‘Now and again’,#2, letters for Jenny’s girls…

Dear Alli, Jordan, and Sami, I share this letter with you, about a hero of mine-she happens to be your mom!

When I have a hard day and I feel the impulse to quit or be depressed – I think of Jenny – who lived her life each day, willingly ‘presenting her body as a living sacrifice to God’ (Romans 12:1), unable to move a muscle, yet totally trusting in God’s healing hand.

You see, what made Jenny so special was how she was ‘thinking!’. She must have wrestled with God,(ironic, someone who couldn’t move a muscle, but was all ‘life’ in mind and heart!), but in that wrestling with God, she must have prayed, “I won’t let go until You bless me”. (The same words that Jacob yelled to the Man (Gen. 32:24), who wrestled with him until the break of day!). And, it seems that, God blessed Jenny with a ‘mind like Christ’. (Just like those words in Phil. 2  that say, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”) Why do I say this? Because, these are just a few of Jenny’s thoughts that she spoke ‘out of the abundance of her heart’:

“I consider it a privilege that God would choose me to go through this, and put me in this chair.” (her special wheelchair). I almost think I should write the word ‘Selah’, meaning ‘pause and think about this’ after this statement.  She used the word ‘privilege’ when talking about being paralyzed from the neck down, and needing the assistance of a respirator to breathe. Jenny used the word ‘privilege’ that she was chosen to suffer so much loss!

She also has said, “I always loved God, even from a young age, but since I’ve been ‘in the chair’  God is so close to me. The closeness is indescribable.” And there is huge evidence of this. I truly believe that when I hear encouragement to have an intimate relationship with Jesus, I think of Jenny and her relationship with Him, after being in the chair for 5 years. You see, the word tells us that ‘He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him’ (Is. 26:3), well, Jenny’s mind was on Him and He seemed to be right there giving her a ‘peace that passes all understanding’, (Phil4). I witnessed it, that’s why I write this down! This is ‘noteworthy!’

And when talking about the struggles in her marriage, (as, every married has struggles in marriage), she never complained one bit! Not one ounce, nada, nothing! She simply asked me, “Have you ever read the book called  ‘The Power of a Praying Wife?’  This was a woman of  wisdom, not able to run fast in body, but quick to run to God in prayer. (Like I said, what she COULD do, she DID with excellence.) And we had many opportunities to pray those wonderful prayers right from that book-but, it seemed to me, that God had already DONE a lot of the work in your mom’s heart- (He was really working on me though!)

And when things weren’t really going her way, while waiting in a hospital bed for week upon week, unable to find health care for home – this is how she spoke: “Can we pray that when Scott comes, that he will see that I am concerned about him and all that is going on in his life with the girls?” Now girls, I am sure that you’ve heard, that ‘when mamas not happy, ain’t nobody’s happy!’ Not with your mama, she prayed that she would be focused and concerned with your dad and you! Girls, this is what ‘beauty’ really is!

God had done a work in her. I think that is where the word ‘glorious’ fits in! The Bible does tell us that “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10). No, your mom couldn’t walk, but WALK she did in the Lord!

And in that hospital room, 609,in which she found herself for weeks on end, she asked me if I would call the elders from her church to come to anoint her with oil and pray the prayer of healing over her. She continually said, “God told me that I was going to walk again.” The elders of the church did come, they prayed, and still, your mom, silently hoped and waited. She was an example of ‘acceptance with joy’. That’s why I write these letters, so ‘now and again’, you can be reminded of what you already knew.

Your mom hoped in God, she believed what He said, and she waited and trusted with ‘acceptance with joy’. She lived believing His word for her, even when she didn’t understand. Jer. 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

S.H. Spurgeon wrote a little poem, and your mom’s story makes me think of it: “Put thou thy trust in God; In duty’s path go on; Fix on Himself thy steadfast eye, So shall thy work be done.”

“Though years on years roll on, His mercy shall endure; Though clouds and darkness hide His path, His promised grace is sure.”

Yes, that is true, and on the very last visit I had with your mom, she told me, “Toni, I have some homework for you. I want you to learn a new-old song.” So I asked, “What song is that?” She answered, in that whisper voice she had, “It is well with my soul.”

“OK Jenny, I’ve got that one, for next time.” I never got a chance to sing it with her, but at least now I know the song she left singing- so I share it with you, in case any of us ever wonder, ‘now and again’ how she is doing:

“When peace like a river, Attendeth my way, When sorrows, Like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, It is well, with my soul.” It is well, with my soul, It is well, it is well, with my  soul.”

“My sin, O the bliss Of this glorious tho’t. My sin not in part But the whole Is nailed to the cross And I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!” 

And, Lord, haste the day When my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back like a scroll! The trumpet shall sound and the Lord shall descend, “Even so, it is well With my soul.  It is well, with my soul, it is well,

it is well with my soul.”

Girls, I hurt for you in that you miss your mom so much. I know these letters may bring tears, but I pray they fill your heart with love and comfort, ‘now and again’. With much love I write to you, Toni Rypkema

“Do I need to turn around?”

 God speaks: “And now I will show you the best way of all.”

“But honestly Lord, it is not that You haven’t shown us, it’s just that we are ‘stiff-necked’ at times, there’s no turning of our heads to see Your Way. It seems that the attitudes and natural direction of man, really tends to be quite opposite to Yours.

This is my prayer at this day and time, “Lord, put the ‘fear of God’ into our hearts continually, because it is the “fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom;…Psalm 111:10.

There is a lot of knowledge and we really think we have a good understanding, but do we have wisdom? Many of us are simply ‘doing what is right in our own eyes,’ but God, I pray that You would open our eyes to see that  what naturally seems right to man, the good word tells us, that, ‘it’s end is the way of death.’ Proverbs. 14:12. Give us wisdom to see this!

So, Lord, maybe my prayer should be, ‘Lord, make us hungry and thirsty for You! Give us an appetite for seeking You and Your way.Is it time for a ‘turn around?’ To move in Your direction?

