How to Let the Master Quilter Do His Work

As I child, I loved to run my fingers along the stitching of my grandmother’s quilts. They were a labor of love for her. Each time my mother reported an impending visit from the stork, my grandmother would smile and say, “I’ll get started on the quilt.” She’d stitch and pray, petitioning heaven with her hope that each of my siblings would “love the Lord all their days.” In this way, quilts and Jesus have always been deeply interconnected for me, almost like the patterns on the quilts themselves.

Not long ago, I took a seemingly straightforward trip. The goal was to support someone important at a crucial time, but the outcome was a mess of conflict and confusion in my heart and mind. I thought I was ready to revisit this space attached to old wounds and questions from my past, but instead the experience was as though someone ripped off a dirty old bandage, uncovering an oozing infection beneath. I felt woozy, unsteady from this discovery. I’ll be honest: my first instinct wasn’t to clean out the wound; it was to slap the bandage back on the wound and pretend I never saw it.

Continue reading at http://theglorioustable.com/2016/07/how-to-let-the-master-quilter-do-his-work/

But, We’re All Sinless! (in our own eyes)

After much discussion, a perusal of the packed Chili’s parking lot and our stash of coupons, my family and I landed on Ruby Tuesday’s as our choice for dinner last night. It was a reluctant decision, largely motivated by our coupons and the lack of wait time.

My youngest, Avery, had been running on full-throttle insanity all day. My tolerance of her yanking things from my hands, baby talk whimpering, full-speed jumping onto my body and other antics was running thin. As I buckled her into her car seat, anxious to be back home, she took advantage of the moment and used it as an opportunity to enact her four-year-old mutiny. While I was bent over, approximately six inches from her face, she thrust her “squishy” Olaf toy directly into my eyeball. Unpleasant. I would describe it as unpleasant. My eye would not stop watering, burning, or closing. Avery laughed.

“Avery, what are we supposed to say when we hurt someone?”

“Sorry?”

“Right. So what do you need to say to me?”

“Sorry, I did whatever I did wrong, I can’t remember right now.

“You shoved your Olaf toy in my eyeball.”

“Oh Yeah. Sorry, I shoved my Olaf toy in your eyeball?”

“I forgive you. But please don’t do that again. It really hurt.”

Later that night, Avery asked me if I had been joking about that whole “toy in the eyeball really hurting thing.” Surely, I was just pulling her leg, right?

If there’s one thing we humans don’t like it’s having our mistakes or sin pointed out. Oh, that? That’s not sin. It’s just a thing I do that’s between me and God and I’d prefer no one else knew about. Oh, that? I decided for me it’s not a sin.

But how can we know redemption and grace without knowing we’ve sinned? How can we know the one who ransoms from sin without an awareness of our sins? How can I teach my daughter what’s right without teaching her what’s wrong? How can we take in the beauty and wonder of the cross, a sacrifice for us, if we don’t believe we need one?

And in a world where stepping on other’s toes is frowned upon, how can we really know what’s sin and what isn’t?

 

  • Ask the Lord in prayer. We can ask him to search and examine our hearts. Like David in the Psalms, we invite him to “see if there be any wicked way in us.” We are so protective of our sin. We like to assume it’s not actually sin. Knowing the greatest consequence of our sin is it separates us from God, breaks his very heart, wouldn’t we rather be safe than sorry? Let’s ask him, regularly. In his book, The Utter Relief of Holiness, author John Eldredge asks if we aren’t repenting of something regularly, how can we claim to be serious about holiness? It’s a good question.

 

  • Read God’s word. It’s “sharper than any two-edged sword.” As we read, let’s ask the Lord to show us truth where we’ve believed lies. Let’s ask him to expose hidden sin within our hearts and then to set us free. We serve a God who reveals that he might heal.

 

  • Be Accountable. As we surround ourselves with other strong believers equipped with the freedom to speak truth into our lives, we minimize the risk of secretly nurturing sin our whole lives long. As we sit beneath hearty, biblical teaching aimed not at stroking our egos but at shaping us into a spotless bride, we make room for the Holy Spirit to do his holy work of convicting.

