Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 5: Here I Am, Send Me

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies 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, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Have you ever reflected on the end of Moses’ life? Of God taking him home, rather than allowing him to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land? Recently, I have been doing so. A prophetic Word of encouragement I listened to, caused me to pray for God to humble me and show me what part I have played in His decision to call me out of particular places and break friendships with particular people.

After each breaking, He led me to so much repentance and into more and more healing. But as I prayed this time, I invited Him to help me see the full picture and to help me shift my focus from His protection of me to His love for His church. As I did so, He brought to mind various instances, where rather than directly confronting people He asked me to, I chose to do it “my way”. I walked in fear and pride, rather than in faith and love. I skirted around the issue, rather than confronting it directly.

He also reminded me of how I had clung to my pain, blaming my brothers and sisters in Christ for it, rather than inviting Him to heal the wounds the enemy had inflicted upon me. He showed me how He purposely uncovered and exposed these wounds in me through each fresh attack, not to hurt me, but to heal me: to teach me to see with His eyes and to fight in the Spirit and not in my flesh.

He showed me that in taking me out of each place, just as He did with Moses, when he too became frustrated and angry at those God had sent him to shower His grace upon, He was not just protecting me, but He was also protecting my brothers and sisters in Christ from the unthankfulness and evil present in me. He continually led me out to take His grace deeper in my own heart and to invite me to bring Him my pain, piece by piece, that He might lift it from me, by the power of His Word to me.

As God brought the story of Moses to mind, He reminded me of the verses I had sat praying through at 2am for the day to come. In these verses, I discovered that the “unthankful” are those who have not experienced God’s grace and that the “evil” are those who are “pain-ridden”. As I prayed for those who have been openly hostile toward me (the meaning of enemies), I was convicted of my own open hostility toward others. God returned the Word I was praying over others to me, to draw me deeper into His grace and lift away my pain, in transforming my thoughts and my vision.

Only through the last breaking did I realize that the very thing that has frustrated and angered me most, has also been frustrating and angering my brothers and sisters in Christ. As I pointed the finger, God wanted me to see the log in my own eyes: my own unwillingness to acknowledge the grace He has repeatedly poured out upon me and to bring Him my pain that He might heal my festering wounds.

Interestingly, the day before I had wept in thankfulness for God’s grace for me, as joy filled me to overflowing. And what had I prayed through that morning? A verse that included the Word “joy” that I discovered in this instance, according to the Bible lexicon I consulted, literally meant acknowledging and recognizing God’s grace in our lives.

As I reflected on that once more, my heart was so convicted at my lack of thankfulness for God’s grace in each decision I made to become angry and frustrated at my brothers and sisters. Like Moses, I had fled as a young person. I had run into the desert, after taking matters into my own hands to “save” my brother, and failing miserably.

Moses had murdered a man to take revenge for the harm inflicted upon his brothers in the LORD. I had murdered too – for Christ tells us that anyone harboring hatred in his heart toward another is guilty of murder also. I had harbored hatred toward those spreading false teaching, who I saw as responsible for my parents’ decision to discipline in the flesh, rather than in the Spirit of God, a decision that caused considerable harm to my adopted brother.

And I now realize, by not confessing that hatred when He brought me home to Him, I allowed it to grow and fester, rather than allowing God to free me from it and fill me with His love, in remembering His grace to me. Ironically in my own hatred, frustration and anger, I have been lifting myself up above God and I have been striving in pride, rather than abiding in the Vine: exactly what I have accused others of in their decision to support and spread the false teaching.

Like Moses, I too experienced the depths of God’s grace as He met me in my weakness and sin. As He chose to descend in power into my midst to lead me back home and into His purposes for my life. But also like Moses, I became unthankful and evil, as I chose to do things my way and not God’s.

Like Moses, I never wanted to be God’s mouthpiece. Perhaps, Moses, like me, assumed that his people would struggle to receive someone they saw as being undeserving of God’s favor, someone who had been lifted out of captivity and showered in the riches of God’s grace. And perhaps Moses, like me, was resting too much in his own lack of status amongst his people and his inability to persuade them, when he asked another to speak for him, rather than trusting God to speak through him and perfect His power in Moses’ weakness.

Crazily it is precisely the extravagance of God’s grace poured out upon us in our sin that best equips us to become His missionaries. For, as God’s Word reminds us: “he who is forgiven little, loves little.” But we who know the extravagance of God’s love and mercy – woe to us, when we forget our first love and do not recognise how far we have fallen from God’s grace.

Yes, like Moses, despite God extending me such incredible grace, I chose to have others speak for me and to get frustrated and angry at my brothers and sisters, rather than doing exactly what my God had commanded me to do. It broke my heart reflecting upon that today. But my fresh experience of God’s grace in my discouragement yesterday and remembering the mercy God showed to Moses after he was buried, fills me with hope that God can still make something beautiful of the mess I have made.

Do you recognize yourself in any of my fresh convictions? If so, I invite you to join me in prayer.

Father, thank You that You are slow to anger and rich in mercy toward us. Forgive me for not doing exactly what You asked me to do in the past. Forgive me for leaning into fear and pride, rather than into the arms of Your Son and the faith and love He was waiting to fill me with by the power of His Word to me.

Forgive me for pointing the finger, and choosing not to address the log in my own eyes. Forgive me for not confessing my own sins and pain and not trusting You to speak through me and to perfect Your power in my weakness. Thank You for setting me apart to make me holy as You are holy. Thank You for continuing to pursue me and call me into Your purposes for my life. Thank You for perservering in love and mercy toward me.

Father, Your Word tells us:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

Father, I confess my unbelief. I confess that I have not believed that You will reward me for diligently seeking You and Your will. Forgive me for fearing my own lack of status, inability and weakness above Your holy Name. Forgive me for resting in myself, rather than in Jesus and His love for me and the Church. Forgive me for becoming weary of doing good.

Father, here I am, just as I am. Weak, needy and without any standing before my brothers and sisters, but ready for You to use me, mould me and shape me, as I do what You ask of me. I invite You to send me out afresh. But as You do so, help me to stay like a little child before You.

Keep me humble, rooted in Your love and affections. Whenever I turn to the left or to the right, thank You that I will hear a Voice from behind saying: “This is the Way, walk in it.” Embolden me to walk in it.

Cause me to be more in awe of Your power and might than in my own lack of status, weakness and inability that I might do exactly what You ask of me, without waivering in unbelief and pride. Do not allow me to get angry or frustrated at my brothers and sisters, nor to condemn myself and spiral into shame, but continually lead me to repentance that I might abide in You and Your love for me and Your Church.

