“Sometimes the evidence of our senses and the testimony of the world’s wisdom are plain wrong. Sometimes the Lord is busy forging victory when the mind expects only defeat.”
– Tessa Afshar ~ Land of Silence
There is something universal about every human condition. Language does not change it. Geography does not change it. Personality, nationality, and religious tendencies do not change it. Love that lights the eyes of a soul, looks the same no matter the color of irises. Arms that reach out in tenderness can be of any color or size, dressed or naked. Sorrow, despair, agony and depravity are all pregnant with God-touched opportunity.
These are the conditions that form the questions of “when, how, where, and why” from the depths of souls world-wide. Embalmed with freedom or anchored to yet more slavery; sorrow seeks to unhinge the hands that lay hold of anything but the One who made them. Human beings are always at the peak of ability to learn when their mind, body and emotions are tossed into the sea of adversity, trial, suffering, loss, and torture. We can learn in happiness, but it doesn’t retain the depth of engraving on the memory as sorrow. Hence why we forget the good so quickly when hardship starts to ink it’s way into our grey matter. Likewise we recall so well the negative and hopelessness colors our spirits so immediate we feel shot into another world in an instant. There is no place else that brings us all to a unified place in the human condition. It’s often said love is such a place but I beg the differ. There are too many illusions of love for such a unity to be possible. No one is can paint sorrow with different colors. It’s very darkness outlines the same light no matter the shadow of the Sun or moon in the sky.
All my life it seems as if God has placed some special favor on me. Where my sister seemed to struggle and have to push for the simplest joys. Yet at every turn, our sorrows held the same DNA of pain and questions. Circumstances are the greatest illusions of favoritism. As I write, my sister sits where she is full of joys, doubts, gratitude, and questions the same as I. Yet, on the outside anyone would say she has it harder than I. Often I’m tempted to agree. Yet in each of our varying circumstances these things are the same: We are in places where God has provided abundantly, yet wonder what is next. We struggle with hurt, resentment, anger, bitterness, physical deficiencies, heart aches and knee bloodying prayers for our children and grandchildren; loved ones, we both sing, we both cry, we both are loved and misunderstood. That which makes us up inside, pours out from within, and effects us from without though incredibly unique, we are the same. Both of us are being taught everyday Who made us and why. We both have illusions, deceit, kindness, generosity, compassion, tendencies to complain, aches and pains, things hidden and things exposed, things being revealed, things on the way to unveiling, promise, hope and despair and sorrow.
The purpose of comparison is not for comparison itself, but for defining the difference between what’s on the outside and what’s on the inside. Outside looks different, inside does not.
“God’s Spirit can ride a puny breeze as well as a hurricane.”
– Tessa Ashfar ~ Land of Silence
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is unbounded joy, in Your right hand eternal delight.
The Word of God is true for one and all, all the time, everywhere. The above scripture offers the same salve to the human heart no matter their circumstances. Sorrow is an opportunity to watch God become a heavenly Father for every soul on earth. Pain provides the path to true knowing who we are and why we’re here. God alone can provide the answers to our questions, and keeps them all open-ended. The answer today will not be the same as tomorrow. Except that Who He is and how He loves us, desires us and reaches for us, never changes and carries not one ounce of favor for one over the other. Our circumstances can not and must not define the riches of His glory. Circumstances are all of the following: outward characters, features; singleness or married, childless or having children, wealthy or poor, sick or healthy, geographic locations, personality traits, internal make up, extroverted or introverted, talented with art or talented with intellect, high or low IQ’s. To name a few, but hitting the main things. Everyone one of those things are the intricate detail drawn by the Hand of Adonai on each one for their good and those they effect and His glory. Sorrow gives us the glasses to correct our vision in life; for joy is it’s designation and it won’t stop until it’s reached its goal. For you, for me, thanks be to God! The definition of true joy for every soul He made is Himself, nothing more and absolutely nothing less.
In a world that is changing and churning, this one constant remains. Psalms 16:11, Is. 50:4…
For I have satisfied the weary and filled the needs of all in distress.
Come to ME, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.
