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The LORD Rises Upon You

 

A Temple so glorious 

Colors so vibrant, victorious 

Pride we there beheld

But He did order: destroy.

(Mark 13:2, John 2:19)

 

For we Your People

We look at the outward

Worship our idols

So rip and strip, He did order our pride.

(1 Samuel 16:7)

 

As a little girl, God challenged me to speak the truth of His mercy and compassion. The words I spoke were not received. But rather than rest in God’s timing and trust in His sovereign plan, I began to clothe myself in the lies of the enemy. I idolized those in authority over me and believed the dark oppressive cloud I was experiencing was proof of God’s wrath toward me.

I began to believe I was inherently flawed, that there was something deeply wrong with me and that God had rejected me. I began to believe the mercy God had led me to speak was not of Him. I began to be terrified of the very One who had called me according to His purposes.

 

Our knees there to bow

And tongue to confess 

Holy and pleasing

Broken and bowed.

 

We look to the outward

But He, our Father

Looks to the heart

True and proper worship to raise. 

(1 Samuel 16:7)

 

Now, I see God’s purpose for me threaded through my experiences. I see that ever since I was little, He has been training me:

  • to be a peacemaker (to speak the truth He has repeatedly convicted my heart of and to surrender to His plan and timing), and
  • to rest securely in His love and approval (to live the truth of the Cross He has repeatedly asked me to speak).

 

Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

Hebrews 12:14 (AMP)

Continually pursue peace with everyone, and the sanctification without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.

 

For that to happen I had to repeatedly experience man’s rejection. But not just anyone’s. Specifically, those in religious authority over me. I had to grow in the grace of God. I had to let Him bring healing to my heart so that I could surrender my pride, and love and forgive those who turned Jesus in me away.

 

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

I had to let Jesus teach me to stop looking to the outward. I had to start listening to His heart for me and for those in authority over me. I had to come to understand that He uses the weak to shame the strong, and the foolish to shame the wise. I had to recognize that in my awful weakness, He is SO strong. That even when I shake in absolute terror as people in authority over me turn me aside, I can lean into His strength to stand firm, when my own strength fails me.

I had to learn to humble myself beneath God’s mighty hand, to willingly be seen as weak and foolish. I had to learn to surrender all into His hands, even to part ways with those He asked me to. And this is where my experience as a little girl became such a gift to me. More than twenty years after God had me speak the truth, I would watch Him begin to reap such precious repentance, restoration and redemption. This taught me like nothing else to trust God even when it doesn’t make sense and to surrender to His plan knowing it is so much higher than mine.

 

Our sacrifice 

A broken Spirit

A contrite heart

He will not despise.

(Psalm 51:17)

 

This His voice from heaven does raise

“This is My Son

Whom I do love

With Him I am well pleased”

(Matthew 3:17)

 

I am now learning to receive God’s compassion for me, knowing that He like no other knows the absolute terror I have walked through in the repeated battles He has taken me into. No, He is not ashamed of my shaking and never has been. I am not crazy, I am His.

As an adult, I would finally understand that, when I cried out in suicidal desperation to Him at my old church and He held me fast through horrific spiritual attack. Like Paul, I know what it is to despair of life itself and I too have learnt what it is to rely on God who raises the dead.

 

2 Corinthians 1: 8 ESV

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

 

Since then God has lifted the terror piece by piece, as He has brought deeper and deeper healing to my heart.

Now, I can look back and see His beautiful faithfulness to me. I can say that it is HIS strength that has carried me all along, my whole life long. He truly is my Rock and my Redeemer, the lifter of my head.

 

 

Though the thick darkness engulfed me, God’s glory rose upon me. And He is continuing to rise upon me, as I am seeing His glory being unveiled before me. My many tearfilled prayers are truly returning in a beautiful and unexpected harvest.

 

 

Isaiah 60: 1 – 2 (NIV)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.

 

 

A Temple so glorious 

Colors so vibrant, victorious 

Pride of the Father beheld 

Restored unto fullness –

 

Christ He now unveils

A living sacrifice 

Holy and pleasing 

To God alone

Arise. 

