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You will neither have to leave in haste, nor will you make a frantic escape, for your God, Yahweh, will go before you. He will lead you each step and be your rearguard.
Isaiah 52:12
 

Isaiah 58:8 (NIV)

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

 

I mention often the struggle in walking alongside of others who are in a struggle. My hope in writing is to more clearly define what it means and looks like to walk as the one bearing the mark of freedom, hope, and joy! I can tell you it does not look like perfect words for every occasion, perfect execution of the presentation of the gospel, perfect knowing when to speak and be silent, or perfect waiting for the right timing and the Lord's plan. It does look like taking the steps of a child into an unknown, knowing you are fully loved, protected and covered by the arms of a loving, safe, and reliable Father. It is stepping out in faith with the limits of loving and living in an imperfect body with many unseen obstacles. It is experiencing again and again that the road rises up to meet each step, the bottom comes with a way out, and an unshakeable hope rises from barren places of great despair. 

I can say this from the view of time and experience, as the one taking the unknown road, the mother walking with her children through new stages, the wife learning to walk in synchronicity with her husband in living, parenting and ministry, the friend lifting up the unimaginable in prayer, and as the daughter of Sarah walking alongside of Hagar to declare to her that she does not have to remain in slavery to sin and death and that although the way to freedom comes with pain, struggle and perseverance...it does come! I have experienced the light and healing and breaking of sin and death in my life, the cover of protection when stepping out and awkwardly addressing a hurt or a wrong, the breaking of barriers in unashamedly worshipping alone and with others. I have experienced being used to encourage, to carry, to speak, to hold, to love, and to see even through my own seasons of struggle, discomfort and regret. I am seeing the fruit of sowing seeds of love and relationship that multiply over time and under the care of the Master Gardener. I understand that the limits I see in front of me are usually only temporary to guide and protect, and that growth happens every time I say yes to the nudge of His Spirit. I am being cultivated into a grower of freedom and hope, a procuerer of treasure hidden in the darkness and a connector in His Body. 

I believe you too are called to bear the mark of freedom, hope and joy! I believe you too will experience the glory of the Lord as your rear guard as good, desirable and faithful! 

I believe that as you learn the way of walking in Freedom you will prepare the road for many to come after you!

Ephesians 3:16-19  (TPT)

16 And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.

17 Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.

18–19 Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude[a] of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!

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Psalm 62:5-7 (TPT)

I am standing in absolute stillness, silent before the one I love,
waiting as long as it takes for him to rescue me.
Only God is my Savior, and he will not fail me.
For he alone is my safe place.
His wrap-around presence always protects me
as my champion defender.
There’s no risk of failure with God!
So why would I let worry paralyze me,
even when troubles multiply around me?
God’s glory is all around me!
His wrap-around presence is all I need,
for the Lord is my Savior, my hero, and my life-giving strength.

 

This week has brought me back again to the very simple place of being loved by my heavenly Father.  I find I come back to "His wrap-around presence" when my heart is crushed by a disappointment, a loss, an unanswered request, a broken trust, an unspoken fear.  The hurt I feel the deepest surfaces when walking with a woman who has come into my path to share her hurt and need and I so desperately want to meet it; but I am helpless to choose the path and response she has to the offers and opportunity for a safe place and support.  I so quickly begin to expect my way and what I think is best for her to come to pass but often must only offer, pray and wait.  My job is to share the heart and love of Jesus and to embody this safe place of trust and rest.  I run back to His presence with questions, fears and anger and find myself in silence, resting in His presence with the assurance that He is at work; that He has a plan; that He is "all I need."

I desperately want the one He has brought to my path to know this and experience this as well but it cannot be forced, it is not mine to choose the how and the when, nor the response.  The discouragement of seeing someone continually go back to what appears to be hurtul, unredeemed and abusive melts away in His presence when His heart beats with mine in compassion, love and anguish over how we run from Him, push Him away and try so desperately to do things on our own. His love overshadows me, His promises that all injustice, violence and evil are no match to His love, mercy and grace and that just as He pursued me over years and through hard soil so He will do for each one. He gives me the strength and courage to press in to ask again for the life of the one in front of me; to hear the story of devastation and loss and to listen for His leading and timing in my part. He gives me the assurance that standing in my place, sharing His love and choosing to trust is not failure even when it feels like I have not done enough.

 

May you believe along with me and know for yourself that.

The Lord is my Savior, my hero, and my life-giving strength.

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Isaiah 41:9-10 (CJB)

I have taken you from the ends of the earth,
summoned you from its most distant parts
and said to you, ‘You are my servant’ —
I have chosen you, not rejected you.
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you;
don’t be distressed, for I am your God.
I give you strength, I give you help,
I support you with my victorious right hand.

 

I have come to recognize the value, beauty and sacredness of each woman's story.  In fact, the more dishonoring and riddled with pain and trauma the more I have come to hold that story as sacred and to be guarded with great care.  

Each story is unique and it is tempting to keep them, to hold onto them and to exploit them to elicit a response of support, sympathy or shock from anyone who will listen.  The gift of stepping for a moment or season into their world, their heart, their mind is a gift.  Initially, compassion in response to story moves many of us to action.  We learn the art of receiving the story and holding ourselves as available and willing listeners willing to step into their pain for a moment.  The key then becomes knowing what to do with the story and how to let it go. 

We now have an obligation to not join in the exploitation, dishonoring or glorifying of the evil that threads through her story and brought her to our door.

