Two Ears and Only One Mouth

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, TPT)

As always, this is a timely reminder. Yesterday, my husband received the video footage that was submitted to animal control by kind citizens who had caught horrendous footage of the abuse of our dog by the trainers in whom we had entrusted him. My initial reaction to the entire situation was both anger and sorrow. I was enraged at the betrayal of our trust by the trainers, and absolutely gutted knowing what my poor puppy had endured. God was very specific with me in how I ought to respond to the whole situation, and by placing all of my focus on the care of Thor, I was able to release the anger and love on my pup. The news that my husband had the video in his possession brought my initial reaction back to the surface. Knowing that I was not called to allow my anger to get the best of me, I had to work through it all over again. Sometimes, what we listen to is not beneficial. However, remembering to be slow to speak will always serve us well. Once words have left our lips, we cannot take them back. I know that there is righteous anger, yet it is still not something that I am meant to hold. Feeling and acting are two very different things. What we feel cannot dictate what we do. There are times that we simply must trust that justice will be served and place our attention on caring well for the wounded. Even now, as Thor sits beside me as I try to write, his continuous reaching out with his paws reminds me to focus on loving and caring well for him. May we ever seek the Lord to help us to listen first, be slow to speak, and to keep our anger in check. He is faithful to help us walk in His way and do His will as we earnestly seek Him.

Lord, help us to lead,

With listening ears;

A heart set to love,

As we choose to hear.

Then help us to tame,

Our tongues in replies;

Grant wisdom with words,

As grace You supply.

And as for anger,

Let’s give it to You;

As we choose to seek,

We’re shown what to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and You know all things. Thank You for giving us two ears and only one mouth. Help us to use them accordingly. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to listen, speak without weighing our words, and allow anger to flow instead of placing all in Your hands. Teach us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and to slow our roll when anger rises. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes all feel valued and heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to truly listen, slow to speak, and slow to allow anger find a foothold. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – Psalm 105:4

Strength in the Struggle

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete. You will have everything you need. – (James 1:4, ICB)

None of us enjoy trials or struggles, yet we all must go through them. When we are invested in our relationship with Christ, He uses each challenge that comes our way to strengthen and grow us to be more like Him. He does not cause the struggle, but allows it so that we may grow in maturity in our relationship with Him. As our patiences grows, His heart more clearly shows. It is on the other side of struggles and challenges that we can look back and see how far we have come. In the verses that precede verse four, we are called to consider such situations with joy, not because they are happy and fun, but rather because of what trials produce within us. Faith grows and perseverance manifests as we depend on God through each challenge. Not only does God show us who He is, but He demonstrates how He can work both in and through us to navigate the storms. May we ever lean into the Lord as we encounter every trial that life throws our way. For as we trust in Him, His strength, patience and perseverance are made evident through us.

In all that we do,

Let’s look to the Lord;

He is the anchor,

And where love’s outpoured.

It is through our trust,

That love and grace grow;

We’re made more like Him,

And patience is shown.

So, rise up in faith,

Turn in trust to Him;

Ever He’s faithful,

As we let love in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the joy in our trials is not the trial itself, (for they are never terribly fun) but rather joy comes in knowing the work that You are doing in and through us as we press on in faith. Thank You that You are faithful to strengthen and lead us through every storm, as You grow us to become a clearer reflection of You. Forgive us Lord, for the desire for things to always be easy. Teach us to trust the process, as the challenges are the spaces where the most growth occurs. Show us how to love those around us through all things, for often You make Your love and support tangible through others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in our trials, and praise You for the patience and perseverance that are grown in us through Your faithfulness as we press on. Amen.

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

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32

Seek for Strength

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

Depend on the Lord for strength. Always go to Him for help. – (1 Chronicles 16:11, ERV)

Always follow the Eternal, His strength and His face. – (1 Chronicles 16:11, VOICE)

Our own strength is limited, however, God’s is not. He is the One we are meant to look to for help and strength. The Lord provides where we are lacking, if only we seek Him. This morning, I am seeking Him anew, as I need His strength to navigate all the new in this coming week. Though I am looking forward with eager anticipation to having kids back in my classroom, there is the unknown element of how to make the who live and online teaching work simultaneously. God is good, and He will provide the patience and endurance that is needed, and the strength to continue moving forward. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, for He is our help and all that we need to navigate the road that lies ahead.

