Quiet

Photo by Daniel o’dowd on Unsplash

This post is part of a writing challenge I took part in to stretch my writing. Five Minute Friday’s word for the day was “Quiet.” This is spontaneous writing in only 5 minutes.  

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” Psalm 131:2

It’s a funny thing about writing prompts. I saw the word for the day, quiet, and immediately several Bible verses came to mind. I had no clue about what to write, mind you, but I had the verses. The first one that came to mind is the one above. What a word picture. These soon followed:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” Psalm 46:1-3

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

I couldn’t leave out these two verses, because they have been everywhere I’ve turned lately:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

These verses prompted me to wonder two things:

  1. Does my life look anything like what is portrayed in these verses right now?
  2. Why is the Lord repeating those two verses over and over again?

Well, a bit of introspection has shed light on both.

First, the Lord loves me, and knows exactly what I need, and when I need it. He knows when I’m discouraged and need a prod to get me back on track. I know that He’s good, He’s in charge, His plans for me are good, and that all things will work together for good because I love Him, but sometimes… sometimes I need to be reminded to live what I believe and trust, even when it is hard.

Second, no, right now my life looks nothing like what I read in those verses. That’s where I want to be, though. I want to be so close to the Lord, wrapped in His enveloping presence, that the storms can’t even touch me.

Wouldn’t that be nice? You probably feel the same. You may have already accomplished it. You might be thinking that you learned those lessons long ago in Christian Living 101.

I did, too. I’ve been up on the mountain top, but I’ve spent a lot more time in the valley. It seems to me that the valley is where we grow the most. That’s where the fruit grows best, after all. If you’re in the valley, too, be encouraged. You’re not there alone, and because the Lord is good, and in charge, has good plans for you, and works all things together for your good, He will see to it that you bear good fruit while you’re there.

I’m reminded of an old song that I haven’t heard in years by 4Him, Where There is Faith. This is part of the chorus:

Where there is faith
There is a voice calling,
keep walking
You’re not alone in this world
Where there is faith
There is a peace like a child sleeping
Hope everlasting in He who is able to
Bear every burden, to heal every hurt in my heart
It is a wonderful, powerful place
Where there is faith

Here is a link for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm6MG4HTKSU

Quiet. In the middle of chaos, quiet. Like Peter walking on the water in the middle of a storm and being rescued by Jesus, Yeshua. Let’s keep our eyes on Him and not the storms that surround us. Quiet.

A side note on Jeremiah 29:11:

The word translated here as prosper is also translated as welfare in some translations. The original word in Hebrew is shalam, meaning to be complete or sound. A word study also linked the word to shalom, defined as completeness, soundness, welfare, peace. I was listening to a teaching recently on prosperity, and the speaker mentioned that our Western mindsets view prosperity as an accumulation of wealth, but that’s not what they understood when the Lord spoke that to Jeremiah. They understood it to mean complete, lacking nothing. As in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Or in other words, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.”

Voice

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

This originally appeared on my personal Facebook page as part of a writing challenge I participated in to stretch my writing:  Five Minute Friday’s 31 DAYS OF FIVE MINUTE FREE WRITES. This is spontaneous writing in only 5 minutes. The word for the day was “Voice.”

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth—let your cry ring out, and sing praises!” Psalm 98:4

I have always wanted to have a beautiful singing voice. I would love to sing confidently in church and not worry about hurting anyone’s ears. Alas, that I do not have that much desired gift. There’s a verse for people like me – make a joyful NOISE to the Lord. And so I do.

The Lord may not have given me that prized singing voice, but He has given me a voice nonetheless. For most of my life, I was very quiet. I was afraid to raise my hand in school, and afraid to talk in front of people. That followed me into adulthood, where I preferred to stay within my silent cocoon, too afraid to step out of my comfort zone and even start a conversation with someone. People labeled me as shy, but in reality, my quietness was just to cover up my belief that I had nothing of importance to say. If I had nothing of value to speak, why embarrass myself by opening my mouth?

The Lord has been working on me, though. He has been so gentle with me, giving me opportunities to speak with many people through a new position my employer has given me. I speak with people I don’t know every single day.

Someone recently told me I have a voice, and that the Lord wants me to use it. He seems to want me to use that voice in writing, and only He knows the reason. 

You have a voice, too. You have a story, a testimony, a piece of wisdom that can help someone else. Don’t be shy, and don’t believe the voice that tells you that you have nothing to say, or that you can’t say it well, or that it doesn’t matter. It matters, and YOU matter. You never know whose life you may influence, and that influence just may change the world. 

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows if perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8

He is Enough

Ethiopian Church.jpg

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  Psalm 36:7

I so long for the simpler, easier days.  I long for the days when my house didn’t need repairing.  I long for the days when the floors were easier to keep clean (though we love them all, we had fewer pets).  I long for the days before my youngest son went to live with his father in another country.  I long for the days when I was debt-free.

Those days were good.  After the emotional roller coaster of divorce and the slow but steady re-building of our lives, it was good…peaceful…and as I clung to the Lord, our relationship grew deeper and sweeter.

I look around me now, still in the midst of a house renovation that seems to be taking forever, missing my son more than I ever thought possible, and I have to wonder…what happened to my peace, and my joy, and my contentment?  When did they leave, and how had I not noticed their absence before?

Pondering this, I cry out to the Lord, “When did You stop being enough?”

The answer comes swiftly.  It was when my focus shifted from Him to my circumstances.

Ouch.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31

Peter went from walking on the water…walking on the water…to looking at his surroundings.  He saw Jesus, Yeshua, walking on the water, and he did the same…until he looked away, and his eyes told him that what he was doing wasn’t possible under those conditions.

Did you catch what happened next?  When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began sinking, and when he called out for help, Jesus immediately reached out for him.  Immediately.

Isn’t that so reassuring?  What He did for Peter, He will surely do for us.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. Psalm 42:5

The Lord fills our lives with good things.  Family, friends, pets, jobs, and homes are good.  We enjoy these gifts, and thank Him for them. If we’re not careful, though, we can allow them to become idols without even realizing it.

You don’t think that can happen?  I didn’t, either, until the word divorce came up and I was suddenly faced with the possibility of separation from my youngest child.  The Lord was so gracious to me.  He showed me my heart, and it wasn’t pretty, even though it already belonged to Him.  I had to give my son completely to the Lord, even if it meant separation from him.  It wasn’t easy, and I cried many tears, but I felt such freedom afterwards, and peace like I had never known before.  In His mercy and kindness, the Lord allowed my son to live with me for the next five years.

When we allow anything to take the place of our Savior, when we hold on to anything tighter than we hold on to Him, we err.

The Lord allows it, too.  He allows us to fret and fuss and become miserable until one day we reach the end of ourselves and know we cannot continue down this path any longer.  And so we repent.  We return to the lover of our souls, no matter what we have to let go of in the process.  His peace, joy, and contentment then return.

For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  Isaiah 30:15

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. Psalm 131:2

Is there anything you’re holding onto tighter than you should?  Is your focus on your surroundings or someone other than the Lord?  May I encourage you to let it go, and readjust your focus?

Jesus, Yeshua, is enough.  He is more than enough.  He is truly all we need, and in the end, our relationship with Him is what will matter.  Truly.  Call out to Him, and He will come, immediately, and stretch out His hand to you and rescue you.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Lord, thank You for Your patience with us.  Please keep a tight grip on us so that we won’t wander, but when we do, thank You for bringing us back and reminding us how deeply loved we are, and how freely You forgive us when we ask.  Help us to let go of the things that hinder us, or keep us from fully following You.  Help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You, for You are more than enough.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30