In the month of May, I committed to sharing posts from others that have encouraged, inspired and challenged me. But today on my Mum’s 68th birthday (my Mum went to be with Jesus April 8th, 2014), the LORD again returned this post to me – because one of you liked it (thank you for being God’s gift!!) – and I knew I had to share it with you all again – a third time because of what just unfolded.
When I looked to see what post was being liked, I was so overwhelmed. Why? Because Bettie had just eerily emailed me of something so similar unfolding for her: as God placed a rainbow before her, the first she’s seen since her move, when she so needed God’s reminder that when we are faithless, He is the God who is faithful FOR us.
And then as I listened to the song I had included here, I decided to send it to a friend in Washington state, but God at the last moment brought another friend in Indiana to mind also, so I sent it to her too. What I didn’t know is that her Mama went to be with Jesus hours earlier – and now my dear friend was facing her very first night without her there, after months of caring for her elderly Mama in her own home. As Indiana slept but my friend couldn’t in her grief, the Holy Spirit compelled me in the Netherlands to send that song – showing her and me how deeply our God loves us and how PRESENT He is. Just as the song says, it is truly our Jesus who makes our faith to stand. May our God overwhelm you too today by the power of His love and the HOPE that is ours in Christ Jesus.
On a day of fresh loss and grief for my little family, only Jesus could have had someone visit this post and have me return to re-read it only hours before that fresh loss came. It was one of numerous ways the Spirit of God revealed His nearness to me- in advance of today’s loss, preparing my heart to see and receive His compassion for our whole family.
May it bless your hearts too, and help you to see and remember God’s nearness to you through your own loss and grief also. I bless you to see details in your past you hadn’t noticed before, whereby God’s nearness to you and your loved ones becomes even more palpable to you. He truly is so very present to each one of us.
I was so struck this morning by the deeper meanings of the Words in Luke 6:38 (HCSB):
Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
It so fit with Bettie’s and her daughter’s testimony that so touched my heart again this morning, and so I longed to share it with you all again too. You see, it turns out that what is “measured” to us in return for all we have given (which includes our entrusting of our own and other souls into God’s hands) is poured into our bosom (where the breastplate of righteousness sits). It is a Word that is synonymous with intimacy. And that Word measured is interestingly also symbolic for those who have come out of the Great Tribulation.
Interestingly the Word that means lap and bosom and chest pocket used for keeping and carrying things, is also the Word used for the bay Paul was shipwrecked in – the bay, where the islanders came to faith, as they watched Christ’s power be revealed in their midst in and through the weakness and dependence of Paul upon his God. The apostle Paul (once a Jewish leader, who had ordered the killing of Christians, but whose eyes had been opened by Jesus on the road to Damascus), had followed the Holy Spirit’s unusual promptings.
These promptings led to his persecution, his imprisonment and his shipping off to Rome – with God’s very much planned interruption of a shipwreck, bringing the love of Jesus to these islanders. As Paul joined Jesus in His suffering (through persecution, imprisonment and shipwreck), Jesus poured out His love and mercy to all those Paul met on his unusual journey. Beautifully He worked to redeem Paul’s past, fulfilling Stephen’s prayers, who as he was being stoned to death (on Paul’s command) and the heavens opened to him, had cried out for God to forgive Paul.
Do you find yourself or are you watching your loved ones in a place of persecution, imprisonment or shipwreck? What this looks like is different for each one of us. Be encouraged with me today, by Bettie’s, her daughter’s, Paul’s and Stephen’s testimonies. No, not one drop of suffering in this world is ever wasted in God’s bountiful, merciful, heavenly giving back.
Welcome to Chapter 1 of Part 7 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie (with the help of her daughter Becky) is introducing us to the free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.
Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord: 9 onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece. Exodus 35:5,9
-Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 16 It is to be square—a span[a] long and a span wide—and folded double. 17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper.[b] Mount them in gold filigree settings. 21 There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes. Exodus 28:15-21
“In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the Lord. Exodus 28:29 (NLT)
-“About Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, and you, Issachar, in your tents. They will summon peoples to the mountain and there offer the sacrifices of the righteous; they will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the treasures hidden in the sand. Deuteronomy 33:18-19 NIV
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. Isaiah 61:11 NIV
The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. Zechariah 9:16
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17
On a day, years ago, of heavy prayers for my young adult children, especially for my daughter who was facing a deep heartache, I heard a song being sung as I read this passage:
Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. Isaiah 54:11
Strangely, tho, the tune only repeated the first phrase again and again, “Oh afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted …” I felt such a deep comfort, knowing that God saw my daughter’s heartache. But I so badly wanted to sing the promise portion of the verse too. As I waited, I heard a “not yet,” whispered to my heart. How could it be that God would not allow me to sing aloud His promise?
