Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 1: Delight in Christ

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of incense in a poem inspired by God’s Word to her in the crushing.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5 (ESV)

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 closed doors on me
In confessing
My weakness and sin.

How can I receive
Delight in that
When Your Word calls me
Depart, bereft?

Am I not mistaken?
Does not each loss
Each door closing
Only affirm I'm lost?

"Oh my child,"
I hear You speak
"In your pain, be still
Know My Son is calling.

"Let the Sword of Life
Now circumcise your heart
That ears and eyes
May open unto Me.

"For, I have come
Not to call the righteous
But to pour My oil
Of mercy upon sinners.

"Receive My living water
Feel My waterfall of grace
Now splashing on your face
Receive My goodness and mercy

"In My Son's crushing
Of your pride and self
Receive My oil
Richly flowing.

"Yes, there's life
In the womb
Feel the Son of God
Now crowning in you.

"Be not afraid, My child
This labor pain you're feeling
Is but a shedding of the old
To birth the new.

"For, Christ wore
A crown of thorns
To place a crown
Of life upon your head.

"In the garden of Gethsemane
My Son drunk the cup
Upon the Cross
Your debt to pay in full.

"Now be Christ's friend
Let the counsel
Of the Holy Spirit
Set you apart.

"Let each loss
Become sweet gain
For, into every crushing
My oil of comfort pours.

"Let now
My Holy Spirit pour
Upon the soil
Of all Christ's crushing.

"For, is it not your honor
To bow before Him here
To taste of His sacrifice
For you?

"Has He not proven
In His crushing for your sins
His Bride is worth
Far more than rubies?

"Yes, the enemy may rage
In darkness all around you
But hidden in Christ
See your lamp glow bright.

"Sow now
Into the good soil
Of Christ's own Body
Broken open for you.

"Let His seed of truth
Long hidden in your heart
Now reap perfect peace
In the dying.

"Bring no longer a
Burnt-out sacrifice of self
But a free will offering
In mercy richly flowing.

"Watch and wait
My holy flame shall fall
Upon the oil
Of Christ's anointing.

"A fragrant incense
In My fire shall rise
Repentance and
Refreshing reaping.

"Now, delight
In Me, My child
For I delight
In you."

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:55-60 (ESV)

‘You will also be [considered] a crown of glory and splendor in the hand of the Lord, 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)

Receiving My Papa’s Pride

Recently, I once again dropped to my knees to cry out: “oh, LORD, break this horrid sin of pride in me.” But what I heard God speak to me, broke me. I heard Him reply: “Anna, can you let me be proud of you? Do you know just how proud I am of you?”

I just cried and cried and cried. I realized I was so focused on myself that I was failing to praise my God for all HE has been performing in and through me. I began to see how HE has been so strong in me. How HE has been perfecting His power in me. How every time HE has drawn me to come to Him in my weakness of pride, HE has bowed my knees in deep humility, to rest at His feet.

The One Word God gave me for this year was “celebrate“. I sensed Him asking me, not to celebrate what I could physically see, but what HE has been opening my eyes to see in the Spirit: His eternal Promises unveiled. His life, breath and person unveiled in all those He has been calling me to intercede for through the power of His living Word at work in me: including myself.

And as I listened to a sermon on pleasing God today, I wept again, as I saw Him affirm His pride in me. For all those times I went where He asked me. I spoke what He asked me. I faced the enemy’s accusations. And I closed the doors He asked me to, to find myself all alone with Him. Rejected by man, but oh so loved by my Papa.

My Abba Father suddenly turned my thinking on its head. All those places, I left, with my head bowed in shame, as He asked me to leave. All those places, where the Word God had me speak and live out was rejected and I wanted to stay and bow before man, believing man to be God. All those places are not a testimony to my shame. They are a testimony to God’s saving grace. To the Son of God’s obedience at work in me and my Abba Father’s growing pride in me.

