Lift. Cast. Let Go.

Lift. Cast. Let Go.

Heavy loads.
They exist in the external physical world
and internally,
in the realm of the spirit.

In each realm,
heavy loads burden,
restrict movement,
even immobilize.
And can usher in discouragement,
frustration,
helplessness,
even despair.

There are techniques for lifting a heavy physical object.
Proper techniques include
bending your knees,
lifting with your legs,
keeping the load close
and asking for help.

There are techniques also for lifting a heavy spiritual load.
And some are similar to those for lifting a heavy physical object.
For example, bending your knees and asking for help.
We have this standing invitation from the Most High, the Only True and Living God.
“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest”
And although the posture of kneeling in prayer is seen as a sign of submission to God’s authority,
we can be standing or running or driving,
and still “bend our knees” and cry out to Him without making an audible sound.

One technique for lifting a heavy physical load,
“Keeping the load close,”
is not applicable to lifting a spiritual load.
When we lift a spiritual load to the Father,
His desire is that we let it go.
We are instructed to “Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:
7, MEV).

To cast is “to throw or move (something) in a forceful way; to send or direct (something) in the direction of someone or something.”
Let us lift our spiritual loads.
Let us throw forcefully to our Father that which burdens us.
And let it go.

How about it?
Ready?
Lift.
Cast.
Let go.

This poem was originally posted on this blog on August 15, 2016.

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Why? What?

questions for livingThe original version of the poem, “Why? What?” was shared on this blog on March 28, 2014. The revised version below, was published in the book, Sliced Bread: Food for the Spirit, released November 16, 2016. With all that has happened just in the past two weeks in the USA and around the world, it seemed appropriate to share it again.

“Why?”
Inherent in this one word question is a search for answers,
a pursuit of information or understanding.

Sometimes it is rooted in childlike curiosity.
At other times, it is a desperate cry in the face of the previously unimagined,
that which turns “them” into me, into us:
The bereaved.
Survivors of an earthquake or other natural disasters,
or personal events with an emotional impact of tsunami-like proportions.

The betrayed or the betrayer.
The divorced.
The fired.
The suddenly unemployed.
The previous homeowner whose house is now in foreclosure.
The evicted.
The newly diagnosed.
The parent of a child with mental health or developmental challenges.
The list can go on and on.

There is another question that I was taught years ago,
one to which, I am still learning to turn to after a difficult event.
One that moves me away from the default question, “Why?”
From what is often the futility of reaching for and even demanding
answers that God in His sovereignty may not provide on this side of eternity.

The other question is “What?”
“What will I do with what has happened?”
Because I truly do have a choice in how I respond,
and more times than I like, my response is all I have control over.

Experience has taught me that I may not be able to voice this question immediately,
not while the aftershocks are still being felt,
not during the time when emotions are raw and disorientation common.
Then my need is not for answers but for comfort and strength and abundant grace,
and family and friends who hug freely without the need to speak,
especially trite statements that provoke and even wound instead of heal.

But at some point, if I am to truly live in my new normal,
live without resentment and bitterness and anger and self-pity,
or a sense of having been somehow or somewhat betrayed by my Father,
I must sit with the “What?” question.
“What will I do with what has happened?”
Hold on to it?
Or turn it over to the Father
and accept His beauty for my ashes?
His oil of joy for my mourning?
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness?
Allow Him to use, as He sees fit, what He permitted in my life?
Let His strength be demonstrated in my weakness?

“What will I do with what has happened?
It is a question that no one can answer for us
and the answer or answers will shape us and our “after the … lives,”
as well as the lives of persons to whom we are connected.

Copyright © 2016. E. W. Wright. All Rights Reserved. 

Five Minute Friday: Guide

Guide

//The lyrics of the hymn, “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,” written by William Williams in 1745, came to mind, rose up in my spirit, in response to this week’s prompt, “Guide.” “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,” the first line states, “pilgrim through this barren land.” In just one line, I am reminded that I am a pilgrim and that this land through which I am traveling is barren at times. And perhaps always barren, in comparison to the opulence of heaven, made rich with the joy of seeing Him face to face.

“I am weak, but thou art mighty,” the song continues. And I am reminded that being weak is not a place of shame in His eyes, because He has assured me that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,” states the next line. And I sense the songwriter’s hunger, his longing, and I long to long also for the Bread of life. This Bread of Life who nourishes me for life’s journey but is also my Guide.//

He is not my GPS giving me directions. He is my Guide. Hear these words from Isaiah 58:11 (AMP):

“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

And also in Psalm 48:14 (AMP):

“For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide even until death.”

This God. Elohim. Jehovah Tsidkenu. The Almighty God. The Omnipresent, Omniscient One. This God. The One who sustains all things by His Word. This God. The One whose ways are not our ways. Whose thoughts are not ours. This God is our Guide. This God is my Guide. This God is your Guide, “even until death.”

And I am reminded of words from my sister-in-Christ, in her FMF post this week.

“We don’t have to be lost. We don’t have to panic. God is ever-near, speaking through the words on the thin pages or the smartphone screens. His Spirit breathes life into the ink and graces our minds with understanding. We don’t have to wander. We don’t have to attempt to cut our own path blindly in the darkness.”

Thank You, Abba Father. Thank You.

—-

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. The content between the // // was written within the 5 minute window.

 

 

For this reason I bow my knees

Happy birthday!

What brings you to your knees? For the apostle Paul, it was the revelation of God’s eternal plan, executed through Christ Jesus our Lord. God’s eternal plan is that anyone who believes the Good News and, because of this, belongs to Christ Jesus, has the same equal share in God’s riches. Is part of the same Body. Enjoys the promise of blessings.

An added bonus to Paul, was that he who relentlessly persecuted God’s children, prior to his encounter with the risen Lord, was entrusted with the privilege of serving God.

Unlike Paul, my history does not include persecution of God’s children; however, like Paul, I was once far away from God, His enemy, and separated from Him by my evil thoughts and actions. And, as He did for Paul, God reconciled me to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result of this reconciliation, He brought me into His own presence, and I am holy and blameless as I stand before Him without a single fault (Colossians 1:21-22, NLT). And He did the same for you.

What response is appropriate to the revelation of what God has done for us? To the incomprehensible lengths He went to, to redeem us? I confess that, too often, I respond casually to His amazing grace. I  have been guilty of reading passages of Scripture such as 1 John 3:1-2 or Colossians 3:3, without pausing to reflect on its truths. Without responding with awe and gratitude. Much as if I were mindlessly watching a rerun of an episode of a favorite television show. Abba, forgive me.

Paul’s response was to fall to his knees before God and pray… not for himself, but for others. This is what he prayed:

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:16-19, AMP).

Would you join me in reading his prayer again but, this time … out loud? And let us pray it for the people dear to us. And our fellow believers at home and abroad. Let us pray it for ourselves, also. What a life altering thing it would be to be rooted deeply in God’s love. To have an increasing understanding and experience of His love. To be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from Him. Or as another translation states, “To be filled up with God Himself.” And I pray also to more consistently reflect on what God has done and respond with awe, gratitude, and obedience.   

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Try

Try_No. I can do.

” I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” (Philippians 4:13, AMP)

“I can do,”
He tells me in the familiar verse of Scripture, Philippians 4:13.

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do].”
And there is no wiggle room here in the Amplified Bible translation.
“I can do all things [[which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me…”

No wiggle room. No space for excuses.
No room for, “ I will try.”

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency;…”
Self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.

“I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”

Does this mean that I will do things perfectly?
No, but like a baby, I will crawl before I stand,
and fall when I begin to walk,
but I can and will do what He has called me to do.

try

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday Community for our weekly writing adventure.  To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is “Try.”

I was contemplating a different direction for this post, then I read the stripping-away-that-hiding-place-and-making-you-face truth post by Marie, at Along the way. It set me back on my heels, so to speak, and give me a different perspective. Thanks, Marie.

 

Encouragement from belonging

Ph 2_1

Encouragement – something that gives hope, determination, or confidence; the act of giving hope or confidence to (Merriam-Webster).

Encouragement. I have heard it said that too much of anything can be bad for you but I do not believe that this saying applies to encouragement. There is so much in life that can attack our hope, weaken our determination, and decrease our confidence, encouragement is always needed. It is one “vitamin” on which we cannot overdose.

What encourages you? How do you encourage yourself? Chapter 30 of the book of 1 Samuel, documents a distressing time in David’s life when he was in danger of being stoned by his men who were bitter over the loss of their children in a raid. “But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6, AMP).  Many times in Scripture, God is referred to as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (click here for examples). But not here. It is David’s personal relationship with God which is highlighted here. He “encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (bold emphasis added). Indeed, there is encouragement and strengthening that come from a personal, intimate relationship with God. From knowing that we are His. There is encouragement in belonging to Christ.

3 [a]Blessed and worthy of praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ, just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will— to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ]. In Him we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding [with practical insight] He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10 with regard to the fulfillment of the times [that is, the end of history, the climax of the ages]—to bring all things together in Christ, [both] things in the heavens and things on the earth. 11 In Him also we have [b]received an inheritance [a destiny—we were claimed by God as His own], having been predestined (chosen, appointed beforehand) according to the purpose of Him who works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him as our Lord and Savior] would exist to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]. 14 The Spirit is the [c]guarantee [the first installment, the pledge, a foretaste] of our inheritance until the redemption of God’s own [purchased] possession [His believers], to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14, AMP)

Whatever you are experiencing, whatever you face in this new month, you can, like David, encourage and strengthen yourself in the Lord your God.

Any comfort from His love?

it's a girl!

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love?…” (Philippians 2:9, NIV; emphasis added)

Definition of Comfort:*
1:  strengthening aid: a) assistance; b) consolation in time of trouble or worry; solace
2:  a feeling of relief or encouragement 

Is Christ’s love for you a strengthening aid? Does it assist you? Give you consolation in time of trouble or worry? Does His love provide solace? Bring relief or encouragement? Does His love inspire you with courage, spirit or hope? Spur you on? Make you more likely to do something?

Christ’s love is and provides all of the above but experiencing these benefits of His love, requires that we believe that He loves us. Experiencing the benefits of His love requires that you personally believe that He loves you.

Do you believe that God loves you? Doubts about His love can arise and torment us when our belief in His love for us is based on our circumstances. Our circumstances, however, do not provide proof of His love. The unchanging, unequivocal proof of His love is found in His Word. A powerful example of this proof is expressed in 1 John 4:9-10 (AMP) –

9 By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath].

Doubts about His love for us can also arise as a result of our failures, our sins, especially those we have confessed and returned to repeatedly. His love for us, however, has never been based on us, as is demonstrated in Scripture verses such as Romans 5:7-8 (NKJV) –

7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

His love is also steadfast, unchanging (Psalm 86:15; Psalm 136). He is love and for Him to stop loving requires Him to stop being Himself and He cannot change.

Whatever your circumstances or failures, you can know and believe that God loves you. You can accept His love for the first time or be reassured of His love for you. You will find His love to be a strengthening aid that provides assistance and solace, gives consolation in time of trouble or worry, brings relief and encouragement. Inspires you with courage, spirit and hope.  Spurs you on. Makes you more likely to do something (for example, accept yourself and love others).

*merriam-webster.com