trust your guide

The sky was a deep blue as our team arrived at the zipline experience on a normal Monday afternoon. I would never say that I am a thrill seeker, and honestly ziplining has never been on my bucket list, but we had agreed to participate together in the challenge so there I was. As we strapped on the harness and lanyards, and pulled on the heavy gloves with leather guarding the palms, the instructor jokingly told us to put on our “brain bucket” and the picture that appeared in my mind was not so humorous. She double checked that the helmet was securely in place, we loaded up on the transport vehicle to make our way around the woods by a large spring-fed lake, arriving at the practice site for further instructions. We learned the importance of keeping our eyes on the guide, watching for the signals that would reassure us that we’re doing great, or command us to begin braking to slow our speed at the landing platform. The ascent up the steep stairs and across the skyline suspension bridge increased my apprehension about letting go and flying over the trees and  across the canyon floor, but I knew that I had reached the point of no return and would have to follow through. 

Our guide hooked the carabiners, pulley and trolley to the zip line cable, being very careful that we were always connected securely. The first zipline cable allowed us to go about 5 miles an hour, but it felt like a faster flight through the lush green tree canopy. I started braking before the guide’s signal, and she admonished, “It’s all about trusting me, you know. It’s really a lot like faith.” Such words of wisdom from a young lady a third my age! If I chose to brake too early there would not be enough momentum to actually get me all the way across, and I would have to use a hand over hand method to propel myself to the landing area. 

Each leg of the journey got longer and the speed faster as we climbed more stairs, walked up flimsily-careening ramps, and looked down from the dizzying heights towards the forest floor below awaiting our turn to fly again.

Upon my return to normal life the words to the song Lean Back seem even more apropos: 

You will never leave, Your love sustaining me, before I even knew what love was | You’ve brought me here to rest and given me space to breathe so I’ll stay still until it sinks in | I will lean back in the loving arms of a beautiful Father | Breathe deep and know that He is good, He’s a love like no other | Now I can see Your love is better, than all the others that I’ve seen | I’m breathing deep all of Your goodness and Your loving-kindness to me | And I will lean back in the loving arms of a beautiful Father | I’ll breathe deep and know that He is good, He is a love like no other | Capital City Music

There were so many revelations that came as I remembered the experience and listened closely to the words of the song. It is of utmost importance to trust your Guide. Without having built trust in the leading of our Guide, we will never feel free enough to leap from the safety of the platform. We’ll be forever “earth bound” and if we happen to find ourselves on the heights it will be a long and arduous trek down to get back to the safety of flat ground on foot. 

Be in the present, enjoy the moment, not looking too far ahead or behind. Trust your Guide and the safety of being connected to Him. Each piece of your gear is carefully put in place and checked often for safety and to make sure it’s working properly. Adjustments are made as needed, and we actually hinder the way they work if we don’t allow our Guide to do His work in His way. If we don’t trust the leading of our Guide by leaning back, crossing our ankles and rolling into a ball, we’ll never build up the correct speed to make it all the way. He knows best! The zipline itself is like the boundaries of the path that the Guide places us on. Only He can see where we’ve come from, and knows exactly where we’re going. Our job is to keep our eyes on Him and enjoy the ride.

By the last leg we were told that we would be going up to 45 miles an hour, and on this one my body began to turn so that I couldn’t see the landing platform. My guide had to signal me to brake much more than on the other lines, and it was a harrowing yet exhilarating finish to an hour of outdoor excitement.
I now have new language for traveling with my God on this earthly journey. Much like a bird in flight, the highs and lows can be beautiful and scary and thrilling all at once, but as long as I stay leaning back and connected to Him I will safely make it home. I will continue to lean back in the loving arms of my Guide, breathing deep, knowing that He is good, loves me like no one else can.


my story, His glory

It’s the Saturday of Easter weekend. Early this morning we had a light shower, just enough to wash the dust and pollen off the leaves and cool the air, bringing a holy hush to the atmosphere. Yesterday was the annual day to contemplate the agonizing death of Jesus on the cross, to remember the conversation between Him and the two thieves by His side, the darkness and silence as He was painfully separated from His Father, and to see the honoring of the body by Joseph in the giving of his tomb. Jesus’ followers watched in dismay as all their dreams for a new kingdom were put to death as well.

