Come Close

Come close to God, and God will come close to you… – (James 4:8a, NLT)

 

Everyone has heard stories of receiving that dreaded phone call – the one that announces unfortunate news of a loved one, causing an immediate emotional response, and a quick call to action. Yesterday morning, that phone call came to me. At the start of my second period class, I received a frantic phone call from my Mom. It was miraculous that I was at my computer taking attendance when she called, otherwise I would not have even seen her photo pop up on my phone screen, as I keep my ringer off during class. She never calls during school hours, so on a whim, I answered. On the other end of the line, I heard a voice that I barely recognized as hers, telling me that she’d been in a horrible accident. When I asked if she was okay, her response was simply, “no.” She was able to tell me her location, and I knew in that moment, that nothing mattered more than my getting to where she was to be present. My quick, internal, “Oh God, help me!” was followed by my class quickly being covered, a rapid exit from my room, and my arrival on the scene of the accident before the first responders had my mom loaded in the ambulance. Seeing her face and talking to her in person as I held her hand when I arrived at the accident site, brought a bit of peace, despite the destroyed car in front of me. The hardest span of time throughout the entire ordeal, was the time between leaving the scene and arriving at the hospital. Though I could see she had no lacerations visible, the internal and skeletal damage was unknown. All I could do was breathe and pray as I made my way, trusting that He had her in His hands. Thankfully, after two CT Scans, two x-rays, hours of waiting, blood draws and routine checking, Mom was given the all-clear (and the last few hours of her care were provided by a friend of mine who happened to be the nurse on shift in the ER), and walked away from an accident that could have taken her life. God protected and preserved the life of my Mom, and I am forever grateful. Though it is only the morning after, in hindsight, I already can look back and see how He covered and protected my Mom, surrounded and provided for me, as a way was made for me to get to her so quickly, as well as the loving community of friends and family that called, made themselves available, and sent messages to check on Mom as soon as they heard the news. Much of the time I spent waiting for Mom during her scans and x-rays, was utilized to reply to dear ones who were desiring updates on her well-being. I was back and forth between two phones, as the notes kept coming in. Last evening, two of my beloved favorites came to help with both the care of my Mom and to go and check on the status of her car, while another pair of dear former neighbors came to call on Mom to see that she was okay for themselves. God is so good, and He has provided and placed us both in kind and caring communities that are family. More than anything, this continues to show me how near God is in all things and at all times, and how He uses people to be His hands and heart when we hurt. May we ever draw close to God, for He will be near to us.

 

When that call comes in,ambulance

And hearts are dismayed;

Call upon the Lord,

He will not delay.

His presence made clear,

In tangible ways;

Hope and help to us,

As we seek and pray.

Choose draw closer still,

For God will be near;

He calms anxious hearts,

His love covers fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we draw near to You, You are right here, waiting. Thank You that You are faithful to bring peace to our anxious hearts, and surround us with support and encouragement when it is needed most. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we walk into the unknown. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love and encourage those around us in times of peace and in times of turmoil. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we draw ever nearer to You. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Remember

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

 

On this day, I cannot help but take pause and remember what occurred fifteen years ago. As I was driving in to work, the information that was conveyed on the radio was surreal. How on earth could a perfectly good airplane crash into a major structure in the heart of Manhattan? The day continued to unfold, as the tragedies grew and the shock and horror that swept our nation was staggering. However, in the midst of the chaos and destruction, there was a rising rally of hope. First responders and volunteers flocked to the center of destruction, and worked tirelessly in hope of finding survivors. People banded together to help the hurting and support rescue efforts. Even in the darkest hours, the hands and heart of God could be seen. In addition to all of the coordinated rescue efforts, there are countless stories of others who were somehow spared that fateful day. Flights that were rerouted, grounded for days and provided for by the people of small towns, individuals who missed flights that were booked on those that crashed, and still others of how rescuers assisted in bringing people to safety in the midst of mayhem. Though we cannot begin to grasp why one life was lost and another was spared, we can hold onto the hope that our help comes from the Lord. He is our strength and our source, and the One on whom we can depend even on the darkest of days. May we seek Him and trust Him in all things and at all times, as we remember that despite circumstances, He is always good.

 

On the darkest days,

The Lord still is light;

He’s present to help,

No matter our plight.

When tragedy strikes,

The Lord is still good;

His hands and His heart,

He makes understood.

So often people,

Are who He will use;

To extend His love,

And share the good news.

