The Winter is Past

Something has happened there in the dark winter season.  

My beloved spoke and said to me, 

“Arise, my darling, 

my beautiful one, come with me. 

See! The winter is past; 

the rains are over and gone. 

Flowers appear on the earth; 

the season of singing has come, 

the cooing of doves 

is heard in our land. 

The fig tree forms its early fruit; 

the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. 

Arise, come, my darling; 

my beautiful one, come with me.” 

Song of Songs 2:10-13 

I have been reading Brennan Manning’s book, The Furious Longing of God. In it, he translates verses 10-11 above this way: 

‘Come now, My love. My lovely one, come. For you, the winter has passed, the snows are over and gone, the flowers appear in the land, the season of joyful songs has come.’ 

For you – for me – the winter is passed. I felt the Lord calling me out of a long season of darkness. “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.” 

The Hebrew word translated “winter” in this verse is sethav (סְתָו). It is only used this one time in the Bible. It means winter as the dark season. It comes from a root word meaning “to hide.” 1 

Like a long season of God hiding his face and plunging me into darkness. For it is by the light of his face that we see. 

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” Psalm 4:6 (ESV) 

Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:3 

But sometimes – for our good I guess, though it doesn’t feel good – we have to go through times of darkness, what David called “the valley of the shadow of death.” When it seems that God is not there. When we can’t see his light or hear his voice.  

Today I noticed something about Psalm 23. David starts off referring to the Lord in the third person – “the Lord is my shepherd … he makes me lie down in green pastures” – but after David has walked through the valley of darkness, he speaks directly to God in the first person – “for you are with me You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies … you anoint my head with oil.” Something has happened there in the dark winter season.  

Brennan Manning called this time “a passage into pure trust.” 

“The scandal of God’s silence in the most heartbreaking hours of our journey is perceived in retrospect as veiled, tender Presence and a passage into pure trust that is not at the mercy of the response it receives.” — Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust 

Yes, something happens there in the dead darkness of winter. A decision is made. A decision to trust him no matter what. And I tell you, deciding to trust God has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Especially, trusting him with my children and grandchildren. Yet! 

Though He slay me, yet will I trust (wait, stay, hope in) Him. Job 13:15 (NKJV)  

If you are in a season of darkness like me, this is our time to make that decision to trust him. And he will call us out into the light. A new day. A new season. The “season of singing.”  

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8 

Let the morning, the end of winter and the dark season, the end of Your seeming hiddenness Lord, the end of your silence, bring me word of your unfailing, your continuing-even-when-hidden, love. 

Show me the way I should go .. 

Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me. 

1Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Brown-Driver-Briggs 

Photo of figs by Shlomi Kakon https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PikiWiki_Israel_44800_FIG.jpg   

… the least of these

I’m beginning to see I have a different standard to follow, a different way to walk. 

Coming home from another exhausting day caring for my widowed mom, I was pondering a popular idea right now of “no contact.”1 See, my mom is a very broken and wounded person, and wounded people wound. She has always been what some call a narcissist. A narcissist is a supremely wounded soul. So, this idea of abandoning her, cancelling her, in order to protect myself, is sometimes, on bad days, fleetingly attractive. But then God, out of the blue, put this verse in my mind: 

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40 

Wow, I was stunned because I don’t think I have ever thought of my own family in this way. It’s always “people out there” who are the least of these. But actually, I realized that I have begun seeing a “least of these” in my mom. There is a broken, hurting little girl in there who is being uncovered as dementia ravages her brain. A hurting little “least of these.” She is telling me terrible and brutal things that happened to her that she has always kept hidden from us.  

But my mom has been and continues to be, with even less restraint now because of the disease, hurtful and cutting at times. The idea of turning away is sometimes very inviting. Ah, but then another word comes:  

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 

OK, I’m beginning to see I have a different standard to follow, a different way to walk. 

If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. 1 Timothy 5:16 (ESV) 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 

Jesus replied, “‘… honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 19:18-19 

Honoring and caring for your father and mother appears to be very important to God. In Ephesians 6:2 Paul writes, “Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—”so that it may go well with you … One of the last things that Jesus did, hanging on the cross dying, was to ensure the care of his mother: 

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27 

Jesus was obeying the commandment, he was pleasing God, he was loving and being Love. There are times, I know, where “no contact” is warranted, physical or sexual abuse in particular. And everyone must hear from God for themselves. But, for me anyway, God is saying to keep loving her, to let Him love her through me. And as he gives me the grace to do it, I am able to see her as God sees her, a sweet, wounded little girl. I am finding that in the face of this God-love, Christ-in-me love, just unconditional-because-it-pleases-God love, she softens, and her real self is exposed. And I see “the least of these” emerge more and more. 

