Prepared Like a Bride

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – (Revelation 21:2-4, NIV)

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, “Now God’s home is with people. He will live with them. They will be His people. God Himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone.” – (Revelation 21:2-4, ERV)

 

God really is so good. Though I felt compelled to call this site Revelations in Writing, I have not spent much time dwelling in the book of Revelation. The content, quite honestly, makes me a bit anxious, rather than brings clarity. I don’t avoid it altogether, I just have not really dove deep into a dedicated study of that particular book. This morning, however, I was nearly moved to tears by the imagery found in the verses that appeared in my daily devotions. Being such a visual person, these verses struck a space in my heart that needed to imagine such incredible, beautiful hope.

It was a little less than a year ago, and I was the bride, dressing for my husband on our wedding day, right here at my mom’s house. Dear family and treasured friends joined us to celebrate our union before God in this gorgeous setting. As a girl who grew up caring far more about athletics and art than appearances, I have never been one to feel particularly “pretty” or “beautifully dressed”, but rather an artist who has fun with color and pattern and design. However, on my wedding day, I did feel like a bride who had been transformed for her groom – not because of my clothing or hair; it was the way I was viewed through the eyes of my groom.

Additionally, the hope that is held in these verses, offers a load far lighter than what I bore yesterday. Between the early morning’s fiasco, exhaustion, and then learning of the loss of my paternal grandmother, my heart was so heavy that it simply sat in my chest as a stone. I could not even feel because the weight was so great.

Mom struggled with word finding the first half of the day, as the lack of sleep had really taken a toll. We met her new in-home physical therapist, and were both very impressed and pleased. She will begin sessions three days per week, starting Monday. Speech therapy and occupational therapy are yet to be scheduled, but those should begin this coming week as well. She will have in-home nurse visits too, to be sure all is going as it should. So far, her care team is fantastic, and I am grateful that we have the opportunity to keep mom in her own home in Wenatchee.

All that to say, that the hope held in knowing that one day we will be with God, and He with us, where there will be no wheelchairs, monitors, bed rails, strokes, sickness, deaths, diseases, fears, frustration, tears, nor pain, is an incredible promise to hold in our hearts.

 

Imagine the bride,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

On her wedding day;

Eager and ready,

For all that awaits.

Two lives full of hope,

Placed in the Lord’s hands;

As loved ones witness,

His unfolding plan.

How much greater still,

Will it be one day;

When God comes to dwell,

Among us, to stay.

All sickness and pain,

Death, hurt and disease;

Will no longer be,

In Him, we’ll be free.

No weight nor sorrow,

Just wonder and awe;

Joy in His presence,

No more sinful flaw.

Fear not His coming,

Instead, let hope rise;

There’s beauty beyond,

Our dreams realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are so good. Thank You that You take our heaviness and exchange it with hope. Thank You that the weight of this world may feel heavy for a season, but the hope of eternity is well worth the weight we bear throughout the various seasons in life. Thank You that You strengthen and equip us to carry whatever load lies before us, and You bring others alongside us to share the weight. Forgive us for thinking that we are meant to carry things alone, or that this is somehow all there is, forgetting that there is so much more beyond what is before us in the right now. Teach us to trust You with our today, tomorrow and forever. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them see the hope that goes beyond today. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the hope that is held in eternity with You, and the help You supply in the “right now”. Thank You that You speak to us individually, in the way that penetrates the places in our hearts that feel heaviest and need Your light to shine the brightest. Amen.

 

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

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

Love Remains Present

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – (Romans 12:15, NLT)

When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too. – (Romans 12:15, ERV)

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. – (Romans 12:15, MSG)

 

Part of loving well is walking alongside those around us, no matter what state they are in. If a person is happy and has reason to celebrate, we ought to join them in expressing joy. When we encounter the sorrowful, it is not our job to fix them, but rather to sit beside them in the midst of their pain and be present. Remarkably, when happiness is shared, it miraculously feels multiplied; yet when sadness and sorrow is shared by someone who comes and sits in the space alongside the suffering, the weight of the ache is lessened somehow. God intended us to be in community. So much of scripture directs us as to how to be in relationship with one another, and to function as a body of believers. Two are better than one… A three-strand cord is not easily broken… There are countless references reminding us that we are not meant to do this life alone. May we place our trust in He who walks beside us in joy and pain, and go forth with intent to do the same.

 

Choose to celebrateThe Benefit of Broken Barriers

Those with happiness;

Share space of sadness,

With ones in a mess.

For God walks beside,

And ever stays near;

Present in weeping,

And likewise in cheer.