 

Avery needs to know it’s not acceptable to shove her toy in my eyeball. Yes, so she might find mercy, grace, redemption, and forgiveness, but also so she can stop shoving toys in my eyeball. I need to know where there is sin my life. Yes, so I might find mercy, grace, redemption, and forgiveness. But, also so I can stop breaking things. Eyeballs and people are fragile. I don’t want to break either. I don’t want to break the heart of God. I don’t want to damage the relationships in my life. Sin destroys me in the same way shoving sharp objects in my eye destroys my body. I don’t want to do either. And, I’m thankful to serve a God who loves me enough to tell me what’s wrong so I can stop doing it. Even if it hurts my pride a little.

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the kid asking God, “You were just joking about that sin hurting you thing, right?”

The Lean Years

There are few things Christians love to talk about as much as “going deeper in our walk with Christ.” We love to gather and read books about it, sing songs about it, pray about it, and even write about it. But one thing it seems we don’t enjoy is actually going deeper with Christ. Why? Because often, it involves loss and requires obedience and sacrifice (more topics Christians love to talk about but not actually live out).

Keep Reading at The Glorious Table

Prizes, Please

Tomorrow will mark day six of the plague flu in our home. I’ve never been a big fan of the post-apocalyptic shows like The Walking Dead, but I’ve read plenty of similarly themed books. From what I can tell, we’re doomed. This is the part where the folks who have yet to be contaminated cut us off from the rest of society and we are forced to forge our own path in a new contaminated, colony of our own. My husband, Ryan is clearly the hero in our version and I am the dead weight that he carries around (read as- goes to pick up take out food for on a regular basis). But the crux of our story is my four-year-old daughter, Avery’s journey as she’s been hit hardest by the merciless funk.

It’s been enlightening for me, my delight in offering her the slightest comfort. Meeting her in her pain, validating her hurt, meeting her needs, again and again, these moments aren’t the burden I always assume they are when it’s me who needs them. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her. When she cries that her stomach hurts or she’s cold, I’m not angry that she needs again. I’m desperate to meet her need and bring her suffering to an end.

Yesterday, she stood next to the bed and cried that her stomach hurt.

I said, “Perhaps you should try to go the restroom.”

She shook her head no.

“Maybe you should lay down and rest for a bit.”

Still no.

I said I could give her some medicine for her stomach.

She began sobbing.

“Baby, what’s wrong.”

“I’m just wondering if you have any other ideas because I don’t like those.”

I did not. But as I was pondering, digging into the far recesses of my mind, she offered up this idea.

“I’m just wondering if maybe we should go to Target and get me a prize? I’m wondering if maybe you think that’s a good idea?”

And I couldn’t help but laugh because it was just so me.

That after the Lord would whisper his instructions, I would shrug them away and offer up, “What about this? How about instead of all of those things that make sense but don’t sound like fun, we ignore the fact that I’m contaminated, still in my pajamas and rocking record-setting bed head while running a fever over a hundred and we head on over to Target and pick me up a lil’ something fun. How about that plan, God? I really think that one’s a winner.”

These are the times that I am so thankful that I am not God. My mind, my ability to fix, to heal, to restore, to comfort, to know what to do next are so limited.

But his is not. He knows exactly what I need. Exactly when I need it.

I wonder what would happen if I shrugged his instructions, his whispers, his ideas off less. What if I stopped deeming them not fun, not possible, not for me? What if I just trusted that He was a loving Father who delighted in meeting my needs and bringing an end to my suffering? Would my stomach stop hurting? Would I eventually end up with a prize from Target, too?

If today, you find yourself struggling to accept God’s instructions and wanting to offer him some more appealing suggestions can I encourage you to let him take care of you? It isn’t a burden to him. He doesn’t grow tired of meeting your needs. He delights in being your source of comfort and unlike me, he doesn’t run out of ideas. You can trust him. He’ll never kick you out of the colony, even if you get the flu.