Continually remind me of Your overwhelming grace toward me that I might turn toward You in my need and receive the grace that You long to pour back out of me onto my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to be slow to anger and quick to listen to You and Your Word to me.

Cause me to not just listen but do every Word You speak to me. Cause me to release every accusation of the enemy that I might dwell secure and be at ease, without dread of disaster. That I might love others freely and without expectation because You first loved me and will always love me in that way.

In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Isaiah 6:4-8 (ESV)

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 4: An Irrevocable and Coming Kingdom

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies 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, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Recently, I was so struck by the childlike faith of Corrie ten Boom in an old interview. She reminded me that God’s peace – a joining of all broken parts into a whole in Jesus- is birthed in the confession of our weakness and sin, as we invite Jesus to meet us in our need and to fill us with Himself. 

As she was put in solitary confinement for four months, she noticed her discouragement growing, so what did she do? She simply confessed her sin of discouragement and asked Jesus to help her. And He did. 

Each time she came afresh in her confessions of sin and weakness, Christ met her and filled her with fresh hope, faith and peace. She explained how until that time in isolation, she hadn’t really gotten to know Jesus, but that during that time He invited her to let Him become her hiding place, a hiding place that sustained her through the many trials still awaiting her in a concentration camp thereafter.

As I listened, my heart was both convicted and blessed. It made me see how recently I have become discouraged, and how in not confessing it, I have stopped coming with my whole heart before God. But as I simply confessed my own sins of discouragement and unbelief, in response to Corrie ten Boom confessing hers, something so precious unfolded. God lifted the accusations of the enemy I didn’t even realize I was believing, as He showered me in His affections.

He did so, by reminding me of one time after another, where He had set me apart in the past to hide me in Himself and to have me walk into His purposes for my life that were so much greater than I had wanted to settle for.

It’s then, I knelt back down to pick up the Promises He had only recently spoken over me, just before He had set me apart once again. Promises I had let go of, as I clung to the enemy’s accusations, even as what He had spoken over me has amazingly begun to unfold before me.

It’s then, I realized that I just could not believe that He would indeed do what He has promised me, because what He has promised me requires a miracle and my complete surrender. I just couldn’t believe that His love for me and my loved ones could go that very deep. But just like our God, what Scripture did He drop into my inbox, as He uncovered my doubts:

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” MATTHEW 16:15-17 NIV

If you’ve been following along with us, you will have noted that I had only just published a piece quoting this verse. But what I didn’t tell you is that it is also part of another book – Celebrate Jesus: His Veil Fills the Temple – that God had asked me to write 4 years ago about my Prodigal journey home that I finished, in its first draft, a few days ago.

This is a book I didn’t want to write, but a book He knew would heal me in the writing. Why? Because He showed me that His wounds have paid my ransom. That the cost I wasn’t willing to pay to walk into His purposes for my life, as I denied Him at every turn just like the disciple Peter, He paid for me. So that like Peter, I would come to deep down know I am my Beloved’s and He is mine – and that nothing could ever take away His hand upon my life and upon all those He has called according to His purposes.

From the outset I was called, chosen and destined to walk into the purposes of my God. For, His purposes for us – His children – are irrevocable. Not even our repeated denials of Him can ever undo what God has already finished at the Cross.

Just like Aaron and Moses discovered, when some of their brothers in the LORD became jealous of the undeserved favor God was pouring out upon them, I too discovered, as I wrote this new book, that God does not change His mind about those on whom He has chosen to pour out His favor and those whom He has called according to His purposes. And He will not stand by silent, when the enemy attempts to shut us down with his accusations. Christ will avenge His elect in the budding of a staff. Why? To reveal that that staff that has always been leading and guiding us has in fact never ever been our own, but His.

And this is a staff that leads us – and others through us – into the valley of the shadow of death, not to harm us, but to awaken us unto new life, as we join Christ in His death and resurrection. For, our Savior longs to open our hearts more and more to see by faith and to walk into His irrevocable calling upon our lives – to above all seek first the Kingdom of our God and His righteousness.

Perhaps, like me, you grew up singing this beautiful hymn:

It was one my Dad chose for my Mum’s funeral in 2014. And of the many old hymns, it is this one that came to mind, as I sat writing to you. For, O what peace [I] often forfeit,
O what needless pain [I] bear,
all because [I] do not carry
everything to God in prayer!

And yet, even still, our faithful God has never ever left my side. My whole life. Instead, He has kept extending His hand toward me, calling (Matthew 11:28, KJV):

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

And it’s now, I can see my Dad’s prayerful longing for me as a Prodigal being fulfilled in my life. He penned a letter to me speaking of God’s calling upon our lives requiring two vital ingredients – mercy and the courage to do hard things. He told me He could see I had the first in great measure and that He understood that the second was a difficult one.

But now I know that second one, just as the first, is impossible for man. But, as Jesus reminds us in His Word: “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27, KJV). For, we serve a mighty God who does what He promises. Nothing can undo what He has already finished upon the Cross for us all.

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 3: Break the Night

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a poem the LORD gifted her in her weakness and need. It testifies 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.

who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV)
Break the Night

Do you hear
The voices speak of you
As too broken
And frail?

Too foolish
And shameful
My holy Word
To wield?

Cut down
Each step you take
As in My purposed Way
You walk.

Now still
My child
Feel My heart
Burn within.

Your blessed
Childlike soul
Your inmost being
Praises still.

Fearfully
And wonderfully
From the womb
Overshadowed.

My Word
In Spirit breath
Is flaming
You alive.

For, the foolish
Of this world
I have chosen
To shame the wise.

The weak
Of this world
I have chosen
To confound the strong.

Do not dim Your lamp
But shine it brightly
For all to glorify
My Son in you.

I've created you
To unleash
My glory
And praise.

Trust Me
Child
You're spoken for
You're Mine.

I am your light
Your shield
Your glory and
The lifter of your head.

For, I am
Your portion
Your Rock
And Redeemer.

Arise and shine
You're sent
To shine your light
And break the night!

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:7-18 (ESV)

Behold, at that time I will deal

    with all your oppressors.

And I will save the lame

    and gather the outcast,

and I will change their shame into praise

    and renown in all the earth.

Zephaniah 3:19 (ESV)

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.

I now see how the Holy Spirit has lifted me up into positions of authority, when I, by the grace of God at work in me, have followed the law of God. But then I have become prideful, denying that it was always the grace of God that enabled me to fulfill the law and that He had lifted me up and not me and my goodness. 

I began to see myself as the head and as oh so deserving of all the gifts for “all I have had to suffer through and give up”, turning my back on the greatest gift of all- Jesus and His love for me – compared to whom all else is rubbish. But praise God, He has never allowed me to stay in that position of pride, just as He didn’t allow Peter either.

