Fractured

Anxiety, as I’ve experienced lately, can become my default mode. But He cares for you. 

Cast all your anxiety (merimna) on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries (merimna) of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22 

Both of the above verses about worry or anxiety use the Greek word μέριμνα, transliterated merimna. J.D. Walt has this to say about this word: 

“The word is transliterated ‘merimna’ and sounds like it spells. It carries a meaning of dividing and fracturing a person’s being into parts. Anxiety, in a very literal sense, pulls us apart. It dis-integrates our very sense of self by attacking our core sense of security. 

So how do we deal with anxiety?  

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

Is it as simple as telling God what we are anxious about? It sounds good, but all too often when we are anxious we tend to worry our prayers rather than casting our anxiety on God. Anxiety must actually be displaced within us. The little word, ‘because,’ tells us how this displacement works. It brings us to the four most important words in today’s text: 

He cares for you.  

Did you hear that? 

He cares for you.”

J.D. Walt https://seedbed.com/swing-thought-2/ 

Merimna means care, anxiety, “properly, a part, separated from the whole,” “worry (anxiety), dividing and fracturing a person’s being into parts.” It dawned on me that it is the opposite of the “all” I wrote about recently – loving God with all. When we let our hearts and minds be pulled apart by worry into parts it separates us from God. We need to cast it all unto God and love-worship Him with all. 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:36-37). 

The Greek word that Jesus used in quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, translated “all” three times in the verse, is holos (ὅλος). It is the root of the English term “whole.” It means whole, complete, entire, “properly, wholly, where all the parts are present and working as a whole – i.e. as the total, which is greater than the mere sum of the parts.” 

Worry, then, is the opposite of this “all.” Worry fractures me into parts separated from the whole. Loving the Lord with all – all the parts present and working as a whole – is the opposite of being fractured into parts by anxiety. Anxiety robs God of my all-love. It means I am reserving some of my love – worship – for that which I worry about. Do I really trust God whole-heartedly? Anxiety, as I’ve experienced lately, can become my default mode. But He cares for you.  

The Greek word translated “cares” above is meló (μέλει) and means to be an object of care. I love that! “To be an object of care.” As Louie Giglio says “you’re on Heaven’s radar.” Even when we can’t feel it or see it or hear it. Even when it seems we have been abandoned and forgotten. 

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care (meló) if we drown?” Mark 4:37-38 

“Don’t you care?”  

How many times have I asked this question, roiling in my anguish and doubt? But he said he cares for me, and has demonstrated that love.  

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares (meló) nothing for the sheep. John 10:11-13 

So not being fractured, but being whole, means following the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for me. As Henry Nouwen wrote, it means trusting in God’s love. 

“It’s a question here of trusting in God’s love. The Greek word for faith is pistis, which means, literally, ‘trust.’ Whenever Jesus says to people he has healed: ‘Your faith has saved you,’ he is saying that they have found new life because they have surrendered in complete trust to the love of God revealed in him.” — Henry J.M. Nouwen 

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. 1 John 4:16 (NLT) 

God wants me to be whole. I become whole following the Good Shepherd – trusting – loving with all, complete, entire, as one. Letting Him lead and guide me, bind up my wounds, rescue me, hold me close. Christ in me and I in Him, making it possible. His all, my all. 

Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:11 

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:22-23 (ESV) 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 

“Did you hear that? 

He cares for you.” 

Photo, Fractured, by Brett Jordan https://flic.kr/p/8f8EHy  

His Right Hand is Free

If God is holding me by my right hand I can’t use it.

Yet I am always with you; 
you hold me by my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
 and afterward you will take me into glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
 And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
 but God is the strength of my heart 
 and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26 

When I was meditating on these verses I realized that if God is holding me by my right hand I can’t use it. And since I am right-handed anything I tried to do with my left hand would be awkward and malformed.  

The right hand in the Bible is a symbol of strength. Also, “The right side of a man is the side on which God ‘marches’ when assisting him in battle (Isa. 63:12; Ps. 109:31; 110:1, 5) and it is the right hand which God grasps as a symbol of election (Isa. 41:13; 45:1; Ps. 73:23).” i  

Wow, what amazing grace! He has grasped my right hand; He has chosen me! But, if my right hand is in His, I basically can’t do anything in my own strength. I would have to take my hand out of His. That explains my frequent urge to do just that – shake Him off and do it myself. Fearful that things are taking too long, that I’m missing out, afraid He has forgotten me.  

