Seeking Solitude for Strength

When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. – (Matthew 14:13a, NIV)

When Jesus heard what happened to John, He left in a boat. He went alone to a place where no one lived. – (Matthew 14:13a, ERV)

When Jesus got the news, He slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by Himself. – (Matthew 14:13a, MSG)

This passage in Matthew 14 is an account of when John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) was beheaded by Herod and Jesus had just received news of it. Jesus, in His grief, sought some solitary space to grieve. However, soon after His retreat, crowds of people caught wind of His whereabouts and followed Him. Though Jesus was likely attempting to process and pray, when He saw the large crowd of people in need, “…He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (vs. 14)

Jesus was the Son of God, yet on earth, He was also fully man. The grief, suffering, sorrow, and struggles that we all experience, He experienced too. Much like us, He desired room to grieve and pray. That being said, in His perfect love, Jesus recognized the needs in front of Him and set aside His own desires, in order to help. How do we navigate spaces of suffering, sorrow, and struggle like Jesus? He sought the Father, and then He saw the need before Him. Only Jesus is able to provide what we need to do both – to navigate our own trials and simultaneously reach out to those around us who are in need. We cannot allow the challenges of life to keep us from loving people the way we were created to love. Incredibly, when we do choose to look and reach out, the weight of our own burdens become lighter. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love and compassion, so that we may walk out our purpose, even when the road is rough.

Lord, teach us to pray,

To ever seek You;

Please lead us in love,

Grant us hope anew.

When challenges come,

For they always do;

Give us compassion,

To keep loving true.

It is by Your strength,

That we are made new;

Equipped to answer,

How we’re called by You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example that Jesus set before us to remind us that even in our darkness, we are called and equipped to be Your light. Forgive us for staying in our space of withdrawal when struggles come, rather than turning to You, then continuing to look forward. Teach us to trust You completely, for You bring comfort and compassion to the weariest of souls, and empower us to love all the more. Lead us to love those around us in ways that soothe the struggles and calm the chaos. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to pick us up, dust us off, and keep moving forward into all that You have created us for. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

To Truly Trust

She said to herself, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” He said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. – (Matthew 9:21-22, NIV)

She was thinking, “If I can touch His coat, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw the woman. He said, “Be happy, dear woman. You are made well because you believed.” Then the woman was healed. – (Matthew 9:21-22, ERV)

She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on His robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned – caught her at it. Then He reassured her. “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on. – (Matthew 9:21-22, MSG)

Every time I read passages about Jesus healing people, I take pause and wonder why we see it so seldom now. What I find remarkable is that it seems to occur most often when there is no other option for restoration. Years ago, when I was in India with Youth With a Mission, we would find ourselves in remote villages, surrounded by people who were hungry to know more about God. After sharing with the people through an interpreter, we would make ourselves available to pray for people. Often, we would have little idea what exactly we were praying for. Our only choice was to pray by faith, knowing that God knew their needs. In one of these instances, a father and his young daughter stood before two friends and myself, while the interpreter had a brief conversation with the father. He turned, told us to pray for the girl’s ears, and went on to the next person. Having little idea of how to pray, we lifted up our prayers, trusting that God would do what God does. A short time later, the interpreter returned. He began speaking with the father and daughter. At first, they were standing face to face, then he kept backing up and continued speaking with them. The three of us looked at him with puzzled expressions on our faces. He turned, looked at us with joy on his face, and told us that the girl had come completely deaf, and that God had restored her hearing. I imagine our jaws were just about touching the ground as we stood there in amazement. We had not done anything spectacular; we simply trusted and believed. The father and daughter had come believing that she would be restored, and she was. Throughout my time in Asia, there were several accounts of such healings. Sight was restored, limbs were healed, and various infirmities – gone. There was nothing that any of us could have done to make it so. It was God moving as He moves when His people pray and trust in Him. I know He still heals today; the challenging part is that we do not get to determine when or for whom. Sometimes God heals the physical need, yet other times He does a work in the heart.

 My own Mom suffered a stroke a year and a half ago. Myself and many others have prayed unceasingly for her complete and total restoration. Right now, she is far better than she was a year ago, yet we are still waiting and longing for the healing of her right arm, and continued healing of her right leg. She is able to walk with a cane and communicate well, and do most things independently. However, there are still things that require assistance. Our greatest gratitude is that she is still here with us. I know for all of us, God has used this season to challenge and grow us. In all things, may we seek and trust in Him for the healing that He holds for each of us.

Lord, teach us to trust,

In Your healing hands;

For You long to touch,

As love is Your plan.

Lead us to seek You,

Grant wisdom and faith;

Help us and hold us,

As we seek Your grace.