News that what’s today,

Is not where it ends;

For hope shall arise,

And new life begins.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope no matter what comes our way. Thank You that despite the devastation and destruction that took place fifteen years ago today, we can also remember the stories of communities banding together, of brave men and women who willingly placed themselves in harms way to help, and of our nation that came together to support one another and to mourn. Forgive us for not lifting our eyes to You, as You alone our where our help comes from. Teach us to turn to You in trust in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others as an extension of Your hands and heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You for help and then reach out to others. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Comfort in Times of Trouble

Last evening I was beyond blessed to have some dear friends drive into Denver as a family photo (8)to spend time with me. They picked me up at my hotel, and whisked me away to tour an area that they thought I might enjoy in the city. My heart was overflowing with joy and gratitude to spend time together, as we shared a meal, caught each other up on the happenings of our lives, and wandered until we landed in an incredible book store. All was going splendidly, as I had found a book, Melissa and the trio of youngers were sharing a silly story and Josh and his eldest meandered through a section of interest nearby, until the calm, sweet mood was suddenly disrupted with a feeling of foreboding unrest.

We could hear it before we could see what was stirring. Soon, a long stream of unhappy people were marching past the bookstore’s front window, waving signs – some in peaceful protest, and others in a bit more menacing fashion. Two of the kids had very different responses. One was calling it a parade, whereas the other responded with a bit of fear. In my own heart, I felt that we needed to stay put until the crowd had passed, as the potential for unrest seemed high.

I had not heard the news this week, as I have been at a conference for work, so I have been in a bit of an isolated bubble. As we ultimately attempted to make way back to my hotel so that I could be dropped off and my friends could get home to get their kiddos to bed, we discovered that the march was growing, as a five-minute drive back, took more than twenty minutes, due to rerouting around those protesting.

Once back in my hotel, I was able to have conversation with my friends from work with whom I am traveling, and discover what has gone on over the past several days. It is impossible to not have a heavy heart, knowing that lives have been lost and fingers are pointing at entire professions and populations, rather than those specific individuals who snapped.

 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. – (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT)

 

In this sort of scenario, all that I know to do is to seek the Lord. There are no easy answers. God knows. He cares. The One who hand-crafted each of us, the perpetrators, the victims, and all those left to grieve – He loves each of us as His created. God will comfort us as we seek Him, and when we know His comfort, we are able to extend the same to others. May we choose to seek His comfort in this seeming chaos, and offer the very same comfort to those around us.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

When darkness floods in,The Lord Listens

And fear starts to rise;

Let us not forget,

The hope God supplies.

He is our comfort,

When chaos ensues;

The great Prince of Peace,

When we get bad news.

Far greater is He,

Our Strength and our Light;

Than troubles that come,

No matter our plight.

Seek the Lord above,

For comfort indeed;

Then we can share well,

With others in need.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort in the midst of trouble. Thank You that as You comfort us, we can then go and comfort others in the same way. Forgive us for our fear, frustration and thoughts of blame of anything other than the sinful brokenness of humanity. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek Your help, strength and comfort, so that we too, could extend comfort to those around us. Help us to be Your hands, heart and voice to those in need of comfort. Show us how to love well. May many come to find peace and comfort in You, despite the world around us. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Hidden and Protected, I Trust

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, NIV)

Hide me and protect me. I trust what You say. – (Psalm 119:114, ERV)

Yesterday, I was given news that I did not want to hear. It was information that I needed to know, but nonetheless, not what I wanted. My initial reaction was a flash of fury, followed by the recognition that it is beyond the realm of my control. All that I can do is hide my heart in Christ, and trust the truth that what His word says is true. No, this will not be an easy task, but He is my refuge and my shield. Again and again, Christ has shown me that I can trust Him, as I place my hope in Him, rather than what I see. When all that surrounds us wages war, He is our peace. As calm comes, we can trust that He is the reason that we can rest, as we remember the truth of His word. May we run to Him who is our refuge and our shield, and place all of our hope in Him.

You’re my hiding place,Gods protection
refuge in the storm;
comfort in chaos,
a love always warm.
My hope I will place,
in Your word alone;
in Your truth I trust,
despite the unknown.
For You Lord are good,
despite what life yields;
Your presence enough,
our hope and our shield.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our refuge and shield, and that we may place all of our hope in Your word. Thank You that You hide us and protect us, and that we can trust all that You say. Forgive us for our fearfulness and uncertainty in the throes of life’s chaos, and teach us to trust You with a faith that does not waiver, no matter what comes. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they too may come to know of the safety and security found in Your love alone. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope and trust in You and Your word. 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

To Be Undaunted

Yesterday evening was day one of a book study that I am a part of with some wonderful women from my church. The book we will be studying is Undaunted, by Christine Caine. One of the stand out points of our time together last night, was the reality of what happens in a single moment of potentially life changing news. Though everything in our life externally may change, our fundamental identity remains the same. Our salvation, strength, security, purpose, character, worth and value in Christ, cannot be shaken if we are rooted and established in Him.

