A friend and I just let it fall open to this page.
I can’t really hold a pencil anymore but I indicated what to underline.
If you have a hard day or night, I hope this based on Psalm 42:8 and 63:6-8.
Love to you and yours, twe
Yes, I’m still camped right there. On that Hitherto Devotional from Streams in the Desert.
Today, I’m referencing the “evening farewells” of The Alpine Shepherds. They sing goodnight to each other in singing of the Lord’s goodness.
“Let the echoes gather till a very storm of Hallelujahs break in thundering waves around the sapphire throne, and then as the morning breaks we shall find ourselves at the margin of the sea of glass, crying, with the redeemed host, “Blessing and honor and glory be unto him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever!”
I grew up like an only child because my brother and sister were 16 and 14 years older than me. Much love was poured out on me with two sets of ‘parents” as a little one. My dad died suddenly when I was seven years old, our house felt empty. As, I got older, I was lonely in a house with just my mom and me. I knew I was deeply loved. My mother did the best she could. I don’t know how she managed with so little income and losing her husband, suddenly, in the prime of their dream. 😦 (A brand new home and new position as head of Special Education Department.) I experienced a sense of a second home at my cousin’s house. Praise God they welcomed me there with a wagon load of kids and a boy and girl cousin my age.
Hence was born an awareness and need for community early on in my life. We are made for community :). Patterned after three best friends: Father – Son/Jesus – Holy Spirit, we are our best selves in community. Our families are our community. Our schools are our community. Our churches are our community. It’s the places designed to gift us with opportunities for intimacy, authenticity and challenge us to grow.
There is no prefect community, except in The Trinity (Father/Son/Holy Spirit). Each and everyone will “let us down” and disappoint us. In that normalcy of our human experience, we live and learn abundant grace and mercy. Let it go. Let the expectations go of a perfect community. If our hands are holding tightly to broken pieces of the picture, it will leave a bloody mess. In the letting go, our hands heal and are open to receive His goodness.
I miss my communities. I had rich, sweet, abundant Christ-Life in all of them. It’s such desperate missings, I keep my heart turned away from the loss. Can anyone relate? It seeps in just enough to process it, but it’s all just too big to swallow. But I must let go of what was, to embrace what is. . .
There is much goodness in the “land of the living.” Callings of goodnights rock our souls in love’s sweet echoes to lure us into the dreams God’s destiny holds. I grew up watching and living through The Waltons. I’m a wannabe Walton 😉 It wasn’t perfection that called to me from the television epic, but the goodness reflected there. I use to marvel at how the mom, Olivia, would open her Bible, without a word, when her face flared with anger. Enjoy the echoes of goodness here with me.
Okay, so we are not The Waltons. 😉 Hitherto: We are made for community and to experience it’s goodness. Find a way to echo God’s lovingkindness at the close of your day.
We need it. You need it. I need it.
Let our goodnight echoes gather in His Throne Room.
Wasn’t that Post yesterday soooooo beautiful??? I do love this book, Streams in the Desert by Cowman. I was first introduced to it during a friend’s grief process. i think what really sings (not speaks) to me is the unique communion of beauty with the bane of life in Christ. I’ve literally lived/camped out here since I received this via email from a friend. I’ve been under “the green boughs of mercy” and the “strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up my joys.” I have not wanted to budge an inch!!!
Here’s my hitherto. . . One of most precious memories, I was on weekend retreat and we had free time. I took a quilt and pillow and lay down under an aged, twisted Oak Tree. It was one of those rare weather-graced days: Puffy, dream-laced clouds in an azure blue sky, a cool breeze caressed the sun’s warmth in tune to a prefect touch. I had often looked up into the sky through the trees, but never lay down in a posture open to the etherial expanse of sky.
I lay down, feeling the moist ground come through the quilt, but was soon drawn into the “boughs of mercy” and I could feel this tree bearing “up my joys.” Peace, I found that day. The canopy of tree and sky immersed me in it’s framework of majesty. I felt so very much “me” in this sanctuary of space in God’s Land of the Living. I relaxed into an intimate embrace that eased me into a deep sleep. I woke sometime later on my own. I lay there for a few minutes not wanting to break the “magic of the moment.” I did eventually get up, reluctantly, but I gathered myself together. I felt like I was spread out everywhere. What sweetness, Lord!!!
