A Donkey’s Journey Towards An Epiphany {A Repost}

I remember the first time I gave a man a ride on my back. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, the day the stranger came and took me away. When my master’s servant called out, “What are you doing with my master’s donkey?” The man simply replied, “The Lord has need of him,” and kept walking. For some reason, that was enough for the servant.

When we got to where we were going, there was a Man waiting for us. He smiled at the stranger, put his hand on his shoulder as if He was going to say something and then changed His mind, stroking my neck. And His touch was like the warm sunshine, warm and soothing.

The stranger and his friends placed their coats on me so that the Man could ride on me. We began to ride through the streets and there were people assembled alongside the road as if they were expecting a parade. They were waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna! to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest.”

“Apparently, this man on my back is very important,” I thought, “I must be pretty important as well, to carry such a famous man.”

The people laid down the branches at my feet, making the road before me much more comfortable than the usual dry and dusty road. The longer we went, the more excited the people became, jumping and cheering, clapping and waving.

Finally, we came to the Temple, and He dismounted me. After stroking my nose, He went in. Another of my master’s servants came to me and said, “There you are. How did you get here?” He was further confused by the coats draped across my back. “Strange!” he said as he led me to the Temple stables for food and water.

“Who was that man, I had on my back?” I asked a mare who had been alongside the road and was now being groomed in the Temple stables.

“He is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.”

“A prophet!” I thought. Why would a prophet want to ride a lowly donkey like me?

In the days that followed, I remembered what it was like to carry that Man on my back, His gentle smile and touch. I remembered the honor with which the people were greeting Him and felt warm inside that I should be chosen to give Him a ride.

About five days later, I was back home in my stable when I heard a commotion. I went to look out of the window in my stall. Once again, there were people lined up along the side of the road. “I wonder if the Prophet is having another parade?” I thought out loud. My ears perked up hoping He would choose me to ride on again. The oldest donkey in the stable, Old One, came alongside me.

This crowd was different, although I recognized many of the same faces. They were silent and suspicious. Many men had their arms crossed, or watched stroking their beards. Further down the road, I noticed a Man. He looked like the Prophet I had carried, but it couldn’t be Him. This man had been beaten, and had a crown of thorns on His head causing him to bleed. The drops of blood were dripping into His eyes, and He had gashes of open flesh on his back and legs. But the most obvious reason that I knew it must not be Him was that this Man carried a cross, and even I knew that crosses were reserved for criminals.

“Who is that Man?” I said to the Old One.

“That is the same man you gave a ride to five days ago,” he whinnied.

“That can not be! He was a good man. I know He was. I could tell by His touch. He couldn’t be deserving of such treatment! Especially by the same people who were honoring and praising Him just a few days ago.”

“Nevertheless, it is the same Man,” Old One responded.

“He must have done something wrong, for the people to allow this to happen!” I said. I was surprised at the feeling of shame I had for having carried this man. What would people think? I have transported a criminal, a prisoner?

“There are many reasons people will persecute another man. Often times, it has nothing to do with whether they have done something wrong or not. I only know that this Man comes from God.”

The road passed quite close to my stable, and the Prophet (or was He a criminal?) was almost even with my window now. He stumbled and fell under the weight of the heavy cross He carried. A soldier came and kicked Him, as He struggled to His feet. The Prophet looked up at us, and I could swear He gave a slight smile.

I turned my eyes downward, feeling guilty for my previous feeling of doubt.

I stirred up all of my courage and looked out the window again. With great effort, He lifted the cross from the road.

“But Old One, this isn’t fair! He is a good man. These people, how can they change their opinion of someone so quickly?”

Old One stayed silent, and I remembered how quickly I had gone from pride to embarrassment about my associations with Him.

Just then, a little further up the road, a weeping woman came into the Man’s path.

“I once gave this Man and woman a ride,” Old One reflected.

“You did?” I was amazed that he had never mentioned this before, especially in light of the fact, that I had repeated the story of my ride with the Prophet often in the past few days.

“Yes, I gave them a ride many years ago when I was about your age. This woman was great with child. There were no inns with available rooms that day, and she bore the baby, the Prophet, right there in the stable where I was resting from the long ride. This Man is from God. He is special. There were angels in the room and shepherds came to worship Him. He slept in the very manger I had eaten out of earlier that evening. The stars even sang and worshiped celebrating His arrival. This man is not merely a Prophet, but the Son of God.”