“You may speak in different languages…but if you do not have love, you are only a noisy bell or a clanging cymbal. And you might even have the gift of prophesy; you may understand all the secrets of God and have all knowledge and you may even have faith so great that you can move mountains. But even with all of these things, if you do not have love,

you are nothing.

You may even give everything you have to feed the poor, and may even give your own body as an offering to be burned. But you gain nothing by doing these things if you do not have love.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3).“God is love.”But we all know, deep down inside, that we are not! O how we need Him.

We all know what it’s like to cut open a pumpkin.  Whoever came up with the idea of cutting openings on the outside and cleaning all the gunk out on the inside so they could shine a light through the darkness, I do not know. That’s what we’re all like inside – filled with gunk! When we are poked  a bit, especially with something sharp, what’s on the inside is clearly seen – it’s slimy and messy and just not appealing to the eyes or the touch!

But you see, God IS love. And ‘this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us.’

“God, how can you know everything, yet still love?  To think that ‘You search me and know me. that You know my sitting down and my rising up; You even understand my thought afar off. You know where I go and where I lie down, you know all my ways. There isn’t even a word on my tongue that You don’t know!  You even enclose me in front and from behind and have Your hand on me. This is beyond my understanding.’ (Psalm 139:1-6).”

“To think, that knowing all of me, that You don’t give up, ever.  Instead You reached out  Your Hands, on the cross, and cleaned the junk away. The gunk of sin that one man, Adam brought to us all,  the punishment of death, (Romans 5:18).”

 “…and whosoever would believe in Him, shall not perish but have…” And many of us feel that we are perishing. Cry out to God! The cry is written in an old song: 

‘Rushing Wind to blow through this temple, Blowing out the dust within. Come and breathe Your breath upon me- I’ve been born again.’ (yes, this old Keith Green song says it so plain.) “Today Lord, empty me of all the junk inside- and fill me with You. I am filled with a lot from this world, but, empty me – make me hungry and thirsty again,  for You”

Show me the most excellent way for You are the Way. Please do a work of love in my heart, especially for those closest to me. ‘Change me daily into Your image, Help me bear good fruit’, for the fruit of the Spirit is …

LOVE. Don’t give up on me Lord. “Search me O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way…” (Ps. 139:23). “Jesus, may Your  light begin to shine in my  dark heart. ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me…” (Ps. 51:10).

Turn me around to Love. That I might pocess Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. &Self-control.(Gal. 5:22).

For ‘Now and again’, Letters to Jenny’s girls…

Writing –  because God has put it on my heart. Yes, ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord has me writing. But for Sami, Alli, and Jordan, the Lord has me putting together for you, letters about your mom, Jenny Sorenson. Oh, she was amazing. I know each of you know that, but I just wanted to tell you again, just in case you ever wondered.

Life is filled with a lot of blessings as well as a lot of troubles, but God holds each of us in His Hands, through it all – the good and the bad. He is always with us – God’s word tells us so. And what’s crazy about it all, is, it seems that we don’t even know it, and don’t grow in discovering that we are actually held in His hand,  until after we have been at our lowest, or after times of great pain, or after suffering  heartache and loss – it is then that we have opportunity to discover God’s hand holding us up, because there is no strength left on our part, and we cry out to God!  You and your family have gone through painful trials, and I am so sorry you girls have had to suffer so, but God is with you and His hand is going to carry you through everything.

How do I know this? Because Jenny Sorenson was your mother, and what a champion she was in faith, hope, and love! And you girls were her life, and she looked to God to strengthen every weak breath she breathed, so she could be there for you. She never gave up on God, and He was faithful to lift her faith as if she had wings as eagles, by His Spirit. You witnessed it, I know you did. And I did too. So I write so we can remember, ‘now and again.’

The part that you might not know is, how exceptional your mother was, in continually giving her disappointments to God and taking courage with the challenges she faced and making the choice to surrender to His will in everything – she was the best example ever of a terrific mom! Not being able to  do anything – because her body shut down on her – she DID the best things – believing God for one -with excellence!  And this woman was your mama!

It seems that after great pain, we are made ready to actually receive great joy. We witness this every time a newborn baby is born! And after sickness, we often times are made ready to become ‘healed’ in so many areas in our lives, (even in some areas that we didn’t even know were sick!) because God is so close He literally ‘makes our bed’. Your mom suffered greatly, but drew closer and closer to God, and guess what? He drew closer and closer to her. So beautifully close, with sweet intimacy that your mom was ‘filled’ with His Spirit! Her very heart shined like Ps. 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all of your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tendermercies; who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagles…”

Your mom knew that many  nurses would see her and feel ‘sad’ for her. But your mom had a prayerful heart and communed with God so much that she felt sad for many of them with all their heaviness without faith. She was thankful and in full expectation of God. Your mom had the joy of the Lord, in case you ever wondered what that looked like! Don’t get me wrong, she told me about her struggles with doubt, but she knew where to run! Just like I said, she couldn’t run, or even walk or stand, but what she did do, she did with excellence – she trusted God and hoped in Him!

Your mom’s cry was much like David’s in Ps. 62:1, “Truly my soul silently waits for God. From Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.” Yes, so much silence, so much waiting, and she couldn’t move and make things happen, but because God was her Rock, she was not ‘greatly moved.’ God met her and gave her His grace which is all sufficient, and she victoriously calmed and quieted herself much like David once again: “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvaiton; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” Ps. 62:5,6.

