I feel bad for Thomas. He has a forever negative reputation for being human like me.
So, he needed extra proof…so do I some days.
So, he was skeptical…nothing wrong with that, is there? Aren’t we told to be wise as serpents..innocent as doves? How can we be wise if we believe everything we’re told.
If you are like Thomas (and me), and won’t believe until you can see and feel His wounds for yourself, don’t be surprised or dismayed when you are given the opportunity to do so, because, if you ask, there will be opportunity.
These thoughts have been rattling around my wee brain for several days. While relating to Thomas’ request, it was as if I heard the Lord speak to my heart; You don’t even know what you’re asking, Lyn. Do you really want to feel my wounds?
This is what my wounds feel like:
- When the weight of your burden brings you to your knees;
—Remember, I also fell under the weight of my own cross, and needed help bearing it.
- When your body is wracked with chronic physical pain;
—Join Me in My scourging. I suffered similar physical pain from strikes, stripes, and blows.
- When your ideas, and ideals are held in derision. Your very motives of your deepest thoughts and desires are suspect.
—Experience the same pointed, piercing thorns that were forced into My brow.
- When the work of your hands is belittled, or scoffed.
—Feel the nail prints in My hands.
- When the path that you walk is misunderstood or held in suspicion.
—Remember the wounds in My feet.
- When your support system crumbles. There is no one you can trust, no one who understands, you feel forgotten or overlooked.
—Participate in the loneliness and grief I felt when even My own Father turned His back on Me.
- When your heart is pierced by reckless words or actions of those you love;
—Plunge your hand into the wound in My side that had gushed forth blood and water for you.
Be careful what you ask for…but if you mean it…here I am.
Lean a little closer, Lord – I can’t hear what you’re saying;
My ears are open to your voice, as I continue praying.
Lean a little closer, Lord, and tell me what to do;
I’m trying to wait patiently to hear a word from You.
Lean a little closer, Lord, I want to know your will,
But how can I step out in faith when my life is standing still?
“Draw a little nearer, Child.” He answered quietly;
I’ll lean closer down to You, as you draw near to me.
Come nearer now, my daughter, and I’ll show you my plan;
If you want to know my ways, walk with me, hand-in-hand.
Draw a little nearer, Child, He repeated tenderly;
You can’t step out in your faith, ’til you learn to lean on Me.
God gave me this verse when I was a young Momma, living in Texas, far away from family and anything familiar for the first time. I was a slow learner at sitting still and drawing near to the heart of God. There was so much I didn’t know, so much I was wrongly taught, so much I wish I could go back and educate my young self on. But one thing I knew, and the Lord affirmed it when He inspired these words, I knew that if I was feeling far from God, it wasn’t Him that moved. In my immaturity, I expected Him to chase me, scoop me up and draw me to Himself, and ya know, maybe He does that with some people, but not with me. Always the gentleman, He continued to wait until I was ready to follow Him, since He was the Lord, and I the servant. And while He waited patiently, He continued to speak quiet little affirmations to my heart, promising to come to me, to show me great and mighty things, to teach me His ways, and to support me.
That was over 20 years ago, and I’ve found Him to be faithful and true. I just need to recognize His presence in my everyday life. Brother Laurence lived over 400 years ago, and wrote a timeless classic called “Practicing the Presence of God”. You actually can read it online for free, and I encourage you to do so. There is a deep, rich assurance that comes to me in the simplicity of the knowledge that Jesus is present with me; I find His presence empowering me with a quiet strength, and confidence whether I be in a trial, or working in the mundane affairs of what has become my life today. He is like a dear friend that doesn’t always require conversation, but with whom we can still experience a close connection, just enjoying His company.
This word, how I wish for it, and chase it, and fail at it. I call it the “b” word, because it is the nasty word that always springs up when I feel like I have lost it. I’ve been thinking of this “b” word a lot lately, as I have time to think and plan, and dream. I came up with an acronym for it, as a follower of Christ, I see “balance” being defined as the Beautiful Arrangement (of) Life Activities, Necessary Commitments, (and) Emotions. It is the ability to arrange, prioritize, and joyfully accomplish the Lord’s calling and will for our lives.
In other words, if I’m happy at home, keep an immaculate house, have clothed and fed my family, but don’t follow through on the outside things I’ve committed to do, I’m imbalanced. If I joyfully serve and busy myself with the Lord’s work, but neglect the needs of my family, I’m out of balance. I can have the perfect plan, and can make it to all my appointments on time, but, if I’m out of control and angry all the time, I’ve lost that balance. And it’s important to remember, that God has not called me to the same commitments to which he has called my sister, neighbor, daughter, or friend. Comparing myself with them is an effort in futility, it will not get me where I need to be in accomplishing His will for my life. My eyes need to stay on Him, for focus, balance and peace.
