Restore

Restore (1)
Restore
Return (someone or something) to a former condition, place, or position.
Restore
Give (something stolen, taken away, or lost) back to the original owner or recipient.
The Shunammite woman was familiar with restoration.
God had used the prophet Elisha to restore her son to life.
And a king to restore her house and land.
She was familiar with restoration.
But first she was intimately acquainted with loss.
What need is there for restoration if loss has not occurred?
If given a choice,
would we not avoid the pain of loss?
And appropriately guard what we value?
But loss can occur in spite of our valiant efforts.
Thankfully, there is One who can truly restore.
The One who leaves the ninety-nine to search for the one lost sheep.
He invites us to be instruments of His restoration
in our own lives,
and in the lives of others.
Are we available?
Are we willing?

NB: Definitions for “Restore” are from the Oxford Dictionaries

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Five Minute Friday: Fly

fly (3)

I imagine his words as a moan, filled with aching, desperate longing,

“If only I could fly away from all of this!
If only I could run away to the place of rest and peace.
I would run far away where no one could find me,
escaping to a wilderness retreat.”
Pause in his presence
“I will hurry off to hide in the higher place,
into my shelter, safe from this raging storm and tempest” (Psalm 55:6-8, TPT).

What was the “this” that David so clearly wanted to escape? The threats of his enemies; the pressure of their opposition; trouble and terror that left him in this space, “My heart is trembling inside my chest as the terror of death seizes me. Fear and dread overwhelm me. I shudder before the horror I face,” and longing to escape (Psalm 55:1-8, TPT).

But between verse 7 and verse 8 is this phrase, “Pause in his presence.” And I accept it as an invitation to pause in the presence of my Father, in the midst of my desperate desire to escape, “fly away” from the troubles of this life. Pause and remember this truth:

“God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble”
(Psalm 46:1, HCSB).

And I take hold of David’s words in verse 8, “ I will hurry off to hide in the higher place, into my shelter, safe from this raging storm and tempest.” And I sing the truth of this old hymn, “O safe to the Rock that is higher than I.”

1 O safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly.
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be;
Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.

Chorus:
Hiding in Thee, Hiding in Thee,
Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.

2 In the calm of the noontide, in sorrow’s lone hour,
In times when temptation casts o’er me its power,
In the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea
Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee. [Chorus]

3 How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,
I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe.
How often when trials like sea billows roll
Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul. [Chorus]

(end of 5 minutes)

There is space, a place for you also, in Him, the “blest Rock of Ages.”FMF
I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure (on a Sunday). Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Fly.”

The stick that makes iron float

The stick that makes iron float

And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. 2 Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.”

So he answered, “Go.”

3 Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”

And he answered, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”

6 So the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. 7 Therefore he said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out his hand and took it. (2 Kings 6:1-7, NKJV)

Loss can occur while you are doing something good. And what you lose can both be what you need to continue on and, due to the circumstances under which the loss occurred, can seem irrecoverable. This was the situation faced by one of the sons of the prophets, as told in 2 Kings 6:1-7 (NKJV).

It is also a situation that each of us can face. In the process of building, working, living, we can lose an “ax head.” The “ax head” can be our strength, peace of mind, joy, purpose, trust, etc. And the water which swallowed it can be any human experience which overwhelms, devastates, destroys, or produces an outcome that is unbearable.

Thankfully, in these moments, when we cry out to God, our Father, He is able to restore what was lost. He has “a stick that makes iron float.” The “stick” is His Word, His grace, His mercy, His healing, His power, etc. Out of His endless supply He is able to restore what we lost and enable us take hold of whatever the “iron” or “ax head” is that is necessary to continue doing what He has commissioned us to do.

Opportunity for Joy

Opportunity

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2–4, NLT).

Opportunities come but lack the power to make us take them. The choice to take hold of, to make use of opportunities that come is always and only ours. An obstacle to the process of seizing opportunities is that we do not always recognize opportunities as opportunities for positive change, as growing-in-His-image opportunities. Especially when the opportunity comes in the form of trouble.

We can more readily see trouble as an opportunity to whine, complain, be immobilized by fear, activate intense efforts to control everything and everyone to manage our anxiety—the list goes on. Yet our Father tells us through the apostle James that trouble is an opportunity for joy. Yes, joy.

The verses indicate that recognizing trouble as an opportunity for joy is tied to knowledge. It is tied to knowing there is a purpose to trouble and the purpose is not to destroy us but to strengthen and mature us. Trouble, an opportunity for joy. And growth.

“Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4, VOICE)

Note: A version of this post was published is in the book, Sliced Bread: Food for the Spirit (2016).

Five Minute Friday: Include

Include

When you write or tell your story,
do not share only the highlights.
Include the heart break.
The still unanswered prayers.
Or those answered with a no.
Or in a manner that you did not ask for.

Include the failures,
not just the successes.
The mistakes that ruptured relationships.
Some of which are healing.
Some, perhaps, never will.

Remember, Romans 15:4, “For all those words which were written long ago are meant to teach us today; that when we read in the scriptures of the endurance of men and of all the help that God gave them in those days, we may be encouraged to go on hoping in our own time” (PHILLIPS).

Remember, Romans 15:4,
and know that the words of your story
can be used of God to teach others,
to show that it is possible
to endure difficult,
heart wrenching events
and keep trusting God.
Your story can be used to encourage others
and help them to go on hoping
in their own circumstances.

When you write or tell your story,
include the wonder and the woe,
so that someone reading it will know
that His grace truly is sufficient,
and He is faithful in all seasons.

FMF

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Include.”

Storms

Storms

“You are either entering in a storm, in the middle of a storm, or coming out of one.” This saying highlights the fact that storms are a part of life. As such it is not a matter of if we are going to experience storms but when.

Where are you in this season? Seeing the signs that a storm is brewing? For example,  growing impatience? Sharp responses? Distance developing in relationships? Or are you in the middle of a storm? Trying to keep your boat afloat? Reeling from the ferocity of the winds of conflict? Or are you coming out of a storm, floating on pieces of what was once a well-built boat? Sometimes it can seem that you are experiencing all three seasons simultaneously in different areas of life.

Wherever you are, may you be encouraged by this promise:

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, Nor will My covenant of peace be shaken,” Says the Lord who has compassion on you.

“O you afflicted [city], storm-tossed, and not comforted, Listen carefully, I will set your [precious] stones in mortar, And lay your foundations with sapphires. “And I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of [shining] beryl stones, And all your [barrier] walls of precious stones” (Isaiah 54:10-12, AMP).

And know this,

1God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas,
3Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved;
God will help her when the morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered and were moved;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower]. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has brought desolations and wonders on the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower]. Selah.
(Psalm 46, AMP)

He is with you. And He is for you.

Tell

Tell (1)
We are all part of a community, regardless of the criteria used to define it.
And in every community,
some of us have things unspoken for various reasons:
The warning to never tell issued in the form of a threat or an entreaty.
Shame.
Uncertainty that what we have to tell is worth speaking out loud.
But we all have something to tell.

For some,
the telling will shatter the silence
where secrecy has nurtured shame.
There may be pain
but there is also freedom in the telling.
And God gives the courage
and grace
needed to give voice
to the unspoken.

You may question whether you will be believed.
Whether you will be ridiculed.
And no guarantee can be provided that you will or will not be.
But what you have to tell needs to be spoken.

Seek counsel if necessary.
Prayer support and cover.
Direction
to find a safe person
to whom you can speak
your truth.

You do not have to share
all the details in the first telling.
Truth is,
you never have to tell all the details
if your healing does not require you to do so.
And know that you have the right
to dictate the pace of your disclosure.
But
because the power of secrets
are broken
when they are revealed,
I pray your telling will begin.


The original version of this poem was published on this blog on August 15, 2014, and a revised version was published in 2016, in the book, Sliced Bread: Food for the Spirit. April 2018 is Sexual Assault Awareness month and also National Child Abuse Prevention month. I am sharing this poem again in honor of survivors and current victims.