God’s Peace is More

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.  John 20:19-20

εἰρήνη

eirēnē (Greek)

ā-rā’-nā

  • a state of national tranquillity
  • exemption from the rage and havoc of war
  • peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
  • security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
  • of the Messiah’s peace
  • the way that leads to peace (salvation)
  • of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
  • the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

Peace” in nearly every dialect of Aramaic is “Shlamah”.

In Jewish Aramaic,

   שלמה

Northwest Semitic: Ancient Aramaic:

ܫܠܡ

 

Hebrew:

שָׁלוֹם

shalowm

  • safe, i.e. (figuratively) well, happy, friendly
  • also (abstractly) welfare, i.e. health, prosperity, peace:—× do, familiar, × fare, favour, friend, × great, (good) health, (× perfect, such as be at) peace(-able, -ably), prosper(-ity, -ous), rest, safe(-ty), salute, welfare, (× all is, be) well, × wholly
  • completeness (in number)
  • safety, soundness (in body)
  • welfare, health, prosperity
  • peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
  • peace, friendship
  • of human relationships
  • with God especially in covenant relationship
  • peace (from war)

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When we think of peace, we usually limit the meaning to calm, tranquil, quiet, stillness of one’s soul.  Yet, in looking through the myriad of meanings, I am gaining a whole new perspective on what Jesus blesses us with when He says, “Peace be unto you.”  He wishes health and prosperity, happiness and harmony, rest and reconciliation, welfare and well-being, kindness, wholeness, friendliness, safety, just every type of good.  Every blessing which is of Christ is for us through Him.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

“When our LORD speaks peace, He creates peace, because the words that He speaks are always ‘spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63).  Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “…My peace I give to you…”—a peace that comes from looking into His face and fully understanding and receiving His quiet contentment.'”  Oswald Chambers *

…looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrew 12:2

Jesus walked in obedience to His Father.  He endured the worst possible path, yet rests duly by His Father, knowing the Peace, the Love, the Grace that can only come from the Father.

I reflect.  I see more clearly that obedience to my Father is my way to His Peace.  I may endure harsh realities or uncomfortable situations, but when walking with Jesus as He wills me to do, I am united with my LORD.  His gifts of simplicity, clarity, unity are born through the Holy Spirit and not through my desires.

 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.  Psalm 18:36

I have peace in my steps for I have confidence in the life I have with Christ.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

Then Israel shall dwell in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens shall also drop dew.  Deuteronomy 33:27-28

His arms hold me.  His support, comfort, strength, and provision are pieces of this peace that I am searching for.  My LORD is this peace in all ways.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.  Revelation 1:17-18

He touches me.  He tells me to not be afraid.  I can rest in Him for He is my Salvation, my assurance, and the tenderness that I seek.

Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,….
Isaiah 32:15-18

 

Oh, that I could live and walk in Your ways, O LORD.  But I am me.  I fail and fall.  I crumble under stress at times.  I belittle myself.  I am not perfect here upon this earth.  Yet my desire is to be obedient.  Holy Spirit, continually guide me in the ways that I should go.  Be near.  I want to know this peace that is You.

I pray peace for this world, for this country, Father.  We are so in need of Your peace now.  People are torn asunder by storms, war, fear, drugs, divorce, so many other reasons.  May we each and all walk in obedience to You, only You.  This seems like an impossible request, but nothing is impossible for You.  I ask You to turn all hearts to You.  One day soon, before it is too late, may Your peace rain upon us and reign in our hearts, my Father.  In the Name of the Prince of Peace, I pray.  Amen. 

 

*from 8/26 devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers

Resting – Sheep and Shepherds

sheep sleep

He makes me lie down in green pastures.  Psalm 23:2a

Sheep will lie down when they are:

  • free from fear
  • free from friction (within the flock)
  • free of pests (flies, parasites, etc.)
  • free from hunger

The shepherd makes it possible for sheep to lie down, to rest, to be quiet, content, and relaxed.

