The Stillness of the first Snow
ushers in the Pause,
The Pause of Advent,
When waiting hovers all around
And Mystery calls out to me.
And the Ancient Words
flutter down through time,
words we memorize as children
become so familiar
that we miss the meaning
lose the mystery.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'”Luke 2:8-11 NIV
I wonder how dark the night was as they watched their sheep. The darkness seems very deep around my soul, around the souls of many that I love right now.
Who is keeping watch?
Who is guarding the sheep this night?
I have a feeling that no amount of training could have prepared them for the explosion of mystery that rang around them and brought them to their knees on THAT NIGHT.
Who was watching the sheep then?
And where was BRAVE when the sky fell down around them?
My heart is heavy
for those who watch the sky falling
and find their faces on the ground.
My heart is heavy
From the overshadowing
glory falling all around
Answers to my desperate cries for mercy.
My heart now beats akin with shepherds
The angel’s first words make so much more sense to me now. Unless the sky has fallen around you, you cannot feel the weight of those words:
“Do not be afraid”
And unless you have felt the weight being lifted off your shoulders as the Mystery of God Coming to Earth envelops you, you cannot see the beauty:
Grace in a Shepherd, Mercy for the sheep.
(This poetry was edited from my earlier post in 2016.)
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:7, 9-10
As my husband trusted His Good Shepherd’s leading and took an early retirement last month, I too have heard my Great Shepherd’s asking for my bowing down. Here in this place of mystery, we both have heard His call yet again.
Throughout this past year as I’ve shared Our Story, I’ve seen the parallels between then and now. Coincidence? Hardly. Our Shepherd knows the need of His sheep so much better than we know ourselves.
Only He could have planned that at the time of sharing this last chapter of Our Story, He would be asking us to follow Him by laying it all down once more for the next chapter of His NEW Story.
My heart has been so blessed to walk with you my friends over these past 6 years of blogging. I cannot express the MERCY that I see, the miracle that this writing has been. For every post I’ve written, either here or at other sites where I have been blessed to share, I know that only God’s mercy has given me words.
I have seen Him begin to transform my heart that had wanted to minimize, that wanted to hurry to the next task, now to be slowed to pause and watch His wonder unfold. While change never came easily for me, I was also the one eager to just “get it finished” once it had begun.
But through the prompting of such a merciful Savior, and through the love of so many new friends here, God has uncovered a longing to see His beauty unfolding through the very trials that also brought pain. Thank you dear friends for being such gifts as you’ve encouraged and prayed for me.
At the end of this month’s final chapter, I would love to pray with you before I pause my writing. I will keep my site open, but I will not be adding any new posts unless specifically directed by the Lord. For now He is calling me to love and walk with my husband and family through this next uncharted territory.
Even as my #Oneword for this past year expressed, He is still calling me to Come with Him.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.Revelation 22:17
Chapter 11. ~~2014 Onward~~
If you have missed any of the previous chapters in the book, Our Story, A Ministry of Abiding, click here to catch up.
After walking those halls of forgiveness in 2014, it was only a few weeks later when the Lord actually led us out of that church. We thought we would find another church, but we didn’t realize that my chronic illness diagnosis was about to change everything.
It’s been over 7 years now, and my physical state has kept me mostly housebound. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Osteoporosis, and Sjogren’s Syndrome are just a few of the diseases I have been walking through.
And then a year ago my husband was diagnosed with a terminal heart failure disease, Cardiac Amyloidosis. While a double Stent procedure, and a heart valve replacement improved his quality of life, it wasn’t easy to hear last year that patients with his disease do not live longer than 6 years.
And yet, we know that only God holds the number of our days. He has been and will continue to be so faithful in every place He has called us.
Not long after my diagnosis, I heard God speaking something very specific to me as I felt defeated in my prayers for ones that I dearly loved. “Come up here with me, above the fray. Watch me fight the battles now.” For years, it seemed that I had been on the front lines, joining in the battle with the Lord. My intercessions were hidden, but I felt that I was in hand-to-hand combat, fighting the lies of the enemy for those that I loved. But God was bringing home to me the meaning of that verse I had prayed over for so long: HIS yoke is easy, when we allow Him to carry the heavy part.
