Tag Archives: God’s presence

5 Things

5 Things

1) This photo. Summer colors and sunshine. Amen.

2) Moving has as much to do with the heart as it is a physical act. I’m still learning.

3) My blogging schedule is clearly a mess these days (refer to #2). I intend to get back to Tuesday / Friday posts soon. But giving myself a little grace through the end of the summer to get back into a good rhythm.

4) The anniversary of my little brother’s death is coming up on Monday, July 29th. It’s been 11 years. That sounds like such an anti-climactic number, but I always seem to find myself a little more contemplative in the weeks surrounding this date. I never really know how I’m going to react on the anniversary day itself. I just can’t always anticipate how grief will look, but I’m still learning to just ride the waves as they come.

5) I am a hot mess of runaway thoughts and emotions these days. And the more I try to control it, the more out of control I feel. I hate it and I love it. Hate it because it’s wildly uncomfortable. But love it because it forces me to Jesus in a whole new way. And that’s really precious.

As a words person, it pains me to not be able to exactly describe what I mean. But I just can’t. I’m not sure I even fully understand. I just know it’s like I’m walking in this deep and intentional relationship, and when I miss spending time with Him, I feel like I can’t breathe quite right. Because He’s my constant and my rest and my relief and my all. He physically calms me. Though I’m still trying to figure out how to hold onto that calm for a little longer throughout each day. And I’m still learning how to react to situations in a manner that reflects His presence well.

But I’m more desperate for Him and more dependent on Him. I feel like I’m getting life all wrong, but He’s so near. So I’m literally attempting to walk right on His heels just to stay near Him and to know where to go next. Though from that place right on His heels, all I can really see is Him. And while that means I don’t know much at all about where we’re headed, I trust it’s good.

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*07/31/13 update: I didn’t plan on using this post to link up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky for her “what we learned in July” linky, but I realized that I repeated the phrase “I’m still learning…” several times, so I’m thinking it counts! Thanks for stopping by!*

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Everything. Anything.

“fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

everything anything

In the midst of battling fear, processing change, and feeling worn, during a difficult yet sweet time in the Word re-reading the same two passages of Scripture (Joshua 1 and Isaiah 41) for what was going on days, the desperate prayer of my heart was this:

Lord, what more do you want from me? What more do I have to give?

And His response was this:

Everything. Anything.

And not just once. And not just for a moment. I want all of you. For a lifetime. Of moment-by-moment surrender and following.

I want you to choose to rest in My presence over and over again.

When it’s easy and when it’s not.
When you want to and when you don’t.
When you think you can do this life on your own and when you know you cannot.

I want you with Me.

I want everything. anything.

His Presence, His Arms, His Love

Some things really rock your world. Losing my little brother as a teenager was one of those things.

I always knew he had a heart problem. And I knew open heart surgery was a big deal. But I was young and never fully understood (or cared enough to recognize) the seriousness of his condition, so his death seemingly came out of nowhere.

Life as I knew it was interrupted and in many ways ceased to exist altogether. Normal was no longer a word with any meaning. Family was a term that needed redefining.

Everything needed redefining.

But eventually, I settled into a new rhythm. It took a long time to label it anything closely resembling normal, but the acuteness of the initial grief faded. Things that became different overnight eventually became less different. The deep ache that made it hard to move let up every once in a while, and then more often. And then quietly intertwining and invading without any fanfare, a new normal began to seep into the everyday.

It’s now been years since I’ve lived under the weight of just-get-through-one-moment-at-a-time fresh grief.

But some days…

His presence, His arms, His love

I didn’t expect simple things of no consequence to trigger such deep emotions. Grief can be so unexpected and beyond all rational explanation.

Ten years later, it can still break in with a vengeance and then fade just as soon as it swells.

Often completely unprepared for it, all I know to do is ride the wave of overwhelming emotions so deeply felt that I’m sometimes left knocked down and gasping for air. So I ride. I let it happen. I sit with the grief and allow myself to just be in that moment. To let the wave hit and break and crash and drift away. To experience the torrents of emotions as they come and then ease.

Yet even though it’s uncomfortable, even though it’s painful, there are few moments such as these where I sense a more immediate need and know a more intense desire to just sit with my Heavenly Father … in His presence, in His arms, in His love … allowing Him to speak truth over me and listening with a ready ear as my mind goes back there. To that night, to that hospital, to that hallway, to that room.

But at the end of the hallway, there’s the embrace I’ll never forget. The arms of strength that still give me permission to fearlessly collapse and release. The words that still echo in my heart. Not of empty promises or meaningless platitudes, but quiet whispers of love and grace and a sure promise of His presence.

Arms that weren’t letting go. Love that wasn’t going anywhere.

And in the arms of this Abba Father who so intricately orchestrates every detail of this life for His glory, who loves this child unconditionally, who sees the worthiness and righteousness of His perfect and blameless Son when He looks at this face, there is peace. there is calm. there is freedom.

Because even in the midst of the tears and ever confusing grief that ebbs and flows, His presence is strong, His arms are solid, His love is fierce, His embrace is secure.

Because in these moments He’s as close to tangible as I sometimes suspect He’ll ever be in this life.

Because I know this ever present Holy One knows, sees, and understands the deepest parts of my grief.

As I sit with Him, as He draws me near, as He holds me close, He grieves with me. We cry together. He is faithful to His promise. He is the God of all comfort and He is close to the brokenhearted.

And though it doesn’t make it easy, though the grief still runs deep and the loss will not simply be written off, there is hope in the midst. This world is not the end, this life is not all there is, and this earth is not my home. Because in the arms of this Father, through the sacrifice of His Son, there is the assurance of eternity in His presence without the earthly pain and grief. An eternal reality that far surpasses this momentary one.

I still find rest in His sovereignty and His goodness.

Grief doesn’t change that.

Yes, grief is hard and makes my humanity painfully obvious. But the Father’s promise to be close, to bear the load with me and for me is unchanging.

And in the sitting with Him through it, as He draws me near and holds me close, in the wake and the aftermath of the moments of poignant grief, the release and collapse into His presence, His arms, His love is strangely sweet.

“…and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)

“With Me”

with me

I don’t know when it happened. Or how it happened.

It certainly wasn’t intentional. I barely noticed it.

But somewhere along the way, as the future became less clear, as everyday life became a battle to survive, as my own selfishness became too prominent, I began holding the Lord at arm’s length – at a perceived safe distance. There, but not present. Close, but not intimate.

And in the moment when I realized it, as my heart sank and the tears flowed, all I could think was, “I know better.”

But that was just it.

The “know better” part of me gets caught up in thinking I can somehow do this on my own. That I can get close to God, do all the right things, build this relationship, and somehow win His favor, His grace, and His love.

And yes, my heart’s desire is to please Him, and that’s a really good thing, but when it’s born out of trying harder and doing better and achieving more, it’s all wrong.

I can’t do any of this on my own apart from Him. I am nothing and have nothing apart from Him.

And I don’t have to do anything to win His favor. I already have it.

The grace and love that I too often try so hard to earn is already mine to rest in and enjoy.

Yet I still somehow had been approaching God as if He was like me, as if because I had been holding Him at a safe distance, He had been holding me there, too.

But for the record, He is nothing like me.

He is not made in my image. He is not made at all.

He holds all things together, this Sovereign Creator, and He doesn’t put me in a corner when I mess up or stray or fail.

Yes, He disciplines like a loving Father to teach me, to prune me, to sanctify me, but He doesn’t leave me in the process.

Even when I leave Him.

So this holding Him at a safe distance?

It’s wrong. It’s self-centered and self-serving. It’s lacking in trust and honesty and brokenness and humility. It’s hiding. It’s prideful.

None of which works with Him at all.

God never intended for me to view Him in my image. He never intended for me to project onto His character the human elements of my own.

He is not bound by my rules. He does not regard me the way I far too often regard Him.

He IS better, higher, greater.

He is God.

He IS.

But in the words of Chris Tomlin, “The God of angel armies is always by my side. The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine…”

And yes, that’s said with a healthy dose of reverence, fear, and adoration. It’s said with the recognition of His righteousness, His holiness, His sovereignty, and His greatness.

But He’s so close – He’s here – before me, beside me, behind me.

He’s not a God who will allow me to keep Him at a distance.

And in that very moment of recognition when I stripped it all down bare – when I removed all of the complicated layers, the circular logic, the selfish needs and desires – and prayed, the purest question on my heart was simply:

“God, where do you want me?”

His answer wasn’t a particular job or a physical location or a ministry direction. It was just this:

 “With Me.”

And with that, all I wanted was to collapse into His everlasting arms, completely exhausted from all of the trying, to rest in His presence with the renewed realization that this life is so much less about what I do for Him and so much more about simply knowing Him and trusting Him through all of the unknown details, to allow Him to spill over into every area of my being.

He’s not lost on this journey and He hasn’t lost me. He sees the whole, while I only see a small part. And He’s already written the ending.

And no, complacency is not okay, but maybe contentment is somehow settling into the details that He’s already written and just walking with Him along the way.

Yes, He’s the great God of angel armies, but He’s also the ever present, never leaving or forsaking, God with me.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)

Photo of the Week: Forty Seven

photo of the week 47

Another glimpse of Christmas decorations around here…

Somehow, there’s joy hidden in this photo of the week. I don’t know exactly where or why or how. But when I look at it, it makes me smile. Maybe it’s the color or the different perspective or just the opportunity it provides to pause and reflect.

But I know I need more of it. More joy. More peace. More reflection. More perspective. More truth. More of His presence.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (ESV)

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*linking with Shannan for Money Shot Monday*

The Gift is in His Presence

the gift is in his presence

A day set aside to intentionally admire the unexpected gifts, the unnoticed miracles, the beauty in the everyday?

Sign. me. up.

Because truth be told, I’m bad at that most of the time.

My detail oriented self fails to recognize the small and sometimes seemingly insignificant details in the everyday that make this life beautiful. The moments that make it possible to not just make it through a season … especially this one … with some degree of sanity and decorum, but to really live it. With purpose. With thankfulness and joy. With humble awe and wonder.

It requires a shift in focus away from self to see the always at work hand of the Creator.

And as I force the issue, though gladly because this exercise is a good one, as I try hard to see the gifts in the aftermath of a day filled with mental burn out and physical depletion, I keep coming up empty.

Unwrapping these gifts shouldn’t be this hard.

But somewhere in the midst of it all, I realize that by trying so hard, my focus has been clouded. Because my eyes have strayed from the Giver.

The gift of today, of this moment, isn’t to be found in what He has done or in what He has given. And yet, it’s all because of what He has done and what He has given.

The gift is in His presence.

In the knowing … especially in this season … that He is Emmanuel, God with us. God with me. Walking with me. Today. In this moment.

And yes, this promise of His presence is eternal, but there is such power in knowing that in the very moments when I struggle and try and fail, when I come up empty, He is fully here.

The gift is resting in the assurance of that promise.

He overwhelms in the very places I lack. All of this life depends on His presence in each moment of the everyday.

“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…”

Yes, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom this captive heart once again that so often strays from the beauty of Your presence and forgets the faithfulness of Your promises.

“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel rejoice!”

And I do rejoice. In this gift, this promise, unwrapped.

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*linking up with tuesdays unwrapped at chatting at the sky*