About The Making of Joy-Flower

There came one of those shining moments when one of my writer friends commented:
“Absolutely beautiful. How did you come up with this storyline?”
My reply was this:

I was only partially responsible for “coming up” with any of the Joy-Flower story; title, middle, or ending!
“It’s difficult to explain God’s mysterious, intense involvement, participation, and presence in the creation of this story, but I’ll try.
One morning I awoke (
or did I?) and it was in my heart to write about the subject of a man being angry at God for what he perceived were broken promises and unanswered prayers. It would also turn out to be about a man taking the power of life and death into his own hands.
Then I “heard” Him say the name of the protagonist. I was a little surprised, and had the audacity to question, “Why this unique Asian name? What do I know of that culture, wonderful as it is?”
Nevertheless, I trusted, and soon began to lay out the story. He filled in my blanks. It even took an unexpected turn into other complex subjects.
I fell in love with our two characters, as I was meant to.
It was all done in one sitting, one “take”.
Without The Divine Presence, there could have been no
Joy-Flower.
The Asian flavor is puzzling, yet I’m confident that Joy-Flower has a purpose far beyond what I can imagine, and that one day He will reveal the whole story behind it. I can hardly wait to find out from Him what comes out of Joy-Flower.
Thank you so much for reading it, my friend! Your question made me think in-depth about the creation of this story, which stretched my pen further than I thought it could go in explanation. I needed that!”

Note: Since that day, I have edited, modified, and added further to the story, as prompted by The Spirit. It has become, arguably, my favorite work because of His close involvement, guidance, and Divine input during its writing. If you would like to read the piece click this link right here. If you have read it before, I urge you to try this “new, improved” version.

~ ~ ~

So, if I were pressed to describe writing, from my perspective it seems to be the expression of the heretofore unexpressed, using combinations of words that have not been combined before, with the nearly incomprehensible involvement of our nearly unfathomable, completely infallible, God.

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Advertisements

Image

Impenetrable Firewall

Who among us has not lost or forgotten a password?
Many have also had their firewall broken through.
Have you?

Jesus is my living firewall.
My fortress.
He is impenetrable!
When fiery darts of incursion,
and arrows of intrusive evil are sent my way,

He shields me.
The windows of my heart and the software of my spirit
Are safe!
Protected!

I trust Him to keep my processor,
My operating system,
Running smoothly,
and be not corrupted,
or misused by malware from hell.
Jesus insures these things to all followers
Who sign up for His service!

Jesus is my living password!
In Him alone, is safety;
Security;
Certainty;
Permanence;
Peace of mind.

I never have to exchange my Word for a better one.
He is the only Word I’ll ever need.

No one can steal Him from me.
I never have to write Him down,
Put Him in a password manager,
Or worry that I might forget Him.
He is the way in,
Jesus is the only way into

Heaven.god

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

 

Image

Straining To Reach Beauty

“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it….At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door….We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.” ~ C.S.Lewis

I know what he means – I think.
But Lewis is right, it can hardly be put into words.
I want to be immersed in the beauty I enjoy with my senses.
I want to be baptized in it.
I want it to soak into me and heal the ache.
I want it to fill the voids of longing and loss.
I strain against my earthbound chains to reach it.
I want to revel in the pure joy of it.
I want to unite with it;
to be it.
Earthly beauty must be but a metaphor,
a poor representation,
of Heavenly beauty.
Did He not create it as a foretaste,
a tidbit,
a sampler of His own absolute beauty?
Ahh, to imagine how durably our spirits must have been created
to stand in His presence
and to bear the unutterable,
unfathomable,
power and glory,
and beauty,
emanating from The Father and from Christ Jesus!
With each new encounter with beauty,
I strive;
I wrench and heave at my chains.
Little by little,
link by link,
they weaken.

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

 

Image

The Wheat and the Grape – Sacred Harvest




*   *   *

 Our Daily Bread said today that “our Savior hung between Heaven and earth
to bear every sin of every generation on His shoulders.”
He hung between Heaven and me . . .
What pain it gives me to see that scene . . .
But the above statement led me to think deeply about
what He had told his disciples
and us,
only the night before He hung there,
what we must do to remember Him;
to remember who He was,
to remember what He did,
how He did it,
and why.

“The Lord’s Supper is absolute genius”
is what I concluded.
(not that I think I’m the first, nor the only, one to think that)
He broke the bread and compared it to His body
which would imminently be broken for us.
He poured the wine out and compared it to His blood
which would soon be poured out for us.

“He hung between Heaven and earth.”
He was, and is now, intermediary between us and The Father.
Not as a wall, but as a bridge.
He made a way to raise us to His shoulders,
thus standing between us and the evil one “in the earth”.

As for myself, there is more here than “meets the eye”.
Have you ever thought about how grains
like corn, barley, rye, and wheat are all separated
from the earth by a woody stem?
The seed head of the wheat plant is the “fruit”, in a sense,
that we use to make our bread.

The same applies to “the fruit of the vine”;
tomatoes, cucumbers, kiwi, guava, and, get this – passion fruit –
and predominantly, grapes.
All grow above the ground on woody or semi-woody vines.
They all contain juice, but grape juice makes wine.
(side note: there is great debate whether Jesus’ “fruit of the vine” was unfermented juice, or wine)
I’m in the wine camp because wine stores better.
I won’t even dwell on apple, orange, peach, plum trees, or berry bushes,
each of which produce juicy fruit on woody stems;

but I’m getting off track.

The point is that grapevines, like wheat plants,
produce their fruit between Heaven and earth on woody stems,
and the final product of both were used at the Lord’s Supper.
The Last Supper of our Lord!

By now you are making the connection I’m getting at.
Lord Jesus compared His body to a broken loaf of bread,
and His covenantal blood to the poured-out juice of the grape,
in order that:
“as often as you
eat this bread
and drink this cup,
you will do so in remembrance of Me.”
Connecting His spiritual Self to the physical act of
eating and drinking something specific,
is brilliant.

It makes the act sacred, and simultaneously
makes our remembrance of Him sacred.
But for me, it doesn’t end there.
Jesus was always using agricultural metaphors because,
I assume, most everyone in His day knew something of the subject.
Is it a great leap to make that He also connected Himself
with the fruit of the earth?

With harvest?
With life-giving, life sustaining, food and drink?
With saving us from spiritual starvation?
If that connection is only for me to make
in order to strengthen my faith in Him,
to take me deeper into our relationship,
to tell me more of a story I long to know more of,
or to give me insight into something so sacred
that I scarcely can digest it,
Then so be it.
You, dear reader, can make of it what you will.
If it doesn’t do anything for you, leave it.

Here’s the thing:
I maintain that Jesus not only connected Himself to
The Bread and The Cup,
But also to the wheat and the grape.
Rich and ripe,
He stood like a sturdy stalk of wheat
before a terrible threshing,
and He hung like a beautiful cluster of grapes
before a horrible crushing.
He stood and He hung there between Heaven and earth,
between us and oblivion,
between us and eternity.
The first and best fruits of the earth,
until the harvest was finished.
He made Himself our everything,
even our spiritual food and drink.
Essential, lifesaving, sacred, and beautiful.

The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Harvest.
Absolute Genius!

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Image

Peace Like A River For My Soul

Asher B. Durand

Asher B. Durand

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Peace is kind of like love.
Everyone needs it.
Most civilized people want it.
Many seek it in one way or another.
So do I.

The quality of peace is not strain’d either.
It, too, falls like gentle rain from Heaven
upon the needful ones below. (thanks, Shakespeare)

Some folks have real peace and some have a pseudo,
temporary, fleeting kind of peace.
So do I and so have I.

Some look for it in all the wrong places.
Yup, that was me.

Many have no peace whatsoever and have no idea
where it comes from,

how to get some,
or even what it is.

Again, been there.

When I find myself in need of the comfort and enjoyment of peace,
which is most of the time,

like many folks I seek and readily find peace
in what is commonly called “Nature”.
“Nature”, in a broad sense, is universally understood.
You are probably forming mental pictures right now
about how you perceive and define “Nature”.
Now envision some of your favorite peace-inducing “Nature” scenes;
places you have been, or even pictures of real places or those imagined by someone.
Did that bring you a bit of peacefulness?

But –
“Nature” (nature – to bring it down off its pedestal)
is only a reflection of the super-natural;
of God’s supernatural glory. (He is above nature – He made it!)
Isn’t it delightful that even this somewhat hazy reflection
of Heaven can still bring us earth-side peace?

I personally enjoy a pastoral scene, one with water in it,
and even better, one with a mountainous theme.
A clear, unpolluted, starwatching-sky is also a delight.

Sunshine and sheep,
Cattle and a creek,
Grass and rolling hills,
Green and blue and still.

A clear night sky,
Star-filled and wide,
Shapes made of  light,
Faith becoming sight.