I increasingly believe that our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need . . . to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us. — Henri J. M. Nouwen

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 

1A definition of “No Contact” in this context can be found here: https://psychcentral.com/health/does-going-no-contact-with-a-parent-heal-you-the-answer-isnt-what-you-think 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201105/narcissistic-parents-contact-or-not

Image in the Public Domain 

Swimming in Glory

We were made to be aware that we are swimming in the glory of God.

You have made men like the fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler. The foe pulls all of them up with a hook; he catches them in his dragnet, and gathers them in his fishing net; so he rejoices gladly. Habakkuk 1:14-15 

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14 

Did you ever think of that? That we are like fish of the sea and that we were made to, and are, swimming in the glory of God? Pretty amazing, isn’t it? The Glory of God is our natural habitat. The angels recorded by Isaiah call out that the whole earth is full of God’s glory. 

And they [the seraphim] were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3 

But, even more poignant, is that this natural habitat we are meant to swim in is the awareness of God’s glory. We were made to be aware that we are swimming in the glory of God. The word above translated “knowledge,” in the phrase the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, is yada (יֹדֵ֣עַ). It is a gigantic word struggling to contain an infinite God. It means to know, to learn to know, perceive and see, to know by experience, recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess, know intimately, be acquainted with, be aware of.  

Being consciously aware of His Presence with us, is the “practice of the Presence of God” that Brother Lawrence wrote about.1 God wants us always to be aware that he is with us. God always wants to be known and to know. 

All the peoples of the earth are fish swimming in the sea of the Glory of God. Yet, many are swimming blindly, unaware of the glory of God’s Presence, the glory of his love for them. Habakkuk warns that there is an enemy fishing for them to destroy and devour them. 

The foe pulls all of them up with a hook; he catches them in his dragnet, and gathers them in his fishing net.  

But Jesus has called us to be “fishers of men” that they might live. That the Glory of God might be revealed to them. That they might know, learn to know, perceive and see, know by experience, recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess, know intimately, be acquainted with, be aware of God – and that they may be healed and saved. 

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (ESV) 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

For more about God’s fishnet see Imprisoned

1 The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Full text online here https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Practice_of_the_Presence_of_God  

Image free download, Creative Commons Zero – CC0 

Creaking and Spinning

Help me not to be afraid of the dance of joy. 

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you [spin around under the influence of violent emotion] with loud singing [creaking, singing, shout of joy, cry of gladness, joy, proclamation, rejoicing, triumph]. Zephaniah 3:17 

When I babysit my granddaughter, one of her all-time favorite things to do is to dance around in my arms singing at the top of our lungs. I have done this since she was an infant, dancing and singing to her. Lately, she has joined in with my creaky singing, a little off-key, but exuberantly and loudly. She especially loves to spin around when we are dancing. Her dad says she is an adrenaline junky. There are certain places in certain songs where we absolutely MUST spin around, and certain lyrics that MUST be sung/shouted with absolute joy. Especially, at least for me, joy in our relationship, gramma and granddaughter, and our love for each other. 

When I read the recent blog by Beholding Ministries, The God Who Sings, I saw how our singing and dancing around is a perfect picture of Zephaniah 3:17. And for the first time I was able to realize God’s joy over me described in this verse. His spinning me around I hope will someday soon produce, not out-of-control fear of being dropped, but belly-laughs-birthed-from-complete-trust-and-joy surrender into his strong hands. Because it does feel like I am spinning around these days. I cannot seem to focus on the horizon and I am tempted to panic. But I will remember that he is the mighty one who will save – who is saving no matter what things look like – who rejoices over me, his child, (singing loudly and NOT creaking, I’m sure!) with gladness, joy and triumph.  

Lord help me not to be afraid of the dance of joy. 

Photo by Reilly Images, LLC

He Comes

“The Lord cometh, even though we have to wait for him, he cometh even though we grow as old as Anne, as gray as Simon … but we must wait for him in his house.” — Kierkegaard, Journals, Dec. 31, 1838 

This quote by Søren Kierkegaard really captured my heart. We must wait for him in his house. The Anne and Simon to whom he refers is Simeon and Anna, the daughter of Penuel, written about in the second chapter of Luke. 

