The Voice of PRAISE

The voice we use to cry to the Father is the voice He gave us to talk to Him and praise Him. More are the references in God’s Word of praise than of crying.

In fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (1 Jn. 1:3; Phil. 2:1) our voices are changed because our heart, spirit, and mind are changed. No longer do we need to cry to our Father but the remainder of our time in the wilderness is used to praise Him, to pray for others and cry out to them with news of the blessings of His kingdom, inviting them to join our family.

“He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:19

We are brought through the ages and stages of this wilderness life as His people to praise Him. His people in the Old Testament were delivered from their enemies to be His people, to worship and serve Him.

The Voice and the Choice

Our voice is obedient to our hearts and minds. Before we knew our Father and were brought to live in His fellowship, our voices were speaking the things we saw and heard in the world. Before the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ is shined in our hearts, the god of this world blinds and prevents people from knowing God. (2 Cor. 4: 3-6) We naturally spoke the things he put in our minds. From our physical birth, the spirit of oppression ruled our heart and spirit. All we knew was to complain, cry, to lash out in anger and violence. Our voices indicate the state of the heart — whether of fury or grace. 

The stony heart was chiseled with the nature of rebellion and disobedience. Sin was the voice of the world since the beginning — until Jesus came, set up His kingdom and changed us. With the “new heart and the new spirit” (Eze. 36:16) we have a new tablet on which our Father writes, by the Holy Spirit impressing upon us His nature and the life of Christ. (2 Cor. 3:3) This new heart is the eternal heart given us in Christ. (Jn. 17:3;6:68) The Holy Spirit speaks through our spirit to renew and transform our minds and lives in preparation for eternity with Him. (Roms. 8:15-1712:1-2)

His voice through His Spirit and His Word presents a new way – a new path that is irresistible. Pride sometimes presents the thought that a person is able to make this choice on his own. But just as we did not choose to be born physically, we are unable to turn away from the Father who loved us before creation – before He sent Jesus as sacrifice for us. Because He loved us before the world was (Jn. 17;5), He sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself and make us His own. (2 Cor. 18-19)

Those who refuse or doubt and spurn His love proves they do not belong to Him. These will continue in their rebellion, crying and complaining through the remainder of their wilderness experience and for eternity.

Our voice is the indicator of our destiny for eternity.

Quite different is the voice of God’s people from the world – the voice of continual praise. Just as He chose the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, He, in Christ, has chosen us for His eternal nation.

In Simon Peter’s first letter he describes us “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices (of praise) acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:4-5)

Here is His creating a people out of this world to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him through Jesus Christ.” (see also Heb. 13:15)

After explaining the difference in those who are of this holy priesthood and those who refused Christ (“They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”) he describes the house of our Father and His Son.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet. 2:9-10)

How can we not praise Him if we remember the darkness of this wilderness from which He has delivered us. But more so, the thought of His qualifying us “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light, (eternal fellowship with Him) delivering us from the power of darkness and conveying us to the kingdom of His Son. (Col. 1:12-14)

We live and praise Him because we are His children here, now, and forever.

 Imagine what might happen if all God’s people joined in one voice of praise, across this land and around the world. Would not heaven be opened to pour out His blessings upon us.

Gracious Father, we praise you because you are worthy to be praised and you bring your own praise through us to yourself. You will not fail to bring your children up in your own nurture and admonition. Enable us to spend our energy not for our cries and complaints but for praises, thanksgivings, and witness to others of your great love and care. Draw others to yourself through us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

(Chapter from The Voice of Daughters Crying in the Wilderness in progress)

Suggested Reading: Presription for Praise God is Our Goal

Image: Google

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world,
but for those whom you have given me. They are yours.
All mine are yours, and yours are mine.
And I am glorified in them.”
Jn. 17:10-11

In our continued study of An Excavation of John 17, we find Jesus’ prayer to the heavenly Father. Before His crucifixion, He gave His disciples a clear understanding of His union with the Father “before the world was” and His purpose for being here. He did not pray for everybody.

And she will bring forth a Son,
and you shall call His name Jesus, 
for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

It is clear in Jesus’ prayer who was included and who was excluded. 
He said, “I pray for them” – identified in the first three verses and throughout His prayer as “those” whom the Father had given Him. The purpose for the Father giving the men to Jesus, His Son, is so He would give them “eternal life.” (vs. 2)

Jesus specifically states, “I do not pray for the world.

