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

Making Our Days Matter

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise. – (Psalm 90:12, ERV)

Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set Your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept Your correction. – (Psalm 90:12, TPT)

A common thread among us is that I think we are all far more aware that our days are numbered. There is nothing quite like a pandemic to remind us that none of us are immune to the reaches of the affects, as I know few folks who do not at least know someone impacted by COVID19. We have the opportunity to respond to the realization that none of us are guaranteed a long life on earth, so how we spend our days matters. In order to use the time we are given well, we need God’s wisdom. He is faithful to grow us and show us more and more of His love and grace, as we choose to follow after Him. The Lord is faithful to direct and correct, if we are willing to pursue Him and respond to His promptings. I desire to live each day with intention, and am acutely aware of my need for God’s intervention to do so. May we ever recognize that we are not promised tomorrow, so that we might live each day with wisdom and grace, according to God’s good and perfect plan.

O Lord, I thank You,

For each day thus far;

As Your love and grace,

Meet us where we are.

Grant us Your wisdom,

Help us to live well;

Let each brand new day,

Be love’s show and tell.

May each day we rise,

Be seen as a gift;

Each moment a chance,

For spirits to lift.

Lord, show me Your heart,

In each circumstance;

Make me wise with love,

To live out Your plans.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have good plans for each of us. Thank You that You meet us as we seek You, and You grant us wisdom to navigate our days well. Forgive us for the times that we take our days for granted. Teach us how to live with intention, each new day that we draw breath. Show us how to live and love with wisdom and grace, so that all might seek Your welcome embrace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each new day, and seek You to live it out with wisdom, love and grace. Amen.

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

How many are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. – Psalm 104:24

The Blessing of Benevolent Love

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, NIV)

Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, ERV)

Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. – (1 Peter 4:8, VOICE)

If we are loving deeply, steadily and unselfishly, we have no room to keep bringing up past mistakes or a laundry list of wrongs. Though there are spaces to use wisdom as far as what we are willing to subject ourselves to, typically, we simply need to get to a space of forgiving and choosing love again. When we forgive in love, our own hearts are released from the weight of whatever went wrong. Even if there are no possible reparations for a relationship, forgiveness is a way to choose love that will release one’s own heart from the heaviness. May we seek the Lord to fill our hearts to overflowing, so that we may love one another steadily and unselfishly, ever seeking to bring out the best in one another.

Lord, lead us in love,

Without selfishness;

May we love deeply,

Like You, relentless.

Grant us eyes to see,

In love, each other;

Forgive and choose love,

Sisters and brothers.

Help us forgive wrongs,

Release all to You;

Make love evident,

In all that we do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another deeply; with steadiness and selflessness. Thank You that as we do, Your love covers over faults and failings. Forgive us for our selfishness that holds onto hurts. Teach us to give all to You, so that we may know Your freedom found in love. Show us how to love those around us completely, so that may know Your love without conditions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to love steadily and unselfishly. Amen.

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

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Pray for ALL People

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. You should pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives – lives full of devotion to God and respect for Him. – (1 Timothy 2:1-2, ERV)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. – (1 Timothy 2:1-2, MSG)

Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men(people) with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion. And pray for every political leader and representative, so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts. – (1 Timothy 2:1-2, TPT)

This is certainly a season that being reminded of the importance to pray for our nation, state, and local leaders is imperative. As our nation waits in anticipation, our prayers for our leaders, impending leaders, and one another, is essential. More than anything, our prayers need to be for peace and pure hearts. No matter the outcome, God is greater than our circumstances. Our ability to love one another remains, regardless of who sits in a leadership position. We need those who lead to do so with wisdom, grace, and kindness toward all people, and we need to celebrate and lift each other up, despite our differences. I know not what the future holds, but I do know to Whom I will ultimately look for guidance, grace and peace. My ability to be loving and kind is not determined by the government nor those in positions of authority. Finally, may we all pray for leaders everywhere, and for each other, so that we may live tranquil lives with the freedom to worship and be inspired with pure hearts and pure motives.