I would appreciate your prayers for the development of balance in my life…because this season of waiting is quickly coming to an end, and I’m going to need it!
Melanie, over at Joy Of Nine9 has blessed me yet again, this time with Litany of the Love of God. It is so beautiful! As I read, I found myself praying, in agreement with the words, and as I did, some of the words pierced through places in my spirit that I had been protecting from painful memories and past injuries.
It is challenging to say with complete honesty, that I allow my love to return to Him:
- with all my heart (above the place that my husband, children, and grandchildren hold there);
- with all my soul (that part of me that makes me who I am…including the masks I wear, the fortresses I’ve built around it for protection from pain, and the parts of it that have been robbed by fear, doubt, and unbelief);
- with all my mind (above my own understanding and expectations of who God is, how He works, what He desires);
- with all my strength (because I know the reserves I keep for the times when I don’t rely on His strength to do what He asks me to, or to do what I choose to do instead of what He’s asked me to do…I know well the areas of my being that are not surrendered to Him, and that I hold back).
Do I really mean it, when I tell Him, “Lord, I love you back, not for what you lavish me with, but just for who You are…”
- above all possessions and honors,
- above all pleasures and enjoyments
- More than myself and all that belongs to me,
- More than all my relatives and friends,
- More than all men and angels,
- Above all created things in heaven or on earth,
Oh! I want to…but I know I fall short! I am guilty of placing things above that love for Him. How easily they get in the way, because I do love my things…my family…my friends…even myself and my accomplishments. How sobering a reminder to keep all His riches that He shares with us in their proper perspective. Of course, it’s right and expected for me to be thankful for all these blessings that He gives, with the knowledge that they are from His hand, and they are to given to me for His glory, not my own.
- In wealth and in poverty,
- In prosperity and in adversity,
- In health and sickness,
- In life and death,
- In time and eternity (in what I know of in my now, and forever after)
I used to think it was easier to trust God and to love Him in the good times than it was in the hard times. This notion has been tested and found to be untrue over the past ten years. We’ve gone from employment and home ownership, to unemployment and homelessness (and back again); from having supportive family around us, to suffering fractured, painful dynamics; we’ve lost aged parents and welcomed grandbabies; and I can honestly say, through all of it, my love for God was strengthened in the days that I cried out for and received His comfort and consolations. It was not easier to love God in the easy times, in fact, when times were easy, so was the ability to forget Him, and become complacent.
There is a hidden wisdom in the Lord’s prayer, when we ask for our daily bread. I realized a rich dimension of thankfulness and awe in watching and waiting for daily provision, that was not present in our years of plenty, when I was buying groceries to stock a pantry for the month. It’s not that I didn’t know where my help came from, but I was not reminded of it every day, and our blessing over the meal did not inspire awe then as it did when we did not know where our next meal would come from and were provided for on a daily basis.
I love the end of this litany…where I can unite the love I am returning to God with the love of all the saints and angels, even with the love of His own mother, and with His own infinite love. Just in case mine falls short (and it does), it still returns to Him complete, because of the unity of His body. What a beautiful picture of an answer to His prayer for us, that we be one, as He and the Father are one.
I have a new header, thanks to my niece, over at A New Hope Through Christ, who said that when saw the picture, she thought of New Things. When she sent it to me (of course I begged her to let me use it for my blog, and she so graciously consented), we had a wonderful chat about how new things often spring forth in our lives from hard, broken places, and where we receive the strength that is needed to push through.
It’s true in my life. Some of my greatest spiritual growth has happened in the middle of extremely difficult conditions.
I learned about and developed patience in the middle of very trying circumstances;
I learned true love and forgiveness through hateful, harsh, and excruciatingly painful verbal abuse and rejection;
I learned joy through sorrow, faithfulness through disappointment, and fortitude through those nights I just knew I was at the end of my rope, and still woke the next day to another chance to grow some more.
I learned about generosity through poverty;
I learned to walk in victory through intense spiritual warfare,
and I learned about peace that passes understanding through the midst of it all.
Like my banner picture, those good things developed in cold, dark, deep places and sprung forth out of harsh, dry, cracked conditions that you would never guess could produce wonderfully abundant, healthy, mature growth.