Show us Your power,

Bring healing each day;

Make our hearts anew,

As we walk Your way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You answer our faithful seeking. Thank You that though we don’t always understand why healing does not always happen this side of heaven, that You are always good. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when calamities come. Teach us to trust and rely on You as we walk forward in faith in the direction to which we are called. Show us how to love and support and pray for those who are in need of Your touch. Lead us to love well and pray faithfully. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as that is the space where hearts are healed and lives are changed. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your path straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

With Every Word

When you talk, you should always be kind and wise. Then you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should. – (Colossians 4:6, ERV) 

Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. – (Colossians 4:6, MSG) 

Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith. – (Colossians 4:6, TPT) 

This is an ongoing existence that I am ever pursuing. I want my every word to be kind and to bring out the best in others. Grace, truth and clarity come from God. If I wish to communicate the way God intended, I must invest time and energy into know Him and His word. It does not magically happen overnight, but rather is a lifelong pursuit. My prayer is that my words would bring out the best in others, and that I would extend respect, kindness and wisdom to those with whom I interact. May the way we use our words be an extension of our faith. 

Lord, please let my words, 

Be seasoned with grace; 

May clarity come, 

As I seek Your ways. 

Let kindness and truth, 

Encouraging good; 

Be spoken in love, 

Make grace understood. 

Lead me in Your love, 

With all that I say; 

Grant me Your wisdom, 

To ever speak grace. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your words for us are wise and kind, full of grace, and You bring out the best in us; always. Forgive us for the times that our words lacked grace or kindness. Teach us to choose our words wisely, so that we may be kind and wise and full of Your love in all that we say. Show us how to love those around us with our words. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You anew each day to raise us up as ambassadors of Your goodness and grace through every word that we say. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present 

No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. – Deuteronomy 30:14

Gentle Answers

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV) 

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV) 

A gentle answer defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – (Proverbs 15:1, MSG) 

How can we answer gently defuse the anger that is ravaging our cities? I wish I had the perfect answer that would restore order and peace. However, I recognize that there is no simple answer nor quick fix. This morning, I came across a powerful message from a woman of color , Nicole Walters, who gave me far deeper insight into what is going on. What if the protesting that has turned violent by some comes from a long-standing space of grief? Grief for the way that the world perceives individuals, based solely on the color of their skin. What if, after a lifetime of both observing and living this reality, the one more thing brought an end to the quiet peaceful ways of seeking right where so much is wrong, and what we are witnessing is screaming for our attention? No longer can we stay silent. We must listen and learn. In the same way the colonists attempted to peacefully right the wrongs imposed by authorities subjecting the citizens to unfair taxes, by letter writing, petitioning, and the like, they hit a point of being ignored, unheard, for far too long, and The Boston Tea Party took place. Rather than continue to be taxed on tea, they snuck aboard the ship and threw that tea into the harbor. Fires were ablaze, and civil unrest rose up. Enough was enough. What is going on now, is not so different. Preventable tragedies and gross atrocities continue to take place against people of color, and enough is enough. No, looting is not the answer, yet it has certainly demanded our attention. Each one of us needs to look at our own lens, and recognize where cleaning needs to occur. Sometimes, the lack of clarity of our view, comes from an unintentional ignorance. The more we know, the better we can become at loving our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, the way that God intended. Love always protects. If we begin to listen and learn and answer gently, with the wisdom and grace that God provides, then perhaps the anger will be defused and peace may begin to be restored. This begins with me. I love deeply, and value everyone. That being said, I must be intentional to become more aware, and learn how to love better. This is not meant to be some sort of soap box post, but rather one of recognition and repentance for not knowing what I have not clearly known. As a woman who loves Jesus, a mother, a teacher, and a friend, change begins with me. There is always more to learn to do better and be better. My job demands that I listen and learn, evolve and grow – in each of my roles; for each position give me a unique voice and the ability to impact those around me. May we seek the Lord for wisdom as we are intentional to listen and learn, so that we may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God as we are called. 

O Lord, here am I, 

On true bended knees; 

Asking for wisdom, 

So I clearly see. 

Please open my eyes, 

To where I’ve been blind; 

Lead me to better, 

Show me Your design. 

