My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...

Monday, June 28, 2010

1000 Gifts: Whispers and Promises

     Sometimes we hold on to those things which are tangible... mementos, valuables, and the necessities of life. They are considered precious because of the memories they conjure, the comfort, convenience, provision, and enrichment they bring to life. And sometimes the things we cling to are not tangible but they bring that "zoe" kind of life in living and the promise of that which is yet to come. 
     I hold on to words... Since I can remember, I have loved them. I'm not sure how to describe it but there are some words that have been the sustenance I needed when I didn't think I could make it. The treasure they hold for me is more than "definition"---it's the difference they have made in my journey. Their impact and value can't be taken away, or destroyed, or "undone." These words are uniquely mine in the way they have woven themselves among the threads of my life just as they may also be uniquely yours.
      In the past, I couldn't trust anyone with the secrets I held for so long so the secrets took hold of me rather than me taking hold of them. The solution could have been as simple as sharing them with one person...or one Savior. But I couldn't put my heart into words and I couldn't ask for help--not even from One who gave Himself up for my sake. Maybe I didn't think my words--my heart--mattered so much back then. In desperation, I searched for meaning in my struggle looking for a reason to press on.  As remembered unlovely spoken words created chaos within, I couldn't speak out or plead for help, or pray, or even journal my thoughts. I realize now there were a few who saw me--the me I tried so hard to hide. A few who reached out to me even though I turned them away. A few faithful who prayed for me even when I couldn't pray for myself. I couldn't see it or understand it then, but for those who never gave up, I am ever grateful because your words made all the difference as I searched for my own.
     Word study became a practice of survival in those dark and silent times. When I had none of my own and life was ebbing away, I would cling to words that spoke life and promise to me--words, I believe, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, each with its own merit. Then, I had nothing else to hold on to and His Word seemed to be all that I could grasp. So before computers or technology, I clung to those heartwhispers as I pored through chapter after chapter, book after book, in my Bible looking for Scripture that included those whispered words...I would write them down--all of them--pages upon pages. Writing them down on paper was like writing His word on my heart.  Obsessive maybe--desperate, no doubt--but the busyness of the task steadied my hand as His Word steadied my heart, carrying me through unbearable days. Those who have never struggled through deep depression may not understand it.  Even today, those very words--His words--still speak life and promise to me. They remain beacons when waves roll high and my way is dark. I have no doubt that when I couldn't grasp the vastness of His love, His Spirit whispered these words, knowing my unspoken need and confident that I would cling to life through them as He prayed in my stead. Romans 8 tells us how the He intercedes for us with groans that words can't express. I found truth and beauty in that assurance as Romans 8:25-29 became alive and real to me...

...If we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

For these whispered words--His spoken gifts in my most desperate times, I am eternally grateful. I've included only one of the hundreds of the promises He showed me with each word...

61.  HOPE - Lamentations 3:19-24  Because He is faithful and His mercy is new each day.
62.  GRACE - 2 Corinthians 12:9  His grace is sufficient.
63.  PERSEVERENCE - Hebrews 12:1-3  The key is to keep running HIS race, not my own.
64.  WHOLEHEARTED - 1 Chronicles 28:9-10  Wholehearted devotion and willing mind--HIS.
65.  REFUGE - Psalm 25  I give Him my trust and my shame as I seek refuge in Him.
66.  PERFECT - 1 John 4:18  Perfect love drives out fear.
67.  STAND - Ephesians 4:13  After you've done everything, stand.
68.  WAIT - Psalm 37:6-7  Be still and wait; His justice prevails.
69.  JUSTICE - Isaiah 1:17-18  Seek it...Receive it...Stand for it...
70.  FEAR NOT - Isaiah 43:1-3  He is with me through thick and thin.
71.  TEACH ME - Psalm 86:11  His way, His truth, His heart.
72.  UNDIVIDED - Ezekiel 11:19-20  HE gives me an undivided heart and bitterness is softened by grace.
73.  SEEK - Jeremiah 29:11-14  He will be found when I seek Him.
74.  KNOWN - 1 Corinthians 13:11-13  I may not know the way He leads but I am known completely.
75.  TOGETHER - Colossians 1:17  He holds ME together.
76.  PRESENCE - Psalm 16:11  Joy in His presence
77.  BELIEVE - Mark 9:17-24  Help my unbelief, Lord.
78.  NOT ASHAMED - 2 Timothy 2:12  I know whom I have believed...
79.  EVERLASTING - Jeremiah 31:3  His love knows no beginning or end.
80.  LIFE - Deuteronomy 3018-20  The Lord IS my life.

These few are but a small portion of His love notes and promises to me...and you.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."  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.  - Romans 8:35-39

holy experience

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