We have been chosen,

As community;

To love as Christ loves,

For His love sets free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to be happy with those who are happy, and to weep with those who weep, but You sent Your Son to show us what it looks like to love like that. Thank You Jesus, for showing us how to love without limits, despite what You were going through and the things that surrounded You. Forgive us for making excuses as to why we just cannot get involved when things seem to messy or emotional. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remain present with those whom You have placed in our lives, no matter what comes their way. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are happy with those who are happy, and share tears with those who are down. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Strength in the Sorrow

I am sad and tired. Say the word, and make me strong again. – (Psalm 119:28, ERV)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. – (Psalm 119:28, NIV)

 

Sorrow is a sadness that seems to strangle the soul; it comes and clings to the core and clouds one’s countenance for a season. The magnitude of what is now missing weighs heavily on my heart; though expected, and even celebrated for the blessed homecoming that has happened, there is this space of having to reconcile earthly loss with heavenly gain. This verse perfectly depicts the space where I find my heart. I am sad and tired, exhausted really. However, I know that my strength and hope are held in Christ, and it is by His grace that I can move forward, and it was His strength that carried me through yesterday. Each day is made new, and I need seek Him for today and trust that He will remain present; as He will carry me when I cannot go any further. Already, He has poured out His grace through the kindness of family and friends who have surrounded each of us who are lamenting the loss of my grandmother. This season of sorrow, though seemingly heavy, will be short, and then there will be a time to celebrate a life well lived. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, as He is trustworthy and true to His word as the giver of strength and holder of hope.

 

The weight of sorrow,Strength in the Sorrow

Makes weary and worn;

This space of sadness,

When hearts are forlorn.

‘Tis but a season,

Deep ache for the lost;

Time to cling to Christ,

He knows what love costs.

Seek the Lord for strength,

He’s true to His word;

His hope shall breathe joy,

And peace undeterred.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You in our seasons of sorrow, and You meet us and grant us strength. Thank You for the peace that passes all understanding, even in the midst of our own pain. Forgive us for trying to trudge forward rather than rely on You for strength. Teach us to trust You more, as it takes but a word from You and we are restored. Show us how to love those around us through their seasons of sorrow, and celebrate with them, their seasons of joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength in our sorrow, and trust You to be true to Your word. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Worship Anyway

Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped. – (Job 1:20, MSG)

When Job heard this, he got up, tore his clothes, and shaved his head to show his sadness. Then he fell to the ground to bow down before God. – (Job 1:20, ERV)

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. – (Job 1:20, NLT)

 

A few days ago, I passed the one-month mark with my back injury. Typically, I am extraordinarily active, and I participate in high impact workouts at least six days per week. In order for my compression fracture to heal, I was instructed to do no high impact activities. This has left me with few options, and the lack of adrenaline and endorphins released from merely walking, seem to be taking its toll. I am weary, restless, and fighting the darkness that tries to pull me down. The only thing that has kept me somewhat sane in this state of waiting, is an abundance of walking, encouraging friends, and the turning up of my worship music and singing along with all that I am.

This morning, as I read about Job and all of the horrible loss that he endured, as well as how he responded, I am again reminded of what matters most, and how to best combat the fear and frustration. Worship does wonders. As we remove our focus from ourselves and our own situations, and instead fix our eyes and hearts on Him who deserves all of our attention, something shifts and the unbearable becomes bearable. Our burdens are no longer ours alone, and we see Him who is seated on the throne. God who is worthy of all of our worship, is the only One who can see us through our storms. May we mourn what need be mourned, then, despite our sorrow, set our hearts to worship the One who will carry us until our strength is renewed. Let every heart lift praise to our Prince of Peace.

 

When all’s going wrong,photo (3)

The struggle is new;

There’s one place to turn,

Where Love sees us through.

The Lord is our strength,

No matter our state;

As we choose worship,

His love lifts the weight.

He helps bear burdens,

Too heavy for us;

Shines light in darkness,

Grants peace through Jesus.

Despite the struggle,

God is always good;

Let us choose worship,

His grace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always good and worthy of our worship. Thank You that despite what we have going on in or around us, You are with us and willing to remain present. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to dictate our view of You, rather than allow You to shape our view of what is going on in and around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and worship You in all things and at all times. Show us how to worship You in spite of what we see, and lead us to love others in such a way, that they too may see how kind and loving You are to all who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we mourn what need be mourned, but recognize in all things, that You deserve our worship. 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

Displaying His Splendor

He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’ – (Isaiah 61:3, ERV)

 

To provide for those who grieve in Zion – 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 a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. – (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

 

Though these were the words of Isaiah to the people of Israel, Jesus quoted these words in Luke as He read to the people in the synagogue. When we receive Jesus personally, His Spirit in us fulfills these promises for us. Only Christ can turn our ashes into something beautiful, and replace our mourning and despair with songs of praise. Despite what we go through, when we have Christ in us, we can be seen as righteous and pillars of strength in Him. His splendor is displayed through His Spirit in us. May we allow the Lord to be our comfort, our crown and our reason to celebrate as we go forth on this new day that He has made. Let His Spirit within us, display His splendor, as we operate in His righteousness in all that we say and do.

