Stir the Waters

O God, You are my God,
Earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
-Psalm 63:1

 

My body, mind, spirit, soul: All long for awakening.

Winter has lasted far too long; now, the spring within me, eager to stir.

I have been so parched for You, the Gardener of my soul. Weeds and thistles, thorns and droughts have dried me. I’ve stood under a scorching sun with no shade; oh God, I am burnt from such exposure.

But You promise living water, what will wind its way through this desert and draw streams for my scorched earth to sip. I watch for You, I wait heart upturned, long for the switch of seasons, from barren land to plenty.

A tremble rolls within my chest; could it be the beginning rumbles of rainfall? For what may be replenishment to my thirst? Quench me, Lord of my longing; make soft the hard and scarred landscape of my soul. Stir the waters above, send them to make way for spring. Even droughts must someday be done.

I yearn for You, God of my thirst. I seek You, I look for You, look past this parched place and angle my head for a glimpse of Your grace.

You are my God, and I am here, waiting. Yearning earnestly, desperately, for signs of replenishment, stretching my ear to hear the subtle strains of trickling water. Stir these waters; whet my heart for a deeper dive with You. Slow is the process to seep through this guarded earth, but steady is Your pour.

Awaken again all that You have prepared, this turn of season and time with You. I am parched, but I put my heart in Your hands and turn my face towards the west, watching, waiting for the rain.

 

Linger:

What is difficult about feeling dry and parched?
How can I position my heart to wait for God’s replenishment?
God, what are You saying to me through this verse?

 

Lord, I am dry and empty, longing for You with all I am. It has been so long. I need You, need Your presence, need You to move within me. Bring the refreshment my soul needs. Stir these waters within me and help me to wait on You while I long. I lift my weary mind, body, soul, and spirit to You to tend gently and see me through. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Time, Uninterrupted

But as for me, it is good to be near
God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord
my refuge;
I will tell of all Your deeds.
-Psalm 73:28

 

This is what I’ve missed.

Quiet time with You. Uninterrupted. Stretching the length of the day. Slow, simple, simply beautiful.

I’ve forgotten how my soul best sits with You when I am alone in body, thought, and heart. I’ve asked for more of You, and to listen for You. And You have lulled me away to a quiet, secret space that has sat overgrown and forgotten for a while, as I’ve learned to love another and learn my rhythm in this new world.

But I have left You, my first love, waiting, watching, waiting for me to find You in this place once again. Clear voiced, focused gaze, here I meet You and remember how sweet it is to be with You in the ways I am made.

Before, I’ve been distracted, slammed by the world and thrown off my cadence, breathing in all the wrong air. But You are patient, and know what I need, how I need it.

God, it is good to be with You. It is good to hear You without static. It is good to sit close, smell You, see what You see, listen to what You say.

This is the way I’m meant to live—wide awake and found in You. Set in Your kindness, the levels of Your eyes like the great lake, arms spread wide like the canyon, love vast like the valley.

Thank You for catching me before I fell completely, and for carrying me back to the shelter of Your embrace. You are gentle, You are strong. I reset my gaze to where You are, relax my shoulders, and release an exhale I’ve been holding far too long. This is where I’m meant to be, truly myself, alone with You. This is sacred time. It is good to be near You. Good to make You my shelter once more, draw closer, breathe You in.

I will not forget. I will remember, I will make room for the quiet; lead me more into Your love, Your beauty, more moments like these. For these are the moments, You are the moon’s soft glow in my hallowed night. I stare up in wonder, allow You to illuminate.

 

Read Again:

But as for me, it is good to be near
God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord
my refuge;
I will tell of all Your deeds.
-Psalm 73:28

 

Linger:

How can I allow God to slow me down to experience His love?
What does His gentleness mean to me?
God, what are You saying to me through this verse?

 

More of You, Lord. More moments with You, more of Your goodness, Your love, more gentleness within my soul. Thank You that You’ve never left or forgotten me, and how You always draw me back to Your heart. I want to make more room for you, always. Amen.

 

Holy Even Here

… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
-Romans 5:3-5

 

Here I am, again with my heart trembling before you. Here I am, holding myself out to Your great love, which is unfailing and on which I stake my hope. It’s been a long road; a hardness threatens to take hold of me. After prolonged time of hurt and pain and feeling so disconnected and far from You, I long for a response from Your mouth.

Yet You lead me in new ways, stretch my faith and grow my character, because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And not just a singular hope, but one that does not disappoint, because You pour out Your love for me, directly into my own heart. How I long for that direct love deep inside, but I fear I will not have the closeness I once felt with you before.

