Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 2: Blossoms of Peace in His Time

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new.

Interestingly, sifting seed involves blowing it up into the air to remove the head (also called chaff) and to have it immediately drop to the ground. And this isn’t a one-time process. As I began to look more closely at this process and the prophecy Jesus spoke over Peter of allowing Satan to sift – or winnow – him like wheat, I began to see the hidden blessing Jesus wanted me to uncover in my own experiences of being sifted like wheat.

Just like with Simon Peter, my God saw that my greatest weakness is the fear of man. It is my desire for the affirmation of those in authority over me. Repeatedly, I chose to place myself or keep myself under the authority of those I knew did not have my or others’ best interests at heart – just as Peter did in sitting with the religious leaders he knew were denying the finished work of the Cross upon Christ’s restoration of him. 

Crazily, just like Peter did, I did my utmost best to be seen, loved and approved of by those in positions of authority over me. In doing so, I hid the light of Jesus in me to become acceptable to them. For, I saw how afraid of the light of Jesus in me they were. I saw how threatened they felt by the pure truth and grace of Jesus shining in me. 

I now understand, as Jesus always did, that I desired to fill the gaping hole in my heart that my parents’ rejection of His Word upon my lips as a little girl had left. He knew exactly what I was seeking and why. And He knew that that gaping hole – He had purposely dug out and exposed – could only ever be filled by a deeper love, not just for my parents, but for all. For, through those who set me apart, He was opening the eyes of my heart to recognize Him and love Him in every human heart. To show me eternity is hidden in each one of our hearts and that we just need His heart to till, grow, stretch and increase our desire to love each other, as He loves us.

So, the Holy Spirit purposely lifted me up into visible positions before those in authority over me, to then humble me in their presence. He walked me through situations He knew would compel me to speak up in their midst and to shine the light of truth and grace He had given me to shine brightly. 

He purposely walked me through triggers of trauma, as these men and women, just like my parents had, rejected the truth pouring forth from my heart and lips. As I battled the fleshly desires to fight (defend myself) and to flee (deny the truth), He compelled me to repeatedly confess my weakness and sin before them. 

He removed more and more of the chaff of self hiding His beauty in me. He pressed my knees to the ground, leading me to die to myself and to sow unto the Spirit, revealing the treasure hiding inside of me. As John 12:24 (KJV) puts it:

Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Now, I know that the seed in us is JESUS. It is He, who bowed low on the ground for us in Gethsemane, to drink the cup to take upon Him our sin and affliction, and to die on that Cross to save us. The chaff is our old self. But as Christ humbles us, yielding us to the Father’s will through HIS sacrifice, He cracks open our hardened hearts to lift off the old us (the chaff) to reveal Himself in us (the seed). He leads us to take up our Cross and follow Him.

It was my Jesus who repeatedly turned me toward Himself for help through all the triggers. And as I then drew boldly before the throne of grace in my time of dire need, in His precious prompting and emboldening, I received my Heavenly Papa’s outpouring of reassurance, love and affection for me like I never had before. My Papa began to uncover and fill that deep hole inside of me with more and more of Himself. 

And in that filling, my knees also bowed in prayer for those who were rejecting Jesus in me. The oil of mercy my God had shown me in my own weakness and sin became the mercy I could now bestow upon them in prayer from afar. As Jesus opened my clenched hands to release them into His safe and loving care, He showed me that bathed in His love and approval, I no longer need their love and approval.

And then, He set me where He desired for me to be to flourish and bloom: surrounded by those who have been affirming His purity in me and are so hungry and thirsty for His Word that is now pouring forth from my heart and lips more and more, as He continues to grow me in His confidence and teach me how to return and rest in His loving arms.

Hidden in the darkness of my heart of sin and rebellion always lay that dormant seed of Jesus waiting to be revealed. Praise God, darkness is as light to our mighty God. For there is no darkness in Him, only light. And so now, faithful to His Word, He is revealing that beautiful light of His Presence in me. For, now I know like never before that I AM my Papa’s treasure and He is mine. 