* Free from fear

Sheep are timid and can be panicked so very easily.  A jackrabbit can bound before a flock, sending them all into a stampede.  Most do not know what they are fleeing, but follow in fright.

  • Sheep are quieted and reassured when they actually see their shepherd, knowing he or she is near.

* Free from friction

Sheep, like most animals, have an order of dominance within the flock.  Shepherds call this the “butting order.”  This may bring tension, rivalry, conflict, even cruelty within the flock.  The sheep are always ready to defend their place in that order or against intruders.

  • The shepherd’s presence calms them.  They tend to forget their contests and discontent.  The less aggressive sheep will be more content as well as more restful and calm.  Sheep do not need to defend themselves when the shepherd is around.

* Free from pests

Sheep can be tormented by a number of insects and parasites.  It is virtually impossible for them to lie down and rest when this occurs.  They are shaking their heads, stamping around, always up on their feet.

  • A good shepherd is diligent to keep his flock free from these pests.  Insect repellents, dips, and other methods of care are most important to the sheep’s health.  The shepherd is in and among his flock, keeping a watchful eye for problems.  He wants to catch them early so as not to allow them to spread or cause serious disease in the flock.  He is there to provide relief.

* Free from hunger

Sheep will remain on their feet as long as they are hungry.  They are not content while they search for food.

  • David was a shepherd boy before he was a king.  He raised his father’s flocks in an arid, barren land.  Green pastures of rich foliage needed to be produced in such a place.  A shepherd works hard to clear land of rocks and brush.  The land is then plowed and prepared for seeds of grass, grain and legumes.  Watering the grasses is part of this preparation.  The sheep need to be moved from one pasture to another as they will eat the grasses down to stubble, even into the root, if left in one area for too long.  When sheep have this land of plenty, they flourish for they fill up quickly and then will lie down to rest and ruminate.

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How does our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, guide us into rest?

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

* Free from fear

We live in a world where anxiety, fear, and stress often knock upon our doors.  We can dwell upon these things or we can rest in the Lord.  When we are in the midst of those overwhelming feelings, it is truly hard to draw near to the One Who shepherds us.  We tend to run without knowing what we run from or stand still while shaking in our boots.   Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit Who reassures us that Christ is near, has all things under His control.  We do not need to do anything but rest in Him.

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7

“It is the special office work of God’s gracious Spirit to convey this sense of the Christ to our fearful hearts.  He comes quietly to reassure us that Christ Himself is aware of our dilemma and deeply involved in it with us.”  W. Phillip Keller

* Free from friction

We also can live in friction.  We struggle with competition, keeping up with our neighbors, jealousy, hatred, rivalry, covetousness, and discontent.  When we are near to our Shepherd, in prayer, in reading His Word, in communion, in love, His Presence takes the discontent, hatred, and all else away.  Abiding in the One Who is worthy to be praised removes those feelings because we are praising Him, loving Him, and walking with Him.

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.  But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  1 Timothy 6:3-7

And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

“It is the humble heart walking quietly and contentedly in the close and intimate companionship of Christ that is at rest, that can relax, simply glad to lie down and let the world go by.  When my eyes are on my Master they are not on those around me.  This is the place of peace.”   W. Phillip Keller

* Free from pests

We live with many small irritations, things that “bug” us.  They may include disagreements with family members or friends, frustrations in traffic or at work, irritations that keep us awake at night.  Our tendency is to hash and rehash things while they keep us restless.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:26-28

We have been given the Holy Spirit for intercession.  He is there for us.

“In Scripture He is often symbolized by oil — by that which brings healing and comfort and relief from harsh and abrasive aspects of life.  The gracious Holy Spirit makes real in me the very presence of Christ.  He brings quietness, serenity, strength and calmness in the face of frustrations and futility.”  W. Phillip Keller 

Resting in the Shepherd  by trusting Him with our cares and concerns is vital.