 

Our comfort in sorrow,The Reason for Reverence

our glory in grief;

the Lord’s our provision,

and place of relief.

He takes all our ashes,

and gives us a crown;

pours the oil of gladness,

when our hearts are down.

As despair overwhelms,

He comes alongside;

gives us garments of praise,

hope from the inside.

His Spirit within us,

will rise and stand tall;

righteous in His splendor,

a witness to all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You comfort those who mourn. Thank You that You bestow beauty for ashes and give hope in place of despair. Thank You that You give gladness and reason to praise. Thank You that Your Spirit within us rises up, and You call us righteous; allowing Your splendor to be seen through us. Forgive us for forgetting how very near You are in all things and at all times. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will look to You in our sorrow and grief, and will celebrate You in our seasons of joy. Lead us to love others in such a way, that Your righteousness and splendor may be seen through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we receive all that You offer, and go forth in all that we have been given. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Hope for Eternity

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. – (Revelation 7:16-17)

 

This promise is for all of God’s children upon our arrival into our eternal home. For those who place their trust in Him, all of eternity is secure. It will be a space without hunger nor thirst. No suffering, nor pain. No sorrow, nor sadness; and God Himself, will be our comfort. Though we may endure discomfort, distress, disease or even disaster here, our hope remains in that which is forever. May we hold fast to the hope we have in Christ, who is the One to lead us to living waters forever.

 

No more will there be,Hope for Eternity

suffering or pain;

all will be removed,

in heaven’s domain.

The great Lamb of God,

seated on His throne;

will lead us to life,

beyond what we’ve known.

Never to hunger,

no grieving nor loss;

He’ll wipe away tears,

all placed on the cross.

Imagine the sound,

as the voices raise;

all glory to God,

who deserves all praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and receive that which You freely offer, the promises for all eternity are ours to hold. Thank You that we have Your presence with us now and that we have forever ahead of us, with no suffering nor pain. Thank You that even when we endure unpleasantness here, it is temporary, and the hope that we hold, is eternal. Forgive us for losing perspective when things get difficult. Help us to hold fast to our hope in You, and to trust You more completely. Be our strength and our hope, even in the most challenging times. Lead us to love as You love us, and may many come to know the hope we hold in You. Be glorified O God, as we live our days displaying our hope for eternity. Amen.

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

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

Alive in Him

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive. – (Luke 20:38)

 

There is much hope that is held in this word, as it is a reminder that all who have gone before us who had invested their hearts and lives in the Lord, have not died a spiritual death, but rather they are alive in Christ, living with Him for all of eternity. This brings much comfort, as I find myself caught in glimpses of grief over the loss of my dear friend, Anne. Though she passed a little over a year ago, the end of her life was a battle, and I had the rare privilege of walking beside her for much of it. Over the weekend, I encountered a few situations that hit too close to home, and triggered a heaviness I was not aware I was carrying. Mere moments passed over the last few days, where I would feel a sudden flash of sadness. When I spoke with a friend yesterday, it was only then that I realized what had been tugging at my heart. One particular situation that I chose to walk in, mirrored a portion of the road I walked with Anne. It is no wonder that a bit of sorrow seeped in. Fortunately, sorrow and sadness need not stay long, as Anne was firmly rooted and established in Christ. She is very much alive in Him. I have the blessed assurance that she is Home, and that I will one day join her on the streets of gold. May we each hold fast to the gift of God, that is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

All are alive,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

who invest in God;

let Christ come rule,

and our praise applaud.

In Him, is life,

after earthly death;

His peace pours out,

as we draw each breath.

Hope for today,

promise for always;

life abundant,

for all of our days.

Be rooted well,

in the Holy Vine;

to bear fruit now,

and embrace Divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not the God of the dead, but of the living. Thank You that in You, all are alive. Thank You that our earthly death is not the end, but only the beginning of the fullness of life that You have for us. Thank You that those who have gone before us who loved and invested their hearts in You, are secure in the safety of Your presence forever. Forgive us for our lack of vision for the future, and help us to hold fast to our eternity, as our time on earth is but the blink of an eye in comparison. Help us to make our time here matter, as we love others by loving like You love us. May many come to know the hope of eternal life in You, as we live as You call us to live. Be glorified, O God, as we live out the life You have gifted us. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78