For, I am the apple of His eye and He is mine. Yes, I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.

Now, like Peter, I know that everything changed at the foot of the Cross for me:

Come let’s celebrate Jesus and behold Him face to face!

As you read this testimony and listened to the song above, what truth has Jesus been bringing home to your own heart? What precious conviction do you feel Him taking deeper in you? When you look full in His wonderful face what do you hear Him speaking over you?

Before we soak in today’s Scripture together, will you join me in acknowledging and thanking God for the beauty of His Son hidden in us?

Papa, thank You for giving us Your Son, for hiding eternity in our human hearts that You might reveal more and more of who You are to us, through each otherForgive us for all the times we have hidden or rejected who You are in us and others.

As we gather to rest in Your Word here, will You open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You and our hearts to know You in a new and fresh Way? Oh how we thank You and praise You for who You are in us. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139: 1 – 18 (ESV)

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 1: He Gives Us More Grace

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering in praise of God opening her eyes to see by faith. By God’s grace, her eyes open to the Promise contained in the budding of her almond tree, in the midst of great pain and affliction. She also invites us to join her in a time of thanksgiving and prayer.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Luke 11:34 NIV 

This branch is from my Flowering Almond bush:

It has had its share of suffering and disease. At one point, several years ago, I considered removing the whole bush because it continued to die back and shed more leaves than what it was gaining. But the patient gardener in me decided to give it another chance, and pruned away the dead branches one more time. I would have missed out on these beautiful blooms if I had focused solely on the diseased portion of the plant.

And so it is in my own life. Where are my eyes choosing to focus? Where is the light within them?

This week a friend sent me a song, and because it was a reworking of a hymn that was one of my favorites, I went on a search to find the original. In so doing, as often happens with me, the history of the hymn drew my attention just as much as the song itself. Maybe you have heard of Annie Johnson Flint, poet and hymn writer from the early 1900’s? 

Before this search, I had known she lived a life of suffering, and I had known her beautiful work came from a fountain of grace within her.  What I had not known was that her disease was one with which I am well acquainted:

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

But she suffered in the years when there was no relief for pain, and no medicine to halt the crippling effects. Where I might suffer some pain and weakness, and some residual tendon damage, she suffered the full effects of a horrible disfigurement and pain beyond compare. As the disease progressed, she was forced to type out her poems using only her bent knuckles, because her joints had swollen and twisted to a point of uselessness.

What do I know of that kind of uselessness?

How would I have borne that kind of suffering?

In these days of stillness, as the Lord brings fresh convictions to me daily, I know that my heart has so far yet to travel. For you see, Annie Johnson Flint had let the Lord bring the true Light to her eyes.  When the darkness of a cruel disease could have crippled her heart, she chose to let the Light of Christ permeate her soul and body. She chose to let that Light redeem her suffering, and bring forth encouragement that would bless others who were facing darkness.

She chose 
Acceptance in the 
Pruning from her own 
Master Gardener and embraced 
HIS Light in the very place of her suffering.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” Philippians 1:29 NIV 

He Giveth More Grace (lyrics)

—Annie Johnson Flint

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added affliction He addeth His mercy; To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun. 

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure. His pow’r has no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”

Would you join me in pausing to meditate on the suffering that our Lord bore for us, and join me in prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,  

I thank you for the suffering that you bore for me. I rejoice in the salvation and grace that you won for me there.

And, now I ask that you would purify my eyes to see the light in my days and the Grace within my own suffering.

May I let you bring Joy from Pain and Beauty from Ashes, And may the Love you have granted sink deep into my soul, body, mind and spirit.

Amen.     

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This post was first published four years ago at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2017/03/30/he-gives-us-more-grace/ Since then, Bettie’s health has deteriorated significantly and yet the beauty and life of Christ is flourishing in and through her more and more, as she comforts others with the comfort the LORD is pouring out upon her.