Without Rival

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Incredibly, God is the answer to that desire for every man, woman and child. His plans and purposes for us are good, and He will provide all that we need to become who He has created us to be.

“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.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

The quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson is the opening line in Without Rival, by Lisa Bevere, which is the book which the ladies in my church have selected for a book study. So far, some of the most impactful lines of the first chapter include:

“Godliness is the ability to adopt God’s vantage point.” – This one is particularly poignant, as so often I pray to see things from God’s perspective rather than my own.

“God loves each of us as if there was only one of us.” – His love for us is unique, not equal. Equal implies measurable, and the love of God is infinite! Being loved uniquely means that we are loved individually, just as we are – for His love knows no end.

“Knowing who you are is vastly more important than knowing where you are going or even what you can do.” – Because we are His created, He has much to say about who we are, and what we could become in Him.

 

We all hold the hope,lisa-bevere-without-rival

Internal desire;

To be all we can,

Find one who inspires.

We’re each loved and known,

We find as we seek;

Shows us through His eyes,

A love that’s unique.

For the Lord has made,

Each of us designed;

With plan and purpose,

A future in mind.

What matters the most,

Is we come to know;

Who we truly are,

Not places we’ll go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your word and the treasure of the communities to which we are called. Thank You for the those whom You have placed in my own community at Grace. Thank You for the freedom to study and discuss the truth of Your word without fear. Forgive us for taking our freedom for granted, or for not fully investing in the opportunities that You place before us. Teach us to trust You with our hearts and minds, so that we would be open to hear what You have to say through Your word and through those around us. Show us how to listen intently, speak boldly, and love relentlessly, so that Your love may be expressed without fear to all those who cross our paths. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to live and love without rival as we are called. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Just Be Held

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. – (Zephaniah 3:17)

 

God really is that loving, kind and gracious to us. I am in awe of how he meets us with His love, and touches our hearts so personally. Even when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances or surroundings, the Lord is present, and moving. He delights in us, even in our despair, and only He truly knows how to bring calm to our internal storms.

 

The other day had been a quite tumultuous day for me. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, and had just received yet another blow. As I was driving to meet a friend to work out, a song came on the radio that I had not ever really heard before. I am not certain if I had not heard the song before, or if I had somehow missed the actual lyrics, but that day, God completely captured my attention with the words. Each verse seemed to hit straight to my heart, and by the time the chorus came, I knew that God was using this song to speak to me in the moment. The song is “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. The lines of the chorus that were such a poignant reminder: “So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away, you’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held, your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place, I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held, Just be held, just be held.” (Click the highlighted title if you would like to hear it too.)

 

It is easy to forget that He delights in us, and will quiet us with His love, and He rejoices over us with singing, when everything seems to be falling apart. He has a plan and a purpose for each of us, no matter how things appear. Even when things seem like they are a complete disaster, often it is a space of rebuilding, before something really remarkable is ready to begin. Our job is to trust, and to know that He is with us, and that God is mighty to save. He is more than able in all situations, we have to be willing to be obedient, and at times that includes completely letting go, and just being held…

 

At times life is hard,Just Be Held

and hope seems so far;

but God’s always near,

wherever we are.

So mighty to save,

we are His delight;

He sings over us,

through the darkest night.

His love will bring calm,

where no peace is known;

surrender to Him,

let His strength be shown.

For often our mess,

the struggle and strain;

is what He will use,

for our greatest gain.

Out of the ashes,

His beauty shall rise;

in Christ all made new,

our hope realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us and that You are mighty to save. Thank You that You take great delight in us, and that You quiet us with Your love and rejoice over us with singing. Thank You that You take us when we are in a space of chaos, and bring calm. Thank You that we can come to You, throw up our arms in surrender, and just be held. Forgive us for fighting when You are calling us to surrender. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would know when to press on, and when to release what we are so fiercely holding into Your hands. Lead us to love others with Your kindness and grace, and may many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we surrender the things that we are not meant to hold, and simply allow You to hold onto us. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Running His Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – (Hebrews 12:1)

 

This verse is particularly poignant as I am preparing for a big race at week’s end. I will be participating in the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay for the first time. It is a 200-mile, twelve person relay, that is run from Blaine, Washington (near the Canadian border), to south Whidbey Island. The race will be run continuously, by each of our twelve members, until every mile is complete. Markers will be set along the route to keep our path assured, and proper planning and training have prepared us to bring appropriate layers that do not hinder us, and our miles logged will help each of us persevere on the path set before us. Stories told by those who have run this race before, claim that there are runners along the way, cheering the participants on.

 

In life, we must do much of the same. It takes ongoing preparation and training for each of us to know and understand the race that He has set before us. When we spend time with Him, we gain understanding and insight as to what may hinder and entangle us on the path that He has placed us on. Perseverance grows as we continue to press on in our pursuit of all that He has for us. God is faithful to meet us, mile after mile, if we are only willing to continue to seek Him. We are surrounded by those who have successfully run the race that God had set before them; those who faithfully pursued and persevered until their final breath. May we too, one day be among those who have run their race according to Christ’s race plan.

 

May each of us run,Running His Race

the race He has planned;

with perseverance,

in His strength, we stand.

Let us each throw off,

the things that ensnare;

so nothing can stop,

us from running there.

By faith, as we move,

may we be aware;

of those before us,

who’re already there.

Be not discouraged,

but rather, pursue;

for He is present,

running beside you.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have marked out a race for us to run. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each and every one of our lives. Thank You that when we come to You and seek You, You answer and remain present with us, always. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to be hindered or become entangled by anything that is not a part of Your race plan for our lives, and help us to throw off anything that would be a barrier in our running the race marked out for us. Teach us to persevere, even when it hurts or the hills are steep and long, and grant us strength to endure far more than we think we can. May our perseverance be a testimony to those who do not yet know You, and may they too, come to know You as their Savior and King. Let us love others as You love us. Be glorified as we run with perseverance, the race You have marked out for each of 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