The reason why our Messiah invited all who are struggling and burdened but not “happy” is because we all are struggling and burdened, not happy. Oh we may have joy and contentment, but they always come after sorrow, and after we have accepted His invitation to receive such rest. Waiting on Him, running to Him is the only path to such joy and peace/rest. For each of us this is the same. Sorrow aimed at His unveiling, His presence, His company, His love, His compassion, His comfort, His answer, His directions, His discernment, this is sorrows purpose. Don’t miss the opportunity. Don’t be tempted to compare, or focus on the outward appearance of things. Hold on to Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah and Master… and let Him order up the exact prescription for your knowing Him. Pray for each other thusly. Praise Him in their joys and walk beside them in their sorrows.
♡ Grace and peace to you in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
He (Adonai) answered, “Set your mind at ease – My presence will go with you after all.” Moses replied, “If Your presence doesn’t go with us don’t make us go on from here…
That is what distinguishes us, me and Your people, from all other people’s on earth.”
Has it ever occurred to you that God so often used very odd circumstances to get in to a place deep within us, that has absolutely nothing to do with the circumstances themselves? He sets the board, and what we see moves us forward accordingly. As things progress, it becomes rather obvious that He’s moving in through back doors to the goal He had in mind. Almost as if He distracts us with our limited vision and surface prone tendencies, to sneak in where we wouldn’t have went with Him any other way. I’ve experienced this on many occasions, recently as well. The past experiences didn’t que me in to look for His back door agendas in any of these cases. When God wants to move in behind something, no human on earth can track His movements until He’s reached His destination! Only then, can we look back and trace His path, but not until He’s popped up in the seemingly most intentionally sneaky way. It’s been said repeatedly before: “if we saw where God was leading us, we’d most often recalculate our GPS in the other direction.”
At the end of October, 2015 God pointed His finger, very obviously, in the direction of a new location, new plan, and said “go buy a house, in that place.” We were set on a different location for moving, our plans moved north with our hearts, Montana was home. He pointed South. Our plans were to move into an RV and with our new business travel, live simple, and find a home base in Montana at some point. Sick of moving, sick of all the stuff that one accumulates in a house or apartment, we wanted to be free of it, and mobile to go where God said go. All very good intentions, none violating any will of God, but still not His will for us, however our perspectives saw it.
So the house hunt ensued, we found one, and all hell broke loose in the process. Two months of grinding, stressful and rest stealing work began. Staying close to Him, we followed every step, endured crazy situations, and wound up with it all falling through. Not the results we humans expect when we feel we’ve done all God asked of us. Yet even at this place, we trusted and went forth on another house hunt (it continues). All the while, God was with us and went before us, we knew that. What wasn’t obvious was that He was slipping in behind us, moving into the center of us, arriving at His intended destination, our hearts, His Home, not a relocation or house on earth. God knows us so well, we don’t face things unless we’re forced to. Circumstances are the forces He uses to bring us to that inner mirror, the one that reflects us back at ourselves but not only do we see ourselves but we can’t avoid seeing ourselves as He sees us in these moments. It’s a faithfulness on His part to go so great a route to get us there. We don’t need to just see ourselves, we need to see ourselves with Him. All the grace and mercy He has to give is ready there. If we just see ourselves, raw and rotten, without Him – we will be lost and walk away without remembering what we look like. But with Him, as hard as that reflection may look with His perfection hovering about us, there’s a pivotal transformation that becomes possible. The circumstances that brought us there, fades into the background becoming relatively insignificant. The house, the place, those were and are insignificant compared to His presence and passion to develop His character in the home Yeshua and His Father took up residence in the day we turned our souls back into Their care. (John 14:23)
At this juncture, Adonai has revealed His path into the back yard of our hearts, and we are now “getting down to business”. The house hunt continues, relocation all on the horizon, but the real work is right where we are, no matter where we are geographically. Big things that have been hidden and slipped through the cracks are being reflected in His eyes, ever so compassionately and full of that grace that pours out like roaring rivers, Sam and I stand at this place of healing intent. I reach my arms out wide to receive whatever shall keep me here until He has done all He shall do. I pray my beloved will do the same. I have confidence in the work of my God and His ways. More to be revealed. ..but today its enough to know He’s with us. That this alone is what distinguishes us as His – His presence – nothing more, nothing less. We hover at the mirror, eyes on Him and tracking His finger where He is pointing within, waiting on the grace, holding onto the new mercies He’s promised this morning will provide, yielding to His hands as they reshape the clay that these circumstances have softened enough to submit to Him. And once again, we wait. ..He works, we wait. He shapes, we yield. He holds us, we lean into being held.