When we recognize that the battle belongs to the Lord, there is a great wonder to know that we are joined with Him in the Heavenly places. We are filled with great delight as the Lord allows us to share HIS heart for those He loves.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.John 15:5 NKJV
So what of those long years of ministry? In and out, back and forth–was there any value in it? Or are we forever marked by our “failed ministries” just as many of my Doctors have seemed to mark me by my host of “failed medications?”
NO, most emphatically NO! Our Lord is so involved in every surrender, every giving of our hearts, and every step of obedience to His call. He is weaving together the failures, the victories, the working and the resting, all to bring us deeper together with HIM and His own body.
These memories are not just stored in the past. No, they are the eternal prayers of a heart abiding in the Vine. Whenever we have lifted our hearts to Him, to offer the incense of our prayers before the Lord, our cries have become joined with the eternal. He sees every moment of sharing His love as such a joy.
We have found that true ministry is being the friend of the bridegroom as John the Baptist expressed. Yes, personally, we are the bride, and He is the bridegroom. But whenever we enter into the ministry He has planned for us, we become that friend who attends the bridegroom.
There is a place of abiding for those of us who join Him in the work that He is already doing, calling for His bride. And there is reserved for those who wait at the doorway, attending and listening for His instructions, a fullness of joy when we hear His voice loving His people.
The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now completeJohn 3:29 NIV
May God bless these words given here, and may His Spirit bring about HIS harvest of true ministry into each soul who reads and listens.
The Children Dance
The children danced and the little ones sang
As the older ones looked on in joy
That’s my son up there! That’s my girl!
The Mama hearts beamed, the Papa hearts rang.
And I felt the joy of both, perched in between
A Mama myself, and the teacher too
Those are my babies up there! Those are my kids!
The teacher’s heart glowed, with a golden sheen.
But God called us out, away from that place
My Mama heart gathered, teacher’s heart cried
There go my babies! Here come my kids
A pain lodged deep while beginning the chase
Starting over, beginning again, cycle repeating
The children danced and the little ones sang
There go the babies! Here come my kids
A shift and a wall were so slightly beginning.
Better hold onto my heart, keep it apart
Never know when the leaving might come
Never know how the serving may end
Never know if the hurting might hit my heart.
The children danced, and the little ones sang
But the joining and caring became surrender
The pouring of my heart felt like bleeding
I knew what was coming, the bell always rang.
Over and over my fault or theirs, we never knew
Because God called us out, pulled up the stakes
Sent our hearts reeling, longing for home
Pausing for just a glimpse of sweet dew
Until the song changed and the dancing was stilled.
The aches were brought forward, one by one
When the finger of God lifted the veil
Come up here with me, His song my soul filled.
He touched the wound around my heart’s rim
The places I longed for those souls I still loved
Where I thought I had kept myself held apart
The bleeding had only joined me with HIM.
The children dance, and the little ones sing
And the Father who loves each one as His own
That’s my son up there! There goes my girl!
He waits for the day when the trumpet will ring
All bleeding finished, all aching done
When the Father’s longings are all fulfilled
For all of the praying and searching and serving
Finally captured all love will be won.
Dear Lord Jesus,
We are so grateful for the blessing of hearing Your voice as You have called us to come. Your voice has gone out into the whole world, because You have such love for each one. Oh may You show us the joy of Abiding in You, of listening at the doorway as You call more sons and daughters home.
Thank You for the mercy You have showered over me as You’ve asked me to open my heart, to stop minimizing, and to let You transform my stubborn heart. I am overwhelmed at the grace that has rained down over me in this place of writing and listening. Will You bless each one who has blessed me over all these years? Will You allow us to taste the fruit of this Abiding together in YOU?
Oh Lord, I ask You to open our eyes to the wonder of Your coming, to the mystery of Your Advent, and to the beauty of Your presence among us. And I pray that we all will lift our hearts to You in the eagerness of waiting for Your Second Coming, as we love You and praise You together. Even so, Lord Jesus come.
In Your precious name we pray,