* Free from hunger

We have been given salvation and life in Christ.  He is our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd.  We have been given the gift to move from our sin into a life of overcoming victory.  Jesus desires a life of abundant joy and contentment for us if we will come to Him.  He will provide those green pastures.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:6

Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.”  John 6:35

“How He works to clear the life of rocks of stoney unbelief.  How He tries to tear out the roots of bitterness.  He attempts to break up the hard, proud human heart that is set like sun-dried clay.  He then sows the seed of His own precious Word, which, if given half a chance to grow, will produce rich crops of contentment and peace.  He waters this with the dews and rain of His own presence by the Holy Spirit.  He tends and cares and cultivates the life, longing to see it become rich and green and productive.”  W. Phillip Keller

Our Good Shepherd prepares and then leads us to the lush green pastures where we can feed on His Word and rest in Him.

Will we follow Him there?

Will we obey His lead?

Father, I pray that this is so.  I ask You to open our eyes to the One Who gave His life for us.  He is our Shepherd.  I pray that we will obediently follow Him to these beautiful pastures of His loving care.  I pray that we will feed upon Your Word ravenously.  I pray that we will know the feeling of fulfillment so that our time of rest is calm, peaceful, filled with contentment.  Thank You, Father, for the words and thoughts of Mr. Keller for he has taught beautifully while Your Word is a fountain of knowledge from You.  I am grateful for this pasture.  I lie in it more often than not.  May I call upon Your Holy Spirit when I stray, finding myself lost.  I want to lie in it always.  Thank You, Lord, for being my Shepherd.  Thank You for Your forgiveness.  You are Beautiful to me, Lord Jesus.  I pray in Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 bwdarkgreen sig

Photo 1:  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sheep+lie+down&view=detailv2&&id=9BC7072561ABB6981FAA1618A883ACE23BB9525E&selectedIndex=33&ccid=8gPrAn%2fY&simid=608030665586708327&thid=OIP.Mf203eb027fd81a768de47d6d20879251H0&ajaxhist=0

Photo 2: by Biegun Wschodni  https://unsplash.com/photos/vD3L-rN_qNw

and http://www.biegunwschodni.pl/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash

Quotes from A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm by W. Phillip Keller

W. Phillip Keller, author of A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, is due credit for the outline of this post. The 4 points of freedom are from this book.

Silence

winter-20248_960_720

For God alone my soul waits in silence;…  Psalm 62:1a

Silence
Still
Quiet

Falling Snow

Mourning Doves’ cooing

Hush
Peace

Recalling my mother’s delight

Stillness, silence allows thoughts to surface
to flow
love felt
peace envelop
joy encircle

The gifts of life have a chance to permeate
to exude

Silence often begins with seeing and hearing the world around me

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.  Revelation 8:1

Quietude
Stillness
Wordless
Peacefulness
Tranquility
Feeling the tenderness of His Love upon my heart
Words of His Word soak in, 
drawing meaning of what He means

His silence teaches me that I am to be silent

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

The LORD’s silence is not of this world.  
The world demands noise, talk, loudness, busy-ness, 
too much going IN 
with nothing of substance able to go OUT
too much world going IN
not enough of Him going IN
and nothing of Him going OUT

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; … Ecclesiastes 3:7b

Time, moments with Him in silence … 
necessary … in relationship.
Go with Him to pray
Be with Him to learn
Look at Him to reflect
Quietly, still, in silence
and I slow down whether the world around me does or not.

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.  Habakkuk 2:20

Father God, Your beauty surrounds me in the stillness, in the white.  The gentle touch, as of an angel’s wing, glides across my face, reminding me that You are here.  Father, I sense Your love in the silence, Your peace in the stillness.  How I love the breath of air in the silent, in this cold air.  It gives me hope, calm.  My breath is Your breath for You first breathed in me to give me life.  You first loved me to teach me love.  You are my first Love.  In this quiet, I sense You and know that You are near.  I draw near to You for Your Presence is so real, so lovely this day.  Your touch tenderly caresses my face, yet is silent.  Oh, how I love You, my LORD.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

beblacksig

 

Re-post with changes, additions, deletions

Photo: https://pixabay.com/en/winter-nature-season-trees-sky-20248/   by Larisa-K/Russia

Betwixt and Between

Betwixt and Between:

a midway position :  neither one thing nor the other

Thanksgiving is over.