A quote from Wayne Stiles book Waiting on God.
This section comes from the chapter titled Letting Go.
To resist or resent the time God’s priorities require amounts to resisting God.
Waiting on God reminds us of those facts. Waiting keeps us humble. Waiting shows us over the passing of time that it’s all about God and none of it is about us – except to the degree that we glorify Him. Remember, the goal is God’s glory, not our productivity or personal fulfillment. In our waiting, God weans us from the pride of having to control everything or understand matters “too difficult for” us (Ps. 131:1). God chooses how we glorify Him. He alone selects which of His servants will produce what levels of output – and yet, He also rewards faithfulness on any level with equal commendation (see Matt. 25:14-23).
God works through our waiting to strengthen our character through weakness, to develop our peace of mind by trusting Him in chaos, to teach us that we can glorify Him just as much by waiting on Him as we can by serving Him. When we choose to find our fulfillment in His glory, then we can wait on Him to open the door of greater influence in His time. That’s really His business entirely. Ours is to live faithfully wherever He puts us now.
God’s timing knows it’s own reasons. Perhaps the delay occurs to test how seriously we will pray. Our maybe, in spite of all we’ve learned, God still has more to teach us. Our maybe the delay has little to do with us at all – because it depends on someone else responding to God.
Whatever the reasons, I’m convinced that in most cases God delays because He wants to give us more than we’re asking for. He loves us enough to wait to give us His best rather than to satisfy our impatience with a quick, cheap substitute. That’s why we mustn’t equate His delay with a deaf ear. Sometimes what seems like God’s apathy is really His mercy.
Slammed doors do more than bend your nose; they keep your heart pliable, sensitive, and available to God’s leading. Not only does He keep secret the difficult valleys you’ll experience (and many of the mountaintops) but also the tremendous lessons you’ll glean no other way. Lessons you didn’t know you needed to learn. Lessons you’ll thank Him for one day. You may fail to recognize God using you significantly because you define God “using you” in terms of what you consider significant: results. God defines results in terms of character. Words like productivity and efficiency remain conspicuously absent from the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23). These results of God working in your life all reflect character – His character. Character alone produces godly results.
– end quote, (they came from various sections; in order but with some left out for length shortening purposes)
♡ Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
The above verse is one I started to put to memory around 6 months ago. I taped it written out to my bathroom wall, front door, cupboard in my kitchen, and started tattooing it on my heart. At the time, we had just launched our own business. I was sure I’d need to be reminded I was seen and known by God, (both Sam and I) and even more sure that it would stretch us with testing. Little did I know the extent of such testing! One month after our launch into S Corp-ship, God pointed His finger at a different geographical location for us. We blinked and blinked, shook our heads to attempt to clear our eyes in case we were “seeing things” and said “okay, Lord, we’ll knock on the doors – Your will be done.”
What else could we do? Doors flew open, and we got the message.
So in the midst of an already crazy schedule with huge adjustments being made already, off I went to find a house in Rio Rancho, NM. It took 4 days longer than planned (nothing really in perspective) but here sat a house that seemed to have been literally set aside specifically for us. No interest in the property for months and open houses unattended…ours was the only offer. This house was so nice it was rather odd it hasn’t just screamed off the market, lesser houses had but this one just sat there. The owner and I both remarked that it seemed Someone had this place in mind for us. The contract was signed, inspections passed with flying colors and off I went back to Denver to pack. Meanwhile, all the stuff of life still needed tending to and the holidays were about to converge on the calender.
Busy became a newly defined word for us. Stretched? Huh, we were as maxed out as a human could get on every level. The verse on the various surfaces and constantly rolling over my mind was being tattooed every second of the day. I leaned on it, and joy bubbled within. Oh how we had been praying for God to move us out of Denver! An answer came, though the direction was not what we expected, nor hoped. It was around the beginning of December that Wayne Stiles book Waiting on God fell into my hands and I began to traverse it’s pages with much desperation. The legistics to buying the house were solid, but it seemed that we picked the one house that could not be sold as it was due to a new city zoning ordinance that was enacted right about the time I first laid eyes on it. It had to have a garage. The owner was in a real bad spot now having to deal with a huge hit to the pocket book. The search to find a way out of it began as my boxes filled up and our nerves began to be tested in extreme.
