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Sunday grace

Do you know what’s under your house?

Sweet William and I had work done in the dark recesses under our old Kentucky home recently. It was quite costly and a bit stressful, I might add.

We knew there was a problem a year ago. But sometimes I prefer to live in an imaginary happy place resembling Oz with it’s yellow-brick roads, dancing Munchkins, and poppy fields. Let me pretend all is right with my world, if only for a little while.

It’s easy to ignore what is concealed in the shadows under the house.

Ignoring a problem will not make it disappear. After our contractor worked for days, finding more issues than we imagined, and me writing checks while I breathed heavily, the situation is resolved, and the air in the house smells fresh when I walk in the door.

Why did we wait so long? Who knows. Money factored into it, and I didn’t want to deal with the discomfort. But putting it off possibly made the problem worse.

This is not just a home-ownership issue. My inner life suffers in a similar way.

Becoming aware of an interior dilemma, sometimes I chose to bury it. In the words of Scarlet O’Hara, I prefer to “think about it tomorrow.” I struggle with choices, delaying the inevitable.

And so I wait. Until a more convenient time, when circumstances my be better, while hoping it might disappear altogether.

But usually a problem does not go away quietly.

It has a way of hounding me, resurfacing in my thoughts, looking for a chink to slip through and shout, “I’m still here. Do something.”

I don’t want to be ignorant and call it bliss.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit will not allow me to bury, hide, or sidestep what needs to be brought into the light. He keeps reminding me, whispering that He can help with what troubles me. It is His specialty.

And so I pray:

Come Holy Spirit.
Shine Your love in the hidden places where sin and fear hide.
Open the windows of my heart.
Let the fresh breezes of the breath of God flow freely.
Cleanse me of dark secrets that fester.
Pour your healing balm on what hurts.
Let me walk in freedom where joy is my companion.
In Jesus sweet name.

Monday grace

As the month of September meanders to its end, I glance backward to what lies behind me.

Those days have been hard, dry and cracked open with suffering. And how do we go on from here?

Three times in my seventy years I count the most sorrowful of seasons. All involved death, real and symbolic. As if something were being ripped from my grasp, my heart was left crushed, my soul whimpering.

I spent time wandering the wilderness of my own confusion, my questions were without answers as I watered my path with weeping.

Looking backward with the perspective of time and wisdom, I see lessons I was meant to learn. Though I felt alone, I perceive that God’s presence surrounded me. My tears were noticed, my groaning was heard, and the Father of all comfort drew nearer to me in my brokenness.

I bear the scars still. The wounds have healed but their evidence remains, a reminder that no one gets a reprieve from suffering in this fractured world.

As I walk beside others in their wilderness journey, I identify with their pain, remembering the aloneness and the desperation. I feel their longing for relief from the angst of this affliction. We enter into the fellowship of human suffering.

With thanksgiving, I recall the bright and beautiful days, the gentle meanders through green meadows, the soft breezes on my face, the sweet communion of friends in joyful song.

But it is in the dark, thunderous storms that my heart is tendered by my tribulation. Those were the times I ran to the gentle and strong Shepherd while wolves surrounded and I trembled in the unknown. His comfort and protection were what I needed.

While questions without answers raged in my mind and I couldn’t see farther than the next step, He who is the Way opened the door to Himself, and I ran to His arms.

While I learned to trust Jesus at my mother’s knee and from my father’s example, it was in the dark night of my soul that I comprehended a dimension of God I could not have known any other way.

“The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud.”

If I could have chosen, I may have taken the gentle way, the easy path, but that would not have been the best for me. I would not learn endurance. I would not know peace in the storm. I would not experience a comforting Presence in my pain. I would not have empathy for my fellow sojourners. I would not see hope in a hopeless situation. I would not stand in awe of the brilliant stars in the blackness of night.

I would not know Jesus the way I do.

So I will walk where my Savior calls me, the road where He promises to walk with me. And though it be through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. He makes a way in the wilderness and rivers in my wasteland.

He turns my Valley of Baca into a spring of refreshing.

He sends a sunrise after the night, and mercy awaits me for the new day.

Sunday grace

 

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Through my window, I watch the sun’s red glow rise over the trees. We call it day break, when the morning rays burst through the dark of night. Sunrise pushes against the night, and night cannot hold it back.

God said, “Let there be light,” and brightness exploded suddenly into the blackness over the surface of the earth.

Light broke through when the Creator spoke it, His words full of power.

“The evening and the morning were the first day.” In Jewish culture, a new day begins at evening. It starts with night and moves into daybreak and a new morning.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. — Isaiah 9:2

Isaiah prophesied the coming Messiah, and Matthew proclaimed it fulfilled in Jesus.

The long dark night was about to be broken open by the Morning Star. And hope rises.

I have endured my seasons of nighttime gloom, wondering how long, and when will the day come. I longed for the light when my world would appear brighter, when I could see more clearly, when clouds of darkness would part and the rays of the sun would shine warm.

Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning. We watch for, we hope for, we pray for the light of day.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. — Isaiah 60:1

Hope rises at the first sign of dawn, and Jesus, the Light of the world, is a darkness breaker.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, — Isaiah 61:1

It is for this He came, to release us from the dank, shadowed depression of our prison cells, to open the doors wide and invite us into the presence of the Holy God where glory shines brighter than a thousand days. And with Him there is no night.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Colorado, by travis

Sunday grace

The sun sets early and darkness settles over us. We are safe and warm inside.

