I didn’t realize it at the time, but yesterday on a couple of occasions, I felt God seeing me. I felt Him near. The veil between earth and heaven was translucently thin.
In my car, with a list of places to deliver art and calendars, in between being among hurried and intent on shopping people, a playlist emerged. Songs I hadn’t heard before both caused me to pray and to praise. A deep connectedness to God’s spirit within me, led to warm tears and others to a lifted open hand.
No wonder, I’ve been resting with the words, “Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay.”
My favorite people in the Bible are the vulnerable and uncertain ones. I’m drawn to Job. I’m strengthened by David. I adore Martha and can relate to Jonah. Thomas, the one who needed proof and wasn’t afraid to admit it. I love the ones who wondered.
“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 NIV
Who believe and cling to times when their belief was solidified, made tangible evidence.
The Lord is near.
Believe. Accept the freedom of a sweeter commitment, the language of the heart, not rational.
As Martha was met by Jesus, distraught over the death of her brother, she told Him she still believed in His goodness, in the purpose of Him.
Then, she went to get her sister Mary.
“She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”” John 11:27 ESV
Mary stood next to Jesus and asked why he waited so long. Jesus wept.
Then he told the sisters to take him to their brother although it had been four days.
“Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”” John 11:40 ESV
Lazarus was raised. Jesus told them both and all who had followed out of grief and curiosity, that this was the way God intended it, so that all would believe, not just the sisters.
All, like all of us.
“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”” John 11:41-42 ESV
I woke up early, got my journal, books and pen and then felt the need, like a gentle call to read my (actual)Bible.
The Mary and Martha story is good. Always.
God’s timing is not ours. Don’t give up hope. Don’t stop believing in the grace, strength, mercy and presence of Jesus. Look at your life, remember times you asked for help and help came. Times of desperation because of delay of some sort.
Sometimes I pray “God, show us your glory today, come through in a way that it’s clearly you…’cause I’m not able on my own.”
And Jesus has come, has remedied, relieved, given me strength when I am weak.
These words gave me permission to consider my wandering, validated a truth I see in myself and wondered how many others wrestle with the same question.
Where is God today?
Why do I feel I’m in this battle alone?
What if my faith is fleeting?
Faint, yet pursuing. Judges 8:4
This verse describes a throng of warriors’ commitment to battle with their leader, Gideon.
“And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.” Judges 8:4 KJV
I jotted down three verses from my Bible one day last week, folded the paper and put it in my “to do list” book.
The passages were from Psalm 42, Luke 2, and this Old Testament text.
Often, a trio like this will wrap me in its embrace of understanding, acknowledgement of question, and offering of clarity and peace.
Gideon, David and Mary share a theme that resonates. They wavered in their confidence and faith, maybe in a way like me, asked God to be near, asked Him to show evidence that their faith wasn’t without hope. That they can wander away and wonder in a questioning way and they can be themselves.
We can be ourselves.
God welcomes that.
David gives countless templates for questioning conversations with our approachable God.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 42:11 KJV
Today, I pray you notice the Christmas around you. That you feel a nearness with Jesus, God’s intentional gift for us.
Nearness, more near than any humanly possible things.
Jesus Christ, the baby, little boy and man who dwelt among others and now, if you’ll allow Him dwells within, His Spirit
Strength and peace.
I pray that you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, not just the idea of Him, although it surely is the most beautiful idea on its own.
A baby born to then die for us. A baby born without sin to become a man crucified cruelly although without sin.
I pray you believe and that you begin to pursue and never stop pursuing even on dismal days, days when you’re battle weary and days when you being invited to participate in such a miraculous truth seems unbelievable.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45 ESV
Continue and believe. If life leads you to question, continue and be at peace.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:7-8 ESV
Whatever you can depend upon, think of such things.
Last night, I realized I hadn’t shared “lovely” things in a while. I started posting pics with the simple words from Paul…whatever is lovely, think about such things, way back in 2019.
