About fifteen years ago I was part of a group of women who were reading The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis. It was a book that changed my life. John has gone on to write many other books..his wife and son also write. I appreciate their ministry and their message. This initial book is still my favorite..I often refer to it in my counseling practice and recommend it. The concept of a sacred romance was new to me and a little unnerving at first. Was God truly a romantic and was it true that He was romancing us in this very fallen world? As I began to open up to that possibility.. I saw glimpses of the goodness of God in ways that were wonderfully surprising. Of course.. it began to make sense.. we are created in His image … we embrace and long for romance.. He must have invented it.
Over the years since that time in my life I have kept the romance alive as much as possible..there were times when it seemed exceedingly real and times when it seemed to be an impossible dream. I read John’s other books and reminded myself that I needed to fight for this. I keep thinking about the reminder at the end of the book.. John writes ” Finally, we were meant to remember together, in community. We need to tell our stories to others and to hear their stories told. ..our regular times of coming together to worship are intended to be time of corporate remembrance..’ This God has done’, we say this, He will do.’ ..remembering is not mere nostalgia it is an act of survival.”
He is the Great Romantic who fills the sky with colors for no reason other than our pleasure. He created the ocean and filled it with living things for our pleasure. He wakes us up in the morning with songs..birds singing their hearts out for our pleasure.. just some reminders.. in case today is a day when you need them.
These photos were taken last night from my deck.. and no I don’t live in Hawaii! I wanted to share them with you so that you can remember.. so we can remember together that the larger story of God has a wonderful happy ending.
We had a church retreat this weekend and if I could give it a name.. it would be the title of this post..”Remembering His Goodness.” That is the theme that I kept hearing in the stories the speakers shared with us. They were actually speaking on the hard times in life and how we need to learn to accept them as normal and be able to reach out to those around us when they reveal their struggles to us. A great topic in these times where there is so much fear and anxiety in everyday life.
The key for me was hearing this theme as we read through the psalms and discussed the issues they presented. Our Creator God is good, He is faithful and available in all circumstances. He is larger than our circumstances.. bigger than our fears..sovereign over everything that happens to us in this life. He is our refuge and our rock.. We are always able to cry out to Him… to rely on Him and lean into Him. Although His ways are not our ways.. we can trust Him to bring deliverance when we need it and to rescue us before it is too late!
Our part is to remember this and to act on it.. to nurture the relationship.. to remember Him and His promises… to dwell on His faithfulness and to count on Him when the darkness comes. We are in a battle and our faith is constantly being challenged by the trials and tests that we face..but He is there with us.. We are not alone. This is our road.. we signed up for it when we committed to follow Him and He will carry us when we cannot walk another step.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (psalm 27:13-14)
We got a good dose of God’s blessing of rain this month.. after a long dry spell..the colors of His palette are everywhere. I have been walking over the last week.. easy to do when the sun is shining every day. You never know what new things are just around the corner and I am continually encouraged by the Lord that He is in control and everything is moving ahead exactly the way He has planned it.
My heart is feeling full of hope as we move toward Spring and I know that it is because He has answered the cry of my heart to be renewed and granted more faith in this season. I see the way He is weaving my life experiences together..nothing is random. Isn’t that reassuring? We are part of a larger story..one that we can’t full comprehend, but He gives us glimpses. One thing leads to another and suddenly we are filled with joy.. God is doing things with us and through us.
I want to leave you encouraged today.. filled with anticipation..hopeful and renewed in your faith. I can’t do all that, but the Lord can and He will.. He is ready to meet us and to fill us with His living water.. I took some pictures on one of my walks to share with you…glimpses of Spring and all the good things that are yet to come..
Here is the scripture that God gave me for this year.. I am art journaling these days..I recommend it.. as a way of responding to the Lord and remembering His words to us.
My ” one little word” this year is REST.. I may have shared that in an earlier post. So I’ve been spending time contemplating the meaning of that word and asking God to help me enter His rest..
As a result of this journey with that word, I started thinking about feeling safe. For me, it is all connected. I can only rest when I feel safe. Makes sense doesn’t it? So am I safe with God? This topic opens up a can of worms for me. It is all related to that famous quote from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. You probably know the one I am referring to, it is a reference to Aslan, ” He’s not safe, but He is good.” Many writers have taken off in one direction with those words..talking about how we make God too small and put Him in a box so we feel safe with our image of Him. I understand their point, but there is something else to consider.
