Posts Tagged ‘heart’

Digging Deeper

Life is crazy. Seasons come and go, and even when anticipated, you never can expect all that unfolds. Some takes you higher, lifting your gaze beyond what you have seen before. Your heart soars with visions of brilliance that cannot be described with words. At other times, you are plunged into the depths of the valley seasons, far deeper than imagined. There, the darkness seems to take on a weight that presses on you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Questions that were dormant now spring to life bringing internal controversy with  yourself and the Lord.

While certainly not over, these past few seasons have dramatically affected me. More importantly than all the shaking though, is my resolve to understand and receive the manner by which the Lord is walking with me in this season. It is unlike any season I have traveled, and yet, His presence remains. Slowly, yet with increasing clarity, I am coming to see the Lord with fresh eyes and with a deepening hope of His greatness and love that surpasses any and every event and circumstance of my life. I’m left with only gratefulness to offer Him, as all else pales in comparison. Ever deeper the Holy Spirit continues to dig in my heart to further enlarge the place of God’s dwelling within me. For that, I am humbled and undone. Thank You Jesus!

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Unpredictable and mysterious, desert experiences come as differently as the seasonal winds shift the sand designs upon its floor. Questions abound more than answers, and even when we think we understand, the unfolding of time provides insights we could have never known. However, for most of them, these times in our lives transport us to similar surroundings – dusty, dry conditions that expose our superficial securities. They are not easy paths, and probably not meant to be. Yet, they can be incredibly life-altering where our hearts become sensitive to that around us which has seemed invisible.

When living in the midst of the desert, the aloneness can become overwhelming. Acutely aware of our circumstances, we search for companionship to share the experience as well as for promises to sustain us. While most of the time humanity remains at a distance, there is a discovery that awaits us.

The Old Testament King David shares an amazing promise for our journey during these times…

“Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the Lord and exult before Him.” Psalm 68:4, NASB (emphasis mine)

We are not alone in our “desert” times. The Lord Himself comes to the very place we find ourselves. Whether we’ve come because of our choice or not, He becomes our company and our promise. His presence sustains and nourishes our heart, gives direction to our wanderings, and serves as the final answer for drawing goodness from our experience. The desert times are mostly about deeper union with Him. Despite what we may see around us, He who shares our road as we pass through these times of parchedness makes all the difference.

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Living in Wonder

Our hearts were made for wonder. The vitality and freshness of life we experience has much to do with the wonder that captures us. And wonder dwells in the largeness of life relative to our own understanding. We like to think that increased knowledge brings expectant life. But in reality, when we are amazed beyond our knowing, our gaze is directed to author of all life.

What about the wonder that surrounds us? A day never passes without it. The question is do we see it? Do we stop long enough to be consumed by the wealth of wonder of our lives? Consider the following wonders…

The reddening streaks upon wispy clouds as the sun sets;

The perfect formation of a v-shaped flock of geese soaring high in the sky;

The contagious laughter of young children playing together;

The sound of our own breathing, methodical and life-giving;

The deep peace of stillness;

The way of a hummingbird alighting and drinking the nectar of its passion;

The vibrancy of infinite color that fills our world;

The gripping power of a great story;

The emergence of a new life being born;

The raw power of thunderous storms with pounding rain;

And the list goes on…

Hope and strength mingle with wonder to arrest our hearts for He who gave us life. Every thought of God’s heart exudes wonder, and the greatest wonder of all comes in His desire to share them with us. His knock comes faithfully each day upon our heart’s door waiting for our invitation. As we invite Him in, heaven’s atmosphere of wonder changes everything.

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Pour Out Your Heart

There are those moments, and sometimes extended seasons, where answers to life’s questions are few and far between. The wrestling becomes intense, not only over the weight of the questions, but also regarding how to carry them. We either feel tossed around like a feather in the midst of a storm, or like we’re stuck in quicksand, paralyzed with little direction.

Beyond our questions, another struggle adds an even greater threat. Harassing voices run like a continuous message in our ears. “Your failing”, “There is no hope”, “Look at the mess you’ve made” and the like pierce our hearts like daggers, even though they have no truth. Soon, the sheer constancy of their presence weakens our heart’s door. The twins of discouragement and fear pound relentlessly, wanting to make their home within us.

Combined together, these experiences can drive us into deep, dark valleys. The light of hope, joy and abundant living seems dim or even absent. We look around and see everything scarred with pain, heaviness and/or fear. Our sight is cloudy at best, and we wonder when the darkness will engulf us.

Quietly, but with magnified power, a call arises in these depressing circumstances. Our ears recognize the unique sound, while our hearts sense the presence behind it.  All else captivating our gaze falls back as if reeling from an invisible shock wave. The comprehended words instantly energize hope, giving strength to our weakened heart. Powerful and life-giving, the invitation now becomes clear…

“O my precious people, trust in Me at all times. Pour out your heart to Me, for I am your refuge.”  
God  (adapted from Psalm 62:8, Holy Bible)

Immediately, our hearts become immersed in wondrous, kind love. We’re overwhelmed as we realize how personal God wants to be in our lives, especially during our “valley” seasons. His call, while filled with hope, is also radically honest, revealing the true issue of our heart wrestling…

Who will we trust?

Yes, it’s true. As we reflect over our past, we have no choice but to admit how often we run to and fro seeking to find something or someone to give us trustworthy answers to our questions. We seek the wisdom of others, both past and present, hoping for that magic key that would solve our present dilemmas. And yet, we always end up in the same place…little to no satisfaction.