When my strength is gone,

I need never fear;

For the Lord provides,

And is ever near.

As I seek His face,

Resolve is made new;

With love and His grace,

His strength leads me through.

So, look to the Lord,

Ever seek His face;

For strength, hope and love,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and seek Your face, and You strengthen us and lead us in the ways that we are meant to go. Forgive us for attempting to power through things rather than turning to You for help. Teach us to trust in You, so that we would place all in Your hands. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your face for strength in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

But You, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. – Psalm 22:19

Seek His Strength

Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. – (Ephesians 6:10, NIV)

To end my letter I tell you, be strong in the Lord and in His great power. – (Ephesians 6:10, ERV)

Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of His explosive power flowing in and through you. – (Ephesians 6:10, TPT)

Paul’s encouragement to the church of Ephesus is still an encouragement for us today. We are not meant to be strong on our own, but rather by the strength He provides through His presence, both in and through us. Strength on our own is not sustainable, yet in Him, we are able to endure and overcome all things. This does not mean that all will be easy, but it does mean God will be present to supply what we need when we need it most. May we ever look to the Lord to be our strength, recognizing that His mighty power provides what is required to press on.

Let’s look to the Lord,

For He is the place;

We are granted strength,

To run well our race.

Power that endures,

Through the toughest days;

A love that surrounds,

And grace that remains.

The Lord is the One,

On whom to depend;

To rise, overcome,

As strength He extends.

So, look to the Lord,

For all that we need;

Seek His strength, not ours,

In Him we succeed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of strength as we learn to depend on You. Thank You that Your power is present and made evident in our weakness. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to power through on our own, rather than seeking our true Source of strength. Teach us to turn in trust to You, as You supply all we need. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer strength and hope and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our Source of strength in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

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

Our Way Maker

They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way. – (Luke 4:29-30, NIV)

They got up and forced Jesus to go out of town. Their town was built on a hill. They took Jesus to the edge of the hill to throw Him off. But He walked through the middle of the crowd and went away. – (Luke 4:29-30, ERV)

They mobbed Jesus and threw Him out of the city, dragging Him to the edge of the cliff on the hill on which the city had been built, ready to hurl Him off. But He walked right through the crowd, leaving them all stunned. – (Luke 4:29-30, TPT)

This scene transpired soon after Jesus had spent forty days and nights in the wilderness, where He was led by the Spirit and tested by the devil. Jesus had gone to the synagogue in Nazareth, where He was raised, and stood before the crowd to read. At first, His message was well-received, but when He began to speak of how previous prophets were not sent to their own towns to do miraculous things, but rather called to cleanse and heal and provide for those whom the people of the time considered “less worthy”. The words He spoke riled up the crowd and they ran Him out of the synagogue and out to the edge of town, where they fully intended to throw Him off the cliff. Incredibly, Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on His way to continue teaching and touching the lives of those wherever He went. 

As a visual person, the whole mob scene at the edge of a cliff leaves me in awe. Jesus didn’t panic or argue, He simply walked back out through the middle of the mob, unscathed, and free to go where He was called to go. It feels a bit like a “Jedi mind-trick”, as it says nothing of the crowds fighting Him or following Him. Jesus simply walked through where He needed to go, and He was on His way. This story reminds me that no matter how dismal or impossible things seem, if God has called us, He will make a way; whether it is parting a sea, clearing space through a crowd, or supplying all that we need to continue to move forward in that which He has called us to do. With Him, nothing is impossible. May we ever look to the Lord, who is the reason for this sacred season, as He is the One to supply our needs and pave a path that leads where we are meant to go.

A way in the desert,

This passage reminded me of this song. Be blessed as you listen to the truth of who God is.

Safety through the storms;

God’s power in weakness,

How hearts are transformed.

Nothing’s impossible,

As we trust in Him;

Our blessed Redeemer,

Heals and forgives sin.

Lord, help us to trust You,

In everything;

For we have Your Spirit,

And all that He brings.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us who You are and how You love. Thank You that by Your Spirit, nothing is impossible. Thank You that our perspective is not Yours. Forgive us for our limited vision, as we see but only a glimpse and think we understand the whole picture. Teach us to trust You, as You knew our whole story before it had even begun. Show us how to love those around us in ways that help us all see the strength, love and supply that You have for all who trust in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our hearts, minds, time, strength and supply into all that You call us to. Amen.