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angel nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:37-39)

 

When life finds a way,Undaunted

of spinning around;

what once seemed secure,

no more steady ground –

where will peace be found?

When rooted in Christ,

identity sure;

no storm can undo,

the hope that’s secure –

and Christ’s presence near.

Who He has made us,

shall remain unchanged;

though battered and scarred,

His peace shall sustain –

and purpose remain.

The love of the Lord,

steadfast and secure;

there’s no height nor depth,

nor trying detour –

Christ’s love is assured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though our circumstances may change, You never change. Thank You that in You, we have security, strength, assurance, purpose, worth, salvation, hope, and so much more. Thank You that the foundation we have in You cannot be shaken by our circumstances. Forgive us for wasting time and energy on worry, and help us to trust You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they would see You through us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we stand secure in You, no matter what comes our way. Amen.

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

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

An Unlikely Faith

Jairus was a synagogue ruler and a man of societal standing.  He had a tender father’s heart, and an unlikely faith in Christ. Despite his elevated position in society, he went and knelt before Jesus after his daughter had died, and asked Him to come and heal her. Jesus, who recognized his faith, went with Jairus at once.

 

When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, He said, “go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at Him. After the crowd had been put outside, He went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all the region. – (Matthew 9:23-26)

 

The synagogue ruler did not come to Jesus until his daughter was dead – it was too late for anyone else to help. But Jesus simply went to the girl and raised her! In our lives, Christ can make a difference when it seems too late for anyone else to help. He can bring healing to broken relationships, release from addiction, and forgiveness and healing to emotional scars. If all looks hopeless, we must remember that Christ can do the impossible. – (NIV footnotes)

 

Where have death, brokenness, despair, or hopelessness entered in? Though we can do nothing in our own strength to restore life where such destruction lies, we serve the One who can. May we, like Jairus, set aside our pride, and kneel before Him who heals and restores all hope.

 

When all hope seems lost,Approaching the Throne of Grace

we need not despair;

for we serve a God,

Who’s present, aware.

For He knows our need,

before we come ask;

He’s faithful and true,

with us through each task.

Where brokenness reigns,

and hope seems far gone;

healing can occur,

if Christ we lean on.

Forgiveness is found,

and scars are made whole;

impossible done,

O God, we extol.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even when all hope seems lost, there is always hope in You. Thank You that the very same power that raised Jesus from the grave, can restore relationships, heal illness, bring health and wholeness, and grant new life in You. Forgive us for losing sight of just how powerful You truly are, and help us to remember that all things are possible in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may walk by faith and not by our limited sight. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come to know the saving power found in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we kneel before You, trusting You to do the seemingly impossible in and around us. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Resetting Our Focus

In Mark 5, the story of Jairus, the synagogue ruler whose daughter was dying, is told.  There are numerous things about this story that stand out, yet the one that is in the forefront of my mind this morning, is how when all that was seen, was directing Jairus to despair, Jesus had another plan in mind.  Members of Jairus’s household had just come and told him that his daughter was dead, and to not bother Jesus anymore.  “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe.” – (Mark 5:36)

Life’s circumstance told Jairus to despair, yet Jesus told him to hope.  Jairus, in that moment had a choice to make.  He could choose to focus on the news that had just been delivered, or he could hold onto the hope that was standing before him.  As the story further unfolds, Jairus clearly opted to believe, as Jesus joined him on his journey home, and ultimately healed his daughter from death.  In order for the healing to happen, Jairus had to be willing to allow his focus to be reset from what was, to Whom was standing before him.

The same holds true for each of us.  We can fix our eyes on the struggle, challenge or obstacle that we are facing, or we can allow our focus to fix securely on our solution.  We have hope, despite how things appear.  Our strength in the struggle and our light in the dark, is available; we must let go of fear, and just believe.

Let not our eyes,Resetting Our Focus

determine our view;

for what is seen,

is not always true.

God is greater,

than life’s circumstance;

when fixed on Him,

nothing’s left to chance.

All strength, all hope,

all power to be;

comes from the Lord,

Him who truly sees.

Look to the Lord,

not to the trials;

faith’s not by sight,

it’s trust in fires.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone are where our gaze should rest, as in You and through You, we find our hope and our help.  Thank You that You are the solution before we can even formulate the question, and that You love us so much that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know You, individually; personally.  Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the struggles and trials that are before us, and help us to reset our focus on You.  Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, as You are the One on whom we can depend.  May we walk by faith and not by sight, and may we live out our lives in love as You love us.  Let those who are looking, come to find the fullness of a lasting relationship with You.  Be magnified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  – 2 Corinthians 3:5