He has repeatedly humbled me, repeatedly removing the chaff of self, as He has pressed my knees to the ground to die to myself and to sow unto the Spirit. As John 12:24 (ESV) 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.

When I came back to faith, I believed I was called to and could draw others to Christ by my good example. So, God repeatedly invited me into situations that exposed my need for His grace and healing. It’s then, as He had me confess my sins before unbelievers, and they responded with such warmth and compassion, confessing their own weakness and sin also, that I began to see that it is His Spirit in me that is drawing me and others closer and closer to Jesus.

Sadly, after my symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder disappeared, I glorified my healing, my church friends and the steps I had taken to get to that place of healing. I even began to believe God had called me to show others “how to heal”. So, in His kindness to me, God brought new trauma triggers to bring me to my knees, to expose my desperately deceitful heart and to remind me who my only Savior, Rock and portion is.

It was like He was asking me: “Anna, are you telling me you can teach people how to heal themselves?! How dare you set yourself up as an idol for others to bow before. How dare you glorify yourself and not Me.” Oh how deeply humbling it was for me, as God led me to confess my sins, one after another, and to speak of His love and grace for me in my weakness and need.

But when God called me to leave my church, rescuing me from the spiritual abuse I was experiencing and the resulting division in my heart, I spiraled into shame. I clothed myself in the enemy’s accusations and reverted to fighting back in the flesh. 

I began hiding in self-righteousness, so I could again “belong” to a local church body that I saw as being a necessary component to “belonging” to God. And I sought honor and approval in the world – via jobs – to compensate for the humiliation I felt, in having nothing left to “do” and “prove my worth”, as I began to let go of God’s beautiful Word to me, just as I did as a teenager.

But, God ever so patiently just kept taking me in and out of these places I longed to go. He never took away my free will, but rather, restored it to me so that through my falling down and His catching of me, I would learn to trust Him and seek His leading. Through each new place He took me, He compelled me to surrender my idols, one by one, and to take back my self-control in Him, so I could bring free will offerings before Him. 

Free-will offerings rooted in His love for me, rather than religious sacrifices induced by fear and shame. In giving me what I thought I wanted and needed, He in fact uncovered the true desires of my heart to know Him. 

To know this Jesus who is patient, who is kind. This Jesus who does not envy, who does not boast, who is not proud. This Son of God who does not dishonor others, who is not self-seeking, who is not easily angered, who keeps no record of wrongs. This God who does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. This Messiah who always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And to know that I can always trust His judgment that is sent to heal me and to reveal His heart of flesh that is beating inside of me even now.

He has patiently yielded me to His good and perfect will, feeding me His pure and unadulterated Word to root me in the truth of His love for me, and to lead me to repentance. And He has showered me in His pride, every time I have humbled myself in obedience beneath His mighty hand.

I remember after God compelled me to leave one employer after only a month, how He woke me up to go downstairs in the middle of the night to pray for my former boss. As I bowed low on the floor to pray, in response to God’s prompting, God’s love, compassion and mercy just began to pour out of me for this man, and I literally felt oil pour out on my head and the hand of Jesus rest upon my head. It was such an incredible experience. 

And yet even then, as I shared about this all with a church-going friend that I wanted to like me, I boasted in my own strength and goodness. I put myself on a pedestal for praying for my enemy: when it was in fact GOD who had brought that surrender in me.

I wanted her to approve of me, and I wanted to belong to her church community, I had started sporadically attending. But God later showed me, that in my desire to belong to that place, I was hiding His beautiful light. I was keeping my mouth shut, when He was calling me to open it wide to declare His Name. I was continually retreating behind a mask of self-righteousness to remain acceptable. In denying His Name and the finished work of the Cross, I caused division in my heart, a division that triggered trauma in me, leading me to speak up and to go and bear fruit that abides.

A few days later I sat bemoaning that employer yet again before unbelieving friends of ours. I was seeking to save face after once again being jobless, when God had only just showered me in honor to show me that I am no victim, but a victor in Christ Jesus, not sent to glorify myself in the world, but Him, in my humility.

I hadn’t learnt the lesson God had wanted to teach me through all of this: Psalm 16:2 “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Yet, beautifully, one of those present said something that so deeply convicted my heart in response that God led me to repentance through it.

No, there is NOT one ounce of goodness in me apart from God. But that is the beautiful and freeing thing to realize, isn’t it? I can never, in fact, be holy apart from Christ. Oh I still have moments I forget this beautiful truth, as pride rises in me. But praise God He always rises to defend me – to compel me to clothe myself in His holiness that is mine in Christ Jesus, as I bow low in repentance. 

It has always been Jesus yielding me in surrender to His will. Now, I know my Heavenly Papa was not ashamed of me in each breaking, but oh so proud of me for taking up my Cross to follow Him.

For, that is in fact what shines the face of Jesus upon others in their own weakness. Upon those whose hearts have been tilled to receive the truth and grace of God. No, those who long to know Jesus won’t ever find Him in my self-righteousness, in my pedestal living, nor in me puffing myself up in my positions in ministry or the workforce, and striving. They and I will see Jesus most in my repentance: in Christ’s holiness transforming me from glory to glory.

All along, I have always been in the hand of God. And yet sadly, I was constantly seeking church leaders, church friends, various self-help programmes (Christian and non-Christian) and worldly or church standing to “rescue me” and lift away the shame I felt at my weakness and sin being “put on display”. All along Christ was inviting me to become less that He might become more and more visible in me.

I didn’t deep down know in my heart that God has always had me safely in His hand – even all those years I walked as a Prodigal, believing Jesus had abandoned me. Now, I know that all of this humbling was sent to teach me – and others through me – to trust Jesus and to deep down know that He has already walked before us and that He will never ever forsake us.

Praise God, that each place He sent me, He lifted me up to winnow the beautiful golden seeds of His Word in me. Lifting off the chaff of my prideful old self, the heavier seeds of glory dropped into the good soil of His heart for me, to join Christ in His death and resurrection that each one might break open unto new life in God’s beautiful timing. 

I now see the beautiful fruit of repentance He has been growing in me: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I can now see and praise God for the blossoming staff of His leading in my life and heart. 

To the world my life (and my ailing health) looks like a failure, but I now know to God, my “failures” are proof of His workmanship – His labor of love in me. For, each surrender was wrought by His holiness in me, to yield a harvest of peace in me. And the suffering I am bearing in my body, as my heart begins to reveal the impact of the trauma triggers, is proof to me that I am filling up in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. So that I may declare the glory of Him who has called me out of darkness into His glorious light.

