The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the gift of listening. But once the period of listening has been realized we have a decision to make. It is always good for the listener to clarify what they’ve heard, but eventually both the listener and the sharer should make goals in order to move forward.
Making goals to move forward in no way means the information shared has not been taken seriously.
Repeating the same information over and over again does not help get your point across, but keeps you stuck in the past.
Making goals to move forward can be scary. Doubts can creep in, fear can put a freeze on moving forward.
Moving forward is absolutely necessary for the healing journey to begin.
*I know from experience that the deepest damage, pain, and trauma is healable.
If you are someone needing to heal from trauma, let that trusted listener help you make some goals so you can begin your healing journey, so you can begin to move forward, one step at a time.
Chances are that person (whom God can lead you to) may have come through the exact same thing. The listener is not going to reveal that right away, because your healing process isn’t about what everyone else has gone through. Your healing process is about you, your very real suffering, how valuable you are, and how possible it is to make strong choices moving forward.
I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.
How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.
And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)?
Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).
How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?
What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26
These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.
I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.
I awoke this a.m. and found it hard to get going. The sun helped. My warm bath soothed. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to begin a new day with the right attitude.
I flipped through some old songs and found a worship chorus I wrote back in two thousand and four. It made me think of my Grandmother who told me, “the best time to be thankful is when you don’t feel like it.”
“And how do you do that” I asked her.
“Choose an attitude of praise” she replied.
So I took the song “I Will Hold to Your Promise”, and went down memory lane, out loud, at the piano.
I confess with my mouth
I believe with my heart now
I accept your gift of love
take my sin to the west
throw it over your shoulder
cover me and lift me up
I will hold to the promise
I will see you one day
I will hold to the promise you have made,
I will hold to the promise
I will see you one day
I will hold to the promise you have made
“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
“Promise” is a beautiful word. God has promised to forgive of us of our sins, to be in relationship with us, and to return for us one day.
Suggested reading 2nd Peter, chapter 3 – The Day of the Lord.
Long after hearts were hard, barraged by the world’s lies
Sweet Mercy had another plan in mind.
Though the journey faltered in temptation and despair
The prayers of the warriors compelled me on from there
Weak in my marrow but mighty in His might
Sweet Mercy kept the vigil day and night
And where the rage died, the peace grew
And where the sorrow tried to drown me, the joy broke through
Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy
The lineage of hatred determines not your name
The blanket of oppression has no stake or claim
Though you’ll remember and mourn from time to time
Sweet mercy has another plan in mind
My past does not define me. Does yours? Look at the message of the Gospel and how Christ transformed lives. He still transforms lives today with His sweet mercy. He forgives. Have you forgiven yourself?
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:13, 14
When I was in my early twenties I came to the late realization that trying to do life without God wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
I decided to wander into a church in my hometown one Sunday morning, and wasn’t prepared for my panic. I was certain as soon as I crossed from the foyer to the sanctuary, everyone would see right through me, to my black heart.
Thanks to an associate Pastor, who kept reminding me about God’s grace, I kept answering the ‘Sunday’ call. Over time the doubts, and accusing voices in my head grew faint, and God’s voice became familiar. God became my Father, I became His child, and the congregation – my family.
During that time I concluded there had to be other people like myself who questioned whether they belonged in church, and decided to write a song…
Sunday Mornin’s Callin’ You
Verse 1: Sunday mornin’s callin’ you, crusted dry and over due
Pack your black heart on your back and run, fast as your feet can carry you
Bring your heart in from the cold, shake the dust off of your soul
They don’t know where you have been or what you’ve done,
Only Jesus has to know.
Chorus: Sunday mornin’ keeps on callin’, blossom fresh and clean
It’s never too late to trust in Jesus, you know what I mean?
Verse 2: So you’re travelin’ down the road, passed a church a mile or so
Your mind’s certain on sleep my darlin’, it’s let you down before you know
So your baggage is raw you tell me, and you’re so pressed for time
No time like the present, to change your mind
Chorus: Sunday mornin’ keeps on callin’, blossom fresh and clean
It’s never too late to trust in Jesus, you know what I mean
Going on a holiday is all about finding rest – an internal rest. But even in those moments of almost complete abandonment, there is reflection.
