Behind locked doors
Fears shake and rattle hearts.
What does the future hold
Persecution? Death? Trials?
Peace be unto you!
I, the Lord
Who holds the keys
Of death and hell,
Stand among you and say –
Peace be unto you!
Within locked hearts
Questions seethe and rage
Who am I? Where do I fit in?
What is my calling now?
Peace be unto you!
I called you by name
Before the world was made
To be my witness faithful and true;
As my Father sent me
So send I you.
Within locked minds
The pendulum swings
To trust or not to trust
Where can my mind find rest?
Peace be unto you!
Touch My wounded side and hands
Be at rest in the Truth
Abide in My love
Come alive in My Spirit
Peace be unto you!
Our God is merciful and tender.
He will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us
to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death,
to guide our steps into the path of peace.
I give you peace,
the kind of peace that only I can give.
It isn’t like the peace that this world can give.
So don’t be worried or afraid.
May the Lord himself,
who is our source of peace,
give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with you all.
2 Thess 3:16
People disappoint. Sad truth. No matter how close they are, and how much they love you, they disappoint. No one can truly be sufficient to meet the needs of our hearts, and so there is always a feeling of having been let down at some point or the other in time.
Some years ago, I was struggling with anger and loneliness. It was the strange kind of loneliness, loneliness in a crowd, loneliness in the midst of intense people contact and conversation. It is the loneliness that comes when the interactions seem to be superficial and one-sided, where the person talking to you is not really interested in you except as a forum to talk about themself.
At that time I came across this verse, “You are expecting _____ to help you, but that would be like using a reed as a walking stick—it would break and would jab your hand. That is what the ______ is like when anyone relies on him.” Is 36:6
True isn’t it?
We look to people for comfort, help, strength, support and they invariably break under our weight at some point or the other, because no one is equipped to be there unstintingly for another.
As I prayed about this verse, a picture formed in my mind of me standing under a clean, pure waterfall. A limitless supply of water. Refreshing, cool and clean. Yet, I had a small cup in my hand and was trying to fill my cup from a rusty tap that stood on the banks of this joyous, unceasing waterfall. A few drops fell occasionally from this tap, and I was trying to fill my cup from this tap, and I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t get enough to quench my thirst.
Looking at that picture, I felt rather silly.
Why would I turn to a rusty tap
When I stood under the waterfall of His love and grace?
Why do I seek crumbs from the table
When He anoints my head with oil at His banqueting spread?
Why do I lean on a reed that’s easily broken
When the Rock of Ages holds me by His mighty hand?
I think probably it is the lie that a human being is more tangible, and therefore what we receive from a human is more real.
What a terrible lie.
John, in exile on the island of Patmos encountered the Lord who would stoop to lift him up and reassure him. In his loneliness, he discovered the fullness of the reality of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ in a way that he probably could not have experienced in a prayer meeting.
Paul, left alone in the midst of his trial found that the Lord stood with him and encouraged him. It was in his loneliness that he discovered the fullness of the sufficiency of the Grace of God.
Is satan attacking you with this lie that there is no brother, sister of Christ to come alongside you, listen to your story, speak an encouraging word to you? Rebuke that lie.
God has not forgotten you, and will never abandon you. He is at work in the midst of your circumstances to work all things together for good. He is ALWAYS with you. His Spirit can speak to your heart as no human can.
His love, His grace comes down like a mighty lavish waterfall – richly, joyously – satisfying, refreshing, healing, strengthening, restoring, comforting…
Jesus still invites you to come to the waters and drink freely…
whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.
The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Today morning this verse leapt out at me.
For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and He has not hidden His face from Him, but has heard, when He cried to him. (Ps 22:24)
Or as the Message translation puts it –
He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. (Ps 22:24)
The last several months have been challenging. Nothing serious. Just me – wrestling with various issues and trying to make sense of certain people and issues, wondering what really God wanted me to do – I guess you could say I was going through an existential crisis of sorts.
One thing I learnt with absolute clarity through these months is that God NEVER despises my doubts and wrestlings. In fact, He delights to bring truth and settle foundations.
Others may trivialise your pain/ wrestlings but God never does. Others may distance themselves from you in your moments of weakness, but God enters into your pain and pours His strength into your emptiness and lack.
I don’t know where you are at (for that matter I don’t know where I am at) but today I know with certainty that God does not hide His face from us, but He offers us His right hand of fellowship and strength to lift us up and strongly support us.
Incidentally this is the Psalm Jesus quoted from on the cross. It begins ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me.’ But it has this beautiful reminder midway, that God does not turn His face away from the afflicted one but hears his prayer.