But His word assures us that He will never forget. Yet, I am always with you. He will never leave us or forsake us. And think of this: though His left hand is occupied holding on to me, His right hand is free. And so, “though my flesh and heart may fail” God is my strength and help. He is fighting for me with His mighty right hand. 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Psalm 138:7-8 (ESV) 

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13 

Lord, keep my right hand in yours

iJewish Virtual Library “Right and Left” 

Photo, free download from Piqsels

It Takes Time to Grow

“My times are in your hands.”

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Psalm 13:2 

Sometimes it feels like it takes forever to heal, to change, to mature, to overcome. Sometimes I feel like I will never grow up out of my trauma. I struggle with the same dark thoughts, negative self-talk, unbelief for years. I cry out with David, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” The following verses and quotes have encouraged me in the past weeks. If you are struggling and feel like it is taking way too long, may they bless you too. 

Believe Him in the darkest hours. See His faithfulness emerge rock solid. Now we see His truer essence. Now we know faith in our Savior – from faith to faith. Joy! Things take the time they take. ~G.W. https://collinsgw.wordpress.com/2022/03/21/mystifying-dismay/  

“God still speaks today through dreams, visions, prophecies and we can make the mistake of thinking they are “now” words for this present time or the immediate future. We have to learn to submit the timing to God. The fulfilment may actually be for years in the future. We need to practice patience while we wait … It takes time to grow.” — Eagle Sight https://eaglesight.blog/2022/04/08/joseph-hero-of-the-faith-4/  

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4  

The real mystery of grace is that it always arrives in time. — Ann Voskamp 

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand … Psalm 31:14 

“God has absolute control over time and what David realized when he uttered those words [My times are in your hand] is this: that God has absolute control over the times in our lives. He’s never late. He’s never premature. He has a time for every situation, every circumstance. If we will just commit our lives totally into His hands, we’ll find that our times are in His hands. What a relief from pressure, from strain, to know that God has control over the time element in our lives. Our times are in God’s hands.” — Derek Prince 

I have to keep reminding myself that God’s timing is always right and healthy for me, as I keep trusting and walking with Him. Some seeds take a very long time to sprout and grow. And some have to struggle up through a lot of rubble. Sometimes they seem dead, but life is coming – I have to wait for it. In the mean time …  

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73.26 

Wait for the Lord; 
Be strong and let your heart take courage; 
Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Image, free download from Pixabay

Rebuild Me

[Good morning all! Here is my first post with the change of name from Hidden Treasure to Wrestling Word.]

Create (choose, create as when You created the heavens and the earth) 

in me a pure (clean) heart (inner person, soul, mind, inclinations, resolutions, will, emotions, passions, thinking, reflection, memory, courage), O God,  

and renew (make new, rebuild, repair) a steadfast (established, stable, secure, enduring, securely fixed, directed aright, prepared, ready) spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (my amplification from Strong’s Concordance) 
 

There are three words that reach out and comfort me in this amplification: choose, memory, and rebuild

Choose: There is an element of choice in the word translated “create” in this Psalm. The Hebrew word is the same one used in Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth. God chose, He was willing, to do that, knowing the pain and suffering it would cause Him. Yet, He was willing. For the joy. For the joy of my company. For the joy of a relationship with me. The thought is mind-boggling! In the same way God chooses, wills in me, creates in me a clean heart.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Matthew 8:2-3 

Memory: Many of us have bad, clinging memories of trauma and abuse. They bring torment and lead to bitterness and anger and lashing out. God can (and does!) clean and purify them. And, in the end, He will wipe them away. 

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. Psalm 73:21-23 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147: 3 

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 

Rebuild: He rebuilds my broken-down spirit, my wrecked life, making it stable, secure, enduring, securely fixed. He starts over from scratch with us, and in the end, He will make all things new. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 

After a second reading, I see that there are four, not three, words that speak to me. The fourth is “ready,” a ready spirit. Ready for what He has for me each day. Ready for His return. Ready, fixed, courageous. 

