On Purpose With Purpose

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and I know that full well. – (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)

You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because You made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was! – (Psalm 139:13-14, ERV)

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. – (Psalm 139:13-14, VOICE)

 

I love the Psalms, as they are a space where I find much comfort. There is much raw and real in the calling out to God, followed by the recognition of who God is and how He loves. This passage is no exception, as it reminds us all that we were created intentionally, uniquely, and with purpose; down to the way that we think and feel. Perhaps I needed the reminder this morning, or maybe, it is for you. We, collectively, are known and loved and intentionally made. Our existence is for a purpose, on purpose. Each day that we draw breath, there is reason to praise; for even that is a gift not all are afforded. The way we take in our surroundings and interact with those around us, is an individual design, that has no duplicate. There is only one you, and your contributions to your surroundings are irreplaceable. It is not about being the “greatest” or the “best”, but rather embracing the beauty of God’s design as we discover we are called to be who He made us to be; nothing more, nothing less. The more that we seek and know Him, the more clearly, we come to know and understand His design for us, individually. May we take time today to thank the Lord for His intentional creation – in us, our loved ones, and for everyone with whom we interact; every work is wonderful and made with a purpose.

 

Designed with purpose, wp-1589461521970190463839278612615.jpg

Each one, fully known;

Before our first breath,

He called us His own.

Wonderfully made,

Unique in design;

There’s only one you,

You’re one of a kind.

The way that you think,

Look, talk, touch and feel;

There’s no other you,

His love is for real.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You knit us together in our mother’s wombs with intentional design and purpose. Thank You that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Forgive us for the times that we have questioned our purpose or worth. Teach us to lean into You, even in our moments of frustration or feeling lost. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might recognize the beauty of their unique, wonderful and purposeful design, as they understand that they are loved and valued as they are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You that You know us and that You designed us each with purpose, on purpose. Amen.

 

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

 

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. – Psalm 139:1

 

 

Remember the Wonders

Well, apparently today is not meant to look like any other day. I rose at the usual time. Spent time in the word. Prayed, pondered, and then wrote out my reflections on the passage and how it applied to my life. Rather than finish the process of editing, copying, pasting and editing again, prior to publishing, I simply saved my Word Document and determined to finish the process after my early morning exercise session. Sadly, when I returned, I opened my document, copied to paste, then shifted applications to continue, I discovered, much to my dismay, what pasted was a bunch of coded garbled gunk, that in no way resembled what I had written. I deleted that, went back to my Word Document, and umm… it was blank. Everything I attempted was fruitless. After fifteen plus minutes of doing all that I knew to do, I gave up. My writing was gone.

There is always a lesson in the lesson, so here I sit, open to discover why. The gist of what I wrote about was my reflection on the following verse:

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

Today, exactly one year ago, my sister and I received the news that rocked our world in a way that we had never anticipated. Our strong, healthy, independent mom, had suffered a massive stroke. What made matters worse, is that we had not been able to reach her for a few days. The news that was a dread to us, was simultaneously the most welcome sight in the world to our mom. What I mean is, mom lived alone and was alone. She suffered the stroke and was left isolated and half-paralyzed, as she drifted in and out of consciousness for a couple of days, with her voice too weak to be audible beyond a few feet away. Our well-check request of the local police, resulted in her receiving medical attention hours sooner than if we had waited to drive there to find out for ourselves.

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This photo is from the last time all of us were able to get together. Mom is even stronger now than she was then!

So, where I am I going with the connection to wonders and grace and compassion? Honestly, in spite of everything, God was incredibly faithful and kind, as He provided the right people, places, resources, and time to allow the best possible road for mom’s recovery to be set in place. His grace and compassion have been made new every morning, and I remain in a space of awe at the determination and resilience that He has supernaturally given our mom. She went from barely speaking above a whisper, while struggling to find words, to now speaking and carrying on conversations in a normal voice. Additionally, when she was first in the hospital, we were excited about small muscle twitches in her right side, particularly in her right leg. Now, a year later, she is walking independently with a cane, and continues to work on rebuilding her strength and stamina to increase her speed and the steadiness of her gait. Every step of the journey, God was gracious and compassionate. We have grown even closer as an extended family, and will be having some serious gatherings when these restrictions are finally lifted. In the meantime, there are many phone calls made and photos shared, as we continue to work together to move forward on this healing journey. May we each take time to remember in wonder the incredible ways that God has been gracious and compassionate to us, even in our most trying of times.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that through every season in our lives we have reason to look back in awe and wonder, for You have always been gracious and compassionate to us. Forgive us for our fears, frustrations, and our “if onlys”, for You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You are not finished yet! Teach us to trust You more, so that we can go forth and love those around us with the same compassion and grace that You give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You in wonder for who You are and how You love us so well. Amen.