It carries a beautiful promise –
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! …(Ps 22:26)
Gathering water in broken cisterns
Striving to get a few drops to quench parched throats
Walking after the imagination of an evil heart
Changing our glory for that which does not profit
Worshipping the work of our hands
Boasting in the pride of our achievements
Running after treacherous ‘lovers’ who use and cast aside
The Unceasing Fountain of Life spills forth unheeded, unsipped
The Lover of our Souls
The Help of the Helpless
The Faithful, Unchanging One
stands by ignored and rejected.
Reading through Jeremiah, it is very easy to feel smug and to apply what I am reading to someone else. But just this past week, my little world was shaken, because someone I was counting on for help didn’t turn up. I was irritated and vengeful till I thought over what I was reading in Jeremiah.
Wasn’t I depending on an undependable leaky source, when I had the greatest resource in the Universe? The Help of the Helpless stood with me, while I was fretting for the imperfect help of a fallible human.
So I turned back to God, turning my back on a fretting heart that grumbled, moaned, plotted and planned. Turning my back on the world, the disappointments and fears had a salutary effect on me. The world righted itself. Mountains were cropped to the right perspective. His light brought the right colours and hues into a world that seemed dull and gray.
And He was true to His Word and character. He is the Help of the Helpless. He did send help from Zion, just not the person I was pinning my hopes on.
Thank You Lord for not having left me to find my own way.
Thank You for providing for me what I need day by day.
Thank You for the patience with which you wait for me to turn away from the broken cisterns to Your fountain of Life.
Thank you for enabling me to see You as the Creator and the source of all I am and all I do.
Thank You for receiving me even though I often run after that which does not profit, and which leaves me feeling used and discarded.
Thank You for stooping to heal, deliver, comfort and restore.
Thank You for being You.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the Gentiles seek after all these things,
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
Mat 6:31-33 ESV
Coals flowering red
pip dawn’s yet sleeping light
nets breaking with fish at a stranger’s command
hungry men being fed by the Risen Lord.
Love gave Him eyes to see
their empty boats
heavy discouraged hearts
tired, weary bodies.
Love which knelt to wash their feet
now prepared a meal for them.
Love saw a need and reached out to fill it.
memories stir of broken promises.
Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?
Do you get what I am saying?
Simon, can you hear, really hear what I am saying?
I am not testing your love, do you get it that I love you? I trust you? Put your failures behind you.
Love me, love what I love: My lambikin and sheep.
If you love me, you will see with My eyes: their brokenness, their hunger, their pain
And your heart will melt with compassion
I know you love me Peter.
Are you willing to be bread that is broken in My hands?
Do you remember that moment when the multitudes were in the desert, hungry for food, yet driven by a deeper hunger for the Living Bread?
Do you remember how my heart was moved with compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd? –
Sheep – Not knowing which road to take for green pastures, vulnerable to the preying wolves, wounded with no one to tend their wounds…
Mute, helpless, tossed in stormy seas, caught willy-nilly in the dragnet of schemes of men, helpless to resist the chain-tug of the evil slave master of sin…
Simon. Do you hear me? Do you really hear me? Does your heart leap in response? Do you rise to action?
Do you see my people? Really see them? Do you see how satan holds them captive to do his will, pulling them in like fish caught in a net?
I am placing in your hands the keys of the kingdom. I am calling you to go out in My name to be fishers of men.
Go, go in My Name to draw them out of the nets and the snares, the pits and the holes. Go to tell them of peace between God and man. Go, tell them that the price of their sins has been paid.
Sin has paid its wages of death, and I received it on their behalf, now I give to them freely the gift of eternal life. The veil is torn, the net is broken and the captives are free.
Love them as I love you.
See their need. Are you willing to lay down your life, step off the throne, give up your rights that they might find life?
Are you overcome by the knowledge of your weakness and your lack of love? Don’t despair. As you are I love you.
It shall be required of you according to what you have, not what you don’t have.
Remember I have promised you the Comforter and Teacher, He will supply your needs, and fill your areas of lack.
Remember you are my lambikin, tender, beloved of me. Now go with that heart to feed My lambikin, My sheep.
(This is an imagined monologue that I have put together from John 21: 1-17, Mark 6:34-44, Hab 1:13-15, 2 Tim 2:26, John 14-17 and many more verses…)
The Sovereign LORD has filled me with His Spirit.
He has chosen me and sent me
To bring good news to the poor,
To heal the broken-hearted,
To announce release to captives
And freedom to those in prison.
He has sent me to proclaim
That the time has come
When the LORD will save His people …
He has sent me to comfort all who mourn,
To give to those who mourn in Zion
Joy and gladness instead of grief,
A song of praise instead of sorrow.