“Can’t we do something? Can’t He do something? Isn’t He known for His miracles?”

“I believe He could do something, but chooses not to.”

“Old One, what will happen if the people kill this Son of God? Will the world end?”

“I do not know,” Old One moved away from the window and laid down with a humph.

All morning, I wondered what was happening to this Son of God. Had the people come to their senses? Did they remember that just a few days before they had been worshiping this man? I also remembered how He smiled at me, even with the burden of His cross, even after I had be ashamed for a moment at having given Him a ride.

Later that day, my master decided to go to the Temple. “Let’s take you out for your first ride,” he said. I guess he didn’t know that the Son of God had already taken me out for a ride.

As we rode toward the Temple, the sky began to darken, and the wind began to blow. Just before we arrived at the Temple, the dust around my feet began to swirl, lightening began to flash. I thought back to my conversation with Old One. Was this the end? Did they kill the Prophet, the Son of God? The ground began to quake. The whole earth was shaking. I began to bray as I lost my balance. People everywhere were running and shouting, “This is the end! What is happening?” Priests ran out of the Temple shouting something about the curtain being torn and that we would all surely die. And then, just as quickly as it all started, it was finished. My master got up and dusted himself off. He checked to see if I was okay, petting my neck. He led me into the Temple stables where pandemonium still ruled the day, and went into the Temple to see if his help was needed.

The servants worked hard to calm the animals. They hadn’t had such a stir in quite some time. About a half an hour later, a strong military horse came into the stables. He began to speak about what he had seen that afternoon. He said that his master was a Roman soldier who had been at that afternoon’s crucifixion.

photo credit: bela_kiefer

“Jesus, the Prophet was on the center cross, and two thieves were on either side of Him,” he started.

“One of the thieves,” he continued, “cried out sarcastically, ‘Are you not the Christ? Rescue Yourself and us from death!’

But the other soldier answered him, ‘Do you not even fear God? We suffer justly receiving what we deserve, but this Man has done nothing out of the way.’

Then he turned to Jesus and said, ‘Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingly glory!’

And then Jesus answered, ‘Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.’

And then the sky began to darken and the wind began to blow. The men on the hill tried not to look nervous or frightened, but their scent betrayed them.

The ground began to shake when Jesus cried out, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!’ That is when my master recognized his part in what had happened. He fell to his knees weeping, and saying, ‘Indeed, without question, this Man was upright!'”

photo courtesy of Dustin Blay

The horse paused here, as if for dramatic effect. “My master gently and tenderly helped take this Man off of the cross and draped him over me. He and another man took His body to a tomb. His blood remains on me this moment.”

Some of the Temple groomers had come into the stalls now. They paid special attention to the military horse, combing and brushing his coat, washing the blood from his sides.

“Some say, this Jesus was the Son of God,” one said.

“I fear He must have been, for Whose death causes heaven and earth to respond in such a way? I heard that it was this horse that carried His body to the tomb. It is His blood on our hands.”

“Did you hear that He forgave the very men who killed Him?”

The rest of the day the Temple stable was silent. My master came out later, quiet and questioning. When we got back to the stable, Old One was waiting for me. After I told him the horse’s story, I said, “Old One, those men didn’t deserve to be forgiven. Some of them were the very same ones who had given Jesus the parade a few days ago. They deserve no forgiveness.”

Old One chuckled a raspy old donkey chuckle, “Perhaps this is why He came. To give man (and your case, donkey) the ability to forgive.”

I remembered Jesus’ eyes when I looked through the window, ashamed at my association with Him. They were eyes of forgiveness. Earlier that day, I had wondered if it was the end of the world, but now I had a feeling it was the beginning of a new world. A world for which God cared enough to send His Son to forgive even the worst betrayal. A world in which man now had an example of forgiveness. It was then that I realized that forgiveness changes everything, because forgiveness had changed me.

Written by kd sullivan Easter 2011

From “Hosanna!” to “Crucify him!”

Palm Sunday

Today was Palm Sunday, and as I read the text from the Gospels I was struck by a thought.  The same people who were shouting, “Hosanna!” on Sunday were shouting, “Crucify him!” five days later.  How fickle can a person be right?  But the thought that came to me next was even more frightening than the first.