Then began the whole “everything that can go wrong will go wrong” motto to EVEYTYHING we did. Our truck got vandalized, computers for the business crashed, parts went out, answers about the house vasselated going back and forth with no real answers, Sam’s grandpa died. Continuing to “head south for the winter” became impossible. Limbo is and has been the motif since mid November. Living out of and surrounded by boxes has lost its excitement. Do we doubt what God said in the beginning or wonder whether we heard Him? Yet He wouldn’t release us to pull out of the deal. No clear shut doors would occur no matter how hard we pressed for one. Limbo drags on, and our back is sore. “What in heavens name?”
The house has lost all and I mean all its appeal. We just want to empty boxes and return to a state of “normal”. Here – there, we don’t care. God’s will be done has been our prayer, fingers off the whole thing!
We wait and ask only that our eyes stay tightly tuned into the process, the lesson being taught, the wisdom to be gained and light to be shared. The light grows dimmer in our vision, limbo is starting to feel like torture. Still no release.
Then I come across this treasure of words from Abba, Waynes book.
They shackled his (Joseph) feet with chains, and they bound him in irons; until the time when his Word proved true, God’s utterance kept testing him.
Is it ironic that that verse in Jeremiah became a project for memory back in June? I don’t think so. I’m not big on coincidences, cause I don’t believe God considers anything such.
Here’s a quote from Waynes book.
The whole book centers on Joseph’s story. Wow, what I’m learning! Its clear the testing we’ve encountered is no accident, and just like Joseph, we do not see what all God is doing, most of what He’s doing, in fact! Somewhere behind hidden doors, God’s moving fast and furious, solidifying His will, not just for us, but every single person that has been and will be effected by all this. We’re not the only ones waiting. ..everyone connected to this is waiting, family, friends, realtors, lenders, neighbors, everyone! Waiting and watching very closely because God said to us to go and now He’s held us for a time at the crossing. People are weary of the prospect of saying “goodbye” to us where we are, others can’t wait for us to arrive. What a strange turn of events and the circumstances just lay in front of us, waiting for God’s green light. Whichever way He gives it, all will welcome the release. Stay or go, it doesn’t matter.
Have my eyes stayed on You, my God and King? Is my devotion to You the brightest light? Oh, how my heart truly hopes so, dear Lord! May Your honor continue to stretch out my weary and waiting soul. Not for a house or for empty boxes, but Your Salvation displayed for all to see. Your beautiful timing and amazing will! Your strong protection and constant presence, no matter the situation! What a promise! Just like You were with Joseph, You are with us, through all. There is no greater gift! Test me, Adonai, and make true my devotion to You!
♡ Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
Thanksgiving as a sacrifice…what does this look like?
Sacrifice means it cost us something to give; whatever the thing may be. Something that is hard, to the point of rendering one destitute. Lets look at the widow Yeshua (Jesus) praises in Luke (21:1-4) as she was poor, she likely had no way to know how she would pay for food or her bills, but God moved her to give all that remained of her money. Look at the depth of this story.
The widow knew the church (the body of people in the temple and it’s leaders) was corrupt. She could see very well that the money given to it was hardly being used to help the poor such as she, and likely most the people she knew. Yet, she obeyed, trusting God, not the church, giving her money to God, not the church. The sacrificial give here? Her own perspectives, way of thinking – rationalizing, she instead thanked God for what she had to give and gave it all to Him.
Verse 4: “…but she, out of her poverty, has given all she had to live on.”
She could have fallen back on the hardship of her widowhood, made her circumstances the terms by which she negotiated her thinking and giving. I’m sure times we’re hard. Instead she thanked the God who gives and takes away. The sacrifice of praise, even in circumstances that feel hard – don’t initiate praise inside; she chose instead to see her standing as unchanged in His sight. The outward circumstance may look different but the reality of her standing in the Kingdom was what she chose to live by. The sacrifice of giving up our own perspectives and praising God instead of pleading for help and staying in the sorrow – this is the greatest and most costly sacrifice we will make to God. It is most precious in His sight.
So she gave up everything she “owned” both in the physical world and in the inner world where transformation is done. We often make the people in the stories of the Bible inhuman, meaning above those human responses, just because they did indeed rise above them in the stories. The widow thought and felt just like we do, rationalized as best she could, as we do, but her knowing God, changed her choices. Isn’t this what it says?