Jesus did not give the Father’s Word and eternal life to the world but only to those men given to Him. They heard and believed. They received this truth from Him, knowing “the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” (vs. 3)

I have given them Your word; 
and the world has hated them
because they are not of the world,
 just as I am not of the world.” (vs. 14)

I do not pray for these alone,
but also for those who will believe in Me
through their word;” (vs. 20)

We find many references to His prayers. Few others were heard and recorded by His disciples, His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the brief statement at Lazarus’ resurrection are two others.

His purpose for being here was to set up His kingdom and prepare His people for eternity with Him and His Father. Through Him we who once were disobedient, living in and of the world, have become a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We are a special people to Him, to proclaim the praises of Him who brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light — the people of God.” 1 Pet. 2:9-10

CHOSEN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD

“ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” (Eph. 1:4-5) 

BEFORE TIME BEGAN

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,” 2 Tim.1:9

There are many more references that teach the difference in God’s people and the world. (Psalm 1)

Jesus said, “They are yours.” He added, “Mine are yours and yours are mine.” As the Father and Son were one, having the same glory before the creation, the Father has given all to the Son in heaven and on earth. Jesus is glorified in His followers and will “bring many sons to glory with Him” in heaven. (Heb. 2:10-11)

If you believe and follow the humble Lamb of God, you can rejoice that Jesus prayed for you. He continues as our High Priest to pray for us at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We have the same privilege Jesus gave His disciples in The Lord’s Prayer. Many people quote this prayer without understanding its meaning between the Father and His children — those who are born of the Spirit as disciples of His Son. We belong to Christ and are one with Him and the Father.

Heavenly Father, we are blessed to know that you chose a people for yourself. We praise you for revealing Jesus to us, giving us eternal life in Him, giving us a new heart and a new spirit – bringing us to the light and writing on our hearts the truth of your Word. Let us proclaim your name and your kingdom of light in a dark world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

The FEAST

(After a feast with my daughter and her family today, I am reminded of a vision of a feast years ago.)

********2014

For some reason my mind has been on food these last few days, not just on one item and not just on one meal, and not just for a common occasion.  My thoughts have been on a feast, in which I picture this long table that extends out of my sight, with so much food, and with such a variety, it is a smorgasbord that is more than you would ever have time to sample.

This sight affects all my senses.  What I see is an arrangement of colors, textures, and designs.  They all fit together so that we could not describe any one platter of such a banquet. It is a beautiful offering of a majestic kind, fit for a king and his court. The aromas capture my sense of smell, as I am drawn nearer to the table.

I am invited to come closer, to taste the delicacies spread before me.  What do I sample first?  It is all so magnificent, that I dare not spoil the display.  It is too glorious even to touch, but I must.  I am enthralled with the scene.

The questions come: “Who has prepared such a feast?”

“Where do such delicacies grow?  Why have I not seen or tasted such as this before?”

“How is all this food prepared and preserved?  Will it not spoil before it is eaten?”

“I cannot begin to partake of all this by myself.
There is no one here but me.  This is too much for me.  I must go and find others with whom I can share this banquet.  It is too wonderful!”

But, as I start to leave, a voice comes from the end of the table.  “Before you go, taste for yourself, before you bring someone else. Without tasting you will not remember where you have been, nor will you want to come back.”

And so, humbly I approach the table.  I see in the middle of all the other food, and my hand reaches for, a piece broken from a simple loaf of bread, the aroma of which I have never enjoyed before.  Slowly, and gently the bread is lifted to my mouth and the sensation is indescribable.  My eyes are opened to a throne at the end of the table where the King is seated.  Gathered around Him and around the table are all these people who have come and tasted of the feast in the simplicity of Christ, His Son.

The feast is too rich for us now; our palate must be prepared for it. It is designed by the Father and revealed to us by His Holy Spirit who draws us to the center of the table—the bread of life—Christ, Himself.  For now the bread of heaven is enough. He is our sustenance for this earth and our taste of heaven.  The Feast is for the Wedding and heavenly dining with the Father, and Son, in His great glory—for His glory and our joy.

“I am the living bread
which came down from heaven;
if any man eat of this bread,
he shall live for ever…”
John 6:51

“O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” 
Psalm 34:8

I pray that today we might taste of His divine goodness and bring others to His table.

