You tell me
Trust is a muscle
You tell me
You tell me
Is Your labor
Trust in me
Bringing the peace
Of Your pacing
Your holy awakening
In my inhale
You remind me
It's in the releasing
In the yielding
To Your will
I can experience the fruit
The ravenous joy
Of living secure
You remind me
You're not withholding
But only awakening
Of longing and hunger
You've planted deep
You remind me
To not cower in shame
But in boldness
My each and every
Change of mind
Departing the old
For the new
Is beautiful to You.
For, it's You
Who's moved my feet
Out of the mire
And onto the Rock
To shake off the dust
You're lifting the veil
That's been hiding
Yes, each living Word
Engraved on this heart
Has fully released
The pain of my past
No need to turn back
Pleading for mercy
Fighting for truth
Or grieving the lost
For Your blood
Covers it all.
Now, I willingly
Bow the knee
And drink the cup
Your sovereign revealing
For, in the breaking
Of bread and this cup
I now recognize You
My Portion, Deliverer
The Resurrection and Life.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
Let everything that has breath praise
the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Romans 8:14-19 (ESV)
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Romans 15:1 3 (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This verse captures one of my greatest desires for both myself and others. Paul records this as a prayer (note the use of “May”) and as we read it we too can pray it both into our own and others’ lives. It is a powerful verse that reminds us of both the origin and source of Peace, as well as our remedy for disquiet, anxiety, fear and worry in this broken world.
The word “peace” in this context has been translated from the Greek “eirene”, which stems, according to a sermon on Biblical peace, “Text Sermons : Greek Word Studies : Peace (1515) eirene”:
“from the verb EIRO which means to join or bind together that which has been broken, divided or separated! Eirene is the root of our English word “serene” (free of storms or disturbance, marked by utter calm). EIRENE literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which has been separated, the result being that the separated parts are set at one again.”
This beautifully captures what Christ has achieved for us through His death on the Cross, namely: “the binding or joining together again” of our brokenness, the severance of our union with Him, birthed in the Garden of Eden, at the Fall of humankind.
And yet because we still live in a fallen world, the remaining brokenness keeps trying to pull us back into a lack of peace. And therefore Paul’s prayer speaks of our need to “trust” in the “God of hope”, so that He might “fill” us. The word “trust” in this Scripture was translated from the Greek word “pisteuo”, which according to the sermon, “Text Sermons : Greek Word Studies : Believe (4100) pisteuo”:
“means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust. To accept as true, genuine, or real. To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something or someone. To consider to be true. To accept the word or evidence of.”
And that’s why we can pray and read God’s Word with anxiety, fear and worry only growing, where we fail to “accept” what He tells and promises us. The peace that passes all understanding can only flourish in a trusting, accepting heart.
This is something I’ve been reflecting a lot on because I’ve noticed that I have periods where peace and joy flow freely and times where they don’t. And if I look at the times where darkness clouds me, I see a lack of trust at the core. I’ll read His Word and pray, but my mind is not stayed on His promises and truths, but on my current struggles and discontents. I’m choosing to live as if the here and now is the be and end-all, rather than the birthing ground of freedom in Christ, a freedom that is founded on the hope of eternity with God and His Beautiful Bride, The Church.
Lately, my discontent, my lack of peace, has been festered by what is no more: the love and presence of my Mum in my life. And yet, if I really truly accepted God’s Word this discontent can be exchanged with an overflowing abundance of joy, peace and hope, through the power of the One in me. His Word tells me that all that has been taken has already been restored. All that I need is His Eyes to see it – the unseen (Hebrews 11: 1, NIV):
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Which is why Jesus calls us to “live wide-eyed in wonder and belief,” so that our “body fills up with light” (Luke 11: 34, The Message). If we let His Eyes direct us, then we will see eternity before us, we will see a world already “overcome” by His Glory, Majesty, Power and Wonder (John 16: 33). And where broken peace attempts to stifle us, His Perfect Peace will secure and hold us.
Seeing with His Eyes, means leaning into His Truth. The following story, to be found in the sermon “Text Sermons : Greek Word Studies : Believe (4100) pisteuo” illustrates this powerfully:
“When missionary John Paton was translating the Scripture for the South Sea islanders, he was unable to find a word in their vocabulary for the concept of believing, trusting, or having faith. He had no idea how he would convey that to them. One day while he was in his hut translating, a native came running up the stairs into Paton’s study and flopped in a chair, exhausted. He said to Paton,
It’s so good to rest my whole weight in this chair.
John Paton had his word: Faith is resting your whole weight on God. That word went into the translation of their New Testament and helped bring that civilization of natives to Christ. Believing is putting your whole weight on God. If God said it, then it’s true, and we’re to believe it.“
To me this encapsulates the Hebrew meaning of trust, as used in the Old Testament, whose root bittachon means to “lean on, feel safe or secure, to be confident of” (John J. Parsons, “Bittachon…Putting your trust in the Lord”. http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Meditations/Bittachon/bittachon1.html. Accessed 11 April 2016.)
And so, in those moments I feel His Peace being stolen from me, He has the power to restore it to me. All He asks is that I lean into Him, that I believe Him at His Word. And even then, He tells me that where I struggle to trust, He will not abandon me, yet patiently teach me because “saving” me is all His idea and He will bring it to completion (John 6: 35-40). And in teaching me He is, ever so patiently, yet also firmly, reminding me of the hope I have in Him that can never be shaken. A hope overflowing into an abundant peace.
“It will not save me to know that Christ is a Savior; but it will save me to trust him to be my Savior. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come by believing that his atonement is sufficient; but I shall be saved by making that atonement my trust, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence of faith lies in this—a casting oneself on the promise.”