Christmas is soon.

holly

A large Thanksgiving meal–prepared and eaten.  Giving thanks for the many blessings we have had throughout the year–a reminder that all throughout the year is time to be grateful.

Yes, yes, I’ll get back to that after Christmas.

When the meal is done and all have gone home, many pull out the decorations and begin to prepare for Christmas.  There are about four weeks to plan, shop, write and send cards, possibly travel, prepare another meal.  It feels hectic. It can be.

Wait…this season is beautiful.  It is filled with reminders: the coming birth of Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem in preparation for the census, a manger will hold the newborn Babe, a star directs shepherds to the Christ Child, the Holy One.

We should be aware and watching for the Star of Bethlehem, be traveling with Mary and Joseph, be there at the manger.

star

Why are we rushing to and fro in search of something material when the true Gift is coming right into our hearts?  Why are we so busy with things that are ‘expected’ yet may not be ‘necessary?’  Why are we not still, awaiting for the Savior to come?  Why are we not looking up?

I know, I know.  Christmas is when we gather and give.  Gift-giving may be to children and others.  There may be expressions of love.  Family and friends who have been apart for a long time may come together for the holiday.  I am not saying that this is all wrong.  But we need to slow down and look up.  We need to remember Who Christmas is about and what He means to us.  He came to save us from our sins, from ourselves.  He came to lay His life down for us…for me.  

     For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:11-14

Father in Heaven, forgive us for being so wrapped up by the world and all of the things of it.  Forgive us for forgetting Who You sent into this world for our salvation.  Forgive us for thinking that we understand what this beautiful Christmas season is all about when we often barely give Jesus a thought in the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  Father, I pray for the many who are so caught in the stuff of Christmas.  I pray that they will not miss another Christmas of You, of Jesus.  I pray that they will see all that they have been missing for far too many years.  I pray that the eyes and ears of our hearts be opened to the coming of Your Son, Your One and Only Gift.  May we stand before the manger in awe this Christmas and know that Your Love has come to us, come for us.  May we be still and quiet so we will know the Spirit of Christmas.  May our hearts be calm to hear Your Voice.  I pray that we will see Your perfect Gift.   May praises come forth from our lips and hearts; may our songs be filled with thanksgiving.  Father, I pray that we will not be standing betwixt nor between, but would stand strong with You and beside You.  I so pray this in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.     

bwdarkgreen sig

 

Caring for the Caregiver – Part 2

caringforcaregiver

One of the very first things a giver of care should think about doing for herself/himself is to find quiet … find the calm center of the storm, find peace in your mind and heart. Finding quiet is calming down, letting the mind focus on the Lord. Find a physical peaceful setting or find one in your mind. Get away to a quiet place even for an hour, go for a walk, sit-down for a time in the park or in a coffee shop, or soak in a hot bath. This usually means being alone for a time.

As we begin to quiet ourselves, we usually need to allow the voices, the day’s busy-ness, the stresses of the daily activity roll through our minds, our hearts, and then gradually let it slide away. When these things pop back up, let them go again. Rather than getting upset that we keep bringing the stresses back up, allow them there and then release them again, each time allowing it to remain for shorter periods. It will subside if we let it. Remember, these concerns, issues, words spoken, or words left unspoken, may be issues that have already been resolved, may be un-resolvable right now and need setting aside, or may not even be of our business! Listening and reviewing the day can allow us to step back, look at things from a different perspective, and take some or all of the emotion out of an issue. Then give these things to Jesus. He asks for them. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