Simeon was the righteous man who met Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus in the Temple when they came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses. Luke writes of Simeon: 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts … Luke 2:25-27 

The second person Kierkegaard refers to is the prophetess Anna, who was also in the Temple that day and every day: 

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38 

Simeon and Anna were waiting for the Messiah to come. They believed the scriptures about Him and they were looking for Him. They had been waiting all their lives. Perhaps they were thinking of this prophecy of Haggai: 

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations [the Messiah] will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Haggai 2:6-7 

They knew He was coming and they were waiting in the Temple to welcome him. Today we are the temple, both individually and joined together with other believers to become the true church. 

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19 

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:21-22 

The physical Temple in Jesus’ day, and before, was the place where the Shekinah glory of God dwelt above the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. We are that Temple now, but only if we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, only if God lives in us by his Spirit. Think of that! Dwelling there in the temple with God, never leaving, always in the Presence. I believe that if we are always in His house, waiting, we will hear the shout and the trumpet call. We will see him when he comes, and we will be there to meet him. 

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes … Psalm 96:12-13 

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:36-37 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20 

” … but we must wait for him in his house.” 

Image, Bright Sunrise, free download from Stockvault 

Is the Lord Among Us Or Not?

When bad things happen to us. When we find ourselves in the life-sucking desert with no water – is the Lord among us or not?

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. Exodus 16:4 

And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” Exodus 17:7 

Reading the two verses above together was mind-blowing to me. The Hebrew word translated “test” in each of these verses is the same word. It is nasah (נָסָה) which means to test, assay, prove, tempt, try.  

It seems like there is a lot of testing going on in Exodus, God testing his people and his people testing God. I remembered Jesus, who being tested in the desert by the devil, quoted another verse which uses the word nasah, Deuteronomy 6:16.  

Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ Matthew 4:5-7  

And, I suddenly had the thought: if God tested the Israelites to see if they would follow his instructions, when we test God are we seeing if he will follow our instructions? Am I trying to hold God hostage to my agenda? 

Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah. Deuteronomy 6:16 

And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” Exodus 17:7 

One of the definitions of nasah is to “assay.” According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary online, to assay something is “to determine its purity,” and “to judge the worth of.” Think about those meanings when applied to the Holy God. 

When bad things happen to us. When we find ourselves in the life-sucking desert with no water – is the Lord among us or not? Is he the Holy God who cannot lie? Is his promise good? Is he worthy of my trust? 

When the devil “tested” Jesus in the desert he challenged Him to believe God’s promise.  

Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. “If You are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”  

The devil must have thought he had Jesus now. If Jesus jumped, he would be playing the devil’s game, giving him power and indirectly, worship. And most likely Jesus would go splat, since jumping off the temple was not the will of God for Jesus. If Jesus didn’t jump, he would be admitting a lack of trust in God’s promise, right? See, the devil was trying to get Jesus, and the Father God, to follow his instructions. But instead of playing the game, Jesus held firm to the instructions he had been given by the Father. 

Jesus replied, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:5-7 

Jesus didn’t have to prove or assay his Father. Jesus had complete confidence in God’s promises and in his will. Jesus didn’t have an agenda. He didn’t have to prove his Lordship or his value or power. He didn’t come to be a big success or to be prosperous. He actually came to be nothing, a humble servant, following and completely fulfilling the instructions given to him by a God whom he knew to be good and loving and faithful all the time, even in the desert times of testing. And even so he wants me to follow after him. His instruction for me is to trust that He is with me here in the dry, deadly places, the impossible, bleak, and heart-gutting places. The places where I see no hope or way out. The times when everything I hoped for is gone, my agenda is shredded and I am reduced to nothing.  

Do you ever wonder what would have happened at Massah and Meribah if the Israelites had trusted God and waited for his salvation instead of despairing and turning against him? What would God have done? What amazing things could he have done? But instead, God let what happened happen for us! Speaking of the Israelites in the desert Paul wrote: 

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.  1 Corinthians 10:11 

Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. Psalm 95:8-9 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (ESV) 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will (His instructions) for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Photo free download from Pexels, Great sand dunes in desert at sundown, by Chris Clark 

In the Middle of Doubt

As sure as the sunrise, whenever I stumble, He reaches out to catch me.

Doubt has been flapping around me like vultures over a half-dead animal. Struggling with the high stress of caregiving and accompanying health problems, wrestling with disappointment and maybe even anger at God about how things have turned out in my life. The unhealed lacerations of past trauma making it hard to feel or receive anybody’s love, God’s love. Feeling that God’s love is conditional toward me. That I haven’t been able to get it right. I haven’t said or done the “correct” thing yet. My daily Word another disapproving censure. Out of yet another dark place I reached out to my sweet (and may I say oh-so-patient) sister. She had this to say: 

“God’s Spirit came to live in believers through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of love. We now live in Roman’s chapter 8 love. No condemnation love. No separation love.”  

