon Bound and silenced Waiting there in dark of night Yet to reveal Christ's final Masterpiece. Truth and light sent forth Before each child of His so dear Holy Word falls afresh Now dew on tilled and yearning hearts.
And just when all hope seems so far, Precisely there life begins to birth, Small green shoot He buds, growing ever stronger. That once so tiny mustard seed Sown so long ago Broken open wide, multiplied to life, Strongly rooted, firmly planted.
Now when same winds and storms Do lash and whip Faith no longer waivers Heart no longer hardens shut. Instead each lash and whip Do now reveal Fresh green leaves and fruit anew Breaking open, death to life.
These new leaves They will wither not, Nor will their many fruits ever fail. For now fresh waters flow From Sanctuary High. Fruit of heart's delight Promise spoken powerfully birthed. Leaves now balm to heal Wounds so deep, tended gently whole.
For our Father He has promised To seek the lost Bring back the scattered Bind up the broken And strengthen there the sick. Filled with compassion He runs toward, Kindness to repentance leading. Arms wide open to embrace Long lost son and daughter Home.
In honor of Mother’s Day and God’s gift of life, Anna asked her friend, Debbie, to (re)share her story of adoption, the earthly loss of her precious son and of finding life in death. This interview, for Wendy Simpson’s and Anna Smit’s joint blogging series Breaking Light, took place five years ago, but has been updated by Debbie recently. It ends with a prayer, written by the steward of this blog, Anna Smit.
In these five years, Debbie and her husband, Bruce, have since moved from suburban Maryland to West Virginia. They see their three remaining children and ten grandchildren as often as they can. A sequel to her first book, But the Greatest of These Is Love, has begun in serial form with installments added each week. Follow her at her blog at Consider It All Joy for updates.
1. Of all the characters in the Bible, who do you most relate to and why?
I think Moses’ protest sounds familiar. “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13) I’ve said that too.
But lately I feel like Paul. Before his ministry, he thought he knew God. As a Pharisee, Paul arrogantly thought he was doing the work of God, getting rid of those pesky Christians. Then, in a sudden revelation, he KNEW Jesus. My journey into deeper faith felt that sudden. That could only have been achieved by the work of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t go looking for it. My “Damascus Road” experience changed forever my intimacy with God. It was like the scales fell off my eyes.
And for all the efforts Paul made for the Kingdom, writing letters to encourage the new Church, trying to make God known to others, his confessions sound a lot like mine.
“[…] I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out, I don’t do the good I want, but the evil I hate is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:18-19
Paul mourns of a “thorn” in his flesh that he cannot be free of. God’s response? His Grace is sufficient. There will always be thorns, and God keeps reminding Paul, and me, how very much we need a Savior.
2. What is one of your favorite Scriptures and why does it mean so much to you?
Matthew 16:24-25 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'” NIV (bold and italics, mine.)
This is language we do not like to use.
Sixteen years ago, I half-heartedly participated in a small group study, Experiencing God. One morning while doing my homework, that verse jumped off the page at me. And it terrified me, because I instinctively knew God was going to demand something hard of me, something akin to “death” of my altar of Self.
God loves us too much to leave us where we are. The world tells us to celebrate ourselves, and to love who we are, that we deserve the best. Jesus’ words, however, demand radical change. God doesn’t want to compete with anything; He wants ALL of us, especially the parts we cling to. For me, it was (and often still is) my god of Comfort. My easy life was put on the scales with my relationship with God.
This theme of surrender is Jesus most repeated theme in the Gospels. To name a few more with this mandate of dying to Self: Matthew 10:39, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, John 12:24. There are others. It must be very important.
One of my favorite writers is C.S. Lewis. I love how he shares his journey from intellectual disbelief to finally knowing the Truth of Christ. In Mere Christianity, Lewis has captured this concept of surrender, this “dying to Self” beautifully, from Jesus’ point of view.
3. What events, circumstances or struggles in your life have been and/or continue to be your deepest valleys? 4. In what ways have you experienced God’s nearness in these valleys? I’ve combined these two questions, because of continuity of my telling the story.
My journey to deeper faith began in 2000, with a sudden, surprising invitation, a whisper from God which shattered my comfortable life. As I write this, I recognize this was a “death” so I could be born again. How could I say no to God and stay connected to Him? That lonely valley of trying to say no to God lasted a year and a half.