Let my faith be greater than my fear. Let my heart be gentle, tender, open to You love, open to experiencing Your love in greater ways. You do speak, one way or another. In the care and words of those close to me, in the cobalt lake on a day where the sky spreads wide and clear; in Your word that digest, even if it’s only one or two verses at a time. You make Yourself known; You still make Your way towards me.

Let Your words be soft and gentle to my scratched and dry soul, water my parched places with the right words that will tend to my brittle soil. Let them be purposeful and perfect for my deep needs.

Allow me room to breathe, to fall into Your goodness. There has been so much barrenness, pain, fear. So much straining to stay up and hold to a blind faith when I could not feel. And how I love to feel the expanse of emotions! I’ve told myself of Your truth when my head couldn’t hear or believe, set what weak belief I had on Your character and promises. I’ve pleaded with You to hold onto me because I was too weak and tired to hold onto You.

You are my sustaining power, my grace again and again. My burden becomes my blessing because I encounter You when I am at my lowest; there You lay with me, heart against heart, for You, too, know what it is to bleed. The suffering, the mystery, the unanswered questions—here I let go and lean into the things suspended, breathe into the pause, and clear a space for You to sit with me when I can’t hold still.

It is hard, but it is holy, because You are here. The One who is no stranger to suffering willingly stakes His life to mine. Nothing can separate me from the expanse of Your love, the deep, rich, high and beyond love that has chosen to stay. Even when I run, when I flail, even when it feels futile, terrified of what You’ll find inside, here You are, Your gaze unwavering.

Surrender the fear, You whisper. Surrender the shame, the guilt, the fear of control. Let go, and let Me in.

Surrender can begin to stitch me whole. Here I am, all of me, exposed. Letting You in to where only You can go. Grace. Goodness. Glory. All grab hold of my heart as I entrust my mind to You. I receive You in; now hold me near and guide me closer.

Rest. Truth. Trust.

Greater are You who are in me than he who is in this world. Holy even here. Your death, giving me life. My life, given to You. We are here, in the hard, becoming holy, building hope. Yes, Your holiness is healing, yes, holy even here.

 

Read Again:

… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

-Romans 5:3-5

 

Linger:

Where have I been keeping my heart and mind closed to You?
How can I find holy even here, in the hard?
God, what are You saying to me through these verses?

 

Abba Father, You have been with me through so much pain, confusion, hopelessness, and hurt, and yet You’ve never once left me. You are the God who stays, who sees, who heals. I want to give You these hidden places in me, where I am fearful and weary and unsure what will play out, but I am trusting You to keep making a way, making hard things holy. In Jesus’s name, amen.

 

Listen To:

Make Room by The Church Will Sing

Light and Salvation

The LORD is my light and my
salvation—whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of
my life—of whom shall I
be afraid?
-Psalm 27:1

 

Truths to rest my heart:

God’s light saves me from the dark.
He is my salvation and with Him, there is nothing to fear. Light exposes shadow; salvation saves from death. Beautiful positives.

God is my life’s stronghold—He holds me firmly and securely, with love, so I remain steady amidst all the shaking. Things in and around me may be unsteady, but the LORD is my sure footing. I am anchored in Him.

He is steady, He is full of goodness and light, and He is for me.

 

Takeaway:

Hold to His strength, rest that He is holding me.

The LORD is my steady place.

Real with Me

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.  
-Psalm 54:4

 

I need You to be real with me.

I cannot take the stale air I am choking down, force-fed the way of ideology in Your name. Call me a non-conformist, call me stubborn, rebellious, whatever fits, but I am tired of others telling me who You are and how I should behave with You.

I have to see it for myself.

I have to touch the skin of Your hand.

No more muted conversation or half-lingering listening. No more putting words in my mouth I’m ready to spit back out. The rules I am told to follow in the freedom emanating from You pierces fickle in my soul, pairs hollow with whitewash, where I know by how I feel, that something is amiss.

My heart is off and it terrifies me. What I run through each day is rote, not enough. You have to show up and strike the coals of my fire how I need to be stoked. You must be honest and vivid, crack and burst before me because I cannot have You lined up straight-edged and stagnant.

You are not the God others tell me You are, You are not the God of my organization, You are not the God that has grown stale within me. Show me who You are when You break out of the box we’ve all put You in, watered down and tasteless.