We need to learn to let her decide and choose when and where that story is shared and used and help build in boundaries and protections for ourselves, each other and each woman.

We have to learn from the moment our heart is captured by the need to save, to fix or to bind up that we too are bound by the line of self and other. The Holy Spirit does not go where we have said no or push us before we are ready.  In the same way we, armed with our sense of self-righteousness and justice, must not go beyond the boundaries set, or it is us accomplishing, us overtaking, or us using her story against her.

Ultimately, when we are given the privilege of entering into another person's story we must hold it loosely and learn to let go because He will not.  For every broken, crushed and forgotten one their is a Savior who is unrelenting, unyielding in His love and will remain on guard to the end of every story.

May you learn the art of letting go!  May you entrust the sacred story to His hands and care! 

May you be freed to receive and to give back, to offer the kind of love you too have been offered!

 

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2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

There have been many times, in moments of self-reflection, when I have realized how inadequate and unprepared I have so often felt concerning the call to love those in front of me. 

I think of my early experiences, namely working with adjudicated youth in an outdoor therapeutic wilderness program, in Alabama only armed with some head knowledge, minimal life experience and a recent broken engagement BUT also with a foundation of the saving knowledge of Jesus and His call and value for me.  As I was fighting on the outside to do my job to lead, care for and guide the young girls in my care, my heart was challenged to be led by love by the Lord's Spirit and not merely through the academic, programmatic and secular lenses that I had been taught.  I think of how much I did not know, how much I did not understand of the trauma I was facing, or how much of the lies of the enemy were keeping me bound from fully entering into the spiritual warfare obstructing the path to hope and healing...YET the Lord had me there then not today He knew me beforehand, the struggle I was in, and the hurt and pain of each girl...I was in the right place at the right time and though I did not have the 20 plus years’ experience and understanding of trauma, healing and the spiritual dynamics; I had a youthful zeal and a heart of compassion that moved me to action, to say yes to where Jesus called me. 

In my reflection I recognize how I was asked to love to the best of my ability through my own layers of emotional struggle, self-protection and ignorance. I learned to love by desiring something better, desiring healing, and desiring hope.  I have since learned and share with others the simple truth that the work of care giving, mothering and fathering, walking alongside...that each woman is an appointment and the right place at the right time for her and for me.  I do not know that my knowledge, skill, or understanding make a differnece but I know that God’s love at work through me was and is making an eterenal difference.  I have continued to face the inadequacy I feel with each challenge but my trust and faith is not in my skill, ability or understanding but truly in Christ alone. 

 

1 Peter 4:10-12 (TPT)

10 Every believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another as faithful stewards of the many-colored tapestry of God’s grace.

11 For example, if you have a speaking gift, speak as though God were speaking his words through you. If you have the gift of serving, do it passionately with the strength God gives you, so that in everything God alone will be glorified through Jesus Christ. For to him belong the power and the glory forever throughout all ages! Amen.

 

AdobeStock 214668381transition

noun

  1. Change from one form, state, style, or place to another.
  2. a. Change from one subject to another in discourse.
    b. A word, phrase, sentence, or series of sentences connecting one part of a discourse to another.
  3. Music
    a. Change from one key or tonality to another.
    b. A passage connecting two themes or sections, usually changing to a new key or tonality.
  4. Genetics A point mutation in which a pyrimidine is replaced by another pyrimidine, or a purine is replaced by another purine.
  5. Sports The process of changing from defense to offense or offense to defense without a stoppage in play, as in basketball or hockey.
  6. A period during childbirth that precedes the expulsive phase of labor, characterized by strong uterine contractions and nearly complete cervical dilation.

It seems the more experience I have, and the more self aware I am of my internal state and the corresponding external actions, the more I recoginize how frequently I am reacting to and anticipating change. The actual change seems irrelevant:  a woman moving in, a woman moving out, routine change from school to summer days, work role and responsibilities, co-worker coming or going, a suddenly in someone's life ... the list goes on. My internal markers: heightened frustration, restlessness, irritability, removing opportunities for connection...my protections when I start to "move from defense to offense or offense to defense."  However, the reality is that my responses come from one side yet no one experiences transition and change in isolation. It works best when I take these internal markers of coming change and begin to include others.  Ask the hard questions about what's next. Have a direct conversation about how I feel and what I am anticipating, and really slow down to listen internally and externally. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in me and in the others involved, and choose to trust that change can be experienced as good, positive and life giving.  Choose to believe that transition can be used for building bridges where needed and removing old paths that are no longer fruitful. 

We walk through constant change and transition...internally, externally, phsycially, emotionally and spiritually, and every change, every transition is an opportunity to put trust and faith into action.  It always circles back to what am I willing to put into practice that I promote, champion and teach to othersWill I allow change to move me from one place to another?  Will I stop and listen to the leading of the Spirit for my position in offense or defense?  Will I join into this transition and see it as a connecting point rather than an uncontrollable, unavoidable obstacle?

Daniel 2:20-22 (CJB)

20 in these words:

“Blessed be the name of God
from eternity past to eternity future!
For wisdom and power are his alone;
21 he brings the changes of seasons and times;
he installs and deposes kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those with discernment.
22 He reveals deep and secret things;
he knows what lies in the darkness;
and light dwells with him.

May you trust in the wisdom from God!  May you have discernment when the signs of change are ahead! 

May you be able to be still and quiet in order to receive the deep and secret things!