Desperate

I am joining (on a Saturday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The writing prompt is, “Desperate.” The content after the last //, including the lyrics for the hymn, “Come Ye Disconsolate,” were added after the allotted 5 minutes had expired. The definition of desperate used in the post is from www.merriam-webster.com.

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Definition of desperate

1a : having lost hope
//a desperate spirit crying for relief
b : giving no ground for hope
//the outlook was desperate

2 a : moved by despair or utter loss of hope
//victims made desperate by abuse
b: involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration
//made a desperate leap for the rope

3 : suffering extreme need or anxiety
//desperate for money
//desperate to escape
//celebrities desperate for attention

4 : involving extreme danger or possible disaster
//a desperate situation

5 : of extreme intensity
//… a desperate languor descended heavily upon her, and she slept …— Elinor Wylie

6 : SHOCKING, OUTRAGEOUS

How desperate do things have to become, how desperate do you have to feel before you ask for help? Acknowledge that you are in over your head? Hanging on by a thread? That you are at the end of your rope and your grip is loosening? How desperate do things have to become, how desperate do you have to feel before you ask for help?

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” wrote the sons of Korah, as stated in Psalm 46:1. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way  and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46: 2-3, NLT).

We do not have to wait until things get desperate or we feel desperate. We have help right at the beginning, we have help in the middle, we have help at the end and every moment in between. What was true for David is true for us. “Behold, God is my helper and ally; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul [my upholder].” (Psalm 53:4, AMP).// Hear the invitation in the lyrics of the hymn, “Come Ye Disconsolate.”*

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.

*Thomas Moore (pub.1816). Copyright Status: Public Domain.

quieting the soul

Of one thing I am certain: my soul has become calm, quiet, and contented in You. Like a weaned child resting upon his mother, I am quiet. My soul is like this weaned child.” (Psalm 131:2, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.  And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Philippians 4:6-7, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” (Isaiah 26:3, AMP).

Be still, my soul.

“Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, VOICE).

Be still, my soul.

“David, too, was in anguish. Some of his men talked about stoning him because they were so bitter about their families being taken. But David took comfort in the Eternal One, his True God.” (1 Samuel 30:6, VOICE).

Be still, my soul. Know that He is God.

infused ordinary

Ordinary… A day with only the typical activities scheduled.
But is it possible that hidden in the ordinary are secrets of the extraordinary that are revealed with keys such as gratitude, obedience, praise, attention?

Ordinary … A person who is seen as average. Having no talents that the rich and famous, those with status, seem to possess. But that ordinary person can make a life changing difference in the life of another human. By an act of kindness, by the recognition of Imago Dei in another, with love, an ordinary person could change the world in which God placed them – a job, a neighborhood, a family. 

Ordinary does not mean insignificant, or worthless, or unimportant.

Yahweh has a way of infusing ordinary moments, days, people, with His presence, His matchless power, making each His own, and transforming them all.

*A version of this post was originally published on 10/11/2013.

Sunrise. Masterpiece.

As I began my morning walk that day, years ago, I paid attention to the sky, as is my wont.  “Muted,” I thought, referring to the colors of the sunrise.

The colors began to change (or were more colors added?) as I continued the outward leg of my journey and, on my return trip, I noticed further change.

As I moved closer to the corner of my street, I felt an inner prompting to turn around. I obeyed and laughed out loud in wonder and joy. The colors of the sunrise were no longer muted.

And then the lesson was gently spoken:

If you watch a painting in the early stages of the creation process, you may be unimpressed. Do not be hasty in your evaluation. Wait. Give the painter time to finish the painting. The end product will blow you away.

So it is with a human life. We are all a work in progress. God is creating a masterpiece in you. And He continues His work over the length and breath of our days.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].” (Philippians 1:6, AMP).

(A version of this post was published as “Lesson from a sunrise” on April 16, 2016)

What lies ahead?

“What lies ahead?”
When it comes to human experiences, no one knows for sure.
Engagements can be broken and weddings cancelled.
Marriages that began with hope, love, and passion
can end before the first wedding anniversary or after the 30th.


Jobs that seemed to have so much possibility
could end in unexpected termination.
A patient could come through a complicated surgery successfully
and die during recovery because of an unrelated infection.
A day that began with a brilliant sunrise could end in a fierce storm.


A few words spoke thoughtlessly could inflict a deep wound
that takes months or even years to heal.
A conversation with a stranger
could lead to a life-long friendship.
One idea could become a multi-million business.
One blog post could provide encouragement to a discouraged soul.

What lies ahead?
When it comes to human experiences,
no human knows for sure.
But the omnipotent, omnipresent,
omniscient God and Father knows.
And has promised sufficient grace,
and added strength,
and comfort,
and above all,
His abiding presence,
and an eternal home.

This post was originally published on November 8, 2020, as “Ahead.” Rereading it was helpful to me and I am reposting it with the hope that it could be helpful to you … whether you are reading it again or for the first time. Blessings.

Forward

“The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to move forward [toward the sea].” (Exodus 14:15, AMP).

There are any number of factors that can elicit apprehension, if not dread, when we face the prospect of moving forward. Even when what we are moving into is familiar. Even more so when what we face is novel.

A common thread shared by the familiar and the novel situation is the incomplete, imperfect, fragmentary nature of human knowledge. This quality of human knowledge means that no matter the level of research in which we have engaged, no matter the level of expertise we possess about any situation, there will always be aspects that are unknown to us.

And among the many lessons that the COVID-19 global pandemic have taught and continue to teach, are that we control less than we believe and there is much we do not know – about ourselves and those around us.

