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.

What is Ahead

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 3:13-14

 

What is ahead? Along the road I can’t see, what my mind can’t envision, through the mystery and uncertainty? I am a traveler, journeying down the valleys, up the mountains’ rocky paths, and winding around stubborn knots in the road. A sojourner, seeking Jesus, seeking life in my body, breath in my spirit. Forgetting what is behind, I cannot look back, cannot fear what has stalled me before. It is in trust where I turn my face from the shadows and decide to look for God in the unseen and unknown. What is ahead? Propel my feet forward, let curiosity lead me. Let hope light the way. Let my ears pick up that Voice from the faraway echo that beckons, “Come to Me, find your rest, find Me.”

Find my rest with Him. Find Him, whom my heart seeks. What is ahead is where I am moving, slow as my pace may be. But I am moving, progression, many breaks in between, for I am not fit for this journey. But there is grace in plenty, enough to relax and restore me for the next leg of this pilgrimage. I set out with the wind at my back, that Voice again calling me through the veined tree line of forest into what I can’t see, admiring the twist of leaves and sound of birds just out of reach.

What is ahead? I have no idea, and I want to. I want to know where this all leads, know I’ll reach whatever is ahead safely and with joy in my heart. But I have no guarantees, and this is what gives hesitation. Will I make it out OK? Where is my God as I am wandering this path? I do not like to live in such uncertainty, but this is faith I’m forging, too. Venturing to territories I’ve never been, terrain I’m not used it. It’s exhausting and terrifying, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep moving.

God, move with me. Move in me. How can I keep this up, when it’s been so long and the journey looks like it just keeps going, mountain upon mountain, valley to valley? Give me eyes to see, Give me trust, that You see where I am, what is ahead, and You are watching over me and will not let my foot stumble or body tumble or mind lose its way. Walk alongside me, tenderly, wisely, certainly. For I am not certain in the least, but cling to Your promise that You won’t leave me and that You know the way for me to walk. Oh my God, make Yourself known in the brambles and deep shades of night, when the way is blurred and my heart is weary. Match my steps, still my mind, rest my heart. For one more step, one more day.

I travel on, to what is ahead, choose to still trust this Voice of the One who watches my every step and keeps me aligned to where is best for me to go.

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.

 

Choosing Fact Over Feeling

I wake with a jolt, heart shocked alert, mind reeling and running a hundred marathons in minutes. The room around me, black like spilled ink, douses my thoughts with slick lies and unreasonable worries. I’ve been wracked by anxiety for the last few weeks, fallout from trauma of three ER visits in a month, my husband and I sick with COVID and absolute terror of the unknown.

I can’t relax, can’t get myself back to sleep for the fear that pushes me awake, taunting that this is all there is, a new way of living that allows me no rest.

In mental anguish, wracked with the worries that stack on top of one another like cement blocks, I blink and call out to God in the night, repeating promises that He has given to me:

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

The thoughts don’t slow, but somehow, His words slip through the stream of scared thinking and my running anxiety. Here, I hold to Him who I can’t see, but believe is at work fighting on my behalf. My husband relays this confirmation as we sit in bed, and I breathe.

**

So incredibly honored to be published in another Proverbs 31 devotion book. This one is especially close to my heart as it’s all about sleeping peacefully in a world full of worry.  You can pick up a copy–FREE–with a donation to P31 Ministries. I know you’ll be blessed by the beautiful devotions and prayers in this book by some incredible women.

What lays heaviest on your heart as you lay your head on your pillow? We understand the anxieties that come right before we go to sleep. That’s why we wrote our newest devotional: Clear Mind, Peaceful Heart: Prayers and Devotions for Sleeping Well in a World Full of Worry. Written by women just like you, these devotions will help you remember the true source of help when you feel anxious and unsteady through reading God’s Word, prayers, and the stories of fellow sisters in Christ. For a limited time, you can get a copy FREE with a donation of your choice to Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Get your copy here!

 

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

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.

You Have Promised

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.
-Romans 4:20-21

 

How can I doubt that You are watching over me, taking extra care in my discomfort and sheltering me in Your solid, stoic arms?

Am I that consumed with myself that I see the surface and all that swims around me and think that You have left me to fend for myself, bobbing in the deep and deliriously unaware of my surroundings?

