God is Jealous For Me

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God’s jealousy for me makes me weep.

Because sometimes it’s just so hard for me to understand why He would care enough about me to be jealous at all.

Because He’s faithful. Even when I am not.

Because He’s merciful. Even when I am not.

Because He’s God. And I am not.

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

God is jealous, not in the angry, malicious, violent sense, but in the burning, holy, righteous sense. He is zealous for His good Name. And I am His child. I wear His Name.

HIS Name. A Name that makes some people curse and others praise. A Name that makes some shake their fists and others lift their hands. A Name that makes some kick and scream and others bow low. A Name that makes some cringe and others hope.

But no matter how people react, He’s still God and there’s just something about His Name.

My Sunday School class at church is studying, Praying The Names Of God, by Ann Spangler. I love it. I really love it. I love focusing on a different name for God each week. Every day, pondering, reflecting, chewing on the significance of the names, understanding the meaning of the names, and trying to wrap my mind around the character of God.

This morning I’ve been reflecting on El Kanna (EL kan-NAH), Jealous God.

And it’s in my reflecting that I weep.

Because I want to be zealous for the God who is zealous for me. I want to praise, even when my heart is sad. I want to lift my hands, even when my arms are heavy. I want to bow, even when my legs are weak. I want to hope, even when my soul is downcast.

When I’m too focused on my humanity or too distracted by the world, my heart tends to stray and God wants my heart. All of it. That’s why He never lets me stray too far. That’s why He never leaves me where I am. That’s why He never gives up on me. He is mindful in His pursuit of me and I can’t tell you how I rejoice in this knowledge. It’s just a little too wonderful for me.

That’s why I can trust in His Name, El Kanna, and all it represents and all it stirs inside of me.

Because wearing God’s Name reminds me of Whose I am. Bearing His Name reminds me of Who I serve. Calling on His Name reminds me of Who has my heart.

When all I need is found in Christ, why would I want to praise, lift my hands, bow down or hope in anyone or anything else? Ever? Why would I want to let my heart stray when I have a God who loves me so? And, yet, God knows that sometimes I do. That’s why He’s jealous for me.

“I am the Lord; that is My name! I will not give my glory to another, or my praise to idols.” Isaiah 42:8

Yes, God is Jealous God. And rightfully so. His love is perfect and holy, fiercely protective and intensely powerful. His love propels Him to want what’s best for me and guard the part of me that’s most precious to Him.

So, today this is how I pray:

Yes, Father. I will let You be jealous for me. I will let You be zealous in Your love for me. I will let You guide me, grace me, and guard me. 

Because I love You, too. And I want to honor You. Because You are faithful. And merciful.   

Because I want to give You the glory that is rightfully Yours.

Because You are worthy.

Because You are God. And I am not.  

You Hem Me In

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Before I flew out to California three weeks ago I hadn’t flown anywhere in thirteen years.

Because…and read my lips…I. HATE. FLYING.

I. FEAR. FLYING.

And not only that…I. AM. HEARING. IMPAIRED and I. WAS. FLYING. ALONE.

Y’all, I. WAS. SERIOUSLY. AFFLICTED.

Like, near the depths of despair.

Okay. So this may be a slight exaggeration.

But A.F.F.L.I.C.T.I.O.N. is the only word I feel accurately describes my state of being.

There. I said it.

Judge me if you want, but if you have an ounce of mercy in your pitiful hearts you will grace me instead.

I once read somewhere that most of our fears are ‘learned.’ We’re born with only two; fear of falling and fear of loud noises. I really don’t fear loud noises. My hearing impairment could obviously have something to do with that, but maybe the reason many of us have a fear of heights is because of that ingrained fear of falling and that could very well be why some of us really do NOT like to fly.

Most of us have at least one fear, maybe more, so even though our phobias may be different we can still understand the feelings and emotions behind them. It’s a terrible malady. If not for the grace of God I would never have gotten on that plane all by myself. Can you hear me in my whiny childish voice, “May I have a babysitter to hold my hand, please?” ‘Cause I seriously wanted one.

