Even So Come

I freed a butterfly yesterday. The poor thing was trapped in a spider’s web outside the kitchen window. Its wing had been caught at the top edge, just enough to keep it trapped but not enough to stop it altogether, so that it was more tethered than trapped. This beautiful creature would take off as if to fly away from its bonds only to struggle and flap its wings to no avail, rest a while, and then repeat the agonizing process again and again.

I couldn’t stand it. I pulled a pair of scissors out of the drawer and carefully opened the window. The butterfly continued its “take off-struggle-rest” cycle so that it was difficult to get the scissors in the right place. During a brief rest period, I was able to snip the strand of web that was keeping the butterfly stuck in the spider’s snare. In an instant, it was soaring high and fast, farther and farther away from its earthly trappings, finally free to be the creature God made it to be.

As I opened my eyes this morning, a line from Kristian Stanfill’s song, Even So Come, was singing over me and through me.

Every heart longing for her King

We sing

Even so, come

Lord Jesus, come

Come, Lord Jesus, and free me from this web that is keeping me from being the woman You created me to be.

Come, Lord Jesus, and free me from the tethers that hold me to my old life, my earthly life, my selfish and sinful life… Chains that bind me to what I can’t even see, yet they keep me from soaring toward all that you have waiting for me. 

I cannot free myself. You’ve watched me struggle to break free, and You’ve seen me worn out with the trying. 

You’ve welcomed me when I came to You for rest from the fight, only to see me return to the restraints and constrictions of my own choosing. 

Come, Lord Jesus, and sever the tie. Help me to rest in Your goodness and grace, Your mercy and unfailing love. Already, I give You the praise and the glory for it. There is none like You. Amen.

Click here to listen to Even So Come from Kristian Stanfill.

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Touch The Sky

Grounded. We don’t much like that word. It brings back memories of being stuck in our room when our friends are not, privileges taken away for a week or a month depending on the offense. Flights get grounded, usually when we are desperate to get someplace fast, and we’re stuck in the airport with no place to go and no way to get there, sometimes with bad weather raging outside the windows making us feel hopeless, cut off. 

The song in my head this morning says otherwise. Touch The Sky from Hillsong UNITED was singing in my head when I woke up this morning making me feel like anything is possible! The opposite of hopeless, really.

My heart beating. My soul breathing.

I found my life when I laid it down.

Upward falling. Spirit soaring,

I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.

If the definition of “grounded” describes a person who is sensible and has a good understanding of what is really important in life (merriam-webster.com), then please… Ground me, God!! Let my knees hit the ground regularly and often! If I find my life when I lay it down for Christ and for others, then what in the world am I waiting for??

1 John 3:16… By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

John 15:13… Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Luke 9:24… For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

Events in our world, our country, and even right here in my tiny home town are huge red flags waving at all believers… Get grounded!! Hit your spiritual knees and call on the One True God who is able to make order out of the chaos running roughshod over us all. Then get up off your knees and put yourself aside and serve somebody else. Go lay down your life for somebody, because that’s exactly what Jesus did for you and for me.

Ok. I’m done preaching now. Please go listen to this song. Touch The Sky from Hillsong UNITED.

Featured image: I took this picture off my front porch a couple of days ago. Gorgeous day, and a great reminder to look UP!!

The Maker

It seems to me that God has become the proverbial “elephant in the room.” He is huge and wonderful and fills the room. Everyone sees Him and tiptoes around Him and accommodates the space He takes. Like the elephant, God is obviously here and cannot be ignored, but NOBODY TALKS ABOUT HIM!! Like if we pretend He isn’t there, then maybe He will go away.

I don’t want God to go away!! I cannot even fathom what this world would be like without God’s presence. I see Him in every sunrise and every sunset. I hear Him in the birdsong early in the morning and in the sound of the waves on the shore or the rain on the roof. God is reflected in the faces of my kids and grandkids, in my mother’s smile and my sister’s goofy laugh, in my husband’s hug and my father’s work-worn hands. When my dog curls up at my feet, it’s like God is saying “I’m right here with you.” Flowers! And music!!!! I don’t even want to think about what this world would be without God’s gift of music.

So why DON’T we talk about God? What are we afraid of? What keeps us from behaving as though God were standing right next to us all day long, part of our conversations, our best friend? Why do we often treat our Maker as though He was the black sheep of our family rather than the reason we exist?? Or perhaps it’s more like the elderly aunt whom we only visit on Sunday’s and then we shout at her because she’s hard of hearing but the rest of the week we never think about her at all!

