Resting in uncharted territory. {Scripture for the 2014 journey.}

psalm1162Three hundred and sixty-five days lie ahead in 2014. Its a new chapter, a new opportunity to respond well to the truth of the gospel. But of course, no one really knows what these days will bring, and that lack of knowledge can be daunting. 2013, in all of its glory, was also a year that, for me, was marred by anxiety.

In the midst of it all, I was thrilled by the congruence of scripture. Perhaps that idea is elementary, but for me, it became revolutionary. I fell in love with the Word afresh and anew in 2013. I came to understand what it means to hide the Word in my heart. In Proverbs, scripture speaks of writing the Word of the Lord on the tablet of our hearts so that we will not stray.

This space, my writing, has ultimately become a note to self -- a reminder of sorts of the faithfulness of God. When life seems tumultuous, this is where I come, with my Bible and a cup of tea -- to whisper His love over and over. The white space, silent like a prayer closet, waits patiently for me to wander in with my words. And as I look back over the past twelve months of blogging, I see just how much the Lord has used 2013 and this place to mold me.

I wonder, was my choice to be anxious so much of the time really me trying to test Him? Have I only been dipping my toes into the pool of faith?

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there will be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty. -- Malachi 3:10-12 (NIV)

Its no secret: its hard to offer up our whole selves. Especially when we cannot see or touch Him. But even seeing and touching us didn't make it any easier for Jesus to offer up his life in our stead. Yet he said "not my will, but Yours." 

Oh, Love. Mercy, find me when I struggle to live out the Image.

The nations will call me blessed when I surrender to Him, the God who knows everything I need and desires to give me even more out of His goodness. And that goodness is constant. He does not change or falter. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And He is the author, the perfecter: love incarnate.

He is before all things. What do I have to fear? This, this is how our souls find rest.

 Linking up with a host of beautiful people from all over the world for OneWord365. Have you chosen a word to focus on in 2014? Share it in the comments below! 

The spring of the forest fire.

Oh, how quickly a forest is destroyed with only a single spark. Scripture says that only ashes remain when a rumor is ignited. I have been burned alive, left in smolders by those who thrive on spreading the blaze. Sabrina Ward Harrison once mused that she was afraid that others would find out who she was before she did, and that she would be the last to know. This used to be me, too. I have spent my twenty-two years wrestling. But I finally feel like I know who I am. Once, I felt as though I lacked something to fight for, but today, I know what I am protecting. Ever more importantly, I know whose I am, and who is protecting me.

One of my greatest ambitions is to lead a quiet life, unplagued by the hustle, bustle, and emergency that is screamed to me from every angle. To be in the world and not of it. I have craved strength and dignity, the ability to laugh at the days to come. This is truly the desire of my heart.

I have been hurt countless times by the sword words and judgment of others. I’ve repeated their darkness over and over to myself, but I’m done with that now. I must also confess that I, too, am prone to these judgmental tendencies, and yet through grace alone, I have been proven wrong about many things and people.

I never wanted to punish anyone… nearly as much as I do not want to be punished.

But sometimes, inevitably, the flint messes in our lives rub each other the wrong way. When a fire erupts, the soil can respond one of two ways: sometimes, the soil can benefit, but under other circumstances, the flames could cause detrimental erosion.

And what of grace? Can it really reach down to where we are when we’re at the end of our rope?

Could a garden come up from this ground at all? 

Depending on my heart’s response, this is not the end of the story. I choose the good. I choose right now to be better. The nutrients in the soil increase when there is a fire. The flames may destroy, but they leave quiet room for restoration. What death is experienced in the heat is miraculously contributing to the creation of something new.

Out of chaos, life is being found. 

Grace prevails every time. I am left with no room for doubt.

Yes, I know who I am. My identity is no longer found in what man might say about me. I have been redefined. Love really is amazing, and I am fighting to the death to protect it. In his book “The Cost of Discipleship,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated that “by judging others, we blind ourselves to our evil and to the grace that others are entitled to as we are.”

May I speak grace as the gentle answer, so as to turn away wrath. What man has meant for harm, God has redeemed in order to accomplish His will.