The parade for Jesus was shortly after He had prayed for Lazarus.  Everyone now heard of the man from Galilee Who healed the sick and now recently raised the dead.  How easily these same peoples’ opinion were changed when a different opinion of Christ had been circulated!

My Pastor taught an excellent sermon recently.  He said that it matters not at all who other people say that Jesus is, instead it matters most who you say that Jesus is.  The Pharisees and priests decided that Jesus was a heretic, and at that point everyone else had to decide who Jesus was.

13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

 14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

 15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

As you can see what was important to Jesus was who His disciples thought that He was.

There is danger and trap for many of us, for we shout, “Hosanna!”  when things are going well.  We see Jesus as the King of kings and the Savior of all our circumstances.  But then, when circumstances change, we start to doubt who He is in our lives.  We turn our back on Him, ashamed of the cross, and the man on it.  Maybe difficult times have come, or disappointments in life; or perhaps a “new” doctrine is going around changing the very definition of who Jesus is.  We must not change how we identify with Christ based on circumstances or trendy “doctrine” or we are no better than the fickle Palm Sunday parade crowd.

As long as Jesus was healer and provider it was “Hosanna!”, but as soon as He asked to become “Lord” it was “Crucify Him!”

As long as it was about what He could do for them to make their life better, it was “Hosanna!”, but as soon as it became about what they could do for Him, it was either silence or “Crucify Him!”

The silence continues as people discredit our Lord and we stand by, not saying a word.  And our silence allows the One who paid the ultimate price for us to have His character and reputation questioned and “crucified” making Him nothing more than a Sugar Daddy and when the sugar is gone, we are not willing to identify with Him any longer.

Who do you say that He is?

Celebrating Who He is with dear Ann today:

218. The best Bible Study so far! Changed Lives.

219. My wonderful group of students.

220. An unexpected day out with a friend.

221. Homemade Chicago Hot Dogs…except I forgot the relish…:(

222. My oldest son home from college.

223. An amazingly beautiful bride.

224. Lacey Day continues….

225. Scholarship to Write To Publish!!

226. e-mail from Cecil Murphey!

227. Request for interview for my dream job!!

228. Heart-to-heart with college son.

229. Bringing a guest family to church!

230. Guest goes forward to give her life to Christ!!!!!!!Yay!

231. Finished Hunger Games trilogy so I can return to normal life.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

and a new face, Rebecca…Moms Against Manic Mondays

When Fear Postpones the Birth of Dreams – Guest Post by Shelly Miller – Painting Prose

What more can I say other than that I adore Shelly’s writing? I am thrilled beyond words to hear her mention the four-letter b word, “book”, and can not wait until she shares her thoughts with the world. Her prose is full of images both visual and experiential. In this piece, I see daffodils waving in the wind, and I feel the heartache of letting a child mature…and as usual, she stirs my emotions with her poetry in prose. Please accept my invitation to visit her beautiful blog…Redemption’s Beauty.

Daffodils stand at attention in perfect rows, their yellow faces saluting the sun. Branches sway windy, waving pink fairy dust as I breathe the beauty of what blurs past my windshield. New life pops confetti on bare branches and today, I let go of my daughter’s hand. Watch her dance the last stanzas of childhood in this circle of life we share.
She turns sixteen today. A day she begins to collect her own packet of seeds to scatter. (Mark 4)
Because aren’t we all farmers of what he gives?
Yesterday I squeezed her dimpled knuckles. Today, wearing wet hair and tall boots, she drives away in her white Volvo with cardboard owl swinging from the mirror, pop music vibrating.
Later, in the quiet empty, I wipe off the syrup pitcher, put her dirty dishes in the sink, notice the pile of cards holding checks from friends stacked neatly beside her place at the bar. Pieces of hope paper stacked for the promise of a mission trip to Jamaica.
Sixteen years ago, H caught me standing in the closet sobbing silent tears over my pregnant stomach. Fear puddled out in knowing what my mind could not comprehend. That this life inside would change me, change us forever. I didn’t know how to master cultivating a successful life.
Who can master a life He gives with a story already written?
A book of invisible pages revealed to the muse in whispers by the author, at the turn of each day.