Incredibly, our answers come not in what we seek to receive, but rather in what we give. Able to be the lone refuge of safety and protection in the midst of heartache and great challenge, God calls us to come to Him with open and honest hearts. The refuge He generously provides becomes the reason for our uninhibited heart cry, however joyful, pained or perplexed it may be. We discover in our offering His deep and abiding presence and pleasure. With our hearts in His hands, our trust grows deeply, securely establishing our lives upon Him and His faithful love.

God’s invitation to come remains open regardless of circumstance. Whether upon the mountain of amazing joy or in the deepest valley facing fears within and without, He longs to hear the depths of our hearts. Doing so gives God our trust, and transforms our hearts to live in peace and rest with Him who cares about every aspect of our lives. As for our questions, they may remain. But our growing trust lies not in their answer, but rather in Him who is greater than any question.

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Quietness that Refreshes

Life today, marked by frenzied sound and activity, seems to never stop. We go, go, go, and surround ourselves with technology that enables us to go even faster. We share often how much we are getting done, as if the more we do, the better. Tangible productivity becomes the measure of success, and the accolades mount all around us.

But I wonder, what does constant activity and noise do to our heart?

As long as I can remember, quietness has been an integral part of my life. Whether having to do with my environment,  relationships or prayer life, my times of silent withdrawal have become a profound treasure. Even God’s silence over particular aspects of my life offers me opportunities to discover something new and fresh. While the silence has been awkward at times, its effect upon my life has been profound.

A unique and particular beauty surrounds experiences of quietness. Our sensitivity to the realness of God’s presence increases with growing clarity, color and vividness. In these moments, whether accidental or by design, our eyes and ears are opened to new realms of wonders all around us. Life seems different even though nothing apparent has changed.

A mirror for more honest reflection, quietness, or intentional stillness, opens a new wellspring of refreshing waters for our hearts. Activity and distracting sounds diminish, allowing the real to become more real. Just as God permeates all of heaven, He desires to permeate earth and its people. But He needs permission, and only we can give it.  Quietness is one key to open this wondrous door of His extraordinary life.

Honesty in our quiet reflection draws God’s presence and removes the dams holding back His rivers of living waters. To be still places our trust in Him who knows all yet remains by our side. Ultimately, turning aside into quietness means standing against the incessant, life-draining flow of earthly life in order to be refreshed by heaven’s River of Life. 

 We change in quietness. We become more real with ourselves, others and God. And in that place of growing honesty, refreshing water heals and strengthens our hearts. Vision and hope are again restored,  pulsing with great expectation. May we all find that place of quietness and turn aside.

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A Home for our Hearts

I’ve been considering the following thought…

“To realize I am not alone, sometimes I need to be alone.”

One of the greatest promises God has given to each of us speaks of His desire to always be with us.  Life as God envisioned always included connection with others (including Himself). In fact, we were each created to receive the fulfilling joy of experiencing “family”, that place of unconditional love, acceptance and encouragement. Put another way, an isolated life is no life at all. The intentions of God are always to “make a home for the lonely” (Psalm 68:6a,NASB).

Certainly most of our experiences of family leave less than this reality.  In reaction, we try and stay busy with anything and everything, hoping the pain of isolation will remain buried.  Pretending becomes the mask for the day. And yet, we continue to yearn for what God wrote in the DNA of our hearts…home.

Regardless of our experiences, the desire of God remains.  Our hearts need a home full of family. So what does He do?  He reveals His own family…the deep, abiding relationships of family between the Trinity – Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Then, He invites us to join.  Our first home is meant to be His own.

If we dare to slow down and lay aside the busyness we embrace, something greater and more incredible can consume us. Our aloneness gets swallowed up by growing security, peace and love of the greatest family of all. Our hearts, once ravaged by emptiness, hopelessness and a lack of worth because of isolation, are filled with realized hope – we are home, safe and secure.

May we all dare to stand against the growing tide of busyness and the roar of noise in this hour. May we turn aside into that alone place to find that we are truly, not alone.

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Our True Identity

“God created us for union with Himself – this is the original purpose of our lives. And God is defined as love (1 John 4:16, The Bible). Living in the awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence. It is not merely a lofty thought, an inspiring idea, or one named among many. It is the name by which God knows us and the way He relates to us.” — Bennan Manning, Abba’s Child

My gratefulness continually grows for people like Mr. Manning. Amid the layers of our life experiences, he is able to go to the heart of the matter. And truly, I believe, this is the heart of walking with God. Knowing the”who” we are lays the foundation from which we then relate not only God, but also to others. The world around us screams that identity is connected to the “what we do” or some image of their creation. The slide into this mode of living is easy and profuse. Yet, above this valley of unrest and constant anxiety, the Father in Heaven pronouces the real truth that quiets the noise. He draws us close and intimately tells us, “YOU ARE MY BELOVED, first and last. What you do, what you have done, and even what you might do can do absolutely nothing to change my heart for you. I DEFINE YOUR LIFE — You are my beloved!”.

I know, I can scarely believe it, much less experience it consistently in my present state. Yet, the reality of it is growing in my heart, like a refreshing river in the midst of a desert land. Amazingly, the more it is becoming real in me, the more simple life with Him becomes. The false “me” I’ve promoted to protect my heart is wanning in both presence and power. And in its place, I can feel the real me birthing forth in newness of life, security, and deep abiding joy.

If you can identify or feel your heart yearning for the same, I offer this blessing for you… “Father, we together thank you for the value you put on our lives. We ask that you fill us with increasing experiences of your heart-love, so much so that any walls and/or hardness we have had will dissolve in the soaking waters of your deep affection, kindness and tenderness. May you give us new eyes, ears and hearts to recieve all that you desire to show and shine into the deep places of our hearts. Thank you so much. Let it be done.”

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