This was sent to me by a dear friend, Thank you Sherry Streams in the Desert, with Mrs. Charles Cowman
Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Up to here the Lord has helped us.”—1 Sam 7:12
The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet “hitherto hath the Lord helped us!” Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health; at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea; in honor, in dishonor, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation—“hitherto hath the Lord helped!”
We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from one end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves. Even so look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys.
Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely, there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received “hitherto.”
But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark, and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end; there are still distances to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death.
Is it over now? No! there is more yet—awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. Oh, be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for,
“He who hath helped thee hitherto
Will help thee all thy journey through.”
When read in Heaven’s light, how glorious and marvelous a prospect will thy “hitherto” unfold to thy grateful eye.
—C. H. Spurgeon
The Alpine shepherds have a beautiful custom of ending the day by singing to one another an evening farewell. The air is so crystalline that the song will carry long distances. As the dusk begins to fall, they gather their flocks and begin to lead them down the mountain paths, singing, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. Let us praise His name!”
And at last with a sweet courtesy, they sing to one another the friendly farewell: “Goodnight! Goodnight!” The words are taken up by the echoes, and from side to side the song goes reverberating sweetly and softly until the music dies away in the distance.
So let us call out to one another through the darkness, till the gloom becomes vocal with many voices, encouraging the pilgrim host. Let the echoes gather till a very storm of Hallelujahs break in thundering waves around the sapphire throne, and then as the morning breaks we shall find ourselves at the margin of the sea of glass, crying, with the redeemed host, “Blessing and honor and glory be unto him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever!”
“This my song through endless ages,
Jesus led me all the way.”
Wow, a lot of depth here. Check out #3 Poems / George Herbert and #5 Death by Living by N.D. Wilson . The first two “gems” really drew me in. . . Thank you Nick for this post. This is one well-read Blog-Author, twe
Wilson, Death by Living :
“This is a spoken world–from galaxies to inchworms from seraphs to electrons to meter maids every last thing was and is shaped ex nihilo. It–and we–all exist as beats and rhythms and rhymes in the cosmic and constant word art of the Creator God. To fully embrace and attempt to apply such a vision is… dizzying.”
“Understand this: we are both tiny and massive. We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself. Swell with pride and gratitude, for you are tiny and given much. You are as spoken by God as the stars.”
These are my 13 favorite books that I read in 2013:
1. Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God / Brian Rosner
My favorite book of the year is this treatment of the Apostle Paul’s repudiation, replacement, and reappropriation of the Mosaic Law. Rosner brings a humble tone, a pastoral heart, and a lucid brevity to a notoriously complex conversation. Also be sure to check out Rosner’s lectures (audio and notes) that form the basis of the book.
2. A New Testament Biblical Theology / G.K. Beale
It’s dense. It’s too long. And it’s repetitive. Did I say it was repetitive? But Beale’s book made me treasure my Bible and inspires me to read it more and more.
3. Poems / George Herbert
Pastors shepherd people. Poets shepherd words. Pastor-poets do both. George Herbert was a pastor and a poet. I enjoyed his poems all year long…
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At a church function, November 17, for our youngest daughter, we completed the milestone for all four daughters to make the True Love Waits commitment for marital purity. We are so very proud of our Kathleen! We celebrated at home with her sisters with flowers, candles and a cake 🙂
At public functions/events, I am acutely aware of what a privilege it is to witness life evolve for my daughters. I don’t take these moments for granted, but they carry a poignancy of life that is richer, further reaching than ever before. Thank you Father, for my witness in Kathleen’s life. Amen
I also find myself struggling outside my little comfort zone bubble. My bubble is a protective dome of people that see me often and so there is an unspoken level of “we are all use to this and so. . . ” God is always good for love shows up and people choose to enter my “speechless” world of disability. They make love real in eye contact, hugs, kisses, a story or two. . . And I marvel at their courage to remember me, to see beyond the effects of the disease to who I am. It would be easier to busy themselves within the event .
Not only does God show up but so does my humanity. Life in the room threatens how I define mine. Lives go on for others and I feel myself slipping backwards in some bent perspective that comes up with twenty-five ways to say, “Why me, Lord?”