During that valley God revealed Himself to me in shocking and unmistakable ways. He came with that theme of dying to self I had recently read in Matthew. When presented with God’s plan, I was not so sure I wanted to be a disciple at all! God came making an seemingly impossible demand of me and I wanted Him to chose someone else. I endured a hard season of offering God suggestions of what I was willing to sacrifice in place of what He was asking me. But God would have none of my puny offers. He wanted all of me. He wanted my complete surrender. His command was that I must deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him. But where He wanted to lead, I did not want to follow.
What invitation did God whisper to my unreceptive heart? Adoption.
It was a horrifying idea to me, as a happy wife and proud mother of three with a comfortable life. My life was perfect, too perfect to disrupt.
As the shocking theme of “adoption” morphed into an even more terrifying theme of “adoption of an older Russian boy,” I wrestled with God over His unlikely and unwelcomed proposal. This valley became a season of preparation, when God revealed Himself to me in ways that strengthened my faith, and set me on a path toward Him, one tiny, hesitant step at a time.
In 2002, armed with a mustard-seed of faith, God led us to Russia to bring home beautiful, lively, seven-year-old Roma. It soon became apparent that this little boy, this gift I tried to reject, was an extravagant reward for my meager obedience. We congratulated ourselves for saving this precious little boy. We couldn’t know how God would transform our faith using Roma.
In the next season of my life, my joy was complete. My family and friends had embraced little Roma from the beginning and watched him grow into a confident, charming young man. My faith was deep. And all was well in my world.
In 2013, I sensed God dramatically moving in my life again. This time God’s movement came with a premonition of suffering. Dread and a hyper awareness of God was my paradoxical response. I knew whatever was in my future, I must cling to God. I thanked Him that this time I trusted Him without reservation.
In 2014, my sweet, lovable Roma headed down a dark road of alcohol and marijuana abuse. But even in that valley, God was always close, and I experienced God’s grace in hair raising ways. And right before the challenges went into high gear, I was told in a dream to “write it all down.” (Read theHound of Heaven Winks to begin that miraculous series of posts.)
Every challenge we faced, I thanked God for the premonitions He had given me, because I was not caught off guard by surprise. Each time I was thankful, because the consequences of Roma’s rebellion weren’t too terrible. I kept telling myself, “This could be so much worse.” I thanked God for protecting Roma and revealing Himself to many of us, including Roma, who were watching the God Stories unfold.
But the foreboding continued. Roma wandered away from our family again in the middle months of 2015. I was powerless to change him. I had to turn him over to God. My friends worried that I wasn’t worried. But if I truly believed what I claimed to believe, I wasn’t supposed to worry. I had put Roma in the loving and capable Hands of our Father God. “God loves Roma more than I do,” I would remind myself and others. But oh how I loved that boy! My peace was real, and those who doubted began to trust too.
Then, finally, in October of 2015, the Prodigal Son returned. He was repentant, he sought God and mercy. We spent time talking honestly about God. Roma had a hunger for Him that was brand new. He was a joy to be around again.
After seven joy filled weeks with our transformed son, on December 7, Roma died from a work accident, a fall from a ladder while working on a roof. When the heartbreaking news came, I was hardly surprised. God had so lovingly and thoroughly warned me to be prepared. If God had warned me, He had known ahead of time. I had to believe Roma’s death was part of God’s Divine timing.
5. In what ways have you seen God minister to others through your deep valleys?
In that protective fog of the first days, I was showered with Divine Love. And miracles. The veil has been thin between Heaven and earth at times. As devastated as I was, and still am, I trust God. Heartsick friends and neighbors witnessed the peace we had. And the miracles. In the middle of our collective pain, we were in awe of God’s great love.
Although I think social media is Satan’s tool, God can use it for good. On my sites, I tried to continue pointing people to God in our circumstances, because He was so real to me in that dark valley. Soon friends were listening intently or reading with eagerness, the stories I share of God’s Nearness in the midst of our pain.
When our concerned friends rallied around us after Roma died, they saw that God had given us strength and sincere faith. I had faced the hard question, “Did I believe that God is really who He said He is? And did I believe Heaven was a real place?” If so, I would miss Roma earthly presence, but not despair over his absence. I would also have to celebrate that Roma was indeed free and with God in Heaven. I learned those first few days that God can be trusted. And, at least some were comforted, as I could confidently point to God with gratitude.