Jesus has proven to me that He will never leave or forsake us, but remain with us, lifting off our every fear and our every burden of sin, loss and pain, as He leads us to die to ourself and live unto Him. A living and breathing that causes us to flourish, as we become who He has created us to be.

Our Emmanuel is with us, always. He is our portion, our eternal inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High King. As we delight in Him, may He continue to lift off the chaff of our old self to reveal Himself: the true desires of our heart. May we receive Jesus: the only One worthy of our praise.

Philippians 4:8 KJV Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

John 12:24 (KJVVerily, 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, will you take a moment with me to ask God to search and know our hearts that He may reveal which Promises from His Word are failing to take root in our hearts because we have been placing our faith in something or someone other than Him – and not allowing Him to sow that seed into His steadfast heart of love inside of us.

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 7: My All in All

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our final free will offering of goats’ hair (cursed sin offering) in a poem testifying to the power of the Cross. Jesus Christ has exchanged sin’s thorny affliction for life everlasting, in His atoning sacrifice for us all. Praise Him! Anna also welcomes you to sing an old hymn of thanksgiving with her, a song Anna sung at her mother’s funeral, who went to be with the LORD in 2014.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

COLOSSIANS 3:1-2 (NIV)
Beautiful but thorny dune flowers
My All in All



In the thorns piercing

Again and again and again


I remember

My shame.


But You

You remember

A covenant new.


You remember

My sin

No more.


You remember

Your Son's blood

Covering me.


You remember

Grace


You remember

Your daughter

Adopted, Yours.


And now

You're teaching me

To remember too


To remember

Your Word.


To remember

A crown of thorns piercing

Again and again and again.


To remember

Love pouring forth

From a Cross.


To remember

Rejoicing.


To remember

A cloak.



To remember

A ring.


To remember

A table set

In the presence of my enemies.


To remember

Oil

Pouring on my head.


To remember

In each and every thorn

I have always found

And will always find

More of


You.



More

Grace upon grace.



More

Mercies

New every morning.



More

Compassion

That faileth not.



More

Faithfulness

In my faithlessness.


More

Perfect Love

Driving out all my fear.


More

Power

Perfected in my weakness.



For, You're teaching me

To embrace You

As:



My LORD

My Husband

My Maker.


The Lover of my soul

My Best Friend

My Rock and Redeemer.



My Savior

My shield

My refuge and the Lifter of my head.



My sword of truth

My helmet of salvation

My shield of faith

My breastplate of righteousness

And my shoes of peace.



My

All in all.




Thanks to Mark Boss @vork for making the photo used in the graphic available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/dONAV335IGQ

casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 3: The Greatest of these is Love

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our third free will offering of goats’ hair (cursed sin offering) in a testimony to Christ’s mercy flowing in and through her Mum’s life and legacy of love. You can also listen to today’s post in the recording below.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV)

When we buried my Mum, I glorified her as my idol of perfection and sacrificial living. But in the years since saying goodbye to her, more than anything, I’ve come to treasure her open confessions of sin and weakness in her final weeks on earth. It is the truth of Christ having become my cursed sin offering that I have most needed to deep down know, just as my Mum did in those final weeks especially.

When my Mum was dying, she shared of her failure to set and keep healthy boundaries, and how it damaged her emotional and physical well-being, inevitably also impacting her ability to parent us kids, as she would have liked to. She impressed upon my heart not to follow the “bad example I was to you girls”, to prioritize my own health and well-being as a mother, so I could parent my girls well. This piece of advice has so often encouraged me to listen to the Holy Spirit’s gentle and grace-filled promptings, to surrender my religious striving and to enter the rest of God.

My Mum also shared of having failed my little adopted brother. She spoke of her regrets in punishing him, when in hindsight, what he had needed most in that place of rebellion was someone who stilled to notice what lay beneath: the trauma and heartache of his past. But in her own pain and frustration, as this little boy she longed to bond with and love as her own continually rejected her moves toward him in love, her heart had hardened.

My heart still grieves for my little brother, as he continues to heal, but now, I also see the beauty God brought through the unfulfilled ache my Mum carried for so many years. For, my Mum reached out to love and care for numerous other little children that others couldn’t cope with, in the years thereafter. She was known as the preschool teacher to give the “difficult kids” to. And she was also known for coming alongside the parents of these “difficult” kids. Several of the parents of these kids were going through really hard things themselves, many of them being solo-Moms.

I have no doubt that the ache in her heart from her experiences with my little brother drove her to give love in places she never would have otherwise gone. I believe this ache compelled her to love children and parents the world had turned their back on and to study counseling in her final years on earth. Something that also encouraged me to seek help, when I first began to experience the symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Through that diploma programme, God also opened my Mum’s eyes to see my little brother’s rebellion with new eyes in her final months on earth. She wept and wept in repentance, watching films of children who went through similar trauma to my little brother. My brother had spent his first fifteen months in an orphanage in Romania, being given up mere days after his birth.

She shared how her course exposed her to these videos, the very counseling course she had chosen to do to help others. However, when she received her diploma in her final months on earth, she shared in her graduation speech that she hadn’t realized how much healing her own heart had needed. But I believe God always did.

Beautifully the brain cancer she suffered from in her final months, took away her social filter and in fact helped her to speak up boldly and seek restoration. My little brother’s heart opened wide to receive the grace he had so longed for. And he in turn extended it to my Mum also, in great thankfulness to God.

That lifted social filter also helped my Mum to speak the truth to someone whose actions had placed our family in a very stressful situation, upon our return from the mission field. All those years the betrayal she had felt had deeply hurt her heart, just as many other things had done that she had chosen to sweep under the carpet to “do the right thing”. My Mum showed me the importance of God’s command to us through His Word, not to sweep things under the carpet to be “good Christians”, but to let the sword of truth bring true peace and not a worldly peace, built upon hiding behind masks.

As Ephesians 4:25 (ESV) puts it:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Now, I am learning to put her example of true godly peace making into action. It has been an incredibly painful experience at times, even leading to a loss of some friendships. But I am also seeing how it is reaping the fruit of true peace in my heart and in my relationships.

I am seeing what a gift it is, not just to me, but to those who genuinely love me, when I choose to be real, rather than the “good girl”. It has also encouraged others to be honest with me, giving me the opportunity to grow up in the truth and grace of God.

And the friendships I have lost have truly been God’s gift also. They have opened my eyes to God’s protection of my heart, to His safe boundaries for me and my family and they have drawn me closer to God. Through each loss, God has encouraged me to bring my pain and every accusation of the enemy before Him, to allow Him to comfort me, cleanse me of all sin and to root me in the Promises of His Word.

