Part 1 – Chapter 1: A Dwelling Place

Welcome to Arise and Shine: Beloved You are Mine. This is Chapter 1: A Dwelling Place of Part 1: The Bread of Life. You can choose to listen to the introduction (read by Anna Smit) and the opening prayer (read by Bettie Gilbert) in the two recordings below, or read on further below.

Recording of Introduction & Blessing
(Anna Smit)
Recording of Opening Prayer & Invitation (Bettie Gilbert)

Have you ever noticed that God gathers us together in the most unlikely ways? Have you ever noticed that every way He sets us apart is His Way of joining us together in His suffering?

Sometimes, chronic illness or trauma can make us start to believe God has sidelined us, set us aside. It can even make us feel like we don’t truly belong in God’s family, or that we are second-rate citizens somehow. We can believe that God’s beautiful setting apart, the breaking of His Bread of Life, is His rejection of us.

But then God begins to open our eyes. He cups our face in His hands and lifts our eyes up and away from the ground. It’s then we begin to see how He is building His dwelling place in our hearts and our very midst. How He is weaving our lives together with people we never would have met, were it not for the suffering He has invited us to join Him in.

As He lifts our eyes to His, we suddenly see how He has been breaking the box we had tried to put Him in. How He has been leading us out into His yearning world for His good good purposes: to recognize Him and honor Him in those we previously would have ignored, or even condemned in their need.

It’s then we see how our very weakness is becoming the birthing place for new life: in us and in others through us. How He is using our very weakness to gather us together the world over, to restore His broken Body.

We suddenly see how His Spirit is laboring in intercession in and through us. How He is unveiling His goodness and mercy before our very eyes. How He is inviting us to celebrate His holy breath in every child of His He sends us, as we begin to see His Promises alive and kicking in them and through them, in ourselves. 

We see how He is causing us, just as He did Peter, to now live out the very Word He had long ago put into our mouths to speak. We see how His humbling in our weakness has been His Way of setting us free to walk in His purposes, unafraid and unashamed.

In the flesh, we see the now: but Jesus sees eternity. All made whole and complete in Him already and He’s always inviting us to come sit up there in the heavenlies with Him to see what He sees. To live by faith and not by sight.

Have you too noticed that it suddenly changes everything to realize that we were busy grieving something God has already restored? And yet it’s in entering into that pain of our setting apart, and finding Him present there, that this new sight comes. It’s as we join Him in His suffering that He catches our every tear and turns our mourning into dancing, at the sound of His Voice.

Oh how easy it is to try and push through the pain, to numb it away, to detach ourselves from it or to sink into it as our just deserves, as bitter tears flow. But right there in the midst of that pain, Jesus is inviting us to come in and sup with Him. 

He is not ashamed of us in our weakness. It is His gift to us, that He might unveil His power in us, right there.

Just as He did with Peter, He breaks us apart from those we idolize, in our weakness, not to hurt us or to divide His Body. No, He breaks us apart to build us back up in His pure and unadulterated Word and to unify us all by the power of His Spirit. 

For, it’s in our weakness and setting apart from others, we begin to hear Christ calling us into His death and resurrection. It’s then we realize, like Peter, that it is not man or our own ability that gives us the authority to live out and speak the Word God has called us to. It is God and God alone.

It’s then we grow in the confidence of God’s calling upon our lives, releasing the path our lives take into His hands also. Like Peter, as Christ continually asks us to take up our Cross, to face persecution for doing the will of God, Christ enables us to abide in Him and His comfort. He enables us to keep loving and forgiving others, as He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. 

And in our suffering for doing the will of God, it is such a gift knowing that it is Christ who is performing and completing each good work in and through us. In this freeing knowledge we can begin to rejoice in our sufferings for the sake of others, as we recognize that in our flesh we are filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians 1:24). We can praise our God, “who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, ESV). 

For, even when the Words we speak and live out appear to fall on deaf ears, we can be assured that God is at work, spreading His fragrance far and wide and taking the Word deeper into our own hearts. Each time He calls us to surrender others into His hands, is a new opportunity to die to ourselves and live unto Christ Jesus and His power to save us and those we love. It is God’s invitation to be cleansed by the Word of truth and grace, as He reminds of His eternal Promises.

As we sit together with Jesus this week and in the weeks to come, may He continue to open our eyes to see and celebrate Him binding us together in love into a dwelling place in which He lives, by the power of His Spirit.

May Christ slow us to savor His beautiful heart in our setting apart for His glorious purposes. May we see His love and mercy flowing freely in this womb of His choosing. In this dark place may we see Him growing new life in us to be birthed in His beautiful timing. 

