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 2: Day 5: Rest

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our fifth free will offering of goats’ hair (cursed sin offering) in a poem testifying to our Savior’s love for us. Our Savior, who, full of compassion for us in our grief and pain, became our cursed sin offering to lift the weight of sin’s curse upon us. A curse that would have us hide in our need is broken by the offering of Christ’s own body that He might draw us into His holy Presence of wholeness and rest.

Anna also shares a photo she took as she rested in her local forest and a song that was such a comfort to her through the first triggers of trauma she experienced many years ago. Whatever you are facing today, may you experience God’s peace in the midst of the storms of life.

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

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

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

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

Welcome here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 5: Trust

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 2‘s Chapter 2. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of bronze. Her poem shows us how the LORD exchanged her human judgment of His Sword’s painful dividing to see the gift of His healing and wholeness coming in each setting apart unto His heart of mercy toward her.

TRUST

Trust isn't the absence of pain
Trust isn't the absence of tears
Trust isn't the absence of gaping loss.

No! It's Christ
Inviting me into His arms
In the Sword's dividing.

It's perfect Love driving out my fears
Bottling all my tears
It's the everlasting arms beneath me.

It's the sure foundation
Of God's Word
Catching me as I leap toward Him.

It's Christ yielding my heart
To each and every painful wounding
That He may humble me to heal me.

It's Christ taking my weary and divided heart
To exchange it
For His surrendered, trusting heart

It's my Rock and mighty Redeemer
Perfecting His power
In weakness.

So I resist the enemy
In every accusation flung as the pain returns
To rest instead on my Promise.

In each and every ache's returning
Let me now heed the Spirit's quickening
To turn toward and not away.

Let my tears now flow
My knees now bow
And my heart now open.

For, each boasting in my weakness
To God's glory and God's grace
Wafts Christ's sweet incense high.

No! Trust is not my holding tight
To what my God has rightfully taken
To draw me unto Himself.

It's releasing each precious Word
No longer in shame
But in worship and praise.

It's watching and waiting
Expectantly
For each and every Promise to unfold.

It's Christ birthing fresh trust in me
As a fountain of grace
Now gushes and pours down upon me.

It's bringing my broken heart to Jesus
To find His whole heart
Beating there.

It's finding my salvation
In returning and resting
Upon the pillow of My Promise: Christ Himself.

So I will lay down
Each accusation birthed in pride
To now receive my Abba Father's pride in each surrender.

For, the branches
Were never meant
To support the Vine.

But the Vine
Died and rose again
To give life to each branch.

So, I shall put down my roots
No longer into human soil
But ever deeper
Into the good soil
Of Christ's heart for me.

May He
Become my trust
Pressing into Jesus
May I find the Word
Flowing fresh
As living water
From the throne of grace.

Yes!
Those aches
Those tears
Those gaping holes
They're the very
Building stones.

The building stones of trust
Are the Word of God's
Dividing.

For Love Himself
Is the only righteous
Judge.

The Son of God
Who came not to condemn me
But to seek and save me.

To declare my weakness, His strength
And my brokenness, His wholeness
By the power
Of His Living Word.

The only Way
The only Truth
The only Life
Is Jesus.

Come
Let's take His hand
Make Him our trust.

Come
Let in the Sword's sweet dividing
Eternal peace
In the blood of Christ
Now flow.

For at the Cross
What Christ now joins together
No man can separate.



Colossians 2:7 (NLT)
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 5: Eternal Redemption

Welcome to Day 5 of Chapter 1 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a personal story of redemption.

“I will restore to you the years
    that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
    my great army, which I sent among you.

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
    and praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

“You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
    and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.” Joel 2:25-27 ESV

In the wandering years of my prodigal sons, God led me to hold onto these verses from the book of Joel. He lifted my eyes to look for the promises that He was speaking, and He asked me to hold tightly to Him when nothing I saw looked like restoration. Some days the grieving threatened to swallow me when I lowered my eyes and looked at the present. 