Last night, I crawl into bed next to my husband, sigh deep and he asks me what I am thinking.
I share my brick on the chest feeling over the birth of this book-writing journey. How words stumble when someone asks me why I haven’t started the book yet. Because I don’t know how to conquer this petrifying perfectionism that needs to know the outcome before I start something new.
Sixteen years later, I am pregnant once again, gasping for breath and knowing I won’t know the outcome about this either. The fear of failure postpones birth.
When He gave me my own packet of seeds all those years ago, they came with simple instructions. Just plant, water and weed. The outcome, well that is His job.
I cannot see all of the beautiful blooms yet on the life that is my daughter; what color they will be, how tall they will grow, how long they will remain on the vine. I cannot linger over the engraved letters on the spine of the book penned in my name, know how many hands will hold it, or how it will transform a life.
But I will continue to do my part: plant, water and weed.
I will wait on Him for the outcome.

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. Mark 4:20 ESV
Are you stuck because of fear of the failure? Has it kept you from birthing a dream?

Please take the time to comment and let Shelly know how much this piece blessed you!

If this is your first time here, let me explain what we are all about. We are a community started by Emily Wierenga. It was called Imperfect Prose. She is on a bit of a vacation as she has some extra responsibilities at the moment.

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

<a href="https://journeytoepiphany.wordpress.com&#034; target="_blank"><img src="https://journeytoepiphany.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/pp-e1328715484812.jpg&#034; alt="JourneyTowardsEpiphany" width="125" height="125" /></a>

Unrejected – Guest Post by Jen Ferguson – Painting Prose

Jen Ferguson has become a real live friend…our friendship has gone so beyond “virtual”. She is one of the sweetest kindest women that I know. Her writing always makes me want to know two people better; her, of course and Jesus. The relationship she has with Him is tangible, and she makes me hungry to pursue Him more…and that is the greatest gift I could find in a relationship.

Jen has a wonderful and caring community called Soli Deo Gloria. They meet on Tuesdays over at her place, Finding Heaven. It is the first linkup community I ever participated in, and I had no idea what I was doing, Jen walked me through. Please make sure to visit her place, you will so much be the better for it.


Sunday was the marathon and on Tuesday, I got an email from the race organizers that the race photos were up. And so I clicked on the link…

As I perused the pictures, I focused not on the fact that countenance of my face revealed that although most of the miles proved hard, they were not impossible. I focused not on the fact that there were thousands of people running and thousands of people cheering. I focused not on the fact that the victory picture of me crossing the finish line showed that I not only finished, but I finished strong.

I focused on none of this. Instead, I had a breakdown about the size and shape of my thighs. Yes, those same legs that carried me through 26.2 miles, I now looked upon with disdain.

Not good enough.
No matter how hard I try…
Why in the world would I buy the pictures that show nothing of my hard work?

This is not the first time that instead of being grateful, I have become a babbling torrent of negativity. Instead of being thankful that my husband has a job, I complain that he has to work late. Instead of being grateful that I’ve sold eight pieces of art, I grumble that business doesn’t seem as busy as it used to be. Instead of building myself up with the truth of God’s word, I let the self-inflicted, injurious barbs shred my perspective, and ultimately, my heart.

With many things, I have been satisfied only when a certain level of perfection is met.  If it is imperfect, even mildly, such as a stray line on a drawing, improper grammar in a belabored sentence, dust in a deep crevice, I have difficulty finding joy in the finished work.  I am compelled to erase, rework, dig deeper, train harder, even if I have been mildly rebuked to simply let it go.

God has been working in me to find the beauty and joy in these imperfections, though.  He teaches me, slowly but surely, how to move on after He has forgiven me of my sin.  He teaches me that the blue painted mug with a few errant strokes of paint that I created still has the capacity to hold my hot tea and that the blemishes hold no baring on its purpose. 

Can He teach me the same about my imperfect body?  My legs have parts that are too fleshy.  They like to store fat in places I really wish they would not.  Cellulite, yes, they have allowed it to reside in that place just below the skin, and right on the front of my thighs for everyone else to see.  The beginnings of spider veins begin to spread their tentacles over my muscular calves.  They do their job, they go above the call, but is this enough for me?

When I search my heart, looking for God’s perspective and not society’s, not my own, I come to this conclusion: Although they are far from perfect, I cannot reject them. 