(Romans 12:1)

 

Yes! Nothing can stand against the power of our holy God! Will you join me in prayer today?

 

Jesus, I thank You that You are with us. I thank You that even when a thick darkness covers us, Your people, Your light rises upon us. Remind us that even in the darkness Your light in us can never be extinguished.

Give us the courage to arise and shine in Your light that is rising upon us. Help us to trust You and give us a deep abiding love for our brothers and sisters, even when they wound us in their fear or shame.

Give us the wisdom and discernment to demolish all the arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of who You are. Help us to despise shame, acknowledge the pain inflicted upon us, seek Your comfort and in Your strength forgive and bless those who have hurt us.

Teach us to be strong in You [to draw our strength from You and be empowered through our union with You] and in the power of Your [boundless] might (Ephesians 6:10 AMP). Give us a hunger and thirst for Your Word that we may be rooted firmly in Your love and approval. In Your mighty Name, Amen.

A Robe of White

I look behind me
And see Your robe
Billowing white
Every surface
Covering
A flowing sea
Of mercy
Mine.

And I weep
My knees now bowing low
Broken
In Your mercy
Broken
By a King
Who would call my failure
His greatest Victory

Broken by the Son of Man
Who would call
A woman weak and frail
His Cross to carry.

Who am I
But dust?

Who am I
But caged
In fear and shame
Crippled lame?

And yet
I hear Your Voice resound
Before me calling come
And find my feet
Now stepping there toward
Where even angels
Fear to tread.

And in my weakness
I watch You rise
In power strong
I watch You snap
My fear and shame in two
The lies I’ve claimed as truth
No more claim can lay
As upon Your Cross I look.

And there I bow
Before my King
My crown I lay
And with my tongue confess
Him now as Lord of all

“Holy, holy, holy
Is the LORD God Almighty”

From my lips now rise.

Behind me now
I see Your robe
A billowing of white
Every surface covering
A flowing sea of mercy
Mine.

 

Isaiah 6:1 (ESV)

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Matthew 4: 4 (NIV)

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

 

Broken Bread

Earlier this week, I posted about the joy God has brought me through trial and loss. How the pruning He has been doing is reaping good fruit. I shared this after a week in which God so vividly reminded me of the little decisions He led me to that birthed not less, but more trials and more loss in my life.

I was seeking hard after God’s face and rather than getting what I expected (open hearts and the love and acceptance of man), I got what my heart most needed (closed hearts and man’s rejection). As again and again, my fellow believers turned away from me, it drove me to a little bench next to an open field. A place of reprieve, where I poured out my heart in all honesty before the LORD. Anger, bitterness and grief filled the page, as I brought my unmet expectations before God.

I reminded Him how obedient I had been. I reminded Him that this church was my only fellowship with believers. I reminded Him that the only reason I was doing and saying what I was, was because He had repeatedly urged me to. I asked Him why He had forsaken me and fed me to the lions.

He kindly let me pour out my self-righteous diatribe and the lies of the enemy and then waited for me to listen to what He had to say. Again and again and again, He turned me to the Cross.

He reminded me that even my obedience was the outworking of His grace. He broke my heart open, lifting off the heavy weights of fear and shame. He gave me His heart for my brothers and sisters who were turning their backs, so that I would keep stepping back into the lions’ den to live the truth of the Cross.

He reminded me that fellowship with His Body was all around me, if I would just open my heart to Him. If I would just embrace the truth of His Word and acknowledge the power of His blood.

Jesus intended to shame the strong and wise with His simple gospel, with a woman on her knees tethered to her Rock. He broke my strength, the trust I had in my own wisdom and my pride. He hemmed me in on every side, so that I would have nothing and noone left to lean on but Him.

In those moments, His strength took over. A strength that didn’t take away my weakness, but instead paraded it before those around me. And as the judgments and accusations came, directed at my weakness and my past sin, Jesus came to my defence. Again and again, He held me tight and covered me in the truth and protection of the Cross, until He finally commanded me to leave and cut all ties.