God is not in a box and He doesn’t fit with our preconceived ideas and He is much bigger and more mysterious than we ever imagine. But at the same time, we are safe with Him. Yes safe. He cares for us and we can run to Him every time we feel threatened by people or circumstances. He wants us to feel safe. There is proof of this in the Bible..over and over again He says ” do not be afraid.” That tells me He wants us to feel protected and cared for and to know that we are always safe as long as we cling to Him and call on Him continually.
So.. I am learning to rest..feeling safe and secure with my God. How are you doing? Remember His goodness and relax if you can..knowing that He has you right next to Him.. He is keeping an eye on you.. watching your back.. You are SAFE with Him.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”( psalm 91:2)
..says your God” in Isaiah 40:1. He is the comforter and He wants to make us into those who are able to comfort others. It comes through the trials, tests, waiting, and wondering. As we walk with Him through experiences we never imagined would happen.. He does something deep in us.
We are taken to places of grief and suffering that we did not know existed. We wonder if there has been some kind of mistake. Where is God in all this? Has He left us in an unbearable place? No..He is right there with us in the midst of the storm. He holds our heads above water as we feel it rising all around us.
He is the author of the great story that we are living in and there are no mistakes in the script. He allows us to be wounded and then binds up the wounds so we are able to help the hurting people who come into our lives. His purposes are higher and greater than our own.
So our comfort zone is not His highest priority..our hearts and our character matter deeply to God. He doesn’t punish us..but He does stretch us, teach us, and prepare us so we can truly become His people in this broken world.
If you are in a season of sorrow and struggle right now..Watch and wait until God comes for you..showing your His great unending love for you as you trust Him. He is faithful.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
The beginning of the year is an opportunity for a fresh start. I’m not writing about New Years resolutions or a list of all the things that I want to accomplish in 2014. What I need right now is a new way to look at the same old difficult things. When the clock struck 12 on Dec 31st, I did not leave my struggles back in 2013. Many of the difficulties of last year are continuing right into January.
So I am taking some steps toward living through the hard things without losing my emotional balance..One focus I have for this year was given to me by a good friend. She purchased a workshop for me called “One little word.” It gives me an opportunity to choose a word and focus on it throughout the year..creating a scrapbook and whatever other means I want to use to get that word inside my heart.
My word is ” REST”. I’ve heard that word for years now..coming to me from the heart of God. It seems unobtainable because of the trials that life continues to bring. Yet the Lord promises us rest and there are many references to it throughout the Bible. So I am going to throw myself into the challenge of learning to rest in all things.. to rest in the Lord.
I hope by the end of this year I can say with confidence..REST is available and I am experiencing it in a deeper way than ever before. If you are interested in taking this workshop, it is available on this website.http://aliedwards.com/
Let’s trust God to bring us our word and to take that word and take it deep into our minds, emotions, body, and spirit this year.
Then Jesus said ” come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Today I was realizing in a new way that God is truly ahead of us on the road of life. He is paving the way for us and He knows exactly what will happen to us and when. His perfect plan is unfolding a day at a time and He continues to lead us as long as we want to follow Him and trust Him with all our doubts and fears.
These worries and anxieties spring from our desire to be in control and to understand the way God does things..something that is impossible. He tells us that “his ways are not ours.” Yet we continue to use our finite minds to understand the finite. We can’t do it.
So as we follow Him and He asks us to do things that seem risky, we can remember that it is part of the larger story that God is writing for our lives. He doesn’t explain why to us..He asks us to follow His lead and to join Him in what He is doing. Later He may reveal how it all fits together in ways we could never imagine.
I have developed a fondness for the mystery of our faith. When God gives me even tiny glimpses of how all of our stories intersect and the great plan He has for each of us.. I find myself amazed over and over again.
Our great God has everything under control..our part is to trust and obey. To seek Him and to believe in His goodness even when we see through a glass darkly. He will not fail or abandon us. He is for us and with us during every dark season and promises to bring us out into the light again.
Live fully today trusting Him to unfold your future..He is already there.
“I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.” Isaiah 58:11