Sometimes it feels good to have your headphones in and get away from the world. Sometimes that’s just a great feeling. But other times, what’s really necessary is just to sit and be quiet and hear the clacking of your keypad as you sit in the middle of the world. The big, scary world that is all around you in every direction. For now, you are stuck in there. And while some things are horrendously terrible in there, there are others which are beautiful and meant to be heard. Most people think of the beach or the sky, but for me, the night is beautiful. The multitude of sounds and silence echoes continually. It creates something so rhythmic and entrancing that it’s hard to look away from. The night can hold fear and the unknown in it’s dark claws, but wrapped up in there is the beauty it was meant for. I think it reminds me of a lot of things; life, people. All scary and dark and strange, but each wrapped in the personal beauty they were created for.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
These six verses, which are actually all of chapter 23, have been imprinted on my heart. I have decided I want to memorize them, in an attempt to bring them close and have them at hand. The Word of God is so powerful. Jesus even said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word never will.” (Matthew 24:35). If it is that strong, I want to carry it with me all the time.
But not only for the strength, but for the message. Not only is this a prayer for myself to remind my soul, but it’s also my prayers for those lost out there, maybe even those stuck in “the valley of the shadow of death”, that they would not fear the evils there because they realize God’s presence in their life.
Tonight I am praying for those lost souls to be restored. And if you are reading this, I ask you to take a moment and join me, no matter when you’re reading this. Let’s come together and pray for those we can’t physically reach right now, for those that need God to change their heart as only he can.
But, if there is someone like that who comes to mind, do not hesitate. “Go!” as God commanded Ananias (Acts 9:15) and do not stall. Who knows what your obedience could do? It could save a life, open a door, or cause someone to make a choice. But I can promise you that you will see nothing happen through you if you stay in your safe bubble and don’t do anything.
Tonight is a night to break out. To realize that we are free and show others how God can break their own binding chains. Pray for that person, call them, and then pray some more. You will be amazed in the power of prayer, patience, and obedience.
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” I pray that these people will be there as well. I pray that you are looking forward to that day. I pray for my patience for that day as well. For now, there are small fights to be won, but our hope lies in Jesus who has won the battle for us and claimed the victory. We are victorious as his children and need to share his hope with others.
If you feel that conviction, don’t hesitate. God’s kingdom is worth feeling like a fool.
And may no one be content until they are wonderfully content in Him.
Family is probably the oddest invention God ever made.
Okay, maybe that’s a little overboard, but think about it. You live for roughly 18 years with a group of people you are genetically connected to, but otherwise have no idea who they are. And, I suppose, you spend that time finding out just that. Though there are people who live their who lives never truly knowing their family. They take the bonds they were born with for granted because, well, they were born with them. Nothing was earned or sought after, therefore, there is no chase. Unless of course, you live in the real world and have things befall your family that either mold all of you or cause you to scatter.
Like I said, Families are odd.
They can be the cause of the worst and best things that happen to you.
They can cause you the worst pain and heartache, and the greatest joy and love.
They are the roommates you never picked, and the best friends you should have, if you let them.
Honestly, they can be the absolutely worst things in your life. They can cause you to care so much that your heart wishes to follow them everywhere they go, and then they will rip it out and run with it as they push you away. I suppose this part, for me, is mainly my brother. Perhaps for you it is someone else, or was someone else, or maybe even will be.
The truth about families is that they will at some point, no matter what you do or what precautions you took or how much you cared inside, break your heart. But, if you tune in long enough, they will come back to pick up the pieces.
I can’t tell you that I speak from experience. I can’t tell you a heart-wrenching story about the “prodigal son” in my life. But what I can say is that I felt something tonight, when I was alone, angry and ready to give up. I felt God telling me to cling tighter, to keep loving and trying, that it will come. He said I was made this way–with a sensitive, caring, sometimes over-dramatic self–for a purpose. I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and I have a reason for the way I am. For such a time as this. To care, no matter what the cost. To see this through until the very end, and that no matter if this all turns around, or if I am left, caring with no one to care about me except for my heavenly Father, there will always be something far greater as my reward. Love is always the best choice, and I am choosing it. No matter if it takes 5 years or 50 or if nothing ever comes of it. I was made to care, and my family will be the first to receive.
“…these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” 1 Timothy 5:4
Love you all,
I’ve been thinking a lot. I’ve had a lot of time to do so, waiting and moving from place to place. Ever since I ‘ve started college, I’ve had to take the bus to get from each side of town to the other. I haven’t had any harrowing experiences or sketchy encounters, but I’ve had many, many thoughts.
Just looking around the bus when you’re sitting there, bumping along to the rhythm of the pavement, makes me think.