During the quiet, take time to look at your personal needs. You may be a parent. You may be homeschooling your children. You may hold a full or part-time job. You may have more than one person you are taking care of. You may be married, single, divorced, going through problems in relationship. All kinds of personal concerns surround us. So time may be of the essence and you may think, “I don’t have time for me, Linda. I cannot even begin to do any more and now you want me to take care of myself.” Well, yes, I do. And I know it well. (When I moved Mama here from California, I worked full-time, had been married only 5 years so still felt like a newlywed! Mama needed help in so many ways. Besides her regular medications, the doctor placed her on insulin within the first year here. Her dementia worsened and giving herself insulin became a problem as she would forget or think she had already given herself the shot. I was running over to her place (in a senior residence) twice a day taking her blood sugar and then giving her a shot. My workplace was 12 miles away. My hours were odd two days a week so I had to teach my husband how to do this too. Bless his heart … imagine talking to your mother-in-law and reminding her to take her blood sugar and then measuring the insulin and handing her the syringe? Not easy, I know! My mother was rather strong headed, too! But it had to be done, and we did it and much, much more!

Well, back to our needs. Time or not, we must find some for our care or we cannot care for others. What do you do for yourself? What do you need for yourself? Do you eat nutritionally? Is there a way to do that better? Are you able to exercise? Can you make time to take a class of aerobics, yoga, Pilates, walk regularly…the type that would make you feel better after it was over? You don’t need more stress and taking a class that you feel is a “should” will not be a help to you. Can you watch a video of yoga or stretching at home to help you relax some? Do you have time for family, for friends? How can you make quality time with the people you love and who love you and care about you? Are there hobbies that help you relax … reading, crocheting, quilting, baking, taking a Bible study? What do you enjoy … riding your bicycle, walking on the beach, visiting others, …? And the most important piece of this pie is to spend time with the LORD…sitting at His feet. You don’t have to talk with Him or do anything in particular. Just sit at His feet. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

Setting time for enjoyable, relaxing treats is so key to a caregiver’s well-being. Caring for another can zap all of your energy, leaving you lifeless. If we are good at caring for others then we surely must learn to care for ourselves. Begin by making an appointment with yourself, spending time writing down those things that are important to you for your well-being. Once a list is in print, prioritize them either by most important to least, or by the amount of time it takes to do each, or how often you would want to do each. Begin doing one thing on your list. Calendar things in daily, weekly, monthly … make it work for you. If you cannot do anything every day, then begin with weekly or every other day. Gradually, work the most important things into your world so you will feel better. And when you cannot do something, please, PLEASE, do not feel guilty. Guilt is the last thing you need.

You are important! YES! You are IMPORTANT! And caring for yourself is a part of caregiving for others that gets neglected far too easily. How can we be wholly there for others when we can barely be there for ourselves? Take time to begin. Just begin!

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,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  Isaiah 43:2-3a

God tells His people that He will be with us as we walk through the fires of life.  Fires burn, but they also purify, refine.  Caregiving is not easy.  In fact, it is painfully difficult at times, and exhausting.  Yet, He is with us and will not let the fires consume us.  The waters will not drown us.
Father, hear our prayers. We need You and want You in these times of giving care to others. Father, You are our Shepherd and LORD.  Give us the abilities needed for the task. Fill our hearts with Your love so that we may care for those You love, for those who need help, who are unable to do for themselves any longer.  Father, guide us in ways to care for ourselves that we would be more able to be the caregiver whom You have called … able to be patient, loving, kind, gentle, and joyful too. May Your fruits of the Spirit shine through us in all that we are and do for others. Father, give us calm and peace, and may we be the Christ in the eyes of these precious ones of Yours.  In Jesus’ Name we pray and we love.  Amen.

 

beblacksig

Caring for the Caregiver – Part 1

caringforcaregiver

Caregiver:  the definition of a giver of care is a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child, or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.  The description of a giver of care who works 24/7 can be joyful, weary, tired, delighted, exhausted, angry, frustrated, energetic, impatient, alienated, lonely, depressed, etc., etc., etc.! Does any of this fit you?