Because whether we want to acknowledge Him or not, God is here. Right here. Right there where you are. Right now. I love the passage in Psalms 139:7-12…

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

No matter how dark my world gets, God is there and always has been whether I acknowledge Him or not. No matter how beautiful and wonderful my world gets, God… in all His majesty and glory and tenderness and mercy… is there smack in the middle of it. I love my Maker and my Maker loves me.

Your love is like a mighty fire deep inside my bones
I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains all at once
And I never have to wonder if somebody cares for me
I love the Maker
And the Maker loves me

The song in my head this morning is The Maker from Chris August. It woke me up before daylight, and the cool thing is that I haven’t heard this song in weeks!! Click here to listen.

Featured image taken in Ifrane, Morocco courtesy of Karen Thomas Smith.

Face to Face

When I was about 14 years old, my grandmother, my Mamaw, bought me a song book. By then, I was pianist at my church and playing for the gospel quartet my mom was singing with, but there was one song in this book that Mamaw wanted me to learn. So, she bought the book for $2.50 which was a lot of money from her black-lung pension existence. It’s called Songs of Faith and Hope. I’ve used this book for over 40 years now, and I knew it was the one I needed when I woke up this morning.

Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face, what will it be?
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me.

Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Written in 1898, these words were a poem written by a tone-deaf mother of five children who sent them to the composer asking him to set them to music. The result of Carrie Breck’s lyrics and Grant Tullar’s music became this old familiar hymn, Face to Face, which has been published in many hymnals and sung for generations. It has also been singing through my mind since I woke up this morning!

Hundreds of songs have been written about what it might be like when we see Jesus face to face. For those of us who have put our faith and trust in God, we know without a doubt that we WILL see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face to face some day. Our imaginations can’t begin to fathom that moment when we are ushered into the presence of God and Jesus welcomes us home with open arms and a holy hug. I can’t wait for that day!!

But until then, I want to be that hug for someone else. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus here in my world. Until I see Christ face to face in my next life, I want others to see His face in me in this life. How am I doing with that? I have no idea, but I will keep trying. I will do good when it is in my power to do so. I will love others and love ON others… Love above all things. Because He first loved me.

Click here to listen to Face to Face.

Pray

God called me in my sleep last night. Or this morning. I’m never sure which it is when I wake up so early with a very specific song lyric in my head and my heart. Was it the wee small hours of the night when all the house is quiet and dark and I’m in a deep restful sleep? Or was it those few moments before waking, when it seems that there is just the thinnest veil between this world and the next?

Though I’m silent, my heart is crying
‘Cause I was made to come to You

This line from Sanctus Real was singing through my mind as I opened my eyes this morning. Pray. That’s the name of the song. Even in my sleep when I am the most silent and still I ever get, my heart cries out to God, because that’s how it’s designed to work by the very God to Whom my heart cries out! His beautiful design is for me to love Him all day long, and in return God gives me a song in the night.

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
– Psalm 42:8

I must have read this verse a hundred times in my life, but this is the first time I ever really understood it! The song my precious Lord sings over me in my sleep is The Holy Spirit teaching me how to pray (Luke 12:12, John 14:26)… A prayer to the God of my life. And all God asks is for me to love him when I’m awake.

So, this morning I’m going to pray, just like the chorus to the song says, even if it’s just to speak the name of Jesus.

So I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray

Love Him all day. Listen for your song in the night.

Click here to listen to Pray from Sanctus Real.

Drops in the ocean

Where do you go when you want to know? Most of us grab our smart phones and get any information we need in an instant. Is it going to rain tomorrow? There’s an app for that. How many times a day does someone ask a question or speculate on a topic and everyone in the group picks up their phone to look it up? 

Some things I need to know can’t be found on Google. Like how much my husband loves me, or whether my friend’s test results came out okay, or if another friend was accepted for the graduate program she desperately wanted. How about God’s love for me? Can I Google that or should I look elsewhere? The song in my head tells me where to look. It is Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

If you want to know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If want to see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean

It’s all about relationship. Do I want a relationship with my phone or with people? With God? Our Heavenly Father created us to love us, to be His children. To put down whatever is distracting us from Him and pay attention. How often have we done that with our own kids? “Look at me. What did I say? Pay attention.” This song reminds me of the promise in Romans 8:38-39…

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I want to know about God’s love for me, I must go to the source and open my Bible. And read it. And reflect on what it says and remember what it says. I must look at the hands and feet of Jesus. I must fix my eyes on the wounds He suffered, the cruelty and shame He took on Himself so that I could live this life He gave me. Thousands of times he has forgiven me, even before I knew I needed forgiveness. More than the drops in the ocean. There’s NOT an app for that!!