I want You. Take away every distraction and opinion and supped “how to” on having a relationship with You, and speak for Yourself into my ear. I am tearing at the seams and only You can stitch me back, with color and thread puncturing my skin to test my sensors, make certain I still feel.

Raise me to life. I am suffocating and it is You, full and fantastic, who will revive me, resurrect my faith. Fashion me with Your design, dare me to find You, to draw near so You can show me how You’re already well inside me.

All the voices I hear, the words I speak, static mantras mentioned over and over and over—they fall heavy like bricks. They do not mean a thing, unless I am shocked in soul by You.

Come to me. No more games. No more assembly line. Give me the original. Give me who You are when I turn off the noise and peal myself away from monotonous religion.

It is my life on the line, my constricting heart, daring to beat again.

You had better give me something, because I am desperate to discover You. Deep flesh, freshly divine.

Show me exactly who You need to be for me. Show me exactly who You are so I can see. This kicking heart won’t accept anything less.

Please, be real with me as my heart craves. As a restoring promise, to charge and spark my life again.

 

 

Read Again:

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.   -Psalm 54:4

 

Linger:

How does God sustain me?
Am I confident that He delights in helping me when I am in need?
God, what are You saying to me through this verse?

 

Who are You, as I need to see? Surely You are my help, my focus, my sustenance. Over and over, I get tied up in lies and twisted reality, where I make false facts about myself and the smallness of You. I shut You down, box You in, leave my heart dry and empty. This will not do. Revive me, help me to recognize You, and bring a realness to my heart that it has been craving but has yet to receive. Show me who You are. Amen.

To Give of My Love

Perfect love casts out fear.  -1 John 4:19

 

“Keep holding out your heart,” You say to me. As if this suggestion will suddenly solve all the pain I’ve worked so hard to ease.

To hang my heart suspended, open, revealed and flesh tender offers it up for continuous misalignment? Not what I have wanted. We have come so far for me to retreat and hide away the core of me, though what You are calling me to is not easy.

To tell the truth, it’s excruciating. To give of my love when it is not returned in the way I desire, to gently encourage another, see them through their own difficulties, when my heart breaks every day because I’ve asked from the start how could it ever end without a battered heart? But I bleed, again and again, for the sake of Your perfect love casting out the fear to flee.

Yet how long, O Lord, will You call me to this constant exposure, this continual brokenness as I bare my soul for the sake of another?

You still hover, motionless, in pause. I still wait, pensive, willing Your move.

How the wait hurts. When there is nothing I can do, simply sit with heart throbbing, worn from its unraveling. The old me has been razed to the ground, leveled, pitched into an abyss. I am not who I was when I said yes to this life, however reluctantly, unaware of the fight and burns that lay ahead.

But I have been as brave as I’ve dared, searching my scorched spaces and staying in the discomfort, digging in to the secrets of my heart and bringing my fears to the table, the timid self that has not been allowed a voice. You’ve coaxed me to admit my desires, to get desperate before you, soul parched for my deepest needs. And You began to bring a newness to my heart I didn’t recognize I needed until one day the veil dissolved before my eyes and I saw in front of me the desires you knit deep inside before my time began.

And now, just as I air my heart’s importance to the front of my days, You hold off on completing my request. Heart hung in uncertainty, clarity of path erased so I literally cannot see the next step in front of me. I feel stuck, though I know You mean for me to move forward with the tender beats of my heart still willing to shine Your love towards the source of sun.

I cannot come out unscathed. Already shaped into someone I do not recognize, I do not remember how my heart beat before it broke. So here I am, told to love as You do, selfless, for another’s wellbeing before my own.

I am willing, but I am also naked before the breath of my heart’s bravery, this hurt as it breaks every day, over again. A cycle of cries begging to be released from this season of extended wait, disappearance of the love I hoped to receive. This is where You tell me to settle. Into the unknown, into the softening of my heart’s skin to believe that You are indeed over that which is completely out of my control.

To love without expectation of return. To steady the flow of blood that streams from my private places and fall onto Your grace when I live and love and have to stare my unfulfilled dreams in the face every day. To trust that You have plans for unfolding my heart inside out, upside down.

But it had better be beautiful. You’d best be breathing it back to life.

Your hovering irritates my already raw heart, as all I feel is the prickle of Your presence. I am not yet stirred to action, yet I don’t know if there ever will be the answer I long to hear.

How long must I love without condition, without return? How long must I be brave to bring my hope and hurt to the life You usher me towards, stay in this undefined state where my heart refuses to fold back into itself?

If I continue to offer my heart open, how will You respond?