 

A Letter to Those Who Wait

I woke up this morning and spent some time in God’s word. And the word that stirred my heart, that jumped off the page was “wait.” It seemed to be the heart of what God was speaking to me, “There is no shame in waiting, only faithfulness.” I thought about how this world sometimes makes us feel like a failure for waiting. Like we should be seeing instantaneous results and if we aren’t, we must be doing something wrong. But, David seemed to be saying something entirely different. I prepared to write a blog on waiting.20160126_100707

And then I read this blog. A Letter to Those Who Wait

And I knew the blog had already been written.

I hope you will find it as powerful and moving as I did.

Serving Through Suffering… With the Joy of King David

O Lord, You alone are my hope.

Ive trusted You, O LORD, from childhood.

Yes, You have been with me from birth;

from my mothers womb You have cared for me.

No wonder I am always praising You!

My life is an example to many,

because you have been my strength and protection.

That is why I can never stop praising You;

I declare Your glory all day long.

And now, in my old age, dont set me aside.

Dont abandon me when my strength is failing.” Psalm 71:5-9

I would love to be able to say this now, let alone in my later years when my health is failing. This is part of Psalm 71, written when David was elderly and very ill. It still shows his strength of purpose and character, as if he was still the young David, ready to take on the world. If you read the full Psalm, as his health fails, his competition is keen on killing him to take hold of power. Despite the challenges of pain and an aged body, he is determined to remain the victor, sitting securely within God’s will.

“Now that I am old and grey,

do not abandon me, O God.

Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,

Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.

You have done such wonderful things.

Who can compare with You, O God?

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,

but You will restore me to life again

and lift me up from the depths of the earth.

You will restore me to even greater honour

and comfort me once again.” Verses 18-21

One of the most inspiring talks I have heard on David was by an elderly Rabbi, who was encouraging his congregation to “serve with the joy of King David!” He spoke about moving through our spiritual lives with love and a smile on our face; as well as the gratitude which manifested in David’s Psalms. The point to his message was that those in the world with no faith would see that joy, and it would become a witness.

Every so often I think about what he said, and I can see the promise in it. Being able to praise God through hardship, blesses God, helps empower us to move forward and also, shows others the goodness of God in our lives. If we had nothing at all to be happy about, we would not praise. Onlookers can see that.

David had a great deal to be grateful for, and he let nothing stop him from sharing it.

“As for me, I will always have hope;

I will praise You more and more.

My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,

of Your saving acts all day long—

though I know not, how to relate them all.” Psalm 71:14-15 (NIV)

You know how it feels to be ill. Your energy is drained, you don’t want to move. How David survived so many foes, battles and long-term health problems, is an incredible testimony of the provision of the Lord. He did not **die until the nation of Israel was secure. From the symptoms described in the books of Samuel and the Psalms, it appears that David suffered from diabetes from mid-life; then he most probably passed away from diabetic heart disease. Both explain the extreme cold he suffered in his last few years, [Ref. 1 Kings 1] and the ups and downs in his health, that the Bible records.

David had the help of a local plant named sharp varthemia (chiliadenus iphionoides) to control his diabetes, but I cannot begin to image living through those conditions with not so much as a paracetamol tablet, let alone insulin and cardiac medication. In addition, as someone who had been a warrior for many years, he would have suffered chronic pain and possibly, some debilitation, from orthopaedic problems caused by the extreme wear and tear of warfare on his body.

The aged David must have been very uncomfortable, yet, he didn’t slow down much. Even when King Solomon had taken the throne, David invested his time in his great passion: preparations for building the temple. Reading through 1 Chronicles, they were extensive and David gave his personal wealth to help fund the building, inspiring others to give as well. [Ref. 1 Chronicles chapters 27 to 29]

Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly:

“O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may You be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your Hand, and at Your discretion, people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-12

The suffering that David went through only served to build his gratitude and enhance his relationship with the Lord, which is something that I find amazing. At times, people who have had hard lives become bitter, both with others and with God, but not David. He was able to look back and see the wonder of how the Lord had brought him through.

Psalm 119:71-71 is believed to be David’s work. In it he says:

My suffering was good for me,

for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.

