Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 1: He Gives Us More Grace

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering in praise of God opening her eyes to see by faith. By God’s grace, her eyes open to the Promise contained in the budding of her almond tree, in the midst of great pain and affliction. She also invites us to join her in a time of thanksgiving and prayer.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Luke 11:34 NIV 

This branch is from my Flowering Almond bush:

It has had its share of suffering and disease. At one point, several years ago, I considered removing the whole bush because it continued to die back and shed more leaves than what it was gaining. But the patient gardener in me decided to give it another chance, and pruned away the dead branches one more time. I would have missed out on these beautiful blooms if I had focused solely on the diseased portion of the plant.

And so it is in my own life. Where are my eyes choosing to focus? Where is the light within them?

This week a friend sent me a song, and because it was a reworking of a hymn that was one of my favorites, I went on a search to find the original. In so doing, as often happens with me, the history of the hymn drew my attention just as much as the song itself. Maybe you have heard of Annie Johnson Flint, poet and hymn writer from the early 1900’s? 

Before this search, I had known she lived a life of suffering, and I had known her beautiful work came from a fountain of grace within her.  What I had not known was that her disease was one with which I am well acquainted:

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

But she suffered in the years when there was no relief for pain, and no medicine to halt the crippling effects. Where I might suffer some pain and weakness, and some residual tendon damage, she suffered the full effects of a horrible disfigurement and pain beyond compare. As the disease progressed, she was forced to type out her poems using only her bent knuckles, because her joints had swollen and twisted to a point of uselessness.

What do I know of that kind of uselessness?

How would I have borne that kind of suffering?

In these days of stillness, as the Lord brings fresh convictions to me daily, I know that my heart has so far yet to travel. For you see, Annie Johnson Flint had let the Lord bring the true Light to her eyes.  When the darkness of a cruel disease could have crippled her heart, she chose to let the Light of Christ permeate her soul and body. She chose to let that Light redeem her suffering, and bring forth encouragement that would bless others who were facing darkness.

She chose 
Acceptance in the 
Pruning from her own 
Master Gardener and embraced 
HIS Light in the very place of her suffering.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” Philippians 1:29 NIV 

He Giveth More Grace (lyrics)

—Annie Johnson Flint

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added affliction He addeth His mercy; To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun. 

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure. His pow’r has no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”

Would you join me in pausing to meditate on the suffering that our Lord bore for us, and join me in prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,  

I thank you for the suffering that you bore for me. I rejoice in the salvation and grace that you won for me there.

And, now I ask that you would purify my eyes to see the light in my days and the Grace within my own suffering.

May I let you bring Joy from Pain and Beauty from Ashes, And may the Love you have granted sink deep into my soul, body, mind and spirit.

Amen.     

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This post was first published four years ago at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2017/03/30/he-gives-us-more-grace/ Since then, Bettie’s health has deteriorated significantly and yet the beauty and life of Christ is flourishing in and through her more and more, as she comforts others with the comfort the LORD is pouring out upon her.

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 1: Shepherd of My Soul

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing our first free will offering of goats’ hair: a poem and two Scriptures that are reflected in her poem.

“The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.  Hebrews 13:11-12 NIV

Oh my soul, harassed and torn
Tossed about in the storm,
Is there a Shepherd who cares?
Is there a buffer from the winds?

Oh yes there is a Shepherd so true
One who walks in light
Pure and Holy is He
With never a stain on Him.

But what has He done?
Where cometh this help?
He walks into the storm
Himself bears my own pain!

Oh He who knew no sin, no stain
Took on Himself the shame
Bore it outside the camp
Scorned the shame I should have known.

Oh Lovely One who rose victorious
And won for me the battle
You call me now to come and see
A Shepherd’s compassion here.

The storm that comes to toss and sway
It will not win this battle here
For I have ONE who knows my name
My Shepherd paid the cost

Oh Glorious One all lovely
My heart You set at rest
No storm can touch me here
While on Your chest I lay.

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)

Part 3: The Oil of Anointing

Welcome to Part 3 of Arise and Shine: The Oil of Anointing. Today, Bettie is opening part 3 with a devotional, including a poem and Spirit-led song she was gifted, as she shares what God showed her about the process required to make the anointing oil and its connection to Christ’s labor of love and our response to that.

