Chapter 1: Day 3 – The Unveiling of the Great I AM

Welcome to Day 3 of Chapter 1 from Arise and Shine, a poem and devotional written by Anna Louise Smit (revised & edited version of an old blog post, Defender True).

Do you hear those voices too?
The ones that tell you
You're not enough
You'll never change
All you do is make things worse?

Do you hear the voice that follows then?
The one that tells you
Defend yourself
Hold on tight
To who you wish you were
Lest he rips it from your weary
Tight-clenched hands

Or the one that pushes you
To lie there in that bed
A bed that covers you in blankets
Grief, despair and loathing cruel
Chaining you to who
You believe you truly are
Lost
Forevermore.

Now, stop
And still
Feel Christ's hand
Clasping yours
Earthquake shaking
And flaming fire
Are but shaking off the old
And burning all the dross
To reveal
His gold in you.

Do you hear Him too?
Glorious Truth
Kissing the kind, sweet
Gentle Voice of
Grace.

Feel those
Rushing waters pure
Pouring now
Upon your shoulders hunched
Let them wash away
What's not of you
All that's died
Upon the Cross
To now reveal instead
The lavish gift
Of Christ.

Hear His gentle
Tender Voice
Unveiling
The many gifts
Hidden in
His heart
For you.

Beloved
Chosen
Holy
Pure
Purposed
True
You are His
Masterpiece.

Created anew
In Christ Jesus
You shall perform
The good works
HE
Has long
Prepared for
You.

Unashamed
Confident
Sinking in
His royal cloak
Be strengthened
Your feet firmly planted
Appointed, upon the Rock
Now rise and stand
As new.

Let Christ reveal
His arms stretched high
His unclenched hands
His heart, mind, Body
Worshipping
In Spirit and truth
His love flowing
From you.


No, no lying tongue
Has power there
Where Jesus stills
Our hearts to hear
The Voice of truth
Kissing
Grace.

For God Himself
Has cast these columns
This Temple
Not of human hands
But with His own
He establishes
He strengthens
For, He alone
Is the Great
I AM.

Our One and Only
Slayer of all sin
Stiller of all accusations
Defender True.

Have you ever noticed that as we begin to step out in faith, choosing to trust God in the midst of our great weakness, that the enemy comes out roaring? He will do his best to turn our eyes toward our weakness, telling us we are not enough, we are never going to change and we are only making things worse, by walking in the very path God is taking us down. 

When my accuser has poured in accusations of “not enough”, “never going to change” and “only making things worse”, I have often responded in one of two ways. Either, I have become defensive, pridefully putting on a mask of self-righteousness, so I am not set apart from those around me. Or, I have sunk into despair and become depressed, as I have begun to believe that it is up to me to “be enough”, “always change for the better” and “always make things better”, rather than up to my God to transform me from glory to glory.

But as these accusations have hailed down on me and I have retreated into my cave – either my mask or my bed of suffering – my God hasn’t turned His back on me. No! In His great compassion, He has drawn ever nearer to me. Just like He did with the prophet Elijah, who faced repeated persecution for doing the will of God.

Just like He did for Elijah, He has lovingly sheltered, fed and placed His hand upon me in my cave. And when He has strengthened me to trust Him afresh, He has invited me to join Him outside of my cave. There, comforted by His Presence, He has invited me to listen to and feel the earthquake and fire of His purifying truth. It’s then I have realized that His anger is not directed at me, but at the accuser of my soul who has attempted to steal, kill and destroy.

It’s then I have begun to see how all along He has been moving to defend me – His dwelling place. I realize He has allowed the enemy’s sifting, but only to shake off and burn away all that doesn’t define me.

Then, as this realization has dawned in me, He has stilled my heart to hear the gentle whisper of His restorative and redemptive grace. He has humbled me to see and rest, not in my own strength or perfection, but in the perfect power of His beautiful Word.

And then, clothed in His affirming love, He has called me back to continue the task He first gave me. He has given me the next concrete steps to take and filled me with fresh faith, so that I am no longer striving in fear and shame, but resting in His labor of love through me.

God continually helps me. He helps me to face and process past trauma. He helps me to lay down my idol of responsibility and to bring Him my deep, deep pain. As the triggers come in waves and I see those babies rocking to and fro before me in the orphanages, as an eight and nine year old, God invites me into His arms.

As I watch fellow believers I love and trust, again and again, turn away, punish and condemn children in their weakness and need for Him, He invites me to trust Him. To trust Him that even now, He is working, even as the Scriptures and stories He has had me share appear to fall on deaf ears.

He invites me to remember my own and my family’s story. To remember that in His time He brought those tears of repentance from the Word I spoke as a little girl. He reminds me that as He drew my Mum into His arms in her own weakness and need, through the ravages of cancer, how she turned to embrace the now grown man, she hadn’t understood as a little traumatized boy. How her heart broke in two, as she finally recognized the root of his rebellion. And how the Spirit breath filling her to overflowing poured out upon me also, to draw me into the light of God’s love for me, in my own sin and need, too.

He reminds me that I am no longer that little girl caught in lies. He reminds me that the Word I speak in His Name is not my responsibility to perform and complete, but His alone. He reminds me that when people turn against me and see me as the enemy, I can rest in His love and acceptance and release them into His love and care, rather than clinging to them and embracing the accusations the enemy flings at me.