It has been a slow process with this stubborn and slow learner. At times I have allowed the pain to compel me to turn back to “try and fix” things that God has commanded me to surrender fully into His hands. Thankfully, God gave me a husband whose strength is speaking the truth in love.

Slowly, I am learning to trust God’s living Word to me, above my own thinking, as He is transforming my mind to think like Him. The Holy Spirit is revealing the Word to me from moment to moment, helping me to set aside my religious thinking that would have me numb my pain, strive in pride and pretend to “be good”. The Holy Spirit is prompting me instead, through Scripture, to come boldly before the throne of grace in my time of need and to surrender myself and others into His hands.

God worked most powerfully in and through my Mum, when she was at her weakest. As she lay dying, unable to speak, eat or even wink, love poured out of her, through the palpable peace of God covering her. A peace that God used to open my own blinded Prodigal eyes to His love and mercy for me and my family.

As God went about healing my Mum’s heart in quiet and unseen ways, He was also busy healing others through her and He continues to do so today: through her very much living testimony to His love and grace. My Mum’s life shows me that when we give our lives to Jesus, it’s no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in and through us. Through us sinful and broken people who only see but in part on this earth. For, Christ’s life and love continually flows into and out of us, in ways I don’t think we will fully comprehend until heaven. But isn’t this foretaste already so glorious!

On Mum’s tomb stone, my Dad had the following quote inscribed from a dear friend of theirs: “When you were with Margaret, you knew you were loved.” And that love of God that poured out of my Mum, especially in her open confession of sin and weakness and her truth telling, is still wrapping around me as a warm blanket today.

It encourages me in my own weakness and sin, to draw near, to be honest and to choose to feel and process my emotions and experiences at the feet of Jesus. Yes, true love – Jesus and His Presence with us – never ends. Not even death can silence His Voice nor the steadfast assurance we have in Christ Jesus of seeing our loved ones again.

So, now, I do not make as much of my Mum’s sacrificial living as a missionary, pastor’s wife and as someone who poured herself out to help so many others in their need. I see her greatest legacy not being her sacrifice as a missionary or ministry worker, nor even her sacrifice as a Mom of six children (and that was no mean feat!), but rather, Christ’s atoning sacrifice for her and for our family in our weakness and need. For, Christ, our Potter, is still to this day making something beautiful of His jars of clay through His legacy of love in my Mum that shall never end.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV) But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 2: In the Hollow of His Hands

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our second free will offering of goats’ hair in a testimony to God’s faithfulness in our faithlessness.

When my parents decided to return to New Zealand, after almost six years as missionaries and church planters in Germany, it meant saying goodbye to the only place I could remember as home. On the eve of our departure, my elementary teacher gave me a goodbye present. A heart-shaped book, composed of threaded pages full of poems, messages, photos and drawings. 

Each classmate had created one page, but the page that is now engraved upon my memory, is my teacher’s. On her page there was a sketch of huge hands, palms wide open, holding a little sparrow.

That first year in New Zealand, I felt so out of place, with my strange accent and different way of speaking and doing things. Seeing my parents struggling with so much too, I shared very little with them, trying hard not to become an added burden to them. But God saw my need and gave me a new friend, who loved the LORD with childlike fervor.

What did her name mean?

Twin

Her name was a derivative of Thomas, a name which “appears to be related to the Greek noun τομη (tome), meaning a cutting or cleaving, which in turn comes from the verb τεμνω (temno), meaning to cut or cleave.” (Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Thomas.html#.X7x7Hjm0s0M).

It’s only now I see how, just as with the disciple Thomas, God was inviting me to touch the holes in His hands and feet. For, He wanted me to realize that the moment I had responded to the Father’s call to repentance as a little girl, He had bound Himself to me.

The holes in His hands and feet are evidence that (Isaiah 49:16, ESV): “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” On that Cross, Christ restored the breach in my walls of salvation. He became my cursed sin offering, bearing the penalty I should have borne, to atone for all my sins: past, present and future.

Although she only stayed for a year, God invited me through this friend to touch His nail-pierced hands and wounded side, to remember that His power is perfected in our weakness. Now, looking back, I can do so.

As a preteen, however, I agreed with the enemy’s doctrines and his accusations against me, and the more I did so, the more I hid in my sin and the more I was bathed in feelings of shame and unworthiness. I had faced rejection from those I loved and trusted most in speaking up for someone who couldn’t speak up for himself, and the enemy used this to feed me accusations of God’s abandonment. In my fear of man above God, I readily agreed to my accuser’s lies. But into all this, God gave me a new friend.

This friend openly shared her weakness with me and God’s nearness to her in it all, inviting me into a deeper walk with God. I remember my hunger and thirst for God growing. I remember moments of worship, where the Spirit of God descended powerfully, overwhelming me in kindness, gentle conviction and stunning grace. I remember the joy of my baptism at 12 years old.

But I also remember the humiliation and sting of rejection I felt, as I saw the response of someone I deeply respected to the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon me and my open confession of sin and weakness. I remember slowly retreating from God’s desire to draw me near, becoming fearful of the cost of the Holy Spirit’s anointing.

I did not recognize the honor God was seeking to bestow on me, in my setting apart, as He called me to bow my knees in humilty, in the confidence of His love and acceptance of me. Instead I chose to fear man’s rejection above my holy God, turning my back on the greatest gift of all.

I remember beginning to numb my pain by retreating from those around me, spending hours with my nose behind books. Then, several years later, I remember the terror that filled me as I committed the sin of masturbation, a sin I was too scared and too ashamed to confess to anyone. It’s then, as I listened to the enemy’s accusations against me more and more, I began to believe I was irredeemable and that God had rejected me for good.

I believe God gifted me that dear friend, who openly boasted in her weakness, to sing His truth over me. When I look back, I see His faithfulness to me in my faithlessness and His desire to uproot my confidence in myself and in the love and approval of man, to reroot me in His love and approval alone.

My new friend is now proof of God’s compassion and mercy to me. Her presence in my life reminds me that God’s mercies are new every morning. Now, I know that in my struggle to come to Jesus, I can cry out to my LORD to save me – again and again- and that He always will. For, He perfects His power in our weakness.

What did my new friend’s name mean?

God is an oath.

In my second year of high school, we moved towns and my father decided to send me to a non-Christian high school. Arriving in that second year at a huge city school, after four years at a little country Christian school, then still accompanied by my brothers and sisters, and now alone, had me feeling insecure and out of place. But even there God continued to sing His truth over me. A classmate welcomed me into her little group of friends.

What was the meaning of her name?

Bold kin or family.

God was reminding me that He is our Abba Father who boldly welcomes outsiders into His outstretched arms.

Months before this major transition and move, God also gave me another friend who would become my very best friend, and still is one of my two best friends today. Amazingly, our new home ended up being only a 5 minute bike-ride away from hers. She became one of our family and I became one of hers.

When I look back, I see God’s love and faithfulness to me in her friendship so much. She (and later her husband and children) never stopped loving me, welcoming me (and my family) into their life and praying for me (and my family) through my long Prodigal journey home. 

Oh don’t get me wrong, she grieved behind closed doors and her heart struggled to understand the path I was on, but she stood by me, being God’s faithfulness to me in my unfaithfulness.

What are the meanings of my best friend’s first and middle names?

Little rock and God is an oath

And what was the meaning of my elementary teacher’s name all those years earlier?

Downey one.

This is a reference to goats’ hair, a material that was once upon a time woven to make the curtains of the tabernacle furnishings. A durable fabric, designed to sustain the frequent moves of the tabernacle through the wilderness. And here again, God’s hand is so beautifully present through my teacher.

In Exodus 35:26 we hear that: “all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit had stirred my teacher’s heart up to draw those hands with the sparrow all those years before. 

For, it’s almost as if she was spinning goats’ hair to cover and hide me with Christ, on the eve of my departure into the wilderness. For, even through all those years of unbelief, God never ever took His Holy Spirit from me. He became the cursed sin offering on the Cross for me and my faithfulness in my faithlessness. And each friend who welcomed me into her midst is now physical proof to me that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

For, Christ was the hand of sufficient grace in my weakness. He was the hand of compassion, when I turned away in fear and shame. He was the hand of family, my bold kin who claimed me as His no matter where I went. He was the hand of truth, a rock and anchor for my slipping feet, even when I could not see Him. 

And He was the One who gave me eyes of faith to see and behold Him for who He truly is, in His perfect timing, when He had set me exactly where He wanted me, according to His purposes for my life. He has turned and still is turning the enemy’s attacks against me into good.

Now, as I look back, I can remember how He in fact never ever stopped praying through me. For, even as I stopped praying for myself, believing myself irredeemable, I kept praying for others around me – seeing them as worthy of God’s love and grace. 

Now, I know that all who call upon the Name of the LORD are saved, because we are all worthy of God’s love and grace. Not because we deserve it, but because the blood of Jesus does, the blood that was shed to hide us in the righteousness of God. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV) Yes! Our sinless Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) and “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, ESV).

And what was the name my parents gave me?

Anna Louise.

These names mean grace and famous warrior. Now, I know that grace and famous warrior is Jesus. For, it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Just as Peter, I have discovered that the name Jesus gave me reflects how God desires to build His church. Not by our might, nor by our power, but only ever by the Spirit of the LORD whose power is made perfect in our weakness. 

I believe Peter was called the rock because the moment Peter decided to follow Jesus, Simon (meaning “has heard”) died and Jesus – the Rock – arose in him, in response to him hearing the call of his Heavenly Father. And the gates of hell could never prevail against that. Just as they cannot prevail against any child of God’s.

For in giving our hearts to Jesus, we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). And “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14, ESV).

I now see how God never stops singing the truth over us in every little detail of our life. Through every heartache, loss and trial He reminds us that, just as His eye is upon the tiniest of sparrows, His eye remains on us too. He never leaves or forsakes us. For, all Promises are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2 KJV) As my Mum – who I had turned into my idol as a child – lay dying, God poured out His Holy Spirit upon me afresh. Then, this Comforter began to bring to remembrance all that Jesus had spoken to me throughout my life. Now, I am arising in the Word of God: no longer acknowledging man, but Christ and His sweet never-forsaking Presence (also in my Mum), and His saving grace for us all.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

Come, let’s celebrate the life of Jesus at work in us and our loved ones. Those huge hands, palms wide open, holding that tiny sparrow are His promise to each one of us.

That He sees us and knows us. That He hems us in, from behind and before. That He lays His hand upon us (Psalm 139:5). That wherever we go, His hand guides us and His right hand holds us fast (Psalm 139:9-10). That no one can ever snatch us out of His mighty hand (John 10:29, Isaiah 43:13).

Isaiah 57:15 (ESV) tells us: “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Are there gifts the LORD longs for you to receive in the meaning of place names or the names of people on your and your loved ones’ life journeys thus far? Is He longing to comfort Your heart, as you see His hand in the tiniest of details?

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

Isaiah 45:5-6 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 4: A Pleasing Offering

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of incense in Scriptures and a poem God poured out of her, as He began to expose her sinful heart, more and more, through each trigger of trauma. In that place of her weakness, He invited her to release her self-righteousness and self-sufficiency for His all-sufficient grace. She also shares a song she often finds herself singing in her home: a song her mother sung around her, when she was growing up, about the steadfast love and mercy of our LORD.

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)

As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations.

Ezekiel 20:41 (ESV)
A Pleasing Offering

What if we saw
Each tear
Each ache
Each unutterable cry
As gifts You ask us bring?

What if our offering
Is all that shame
And all that fear
Would have us hide and turn away?

What if incense sweet
Is not of human strength
But of broken heart
Contrite and bowed here low?

What if depths of me
Met depths of You
In alabaster broken
Poured here at Your Mighty feet?

What if clothed in shame
I stretched to touch
Your garment pure
And power filled me here?

What if all You've ever asked
Is that I come
Just as I am
Broken, in need of my True Friend?

What if Dove descends
And Eagle soars
In all that's broken
True?

LORD, here I am
A sinner
Broken, weak, in desperate need
These gifts I bring to you
My offering, pleasing sweet.

"Child," I hear your Voice
In cloud now raised
My feet here bowed
On Holy ground so pure.

"Arise in Christ
Forgiven, free
See now My face
In Yours."

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-50 (KJV)

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

Part 2: Chapter 3 – Day 5: Not by Might, Not by Power

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 2‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of gold in the form of poetry and a testimony to God’s perfecting power.

Draw Near


Grief waits upon
No one
It swells
And breaks
My placid perfect
Life awake.

Now spit
And foam
The Promises
Long hid
Come rushing
Crashing
Back to Life.

The longing
From my heart
His Promises
To know
Long hid away
In drawers
Fastened
Shut.

But as the waves
Swell
And break
The drawers
Loose
His Promises
To life.

My body, mind
And soul
In Spirit breath
Awake.

From deep within
The Living Word
Each Promise
Brings
In Holy Spirit breath
To sing.