A picture will do, but being there in person is best.
Sitting and contemplating;
meditating and cogitating;
or simply ‘taking it all in’ and enjoying the serenity,
the quietness,
and the upwelling joy begotten of His Light and Life.
It’s great!
But i
f I am walking, I like an upward path through my favorite “Nature”.
Ascent is so metaphoric.
I walk upward into His waiting embrace.
What peace, elation, and joy all at once!

I like to visit nature alone to find great peace,
  and this occurs to me – even my extrovert friends seek peace alone there sometimes.
Many of them enjoy walking an upward path by themselves.
There is something calming about solitude.

Peace is this:
Just being still and knowing that He is God.

And this:

. . . the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your heart and mind . . .”

Wonderfully this:
“You will go out with joy and be led out in peace.
The mountains and the hills will break into songs of joy in your presence,
and all the trees will clap their hands.”

Especially this:
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.”
Yes, that was The Prince of Peace speaking to each of us,

in fact He mentions ‘peace’ at least four hundred times in His Word
in all its different meanings and nuances.

Personal peace is important.
Without it, there is a certain emptiness;
an unmet longing.

In today’s turmoil, peace is elusive.
Tranquility, and quiet,
harmony and calmness,
concord and agreement,
safety and security,
and freedom from anxiety and worries
are in short supply.
But peace is important to God.
As His creations, He made it important to us as well,
and He saw how incapable we were
of having any through our own devices.

So He sent His Son, The Prince of Peace,
while we were still enemies of His,
to humble Himself as human in order
to make peace between the warring parties,
The Father vs. the fallen.
Jesus’ sacrificial death was the condition of the cease-fire,
the requirement of justice,
the peace treaty,
the just agreement of concord,
the new covenant of peace between mankind and The Father,
between each person and Father God,
and between Him and myself.

I believe that with His final exhalation,
He whispered Divine peace into the heart of Creation,
and into mine. His peace, like His joy – gifts that cannot be
lost, if guarded, once they are embedded in your heart.

It is said that all Creation rejoiced when this treaty was struck.
I believe that “Nature” “broke into song,
and the trees clapped their hands”
not only for mankind,
and myself,
but for Its Own sake as well,
for
that was the beginning
of the restoration,
the redemption and the repair
of not only humanity, but of all Creation –
in peace.

Thank You Lord, for peace.
Without it, life earth-side would be much more difficult.

So,
what better way to seek and find peace than to
walk with The Bringer and Giver of Peace,
The Wonderful Counselor of Peace,

The Prince of Peace?

He willingly,
eagerly,
whole-heartedly
Walks and talks with me,
(and wants the same with you)

on my upward path through nature,
and not only through idyllic scenes,
but through every season,

taking me,
leading me,
pushing me,
supporting me,
carrying me,

giving me,
showing me,
His peace, and wonder, and glory,
until we reach the arms of The Father,
where I’ll be wrapped in the Ultimate Peace,
the final,
enduring,
everlasting,
Peace of His eternal presence.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~
~  ~  ~
~

There is a special hymn that is commonly associated
with peace: “Peace Like A River/All Is Well With My Soul”.
If you don’t know the background of this song, you should check
out the remarkable story of the author, Horatio Spafford.
There is a line in the fourth verse which speaks deeply within me:
“Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.”
Many versions of this hymn are slow and, well, peaceful.
Here is a version that is upbeat and joyous.
It really struck a chord in me:

Thank you Spring Harvest for the music and Humpty Fell for the fine video!

©Gloryteller.com 10-27-15
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Image

Who Am I ?

To know one’s identity is highly important.
Just ask those with amnesia.
Just ask anyone who doesn’t know, or is uncertain,
or who is “trying to find himself, or herself”.
This piece of knowledge is extremely valuable;
vital, even.

This writer knows the answer.

Who am I?
I AM my Father’s child!
A simple statement.
Make it as complex as you like, for it is indeed huge!

My cousin Ann, of whose attributes I can’t say enough,
quite astutely says that she is:


“Born of one father,

Born again of another.”

A remarkable statement of identity!
I’m pretty certain she means “Born first on earth
of her father, my uncle, and born again of
Father God through Jesus Christ.”
Ann is not only clever, but she is full of truth!

However,
When I thought of myself in light of her statement,
I realized that “I” – “my Father’s child”,
was first born to Him in Heaven,
in a sense,
in the high, holy sense,
the only sense that matters to “me”.
Conceived by Him and born to Him.
Then borne by Him to my bodily habitation on earth.
Borne to my second father,
born unaware of the First.
When finally, finally, I became aware of my First Father,
my initial, original, foremost, paramount, primary, principal Father,
Whose merciful forgiveness of,
and passionate love for me,
transcends my meager understanding,
it was then that I “stepped into the seeming void of faith”
and found the truth of my identity in Him.
It was then that I was born again in Christ Jesus with help from
His Holy spirit.
Reborn!
In Christ, who is in the Father, who are in me!
Here on earth in a body,
but not being a body, or a brain,
but only having one,
while being something – someone – entirely new and different.
My being and my life are in my Father!
Thank You, Father, for my life and my identity (in You).
Indeed,
I AM my Father’s child!
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

 

 

Image

To A Discouraged Young Man

                                                                          ~  ~  ~
I would rather just give you a big bear hug and sit with you quietly, but these words will have to suffice.

To paraphrase Mr. Lewis, this world constantly shows us that we weren’t made for it. We were made for a better land – our true home. We are strangers here, often alien even to our own bodies. Physical issues are hard. Time here is often wearying. Dismay seems to be inordinately long, while fun, satisfying, and pleasurable times pass quickly into the mundane, hum-drum, and mediocre. We long for something we can barely grasp. So much is missing and nothing seems to last except the ache.

Take heart! I’ve found that fixing my mind on our eventual forever home changes my perspective. I don’t know why we are placed here to endure these things, but I do know that we are called, like Saint Paul was, to persevere, and to build character. We are to find our way home and take as many people with us as we can, even if we must carry them, even if we must lead crawling before them. I’ve often seen that the suffering faithful are unintentionally the most compelling role models. Their testimonies are intensely attractive. You are not alone in your thoughts and feelings. You are unique, but not alone. Being older, having lived long in this broken place, I can truly sympathize, and I care about you. So I encourage you, dear brother, to put your hope in Heaven where our Father lives. Believe in Him. Do the best you can in this land, but strive for Home where our real life, true and beautiful, awaits.
Sincerely,
In Jesus’ love,
Me
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Contemplating Paradise


*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
**
*
*
*

*
*
*
*

Image

A Tribute To The Unforgettable Zina Nicole Lahr.

*
*
*   *   *   *   *
*
*
*
*
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Zina Nicole Lahr

Zina Nicole Lahr

 

I watched one of her amazing videos yesterday morning.
“What an inspiring personality”, I thought.
Then reality bit hard and my heart sank.
She is inspiring . . .
And she died.

I didn’t even know her

And I only learned of her existence yesterday,
I learned of her existence, and shortly thereafter I learned
That she existed in the past tense . . .
How heartbreaking that was to me.
But I want her to be remembered.

I want to remember her.
And I want her remembered.

“Why am I even writing this?”, I ask myself.
Because God won’t leave me alone about it.
I tried to distance myself,
But He struck me with an unexpected, intense, compassion for
Zina and her family.
At first I did not understand why.
Now, I’m certain that it was to demonstrate
His own intense, compassionate love
For me, through her,
And to somehow relate that to others.

So here I go again, honoring the life of
One-So-Young
Who seemingly passed away too soon
Suddenly, tragically,
In a hiking accident, no less –
Something which could easily happen to me.

The Community of Humanity mourns your loss, Zina.

I want them to know you –

Know at least a part of who they lost.

I want to be instrumental in their knowing
And in the memory of her.
Because of compassion for her family
Who have endured too much.
Two daughters,
Gone.
But never forgotten.
Losses and trials too many.

I read everything I could find about her online,
And there is quite a lot.
I watched her You Tube videos.
Impressive, informative, inspiring.
She was genuine and real.
No pretenses necessary.
Please go there (to You Tube) too, dear reader.

These are quotes from her blog,

normallyoddzina.wordpress.com  :

“If God is Love, and God goes beyond measurable definition,
then I want to live in a Love that transcends what my love can offer this world . . .”

“I want my interactions with this world, all the beautiful pieces it contains, what is beyond it… what is created, what is explored, and what is loved…and the Creator of it all, to reach out and touch my soul… and make me suddenly very aware I have one.”

“the body, keeping us living in this world, [is] yet the biggest obstacle within it. It’s a sort of frustration, a growing pain, that can drive us to become inspired and into imaginative creativity.”

Her character saturates her brief blog. The way she holds forth her thoughts about heart-wrenching things like losing her best friend and her beloved older sister, is special. The way she expressed how she loved the life of her newborn nephew, and her very own life, which she saw as renewed daily, is uniquely her.

