There is a Plan

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Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind: “Does God even know I am here?”  “Does He care about me, little me?”

The great news is that He does know and He caresall about youall about me.  And I am not little in His mind.  I am His.  That is what matters.  I am so very grateful.  I love the Lord and cling to Him even closer right now in these days of grief.

Scripture is so reassuring.  I read Joshua 1:9 often.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Such an encouraging word to my heart, my whole being.

I read Isaiah 54:5 every morning since losing my earthly husband on June 7th:

For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is His name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth He is called.

I am a widow on earth but have a Husband to provide for, love, support me in all ways.  Amen. 

So when I question God, which I do, He reminds me that He knows everything that I am going through, everything that I need, everything about me.  I cling to Jeremiah 29:11 for this verse draws me close to the One Who has a plan for my life, whatever time remains for me here.  I want to be obedient for this period of life.  I want to carry whatever cross I have to bear with the dignity that will be an open door to others in following Christ.  I want others to see Christ in me so they see Him first.  Jesus is such a beautiful gift to me and I desire that others will have this gift too.  Use me, Lord, for Your glory.  

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ESV

jeremiah-29-11

מַחֲשָׁבָה

machashabah

a texture, machine, or (abstractly) intention, plan (whether bad, a plot; or good, advice):—cunning (work), curious work, device(-sed), imagination, invented, means, purpose, thought

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ NASB

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” NIV

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. KJV

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of shalom, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. HNV

The plan God has for me is the perfect plan for the life I am to live.  I do not know exactly what that looks like right now, but I do know that He has one.  He had this plan from before the very beginning of my life.  Psalm 139 speaks so clearly of this beautiful promise:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to You;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with You….23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

I praise You, Father, from morning until night.  You are my God and know me perfectly.  I ask Your forgiveness for the many times I have failed You.  I repent from the ways that are not, were not, in Your plan.  You guide me.  You change me.  You love me always.  I ask You to walk ever closer to me, guarding my heart, guiding my steps.  I praise You, Lord.  In Christ, I lost the old Linda and was born anew.  In You, I have life.  I pray in the Holy Name of Jesus.  Amen.

I am forever…

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Woman at Sunset: http://www.beliefnet.com/entertainment/galleries/does-god-really-want-to-know-me.aspx?p=3

 

 

 

 

 

God is My Fortress

Sarzana-citadel-fortress

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;**

Fortress

מָצוּד

matsuwd

a castle, defense, fort(-ress), (strong) hold, be hunted, net, snare, strong place

(And just for clarity, the word bulwark means a defensive wall, rampart, fortification
a person, institution, or principle that acts as a defense.)

God is my Fortress.  He is the place I run to and take refuge.  He is the fortification, the wall, the stronghold behind which I crouch and know I am protected.  He is the One Who places me in the cleft of the rock where I am sheltered.  Praise Him for tucking me into a safe place no matter what I am going through or feeling.  Right now, He is my safety net.  He is the wall behind which I hide.  Thank You, my Father, for You are so much more than I could imagine.  Thank You for protecting me and caring about and for me as I walk through this valley of the shadow of death.  Oh, thank You, Lord for protecting me. 

1 And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said,
“The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer,
3 my God, my Rock, in whom I take refuge,
my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation,
my Stronghold and my Refuge,
my Savior; you save me from violence.
4 I call upon the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.   2 Samuel 22:1-4

God is all of those to me too.  David has given me a place to see just how mighty our God truly is.  The Rock, Shield, Stronghold, Fortress…all depicting strength and power and security.  This is the God Whom I walk with daily.  I feel His sheltering Presence all around me.  Oh, how wonderful!

For You are my Rock and my Fortress;
and for Your name’s sake You lead me and guide me.  Psalm 31:3

psalms-59-16

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My Refuge and my Fortress,
my God, in Whom I trust.”  Psalm 91:1-2

Lord, as I walk this journey, so much of it I must walk alone for grief is different for each one of us.  There are pieces and parts that may be similar, yet never quite the same whether it is the time, the circumstances, the way one died…so many factors.  BUT…I am never really alone for You are with me…always.  You guide me and comfort me, love me and hold me.  You are the fortress to which I come and find safety.  The world cannot touch me when I abide in You for the walls of the Fortress are deep and wide.  Walking obediently in You shelters me too.  O Lord, I am so blessed.  Yet, this road I am on is so hard, so difficult.  I miss Kenneth so.  He loved me like no one else.  Yes, Mom loved me dearly.  A mother’s love is so different than a husband’s love though.  So I sense I would be comparing apples to oranges if I were to compare my mother’s love to my husband’s.  Kenneth and I had a marriage with You, Christ Jesus, our Center.  You never left us.  Thank You, Father. 

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Although that threefold cord feels broken to me now, I do not believe it is.  Kenneth has gone on ahead of me, as he told me near the end of his life on earth.  I do not know anything about life after death, but I sense that this God-given marriage is still that…given to me, to us, by You, God.  Of course, I still miss my Kenneth.  I know now that he was on loan to me for 25 years for which I am so grateful.  His time to return Home came.  Now I am learning to walk this path with You, Lord, and without Kenneth.  Sometimes I have doubts and fears.  Then You remind me of the Mighty Fortress that You are.  I stand inside the walls and know that I am safe and protected.  I am filled with gratitude for Who You are.  I pray in the Name of Christ Jesus.  Amen.  

bwturq sig

 

 

“Sarzana citadel fortress”:  https://www.cepolina.com/Sarzana-citadel-fortress.html

** “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”  Text: Martin Luther Trans. by Frederick H. Hedge
Music: Martin Luther Harmony from The New Hymnal for American Youth
Tune: EIN’ FESTE BURG

Psalm 59:16 – https://dailyverses.net/psalms/59/16

Christ-Centered Marriage photo: https://quotesgram.com/christ-centered-marriage-quotes/

Joy Abounds? Seriously?