O Lord, help us pray,

For all those who lead;

Grant them Your wisdom,

And bring us Your peace.

Show us Your mercy,

Lead us by Your grace;

Make goodness present,

Throughout all our days.

Teach us to trust You,

For all’s in Your hands;

Teach us to worship,

As You heal our land.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pray for those in positions of leadership and authority in our land. Thank You that despite what we see, You have a plan and a purpose in all things. Thank You that You can use even the worst of circumstances to bring Your good. Forgive us for allowing what we see to determine whether or not we pray and lift others up. Remind us anew to pray for those in positions of leadership and authority. Show us how to love and lift others up, especially in this season of uncertainty. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are our Prince of Peace who loves without limits and holds us all in Your hands. Be glorified O God, as we lift leaders up and pray for Your will to be done. Amen.

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

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 17:7

Gentle Presence

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – (Philippians 4:5, NIV) 

Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. – (Philippians 4:5, ERV) 

Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. – (Philippians 4:5, VOICE) 

The Voice translation resonates the most clearly with me, as the people I have known who have demonstrated God’s love in practical and tangible ways, have a gentle nature that makes me aware of the Lord’s nearness. Peace pours out from a gentle and kind spirit, and love begets love. Because God is always with us, we are loved and equipped in such a way, that we may have a gentle nature, even in spaces where we have to utilize great strength. Gentleness does not mean weak, but rather it is the strength to extend kindness in love, even when it seems counterproductive. God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. The more we pursue Him, the greater our desire to love as He loves; for He sees all of His creation through His lens of love. Imagine if all of us chose to allow our gentleness to be evident to all. Kindness and love would become the standard mode of operation, and God’s love would be abundantly clear all around us. May we ever seek the Lord to fill and lead us, so that His gentleness in us may be obvious. 

Lord, teach us, show us, 

To be gentle, kind; 

To love as You love, 

So Your peace we’ll find. 

Your nearness to us, 

The strength that we need; 

To walk in Your grace, 

And follow Your lead. 

Grant us eyes to see, 

How gentleness spreads; 

The more that we love, 

Do as Your word says. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You show us how to live and love with a gentleness like Yours. Thank You that You provide the strength we need to be gentle and kind. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our own ego, hurt or frustration to dictate how we respond to those around us, rather that choosing to respond gently in love. Show us how to walk in Your gentleness and love so that all those around us may be aware of the greatness of Your grace and the beauty of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength and wisdom to live out our days with a heart set on being gentle and kind. Amen. 

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

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

Joyful Confidence

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) 

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV) 

But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, proven character leads us back to hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, TPT) 

This morning, as I made my way in the wee hours of darkness, to go dog walking with a dear friend, I heard these very same verses being spoken on the radio. Both this morning and when I did my devotional reading this evening, I took pause and determined that I have so far to go. The Passions Translation is the one that I can most closely relate to, as it points to the joyful confidence in the midst of struggle, and that something good can come from pressure or pain. When we place our confidence in Christ, even in the mist of struggle, we discover that there is joy in Him. Patient endurance, character and hope, are all part of the beauty that come from our ashes. Right now, what I have spent the last twenty-four years of my life doing, has been flipped upside down and makes me feel like a brand-new teacher all over again. The learning curve required is cumbersome and challenging, yet I know that the more that I patiently persevere, the greater the chance that I will learn and grow. It is in that space of growing, that I find hope again. Hope that I can reach and teach kids, regardless of whether it is online or in person, and hope that one day, I will get to teach in a regular classroom again, face-to-face with my students. God uses our trials and difficulties to grow and refine us. It is always far easier to look back and see what He has done, than it is to recognize that He can work all things together for good in the middle of the messy. May we seek the Lord in our suffering and in our blessings, knowing that He can move mightily in all things, and produce the hope that shows our heart how to endure and overcome. 