Join us in the coming days and weeks for the chapters and daily free will offerings connected to the Oil of Anointing. We will be posting these as the LORD leads us.

Have you seen the beautiful plant called “Crown of Thorns?” It is a reliable bloomer that keeps me going through the garden-less days of winter. But just because it’s reliable, doesn’t mean it’s boring. I am always moved by the beauty that rests alongside the pain of this plant. Thorns are jagged along the whole stem, with hardly a space left open. But at the tip of each stem there rests such a fragile seeming, tender bloom. Will my own heart find tenderness alongside the pain? 

Crown of Thorns

Gentle thorns, I pray

Please don't blow the joy away

Let the blooms remain

And if you understand the Song of Solomon to be an allegory of the love story between our God and His People, then He sees us as that beautiful bloom:

“Him: Like a lily among thorns, that is what she is;

        my dear is a captivating beauty among the young women.” Song of Solomon 2:2

Oh, what a mystery is the Love of our Lord! Many years ago, during a particularly busy and overwhelming Season in my life, my Lord spoke this Spirit-led song over my heart in a dream:

"I will pour on you
the oil of gladness in the morning,

I will pour on you
the oil of my joy.

I will burn off all the dross,
Stir up what remains,

And I will pour on you
the oil of my joy."

At the time the song was given, I searched the Scriptures, and the historical processes for the Biblical anointing oil that was used by Moses.  And this is what I found in Exodus 30:20-25 (NIV):

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil.  Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil 

Then to understand the process that the “work of a perfumer” would have gone through, I found these words by David Levy, in his book, The Tabernacle: Shadows of the Messiah:

“The anointing oil was made from a specific formula . . . Rabbinical sources state that Moses, having reduced the solid ingredients to powder, steeped them in water until all the aromatic qualities were drawn out. The olive oil was then poured into the ingredients and the water boiled out. The residue thus obtained was preserved in a vessel for use.” 

Where did those specific ingredients come from? Cinnamon, cassia, and calamus were gathered from the bark and leaves of fragrant plants. But myrhh—it’s a thorny plant that only releases its resin after a wounding is made to the bark. So, not only is the process of making the anointing oil a journey through drying, grinding, steeping, and boiling, but there is a wounding involved in the very first step of gathering.  

Dear one, are you facing a wounding in your life? Are you in a season of boiling stress? Or maybe you are facing the drying winds of a desert.  Rest assured, our Lord has already walked through the process that was required to birth the anointing oil that He, himself became for us. But He has called us His lily among the thorns. Are we ready to give our love, our anointing oil, back to Him?

My feet are aching

Here on this thorny road

Where pebbles prick my feet

Diseased and worn

I hobble through my days.


The oil given me

A healing balm I’m told

Will soothe the burning

And restore the movement

Illness took from me.


But I don’t see results

I cry when I am forced

To wait while others walk

And watch the path

Sit silent at my feet.


And yet

I pour the oil.


Another woman poured her oil

She wasted all her treasure

For ONE the world called

Foolish and meek

Anointing Him for burial.


A beautiful gift she gave

Poured from the wounding

In her heart

After the boiling of her pain

Had wrecked her heart for HIM.


God had set the plan

He had made the picture

Worship required Anointing

Anointing required oil

Born from a wounding and a scar.


Jesus dear Redeemer

You were that oil for me

After your own wounding

Pounded, dried and scourged

Blood drops squeezed so pure.


Now here am I at your feet

Broken, wounded, beaten

By diseases from this world

Yet from the thorn-touch here

You birth a lovely gift.


The oil of my wounding

Has become my sacrifice

Of praises never ending

Washing your feet with tears

Drying them with my hair.


You pull me to my feet

Your words for all to hear

From lips so full of love

What she has done so free

Eternity will call, Beautiful.

Chapter 1: Incense

Chapter 2: Goats’ Hair

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 4: He Will Carry Us

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 2‘s Chapter 2. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering of bronze. Her story and poem show us how the LORD exchanged her human judgment with His freeing judgment and her prayer invites us into thanksgiving.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.  Luke 15:1-6

As I listened to the verses being read aloud, my heart started pounding more rapidly. I heard the words, but I saw myself in the story. As Jesus put that lost one on his shoulders and began to walk home, something broke loose in me. It was what I had been longing for almost every night within this chronic illness wandering: to be lifted and carried away from the thorns.