I get to watch the sun come up while the toddler is stirring. This morning, it made me want to add a phrase to Paul’s instruction…
Whatever you can depend upon
because I remembered my Father in heaven is as dependable as the sunrise and sunset He made.
The closer I get to Christmas, the more frantic I feel and I remind myself of the hope, the internal goal…peace, joy that is evident in me whatever room I enter. I’m a work in progress, I’m thinking it’s evident.
I recalled my life verse (Isaiah 30:15) early today. I jotted it down…paraphrasing. I’m best when I’m quietly confident, when my repentance leads to rest. I’m at my worst when I strike out on my own, either running from something or trying to rush something on my own.
But grace waits. Grace returns like the tangerine sunrise in the country.
I don’t know what has you fretting or forlorn. Others may think you should’ve long let it go or may consider it trivial. But, your secret concerns are yours as are mine and others’.
It is yours and it’s heavy, there’s no good in comparing our struggles.
As sure as the sun will rise, you are loved by a dependable God. Me too.
The orchid, delicately teasing me with the buds barely visible, has been nothing other than knotty branches since I (read the instructions) shook the dust off the gnarled roots and repotted it.
While the dollar store Christmas cactus is popping out fuchsia shoots.
Left alone, barely watered since a Christmas last year with no blooms even hinting.
I thought “cease striving” last week, worried over the decision to order an extra 100 calendars from the printer.
I told myself, based on your history, forget about it, let it go, it’ll come back around, the interest in the calendar with your art.
Today, I woke at 5:00 and thought again, “cease striving”.
Let come what may.
Let things grow in their own time and way, not yours.
These are words I tell myself with regularity.
I opened my Bible to find Psalm 46:10 to read the psalmist’s same recommendation.
It wasn’t there. Instead, the words are “be still” in every translation I searched for comparison.
Somewhere I, and I believe others decided we may need a tone more disciplined, more direct.
“Cease striving”…with perhaps, once and for all added for emphasis, at least for me.
Psalm 46 is about rest. It is an exhortation to remember the strengths of God, his handiwork and plans.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
What we allow to be influenced by Jesus, by love, by vulnerable secret places exposed to light, lends itself to our stories being rewritten.
We begin to believe the vastness of God’s grace is for us, not just for others.
We loosen the bitter, cynical ropes that tether us to making sense of past wrongs and in a gradual epiphany type way, we see hope as more than a sweet little word.
We may wonder why it took so long and we may fear falling back into the questioning pattern tattooed on our soul by trauma.
We may wonder over this change causing glimpses of heaven.
Or we might decide to embrace it.
We may just move this Christmas season from believing and accepting Christ Jesus
To fully embracing Him.
We’ll be easy on our fragile human hearts when they try to grow stiff again.
We’ll pivot towards the soft light of love, we will reset our hearts on hope again.
We will say to ourselves, maybe on little post-its or with pen on our wrists.
…by his wounds, I am healed.
We’ll continue seeing God. We’ll be amazed where He is.
“having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” Ephesians 1:18-19 ESV
“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 16:33 NLT
Barely awake, I opened my email account. Scrolled past random messages from people, groups, companies I don’t know.
Rather than swiping to delete, I took a bolder step. I unsubscribed. Many of these emails are about writing, about platform, about getting published. They land in my inbox with the greeting of either “Lisa” or “friend”.
Naively, I once thought they were interested in me, my writing, my ideas.
Because, I’m a combination of starry eyed optimist and strategic thinker.
I’ve always believed if I follow the guide, if I understand the steps, the result will be whatever I pursue.
It’s just not the case and it’s disheartening to hope that a stranger who I gave my email address is going to guide me, be my advocate.
So, not with bitterness or any bad feelings towards these groups, I unsubscribed.
I’m going into seeking to be a published author sort of hiatus.
I’m gonna let my writing hopes get the underground growth in the roots of my ideas. I’m gonna pray more than voraciously read experts’ steps. I’m not shredding my draft or proposal nor my hopes.