And then she prayed: 

“Lord, we need revelation to sink down into our hearts! Change us! We can’t do it without you. We want to love you more truly and deeply. Amen.” 

Yes, I need revelation. That flash of Light in my darkness. And, let me say with deep thankfulness that whenever – always, as sure as the sunrise – whenever I stumble, He reaches out to catch me. Almost immediately. I am humbled and undone. 

In my daily reading the next morning were Paul’s writings about Jesus, who came as a priest in the order of Melchizedek, “not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). That word translated “indestructible” means no, not, or without (in other words it is impossible to) dissolve, disunite, destroy, demolish, overthrow, to render vain, to deprive of success, bring to naught, to render fruitless one’s desires or endeavors, to deprive of force, annul, abrogate.  

Jesus’ life is indestructible and our lives are hidden in His (Colossians 3:3). His plans and purposes, His desire and will, His power, His unity with me in the Spirit, are indestructible, cannot be destroyed, dissolved, rendered vain – not even by my weakness and wounds.  

And then I noticed that in the margin I had written, years ago, “Romans 8:38-39.” Nothing is able to separate us from the love of God. Soon after, in my inbox came this from a daily devotional1 I follow: 

For I am convinced that 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 8:38-39 

OK, I’m listening. When this happens, I always know that God has a message for me.  

Well, the very next blog2 I read had this to say (thank you Alan Kearns!): 

“So often in life we are left scratching our head at how things have turned out; despite our best plans or efforts the unexpected has happened. We are left with a handful of question marks … we are mystified by the circumstances we find ourselves in, praying for His light on the matter … Be assured if you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, His Father is in control of your puzzle – He knows what the final picture is!” 

And then a link to this beautiful song. (Remember how I told you that God uses song lyrics to speak to me.) 

God Jehovah, Jehovah Rapha 

You’re our healer 

You and You Alone … 

In the middle of doubt 

In the thick of sorrow 

You say look up 

To where our help comes from 

If everything around us 

Says there is no hope 

We’re never gonna let go 

Of the hem of Your robe … 

We’re leaning on your power 

You’ll do what can’t be done … 

All depression, every worry 

Every sickness Lord, You heal 

All addiction, every family 

Every heartbreak Lord, You heal … 

You and You Alone3 

I looked up what Jehovah-Rapha means and found this at Got Questions. “Jehovah-Rapha has the power to heal physically (2 Kings 5:10), emotionally (Psalm 34:18), mentally (Daniel 4:34), and spiritually (Psalm 103:2–3). Neither impurity of body nor impurity of soul can withstand the purifying, healing power of Jehovah-Rapha.”4  

Yes, I need healing in all those areas – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. I need them all and I know He will do it. Because nothing can withstand His indestructible Life

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37 

He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert. Psalm 105:41 

RAPHA – Stephen Mcwhirter & Jason Clayborn (ART Music & Video) 

1Henri J.M. Nouwen, Daily Meditation, November 5, 2022 

2https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2022/11/05/the-puzzles-of-life/  

3Jehovah Rapha by Stephen Mcwhirter and Jason Clayborn 

4https://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovah-Rapha.html 

Image, A shaft of sunlight pierces the threatening clouds, by Mark Levisay  https://flic.kr/p/J9cBSr   

The Bassline

We come to know God through our afflictions. Our praise would be rote, would be hollow without having known His Presence and comfort through our afflictions.  

“The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song, ‘He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.’” — Charles Spurgeon 

I read this quote by Spurgeon in a little devotional.1 I wondered, what did he mean when he said our griefs are the bass part of our song? It inspired me to learn more about the bass part (also called bass line or bassline) in music. 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the bass as “the lowest range of musical notes.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines the bassline as “[a] musical part consisting of a sustained series of the lowest pitched notes in the piece or composition.”2  

Hmmm, if the bass part is our troubles, sometimes it seems that the low part has been sustained for a very long time. But look at this quote from an 1880 book on the history and science of music: 

“the bass part… is, in fact, the foundation upon which the melody rests and without which there could be no melody.” — by Robert Challoner3 

Wow, if you think of the melody as our praises and the bass part as our afflictions, “the bass part of our life’s song,” that is a startling thought. There could be no melody without the bass part. It is the “sturdy foundation.” 

