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.

Just like with Simon Peter, my God saw that my greatest weakness is the fear of man. It is my desire for the affirmation of those in authority over me. Repeatedly, I chose to place myself or keep myself under the authority of those I knew did not have my or others’ best interests at heart – just as Peter did in sitting with the religious leaders he knew were denying the finished work of the Cross upon Christ’s restoration of him. 

Crazily, just like Peter did, I did my utmost best to be seen, loved and approved of by those in positions of authority over me. In doing so, I hid the light of Jesus in me to become acceptable to them. For, I saw how afraid of the light of Jesus in me they were. I saw how threatened they felt by the pure truth and grace of Jesus shining in me. 

I now understand, as Jesus always did, that I desired to fill the gaping hole in my heart that my parents’ rejection of His Word upon my lips as a little girl had left. He knew exactly what I was seeking and why. And He knew that that gaping hole – He had purposely dug out and exposed – could only ever be filled by a deeper love, not just for my parents, but for all. For, through those who set me apart, He was opening the eyes of my heart to recognize Him and love Him in every human heart. To show me eternity is hidden in each one of our hearts and that we just need His heart to till, grow, stretch and increase our desire to love each other, as He loves us.

So, the Holy Spirit purposely lifted me up into visible positions before those in authority over me, to then humble me in their presence. He walked me through situations He knew would compel me to speak up in their midst and to shine the light of truth and grace He had given me to shine brightly. 

He purposely walked me through triggers of trauma, as these men and women, just like my parents had, rejected the truth pouring forth from my heart and lips. As I battled the fleshly desires to fight (defend myself) and to flee (deny the truth), He compelled me to repeatedly confess my weakness and sin before them. 

He removed more and more of the chaff of self hiding His beauty in me. He pressed my knees to the ground, leading me to die to myself and to sow unto the Spirit, revealing the treasure hiding inside of me. As John 12:24 (KJV) 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.

It was my Jesus who repeatedly turned me toward Himself for help through all the triggers. And as I then drew boldly before the throne of grace in my time of dire need, in His precious prompting and emboldening, I received my Heavenly Papa’s outpouring of reassurance, love and affection for me like I never had before. My Papa began to uncover and fill that deep hole inside of me with more and more of Himself. 

And in that filling, my knees also bowed in prayer for those who were rejecting Jesus in me. The oil of mercy my God had shown me in my own weakness and sin became the mercy I could now bestow upon them in prayer from afar. As Jesus opened my clenched hands to release them into His safe and loving care, He showed me that bathed in His love and approval, I no longer need their love and approval.

And then, He set me where He desired for me to be to flourish and bloom: surrounded by those who have been affirming His purity in me and are so hungry and thirsty for His Word that is now pouring forth from my heart and lips more and more, as He continues to grow me in His confidence and teach me how to return and rest in His loving arms.

Hidden in the darkness of my heart of sin and rebellion always lay that dormant seed of Jesus waiting to be revealed. Praise God, darkness is as light to our mighty God. For there is no darkness in Him, only light. And so now, faithful to His Word, He is revealing that beautiful light of His Presence in me. For, now I know like never before that I AM my Papa’s treasure and He is mine. 

For, I am the apple of His eye and He is mine. Yes, I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.

Now, like Peter, I know that everything changed at the foot of the Cross for me:

Come let’s celebrate Jesus and behold Him face to face!

As you read this testimony and listened to the song above, what truth has Jesus been bringing home to your own heart? What precious conviction do you feel Him taking deeper in you? When you look full in His wonderful face what do you hear Him speaking over you?

Before we soak in today’s Scripture together, will you join me in acknowledging and thanking God for the beauty of His Son hidden in us?

Papa, thank You for giving us Your Son, for hiding eternity in our human hearts that You might reveal more and more of who You are to us, through each otherForgive us for all the times we have hidden or rejected who You are in us and others.

As we gather to rest in Your Word here, will You open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You and our hearts to know You in a new and fresh Way? Oh how we thank You and praise You for who You are in us. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139: 1 – 18 (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.