Just letting them breathe on their own for just a bit.
Because it’s not rejection that I fear as much as before, it’s the striving to be noticed, to see results of my effort, to stand in Target beaming with my book in my hand in a selfie for Instagram.
Yeah, that’s why I’m letting it rest.
I’ve thrown the dice of my idea towards a few agents and publishers.
For now, I’m loving smaller ideas. Being influential in the lives of others albeit in obscurity in terms of what some of these now unsubscribed emails promised me.
Because, early this morning I got this message from a friend:
“I hope you understand how people see, respect and admire you.” Ray V.
I replied “Thank you.” thinking this is enough for now, more than enough.
Then I thought of coming Christmas and just like that, an idea, Advent prayer cards for either Christmas decorations, gifts, or for thoughtful meditation.
I sketched a pear, added the number 7 and referred to my Advent tradition book, “Waiting Here for You, An Advent Journey of Hope” by Louie Giglio. I saw that Day 7 asks us to consider the value of giving rather than receiving.
Found the photo of my granddaughter’s first Christmas and said to myself, these are things of great significance, waiting quietly rather than striving and offering what I can to others in hopes they do the same.
Please comment if you’d be interested in an Advent Set of illustrated cards. I need to know if there’s interest in my idea or just another of my many ideas. Cost will be under $20. If you’d like to view other art, visit here http://lisaannetindal.me
I sat with one last piece of watercolor paper in the pad, a pencil sketch of a woman’s face I had started was faintly there, not completely erased.
I added oval shapes of angel faces, a few more realistic and scattered to give an idea of angels all over the page, floating above the baby Jesus with his mother, Mary in the corner.
I’d had a moment earlier when a friend wrote about the “multitude” of angels and I couldn’t stop myself from the thought
Could it be? It seems so unbelievable, there are angels, they are real and as much as I prefer not to borrow a song’s lyrics, “there are angels among us.” (The band, Alabama)
And now I’m inspired again. It’s just that simple, no it is splendid, this new fervor.
My beliefs in such things mysterious to me are easy to hold as hope and not as reality.
Someone used the word “resplendent” in a message contrasting their feelings and faith as tender and yet, resplendent.
What a beautiful word, an adjective meaning brilliant, shining, impressive or magnificent.
I again thought of that unbelievable night, the night that Jesus was born.
I am thinking now of its significance.
The significance of seeing and believing in a way that is so much more than a poetically written ancient story of a mysterious man born to a young virgin.
The weight of believing or not. Faith that is not fiction.
“Redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus must be considered fact, a deeply personal unwavering belief, otherwise that very gift of mercy, redemption will never be fully experienced, only vaguely hoped for.” me
So, I cradle the ceramic baby in a basket and I see it more than decoration, I see it truly, fully.
An old man in the Bible, Simeon had been waiting for the prophesied Messiah. He met Jesus with his parents and he worshipped, praised, and acknowledged.
“Lord and Master, I am your loving servant, and now I can die content, for your promise to me has been fulfilled. With my own eyes I have seen your Word, the Savior you sent into the world. Simeon cradled the baby in his arms and praised God and prophesied, saying:
He will be glory for your people Israel, and the Revelation Light for all people everywhere!” Luke 2:28-32 TPT
An elderly woman named Anna, both had been waiting their whole lives to see the Jesus their God had promised.
“While Simeon was prophesying over Mary and Joseph and the baby, Anna walked up to them and burst forth with a great chorus of praise to God for the child. And from that day forward she told everyone in Jerusalem who was waiting for their redemption that the anticipated Messiah had come!” Luke 2:38 TPT
Resplendent, the aged faces of these two must have been, like the sight on that angel and starry filled night of Jesus’s birth.
Resplendent were the colors, brilliant and vivid on another evening, the rich reds of the Son of God’s blood covered body, the darkest daytime night before the curtain was torn and God illuminated for all the reality of what occurred, a death for our sins, the reality of God’s offer of mercy. A vivid scene that must be believed and remembered.
