Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Love's Wounds

This morning my heart was reflecting on an expression I coined years ago:

"It takes but a moment to wound, 
and often a lifetime to heal."  

I have shared this statement with many of you as you shared your tears with me through the years.

Re-quoting from a grief article I read earlier this week:
          "Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that (you and I)  can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that (you and I)  can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life."

As I regularly ponder the sheer amount of knowledge I have concerning many people's "love-wounds," as well as my own, I find immeasurable comfort in knowing Jesus knows firsthand the pain of love-wounds and the scars they leave behind.

Such a delicate, formidable balance is love. It must be resilient, yet delicate. It must be indiscriminate, yet protected.  It must be comfort, yet correction.  It must stand, yet lay down.

On one hand, Matthew 7:6 warns us, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."   How many faces, including that of my own, flash before me as I write this; faces of trampled souls and hearts torn to bits.

On the other hand John 15:13 exhorts us, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

I do not have a hard and fast answer to how far is far enough when it comes to love's wounds.  I know in a recent situation I faced I heard the Lord say, "I am not asking you to die when I already did so."  

I suppose if there is to be anything hard and fast about love, it is found in following the voice of the One who personifies Agape.  We are instruments of Love.... we are not Love. There is One and only One who fills those shoes. 

That said, the Word is full of exhortations that charge us with loving one another, and it is a given in this fallen world that to love means harm and disappointment will come.

One of my favorite movies is "Love Comes Softly."  Therein contained in the clip below is Clark Davis' line, "The truth of God's love is not that He allows bad things to happen. It's His promise that He'll be there with us when they do." 

"Agape never fails"  
1 Corin. 13:8   

No, no HE does not.

Praying in earnest for the brokenhearted. May your wounds heal, and the scars left behind be a testament you loved deeply.... you lived deeply.

Your sister-in-the-Lord,

Saturday, January 9, 2016

(Blind) Walk of Faith

This afternoon I was out running about with my youngest son.  At one given point, I spontaneously put my arm through his arm, closed my eyes, and walked "blind."  Almost immediately, my memory raced back decades ago. I have no idea how old I was when I first did the same exact thing with my father. I couldn't have been that young because I have the clear memory of being able to slip my arm in his, so we had to be close to equal height.

My youngest stands at just over six feet tall, and though I cannot in full explain it, I feel profoundly protected when with him.  I used to joke with him when he was younger that when he grew up he would be my bodyguard. This was namely because when he was not yet ten, when he and I would be out and about and men would gaze at me, he would intercept their gaze and stare them down.  Even now, such memories make my heart smile. He knew from an early age women were treasures to be protected, and he continues to this day to stake the ground where his mama walks.

Reflecting on my memory with my father, I recall the deepest sense of rest and peace as I strolled along with my eyes closed, arm linked in my father's arm.  Truly, it was as I imagine a walk in the clouds to feel like.... not a care in the world... not a thought in the world.... only security.... peace... child-like joy.

There I was... completely unplanned.... experiencing that same sense with my son. I shared my thoughts with him, "Wow, this takes me back to the time I did the same thing with my dad!"   I even had my youngest slip his arm in mine and give it a try, closing his eyes and walking "carefree."

I am blessed in that my earthly father was and remains an incredible "pointer" to God as my Father.  In as much as I slipped my earthly arm into my father's decades ago, I frequently have been put in situations where God whispers, "Put your arm in Mine, close your eyes, daughter.... I have you."   There is no value one can put upon those words.... and still greater, no value one can put on the knowing He has me.

My life is in full transition.  The end of a season has come, a new season enters, and there He is....making His presence unmistakably known.  As I slipped my arm into my son's arm, I heard His steadfast voice, "Close your eyes, daughter.... I have you."   And in that moment, there it came..... the wrap of His blanket.... of security, of peace, and child-like joy.... the kind that is found only in His arms....  just exactly what I imagine a walk in the clouds would be like... but  this....oh, this is real... so very, very real.

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms....."  Deut 33:27

Nothing else will ever come close to His arms.
   Love you, Abba, more than words could ever convey.....

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Breaking the Silence

Six and a half months since I last wrote.  In truth, I have felt compelled during those six months to write out of a sense of obligation, but that sense of obligation was not Spirit directed, but flesh directed - and thus ignored.

Christmas week I felt that same flesh driven obligation; after all, it was Christmas. How could I remain silent?  Then came New Year's, and the same plaguing thoughts came.  Yet again, I had no choice but to silence them, even as I was in my silence.

During these six and a half months, I was painfully aware that Joy In The Morning's sites  - both blog and web - were being visited time and time again by precious people in China, Korea, Turkey, Cuba, etc.... places of pain and oppression, and yet there I was in a place of unrelenting silence.

So why now?  Why break the silence and write now?

Simply put, this morning I heard the Lord say, "Break the silence;" and thus my release has come. What I will share, I will do so in as Godly of a manner as is possible.  If you have followed my writings for any length of time, you know I write real.  I don't mask.  I don't write from supposition.  I write from real life experience and the lessons I learn walking this life given to me with God, as my Creator.  My readers sense this about me, and from the feedback received here at JITM, it is like a healing balm to them as much as it is an on-going healing balm to my own experiences in sharing them.

What I will share here did not start six months ago.  Though it has a defining landmark of six months ago, it has had numerous landmarks over the course of twenty five years.  But, I'll focus on the most recent landmarks dating back to January 2015, and move forward in writing as the words come.