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you … 1 Peter 1: 3-4 (ESV) 

If you would be made new Salvation

Image, Wrecked House, Union Beach, NJ by Wavian https://flic.kr/p/dwz1PG  

Jesus’ Spit

For everything they did to him, there was a counterpart of love and mercy.

I was reading the account in Matthew 27 of the soldiers mocking Jesus before they took him to be crucified. When I got to the part about how they spit in his face (oh think of that! The Face of God, the Presence!) I thought about what Jesus had done with his spit. He had used it to heal the blind and the deaf.  

And then I looked at all of the things the soldiers did to Jesus that day and saw that for each one there was a counterpart of love and mercy. Where Jesus was stripped, we have been clothed. Where he was mocked to belittle and shame him, we are encouraged and comforted and named. Below is Matthew 27:27-31 with what Jesus endured from the soldiers interspersed with His compassionate response. See what great love the Father has lavished on us! 

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.  

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him 

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness … Isaiah 61:10  

and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. 

Bless the Lord O my soul … who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion … Psalm 103:4 

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5:4 

They put a staff in his right hand. 

… your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 

Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.  

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Revelation 1:5-6 

As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” Romans 9:25-26 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1  

They spit on him 

There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. Mark 7:32-33  

He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:23 

After saying this, he [Jesus] spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. John 9:6 

and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.  

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5 

Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle. Psalm 140:7 

After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:27-31 

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:16 (ESV)

Image in the Public Domain

Not Abandoned

We were on vacation not long ago “up north.” One night I was up alone for hours trying to be quiet in the tiny camper while my husband slept. Couldn’t sleep and very depressed. Thinking about all that was going wrong. Sickness, financial troubles, family members leaving the faith. That is when I told God I felt abandoned. In the morning more devastating family news on Facebook. By the time we were eating breakfast I was bawling. Not a fun time.  

Packing up to go “enjoy” the day, my husband stepped in some doggie doodoo and it got tracked all over the camper. At least an hour was spent cleaning rugs and mats and shoes at the camp water pump. Then he banged his head real hard trying to wrangle things back in. Finally, on our way to the beach, a big heavy, wet floor mat that we thought could ride on the hood a few miles flew up and smacked the windshield while we were driving, covering it and scaring us and making us, shaken and blinded, pull over quickly to the side of the road.  

To top the morning off, when we got to the beach my husband cracked his elbow badly getting things out of the truck. At that we both just started laughing, and I felt God say, now THAT is what it would be like if I had abandoned you. 

Lord, thank you that we aren’t even aware of all that you do for us. Thank you that you watch over us continually, though we cannot see you. That, though bad things happen, you are there with us. That you carry us through it all. But, thank you most of all that Jesus endured abandonment for us on the cross that we might never – ever – be abandoned. 

At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:46 (NLT) 

The LORD will guard you from all evil; He will preserve your soul. The LORD will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8 

… and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place. Deuteronomy 1:31 

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NLT) 

Image by DVIDSHUB, from flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/dvids/13938506188

Our Rudders Mislead Us

Just as the ocean’s currents carry a ship
You carry us
Just as the wind running along
the surface of the deep
to fill the sails and guide the ship
You guide us

We depend on You for our
every breath
We depend on You to
cause the seed to grow so we can eat
We depend on the sun to bring
life to the Earth

Our rudders mislead us
for we do not understand
We depend on your wind
to guide us
When we cannot sense you
carry us on the shoulders
of the currents

by Derek Bair

Text and image, copyright by Derek Bair, all rights reserved

Once Again

Sorry 

I know 

You are there 

You are with me 

You care 

You have a good plan 

You are working 

always  

My heart knows  

I am sitting on your lap 

leaning on your chest 

in the Everlasting Arms 

unfailing 

But  

my head panics 

and once again 

I am flailing  

and I need 

another sign 

another word 

another touch 

You 

I need 

You 

always

Image, Strong by Eduardo Martinez https://flic.kr/p/2ihGeUk   

God’s Sigh

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you … Isaiah 66:13 

The Hebrew word translated “comfort” in this verse is nacham. It means to be sorry for, to be moved to pity, have compassion, console, to sigh, to comfort. The meaning of this kind of comfort was vividly demonstrated to me recently. 