So maybe you can understand why it was such a BIG deal for me to ‘GO’ where God said ‘GO’,  to ‘DO’ what God said ‘DO’, to ‘FLY’ where God said ‘FLY.’

The only way I could kiss my sweet husband good-bye at the airport and enter the unknown alone was because in my heart of hearts, I knew God was going before me, God would not leave me comfortless, and…

God would be good to me. He could not, would not, disappoint me.

At the Raleigh airport I was comforted by very gracious airline employees. After Raleigh…well, let me just say…airline personnel don’t have a lot of sympathy for people like me. I’m neither completely deaf nor totally blind. I’m kinda caught in the middle. I can hear sounds, but I don’t have clarity. Forget trying to decipher anything that comes through a sound system. I need visuals. I need to see a face, read lips…you know the story.

Drawing from my life experiences, most people think that if you have hearing aids you don’t need the aid of people. To my dismay, airline personnel in Dallas couldn’t have cared less when I asked for their assistance in telling me when it was my turn to board. They pretty much forgot all about me.

I’ve had to learn in life to draw on what I know to be true about God and I knew He had not forgotten me,

“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49: 15 & 16

I knew that if God had gone before me then He had prepared the hearts of certain individuals to stand in the gap for me. I just had to find them.

So, in that big, bustling Dallas airport swarming with humanity, I appealed to the God whose eyes were on me and scanned the crowd at the gate. You can tell so much by looking at faces, and thanks be to God, He directed me to an older man with a kind face. (I like kind.)

“Please, sir, would you mind telling me when they call Group 2? I’m hearing impaired and I can’t understand a thing they’re saying over that intercom.”

It was at that moment I realized something I almost forgot…the God who goes before me always makes a way in the journey. It’s just not always the way I expect. In a hearing-seeing world where I don’t hear and see like most people around me I have a part to play. I have to let God be God and trust Him enough to give me a push in the right direction when I need it.

God’s direction for me was to ‘get over myself’ and ‘get under His wing.’

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“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge…” Psalm 91:4

There’s something about taking this journey with God that boosted my confidence and bolstered my courage in a way I’ve not experienced in a long, long time. There’s something about the way God made Himself known to me in very personal ways. Like in the Ontario airport on the return trip home when He guided me to a sweet senior woman. (I like sweet.)

We struck up a conversation and when I found out she was over 80 years old and flying alone I was properly put in my place, I can tell you that! But, it was in the more-daunting Dallas airport that God reminded me of something I’d almost forgotten,

He hems me in.

“You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

As God set my sights on a young couple with compassion on their faces (I like compassion), I sat down beside them and made my appeal with no more fear behind the words. When it was our turn to board, as only God could instruct, this woman said to me,

“Now you let my husband go in front of you and I’ll go behind you. We’ll guide you along the way.”

The tears are flowing even now because this memory is so precious to me.

I may not always know what the journey holds, but when I trust in the goodness of God, He never disappoints me. His goodness shows up in kindness, in sweetness, and in the compassion of those whose hearts He has prepared to meet me.

I went from affliction to consolation. I’m so glad God never tires of reminding me, “Nina, I not only go before you, but I have your back. I will not let you fall, even though you fear the flight. I will uphold you with the palms of my hand and you will find refuge under my wings.” 

And I ask you, who needs a babysitter when God Himself hems me in?

Facing My Fears

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This is me. Posing for the camera, teeth chattering, and biting my nails. It’s just a pose. So you can get a picture of what I look like afraid.

Actually, it’s not a good picture. It’s just for show. It’s pretend. Cause what I’m really feeling right now is a mixture of fear, excitement, anticipation, amazement, and I don’t know if you can understand this one, but it comes to me in waves…P.A.N.I.C.

Yes, in the midst of all that positive energy is some really pitiful stuff.

Please don’t judge me.