Over these past years, since my chronic illness diagnoses, I have met my Savior, my Shepherd, in more intimate ways than I ever could have imagined. He called me beautiful when I found myself so ugly. He called me chosen when I found myself separated and cut-off. He called me by His own royal name when all I could hear was minimizing and neglect. He called me His daughter, and I hid in His embrace.

But when I listened to the story of that one lost sheep, I realized that even after those many precious words He had spoken to me, I have still felt tangled in thorns and separated from where I was supposed to be. I have still rebelled at the thought that this place of weakness could be the very place that He knew I would be in. When I have looked longingly back at the place of my own strength, I have not acknowledged that this place of tangled thorns has been the place designed for precious carrying by Him. For if the thorns had never tangled me, I would never have felt the amazing intimacy of His arms when all of my own physical strength had been utterly depleted.

The Thornbush

I see the thorn-bush set in my path
And I ponder the way ahead
Can I make my way cleanly around
Or must I offer my arms to be torn in the passing?

I look for tools to cut away the brambles
And I find them waiting for my use
Can I gather the branches without snagging
Or must I give over my hands to be bloodied in the holding?

I hear a voice calling me to lay down the struggle
And I see the Gardener watching me
Can I pause long enough to allow for His help
Or will I willfully stomp my feet in the tearing of pain?

It is HIS garden after all that offers this path
And I find the journey ahead planned by Him
Can I see the beauty in the thorn-bush here
The eternal weight of glory being given in this suffering?

The eternal weight of glory being given in this suffering?

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

And then God highlighted another set of Scripture verses, and I pondered them for weeks, leaving the windows open in my search browser so that I would see them every time I opened the internet. But when I thought about my Lord carrying that lone, bleating sheep over the rutted pathways, I suddenly saw such a beautiful picture in these verses where He had me pause:

Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126:6 NIV

Jesus weeps over each of us lambs. We are the ones for whom He has planted such deep seeds. We are the harvest, we are the sheaves He is singing over as He carries us so close to His heart, right over His shoulders.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7 NIV

And when I am finally brought to those places where all my strength is found only in Him, I am part of His seed sowing AND His harvest. I am one of those who are called “they” in these passages, part of the singers flooded with His springs of water, dancing in His pools of strength.

Have you glimpsed those tangled thorns capturing your strength? I would love to pray with you today as we allow our Shepherd to come after us, to pick us up, and to place us over His own shoulders.

Dear Lord Jesus,

We come to You today, admitting that we have been Your lost lamb, so tangled in thorns that we have no strength of our own left. Forgive us for looking back longingly, trying to find our own way out of the piercing. Would You help us to look up to You and find Your arms so sufficient for us?

Thank You for the seeds You have sown in our hearts. Thank You for the harvest that You are reaping even now, as You lift us and place us close to Your heart. 

Help us to drink deeply of Your springs of life-giving water. Help us to sing with You through the valleys transformed by YOUR strength.

We praise You for Your deep love that is even now working for us an eternal weight of glory, right here in this place of suffering. We worship You, our Blessed Savior, Good Shepherd, and Loving Lord.

In Your name, we pray,

Amen.

Photo: From Anna Smit’s private collection.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 6: The Thread of Redemption

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 2‘s Chapter 1 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a testimony of God’s redemption in her own life and heart and invites you to join her in prayer at the end. This is an edited version of a blog post she published here on shalomaleh.com at the end of May.

A few years ago, I sat lamenting my past and all the decisions that were made on my behalf as a child that I saw as pushing me down my Prodigal path. In effect, I was blaming my parents for the path my life had taken. But as I began to do so, God began to ask me to look for His thread of redemption weaving through every decision made on my behalf.

I blamed my Dad for choosing to send only me to a non-Christian school and taking me away from my “safe” environment. But God asked me to open my eyes to see what He had gifted me in those years. It’s then I saw the beautiful souls He had had me befriend from multiple nations and multiple faith backgrounds. Jesus taught me so much through these girls, who were so genuine with me and, unlike me, didn’t hide beneath a veneer of self-righteousness. 