Click here to listen to Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

Featured image: Drop in the Ocean by David Ardley, 2012. Click here for more information on this artist. 

Because He Lives (Amen)

I woke up to daylight and birds singing this morning. I love that early morning quiet sound of the house before its business as usual. I heard the sound of planes soaring overhead and my dogs anxious to go outside. And in my head, Matt Maher was singing this verse to his song, Because He Lives (Amen).

I WAS DEAD IN THE GRAVE
I WAS COVERED IN SIN AND SHAME
I HEARD MERCY CALL MY NAME 
HE ROLLED THE STONE AWAY

Mercy called my name. I love how God sings over me while I sleep and gives me a thought that will stay with me all day. Today “Mercy called my name” will stay in my heart and give me light and hope when I need it.

AMEN
AMEN 
I’M ALIVE
I’M ALIVE
BECAUSE HE LIVES
AMEN
AMEN
LET MY SONG JOIN THE ONE THAT NEVER ENDS
BECAUSE HE LIVES

I am alive because Jesus lives. I know we are not yet to Easter and He is Risen, but HE IS RISEN! As Christians, we must let the whole world see the joy of the risen Lord written all over us!

BECAUSE HE LIVES
I CAN FACE TOMORROW
BECAUSE HE LIVES
EVERY FEAR IS GONE
I KNOW HE HOLDS MY LIFE MY FUTURE IN HIS HANDS

Amen. Amen.

Click here to listen to Because He Lives (Amen).

 

Something Beautiful

This is one of those rare mornings when I overslept. I have an excuse, though! My son is home, and we talked until 2:00 in the morning. One of the joys of my life is talking with my kids about anything and everything. I love listening to their plans, hopes, dreams, thoughts, ideas, stories, poetry, songs, ramblings… For me, it’s like watching them find hidden treasure. I knew it was there all the time, just waiting for them to find it themselves.

And God says
I’m gonna turn it into something different
I’m gonna turn it into something good
I’m gonna take all the broken pieces
And make something beautiful like only I could
So put it all in the hands of the Father
Give it up, give it all over to
The only One who can turn it into
Something beautiful
Something really beautiful

Stephen Curtis Chapman’s song, Something Beautiful, woke me up in the middle of the night (when I didn’t really want to be awake because I didn’t get to bed until 2:00!) It’s the song in my head this morning. One of my favorite lines from this song says

While we’re living down here in this “yet to be”
Is to watch God take the most broken things
and to hear Him say
“When I get through, you’re gonna be amazed”

My kids are living the part of their lives that I sometimes wish I could go back and fix or change in my own life. Best laid plans, dreams never fulfilled, bad choices… All of these and more could make me morose and regretful. But God says He will turn it into something beautiful. Isaiah 61:3 says God will give us “a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.”

God can take all the stuff in my life that Satan would love to use for his own satisfaction, and turn it into something beautiful. Something wonderful and perfect in God’s own eyes that He can use for His purposes. Something that will glorify God and put Satan in his place. But ONLY if I give it all over to the Father, to the only One who is able to take my broken pieces and make me whole, beautiful. Wholly beautiful in HIS sight. When He gets through, I know I’m gonna be amazed!!!!

Click here to listen to Something Beautiful.

Featured image: Oil on a functional box with magnetic closure, 8.5″ x 6″ x 1.75″ What can I say? I love flowers!!!!

I Will Arise

My morning quiet time with God is really important to me. I try not to let anything get in the way of it, or to move it to another time of the day. Seems like if I don’t get right up to my desk first thing with my coffee, then it doesn’t happen at all that day. I get distracted and busy and the next thing I know a whole day has flown past.

Several mornings in the last week, I have come awake with a very old Southern Harmony song in my head. In 1759, Joseph Hart published Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy. Now in public domain, it’s a classic hymn of the church. With six verses and a refrain, it’s one of those invitation hymns that could go on and on. But the sound of the refrain is what woke me again this morning.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in his arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

I have several piano arrangements of this classic. My favorite is the Mark Hayes, but I’m also working on a jazz arrangement by Larry Shackley. No matter which one I play, I sing the words in my head as I move through the music. The definitive stands out to me… I WILL arise, I WILL go to Jesus. He WILL embrace me. There ARE ten thousand charms. Not maybe. Not a chance that my Savior might embrace me. Not a possibility of Jesus love and affection. Matthew 11:28-30 says,

Come to me, all 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

It’s a for sure thing. A done deal. I will arise and keep my morning appointment, because He WILL be there waiting for me. 

Click here to listen to Come Ye Sinners (I Will Arise) from Martha Bassett.

Featured image, oil on canvas, winter sunrise, Martha Robertson 2003.