A few years ago I spoke to a group of women with a message from the story of Gideon. You can read the story for yourself in Judges 6 and 7. In fact, I encourage you to read it. I want you to read it. You need to read it. Just sayin’…

Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, under a tree, hiding in fear from the terrifying Midianites who were oppressing God’s people. One of the ways they instilled fear was to swoop down and steal the Israelite’s food the minute it was harvested. Yep, for all their power and strength, they couldn’t even thresh the wheat for themselves. They preyed on the children of God by watching them do all the work and stealing the fruit of their labor. Can I hear a “Not fair, Lord, not fair!” 

Scripture tells us that The Angel of the Lord came to Gideon as he was threshing wheat. Most scholars agree that this was the pre-incarnate Christ. It was Jesus Himself who came down to give Gideon some much-needed encouragement. God had heard the cries of His people and had chosen Gideon to deliver them from oppression. It was the farthest thing from Gideon’s mind at the time. I’m sure he had done his fair share of crying out, but never in a million years did he stop to think that God would raise him up to lead an army, carry a sword, and fight some battles.

I love that God came down. Not to the strongest man in Israel. Not to the wealthiest. Not to the one with the most prestige and status, but to a man so afraid he was in hiding, threshing wheat where grapes were pressed for wine, trying to throw his enemy off track by keeping what little harvest he had a secret.

God met Gideon where he was. In all his fear and insecurity and weakness. And, yet, the Angel still called Gideon a mighty warrior!

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  (Judges 6:12)

Oh, my shivering soul! Oh, my racing heart! Oh, how I love that God saw Gideon not for what he was at the moment of encounter, but for what he would become!

Can I hear an “Amen,” please?!?

God didn’t see Gideon as a coward. God saw a man of courage.

I needed to revisit this story today. I needed to reread my notes. Because sometimes I feel just like Gideon. Small. Insignificant. Definitely not the strongest of the strong and certainly not the wealthiest. Yet, God has called me to ‘go in the strength (I) have.’ Because tomorrow I fly out to California, all by my lonesome, to share a message with some very Jesus-loving women who live in Glendora. Like Gideon, I’ve often found myself questioning God and making excuses, “But who am I? I am the least. I am the weakest.” (Like I said earlier, please don’t judge.)

But, you know what I love about an encounter with The Almighty? I can take all my fears and weaknesses and insecurities to Him and He does the most amazing thing. He changes my perspective. Just like He did for Gideon.

God graciously made Himself known to Gideon. The Lord who is strength Himself gave Gideon a pep talk. Charged him up real good, too! And He gave Gideon a few promises, “The Lord is with you…I am sending you…go in the strength I give you…peace to you…fear not…”

And this encounter changed Gideon’s life forever. He understood where the answers lie to that age-old question, Who am I?, that plagues us all when God asks us to step out of our comfort zones and face our fears…

…he finally realized that even though he battled fear of monumental proportions, God would empower him with courage, strength, and might.

…he finally understood that even though he had no previous experience as a leader, God would equip him with wisdom, discernment, and counsel to rally an army.

…he finally grasped that even though he felt weak and insignificant, God would enable him to see himself as a vessel, an instrument, and a man of great value.

I think the encouragement of God comes to all of us when we hear His call to “Go.” Like Gideon, we come to see that it’s never about us. It’s never about me. It’s always unquestionably, undeniably, unmistakably all about Him. When we realize we have nothing to offer in and of our own then we’re in a good place for God to use us.

And sometimes…most of the time…alright, all of the time…for me, it means I just gotta “Go” scared. Because it’s in my teeth-chattering-biting-nails-racing-heart-shivering-kinda-fear that I am completely, wholely, and absolutely dependent upon God. Like Gideon, I can face my fear head-on because I have the certainty that He is with me…He is sending me…He is strengthening me…He gives me peace.

When the question Who am I? taunts me like a pounding drum keeping in time with my racing heart I answer,

I am a mighty warrior, thank you very much!

My God Is A Cloud-Rider

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Before the rains came about a week ago, I was just routinely getting myself dressed when the title for this blog post was impressed upon my spirit. I jotted the phrase down on a scrap of paper in my night stand and left it on my vanity to do some digging into Scripture. One verse kept coming to me over and over again. One that has fascinated me in times past, maybe because I’m a writer and the words are just so poetic.