May God help us not to push through the pain we feel, nor to turn away from the pain in shame. May He help us instead to enter into the pain we feel to find Him so very present there. May we see His heart of compassion and mercy growing so strong in us, as His intercession begins to flow freely in and through us, as we enter into His suffering. May we see Him give us beauty for ashes, as He fills us with the faith and trust to believe Him at His Word.

May specific Promises from His Word rise up within us, as the Holy Spirit compels us to bring them forward to Jesus as beautiful freewill offerings, filled with His breath. May each Promise that flows directly from the throne of God, wash over our hearts, cleansing us of all unrighteousness and quickening our hearts to beat in tune to His. May He lift any heavy yoke of responsibility we have taken upon our shoulders, enabling us to die to ourselves and arise afresh in Him.

May we daily arise and shine afresh in Christ Jesus, as He opens our hearts to see and celebrate all the ways in which we “too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22). May we recognize each setting apart as His way of building His dwelling place, not through human hands but through the power of His Holy Spirit. 

May we continually be reminded of the sovereign hands of our mighty God who holds all together by the power of His mighty Word and breath. May we see the beauty of the path of His choosing for our lives.

May our Abba Father show us that “Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Hebrews 9:24, ESV). May we see the power of His loving labor of intercession at work in us and those gathered around us, the world over. May Christ be magnified in our midst.

Opening Prayer

Dear Holy Father, Precious Son, and Beautiful Spirit,

We bow here before you, awed at the beauty of your plans. You have set before us YOUR ways to bring freedom.

Will you cleanse our hearts and wash away the sin and the dross that we have chosen in place of you? Will you set our vision upon the beauty of You instead of the world? Will you bring YOUR holiness into our offerings?

Transform these offerings into YOUR freedom, and come to us Lord. Will you make your dwelling place in our humbled hearts? WE are YOUR people, and YOU are the ONE we long to worship.

Abba Father, we pray in your Son Jesus’ Name, Amen  

Our Invitation to You

Join us here each day this week, at the feet of Jesus, as we add another portion of Chapter 1: A Dwelling Place. Each devotional, prayer and poem we will add here daily is filled with free will offerings Christ invited us to lay at His feet. Now, we invite you to join us, through our sharing here, in bringing your own personal free will offerings before the LORD, through the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us all.

Day 1: Longing for Home (a devotional by Bettie Gilbert)

Day 2: Our Holy Dwelling Place (a poem by Bettie Gilbert).

Day 3: The Unveiling of the Great I Am (a poem & devotional by Anna Smit)

Day 4: A Harvest Breaking (a poem by Anna Smit)

Day 5: At the King’s Table (a devotional & poem by Bettie Gilbert)

Day 6: Growing into Love (a devotional and poem by Anna Smit and artwork by Wendy Simpson)

Day 7: Silent No More (a poem by Anna Smit)

Living Roots

An allegorical short story by Lisa Enqvist 

First published at: https://lisaenqvistroots.com/allegory-searching-for-my-tree/

A friend recently went through my Facebook background. Even to me, my life looks chaotic, though I have spent years trying to make sense of the various stages, places, and situations of my life. 

 

 

This picture reflects my first eight years. I’ve written one book in English which covers these eight years: MISSIONARY MOTHER – Around the World with Five Kids. (Available on Amazon and other sources).

 

The following story was born at a writers’ course. As I read it aloud, someone exclaimed, “That is your life!” It is a metaphor for my life. As I continue writing my blog in the weeks and months ahead, I hope to discover and uncover other treasures, just as this Bible verse from Isaiah 33:6 promises:

 

He will be the sure foundation for your times,

    a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;

    the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

 

 

I searched for the grove where someone said I would find my tree, but the road was no longer there. Great excavators had mutilated the landscape. I sat down on a big rock and cried. How could I find my tree? Was it there, or was it destroyed? A little child came and stood by my stone. She looked at me with her big, questioning eyes.

 

“Why are you crying?” She held out her hand.

 

“Come with me. I will show you something.”

 

She led me past the big rocks that the excavator had left. We went past the familiar railroad, the river, and the mountains.

 

Palms swayed in the wind by the ocean. The crabs fled from the foam in an eternal game of hide-and-seek.

 

Was the palm my tree?

 

No. It was too lonely. I didn’t want to be alone.

 

The girl led me on. We came to a road that led to a schoolyard. Around the sports-field flamboyant trees spread their branches. During the hot summer, fiery yellow-red flowers burst out of the twigs. They were beautiful, but the fire that shone from them scorched my heart. The flame tree was not my tree.

 

There were trees with the tastiest fruits. But neither the mango tree with its dark leaves and its juicy fruit nor the guava tree with spiky branches and seed-filled fruit was my tree.

