On a Moonlit January Night

Sitting alone in a moon-lit window, Crystal tries to relax and breathes deep to pull in the silence enveloping her world at two in the morning. Outside her window, a new snow blankets everything, deepening the quiet of these timeless hours. The storm is passing and the breaking moon displays the artistry of the storm. Beams of muted light streaming in through Crystal’s favorite window create a halo outlining her long, wavy, blond hair. Sparks of pink fire ignite a shimmering twinkle in an atmosphere of Midnight Blue, along the length of her silk negligee. Nearly immune to the beauty created by the moonlight, of which she is a part of, it is the quiet that holds Crystal’s attention. Listening intently to the nothingness and feeding on its calm. This is what awakened her from an exhausted sleep, this hunger for time to simply be, Crystal.

Repressed thoughts and feelings, as if knowing their time to be heard has come, flood the silent calm of Crystal’s mind. All the yearning and disappointments stuffed down during the rush of busy days, present themselves in this quiet moment, stark in contrast to this night’s peaceful, midnight mood. The truths that Crystal wants to ignore, march into her present thoughts, in rank and file, demanding their power be recognized. In this still moment a long put off reckoning is come. The silence of this moon-lit winter night provides no hiding place for the unpleasant reality she longs to ignore. Rather, the opposite occurs and she sees herself and her life stripped naked with nothing to cover what is lacking and nothing to highlight her strengths. Here in this quiet that is now deafening, Crystal must confront “Self”.

Crystal suddenly feels very small and alone. Helpless isn’t a state of mind she tolerates in others and seeing it in herself is crushing. However, when acknowledging her awful truths, her helplessness to overcome them alone is obvious. Crystal slumps into the arms of her favored soft chair and attempts to again, breathe in the stillness of the night and make it her own. She holds that quiet breath until her lungs feel they are to burst and then, she lets out a tortured sigh. Tears begin to wash over her cheeks in the same instant; silver streams glistening in moon light. Crystal falls from the chair to her knees, leans her head into her arms whispering, “Father!” A small still voice that seems to come from the stillness of the night but also, from within Crystal replies, “Daughter, I Am here. I’ve always been here and I will always be. Come, let me hold you and give you the comfort and the guidance you need.” These whispered words not spoken through a human mouth but by Spirit impress themselves upon Crystal’s sad, tired heart and satiate her with the peace her soul hungers for. Quieted and assured, Crystal rises from the floor, wipes the tears from her eyes and upon falling into bed, sleeps the deep sleep of a snowy, moonlit, winter’s night.

The sun rises to reveal a purified white world and Crystal sparkling with renewed, spiritual joy, greets the beginning of better days. Set free by the truth she feared in the quiet of a January night.

Be Amazed by Grace!

Immersed in a day-dream, dawdling…

Enjoying sunshine on my face…

Treating myself to a summer coddling;

Took for granted wind’s pace…

Not noticing the changed force blowing,

Or the storm beginning to race,

In my direction; fierce tornado growing!

A conflict I’m doomed to face!

My predilection to hide; silent groaning…

My fear with cowardice I lace!

Tremble! Lord, do you hear my moaning?

“Have you forgotten my Grace?”

“Courage, by My Spirit to you I’m loaning”

“My faithfulness, do you trace?”

Memories of interventions of past proving

His provision by saving Grace;

In the conflict, trouble, persecution shoving,

I will look in His beautiful face!

Spirit surge gives strength by divine loving!

Courage find in our Holy space!

Jesus, by faith into You daily, I am growing!

In You all I need to run the race!

Keep me sober, mindful of seed I’m sowing,

Trusting You to keep the pace,

Giving me protection despite my dawdling;

In trials be amazed by Grace!

Love’s Balance

Lord? I only want these simple things:

I want Peace. Not war. Love not hate.

A long life to be lived in a happy state;

Let me know the contentment joy brings!

 

But Lord? What I get are complications,

Needless drama, manufactured misery!

Stress! And I pay with anxiety, as usury;

Subtracts from joy, tangles simplifications!

 

Sweet relationships can and do turn sour;

Some lasting long die suddenly, fade away;

A Bend, a twist, a break, then goes astray!

Lord? Relate to me in lasting, eternal power?

 

Lord! In You, I find all the simplicity I crave!