Let’s turn the tables and take a look at taking care of ourselves. This is a key component to caregiving.  A KEY!  The care of the caregiver is vital to the health and welfare of the one who receives the care.  If the caregiver is so rundown that she/he has no energy for the day’s work, she/he cannot give the necessary care in the manner in which it ought to be given. As caregivers, we are usually trying to understand the needs of the person we care for with a desire to do some of this precious care right so as not to confuse, frustrate, or further anger our charge. We desire their days to be pleasant. We also want to love them as they are, not as we wish they could or would be.

As a caregiver of 15 years, I ran the gamut of being extremely weary, unable to get a good night’s rest for ailments of my own, worried, confused about what to do, depressed, frustrated that my sisters lived so far away, coming only once a year (and then for just a little while, not long enough to help me out much or give me a real break), even upset with one sister because she accused me of something that our mother believed about me–this sister chose to believe a dementia-laden lie versus the truth.  I became impatient with Mama, too, for things she could not help.  I felt alienated from “friends” or lonely because of this separateness.  I wondered if I was being a good enough wife while trying to be a good enough caregiver and daughter too.  AAAHHH!  Do you know these feeling, these thoughts?

Pondering such thoughts and feelings made me realize that I was disconnected, exasperated, less than healthy, just plain worn out.  One doctor of mine even asked me if I was “depressed.”  He had been in my shoes by caring for his father and saw signs in me, a long time patient of his for fibromyalgia.  Yet I needed to face myself, my selfish, self-protecting ways.  I wanted to stay in God’s will and honor my mother through to the end of her life.  I also, naturally, wanted to remain in God’s will for my marriage.

James 1:2-4 says,  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  Pure joy?  Oh, I wondered sometimes how I could possibly feel joyful.

As God continually desires to grow us in His garden, the roots grow deeper into His soil, hitting rocks and tree roots, those trials and tests.  It is our reaction to these tribulations that give us the telltale sign of our step-by-step relationship with God.  Our faith in God to bring us through these trials and our willingness to allow Him to grow us to be more like Christ builds the perseverance…hanging in there: close to God, in an honoring manner, trusting Him at every turn, a close and growing relationship with Him.  This relationship depends upon having open eyes, ears, and hearts.  We need His wisdom and He tells us to ask.  We certainly need it in this particular period of our lives, but truly in all periods, don’t we?  James 1 continues,  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.  Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. (verses 5-9)

He will develop us, mature us, complete us … in His time.  We must stay close to our Teacher, spend time in His Word, and bend our knees before Him.  As we face trials, we can be purified in these fires.  We can become more valuable in God’s economy.  He can use us as His giver of care to the precious one He appoints for us.  He is able to guide us as we are willing to listen to Him, our Lord.  He can reshape our lives from ungodly to godly, from not being Christlike to being a reflection of the beauty of Jesus, and to glorify Him in all we do and say.

James 1:12:  Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Some positive aspects that caregiving can offer:
• A closer relationship with God
• Trust in God
• A sense that others are watching your faith in action
• A more mature faith, purified by testing

• The ability to face and handle negative emotions

• Healing of previous hurts, especially involving family fallouts

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9

Let us stop here and ponder: asking for God’s wisdom, about the trials and testing that you are going through in your daily caregiving and how they might lead you to have more perseverance.  Think about God’s ways versus ours.  Think about James 1 as well.  What is God saying to you?

Father, we ask You to come to us in this garden and sit beside us on the bench where we are, weary and worn out.  Father, you know the task of caregiving we hold in our hands.  You know the one we care for.  He or she is Your child as are we, Father.  We feel so weary some days that we wonder if You are even in the vicinity.  Yet, we know You are.  You are everywhere, our Omnipresent God.  We trust You deeply, Father.  Walk down this path with us, giving us wisdom so that we can care for our precious loved ones, or for those we care for as a professional caregiver.  Father, please teach us how to take care of ourselves, better care of our bodies, our minds, and our souls.  Build us stronger spiritually that we would depend upon You for everything. Everything. You are our Refuge and our Stronghold.  Guard our souls and deliver us; Do not let us be ashamed, for we take refuge in You.  Let integrity and uprightness preserve us, For we wait for You. (Psalm 25:20-21) We ask all in the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

 

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Dew

These past two weeks, I have been pondering clouds and fog.  Dew has always fascinated me too.  God uses dew as another visual for us to learn about Him.

