Tag Archives: joy

faith; the portal to joy

 

Reflective Faith

 

 

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And I will lead the blind
    in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
    and I do not forsake them.   Isaiah 42:16  (ESV)

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Believing that He leads… even when I am blind and can not see.
Believing  He knows the way, especially when I do not know how to go.
Believing I am guided by One who has gone down this road many times before.

Seeing  as darkness slowly bends into glorious light. Shade by shade, shadow by shadow.

Noticing as my over-thought and hyper-planned, stumbling steps and fumbling along shifts almost imperceptibly. The frightened shuffle becomes an easier walk and I’m no longer thinking about the ground beneath my feet.

Relaxing into what He is doing. Trusting with the kind of trust that becomes so natural, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

Because….
I’m not forsaken.
I’m named and claimed
and
deeply, divinely, GLORIOUSLY redeemed.

 

SS-08-3The-Sunday-Community-4OR

the{race} of the Remnant

the-race-of-the-remnantOh the inexpressible joy of standing fresh-faced and lovely at the dawn of the journey surrounded by others in the newness of their own.

Stepping out and moving forward. Light-hearted conversation flowing between, around and amongst the travelers just excited to be there and counted among those traveling.

Excited to be on the road and going somewhere maybe…finally…for the first time ever.

How smooth and wide and light the first miles seem to be. How good and noble and right it is to be headed in a new direction…with so little need to turn aside distracted or disrupted because… the new is good.

So on I go, for hours and days and miles only cautiously becoming aware that the road is narrowing and even upon it’s easiest terrain some, who not long ago joined in the journey, have already turned back or turned aside quickly, hobbled by unseen enemies. Others,  not used to any weight upon their shoulders or the strain of steady walking for any length of time, became easily bored and slipped away, enticed by a different light… heeding a different voice.

Engrossed and in spite of fewer and fewer beside me, I stand only momentarily to choose between crossroads. Beloved companions give way to an easier route with promises of a lighter load and the hidden deceptions of false light and personal glory.  Others, stumble and fall into unseen traps laid upon the highway, now refusing to rise and carry their cross any further…refusing to take hold of the promise that lies ahead.

His voice is the only voice I hear. His Light is the only light I see. Heavy-hearted and weary,   I know I must continue on without them because… I can carry no one.

There are days like these when the road seems endlessly lonely and the view of the horizon is obscured by the haze of hard living and the weight of walking upon the cursed soil.

There are days when the voices of those who know and heed the Voice of Truth are few and far between.

There are times when it’s harder to hear, but His voice, the voice of God, is still there….you simply have to want to listen.

You simply have to choose.

Joy is revealed, it is learned and discovered… in those moments along the narrow way, when the haze lifts and you find there really are others walking steadily beside you; a remnant remains. And God is there in each of our eyes!

We remind one another of that very first day we set out to walk…whenever it was… we share from the common cup of community and continue the journey spurred on by a crowd of by-faith-and-yet-unseen witnesses who went on before.

Along the way, we learn the simple truth:

it it’s not about the speed,
it’s about the endurance
and we never walk alone.

Called forward and onward and upward and always a little bit higher than the day before, we walk on until our race is over and we reach our journey’s end….or is it the real beginning?

Until then, we gather along the road to commune and encourage. We eat the bread, drink the cup and some of us…here… we write and record the reasons for remembrance, extending the invitation to others.

Come.

sparrows

Her name was Elsie and to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much more about her except that we lived in the same trailer park carved into the side of the Appalachian mountains running through Franklin, New Jersey.

Her name was Elsie and, to my best recollection, she had to have been in her late 60’s and  sparrow in a treenot much bigger than I was at the age of 9 or… 10.  I know we could see eye to eye.

As far as I could tell, she lived alone in a little single-wide on the side of the mountain that we shared.

I really can’t tell you how I came to spend so much time with Elsie back then, except that I was never in a hurry to get home after school.  “Home” was a place of frightening abuse and lonely uncertainty. So I’d just wander the neighborhood for as long as I could and typically make my way from the bus stop half a mile up that mountain and the 4 rickety steps leading to Elsie’s door.

And while I know it just can’t be true, it seems to the recollection of my little girl mind that Elsie was always at home and I was always welcome inside.

Honestly, I don’t remember a lot about her home. It couldn’t have been much really; just a little trailer and a few rooms furnished with only the necessary items.

But here’s what I remember best of all:

sitting in the center of her kitchen table was the cutest little wooden box shaped like a little loaf of bread and full of little cards. I loved looking at that thing which said “Our Daily Bread” on the side.

I remember thumbing through those cards..not really knowing their value, soft light filtering through thin curtains and Elsie’s calm voice in the background reading some aloud as I looked–occasionally scolding me in an easy tone for talking too much and asking too many questions.

Most clear to me was the overwhelming sense of peace I felt in Elsie’s presence. I had no name for this peace I felt,  but it was something I recognized that was painfully absent from anyplace else in my life. I loved way I could breathe and relax into myself at Elsie’s…a little sanctuary from the storm of my young, hardcore life. 

I  rested in her presence as we shared our day over a plate of sugar cookies and icy lemonade in thin aluminum cups….Elsie’s steady voice and gentle laughter. It was delicious to feel so safe.

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And OH! The most wonderful thing of all; there in her tiny living room…an parlor organ! Not every time, but on good days, Elsie would take her seat and shuffle her way through a dogeared book of songs she called “hymns”.  As I stood at her shoulder, she’d play and we’d sing song after song, belting them out with all the joy we could muster!

I never wanted to leave.

But eventually, I’d just have to go. She’d send me out the door, no doubt exhausted from my endless chatter and little girl energy.  I’d wave goodbye till next time watching the door close and with a little bit of happy held in my heart, head home to bravely face whatever lay ahead…till next time.

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Gradually, my life deteriorated to the point where I could no longer move about so freely and my visits to Elsie’s house were stopped altogether. I’m sure she must have wondered why I didn’t come anymore and I’m sure she never knew how much I missed her and loved her.

I never knew what became of Elsie only that, after some time, it seemed that someone else lived there instead. But I’ve never forgotten her and now, some 30 + years later, I can still feel and sense those moments so clearly.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness, Goodness. Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control; the fruit of the Spirit-– this is what I experienced in Elsie’s life. And now that same Spirit within me timelessly testifies to what I saw alive in her then. As far as I can remember, Elsie never preached me a sermon; she simply opened her door, invited me in and showing me Jesus;

she lived me one.

In those visits that couldn’t have lasted more than an hour, sugar cookies and lemonade took on the flavor of communion and as we sang and worshiped in that little trailer on the mountain, we were having CHURCH!

Someday, I will see Elsie again. Someday, I will get to heaven and I know she will be there. I’ve heard we’ll be singing and I’d like to think maybe together we’ll sing one of our favorites; His Eye Is On the Sparrow.  It was then, it is now… “His eye is on the sparrow…and I know He watches me.”

Performance by Selah