As of today, in the USA, 400,000, persons – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, employers, employees, neighbors, etc. – have died of complications of the COVID-19 virus. Tomorrow, January 20th, the 46th President of the USA, Joseph Biden, and the first female vice-president, Kamala Harris, will be inaugurated. There is so much that is unknown about the future.

Thankfully, there is One who is omniscient – ELOHIM. Thankfully, He is with us and for us as we face what is unknown to us. As we face the unknown, we can find comfort in the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust your unknown future to a known God.” Let us make increasing our knowledge of the omniscient God, a priority, for wholehearted trust of God is tied to a deepening, intimate knowledge of Him.

“Those who know you, Lord, will trust you;  you do not abandon anyone who comes to you.” (Psalm 9:10, GNT).

N.B. A version of this post was first published on May 23, 2020.

An Invitation: Come to Bethlehem

“O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”

We know the Babe of Bethlehem grew into manhood, lived a sinless life, endured indescribable agony on all levels, died, rose again, sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come again. Why then the invitation to “Come to Bethlehem,” especially in January, weeks after we celebrated His birth? Because it was in Bethlehem, God began to demonstrate in an unprecedented manner that when He promised to redeem us, thousands of years before, He meant it. His promise was not an idle promise. And this fact lets us know that He will keep every promise He has made to us.

The invitation to, “Come to Bethlehem” is not an invitation to physically visit Bethlehem, although you can do that also; rather, it is an invitation to turn our hearts toward Bethlehem when we need a reminder of the faithfulness of our God. The current season is such a time, wouldn’t you agree?

28-30 Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons.
31-32 In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need? (Romans 8: 28-32, PHILLIPS).


Refrain

If you had to choose, which of God’s character traits meant the most to you this year? For me, it is His faithfulness, which I connect to His immutability. The truth that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, is assuring and deeply comforting in a world where anything, all people change, and not always for the better.

I wrote and published the post I will share below in May 2020. As we stand at the end of a year unlike any most of us have experienced in our lifetime, and face a new year that no one can truly predict, God’s faithfulness, His immutability is a firm foundation on which we can stand flat-footed.

Refrain, the noun, is a regularly recurring phrase or verse especially at the end of each stanza or a division of a poem or song.

I have been wondering,
if my life was a song,
and each season a stanza,
what would be my refrain?
What would be repeated
at the end of each stanza,
each season?
I thought of several things
but kept coming back to this,
“God is faithful.” 

When the stanza was filled with sorrow,
God was faithful.
When the stanza was characterized
by uncertainty and confusion,
God was faithful.  
Whether the stanza was one of joy
and accomplishments
and the satisfaction of a job well done,
or marked with disappointment and failure,
God was faithful.

In every stanza written to date,
God has been faithful.
And for every stanza that will be written
in the future,
He will remain faithful.
If my life was a song,
and each season a stanza,
what would be my refrain?
“God is faithful.”

“Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9, HCSB).

“Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them
and have become depressed.
Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
(Lamentations 3:19-23, HCSB).

Prepare

What are you preparing for this Christmas season
as others deck their halls,
and light up their trees?
As they shop for presents
and look forward to time with loved ones?

What are you preparing for this Christmas season,
as the Salvation Army bell ringers say cheerful “Merry Christmas”
and offer opportunities to share, to give to the needy?
As gifts are wrapped and cards are addressed and mailed?

What are you preparing for this Christmas season?
The familiar ache of loneliness?
The pain of the anniversary of the death of a loved one,
a marriage,
a dream?

Whatever hard thing you are preparing yourself for the best you know how,
know this –
The God of all comfort has also made preparation for you.
There is a Balm in Gilead.
He is near to the broken hearted and heals those who are crushed in spirit.
He keeps your tears.
He has numbered the hairs on your head.
He knows you are hurting more than you can describe or even believe you can bear.
He is ever present and calls you to the shelter of His arms,
the healing virtue of His presence.
He is with you always and will walk you through this season as He has every other one.

*This post is from the Archives of this blog. It was originally posted as part of Five Minute Friday in December 2014 and reposted in December 2015. Given the overwhelming grief, pain, loss, etc. of 2020, the truth of God’s abiding presence and comfort bears repeating, as does the truth that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

See also the Lord

I am familiar with the symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack because of the nature of my work. But I had never personally experienced anything close to either one. Until this morning. I felt a sudden jolt of anxiety accompanied by tightness in my chest.  Thankfully, I was able to recognize and acknowledge what I was feeling, reminded myself to breathe, reminded myself of God’s sovereignty, and, at some point, began singing,”Be still my soul,” a hymn learned decades ago. Through a Google search, I found a version of the song, by Kari Jobe. I played it on repeat between clients while working from home during the morning. After arriving at work for the afternoon, I created a playlist on Spotify with Jobe’s version and other songs.

This night before the 2020 US elections, aware that there are many who feel anxious, afraid, even terrified,  I wanted to share Kari Jobe’s version of, “Be still my soul” and the link to a blog post, “Breathe,” published in October 2020. I also wanted to share a lesson learned from the sermon, “The year I saw,” that Tauren Wells preached this past summer. The sermon was based on verses from Isaiah 6. Here is verse one, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (KJV; emphasis added). Wells exhorted that, whatever else we see, may we also see the Lord exalted and seated on His throne. 

This night before the 2020 elections (or whenever you read this post), whatever the results of the election, may we also see the Lord, “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” He is sovereign and always will be. Earthly rulers will change but He is always the Sovereign Lord. Breathe. Pray. Praise. Worship. Be still. We have the ability to choose where we focus our thoughts, where we focus our attention. At all times but especially in times of uncertainty, we must ground ourselves in who He is.

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, help us to keep choosing to focus our thoughts on You. Again and again and again. As often as it takes. You have promised, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3, MEV).