Wrestling for Blessing

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  – (Genesis 32:28, NIV) 

Then the man said, “Your name will not be Jacob. Your name will now be Israel. I give you this name because you have fought with God and men, and you have won.” – (Genesis 32:28, ERV) 

You will no longer go by the name Jacob. From now on your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and humanity, and you have prevailed. – (Genesis 32:28, VOICE) 

 

After twenty years of hard physical labor and dealing with a father-in-law who had repeatedly changed Jacob’s wages and the agreement that the two had made, Jacob determined to take his wives, children and livestock back to the land from which he had come. After a week of traveling with the massive group of folks and flocks, Leban, his father-in-law, caught up to the caravan and had a discussion with Jacob. After the tension subsided, the two men reached an agreement, and parted ways. As the journey continued, they group neared the land of Jacob’s father. Jacob was afraid of how his brother, Esau, would respond to his return. He selected a large number of his livestock to gift to him, and sent servants with groups of animals ahead, in hope of pacifying his brother. Once everyone had gone on ahead of him, Jacob met a Man, with whom he wrestled all night. The One with whom he struggled, told him to stop, but Jacob insisted that they continue until he was blessed by Him. Verse twenty-eight is the response given by the One with whom Jacob wrestled. Jacob had struggled with man and God, and now was receiving the blessing for which he was asking. Both commentaries that I read surrounding this passage, pointed out that with the change of name, came also, a change of heart. A personal encounter with God changed Jacob forever. Likewise, an encounter with God changes us forever too. Our persistence to persevere, even in the struggle, results in the Lord’s presence and His help. Though it is unlikely that any of us with physically wrestle with God Himself, (or an angel messenger, as different commentaries suggest that it was either God Himself, or one of His messengers) we will however, struggle with our circumstances and our faith. The more we seek Him, the stronger our trust becomes, fueling faith for every future endeavor. May we fearlessly wrestle with the struggles that come our way, as we depend on God to strengthen and sustain us, in all things and at all times. 

 

Though we may wrestle, f9d3a1df-a6ed-4149-9c89-54ddf9a6f9788443963905273144234.jpg

With our circumstance; 

Lord God, Almighty, 

Will help us advance. 

For as we seek God, 

He hears our heart cry; 

Strengthens our resolve, 

And hope to choose try. 

The blessings do come, 

As we choose persist; 

Hope, strength and His love, 

Things that prayer enlist. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear us as we call out to You. Thank You that though we may wrestle with our circumstances and our faith, You never falter, and hear our heart’s cry. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You and lay our need before You, knowing that You hear and help those who seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that displays Your faithfulness, strength and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we press on and pursue You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. – Psalm 119:2

As Seed Are Sown

Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – (Matthew 13:3-8, NIV)

 

Last Sunday, our pastor spoke on this particular parable. As he unpacked the meaning, he suggested the notion that perhaps it was not illustrating four different types of hearers of the word, but instead, it represents each of us at different stages of our relationship with God, or in different areas of our lives. There are indeed times when we are so closed off that words spoken, simply fall to the ground as if they had never been said. The second sort of soil, that which was shallow and rocky, mirrors our hearts when we hear the words, want to do well, but do nothing to invest to allow what we hear to take root. It is our desire for gratification without dedication, and it does not bring growth to fruition. When we are not rooted, the storms that come can destroy us. Seed among thorns is when the word of God is competing with the weight of the world that we attempt to bear. Worries will choke out all that is good if we do not allow God to be the gardener who prunes and pulls out that which does not belong in our lives. Finally, the seed that is sown on good soil is the word of God that we allow to enter our heart and act upon it. It is an ongoing investment in relationship with God and a choice to be intentional to spend time in His word, in worship and in prayer. As we know Him more, we more clearly reflect His heart to those around us. When others see His heart through us, that is when they too, desire to know the One who loves us so. May we ever seek the Lord to soften the soil of our heart and keep the rocks and worries that become barriers far from us, so that we may learn and grow and love others as we are loved by Him.

 

Let seed that are sown, How Faith Grows

Land on fertile soil;

Soften my heart, Lord,

Let not Your seed spoil.

For Your words are life,

Your love shows the way;

As we seek You more,

We trust and obey.

All time spent with You,

Helps us better know;

The gift of Your grace,

You grant us to grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You tend to our heart as we seek You and spend time with You. Forgive us for the times that we have been hard-hearted, shallow, or allowed the worries of the world to reign rather than You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are greater than anything that we face. Help us to prioritize our time to invest in knowing You more and loving those around us well. Show us how to love all whom we encounter in a way that ultimately points their hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as You tend to the soil of our hearts, and nurture growth as we allow You to water and care for the things that You so intentionally plant within us to nourish those around us. Amen.