As a child I was afraid of the dark. I wanted a nightlight on. I didn’t want to be alone at night.

I learned to overcome my fear by quoting Bible verses when mother sent me next door to borrow a cup of sugar, or whatever it was she needed. I ran as fast as I could, saying the 23rd Psalm all the way there and all the way back.

Working a third shift job for a few months out of sheer necessity, I parked my car in a dark lot. Only thirty minutes ago I had tucked my young son into bed for the night. I felt alone waiting for my shift to begin. It was more than the physical darkness that threatened me then. It was a gloom over my soul.

Each night in the few minutes before I exited my car to walk to the plant, I read the same chapter from the small Bible I carried with me. Psalm 139. And this verse particularly comforted me:

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

God is with us whether it is day or night. He shines the light of His love around us showing the way, the next step, the places of resting. In the shadow of death He walks beside us. No place on this earth, not a depth of sadness or the height of joy, can keep us from Him.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39

I am never separated from His love. Never. I don’t have to be afraid any more.

Sunday grace.

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The grey days

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The greyness of the winter days stretch long. Though I know by fact that the nights are getting shorter this time of year, it seems an act of faith to believe it.

I saw someone’s Facebook post yesterday: “Anyone needing a little sunshine?” I responded with a “like” when what I really wanted to do was shout, “YES, I need the sunshine!”

It happens each January. The festive season passes, and we are left with the winter of despair” while we longingly wait for “the spring of hope.”

I should not be bewildered that history repeats itself and seasons come and go as naturally as night turns to day. But sometimes the short winter day can feel long when the sun does not appear.

Such is life. It is the waxing and waning of delight and pleasure versus the bitter and despondency that exists in our world. Somewhat like the moon. There are nights I see it brilliantly in its fullness or as a crescent sliver. At times it disappears altogether, being a new moon or a cloudy night.

Fact says the moon and sun are both still in the sky rotating as they have since creation day when the Creator set their courses and determined their orbit. Whether I see them with my eyes or not, they remain.

There is a confident knowing of this same Creator who also sets my course and determines my days, whether they be tinged with grey or absorbed in brightness.

It is just a season. And seasons change. Happiness is circumstantial. Joy is a deep resevoir within the heart of one who knows.

I know that my Redeemer lives, just as Job knew, despite our trials and tests. We walk through our own grey days while looking for the dancing sunbeams.

As I went to the bedroom to open blinds, I saw the light blinking through. It was the sun. I pulled up the blinds and saw it there in the sky, blue hues peeking through the clouds. It lasted only about an hour before soft ashen clouds covered the horizon.

But I have seen resplendent light once again. And hope rises.

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Be the light

I am intrigued by light and darkness. Perhaps it is one reason I rise early while it is still dark outside. I like watching the new day arrive, the eastern sky growing bright ever so gradually, the sign of a new day.

On a cloudless morning, I am often rewarded with a blaze of color that stretches across the expanse of sky.

When I was a little girl, I was very afraid of the dark. I needed a night-light. I needed reassurance. I needed my Mommy!

As I got older, sometimes my mother would send me next door to my Aunt and Uncle’s house to borrow something – in the dark. I learned to quote Bible verses, memorized in children’s church, all the way there and then back again to quell my fear and calm my beating heart.

Eventually, I overcame the fear of the dark.

As I read the stories of Jesus coming to this earth, clothed as an infant, I see references of light. The coming Light of a Savior was promised. Because who doesn’t want to be relieved of the darkness.

When our electricity goes out occasionally at night, Sweet William and I start scrambling for flashlights, candles, matches, something that will give us the ability to see in a dark house. When we find and turn on the flashlight, strike the match and ignite the candle, the darkness flees and we can see.

Jesus came to be a light to a dark, sin-filled world. He was showing the people who God really is. And He calls us, His followers, to be light. How we do that will be individual according to our personalities and what circumstance we find ourselves in. For some it will be having bold conversations. Other times, it will be a warm smile, a welcoming heart, or a simple acknowledgement of appreciation.

The ways to show light of Christ are only limited by our imaginations.

While we focus on Christmas virtues in December, could we be challenged to show Jesus’ light all year long? A perpetual Christmas celebration! The joy we feel during this month could carry on for the other eleven months. The patience and kindness we offer could be a year-long gift we give to others. We could extend grace instead of a whole host of negative emotions, and it would reward us as much as the other person.

Being the light will dispel the darkness wherever we allow Christ to shine. In our homes and neighborhoods, on the construction site, in the office and the classroom, at the factory or the grocery story.

Jesus the light of the world desires to fill us with Himself so that He shines through us, His children. Our brokenness allows His love to filter through, to flow out of hearts that have been forgiven and filled with glory.

Shine, for our Light has come. The glory of the Lord has risen upon us.

Be the light. Reflect His light. Shine for Jesus.

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Sunday grace

The morning breaks into the night. Light shines and darkness cannot restrain it.

“Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the LORD shines on you.” Isaiah 61:1, NET Bible

The radiance reveals truth. What was once hidden in the shadows now shows itself. Nothing hides when the day appears.

We can run from the light, afraid of what it will reveal, try to cover ourselves.

Or we can bask in the glow of God’s splendor, allowing the brightness, the heat to burn away the dross.

The new day offers possibilities, a fresh start.

God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light, for when He speaks it is done. His radiance is not a thing to fear; it is His answer to our cry for relief of the gloom in our self-imposed blindness.

Step into the light, the blaze of His love, the brilliance of His glory.

“For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6, NET Bible

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