For in grief's
Wake
My heart
Draws near
Christ's heart
To hear.

This childlike heart
In steadfast love is
Rootèd secure:

That I might
Taste and see
The width
And breadth
And depth
Of Christ.

At the end of 2014, the loss of my Mum weighed so heavily on my heart. Those last few weeks with her were precious beyond measure, as God revealed Himself to me in my and my mother’s weakness, bringing me home to Him through the touch of His Holy Spirit. But helping to bathe, feed and care for her in her last days left its toll on me.

I couldn’t shake the exhaustion felling my body daily, and when a friend sent me an email about God calling her to surrender to His rest, it affirmed what had been on my own heart to do: to hand in my resignation to my employer. In the coming weeks and months, that surrender made room for me to feel, what I had suppressed.

As grief rose up within me, so did the memories of the cancer’s ravaging effects on the body of my mother. Overpowering waves rose up and crashed over me: fear and unbelief shouted loudly at me. But as the enemy waged war for my soul, the Spirit of God arose to defend me. He did so through the Word of God.

I had been reading through the whole New Testament, with a small group from my little Anglican church, leading up to the Lent of 2015. As I read the pure pages of God’s Word, with no interruptions from commentaries or others’ interpretations, the Spirit of God spoke to me personally. He invited me to bring Him my grief and the Promises I couldn’t see Him fulfilling in my own life.

As I did so, He answered my deepest cries. Lifting every accusation against me by the power of His Word, He led my heart to repentance. He showed me that He had never abandoned me, or my Mum. He gave me beautiful visions that affirmed the truth of eternal wholeness and healing, and of His Promise to hold each one of us in His hands, that He might complete what He started in us, to set us before the Father, healed and whole.

Recently, as He brought all of this to remembrance again, I noticed that He was taking me through a similar process all over again. There are many things He has had me lay down in surrender recently, for similar reasons. As I have done so, the true desires of my heart have surfaced, as have deep waves of grief, as God has convicted me in my sin.

I have been waiting on God for something for seven years. But God has been waiting on me to draw ever nearer to Him in this, that He might reveal Himself to me there fully and wholly. Don’t get me wrong, I have taken steps in faith toward this Promise and have seen God honor these steps with beautiful glimpses of His coming fulfillment. But God rightly convicted my heart again recently, as He showed me that I have gradually become satisfied with the status quo.

In my horrid unbelief, I have settled for less, just as I have done in the past. I have placed before God lesser desires to fill the hole in my heart. And God has given me what I asked Him for, only to each time show me that it is not what my heart truly desires. In inviting me to lay each lesser desire back down again, He has been calling to me to bring Him my deepest and truest desires.

As He uncovered this all, He reminded me of those final weeks with my Mum and what moved His heart in compassion. It was not our strength, but our weakness: our realization that we could do absolutely nothing to save each other: me – my Mum from dying physically, my Mum – me and others from dying spiritually and being cut off from God forever.

As our lips were silenced, mine in overwhelming grief that no words could ever describe and my Mum’s, as the cancer took away her ability to communicate, the Holy Spirit spoke in power. For, God poured out His salving balm of peace and His heart healing power in our midst. He brought me, His Prodigal daughter, home and He lifted so many burdens from my Mum, bringing her home to heaven, healed and whole.

I now see how Jesus has been waiting for me to cry out to Him in my weakness, just as my Mum did, that He might bring me into alignment with His Word to me. He has not been ashamed of me in my unbelief, but just as the man whose daughter was dead did in the Bible, He wants me to cry out in Spirit and truth – “LORD I believe, but help my unbelief.”

All along, God has been inviting me to come, just as I am, without one plea, to the foot of the Cross. He has been inviting me to be made holy as He is holy – not in my striving, but by allowing His Holy Spirit to pour out upon me in compassion to do in and through me what I could never ever do in and of myself.

Now, thanks to His persevering mercy, I am bowing my knees afresh before Him in my need, crying out for His mercy to flow. It is this deep, deep gutteral cry for His holiness – the desire that breaks our heart the most, as we recognize our absolute inability to fulfill it – that breaks His heart the most when we fail to lay it before Him, asking Him to fulfill it.

For, Jesus is longing for us to become like little children before Him. He longs for us to believe that when we ask Him for bread, He will not give us stones, but He will give us Himself- our bread of life – the free gift of faith to meet us in our unbelief.

If you recognize yourself in my struggles with unbelief, will you join me in kneeling before our Maker today, that in our weakness, His power might be perfected?

Father, thank You for Your Word that promises us the pure of heart shall see You. Thank You that Your Word to us reminds us that the pure of heart are those whose hearts have been washed in the blood of Your Son, Jesus, to uncover His holiness.

Father, forgive us, where we have clung to the enemy’s accusations above Your holy Word. Forgive us for not bringing you the deepest desires of our heart to be holy as you are holy. Forgive us for not acknowledging our unbelief before you. Forgive us for not believing that You are a good Father who will not give us stones when we cry out for bread.

Thank You that Your Word and our experience of your goodness and mercy in our lives, remind us that it is not by might, not by power, but by Your Spirit that Your Word to us comes to pass.

Father, we do not want our lamps to go out. We long to be prepared for the arrival of the Bridegroom – our LORD and Savior, Jesus. But we acknowledge now that we have allowed our oil to dissipate because we have failed to come to You in our weakness, we have failed to ask You to pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Forgive us. Today, we seek Your face afresh and beseech You to fill our lamps with the fresh oil of Your Holy Spirit and we ask You to keep turning us toward You that You may continue to fill us, again and again.

Thank You that we shall see the deepest desires of our hearts manifest before us in the unveiling of Jesus in our midst. Thank You that in our weakness, as our knees bow before You to acknowledge our imperfection and our deep desire for Your holy perfection, we shall see Your power pour out upon us.

Thank You that not one Word of Yours shall return void. Thank You that our hearts shall yet rise again, no longer chained to unbelief, but set free in Christ Jesus to arise with fresh faith to see Him- our Promise – come to life before our very eyes.

Thank You for Your tender mercies toward us. Father, today we stretch out our emptied hands and hearts, thanking You for Your pruning hands and inviting You to fill our hands and hearts anew with the fresh, warm manna of Your Word. We believe, Father, but help our unbelief!

In Jesus’ Name, we cry: Amen.

Living water rushes
Strong, crashing
My heart to search
And know
In waves of mercy
The blood of Christ
Still flows.

Before, behind
Beneath, above
My Savior sings
And calls to me:
"Draw near
And I'll draw near
To you."

Each day anew
My burdened heart
Christ draws near
In Word and Spirit
He beckons to me
Come.