-The joy in the sweet reunion with family and friends, and in the celebration of new and beautiful surroundings.
-The peace in the departure from focused routines and checklists.
-The opportunity to meditate on character, and relationships, and ample room for prayers of thanksgiving, for all the good God has done and continues to do.
There is space for questions, and re-evaluations about the place you are planted.
It would be absurd to think each time one bends towards the sun (a new destination), that one’s roots be moved as well.
Knowing we are rooted in God where ever we go is a holiday in itself.
But wondering….”are we growing where we’re planted, or are we just planted?” This is the question? This is the deep reflection and stirring in my heart.
After having had the privilege to sit in some SBS Bible classes at the YWAM base in Maroochydore, QLD, Australia, and witness their example – I’ve been challenged to learn more (Hebrews 5:12-13).
Is it to be accomplished here where we have settled into familiar soil? Are their ears to hear? Is their evidence of fruit? Does God have a new work for us here, or a work for us in a new field? Does God have a fresh wind, and refining fire for exactly where we are?
1 Peter 2:2 “like new born babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”
The stars, the stars above the waters. I looked up and out of the oval glass, then down to the blackness beneath. “God” my thoughts echoed into His silence, “I’m jammed in this metal tube, above your great expanse.” “But your spirit has wings” He answered instantly.
Reaching forward I found the flight information with a touch of the screen. We were still about five hours out of Brisbane. The ocean’s trenches and scattered islands off the east coast of Australia were identified. Seeing the features described made the Sea less foreboding, but no less deep.
“It had to be deep God, for You to compassionately hurl our sins there” another spirit thought spoke (Micah 7:19)
Saturday I sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and still thinking about the ocean, “the sounds of Your breathing, the mist of Your nostrils, and yes, the depths of Your love.” I searched the web for those same “trench” names glowing on the airplane screen, instead I found a 3D map of the ocean floor, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-07/3d-map-of-australia-seafloor/5372132
I gazed at the swirls and globs of turquoise and teal clay on the map. I imagined Your hand reaching for Your magic dust. “Do You, the Master of the universe keep Your coloured paints in jars, or do you just think, and it appears?” It was You who first whispered the idea of colour, and their hints and hues into the world and our ears, as life burst forth from the womb.
“Do You have tools like we do, with wooden handles and sliver blades, to scrape the ocean floor and shape the underwater mountain ranges?” I asked and quickly scoffed at my question. “Of course not” I answered myself.
You trace the trenches with Your finger nails, and imprint the basins with the palm of Your hand!
My God, my God – who has “walked the recesses of the deep” Job 38:16.
I saw the lovely trio skipping down the street one Saturday morning. More like the little ones were skipping, while dragging their mom along behind. I’m not sure how we struck up a conversation. She was asking for something in particular and I must have thought I could help. I set a time with her to come by her place.
She had given me her number and I called first. The morning it worked for me to go for a visit the sky was overcast and grey. Most of the snow had melted but the earth looked like a dirty carpet. I could hear the brittle ice snap, crackle and pop under my shoes as I approached her building.
I rounded the corner in the sidewalk, and thought I saw God’s little angels painting the earth white again. They were dressed in nothing but summer lace crinolines and black rubber boots. They were hopping on the tiny patches of ice left over from yesterday’s melt, and giggling with glee each time a new crack cried out. They didn’t notice me at first, but I saw the door to their apartment wide open, flapping in a north wind. I could see their breath crystals in the air, and I could see mine.
Quickly, but gently I introduced myself and scurried them inside. Thankfully they remembered my face from our previous brief encounter. Their mother was on the phone, standing at the end of the stairwell. I could hear her deflecting verbal punches from who knows who on the other end of the line.