Give me strength to love what is now before me, how to gently coax my tender fears, gentle hope to continue when I cannot see, when You call me to face beyond understanding the ways of the heart.

 

Reflection Time:

What does perfect love look like?

How can I combat the fears I have with God’s perfect love?

God, what are You saying to me through this verse?

 

Here I am again, Father, heart hanging in the balance. Again in the unknown, forging forward to live a life I never expected, one I don’t quite know how to handle. Help me, please, to keep my heart open, even when it hurts. Help me to trust You, to know that You are in control over all things. That includes my life, and all that is deep within me. Heal me in this newness, my Lord. Amen.

 

 

Strength in Stillness

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

The afternoon sun streaks through my living room window, and I settle into my seat, finding just the right spot for the light to warm my body. On my windowsill, books bend into one another, and pens spill from their holder; my daily Bible verse calendar shows an image of majestic mountain peaks and a scriptural assurance of faith I cannot see.

The call to faith in the unseen resonates deeper than I wish it to.

I’ve spent these past six months fighting for my mental and physical health.  I’m still wrestling with the lingering aftermath of COVID-19 and anxiety, comparing my state of exhaustion to where I was before I got sick.

When I see my life as it was, and I see the setbacks I’m battling, I can’t help but be tempted to spiral down the “why me?” rabbit hole. The daily battles leave me worn and wondering just how this will play out.

My camp is close to crumbling, and I need reinforcements. If I have the Lord of heaven’s armies with me, what is His tactic? What is His next move?

Is it to strengthen me supernaturally so I can take ground where I have loosened my hold?

Is it to storm my enemies and knock them down in one motion?

Is it to wait for me to say the right prayer or scripture and believe just a bit more for my faith to come to life and be “useful” in my healing?

Or is it possible God is calling me to something radically different? What if God’s will looks something like this: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)?

The more I meditate on this verse, the more I realize I’ve been carrying much more stress than I need to. I’ve hoisted the weight of my health on my shoulders, striving to learn answers, comparing what was to what is now, and holding heavy, unrealistic expectations in my heart and mind.

Maybe you are, too. Maybe we’ve all been holding on to our own designs of how life should be and having trouble wrapping our minds around reality.

What do we do with the vice grip we’ve put ourselves in?

 

**

What a joy and honor to be over at Proverbs 31 Ministries today to examine what strength in stillness looks like. Will you join me there?

Toward the Sun, the Healing

Jesus, the sun—such brightness.
The birds—their song is loud; my ears pick up nothing else.
The grass has never looked so green, lush, full.
The flowers, coming into bloom sudden and striking.
I have never known a spring
so desired or welcome.

Can it mirror my mind’s healing, too?
Movement upwards, hope in a season
secure, here to stay?
Safety comes in the promise of
what arrives time after time.

Jesus, You’ve made the spring surge awake.
Will you surge in me and tend
to my mind and heart?
Awaken them to turn
toward the sun, the healing.

Make a Way in Me

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the 
afflicted;
You encourage them, and You
listen to their cry.
-Psalm 10:17

 

You are faithful, even in the midst of the raging storm. You are the God who calms the seas; surely, You can calm the sea in me.

Calm the raging sea in me; say to my mind and soul, “Peace, be still.”
Help me to be still and know Your goodness, Your timing, Your ways, Your presence. Joy and hope amidst the hard, my God. I ask for joy and hope, a sound mind and secure heart.

You are my firm foundation and I climb on top to stand, however unsteady my hands and feet. You are the One who sees and knows all the swirls within me. And You love me, though it’s hard to feel. But faith is not based on sight, but stepping one foot in front of the other in the unknown, choosing to trust You are over all, You are over me.

Be over me, my God. My good Father, whose plans for my life are good, for hope and a future. You are making way for my good future. Just help get me through the storm, get in the boat and soothe me to sleep as You slice through the waves, guiding me. God, steer me through. God, calm me through the middle of the water, when there is no shore in sight, when I tremble with fear and am frantic for land.

Be in the boat with me. You know these waters well. You know me well; call out my name and speak to my deep places where You know better than I do what I need. You know what I need, my Counselor and Comfort.

You are my fixed point on a shaky axis. Rescue me, out of Your great mercy. Restore me through the suffering. Give me Your grace for today, but bring hope to my heart and healing to my body, mind and soul. You are able, and You are near.

Faithful One, be faithful to me. I want to see You, hear You, know and experience You in deeper and new ways. I want a way out, yes, but I want You too.

 

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Read the rest over at Awake Our Hearts!