 

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

 

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8

The Second Day at the Tomb

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So, they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. – (Matthew 27:62-66, NIV)

That day was the day called Preparation Day. The next day, the leading priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. They said, “Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive He said, ‘I will rise from death in three days.’ So give the order for the tomb to be guarded well for three days. His followers might come and try to steal the body. Then they could tell everyone that He has risen from death. That lie will be even worse than what they said about Him before.” Pilate said, “Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know.” So they all went to the tomb and made it safe from thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and putting soldiers there to guard it. – (Matthew 27:62-66, ERV)

 

The somber silence of Saturday, was really not so silent at all. Behind the scenes, those who had accused, tried and crucified Jesus, were now scrambling to make certain that what He had foretold, would not in any way, appear to be the truth. It is almost comical to imagine the Pharisees, chief priests and Pilate as they have their troubled exchanges, as all the while, the disciples are grieving their loss. Stealing the body was likely the furthest thing from their mind. Mary and Martha were waiting to attend to His body, to further treat it properly for burial, but taking His body from the tomb… Eww… What I love most of all about this short passage of scripture, is that Jesus’ accusers took such care to be certain the tomb was guarded and secure from the outside, yet could not control the miracle that was taking place on the inside. Can you imagine the shock and awe that was to come for the soldiers sent to guard the tomb? Soldiers who were to be wary of those who would come near the tomb, would suddenly find themselves face to face with an angel of the Lord, and then the risen Christ himself, less than twenty-four hours later. Jesus was not a liar nor a deceiver. He is the truth, the way and the life. All who choose come to Him, may know love and life everlasting in Him. Though Saturday was somewhat silent, Sunday was on its way!

 

The day in between,The Second Day at the Tomb

His death and new life;

Silence in waiting,

After sacrifice.

Scrambling soldiers,

Sent to take up guard;

They sealed Jesus’ tomb,

All passage was barred.

Pharisees fearful,

Of what Jesus said;

That after three days,

He’d no more be dead.

No sealing nor guards,

Could ever prevent;

Miracle coming,

Sunday’s big event!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us Your goodness, grace and power. Thank You that You demonstrated Your incredible love for us as You willingly went to the cross and died the death that should have been ours, so that we could be forgiven and know life in You. Thank You that the grave was not the end. Thank You that hope rises, and that Sunday is coming for all. Forgive us for allowing our sorrows and grief to feel hopeless and helpless in the tomb of our heart. Thank You that You do Your miraculous work from within, so how things appear do not matter in order for You to move. Show us how to love in ways that offer hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the hope that is ready to rise, each day, because of the third day at the tomb. Amen.

 

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

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

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

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Live “Otherly”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, ERV) 

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, TPT)

 

If this were truly the standard that people were following, I do not think that we would have empty store shelves and discover shortages of basic necessities. Before all of this COVID-19 craziness hit, stores were seldom out of the items that people needed on their typical grocery list. Now, however, grocery shopping online is not even an option, as such a large portion of one’s list is unable to be filled. Thankfully, we are well, and have all that we need. Being an early riser is helpful in more ways than one. That said, it matters how we conduct ourselves as we venture out to find what we need for our families. We must only take what is needed, so that others too may have what they require for their families. Also, how we treat these essential employees matters. Yesterday morning after I ran, I made a quick stop at Rite Aid to purchase Vitamin C for my family. The store was quiet, and the sweet cashier looked uncertain as she made her way to the register as I approached. We engaged in friendly conversation, and before I left, she was expressing her gratitude for my kindness. I had not done anything unusual, I simply was polite and respectful, and let her know that I appreciated her hard work, as it is likely a challenge right now in the midst of these circumstances. She informed me that she had been yelled at multiple times, for things that were completely beyond her control. I imagine I had a look of shock and horror on my face as she told her story, that I followed with an understanding apology for the ugly that comes out of humanity when fear enters in. Though our exchange was brief, I am further reminded of just how important it is to prefer others and make sure they know that they are valued and appreciated. This passage in Philippians is written to the church in Philippi, yet it can be applied to all of us and how we treat one another. It is amazing to see the shift in people as they are the recipients of being a priority and treated with respect and dignity. May we all seek the Lord to show us how to steer clear of selfishness and pride, and how best to honor and prefer others around us, above ourselves.