“He wraps Himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of His upper chambers on the waters. He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” Psalm 104:3

Oh. Be still my beating heart.

If you’re a faithful reader of my blog, you know I’m a little on the sensitive side. My spirit responds to words like these. For all my musings and ponderings, all my passions and imaginations, all my longings and yearnings for things of my God…words like these just make me weep.

For the past 8 years I’ve lived in a tiny town in North Carolina, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours from the eastern shore where hurricane season keeps beach residents on their toes and tourists at bay. I may not live right on the coast, but the month of October brings the rains inland and we find ourselves without sunshine for days at a time. If I wanted to live under a canopy of clouds for days on end I might consider moving to Seattle. I hear it rains 9 months out of the year there, but I have no desire.

Because sometimes, it’s just plain depressing.

The past couple of days the rains have been accompanied by some gusty winds. Forget the umbrella. What good does it do to try and shield myself when the wind just blows the rain aimlessly, soaking my clothes, and dampening my mood?

But then verses like Psalm 104:3 come to mind and I forget the relentless rains. I forget the dark clouds. I forget the gusty winds. And I remember…

I remember Who rules over the weather. I remember Who surrounds Himself in splendor and majesty, whose light shines in dark places. I remember Who is enthroned above the clouds, whose home is arrayed in the brightness of His glory. I remember Who causes all things to fit together perfectly like beams being fitted for a house. I remember Who holds it all together.

“He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him–the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of His presence clouds advance, with hailstones and bolts of lightning.” Psalm 18:11 & 12

I remember Who the Builder is. Stable. Certain. Steadfast. Sure.

I remember Who reigns over the enemy. I remember Who rides in the front lines of battle, whose righteous right hand upholds in stormy places. I remember Who is supreme above the clouds, whose armor is impenetrable. I remember Who causes enemies to flee, whose Name makes the foe tremble in fear. I remember Who fights for those who love Him.

“See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before Him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.” Isaiah 19:1

I remember Who the Victor is. Mighty. Powerful. Strong. Formidable.

I remember Who rides on the winds. I remember Who saves in times of trouble, whose person comes swiftly in gusty places. I remember Who is calm above the clouds, whose presence is peace. I remember Who causes hearts to trust, whose very character makes hope come alive. I remember Who helps those who are crushed in spirit.

I remember Who the Savior is. Redeemer. Restorer. Faithful. Eternal.

“Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will  mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.” Daniel 7:13, Revelation 1:7 

There’s just something about the clouds that give me a holy expectation. I don’t have to muse or ponder, pretend or imagine because I can take this Scripture literally. The clouds make the Sovereignty of God and Supremacy of Christ very real, because I believe that one day they will open up and herald the return of the King. I can long and yearn for these things of God to be revealed.

God is in His heaven and He has not forgotten us. Jesus still makes Himself known to people today, but even for those who don’t know Him, or believe in Him, or even want to recognize Him, one day He will appear and all will behold Him. He will descend from heaven. He will come in the clouds. There is no hidden meaning here. Scripture means just what it says.

There is nothing depressing about this. There is nothing depressing about the clouds. Even when the days are dark and there seems to be no light shining in the sky. Even when the enemy is roaring like a lion and there seems to be no end to evil in this world. Even when the rains come and there seems to be no dam to stop the floods. Even then….

even so…I remember.

I remember Who rules. I remember Who reigns. I remember Who rides on the wings of the wind for I know…I believe…

my God is a Cloud-Rider.    

A Simple Faith

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Okay. So I’m going to regale you with a story.

When I was a little girl I remember getting my panties all in a wad when I went to the grocery store with my mom and watched the grocery store people stuffing bags of chips on the shelf, mercilessly reducing the chips in those bags to rubble.

I wanted to poise my little-girl self with hands on my hips and cry out, “Don’t crush the chips!!!”