I’m was a mess of gratitude and something I can’t put my finger on. . . a toxic emotion that caused discontentment to rise with the morning sun. I reached for Streams in the Desert to read and my heart dropped to my feet. . . . Is it possible, God’s been ease dropping in on my heart life? LOL All kidding aside, this devotional gave a word to my emotions. I was offended by the life in the room. Not the people, but how I perceived their life stacked up next to my circumstance. (Divorce? Loss? Bankruptcy? Loneliness?) I felt challenged by His direct heart massage to get the Truth flowing again. I now have insight into what I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it and where to go with the offense. (Now, I’m finding my “pride” does not want to admit to you, I can be offended. Ouch)
This does normalize our humanity in tough circumstances. But the main “point” is God speaking into my circumstance. The offense is the result of my confinement inside my own body. I do suggest an empowered change. . . “even if I am confined to a dungeon, my soul CAN prosper.” In Faith, their are perspective in choices to be made. I have to choose to be free in Christ Jesus. We all have confining circumstances, to some degree (Job, Difficult Marriage, Prodical Child, Health Challenges, Etc.). It’s all too easy to be offended.
Our humanity is going to show up at family events, the message of a movie that hits too close to home, an immature comment, stress that plays out in behavior and all too familiar: Holidays!!! I can promise you at least once this Season, you will find yourself offended, (How about traffic? How dare those other drivers slow you down, today of all days when you have so much to do?) Been there. Then what you gonna do with it? May I humbly suggest that we all make a commitment, right here, right now, to bind that ugly offended/offensive response at the manger bed of our baby Jesus and N-O-T let it move into our behavior or our words? Don’t you think our precious Holiday memories would will be better celebrated with Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?
Let’s rise above the “offense”
and refuse to move into an offended posture and be “blessed is he/she”!
And even the weary and worn-out can cut him down with one sharp edge of a memorized verse:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth –
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8
The prosecutor of your soul can’t ever nail you: Time can’t wreck your life. You can’t wreck your life. Nothing in all of this world can separate you from the love of Christ and His love is your life. Your life is unwreckable because Christ’s love is unstoppable.
Sure, time, age, life, this side of glory is traumatic. Living in a fallen world can’t help but be traumatic — falling is traumatic. Every single day is this stream of tiny traumas. (Those who dare to trust call them gifts.) We’ve all had to unplug toilets and clean up puke and crawl into bed and lay waiting for His new mercies to come again before we move. None of us are alone in any of this.
Growing cold and numb and buying a year’s supply of botox isn’t going to make you soul beautiful. You have to let yourself feel. You accept freedom the moment you accept the apology that no one offered. You have to let your life wrinkle. You have to let hope get into the folds of things. You are here to be spent. Saving yourself up isn’t how the saved are meant to live. Go for broke.
And when you are broken – because that’s what happens when you go for broke – and you look into a mirror, a calendar, into that one face, and you can’t stop the aching lump burning up through the center of your heart, listen till the rain comes.
Watch how the clouds break and break open and listen for rain and reach out your hand and feel it’s wet sweetness coming down in all this vulnerable freeness. This is the broken that makes you beautiful.
Live like this right to the very end.
Well penned Ann! Thank you for words that cause me to stop and hold them. Go for broke. What are we saving ourselves for? If you are called to a circumstance that is using up your personal account of self, are you not blessing the memory of Jesus? Surely every moment, He spent himself, broke. Spending all of one’s self is living life to the fullest? This does Not look like I thought it might, but it is calling me every moment of every day and night to “go for broke.” Thank you Ann, for helping me have eyes to see that I’m digging deep for resources for life, in life, with life in Him.
Disappointments, betrayals, loneliness, broken dreams, anxieties, worries, fears, challenges, traumas, misbeliefs, rationalizations, are all the materials that come out of the wash and dry cycle of our lives. Ann says, we have to let hope get into the folds of these things. Let’s let hope go into the folds. Hope that does not disappoint. Slow down your eyes, and your heart and ponder letting hope in. . .into the folds of your thought life. Thank you Ann for hope, that goes in. . .I think I’ve found a new fold and even an empty pocket or two. . .
Thank you, Maw-Maw Smith for your favorite chapter, Romans 8 and for allowing me to read it to you in your last days before heaven opened up in all it’s Glory for you.
Thank you Jesus, that nothing can separate us from your love. Let us, you and me, live like this right to the very end. Amen Ann
Welcome Brazil and Algeria readers. Please be blessed and encouraged!