So on this day of Sabbath and silence, those who were looking to Jesus as their hope for the future would not have had the distraction of work and works to occupy their hands and minds. The long day of disillusionment would have stretched before them. The air around them may have had the scent of spikenard and spices, made ready to anoint Him on the next day, a reminder of His words only days before: 

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me… She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.” Mark 14:6, 8 ESV

As Jesus had taught them on the way, He had predicted His death but also His resurrection. Were their minds at all returning to His words, captured by Mark, that “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again”? (8:31 ESV). How often do we so quickly forget in the darkness what has been spoken to us in the light?

We have the hindsight of scripture and of seeing the disciples’ reaction to the resurrection of Jesus. They were living out this week in real time, recording the events as they happened, but we have the benefit of the whole story on the printed page. It seems like it should be much easier for us to place our trust in Him when we go through the dark valley of the shadow ourselves, but God is teaching me to live my life with my eyes on Him, not in comparison with how others may seem to be living in victory when I feel like I am living in defeat. 

The valley I’m walking through is different from the valley you’re walking through, and my only responsibility is to “keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith”. (Hebrews 12:2) It was with joy that Jesus endured the cross, for me! He promises that He is “working all things out for my good” and for His glory. (Romans 8:28) My story is for His glory! Your story may not look like my story, but it is for His glory as well. Our stories are woven together to bring honor and glory to Jesus, and we can live this out because of His death, His time in the tomb, and His resurrection.

So on what may seem like a dark day, look up. Sunday is coming! We can rest assured that “Christ is risen. Christ is risen, indeed!”

a true friend

There were too many coincidences for our friendship to have been anything other than the sweet gift of God. In the spring of 2021, I made the early morning trip across town for a daily dose of radiation. At two weeks into a 7-week regimen, a woman came into the waiting room, sat down, and began a conversation that would be repeated daily without fail. She was obviously a cancer patient, her scarf covering her head, while I looked healthy and out of place in the radiation clinic. Our immediate connection though, with both of us facing the unknown of a cancer diagnosis, was very deep. Solomon, in Proverbs 17:17 worded it this way: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.” Christian Standard Bible

Small in stature but mighty in faith, Cheryl would arrive for treatment before I did even though her turn on the table was always after me. Her positive outlook and kind words brightened my mornings. She was with me on the day I rang the bell signaling the completion of radiation, and I celebrated with her in the same way a few weeks later. 

After I received my all-clear diagnosis, she was one of the first non-family members I told. Cheryl truly felt like a sister to me. I continued to hear all-clear, while she received a new and frightening diagnosis. 

As I arrived for my last CT scan in November 2022, I was surprised to see Cheryl sitting in the waiting room. My appointment time had been rescheduled due to a sinus infection, or I wouldn’t have had the joy of seeing her that day. She quietly told me about the pain she was experiencing, then shifted the conversation to me. “Make sure you keep me posted about your results!” The next week I was able to text her my good news. But I knew that she was not well, and my heart hurt for her. Truthfully my heart hurt for me just as much.

I checked on her after Thanksgiving, and she asked  me to pray for her as she was in the hospital and in severe pain. When I didn’t  hear from Cheryl for almost two months, I stopped by the office where she had worked. Her sweet niece explained that she had passed away on new years day. Somehow I knew that she was no longer here. She made her transition to heaven on what would have been my husband’s 70th birthday, and I can just imagine her up there, meeting Jesus face to face, then the three of them  celebrating together.

My heart is heavy but also grateful for the days spent together in one of the hardest seasons of my life. Cheryl was a true friend, and I am thankful for her presence in the hard days of cancer treatment. I pray that my life blessed her even half as much as hers did mine.

Yes, a friend is born for a time of adversity. Those special moments I call God-incidences are miracles straight from above. Thank You, God for my angel-friend!

o holy night

My prayer for this Advent season:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining; It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

In this Advent season, I come to You to the warmth of the bright light of Your presence, which shines down upon my heart.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

May I take time to examine my heart, to repent, and enjoy the freedom found in Your coming.

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

May I feel seen and loved, and make my friends and family be seen and loved as well during this season.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices

May I be able to really rest, so that rejoicing and finding the life in my coming again King can rise to the surface.

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

May the darkness that I find wrapping around me be dispersed by Your light.

Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices

May I be attuned to the word of God in this season, hearing the voices of all creation around me, and full of praise in every moment.

Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born; Oh night divine, oh night divine

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace

May the peace that passes all understanding be a reality in my life every day. 

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; and in His name all oppression shall cease

This world longs for justice. Be our righteous ruler, our true King, and bring freedom to those held captive, I pray.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.