If looks could kill.

No wonder there are so many tiny broken pieces of chips in the bottom of the bag. When I was little I didn’t like the crumbs. I wanted my chips completely whole and unspoiled. I wanted them all in one divine piece when I put them in my mouth (never mind the fact they were immediately crushed between my teeth),  but n0-o-O-o-o…the Chip-Crusher had to push and shove and smash. (they’re chips, people! not sardines!!)

I just could NOT understand why it was necessary to shove so many bags of chips onto one measly shelf. Couldn’t the grocery store people be a little gentler? Kinder? After all, chips are fragile. It doesn’t take much to crush one.

Well. I have a bit of irony for you.

I am now the Chip-Crusher. Don’t hate.

Yes. I stock chips at a local Piggly Wiggly.

And yes. I push and shove and smash every single one of my chip bags. Sometimes I think I hear Taps playing as I push my cart from the stockroom to the floor, loaded with boxes of Original, Ripple, and BBQ potato chips.

Breaks my heart to pack ’em in and reduce ’em to rubble like that. Sometimes I still hear my little-girl self, “Don’t crush the chips!” I even feel an urge to tell them I’m sorry.

It’s such an unglamorous job. Stocking shelves and sweatin’ like a pig at The Pig. But seriously, we sell a lot of chips. There’s the ever-so-popular sour cream and onion chips. The green onion chips. The no-salt chips. The jalapeño chips. The hot chips. The dill pickle chips. Then there’s the pretzels in all shapes and sizes, cheese balls, potato sticks, onion rings, and pork rinds (picture me sticking my finger in mouth and gagging. can i say, disgusting? but hey, i think it’s a southern-thang. can you believe there’s actually at least 6 different varieties of pork rinds? Pul-EE-ze).

And I pack ’em ALL in. The more the merrier. ‘Cause chips sell.

Here’s the thing, though. I do a lot of thinking when I work. Except when my stomach is rumbling and I need to feed it. That’s the only thing about working in a grocery store. You can’t get away from the food. Usually my stomach rumbles right on time. I’m very good about packing my lunch because, No, I do not eat the chips.

I like to think of ways to make my work more spiritual. I don’t know. I can’t help it. God is on my mind a lot. So I was thinking how it grieved me as a little girl to see the stockers crushing the chips and how I’m now the one doing the crushing. For some strange reason this bothered me even more.

My little girl’s mind was so simple and basic and pure back then. Not perfect, mind you. But pure in the sense that I didn’t know a whole lot about a whole lot, but I knew a lot about what I knew and I knew  chips were fragile. They were easily broken. In my simpleness it seemed so unnecessary to treat them like they weren’t. What was so hard about stocking bags of chips without crushing them? All that was needed was a softer touch. A gentler hand.

It wasn’t really practical, though, but sometimes practical is good. Simple can be a good thing. Not foolish simple. Or dumb. Or even boring. But simple…easy. Or easier.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t make things so complicated.

Adult-ing is hard work. Sometimes I don’t want to adult. Sometimes I just want to think simple. Like a child. ‘Cause children have a purer faith. Whole and unspoiled.

“People were bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, 

‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’

And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.'” Mark 10:13-16

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Coming to Jesus for salvation was a no-brainer for me. I still remember walking down the church aisle at the age of 8 and taking my father’s hand. He actually got down on his knee to receive me. It wasn’t long after that he baptized me in the river. Things were simpler then. I still believe in my salvation, but I have trouble sometimes in the trusting department. And faith requires trust.

Faith doesn’t have to be hard, but sometimes I make it hard. 

I push in doubt. Smash in fear. And shove in worry.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to crush me. I’m kinda fragile like that.

It’s in this weakness that I feel most like a little girl again. Because I can’t even tell you how much I love it when Jesus places His hands on me and tells me to “Come.”  It’s the thrill of my heart to know I can go to Him when I feel I’ve been packed in like too many chips and there’s all these tiny pieces at the bottom of my heart. That’s when He takes me in His arms and blesses me good.