As I sat over my sewing machine, I wove my tears and my prayers along with those burdens. Joining fabrics as the machine whirred along, tearing stitches as the seam-ripper found out mistakes, and re-placing those errant pattern pieces only served to remind me of the process of our lives here on this earth.

How could You ask me to love more, to pray more? I have nothing left to give, I’ve given all I could, Lord.

Ah, but He wasn’t asking for my striving. No, He was asking for my hand in His. He was asking for my trust in His promises. He is the only One who could redeem those years that seemed to have been wasted. For in His heart, nothing is wasted. Everything that we have offered to Him, everything burned up on the altar, is making way for His great plan of redemption. 

Those years of interceding at my sewing machine were accomplishing something far greater than just a hand-crafted item. He was joining my suffering with the suffering of those for whom I was interceding. Weaving our lives together through the stitches of prayer, an unbreakable bond was being formed.  But I could not see it at the time.

It wasn’t until decades later as I found myself sorting and de-cluttering all of those scraps of fabric, left over from each project, that the years suddenly fell into a much larger pattern. Boxes and boxes of fabric, neatly folded and waiting for my next project had lain dormant through my increasing disability of chronic illness. I found myself asking the Lord the same kinds of questions from the vantage point of looking back over the years.

How could You ask me to love more, to pray more, when my hands were stilled from doing anything? I gave all that I could, but I never finished all the projects that I thought You had for me.

Ah, but He had never asked for my striving. He had only asked for my hand in His, joining in HIS heart of loving. What became of those “wasted” years of my sons’ wandering? He remade them, and used them for His new gifts. He took what the enemy had meant for harm, and is using it for good.

And what became of all of those “wasted” years of my fabrics lying in the closet? He remade my prayers into gifts that are eternal. He has been using these later years for new gifts of Holy Spirit intercessions.

And then He said, “Pass it along! Let the next generation of sewers be blessed as you pray one last time over the fabrics from your closet. A prayer closet stitched with love.”

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

Oh Dear Heart are you grieving
The years of the locust and the cutter worm?
While the storms ravaged the crops
Did you sit in the ruins?
Was there even a remnant of TRUST
That remained?

Listen to the words He is speaking
Here in this place of the AFTER.
While the rains water the ground
Hear the tune of the mist.
Can you see the silver in the clouds
That linger?

Our Sovereign will not waste one drop
From the deluge of the flood.
While He waits for the full harvest
He sees the seed remaining.
Will you trust His redemption
That awaits?

He will restore and He will redeem
From all the waste places.
You will find His Glory there
In the places of His testing.
Can you taste the sweetness
That rises?

The shame and the pain He does lift
From the barren heart places.
As you look back over the years
See the way He has made.
Can you live in the Faithfulness
That transforms?

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”  Job 19:25

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” Psalm 27:13

Dear Holy Father,

Thank You for the love that You have showered over us, and over the ones we love. Thank You that Redemption has always been Your plan. Even when we have covered ourselves in the dust of our running, You have made the way for us to return and to rest in Your cleansing. Lord, help us to hold onto the promises You have spoken to us. 

When we have no strength left to believe, would You help our unbelief? And when we return to striving, would You cleanse our hearts once again and show us Your own outstretched hand before us?  Would You open a glimpse into Glory’s reign and show us the salvation of many that You intend to bring? 

We praise You for Your marvelous grace, even here where all we feel are the wastelands of our pain. Thank You that You have called us back into Your faithful heart, into the fullness of Your redemption.

In the name of Your son Jesus we pray,

Amen

Chapter 2: Day 4 – In Returning and Rest

Welcome to Day 4 of Chapter 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a devotional (a poem, story and prayer) centered on Scriptures that the LORD is continuing to take deeper into her own heart.

Since I was little, I have loved to help others. As the oldest daughter in a family of six children, I had ample opportunity to help out. I took great pride in my “mothering responsibilities”, as I took it upon myself to help my Mum out, particularly with looking after my youngest brother and sister, to give my busy Mum, who also carried many responsibilities outside of our home, a break and allow her to get other things done.