6. How have you seen God build community through your deepest valleys? Oh yes! Our loss was everyone’s loss. God sent Roma to not only my family but to the whole community, and beyond. God knew this honor of raising Roma was way too big for the Michael family alone. We would need helpers. LOTS of helpers! To aid in the recruitment of many helpers, God had armed young Roma with a BIG hearted personality, a sweet deposition, disarming smile, and fabled charisma. And oh, those sparkly green eyes.
Yes, the helpers came over the years. Neighbors, teachers, coaches, teammates, friends, mothers and fathers of friends. All assisted us in the joyful task of raising Roma. They loved this boy sent from God. Now they hearts were broken too. Roma had touched more lives in his brief twenty-one years than most people encounter in a lifetime!
Since Roma took up residence in Heaven, I have experienced true miracles. And I tell everyone who will listen or read. At first, I feared people would think I was crazy. But to not shine the Light that God had given me through Roma and his stories, would be failing to give Glory to God. God is not silent or still.
I have wondered lately, is God becoming bolder in His actions, or am I suddenly hyper aware of Him? Whatever the case, I am thankful that something so redeeming has transpired after the excruciating loss of Roma. People are hungry for God Stories. I have had a huge jump in my readership. Even people who never knew my dear boy tell me they feel like they know him and have cried for our loss. And I guess that was the purpose of the book. Now he is a friend to all, and they are eager to read about him. God has not wasted my pain. He has redeemed it all.
7 and 8. What obstacles have stood in the way of the ministry God has called you to through the hard? And how have you responded to these obstacles?
Lies of the enemy. At the beginning I was reluctant to continue to write my blog. “Who cares about Roma and your little stories now?” was a concern I had. But I had more stories to tell, I still do. God has been giving me many stories to tell, and I will keep writing them down. More than a few readers have said that there will be a second book. We’ll see. As long as God keeps giving me nudges and stories to tell, I will continue to write them down.
I remind myself that God is still good. He sees the BIG picture. I do not. In the past six months since I said a temporary, earthly goodbye to Roma, I have never felt God closer.
9. What one piece of advice or kernel of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers from your journey through your hard thus far?
Seek and you will find is another often repeated instruction in Scripture. I like to meditate on Jeremiah 29:12-14.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listento you.You will seekme and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.”
God is trying to transform us into marvelous creatures like His son. He cannot accomplish this until we surrender ourselves to Him. We will not know Him better until we diligently seek after Him. Pray with expectation that He will be found.
Father, oh how we thank You for the gift of life. Oh how we thank You that You are a God of compassion, mercy and justice. Thank You for Roma and my own little adopted brother, for all the children the world over who You see in their great need and who You love to set in families and shower in love and affection.
Thank You for Roma’s and his birth and adoptive families’ story that is continuing to be written in You. LORD I ask You to unleash the words You long to be shared through Debbie and to draw those the world over whose hearts and souls You cannot wait to awaken to Your love, truth, compassion and mercy through her.Surprise and awe us with what you have in store for Debbie and those You are weaving and have woven into her life. Continue to sustain and encourage her as she seeks to honor and obey You.
Thank You for remaining so faithful to all birth families, to all adoptive families and to all adopted children . Thank You for bringing more and more healing to Your whole Body through the gift of adoption that teaches us so much about Your faithful love andmercy toward us all.
Father, today I pray for the many birth parents and birth brothers and sisters the world over whose hearts are aching today. I ask You to send them proof of Your unending love for them and the children and brothers/sisters they have surrendered. Unveil Your redemption and Your restoration in ways that surprise and awe them.
Father, I also ask You to strengthen, comfort and pour out Your compassion upon adopted children and their families the world over. When trauma triggers shake these adopted children, fill their new families with Your moment-by-moment discernment to love these precious children of Yours as You love them.
Surround these adopted children and their families with men and women who uplift them and bless them in Your Word and who step in with practical help. Give adoptive parents the courage to forsake the opinion of those around them, where You are calling them to a different path. And where hurt has been caused in a lack of understanding, Father move in Your kindness to restore, heal and redeem. Take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it into good – more and more life in death.
LORD, I ask You to comfort all parents who have had to say goodbye to their child. Who have had to surrender them fully into Your eternal hands. Bring them a special Word of comfort and encouragement today. Surround them with Your Body and Your miracles that remind them that You are with them and have not forsaken them. Surprise them. Awe them. Shower them in blessings.
