The Alpha and Omega

Jesus has very specific instructions on where to go and where not. So, each place we are led to, even if it ends in a breaking, we can be sure, was always purposed by Him.

Jesus knew many Jews’ hearts would be hardened and yet He went to His own first. For that was always His plan: to restore the House of Israel unto Himself and to keep the covenant He had made unto them.

And yet it is because they did not at first receive Him, that the grace of God could be extended to us Gentiles:

John 11:11-13 ESV
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Likewise, when the Good News we share today is not received in the places God leads us to, we need not fret and be discouraged. For, when one door closes, another always opens.

And even then, that place we have obediently left behind, has been surrendered into the hands of our mighty Savior. It’s not the end of the story for those we have given into His hands. Nor is it for us.

Just look at this beautiful Promise given to the Jewish people. That shut door upon their hardening hearts was never God turning His back! They may have stumbled, but held safe in the Promise, they could never “fall”, for their weakness and stumbling was always known by God and purposed to open the door to us Gentiles. An open door that would make His own jealous and draw them back home also:

Romans 11:11 ESV
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

Yes, God’s love is steadfast and sure. Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus. I know it to be true. I only stand here preserved in the breath of God because my God could not forsake the Promise – His Son – in me. Every time I have stumbled, He has caught me in His grace.

Now, as I look back on the seven years since He brought this lost sheep home upon His shoulders, I see all the places God led me into and back out of with new eyes. I now no longer see them as my failings or proof that I don’t belong to Jesus.

I see them as tangible evidence of God’s sovereign completion. I see God purposely opening and shutting each door to teach me so much about who He is. And I see Him redeeming my past.

When I was little, I chose to see the closing door to His Word speaking through me, as His closing door to me and to those I loved, who He had called me to intercede for. And that decision to clothe myself in the whispers of the enemy had me pack my bags and leave my God, believing He had left me.

But more than twenty years later the Word I had spoken in obedience as a little girl, reaped the fruit of repentance for which it was sent. Not because I remained faithful but because of God’s faithfulness to us all. And right when that Word was received, my eyes were opened, as my Good Shepherd picked me up out of my thorn bush to carry me home.

Now, I can see that every place I poured out my heart in – His heart in me – He was ALWAYS present. For, I now recognize Him in the faces He set before me, in my own face, in our interactions with each other and even in our breaking apart.

For, He was (and still is) the:

  – living bread and living water in our hunger and thirst
  – the peace in our storm
  – the faith in our faithlessness
  – the mercy in our rebellion
  – the compassion in our pain
  – the surrender in our clinging
  – the wholeness in our brokenness

Now, I know that I will see Jesus fully unveiled in each one of us, when He returns. “Let us hold resolutely to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23, The Berean Study Bible).

And because of all these closed doors, I now know that my God is about to take His Word places it would have otherwise never gone. For, I do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of my God (Matthew 4:4).

Five years ago, He woke me up to read the story of Him feeding the five thousand and that very morning my then little three year old said: “Mama, Jesus is hungry for the bread and the fish.” She affirmed what God had spoken to me.

There were 12 baskets left over on that day Jesus fed five thousand with the lunch the little boy gave Him. 12 baskets filled with bread and fish. Jesus told me: “Anna, don’t you see? I am already with the fish. My broken Body is already lying right next to the fish.” And those 12 baskets are the 12 tribes of Israel.

Did you know my father-in-law’s name means “exalted Father” and my husband’s name means “behold a Son” and my name means “grace”. Each of us carry names given to important Jewish men and women. Even in that I see God speaking of His Promise of restoration and redemption.

This is the tenth installment of Anna Smit’s personal testimony to the love and mercy of Jesus. These installments of her testimony are God’s answer to all of us who have walked a path of trauma and heartache, believing our God has abandoned us. For He has never ever forsaken us and He wants us to know it, and to see the fingerprints of the Cross – and His unending love for us – all over our lives. For the first installment see: Love Never Ends

Arise and Shine: Beloved, You are Mine

This is 
My Word
Flowing
Through you
In truth
Kissing grace
I'm declaring
My children
Mine.

Each word
You pen
My song
Is singing
In Spirit
And truth
My children
A hope
And a future
In every Promise
I AM
Declaring.

Sealed
In My blood
And raised
From the tomb
Feast now
In broken bread
And new wine
Flowing into
New wineskins:
Mine.