There is beauty in the gift of helping and serving others, but what God has opened my eyes to, is that serving can become an idol that begins to gong like a cymbal, where the lines of responsibility become blurry. A few weeks before my Mum died, she looked at me and said something like: “Anna, I was a bad example to you girls. I had no boundaries in place. Don’t follow my example.” Now, don’t get me wrong. My Mum was one of the most loving people I know, but now that God has broken the idol I made of her, I see what my Mum meant. There were indeed times, where she too became like a gonging cymbal and these were times that she took on responsibility that was not hers to shoulder.

When I began to see this idol present in my own life, God encouraged me, not to try to “fix” it myself, but to lay the responsibility for my transformation in His hands. But as I began to do so, He began to fence me in, more and more.

Again and again, He had me build up something, only to ask me to lay it back down soon after. Again and again, He had me invest in people, communities and ministries, only to then ask me to leave and surrender everyone and everything into His hands.

Through these first few breakings and surrenders, it felt like God was punishing me. It felt like He was taking away things and people from me because I wasn’t “good enough” to stay and to serve in these places. But ever so slowly, I am beginning to see this fencing in of God, as His precious gift of rest in pleasant places.

A photo I took on a recent bike ride in response to God’s call to me to come away with Him to rest. A bike ride that had me weeping, as I felt God overwhelm me in His love for me.

It has been His Way of growing me in grace and truth, of teaching me to walk within His safe boundaries. For, after each breaking, I slowly began to see that each surrender was drawing me into a deeper and deeper rest, and a shedding of responsibilities for others that were never mine to carry.

I am now seeing how the Word God spoke over me at the start of all this shedding and burning away, is now reaping so much fruit in my life:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;

    you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

    surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 16: 5 – 6 (NIV)

The funny thing though, is that God has been fulfilling this Word, by showing me that I am incapable of making Him alone my portion and my cup. Maybe, you too recognize your inability in this department. If so, maybe this next verse has also been a painful verse for you too, because like me, you recognize yourself as being the “unwilling” one God speaks of.

Maybe you too recognize your past failures to return and rest and to sit in quietness and trust. But what God has been showing me, is that He knows I cannot set good boundaries for myself and that I cannot rest and be still in and of myself, that I actually do not know how to make Him alone my portion and cup.

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,

Isaiah 30:15 (ESV)

He showed me that this is yet another reason why He sent Jesus to die on the Cross for me, so that He could take up residence in me and teach me how to walk within His pleasant boundaries. And what I am noticing, is that when I ask Him to set those boundaries for me, in response to His leading, He is so very faithful to do so and oh the joy and peace and love that flows from a heart that rests in these pleasant places with Jesus.

Just yesterday, I yet again, found myself in a place, where God showed me I had become like a gonging cymbal, because I had chosen to take on responsibility that was not mine to carry. In this case, it was the opinions of others – the fear that I would be blamed for the choices of others, over whom I carried leadership responsibilities. This fear of man was rooted in me not recognizing God’s ultimate sovereignty. In me not recognizing His ultimate responsibility over the gifts He has entrusted me to carry out in His Name.

And this fear drove me to take on a responsibility for the behavior of others and to snap, rather than flow from a position of resting in God’s love. As the fear grew inside of me, so did the assumptions I began to make of others and their behavior and so did my snapping.

But then, God in His kindness, placed me before an elderly women who began to boast in her weakness, who spoke of having forgotten her mask and now having to bike back home to collect it. The gentleness of God shone so brightly from her face and as I shared of having had the same thing happen before also, I felt God slow my heart to the pace of His own.

It’s then I reached out to apologize to someone I had been snapping at moments earlier, someone who I had made incorrect assumptions about, in my haste, driven by fear. I also noticed how that snapping came, after I had felt a gentle nudge from God to take a break, but rather than do so, I had kept going.

And so, as that conviction and repentance flowed from the grace of God, I also recognized I needed God’s help with boundaries in another part of my life. So, I turned to Him and asked Him to be my boundary lines in that space also.