May my response to Your presence be a song of joyous praise, always!

Thank you to Adolph Adam, for penning this beautiful Christmas hymn.

my beautiful father

I entered the cancer center today following a two-hour drive back to Gainesville from an amazing staff retreat, filled with times of worship, prayer, playing together and encouraging words. I’m so grateful for the community that I am surrounded with because they have truly been God’s hands and feet, carrying me through so many hard days.

My oncologist’s first words were “your scans and labs look wonderful!” and instantly the weight that I’ve fought fell away.  Yes, I confess that I still get anxious thoughts but I also am assured that He understands as invite Him to come close

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24.

You see, it’s not wrong to have an anxious thought. God knows there will be times of anxiety, but it’s my choice not to dwell in that worrying place. The sin comes when I don’t go to God with them. When I’m honest with God, He comes through with a calming embrace. 

So, many times over the past couple of weeks He has invited me to come to Him. And He has always been right there waiting.

You will never leave, Your love sustaining me | Before I even knew what love was | You’ve brought me here to rest, and given me space to breathe | So I’ll stay still until it sinks in | I will lean back in the loving arms of a beautiful Father | Breathe deep and know that He is good | He’s a love like no other | Tony Brown / Chris Mcclarney / Nate Moore / Amanda Lindsey Cook

My beautiful Father is doing a beautiful work in me.

waiting in the storm

The wind whistles around the trees in my yard. The temperature over the past 36 hours has dropped from the upper 80’s to a cool 60 degrees. With the prediction of a hurricane of catastrophic proportions to pound the state of Florida this week, those who have weathered previous storms sat up to take notice. Yet here I sit, cozily tucked into my little cottage, contemplating the storms I’ve been through during the past six years. The not knowing, the waiting time, is the proving ground for faith. 

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid servant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us. Psalm 123:2. 

The waiting. As I’ve been waiting on the storm it hasn’t been passive. There’s been preparation, gathering supplies, zip-tying the awnings of my home down, cleaning and doing laundry, moving outdoor furniture to safety. Praying. This time of not knowing is so reminiscent of other storms I’ve been through, coincidentally at this same time of year. My cancer diagnosis in 2020, my husband’s illness and subsequent passing, the days by his side at the hospital and at hospice. Whether a storm is physical with winds and rains, emotional or within our bodies, what is my stance as I wait? 

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Psalm 123:1

Eugene Peterson closes out his chapter on Psalm 123 in Long Obedience in the Same Direction with “[there is a] glorious liberty of the children of God… A servant Christian is the freest person on earth.” As I wait on Him, truly shifting my heart and soul to being His servant, His child, I am set free. Free from fear- He is close. Free from lack- He provides for my every need. I anticipate His desires, His will, and I am at peace. Even in the wait.

rebuilding the temple

It’s August, a month for personal remembering. The one year anniversary of completing cancer treatment and ringing the bell just passed. I’m also coming to what would have been my 47th wedding anniversary next week. The memories of my time and relationship with my husband, and the trial of health issues have rightly become part of my foundation, of the core of who I am. The season I find myself in reminds me of the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, and their monumental task of rebuilding the Temple. 

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites… took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. Ezra 3:10-12 NIV

There was much rejoicing at the rebuilding of the Temple, the laying of a new foundation for a place to worship the God of Israel. There were also those who had seen the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple, and they knew this was a much smaller, less impressive edifice. There was actually grieving in the midst of joy, and that was okay. 

David speaks of God’s faithfulness in Psalm 30, a prophetic song of hope and praise composed for the dedication of the original Solomon’s Temple, which came to pass after his death: 

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,  and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment,  but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. When I was prosperous, I said,  “Nothing can stop me now!” Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain. Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered. I cried out to you, O Lord.  I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.  Help me, O Lord.” You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

So as I contemplate the foundation of my life, and the many things that have contributed to the solid foundation, it seems like this temple, all of who I am, is getting smaller. As life ebbs and wanes, the things that were important, the actual mere fluff, are slowly being removed, and what remains is more simple. I’m finding that if my foundation is truly built upon the rock, Christ Jesus, there’s not going to be a lot of shiny, impressive stones. What’s going to be my foundation is His character, and what He has done in and through me is the edifice that’s being built. It seems like the building, the temple, that is rising up is more streamlined, and hopefully is looking more and more like Him. In the end I’m finding that His way is much more simple than anything I ever imagined or dreamed. 