Many doubted, many still do, honestly admitted needing proof.
“Then, looking into Thomas’ eyes, he said, “Put your finger here in the wounds of my hands. Here—put your hand into my wounded side and see for yourself. Thomas, don’t give in to your doubts any longer, just believe!”
Then the words spilled out of his heart—“You are my Lord, and you are my God!” Jesus responded, “Thomas, now that you’ve seen me, you believe. But there are those who have never seen me with their eyes but have believed in me with their hearts, and they will be blessed even more!” John 20:27-29 TPT
I suppose the choice is up to us, us earthly people. We can choose to believe or not.
A life of faith only faintly evident or one fully committed, resplendent!
Thankful today for the angels, the believers, the doubters like me.
Very surely grateful for redemption, for mercy unmerited, for grace.
Thankful for words and the peace of mind, presence of the Holy Spirit gently nudging my using them.
Continue and believe. He’s not finished with you yet.
Because my mood highjacked the majority of my day yesterday, I said to myself.
“Set the tone today, self talk that’s harmful not allowed, only hope.”
So, I was awakened by a phone call that didn’t alarm as was my startled assumption.
I made extra creamy coffee by mistake; groggy, I added half and half and honey times two.
I sat with the soft blanket and then invited more comfort,
Threw off the throw pillows, spread smooth the quilt, patted the couch cushion and invited the dog.
Stretched out now almost the length with his nose near my hip, I breathe, tell myself to trust, not go all despondent and frustrated over what people are saying, showing in their vacant glances about our coming days.
Sip my coffee, rest my hand on the labrador and journal loosely today’s plans.
Sit with comfort more than a moment.
Beyond this sweet sitting, remember your words.
Now turn to today’s Advent Book, one that was gifted, one you’re wondering if it’s too late to order a bunch as gifts.
Embrace the day’s offering.
The one you loved on this date last year, underlines and sweet red circled words.
Sit a minute more and then, maybe breakfast then art with God, an overdue haircut later.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 ESV
The book may be out of stock, it’s worth searching for.
All sorts of people and places are all conniving it seems in a way to keep me pressing on.
Unbeknownst to most, they are cooperating with God.
Yesterday, I turned my phone towards the window and captured this candy color view, the dashboard angle now making me think an angel must’ve been my passenger.
I parked my car, turned to one side to see the same orange horizon laced with branches and turned to see the brilliant circle of moon shining.
“I’m bordered, one side sun and the other moon. I’m secure.”
Some point I stopped waking up with one palm raised and the prayer, “Woke up well, thank you God”
I’m afraid I must’ve grown tired of the affirmation.
Or it’s just shifted.
In my journal instead I scribbled.
I’m still here.
God is still with me.
Then opened the Passion translation of Psalm 136 and I John, the Book.
Scripture of the day now also messages from God just for me.
“Give thanks to the Lord over all lords! His tender love for us continues on forever! Give thanks to the only miracle working God! His tender love for us continues on forever! Give thanks to the Creator who made the heavens with wisdom! His tender love for us continues on forever!
Praise the one who created every heavenly light! His tender love for us continues on forever! He set the sun in the sky to rule over day! His tender love for us continues on forever! Praise him who set in place the moon and stars to rule over the night! His tender love for us continues on forever!” Psalms 136:3-5, 7-9 TPT
Then, the tone of continuing continued. A post on FB from a wise man:
“The greatest regret for a child of God will come from finding out that Jesus had to use someone else to do what He told you to do.” Cleve Walker
“Wow.”, my comment.
I sit in the warmth of Wednesday morning. The light landing the way I love it and I wonder if others agree, I love my home so much more at Christmas, I love the peace of the sparkle and soft light. I love the glimmer of blue against gold all mingled with evergreen. I could gaze there all day, accept this gift of peace.
“Woke up well, thank you.”
I’m still here, God is with me. I have things to do.