And this gives me hope. If I, of all people, can learn to love something like my cellulite-ridden legs, God can love me despite my own character flaws.  Because although I am far from perfect, He has promised not to reject me.  He does not stand by and scoff at my short-comings, but rather He fills me with His grace and makes perfect my weakness.  He knows that I am surrendered to Him, that my allegiance is with Him alone.  He knows I have been tried.  I have been tested.  I am fighting the good fight and together, we will win the race.

Isn’t she wonderful? Please take the time to comment and let her know how much this piece blessed you!

If this is your first time here, let me explain what we are all about. We are a community started by Emily Wierenga. It was called Imperfect Prose. She is on a bit of a vacation as she has some extra responsibilities at the moment.

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

<a href="https://journeytoepiphany.wordpress.com&#034; target="_blank"><img src="https://journeytoepiphany.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/pp-e1328715484812.jpg&#034; alt="JourneyTowardsEpiphany" width="125" height="125" /></a>

The Gate Called Beautiful

You, my dearest, are hurting, pained and unwhole.

You need healing.

And though He said I can lay hands on the sick,

I haven’t often seen success.

I’m only being honest.

But your suffering…your scars…

It’s too much to bystand –

Too much to spectate

without participation.

What can I do?

I don’t have silver or gold to pay for expensive treatment.

I don’t have a faith healer’s faith.

Not. Yet.

But can I bring you to the Gate called Beautiful?

Because I’ve found that

darkness may be crowding out light

and death may be pushing my hopes under

for the

third time.

But

when I am brought to the Gate called Beautiful

I am soul healed.

For in examining His beauty

I am discovering His goodness.

And when His goodness is revealed

anything, anything might happen.

Will you come?

Counting from the Gate called Beautiful with Ann:

131. Unexpected Valentine from the little girl next door.

132. My Bible Study girls and I getting “tatt-ed” together!

133. A box in the mail!!

134. A gift from Sarah Mae and DaySpring!

135. Daughter’s debut as a paid singer!

136. Happy Statue of Liberty guy. (You can’t tell, but his smile is radiant!)

137. The privilege of making 500 truffles…

138. Coming through to the other side of the flu.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

…sharing with Shandra:

Wrestling For Grace – Epiphany Quest

A Temple I Called Hope by Jamie Iain Genovese (jamieiain)) on 500px.com
A Temple I Called Hope by Jamie Iain Genovese

I’ve been studying Jacob….and my Western mentality keeps getting in the way. Why choose him God? We “Good Girls”, we struggle to understand. He wasn’t a nice man.

And I follow him on his journey, hoping for an epiphany.

He begins in a place I am familiar with. He begins by running from his past. He tries to outrun consequences, but only prolongs them for another time. And I can understand this, because even “Good Girls” do that.

But even in his running, God meets him on his way. He shows him a glimpse of His glory, and what he’s missing by avoiding Him. And grace is hard to understand, as is favor and righteous judgement. All I can do is shake my head and wonder at mercy given.

JACOB'S LADDER by Michael Goyberg (MIGO-Photodome)) on 500px.com
JACOB’S LADDER by Michael Goyberg

For Jacob makes some rather proud promises to God. “If you take care of me, then I’ll make you my God.” As if he’s doing God a favor. Have I acted like that? Like my service to God is a favor to Him? And Jacob calls this place the House of God. So he travels on, away from God’s house, but not away from his challenge to God, because, you see, God did take care of Jacob. abundantly. At this point, grace is even harder to understand, because good people struggle sometimes, they struggle just to make it. The “Good Girl” in me asks again: Why him, God? Why Jacob?

After years of prosperity the Lord reminds Jacob of his deal with God. Jacob is tired. He is tired of being deceived and deceiving. He and Laban have spent years trying to outsmart the other. God has called him to return to Caanan. Do you know what Canaan means, dear one? It means “humbled”. Though Jacob has become what those around him would consider great, he has some unfinished business with God, and the road to this end requires humility, something Jacob has not displayed.