 

 

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

You pour rain on the plowed fields; You soak the fields with water. You make the ground soft with rain, and You make the young plants grow. – Psalm 65:10

Peace in Turbulence

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – (Psalm 73:28, NIV)

But as for me, I get as close to Him as I can! I have chosen Him, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful ways He rescues me. – (Psalm 73:28, TLB)

But the closer I am to You, my God, the better because life with You is good. O Lord, the Eternal, You keep me safe – I will tell everyone what You have done. – (Psalm 73:28, MSG)

 

God is our faithful space of safety, and it is so good to know He is near. I am not the biggest fan of flying, and on our return trip from our honeymoon, we had to fly all the way across the U.S., broken into two connecting flights. As we were about to land in Phoenix, the plane barely touched the front wheels to the ground, then lifted off again. There had been more turbulence than my stomach appreciates and the very idea of having to go up and come down again was a bit overwhelming. The plane bounced around as we made another loop, changing altitudes less than smoothly, and all I could do was close my eyes and breathe, as I prayed for the landing to come quickly. Not normally one who perspires, my entire back was drenched as we circled around. Because we were in the bulkhead row, a flight attendant was seated adjacent me, facing us. He let us know what had happened, and was in communication with the cockpit. Soon the captain came over the speakers and announced what had transpired with the promise of an actual landing coming soon. Though my body was not pleased with the turbulence, my mind found peace in God’s presence and in the hand of my husband beside me. We safely landed, and I could not have been happier to get off that plane and stand on solid ground. Thankfully, our second flight, an hour later, was uneventful. May we ever trust in the Lord, be it in turbulence or in calm, for He is faithful to be near to all who call on Him.

 

A life with the Lord, fb_img_1533560993920686939278845347391.jpg

Brings promise of peace;

Though turmoil does come,

So too, His relief.

The Lord God is good,

Despite circumstance;

He holds us all up,

Gives reason to dance.

Though turbulent times,

Will happen, it’s clear;

God’s peace will be ours,

As we choose draw near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that life with You is good. Thank You that You are our safety and our peace, no matter what comes our way. Forgive us for our fearfulness in the turmoil. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rest our heart in Your hands as You are our Protector and Provider of peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we draw ever closer to You, our faithful space of safety forever. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Send Your Rain

Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! – (Psalm 72:3, ESV) 

May the mountains yield prosperity for all, and may the hills be fruitful. – (Psalm 72:3, NLT) 

Under His reign, may this land of mountains and hills know peace and experience justice for all the people. – (Psalm 72:3, VOICE) 

 

Though I am only beginning to process all that I saw and experienced during my time in Belize, this particular verse stood out to me this morning, as it is my prayer for the people whom I had the joy to meet. During my stay in beautiful Belize, I was up north in the jungle. Our purpose was to hold health education outreaches, to check blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and to help educate people about risks and prevention, as well as some other basic health awareness issues. The thing that left the greatest impact on me, was that in the neighboring village to where we were staying, the greatest need was to have year-round clean water. Each year, during the dry season (May – June), many people from the village of 2,500+ fall ill, especially school children, and have no cure for something that should be entirely preventable. The kind principal of the K-8 school has to be the nurse, custodian, cafeteria provider, and run the school. She informed us that during the dry season, it is common to have to send five students a day to the hospital. Each student sent costs the school $100 out of the operating budget, and the hospital does not hydrate the children, but rather gives a cortisone shot and sends them home, often more ill than when they arrived. Clean running water year-round would eliminate much of the illness, and having a nearby nurse who could administer fluids rather than a useless shot, would likely alleviate much of the remaining ruin that occurs during the despairing time each year. The lack of resources and man-power are the obstacles that stand between the village and the solution. Awareness is certainly a step in the right direction. My prayer is that with the known need, that the floodgates of heaven would open, and He would supply all that is needed. No, there is no simple solution that will transpire overnight, but there are now twelve more people who have been touched by the lives of those living in the village, and who cannot unsee the faces of the sweet children who attend school where we stood. May our hearts be ever open to hear what we are meant to do to touch lives and transform communities as You call us to do. 

 

O Lord, send Your rain, Send Your Rain

Pour out on this place; 

Grant what is needed, 

By Your sovereign grace. 

O Lord, break our hearts, 

For that which breaks Yours; 

Then lead us in love, 

As You open doors. 

Help us to see, Lord, 

As You want us to; 

Give strength and equip, 

So we may go do. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and know every need. Thank You that You lead us where You want us to go, and You show us Your heart for people. Thank You that You make us aware of those beyond our borders. Forgive us for neglecting to look for need outside of our own four walls. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk through our days with eyes to see as You see, and open hands and hearts, ready to give, love and serve as You ask us to do. Show us how to love well, those within our own reach, as well as those beyond our borders. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to be the Provider for those near and far, and to show us what we can do to be Your hands to those in need. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Peace and Justice Made Plain

Let there be peace and justice throughout the land, known on every mountain and hill. – (Psalm 72:3, ERV)

 

Though these words were part of a prayer for King Solomon, they still remain true as the hope for each generation that has followed. When we seek the Lord and His will for our lives, our homes, our neighborhoods and our nation, His peace and justice become made plain. The more who seek Him, the more His ways and His will are made evident everywhere we go. May we ever pursue our Provider, as His peace and justice are made clear through all who cling to Christ.