You see, recently I have stepped out in faith with something new and I was reminded that I need God to time the unfolding of this new responsibility, step by step, so that it doesn’t encroach on other responsibilities He has given me. So, I asked Him to time its unfolding, also so I can finish something else well that is in its final weeks.

As I did so, I found myself rejoicing over even the simple conversation this new ministry had brought yesterday. I recognized how refreshing it was to pour into a young woman, without laying any expectations on the outcome of our contact. As I shed the responsibility for this contact’s unfolding, my peace and joy increased, as I recognized how even if it comes to nothing, the conversation alone was such a gift to me.

God has truly been shedding the old and uncovering the true desires of His heart within me, desires that draw me into His heart of surrender, love, gentleness and kindness. He has been lifting the weight of so many responsibilities.

God so patiently grows our hearts to steward well the gifts He has entrusted us, by teaching us how to rest in His authority and guidance, moment by moment. By God’s grace I have definitely come a long way, and yet I also recognize room for so much more growth. I am so excited to see how He enlarges my heart even more in the coming months to run in the path of His commands and I pray you are too. For our LORD is so very faithful.

Father God, I thank You for the gift of Your Son. I thank You that You have shed abroad Your love in our hearts, through the gift of Your Holy Spirit, who is now guiding us into all the truth, for we know that the Holy Spirit does not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to us the things that are to come (John 16:13).

Thank You that You promise us that “so shall [Your] word be that goes out from [Your] mouth; it shall not return to [You] empty, but it shall accomplish that which [You] purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which [You] sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, ESV). Thank You for fencing and hemming us in, even when You knew we would not understand it at first and see it as Your punishment of us. Thank You for Your loving discipline and great patience with us. Father, help us, through each fencing in, through each closing door and breaking, to trust Your heart of love toward us.

Yield our hearts to Your discipline and cause us to bring forward the pure white linen of Your Son that You might clothe us in the garments reserved for those who overcome in Your Name. For, “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5, ESV) And so, this very moment we acknowledge that we cannot overcome the world in our own strength, that we cannot make You alone our portion and our cup, without Your teaching, leading and guidance. And so, we let go of our striving and ask You now to clothe us in Your purity. We ask You to fulfill the Promises of Your Word to us.

Today, we like King David, declare by faith that “Lord, you alone are [our] portion and [our] cup; you make [our] lot secure.The boundary lines have fallen for [us] in pleasant places; surely [we] have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16: 5-6, NIV). We declare by faith that we shall see the fulfillment of this Word in our lives. Be our boundary lines, oh LORD and reveal the pleasant places of Your choosing for us, where our hearts can rest in Your heart of love, gentleness and kindness.

Shut the doors that need shutting. Open the doors that need opening and teach us how to yield our will to Yours that we may live from a position of rest, flowing in Your love. LORD be the One who serves and loves through us, by the power of Your Holy Spirit and Word of life. Continue to break our idols of responsibility that shackle us to fear and sin. Cause our hearts to return and rest in You and to dwell in quietness and trust in You.

And as we read through this poem that You gifted me (Anna) so long ago, bring such joy and peace to our hearts in the knowledge that You are so very faithful to teach us how to seek after Your heart above all else and how to rest at Your feet. Help us to let go of any shame we feel because of our past failings and to walk into the newness of life You are holding out to us. Help us also to receive Your patience with us, to see ourselves as Your children who You are so proud of, who You are teaching step by step. Help us to see and celebrate all the ways we have already grown to rest in You. Thank You that we are so blessed in You. In Jesus’s precious Name, Amen.

SEEK MY HEART

Blessed are those
Who listen and heed
Come close,
And sit at My feet.

Blessed are those
Who know how to rest,
To abide and draw
Upon who I AM.

Blessed are those
Who heed not praise
Of men,
But seek My heart for them.
Listen My daughter well
To these words of love -

Be still, and know
Even now, even here,
I sit beside,
And hold your hand.

Do you hear angels sing,
Choirs to My glory?
Rush of waterfall
Pouring down upon you?

See all shackling silt
Coming loose
Purity revealed in
Sea blue deep