A gentle whisper from the LORD...

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 1 Kings 19:11-12

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Come...Reap the Harvest Wtih Me

The most dreaded day arrived.  January 13, 4:45 a.m.  My alarm provokes me from deep slumber and I instantly recollect…today is the day.  This is the day we’ve dreaded for months.  Work summons my dear husband away for 8 weeks and I will "wing it" as mom, dad, teacher, nurse, police and whatever career beckons my attention.  Tight throat makes breathing laborious and tears fill the rims of my sleepy eyes. 
“I can do this…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  He’ll be home most weekends.  I can do this.”  The rehearsed script plays through my mind as I dig for strength.  And in one moment, his headlights fade off into the early, thick darkness.
“I have no choice.  I have to do this.”
And I do.  Week one surprisingly ends before I know it.  Being around other people puts a smile on my face and strength floods my bones.  Before I realize it, it’s week 2.  Week 2 comes and goes…we’re actually making it!  Through some mountain peaks and valleys, one day at a time, one moment at a time, we survive.
Yet, here I am, midweek of week 8, the final week.  My dear husband will be home for good in 2 days.  Common sense says I should be thrilled, excited and turning somersaults.  But somehow, all the positive attitudes and rehearsed, mental pep rallies and strength from deep within have seemed to dissipated into nothing.  My cup sits dry, there is nothing to runneth over. 
Why…when at the end of this marathon season, do I feel utterly empty and dry, with nothing left to give.  Only 2 days!!  Surely I can get a grip for 2 days!
Perhaps it has something to do with the endless and singlehandedly dealings of piles of laundry and stacks of papers to grade and drilling long division over and over with no success and neighbor’s pit bulls destroying our fence only to make it's home in our yard.  Or perhaps it’s the chocolate overload, repeatedly tripping over remote cars in the middle of the floor, the mountain of dishes in the sink and the inches of western WA rain that soaks and drenches and never ends, day after day…never giving me the chance to even get to curl my hair!  Whatever the cause, I’m dry.  I’m finished.  I have nothing left.
That is, until the Lord himself turned my attention to His beautiful Word:
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” 
(Galatians 6:9 NLT)
Thank you, Jesus, for reminding me.  Thank you for turning my eyes to the truth of your goodness.
And although, for today, this verse inspires me to finish strong these last 2 days, these words also remind us to not give up every day for we know our final harvest is a heavenly harvest!  And what a return that will be!  Until then, keep your focus, draw from Christ and finish strong. 
Join me and let's work this field of life together, regardless of the sweat and muscle that's required.  And one day, I hope to sit next to you and share a harvest meal in the presence of God, reflecting on all His goodness.
Please be mindful of one thing: One way in which we can work side by side in this great life field is to pray for one another.  If I could be praying for you in any way, please let me know.  It would be an honor to go before the Lord with you in mind.  bagraybeal@gmail.com

Monday, March 3, 2014

From Pit to Cliff

Swallowed by the pit, attempt is my strength.  Leaving this bottomless pit is a must.  So I attempt, reaching my arms, stretching…sinking my fingers into the slim of comparison.
 “Maybe, if I can keep my house clean like her…or perhaps, their ‘paradise’ homeschool experience will pale in comparison to my plans and crafts and cuddle reading times.  Perhaps P90X will make me look like her.  Maybe, just maybe, I can lift myself up out of this hellhole.” 
But the harder I try, I find no substance for my hands to grasp. 
“She has more children, more talent, a slimmer, athletic body.  God must really think a lot of her.” 
The attempt to climb out of the muddy walls of comparison provide no stronghold.  I find myself falling, right back where I began, deep within the pit.
I turn to the other side of the engulfing pit…
“Maybe this side will prove more successful.”
My foot searches for a rock climber’s dream.  Yet the mudslide of “being good enough” proves itself to be of no help.  Still, I attempt…
1.      Study the Bible
2.      Obey all rules
3.      Be polite
4.      Say religious prayers…so everyone will hear me…and be impressed
5.      Post really cute but unrealistic pictures of our homeschool
I attempt to appear to those around me the perfect wife, the perfect mother, in a perfect home.  I attempt…attempt…I fall.  Deeper still.
The sinkhole of jealousy takes its toll.  I cannot fight anymore.  It sucks me in, absorbing every part of my being…
“Why has God blessed her with more children?  Why does it always seem everyone’s name is called yet I’m still sitting in the waiting room?  Why do I have a 1979 galley-kitchen-for-one while she has a gourmet kitchen yet hates cooking?  How is it possible that I work out day after day yet still haven’t achieved that beachbody?”
I sink, further and further in self-pity and jealousy.  My surroundings become dark and messy and hopeless.  I muster out a cry yet my voice is muttered in the soundproof mud walls.
Finally, sweet release…                         
And then…HE lifts me out of the pit, out of the muck and mire and HE sets my feet on the rock and HE gives me a firm place to stand!  HE lifts me to a cliff far from the depths of despair. 

The heavens open and mercy drops shower over me, rinsing me clean of the muck and mire.  The light of HIS truth immerses me.  The winds of the HOLY SPIRIT encircle me and I breath…I breath fresh truths into the crevices of my soul.  And the GOD ALMIGHTY, the I AM, reminds me that I am his daughter…and it was never his plan for me to inhabit the pit.

Suddenly perspectives alter.  The earth grows dim in HIS presence.  The darkness scatters in HIS light.  The muck and mire are no longer in control. 
For HE lifted me out of the pit of self-doom.
HE put my feet on the Rock of HIS Word.
HE is everything good…all hope…eternal salvation.  HE is my rock.  HE is my EVERYTHING!
After a lifetime of useless work and unsuccessful attempts and slippery slopes, I finally rest.  I rest in HIM.  I rest in HIS peace.  I long to be higher and closer to GOD ALMIGHTY.  My voice cannot be contained and air-filled lungs and a not-so-talented set of vocal chords begin to sing!  Deep emotion and heartfelt thanksgiving ring out into all the earth!
Thank you, JESUS!  Thank you, JESUS!
“…he turned to me and heard my cry,
he lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.”
Psalm 40:1-2