It's now I know
In all my waiting
All along it's been
My God
Who's been waiting
On me.

To humble myself
To lay down
Every distraction
To bring Him
Not just a part
But my whole heart
To trust Him
When He says:

I will fight for you
You have only
To be silent
To be still
And know that
I alone am God!
I will be exalted
Among the nations
I will be exalted
In the earth.

Part 2: Chapter 3 – Day 3 The Joy and Peace in the Gold

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 2‘s Chapter 3. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of gold – a poem, testimony and prayer – praising Jesus for the joy and peace He births in us through His perfect living Word.

I had a dream several months ago of this large ruler and I was petrified of him, until I got smaller and smaller and entered underneath him. It was almost like I disappeared into him and that then I was no longer afraid of him.

At the time, God was asking me to humble myself and go lower and lower. I did so, following His call, but not understanding what He was up. At every turn the writing education project I had felt His call to begin kept getting smaller and smaller, until what I still had sitting there He asked me to delete.

Now, I realize it was never about the actual project. Jesus was after my obedience and had designed every step along the way to grow me in my trust of Him and to refine me to look more like Him. Through it all He was teaching me to delight in His Voice, to look to the unseen and to rejoice in His fatherly desire to see me learn and grow in His perfecting Word.

It was about allowing Him to shape my character. He taught me so much about laying down my own expectations for His. He shut the doors I thought He would open, only to open doors that required me to stoop lower and lower to serve others in their need, but also to allow Him to refresh and replenish me.

For, as I listened for His Word to me, He taught me so much about setting and keeping boundaries that preserved His rest in my life. He enabled me to come away with Him between all the tasks and to continue loving my children and husband well. And where I disobeyed His gentle call to rest, He was quick to rebuke me and lead me to repentance, showing me why His safe boundaries are always best. Through it all, He showed me parts of my character He desires to continue refining to make me more like Him. I learnt so much.


At the time, I saw the ruler as those I had to set my project before to find financial support. Now, I realize that ruler is Jesus and that He worked through everyone on my path, continually inviting me to become smaller and smaller. As I humbled myself, again and again beneath God’s mighty hand, I became less and less fearful. I grew in my confidence of His Word to me.

Suddenly, the opinions of those around me mattered little. Not just because I was bathing myself in God’s Word to me, but because God was opening my eyes to the beauty of His freeing truth. The path He set for me lifted off burdens at every turn that I could never have lifted off myself.

I began to obey my Jesus, no longer to do the “right” thing, but because I loved and trusted Him above all else. I witnessed and rejoiced in His loving protection, direction and refining of me and others, every step I took.

It was such an amazing experience. So sheltered in His love, after all His recent pruning, I found the lies I once clung to, gliding off me. The truth of God’s Word surrounded me at every turn, uplifting me and carrying me forward.

Now, I can also look back at my past with new eyes. For the past seven years, since God brought this little lost sheep home, He continually asked me to surrender one thing and one person after another into His hands: some physically and some spiritually and some both. It has been an incredibly painful and gruelling process, but one that I now see is reaping such fruit. Our God’s Word is truly gold – true and trustworthy:

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Hebrews 12:11 KJV

A few weeks ago, I penned a poem to express this journey God has taken me on. As you read it, I pray you too recognize the fruit of peace the LORD is reaping in your own life and heart through all the painful surrenders He has walked you through also:

Peace

Caught
Between two w/Words
The religion
I know

And the Son
Of God
I hear
Beckoning.

I wrestle
With the Alpha
And Omega
Who asks me
To surrender

The letter of the Law
I know
For the Living Word's
Searching
And knowing.

But what can I do
But open the door
To my Lord's knocking
To sup with Him?

Where can I go
But to the only One
Who has the Word
Of life?

So I surrender
My known
To be known
Fully and wholly

By the only
True God
Who stills
My heart
To know

The world
And all who dwell
Therein are
His.

I yield
The cup of suffering
To my lips now take
And drink

In communion
The Living Word
To my Father
In thanksgiving lifting

I break
The bread
And take
Eat.

I fill my heart
With the
Law fulfilled
Who calls for me

To join Him
In each and every
Death that's
Dying.

To take the hand
Of the sovereign God
Who walks me
To the tomb
To show me what
He already sees:

"Unwrap him now
And let him loose"
I hear my Savior
Calling.

His work
Of surrender
Just invites me
Into

More.

More JOY
Before me laid
Than I could ever
Think of, ask for
Or imagine.

For, Christ's blood
Was shed
For this:

To reconcile
All things to Him
Whether on earth
Or heaven

To make

Peace.

Now, rather than seeing these surrenders as my shame to carry and as proof that I failed, I see them as God’s gift to me and proof of His Word – His gold – growing and flourishing in me. For, all along, God was lifting one burden after another off of my shoulders to shower me in His life-giving grace.

What He has gifted me through it all reminds me so much of John the Baptist’s Words in John 3:29-30, ESV:

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom stands and listens for him, and is overjoyed to hear the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Now, I see that all that decreasing Christ brings through each surrender is in fact what brings us such peace. For through each dying to self, we come to know how deeply our Abba Father knows us and loves us.

Every trauma trigger shaking my body has only invited me into a deeper and deeper resting in my God’s golden Word to me. I now see how my precious Jesus has been ever increasing in me, through my every decreasing. And oh the joy that brings me now, as I look back with cleansed eyes. Praise Him!

Will you join me as I end today’s free will offering of gold in prayer?

Precious Father, oh how we thank and praise You for the gold of Your Word. We thank You for choosing imperfect and weak vessels like us to display Your glory and grace to this yearning world.

We thank You that You are laboring in such love and devotion through Your Son to refine us to make us look more and more like You. Thank You that even when the path You set for us doesn’t make any sense, we can trust Your perfect will and Your desire to grow us and bless us.

Forgive us, where we have looked to the seen and bemoaned our lack or the closing doors. Forgive us, where we have based our identity on anything other than You. Father, thank You for loving us enough to withhold things, people and communities from us that You know will destroy the beauty of Your Son in us.

Thank You that You withhold no good thing from those who are upright, who walk in You. Father, open our eyes to see what You see: the beauty and perfection of Your Word to us and the healing it is bringing to our hearts. Oh LORD how we long to decrease that YOU may increase in and through us. Have Your Way in us!

Thank You for inviting us to commune with You through each setting apart. Thank You for silencing the enemy’s accusations through each closing door, so that we can hear Your Voice more clearly than ever before. Thank You for changing both our minds and our direction, for blotting out all our sins that we may now bathe in the refreshing and healing waters of Your living Word and Presence with us.

In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.

Come let us glorify our God: