Unknown

unknown

There are somethings I know and other things which are unknown to me.
I know the date of my birth and how I was born,
but I not know the date of my death or how it will occur or if like a prophet of old, I will not see death.

I know my parents but I do not know the full details of how they met.
I know where my family members are who preceded me in death but I do not know if there are others who will go HOME before I do.
I know who is the current president of the United States of America but I do not know who will be the next president.

Yes. There are things which I know and others which are unknown to me.
But what matters is that I know the One who knows everything
and of even greater importance is that I am not unknown to Him.

He knows me intimately.
He knows my name.
He knows when I sit and when I rest.
He knows the number of hairs on my head.

He knows every mistake I have made.
Every act of disobedience I have committed.
He knows me fully and loves me completely.
And one day I will know as I am known.
And I will see Him for myself.

Day 10 of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes challenge. Today’s prompt is “Unknown.”

Click here to read previous posts for the series.31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes challenge.

Lenses

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They soared above my head and I reached for cell phone to capture them in flight. I could not access the camera on my cell phone quickly enough and was frustrated as the flock quickly disappeared from my view. Shortly after, another flock flew over my head and it seemed I was being given another opportunity to capture the beauty over head. I took several shots this time but was disappointed when I looked at the photos. What was clear as day and life sized viewed through the lenses of my human eyes, was captured by my cell phone’s camera as dots in the expanse of the sky.

This experience reminded me of the fact that the lenses through which I see do influence the quality of my vision and my perception of my experiences. I used my cell phone’s camera, which was okay for close up shots of stationary objects, to capture birds in flight; however, what I needed were lenses designed to capture motion.

And I think of how often I rely on the lenses of my experiences, and emotions, and the opinions of others to understand the circumstances of my life, when what I need are the lenses of faith. Faith, we are told, “makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, CEV).  We are told also that we need faith to please God; thankfully, He has given us faith and we can develop our faith, as one Bible teacher notes, “by feeding it on God’s Word and by putting it into practice (or exercising it) in everyday living.” The lenses of faith. I need them.

 

Memorials

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“So it was when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take for yourselves the twelve men [chosen] from among the people, one man from each tribe, and command them, ‘Pick up for yourselves twelve stones [one each] from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm; carry them over with you and lay them down at the place where you will spend the night tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “Cross over again to the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, so that this may be a sign among you; when your children ask later, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall become a memorial for Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:1-8, AMP)

We all establish memorials and can benefit from asking ourselves the question, “What do these stones mean to you?” It is a blessing to be able to answer, these “stones,” this memorial I have established reminds me of God’s goodness to me. This can be easy to do when His goodness came in the form of His miraculous intervention on our behalf or in the life of someone precious to us. We can also benefit from memorials to the season(s) when we trusted Him when darkness prevailed and we could not sense Him near. Those times when, with His enabling, we stood firm on His promises, held on to them with a white knuckled grip, although buffeted by storms of doubt and fear. These memorials remind us during current challenges, “This is where I trusted God. I trusted Him then and I can trust Him now because He is the same God now as then.” In addition, we can build and benefit from memorials to His faithfulness in the ordinariness of day to day life.

Unfortunately, however, instead of memorials which celebrate the goodness of God, we can create memorials to loss. And hurts. And betrayals. And failures. Thankfully, if we allow Him, our Father can help us dismantle these memorials, heal our wounded places, and cause us to sing like David did:

“You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance:
You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about You.
God, my God, I can’t thank You enough.”
(Psalm 30:11-12, MSG)

What memorials do we have? Are there ones which need to be dismantled? Let us not wait another minute or waste any more of this precious life He has given bowing before those which need to be dismantled completely.

 

 

 

Rest from Labor

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Labor – it comes it various forms: the process of child birth; working hard, making great effort to accomplish a goal. We hear it as a sentence to the first man and woman in Eden, the result of their disobedience.

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children…” (Genesis 3:16, NIV)

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life…  By the sweat of your brow  you will eat your food until you return to the ground…”(Genesis 3:17-19, NIV)

But there is also the divine invitation,

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NKJV)

And I think of the fact that sometimes what we labor for most is not tangible. Carries no physical substance. What we long and labor for is unconditional love, and acceptance, and belonging, and approval, and worthiness. To know that we matter and our life has meaning. Here the divine invitation again from the One who is our Rest and offers rest… and unconditional love, and acceptance, and belonging, and approval, and worthiness.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NKJV).

This Labor Day will you accept His invitation? And if you have, pause to give thanks once more that all the love, acceptance, belonging, approval, and worthiness we long for is found in Him. Offered freely but purchased at an unimaginable cost.

Monday Vitamins: Lift. Cast. Let Go.

 

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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 “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.

Monday Vitamins: Truths from a mealtime prayer

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Recently, I have been reflecting on truths found in prayers seen as prayers for children. Today I turn my attention to the one below, known as a mealtime prayer for children.

God is great, God is good.
Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands, we are fed.
Let us thank Him for our bread.

I see several truths that we all can benefit from knowing and remembering in all seasons, regardless of our age.