Quiet peace here, is more than satisfactory!

Safe! Far from noise of the Misery Factory;

Lord? Build a strong hedge? All hate do stave!

 

Lord? Keep me? Wrap me, in simple things?

If not? Help me promote a human tolerance?

Not of evil, but of one another; Love’s balance

Quells drama’s misery, as joy in freedom rings!

 

 

 

Sunshine on a Winter Day

I am so grateful that the sun still shines in winter.

Thankful for these warming rays brightly streaming,

Through my window, mercifully sent by my dear Father!

Warmth to comfort my body, lift my spirit; to liven my soul;

Lifting all thoughts to joy, allowing them to float on the waters,

Of sickness and sorrow; thereby abating my sadness and suffering;

Snugly wrapping me in loving security; and embrace me in His presence;

It is brutal! Outside it’s cold! A threat to my existence but here in my window

I sit, enjoying the heat of summer; kept safe from vile enemies that long to take

Me down to smother me in agony; in hopes of crushing my spirit, destroying my body!

But my soul, my enemy can’t touch, it belongs to the One who limits my enemy’s strength;

Daddy! He cherishes, protects His child; Surrounding me with bright sunshine on a winter day!

Joy in a Melancholy Shroud

Inflated thoughts and lost dreams; absorbed in the vacuum;

In the midnight of isolation, sanity dangles by a silken thread;

Am I upside down, or right-side up, or maybe laying side-ways?

No one cares about those dying, those living on borrowed bread;

Boxed in neglect; Dying slow, in the little bits of day’s-fading-days.

 

Melancholy tarnishes the gold; not discussed in polite company;

This common process called death; we all share in but suffer alone;

For some the thread suddenly snaps! But others may hang-on-long…

In bodies of agony and pain; With active minds; Recounting to atone;

Reliving life; Still dreaming; Still longing; Rosy remembering in a song!

 

Beating heart’s unsteady gait falters; pounds in an unfamiliar rhythm;

This rough, long ride is coming to an end! Faithful steed, take me home!

Then rest when your beat ceases and this thin thread snaps! Yes, I will fall!

Into God’s Hands that never neglect, the faith kept soul in a forgotten tome!

Everything lost to be restored seven-fold, to those who obey the Savior’s call!

 

Hope is Jesus when long-hanging by a thin thread; Joy shrouded in melancholy;

Living in thought but not in action; the mind is where dreams and memory meld;

Regret and pain constantly accuse; tormentors who by faith must be overcome!

All must die but those who die in Christ are not alone, joined by Holy Spirit weld!

Rise and live again; fully glorified! Death ends in full Life and Joy! Oh! Jesus Come!

 

 

The Joy in Forgiveness

Time wears away at the facts within a memory;

But time, can’t prevent the wound from scaring;

Or prevent mindless hand from caressing reverie,

The cold, rough lump, which stiffens love’s caring;

A madness of sorts; this living in the past’s territory!

Lost in yesterday; and past hurts in present bearing;

Brokenness unburied, lye outside time’s cemetery;

Scars that bleed; and build thick with daily tearing;

Scars where smooth flesh should be; twist memory,

Tying distorted knots of hate! Embittered wearing

Away all joy, all peace; love lost in heart’s cemetery;

Forgiveness if received and given stops the scaring!

Releasing the bitter poison that darkens a memory!

Lets in the Light! Stops hand from mind re-tearing,

By daily reliving, hurts belonging in past’s territory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy in an Era of Deception

Sunshine is streaming through every window this morning. The sky is blue and clear on every horizon. It’s still autumn and the grass around my house is green due to the extra rain we’ve been blessed with this year. The sun’s return is exciting after so many days of clouds and I can’t wait to get outside. I put on my slippers and wrap myself in a throw, then open the door leading to my deck, and then stop. Things are not as they appear from my sunny window, a small cracking of the door makes me painfully, aware of how cold it is outside. I was deceived as much by my longing for warm weather, as by the appearance of a warm, sunny day, despite my knowing reality of cold temperatures, in the high desert during this time of year. Disappointed I quickly close the door, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in front of my sunny window with my Bible in hand. It’s cold outside but thanks to Jesus, I have all that I need and though deception may frustrate my desires, it can’t destroy my joy.