A year ago, I was sitting  with the Lord as I do at the end of every year and the beginning of the new one.  My heart was heavy.  It would be dishonoring to go into the details, but it surrounded the condition of my marriage.  A particular morning in January 2015 I unloaded my cares and burdens upon the Lord, curled up in His lap, and rested a good long spell. He concluded our time with two pivotal elements: a vision and a command.  These two elements have been my bearings this past year through the few sun-filled days, rainy days, and days of  fog-so-thick-I-could-not-see-beyond-the-next-minute-kind-of-days.    

In the years of walking with the Lord, I have discovered and tasted the definition of God's comfort far too many times to count. While I am forever thankful for His comfort, much like the strength He has so faithfully bestowed to me through the years, I confess there are times too numerous to count where I surely wish they were not so required.  God's comfort that I speak of has never - not once - been a pillow to my flesh. No, even now a tender smile crosses my countenance as I reflect on the coupling with Him through the years. What is a pillow to my spirit's heart is a leather belt to my flesh's backside. Without fail, every time I unload in His presence, He illuminates His character through His Word most tenderly, putting my flesh into checkmate and calling my spirit up to soar.  Make no mistake; as lovely as this perhaps sounds in writing, the challenge it bears to one's being is far from lovely. 

God's ways truly are mysterious and when walked out in-step with Him minute by minute will leave the mind flat-lined.  This is impossible to explain, but once experienced, completely understood.  It is the truth of:

"Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them; and to our God, for He will freely pardon. 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'  Isaiah 55: 7-9 

(This would be an excellent time to pop over and slowly read the entire fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, if so inclined. Scroll over Isaiah for the link.)

So what were those two elements that directed my path for the entirety of 2015?

Have you seen the move "Love's Enduring Promise"?  If not, this won't mean nearly what it will mean to those who have seen it.  Nonetheless, I shall do my best to describe the scene as the Lord reviewed it with me for His purpose that faithful January morning. The father in the movie was injured beyond his ability to plant the necessary seeds that would yield the necessary crops to sustain the family's farm, so it fell on the eldest daughter while the father's life-threatening injuries were addressed. The scene the Lord put before me that January morning was that of the eldest daughter - on a hot day - wrestling the horse-pulled plow -- hands bandaged and bleeding from the arduous preceding days' labor.

Coupled to that vision, the Lord stated, "Get out of the field." 

I can't tell you how relieved my being was to hear those five words.  Again, without going into details, it has been a long, arduous, twenty-five years. And while left to my own choice, acknowledging the folly of the human mind that I would have without a doubt chosen a different (easier) walk altogether, those years in fact took me on a profound path with God I am convinced few souls have taken.  As God as my witness, I would still be at the plow had He not released me this time a year ago.

In truth, I did not stop and ponder all the "what if's" in January 2015.... I simply obeyed and left the field.
  No turning back... no turning back.

Shortly thereafter, in the quiet of yet another morning with Him, tenderly He said, "It's time to take the fatigues off."   With tears rolling down my cheeks, He removed the well-worn fatigues and wrapped me in the most beautiful gown my spiritual-eyes had ever seen. 

At times of doubt this year, He has beckoned me to His mirror with words of affirmation, "My dear daughter, you did what I asked of you through the years, now rest. You are on an approved 'leave of absence'." 

Though on a "leave of absence," this year hasn't been a bed-of-roses.  Not unlike a recently-returned-solider-from-battle, I have felt displaced at times and  have wrestled with PTSD. As the saying goes, "Once a solider, always a solider," but I have learned through His coaching to nurture parts of myself that were put on the back-burner all these years.  

Being a solider in the spiritual realm is not anything one ever retires from - nor should they aspire to retire this side of Glory.  But not unlike physical war, God, the one and only General, decides the "when, where, what, and how" of spiritual battles.  I may not have had my fatigues on this past year.... and to-date, now two days into 2016, but make no mistake on this point: I am and forever will be a solider to be reckoned with in God's military, with my spiritual eyes and prowess sharp, and my skills wholly intact....

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Eph. 6:12

In this world, people --- even those closest to us -- will be used as pawns to tear down God's beloveds. And yes, there are times when righteous boundaries - both spiritual and physical -  must be fortified and vehemently guarded.  As I wrote recently on Facebook:

"Godly-authority at its core sets boundaries of righteousness that evil cannot cross, though it may try. The setting of boundaries is not a choice nor should it be to the believer. Permit me to offer you a word of encouragement, my fellow-boundary-keepers: evil does not come meek and mild. It comes with a vengeance to destroy. The force at which it comes must be met with The Great Force, released in and through us by the Spirit of the Living God. We are living in a day an age where evil is coming to us. We no longer have to go to the dark alleys to find it, and those courageous in the Lord will be the only ones standing when the bridge goes down. I'd say the majority of what I have done in my lifetime to date has been misunderstood by many, but I am not aiming for their approval... and neither should you! 'Fear only the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart.' I Sam 12:24"

The context of the bridge reference is in regard to the "Lord of the Rings" scene found HERE. And as I stated on my Facebook post, if you haven't seen the movies, don't let the end of this clip deceive you... the end is not as it appears to be.  Righteousness always triumphs over evil.... always.

I know not in-full what 2016 holds, but I know who holds both my future and my orders, and in that wisdom, my confidence rests secured.

To God Be ALL the Glory now and forever!

With love,