It’s these people. The people of the city who travel with me and live here. These people who scare some, upset some, are ignored by some, are loved by others. These people are all children of God, whether they know it, believe it, or disregard it. He loves them, and through his eyes, I’ve really seen it. I’ve seen his love for their odd quirks and beautiful smiles. Their loud laughs and their quietly wandering eyes. I know I don’t even see all of what he loves because I only get a photograph, but he has the entire autobiography. I just look at these others and think to myself, “God unconditionally and completely loves this person”, and it is amazing how differently I will see them.
These people are beautiful, these people are wonderful, these people are lost, these people are loved.
Why should I treat them any less?
“There comes a time when we all must forget about who we once were to truly focus on the person that God is shaping us into.”
God, I’m sorry. I’ve been listening to Satan’s whispers telling me that I still am who I once was. But I am new in you. I am not the same person and I need to let it go so I can be completely immersed in you and learn who you want me to be. Forgive me, Lord.
Guess what? He already did.
My God is amazing and magnificent and merciful. Is he yours?
When you’re going through something or have a question about some topic, who do you go to? Sometimes your parents, someone you respect, or sometimes your friends (though they aren’t always the best people to answer your questions when they’re in the same boat). But my point is that when you have something you’re going through, you go to someone who is in authority on the matter, someone who’s experienced the same thing or something like it.
Well then, what do you make of this?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
God has overcome the world. All the troubles, the heartaches, the drama, and the temptations. He has been there already…and he won. So, when things happen and you don’t know what to do, maybe before you ask your best friend or your mom, try asking God. He knows what to do to get through it because he already has. Isn’t that better than well meant, but sometimes unhelpful, words?
Just a thought for today. Love you all and may you not be content until you are content in Him.
Yesterday I was at McDonalds and all was well, normal, and I was just chatting with a friend, until I heard a sudden outcry. Turning around, I saw a little girl holding her hand, eyes closed, tears streaming down, mouth open, cries exploding from her small frame. She looked over at her dad and he was already reaching for her. He sat her in his lap and held her close, bringing her head to his chest and whispering calm words in her ear. Suddenly, this little girl cried out “It hurts so much!” and I was stopped in my tracks.
All I could think about was having heard and thought that before, but not about a cut or a bruise, but about my emotions and my heart and this life. I was not crying out to my dad, though he would have listened as well, I was crying out to God. Abba, Father, Papa, Daddy.
This little child’s cries were those that felt like they were coming from her soul, and I’ve heard those cries before in times of desperation and devastation. What we don’t realize is that God is our Daddy, our Father, and he is there, holding us tight and stroking our hair whispering calming words in our ear. He cannot wait for the day where he can save us from this world of sin, but for now, he holds us tight.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
…A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;…”
If this is your time to weep, God is there weeping for you and holding you in his arms, but when the time to laugh or dance comes, he is beaming, loving every moment and loving you just as much as ever.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about prayer.
Two Sundays ago, at the Lakes, Roshad spoke about how important and powerful prayer really is. Personally, I’ve heard it a lot “prayer is the most powerful thing you can do”. And so, I do pray, and I do understand using prayer to talk to God, to have a conversation with the Almighty Creator (Really, whoa… but that’s a whole other ramble), but a weapon? It’s not that I didn’t believe, it’s that I didn’t understand. I couldn’t grasp the idea of a thought, a prayer, containing any power in it.
But that just shows how much more of the Bible I need to read… 😉
Roshad referenced a few verses that night, and these two were the big hitters for me:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10)
We, as Christians, don’t understand that when things happen to us, it really isn’t the obvious physical enemy you have trying to thwart your life—they usually don’t care that much. Really, it is Satan, trying to pull you towards him and throw off your relationship with God. Everything we do and come in contact with is not attributed to this world we see, but to another world, another realm I suppose, of spiritual things, where there is a battle raging daily. And not just any battle, begun with egos and “morals”, but a battle fought over you and your salvation by a God that wants to save you and rescue you so passionately, and an enemy that wants just as much to see you fall so hard and be eternally separated from your Creator.
But I digress…
Roshad also talked about Daniel 10, where Daniel had just seen a vision of a war and began to mourn and fast for three weeks (a fast where nothing is choice or extravagant, but just bare basics). Then, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, he was visited by an angel who said something quite interesting:
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.” (Daniel 10:12-13)
And Roshad began to explain as I had never heard explained before about how our prayers take on a spiritual form and then go out to fight in this spiritual battle, and, as they were in Daniel 10, can be detained by the dark forces who oppose them.
All of this gave me a very interesting image in my head:
Envision a world at war. (After a small amount of research, because I am no history buff to be sure, I think World War II helps to paint this image best) You are a woman in America (sorry guys) whose fiancé just left to do his part in the war. Well you’re not just going to sit around, so you try to help out from your end, but, after a while, you miss him terribly and decide to try and write him. Pen hits paper and then it is signed, sealed and off across the pond. But now, watch that letter on it’s journey to him. I imagine a battlefield, treacherous and fearsome, weapons firing and explosions desecrating, as this little letter finds its way from hand to hand to make it to him. Obviously, no one’s just going to walk over and hand it to him and say “Oh yeah, here’s a letter from your fiancé she sent a few days ago”, but there will be obstacles, conflicts, and other happenings to detain your letter as it travels. But here you are, just sitting in America, wondering where your letter could be.