Charles Spurgeon (Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, “Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume 3: 1857 — Charles Haddon Spurgeon”.http://biblehub.com/library/spurgeon/spurgeons_sermons_volume_3_1857/faith.htm. Accessed 11 April 2016.)
This is an excerpt from my in May 2016 self-published book, Love Embraced: A Journey in and through Suffering. Seven years ago today (it is the 8th of April in New Zealand already) my Mum entered heaven’s gates to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To celebrate the life and love of Jesus that continues to flow through my Mum’s very much living testimony to Jesus and her Spirit-led prayers, I would love to send you a free copy of my book that is no longer available on Amazon (message me at: AnnaSmit@shalomaleh.com).
Isaiah 49: 14 – 16
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
Dear Traumatized Child,
When you come home to Your Abba Father, you will be so excited. Like the woman at the well, you will run to tell others in your church about the depths of His love for us all. You will see women weeping and you will know they too have just experienced what it is to be seen and known in the depth of their wounding. You will rejoice as they too see that their faces are not covered in the shame of their sin, but radiant in the redeeming love of Christ.
But then, as you step out in faith and go where your Father asks you to, the thorns given you as a gift will at first pierce your resolve. You will share of the piercing with leaders you trust. You will share of the waves of fear and shame that are pursuing your body unto death, but instead of arms reaching out to hold you and truth arising to defend your soul, the thorns will be pressed even deeper still. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.
In the thorns piercing
Again and again and again
But it’s then, God’s healing will truly begin to flow. As you join Christ in His suffering, you will begin to understand why you ran away all those years before. This time, you will turn toward your God in trust: you will cry out from your whole disease-ridden heart and listen for His Voice and new heart beneath.
Then, ever so slowly, through His patient teaching, you will learn to stop seeking sanctuary in a building, in religious leaders and in your own perfection and strength. You will learn instead to seek the sanctuary of Jesus Christ: our One True Hope.
When you cannot stand through the attacks that come, He will hold you and you will watch as He tethers your feet to the ground as you long to die. Your feet will not be moved, as you watch your very weakness testify to His power.
Each day, when the waves return, you will pour out your heart in Laments. You will be overwhelmed by His precious Word to you. Joy and peace will rise from deep within you, as He lifts you above the waves, even as you feel them crash and pound your flesh. You will arise in Him to glory in each and every Promise fulfilled.
A covenant new.
Your Son’s blood
Then, as He draws you out and sets you apart for His purposes. He will teach you to stop soaking in shame, to stop apologizing for His obedience at work in you. To stop bemoaning your setting apart in your open confessions of sin and weakness, to stop fighting to be understood, to stop hardening your heart in sin and to instead fix your gaze on the warmth of His face melting your frozen heart to reveal His thread weaving eternity there.
You will rediscover the joy of praise and thanksgiving in the midst of your anguish. You will experience the healing power of praying for those who have pierced you and misunderstood you. You will come to love them with your Father’s love as you die to pride and self to obediently lay yourself down that you may bless them in becoming as nothing to them.
It’s then you will begin to taste the freedom of humbling yourself beneath the mighty hand of God. You will forgive and love your enemies, both yourself and others. You will daily learn to fully embrace His love and grace in your weakness and sin. You will watch Him strengthen your relationships and begin reaping fruit you have so longed and prayed for, but all but given up on. And oh how you will experience the peace of being still and knowing that – even in your weakness and sin – He was, is and always will be the One and Only God, the God who seeks and saves.
It’s then as the thorns continue to pierce, you will weep in thanksgiving for a God who loved you enough to be pierced for your transgressions. A God who clothed Himself in wrath: who took upon Him the thorns that pierced you as that little girl, the thorns you pierced into yourself, and the thorns piercing you upon your return. Why? For the joy set before Him: a healed and whole you, a healed and whole Body of Christ.
So that you and all His beloved, traumatized children would never ever have to bear the weight of these awful thorns themselves. So that these very thorns piercing you would become a gift of healing and redemption to you and to so many more through the resurrection life of Christ at work in you, through the living Word of God ever calling you to remember HIM, the joy set before you.
One day, you will weep for a God who chose you, even knowing you would harden your heart in sin. Knowing that you would turn away from the very piercing sent to heal you, sent to smash your idols and free you of your chains.
But this God chose you to give you a future and a hope – putting plans into motion not to harm you, but to bless you. For, through His piercing, He is rewriting your story of sin and death into a story of grace and resurrection life, ever unfolding.
One day, instead of believing He turned away from His little girl, you will finally see how He turned toward her. You will see how He held you in the palm of His hand all those years that you thought He had abandoned you.
You will see that He placed you exactly where He wanted you, right where the thorns being sent to hurt you would in His time, in His blood, redeem not only you, but so many more through His testimony flowing out of you, as you bow at the foot of the Cross.
You’re teaching me
To remember too
A crown of thorns piercing
Again and again and again
Love pouring forth
From a Cross.
A table set
In the presence of my enemies
Pouring on my head.
In each and every thorn
I find more of
My crown of thorns
You bled and died
To exchange my sin and death
For a crown of life
Beloved traumatized child, rejoice! Those thorns are not yours to bear. For the wrath of man shall yet praise Jesus; With a remnant of wrath He will gird Himself (Psalm 76:10 NASB). Because of the joy set before Him – you – He died on that Cross to take your crown of thorns upon Himself and to exchange that crown of thorns for a crown of life everlasting!
Your Future Self, redeemed and restored by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of your testimony in Christ
Psalm 73: 21 – 26 ESV
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Colossians 1:24 (ESV)
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotions, L.B. Cowman, p.388
It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds or kernels. And so it has always been, down through the history of plants, people, and all of spiritual life—God uses BROKEN THINGS.