 

The little girl led me on into the middle of a park. When I finally found my tree, I sat down under it. I did not yet understand that this might be my tree. It did not look like any other tree I had passed earlier. All the other trees had a trunk and a crown of branches reaching for the sky. Their roots were not visible. This tree had roots growing down from the branches, as though it needed extra support from every side.

 

 

The wind whispered through the leaves. I heard it say to the tree,

 

“Tell your story so that even the little girl will understand.”

 

The tree began its story.

 

“Long, long ago, I sprouted up out of the ground in a country far away. The air was clear, and the sun shone brightly. The birds flew around me, chirping and singing their songs. Life was good.

 

One day the gardener came from the King’s Palace and began digging the ground around my root. I was terrified.

 

“I’ll die! I’ll die if you move me from here.” I cried.

 

The gardener did not hear my cry. He did not explain anything. Maybe he thought I would not understand. My root broke when the gardener pulled me up. I was sure I would die. There was no way I could survive. My heart was bleeding.

 

The gardener rolled a bunch of damp hay around my root and put me into a sack. I did not know where I was. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to die.

 

Many days later I saw the light. I was in a strange country. I was still alive. I heard someone digging with a spade. I heard a voice saying:

 

“I plant this tree as a symbol of friendship and justice. May it grow tall and give shelter to many children.”

 

The man who spoke held me very gently. I saw a tear run down his cheek. I did not understand anything. He put me down into the hole in the ground and filled the gap with soil around my roots.

 

I was sure I would never grow big. My roots were still hurting. I did not want to know where I was.

 

I didn’t care about the touch of the wind. Nor the freshness of rain, nor the warmth of the sun.

 

I thought stubbornly: I don’t belong here. I don’t want to be here.

 

One day an older woman came alone into the park. She stopped beside me and looked at my drooping leaves. I felt the warmth of her empathy flow towards me. I wanted to tell her my story.

 

She sat down on the ground and listened to my complaint. She understood. She felt my sorrow and longing. It was enough.

 

After that day, I began to see again. I was in a park designed by a king.

 

I grew tall, taller than the other trees. I stretched my limbs so birds could build their nests in them. I noticed that I had aerial roots growing down from my branches. I thought then I would make a swing of them for children. I want to show all the children who find me that I am here for them.”

 

The tree did not have to say more. I understood. It was my tree.

 

I stood up and looked at the tree again. The aerial roots covered its trunk. Dead brown leaves covered the ground. The tree had died many deaths, yet it lived. It still gave protection to the birds and the children.

 

The little girl began to gather the leaves in big piles. Suddenly she was surrounded by a crowd of children. They were playing and hiding under the dead leaves. I heard them laugh and shout in joy. They rolled around the on the ground, so the leaves rustled.

 

The big boys climbed up in the tree. The younger children clung to the swing.

 

Everyone had a place in my tree. After playing, the children were tired. They returned home to their parents.

 

I realized that I must leave my tree. I have to move on. I have to plant trees for other children in other countries. The wind followed me with its whispering melody.

 

 

 

Author Bio

As a teenager, Lisa Enqvist decided she would never be a missionary, never return to her father’s Gospel ship “Ebeneser,” never marry a missionary, never have kids who might feel as rootless as she was. And, she prayed, “Please, God, don’t ever send me to India.” But God knew Lisa better than she knew herself and gave her what her heart truly desired: all the things she asked Him not to give her, healing her heart more and more through the process.

Lisa is a co-founder of a Children’s Home in Thailand. She grew up in China and Sri Lanka as a missionary kid. She now lives with her husband in a small town on the West Coast of Finland. She and her husband adopted four Amerasian children in Thailand. They have given Lisa and her husband Håkan eleven grandkids.

Today, Lisa writes personal and family stories based on saved letters, documents, and personal memories. Since receiving her mother’s old letters in 1983, she has written four memoir books in Swedish and one in English: MISSIONARY MOTHER – Around the World with Five Kids. Rheumatoid Arthritis has challenged her since writing her first book.

Lisa is a registered pediatric nurse. Her earlier writing experience consisted of newsletters to sponsors of children at the Bethany Children’s Home and regular letters to family and friends scattered around the world. She has saved numerous family letters.

She attended several Swedish writer’s seminars in Finland. After reverting to English in 2011, she completed a course in writing for children and youth at the Institute for Children’s Literature and a Memoir Writing Course at Creative Writing Now. She also wrote articles for FaithWriters Challenge.

She is a member of Everything Memoir Private Group and West Coast Christian Writers. She has attended two Online conferences with the WCCW.

Her book MISSIONARY MOTHER – Around the World with Five Kids, is available from:

https://booklocker.com/books/8211.html

https://www.amazon.com/MISSIONARY-MOTHER-Around-World,

and other online bookstores.

Lisa blogs at: https://lisaenqvistroots.com/