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

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. – Psalm 25:9

True Peace Through Trust

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, NIV) 

God, You give true peace to people who depend on You, to those who trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, ERV) 

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. – (Isaiah 26:3, VOICE) 

In the midst of this ever-changing world, true peace can often feel impossible. However, as we set our minds and hearts to depending on God to be our peace, He is faithful to meet us and grant us peace within. This feels even more important than ever, as nothing seems certain in the midst of a pandemic. Our jobs, our schools, our communities, our states, and our nation, each have to change and adapt in order to function. For many, change alone disrupts peace; navigating the new when all seems uncertain, points people more than ever, to seek peace in the middle of it all. When I fix my eyes on He who is my peace, and choose to trust in Him, rather than what I see or hear around me, I discover a peace that does not make sense. Calm in the storm and comfort in the chaos, despite our circumstances and surroundings. May we ever look to the Lord to be our peace, and trust in Him, as He meets us and brings His perfect peace to our minds and hearts, regardless of what surrounds us. 

The God of all peace, 

Always, He is near; 

To settle our hearts, 

And make our path clear. 

As we choose to seek, 

Ever we shall find; 

God’s goodness and grace, 

Brings peace to our minds. 

Lord, help us recall, 

In the midst of storms; 

That You are ready, 

To comfort and warm. 

All glory to God, 

Our place of true peace; 

Where chaos finds calm, 

And love is released. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and trust in You to be our peace, regardless of what surrounds us. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances or surroundings to steal our peace, when You alone are our true peace. Teach us to always turn to You, for You are our true peace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace and comfort where there is unrest. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to keep perfect peace in our minds and hearts, no matter what lies ahead. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth 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

Seek to Know

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – (Psalm 119:105, NIV) 

By Your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. – (Psalm 119:105, MSG) 

Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of Your word makes my pathway clear. – (Psalm 119:105, TPT) 

When we are at a loss or do not know what we should do, God is faithful to lead and guide us in the direction that is best. He will reveal His will to light our way as we earnestly seek Him. The more we are intentional to spend time in His word and in prayer, the more readily we are equipped to know and discern His voice and His direction. God is our light in the darkness, and He will show us which way to go, and what is best. We need not fear, even on the darkest days, as He is light, life, hope and help. May we ever be intentional to invest in His word and seek Him in prayer, for He is the lamp for our feet and the light on our path. 

When all that’s ahead, 

Seems dark and unclear; 

Seek and trust the Lord, 

For He’s ever near. 

Near us as the light, 

That lovingly shows; 

What we ought avoid, 

And where we need go. 

God’s word is the lamp, 

That will light the way; 

Let us ever seek, 

His best for each day. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are ever-present and ready to show us the way in which we are meant to go, both in small things and great things. Thank You that You always have our ultimate best in mind. Forgive us for our independent stubbornness that attempts to power through, rather than seek and listen to You. Teach us to trust and seek You in all things. Show us how to love those around us according to Your perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest time in Your word and in prayer so that we may understand Your will for our lives. 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

Trust in His Present Help

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, NIV) 

Don’t worry – I am with you. Don’t be afraid – I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. – (Isaiah 41:10, ERV) 

Do not yield to fear, for I am always near. Never turn your gaze from me, for I am your faithful God. I will infuse you with My strength and help you in every situation. I will hold you firmly with my victorious right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, TPT) 

God is faithful to His promise to be present to help, in both small and great things. Yesterday, we took our Lab puppy, Thor, on a couple of hikes. The first took us along Lake Easton, down to the state park campgrounds, and then on a bit further to the river below the dam. Thor loved the water, and happily waded and drank his fill of the fresh, cool water. Later in the afternoon, after witnessing his love and seeming fearlessness, we took him on a hike around the lake, and first found a small cove with a few feet of beach-like terrain. Each step he became a bit more daring about going further out. At last, we decided to see if he would swim. Though there was a bit of fear in each of us, for it was a first and required trust, Thor galloped out past where he could touch to retrieve a stick, and swam as he was born to do. Our hearts were strengthened as we watched the faithfulness of God in how He created our sweet pup, and we then took him further on the trail to the boat launch area. Once there, we began to throw the same stick out a bit further each time he retrieved it, our hearts growing in trust a bit more each time. When we determined Thor had done enough, we began our trek back to our campground. Thor was emboldened, and was actually protesting as we were leaving; jumping and attempting to nip at us to encourage us to turn back around. He settled back down when he was able to take part of the leash in his mouth, allowing him to think he was leading us back. Though I know this is a small thing, it is still an example of having to trust. The more we trust in the small things, the more we are prepared to trust when trials and difficulties come our way. May we ever look to the Lord and trust in Him, for He is faithful to strengthen us and hold us up with His mighty hands. 