Now that Jacob returns to face his past, his present comes chasing after him. The deceit and bickering continues, for unbeknownst to Jacob, Rachel has stolen from her father. The two men, make a covenant and a monument to remember it by, but to Laban it is only a “heap of rocks.” To Jacob? “A heap of witness.” Now I see a glimmer of integrity in Jacob, a man who understands commitment and covenant. For where one man sees some rocks another sees covenant witnessed by God. Each man promises not to cross over that place. Jacob chooses to change camps, to reassociate himself with his own family, with the house of God, renaming the place Mahanaim “the place of two camps.”

How many do we know who refuse to leave behind the old camp? The people who encourage a dependance on anyone but God? I begin to understand; these whys of Jacob. Why he is chosen. Why he is venerated.

But he still has that old fear to face. His brother. The man whom he hurt most. Last time he heard from Esau, he pledged to kill Jacob. Still he presses on; on through his fear. In his distress, he sends men before him to plead his case. But this isn’t enough. He can not send another man to see the face of his brother, to look in his eye; to face his greatest fear; the fear of asking for forgiveness.

Fear by marlow starr (marlow)) on 500px.com
Fear by marlow starr

He sends a present, a generous gift, and separates that which is precious from that which is commonplace, keeping those precious ones close to him and sending the commonplace before him. He prays once more, no longer an arrogant young man hoping to outrun his consequences, but a humble, mature man building his courage to face what has long terrified him. No longer a man attempting to cheat God out of a blessing, feeling that God’s blessing, like the birthright and blessing of his father was owed to him, something he deserved. Instead, he pleads, “I am not worthy of the least of of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast shown thy servant.”

And he was left alone. There is a part of the journey which we must travel alone. We can not send someone to do our dirty work; what we fear most doing. We can not buy our way out of it, though a gift may be a wise predecessor to our words. We must wrestle, struggle with the will of God. all. by. ourselves. We must not let go until we have the grace to continue on. For the journey is never something we can do on our own. In our own wisdom, or talent or skills. It always requires a wrestling. A wrestling with our own desires, fears and lack of confidence.

I wonder if Jacob knew that he was wrestling with God while he was wrestling with God? At first it only states that he wrestled with a man, until he asked his name. Who is it that you contend with, believing them to be your battle in life, your struggle? Do you truly wrestle with them, or with the will of God in your life? “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood…”

And he calls this place “the face of God”. And having seen His face, Jacob returns, broken and soft. When he sees his brother, he says that he sees the face of God. Did Esau look like God? He did in the fact that in order to be entirely right with God, Jacob had to search the eyes of his brother for forgiveness. And now God’s forgiveness was complete in Him.

Brothers by Frédéric Mars (Marsup)) on 500px.com
Brothers by Frédéric Mars

What fears do you face? Pray with me for grace, dear one? “Lord, give me the strength to wrestle with you long enough to receive grace to face my fears.”

Broken

Jacob's Ladder - Cheddar Caves and Gorge

Jacob’s first “experience” with God was in a dream.  He was running from the brother whom he had wronged, afraid for his life.  And yet, God met him where he was.  He revealed to Jacob His power, and gave him promises should he return someday to the land of his ancestors.  God meets us where we are.  Even when we are running from our past, He gives us His words as a promise if we should return.

Jacob dreamed once again, after he had lived with Laban.  He married Laban’s daughters, worked for him, and now God asked Jacob to leave Laban, and return to his own people.  This dream was God reminding Jacob of the promises that He made to Jacob and that Jacob had made to Him when fleeing from Esau.

What promises has God made to you?  What vows have you made to Him?  Has God ever reminded you of His promises?  Has He reminded you of your promises to Him?  Could it be that He is reminding you now? Today?

In Genesis chapter 32, Jacob once again sees angels, and he names the place Mahanaim meaning “two camps.”  Despite the Lord’s encouragement, Jacob is still afraid.  He divides his possessions and family into two camps.  One will go out in front of the other in case Esau and his men attack, then he will be able to save himself and his favorites.  I wonder if part of Jacob is afraid to face his sin?  Afraid to look Esau in the face and own up to his trespass against his brother?

Have you ever had to face a family member or friend whom you have wronged?  Is there someone you need to face today?