Through these girls, I now see Jesus showing me my own need for salvation. For, the sins I saw them fall into, I saw reflected in my own heart. The only difference was that no one but God saw that darkness hiding in me. Jesus was showing me that it’s not Christian environments that are our Savior, but Him alone.

I blamed my parents for the trauma of my childhood. I blamed them for making me feel like Jesus had abandoned me and my little adopted brother, as in their pain, frustration and exhaustion, they began to follow the letter of the law and abandoned the Spirit’s leading in their methods of discipline. But God asked me to open my eyes to see my story through the lens of truth and grace.

Now, I know my parents never forced me to worship them. My parents never forced me to put my trust in them above God. I chose to clothe myself in lies and turn to sin to numb my pain. I now know that Jesus has given me the gift of free will – the free will to choose Him, to be set apart unto Him.

I now know that He so longed for me as a little girl to rest in His love and acceptance. He longed for me to persevere through suffering, by abiding in Him and His Word to me, a Word that did not return void, but reaped the fruit for which it was sent, more than twenty years later.

I now know I have been given the honor and free will to rejoice in the hope of glory that will not put me to shame, as I choose to be set apart according to the purposes of God:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5 (ESV)

I now know that to honor my mother and father was to honor Jesus in them. It was to allow Jesus to set me apart for His purposes. It was to discover that I have the free will to deny myself, take up my Cross and follow Jesus that He might bless each one of us. 

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:34-37 (ESV)

Jesus showed me that when my parents dedicated me to Him as a baby and when I gave my heart to Him as a four year old, He bound Himself to me. I became His.

My parents and I invited Jesus to become the author and finisher of my faith, in response to our Heavenly Father’s invitation and Christ has shown Himself faithful and still is, daily. Now, I see how Jesus used my parents’, my little brother’s and my own weakness to perfect His power. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV).

God knew my prideful and adulterous heart needed this experience of being set apart, so the branches that were not bearing any fruit could be cut off and burned. Now, through His patient labor of love and mercy, I am embracing the discipline and pruning work God first began in me as a little girl. And I am seeing the fruit of His labor of redemption: His buying back of my life and heart from sin and death.

For, Jesus is turning my mourning into dancing. Through each new setting apart, He is opening my eyes to see by faith and not by sight. Through my experiences of His faithful and never-forsaking love, my heart is learning to trust and obey Jesus. Now, I know that “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV).

Yes, forever He will be the Lamb upon the throne:

Dear Abba Father, thank You for the thread of redemption running through our families and the beauty You are bringing from the ashes of our past. Help us not to sit in the ashes of our old life, longing for someone to bring us to You and to make us acceptable in Your sight, when Christ has already made us acceptable in Your sight. Remind us that Christ has given us the power and authority to pick up our mats and walk into the new life You have ordained for us.

Father, forgive us for defining ourselves and others through the eyes of the world. Open our eyes to see Your redemption at work in our lives, to see all the ways You have already been transforming our hearts and minds to look more and more like You, through our setting apart. Open our eyes to the beauty of the unseen: the fruit of the Spirit You have been growing in us, as You have cut off and burned all the branches that were not bearing fruit in our lives.

Help us to embrace the Cross, to honor Your Son’s obedience, as He took upon Himself our sin and our suffering at the Cross, by now taking up our own Cross to follow Jesus. Help us to hear and obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings, to put to death the works of the flesh and to heed Your call to be set apart unto You alone. Teach us to trust You that we might pray without ceasing, even when it hurts. Help us to hear Your call and to continually pour our hearts out before You in the loss and pain. Help us to listen for Your Word to us, that we might be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that by testing we may discern what is Your will and what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Help us not to bow to our idols of pride, self and man, but to recognize the honor You are bestowing on us to fill up in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, the church, as You set us apart that we might be holy, as You are holy. Teach us, moment by moment, to walk in the light of Your truth. Give us undivided hearts that we might fear Your Name above all else.

Open our eyes to the beauty of Your setting apart that You have purposed to destroy our idols and make us truly One in You, just as You, Your Son and the Holy Spirit are One. Thank You that it is You who works in us, both to will and to work for Your good pleasure. Continue to bow our knees in awe of Your majesty and power and glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 2: The Water of Life

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 2, Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a devotional on The Water of Life.