 

Let not our motives, Ambassadors of Love

Be driven by pride;

Lay down selfishness,

Seek the Lord to guide.

For He will show us,

How to choose to serve;

Prefer each other,

Help each see their worth.

Choose live “otherly”,

With kindness and grace;

Look for ways to bless,

As we live each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to live life this way through Your Son. There was no selfish ambition nor pride within Him, and He walked out His days humbly and sought to serve. Forgive us for the times that pride or selfishness get in the way of who You want us to be. Teach us to trust and rely on You to lead and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we prefer one another and extend kindness and grace in humility, without selfishness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lay down our selfishness and own ideas of how things ought to be, and look for opportunities to prefer others by extending kindness and care in tangible ways. Amen.

 

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

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Weathering the Waves

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. – (Mark 4:37-39, NIV)

A very bad wind came up on the lake. The waves were coming over the sides of the boat, and it was almost full of water. Jesus was inside the boat, sleeping with His head on a pillow. The followers went and woke Him. They said, “Teacher, don’t you care about us? We are going to drown!” Jesus stood up and gave a command to the wind and the water. He said, “Quiet! Be Still!” Then the wind stopped and the lake became calm. – (Mark 4:37-39, ERV)

A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused Him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to You that we’re going down?” Awake now, He told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. – (Mark 4:37-39, MSG)

 

Though I have both read and heard the passage about Jesus calming the storm numerous times, yesterday’s message by my pastor, brought new revelation that is extraordinarily timely. The disciples were primarily a group of experienced fishermen. They had spent their years and earned their livelihood fishing on this particular body of water, so none of them were new to sudden storms. What stood out about this one was that no longer was it a storm surrounding them, but it was actually bringing water into the boat. Fear entered when the storm on the outside, began impacting the inside. As the waves began to fill the boat, they recognized their desperate need for a Savior. In their state of terror, they questioned Christ’s concern for them, as they feared their own demise. Jesus demonstrated His authority and power as He spoke to the storm, telling the wind and the waves to “Be still!”  We are no different. Often, we neglect to pray about things that are “out there, but when they come close, or affect us directly, we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of the storm. The beautiful thing is that Jesus will still respond to us in the same way that He did to His disciples. 

1) In the midst of the storm, we need to seek Jesus. 

2) As we do, our prayers have the power to calm the storm. 

3) In the midst of the storm, we need to anchor ourselves to God’s love. 

Jesus has the power to not only calm the storm around us, but He calms the chaos within us as well. Sometimes, they are simultaneous, yet other times we will be brought to a space of His relentless grace, simply to be at peace in knowing that He is in the boat with us. Our boat will not sink when He is aboard. May we hold fast to the Anchor who is our hope, and remember Who is in the boat with us through the storms.

 

When the storm surrounds, wp-15849697395664983915925030867878.jpg

Take pause, choose to pray;

Fend off fearfulness,

Christ shows us the way.

Even when the waves,

Break over our boat;

If God is with us,

He’ll keep us afloat.

It takes but a word,

An act of God’s will;

Peace will be present,

And waters made still.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what storms surround us, or even the waves that make way into our boat, You remain with us. Thank You that all power and authority are Yours, and that in You, we have access to be anchored in Your love and calmed in the storm. Forgive us for our fearfulness when the waves crash too close to our own boats. Teach us to come to You in both the calm and in the storm, remembering it is You to whom we need to anchor ourselves to stay afloat. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may find hope and peace and strength to weather the storms that come their way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we anchor ourselves to Your love each day, as You keep us safe and secure through every wave that comes our way. Amen.

 

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

 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure… – Hebrews 6:19a

Wisdom, Strength and Self-Discipline to Love

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them. – (2 Timothy 1:7, TLB)

 

As usual, this morning’s passage is appropriate and timely. We are not called to be fearful, but rather to be wise and strong. With so much mixed information running rampant right now, it is as if the media is attempting to isolate and instill fear in folks. Yes, there is reason to be cautious and use wisdom. Those who have compromised immune systems or are among the high-risk groups ought to be extra-vigilant and follow whatever guidelines they feel safest following; and those of us who are not, must respect and honor their need to use caution and care, yet the fear that drives massive hoarding, rather than loving others, is not a space that we are meant to live. Self-discipline is the space within us that expects the best, prepares for the worst, and extends a hand to those around us in need.