 I have a kinship with Zina –
Manifested in
A love of Jesus.
A zest for life.
A passion for writing, art, music, dance, and movement.
A love of creating,
And Creation itself,
of nature,
of science,
of expression,
of invention,
of adventure,
of learning,
(in the mundane, the exciting, and all between)
In being odd,
Different,
Unique,
Never bored.
(I am who I was made to be – He can use that)

She was most interesting,
She, reportedly, could take a car engine apart and reassemble it,
Yet she never drove a car!

She was inspiring in many ways
Such as in her perseverance, determination, and will-power
To stick to her principles
.
She was celibate,
Never had a drop of alcohol,
Didn’t do recreational drugs.
Her sense of child-like wonder was completely natural
And authentic.
She knew her Lord,
Knew her calling.
Was passionate and compassionate.
Gentle,
Kind,
Patient,
Full of grace,
And full of LOVE.

Here’s the thing that really got to me
About Zina and her love;
When her life’s work was just taking off
In her west coast Mecca,
Zina turned down what must have been her dream job,
The start of an amazing career,
Showcase of her awe-inspiring talents,
To return home to care for the grandmother she loved
Who had been diagnosed with cancer.
It is rare these days,
That sacrificial love.

She was a maker.
I am a maker.
She didn’t mind that folks thought her odd (eccentric)
Nor do I.
She was a thinker and a doer.
Me too.
She was kind, gentle, and caring.
I am working on it . . .
In my view, she was somewhat Christlike (not perfect).
The thing is, Jesus was all the above good things,
Only perfectly so.

Like Zina, I’m out-of-the-ordinary (who wants to be ordinary)
I’m an unapologetic nonconformist who learned how to play the “game”.
I’m an adult, outwardly, but inside I’m a child who never quite grew up.
A Peter Pan figure in disguise?
Who learned how to act in public, for the most part,
For short periods.
And that is okay.
One of the best feelings in life is the one that happens
When I realize that someone loves me just for who I am at the core
– just like God does.
It seems to me that most adults have become jaded in their relationships,
And to the wonders of creation – the large and small,
The distant and close; the mysteries all around;
The beauty that makes one catch their breath moment to moment.

Unlike Zina’s, the goggles on their eyes become thick with age,
And clouded.

So, I’m grateful, dear Lord,  for Zina’s life and
Her special goggles that let us SEE
If we but dare look through them.

*   *   *

(Subscript Note:  The purposes I hope to have fulfilled here are:
First, to bring glory to God,
Then, to honor Zina’s memory,
To speak up for her and tell my version of some of her testimony,
And, last, to tell something of my own journey through Creation.)

Zina, will you kindly make me a trinket as only you can
From a crystal and some sunbeams,
That I can hold in my hand?
I will gratefully receive it
Soon, when I am blessed to see you,
At the end of my dreams.


See you soon, sister Zina.

Love,
Me

*   *   *
http://www.outsideonline.com/1921491/brief-wondrous-life-zina-lahr
was valuable in writing this tribute. Thank you, Outside Online!
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

*
*
*
*

 

Image

The Wheat and the Grape – Sacred Harvest




*   *   *

 Our Daily Bread said today that “our Savior hung between Heaven and earth
to bear every sin of every generation on His shoulders.”
He hung between Heaven and me . . .
What pain it gives me to see that scene . . .
But the above statement led me to think deeply about
what He had told his disciples
and us,
only the night before He hung there,
what we must do to remember Him;
to remember who He was,
to remember what He did,
how He did it,
and why.

“The Lord’s Supper is absolute genius”
is what I concluded.
(not that I think I’m the first, nor the only, one to think that)
He broke the bread and compared it to His body
which would imminently be broken for us.
He poured the wine out and compared it to His blood
which would soon be poured out for us.

“He hung between Heaven and earth.”
He was, and is now, intermediary between us and The Father.
Not as a wall, but as a bridge.
He made a way to raise us to His shoulders,
thus standing between us and the evil one “in the earth”.

As for myself, there is more here than “meets the eye”.
Have you ever thought about how grains
like corn, barley, rye, and wheat are all separated
from the earth by a woody stem?
The seed head of the wheat plant is the “fruit”, in a sense,
that we use to make our bread.

The same applies to “the fruit of the vine”;
tomatoes, cucumbers, kiwi, guava, and, get this – passion fruit –
and predominantly, grapes.
All grow above the ground on woody or semi-woody vines.
They all contain juice, but grape juice makes wine.
(side note: there is great debate whether Jesus’ “fruit of the vine” was unfermented juice, or wine)
I’m in the wine camp because wine stores better.
I won’t even dwell on apple, orange, peach, plum trees, or berry bushes,
each of which produce juicy fruit on woody stems;

but I’m getting off track.

The point is that grapevines, like wheat plants,
produce their fruit between Heaven and earth on woody stems,
and the final product of both were used at the Lord’s Supper.
The Last Supper of our Lord!

By now you are making the connection I’m getting at.
Lord Jesus compared His body to a broken loaf of bread,
and His covenantal blood to the poured-out juice of the grape,
in order that “as often as you
eat this bread
and drink this cup,
you will do so in remembrance of Me.”
Connecting His spiritual Self to the physical act of
eating and drinking something specific,
is brilliant.

It makes the act sacred, and simultaneously
makes our remembrance of Him sacred.
But for me, it doesn’t end there.
Jesus was always using agricultural metaphors because,
I assume, most everyone in His day knew something of the subject.
Is it a great leap to make that He also connected Himself
with the fruit of the earth?

With harvest?
With life-giving, life sustaining, food and drink?
With saving us from spiritual starvation?
If that connection is only for me to make
in order to strengthen my faith in Him,
to take me deeper into our relationship,
to tell me more of a story I long to know more of,
or to give me insight into something so sacred
that I scarcely can digest it,
Then so be it.
You, dear reader, can make of it what you will.
If it doesn’t do anything for you, leave it.

Here’s the thing:
I maintain that Jesus not only connected Himself to
The Bread and The Cup,
But also to the wheat and the grape.
Rich and ripe,
He stood like a sturdy stalk of wheat
before a terrible threshing,
and He hung like a beautiful cluster of grapes
before a horrible crushing.
He stood and He hung there between Heaven and earth,
between us and oblivion,
between us and eternity.
The first and best fruits of the earth,
until the harvest was finished.
He made Himself our everything,
even our spiritual food and drink.
Essential, lifesaving, sacred, and beautiful.

The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Harvest.
Absolute Genius!

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Seeking Grief Relief . . .

A Stream of Consciousness Outpouring . . .

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
@
_______

Today, I have a heavy heart.
I have an aching heart.
I have a broken heart.

It is so heavy that it has sunk toward the bottom –

away from where it should be and down where it should never be.
Its usual buoyancy has succumbed to the weight of the world.

Another young friend has suddenly and unexpectedly gone to be with God.

On one hand, I realize that the passing of a believer,
no matter how young, should, in a sense, be cause for sweet rejoicing,
but, on the other hand, at this moment it only tastes of bitter loss.
My mind is grappling with my heart.
My heart and mind are at war with each other.
I realize that no-one is guaranteed even one more heartbeat,

but distress is becoming dismay,
off and on, I’ve shed tears all day.

Empathy can be a painful and sore.
Compassion for close ones hurts to the core.

First Rachel . . . and now James . . .

Another who was “bigger than life”,
who had a unique zest for life.
Who was well-loved, and who was full of love himself.

A close friend of my son,
He was only twenty one,

A large portion of our community is reeling.
I can’t help but think that this would be exponentially harder
If that were my own son . . .
The one thing that’s worse than being reminded of one’s own mortality
is being reminded of that of one’s children.

And now I’m conflicted.
My head rejoices for his soul, for him – he knew the Lord.
He is communing with Father God and Jesus,
but my heart grieves for all the reasons it does,
and all the reasons it should,
when a young adult has lost his chance to have a full life;
A life in the world, for that’s where I am!

I have to write these feelings out of me,
but I seem to be stuck.
Frustrated.
Annoyed.
Wounded.
Drifting.
How do I organize a piece such as this?
I don’t.
Won’t.
I refuse.
It has to be spontaneous.

A small part of me wants to rail at God,

but I have this thing called faith in Him.
It’s not His fault; He loves James.
I imagine James talking with Jesus at this moment.
I envision Father God taking a picture of Jesus sitting on His throne.
James is popping up behind Him and getting in the photo by surprise,
with his big smile,
with a wink,
and a “thumbs up”.
I believe that is called “photobombing”, or something like that.
Delightfully classic James . . .
I picture Father and Jesus getting a big, warm, hearty
laugh with James. I’m most certain they are very fond of him.

