Taking the plunge

These few weeks really seem like the start of something momentous. The buildup to this was rocky; my research topic being bounced back, my loan application failing, and my hunt for a place to stay in after June still not turning up any leads.  Not to mention the occasionally overwhelming sense of loneliness that still stops me in my tracks note and again. 

Looking forward to the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at a new place to stay, a refocus of my research topic, and a reallocation of my loan. Plus finally ‘finding out’ about how friends relationships are going, while certainly a great occasion for everyone involved, will hopefully give me some closure. 

Holding my breath and praying for grace. 

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Fellowship

Listened to a message on Community, addressing the topic of Loneliness yesterday.

1 John was the passage quoted and studied.

‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.’

V 1-4

The themes of these verses seem to involve all our senses (sight, touch) and involves communication (bearing witness, declaring to others) between God the Father, Jesus the Son (and the Spirit) and the community to which John was writing to (not defined clearly).

The purpose was to reinforce that bond of fellowship, between John and this community, and in a larger sense, with God the Father and Jesus. The reason being that the community’s joy (in Greek, chara – joy because of grace) would be complete (pepleromene in Greek – filled to individual capacity) as a result.

The letter starts off by reminding this unnamed community (and by extension, us) that Jesus, the living Word, existed before time and thereby implying that God was desiring fellowship with us way before we had any inkling He existed.

This is interesting because often “a sense of community” is often defined by how I feel, or what support/role I get/perform in a larger group. Which can also explain my feelings about loneliness and lack of community – making it about myself is one sure-fire way of letting myself down!

 

The deep dark hours just before dawn

The Consoling Memory of God’s Redemptive Works

To the chief musician.

To Jeduthun

A Psalm of Asaph

 

I cried out to God with my voice –

To God with my voice;

And He gave ear to me.

In he day of my trouble I sought the Lord;

My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;

My soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered God, and was troubled;

I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed

Selah

You hold my eyelids open;

I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I have considered the days of old,

The years of ancient times.

I call to remembrance my song in the night;

I meditate within my heart,

And my spirit makes diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off forever?

And will He be favorable no more?

Has His mercy ceased forever?

Has His promise failed forevermore?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?

Selah

And I said, “This is my anguish;

But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the works of the Lord;

Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

I will also meditate on all Your work,

And talk of Your deeds.

Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;

Who is so great a God as our God?

You are the God who does wonders;

You have declared Your strength among the peoples.

You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,

The sons of Jacob and Joseph.

Selah

The waters say You, O God;

The waters saw You, they were afraid;

The depths also trembled.

The clouds poured out water;

The skies sent out a sound;

Your arrows also flashed about.

The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;

The lightnings lit up the world;

The earth trembled and shook.

Your way was in the sea,

Your path in the great waters,

And Your footsteps were not known.

You led Your people like a flock

By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 77

 

Perfect peace

You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

Trust in the Lord forever,

For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

Isa 26:3-4

 

perfect peace and everlasting strength.

not two things I would think automatically go together.

but then I read Matt 22:37

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

 

To have peace in an all-powerful God is key, but

To fully stay on God by thought, word and deed takes strength.

 

Learning from the past

“Then it came to pass, in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went down to visit the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, but we hesitate to take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” So he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my hourses as your horses.” Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 1 Kings 22:2-5

The story goes on to tell of how Ahab would not listen to the prophesy of Micaiah the prophet and went out to fight, ultimately being killed. Jehoshaphat meanwhile narrowly escaped after crying out to God.

“Jehoshaphat made merchant ships to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber. Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not. 1 Kings 2:48-49

Learning from his mistakes, I’d like to think that Jehoshaphat preferred to steer clear of involvement with Israel who was given to ungodly practices.

What associations do I need to cut ties with?

 

Separation for my elevation

“Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.”

“Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.

“And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first.

“And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.”

Gen 13:1-4

Abram had left all that was comfortable to him, and journeyed with his family for some time going around Bethel – but things were not going well.

“And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.”

Gen 13:7

Being comfortable and putting up with ‘strife’ or stretching out?

“Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.”

Gen 13:11

“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are- northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”

Gen 13:14-15

What do I need to separate from in order to see the extent of God’s intent for me?

A Saturday morning

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:9

Infirmities/weakness: astheneia in Greek – refers to an ailment that deprives someone of enjoying or accomplishing what they would like to do, focuses on the handicaps that go with the weakness, expresses the weakening influences of the illness or a particular problem, especially as someone becomes wrongly or overly dependent.

Strength: dynamis in Greek – power through God’s ability, is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven

perfect: teleo in Greek – to complete/consummate/qualitatively finish the necessary process, with the results ‘rolling over’ to the next level/phase of consummation, like a pirate’s telescope (unfolding one stage at a time to function at full-strength/capacity)

rest/dwell: episkenoo in Greek – power radiating from Christ as He comes upon someone, so that He dwells in the committed believer

Our perceived power is all God – not originating from us, but as Christ dwells within us via the Holy Spirit, we radiate that power outwards.

This God-based ability is fully functional and complete when we have allowed God to fully come into, and take over our unfinished business, our dependencies/addictions, and the source of our discomfort/unhappiness/discontent

 

grace: charis in Greek – favor from God, referring to God extending/inclining towards people

Random thoughts

but now, thus says the Lord, your creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name;you are Mine!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.

Isa 43:1-2

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light 1 pet 2:9

Where can i go from your Spirit? Or where shall i for from your presence? If i ascend to heaven, you are there! If i make my bed in Sheol, you are there! Ps 139:7-8
I consider that our present sufferings are not comparable to the glory that will be revealed in us rom 8:18

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal 2 cor 4:17-18

But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord jer 30:7

And he answered, pursue and you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all 1 sam 30:8

Such love

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A compact ball composed of a swirling mass of dirty colours, pulsating, threatening to explode. Malignant in nature, raw and exposed. Nothing tidy about it at all. Fear, anger, regret, shame, disgust, envy, pride, they’re all in there somewhere, contained in that ball Inside Out-style. It feels warm to touch in my hand, like a kettle about to boil over.

Not for the first time, I’m self conscious as I approach the throne. Not even thinking about anyone else in the room looking at my hesitant steps forward. Because once I’ve looked at Him, nothing else commands my attention. It’s everything I’m not. He’s everything I’m not. Radiant, resplendent, regal, white and with a light that’s not quite painfully bright but seems to lay my soul bare. I know I can’t hide anything away.

So I continue my walk towards Him, painfully aware of the pulsating ball in my hands, of my clothes, once my best suit now torn and stained – stains that I can’t seem to get off easily.

Words echo through my mind. Grace. Faith. I’m not afraid. Nor condemned. I know where I stand with Him. I just wish I had something better to give, to show for myself. Even though I know he won’t ever be disappointed in me, I’m disappointed in me. But I want rest.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph 2:8-9

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

I reach the throne. Looking up, I try to meet God’s gaze and suddenly we’re alone. At the last moment, I feel like taking back the swirling mass in my hands, and being anywhere but here. But I stick out my hand and give the ball over to Him.

He takes it in His hands – I want to tell Him not to look, not to examine it, to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Not bearing to look, I close my eyes. I feel a hand on my shoulder. “My son.”

“Never doubt the extent of my love for you. I created you and know you through and through and am not finished with you yet. There will be battles and victories, joy and sorrow but remember this: you are my son, and I love my children.”

Opening my eyes I see a ball of gentle blue and gold in His hands, and looking down, notice the stains and tears in my clothes are gone, in fact, I wonder if they were ever there before.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:37-39)

Catchphrases

We’ve all heard them, they’re catchy and roll off the tongue easily.  

They’re the basis of marketing campaigns and some contain wisdom only appreciated in the context of the phrase and the manner of which it was delivered.

But

On words to be ‘written on my heart’, I hope never to find a meme, a catchphrase, a flavor-of-the month quote replacing the words of my Creator, Father, Saviour and Friend.