This morning, I am grateful for time over the weekend to love and enjoy being with people. Incredibly, my Viking, our best friends and I went to watch the Sea Wolves (our Seattle Rugby team) play on Saturday night. It is a somewhat small venue, yet the stands were packed. After the game, we went to go have dinner together, and the first place we attempted to go had a 30 to 40-minute wait, so we ended up going to another spot not far from there, that was far less crowded. It amazed me to see people out seeming to operate in life as usual on Saturday, and then on Sunday, to see the clear evidence of the concern in my own community. Church was much lighter than usual, (yet I know there are those who must stay home per their doctor’s recommendation, and still others who stayed home as they are fighting colds and the like), followed by a trip to the grocery store where we discovered a completely sold out toilet paper isle. May we ever seek the Lord and His Spirit, for in Him we need not fear. He grants us power, wisdom and self-discipline, and shows us how to love people best, even in the worst of times.

 

We’ve not been given, wp-15837552643821979517268994098331.jpg

A spirit of fear;

For God is with us,

He is always near.

In the Lord, there’s peace,

Strength, wisdom and love;

Power the Lord gives,

His grace from above.

All of these great things,

We’re given indeed;

To love people well,

Give as we’ve received.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not give us a Spirit of fear, but rather one of power, wisdom and self-discipline. Thank You that You give each person what they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families to stay safe and well. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as the unknown can be a scary space. Teach us to trust You more, and to listen to Your leading as You guide us through uncharted waters. Show us how to love those around us well, as each of us have different needs in different circumstances. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You for wisdom, strength and self-discipline to love as You love us all. Amen.

 

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

 

May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Good Hope

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” – (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV)

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future. Then you will call My Name. You will come to Me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will search for Me, and when you search for Me with all your heart, you will find Me.” – (Jeremiah 29:11-13, ERV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” – (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NLT)

 

Though I have these verses committed to memory, there is something powerful about the timing of when this particular passage has come back around. Today, this happens to be the verse of the day on my Bible app. This morning, as I woke seeking God, there was an underlying dread at the fact that it is already Monday, after a weekend that seriously lacked rest. In fact, yesterday afternoon, one of my sweet sons and I, spent some quality time at my school, organizing and doing inventory of the varsity gymnastics uniforms, so that I would be prepared to issue them to girls after school today. Sadly, while there, I read the notes that my guest teacher left from my absence on Friday. Though not surprising, it is still quite disappointing to read about kids who chose to behave poorly while I was away. This passage reminds me that my present circumstances are not my forever. God has good plans for me. I call on Him, pray to Him, and pursue Him with my whole heart. No matter what today holds, I have hope that better is coming. Incredibly, I have seen and known God’s faithfulness in this way in a variety of areas of my life, and in the lives of others. God is good, and I trust in the hope that my future holds. May we ever cling to Christ, who is our hope, as He has plans to give us a hope and a future that are good as we seek and pray to Him.

Mom is settling in and reentering life back in Wenatchee. Yesterday, she returned to her church to attend service, for the very first time since her stroke. She is glad she went, and is looking forward to joining her Bible Study group early this week. Last evening at dinner, Mom sat with a couple in the dining room whom she had not met yet, only to discover a common connection between them. The husband had worked with a family member of Mom’s, so it was a fun conversation and connection to establish. It is such a blessing to see the hope and good unfolding for Mom as she settles back into routines and finds herself again.

 

For the plans of God, Anchor

Are help and not harm;

Hope and a future,

Faithful, loving arms.

He’ll meet us each day,

With fresh hope to hold;

Grace to keep going,

And faith to be bold.

His plans are for good,

As each day begins;

Lord help us to trust,

For You lead us in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have good plans for us that grant us a hope and a future. Thank You that You are faithful forever. Forgive us for the times that we doubt the good that You have for us, based on what we see in the temporary present circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may embrace each new day with hope and grace, trusting You to lead us through. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may recognize the good and the hope that the future holds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You with all that we are, trusting You to continue to provide a future and a hope that is good. Amen.

