There are times when we don’t realize that the blue thread of Heaven has been joining our lives with others until many years later. It’s only in the pausing and looking back that we can see the shining of Heaven as God’s Holy Spirit gives us a small glimpse of His presence among us. Such was the case with my dear friend and her English Nana.
We became Mom-friends as we walked our young kids to school every day. But we became heart-friends as we shared the struggles we each were facing. She wasn’t used to someone like me who brought the Lord into all of my moments. I wasn’t used to someone like her who loved me so unconditionally.
And when her British Nana came to visit, we all shared our love for tea together, lingering long while the cream swirled in our cups. Her Nana rejoiced to find another Jesus follower who loved the old hymns. We chattered and reminisced as the rest of the family sat silently by.
Nana’s health tottered precariously during her next visit, and hospice services were called into their home. I hoped I wasn’t overstepping my bounds as I felt an urgency to write out the lyrics to our favorite hymn and carried it with me to visit her.
Her eyes fluttered open when I said I had brought a hymn to share. “Will you sing it to me?” she quietly asked. As the tune came weakly through my tears, I witnessed a hush come over my spirit. The veil between the now and the not yet was swept away for those moments, and I felt Heaven was so much nearer than I had ever realized.
Nana stepped across that veil not long afterwards, and it was only a few months later that I was facing that same crossing with my own father. Nana’s passing had prepared me for glimpsing Heaven with my Dad.
But it wasn’t until I recently paused and heard the sweet words of my dear friend, that I glimpsed the thread of Heaven that had woven us all together in Christ. My friend shared how my words had pointed her to look up and find how deeply Jesus loved her. And I shared with her how her friendship had come at a time in my life when I desperately needed to be reminded of Heaven’s deep gift of loving.
And woven throughout was the love of a Nana who rejoiced to share her favorite hymn with those she loved:
BLESSED ASSURANCE by Fanny Crosby
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine Heir of salvation, purchase of God Born of His spirit, washed in His blood.
Perfect submission, all is at rest I in my Savior, am happy and blessed Watching and waiting, looking above Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story, this is my song Praising my Savior all the day long This is my story, this is my song Praising my Savior all the day long”
Welcome to Day 3 of Chapter 7 from Arise & Shine’s Part 7. Today, Bettie is bringing forward our third free will offering of The New Covenant of Love.
Have you faced a shift in your life recently?
I have felt so many shifts throughout the years. And I’ve found that the Seasons will change, and our lives most assuredly move to different rhythms. But our Living Word, Jesus Christ, remains solid and unchanging for us.
As my life-rhythms changed dramatically this past year, I saw a new Rheumatologist this past fall. A new Doctor for a new state, here in this season of transition. And he shocked me with his words:
“I see no need to try to add in any other medication. Your body has clearly rejected so many. You have actually been managing your flares wisely.”
Managing wisely? How could that be? I have felt so weak in knowing how to pace my days. When I mulled over the Doctor’s words the next day, I knew WHO had been doing the managing, and I felt like laughing–Holy Spirit guided holy laughter! In spite of my weakness and fleshly ways of trying to carry the burdens myself, God has always been the One carrying me.
Even when I have not acknowledged or seen His hand–He has always been shaping and molding my heart. The pain might rage, or my weakened flesh might grow weary, but HE is my One unchanging steady point, keeping me in step with His plans and His safe boundaries.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
The young, chubby clarinet player fell behind at every practice. The Squad Leaders called out in frustration, “What is your problem? Why can’t you stay in step?” The clarinet player did not have an answer. Playing the notes while standing and moving around the field was hard enough. Even the hours of practice on the Band Camp field didn’t seem to make a dent in her progress.
She went home determined to learn. In the same way that her old clarinet was a puzzle to others, her inability to grasp the rhythm was a puzzle also. So she marched around her yard and her friend’s yard (the same one who climbed the willow tree with her in their younger days.) Left, right, left, right, … over and over again until she began to feel the words within the notes she played.
There came a day, and she couldn’t even remember when it happened, that the rhythm had etched itself onto her legs and into her mind. The music and the movements joined together, and she was flowing with the group. The years passed, and unbelievably, she became a Squad Leader. When a new recruit who could not stay in step joined the ranks, she remembered. And she waited. It would come, the rhythm would wrap itself around the new one’s heart also.
Now, many years past that fresh-paced young life rhythm, my husband and I sold our home last year and moved in with our daughter’s family. As we were preparing for that move, I paused and looked around one morning, realizing that the barren walls seemed to be speaking to me. I felt the Lord’s nudging to find expression for what He had placed within my heart:
The Barren Walls
The empty rooms are echoing And the barren walls are speaking What is it they are saying?
Listen to our stories Hear the laughter and the tears Pay attention to the figures from the mists you will recall ...
Set down roots the LORD had spoken Settle in the land I called you to. Your work will be your prayer as the years unfold and spin.
I will break up your flinty ground in the gardens of your heart. I will array your rooms with beauty by the singing of MY heart.
And when the years are done the rooms seem stark and bare You will look inside your soul and find that nothing's lost.
I have stripped away the outer to fill the inner even more with OVERFLOWING OVERWHELMING OVERSHADOWING FULLNESS OF MY SPIRIT.
You are HOME inside MY heart.
And suddenly, the years of that chubby girl in marching band melted together with the memories of a young housewife raising her toddlers who overnight became teenagers pushing their own boundaries.
Isn’t that what we all do? We find ourselves chafing at the boundaries set up around us.
We think we know the right pace to set, the correct rhythm with which our life should flow. But all the while, our Saviour has set a plan in motion and has invited us to come follow Him. He has longed to inscribe His New Covenant of Life upon our hearts: the unforced rhythm found within His perfect boundaries and pacing and planning.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
When the seasons change and I am taken off-guard, feeling adrift from my usual rhythm, He whispers His voice of comfort to me:
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21 NIV
Oh dear friend, would you join me in prayer to this wonderful Savior who calls us to live within His new Covenant of life for us?
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You so much for the gift that You have set before us: New Life found in Your grace-filled New Covenant for us. Forgive us for thinking that we could manage our lives, and direct our steps ourselves. What a joy to know that You have already set in motion the perfect plan for each of us!
Thank You for revealing Your movements within us as we’ve looked back over the years. Even when we stubbornly resisted Your leading, Thank You for being so patient with us!
We take such joy in Your planning and pacing of our days! We praise You for every change of season that You brought about in our lives. For we can look back and see that it was in the very change that You were showing us how to walk in step with You.
Keep us in Your ways. Keep us focused on You. We know our weaknesses too well–but then so do You! And in each place of weakness, You have come to give us Your own New Life flowing in our veins. Oh praise You Lord Jesus for being our great Saviour of our souls.
In Your name we pray,
May these songs of worship bless you in the unforced rhythmic beat of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s ever-present grace for you in the season He is leading you in(to).