Day 4: For the Joy

My favorite bench at our local forest, taken 26 June 2022, where I chose to obey my God’s prompting to lay aside my new devotional habit till later, to instead pen a card for dear friends. As I wrote for the pure joy of doing so, God’s Word flowed out of me and touched my own heart with the warmth of His Presence and my devotional time later, was even richer because of it.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!

Psalm 84:1 ESV

Today, I bless us to seek and find the wide open spaces of God’s grace for us. I bless us to rejoice and rest in Christ’s good and pleasant boundary lines for us. I bless us to awake to the childlike faith that is ours in Christ Jesus, to open our eyes in awe and wonder to the much higher plans and purposes of our God. I bless us to lay down our fear of man for a newborn faith in our God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Write for the joy
You tell me
And oh the joy
I taste and see
Right here.

In Your
Boundary lines
Safe and sound
I find my heart
Singing now

In unison
My breathing
Slowing to
Gentleness
Yielded in Spirit

And truth
To reveal
Your mercy
Comfort and
Steadfast love

Opening
My eyes
To see through
As You do
Unblinded

Undivided
My heart
Bound together
In love
In the fear

Of the LORD
Awaking awe
And wonder
A childlike
Faith in me

Stirring me
To celebrate
Your sovereign
Power in love's
Perfecting grace

My weakness
The key
In Your hand
Unlocking
The door

To sup with You
For the joy
Of Your reward
Salvation
And deliverance

In Jesus' Name.

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)