Jeremiah, written around the same time of the return from exile, says: Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

This was God’s invitation to a life built on His Shalom presence, but their answer was, “no, we will not walk in it.” I am called today to make that same choice. The rebuilding work is costly, a giving up of my ways for His and a trust that He only plans good for me, no matter what I can see ahead. There are many “ways” but only one “Way”. His Way is unshakable, dependable, but also unknown and risky to my safe-loving reasoning. It leads me to the ultimate place that my soul wants to dwell, the heart of my Father God.

So I’ll give space for remembering the times I have been held close on dark days, and the bright times of love and joy with Him. He is making me a living temple of God, and His building plans are only good.

fog on fragile wings

Outside, the fog is heavy in the air, a unique phenomenon in Florida when the atmospheric pressure causes tiny water droplets to thickly hang below the clouds, until mid-morning when the sun will be high enough to burn it off. This rain-like suspension reminds me that before the flood in Noah’s day, and our earth began to experience rain storms, every morning this mist would water the plants, bringing life-giving moisture, a heavenly provision. From the beginning the plants and animals and birds were given everything they needed to thrive without having to toil or spin. 

In the palm trees birds flit to and fro, looking for a frond to land safely upon, their wings carrying that heavier weight of water, making it more difficult than normal to fly. The fog also can keep me immobilized, stuck in a holding pattern much like the birds who light upon branches rather than moving in the straight path forward.  Sometimes my focus gets pulled from the normal, everyday ways God is giving me life and breath, guiding and directing me along a good path. The heaviness of tasks that I feel are urgent go undone, the way that I long to see things come to pass are thwarted, and the difficulties of the path I think I should be following draws my attention to what has now become a burden, a yoke I’m not designed to bear.

However, the fog can be like a gossamer veil between earth and heaven, a tangible representation of God’s presence. I’m reminded of a quote from Sunday’s sermon by Mike Patz on the Book of Acts, “If it’s God, nothing can stop it; but you can miss it.” Oh, how I don’t want to miss it!

There’s a Hebrew word that is used by Abraham and Moses, then again in Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to these people? Who will go for us?’ I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.'” The word for “here I am” is ‘hineni’, which holds a deeper meaning to me of choosing to trust God even though I’m in a fog and can’t see the way clearly. 

In my personal walk I stepped out in faith this week, saying “’hineni” to the purchase of a new-to-me vehicle. I trusted that God was directing me to let go of years of putting aside money into a savings account, in order to make a large down payment so that this would not add a hard strain to my monthly budget. I released the vehicle that my late husband and I purchased near the beginning of his Parkinson’s journey, one that served us so well in those difficult years. 

 “Where are You leading me, God? Who are you asking me to speak to?” When I announced the purchase on social media, my friend Steve Batson said, “Betty walks and drives the way!” and I truly am hoping that’s a prophetic word. May I always live ‘hineni’, ready for God’s call even when the way is foggy and unclear.

The foggy-mist that is meant for our good is really light, but the longer it becomes the focal point the more oppressive it becomes. The remedy for this clouded vision is to purposely shift my gaze back to my Provider. Like the birds, I just need to find that safe place to land and then be. My labor in Him will always bear the fruit He has planned, and it will come forth with no real effort of my own strength. It’s a divine paradox. What is started in my own strength will have to be completed in my own strength, but as I am willing to join God in the work all things are possible and the burden is light. 

I love that the first song that was broadcast over the radio as I drove off the car lot was Jireh: If He watched over every sparrow | How much more does He love you? | According to His power working in us | It’s more than enough | More than you know | Jireh, You are enough | And I will be content in every circumstance | Jireh, You are enough. by Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music.

I can live ‘hineni’ every day, because He is my more than enough!

know my anxious thoughts

Over the past few weeks I have felt an uneasy apprehension growing as my days have played out. It gnaws at me and easily steals my joy in the moment.  I sit and journal my thoughts, and realize that maybe, just maybe, I am anticipating bad news at my semi-annual cancer follow up. There is much to be studied nowadays about neuroscience, and how trauma can replay itself for years to come, and the time I spent in treatment last year did have some anxiety-producing episodes. Quite honestly, even the fact that chemicals not naturally found in the body were repeatedly infused in me is of concern. Beams of targeted doses of radio-active material were emitted during a six-week round of treatment. While these treatments were monitored and regulated by health care professionals they are still extreme.    