Have you ever been thirsty?
I am speaking about the kind of thirsting
In which you feel so thirsty there is a fainting in your soul.

I have been in that land of thirsting,
And I have watched the shimmering waves
Of heat baking the desert sands
As my parched soul
Looked up to Heaven
Waiting
For even one cloud to form.

Many years ago, my family traveled and shared a drama in which I portrayed The Woman at the Well. Week after week, in many different settings, my lips spoke the cry of a woman so thirsty that she begged for a drink when the well was right before her. You see, Jesus had offered to her a different kind of water: a filling up for her soul’s thirsting.

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14 

As the weeks and the months passed, every time I spoke those woman’s words, a deeper longing was planted in my own heart. I didn’t know it at the time, though. I thought I was being filled, as I gave out the words of Jesus, week after week.  

Ah, how does it happen? How does a cry in our heart become lodged so deep that only another longing can answer in return?

I thought I knew how deep the well in my own heart was. I thought I felt the fullness of my Lord’s Words when I shared His heart with those around me.  But I had only scratched the surface.  I offered my praise, and I offered my worship, and my Lord knew what was required to let me see my own unmet longing.

The desert of pain
And the heat of suffering
Burned away the
Half-met longings
To uncover
The well where
Full-hearted cries
Could finally be heard.

I have some very dear friends who continually pray for my healing. They wait in hope for the day that Jesus will restore movement to me, and a full remission in this place of pain. Where would I be without their sweet prayers of HOPE? And I do see improvement from the awful heat and swelling that began this journey of disease.

But there is a deeper healing 
In my soul
That I would never trade
Even for just a day
Without physical pain.


For how can I tell
Of the wondrous
Filling
For my soul's
Thirsty well?

How can I sing
Of my Savior's dear Presence
Carrying my heart
To His bosom of rest
When the pain
Overwhelms?

And how will I share
These dewdrops of love
Poured down on my heart
When the desert sky
Breaks
With the water
From Heaven?

Is your heart facing a desert sun today? Are you fainting as the heat of the day wastes your soul?  There is a filling that can happen for you too, my friend.  There is a place of stillness close to the heart of God where He calls you to come.

It is His very Word spoken at the end of our drama, week after week. I longed for those words to be mine, years ago, but it took the pain of suffering to bring them home to my heart:

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17 NIV 

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Silver Redemption

Welcome to Chapter 1 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to the free will offering of silver. She gives examples from her own life of how God has compelled her to bring forward this free will offering – the Promise of redemption. And Bettie and Anna invite you to join them in prayer at the end.

We will be adding additional poem, prayers and devotionals to this page, on the theme of silver and redemption, as the LORD directs.

Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; Exodus 35:5

In the temple, 100 silver hooks held up the curtain ushering the priest into the Holy of Holies and the presence of God. These hooks were made from the free will offering of silver brought forward by the Israelites and King David for the building of the Temple. 

Silver was also melted to make the basins and bowls for the ritual purification and cleansing of the priests. And it was used to make the silver bands with their hooks of silver for all the pillars that held up the court. Additionally, it was used to make two trumpets of silver, of hammered work that were used “for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out” (Numbers 10:2).

Silver is known as the currency of redemption and a metal refined and purified by fire:

“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” 

(Psalm 12:6, ESV)

Take away the dross from the silver,and the smith has material for a vessel;

(Proverbs 25:4, ESV).

Instead of bronze I will bring gold,

    and instead of iron I will bring silver;

instead of wood, bronze,

    instead of stones, iron.

I will make your overseers peace

    and your taskmasters righteousness.

(Isaiah 60:17, ESV)

30 pieces of silver were paid to redeem a slave from captivity. 30 pieces of silver were paid by the religious leaders to Judas, so he would betray Jesus with a kiss. 30 pieces of silver were thrown by Judas back into the temple, before he hung himself. 30 pieces of silver were used to buy the Potter’s field to bury the bodies of foreigners. 

Thus, the free will offering of silver symbolized the very redemption Christ would bring through His death on the Cross. The Word “redemption” in Hebrew literally means a buying back. God bought back our hearts, freeing us from our enslavement to sin, through the very betrayal of man. 