9/29/07  (from Waiting is Not a Game ~ Articles of Faith, written during the three years that we waited for the wound to heal from Jerry’s amputation.)

 

Discipleship and Fellowship

With a conviction of how discipleship and fellowship are interrelated, I have come across former posts that speak of this relationship. Sometimes a seed sprouts and reveals what our Father planted years ago, now germinating so as to bear fruit where He has planned. So, I may be sharing some former articles relating to this subject.

From 2014, one post Do You Know Where You Are? speaks to the need of our eyes to be opened to the reality of living in a world condemned, under the curse because of our first parents’ disobedience. We will speak more of this as we ponder the meaning of discipleship — a relationship that leads us through this wilderness into an eternal fellowship with our Heavenly Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit.

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Awareness is a rare gift. Some are born with it. Others receive it at a special time in life. To see beyond our own peripheral vision can be a blessing or a curse. Being aware of others’ faults, mistakes, and weaknesses, judging and condemning them is a curse to others and ourselves. It is the power the enemy of our souls uses to work an oppressive spirit within us and toward others. This curse keeps us in a state of oppression and sin. We see in others a reflection of ourselves and we continue in this state of oppression until we, like the prodigal son “came to himself.”

images

He realized where he was. The gift of awareness enabled him to see his condition, and his surroundings. He saw himself in reality of how the spirit of oppression kept him in sin and rebellion.

But beyond himself, he saw the blessing of forgiveness and reconciliation; he saw the means of returning to the father that loved him.

Awareness is a blessing when we are able to see and confess that we live in a fallen world. John said in 1 John 5:19 “the world lies in the power of the evil one.” We are born into it, with a death certificate in our hands. We grow up in it. We are an integral part of it. And we will die in this state of oppression, of sin and misery, except as we are brought to ourselves; to see where we are and our own condition.

Every Good and Perfect Gift
The awareness that is a blessing enables us to see beyond our own, and others’ failures, to see the giver of this gift from heaven, which comes down from the “Father of lights.” (James 1:17)   Not only are our eyes opened to see where we are in this wilderness, but we see Almighty God, our heavenly Father, ruling and reigning over all things; our shepherd, our keeper, our shield; our God “who supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory.”

We are aware of His presence and power in and through, and over all things. In His covenant with us through His Son, Jesus Christ, we are assured that He will always be with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. These truths lived within us will be a blessing to others.

 “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things, and sure:
for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.
2 Samuel 23:5

Dear Father, please open our eyes today, to see where we are; to accept the conditions in which you have placed us.  Let us see Christ as you continue to reveal Him to us, in us, and through us.  Make us aware of your presence and power as we live, love, and rejoice in you.  Be a light, life, and blessings to us all.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

How much protein does my body need?

We are continually alerted by the experts with information for what we need to live a healthy physical life. Yet, no matter how knowledgeable we are as human beings and how hard we try to take care of ourselves, there is a limit to the years we live in the flesh.

Jesus Christ, the giver of eternal life has much to say about how to live forever; but the majority of people don’t want to hear. We want to live here and now our own way ~ forget later. What will satisfy me now? We trust others like us to tell us.

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.”
Amos 8:11

If I have your attention, I want to share what I think Jesus meant when He quoted from Deuteronomy in Matthew 4:4.

After living in the desert forty days and forty nights without bread or water, He said to the devil who wanted Him to prove He was the Son of God by turning stones into bread ~

Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Man ~ God’s creation ~ was made with an inner, spiritual need for his Creator. He was made in the image of God, filled with His Spirit to become a living soul through His power. This power was passed down from Adam’s generation to his posterity. Men still breathe through this same Spirit from generation to generation. His Spirit within us needs be to be fed and given new life.

Souls are living in poverty and dying in despair for lack of knowledge and resources for true life.

Today, I am especially asking, “What are the ingredients of His Word.” What are we needing that is so detrimental to the human spirit and soul? What are the nutrients and power for all of life provided in His Word?

I share only a few in this post.   

Jesus said to those who believed in Him,
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31:32

TRUTH

The world is destitute of “truth.” We have an abundance of truth in Jesus Christ. For centuries the gospel, the good news of Christ, has been broadcast to all nations. The knowledge of the truth was sent by God to His creation in His Son. His Spirit gives this truth to those who are awakened to their need (their soul’s hunger) drawing them to God’s Word. To those who come to Him accepting His Son as their Savior, their mediator, and giver of eternal life, He opens His storehouse and fountain of living water.