So, I told your mom that I was writing a book called God’s Hand. That God had put on my heart to write and He confirmed it with His word: “write in a book for yourself the things I have shown you in My word, (Jer. 33:1). I have someone who encouraged the Bible journaling, and I have someone who encouraged the writing, but I told your mom, that she was the ‘feet’ to move this to completion!  She would smile and say, “It will get written!” Each chapter has it’s own ‘personality’ in that the Bible has so many hues and shades of color. So, in taking the title, “God’s Hand” and making it an acronym, “G” stands for “Gird Up!”, reminding me of scriptures that spoke exhortation to me. “O” stands for “Open my eyes Lord, I can’t see You!”, how God can turn ‘doubt and fear’ to increased faith just by looking in His word, “D” speaks of “Declaring God’s works” in fabulous acts of God in people’s lives.”S” is the “Songs that He Sings” over us, and “H” stands for “Hymns speak power and peace”, “A”, stands for “And we Know” and reminds us those truths that we often forget, and it is in the “N” chapter, the “Nevertheless God” chapter, where ‘outside there were conflicts, inside there were fears’ but Nevertheless God that I wanted your mom to share her story with me.

Little did I know, that God would simply show me His treasure, your mom,  and He would have me write her story! The final chapter to my book is, “D”, deliverance through surrender. Perhaps, in that chapter, I will end it all with the last hymn I sang with your mother: “I Surrender All” and a picture of the cross, because that is where surrender and deliverance takes place. So, Jenny Sorenson had feet that couldn’t even wiggle, but she is the ‘feet’ to this book, and for 5 3/4 years, she was tried and tested in all things,  with many cuts allowed to be made in this diamond-but shine, shine, shine she did with faith, hope, and love.

Your dear mom has gone home to be with her Lord. She was hoping that He would heal her so she could be here with you, but it was His will that she go to be with Him instead. Oh, but she lives on, in each of you, and many others too.  It was Nov. 9th, 2013, and over 5 3/4 years previous of this date, February of 2008, her body would not move, but Jenny let God mover her! He moved  in and through her, and molded her and made her into a most amazing woman.  And because of that, your mom is a hero to me.

I wrote quite a bit of our times with the Lord, your mother and me, so I would like to share them with you,  in letters, so, now and again you can read one, to cry or take courage or just cuddle with.Because in life, ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish’ that matters, and your mama,…she finished amazingly well! With great amounts of love, Toni Rypkema

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1. Today, in our everyday, we witness heroes. The Bible even tells us in Hebrews 12:1 says,  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”and then the chapter in  Hebrews 11 has a whole  impressive list of these ‘great witnesses’: Abel and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ parents, Moses, Joshua, Rahab and many other hero’s of faith.

But what is interesting, is the verse says, “Therefore we also…” And since we ‘also’ are surrounded by these great witnesses, we need to learn from them and take note of their life. That is why I write about Jenny – but that’s not even right-I write about what God did in and through her! That’s what is amazing! It’s God’s life in her, His Hand of love that I witnessed that lifted her above the ‘chair’.

First I must explain what brought us together in the first place. It was the same month and the same year, February of 2008  that I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. You see, when you go through a set back like this, it is nothing when you discover that in the same month, a mom from the swim team that your kids swim on, becomes mysteriously paralyzed overnight! So, as I was learning to deal with a disease that I had suddenly acquired, I thought of Jenny everyday, going through the struggles of paralysis- from her neck down to her toes! Just thinking of Jenny kept things in perspective for me.

As time continued and our family went through some huge losses, I would think of Jenny often.  NOTHING compared to the losses that Jenny experienced. And,  a little more time went by and I was diagnosed with cancer. God brought Jenny close to my heart continually. I would watch her blow into a long straw-type tube to move her chair into the Y, and only have a few chats with here ‘now and again’, but I would pray for her and your whole family, and think of her often and it would help strengthen me in all I was going through.  Fighting cancer was  NOTHING, compared to the fight to keep going that Jenny experienced.

More time passed. (We are talking years), but I can’t tell you how many times, when I thought life was just dealing way too much difficulty in our family’s direction,and I would cry out, “Help me Lord!” Well, I think Jenny was His ‘help’ for me.  God would remind me, “Remember Jenny.” And I would. And I would be able to take a breath and move forward, just knowing that everyday, Jenny did.

It was Thanksgiving time, 2012, when I heard on the radio a question, “Is there someone very important in your life, but might not even know it?” My immediate answer to myself was,  “Yes, Jenny!” Then they encouraged, “Maybe this Thanksgiving you need to let that person know!”

So I did. And a friendship developed. I became her private worship leader(!) and would come with my guitar and we would worship the Lord and pray and share the word together. It kind of felt like our times together were ‘little moments of heaven’. We were literally ‘knit’ together in heart, as Paul wrote many times in his letter to the Philippians, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you…with joy…because I have you in my heart.” Phil 1:3,5.

Jenny would sing, and she would cry, and then she would pray. Oh my…Jenny could pray. Out of the abundance of her heart, her mouth spoke. Jenny’s heart was filled with an abundance of the Spirit of God, and out of her mouth came the most grace-filled words ever. I was overwhelmed with conviction. You see, out of the abundance of my heart my mouth speaks as well, but my words are not always an abundance of goodness and faithfulness, it’s often times complaint!

You probably just think that I am writing nice words about a friend. NO, I am writing about a work that God did in her!

Jenny would be on my heart when  I was tempted to be depressed and just wanted to ‘throw in the towel’ so to speak, knowing that she chose to get up each day with the courage that God gave her to face her day the best she could, then I could to.  To think that this woman couldn’t even bring a sip of water to her lips when she was thirsty, or wipe her  own tears, or pull up a blanket  up to her shoulders when she was cold, or hug her three daughters or husband.  She could have every reason to be frustrated and bitter and angry and a whole bunch of other things, but she made the choice to…be yielded to God.

Jenny told me, that as ironic as it seems, the verse that spoke most powerfully to her was, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. She would joke, “Lord, I’m not going anywhere!” Jenny lived her life willingly ‘presenting her body as a living sacrifice to God’, getting up each day in perseverance, being there for her three girls, being others – centered, with the help of home-health care around the clock – but HOW? you might ask. Because of her faith and hope. And where did she get all this faith and hope?

…from God. She told me, right from the start, God spoke to her and told her, “You are going to walk again.” God’s word gave her faith, and hope.