 

May the peace of God,Compassion in Confrontations

And His justice too;

Be made evident,

Through hearts that pursue.

As we seek the Lord,

May His heart be known;

From mountains to seas,

Let His ways be shown.

For none can compare,

To the Lord, our God;

Brings peace to chaos,

Justice where it’s not.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bring Your peace and justice throughout the land, and make Yourself known on every mountain and hill. Thank You that even when we cannot see the evidence of Your hand at work, You are moving on our behalf. Forgive us for our lack of faith when chaos and injustice seem to reign. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and cling to You by faith, knowing that You are doing far more than we know, even when we are unaware of how You are working in our midst. Help us to hold fast to the peace that You provide, as it is our reminder that You will do what You promise. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers peace and presence in places of pain. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your peace and justice, for You are always good. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Sore

When muscles are reactivated that have not been utilized in a while, the morning after tends to be a bit sore. This applies both physically and emotionally. The very tangible and real version of this is the physical for me this morning, as yesterday morning I actually ran up sets of stairs at a local high school stadium. I’d hoped that a short run in the afternoon would help prevent this sort of soreness this morning, but too much time had passed and the muscles were already taxed. I have experienced this emotionally as well. After allowing myself to actually sit and experience, process or be present in whatever I was meant to face, I would discover that the next day I felt the same sort of weariness within my heart.

Our minds, bodies and hearts are meant to be utilized in the unique way that God designed them. For some, that includes strenuous exercise often, whereas with others, it is simply to move each day. However, with our minds and hearts, we are all meant to pursue Him with all that we are, and be willing to allow Him access to all. For me, the access portion is the hardest part, as it requires vulnerability and a willingness to face the difficult. I know for some, the physical is far more taxing; for others, the investing of the mind. Each of us are designed with different strengths, yet we are all called to continue to pursue Christ, even in our areas of weakness.

 

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – (Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV)

 

Though we will become weary and sore, He calls us to keep moving towards Him. The more we move our hearts, bodies and minds, the stronger they become and the less frequent the episodes of fatigue. The Lord sustains and renews all who hope in Him. May we choose to persevere in our pursuit of Christ, as He answers all who call on His Name.

 

When we do the things,Sore

We’ve not often done;

Weariness invades,

Leaving us undone.

The Lord’s ever near,

Ready to supply;

Strength to the weary,

Hope that helps us fly.

When our feet stumble,

The Lord takes our hand;

Shows us solid ground,

Where it’s safe to land.

Let not the weary,

The fear of the sore;

Keep hearts from pursuit,

Of all of God’s more.

With body and mind,

And with our hearts too;

Let us keep seeking,

The Lord and His truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we may become sore, weary and tired when we seek to use that which You’ve given us in ways that we haven’t in a while, You meet us where we are and show us Your goodness and grace. Thank You that the more often we utilize that which we have been given, the less often soreness from inactivity seeps in. Forgive us for not utilizing our bodies, minds and hearts in the ways in which You have designed them for us, individually. Teach us to trust You more, allowing You access in all areas, so that we would grow ever closer to You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too would see the strength that You provide and the loving kindness You give to all those who choose abide. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all that we are unto You, and trust You to lead and guide us in the ways we are meant to go. Amen.

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

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

Evidence of the Eternal

image by Eric J. Christopher

image by Eric J. Christopher

Since the very day,

creation began,

plain is our God’s touch;

clear work of His hands.

Qualities unseen,

visible to man;

looking to the sky,

beholding the land.

Vast oceans of blue,

mighty mountaintops;

abundant valleys,

bright colors that pop.

The joy of new life,

delight of a child;

various creatures,

living in the wild.

Who could not see Him,

looking all around?

God’s majestic hand,

is so clearly found.

Hear Him, created,

He is calling out;

for all to know Him,

and live life devout.

“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” – (Romans 1:19-20)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You surround us with clear evidence of You.  Thank You that each breath, every heartbeat, is a reminder of Your love and attention for each of us.  Thank You that Your power is made plain when we open our eyes to the world around us.  Forgive us for taking any of it for granted, and help us to appreciate the divine detail in Your design.  May we stand in awe as we take in the beauty that surrounds us, and may we clearly convey our gratitude to You, God.  Let us live out loud, a life of love for You, that leads many to move toward You and Your great grace.  May lives be changed and hearts be healed, as we worship You for the wonder that You are.  Amen.

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