As I read and pray, applying those passages to my life, I consider how easily I can be deceived into believing what I want to believe. I think about the times and the deception that pours into my life through another kind of Windows. I’m connected to the world by the screens filled with words, voices, and images, through Windows that open but offer a sense of glass-like protection from the harsh reality containing the view of the outside world that they offer. Without experiencing the climate and conditions of the hard-copy that I experience as virtual reality, I can’t know the full truth of what I view, read, or hear. I’m very likely, to fill in the blanks with my imagination, fueled by my desire to experience what I am longing for. It is my unmet needs and wants that set me up for deception.

The internet is a virtual world of opinion, fantasy, and longing. It is also, a place that promises wealth and power to those willing to use the internet to manipulate others. We all present ourselves somewhat, differently online than what we are in reality, we can’t help it. It is natural to show our best selves publically but some take it to a whole other level. Social media is a narcissist’s dream come true, giving them the ability to re-create themselves as they wish to be and even, the ability to create many false-selves useful for manipulation. Those with good intentions, looking to fill some unmet desire through online experience, are prime targets for those who gain good feelings about themselves by abusing others. Even when there is no abuse intended, people can be deceived by their own imagination filling in the blanks of limited information with what they are looking for in another. When enough time passes for the reality to emerge, people find themselves feeling tricked and used. Sometimes, they are tricked but mostly, they tricked themselves. Online personas aren’t entirely, real but there are real people behind them. Virtual personas can’t feel pain but the people behind them are badly hurt every day.

As I sit in my sunny window, enjoying the warmth and the glow that is a very different reality on the other side of the glass, I consider how God wants me to walk through this new era. How do I maintain joy in a world where most people now, connect virtually more often than in real life. Just as I need warm, sunny days, I need human companionship. How do I participate in the new world, in the midst of so much deception and maintain my joy? The answer comes to me and it comes by the same source that believers have trusted in for answers for many centuries, from God’s Word. It is in allowing God to govern my desires and in my allowing Him to fill my need that protects me from deception. It is in pointing others to Jesus for answers, rather than to me that keeps others from seeing too much in me. Though, I can’t always control how others might imagine me, or always know when they have an ulterior motive, I can trust God’s protection. As in all the ages past, I am to be in the world but not of it, and fulfill my calling by taking the truth about Jesus into a dying world. It isn’t about me, it’s about Jesus and in that fact, I find security from deception. The world is changing rapidly but Jesus remains the same and the joy I have in Him is enough to satisfy every need and desire.

Joy on the Ragged Edge

Tired thoughts; scattered dust drifting in the air;

Denied a refuge from life’s ragged edge;

White knuckled in the now; possibilities nowhere!

Time’s pounding beat battering sledge;

Constant pain; relentless torturer doesn’t care!

Relationship split by prideful wedge;

Everyone’s looking for something! Life isn’t fair!

Confusion leaves truth on sanity’s edge;

Stress and exhaustion coupled; an untenable pair;

Life on the horizontal, without any hedge!

No purpose or hope; I want to pull out my hair!

Past isn’t pretty! Bury sins; Don’t dredge!

Ignore deep damage; but baste the outer tear;

Feigning courage as I totter on the ledge!

Don’t look below! Now, come down from there!

Look up! I Am here! Wisdom, Knowledge!

Faith! The vertical perspective! Delivering prayer!

Jesus is my refuge from the ragged edge;

He is my joy; He lovingly mends my every care;

By Grace He removed sin’s dividing wedge,

At the cross, vertical met horizontal; it was there

I found life, love, hope; My Protector’s hedge!

My worried head cradled; He counts my every hair!

 

Joy Waits on God

I am war-weary, in need of a furlough, and awaiting an honorable discharge. I am battle-hardened but this war is long; it has been raging for centuries, filling the earth with blood. My enemy is a deceptive predator who sometimes, weakens me by sneaking into my thoughts. You see, I once fought on his side, he thought he owned me. I was his tool, a common weapon that he had no regard for, and he thought to destroy me just for the twisted joy of practicing destruction. Please understand, my enemy, who was once my master can only, destroy. He has no power to build and he is enraged because the purpose that drives him has only one end, his own destruction. He targets me with his vengeance because I am the tool he prized for dishonor that was rescued by the One Who limits his power; by giving him over to his own desire. Though I once belonged to the enemy and was set to suffer his fate, my Savior rescued me, cleaned me up, repaired me, and gave me a new purpose. I no longer serve the purpose of destruction. I now, serve a new Master, my Friend, Who is the author of eternal life. By His Mercy, I live to serve God and surrender all that I am for His honor and glory.