So, you might be thinking, “But God didn’t heal her.” Well, the truth is, He DID heal her. She’s walking, she’s dancing, and she’s singing without setting off the alarm on her respirator! But I must tell you – God healed Jenny even before heaven, God healed every ounce of her inside. You see, Jenny prayed with faith and Jenny believed. The word says that “hope does not disappoint, for the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” Romans 5:5. And God’s love was ‘pouring’ out of her heart, and her hope was in Him, always, thus making her gracious and forgiving, thus a vessel of peace – when she could easily have been a vessel of anger, bitterness, and strife, seeking pity continually.

But instead, this word took place in her: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13. Spending time with Jenny was witnessing all of this -“Therefore since we also have this great cloud of witnesses…”I am honored to have witnessed this great witness!

Jenny’s home health care came to an end, so her greatest fear happened, and 5 3/4 years after the onset of all her troubles,  at only 40 years of age, she found herself back in the hospital. It is during this time that our time in worship and prayer and in God’s word became concentrated – and I can tell you as a fact – the love of God continued to be  poured out in Jenny’s attitude and she continued to abound in hope – both, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I would call her God’s ‘hope diamond!’ Yes, I told her that I don’t need to plan a drip to DC to visit the Smithsonian to walk up some stairs to see the Hope Diamond. All I need to do is visit room 609 in the local hospital! The hope diamond is  there!

I shared many times with her this verse:  Zechariah 9:12, “Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” She was a ‘prisoner of hope’, hope in the One who is able, and she waited.  We delight to display diamonds,well, I  am delighted to share  this treasure of the Lord… ‘He who honors God, God will honor.’ Jenny, others need to see what a gem you were.

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Let’s be encouraged to ‘pray, and not lose heart!’

“If ‘prayer’ were a hammer, and ‘the need’ a nail; does your prayer life look like a little ‘tack hammer’ tapping a little nail in some dry wall?”

These aren’t my words, and they didn’t come from a well known pastor or any pastor for that matter, these words came from an intern at a church who was given a Sunday morning service to talk about ‘persevering in prayer’.

This was July 23, 2012, when I heard this young man speak, and it was an unforgettable service, so I took notes. “Thank you Thor for a most inspiring message, I am just sorry  that I did not write down more!”

This young man had lived 3 years in S. Korea doing his studies at the University there. He went on to tell a sanctuary filled mostly with young American students, that at 5am AND 7am the University in S. Korea has prayer meetings. ( I use the  present tense because they had and they still have them! Shall I repeat this – at 5 AM and 7 AM the University has prayer meetings!)

That is amazing to me, to think that University has not only one, but TWO times for prayer – 5am, or 7am. And Thor went on to tell us  Americans on a Sunday morning that the S. Korean students don’t want others to think they are lazy- so it is the  5am prayer meeting that  is PACKED!

Can you imagine our American students adding to their already busy schedules – 5am Prayer Meeting? (How beautiful that would be.)

But that is what the students in South Korea do! Thor informed us that they pray for their University, they pray for their country, they pray for their neighbors, and their NEIGHBOR North Korea, and they pray for their relationship with the Lord and they pray for their relationships and they pray, pray, pray – out loud AND all at the same time! Yes! I must repeat that, they pray for EVERYTHING, out loud AND all at the same time!

Can you imagine Thor on that first occasion to witness such a thing! To Thor it must have been absolutely chaos, but to the Lord, it must be music to His ears and I can’t even imagine the  fragrance of incense God breathes with prayer like this, knowing from the scriptures that our prayers are like incense to the Lord.

The students in this S. Korean University were teaching Thor something that NO classroom could ever teach him. He was ‘seeing’  what ‘persevering in  prayer’ was.

Thor stated something that was very true: ‘when everything in life is just ‘sunny’ and everything’s going our way’ our prayers are like little ‘tack hammers’ tapping the little ‘nail of need’ in the dry wall.’

But what are your needs? Do you have needs that seem to be as big as a railroad-tie spike?  And does the nail seem almost impossible to drive through because the wood seems to be  thick, tough and knotted hard?  What kind of hammer is needed for this kind of need, I mean nail!

Maybe we can learn something from these students. Thank you Thor for letting us know  some good news that’s going on in other parts of the world.

This is incredible news – to think that the very first thing that they, (and I didn’t write this down, but I think Thor said that it was a stadium full of students,) do in the morning –  is call upon God.

Now THAT is power. But we can call upon God in the same way, with persevering hearts, as we remind ourselves that:  “He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or [even] think” (Eph. 3:20),  and  that “Whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered.” The hammer becomes mightier and heavier. The power behind the hammer of our prayers become…

eyes and souls looking to God. “I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.”(Ps. 142:1).   “I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.”(Ps. 142:2). All of a sudden, our eyes are on Him, and in the processes of pouring our complaints to Him, we see Him for who He is. The One who is able. What a powerful testimony, in the midst of the trial and the trouble, there is yet a ‘peace that passes all understanding’.

Oh, yes, there is temptation to panic, but Jesus even instructs us to pray, “lead us not into temptation”, yes, the temptation to doubt and sit in a seat of ‘self-pity’, but to pray, “deliver us from evil!” (Matthew  6:13). God increases our faith as we pray, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. (Matthew 6:13).Amen.”

There might be knots in the wood,  and NOTHING seems to be happening. That is when we must plead with God and persevere in prayer. We need to pray, anyway and every way; quiet, loud, alone with others – we need to pray, we need to persevere in prayer. We need to hammer on.

“Please God, help us to see the necessity of prayer. Help us to know You more through it. Help us to put that big, overwhelming nail into that hard and knotted wood and hammer away. And as we draw near to You Lord, You draw near to us, (James 4:8). Cleanse our hands, we are sinners; and purify our hearts. We humble ourselves in the sight of You Lord, and trust that You will lift us up.(James 4:10) “Attend to my cry, For I am brought very low;…Bring my soul out of prison, That I may praise Your name;…” (Psalm 142:7).