He helps me see how my own, my Mum’s story and my little adopted brother’s are in fact so similar. How all each one of us truly needed was Him. And He reminds me of all the ways He saw and extended compassion and mercy to my Mum, my little brother and I in our weakness and need, through the many years of our blindness and rebellion. How when no one else saw our need, HE always did. How He cupped our every tear and how nothing was ever wasted. How even now, with my Mum in heaven, He is still turning our ashes into beauty.

He reminds me that I am not without Him – my everpresent help in trouble – who has promised to never leave or forsake me, nor those my heart breaks for. And WITH Christ, my advocate and my atoning sacrifice, I begin to realize I am more than enough.

Not only do we stand justified by the blood Christ shed on the Cross, we are also being transformed from glory to glory, moment by moment, to look more and more like Jesus. So, each of us can lay the accusations at His feet to arise in His mercy for us. We can surrender all and walk into the love of God that sets us free to love Him and each other from His whole heart.

Yes! Christ is in fact only making things more and more beautiful, through the blood He shed for us and His testimony at work in and through each one of usEven, when we can’t see it, He is working still.

Something that I have found helpful through all the accusations that have been flung at me (internally and externally), is to take pen to paper and write down everything I am thinking and feeling, no matter how ugly it is and then, as David did throughout the Psalms. Then, with everything down on paper, I still, just as David also did, to listen for God’s response to me, through His living Word.

I have discovered that in the pouring out, the earthquake and fire of God’s Word move to shake off the old and burn away all impurity in me. It is then, after Christ has lifted these burdens, I am able to hear and receive His gentle and lowly heart moving in kindness toward me to affirm His purity inside of me.

Christ reminds me that He has already paid the price for the wages of my sin, that He has cleansed me by His blood from my sin. Washing me in the refreshing truth of His Word, He reminds me that I am not defined by the impurity He is shaking off me and burning away, and that I can walk into the new awaiting me – through His blood – to sin no more.

Oh how I continually need God to remind me that it His kindness that leads me to repentance (Romans 2:4). That as the earthquake shakes me, it only does so to expose and strip anything that doesn’t belong in me and the fire only rages to burn away the dross in me to reveal the gold of Christ in me. I need God to remind me that the earthquake and fire are uncovering my true identity in Christ, as I sit at the water gate to be refreshed in His living Word. As He washes me in the Word, He reminds me that I am already clean by the Word He has spoken to me.

If you too, recognize yourself in my struggles, will you join me in prayer, today? I would be so blessed to hold your hand and come together boldly before Jesus and His throne of grace in our time of need:

Thank You, LORD, that in my imperfection, You offer me Your own perfection. Thank You for Your never-ending loving kindness to me in my weakness and need.

Thank You that You know exactly what I have been through and are still going through (Hebrews 2: 18, Isaiah 53:4). Thank You that You know just how much my heart yearns to do Your will. Thank You that unlike man, You will never turn Your back on me (Deuteronomy 31:6). Oh Father, thank You for taking man’s rejection of me and using it to grow me in Your love, truth and mercy.

Thank You that “Those who look to [You] are radiant, and their face shall never be ashamed (Psalm 34: 5 ESV). LORD, when I get discouraged by the accusations thrown at me, help me to cast all my burdens at Your feet. Help me to pour out my heart, allowing You to uncover anything wicked that does not belong in me. Purify and cleanse me of my sin and restore me unto yourself, comforting me and quieting me in your love and mercy toward me.

Help me to remember that: ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’ (Proverbs 4:18). Help me to remain ‘confident of this, that he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1: 6 NIV). 

Forgive me for hiding my sin and pain from You in fear. Forgive me for trying to defend myself, for allowing the enemy to make me believe it is my perfection and my strength that will save me and others, rather than Yours. Forgive me for my pride, for trusting in my own limited understanding, rather than inviting You to show me what You see.

Thank You for pursuing me into my cave and moving in compassion and kindness toward me, to free me from my sin, pain, unforgiveness and bitternessThank You for continually reminding me who You truly are, for giving me an undivided heart, rooted in Your love and mercy for us all.

LORD, I turn to You now, confessing my idol worship – the worship of my own strength and the worship of others’ opinions – to receive your waterfall of grace, believing and trusting that Your grace is sufficient for me, that Your power is perfected in my weakness here (2 Corinthians 12:9). Forgive me for not coming to You as I am. For not entrusting my whole heart to You.

Forgive me for not believing in Your power to deliver me and others in our need. I come to You now, just as I am. Hold me. Continue to unravel me and wash me in Your love, truth and mercy. Continue to lift away every accusation of the enemy. Continue to convict me of my sin and Your righteousness and lead me to changes of mind and a godly sorrow without regret.

Thank You, LORD, that You are my Defender True and will always shepherd me in love, kindness, truth and grace. In the name of Your precious Son, Jesus, I pray, Amen.

As you now sit at the feet of Jesus with me, may this song bless your heart, just as it is mine too. It was published in October 2013, right before my Mum was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and right before God began to open my Prodigal eyes to His undying love and compassion for me, in my weakness. And now, more than seven years later, as I am even more aware of my weakness, He is continuing to open my eyes to His saving power, as I daily lift up my heart and life afresh to Him. Oh how we need You, Jesus! Come, LORD Jesus, come!

A Winnowing

See not your failing 
See my wind blowing
Each point of collision
A lifting
Divinely appointed
To winnow the seed
In husks beautifully
Hidden, bursting forth
Through the breach
Long opened in my
Body broken to heal
Your every division.

A Winnowing was written in response to the d’Verse quadrille prompt with its roots resting in these Words.

A quadrille is a poem of 44 words (excluding the title), and it can take any form. This week’s challenge was to use the word ‘seed’ in a quadrille.