Ge. 32:9-12

9And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

11Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

This is a much more humble Jacob.  Suddenly, this is all about God and not all about him. First of all he says, “I want to remind you that I’m only here, because I’m being obedient to you. And you said that it would be well with me.”  He reminded God of His promise towards Jacob.  But now, the gratitude and thanksgiving of Jacob are astounding. He recognizes that he is unworthy of God’s blessing. Up until this point, Jacob is consistently taking matters into his own hands, even trying to influence nature with the rods and the goats, but now he is in a situation that only God can deliver him from.  And with great humility, he makes his request, one that he doesn’t deserve; safety from his brother. He reminds God of His promise, essentially saying, “You can’t fulfill this promise in me, if I’m dead!”  Essentially he’s like a child saying to his Father, “You said!”

What has God promised you either in dreams or in His Word?  Are you on the first part of the journey as when Jacob was running from what God called him to do?  Or has God given His second call, and now it is time to move on?  Perhaps you are at Mahanaim where you are of two minds thinking, “Should I go forward and do what God has asked?” or are you afraid because of your past? Do you feel unworthy of His promises?

Gen 32:24-31

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

31And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

And Jacob was left alone. What happens when we are left alone? When there is no one else to run to? No one else to fix our problems? Jacob wrestled with God. He comes to the end of Jacob and makes demand on God to meet him…alone and empty. Now his stubbornness works for him, because he will not let go until he receives a blessing. Now it is God Who gives the Pillar-Builder a reminder. As a sign of this blessing, God breaks the sinew in his thigh.  Bible scholars and scientists alike say that this sinew spoken of in this scripture is the toughest sinew in the human body. A war horse couldn’t break this sinew. But God broke Jacob at his toughest point; his stubbornness, his self-sufficiency, his guilt and now his feelings of unworthiness.

This man who wrestled with his brother even in the womb, fighting to come into this world first; who tricked his brother out of his birthright; who deceived a blessing out of his father; who fought with Laban over his wages; has now fought with God over His blessing.  And now, he has come to the end of himself.  and he is broken.

Are you broken before God? Are you at the end of yourself, and tired of struggling…alone? Dare to wrestle with God, dear reader. You will never be the same…it was then that Jacob was renamed from “supplanter” or “deceiver” to Israel or “struggle”. God sets Jacob’s very name as a monument to remember a moment with Him. A moment that would change Jacob forever. Will you wrestle with God and have your destiny made sure?

Making Pillars: Testifying to God’s Goodness

Jacob was not a nice person. Taking advantage of his brother’s hunger, he tricked his brother out of his birthright. He was a deceiver. That is what his name means. He willingly fulfilled his mother’s instructions to deceive his father so that he received the blessing that was rightfully Esau’s. Jacob was a swindler. He made deals with Laban, and then tried to influence nature against Laban, for his own prosperity. The only thing really endearing about the youth of this biblical character is his love for Rachel. Continue reading

On Willy Wonka, My One Word 365 Project And Returning to 1000 Gifts

It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation….I Peter 1:3

Is this the way I have chosen to live?

Am I peeking around the corner with great expectation?

or am I waiting, crouched, arms over head, for the next blow?

I want to unfold the paper of life like Charlie unwrapped the silver from his Wonka Bar…

slowly…

carefully…

fully expecting to see that bit of gold.

I want to believe against hope like Abraham and Sarah,

and when hope seems bankrupt, I want to use my resources for others

like Charlie.

To buy someone else a candy bar.

And then when hope is replaced with a gift of giving

anticipation arises for what God can do.

and will do.

and has done.

And what I’ve got is much better than a golden ticket.

Because… I temporarily gave up on my list.

and the picture of beautiful expectation I had experienced dribbled cloudy like a watercolor painting being rained upon.

So I begin again,

a little more humble,

a lot more wise.

Expectation comes in that

His beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

Now to pen these moments

with expectation in community with dearest Ann:


91. For the always thought provoking writing of Madeleine L’Engle. “How marvelous is the ritual of the Holy Mysteries, the Eucharist, where we joyfully eat love.”