Can you hear all that racket going on? It’s hammers, I mean voices crying out to God. What a glorious sound it must be to Him.

Remember that old song, “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning…!” What do you say?  These S. Korean students just showed us how! Let us ‘hammer on!’

“Not all know me as their king….”

These were the words of King Aren in a children’s storybook written by  Glen Keane called, Adam Racoon and the Mighty Giant. He was sitting on top of a tall rock looking at a beautiful sunrise with Adam Racoon.How I read these words to the kids, over and over: “This is all my kingdom, Adam, but not all know me as their king.”

And I heard these words spoken to me! And I saw a vision – but before you go thinking I have lost my mind, please let me share my story with you, and for those who have heard it, please allow me to repeat it once again! It was only about an hour and a half after my third chemo treatment in my fight against a large cancerous tumor in my breast.

O my, I could feel death flow through my bone marrow, literally! I felt very sick and all I could do was lay down. (Now those that know me, KNOW that I don’t lay down easily!) Could that be why God had to ‘make’ me to lie down? I don’t know. All I know is, I was thinking that they had given me more chemo than my body could handle and I thought I was going to ‘die’. So, I talked to the Lord, because that is what you do when you think you’re goin’ to ‘die!’ And I told Him in my thoughts, “I thought I would be seeing bright lights.” But no lights did I see, just blackness but then a door, and the door opened and – you will not believe what I saw –

clearly, make no mistake, it was the hands of Jesus, turned palms up with the scars. And then I heard, not in voice, but the words were there, “Not all know Me as their King.”

OK, you can put me in a category with the ‘crazies’, and that is OK! (I think God can use us ‘crazies!’) And it was later in a church service that I knew I was going to ‘survive’ this cancer because God spoke to me in His word in Philipians 1:25, “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith…”

But why do I tell my story again after 3 years? Because, when the Lord spoke to me personally and told me Himself, “Not all know Me as their King.” I knew what He wanted me to do. He wanted me to get the message out. And He knew I was holding back and stumbling over disappointments and grief. Who would have thought that ‘cancer’ would have been a way for God to ‘heal’ so much of  my brokenness and to give me vision again and focus?

So, of course it is my whole hearts desire that my whole family, near and far and distant and close to know Him, Jesus Christ as their King of Kings and their Lord of Lords. I was like Adam Racoon in the story, all excited and ready -but ‘NO WAY’ would Adam Racoon  go and tell the ‘Mighty Giant!’ He was afraid. My mom was a ‘mighty giant’ to me. I was afraid to tell her that she needed Jesus in order to go to heaven. That Jesus talked about hell even more than He talked about heaven when your read the gospels – Hell is real- and I didn’t want my mom to go there!

Well, I have a friend who very recently has just lost her dad. He must have been a wonderful man, and he went home to be with the Lord. But my friend was grieving. She expressed her grief and asked for prayer on fb. I began to pray and as I was praying for her and thinking how hard this was for her, even knowing her dad had Jesus and was in heaven – how hard would this be if this happened, knowing I had never told my mom that Jesus is the Door to heaven.

So, in praying for a friend in grief over death, I faced my giant! I finally, straight out told my mom that Jesus suffered so much and took all that pain and the cross to pay our penalty of sin. Without Jesus, there is no forgiveness of sin. The day finally came when I was able to say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,…” (Act. 16:31), and I was able to pray with my mom. I now know she understands everything. The rest is all in God’s hands!

It will be a glorious day when I know that my entire family will be together in heaven and I can say the rest of the verse, “you and your household.” He’s only a prayer away. If we ‘call on the name of Jesus, we will be saved, from death for ever – and for ever is a long time!

That we would all know Him as our King and be together singing that ol’ hymn that Billy Graham always sang at the end of all of his meetings, me and all my household, near and far, distant and close:

 “Just as I am, without one plea, But that THY Blood was shed for me, And that THOU bidd’st me come to THEE, O LAMB of GOD, I Come!

Just as I am, and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot, To THEE whose Blood can cleanse each spot, O LAMB of GOD, I come!

Just as I am, tho’ tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings and fears with- in, with- out, O LAMB of GOD , I come!

Just as I am- poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind, Yea, all I need in THEE to find, O LAMB of GOD, I come! Just as I am- THOU wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve, Because THY promise I Believe, O LAMB of GOD, I come! I come! –(Just as I Am)– Charlotte Elliott.

True joy is heaven-“O Beulah Land…”

Don’t we just love those fantastic aerial pictures of the mountain climber at the top of the peak from the highest point overlooking all the surrounding land? We would almost say, these pictures are ‘heavenly!’ The pictures are expressions of ‘true joy’ here on earth!

Oh, how we need these heavenly pictures of true joy! They inspire us, they touch us, they lift us to a new place of hope and inspiration. They change our thoughts to ‘think on things that are good’ (Phil 4), and to ‘set our minds on things above’ (Col 3). It’s as if the pictures put a song on our heart again. God knows what we need, so He gives us pictures, to inspire us and in the next breath it seems, He gives us a song.

“The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.”Exodus 15:2.

Yes, He is active and alive, even when we seem to have no life in us after a broken heart or great disappointment or loss. He gives us pictures, He gives us a song – and His ‘Rushing Wind blows through this temple cleansing out the dust within’ (Keith Green, Rushing Wind), and He does it somehow, even when we don’t know how He can ever bring joy back to our broken hearts, He does- He ‘comes and breathes His breath upon us’ (Keith Green, Rushing Wind). “The LORD is my strength and my song…”

There is a song, written back in 1876 by Edgar P. Stites, first sung in Ocean Grove, NJ. A wonderful song written from the verse in Is. 62;4, “You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land be Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.”

‘Beulah’ is a Hebrew word that means, ‘to marry.’ Beulah land is a land where the Bride (the believers ‘in Him’, washed and clothed in His righteousness) turns to kiss the Bridegroom (Jesus, who loves His church so much and He gave His life to clothe her), which, ‘to turn and kiss’  is the meaning of the word ‘worship’. Beulah land is a land that is loved! Beulah land represents heaven!