I have been taking care of my newest baby granddaughter. It is so frustrating to be so little and not able to communicate your pains and needs. Recently, she was crying and would not stop. Nothing I tried helped – she refused the bottle, toys, singing, walking around and bouncing, even dancing with her didn’t help. Finally, I just entered into her grief and frustration. I groaned and sighed with her, saying, “Oh poor baby! Nobody knows her problems; nobody understands!”

Almost immediately she relaxed against me and fell asleep on my shoulder. I was amazed. But when I read the above verse God reminded me of this. It was the sighing with her, the pity and consolation, the joining in, the participation with her suffering that comforted in the end. It is the way that God, the great Comforter, participated and participates in our suffering. Henry Allen Ironside describes it this way: 

“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (verse 13).

Compare chapters 40 and 61 for GOD’s plan and design for His people. The Hebrew word translated “comfort” in this verse is from a root meaning “to sigh!” It says, “As one whom his mother sighs with, so will I sigh with you.” We know how a loving mother enters into the sufferings of her children. Taking the little one in her arms she sighs with him as he sobs out his grief upon her bosom. So does GOD feel for us in our trials. Of old He said concerning Israel when they were in Egyptian bondage, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people. . . I know their sorrows; and am come to deliver them.”  

He is ever the same in His concern for His afflicted children. His great heart of love is moved with compassion as He beholds the ravages that sin has made and the sufferings that it has entailed upon all mankind. Yet we are so slow to refer our troubles to Him, thinking of Him as a stern Judge rather than a tender, loving Father.

H.A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Prophet Isaiah 

Henri Nouwen in his book about the great painting of Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, describes the welcoming father as a type of our Father God, who is like both a father and a mother to the returning son. 

The Father is not simply a great patriarch. He is mother as well as father. He touches the son with a masculine hand and a feminine hand. He holds, and she caresses. He confirms and she consoles. He is, indeed, God, in whom both manhood and womanhood, fatherhood and motherhood, are fully present. That gentle caressing right hand echoes for me the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has home? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you. Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” … Day and night God holds me safe, as a hen holds her chicks secure under her wings.

Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37 

Let us not be slow to refer our troubles to God. He is, yes, a righteous Judge, but also our loving Father. Let us return to Him, “sob out our grief,” and find rest on his mighty, gentle shoulder. 

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever. Psalm 131:2-3 (NASB) 

Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:3 

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Psalm 119:76 

I, even I, am the one who comforts you. So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear? Isaiah 51:12 (NLT) 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1 3-4 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Revelation 21:4 

“Day and night God holds me safe …” 

 

Photo by Jack Bair 

His Hand

I might get a little singed by the refining fire, but no one can snatch me out of His mighty, loving hand.

Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it? Isaiah 43:13

Usually when I read the above verse it is with a negative connotation: you’re not getting away from me! You can’t escape. I confess I sometimes feel like Job.

You know good and well I’m not guilty. You also know no one can help me [deliver me out of your hand]. Job 10:7 (The Message)

But today the phrase “no one can deliver out of my hand” was a comfort. Today I feel like David. I would rather be in God’s hands, no matter what.

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” 2 Samuel 24:14

His mercy is great. I can trust Him. Even though his all-consuming fire may be consuming the dross in me – the hay and the straw and the stubble – I can trust in his mercy.

But you know what? That word translated “deliver” means more. It is natsal (נָצַל ) and means to snatch away (in a good or bad sense), deliver, rescue, save, strip, plunder. It is used for taking plunder or spoil after a battle. No one can snatch me away out of His hand. No one can take me as plunder, for no one can be victorious over God. He roars jealously over me.

Jesus repeated this, what is actually a compassionate, unfailing love, full-of-grace-and-mercy, promise.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:28-29

I might get a little singed by the refining fire, but no one can snatch me out of His mighty, loving hand. He is the same God, Old and New Testament. He does not change.

See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver (snatch, take as plunder) out of my hand. Deuteronomy 32:39

Photo, Sheep Drinking at the River by Kevin Ryder, https://flic.kr/p/fCcjsP

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