The war I endure as hardship is the war with sin within. Those old thoughts and desires that the enemy knows so well and does all he can do to re-ignite, in hopes of weakening me and bringing me down. He oppresses me by the sin that flourishes without, in hopes of making my new purpose ineffective. He attacks and wounds my flesh, he threatens my existence. He taunts me, deceives me, and sets traps to make me fall. He accuses me of the evil he wishes me to commit. He castes his shame on me, hoping to weigh me down with undo guilt. He mocks me as he also, mocks my God, my Savior. He surrounds me with clouds of confusion like poison gas. He’s desperate because he knows he’s fighting a war he can’t win and that desperation has driven him mad. His fury is unleashing now to destroy everything and everyone in his limited power to destroy. He seeks to destroy me and those others like me who belong to Jesus. He can drain our blood and break our bodies but our souls belong to Jesus, the One Whose body was broken, blood drained out, but rose to live again.

Though all who believe in Jesus, in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, be wiped from the earth, they will remain safe in Jesus, awaiting His return. Then the enemy of man, God, and life will have his full season; a short time to visibly reign as god and bring woe to those who remain on the earth. Then Jesus and His called out company will return and cut that awful season short; because God is merciful and does not rejoice in the death of the wicked. Then my enemy will do hard time, awaiting Judgment, an eternal sentence in the prison of the torture he invented and visited on God’s children; suffering the eternal torment that belongs to the enemy of God. Then I will receive my furlough, it will last 1,000 years, in a world very different from the world I live in now. Joy won’t have to hide. Joy won’t be frustrated. Joy will over-flow and rejoice in the rapture of ultimate liberty!

My honorable discharge will come on the day I set foot in the new heaven and new earth, after one final battle with Satan; but it will be short. By then, all will know Satan for the loser he is, and sin will no longer sting and infect God’s children with death. Until then, I wait for my Jesus to return, strengthened by the joy I have in Him; protected in battle, my wounds tended, and relying on God for final victory. When overwhelmed by the specter of the enemy’s destructive force, I look up. Jesus is coming soon and I walk by faith, not by sight.

Wisdom: Fear the Lord and Depart from Evil

Job 28New King James Version (NKJV)

Job’s Discourse on Wisdom

28 “Surely there is a mine for silver,
And a place where gold is refined.
Iron is taken from the earth,
And copper is smelted from ore.
Man puts an end to darkness,
And searches every recess
For ore in the darkness and the shadow of death.
He breaks open a shaft away from people;
In places forgotten by feet
They hang far away from men;
They swing to and fro.
As for the earth, from it comes bread,
But underneath it is turned up as by fire;
Its stones are the source of sapphires,
And it contains gold dust.
That path no bird knows,
Nor has the falcon’s eye seen it.
The proud lions[a] have not trodden it,
Nor has the fierce lion passed over it.
He puts his hand on the flint;
He overturns the mountains at the roots.
10 He cuts out channels in the rocks,
And his eye sees every precious thing.
11 He dams up the streams from trickling;
What is hidden he brings forth to light.

12 “But where can wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Man does not know its value,
Nor is it found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me’;
And the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15 It cannot be purchased for gold,
Nor can silver be weighed for its price.
16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
In precious onyx or sapphire.
17 Neither gold nor crystal can equal it,
Nor can it be exchanged for jewelry of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral or quartz,
For the price of wisdom is above rubies.
19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
Nor can it be valued in pure gold.

20 “From where then does wisdom come?
And where is the place of understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
And concealed from the birds of the air.
22 Destruction and Death say,
‘We have heard a report about it with our ears.’
23 God understands its way,
And He knows its place.
24 For He looks to the ends of the earth,
And sees under the whole heavens,
25 To establish a weight for the wind,
And apportion the waters by measure.
26 When He made a law for the rain,
And a path for the thunderbolt,
27 Then He saw wisdom[b] and declared it;
He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out.
28 And to man He said,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
And to depart from evil is understanding.’”