I glanced to the right where nothing but a large mattress lay on the living room floor. My eyes dared glance to the left where a years worth of dishes and dried food decorated the kitchen counter. Their Momma looked up from the phone, smiled and waved me in to sit down.
I can’t remember what it was I was doing there, but the memories of that morning never fade, and the words we shared gave more insight into her world. Here is the second verse to yesterday’s song “All We Need”.
Winter’s arrived, I find her girls out in their dresses
The look she wears can make you question how she stresses
She married far too young and craved herself a family
Only to starve to death from the silence inside
She’d never harm a flea, but she’ll break on empty
All she needs, all she needs is to be loved.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard it
It’s not the last time I’ll see
It is the all too familiar – calamity.
Where do we find this kind of love?
How do we grow this kind of love?
How can we be this kind of love?
All we need, all we need, all we need is to be loved.
Once songs were chosen and emailed off to the different worship team members, I sat at the breakfast table and wondered “what next God?” Every day is an open window, a portal to new lessons waiting to be learned.
By the end of the day I wasn’t sure what it was I was supposed to learn. “I may have been better off staying inside with a closed door.” I muttered under my breath.
But there in the middle of an absent answer – was the answer itself. Every phone call, every errand ran, every conversation had been riddled with obvious pain. Maybe it wasn’t obvious to everyone, but I could feel it. I could hear it in their voices. I could see it in their body language, like a crippling disease. As I witnessed and embraced my beloved (those who Christ has blessed my life with) I too felt my bones weaken, and my spirit faint, and knelt to hand my anguish over to God. Prayer was the lesson. Prayer was the answer that always leads to action.
For the addict whose name was the same as a biblical warrior – I prayed for the Holy Spirit to intervene, so that he too could march around his walls of Jericho, and conquer his demons once and for all.
For the mother, I thought of Jochebed, Moses’ mother and how she too had to let go of her son unwillingly, and watch a stranger raise him. I asked the Holy Spirit to comfort her, and remembered Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
And for a friend who is always struggling to make ends meet I thought of the Israelites wandering in the desert, afraid for how they were going to find food and water. God had given them manna with instructions on how to collect it and use it to keep their bodies fueled, but in their disconnect they squandered it and the food spoiled. Their wandering cycle lasted for 40 years and many died on the way to the Promised Land. I prayed for my friend, for the power of the Holy Spirit to help her look up and take hold of God’s provision, and so break the generational cycle, which threatened to end her life and the lives of her children, and their children.
And for me, I cried out to God that I would get up off my knees and act out His compassion, as Christ and the early church exemplified (Acts 2:43-47).
As I wondered just how much we should give, and where the balance should be the words “poured out” tumbled out of my mouth.
Isaiah 53:12b “…..because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Let us be quick to pour out what He has given us, and be slow to consider ourselves.
The song came before the picture, but one of my favourite lines….”if there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’, you’re my waterfall, fill me again.
Standing in a waterfall means all you can see and feel, and hear is the water. Many times life’s circumstances swirl around us and drain us dry. How can we keep a healthy perspective? I suggest you stand in the waterfall…..and for me that waterfall is God. David talks about great grief being swept over him in the waterfall, in the deep, in the waves (Psalm 42:7). But I see God’s waterfall as place of strength, standing on the rock, surrounded by His presence. The water not sweeping me away, but filling me with His truth.
I’ve been here before, not so long ago
Almost missed the signs, now I know, I know
The sky can be blue, the wind can blow wide
But without you here, I’m desert dry
Gotta hear your voice before birds sing
Gotta say your name, as you grow these wings
If there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’
You’re my waterfall, fill me again
I will live by faith and not by sight
Where you roar is great, and the world’s dark night
is a shadow small, and a moment’s pain
You’re my waterfall, fill me again.
Worry’s at my door, thinking he’s at home
Sometimes he gets in, but it’s not for long
He stirs up the storm to empty and drain
But in the waterfall – I will remain
lyrics and music by Cindy Palin @Feb. 9, 2017 All Rights Reserved