 

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

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

To Demonstrate Love

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

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you.” – (John 13:34, ERV)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in the same ways.” – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

Love one another, on this day, where people are intentional to express their love and appreciation for others, there is the perfect opportunity for loving one another as we are called and commanded to do. In this particular passage, Jesus had just washed the feet of His disciples, and was sharing a last meal with them, prior to His betrayal that took Him to the cross. Jesus was giving charge to His disciples, as He knew the road that lay before Him, and wanted the faithful followers to be prepared to persevere. When Jesus told the disciples to love as He had loved them, they understood the enormity of the love that they were being called to give. First hand, they had been the recipients of the care, provision, healing, help, patience, kindness, faithfulness, honesty, hopefulness, perseverance and protection that His love provided. Jesus knew the task was impossible in their own strength, yet with His help, they could do all things. We are no different today. The command to love each other deeply and fully, remains. Our Source of strength to love anyway, even when those we know we are called to love seem unlovable, is Christ. He empowers us to love as He loves. Sometimes love is simply a kind word or an encouraging smile. Other times, love reaches out and goes beyond what is comfortable, to be certain that those around us know that they are valued and worthy of love.

One of the best examples of this that I can think of is Jesus at the well, speaking to the Samaritan woman. He crossed cultural divides and racial relations to reach out and impact the heart of a hurting soul. The very act of speaking to her in the first place, violated all sorts of barriers that normally were in place between Jews and Samaritans, much less men and women. Because Jesus loved, He spoke truth in love, and her heart was forever changed. What had been a space of sin and shame, became her testimony to tell of who Jesus was and how He knew about her before she said a word. That woman at the well went from being an outcast, to knowing that she was loved, valued and known. That is our purpose in love. May we seek the Lord and His strength, so that we too may acknowledge those around us in ways that help them feel valued, loved and known.

 

We are commanded,

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The loves of my life. Photos courtesy of Dee Jones, Open Door Photography

To go forth in love;

Value each other,

Like the Lord above.

Love grants us value,

Helps us know we’re known;

When unseen is seen,

God’s true love is shown.

Let us seek His strength,

So love leads the way;

May we follow Him,

And love well each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love. Thank You that this is not something done flippantly, but rather it is intentionally and specifically, as there are countless examples of love in Your word, and directions as to what love is and how to love well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love those around us well. Teach us to seek Your strength, even when we are struggling with our own trials and frustrations. Thank You that often the antidote for difficulty is to reach out and give love, support and encouragement to others, in spite of ourselves. Grant us the strength and wisdom to seek You and show us how to love those around us best. You know each need and what will bless and encourage the most. Show us, I pray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and choose to love one another. Amen.

 

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

 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9

Deeply Planted and Nourished

Ezekiel 47:1-12 New International Version (NIV)

The River From the Temple

47 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. 11 But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

 

Today marks the twenty-first day of a twenty-one day time of intentionally seeking the Lord. Together, with many others in my church, we have been following a specific reading plan for each day. Though following a daily devotional reading plan is part of my daily practice, I am in the habit of moving on to another passage or reading further until I find something that stands out, in order to reflect and do my writing. However, today, I felt challenged to sit in my struggle; to find some sort of simplicity in a seemingly complex text. Immediately as I read the passage, it felt as though it were an allegory for me to unpack. The commentary I read pertaining to this passage, pointed to Christ as the temple from whom healing waters flow. His Spirit in us lends itself to touching more and more lives wherever we go, bringing life where it was formerly absent. As we invest our lives in Him, good fruit is produced, and others are nourished. We will not wither if we stay firmly rooted in our Source. My simplistic summary is merely scratching the surface on all the promise this passage holds. For a more in-depth look, here is the link: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/ezekiel/47.html May we ever stay rooted and established in Christ, the true Source of living water, so that we may bring life and goodness wherever we go.

 

The Temple on high, Deeply Planted and Nourished

From where healing flows;

The more that we seek,

The greater it grows.

His vast love cleanses,

Brings new life again;

Hope to the hopeless,

Grace comes flooding in.

Where we are flooded,

There is overflow;

So much more to give,

To make His love known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Temple from where healing waters flow. Thank You that Your love floods our hearts, minds and entire beings when we seek and stay firmly planted in You. Forgive us for allowing our roots to grow shallow so that we have little to offer. Teach us to stay deeply planted in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that allow Your goodness, nourishment and healing to flood them too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to pursue a life deeply planted and nourished in You. Amen.

 

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

 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:17-18