The NCBI Bookshelf writes, “Delayed responses to trauma can include persistent fatigue, sleep disorders, nightmares, fear of recurrence, anxiety focused on flashbacks, depression, and avoidance of emotions, sensations, or activities that are associated with the trauma, even remotely.” Some of these are true for me, and I lean into God for healing and clarity. 

My mind goes to Psalm 139: 1-18, 23-24 The Message:

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back;  I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—  your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—  you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;  night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out,  you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!

Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.

The Blue Letter Bible explains that the word know, in Psalm 139:1 NIV  “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me…” is the Hebrew word yâdaʻ, meaning to know, acknowledge, advise, be aware, but also is used in the sensual way of love, as between a married man and woman. God knows me, every part of me. There is an intimacy that He is waiting to unfold when I am willing. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (verse 23) He even sees the anxiety that my body and mind are holding, and He cares deeply. He “yadas” and wants me to bring them to Him for soothing and relief.

So as I wait in the exam room to meet with my doctor for test results and next steps, I look up. There is the familiar photo on the wall of a stack of flat rocks on the shore, my “stones of remembrance” as I like to think of them, referencing the ones Joshua set up at the entrance to the promised land to remind the Israelite wanderers of what God had done for their deliverance. I will submit my thoughts even here to the knowing of God so He can heal these memories of pain and uncertainty. 

My doctor comes into the room, and quickly says, “Your scans are clear!” Again, God is faithful! This almost two-year journey, from hearing there is a shadow on my scan in July of 2020 to the “all clear” today, have been filled with so many times of trusting in God with hope that my story will be good. Last week I listened to a podcast on soul-care during times of grief, and author Lisa Appelo said, “This is not God’s Plan B. It’s simply a new chapter in the story God is writing.” How true! According to Psalm 139, I am an open book, and every page of the story of my life was planned with great care before my conception. I can be well assured that God is not finished with me yet.

the in-between

For the past five years I have been more intentional to spend the Lenten season in reflection on the sacrifice that Jesus made for me. There is so much, both physical and symbolic, which happened in the forty days leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ, and I find that if I will truly focus a real transformation in my heart and soul can occur. 

Today is Holy Saturday, the day between the crucifixion or Good Friday and the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. This day of vigil, traditionally 40-hours long, was when Jesus was silent in the tomb,  descended into hell, ultimately defeating death and the grave. This would have been the Sabbath, and therefore no work could be done. In Luke 23:55 we read, “As his body was taken away, the women… followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and oils to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.” As a female disciple in this current day I can allow my imagination to run to what was going on in their minds as these women waited.

The waiting time of Holy Saturday can also be known as a liminal space. The word liminal comes from the Latin word meaning “limen,” a threshold or new beginning, a place of transition, and not knowing, which can lead to transformation. It is “where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy.” Richard Rohr

As I sit and lean into Jesus’ presence on this Saturday, I wait and listen for His voice. The sweet whispers seem to get drowned out in my regular working days, and it has become vital for me to take an extended time of Sabbath every week to allow Him to speak and comfort and direct and heal. This act of keeping a day “… as unto the Lord…” (Exodus 20:8) gives me a weekly reset and a choice to observe and rest in what He is doing, a reminder to allow my soul to truly abide in Him. This annual longer time of reflection provided by the Lenten season is even more beneficial to growing my faith and hope in Him.

The Easter week events of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem as King, the Passover meal where He washed the disciples feet, Christ’s scourging and death on the cross are all symbolic of the ways He longs to be real to us in our lives today.  As I continue to meditate, I am led further to Psalm 23. So much of the Passion Week imagery is found there. 

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord. Psalm 23 AMP

Our King reigns, and we are called to usher in that kingdom, to bring heaven to earth with our love for Him expressed to a hurting world. Do I feed His sheep? Do I willingly drink from the cup of suffering with Him? Do I wash the feet of others, even my enemies? 

As I move forward, abiding in Him and doing His will, I have everything I need.

And when this life is over, I’m gonna live again | Gonna trade this cross for a crown | No, this is not the end | And when You call my name, I will take my rest | There’s a mansion in glory and You’re gonna meet me there | I shall not want, I shall not want | He will wipe every tear from my eyes| I shall not want | I shall not want, He’s on my side, I shall not want | I’ll be home in His presence forever | I shall not want | For the Lord is my shepherd in a valley | For the Lord is my shepherd when I’m lacking | For the Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want | I’ve got everything that I need | Your goodness and Your mercy is following me | I Shall Not Want, Songwriters: Christopher Joel Brown, Steven Furtick, Chandler David Moore, and Naomi Raine