Help me to act justly, 

To love with mercy; 

May I humbly walk, 

Promote equity. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You continue to grow us as we are willing to listen and learn. Thank You that You have created each of us with gifts and talents to share with and positively impact the world. Forgive us for our ignorance or places where we have not viewed the world through Your lens. Teach us to continue to intentionally learn and grow, so that we may more clearly reflect Your love and light unto the world. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all people feel valued, heard, and known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and learn, so that we may always answer gently and help defuse anger with love. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – Micah 6:8

Take Heart

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be strong and brave, all of you who are waiting for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 31:24, ERV)

Be strong and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

 

Whenever I am in a space of struggle, difficulty or challenge, there is something about the Psalms that offers comfort. David, the author of many of them, penned perfectly, both the struggle in difficulties and the encouragement to overcome. It leads me to wonder if Paul, who wrote many of the letters that became the New Testament from a prison cell, found comfort too, in the songs and sonnets and scores of words recorded in the Psalms. For many of us, the staying in place feels a bit torturous, as it is in no way natural nor normal. However, when I consider the time spent by Paul under house arrest and in Roman prison, I need to count my blessings and take heart. In strength and courage, Paul encouraged entire congregations of new believers, despite his circumstances. We are no different. Whatever we are tasked to do in this season, may we be strong and take heart, and place our hope in He who is our help. God is good, and He is faithful to answer when we call on Him to be our help and our hope.

 

Be strong in the Lord, Take Heart

Take courage, be brave;

The Lord will be near,

When asked to come stay.

As we place our hope,

In the Lord above;

He grants what we need,

To go forth in love.

Fear not in trials,

For God’s ever near;

He’s present to help,

Each request, He hears.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can find strength and courage in You as we seek You to be our help and our hope. Thank You that You are ever-present. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations with our circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may learn and grow through every trial. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may encourage and strengthen one another in spaces where resolve is running low. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we find strength and courage as we look to You to be our help and hope forever. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

“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

He Answers

I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me. – (Psalm 120:1, NIV)

I was in trouble. I called to the Lord for help, and He answered me! – (Psalm 120:1, ERV)

I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayers. – (Psalm 120:1, NLT)

 

After waking from a disturbing dream about school, there is comfort in the reminder to call on the Lord; He is faithful to help and answer our prayers. I know that God’s plans are far greater than my own, and He is faithful to lead me in the direction that I am meant to go. That being said, I am also in my current space for such a time as this. Though I know not why the year has unfolded into such a battle, there is good to see in each and every day. One of the ways that God has answered, has been through the opportunity that I was given to take on a new coaching role at the high school. No matter how my school day had gone, walking into the gym brought joy and hope, excitement and strength, as we worked together toward a common goal. Now, a week post-high school, I just enjoyed the first meet of our middle school season, yesterday afternoon. The very same blessings that were bestowed upon me as I walked into the high school gym, I find in the gym at the middle school where I teach and coach as well. One of my answers currently, is the joy in helping girls discover what they are capable of doing when they are determined to work hard and stick with it. I do have the same moments of blessing in the classroom, but they are often tainted by poor behavior choices that demand my attention, in order to keep the classroom safe. In the gym, that is not the case. As I wait and trust, I will continue to call on the Lord, knowing that He has answers that will lead me to a space of peace. May we ever seek the Lord and place our troubles in His hands, for He hears and answers our prayers.

 

Choose call on the Lord,

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Photo courtesy of Pictured Memories

He’s faithful to hear;

When there is trouble,

His help’s ever near.

The Lord’s plans are good,

His heart is to bless;

To strengthen, lift up,

Remove our distress.

He leads us places,

Beyond what we’ve known;

To show us His strength,

As our faith is grown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we call on You in our troubles and distress, You hear our prayers and answer us. Thank You that Your answers are far greater than what we could ask or imagine. Forgive us for losing perspective in the midst of our struggles, as You never leave us nor forsake us. Teach us to trust that You are always moving on our behalf, even when we are unaware. Show us how to love those around us who are struggling, so that they may be strengthened and encouraged in the wait for Your new. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things and thank You for the blessings that You bring, even in the midst of our trials. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. – Psalm 145:18

Lean Not On Your Own

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what He wants, and He will help you go the right way. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, ERV)

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, VOICE)

 

Trusting God is far easier in some areas than in others. For me, it seems that when I have zero power to control the situation, I have no choice but to trust in Him. However, when I think that I can somehow maneuver and place myself in the best possible position to navigate a given situation, it does not necessarily go well. My ways are not His ways, and my plans are not God’s plans. No matter how well-intended my ideas are, God’s way is always better. Incredibly, God is gentle and kind, and He never forces His way in. He will wait, ever so patiently, for us to come to Him for His help. Currently, I find myself in a space where there seems to be no way, yet the direction appears a long-awaited answer to prayer. In this space, I have no choice but to trust and seek Him for answers and direction, every step of the way. Though I know not if what I see is what He is calling me to, I know His plans for me are good, and I will trust Him for all that lies ahead. May we ever place our trust in the Lord rather than our own understanding, for it is He who directs our steps and makes our way secure.