Sometimes His presence IS the promise.
Move forward another 5 years, and my daughter’s heartache had been eased with a love deeper than she had ever known. But after another deeper heartache, when she suffered a miscarriage, her soul was plunged into a time of anxiety and depression that seemed to speak of no way out.
And I heard another Scripture being sung aloud as my prayers felt too heavy to bear. As the windchimes on my porch played the tune, I realized it was an answer to the phrase I had heard so long ago:
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9
Oh, afflicted city, Lashed by storms And not comforted,
Faint not, Faint not, You will reap soon, If you faint not
Reap a harvest Of well doing, Faint not Faint not.
And I wept at the promise of reaping that the Lord was singing. I longed once again for the promise of the rebuilt foundations set with precious stones, but the whisper remained, “not yet.”
Sometimes His presence of endurance is enough.
Move forward another 5 years after peace in the Presence had come, another miscarriage brought waves of grief to our daughter and family. Names were spoken over each little life given to Heaven: Faith and Eden were nestled in the arms of Jesus.
But my daughter continued to ache, even as compassion grew in her heart for so many others longing for Heaven. The people of Israel, longing for a Saviour but blinded to see Yeshua before them, filled her daily prayers.
Sometimes, in the breaking of bread, as we surrender what has been given to us back into God’s hands, the Promise is multiplied to feed not just us, but many more.
And then one day my daughter was given a dream of rebuilding with precious stones. Never knowing how I had longed for the promise to be sung over her, she heard her Savior calling her to join Him as He called the names of all of His lost sheep.
In her dream He was pulling stone tablets out of a stream, with names written on them, as He placed precious jewels around the names.When she awoke, this Scripture was given to her:
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. Isaiah 54:11
I wept when she told me her dream. And I sang to her the song that God had begun in my heart all those years before.
Sometimes the promise of God is meant to blossom and grow to be shared.
Move forward another few months, and my daughter faced yet another miscarriage, while she was traveling out West. But this time God gave her a gift to hold onto, as she waded in the mountain streams of South Dakota…surprisingly, the very place that had been in her dream!
As they stopped to buy a memento of their trip, there on the counter lay earrings of native jade, akin to the lapis lazuli in her verse.
It was akin to a ring my husband had bought me as we traveled out West when I was pregnant–with the daughter now covered in my prayers.
And it is akin to the native New Zealand greenstone worn by Anna’s husband in the Netherlands – a gift given to him by Anna. And to the pounamu necklace worn by Anna’s elderly neighbor in her dying days, which was first given to Anna’s dying Mum, then worn by Anna when her Mum went to heaven and then given to her neighbor in obedience to God’s sweet prompting.
Sometimes the jewels of His promise are returned into our hands as a new gift to be worn close to our heart, joining us – the Body of Christ- together, the worldover. Gifts that remind us daily to join Jesus in prayer, calling out to His children yet to be awakened:
He sees He hears He speaks He sings
And His Word is that sure foundation you are seeking.
Do you see how Jesus awakens us through loss and heartache to heaven’s breath and blooming? The very gift prophecied by baby Eden, whose name expresses the beginning of life–new life. Our Jesus clothes us in His breastplate of righteousness, giving us the honor of joining Him in His intercession as royal priests.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
There, carrying His heart for His Body, we are given the gift of joining Him in declaring His judgment of mercy over all of God’s children – the jewels of His Crown – that are akin to the jewels once sewn into the fabric of the breastplate, worn by the High Priest in the old temple.
Will you join me in prayer as Anna and I prepare to share our free will offerings with you for this chapter in the coming days?
Dear Holy Father,
we bow before the beauty of Your Glory. Your beauty is like the sun that sparkles as a jewel in our skies! We cannot ever find words to express the greatness that is found in You.
And, Lord, we are so humbled that You would call each of us so precious to You, that You see us even now as sparkling jewels in Your hand, and someday we will sparkle in Your land like jewels in a crown!
We surrender our hearts to You here, as we wait for You to bring us victorious into Your land. We hold onto Your hand as the heartaches seek to overwhelm us. Show us again and again that Your presence is enough to keep us. Help us to lean upon Your endurance, knowing that You are reaping that harvest even now.
We hear your song being sung over Your bride, and we join You as You intercede for Your people. We lift our prayers to join Your building, Your naming of each precious jewel, as we eagerly look forward to that time when we will walk with You and see those foundations of precious stones that You have built, joining our souls together in You.
Oh how we long for that day of glorious redemption when You call all of Your children, Jewish and Gentile alike, to share in Your glorious inheritance, woven together as one.