For, My goodness
And My mercy
Has been
Chasing you
Beautifully opening you
More and more
To love
From the hands
And feet of
Your servant King
Who loved you
First.

For, I've
Anointed you
Not to boast
In your pride
But in your
Weakness
That My
Perfecting work
May now rise
To sing.

For, in
Christ alone
Your offering
A free-will
Offering
Has Become
For I build
My Temple
In truth
And grace.

Sing of how:

My Body's tears
I gather
Into joy
Transforming.

My Body's fears
I uncover
Into awe
Exchanging.

My Body's doubts
I lay bare
Into faith
Transforming.

My Body's pride
I uncover
For My pride in them
Exchanging.

My Body's hurt
I release
Into My oil of mercy
Transforming.

Don't you see?
I've anointed you
Refined you
In fires pure
Washed you
In living water
You are
My gift of Hope
To the world.

Now go!
Awake
Don't hide the lamp
I've given you
Under a bushel
But shine your light
Brightly
On My hill.

Let Me lift the veil
To reveal
My Beloved Bride
Unto the world
That I may
Come unto her.

For, I am 
Pouring out 
My jealous love 
Upon the altar
Of My Broken Body.

I am laying her 
Before Me open
Freely and wholly
In My living sacrifice 
Holy and pleasing
I AM
Lifting her up
Unto Me
Alone.

See and smell
My sweet incense
Raising Christ
Awaking
My living stones
Building
A spiritual house
Acceptable
In Christ alone.

Arise and shine
Beloved
You are Mine!
Come, hold my dear friend, Bettie’s hand, as she invites Jesus to pray through us, today. Bettie Gilbert kindly accepted my request to pen a prayer to accompany this poem. You can find her prayer in written form below.

Dear Lord Jesus,


Thank You for making us your very own dear children, and calling us by Your name. We are humbled and speechless because we have felt our nameless-ness. We see our weaknesses that rise to the surface here. And in this place you wash us with Your blood freely poured for us. Our foreheads are sealed with the name given by Your Holy Spirit now. We scarce can take it in: we are Your Beloved.


Oh, how our hearts long to sit at Your feet, to wash Your feet with our tears. Those tears that were born in the pain of the refining and the purifying, they are caught here, each one saved in Your bottle of remembrance. For we have joined in Your suffering, eaten of Your bread, and fellowshipped with You, our sweet Savior.


And now we receive, in this place of brokenness, the merciful oil of Your intercession for us. Our prayers become mingled with Yours, and the incense of Your presence wafts over us here. Oh, that others could know the joy that we have tasted with You! Let Your name be known among our loved ones, those ones who have always been Yours first, before You brought them to us. Our prayers rise for them now.

We will rise and run in the path of Your commands–Your Words spoken over us and created within us–as Your Spirit carries us. We praise You, our Holy and Righteous Lover of our Soul.

In Your name, Jesus, we pray, Amen.

A Dwelling Place in Praise

Colossians 3:15 KJV 
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.


Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.




Thank You, LORD
For grace
That covers me
For innocence
You've paid
In scourge
And pain so cruel
I'll never know.

Thank You, LORD
For giving me
What's undeserved
Of cruel and harsh
This heart here turned
To selfish tides
And prideful dams
To anger's chains
And holding reigns.

Thank You, LORD
For love so great
It reaches deeper still
Than cruel and harsh
Than selfish pride
And anger's reigns
To all accuser's claims
Would rather hide
From sight unseen
In shame to chain.

Thank You, LORD
For fencing tight
In holy linen white
For Spirit drawing in
And holding tight
The dust of desert's strife
From hardened heart
To strip and me
Righteous wrap
In dazzling white
Of undeserved bright.

Thank You, LORD
That washing
Dazzling white
You speak
Each hidden sight
The pain, the fears and doubts
I know not bleed
Beneath
My heart
You cast and pour
My cup
Not just outward
Cleanse
But inward
Search to know
In Spirit raise
From death to Life.

Thank You, LORD
For grace
That covers me
For innocence
You've paid
In scourge
And pain so cruel
I'll never know.



Dear Holy Father,

We are amazed that You would choose to come to us, to make Your dwelling here in our heart. We have nothing to offer you except these shards and pieces that are the bones and bodies holding our vulnerable hearts. But we thank You that Your Word declares these very bodies Your holy Temples.

We thank You that where we, and others who look at us, see nothing but brokenness, You see Your chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Your own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of You who called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light.