But here’s the thing:
I don’t understand.
(why do I always have to understand?)
Why does the Bible say we can pray and, essentially,
get the desires of our hearts?
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of prayers went up for James
when we heard that he had been severely injured in an auto accident.
Our request was for healing, restoration, and life,
none of which was granted. (as far as we know)
My head says he got his promised eternal life,
for James was a believer and follower of Christ from a young age.
Eternal life in Heaven is the ultimate answer to our prayers,
but we also prayed for the miracle of physical
restoration and that did not happen.
“Your will be done”, we say.
So why bother to pray? (another rhetorical question)
Because He told us to!
Praying must have some affect that we don’t entirely understand –
something great for the prayed-for,
for God, or possibly Jesus, or for the pray-er.
I’m rambling, I know . . .

Jesus said we would be able to do what The Father
enabled Him to do, and even more, including healing, casting out demons,
and even restoring life,
but I don’t seem to be able to do those things

and I would like to know why. (Why do I always question?)
I think He wants me to ask questions, though, for that’s the way I learn.
I do want to learn all I can know about Him.
Moreover, I want to know Him.

I do want to know things;
things most likely beyond my understanding,
and which are perhaps none of my business,
but I pray to know anyway.

However, even in my grief over James, over his family’s heartache,
and over my son’s dismay at the loss of a great friend,
I remain steadfast in my faith.

I would like to know if you, dear reader, have ever felt these things.
If so, I’m comforted to know I’m not by myself in this.
I’m also comforted to know that, by reading this, perhaps
you don’t feel so alone yourself.

I refuse to let these frustrations, these questions, lead me away from
Love and into doubt – or worse even into apostasy.

It was uplifting that one of the Facebook quotes I had written about James
was used by the pastor in the service.
It is a joy that God uses me to help others.

Writing is cathartic, therapeutic, and even healing for me.
Writing is escape, refuge, and security.
Reading is no less.
If you have persevered and gotten this far, please pardon me, dear reader,
for using this forum for my own outpouring, my vent, my relief.

I must remember my “ministry of groaning” in a time like this.
The wordless groaning, (a sort of low, quiet wailing from my soul)
which comes out of the depths of my spirit and manifests itself
even through my voice. (if there is loud music in the background for cover,
the sound of it is all the louder)
When I have run out of tears and words to utter, it seems to help.
God actually put that principle into my spirit one day
when I was desperately praying for another grieving friend.
I told Him I had run out of tears and out of words to say.
“Groan for him, He said quite clearly.
This “gift” is so personal it is difficult to write about here . . .

Grief is spilling out of my heart, trying to drag the resident joy out with it,
but I must not let it succeed, Lord, don’t let it succeed,
for the joy of knowing You is my only salvation in times of crisis like these . . .

~  ~  ~

It has been two weeks, to the day, since I wrote the above.
In that time, I have written much, but not trusted myself to post.
I did not want my own self-centered disillusionment to
take away from the glory of my Lord.

Finally, two mornings ago, the long awaited,
long suppressed,
authentic,
spontaneous, groan came to me.
For myself,
and for others through me.
It can’t “work well” if it is forced.
It has to come with The Lord’s help,

and with His timing.
Without notice, it began in my toes ,
worked its way up through the marrow of my legs,
spread through my core, ever upward,
filling me,
and out through my throat,
expressing wordlessly the pent ache.
Sometimes the groan only comes forth from my heart.
This time, through my voice.
Crying to The Most High Lord more eloquently
than my words could have done.
Groaning for the bereaved family, for the city, for my son,
and for myself.
Sweet sympathy,
concentrated compassion,
the messy turmoil of groaning
bringing order at last.
At last.

All that is left is to somehow turn this piece so that it points
to the  great glory of God.
To give God greater glory should always be my primary concern
when I write. His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.

I think it is best, at this point, to use His own words instead of mine:

Psalm 34:18
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

AMEN

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

 

Joy-Flower

*
  *
    *  *  *  *  *
     *
      *
       *
        *

As he entered the dimly lit room, Yao Lin-On carried the capsule he had made like it was a knife . “This will end my daughter’s suffering,” was his only thought as he approached her bed. He had witnessed the terminal suffering of one of his nieces from the same slowly-disabling, flesh-wasting illness, several years in the past. Those horribly painful images had never left his memory, and he was determined not to let his precious Le-Lan walk the same agonizing path. He wept once again as he looked at her small, sleeping form. “At least she seems to have no pain when she is in deep sleep, but when she wakes, the medication is terribly insufficient . . . How can I let this continue, God? I, the one she has trusted, the one who brought her to this new country, to these new beliefs, to this new Father God and Jesus. I, who daily shared Biblical teachings with her, and worked to make sure that she understood Your Word. I, the one who cared for her after the loss of her mother. I, who love her dearly. I, the only one left to do what, it seems, You, God, won’t do. Yes, I have pleaded in my prayers, I have begged, I have asked politely, I have screamed, I have enjoined and bargained. All to no benefit for Le-Lan. Where is her healing? Where are the promises? Where, at the least, is merciful death? It must be that, now, at the end of my sanity, it is left to me to condemn myself to hell for her sake. Is that what You want? I retain my faith in You! Why are You leaving the task to me, Lord?”

He sat in the hard wooden chair next to the unconscious girl’s bed, laid the large, white capsule on the nightstand next to her teacup, and took her hand gently, as not to wake her. Her fingertips were black. He moaned aloud as he looked at her once-beautiful head of hair, now in ragged patches, at her missing teeth, where her room-brightening smile had been. “I cannot let her suffering be. I can’t let my little Joy-Flower wither away in pain. In a moment, little one, in just a few more moments, My Joy, I will wake you and give you your tea. So hard, this seat, so heavy my arms, so achingly tired.”

He felt her hand stir, her patchy breathing quickening. “Papa? I’m glad. . . , I’m glad you are here,” she whispered in English, the difficult language that, together, they had worked so hard to learn.
“Yes, I’m always here for you, sweet child. Be still, everything is, what is the word? . . . Okay.”
“Papa, lean closer . . . . please listen even if this is hard to understand. I’ve been talking to Jesus. He has been with me all through my illness. When it hurts so bad, Papa, He puts His cool hand on my head. He holds my hand while you hold the other. Papa, He sings to me while you cry. He tells me that you might lose your faith in Him because of me. Oh, Papa! I don’t want that! You must trust Him. Remember all the amazing things we learned about Him? They are all true, Papa!”
“I know they are, sweetheart, shhhh, don’t tire yourself.” He looked away and thought, “Maybe they are true, but He still has some things to answer for . . .”

“Papa . . . . . . . . .” she paused, “I know what you want to do tonight . . . “
Yao Lin-On’s body jumped, startled, rattling the hard chair.
“There is nothing I can do to stop you, but I want you to change your mind. Poppy please, don’t do it. If you love me, don’t.”
He stared at her face. “How could she know?” He was angry. “You know nothing of it,” he wanted to say.
“Poppy, listen,” she whispered faintly, but urgently, “If you do this thing that you think will help me, you will tear us apart forever. You will condemn yourself. If you do it, we will be apart forever. Poppy, it would break my heart if Mama and I were without you. We love you so much, and so do Jesus and the Father.” Please don’t, Poppy, please.”
“Poppy” was her most loving name for him. Mountain brooks of tears ran down his face.

“We do love you, Yao Lin-On, father of our delightful Le-Lan. We share your concern for her. We are also very concerned for you. We hear your prayers for healing and for a miracle. What you don’t realize is that what you keep praying for, We have already done. Le-Lan’s body lingers in your world, but her LIFE has been with Us since the moment she believed in her Savior. She hangs on because her story is not finished, mostly where you are concerned, but also with others who are watching her. Have you not noticed that through all her trials, she never once lost faith? Haven’t you seen that she always proclaims Our kingdom with her body and her spirit, no matter how hard her path? Through your own diligence, she had teachers who understood that in order to awaken to a new life, a person has to die in the old one. Le-Lan knew that she had to die to her self, in order to live in Christ Jesus on earth, and she knows that soon she must sleep the last sleep, which you call death, in order to live in Heaven with Us. She will follow her own path into that sleep, her last thought on earth will be of Us, and she will awaken fully alive in Our arms. Your part is to wait and watch over her sleep. Only wait and keep faith until your own last thought, in your own last sleep. We hope that last thought is only of Us, and that you will follow beautiful Le-Lan into Our waiting arms.