Do not be afraid, 

For God’s always near; 

To comfort, strengthen, 

And wash away fear. 

The Lord’s mighty hands, 

In love, hold us up; 

Protect, empower, 

He fills empty cups. 

In spaces of fear, 

He often will show; 

Beautiful new things, 

To help our hearts grow. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to meet us wherever we are; be it in small things or tremendous trials. Thank You that You strengthen us and uphold us with Your mighty, loving hands. Forgive us for the spaces where fear overwhelms us. Teach us to trust You more, as You are ever present to help, and faithful to love us through all things. Show us how to love, encourage and strengthen those around us in the same way that You do as You lovingly walk alongside us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be present to help and strengthen us in all things as You uphold us with Your loving hands. Amen. 

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

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1

The Weight of Grief in the Garden

When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, NIV)
When He finished praying, He went to His followers. He found them asleep, worn out from their grieving.  – (Luke 22:45, ERV)
When Jesus finished praying, He got up and went to His disciples and found them all asleep, for they were exhausted and overwhelmed with sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, TPT)
I am not sure why I have not ever noticed the phrasing of Luke’s account of what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but why the disciples fell asleep, becomes far more relate-able somehow. The disciples had every reason to be grieving, for they had shared their final meal with Jesus, heard His last words of wisdom, sung their last hymn together, and then heard that one among them would betray Him and another would deny Him… That is some serious heaviness to hold. How often do we find ourselves in the same sort of space? There  are times that the grief is too great, and even as we try to pray, exhaustion takes over, and sleep finds a welcomed win. The disciples, though Jesus had told them what would take place, could likely not wrap their hearts and minds around it all. They were in the throes of the suffering and sorrow-filled part, and could not yet see the glorious hope that would come after the horror Jesus was about to endure. Incredibly, Jesus continued to pray. When Judas and his entourage of Sanhedrin and soldiers arrived to have Jesus arrested, Jesus continued to love as He healed the ear that an over-zealous disciple cut off in His defense. He went willingly, without argument nor needed force, for love led Him to the cross at Calgary.
I paused writing to go run, and ended up having a great discussion about the potential disparity between the four accounts of the disciples’ time in the garden. My running bestie is a nurse, so she reminded me that Luke was a doctor. Between us, we recognized that the other accounts were recorded by fishermen, who likely felt bad for falling asleep, and simply recorded that alone. Luke, however, from a physician’s standpoint, was the most likely to recognize the toll that grief and sorrow take on the body, and reported the occurrence accordingly. Like me, she had not ever noticed the difference in the accounts of what took place, but together, we discussed how it indeed made sense. Many of us find ourselves in a similar space of grief or sorrow. There is loss that we are uncertain how to process, and that weighs heavily, no matter how much we pray. Perhaps this forced slow down season is meant for more than just protecting ourselves from the further spread of a pandemic; maybe, just maybe, this is a season where we are to allow our bodies to sleep when we can fight it no longer, rest up, reflect on what truly matters, and rise up renewed and refreshed, as Jesus carried it all for us and rose again. May we give ourselves grace in our moments of sorrow, grief and exhaustion, and look to the Lord who is the One who strengthens, renews and grants us what we need to rise up restored, once again.
In grief’s heaviness,

The Weight of Grief

Sculpture by Celeste Roberge

We’re burdened and worn;
Exhausted and spent,
In sorrow, forlorn.
Our bodies in need,
Of overdue rest;
Sometimes a shut down,
When sleep is the best.
God knows all our needs,
He loves us with grace;
Refreshes, renews,
And brings brighter days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace, even in humanity’s most exhausted spaces. Thank You that You love us back to life again, even when our weariness from loss steals our resolve to rise and fight. Forgive us for thinking that we can somehow power through things without giving room for grief. Teach us to lean into You to show us how to properly process, rest and rise again in all that You are calling us to do. Lead us to love others well, so that their burdens may be lessened and their sorrow’s shortened. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in our heaviness and seek You for rest and refreshment as You restore and renew us in You. Amen.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – Psalm 119:28

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