Nothing is held back from those who admit their need, submit themselves to His care, and commit their lives to Him. He supplies every need of those who come to Him through Christ and the power of His Spirit.

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Truth being the main ingredient, from Christ who is the “truth,” we see our need for righteousness. In the sermon on the mount Jesus spoke of the need for what we eat, what we drink, and for clothing. He assured His disciples that our heavenly Father would provide these material things if we first desire and ask for the spiritual things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.”
Matt. 6:33

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.”
Matt. 5:6

It is a renewed relationship between a Father and His children that satisfies and gratifies the soul, and provides for all our needs ~ physically and spiritually.

LOVE

Truth reveals the need and supply of love. Where most people look for what they think is love, God, our Father, who is love, feeds us with His love through His Spirit and His Son. Through this knowledge, truth, and love we experience a fulness we have never known.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God (our Father)
which is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Roms. 8:36

JOY

In truth, righteousness, and love, a joy is given to prove our satisfaction of our Father’s righteousness, love and fulness.

Strenthened with all might according to His glorious power
for all patience and long-suffering with JOY.”
Col. 1:11

PEACE

In this relationship between our Father and His children, He establishes His peace within us. He continues to feed and fill us with Himself, transforming us by the renewing of our minds through His Word and Spirit. It is His fulness that conforms us to His image ~ and fulfills His purpose for our creation and redemption in Christ.

God’s Word reveals the storehouse of His provisions for us as His children, now and forever. We could also write about faith, obedience, hope, and many more.

We must take His Word in hand as His search engine, to find all He has prepared for those who come to Him.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,
how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
Romans 8:32

Dear Father in heaven, you have held nothing back from your children, promising to give us your kingdom. Thank you for revealing our needs and your provisions for this life and for the life to come. We praise you for your presence and power with us always, so we are never lacking anything we need. Keep us fruitful; able to share what we have with others. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

“You are the strength of heart and my portion, forever.”
Psalm 73:26

Suggested Reading: The Feast and First Things that Last Forever

Image; Google

Onward and Upward

(Repost from 2017 following Sunday’s sermon. Click on reference for audio and video.  Phil. 3:12-16

Often I think of life as a simple “spiral.”
It circles, and as it turns, advances a little at the time.

Nothing is required for us to move in a downward spiral.
A natural downward spiral begins when we are born into this world. Our minds are set on things of this world, which draw us and drag us down. We are unable, of our own volition, to change our direction. Life never stays the same, and nature itself, by its gravity, keeps pulling us to its depths and the impending death that waits for us.

Those who are born into a culture that teaches Biblical principles may hear of God’s grace and His means of changing our direction, but we are at a loss to apply these principles in our own power.

The Bible teaches us that the direction of our lives changes when we are reborn of the work of God’s Spirit in our heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26).   God gives us a new life through His Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Spirit within us, turns us from the power of the downward spiral. By His kindness, He brings us in repentance and faith to Himself (Acts 20:21; Romans 2:4). He continues through this life to bring us onward and upward, and to eternity with Him.

There is much more we could say in this short treatise about life here on earth, including sin and evil in this world, which is the reason for the downward spiral. The world has been in this downward deathly movement since the beginning of time, when our first parents turned from their Creator to make and take their own lives, and ours, in a different direction than His.

Are you aware of how you are turning, which way your life is going? Do you want to know this onward and upward movement in your life? Do you want to know the power of God’s Spirit working in you to bring you to Himself? No one can do an about-face, turning themselves. Many have tried but to no avail. It requires the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working through our spirit to give us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) This requires a new birth (John 3:3) which only He can give (John 1:12-13; 1 Peter 1:3). Regeneration, a new creation, and repentance is His spiritual work in us, and what a glorious experience to be turned and moving in the opposite direction from the world.

If you have yet to know this new life, I pray that you will reach for God’s Word, which He offers to you. Read the Holy Bible. If you have never read before, begin with the New Testament. Ask for His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13); pray and pour out your heart to Him. He knows where you are and what you need. Read and pray until He, by His Spirit, turns you to repentance and faith as a new creature in Christ. He gave His life to deliver us from the present evil age (Galatians 1:3).