Yao Lin-On looked at the sleeping Le-Lan as he came back to himself. “Was it a dream? A miracle? An inner conversation with himself?” He thought and thought as he stared at the euthanasia capsule for a long while, shuddered, took it away, and flushed it down the toilet. Returning to Le-Lan, he found that she was breathing steadily and beginning to awaken. With emotions boiling over, he took her frail body into his arms.
“I brought you some tea, Joy-Flower, can you drink some? Do you feel a little better, this morning?”
“No, Papa, I . . . feel  . . . worse . . . today. My . . . stomach hurts . . . so bad.”
He bit his own lip hard to drive back the tears.
“But . . . I sure do love you, Poppy,” she whispered slowly and softly into his ear.
“I love you right back, my Joy-Flower.”
He had a sense of calm peace, then, and, for far too many days, he knew that those were the last words he would hear on earth from Le-Lan. She, at last, slept her final sleep. Yet, he was confident in proclaiming that those were the first words he would hear from her in Heaven. It shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did, how many others were amazed, and changed, after watching the pain, and the faith, of the man of God, Yao Lin-On, and his beautiful daughter of God, Yao Le-Lan, Joy-Flower.

******************************************
*
*
*
*
*

About the making of Joy-Flower

One of my writer friends commented:
“Absolutely beautiful. How did you come up with this storyline?”
My reply was this:
 “It’s difficult to explain God’s involvement, participation, and presence in the creation of this story, but I’ll try. One morning I awoke (or did I?) and it was in my heart to write about the subject of a man being angry at God for what he perceived were broken promises and unanswered prayers. Then I “heard” Him say the name of the protagonist. I was a little surprised, and had the audacity to question, “Why the Asian name? What do I know of this?” I soon began to lay out the story and He filled in my blanks. It even took an unexpected turn into another unexpected, complex subject. It was all done in one “take”. I’m confident that Joy-Flower has a purpose far beyond what I can imagine, and that one day He will tell me the whole story behind it; the rest of the story of  its future. Thank you so much for reading it, J.! Your question made me think about it, which stretched my pen further than I thought it could go. I needed that!”

So, if I were pressed to describe writing, from my perspective it seems to be the expression of the inexpressible, using combinations of words that have not been combined before, with the nearly incomprehensible involvement of our nearly unfathomable God.
*
*
*
*

Joy-Flower
Copyright by Gloryteller, Len Snider, 11-4-2014
All rights reserved
The names of the two main human characters are fictitious.

 

 

 

.
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Through The Eyes Of Love

 


Shortly after his baptism, the new believer looked at a quite dirty, quite unkempt beggar sitting on the curb holding a sign. For many decades he had judged harshly those whom he thought “beneath” him. “There sits more scum of the earth,” he thought. “It’s their own fault. So many have pulled themselves up from that gutter. It’s a choice they make to live that way.”

“Now that you know Me, you surely know better than to entertain that kind of thinking. Be still and look again with My eyes . . .”

As he did so, he was astonished to see a different man. This one was clean, and neat, and so upright that the believer thought he could like this man. The more he looked, the more he thought he could even love him like a brother. Astonished, he exclaimed, “Ahhh, thank you Lord. I’ve been so wrong about many things,” he said contritely. “Life with You is so different – so much better – than life was without You.

“That is the way I see that man; the way I see all people. That is the way I saw you when your own soul was in filthy tatters. I have always loved you. I love that one no less. Think of the father whose son hates him to the point of wishing him dead, yet, that father, nevertheless loves that son to the point that he would give his life so that the hate-filled son might live. If you see that, you see but a speck of how I view that poor man, yourself, and every person alive.”

The revelation so struck the new believer, that he went home and began writing. From then on, when he was tempted to look upon someone and judge them as unfit to stand on the same ground as he, the image returned. “God loves that one, just as much as He loves me, I must love them and pray for their good, for I was once worse, yet He loved me.”

Inspired by God’s revelation, this is part of what the new believer wrote:

“O great God, I looked up at You, and You, down at me, and I could understand, in some small sense, what you saw in us and how You love. Later, when I knew You better, I looked up again and saw You scanning Your limitless horizons all the way around, but I could not begin to fathom what wonders You were seeing, for You survey all the past, all the future, and everything else that exists in Your realms bounded by time, and those Heavenly realms outside of time. It was then that I knew that I had little conception of your wisdom, nor, despite my scientific efforts, very little understanding of Your mind, nor what Your thoughts might be, except for the grace of that one revelation of Your love for all people, and for me, when you, for a moment, let me see with eyes of love.”

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
**
*
**

**
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Joy-Flower

*
  *
    *  *  *  *  *
     *
      *
       *
        *

As he entered the dimly lit room, Yao Lin-On carried the capsule he had made like it was a knife . “This will end my daughter’s suffering,” was his only thought as he approached her bed. He had witnessed the terminal suffering of one of his nieces from the same slowly-disabling, flesh-wasting illness, several years in the past. Those horribly painful images had never left his memory, and he was determined not to let his precious Le-Lan walk the same agonizing path. He wept once again as he looked at her small, sleeping form. “At least she seems to have no pain when she is in deep sleep, but when she wakes, the medication is terribly insufficient . . . How can I let this continue, God? I, the one she has trusted, the one who brought her to this new country, to these new beliefs, to this new Father God and Jesus. I, who daily shared Biblical teachings with her, and worked to make sure that she understood Your Word. I, the one who cared for her after the loss of her mother. I, who love her dearly. I, the only one left to do what, it seems, You, God, won’t do. Yes, I have pleaded in my prayers, I have begged, I have asked politely, I have screamed, I have enjoined and bargained. All to no benefit for Le-Lan. Where is her healing? Where are the promises? Where, at the least, is merciful death? It must be that, now, at the end of my sanity, it is left to me to condemn myself to hell for her sake. Is that what You want? I retain my faith in You! Why are You leaving the task to me, Lord?”

He sat in the hard wooden chair next to the unconscious girl’s bed, laid the large, white capsule on the nightstand next to her teacup, and took her hand gently, as not to wake her. Her fingertips were black. He moaned aloud as he looked at her once-beautiful head of hair, now in ragged patches, at her missing teeth, where her room-brightening smile had been. “I cannot let her suffering be. I can’t let my little Joy-Flower wither away in pain. In a moment, little one, in just a few more moments, My Joy, I will wake you and give you your tea. So hard, this seat, so heavy my arms, so achingly tired.”

He felt her hand stir, her patchy breathing quickening. “Papa? I’m glad. . . , I’m glad you are here,” she whispered in English, the difficult language that, together, they had worked so hard to learn.
“Yes, I’m always here for you, sweet child. Be still, everything is, what is the word? . . . Okay.”
“Papa, lean closer . . . . please listen even if this is hard to understand. I’ve been talking to Jesus. He has been with me all through my illness. When it hurts so bad, Papa, He puts His cool hand on my head. He holds my hand while you hold the other. Papa, He sings to me while you cry. He tells me that you might lose your faith in Him because of me. Oh, Papa! I don’t want that! You must trust Him. Remember all the amazing things we learned about Him? They are all true, Papa!”
“I know they are, sweetheart, shhhh, don’t tire yourself.” He looked away and thought, “Maybe they are true, but He still has some things to answer for . . .”

“Papa . . . . . . . . .” she paused, “I know what you want to do tonight . . . “
Yao Lin-On’s body jumped, startled, rattling the hard chair.
“There is nothing I can do to stop you, but I want you to change your mind. Poppy please, don’t do it. If you love me, don’t.”
He stared at her face. “How could she know?” He was angry. “You know nothing of it,” he wanted to say.
“Poppy, listen,” she whispered faintly, but urgently, “If you do this thing that you think will help me, you will tear us apart forever. You will condemn yourself. If you do it, we will be apart forever. Poppy, it would break my heart if Mama and I were without you. We love you so much, and so do Jesus and the Father.” Please don’t, Poppy, please.”
“Poppy” was her most loving name for him. Mountain brooks of tears ran down his face.

“We do love you, Yao Lin-On, father of our delightful Le-Lan. We share your concern for her. We are also very concerned for you. We hear your prayers for healing and for a miracle. What you don’t realize is that what you keep praying for, We have already done. Le-Lan’s body lingers in your world, but her LIFE has been with Us since the moment she believed in her Savior. She hangs on because her story is not finished, mostly where you are concerned, but also with others who are watching her. Have you not noticed that through all her trials, she never once lost faith? Haven’t you seen that she always proclaims Our kingdom with her body and her spirit, no matter how hard her path? Through your own diligence, she had teachers who understood that in order to awaken to a new life, a person has to die in the old one. Le-Lan knew that she had to die to her self, in order to live in Christ Jesus on earth, and she knows that soon she must sleep the last sleep, which you call death, in order to live in Heaven with Us. She will follow her own path into that sleep, her last thought on earth will be of Us, and she will awaken fully alive in Our arms. Your part is to wait and watch over her sleep. Only wait and keep faith until your own last thought, in your own last sleep. We hope that last thought is only of Us, and that you will follow beautiful Le-Lan into Our waiting arms.