For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” (Isaiah 52:3, ESV)

So, now, when Christ compels us to bring forward the free will offering of silver, we are literally bringing forward His Promise of redemption. We are bringing forward God’s Promise to buy us back, fully and wholly. We are declaring His faithfulness to move through His Living Water (the Spirit-infused Word of God) to:

  • purify us 
  • cleanse us 
  • lift up the Body of Christ and bring it to complete healing and wholeness
  • strengthen us and establish us in Christ 
  • to gather us together and cause us to depart at His command, as the trumpet is blown.

In what situations have you found God encouraging you to bring forward His Promise of redemption? In what ways have you noticed God has been redeeming you and others you know?

God has been redeeming me personally through the repeated pruning of healthy branches and the cutting off of dying branches in my life. Through His good gardening, God is helping me to be able to differentiate between the voice of our enemy, with his cruel accusations of condemnation, and the moment by moment revelation of the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit’s promptings. 

In setting me apart unto His purposes, Christ is helping me to lift up the Name of Jesus above all else. He has been teaching me, through the pain and sorrow of each surrender, to lay before Him the accusations haunting me, so He can arise in power through His Holy Word to me. He has repeatedly cleansed my conscience, plowing up my unbelief to fill me with fresh faith and Promises from His Word to lift up in praise. 

I now see, how under His leadership and in His strengthening, I am daily choosing to die to old thought patterns and arise unto the new. Through all the surrenders Christ is working in me, I am beginning to see my past through new eyes: Christ’s eyes of redemption. 

I am learning to trust Christ to prove me His. I am learning to still and listen for the moment-by-moment revelation of God’s Word by the Holy Spirit. I am learning to obey the Living Word of God – Jesus – who speaks inside of me. The Living Word that is now becoming a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. 

I can see how Christ has taken ownership of me, buying me back from the enemy who once had tethered me to sin, striving and idol worship (of self, church, religious leaders and friends). Through every surrender His labor of love has wrought in my heart, God has opened my eyes to the gift of free will He has given me, the free will to choose Him and the true desires of my heart.

And in this purifying work of the Living Word, Christ is redeeming the years that the locusts ate. In our LORD Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer, nothing is ever wasted. Not one detail of our stories is ever too shameful or unimportant, but rather each detail becomes an essential part of God’s masterpiece, declaring His love and great mercy to the world. 

When God reminds us through His Word that the old has gone and that we are not to look back on our past, it means that when we give our life to Jesus, our slate has been made clean. Our failings turn from being a shameful burden to carry, to evidence of God’s great love and compassion for us and His power to save and redeem our lives – and others’ – for His glory.

Peter’s heartbreaking denials of Jesus now declare the power of the Cross to save and redeem us all. They remind us that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Saul ordering the execution of Stephen now awakens our hearts to the depths of God’s mercy that we too can draw upon in suffering and persecution. It also reminds us of the power of the Cross to open our own and others’ blinded eyes to see and to give us new names, declaring us new creations in Christ Jesus. Paul’s thorn in his side reminds us all, even today, that God’s power is perfected in our weakness and not in our own ability, health or strength.

Perhaps you too, recognize Jesus doing a similar work of redemption in your heart and life, as He has been in mine. For, Christ labors in each one of us to exchange our heart of stone for His heart of flesh. A heart of flesh not hardened by sin and pain, but compelling us to willingly join Christ in His suffering that we might draw upon His love and mercy to declare each heart set before us: eternally His. A heart of flesh declaring each one of us purchased by the blood of the Lamb and our inheritance of redemption – complete healing and wholeness in body, mind, heart and soul – as safely sealed by the Holy Spirit. 

And oh how I long, as I am sure you do also, to see this redemption unveiled in us all: fully and wholly, when Christ returns.

Dear Great and Glorious Lord, 

We come before you acknowledging that we are so in need of redemption.  You are Holy and we are not. You are pure and we are tainted. Lord will you daily cleanse us from our old way of thinking? Will you continue to take away our striving and show us that You alone have the power to redeem us from our sins? 

You, our God, have purchased salvation for us with the precious blood of your own Son.  May we let you redeem us from these sinful ways of living, and find Your gift of new life flooding into our hearts. 