We need to see heaven, while we are here on earth, so we may experience the joy for those we have lost.Here is a picture of heavenly joy, wrapped up in a song: “I’ve reached the land of joy divine, And all its beauty now is mine, Here shines undimmed one blissful day, For all my night has passed away. O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land, As on they highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory shore, My heav’n, my home for ever more!

“For all my night has passed away. O Beulah Land…”

The picture- the song helps lift  our brokenness to see the joy of heaven: “The Saviour comes and walks with me, And sweet communion here have we, He gently leads me with His hand, For this is heaven’s borderland.” The zehyrs seem to float to me, Sweet sounds of heaven’s melody, As angels, with the white-robed throng, Join in the sweet redemption song.” “O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land, As on thy highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory shore, My heav’n. my home for ever more!

Yes, ‘here shines undimmed one blissful day…’ But for now, we wait. And while we wait,  we can rejoice  and be inspired by the pictures of ‘Beulah Land’ to invite others to the wedding! Jesus is prepared to clothe us fully, we simply need to ‘put off’ our own ‘filthy rags’  and receive Him. “And to her”,(His Bride, His church), it is “granted to  be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright…” (Rev. 19:8).

It’s that victorious picture on the top of the mountain-top with the areal view of all below- we’ve been “raised with Christ!” and we now “seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”(Col 3:1). Yes, we remember those who are are already there, walking with their Savior, and we can “set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth” because we have a “life” that  “is hidden with Christ”. (Col. 3:1-3). And a ‘present’ joy of heaven is ours today, as we hide ourselves in Him and ‘worship Him’ now, ‘turning to kiss’ our Amazing  Bridegroom.

But wait, we want to invite as many as will come to the “Marriage of the Lamb!”(Rev. 19:7). So we seek a strength that comes from the Lord and we sing His song, hoping that others will know that there is an invitation waiting for them, even with their name on it, if they would only receive Him! The promise? Beulah Land! “O Beulah Land!”

Need inspiration to ‘Get in Shape’ to believe God? Be inspired…

Is there the needed ‘determined focus’, the ‘time committed’, and the ‘self-denial’ on the agenda to ‘Get in shape’ spiritually? Without the ‘coach’ of the Holy Spirit, it can’t be done.

Perhaps we say, “I can’t do it.” “I’ve tried ‘Jesus’ before.” And this is all true! There is NO WAY we can ‘get in shape with God’ in our own strength. We will fail every time. So, first things first- we must secure our ‘coach’, the Holy Spirit. He is Amazingly gracious, always speaking truth, (because He is the Spirit of Truth, John 16:13), and reminding us of the One who is able, Jesus, and He’s a Comforter and a Helper, and He lives with us forever (John 14,15,16)-we don’t even have to ‘go’ anywhere to meet with Him, we just have to receive the ‘filling of His truth and power’ – (and daily that is, because just like muscles we ‘atrophy’ quickly!)- by daily yielding to this ‘Coach’ then –  ‘spiritually fit’ you’ll be!

Call on Jesus, turn around, don’t be offended by words like ‘repent’ and ‘submit’- don’t have pride, let go of the fear-God knows what we’re made of. Let Him do the ‘cleaning up’, the job is just too big for us! Tell Him you’ve blown it, (He knows already.) But the “LORD, the Lord God, (is) merciful and gracious, l-o-n-g-s-f-f-e-r-i-n-g, and abounding in goodness and truth…forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Ex. 34:6,7). And, He can be trusted, you can turn to Him and submit to Him because “The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, and will say, ‘Destroy!'(Deut. 33:27).

This is the word of God. Do you believe it? Or do you still think it’s all about YOUR goodness, or YOUR doing?  To ‘get in shape to believe God’, we’ve got to KNOW what’s true about Him. And even in some churches, we might get the wrong picture of Him. I am convinced that THAT is why Jesus said, “Follow Me…” (Matthew 9:9). Follow His life in the Gospels, and see for yourself who He really is, (yes, ‘is’ because He lived, He died, but He rose from the dead!). He is the perfect One, and no-one else. Let Him have His way with you and ‘watch out’, “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Eph. 3:20).

Do you believe this?  The LORD Himself asked Sarah, (who was a VERY old woman at the time, about conceiving and bearing a child), “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14). And Jesus said to His disciples, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(Matthew 19:26). Can we be ‘fit’ to believe this?

It is true in the physical sense that, “bodily exercise profits a little,”(1 Tim 4:8), but to be ‘in shape’ spiritually, God’s word says, “but Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” (1 Tim4:8). To be ‘in shape’ spiritually is profitable for ALL things!’ We need a ‘Coach’ to remind us of these things. He somehow lifts our tired bodies to God’s word and we become “transformed”(Romans 12:2). Yes, “transformed by the renewing of our mind” because we decided to ‘get in shape’ and “not be conformed to this world”  (Romans 12:2) anymore, (one day at a time, yielding, turning to, and submitting to the Holy Spirit). As a ‘Coach’, the Holy Spirit searches and knows our heart, and if we let Him lead us in the Way, we discover fitness of peace and an inner joy, no matter what the circumstances may bring.

And sometimes, we need an example or two to keep us on track – because we all know the struggle: “Can’t I just start tomorrow?” Or, “I just can’t do this, I messed up again.” But, you see, if you’ve secured your ‘Coach’, you will hear a small voice call, “Today, today!” Because He is a “very present  help in times of trouble.” (Ps. 46:1).

Our Helper (‘Coach), reminds us, “Fear not, for I am with you;Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Is. 41:10. He blows through our minds, a breeze of hope and forgiveness, “If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9). It’s as if He says,  “Forget about yourself, forget about what other people think,” Because “He Himself says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” You may boldly say, “The LORD is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me.” (Heb. 13:6).