If you have never heard the good news of God’s changing our lives and our direction, and want to hear more I would be blessed to tell you more. You can send me a message on our CONTACT page. There is oh, so much more of this glorious upward spiral that is ours in Christ through whom we, as God’s children, live.

I will end this post by saying that your wedding day will not be the most wonderful day of your life. Neither will the birth of your children be the greatest experience you can know. There is nothing as wonderful as being born of the Spirit of God and living every day in Christ, in light of His promises and hope. It is the most uplifting experience of this life as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Gracious Father, how can we tell someone what it is like to know you and what life is like as your children? It is impossible to share the width, the depth and the height of your love. You must do the work in each of us. I pray that you would shine your light and the life of Christ through us, and by your Spirit, draw and birth others into your house and kingdom. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness,
who has shone in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Cor. 4:6

1200 Miles and Back – A Vacation Story

The following story may be the first of a new category for this blog There are other Wilderness Sagas I want to share in the future. This is an excellent one to start.

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by Brittny Bailey

Our annual vacation from Georgia to northern Minnesota is a tradition established across generations; one I married into and have learned to love. The 1200 miles through five states, around mountains, and past endless acres of corn in mid-summer have been a part of my husband’s every summer since childhood.

His dad began these trips sometime in the fifties when he was still in diapers, and this summer our two-year-old began chanting with unbridled enthusiasm, “Sotaaaa!” Uncertain of its meaning, he was doubtlessly informed by all the dinnertime conversation about the place, spearheaded by his dad and readily entertained by his three sisters. Our girls have several years’ experience, and now they weave their own memories into that family tapestry that we all adore. 

They will remember this year’s trip to the cabin as the one where we were in the car for days, and we had to come home early because Daddy was sick. I will remember it as the vacation through which I was made to feel very much like a sheep; a little head strong, a little captured by my Shepherd’s crook, taken up in my Shepherd’s arms and held there with all the power of a mighty maker, all the love of a tender Father, and in the safety that is mine as His child.

It began much like previous vacations, a month of meticulous planning, shopping, cleaning, and an ambitious number of events scheduled for the week of departure. We were ever diligent to lay hold of that vacation promise, anticipating all the rest to be had in that place, but a shadow was cast two days before we planned to leave.

Several households from our Church were taken ill with COVID, and this threatened to derail our plans. We waited until the last possible moment to take a home test for the virus. It was midnight, just hours before hoisting all our sleeping progeny into the car. We were banking on getting ahead of Atlanta traffic that morning and stopping at The Ark Encounter on the way.

That test marked the beginning of our vacation, and it was a source of great uncertainty. 

We prayed about it and waited for the Lord’s leading, but waiting well even while the course was yet unknown? That is a hard thing to do. Waiting cheerfully without begrudging all the rules and circumstances? That is a different sort of waiting.

Patient waiting is marked by a quiet spirit; patient waiting requires practice. It was in this School of Waiting that we were to be enrolled for the next seven days, and in very ordinary ways the lessons began. 

Establish our Steps

We left the house a couple of hours late, took a bypass around Atlanta to keep out of rush hour traffic, lingered long at Chick-fil-a waiting for our lost breakfast order, then spent the next eight hours on a scenic Kentucky route behind vehicles of authentic country spirit, pacing ourselves at or below the speed limit the entire way. We were in the car two hours longer than we had planned, and we arrived at The Ark Encounter four hours later than we anticipated when we booked the tickets. These were the first of our opportunities to wait, patiently.

As it turns out, the Ark after 4 ‘o clock is less populated with fellow tourists and the children could only endure the excitement of it all for about three hours anyway before discovering their aching feet and empty tummies. The sun was setting when we made our way out to the little zoo, and a breeze lifted the day’s heat from the asphalt and danced through the hibiscus blossoms that were in spectacular display across the grounds.

Here at the closing of the day we had the flowers and the animals all to ourselves. I was on the verge of tears of wonder and praise about every 15 minutes as we wandered through that great monument to God’s faithfulness. These moments were gifts, priceless memories, but the uneasiness with which we began our trip hounded us.

Jake developed a fever that night at the hotel. We were far from home and a bit more subdued by the day’s travel. Perhaps we were more willing to concede that things were not going to go as planned but still so sure that all would be better tomorrow.

The fever broke sometime in the night, and Jake felt completely normal again by morning. By mid-afternoon we continued our way up to the cabin where his parents would be waiting for our noon arrival the next day. 