No matter what comes, 

May our hearts find joy; 

Not in the heartache, 

But God’s grace employed. 

Beauty from ashes, 

Is what we all need; 

Character building, 

In hope, He will lead. 

May we each rise up, 

In Christ, persevere; 

For He overcomes, 

Always, He is near. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can utilize our every experience and circumstance to produce good in us and through us. Forgive us for our desire to get out of difficult situations the moment they strike. Teach us to trust You more so that we might joyfully embrace You and all that You provide in the midst of our messes. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage patience and perseverance, every pointing to hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to take joy in You in the midst of difficult, as You grow patience, perseverance, character and hope within us Amen. 

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

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

He Leads Those Who Seek

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – (Psalm 143:10, NIV) 

Show me what You want me to do. You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – (Psalm 143:10, ERV) 

I just want to obey all You ask of me. So teach me, Lord, for You are my God. Your gracious Spirit is all I need, so lead me on good paths that are pleasing to You, my one and only God! – (Psalm 143:10, TPT) 

Today has been the most unusual first day of school ever. We were startled awake both at 2:00 and 4:00 am, as the power flickered off and on. As early risers, both my husband and I were up, had breakfast and coffee, and were preparing for the day before the power completely went out. Through social media posts and texting with colleagues, I discovered much of our city was without power, yet it appeared that the school still did. After having spent much of the weekend preparing and setting up my virtual classroom at home, I was a bit concerned about having to go on campus to teach in a space that I had not prepared. This is where the trust kicked in, and I packed up all that I thought I might need, and began driving to school. Two minutes prior to my arrival, the school district “robocall” came through and announced that school was cancelled for the day because the power outages were so widespread. I was able to return home to my boys with breakfast for them, and simply was granted the luxury of a day in one another’s company. The added bonus is that power was just restored in our home about a half an hour ago, and I still have a bit of time to organize and sort things out for tomorrow. God is good and His grace is enough when we choose trust Him. May we ever seek the Lord and pursue His path, for He is a good and faithful God, ready to show us His ways. 

Lord, teach me to do, 

My home office this morning…

What You would call good; 

Please show me Your ways, 

So they’re understood. 

In each circumstance, 

My eyes fixed on You; 

Lead me and guide me, 

So Your love shines through. 

No matter what comes, 

Your grace is enough; 

You’re faithful always, 

O Father, above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are willing to teach us Your will and show us how to walk in Your way, as we choose to seek and follow You. Forgive us for the times that we have made You less than You are. Show us how to trust You completely, especially in the new and unknown. Lead us to love those around us well, so that they too may discover Your faithfulness to those who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to teach us and lead us in the ways that are pleasing to You. Amen. 

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

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Called to Better

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. – (Psalm 103:8, NIV) 

The Lord is kind and merciful. He is patient and full of love. – (Psalm 103:8, ERV) 

Lord, You’re so kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and so patient with people who fail You! Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness. – (Psalm 103:8, TPT)

God’s compassion, grace, kindness and mercy are exactly what the world needs right now. With all of the recent human ugliness, “…a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness”, is exactly the sort of love and patience we need to have with one another. We are a broken people, full of fault and failure, desperately in need of God’s mercy and love. God is all of these things and more, yet we have the choice to either receive from Him and pass it on, or stay stuck in our broken state of being. As we accept what the Lord freely gives, we are driven to do better; be better. May we ever pursue the Lord and His goodness, so that we may extend the same to all with whom we interact. 

Kindness, compassion, 

Patience and great love; 

All from the Father, 

Our Lord up above. 

All these are granted, 

Though we don’t deserve; 

May it compel us, 

To listen and serve. 

For as we receive, 

We’re equipped to give; 

Love as intended, 

Grace and peace to live. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. Thank You that as we seek You and receive from You, You equip us to go forth and love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked compassion or grace, and allowed anger to get in the way of love. Show us how to love like You – with compassion, grace, patience, and kindness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to show us how to be and do better, each day that we draw breath. Amen. 