We believe You, Father, but help our unbelief. Give us an undivided heart that we might fear Your Name above all else. Help us to shed the lies of the world and to clothe ourselves in the light of Your love and grace. Help us to keep boasting in our weakness, that You may perfect Your power in us here, as we proclaim the finished work of the Cross.

We thank You that even as our bodies, minds and hearts fail us, Your Son, in whom all Promises are yes and Amen, remains so strong in us. Thank You that You have placed the seal of Your Holy Spirit upon us, securing our eternal inheritance in You, and that nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus.

Help us to lift our frail selves up to You in His Name, again and again. Help us to trust You when You tell us that the light momentary affliction we are walking through here on earth is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Help us look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For we know that the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Help us not to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but to lay up for ourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Set our hearts on You, as we walk through the fire and are met by storms, that we may find hidden treasure in the darkness.

Thank You that You dwell here within us, in this secret place, created to be Your home: Your heart in us. Thank You that You have hidden us in the clefts of the rock to protect us from every scheme of the enemy. Thank You for the love of Jesus that has been shed abroad in our broken hearts to make us whole. Root us deeper in that love that we might live and move and have our being in You alone.

Thank You for Your great and wonderful promises. Help us to cleanse ourselves in the light of these Promises from everything that contaminates body and spirit. Help us to live our lives set apart for Your purpose in holy awe of You alone. Fulfill the prayer of Your Son in us and make us One in You.

As we come to Jesus, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by You and precious to You— build us like living stones into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to You through Jesus Christ, just as You have promised us in Your Word.

In the name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray,
Amen.



This is a poem written by Anna Smit and a prayer co-written by Bettie Gilbert and Anna Smit a long time ago, but a Scripture-infused poem and prayer that still express the praises and prayers rising up in our hearts today. For:

"We've no less days 
To sing God's grace
Than when we first
Began" 

A Winnowing

See not your failing 
See my wind blowing
Each point of collision
A lifting
Divinely appointed
To winnow the seed
In husks beautifully
Hidden, bursting forth
Through the breach
Long opened in my
Body broken to heal
Your every division.

A Winnowing was written in response to the d’Verse quadrille prompt with its roots resting in these Words.

A quadrille is a poem of 44 words (excluding the title), and it can take any form. This week’s challenge was to use the word ‘seed’ in a quadrille.

Hands of Mercy

Your hands hold
Me close
Your hands wrap
Around my coming

And going out again
Your hands know me
Each day of my life
Written in Your book.

Your hands let me go
But tethering me in grace
To the path You walked
Before me and behind me stay.

Your hands wrap around
My heart that is aching
To break
In Your mercy.

Laboring in kindness
Your hands teach me to trust
Again and again to let go
Into Your hands every part yielding.

Led by Your hands
You walk me into Your death and
Resurrection, again and again
To learn that I'm free.

Free to depart and choose You
To lay every accusation
Into Your hands
To arise afresh in Your mercy.

To go and bear fruit that abides
Dying to the old of my knowing
You teach me to rest in Your palm
To feel the holes deep in Your hands.

Now, Father, teach me to give
No longer judgment, but mercy
Break my chains of religion fully and
Wholly in Your Spirit abundance to flow.

My life and breath
Let them speak evermore
Of Your hands that were pierced
To hold us all together in mercy.

The Womb of Compassion

In what ways have you experienced a breaking? How has this breaking opened your eyes to more of who Jesus truly is? What story do your scars now tell?

My breath prayer this week has been a breathing in of “Remember” and breathing out of “Me”. 

Luke 22:14 ESV ‘And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”’

As I went running in the forest, my heart was heavy with shame, shame from an anger I couldn’t shake. So, I cried out, asking God to unravel my heart. To search and know me. The wisdom He gave me came in two steps. First, penning a letter of apology to myself, on behalf of the church. Then, writing a letter of thanks to Him for every point in my apology. 

As I wrote the apology, I was forced to name all the accusations of condemnation I had swallowed as truth, because I trusted men and women in positions of authority, above my holy God. Accusations that had made me feel unseen, unworthy, rejected, damaged goods and unwelcome in the Presence of God. 

As I wept profusely, feeling the pain of each wounding, the shame and pent up anger dissolved. I could now feel Jesus holding me in each and every situation I had once believed He had forsaken me. 

Then, as I sat to write the letter of thanks to God, I remembered what I had read that very morning. Moses refusing to continue the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness without the Presence of God going before him. It’s then I saw how Jesus was setting Himself before me with each thank You I penned. 