The route to the cabin from our stop in Kentucky was different from the one taken in years previous. By night, it was an elaborate system of construction cones and flashing arrows, flanked by miles of cornfields, and made nearly impossible to navigate by rainstorms and regular tolls. The rain held me in a perpetual, blurry blackness as I followed shifting brake lights through the eerie night. It slowed me down, made me doubt every road sign, and it made me impatient for day.

I drove into the early morning hours then parked among a fleet of sleeping truckers at a rest stop somewhere in Indiana. Jake slept and slept and slept, and I slept but wondered why Jake slept so long. I began to be anxious about the day’s plans. Would we ever get there at this pace? Would we ever get out of this car? How many more times could we eat at McDonalds? Was Jake okay? 

Jake had been taking Advil for pain in his knee, but as the day wore on and the medicine wore off, he suspected that he might have a fever again. We drove on from the middle of nowhere to the secluded backwoods of northern Minnesota. When it was apparent that Jake was sick and not just exhausted from the week’s labor and subsequent travel, we had to stop and begin looking for another Covid test and inquire into alternative lodging so as not to displace his parents. This was about four additional hours of driving, searching, and eventually finding a test so that we would know how to proceed. I sat there, waiting yet again. 

Shimmering lake waters and crisp cool morning breezes began to slip through my fingers. I tried to hold them there, knuckles white with will and vain hope, hot tears finding their way down my cheeks and into my lap as I grieved the memories that I had hoped to make this year.

We were so close to our destination, but without a clue as to where we were going. We waited and learned that there was no vacancy at any lodge for miles, we waited and learned that the clinic was closed for the weekend, and results from others would not be for days. We waited and learned that Covid home tests were sold out in five of the nearest locations.

And at last we learned that somewhere, an hour away, Walmart still had a test on the shelf. Despite the despair and exhaustion my Father’s spirit spoke to mine and knowing my thoughts he gently reminded me to be patient, that the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

In this School of Waiting I was being taught the practice of patience; the practice was found in wanting the Lord’s blessing above my own plans. The nasty tears were poor company and my husband- who was the one feeling bad, mind you- needed the peace as much as I. So, I asked for the blessing; I asked the Lord to establish our steps.

And there was peace. Patience, too, as we waited for the next right thing to do.

Answer Me When I Call 

We both tested negative again. Jake’s parents, who were waiting for us at the cabin in the Northwoods, instead packed up for a short trip until we could see improvement in his situation. We arrived at last on Saturday evening to an empty, recently evacuated cabin, completely uncertain of what the next two weeks would hold.

It was another eerie night. I was with my children in their grandfather’s cabin filled with their father’s childhood memories, their father sick in bed, without his parents or his memories to make any of it feel familiar. There was no phone or internet service, so I couldn’t console myself by researching what to do in case of an emergency or even text home.

I remembered the words of a dear friend telling me once out of an abundance of her own experience that as pilgrims passing through this land, we should all begin preparing for a stage of aloneness. This seemed to me an appropriate time to begin making those necessary preparations. 

So, I met Aloneness there, remembering that my Father is the same in the day as he is in the night, my truest and closest Comforter. I put the children to bed with Psalm 4, then I put myself to bed with Psalm 91.

Jake’s fever departed in the night, and he was back on his feet two days later.

We had one glorious day on the lake and his parents came back to the cabin, all of us hoping it was the right thing to do. We celebrated with a meal and worship and songs, but we soon realized that Jake was not completely well, and the next morning and for the rest of that week he relapsed into fever and fatigue.  That week brought more and more sobering news from back home of friends and family who were succumbing to Covid, several of whom were in the hospital. 

Each new development brought with it a weary sigh or a knot in the pit of my stomach, but there came also a voice that whispered again and again an old and precious promise: “And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” 

So, I called out to Him. 

My dear in-laws were now with us, and Jake was undeniably sick and in a way that caused us to doubt the test. But they didn’t want to leave me alone with four children and an invalid so they stayed, all of us hoping that best case scenario Jake had another illness (I mean, those are still around) and at the worst, it would be a mild case of what everyone else had.

Our supplements began to dwindle by midweek, and I went into town to arrange for more to be sent from home, thinking all the while that if we could just get our hands on some good medicine, Jake would turn the corner. By week’s end news arrived that the package of supplements –due to arrive—would not arrive for another three days.