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

He has caused wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. – Psalm 111:4

God Who Gives

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – (Romans 15:5, NIV)

All patience and encouragement come from God. And I pray that God will help you all agree with each other, as Christ Jesus wants. – (Romans 15:5, ERV)

Now may God, the Source of great endurance and comfort, grace you with unity among yourselves, which flows from your relationship with Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Romans 15:5, TPT)

 

Our capacity to receive and give patience, encouragement, endurance and comfort, all come from Christ. When we lean into Him, He grants us a heart like His toward those around us, and we are better able to be united in purpose. It does not mean that we have to agree with others on every minute detail in existence, but rather, with God’s help, we can prioritize people in the way that we are designed to do. The closer we are to Christ, the more clearly, we reflect His character and His heart to the world. Grace is essential to extend comfort and encouragement to others, even in the midst of our own messes. God can use us to bring unity, comfort, patience and endurance to those around us, despite being in the middle of a pandemic. Each day we depend on Him, we discover His peace, strength and provision. As we do, there is a filling to overflowing within us, that cannot help but be shared with those around us. May we seek the Lord who gives endurance and encouragement, so that we too, may do the same for others and be united in purpose and love.

 

The Lord God above,wp-15899803702722573446821857210172.jpg

He grants unto us;

All that we will need,

To love like Jesus.

It is up to us,

To choose seek and pray;

Allow the Lord lead,

In love, each new day.

Patience and comfort,

Strength and loving grace;

To share with others,

And walk in His ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and equipping us to love like You as we earnestly seek You. Please forgive us for the times that we neglect to seek You and respond in our own humanity to those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would grow in patience and encouragement, grace and unity. Show us how to love those around us best, so that each might feel encouraged and strengthened, valued and loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continually draw near to You in pursuit of a heart like Yours, as You are the God who gives. Amen.

 

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

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:3

To Be Clothed Well

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – (Colossians 3:12, NIV)

God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. – (Colossians 3:12, ERV)

You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. – (Colossians 3:12, TPT)

 

The times that I feel like I am the very best version of myself, are those in which I am led by the mercy that God has overwhelmingly shown me, again and again, so that I might interact with others with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Some of these attributes seem to be more abundant than others, and I clearly have “hot buttons” that when pushed, deplete my seeming supply to love as I am called to love. Constant bickering (when my boys were younger), or a teething puppy that struggles with impulse control to nip, are a few of the things if on repeat all day long, wear me down and deplete my capacity to feel merciful. Thankfully, much in the same way that patience and perseverance carried my boys and me through their younger years when they fought often, I know the same is true with this short-lived stage in puppyhood. The Passions Translation version drives it home well for me, as it is an ongoing reminder of how to operate in the struggle: “Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all.” It is a reminder that there is always a root reason for the unwanted behaviors, and through patience, compassion and kindness, a solution may be discovered and better way be made. Incredibly, sometimes, it is merely consistent kindness that transforms the heart of one who needed it most. May we embrace the blessing we behold in knowing that we have been shown mercy unending and love beyond what our hearts can hold, and go forth choosing to be merciful; ever extending compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to all those with whom we interact.

 

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We need to love too;

Extend great mercy,

Compassion, exude.

With humility,

May we choose be kind;

Gentle and patient,

With others in mind.

May those whom we meet,

Through our love come know;

What God’s love is like,

Through mercy we show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with kindness and compassion, mercy and patience beyond measure. Thank You that because of Your love, we can love others. Forgive us for the places where we are lacking compassion, humility, patience, kindness, gentleness or mercy. Teach us how to love more like You. Show us the places and space where there is a greater need for mercy, compassion, humility, patience, kindness and gentleness, and help us to love in a way that represents Your heart tangibly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love and mercy, and rely on You to help us love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32