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

Obey and Watch

For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. – (Luke 1:15)

God spoke a promise to John the Baptist’s parents before he was born. The fulfillment came quickly, and it was obvious that God was doing mighty things, even from the very announcement of John’s pending arrival. In the middle portion of the verse, God had specific requirements for his parents to obey, in order to lead and guide John in the way in which he, specifically, was to go. God is God, and would have moved mightily with or without their obedience, yet I imagine because they chose to obey, the fullness of His promise was fulfilled. I think the same holds true for us. God is good, and His promises are yes and amen. However, when there is an instruction for us given, followed by an and “something shall be done“, it is in our best interest to obey. God does not make us jump through hoops, but He does direct our steps in a certain and specific direction so that we will discover the very best path that He has prepared for us. When we do what He asks of us, we see Him move mightily, in spite of us. May we choose to walk in obedience to all that God asks, and watch expectantly for the wonder of how He will move.

God sees each of us,Delivering Dreams

as great in His eyes;

not for what we’ve done,

but hope realized.

Because we are His,

with purpose and plan;

let us seek His face,

so we understand.

When clarity comes,

let’s choose to obey;

His miracles move,

when walking His way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and valuing us each, individually. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us, and that You are willing to lead and guide us in the ways in which we are meant to go. Thank You that as we heed Your direction, You move in ways we could not have even begun to fathom. Forgive us for neglecting to do what You call us to do, and teach us to trust You more, so that we will immediately act on the things that You lead us to do. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they may clearly see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we obey that which You ask of us, and trust You completely. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Compassion in Confrontations

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. – (Matthew 14:14)

 

Despite having just learned of the death of His dear cousin, John the Baptist, Jesus set aside the solitude He was seeking to mourn, and chose to heal the hurts of others instead. Christ’s compassion is so great, that He chose to set aside His own sorrow, and allow His light and life to flow into those who had not yet come to know what true love looks like. When we are suffering or stuck in a sorrowful space, we need not stand alone. For Christ, who came and experienced loss and pain and suffering far greater than our own grief, is loving and kind, and will be compassionate and close, if we call on His Name. May we remember to reach out to our Redeemer in all thing at all times, for He is compassionate and has wholeness in store for all who call on Him.

 

For Jesus has known,Compassion in Confrontations

the darkness of grief;

the anguish of loss,

the need to retreat.

Yet in His sorrow,

He kept His eyes up;

healing the hurting,

with His tender touch.

May we do likewise,

no matter what comes;

allow Christ to move,

so His will is done.

Christ calls us to love,

as He has loved us;

in kindness be near,

let Him fill each cup.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of compassion and the Healer of our souls. Thank You that You came and showed us that even in You own season of sorrow, You set aside Your space to withdraw when You saw needs that You could meet in the moment. Thank You that You modeled compassion that was not limited by circumstance. Forgive us for being blinded by our own sorrow or pain, and help us to see the needs surrounding us that You can meet through us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will be willing and available in all things and at all times, despite what we are going through. Lead us to love with kindness and compassion, just as You so tenderly and completely love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the hope that is held in You alone. Be exalted O God, as we choose to convey compassion and kindness, even in the midst of our greatest confrontations. Amen.

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

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Prepare the Way

Preparations in advance make the way anywhere more easy to navigate. John the Baptist fulfilled his calling, as he faithfully went out into the Desert of Judea and preached repentance to prepare the hearts and minds of all who would hear him for the message that Jesus would soon deliver. “This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” – (Matthew 3:3)

 

John helped prepare the way for Jesus. With Easter mere days away, how can we “prepare the way for the Lord” and “make straight paths for Him“? Our charge as followers of Christ is to do just that. Our lives ought to speak volumes, without a single word. Do people see a difference in how we live? If our conduct demonstrates kindness and grace, opportunities are opened to share what He has done for us, personally, and “paths may be made straight” as we can correct misconceptions that people may be holding in their hearts about their own capacity to come to Christ. May His good news be made known as grace is lovingly shown.

 

Prepare the way,Prepare the Way

for our loving Lord;

make His heart known,

live in one accord.

Make straight the paths,

that lead unto Him;

offer His hope,

so His light shines in.

Give others grace,

as we have received;

Love drew us in,

when we first believed.

May that same love,

given lavishly;

draw others in,

so they too believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know You. Thank You that He prepared the way and made the path straight for our minds and hearts to hold all hope in You. Thank You that we too, can be a part of preparing the way for others to come to know You. Forgive us for neglecting to do what You call us to, and for doing that which You ask us to not do. Thank You for Your forgiveness and grace, and may it compel us to depend on You more in all times and in each place. Help us to love and extend grace as You do unto us, and may many come to understand the eternal significance of Your death and resurrection this Easter. Let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.

– Genesis 21:6