Physically we are inspired when we see ‘the greats’  who have been strengthened and ‘shaped’ through great strenuous ‘tests’, (Olympians, Extreme athletes, etc.)  We must (continually) let the spiritual ‘greats’ inspire us! Jesus, of course, being the greatest, spoke and said, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. (John 13:15), and Paul  the Apostle wrote, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Phil 3:17).

Paul says to ‘note those who so walk’! We must ‘take notes’ and study these ‘giants in faith’ so we might be in shape with them. But I will ‘note’ to you, once again, for a moment, my friend Jenny, a quadriplegic, unable even to breathe without a ventilator, unable to move a muscle from her neck down, but ‘spiritually fit’ to astounding abilities! She had increased faith  through brokenness and also increased peace  through the trial of trusting through the continual, unchanging testing.

Take ‘note’, and imagine yourself in her shoes for a moment, (even though her moment went on for almost 6 years!) – could you believe God loves you-always and forever, no matter what – even if you became mysteriously paralyzed all over your body within a 24 hr. period. That’s what happened to Jenny, but she made the choice to worship God, to ‘turn her head toward Him and kiss’ – which is what the word ‘worship means’- she was ‘intimate’ with Jesus like no one else I have known!

Paul encourages us to ‘note those who so walk’, so may she encourage us. Each new day, over and over again for 5 + years, Jenny chose to ‘worship while she waited.’ She chose to ‘Forget those things which were behind and reach forward to those things which were ahead.’ Phil. 3:13. She listened to her ‘Coach’, she heard the promise and  she believe God’. “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” 

She heard and believed, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and  I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart.” (Jer. 29:11-13).

Can we believe this? Sometimes we just can’t! We must pray, “Lord, help my unbelief!” In Jenny’s life, she called on Him with this prayer, and He answered every time!

How Jenny stayed ‘spiritually fit’ through such trials and testing, is a testimony that He was with her. Just as He said He would be. That His grace is sufficient, just as He said it would be. That she would know Him, which she did, and experienced the ‘power of His resurrection’ (Phil 3:10). I witnessed this giant in faith and have taken ‘note’ and shared her with you, so that we can all be inspired,

to ‘be fit’ spiritually. That we can say as Paul said, “But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness…but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”(Phil 3:8,9).

Let’s invite the ‘coaching’ of the Holy Spirit each and every day, because ‘hope does not disappoint for the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 5:5), and  His love helps us to  forget about ourselves, and to “stand fast in the Lord” (Phil 4:1), no matter what –  knowing that ” our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Phil 3:20,21).

One moment at a time, ‘having ears to hear what the Spirit is saying,’ (Rev. 3:6), Be fit,  and stand fast in the Lord! It is said, that ‘You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.’ The hour has come, to finally believe it all…

When our cry is: “Don’t let us forget our heroes!”

“Father, this is our cry, “Please don’t let us forget our heroes!” O God, please don’t let us ever forget. There are books written about special Olympians, and great football stars, and successful people, but Lord, our heroes had You, the true and living God,  inside and  You beamed from them on the outside-they were extreme, they were complete-in You. Keep them close to us, please, don’t let us forget.”

“Father, don’t let us ever forget their beauty each and every day. Even though in this world, where You told us we would have tribulation- and they did, in great amounts- and their bodies lost so much of the outward beauty, just as a flower fades, but inside they were so filled with You that every breath was breathed for You and those they loved. ”

“Lord, never, never, NO never let us forget our heroes. They had their pain, their sorrow, their weaknesses, their doubts, but they always ran to You, their ‘strong tower’ and were made ‘safe’. They were called ‘righteous’  because they believed, but not only that –  when You came with Your love,  they always let You in . They didn’t let bitterness and anger and frustration, and pain define them, they let YOU define them!- they received all that You were and You beamed like a ‘strong tower-lighthouse’ through their weak bodies.” They beamed like the Doxology, ‘Blessed and Kept with Your countenance shining upon them!’

“The Lord bless you, and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you. And be gracious unto you, and be gracious unto you; the lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24). And God, somehow amidst their trouble, we saw Your grace, with our very own eyes. Yes, their flesh and heart did fail at times -but they chose to ‘let You be the strength of their heart and their portion forever.’ (Ps. 73:26). They knew You as a close Friend. And somehow, they knew and trusted what You were doing, even though we didn’t. They KNEW what You were doing. They knew they were chosen, ‘not only to believe in You’, but to also ‘suffer for Your sake:’

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, But have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to You. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” (John 15:15,16)

“And bear fruit they did! And bear fruit they STILL do! They defined ‘faith’ for us then and still define it today.  If “faith is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. The certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead”  (Hebrews 11:1,2, Living), then  our heroes define ‘faith!’. They never gave up on the faithfulness of God, ever – no matter what You allowed in their path. 

Yes, ‘outside there were conflicts and inside there were fears, but they lived the “Nevertheless God!” (2 Cor.7:6). The message was clear. God’s grace was multiplied and God’s peace was multiplied to them, so much so that they lived and breathed Habakkuk 3:17-19:

“Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom left nor fruit, and though the olive crops all fail, and the fields lie barren; even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy  in the God of my salvation” (Living). Yes, their happiness was in the Lord – the ‘joy of the Lord was their strength.’ And the ‘God of hope’ filled them ‘with all joy and peace in believing,’ and they ‘abounded in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!’ (Romans 15:13). They chose to give you praise and You inhabited their praises and we all witnessed…

YOU – in them! All glorious. They just wanted everyone they knew and loved to KNOW and love You too! O God, don’t let us forget our heroes. They honored You, and Your word tells us that He who honors God, God will honor. “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:26). They served You by being a ‘maginifier’ of Your love.