This is the simple child-like faith I strive for every day of my life. Whole and unspoiled. Because it’s uncomplicated. And, truthfully, I like simple things.

So this is my story, but it’s not over, yet. God is still writing it. It’s a good thing, too, ’cause crushing chips isn’t who I am. Deep down I’m not a crusher. I’m a builder,

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Impromptu Worship

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This morning I was feeling a little giddy about sweeping my kitchen floor.

“What’s that, you say?!?”

Yes, I was feeling happy that I could actually sweep any floor at all.

For those who have ever put your back out, you know exactly what I’m sayin’! It’s a Hallelujah-moment when you can move and twist your body in blessed normality after a week of suffering through the pain of just walking across the room. If sitting in a chair was a bear then standing still in one place was a grizzly. Made me act like one, too. (Actually, I think I held up pretty good. If you ask my husband he may testify to this…I think.)

All I can say is…Thank You, Jesus, for takin’ my pain away and strengthening the muscles in my back once again! I can actually breathe with a huge sigh of relief.

My house has been sorely neglected the past week and a half, so today I’m attempting to do a little house cleaning.  There I was…in the middle of sweeping my kitchen floor with some I Love Lucy dvds on the telly to keep me company…when all of a sudden, my spirit began singing,

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature, O Thou of God and man the Son;

Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown. 

When was the last time I heard this song? I have no idea, but this heart of mine has a lot stored up from days of my youth. Years of Sunday School, Bible study, Scripture memorization, and listening to the words of the old hymns of faith week after week have left an imprint on my soul I just can’t wash away.

It’s such a beautiful thing.

Oh, Jesus, You’re my soul’s glory, joy, and crown! 

Anyways, I stopped sweeping right in mid-swipe and went to retrieve my hymnal. After checking the index I sat in a chair and sang all 4 verses. Before I knew it, the tears were flowing and I am…well, what am I? I guess I just love it when my heart sings.

It occurred to me that I’ve had several moments of impromptu worship the past couple of weeks in spite of the fact that my ordinary life has encountered some unordinary circumstances. Like putting my back out. Like learning to keep myself moving in spite of the physical pain. Like making myself do things that my body screamed NOT to do. Like learning how to focus on doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Because I think it becomes extraordinary whenever we have to make changes in the way we normally do things to accommodate the abnormal.

Can I just say? Sometimes I think my whole life has been learning how to accommodate my ‘abnormalities.’ In fact, I’ll tell you the honest-to-goodness truth. When I found out I had a brain tumor back in 2002 and the doctor told me there was a very good chance I might lose ALL of my hearing in my left ear I actually said, “Well maybe God has been preparing me for this my entire life!”

Since I was born with hereditary, degenerative hearing loss I learned early on how to read lips fairly well. Not perfectly but well. It was such an amazing thing for me to realize that losing my hearing completely would not mean the end of the world.

Glory-Hallelujah!

I just love how God gets in a plain ol’ ordinary day. I love how He stops me in the middle of sweeping a dirty kitchen floor and calls me to worship. I love how He stopped me in the middle of a painful day just last week and called me to worship in spite of the pain. He sang to me that day, too. (You can read about that on my Facebook Page, Reflections On The Word.)

See, God gets in the middle of my messy days, no matter what. Whether I’m cleaning my messy house with Lucy Ricardo making messes on the tv screen or I’m pacing my house praying my little heart out fighting waves of panic and fear for those I love, I just love how God stirs my heart to stop and worship.

How can I not cherish and honor the One who has captured my soul with the light of His glory, the wonder of His joy, and the beauty of a crown on my wrinkled brow?

To focus praise on Jesus in the messiness of life is worship.

He is the fairest of them all. I guess my spirit just responds to that and my heart just had to stop and tell Him. So sing I did…

Fair are the meadows, Fairer still the woodlands, Robed in the the blooming garb of spring;

Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, Who makes the woeful heart to sing.*

And this woeful heart cannot be woeful forever when Jesus gives me a song to sing.