And as You compel us to boast in our weakness, may our testimonies to Your glory and grace and the blood of the Lamb arise to silence the accusations of the enemy against our brethren. May Your redemption not just flood our own hearts, but others’ also, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.

In the precious name of your Holy Son, Jesus, we pray. 

Amen.

Day 1: Even Here, Even Now

Day 2: The Water of Life

Day 3: The Living Word

Day 4: Garments of Praise

Day 5: Eternal Redemption

Day 6: The Thread of Redemption

Day 7: The Great I AM

Chapter 2: Day 3 – I Will Not Leave You Orphaned

Welcome to Day 3 of Chapter 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna Smit is sharing a poem and prayer.

Sometimes God’s fencing in comes through the experience of loss. Losing loved ones, losing the abilities and jobs we once had due to deteriorating health, losing friendships, losing our homes. Perhaps you too have tasted multiple loss and are feeling the pain of these losses deeply today.

May this poem the LORD gifted Anna, in the pain of multiple losses, bless you also. May the Holy Spirit move through it to bring His comfort to your heart also.

I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU ORPHANED

I will not leave you orphaned
You know what it is to lose
To lose such precious life
But I tell you, I have come
To give you life
Abundant life.

On those days your heart begins to ache
On those days you feel forsaken
All alone
Lean into Me
Tell Me all your pain, be not ashamed
But share your yearning deep.

I will not leave you orphaned
Cry those tears and share those fears
Pour every doubt into My waiting bowl
And I'll reflect My Truth there back to you
I'll place My hand upon your shoulder
Not turn away, but turn toward.

Your friend for life
Not just for here, but into all eternity
I'm in you now and I'll never leave
Even when you tell Me
You can't take that one more step.

You see, I know you can't
And that's why I'm here
To lead You here on Me to rest
To lay your head between My shoulders
To sleep secure, knowing I won't leave.

I will not leave you orphaned
When your body, mind and soul here give away
I'll hold you tight
My water to your lips so parched I'll raise
My bread to famished body gift.

I've chosen you.
I've always wanted you.
This path I've set before you
Is the path I have entrusted you.
It's yours to walk, but not alone.

The God of glory, He'll secure your passage
My righteousness will pave your way.
When you pray, I'll answer you.
When you call for help, then I'll say
"Here I am." (Isaiah 58: 6 - 12 MSG)

I will not leave you orphaned
Even when all you see
Is no way through.
Don't grab the reigns or blame another,
But turn to Me.

And know that as you give
And as you share
Your empty, nothing
My full and plenty here becomes.
I'm all you'll ever need.

No, I will not leave you orphaned,
For I've adopted you for life
To live and move and have your being
In Me.
For My yoke of love is easy
And my burden, light.

Father God, thank You for Your tender heart of compassion toward us in our earthly losses. Thank You for carrying the pain of each of our losses on Your Cross, so that You can now draw near to us through Your Spirit and lift the weight of our burdens.

Thank You for showing us through the story of Lazarus that even though You too knew he would rise again, You wept with Mary in her loss. Thank you for mourning with us, as we grieve. Thank You for opening Your arms to us in every loss.

Father, help us to trust You with our pain. Help us to unburden our hearts and receive Your comfort in this place. Remind us, again and again, that You will never ever leave or forsake us. We know this truth in our minds, but we ask You to root this truth deeper and deeper into our hearts, through Your fencing in.

Show us the power of Your living and active Word. Set us free in You, for You are the Truth, the Way and the Life. Show us the freedom of Your light yoke of grace. Teach us to walk in the light of Your truth. Give us an undivided heart that we might fear Your Name above all else.

Thank You that You take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it good. Show us how You are doing that in this place of loss. Thank You for all the ways You are drawing us unto Yourself in this fencing in.

Open our eyes to see and embrace each gift of grace. Help us to bring forward Your free will offering of purity in this fencing in, that You may clothe us in Your fresh white linen that declares us overcomers in Your Name. Thank You for perfecting Your power in our every weakness.