God is great
Definitions of “great”* include remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness and chief or preeminent over others. Deuteronomy 10:17 is one of many verses in the Bible which speak powerfully of the greatness, the preeminence of our God. “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.” (AMP)

God is good
God is unchanging in His character and there is no unrighteousness in Him . As such even when our circumstances can invite us to question His goodness, we can rest assured that He is always good, as the following verses declare:

“For the Lord is good; His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5, AMP)

“The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works [the entirety of things created].” (Psalm 145:9, AMP)

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His compassion and lovingkindness endure forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary, And gathered them from the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south”. (Psalm 107:1-3, AMP)

Let us thank Him for our food.
By His hands, we are fed.
Let us thank Him for our bread.

The story of the nation of Israel’s journey from bondage in Egypt, their 40 year sojourn in the wilderness due to their disobedience, and finally the arrival into the promised land of the descendants of those who died in the wilderness, is one replete with God’s miraculous provision of food and other needs. The Bible also records God’s provision of food for His servant, Elijah the prophet, through ravens and then a widow. Some of us reading this post have also experienced His provision in miraculous ways which left no room for doubt that He was the Source. Most of us, however, experience His daily provision through ordinary, non-spectacular means and unfortunately, without realizing it, view our jobs and our hard work as the source of our provision. The truth is He is our Source and we owe Him everything we have. Let us thank Him, not just with our lips but out of the overflow of grateful hearts.

*Merriam-Webster

Monday Vitamins: A Child’s Bedtime Prayer

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As a child, I learned the words, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake. I pray to God my soul to take.” I repeated them religiously every night for many years, as my bedtime prayer. Today, I learned that the words are part of, “A Child’s  Bedtime Prayer,” by Henry Johnstone. I read the entire prayer for the first time today and realized that this childhood bedtime prayer, holds truths which are relevant for my adult life:

  • Committing my soul to my heavenly Father’s care is my best choice, in every phase of life and at its end.
  • For the length of my days, I need Him to guide me.
  • God’s eyes are on me and He is my Protector.
  • Praying for and helping others must be a central part of my life.

What truths do you see in this bedtime prayer?

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

Father, unto thee I pray,
Thou has guarded me all day;
Safe I am while in thy sight,
Safely let me sleep tonight
Bless my friends, the whole world bless;
Help me to learn helpfulness;
Keep me every in thy sight;
So to all I say good night.

 

 

 

Monday Vitamins: Prayer

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My soul is troubled and burdened today as a result of the tragedies that have plagued our world in recent weeks; the most recent being this past weekend. So I accept and hold fast to my Father’s invitation and promise in Psalm 50:15. And I remind myself, prayer is not (to be) an act of desperation or a last resort, what I turn to when I don’t know what to do. May it be my default response and my intentional first choice. May it never become a duty or a badge I wear. I must not make it a casual pursuit or something I saunter in to, for true prayer is a life changing interaction with the One Who has all power and can do the impossible. So my desire is to pray with purpose, urgency, and faith, believing that He is and He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Monday Vitamins: Seeing my face in yours

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“We should not regard what a man is and what he deserves: but we should go higher – that it is God who has placed us in the world for such a purpose that we be united and joined together. He has impressed his image in us and has given us a common nature, which should incite us to providing one for the other. The man who wishes to exempt himself from providing for his neighbors should face himself and declare that he no longer wishes to be a man, for as long as we are human creatures we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens . .” – John Calvin

Race. Gender. Religious Affiliation. Social Economic Status. Political Affiliations. Educational Level. Country of Origin. These are some of the differences we allow to divide us into the “us” and “them” camps, and to which we give more weight than we do to our shared humanity, and the truth of Imago Dei. A choice that makes it easier to distance ourselves from the pain of others and develop justifications for the devastating experiences of others, justifications that allow us to maintain our distance, and “free” us from the need to act in ways that stretch us beyond places of comfort. What a difference the truth of John Calvin’s words can make, if I have the courage to accept it as truth, because truth accepted always transforms, “… for as long as we are human creatures we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens . .” I believe that when your face becomes my mirror, I can no longer be indifferent to you or your struggles.

Monday Vitamins: Hope: The Soul’s Anchor

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I have written about hope in previous posts but wanted to again turn my attention to this topic for reasons I am sure you will appreciate. Reasons such as the pain and uncertainty which seem to permeate the world. The seemingly unending news about catastrophes in various countries and in the USA (the flooding in West Virginia, the wild fires in California, to name a few. And these are just from the past few days).  Oh, yes. There are numerous reasons to again turn my attention to hope but not the fleeting hope that this world offers. No. I, we, need the hope our Father gives. His hope which serves as an anchor for our souls  as described in Hebrews 13:19 (AMP), which I share below.  I included verses 13 through 20 to provide the context of verse 19. We have reason to hold fast to hope.

13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, He swore [an oath] by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” 15 And so, having patiently waited, he realized the promise [in the miraculous birth of Isaac, as a pledge of what was to come from God]. 16 Indeed men swear [an oath] by one greater than themselves, and with them [in all disputes] the oath serves as confirmation [of what has been said] and is an end of the dispute. 17 In the same way God, in His desire to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable nature of His purpose, intervened and guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge would have strong encouragement and indwelling strength to hold tightly to the hope set before us. 19 This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells], 20 where Jesus has entered [in advance] as a forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:13-20, AMP; emphasis added)