*(Fairest Lord Jesus, Anonymous German hymn, source unknown)

Digging Wells

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Yesterday morning I read Genesis, Chapter 26.  I’ve only read it at least 100 times in my life, I guess. I don’t know. I haven’t really counted, but I just love it that God’s Word is always fresh. Like when I read something 100 times and one day…BAM…God says, “Park here. Take a deep breath and dig in.”

Abraham’s son, Isaac, who was the son of promise who became the husband of Rebekah who gave birth to Jacob and Esau, had a season of digging wells. I never thought much about this, but I kinda feel like I’ve been digging a lot of wells in the last decade or so. And the enemy just keeps filling them in.

Isaac was living in the land that God had promised Abraham would belong to him and his descendants. Famine had come to that land. Isaac wanted to go to Egypt to wait out the famine, but God told him to stay put.

“Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” Genesis 26:3-5

So Isaac obeyed the Lord.

And God blessed him.

In spite of the famine.

“Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great house hold, so that the Philistines envied him.” verses 12-14

Uh-oh. Envy isn’t exactly an emotion that brings out the best in people.

Isaac’s father, Abraham, had dug some wells in the land and the mean-green-with-envy-Philistines decided to fill them in with dirt. Then the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, told Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.” 

So…Isaac did. He settled in a valley and began reopening the wells his father had dug, choice wells because they were fed by an underground spring. The best of the best. Highly desirable. And they were rightfully his, but alas…the herdsman of the land quarreled with Isaac’s herdsman and claimed the first well as their own so Isaac named that well, Esek, meaning contention.

Isaac dug another well and there was even more quarreling so he named that one Sitnah, meaning enmity. I think he began to realize that this wasn’t just about a well. The Philistines’ jealousy was causing Isaac so much grief that he decided those wells weren’t worth fighting for. So he moved on.

I mean…he really moved. Like packed his bags and moved his tent, all those flocks and herds and all his house hold. Away to a place where he dug another well that no one tried to take away.

And Isaac had peace in that place. He called it Rehoboth, meaning wide open spaces. Because he said,  “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” verse 22

I just couldn’t help myself. I stopped and I wondered…why didn’t Isaac fight for what was rightfully his? Why did he give up? Why did he yield not once, but twice?!

It wasn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to dig a well in Isaac’s day. Wells were dug by the sweat of man’s brow. We’re talking back-breaking-labor-intensive-work. Yet, to work so hard and not be able to enjoy the fruit of his labor? REALLY?

What can one really do with a contentious bunch of people, anyway? Who wants to labor hard digging wells then labor even harder trying to keep the enemy from quarreling over them or filling them in with dirt?

Maybe Isaac realized this wasn’t a battle God was calling him to fight. Maybe Isaac trusted God to give him well-watered wells without envy-riddled-Philistines making his life miserable. Maybe Isaac just trusted God to give him something better.

And that’s exactly what God did.

God gave Isaac Wide. Open. Spaces.

Oh. How I love that.

When I labor hard to reopen wells that have been closed off and filled in by an enemy who comes against me again and again, maybe it’s time to move on. Maybe God doesn’t want me depending on the old wells that bring all that grief and strife. Maybe God doesn’t want me seeing those wells as my only source of water. Maybe He wants me to draw from new wells.

Maybe God wants me to dig new wells in wide open spaces!

Sometimes God says it’s time to move on. To leave the old wells behind. To let go of things I thought were rightfully mine. Sometimes it’s not a battle God wants me to fight. There will always be those who want to make life difficult for the child of God, but when the enemy comes filling in my wells it doesn’t mean God’s hand is against me. It means His hand is leading me to more spacious places. To something better.

In seasons of famine, when everything within me wants to flee, sometimes God says “Park here. Take a deep breath and dig in.” There in the middle of the valley, God gives me seasons of refreshing. He leads me to my own personal Rehoboth. Where I not only drink freely from my well, I can breathe more freely, too.

Because there’s room to grow, room to prosper, room to roam…

and peace…blessed peace.

And I really love that.