You have provided so much for me in so many ways, so many tiny details each and every hour I cannot contain the numbers of each miniscule miracle. I play the victim in the Woe is Me one act performance, providing excuse after excuse for why I keep myself chained in confusion. Why I cannot claim to clear my conscious when deep within, I know with all certainty, that You are prodding me, chipping away at the scales that have rusted to my skin. You have my purpose resting in Your palms, and You are quietly calling me to reach to You and take what You are promising.

I have been selfish and shallow, wallowing in self-inflicted self-pity, crying out to You to help bring me from the dungeon of doubt that has locked me in. Yes, I have been tested, my walls breached. But if I would lift the shield of faith high above me, I can ward off the arrows that swiftly fly towards my soul. With Your Spirit of truth, I can trust that You are all You say You are, and that You have never left me, nor will You ever forsake me. You have Your righteous hand upon me, watching me, guiding me, and the things I think are tragic will turn to triumph for Your glory.

How dare I delve into the abyss and think You just a figure on my shoulder, a charm around my neck. You are beyond this world, You’ve brought galaxies to life and expelled evil from Your sight. How can I forget the fire You’ve set within my heart?

Forgive me for my frail faith, for not honoring You as I should and for my brittle belief. You are all You say You are, and only by Your power can I exist at all. Persuade me to pay closer attention to You, to pay closer attention to Your details in my day. Help me reconstruct my walls of wisdom and regain my fortress in Your foresight. Deliver me once again into Your corner. Let me remember that my battles are Yours to fight, and that You have the power to do all that You have promised with me.

 

Reconstruct Me

But He knows the way I take;
When He has tested me,
I will come forth as gold.
-Job 23:10

 

I step through jagged
stones of glass,
cutting the innocent
softness of the underside
of my feet.
though I tread carefully,
pieces of the pain
embed into me,
a reminder that where I go,
I am fallen.
Walk with me.
when I crumble,
be the One
to reconstruct me.
You know my paths,
know which sands
will slice my skin.
You see me scream
my confusion into the
silent sheet of night.
Observe me,
but ready Your hand
to pull me from the mire
when I slip into
its cunning grasp.

 

No More Mourning

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
-Revelation 21:4

 

You came for us while we mourned, while we wailed against the injustice, the suffering, the sting of heart that stayed a companion as we strained our eyes to catch a glimpse of You. Your heart understood ours, cracked and bled and gnarled itself up in sorrow, well acquainted with grief. Did we ever understand? Could we?

How You wept into the city, seeing how we couldn’t see. All around, religious piety and rules, regulations that wrapped us in a choke hold, one You broke free for us. But it took the shadows, the whispers, the exchange of hands for slick coins, the passing of Your body from one inquisitor to the next. And You stood silent, a lamb come for the stain of the world. Your body, blistered from whips and crushed by a crown of thorns, and still they made You climb with a cross close to You, a reminder of what was coming. Hands drilled, ankles torn by nails, a life-size painting perched for all to watch. Breath, rattled, eyes smeared with blood.

Did You imagine what it would feel like, when You nodded consent to the Father and took our  form? Did you knowingly shed glory for gore? Was it my face that crossed Your mind as You trembled on the wood?

All that Your beautiful hands had done. Crafted tables, turned them over, stroked your mother’s hair. Mixing mud and saliva so a man could see, tearing the bread, holding Mary as she wept for her brother. Those mangled hands held galaxies, transformed fish into a banquet.

You have made rough places smooth. Life from death. Light from dark. Air from clumps of earth. While we mourned, You made things new. We came to You, ourselves broken and bleeding, belief on the brink. We were so helpless and scared, yet You took mercy, even while we hurled our insults. Did we know what we were doing? Did we understand?

Our hearts are tired of crying. And You said we’d mourn no more. So we looked to You, as Your voice scratched out that it was finished, and You gave us a lifeline, revival for our searching souls.

 

Prayer:

You made a way where there was none. You gave up Your glory to become like us, misunderstood, mistreated. And You stayed the Father’s course, obedient until the last breath. Thank You for Your sacrifice, thank You for the love that permeated every inch of You, every heartbeat that broke for this world. Thank You that You have made a way for us to see the Father. Amen.