Yao Lin-On looked at the sleeping Le-Lan as he came back to himself. “Was it a dream? A miracle? An inner conversation with himself?” He thought and thought as he stared at the euthanasia capsule for a long while, shuddered, took it away, and flushed it down the toilet. Returning to Le-Lan, he found that she was breathing steadily and beginning to awaken. With emotions boiling over, he took her frail body into his arms.
“I brought you some tea, Joy-Flower, can you drink some? Do you feel a little better, this morning?”
“No, Papa, I . . . feel  . . . worse . . . today. My . . . stomach hurts . . . so bad.”
He bit his own lip hard to drive back the tears.
“But . . . I sure do love you, Poppy,” she whispered slowly and softly into his ear.
“I love you right back, my Joy-Flower.”
He had a sense of calm peace, then, and, for far too many days, he knew that those were the last words he would hear on earth from Le-Lan. She, at last, slept her final sleep. Yet, he was confident in proclaiming that those were the first words he would hear from her in Heaven. It shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did, how many others were amazed, and changed, after watching the pain, and the faith, of the man of God, Yao Lin-On, and his beautiful daughter of God, Yao Le-Lan, Joy-Flower.

******************************************

Copyright by Gloryteller, Len Snider, 11-4-2014
All rights reserved
The names of the two main human characters are fictitious.

 

 

 

.
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Tears Are For The Living

*
 *
  *   *  *  *  *
   *
    *
      *
       *

I have few tears for the dead,
for their souls have flown away,
each to its eternal land,
to the god, or God they chose,
or Who always held them in His hands;
Only gone from here,

as I, one day, will be,
they’re gone,
in the main,
to their self-determined fates.

But here survive the living
in their mourning, loss, and grief;
aching whether in their faith,
or in their unbelief,

still sad.
It’s only for all of those
that my sighing heartstring breaks.

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Why?

*
*
*   *  *  *  *  *
*
*
*
*
*

When disaster strikes,
when tragic loss of lives occurs,
why do we second guess ourselves
after the fact?
Why do we have to look back?
Why do we say,
“What if I had only said  _______,
or done _______ ?”
Why do we search for answers when there are none,
or the answers are beyond us in their complexity?
What do we gain when the past won’t change?
Will it help if there is something or someone to blame?

How can we cope when we have no control?
Where can we run, when futility finds us?
When will we abandon wasteful rhetoric?

Why do we keep asking “Why”,
crying, WHYYYYY?

Why?

It is futile to ask the wind, the sky, the universe.
Hopeless.
Useless.
Pointless.
Of no value.
To no avail.
And vain.
A waste of faith.
A waste of time,
especially if one knows The One
Who knows the answers,
the One who kindly, lovingly, comforts us
when the only word that will come is “why”.
The One who will, on our day, answer us without being asked,
for He already knows why
we continuously,
helplessly,
ask . . .

Why
*
*
**
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

One Man’s Story Illustrating The Meaning Of Ressurection Sunday – Easter – “I Am Not My Own”

*
*
*   *   *   *   *
*
*
*
*

It has been almost ten years since the guy in this story believed God for the first time.  Seven years after “his” rescue, “he” was commissioned to write about that very personal Life-event. This is the first story that the Holy Spirit of Jesus poured into “him” and then helped that hatching writer set into words. Although it is full of metaphor and illustration, which some might find challenging, even troubling, it is based upon, and inspired by “his” own personal rebirth, transformation, and resulting personal relationship with “his” Savior:

I Am Not My Own

 

“Waiting to die” pretty much summed it up. Nothing before me. I was lost without a compass or map. No sun to show direction. Just utterly lost. No purpose. No meaning. I must have taken a wrong turn sometime, somewhere in the past, somewhere back on the journey up this metaphoric trail called “life”. I had relied completely upon myself, needing no-one else. I knew something had been missing, but I had ignored that thought. Looking after my own wants and desires, I took little accounting of others’ well-being. I admit life had been mostly about me, yet there was an emptiness, and that I had ignored as well. But surely it isn’t my fault that I found myself in a bad place! Where was the love? Where was this God my mother and grandfather talked about? I had shaken my fist at the sky in anger.
“You don’t exist and I hate you.”
I had always been right. I just didn’t make mistakes. Yet there must be something more. No, that’s silly, this is all there is! Me, Myself and I. Live for today, for you only get one chance at life. “I am my own man. I‘ll do it my way!” I shouted my arrogant mantra. “Take pleasure while you can before it’s too late.”

Darker and colder. Hope is fading…….  Wait. The “trail” splits up ahead.  I have a choice of directions in which to take my life, but I can’t tell which way would be best.  For the first time, I can’t tell which way to go.  My superior intellect should be able to divine the right way. Intuition. Deduction. Maybe I can get back in the game. Yes, the Universe will tell me the way. I’ll meditate. “Ohhhmmmm.” I’ll close my eyes. Breathe deep – let it out. “Ohhhmmmmm.”  “Find the right  way, before it’s too late…….. too late………………. too late…………………………..”

Suddenly I find myself on a real trail;  a rocky, dusty, steep, very real mountain trail.

The sky is dreary and the air is heavy with the feeling of an impending storm. I’m not alone on my ascent up the mountain. There is a man struggling to carry or drag something on the trail above me. As I draw closer to him I notice that he is struggling with a heavy wooden cross. His robe is soiled and dusty, and heavily bloodstained. His straining face is shining with sweat and his features are wracked with excruciating pain. In surprise turning to shock, I notice that a wreath of long, cruelly sharp thorns has been pressed into the skin of his scalp and forehead. Rivulets of blood are slowly trickling into his eyes and down his bruised, battered cheeks. One eye is nearly swollen shut. He doesn’t seem to know I’m here.

I stop as he loses his footing and falls to one knee in the rocks. Breathing hard – nearly panting, he manages to rise and lift the cross to his shoulder but it is apparent that his strength is failing. It seems urgent that he reach the summit with that cross. In an unusual moment of pity, I wonder if there is anything I can do to help him. I’m not without compassion, am I? But no, he is probably some sort of criminal who doesn’t deserve my help and, anyway, I wouldn’t want to get into trouble. The same men who have hurt him could very well do the same to me. Yet torture of this kind is sort of disturbing no matter who he is or what he has done.

He is nearing the top of the dry, barren mountain. I follow him at a safe distance, with a sort of morbid curiosity, and watch as he shuffles painfully across a flat area until he stops, pauses, then half shrugs and half throws the cross off his shoulder onto the hard ground. He drops with painful exhaustion onto his hands and knees over the heavy wooden cross. His fingers come away covered with his lifeblood when he touches his punctured forehead.  He places his shaking hand upon the crossbar and turns his face toward me, then he stares right into my eyes and one corner of his mouth lifts in just a hint of a smile. Blood is dripping from his wounded head onto the cross. I am so startled that I look away in confusion and embarrassment. I do not know him, yet this pitiful man acts like he knows me. Frightened, and not knowing why, I turn away and quickly walk down and around a small hill until I find a cave-like formation in the rocks where I can be out of the blast of the wind and hopefully sheltered from the gathering storm.

I sit with my knees bent and my arms around them. Thinking. Wondering. Who was that man?  What happened to him? What is he doing? Why?  The wind, which had been raging, suddenly becomes completely still. The light begins to fade. In a short time it is completely dark and I am desperately afraid, for I know it is only midday. If I should move, I risk falling into a hole or off a cliff.