So may we take hold of their magnifying glass, and honor YOU, God just like they did. It’s almost like Paul the Apostle when he said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Because these are the REAL heroes. They have left a legacy of Faith and hope, and extreme LOVE. Extreme LOVE for YOU and others!  O that we would even come close to ‘imitating’ them! Our heroes are  mothers, and  fathers, and  sons and daughters,  and brothers and  sisters, that You chose and appointed that they should bear fruit. Give us a double portion of their spirit Lord…“That whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16). Trusting You to answer our prayers. Hey, isn’t that what our heroes did?

Thank you Jesus. These really are Your heroes, and You let them be part of our lives for always and forever – and in a little while, we’ll all be together again – with YOU!  In Your Name we pray, Amen  and Halleluiah!

Jesus wept. Is our heart broken for what breaks His?

“Jesus Wept.” (John 11:35). And, Jesus also prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (John 23:34). Jesus wept, and Jesus prayed for us… Did He weep because the ‘wages of sin is death’ but did He also weep because ‘the gift of God is eternal life through Him’, (Rom. 6:23), and no-one fully understands? HE is the Resurrection and the life, but did He weep because we live our lives  as if we don’t know? I’m thankful for His forgiveness.

To ‘Believe’ means so much to God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).

Can we ever fully understand God and His love? Does Jesus weep because we just don’t understand. I think of how Paul the Apostle prayed when he said,  “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,”(Eph 3:14,15), and I think, “Certainly, our ‘family in heaven’ has clear understanding of all that God is, but here on earth, the ‘whole family’ only “knows in part”. (1Cor. 13:9).We just don’t see Jesus clearly,

“But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”(1 Cor. 13:10). The day will come when we will see!  We will understand fully because He is the perfect One and He will make ‘the crooked places straight, and the rough places smooth;’ (Is. 40:4). All that we erred in, and all that was ‘in part will be done away!’ Yes,  we will  see Him ‘face to face’ (1 Corinthians 13:12), and that which is ‘in part will be done away!’ What a glorious day that will be!

But for now…we follow Him, even if now we ‘see in a mirror dimly’, but we can hear Him clearly if we’re listening to His voice. The Shepherd calls, “Today, today!”It’s an open invitation, “If anyone desires to come after Me,…”(Matthew 16:24).  This is for ‘anyone’! Anyone who desires to be closer to the Creator of the Universe, the Lover of our souls, the One who is able to accomplish what concerns us, the Living Water, the Bread of Life, the  Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star, the Good Shepherd , who is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). He calls, “Today, today!”

Is there a turn around, eyes to behold and ears to hear, TODAY? “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6).  “The wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God IS eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Rom. 6:23).Didn’t He say, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). IS THIS why Jesus is “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? (Is. 53:3) Because “we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” But what is our response, today?

O that our hearts would break, that we would turn our faces to Him instead of going our own way. That we would cry these words of C.H. Spurgeon: “My God and Father! while I stray Far from my home, in life’s rough way, Oh! teach me from my heart to say, “Thy will be done!” “Thy will be done!”  If thou shouldst call me to resign What most I prize – it ne’er was mine; I only yield thee what was thine; “Thy will be done!”

 May these words of the old 1772 Hymn be the thoughts of our heart, today:“O for a closer walk with God, A calm and heavenly frame, A light to shine upon the road that leads me to the Lamb! 2. Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul refreshing view Of Jesus and His Word? 3. What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void The world can never fill. 4. Return, O holy Dove, return, Sweet messenger of rest! I hate the sins that made Thee mourn, And drove Thee from my breast. 5. The dearest idol I have known, What e’er that idol be, Help me to tear it from Thy throne, And worship only Thee. 6.So shall my walk be close with God, Calm and serene my frame; So purer light shall mark the road That leads me to the Lamb.” (O For a Closer Walk with God, William Cowper).

‘Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…”

“Remember Me,”are the words that come to mind, when my heart seems ‘out of tune’. “Remember Me, are the words I hear. In the “Help me” prayer in my struggle to  ‘take every thought captive’ instead of having my thoughts ‘take me captive’ of me, time and time again.

“I’m  anxious about this…”, are thoughts that bring no melody, just a clamor of noise, and create a whole ‘projected world’ of unknowns as if they were true! And then I even take hold of them as if they were my realities – but You, Lord, speak, “Remember Me.” I have ‘prepared a Table in the presence of your enemies’ (Ps. 23),  Remember Me. ‘Cast all your care upon Me, for I care for You.'” (1 Peter 5:7).

My response to all that You are and the many questions is: “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…”

So, You have a prepared a Table in the presence of my enemies of worry and fear, confusion and question.  You have allowed suffering and heartbreak, even temptation and great disappointment, so that I might come to Your Table, alone. And You say, “Remember Me, I am your strength and your song, I AM your salvation.”

So I fight to focus… on Him, who is greater than all my fear,…and then came a song: “Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.  Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the Mount, I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming Love!” 

My mind was ‘out of tune’ but the song tuned my heart, to sing in stead of whine – and then I remembered…

His blood, it covered all my sins, all my stupidities, all my dark moments – yesterday,today, and tomorrow! His mercy never ceases! His mercies are new every morning! The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Now I’m remembering. “Here I raise my Ebeneezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come…” He’s brought me through in the past, He has worked miracles in my life, He is there for me always- what makes today any different? He said, “Remember Me,” and there is Power in His words! This is not religion, this is not about me and my ‘good deeds’, or about me and all my failures, NO,

this is about Him and His great love in which He loved us. His grace, His undeserved favor is poured out on…me, but I couldn’t ‘hear it’ because my  heart was ‘out of tune!’

As I raise my Ebeneezer stone of remembrance, I see…His mercy: “Jesus taught me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God. He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.”

It’s never about me, it’s always about Him! That’s why He says, “Remember Me” because He doesn’t want me to remember my ‘self’ ,which so messes me up – He just wants me to give it all to Him. He wants  my heart, that’s all.

That’s all?

“prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love…here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” I will Remember Lord, that You are able to accomplish what concerns me today, and that I don’t need none of me- just all of You. So ‘here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.’ I need to forget all that is behind and press on, and remember You have rescued me with that ‘fount of every blessing!’