That’s how I envision prayer. We can’t physically see the spiritual battle going on, but it’s there. Our prayers survive spiritual attacks and warfare to make it through as they travel to their answer. That’s why prayer is important. Because imagine if that letter wasn’t just a love letter, but it contained a brand new weapon, the most powerful of all, in it. That envelope contains a victory for your side. In the spiritual world, that envelope would contain the weapon of prayer, the strongest weapon we have.
So suit up and ready yourselves. There is a war and we are fighting in it every single day. Where’s your weapon?
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Very Christian, right? Predictable verse from Psalms, “God is good, la-dee-da”.
But I’ve been getting into this habit lately where I try to not just read famous (or cliché) verses, I try to understand them, to learn about them all over again.
As for this one, here’s how I see it:
“BE STILL. And KNOW that I am God.”
First of all, God’s calling my name. He says, “Cassidy. Chill out. Be still. Calm down.” So there’s step one. Okay, deep breaths, focus, calm down. Harder than it sounds for me, but I get it eventually.
Now, here’s the interesting part. “KNOW that I am God.” Think about it. Do you know that he is God?
I don’t even mean being saved and believing in what He did for you, I mean knowing that this person, this god, you’re praying to is the Maker of the Universe, the magnificent, glorious, never-ending and never-changing GOD.
Earlier in Psalm 46, it says:
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shieldst with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:8-11)
That isn’t even all of it. Think of a single person you know who “makes wars cease to the ends of the earth”. Our God takes care of us.
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1)
When you look up at the sky, and think of how beautiful it is, or how amazing it seems, that’s God’s. Everything he makes is beautiful. (James 1:17)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Okay, wow. I just looked at Isaiah 40 and I’ll give you a few verses, but please, go read it. God is amazing.
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?t
Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14 Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice?
15b He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. (Whoa, what?)
21 Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?
Are you deaf to the words of God—
the words he gave before the world began?
Are you so ignorant?
22 God sits above the circle of the earth.
The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!
He spreads out the heavens like a curtain
and makes his tent from them.
28 Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
God is amazing. That is basically what I’m saying.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Now that you’ve heard who God is, be still and know it. It can change your whole day.
I was in a reading plan today and I saw this one that asked, “Do you agree with the statement “Deep love allows for deep suffering”? Explain.”
So, I decided to explain.
I completely agree with this statement and have felt it some recently. Basically, the idea is that if you open your heart to love someone truly (whether it is romantic or not) that you can feel just as intense pain because you loved so immensely.
This is absolutely and undeniably true.
But here’s the question: Is it worth it? Is that much pain worth opening your heart at all? Wouldn’t it be better to just crawl in a hole and scowl at everyone that passed by?
C.S. Lewis once wrote:
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
(From The Four Loves, as found in The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis, 278-279.)
Here lies our conundrum. Either we put our heart and our life out there on our sleeve for others to either hold carefully, or to crush and maim, or, we hide it away “safe” and “secure”, but hard and untouchable. You will never be hurt, but you will also never feel.
Personally, I have chosen, after going through something that is still ripping my heart apart every time I think about it, that it is still worth it. For me, I have a Lord whose heart breaks along with mine and who has felt more pain and suffering than anyone else. I have chosen to give him my heart and accept his love in return. Now, it is his love that pours out from me, it is his heart I give to others, and it is him who protects me when others crush it. So, yes, I am still hurt and that has not left me, in fact, I feel it even more now because of the immense love God has given me and runs through me. I yearn to feel for others as God does for them, and that involves pain and sadness when they are lost.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)
We love because he first loved us…And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19, 21)
But there is always a brighter side because I have a hope and confidence in His plans.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:24)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:96)
God is amazing. I could not be doing all that I am without him. I would be a pathetic heap on the floor. I am not joking and I am not exaggerating. He makes me strong when it isn’t humanly possible to be so.
“My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in [your] weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And Lord knows I’m weak.
I guess the main idea(s) of this post is(are) that to open your heart more, you also open your wounds more, but it is worth it. Suffering and pain continue to exist in this world no matter what, but I have hope in my future because of God and without him, I would be a weak shell of a human.
I thank God everyday for his power and strength, and I am sorry for those days when I don’t trust that he’s there to carry me and yet he comes anyway.
Maybe someone will read this, and maybe everyone stopped forever ago because this is so long, but for anyone that made it down here, sorry for the rambling, but maybe it meant something to you. That would be pretty cool. 🙂 Good luck and I pray that you would not be complete until you are complete in Him. God bless.
(If you have any questions or comments, feel free!)