Oil of Joy by Stacy Lee Christian Art

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3

On my recent visit with my sisters, the one I spent the most time with noticed something about me that surprised her, I believe.  She was amazed and delighted to see me with “joy” exuding from my very being.  She used the word “joy” with a sweet happiness on her face. She mentioned it again on the phone this past weekend.

The question is: how can I be exuding joy when I am in the midst of mourning my precious husband?  How can this be? My heart hurts.  It is heavy, filled with sorrow.  The tears come and they go, but they are always right there, ready to leak out.

I have been pondering all of this and believe I know what Annette is seeing, sensing, feeling in and about me.  It is the joy of the Lord It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in me.  It is the joy of the Lord as my strength.  This is the only answer.  Truly, it is!

…yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places.  Habakkuk 3:18-19

שָׂשׂוֹן

sasown

cheerfulness; specifically, welcome:—gladness, joy, mirth, rejoicing

Matthew Henry, in his Commentary writes about Isaiah 61:3

  • Beauty for ashes. Whereas they lay in ashes, as was usual in times of great mourning, they shall not only be raised out of their dust, but made to look pleasant. Note, The holy cheerfulness of Christians is their beauty and a great ornament to their profession.
    • (Me: As God changes the ashes to beauty, He turns sorrow into joy quickly for He speaks, and it is done.  Kenneth has been gone almost 3 months now [amazing for it seems like yesterday].  Annette not only saw this joy in me a few weeks ago, but she heard it over the phone within the first month after Kenneth died.)

isaiah_61_3 1

  • (Matthew Henry):The oil of joy, which make the face to shine, instead of mourning, which disfigures the countenance and makes it unlovely. This oil of joy the saints have from that oil of gladness with which Christ himself was anointed above his fellows,

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”  Hebrews 1:9

oil-of-joy-title

  • (Matthew Henry):  The garments of praise, such beautiful garments as were worn on thanksgiving-days, instead of the spirit of heaviness, dimness, or contraction-open joys for secret mournings. The spirit of heaviness they keep to themselves (Zion’s mourners weep in secret); but the joy they are recompensed with they are clothed with as with a garment in the eye of others. Observe, Where God gives the oil of joy he gives the garment of praise. Those comforts which come from God dispose the heart to, and enlarge the heart in, thanksgivings to God. Whatever we have the joy of God must have the praise and glory of.

garment-of-praise

…looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.   Hebrews 12:2 

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:9-11

“…may be full” … filled with Him.  What greater joy can there be but the joy of the LORD, the One Who went to the cross for us, to save us, to suffer for us.  He was the joy that was set before Him as He endured the cross.  We ask how?  How did He have joy as He died on the cross, the torturous death which it was?  How?  He is joy.  He endured the cross because He loved us each and all so very much.  The cross was horrible, but the purpose for which He endured that cross outweighed the horribleness of it.  It was the reason He came to earth as a human.  He came to take our sin to that cross and gave us eternal life. Joy is beautiful.  Joy is full.

As I was reading a devotional this morning in Psalm 34, I read verse 5.  It said it all:

Those who look to Him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.  ESV

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  NLT

Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  NIV

They looked expectingly unto Him, And they became bright, And their faces are not ashamed.  YLT

psalm_34_4-5_3x5So I ask how can I look like joy on the outside when my heart is broken and so filled with sorrow?  Jesus.  I have Jesus.  He is my joy.  I can live each day because I have Jesus.  I am mourning, and I am comforted.  I am mourning and am filled with the love of God.  I am mourning and am filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord.

joy of the Lord

…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10b

beauty-for-ashes1

Lord, I am truly in awe of Your beauty.  You have so much love for me, Your sheep.  I fail You again and again, yet You never cease to love me.  Thank You, Lord; thank You.  You hold me near as I can feel You right here.  You fill me with unimaginable joy and love in the very midst of grief.  How wonderful You are.  Great is Your faithfulness.  You comfort me with Your touch, Your nearness, Your gentleness.  You change my ashes of sorrow to beauty.  You clothe me in garments of praise, taking the spirit of heaviness away.  And You drench me in the oil of joy while I mourn.  Joy, praise, and beauty that are each and all You projecting from me out into this world.  Thank You for such wonderful gifts, Lord.  I am on my knees before You, loving You.  I pray and I praise in the Name of all names, Christ Jesus.  Amen. 

 

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Credits:

Isaiah 61:3/Joy:  http://stacyleeart.blogspot.com/2009/04/christian-contemporary-art-series-on.html

Beauty for Ashes: https://brandinicolejm.wordpress.com/

Oil of Joy: http://belovedlove.org/

Garments of Praise: https://becomingtheoilandwine.com/2016/06/11/the-garment-of-praise/

Psalm 34:5: http://www.psalmsquotes.com/

Joy of the Lord: https://beingwoven27.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/2adff-joy2bof2bthe2blord.jpg

You Give Me Beauty:  https://mariekalake.com/2014/09/22/beauty-for-ashes/