 

Choose trust in the Lord, Set Aside Distractions

In all things, always;

He hears each request,

To show us the way.

Decide not to lean,

On what our eyes see;

But rather seek God,

For what’s yet to be.

The Lord makes a way,

Where we never could;

And His way is best,

God’s plans, always good.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust in You, rather than our own understanding. Thank You that when we acknowledge You and depend on You, You prepare the way and make our paths straight. Thank You that Your ways are higher than ours, and You already know the outcome of what we desire. Forgive us for attempting to maneuver on our own, rather than seeking and depending on You. Teach us how to trust and rely on You in all thing and at all times to navigate our days according to Your perfect plan. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may be encouraged and strengthened to seek You in all things too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. – Psalm 28:7

He Hears

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. – (Psalm 17:6, NIV)

I am praying to You because I know You will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. – (Psalm 17:6, NLT)

You will answer me, God; I know You always will, like You always do as You listen with love to my every prayer. – (Psalm 17:6, TPT)

 

God in His amazing grace, hears our every prayer. He is faithful to answer as we ask, if only we seek Him. Yesterday was a day abounding in new, to the point of being a bit overwhelming before it even began. In His grace, God met me each step of the way, and the day went fairly well. New classes, new season and a new semester were each met with new strength, wisdom and resolve. All are a work in progress, but the tangible reminder that He answers what we ask of Him is an ongoing motivation to continue to depend on Him. May we call on the Lord, for He will answer, each time we pray to Him.

 

As we call on God, Compassion in Confrontations

He hears what we say;

Both spoken aloud,

And what our hearts pray.

Faithful to answer,

The God of all grace;

He knows what we need,

Throughout all our days.

So, seek Him and ask,

In faith, choose to pray;

God sees and answers,

In the best of ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we call on You and pray to You, You hear and answer us. Thank You that You are faithful forever. Forgive us for our fears and doubts that keep us from asking, or questioning when answers come differently than we would have imagined. Teach us to trust You and Your timing, as Your ways are best and You love to bless Your children. Show us how to love those around us well, in ways that extend Your heart and hope in spaces they are lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray to You and know that You hear all that we lift before You. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – Jeremiah 29:12

Set Aside Distractions

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, NIV)

But King David answered Araunah, “No, I will pay you the full price. I will not take anything that is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not give offerings that cost me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, ERV)

David replied to Araunah, “No. I’m buying it from you, and at the full market price. I’m not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, MSG)

 

The back story prior to King David determining to give an offering at that particular place, is that he had just been spared the full brunt of God’s wrath on Israel. David’s lack of trust in God led to a seemingly severe punishment, yet God relented prior to the complete fulfillment of what He had said would be done. David contended for mercy and an angel of the Lord told him to go up and build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice at that particular place. Being a man who understood what it meant to offer a sacrifice, he knew it required a cost on his part. When King David approached Araunah about purchasing the parcel of land to use to present sacrifices to God, Araunah was ready to give the land as a gift. David could not accept the land as a gift if it was part of a sacrifice, because for him, it had to have a cost. King David needed to be acutely aware of the expense, as a reminder of the mercy extended to him and all of Israel. When we make a sacrifice, it does not necessarily have to be monetary, yet it ought to be something that makes us aware of its absence so that we are expectant in wait of the better that is yet to come. For David, it was mercy for all of Israel. That was indeed far greater than the cost of a space to offer sacrifices. Today, the same principle still applies. When we are seeking answers, giving something up as we seek the Lord so that we might fully focus on Him, helps remind us what matters most. What are the answers you are seeking or the help you are needing? What is getting in your way? Identifying the distraction may be the first step in knowing what to set aside for a time, in order to seek the Lord for the help that is needed most. May we look to the Lord for the help and answers that we seek, and set aside that which distracts us from fully pursuing Him.

 

Seek the Lord our God, Set Aside Distractions

And all of His ways;

Remove distractions,

As we give God praise.

Pursue the Lord’s best,

As we set aside;

Barriers to Him,

Draw near, choose abide.

For when we focus,

On God and His will;

He leads and guides us,

And peace comes to fill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and set aside the things that distract us, You answer us and show us more of Yourself. Thank You that You only ask us to lay things down so that we can have something better in You. Forgive us for allowing so many things to draw our attention away from You. Set our hearts and minds on You so that we live and love according to Your plan. Show us how to love those around us in ways that bless and encourage and illuminate Your heart to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to sacrifice things that distract us from You and wholeheartedly pursue You and all that You have for us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to You; I will praise Your Name, Lord, for it is good. – Psalm 54:6