92. Flourescent ribbons unfurled across the sky.

93. Giant crunch hamburgers.

94. Laughing birds.

95. Chocolate pudding treat, unexpected in my bag.

96. A novel in my heart…

97. A daughter who says that everything is more fun with her brother around.

98. Neighborhood mysteries.

99. Big answers to small prayers.

100. New job opportunities.

101. Sand between my toes…in January…in the Chicago area!

102. A magical day of mystical findings for my book! Pioneer Chapel.

103. A packet of goodies from a stranger!

104. Hearing sandhill cranes a mile high in the sky.

105. Glitter in an old woman’s hair.

106. Buying a brand new $200 sportscoat at Penney’s for my husband for only $10!

107. Writer’s Calendar and day planner at the Dollar Store.

108. Daughter gets the coveted part of Elizabeth Bennett at Youth Theater!

109. Guest posting at my dear friend Renee’s!

Sharing with Michelle:

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

Cotton Candy Christianity

Cotton candy

Isaiah 55 (MSG)
“Hey there! All who are thirsty,
come to the water!
Are you penniless?
Come anyway—buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
Buy without money—everything’s free!
Why do you spend your money on junk food,
your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
fill yourself with only the finest.
Pay attention, come close now,
listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.
I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you,”

Everyone is thirsty. We are all longing for something to fill a void. But sometimes we don’t know it, because we stuff ourselves with a bunch of fluff; things that aren’t nutritious or satisfying. Cotton candy tastes wonderful! But it melts in your mouth immediately, and never gives a satisfied, full feeling. There are so many ways the human race does this. Unbelievers and believers alike try to add meaning to their life by what they “do”. But this Scripture clearly states that we are trying to pay for something that He’s provided free of charge! Or how often have we run to cozy pj’s and an evening of Lifetime movies for the comfort only time spent pursuing the Comforter can give?

Jesus likened Himself to a tall drink of water!

If you read the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, you’ll see that Jesus called Himself Living Water that satisfies forever.

Drinking from the well that satisfies! Jesus didn’t spend time telling this woman how wonderful she was. In order to drink this Living Water, she had to hear some things that were difficult to hear. But she was thirsty, and she recognized the answer when He came to her.

How many of us would stick around for these difficult words? Most of us would run faster than our legs could carry us! But the Son of God made her aware of her thirst, and she wanted to quench this thirst more than she wanted to hear nice things about herself.

Jesus likened Himself to bread!

I happen to be on a fast; fasting sugar, potatoes and wheat flour. That’s everything worth eating, right? My grocery bill has suffered! All of the inexpensive “fillers” are out of my life. Eating right and living a healthy lifestyle comes at a cost. At the very least you will spend more energy pursuing physical health, and more than likely it it will cost more money as well. It is impossible to put a price of soul satisfaction. But the Good News is that the price has been paid! All we need to do is choose the right spiritual food. Sometimes we prefer to hear words that are melt-in-your-mouth morsels rather than a tough piece of meat that requires much chewing and a month to digest. We become offended with our pastors and teachers and ultimately God’s Word, because they are no longer “encouraging” and yummy to our delicate taste buds.

Eating healthy food isn’t easy…especially if you aren’t used to it. It takes hard work and discipline to train your body to desire the right things. Because of my fast, I’ve had bread on the brain, so it struck me hard when I came across this Scripture from John 6 in the Message.

27″Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”

28To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?”

29Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”… 35-38Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

I find it curious that both Isaiah and Jesus, when likening spirituality to food and drink also speak of commitment. The only time that I’ve survived a fast or diet is when I’ve been committed to that decision as a lifestyle.

Another portion of Isaiah 55 states,

6-7Seek God while he’s here to be found,
pray to him while he’s close at hand.
Let the wicked abandon their way of life
and the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

We always assume we can live any old way and come back to Jesus anytime we decide to. But this verse provokes an interesting thought. It insinuates that there are times when God is closer than others, and that we must capitalize on these times.

The woman at the well, recognized one of these times. Jesus was close at hand, and she allowed Him to make the most of this opportunity.

We tend to think that we can eat junk food until we’re in our 40’s and 50’s and still enjoy optimum health. But that’s not true! And so it is in our spiritual lives. There is a time table of health, and consequences to pay for how we’ve treated our bodies. The longer we sow junk into our lives, the harder it is to abandon our old way of life.

Let me encourage you today. Throw in your lot with Jesus! Stop trying to satisfy yourself with sugary air! Come to the well of Living Waters…and have the discipline to hear and do hard things. He is the Bread of Life, and just like a great loaf of bread, He fills and satisfies. Check your spiritual “diet”. Are you trying to survive on cotton candy?

Perhaps taking private communion this week would be a good reminder of ensuring proper spiritual food. Will you join me in doing so?