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The word dew brings to my mind refreshment, renewal, invigoration, even life. In the natural world, waterfalls, streams, lakes, rivers, rainfall and snow are sources of refreshment for the plants and soil of the earth. Another source is dew. It is the moisture from a wet ground that travels up or moist air that journeys downward. Whether traveling up or down, the morning grasses are laden with dew when the circumstances are just right. “Dew will never appear while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest — absolute rest — before the invisible particles of moisture will become dew to dampen any plant or flower.”   (from Mrs. Charles E. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert, January 30th)

He provides and cares:

When the dew settled on the camp, the manna also came down.  Numbers 11:9

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” for they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.'”  Exodus 16:13-16

So Israel will live in safety alone; Jacob’s spring is secure in a land of grain and new wine, where the heavens drop dew.  Deuteronomy 33:28

God uses the word dew repeatedly in His Word. Physically, we see it quenching the thirst of plants and crops. Just as the grass is rejuvenated by the early morning dew, God invigorates us with His love, His Word, His peace, His joy. We, too, must reach that still and quiet place in our being — that absolute rest — before the dew of God falls upon us. Our busyness, our rushing, our schedules keep us from that beautiful point. The quiet moments, the time in God’s Word, praying, sitting beside a stream in utter stillness, the lingering in the beauty of a sunset … these are the places when the wind of busyness ceases, the temperature of daily schedules falls, the air of worry and fear cools and rests. Then the sweet moisture of God’s love becomes dew to refresh our bodies, minds, and souls.

Ponder the words our Father invites us to savor for God promises to care for us in EVERY way:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; not for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And who are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil not do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But first seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:25-34

We are compared to grass — tender, vulnerable, momentary. Yet, in Matthew 6, we are reminded of God’s loving care for us.  Our vulnerability, our tenderness, our momentary stay on God’s earth should lead us to trust in His care, for God is our only hope, the Trustworthy One.

All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  Isaiah 40:6b-7

He refreshes us with His dew:

Let them fear You while the sun endures, And as long as the moon, throughout all generations.  May He come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.  Psalm 72:5-6

The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion, But his favor is like dew on the grass.  Proverbs 19:12

Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.  “Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as dewAs the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb.  “For I proclaim the Name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God.!”  Deuteronomy 32:1-2 (Song of Moses)

The LORD renews His blessing to Israel, calling His people to return to Him:

I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like a lily.  Like a cedar of Lebanon He will send down his roots; His young shoots will grow.  His splendor will be like an olive tree, His fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.  Men will dwell again in His shade.  He will flourish like the grain.  He will blossom like a vine, and His fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.  Hosea 14:5-7

The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people.  Zechariah 8:12

Likewise, He calls us to Himself:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Matthew 16:24

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.  John 6:37


Dew of Quietness

Drop thy still dew of quietness
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

– Whittier
Source unknown
but retrieved from bible.org

Are you being refreshed?

LORD, I pray that I would know this absolute rest and that it will envelop me.  May I feel the precious moisture of Your heavenly dew refreshing me.  I want to know You, LORD. Teach me to be still. Teach me to ponder things of You.  Teach me to rest in You.  I do seek Your face.  Fill me with Your Word.  Moisten my lips that I may speak Your Truth.  Renew me, LORD, as never before.  O, Heavenly father, shower my heart, my mind, and my soul with Your heavenly dew. In the blessed Name of Jesus, Amen.

Photo of dew:  from  https://melindaschwakhofer.wordpress.com