Each of those closing doors were Christ’s invitation to receive His internal vindication, by the power of His Holy Spirit. The internal vindication Jesus received, as He walked this earth, facing one rejection after another, for doing the will of His Father. For, Jesus glowed in the love and affirmation of His Papa, who was oh so proud of Him.

I suddenly saw how each closing door has been Christ growing His heart of love, mercy and compassion in me. I saw how those closing doors have been God’s humbling to enable me to enter into His Sabbath rest.

For, each closing door has brought me to my knees in gut-wrenching, honest lament and in that place He has opened my eyes to see what He sees and He has filled my heart with His pure emotions and thoughts. He has enabled me to embody the Word He spoke through me in each place He had me leave.  

For, He has repeatedly broken my heart in grief for those I left behind, causing me to pour out prayers of blessing over those who have accused and even condemned me. He has spoken His Promises of life over them through my mouth. I have literally felt His oil of anointing pour out all over me, with my knees pressed to the ground. And He has also humbled me to search for and retrieve the beautiful grains of truth hidden in each accusation.

“Draw near to me, Anna, and I will draw near to you.” Bitterness and unforgiveness only has room to grow in my heart, where I begin to clothe myself in the enemy’s accusations to believe that man’s rejection is God’s rejection of me. It only has room to grow in me, when I withdraw from my God, believing it is He who has withdrawn from me.

But praise God! My Papa is teaching me to remember that HE never leaves His children and so, when I feel His absence it’s because I have withdrawn from Him. He is teaching me in those moments, to turn back toward Him. To draw near to Him to pour out all that’s hiding within me. And right there my God puts everything in its rightful place, humbling me in my pride to rest in His saving grace.

He vindicates me and those I feel condemned by, by the power of His Holy Spirit. He opens my eyes to see HimJesus – in the face of my every accuser, until all I can do is weep at His mercy – not for those who have accused me – but for me. 

His mercy at calling me unto Himself, so that my knees would now bow before Him alone to rest in His labor of intercession and love through me. So, that the Word He had me speak before them and the Word He had them speak before me, can now be brought to life, in me and in them, in our breaking. So, that I can see the fruit of the Word He gave me to pray 6 years ago. The Word He has kept praying through me all this time: “Oh LORD, teach me to walk in the light of Your love. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your Name above all else.”

Oh yes, I have messed up, grandly. I have clung to the enemy’s accusations. I have clung to people as my god. I have turned around and asked people’s forgiveness for doing the very will of my God. I have walked in unforgiveness and bitterness.

But now I see, how God has been training me in righteousness. How He has been growing me in gentleness and kindness. How, through each breaking, He has been humbling me to rest in Him alone, to surrender all else into His hands that I may love others as He loves me. How He has been fathering and mothering me.

Now I see, I am a new creation, no longer in condemnation. For gone is the old. And here is the new!

Now, I no longer see these closing doors as my shame. I see them as proof of God’s heart of mercy and compassion at work in me. I see these closing doors as His stepping stones for me. Stepping stones into greater and greater humility and a deeper and deeper knowing of His love for me and His pride in me.

Yes! Papa! Today, I choose to receive Your pride in me. I honor You for all You have done, all You are doing and all You are yet to do through Your Son. For, I know I am not my own. I am Your masterpiece.

And You, You are making something so beautiful out of me: not because I am so strong and so good, but because You are so very faithful to Your Promises. You are so very faithful to perform and complete every good work You begin. Praise You!

I choose to celebrate You, Jesus. I choose to celebrate the Promise: the unveiling of more and more life in and through You. For, no! You are not done with me – with any of us – yet! Come, LORD Jesus, come!

Come Back, Daughter

This guest testimony is written by a blogging friend of mine, Lisa Anne Tindal who reminds me to look for God’s presence in the tiniest details of my day. She is a writer and painter inspired by stories of redemption. Her artwork can be viewed on her Etsy page or Instagram. She blogs at https://quietconfidence-artandword.blog. Lisa Anne is the author of a soon to be available children’s book, “Look at the Birds”.

