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 2: Chapter 3 – Day 3 The Joy and Peace in the Gold

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 2‘s Chapter 3. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of gold – a poem, testimony and prayer – praising Jesus for the joy and peace He births in us through His perfect living Word.

I had a dream several months ago of this large ruler and I was petrified of him, until I got smaller and smaller and entered underneath him. It was almost like I disappeared into him and that then I was no longer afraid of him.

At the time, God was asking me to humble myself and go lower and lower. I did so, following His call, but not understanding what He was up. At every turn the writing education project I had felt His call to begin kept getting smaller and smaller, until what I still had sitting there He asked me to delete.

Now, I realize it was never about the actual project. Jesus was after my obedience and had designed every step along the way to grow me in my trust of Him and to refine me to look more like Him. Through it all He was teaching me to delight in His Voice, to look to the unseen and to rejoice in His fatherly desire to see me learn and grow in His perfecting Word.

It was about allowing Him to shape my character. He taught me so much about laying down my own expectations for His. He shut the doors I thought He would open, only to open doors that required me to stoop lower and lower to serve others in their need, but also to allow Him to refresh and replenish me.

For, as I listened for His Word to me, He taught me so much about setting and keeping boundaries that preserved His rest in my life. He enabled me to come away with Him between all the tasks and to continue loving my children and husband well. And where I disobeyed His gentle call to rest, He was quick to rebuke me and lead me to repentance, showing me why His safe boundaries are always best. Through it all, He showed me parts of my character He desires to continue refining to make me more like Him. I learnt so much.


At the time, I saw the ruler as those I had to set my project before to find financial support. Now, I realize that ruler is Jesus and that He worked through everyone on my path, continually inviting me to become smaller and smaller. As I humbled myself, again and again beneath God’s mighty hand, I became less and less fearful. I grew in my confidence of His Word to me.

Suddenly, the opinions of those around me mattered little. Not just because I was bathing myself in God’s Word to me, but because God was opening my eyes to the beauty of His freeing truth. The path He set for me lifted off burdens at every turn that I could never have lifted off myself.

I began to obey my Jesus, no longer to do the “right” thing, but because I loved and trusted Him above all else. I witnessed and rejoiced in His loving protection, direction and refining of me and others, every step I took.

It was such an amazing experience. So sheltered in His love, after all His recent pruning, I found the lies I once clung to, gliding off me. The truth of God’s Word surrounded me at every turn, uplifting me and carrying me forward.

Now, I can also look back at my past with new eyes. For the past seven years, since God brought this little lost sheep home, He continually asked me to surrender one thing and one person after another into His hands: some physically and some spiritually and some both. It has been an incredibly painful and gruelling process, but one that I now see is reaping such fruit. Our God’s Word is truly gold – true and trustworthy:

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Hebrews 12:11 KJV

A few weeks ago, I penned a poem to express this journey God has taken me on. As you read it, I pray you too recognize the fruit of peace the LORD is reaping in your own life and heart through all the painful surrenders He has walked you through also:

Peace

Caught
Between two w/Words
The religion
I know

And the Son
Of God
I hear
Beckoning.

I wrestle
With the Alpha
And Omega
Who asks me
To surrender

The letter of the Law
I know
For the Living Word's
Searching
And knowing.

But what can I do
But open the door
To my Lord's knocking
To sup with Him?

Where can I go
But to the only One
Who has the Word
Of life?

So I surrender
My known
To be known
Fully and wholly

By the only
True God
Who stills
My heart
To know

The world
And all who dwell
Therein are
His.

I yield
The cup of suffering
To my lips now take
And drink

In communion
The Living Word
To my Father
In thanksgiving lifting

I break
The bread
And take
Eat.

I fill my heart
With the
Law fulfilled
Who calls for me

To join Him
In each and every
Death that's
Dying.

To take the hand
Of the sovereign God
Who walks me
To the tomb
To show me what
He already sees:

"Unwrap him now
And let him loose"
I hear my Savior
Calling.

His work
Of surrender
Just invites me
Into

More.

More JOY
Before me laid
Than I could ever
Think of, ask for
Or imagine.

For, Christ's blood
Was shed
For this:

To reconcile
All things to Him
Whether on earth
Or heaven

To make

Peace.

Now, rather than seeing these surrenders as my shame to carry and as proof that I failed, I see them as God’s gift to me and proof of His Word – His gold – growing and flourishing in me. For, all along, God was lifting one burden after another off of my shoulders to shower me in His life-giving grace.

What He has gifted me through it all reminds me so much of John the Baptist’s Words in John 3:29-30, ESV:

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom stands and listens for him, and is overjoyed to hear the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Now, I see that all that decreasing Christ brings through each surrender is in fact what brings us such peace. For through each dying to self, we come to know how deeply our Abba Father knows us and loves us.

Every trauma trigger shaking my body has only invited me into a deeper and deeper resting in my God’s golden Word to me. I now see how my precious Jesus has been ever increasing in me, through my every decreasing. And oh the joy that brings me now, as I look back with cleansed eyes. Praise Him!

Will you join me as I end today’s free will offering of gold in prayer?

Precious Father, oh how we thank and praise You for the gold of Your Word. We thank You for choosing imperfect and weak vessels like us to display Your glory and grace to this yearning world.

We thank You that You are laboring in such love and devotion through Your Son to refine us to make us look more and more like You. Thank You that even when the path You set for us doesn’t make any sense, we can trust Your perfect will and Your desire to grow us and bless us.

Forgive us, where we have looked to the seen and bemoaned our lack or the closing doors. Forgive us, where we have based our identity on anything other than You. Father, thank You for loving us enough to withhold things, people and communities from us that You know will destroy the beauty of Your Son in us.

Thank You that You withhold no good thing from those who are upright, who walk in You. Father, open our eyes to see what You see: the beauty and perfection of Your Word to us and the healing it is bringing to our hearts. Oh LORD how we long to decrease that YOU may increase in and through us. Have Your Way in us!

Thank You for inviting us to commune with You through each setting apart. Thank You for silencing the enemy’s accusations through each closing door, so that we can hear Your Voice more clearly than ever before. Thank You for changing both our minds and our direction, for blotting out all our sins that we may now bathe in the refreshing and healing waters of Your living Word and Presence with us.

In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.

Come let us glorify our God: