Tag Archive | comfort

Holey Places

She slipped quietly into the pew next to me as the congregation was singing. I gave her a hug and I could feel it. She was just hanging on. The feeling got stronger and I started to pray. “Lord, fill the hole in my friend’s heart.” This dear friend had just lost her hubby of 55 years in a sudden and unexpected manner. This was her first day in church since we celebrated his life a week ago and, as she cried, she acknowledged that this first trip to church was much harder than she thought it would be. They did everything together…truly experienced life together… and I can only imagine that every place and memory from here forward will hold an abundance of joy intermingled with the painful absence of her soul-mate.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
   a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
   a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I always tell my kids that death is a part of life. During this past week, this has never been more obvious and glaring. There were 4 funerals at our church in one week and then I got a call about one more. A friend lost his 2 year old and the funeral was at my parent’s church on Saturday. All of this loss…all different ages and different circumstances. I know that God has appointed a time for each of us and thankfully all of these folks have a relationship with Christ. While Heaven awaits them and we are joyful for that fact, the gaping holes left in the lives of those left behind during this time of mourning are deep.

For my friend, I know she is so grateful for the time that she and her dear hubby had together and I know that she takes comfort that he is in Heaven viewing the stars from a perspective he could have never dreamed of here on this earth. Oh, but the holey places. The Lord knit these two together and while they will always be knit tightly, his physical absence is painful.

So today, I simply ask that you pray for people experiencing loss. Whether it be by death or divorce, expected or unexpected, young or old, temporary or permanent…all forms of loss. Please pray that they all take time to mourn and weep so in the future they can mend and heal and even laugh and dance. Pray that the Lord will send someone to cry with them as well as encourage them. Pray for comfort. Most of all, pray that the Lord Himself will fill the holey places in each heart so they may be whole in Him.

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These Four Walls

Sitting here in my “spiritual winter”…wrapped in the Word. It would be a lot more comfortable if God would stop knocking on the door.

Every time He knocks…I have to get up.

(Yes, you’re right in detecting a bit of sarcasm.)

I have been thinking a lot about these four walls: the walls of my room, my house, the walls that hedge up this family unit, the walls of my heart. These comfortable walls.

In the past month…while sitting comfortably in these four walls…God has been preparing me to be pushed out.

He is feeding me like a mommy bird would before she gives her baby a push. It’s a long way down…fall or fly?

I asked him if I could forgive a friend while sitting in these four walls and He said “No, you have to GO.”

I asked him if I could keep my opinion on a certain matter within these four walls…today I am heavy about it.

Today I am so heavy about the matter, that I had to leave these four walls and walk the undeveloped area around the church. Tall trees, fallen trees, dead trees and new trees, briars, bushes, and a rust colored blanket of leaves thick upon the ground. A clearing and cabin. Four more walls…but all doors are locked.

Blogging is great and has been for two years! I have been able to share with all of you about God’s interactions in my life -and I have been able to do so while in the safety and security of these four walls.

Safe and secluded.

God is dragging me out of these four walls kicking and screaming. I can feel it. He wants me to speak up—audibly. He wants me to speak out—humbly. He wants me to link up—in close proximity. Real people, real conversation, real community….real conflict. (sigh) I’d really feel better about it if He’d let me do all of this from the comfort of these four walls. Blogging and blending in…not intimate and adjoining. I feel vulnerable without these four walls.

No, I am not anti-social or phobic. I actually love  the company of other people. I am just really good about keeping my thoughts, feelings and opinions close to my chest and keeping others at an arms-length distance. God wants to change that. Out of these four walls. Refuge…in these four walls? Or in Him?

Then my hubby sent me a devotional that he had received in his email today. It was all about an “Audience of One”. While I am Mary at His feet in these four walls…I am the audience of one. He wants me to get out there and thrive for Him- without fear of man. He wants me to do for Him and be for Him and live out loud for Him. FOR HIM. HE is the audience of ONE. THE ONE.  It’s not about anyone else, and certainly not about me. It’s about God’s pleasure and not my own. It’s not all about my comfort in these four walls. It certainly wasn’t about Jesus’ comfort with those three nails.

I was looking around my home today at these four walls and something caught my eye. Check it out…

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Look closely….

 

 

Look closer….

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….right there!

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There it is…”Faith”. Hanging on a hook in the mudroom, right under the leash.

Ok, ok…I know that I am feeling a little more “poetic” than normal today…but, c’mon!  “Faith” and restraint hanging on the same hook? The word-picture shot straight through me. Restraint leaves this house far too often and faith stays on the hook just inside the door. He wants me to step out of these four walls…in full faith.

So, I flash back to my walk in the woods earlier today. My walking buddy was my mutt, Cooper. As I reflect on that trip outside of these four walls, I recall a distinct difference between Cooper and I (besides the obvious four legs and hair). He was led by his nose…pulling, moving forward, straining against the harness with a taut leash, following his nose, full speed ahead. He is a hound and he was doing what he was created to do. I, on the other hand,  was pulling back, cautious about footing, looking for obstacles, testing out bridges for stability, wondering about snakes- yikes. So I wonder, which one of us was really restrained.

God’s up to something here. And it’s going to take me outside of these four walls. Pray for me folks. I’m gonna need it…full faith in absence of fear.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Psalm 23

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Artful wonder

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For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14

It’s official. I picked up a paint brush and put it to the canvas today for the first time in about twenty years. I used to love art. I still do…but over the years that love moved to appreciation rather than creation.  It’s a shame really. Fortunately, my son has stirred up the artistic side of me again. I cannot even express to you the sheer joy I felt when my son announced that he wanted to see a Monet painting up close for his sixth birthday. (Yes- An inner high five! He was born with an artistic spirit too!) He even asked for a book which featured Monet’s collection of works….a birthday gift I happily gave.

Georges Seurat: Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

Georges Seurat: Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

This morning, I woke up thinking about Seurat’s painting “Sunday Afternoon in the Park”. If you’ve ever seen it up close- or even just a print of it up close- then you’ll notice that the painting is comprised of thousands and thousands of tiny little dots. Yet when you step back to see the painting in full view, this is the scene you will see. It’s beautiful! The colors are so bright and vibrant. From afar, you’d never know that each person, each blade of grass, dog, boat, tree….all of it was placed one tiny dot at a time. Each group of dots forms a person, a face, an expression- it’s impressive.

Japanese Footbridge is my son’s favorite. Monet painted this bridge several times…in different seasons, with different colors. Although Monet used a different technique, his paintings have a similar effect in that up close they look much different than they do if you take a few steps back. They look clumpy and a little sloppy when you examine them at close range. But, when you step back….this is what you see!

Claude Monet: Japanese Footbridge

Claude Monet: Japanese Footbridge

I imagine that we are like these works of art. Our lives are comprised of little dots, strokes and sometimes clumps. They may come in the form of trials, health concerns, failures and tragedies and in the joys of marriage, service, fellowship with friends and families, and in the moments when you hold your children for the first time. We see each of these things one moment at a time. Sometimes they look messy to us. But, God has the unique perspective of seeing our lives as a whole. The strokes and dots are placed one at a time- each with purpose and each with the vision of the Master. We are His masterpiece. I take comfort in that.

“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 55:8-9

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

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

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Please continue to pray for my sister and brother-in-law as they face some uncertainty in their lives. God is in control; though we may not understand.