I saw how every step I had taken toward a breaking of His Body, became a breaking of my idols. Every time He commanded me to break friendships with fellow believers I idolized or physically leave their midst, God unveiled more of Himself to me.

Each breaking became an opportunity for God to write who He truly is on my heart. He was taking the Living Word I had ingested since I was a little girl and now returning it to me in a beautifully permanent inscription on my heart.

As I came to the end of my letter of thanks, I heard the Words: “Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me”. It’s then the tears flowed relentlessly down my cheeks. I knew exactly what He was saying. Every lie spoken over me and my loved ones in His Name, every Scripture wielded to wound me and the children I had immediately recognized as His, had broken His heart too. Because it was done unto Him also.

All those years I had wandered in my wilderness believing God had rejected me and those I loved, that all He wanted to do was hurt and kill me, He was walking before me, preparing the Way for my heart’s deepest desires to be fulfilled: to know who He truly is in the breaking of the bread. To have my eyes opened, just like the disciples on the way to Emmaus. To recognize that His fire had never ever stopped burning in me. That He had never ever stopped holding me, and those I recognized as His, in the palm of His nail-scarred hands.

May you be blessed by this beautiful worship song today that illustrates the power of Christ’s nail-pierced hands and feet. Christ carried the holes in His feet and hands, even after the resurrection, forever reminding us of His mercy poured out at the Cross.

I believe as Jesus exchanges our idols for Himself, through the breaking of His Body, He bows our knees at the Cross. As we enter into His suffering there, we taste and pour out His mercy. Then, the wounds that we once hid in shame, in the light of Jesus, become healed scars of mercy. They become a testimony to His blood shed at the Cross for us.

For, in our surrender, we receive the Body – with Christ at its Head, as One. Fully healed, whole and complete, according to the faith our God has given us. For, He opens our eyes to see what He sees.

It’s then our stories powerfully declare His compassion to a yearning world, through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. Beautifully the word for mercy and compassion in Hebrew comes from the word “womb” and so when we speak of God’s compassion we literally speak of the love a mother has for her unborn child in the womb. Isn’t that beautiful?!

In what ways have you experienced a breaking? How has this breaking opened your eyes to more of who Jesus truly is? What story do your scars now tell?

Isaiah 12 (ESV) You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me. “Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord,
    call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

With thanks to Reverend Summer at The Presence Project, who invited me to contribute as a Table Host a couple of years ago, and for whose Facebook group I originally wrote this post that now appears in its newly edited form.

This is the sixth installment of Anna Smit’s personal testimony to the love and mercy of Jesus. These installments of her testimony are God’s answer to all of us who have walked a path of trauma and heartache, believing our God has abandoned us. For He has never ever forsaken us and He wants us to know it, and to see the fingerprints of the Cross – and His unending love for us – all over our lives. For the first installment see: Love Never Ends

Sovereign

(drafted 2017, completed 2021)

Gather, You tell me
Gather, my broken dreams?
Gather, my heart broke in two?
Gather, all I've poured and emptied out?
Gather, here my broken self?

What do I gather?
When all I have is broken
Shattered?
Mara, she said to call her
Mara is the word I'd choose
A bitter hand dealt.

Gather, You tell me
Gather, Your tears here for me wept?
Gather, Your heart here broke for me?
Gather, all You've poured and emptied?
Gather, Word made flesh?

It's then I see You
There beside me strong
Hand in mine
Walking to the Cross

Your Body broken
Shame and mocking
On You laid
Pierced and bled in pain
In the tomb You lay.

Till Your heavens
Darkness rent
Curtain raised,
Now in two
I hear You rip.

Christ, You raise
My broken life
In the breaking
Of Your Body
Me from my tomb
In life unwrap
Your songs are releasing me
My human soul
You awakening
Breathing whole.

Embraced in love
Steeled in truth
Sent in Grace's
Own true Breath
Into Your world
Yearning for You:
I AM mercy's hands
And mercy's feet.

Broken,
You make whole again
Dark,
You shine our night to Light
Tears,
You cup and pour to Joy aflame
Fear,
You still in Perfect Peace
Our feet,
On righteous path
You tread
Sure and steadfast
Held.

Gather, You tell me.
YES I shall gather
The tears You wept for us.
The heart You broke for us.
All You've poured and emptied into us
Your Body
We shall now receive
For The Word is made flesh.