 

With a burst of energy and a desire to clear the clutter, I gathered all of my collected feathers, and along with other found items, I stuffed them into the trash. I saw no need for what had become a little embarrassing, various corners, vases, books, and other spaces became the tucked away place for a feather and what I told myself was a God message. Quite often on my walks, I found a feather, gathered it up, and held it up towards heaven. I’d snap a photo and share it on social media. In my mind, I was sharing hope, I was urging others to be sure of the nearness of God. 

 

Nevertheless, in times of pandemic and cultural upheaval, confusion over my faith, I began to surrender my feathers. I continued to notice them; but, told myself I’ll leave it there for someone else to see,  maybe they need it more. Or could it be my thinking had become, “Maybe they will believe it more than I?” 

 

In a sense, I decided to give it a go on my own. Many plans were coming together. Art in galleries and a children’s book written and illustrated, of all things entitled “Look at The Birds”.  I suppose I believed it was my time to soar. I ran towards opportunities and I looked for more to come. I became less quiet about the talents God had given me and I struck out on my own greedy for more. 

 

My life passage is found in the book of Isaiah. If I’m honest, I chose this passage because of two words that felt comfortable,  so very well described the woman I felt I should aspire towards. I wanted to be quietly confident and although the confidence should have been in God, it had become myself and others on my path. A slippery slope when it comes to dependence, neither dependence on self nor others will keep us aligned with God. Quiet confidence led to sullen despondence. Quiet confidence led to a lack of motivation and bitterness over ideas and hopes not coming together.  Isaiah gives a stern warning against striking out on our own. Innocently enough, going it alone doesn’t always feel like rebellion. I am learning that any steps I take alone are not the steps God has for me. Perhaps in my exhilarant ability to soar, God would clip my wings, cause a difficult landing to humble me.  Naturally, I’d struggle with shame and remorse; but, this time, this daughter of God didn’t linger there nearly as long. 

 

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning[c] and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

 

But you were unwilling, 16 and you said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”;
    therefore you shall flee away;
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
    therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one;
    at the threat of five, you shall flee,
till you are left
    like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
    like a signal on a hill.

The Lord Will Be Gracious

18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.

 

 

“Come back, daughter” is front and center on my bulletin board. A conversation with a trusted friend, my counselor who knows all of my childhood and adult trauma. A wise and strong woman, consistently she lives out her convictions and without mincing words. I sat with her, my Bible in my lap and I told her, “I don’t think I understand Isaiah 30:15 in the way I should.” I asked her what she felt God wanted me to embrace. She answered, “Come back, daughter.”  Her eyes were kind, her reply was confident. Isaiah is warning against me running ahead of God’s plans and he beckons my return, calls me his daughter. The message for us all in this passage is God waits for us even when we act independently of His will. I imagine Him saying, I’m glad you returned, now rest and stay in step with me and let me show you my plans for you that you’ve yet to see. 

 

Victims of trauma have significant learned behaviors. We do not like to ask for help for fear that help will be denied. Often, we don’t acknowledge our need to be helped. Being helped looks like rescue and for many of us rescue came with a price, a fee we were required to pay with our tender physical selves. Women who have been abused by men do not respond well to demands, we fear manipulation or grooming in the guise of promises that won’t ever come true. 

 

But our heavenly Father is good, and He is none of these things. He loves to see us joyously soaring in fearless ways to accomplish glorious things. But he loves us too much to let us fly on our own. He knows we need the strength of His sure navigation and we need most of all the love and mercy we find tucked safely under the shelter of His wings. 

 

Have you tried flying on your own? Are you soaring too dangerously lofty?

 

Come back, daughter. Your father doesn’t want you to go too far alone.

 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of words, the understanding of your word, and the pleasant chances to express the unique voices we all own. Bless the reader of my story of wings and feathers. Open our hearts and minds to one another. May we learn and love as we soar. May we never fly alone. In Jesus Name, Amen.