Your instructions are more valuable to me

than millions in gold and silver.”

Bless the Lord for the work and legacy of his faithful servant, David, the sweet singer of Isra’el. He is a great example of how to meet hardship head on, and still come out rich and fulfilled, no matter what age you are, or what conditions you suffer from. As I know David would say if he were to be writing this, put your trust and hope in the Lord. He will never abandon those who are faithful to Him. Look to Him for help, you’ll never be unloved, unprovided for or forsaken.

Footnotes:

**“He (David) reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honour. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place.” 1 Chronicles 29:27-28 Long life, or being full of years, is a sign of the favour of the Lord. Other Biblical heroes who enjoyed the same favour, in those terms, are Abraham, Isaac and Job.

Read more about King David and diabetes: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32037

 

Except where marked, all verses are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

 

This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

About Cate and the King David Project

Cate Russell-Cole has been a Christian since 1981 and is a qualified Creativity Coach, Author, Editor and Social Worker. She has been actively involved in church life and ministry, since her teenage years. Until early in 2015, Cate coached writers online through her CommuniCATE Resources for Writers blog, with a blog and social media following of over seven thousand people. Her commercial work had to be stopped due to chronic health problems, so instead, she followed her heart and devoted all her time to King David.

Cate lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and two cats and habitually writes everything in Australian English.

“From Despair to Deliverance: the King David Project,” is a non-profit ministry, that seeks to make the life of King David easy to understand and relevant, so that believers gain inspiration and comfort from the life of King David.

The King David Project website: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject

Masada Rain Blog: https://masadarain.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fromdespairtodeliverance

Twitter: @Masada_Rain

Pinterest Boards (including free images for bloggers): https://www.pinterest.com/MasadaRain/

 

 

 

Come Close

I sat in the flimsy black chair, exchanging pleasantries with the young doctor at my follow-up appointment. We’d go over my test results; he’d say they were fine—- my new symptoms surely the result of Lyme and then he’d tell me what to do about them. After all, that was why I’d come, for relief from the sudden, new joint pain that was crippling at times, causing my fingers to swell and preventing me from typing or texting, sometimes even bringing tears to my eyes.
But instead, he opened his mouth and formed different words. Words I hadn’t been expecting, the weight of which crushed my soul. In addition to all the other fun I’d been enjoying, the markers for Rheumatoid Arthritis had come back positive. I’d be sent to a Rheumatologist to confirm, but it seemed quite clear to him.
I drove home in a stupor, working up a good cry. What I wanted most at that moment, more than I wanted to unhear those words was for my husband to come close. I wanted him to tell me that we were still going to be okay. I needed him to say that one more diagnosis didn’t change the commitments we’d made or God’s goodness.
He was on a conference call when I came home. (As he often is) I did my best to hold my cry in. But the second his finger touched the “end call” button, tears streamed my face, and I said, “Can you come over? I need a hug.” The rest was a blur of blubber and snot. But I heard the words I needed to hear. “We’re still okay.”
This morning, I stood in the shower, and I whispered to Jesus, “Come close.” I’ve been drowning in a sea of symptoms and struggles, and I’ve just needed to feel the Lord near. I thought about the wonder of the cross. What a bold, demonstrative move of “coming close.” Is there any doubt that he longs to be close to us?
It’s the goal of every marriage, the coming close. It’s why we commit our lives to one another so that we can live all of our days up close to one another. And maybe somewhere along the way, hurts and disappointments come in and crowd out this goal of coming close, but it is the starting place.
And so it is with our walk with Jesus.
The desire on both sides is the coming close to one another. How many times have I heard the still small voice of my Savior inviting me, “Come close“? And maybe somewhere along the way, hurts or disappoints come in and crowd this desire out and we no longer want to come close.
But today, he’s still whispering to you, to me, “Come close.”
What if we laid our hurts, our disappointments, and our busyness down and we let him embrace us? Maybe the rest will be a blur of blubber and snot. I don’t know. But what I do know, is that we will hear the words our hearts long to hear. “We’re still okay.”