And lastly, I ask You to make Yourself known in and through every story of adoption, loss and trauma. Reveal Your life in every death and surrender we, Your children, walk through. We love You. We praise You. We honor You. In Your precious Name, Amen.
This is My Word Flowing Through you In truth Kissing grace I'm declaring My children Mine.
Each word You pen My song Is singing In Spirit And truth My children A hope And a future In every Promise I AM Declaring.
Sealed In My blood And raised From the tomb Feast now In broken bread And new wine Flowing into New wineskins: Mine.
For, My goodness And My mercy Has been Chasing you Beautifully opening you More and more To love From the hands And feet of Your servant King Who loved you First. For, I've Anointed you Not to boast In your pride But in your Weakness That My Perfecting work May now rise To sing. For, in Christ alone Your offering A free-will Offering Has Become For I build My Temple In truth And grace.
Sing of how:
My Body's tears I gather Into joy Transforming.
My Body's fears I uncover Into awe Exchanging.
My Body's doubts I lay bare Into faith Transforming.
My Body's pride I uncover For My pride in them Exchanging.
My Body's hurt I release Into My oil of mercy Transforming.
Don't you see? I've anointed you Refined you In fires pure Washed you In living water You are My gift of Hope To the world.
Now go! Awake Don't hide the lamp I've given you Under a bushel But shine your light Brightly On My hill.
Let Me lift the veil To reveal My Beloved Bride Unto the world That I may Come unto her.
For, I am Pouring out My jealous love Upon the altar Of My Broken Body.
I am laying her Before Me open Freely and wholly In My living sacrifice Holy and pleasing I AM Lifting her up Unto Me Alone.
See and smell My sweet incense Raising Christ Awaking My living stones Building A spiritual house Acceptable In Christ alone.
Arise and shine Beloved You are Mine!
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for making us your very own dear children, and calling us by Your name. We are humbled and speechless because we have felt our nameless-ness. We see our weaknesses that rise to the surface here. And in this place you wash us with Your blood freely poured for us. Our foreheads are sealed with the name given by Your Holy Spirit now. We scarce can take it in: we are Your Beloved.
Oh, how our hearts long to sit at Your feet, to wash Your feet with our tears. Those tears that were born in the pain of the refining and the purifying, they are caught here, each one saved in Your bottle of remembrance. For we have joined in Your suffering, eaten of Your bread, and fellowshipped with You, our sweet Savior.
And now we receive, in this place of brokenness, the merciful oil of Your intercession for us. Our prayers become mingled with Yours, and the incense of Your presence wafts over us here. Oh, that others could know the joy that we have tasted with You! Let Your name be known among our loved ones, those ones who have always been Yours first, before You brought them to us. Our prayers rise for them now.
We will rise and run in the path of Your commands–Your Words spoken over us and created within us–as Your Spirit carries us. We praise You, our Holy and Righteous Lover of our Soul.
In what ways have you experienced a breaking? How has this breaking opened your eyes to more of who Jesus truly is? What story do your scars now tell?
My breath prayer this week has been a breathing in of “Remember” and breathing out of “Me”.
Luke 22:14 ESV ‘And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”’
As I went running in the forest, my heart was heavy with shame, shame from an anger I couldn’t shake. So, I cried out, asking God to unravel my heart. To search and know me. The wisdom He gave me came in two steps. First, penning a letter of apology to myself, on behalf of the church. Then, writing a letter of thanks to Him for every point in my apology.
As I wrote the apology, I was forced to name all the accusations of condemnation I had swallowed as truth, because I trusted men and women in positions of authority, above my holy God. Accusations that had made me feel unseen, unworthy, rejected, damaged goods and unwelcome in the Presence of God.
As I wept profusely, feeling the pain of each wounding, the shame and pent up anger dissolved. I could now feel Jesus holding me in each and every situation I had once believed He had forsaken me.
Then, as I sat to write the letter of thanks to God, I remembered what I had read that very morning. Moses refusing to continue the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness without the Presence of God going before him. It’s then I saw how Jesus was setting Himself before me with each thank You I penned.
I saw how every step I had taken toward a breaking of His Body, became a breaking of my idols. Every time He commanded me to break friendships with fellow believers I idolized or physically leave their midst, God unveiled more of Himself to me.