It’s then a new battle began. Pain and shame laid their claim on me at every turn. But Jesus surrounded me, just as He had at my old church. When all I saw was the turning backs and my own sin, He lifted my head up to His.

He didn’t pull me up on my boot straps. He didn’t get impatient with me. He loved on me, right where I was, through my family, through my friends, from near and far, and through His precious Word.

He was not in a hurry with me and still isn’t. He is intent not just upon fully healing recent wounds, but wounds I have carried since I was a little girl. He has covered me in His healing wings, sheltering me, and again and again removing me from outside accusation. He has shown me that it was never ever Him who turned His back on me.

He has shown me just how strong He has always been in me and still is. And He has broken my heart anew for those who have turned me away, as I have seen myself in them too. As I have come to see how easily all our hearts turn away from the simple and yet powerful truth that the Cross has paid it all.

 

 

He has again and again broken His bread in my midst to open my blinded eyes . . .

 

Broken Bread

A poem by Anna Louise Smit

 

Neat and tidy

Drinking my milk

Could no longer satisfy

My hunger for You.

 

Longing for solids

You broke my heart

That I would learn

To question, seek and grow.

 

The grace I saw

And longed to taste

You gave to me

In broken bread, take eat.

 

For You came

To bring the sword

Not worldly peace 

But Holy Spirit balm in me.

 

I tasted strife 

In broken bread

And walked away

From pain and shame.

 

But You walked toward 

My Cross to bear

Toward my longing 

For more than milk.

 

And so You carried me 

Beyond my known

Lifting all my burdens, one by one

New life to breathe.

 

For me to see

The neat and tidy

Was my idol

The broken bread, Your gift.

 

Descending

As You broke the bread

You taught me there 

Your grace to taste and see.

 

To know my works alone 

Are weak and dead

To trust You when You call

Surrender all.

 

For You lead me

To a holy breaking 

Time and time again

For grace to flow in mercy’s tide.

 

That I might 

Now Your solids eat

That I might learn 

To worship You alone, in holy awe.

 

To know Your mysteries

Are too great to fathom

To know that in my death

 

Your life is birthed.

“Remember Me,”

You call us come 

Breaking bread, You bless

 

To multiply our humble gifts.

 

 

He took His love so much deeper in me. Right in my brokenness, He began surrounding me with people who began to pour out their own hearts. They began sharing their own stories of heartache. Of compassion withheld, of horrific abuse (sexual, physical and spiritual), of deep wounds of rejection.

Jesus began to show me His purpose in my wounding. I became the wounded one that His wounded children could entrust their own stories to. There is power in the communion of suffering, of willingly embracing the hands of Jesus, hands that still bear the marks of the Cross.

Oh how God has broken and still is breaking my heart for what breaks His. Oh how much JOY fills my heart as I see Him going forth to call His children come:

 

 

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.
PROVERBS 17:17 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/pro.17.17.AMP

 

Running in the Path of His Commands

After a long break, Flaming Abundance is reopening today, but now with renewed focus (see About) and breathing space. I have retreated from other social media, cutting off that which was suffocating and hardening my heart.

Repeatedly, God has pruned away things, often painfully cutting off branches I have been clinging to in shame and fear. He has exposed and removed the rot, to reveal the green shoots waiting beneath: the beauty of true abundance in Him.

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].
HEBREWS 12:11 AMP
https://bible.com/bible/1588/heb.12.11.AMP

The shadow of death I have walked through the last five years, with one trial and loss after another, has become the birthing ground of rejoicing. In my surrender to God’s merciful pruning (thank You, Jesus, for Your working in me), I have been discovering God’s ways are so much higher than our own and so much more beautiful. Praise Him!

 

Psalm 150:6 (NIV) 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

 

20190705_205342

 

In the valley of the shadow of death we shall indeed fear no evil, for His rod and His staff they comfort us.