“Our basslines have to provide the rhythmic and harmonic foundation; the bassline provides the high-end with the structure and foundation to create interesting melodies… A bassline is the foundation on which the melody rides. With the sturdy foundation of the bass and other rhythm section instruments, the melody is free to do all sorts of things.” — Andrew Pouska4  

Esther Murimi goes even further, saying that the bass completes the music, adding a fullness: 

“Try listening to music without bass and one with it and you’ll notice the difference. For more clarity, if you have a sound system, you will notice that the music is complete when the bass is enhanced and sounds hollow without it.” — Esther Murimi5  

Finally, Wikipedia notes that the bassline bridges a gap: 

The bassline bridges the gap between the rhythmic part played by the drummer and the melodic lines played by the lead guitarist and the chordal parts played by the rhythm guitarist and/or keyboard player. — Wikipedia, Bassline 

“[T]he rhythmic part played by the drummer” to me is like the part played by the Holy Spirit. We are encouraged to keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). “[T]he melodic lines,” Spurgeon would say, are the melody lines of our praise. The bassline bridges the gap between these two. When you think about it, this intimate connection and teamwork between the Spirit (beat/step) and the bass (afflictions) makes sense. We come to know God through our afflictions. Our praise would be rote, would be hollow without having known His Presence and comfort through our afflictions.  

The hard times in our lives are the times that God has allowed to refine and purify us and to make us the place where His glory dwells. The baseline working with the (heart)beat of God gives the music of our lives richness, fullness, the reason to sing the melody, the joy, the with-all-my-heart passion. 

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy’ Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5 

Do you hear the beat? … suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Still using the metaphor provided by Spurgeon, I see that the love of God is the heart/drum beat and our sufferings are the bassline. And from these, through the knowledge of the character of God and trust in His goodness, the assurance that He is with us always – from these come our hope, and from that hope rises a pure melody of praise. 

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest (sits down, settles, consummates the marriage, dwells, abides in) the praises of Israel. Psalm 22: 3 (KJV) 

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:7-8 (NAS) 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

Yet take thy way; for sure thy way is best:  
Stretch or contract me thy poor debtor:  
This is but tuning of my breast,  
To make the music better. -- George Herbert, from The Temper (I) 

1Devotional Classics of C. H. Spurgeon, June 9, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 

2American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.  

3History of the Science and Art of Music: Its Origin, Development, and Progress 

By Robert Challoner, 1880. Full text available on Google Books https://books.google.com/books?id=dwctAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false 

4StudyBass https://www.studybass.com/  

5The Scientifically Proven Importance Of Bass In Musical Performances, Merriam School of Music https://www.merriammusic.com/school-of-music/importance-of-bass-in-performances/  

Image, detail from How Firm a Foundation, hymn attributed to George Keith 1787.

I Am Certain of This

Well, when the first four blogs I read in a morning are saying the same thing it makes me sit up and take notice. What is the Spirit saying to me? Maybe He is saying something to us all (?) 

… for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Romans 14:8‭-‬9 (Blogged twice by Beholding Him Ministries) https://beholdinghimministries.org/  

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Matthew 5 11-12 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom.8.35-39 (Blogged by Eagle Sight) https://eaglesight.blog/2022/10/01/persecution/ 

And then this from Henri Nouwen: 

“We are fearful people. We are afraid of conflict, war, an uncertain future, illness, and, most of all, death. This fear takes away our freedom and gives our society the power to manipulate us with threats and promises. When we can reach beyond our fears to the One who loves us with a love that was there before we were born and will be there after we die, then oppression, persecution, and even death will be unable to take our freedom. Once we have come to the deep inner knowledge—a knowledge more of the heart than of the mind—that we are born out of love and will die into love, that every part of our being is deeply rooted in love, and that this love is our true Father and Mother, then all forms of evil, illness, and death lose their final power over us and become painful but hopeful reminders of our true divine childhood. The apostle Paul expressed this experience of the complete freedom of the children of God when he wrote, ‘I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:38–39).” — Henri J.M. Nouwen https://henrinouwen.org/meditation/  

Photo by Sheila Bair

Ever-Present (Psalm 46)

God is my refuge, my strength 

He is my ever-present help in trouble 

He is the Ever-Present one 

I am the holy place where He dwells 

where the Most High dwells 

God is within me, I will not fall 

God will help me 

The Lord Almighty is with me 

Ever-Present 

here 

with  

me 

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:20 

Photo by Jack Bair

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