Each breaking became an opportunity for God to write who He truly is on my heart. He was taking the Living Word I had ingested since I was a little girl and now returning it to me in a beautifully permanent inscription on my heart.
As I came to the end of my letter of thanks, I heard the Words: “Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me”. It’s then the tears flowed relentlessly down my cheeks. I knew exactly what He was saying. Every lie spoken over me and my loved ones in His Name, every Scripture wielded to wound me and the children I had immediately recognized as His, had broken His heart too. Because it was done unto Him also.
All those years I had wandered in my wilderness believing God had rejected me and those I loved, that all He wanted to do was hurt and kill me, He was walking before me, preparing the Way for my heart’s deepest desires to be fulfilled: to know who He truly is in the breaking of the bread. To have my eyes opened, just like the disciples on the way to Emmaus. To recognize that His fire had never ever stopped burning in me. That He had never ever stopped holding me, and those I recognized as His, in the palm of His nail-scarred hands.
May you be blessed by this beautiful worship song today that illustrates the power of Christ’s nail-pierced hands and feet. Christ carried the holes in His feet and hands, even after the resurrection, forever reminding us of His mercy poured out at the Cross.
I believe as Jesus exchanges our idols for Himself, through the breaking of His Body, He bows our knees at the Cross. As we enter into His suffering there, we taste and pour out His mercy. Then, the wounds that we once hid in shame, in the light of Jesus, become healed scars of mercy. They become a testimony to His blood shed at the Cross for us.
For, in our surrender, we receive the Body – with Christ at its Head, as One. Fully healed, whole and complete, according to the faith our God has given us. For, He opens our eyes to see what He sees.
It’s then our stories powerfully declare His compassion to a yearning world, through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. Beautifully the word for mercy and compassion in Hebrew comes from the word “womb” and so when we speak of God’s compassion we literally speak of the love a mother has for her unborn child in the womb. Isn’t that beautiful?!
In what ways have you experienced a breaking? How has this breaking opened your eyes to more of who Jesus truly is? What story do your scars now tell?
Isaiah 12 (ESV) You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
With thanks to Reverend Summer at The Presence Project, who invited me to contribute as a Table Host a couple of years ago, and for whose Facebook group I originally wrote this post that now appears in its newly edited form.
This is the sixth installment of Anna Smit’s personal testimony to the love and mercy of Jesus. These 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.
Sing these Promises to life Lean on Me And sing all dead to life For My life breathes in you.
Sing these Promises to life Don't hide or slink from pain But walk toward My arms to find.
Sing these Promises to life Don't deny My Word in you But sing to life The Son in you.
Sing these Promises to life Not broken, dead But life in death arising Awake and sing!
Sing these Promises to life Trembling stand My perfect love, the Rock Your firm foundation.
Arise and shine Beloved You are Mine!
Isaiah 55 (ESV) “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Gather, You tell me Gather, my broken dreams? Gather, my heart broke in two? Gather, all I've poured and emptied out? Gather, here my broken self?
What do I gather? When all I have is broken Shattered? Mara, she said to call her Mara is the word I'd choose A bitter hand dealt.
Gather, You tell me Gather, Your tears here for me wept? Gather, Your heart here broke for me? Gather, all You've poured and emptied? Gather, Word made flesh?
It's then I see You There beside me strong Hand in mine Walking to the Cross
Your Body broken Shame and mocking On You laid Pierced and bled in pain In the tomb You lay.
Till Your heavens Darkness rent Curtain raised, Now in two I hear You rip.
Christ, You raise My broken life In the breaking Of Your Body Me from my tomb In life unwrap Your songs are releasing me My human soul You awakening Breathing whole.
Embraced in love Steeled in truth Sent in Grace's Own true Breath Into Your world Yearning for You: I AM mercy's hands And mercy's feet.
Broken, You make whole again Dark, You shine our night to Light Tears, You cup and pour to Joy aflame Fear, You still in Perfect Peace Our feet, On righteous path You tread Sure and steadfast Held.
Gather, You tell me. YES I shall gather The tears You wept for us. The heart You broke for us. All You've poured and emptied into us Your Body We shall now receive For The Word is made flesh.
Garden of My Lord Enclosed and sealed For a time such as this Your spring, You are breaking Your fountains Are crashing and pouring For, Your Love You've gathered Now to rush and pour Sovereign For Your own delight in us.
Thank You, Jesus!
“You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain” (Song of Songs 4:12).