And eternal life is this: to know You, the One True God, and Him whom You sent, Yeshua the Messiah.
Most don’t sacrifice with thanksgiving, because they don’t know God. Knowing about Him is not the same as knowing Him.
Do we teach our children how to do this? How young are they when they are exposed to the concept? When they scrape their knees and we tend to them with love, do we then pray with them saying,
“God we praise you for scraped knees, we don’t need to know exactly why they are given, but we trust You. May You open our eyes to look for You the most in painful circumstances. We welcome all opportunities for You to show Your love, healing and power as greater than anything on earth we experience and see. Thank You, Father, for scraped knees and the opportunity to praise You. Amen”
This contradiction to all our senses to think and act on such sacrifice is profound. Some may call it extreme, crazy and taking things “too far”. Some may, some do, always have, always will…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Yeshua praised the Father for what He was doing when Lazarus died. He waited to go, I bet He didn’t want to, but He waited till The Father told Him to go. Sacrifice is always what we give up of ourselves for another. We trade our desires, wants, needs, thoughts, perspectives, feelings etc…for God’s instead of our own. And we know that they will be strikingly different, as Isaiah was faithful to write it down – “My ways are not your ways, nor My thoughts your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8)
So read the first part of the Psalms above again.
“Whoever offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors Me…”
Then the next part comes into focus.
“…and to him who goes the right way, I will show the Salvation of God.”
The sacrifice of praise in all ways that seem contradictory, hard, and awkward…this sacrifices our view, our opinions, our perspective (which we know is always but a speck of the whole picture) and our lean or bent; this is what this Psalms is speaking of. Without the first, the second is impossible.
Show us our Father, open our eyes, for great is the need for this lesson to be applied to us, cemented in our hearts. We depend on You to teach us, as we know this action takes You, Your Holy Spirit, Your Word to enable us in action. Our lean is to complain, fall back on excuses, run towards a “help me” prayer (though we know that we need help, and this is not wrong) instead of trusting that You are working as hard for us when the hits come as when all is well. To say, “Praise You God” for the broke down car, loss of a loved one, hurt and pain of those who misuse, abuse and mistreat us – this is not our first response, and without You it shall never be. We want to be like Your Son, our Master, and be able to turn our cheeks to those who smack them, to give without looking and calculating whether we have it “in our opinion” or not. To simply obey, without hesitation, praising You the whole way, knowing nothing will happen that You can not provide for. ..this is what we pray.
It’s easy to think of sacrifice horizontally (with people). But vertically? What is sacrifice for God? How could it be anything other than our ways, and our thoughts? It’s easy to praise Him, when things are well, or even in the “norm”, but in hard times? To actually say “thank You.” when we are in a tough spot, experiencing great pain, hurt and anger? What else could it be but the sacrifice being spoken of so often in the Word. Is this not what we watched our Lord do, to our own perplexity? That even, steady, consistent example of His inner world (very human) completely sold out to trusting the Father. Oh how all who watched Him, walked with Him, knew Him, we’re touched by Him wanted this that He had. Peace.
Those who walk with, watch, know, and are touched by Him still do. They bare the hallmarks of it as well, as it begins to change them from the inside out. It’s more than a simple “I trust You, Lord”, it goes way down deep and pulls up a “Hallelujah, glory glory glory to the Most High”. Joining the constant refrain of Heaven (read all the refrains in Revelation) at times when doubt, fear, frustration, anger, and resentment lurk around looking for the opportunity to steal from this joining in with heavenly discourse. Do we remember how our enemy is described? A thief, searching for someone to devour, rob joy, pull down and snuff out the light? It’s not his delight to do this because it brings us down. No! It’s because it steals from the glory of God, which resides in the praises of His people. Not just the kind of praise of a thousand voices ringing in song to Him, but most importantly the praise that comes from a child whose tendency is to become self absorbed focusing with earthly eyes; instead – those eyes track with the eyes of the Savior and begin to lift up with heart, mind and soul a “thank You” and chorus of “glory” that heaven itself turns towards and joins. Sacrificial praise, points us to the Way, and we can not help but see the Salvation of God. He has and always will ‘out-sacrifice’ us! Glory to God, in the highest! And Shalom – peace to His people on earth!
Selah – Amen!
♡ Grace and Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah ♡