They will be like trees
That the LORD Himself has planted.
They will all do what is right,
And God will be praised for what He has done.
Isa 61:1-3 GNB
Today I was texting an encouraging message to my friend. My phone has a mind of its own, and loves to guess what word I am thinking of, and it helpfully suggests words based on keystrokes. And since it’s a machine it pulls out the first word that it thinks the keystrokes made.
I wanted to tell her that God would bring us through as pure gold through each trial. But my phone took the keystrokes and interpreted them as ‘brought as pure hold through each trial’.
As I didn’t stop to read it back, I sent it – typos and all. My loving friend mentally edited nonsense words and made sense out of it all. Later, when I re-read the message, I laughed about it, till it struck me that that was actually a pretty profound thought.
We come through each trial as pure hold: HELD by Hands.
So often when we think about our faith being tested, we think that we have to have the right attitudes in the trials, think the right things, say the right things, pray the right prayers. Its all up to us. And if we get it right, God will help us come through.
While all along, we come through because we are HELD by His hands. The fires test and prove GOD’s ability to hold us and carry us through; His ability to work in us so that we come forth as gold.
From the moment the zygote formed
At the first shocked cry
Till the final breath and beyond
Waters swell, swirl and tug
Fires roar and rage
The prowling lion circles
My heart and my strength may fail me
But I am HELD
Carved in the palm of His hand
He has willed that I should not perish
So I am HELD
Though my grip may loosen
Though I can’t see the way before me
I am HELD
By the One for whom darkness is light
Who guides my faltering steps
Who shelters me when my wick is smouldering.
The fires lick away at His hands
Clenched over the precious treasure guarded within
The fires die out helpless
Unable to get the treasure within.
The waters pull at His hands
Seeking to pluck out the clinging wretch
But His grip never loosens
And the Wretch lands on the lofty rock perch.
His hands give strength to my fingers
As they lock with mine o’er the sword
The prowling lion lies conquered
At tiny command of the Lord.
Fear burns up
Leaving golden faith
Faith in the Hands of the One who carries me.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, Destroy.
Deu 33:27 ESV
I have engraved you
on the palms of My Hands …
Isa 49:16 ESV
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God …
Isa 43:2-3 ESV
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.
Psa 63:8 ESV
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
and the angel of His presence saved them;
in His love and in His pity he redeemed them;
He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Isa 63:9 ESV
Listen to me, …
who have been borne by Me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made,
and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
Isa 46:3-4 ESV
The stone’s been rolled over the tomb
Spices weighed out
Crushed with oil to make ointments
Silently bottled and stoppered
Hearts lightened as hands found work
The disciples wait, numb, heavy hearted
Fearing the knock on the door
Wanting to pick up the pieces
but they didn’t fit together at all
Memories lashed tearing strips of their souls
And thorns of shame accused them
Autumn had withered their fig leaves
leaving them unable to meet each other’s gaze.
A day of rest
The word mocked them
I’ll give you rest’
But He was laid in a tomb
There was no hand to lighten their pain
As I tried to think about what the disciples and the women followers of Jesus did on that night when Jesus was laid in the tomb, and the long Sabbath day they had to wait through, I became overwhelmed by heaviness and the pain of all who stood at dead-ends.
Jobs lost, relationships ended, loved ones laid in the grave… the blank wall and formless future meets their gaze. Bewildered, wondering why it was happening to them. How could there be a full stop, a shut door, when this is not how they had seen the road ahead?
Thankfully we stand on the other side of the Resurrection. Jesus is no longer in the tomb. But He is risen and sitting at the right hand of God the Father, with all power, all authority to fulfil every promise that God has ever made. He is the Word made Flesh.
So consider this promise that God made in Isaiah:
For Jehovah shall comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places;
and He will make her wilderness like Eden,
and her desert like the garden of Jehovah.
Joy and gladness shall be found in it,
thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
Isa 51:3 MKJV
Why are you cast down O my soul?
Why do you crouch in fear?
Why are you crushed by worry?
Hope thou in God.
When you cannot feel the ground beneath your feet,
And the waters swirl and tug at you,
He holds your head above the waters so you are not overwhelmed.
Why do you lie in the dust O my soul?
You are not abandoned!
You are not cut off!
Listen to the whisper of the Lover of your soul,
‘Arise my love, arise
The winter is past.’
Autumn fig leaves have turned to mulch.
In dark unseen places,
His unquenchable incorruptible life is stirring.
Hope thou in God
For He is the light of your countenance
And the sunshine of His love
Causes you to live again