“Helllp! Someone, please help me!”  Silence…..      Impatient, I take a few tentative steps, carefully feeling for safe places to put my feet. I take a few more steps but a ledge of rock shifts under me and I find that I’m sliding down a slope. I manage to grasp the edge of a large, flat rock as I slide past it. The edges of the rock are sharp, cutting my palms as I try to hang on. Now I am hanging in the air by the tips of my fingers.
“Hellllllp!” I cried again. “For the love of god, someone, anyone. I’m falling. Save me. Oh my god, save me.”
A small light appears below my feet. A glow like a small candle. Greenish yellow. I look down and see that my feet are just above a solid, flat rock so I drop onto it. Now what?
“You’re welcome” someone says. “Now come, there is something you should see. Just be quiet and follow me.”
“Who’s there?  Who are you?” No reply. The tiny light moves across the rock such that it lights a path for my footsteps. I can tell that we are circling upward and to the right. “Thanks for the help. I thought I would die!”
“Yes, you would have. Shhhhh”
I follow and reach a flat place. The light moves away from the ground and stops near a pair of feet. The feet are nailed to a post with a huge iron spike! Oh, my lord, I need to get away from here! The light winks out. But, I can’t get away if I can’t see. Maybe I’m hallucinating. Let me awaken from this nightmare! The light appears higher up. I see a hand nailed to a crossbeam. I can’t look. Someone has nailed this guy to the cross he was carrying!
I’m horrified. This is too much. “Let me go! Get me out of here!”
“Wait”
Now the glow moves across the beam until it reaches a vertical post and I see a sign with words written on it in a foreign language. Beneath the sign I see a wreath made of thorns upon a head which is hanging down. Then I’m shown the man’s other hand – also pierced with a nail. So much blood. I feel ill and kneel on the cold stone. Obviously it is the same man I followed up the path.
“Who is this poor man?”
“Soon you will know,” the voice said softly.
“What has he done to deserve this?” I whispered.
“Nothing. He has done only good. What you see is innocent blood. Now we must move away so that he can finish what he came to do – what has to be done that only he can do.” I follow the light behind a large boulder then stand and wait.
The light is gone again. It is still dark as midnight. No stars or moon or sun.
“ Don’t leave me. You still there? ”
“ I Am.”
“What is that stench?”
“ Be still, it’s coming. They are all coming.”
The smell of dead things hits me. Sulfur. Every foul smell I have ever smelled hits me. I see something coming from beyond where the crucified man is. It is black. More black than the dark. So black that it stands out against the darkness. It is floating like a hairy, spiny blanket and reminds me of a sting ray the way it moves through the air. Terrifying sounds begin to blare from the thing. A cacophony of screams, wails, and growls. The sounds of terror and of war and of hate. It opens its yawning maw revealing row upon row of sharp yellow teeth. Anything that got near that vicious mouth would be snatched in and cut to bits.
“What in the world is that?” I asked, terrified. Whatever it is, I think it sees me. It is between me and the cross and it is looking to devour me like prey. I am paralyzed with fear. Then the man on the cross intervenes. He says something I can’t understand as though speaking directly to the predator. I hold my breath. It turns toward him. What a relief!
“ It is something you have never understood. Close your eyes so that I can make you see a little better.” With that the light appears like a small oil lamp, touches me on the forehead and then over my heart, and disappears. Something inside me says “That is the first sin.” Now the hideous thing is settling onto the cross for I can see its outline wrapping around the outline of the cross and the figure of the man. I hear the sounds of a violent, gasping struggle. Sin seems to be trying to suffocate him and crush him with its considerable weight. It seems to burn him like strong acid, yet he appears to be neutralizing and absorbing it.
I breathe a sigh of relief until I see more sins coming from all directions, heading straight for him like wasps with stingers bared. They attack him like the first, only by the hundreds, then millions, then billions. The expanse of the dark sky is filled with them. Piling onto him. The man is in agony beyond my understanding. This is no ordinary man.
“How can he endure this nightmare? Isn’t it enough that he has been tortured, and hangs there bleeding to death? Now he has to be attacked by these monstrosities?” As if in reply all I can hear is the muffled sound of weeping. I can’t help but weep myself and sink to my knees under the constant streams of unspeakable things passing overhead. I curl up and cover my ears. All the while the inner voice is comforting me. Giving me small insights. Keeping me from going crazy with terror. “How long have I been here?”
“Nearly three hours.”
“This is horrible, why do I have to watch this? Worse yet, why is it happening to this nice man if, as you say, he is innocent? What in god’s name is going on?”

“This mysterious, wondrous man is receiving all the blasphemy, all the malicious thoughts and deeds, all the selfish ideas and cruel acts that ever happened and that will ever happen. He is absorbing them somehow. To His very marrow. I am not even certain exactly how He is doing it. It is supernatural, for He is beyond nature now. I can feel how He recognizes each individual sin-beast and recalls the depth of His own love for the bearer of each monster. And there’s even more to it than that. He is becoming sin, transforming into it because of its viciously contaminating nature. And yes, you spoke well, He is doing it all in God’s name. I know that a multitude of angels could be called to save Him, but He knows He must do this and do it alone – completely and terribly alone. This is the only way – to trade places with you – to endure what you could never endure. He who has been perfect is ready to give up everything He holds very dear – even His relationship with His Father and His eternal life in Heaven and He is doing it all for you. He is becoming what he despises most to save you. You did ask to be saved, remember? This poor guy, as you call Him, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! No one can come to the Father except through Him because of what He is doing right now! You are seeing Lord Jesus, the one and only Son of God, in His finest hour. Giving His utmost. Giving His all for His brothers and sisters. He is working toward His own destruction. Yes, you are right. It is almost too much for even me to bear.”
I still had my doubts.
“ Are you telling me that this Jesus, God, Heaven stuff is real?”
“ What do you hear inside?”
I sat in stunned silence and listened…. In a very small voice I heard myself say “Yes, I’ve been so wrong……..”

“Stand up, you should see this”
I stood. The last of the black abominations was being taken in. Save one. It was massive. Uglier and nastier, more foul-smelling and noisier than any of the others. I shuddered. “What in the world is that?” There was a long pause……..

“Don’t you know?……………. That one is yours.”
Hanging my head and through my sobs I confessed. “Yes, it is so full of unforgiveness, and selfishness, and every other bad thing. Yes mine is the worst. I‘m so sorry.” Just the weight of my terrible sin alone should have crushed Him, yet He bore them all. I don’t understand.”
“He accepted your punishment. Now you are almost free. Your ‘lifesaving’ is a gift from Us, but there is just one more thing you must do. I’ll see you soon, there’s something I must do too.  Don’t worry, it’s a good thing.”
“Us?  Who?…. Wait !…. What do I do now?!!
“You have been chosen, but He doesn’t ever force.  You can accept His choosing or reject it.  So choose.  Choose wisely, for as you have seen, Life and death have been laid before you. Of course Life is preferred.  Who, or what, will be your Lord?  We have great hopes for you, but the choice is yours and there can be no compromise. Choose.”  Then the Light-Being was gone.

I stand here in shock as the sky’s light begins to return. Am I witnessing my first dawn? I turn toward Jesus. The cross seems worn and bent. He seems almost……..

But even now He is dying, and with His last breath I hear Him declare loudly, not in defeat, but in triumph:

“IT IS FINISHED!”

All creation seems to be groaning and weeping. Nooooooo! How can this be! I can’t lose Him now! All Heaven and Earth is wailing in protest, the thunder is deafening and an earthquake is throwing me into the air. My landing is sure to hurt, but I’m not afraid, for suddenly belief overtakes me.  My fear is gone.  I believe that I will be delivered to safety and the name of my Savior is Jesus Christ, Messiah, Son of God. Immanuel. God With Me. I believe, and everything has changed! But, oh, how I wish He weren’t gone. I so would have liked to talk with Him…… Noooooooooooooo!!!

I can’t watch as they take His body away. I simply stay in a fetal position behind my boulder and wonder in awe – and in deep sadness. For another day, maybe two, I just wait and think.  I think of how stupid I was to set myself up as my own god, as judge of who I thought should be forgiven or not forgiven; who should be condemned or glorified.

Why do I feel light and new?  I don’t deserve to.  My burden is gone but so is He. I should be sad and I am, but somehow this air is clean and fresh. Are those birds that I hear? Why do I hear someone singing?

Toward dusk, I stand and walk to the cross. The cuts on my palms are open and bleeding again and they hurt. Standing at the foot of this horrible post, I feel small. I can hardly bear to look at it, yet something catches my eye. There is something written there behind where His wonderful, pure heart once beat. He must have done it when He collapsed atop the cross and smiled at me. There are words in a foreign language with my name under them. Another is there beside mine. I see crimson hand prints on both sides of the cross where his hands gripped it. I don’t know how it could be that the blood is still fresh, but it is. Impulsively I stand on my tiptoes, stretch, reach upward and place my hands over his hand prints. Mercy, Lord!  Instantly a circuit is completed! My hands are held firm! His blood enters my cuts and there is no more pain. Not in my hands nor my heart. Connected by blood, I feel His presence! He is my Savior. My Lord Jesus! I am His and He is mine! A bright, white light wraps itself around my feet and travels up my legs. Engulfing. Permeating. It reaches my chest, then the top of my head. I feel clean and new and whole. The feeling of a warm blanket descends upon my head and, as it slowly falls, wraps me in comfort from head to toes. My whole body – my whole being – tingles with joy as though sparkling light is becoming a sensation inside me. I lift my palms from the cross and, like a child, raise them to the sky. I have chosen Life. He is alive in me and I live in Him.  At last I know who and whose I am, and why. “Thank you Father, Thank You, Thank You; Thank You, Jesus!” I just sit at the foot of the cross and weep out joy for a long time…………..

I awake at dawn smiling , whispers of sunshine warming my face. I’ve slept soundly all night and remember dreaming that I enjoyed a banquet in a palace full of beautiful people. After an amazing meal, there was a party. Everyone there smiled at me. All through the night we had such fun singing and dancing……

Whispers.  Laughter.  Exuberance!  My eyes opening.  The little Light-Being was back, bouncing all over the ground and over me. Excitedly it announced, “Joyous News!  Happy, Happy Morning!  He is alive, indeed it is true! The stone was not as heavy as it looked, nor the tomb secure from Light in its darkness! He awoke and walked alive from His grave!  Death is undone! His work is indeed finished today! All that He gave up has been restored to Him.  Everything!  Even now He walks among His people. He even knows of your choice!  He wants to talk with you! Come quickly!”
I was already running down the trail as all my inner-being proclaimed, “‘My Savior Lives!’  Wait, who are you?  Slow down!”
And in the distance ahead, behind me, and in my inner, renewed soul, I heard, “I AM the Wind at your back!”