 

The burden of suffering seems to be a tombstone hung around our necks. Yet in reality it is simply the weight necessary to hold the diver down while he is searching for pearls. Julius Richter (Streams of the Desert, July 9)

 

 

Yes:

 

MY GOD DEFENDS HIS DWELLING PLACE

A poem by Anna Louise Smit 

 

Still my heart

To know the breath

Of Yah

Rise and fall

My heart to call.

 

Grow in me to know

All death

Is but a shadow

Where Your rod and staff

Before me go

My heart in You to grow.

 

Where Your mighty hand

Unfolds each step

For me to walk

Your everlasting arms

Beneath me stayed.

 

Let each breath

Your Word now hear

To still and know

You’re sovereign here

To know my steps

Are purposed, Yours.

 

The Cross before me laid

You, my joy to meet

In Kingdom Come

In tears I weep

My seed to sow

In sheaves I know

Rejoicing comes.

 

My sin, my pain, my shame

In nail-pierced hands

In outstretched arms

Your body slain in tomb was lain

My debt has paid in full

Disarmed and put to shame

All authorities above, below.

 

Your blood that poured

My cup becomes

For me to know

Your heart in mercy flows

In truth and grace

To rise and speak.

 

This yearning world

I walk

Your light to shine

In weakness boasting

My knees to bow

Your Name in length

And width and breadth

Of love to boast.

 

Thrusting out my enemy

Before me You call:

“Destroy”

That I might know

My everlasting God defends

His dwelling place

Salvation’s song to sing

My night in day to blaze.

 

In the silence and rest, my eyes opened to one sin after another, as God moved my heart to so much repentance. I am receiving my Heavenly Father’s love for me and pride in me like never before.

No, He has NEVER been ashamed to call me His.

Safely clothed in His love and approval, I can be who He has created me to be. I can drop the heavy and ill-fitting weight of this world and exchange it for the light yoke of Jesus. I can stop looking to the left, to the right and behind me. I can run in the path of my Savior’s commands with great JOY because He is daily enlarging my heart.

 

 

Psalm 119:32 ESV

I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

 

Hemming us in, behind and before, from the very moment we were conceived in our mother’s womb, our God placed His hand upon us to bless us. And He has never, ever taken that hand away. Praise Him!

 

 

Do you, like me, long to grow in your intimacy with God? To release more of the heavy yoke of the world for the light yoke of Jesus? Then, I invite you to join me in my prayer today.

 

Father God, thank YOU for all the branches You have cut off. Thank You for all the restoration and redemption You have already brought us and are still bringing us. Thank You that You see us, love us and know us like no other.

Forgive us for all the times we have embraced a cloak of shame, rather than Your robe of righteousness. Forgive us for the times we have served from our own strength and pride, to prove ourselves worthy, when Your sacrifice at the Cross has already made us worthy. Humble us beneath Your mighty hand today that we may heed Your call to surrender all and follow You. 

In Psalm 51:8 Your Word declares “let the bones that you have broken rejoice”. Oh LORD, break the bones in us that need breaking that we may rejoice in Your putting back together, in Your restoration, healing and redemption.

Father, thank You that it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (2 Corinthians 10: 18). Give us an undivided heart that we may fear Your Name above all else. 

Thank You that Your winnowing fork is in Your hand, and that You will clear Your threshing floor and gather Your wheat into the barn, but thank You also that You will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12). We invite You to burn away the dross in us, to remove all that is self-seeking and impure in us, oh LORD.

Uncover more of Your heart, the new wineskin, in us. Even if it is painful, cut off all the branches in our life that are not bearing fruit in You that we may live and move and have our being in You. Continue to enlarge our hearts that we may run in the path of Your commands (Psalm 119:32).

Thank You that we all, with unveiled face, beholding Your glory are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Give us glimpses of this transformation, of Your life at work in us, on our hard days, that we may remember Your goodness to us and endure with joy. Let the fruit of our lips declare Your praise.

We so long for more of You, to abide fully in the Vine and to lift up hands that are clean. Make us a holy people. Create in us a clean heart and restore a right spirit in us, oh LORD. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.