The same morning, Jake’s parents determined that they would leave the cabin and return home the following day, hoping to make it home before they came down with the same illness. I began thinking that if  I were to come down with the same thing my husband had, we’d be “vacationing” indefinitely, our children possibly unsupervised as we languished.

What if he got worse? He certainly showed no signs of improving. How long would it take me to get out of this place by myself? Who would I take counsel with on such matters if it came to that?  

More waiting. A bit weary now, but patient. What ‘ere my God ordains is right/ Holy his will abideth.

A Broad Place

That evening Jake’s breathing worsened, and a constant cough came in shallow, breathy fits. It became a subject of urgent prayer, and our Father delivered. Amid all the potions, ointments, and vitamins we had remaining, there was a small, near-empty vial of herbal tincture used for asthma related issues.

I had brought it for Natalie, our eldest, and it was this precious daughter who suggested that it might help her daddy. It immediately settled his cough and facilitated deeper breaths. We used it through the night, deciding that we would leave the cabin with his parents the following morning.

 We had been on vacation for one week. Jake had been in bed for five days. 

Here at this late, vulnerable hour, without our medicine, without a hospital, with four children, and three exposed adults the Lord gently led us to this point of clarity; it’s time to go home. A decision that now in hindsight appears so obvious to me.

It was as if the Lord was taking me through a side door, and I couldn’t quite grasp what the room looked like until long after I’d arrived. Praise the Lord I don’t have to know exactly where I am or where I’m going; I know that my Father has set my feet in a broad place.

The next morning brought with it a whirlwind of responsibilities. Among them, cleaning out the fridge, eating whatever leftovers we could for breakfast, washing the bedding, and properly storing a boat, grill, and air-conditioning unit. As the package my mom had shipped from home was never delivered, I arranged to pick up more supplements on the way to hold us over for the next two days. Supplements, again. 

There must be a lesson there because no sooner had we purposed in our hearts to get hold of some more zinc and l-lysine than our car battery died — dead as a doornail and not twenty minutes after starting the car. Perhaps the car doors were open too long, but the deadness of the thing made us all suspect Divine Intervention. It was another bit of instruction, or perhaps just an ordinary opportunity to practice waiting… with him. 

I will wait, Father. 

We unbuckled our seat belts, piled out of the car, and walked to the front porch. Jake crawled back to the couch, and I passed out rice krispie treats, explaining to the children that the Lord was not ready for us to leave Minnesota, and no, I didn’t know when that would be. The second and only working vehicle at this point was useless to us as it was blocked in by the dead one, rear to rear.

Jake’s dad found a couple of overnight battery chargers, and at last, through a conversation with Jake’s brother back home, he made use of a spare, fully charged boat battery from the shed.

Within an hour we were off. Our little caravan embarked on the first leg of the trip from northern Minnesota to Madison, WI where we stayed the night, then continued Sunday morning from 8 until midnight, born up on the prayers of our brothers and sisters back home. 

And I will testify; the Lord felt very, very near. 

I drove, Jake rested (perhaps in body only), and the nine year-old acted as my proxy for the backseat crew who was thoroughly immersed in bags of granola and Pixar Studios. We took the opportunity to experience nearly every rest area from there to here, and by late afternoon on the last day we hit a torrential rainstorm that enveloped us from Nashville to Chattanooga.

For four hours I could neither see the road nor the vehicles on them. I was guided only by countless flashing emergency lights as we wound our way through the mountains.

Gone was the desperate need to arrive already that had so motivated me the week before, and the rain was now an impervious veil keeping me from where I wanted to be.

I was doing my Father’s will. We were walking together; He faithfully, and I, patiently. Though I’d been made a patient driver (perhaps a miraculous working of the Spirit in and of itself), the rain was terrifying, and adrenaline surged through my veins; hitting triple-shot-of-espresso highs. I’m certain the storm was instrumental in keeping me both near to the throne of grace, and keeping me awake there at the end, road weary and still so far from home.

At midnight, we rumbled down our familiar gravel driveway, delighting in every annoying rift and rut. As we staggered up the stairs and crawled onto the tidily made beds, it was like our vacation was just beginning. The rest had come at last, in our Father’s time, after safely delivering us from fever, rain, and foreign land. And the rest was far richer than any I had imagined.
Brittny 9/21

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