Garden of My Lord
Enclosed and sealed
For a time such as this
Your spring, You are breaking
Your fountains
Are crashing and pouring
For, Your Love You've gathered
Now to rush and pour
Sovereign
For Your own delight in us.

Thank You, Jesus!


“You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain” (Song of Songs 4:12).

Delight

How can I rest
How can I open
My palms, let go
And rest?


How can I receive
The Word
That says You delight
In me?


When Your Word in me
Has turned backs on me
Silenced, shunned
And shamed I AM.


How can I
Receive
Delight
In that?


Am I not a mistake
Fatally flawed
Don't the turning backs
Only affirm?


"Oh my child
Each turning back
Only affirms My heart
Of love and mercy in you.



"Acknowledge Me
In all of your Ways
Make firm the path
Of My anointing.



"Let me shed
The old and unfitting
Welcome each petal
Gently befitting.



"See now
The lily of the valley
Arising atop of the hill
Set before you.


"Receive
The wind's blowing
The river flowing
From My throne on high.


"In each
Setting apart
Unwrap the gift
Freely given.


"Be not afraid
When you hear
The heart
Of Christ knocking.


"See My face
And Body
On every street
Turning.


"Toward the hand
Rejected by man
Those feet
Trembling lame.


"And coming
Hand in hand
My Bride
Unto Me.


"Fully known
And unblemished
Healed and
United whole.



"Arise
And shine
My land betrothed
On a hill.


"You are
Eternally blooming
In the light
Of Your Groom.


"From everlasting
To everlasting
Come let Me
Welcome you: home!



"Delight
In Me
For I delight
In you.



'You will also be [considered] a crown of glory and splendor in the hand of the L ord , And a royal diadem [exceedingly beautiful] in the hand of your God.'
It will no longer be said of you [Judah], “Azubah (Abandoned),”
Nor will it any longer be said of your land, “Shemamah (Desolate)”;
But you will be called, “Hephzibah (My Delight is in Her),”
And your land, “I.e. Beulah, pronounced Be-oo-lah.Married”;
For the Lord delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married [owned and protected by the Lord].
Isaiah 62: 3 - 4 (AMP)

As I put the finishing touches on this poem, with the line: “Welcome you: Home”, this song began playing:

At random and then this:

I love it when God sings back to me, affirming His heart in every Word He speaks to me.

Rest

I listen
In the stillness
Gleaning
Cadence of the hooves
Songs of morning birds
Gleaning love
Abandoned in the rush.

I settle in Your seat
Remembering
The waves
The rush and crash
And seeing
How You
Wept.

Tears
For every moment
I withheld my trust
Believing
Holding tight
Is faith.

Oh precious
In Your sight
Are those
Who die to self
Who know they are

Welcome here.

Welcome
As the waves return
Lapping, crashing
Thunderous
There they come.

Welcome
To lean
Upon the Rock
And not succumb
But in Your arms
Become.

For in the stillness
In the listening
So far
From striving's tongue
You're teaching me
Who You
Truly are.

A Father
So tender
A Love
Full of mercy
Who holds me
In His arms
As our tears
Release.

For faith
Is not my own
But Your laboring
In me.

It's believing
Not in my
Own strength
But in the One
Whose love in me
Speaks
Steadfast, sure.

A sun-drenched warmth
Beneath my feet
The sun here shimmering
In morning's light
A testament
To Your mercies
New every morning
That carry me
In wave after wave
Into love everlasting.

And so I remain here
Seeking the quiet
And let the waves return
My heart now cleaving
To Your heart
Washing my face
With the tears of our longing
Awakening life.

I listen
In the stillness
Gleaning
Cadence of the hooves
Songs of morning birds
Gleaning Your heatbeat
Never abandoned
My God is always with me.


Isaiah 51:11 (WEB)
The ransomed of Yahweh shall return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Photo: from my own personal collection, taken in a local forest here in the Noord Holland province of the Netherlands.

Make Me A Table

Make me a table 
In You
Spread me out
Far and wide.

Make me a feast
In You
Food and clothing
You.

Make me a table
In You
The bread of Your Presence
Breaking our prisons.

Make me a table
In You
Living water flowing freely
A cool drink for the thirsty.

Make me a table
In You
Your cup ever overflowing
In goodness and mercy.

Make me a table
In You
The oil of compassion
Anointing children, Yours.

Make me a table
In You
Spread far and wide
In Your Presence to feast.

Thanks to Jonathan Borba @jonathanborba for making the profile photo for this post available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/RWgE9_lKj_Y