Leisure Born in Stillness

Isaiah assures those seeking deliverance that God has delivered before, and He will deliver again. That brings a sweet stillness to my heart.

“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—
    all who seek the Lord!
Consider the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were mined.
Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor,
    and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.
Abraham was only one man when I called him.
    But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”

The Lord will comfort Israel again
    and have pity on her ruins.
Her desert will blossom like Eden,
    her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there.
    Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.

“Listen to me, my people.
    Hear me, Israel,
for my law will be proclaimed,
    and my justice will become a light to the nations.
My mercy and justice are coming soon.
    My salvation is on the way.
    My strong arm will bring justice to the nations.
All distant lands will look to me
    and wait in hope for my powerful arm.
Look up to the skies above,
    and gaze down on the earth below.
For the skies will disappear like smoke,
    and the earth will wear out like a piece of clothing.
The people of the earth will die like flies,
    but my salvation lasts forever.
    My righteous rule will never end!

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong,
    you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
    nor fear their insults.
For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
    The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
    My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”

(Isaiah 51:1-8 NLT)

We’ve all heard a pep talk that begins with, “Remember who you are! Remember where you’ve been…You’ve done it before, and you can do it again!!”

Isaiah is saying, “Remember Who God is! Remember what He has done! He’s done it before, and He will do it again!!” By reminding Israel of the Rock from which they are forged, he brings calm to their troubled hearts.

Isaiah knew the earth would wear out and the people would die. Christ knew the same. His righteousness lasts forever, and His salvation continues from generation to generation. If I really believe that, I can live my life in a different way. I can be still and recognize God.

January has been a time of stillness. Being still hasn’t been easy, but the results have been amazing. I have a new sense of direction that doesn’t involve a new plan, agenda, or project.

I’m not sure what’s in store for February, but I hope to carry the stillness of January into it. Isaiah reminds me that the world isn’t all there is, and I have a loving God watching over me. That helps me find peace in the chaos and do what God places in my path with a leisure born in stillness.

Stillness in a Busy World Photo Credit: Joan Jerkovich
Stillness in a Busy World
Photo Credit: Joan Jerkovich

Lord, Help My Time!!

There are many definitions for the verb help, but the words of Jesus in Acts 20:34-36 offer a beautiful explanation.

You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.” NASB

Webster defines help as: “to give assistance or support to, to make more pleasant or bearable, to be of use to, to further the advancement of, to change for the better, to refrain from, to keep from occurring, to restrain (oneself) from doing something, to serve with food or drink, to appropriate something for oneself, give assistance or support, to be of use or benefit.” God placed the word in my path today and reminded that there are many ways to help as I walk in His kingdom. 

Help can mean refraining from or restraining myself from doing something that will hurt me or others. It’s easier to jump in and save someone than to restrain myself when frustrated. It’s easier to give advice than refrain from talking and simply listen. It’s easier to appropriate something for myself rather than give it to others. I blame Satan when I just can’t help myself. The devil made me do it covers a multitude of sins:)

Mama used to say, “Lord! Help my time!!” when she was frustrated. She knew she needed help in restraining and refraining, so she said that instead of the more colorful expressions daddy used. I only heard mama curse once, and we all burst out laughing as she told a rude lady what she thought of the way she was behaving. It was a beautiful example of alliterating the letter b:) 

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.” NASBPsalm 46:1 is a favorite verse, so I had pens made for my middle school classroom with the verse inscribed on them. I figured if the students were going to steal my pens, I’d put a helpful verse on them. The students didn’t steal a single one, but I did give them all away:) I learned a great lesson in helping from those pens. God’s ways are much higher than mine.

Sometimes, helping is cleaning up messes I don’t want to clean up, and I thought of mama today when the girls and I went upstairs for lunch. Cookie had gotten into the garbage and spread it around the living room. If the girls hadn’t been with me, I would have used some of daddy’s expressions when I saw the chewed up dirty diaper. I went with, “Lord!! Help my time!!” instead. The lesson today was that others are watching when I help, so I need to make sure I help with a loving attitude. Living with dogs in the house is a challenge, but I know God will use them to teach me. I’m not sure at this point what those lessons might be. I did learn that loving, giving, and helping sometimes involve doing things that are not pleasant or comfortable, and it’s never fun to clean up messes, especially when I didn’t make them in the first place:)

Whether it’s restraining, refraining, not helping myself to what isn’t mine, or loving and giving to others as He desires, God is faithful to teach me how to help as He desires. I’m learning to listen and not question; but when Cookie started barking and woke Lillyann from her nap, I’m afraid I did whisper one of daddy’s words when I went up to tell him to be quiet. I never said I was a saint:)

All I can say is that Cookie better be glad he’s adorable:)

Cookie & Lilly

On The Way Up:)

I love the Psalms of Ascent, and Psalm 121 is especially dear to me.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever. NASB

I love to look at the mountains as I pray. Unlike the ocean, they do not move. I like that about them and could stand and stare at them forever. They are one of the few things that cause me to stop and be still:) My strength does come from God, and the mountains remind me of His majesty. This beautiful psalm reminds me of Who God Is. Asleep or awake, day or night, sun or shade, going out or coming in, God is there protecting and loving me forever. What blessed assurance of His sweet presence!

The mountains I love so very much will eventually wear away, but God always has been, is, and always will be the same. My faith falters, and my obedience is inconsistent; but God is faithful and patient. I beat myself up when I get off course because I waste precious time that could be spent with Him if I stay down when I stumble.

I will stumble and fall as long as I am living. It keeps me humble and reminds me I am human. Lillyann insists on pretending she is a puppy, and crawls all around the house. Her poor knees bear the bruises of her imagination. My heart bears the same skins and scrapes when I insist on my way instead of yielding to His.

I am so thankful God loves me and tends to my heart just as my mama tended to my many bangs and bruises. As I told Lillyann today that her poor knees couldn’t take much more abuse, I thought of my own heart and the punishment I put it through as I insist on my own way. God bid me to treat it with the same care He does and asked that I stop putting it in harm’s way. Hearts and knees deserve loving care; Lillyann and I both need to remember that.

I’ve been sleeping on the floor for two weeks as I’ve waited for the wonderful new mattress I ordered. I found out yesterday that it’s been ready for for me to pick it up for three weeks now. God made it clear that He has provided a new home, new furniture, and a great mattress, but I am still sleeping on the floor. I’m also still settling for less than He desires when it comes to my heart. God provides abundantly, but my stubborn insistence on my way keeps me from experiencing all He has for me.

The Psalms of Ascent are about moving up an drawing near to God, but I cannot move up to where He wants me to be as long as I’m satisfied where I am. Fear keeps me from ascending, and a lack of trust keeps me satisfied on the floor. I’m slowly learning to step out and up and put my trust in Him. Psalm 121 along with the amazing mountains I see at every window of the new home He has provided remind me that I am surrounded by hope and help:)