We love You. We thank You and we honor You for who You are. Praise You! In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

Steps of Love

Something broke inside of me and I slipped into a deep depression. I wrote:

Some months ago one judgmental remark from someone put me into a tailspin and brought me face to face with painful memories of past abuse. At first I disassociated from my feelings. I didn’t want to feel at all, because it hurt too much. I continued on in life like a robot. But I became more and more depressed until one day something inside me broke. I sobbed and cried, “I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so sick of being strong for everyone around me…”

It was like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a sea of turmoil, gulping up water. In my mind Jesus was standing above the surface looking down at me and shaking his head. “Hopeless case, that one…” I felt so forsaken of God. His promises seemed bogus, and I could not grasp a single one.

The weight of depression stomped me down, down, down…

Roaring In

Shame-slapping Scowls

Stormy Emotions

Stomping Down

Sinking Me

I couldn’t have made it that dark day without the grace of God. By the end of the day my heart was still heavy, but the care and compassion loved ones gave me lifted me up to see a pinpoint of hope. And the next day, God had a pleasant surprise for  me.

“I will give thanks and praise the Lord, with all my heart;

I will tell aloud all Your wonders and marvelous deeds.”

Psalm 9:1

My husband suggested I take my writing pad and go to the Falls. He knew nature often relaxes and comforts me. It helps me to remember God still has all things in His control. I sat on a rock and watched the water rush over the red rock formations. I let the sound of it sooth my weary soul. I imagined the wind as the breath of God kissing my face and telling me I will make it through this.

When I walked along the paths and around the Art Barn, I stopped in awe. There in front of me written in chalk down the front of the steps was a message that still impacts me today. “I will love you every step of the way. ♥” I knew it was God speaking directly to my despairing heart.

Then I remembered a song – “Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe.

“Wish it could be easy

Why is life so messy?

Why is pain a part of us?

There are days I feel like

Nothing ever goes right

Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here

You’re real

I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts

Even when it’s hard

Even when it all just falls apart

I will run to You

‘Cause I know that You are

Lover of my soul

Healer of my scars

You steady my heart.”

Sometimes God sends the greatest comforts out of the deepest valleys, doesn’t He? My heart still felt wounded, but I knew I could run to Jesus and He would pull me up again out of the pit and set my feet upon the Rock.

“He reached down and drew me from the deep,

dark hole where I was stranded,

mired in the muck and clay.

With a gentle hand, He pulled me out

To set me down safely on a warm rock;

He held me until I was steady enough

to continue the journey again.”

Psalm 40:2 Voice

That toxic shame still often pierces the core of who I am and screams, “You’re worthless. How can someone like you ever make a positive difference? You don’t deserve comfort. You don’t deserve to be accepted. ”

Panic still creeps in and shouts, “Watch out! You’re going to be hurt again. Reinforce that wall.”

Healing is a process though, right? I have learned that many struggle with inadequacy, shame, and fear of trusting. And I know there are others who also do but remain silent onlookers. And that’s ok. 

All of us have a story to tell, and there is not one story that is less important than another. There is not one hurt that is less painful than anyone else’s. Every story counts. Every. Single. One. So don’t let that bug bite you and tell you, “Your burdens are not as bad as someone else’s.” I know by experience that can stifle the grieving process. Every hurt needs grieving in order to start healing.

Remember! You are so special to God! You have been created uniquely for a special purpose only you can fill. Jesus loves you so much that He sacrificed His life for you. His arms are wide open with welcome, longing for you to run into them. Yes, life can be messy. Yes, it can hurt so much and be so hard. But He cares about broken hearts and delights to heal them.

Precious Lord Jesus, sometimes life can hurt so much and be so hard, but You have promised You care about our broken hearts and You delight to heal us. When shame poisons our perspective, please help us to see that in You, we are beautiful and valuable. When we feel like we’re drowning in the storms of life, please help us to reach up and grasp Your hand ever reaching out to us. Your hand of unfailing love and compassion. Please break all the chains that still bind us and keep us from dancing in Your victory for us. Heal us ever more deeply! Thank You for Your unconditional love and powerful grace!

This post is excerpted from Trudy Den Hoed’s blog post: https://freedtofly.me/2016/05/03/depression-and-deliverance/

which was first published in 2016.

Trudy’s passion is to encourage others there is hope in Jesus and His love in the midst of loss, heartache, and trauma. Jesus has become the needed oxygen for her soul as she continues on a lifelong journey of healing from past abuse. She lives in the midwestern United States and is grateful to be blessed with a loving husband and precious children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.