It seems a season later.  A day perhaps? I am a different person now – a new person with a new heart. It’s simple, yet hard to explain. My fears and doubts are gone. Selfishness is replaced by love. I know meaning, yes, and purpose. And there is this joy – this amazing joy! I look at my cupped hands. They are completely healed, and in them the little bubble of Light wiggles and pulsates. I ask it, “I wonder what those words meant. The ones on the cross, in the blood that doesn’t ever seem to dry. What would He write to me in His own blood?”

“Don’t you know? Can’t you guess? My child , it’s in Aramaic. He is saying

“I LOVE YOU”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh my dear Lord! Now my Father and Creator and I can talk and have fellowship. He tells me I will always be His and that He will always be mine! He said I could keep the little Light-Being which led me to Him and which helped me to see, even when times were darkest.  In fact it has expanded to fill my inner- man, and resides in me today, and to this day, He and my Lord Jesus still love to show me my page in His Book of Life.
It says: “(Len, grandson of David) — Acquired, and adopted, December 2, 2004 AD at 9:33 am central time. On that day, Father and I danced and sang with him, and all Heaven and the angels rejoiced until half-past eternity!”
(He has a great sense of humor!)

Acquired! Wow!

And that’s how I learned that I am not my own, but that I was acquired – purchased by His blood and paid for by Him dying in my place and carrying my sin away! Acquired and purchased not as a mere possession, but redeemed and adopted as a treasured son, brother, and heir.

Not my own! Entirely His!

Oh, and about that name that I saw beside mine on the cross, written in His blood. My dear friend, haven’t you guessed?  Do you not know?

It is yours!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Copyright © 11-22-2010  by Len, Gloryteller.  All rights reserved.

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Remembering Rachel 3-31-14

~  ~  ~

For Ron and Mary, and for the family and close friends of dear Rachel S.
whose sense of loss must dwarf my own.

~And for Rachel~

~  ~  ~

The whole congregation prayed as one for a miracle – for Rachel’s healing.
Many prayers have been said for Rachel and her family.
I don’t know why those prayers don’t seem to have been answered.
Maybe they have, I think they have, but in a way we can’t understand because our wisdom is lacking.
I have no answers for why things happen as they do,
but I do know The One who does.

He asked me to write for Him,
so once again I sit here in a sort of cauldron of amazement mixed with sadness,
and loss mixed with joy, as He feeds me words and I try to copy them properly;

as I try do this thing that’s not as easy as anyone thinks,
I know it’s not as hard as if I were alone. . .

I sit here and write my heart out for Him and for you . . .

~  ~  ~

A Touching Moment

Over a year ago, on the Sunday when the whole congregation lifted up Rachel in prayer, I saw her standing by herself after the service so I walked up to her and held my hand up, chest high, in the “high five” position. Her eyes met mine with a quiet, gentle, questioning look, but, without hesitation, she raised her hand to mine. What a special surprise it was, when, instead of “high-fiving”, she placed her warm hand perfectly on mine and tenderly held it there for several seconds, while her eyes became clear and bright, and full of life, and she gave me one of her small, heartfelt smiles. In that slight smile was a certain “knowing”, a certain loving compassion, a certain comforting, a certain closeness. She was comforting me! That was the essential Rachel! It was only a small gesture, but she gave me a tender moment of herself – from her heart – that has lasted; one of those rare human moments that will stay with me and be cherished because, through Rachel, God revealed something more of Himself. I can hardly wait to be where Rachel is now, where all of us who know Rachel, and Jesus, will be able to press our hands together, embrace, and rejoice within His loving presence.

~  ~  ~ 

Speaker For A Sister

I read a book  (second in the “Ender” series by Orson Scott Card) in which a man, when called upon to do so, “speaks” the life of a “departed” person publicly. This “speaking” involved the Speaker’s researching the life of the deceased through opening records and interviewing people. He looked for The Truth of the subject’s life no matter how painful that truth might be when he spoke it, for in The Truth is healing, and in The Truth is freedom for the living.
The truth is that, although we were friends and fellow believers, I’m not sure I knew Rachel well enough to “speak” for her. The only Truth I can try to speak is His Truth. Here’s some truth: All of the people I know, and know of, who did know her better than I, said that she was loved, and/or liked, and/or highly valued, and/or cherished by them all. 
She was beautiful in the all the various ways we think of beauty.
She sang beautifully, especially during worship.
She was adventurous.
She liked a little non-conformity.
She liked to wear exciting colors.
She was intelligent, witty, and kind.
She would be the first to admit that she was far from perfect.
She was a gifted artist who also wrote well.
She liked learning and teaching, and did both well.
She loved people and enjoyed helping them.
She was a thinker, and a doer.
She loved and followed Jesus, and would want to tell me that I should have listed this first.
She would have been right once again.
I was notably impressed by the dignity, and quiet humility,
and faith that she maintained throughout her illness.

That alone was a huge testimony of her faith.
~I am a poor speaker for her.~
I’m glad that there are many others coming forth who are better-qualified than I,
for the testimony of her life, as she lived it with God foremost, is a wonderful, powerful thing,
even as is the testimony of her death, and it needs to be spoken often and well.
She was that kind of “bigger than life” sort of person. I heartily agree with my friend, who wrote publicly:
“The world is a better place because of her life, and a much poorer place because of her death.”
I, for one, am humbled and thankful that I had the privilege of sharing a tiny part of her life,
and to be able to, in my tiny way, “speak” for her here.
Mine is only one of many lives that is richer for having known her.

~  ~  ~

Of God, Grief, and Glory

On a highly personal note, I have a personal “revelation”
that He seems to want shared:
I was sitting by myself in the back of the church, excited to be worshiping in His house again, when The Lord began sharing His Spirit with me.
(If you have questions concerning this, I can’t adequately explain it, not at this moment.
It takes a kind of knowing, so please bear with me. Just go with it.)
He shared His excitement with me, conveyed that He was glad I was there when and where He wanted me to be, but He was especially excited that very soon He would be bringing Rachel to Himself – that’s the way He expressed it.
(I had been told earlier that Rachel was barely hanging on to life)
He wanted to comfort me in my sense of loss and concern.
He poured into me, strongly, how much He cares for Rachel; how deeply He loves her;
so much that He sent Jesus to shed His blood for her and give up His life for her, to save her life – her second life – the most important one, by far. He showed me how He had redeemed her for this day, her day of glory, and forever more. Do I need to describe the peace and comfort that settled upon me? How I wept when I realized that He was not only speaking of Rachel, but of you and me, dear reader?


I hesitate to share such intimate personal testimony.
Could it be misunderstood? Misused?
I want to keep it to myself. Selfishly? Maybe.
Defensively? Sure.
But it’s all I have to give you, so
He says I must give it.

I write my heart out for Him and for you . . .

~  ~  ~

This next closing poem was inspired by something Rachel wrote.
I dedicate it to her memory:

Why A Blue Sky ?

Why is the sky blue?
Why am I me, and you, you?
Why do we live, and breathe, and move?
Why do tears fall as they do?
Why, Some things are not for me to know!
Except that I can ultimately say
That in God’s kind goodness,
In His wise reason,
In spite of our rudeness,
To enrich our every season,

  Out of His great love,
He intended it all to be just this way.

*****

(I can also say that I’ll soon know why,
when I have my own glorious day,
Though I may have glorified Him poorly in my life,
May I glorify Him well in my death)

~  ~  ~

If she were here, I’d say “See what you did Rachel?
See what you inspired in all of us?”

And she would flash that beautiful smile and probably wink
and smack me with a real “high five”.

With love,
Missing you, and
Looking to see you soon, Sister.

~  ~  ~
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

About The Music Links Below

I don't own, and have no claim on, these music videos. The following are simply links inside my website pointing back to the original locations of the videos. The names of the creators of these videos are cited wherever possible, and only "embedding-enabled" selections are used.

The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

Copyright Licensing

Creative Commons License
gloryteller.wordpress.com, and all proprietary work found here, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Write Me Here:

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 365 other followers

My Signature Story

"I AM NOT MY OWN" is the piece that inspired the building of this site. It is the story that this site, as well as my life, is centered around. This letter to you is the one i would most like for you to read out of all the ones you will find here, because it describes how profoundly the works of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can change one human life.

For Your Reading Enjoyment, This Is Like A Park, Use It, Enjoy It, and Leave Everything Where You Found It.

The content here's not to be used,

But to only be read and perused.

If you copy it off,

My lawyer's not soft,

And your fortune is mine - you got sued!

Gloryteller :-)

%d bloggers like this: