mantle: Mary’s covering and our own God-given calling

mantle - the virgin mary @poetryjoy.com

Mantle is a quaint, rarely used word that still has relevance for us today. As well as being a literal coat or cloak, mantle also means the passing on of an important role or responsibility from person to person.

In a biblical sense, mantle can imply a covering of grace, a specific calling on our lives, as in Elijah’s prophetic mantle falling onto Elisha in a literal and metaphorical handing over of his cloak and anointing.

“So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.” – 1 Kings 19:19 (NKJV)

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was cloaked and enveloped by God’s grace. She was overshadowed by Holy Spirit for the pivotal role she would play in bringing about God’s purposes on earth.

mantle - Mary's covering and our own God-given calling @poetryjoy.com

Mary’s mantle

Her charisma,
a divinely conferred
gift, was pure, bright,
a vibrant inner light
to bathe heaven’s child.

Her character brooked
choice of none other
for she was resilient,
demure and mild.

A willing and yielded
obedient servant,
a fledgling woman,
youthful, innocent,
betrothed while still a teen.

Whose womb was home,
whose heart was rent,
who hosted holiness
quietly and unseen.

A young woman
full of divine favour,
subject to rejection
and society’s reproach
for her great faithfulness
to Father God.

Became chosen
earthly mother
for our Saviour,
to give him birth
and spread his love abroad.
© joylenton

mantle - mary's mantle poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

How does Mary’s mantle relate to us? I think it shows that God always prepares people for the specific tasks He has appointed them to do. God fully anoints, equips and qualifies us for everything He calls us to.

Years ago, my major responsibilities were as nurse, wife and mother. Then I developed M.E and chronic illness which made it impossible to work and fully take care of myself, never mind the home and family. My perceptions of role, calling and identity shifted to meet my limitations and reduced expectations.

I am still sick and struggle with tasks, but my calling has morphed into being a writer, poet and encourager to others. Those gifts lay dormant for years but God resurrected them at just the right time.

God never forgets the mantle He has chosen to place over us. Mine might look very different to yours, because we all have a unique offering to bring to the world. One thing I have learnt: Our inner landscape can be vast, unlimited and rich even if our physical capabilities shrink.

mantle - Our inner landscape quote (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

This Advent, as you sit with hope and wait with increasing longing in your heart, try asking God what His desires are for you in the year ahead. What assignment has your name on it? What is He birthing in your soul? Is there a specific word that will define 2019 for you?

I’m currently hearing a call to rest myself more and lay aside my pen for a while. So I am taking a writing break until early January. May God bless you and keep you in His loving care until we meet again. Meanwhile, you can catch up with the poetic Art of Advent series profiling on my Words of Joy blog. 🙂

mantle - advent - trees - wreath - Christmas greetings (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Living with shadows

This week I’ve had a wake-up call.

Ground has shifted beneath my feet.

Stirrings sit uneasy in my soul.

The life I thought I knew has become redefined.

As I reflected long and prayerfully on what my ‘love idol’ might be and the overcoming of it, some things have surprised me.

When you live in Shadowlands of sickness and pain, attempting to recover from a painful past,  it can be hard to see your way clearly. 

Now I have insight I wish I’d known about before.

God has pointed His finger at the familiar ~ people approval issues, insecurity, concerns about not being ‘enough’, putting other people and things before Him, spending too much time on social media ~ all painfully true.

Then another idea wove its way into my mind, threaded through my thoughts, and caused me to unravel.

How do I perceive myself? As a believer who is overcoming a challenging present and a painful past by the grace of God?

Or.. as an M.E and chronic illness sufferer who is still cloaked in shame, buried beneath pain, consumed by cares, ground down by the gritty reality of daily life?

A pit dweller, wilderness wanderer, valley-living soul longing to see daylight, scale mountain peaks, rest easy. 

Most of my days I aim to see glimmers of grace, maintain an attitude of gratitude, emphasise the positive.

But I still define myself as an ill person with problems ~ and that’s the problem. 

God is showing me I’m actually halting my own healing and preventing His full work in me by not seeing myself as I am in Christ.

I’ve stopped praying and saying out my healing in Christ. I’ve believed the lie that this is as good as it gets. I’ve made it my identity.

It’s become an idol because it steals my joy, inhibits faith growing, reminds me of where I came from rather than where I am going to.

And it has to stop.

‘Living with shadows’

A wrongly assumed identity

of living with shadows and infirmity

Christ calls me to believe I’m set free

unchained, unmarked, untainted, liberated,

whereas I see myself caught, ensnared,

decimated by childhood abuse, illness, M.E

As if I wore a label belonging to another

instead of one provided by my soul’s Lover

Living with pain and chronic illness over many years,

observing my career, hopes and dreams slip away

trickling with my tears as water down the drain

nothing quite the same, only weakness and fears

I’ve worn it as a shroud, death mask, daily dress

instead of clothing myself in His robe of righteousness

Feeling insecure, dis-abled, incapable

when God has gifts He wants to bestow

I’ve failed to receive and accept them all

while my thinking is focused on being unwell

We can only grow when we are willing enough

to let go of all that’s slowly killing us

©JoyLenton2014

I can’t deny the physical reality of my life; it’s effects are ever-present. Loosing and letting go of the idea of myself as chronically sick won’t be easy.

All the evidence is before my eyes. And the past is still pervading my days with its own anguish and pain. Abuse leaves a legacy, a scarring of soul, heart and mind ~ etched inky black stains. 

But I deny the spiritual reality unless I begin to call forth those things which are not yet as though they are.

Look into the mirror of His word and start seeing myself as healed, whole, restored, renewed. Speak out the promises. Live as though I truly believed them.

It won’t be easy. I’ve lived this inhibited, limited life with M.E for over 20 years. Lived far longer with the scars of my past. Yet I know nothing is impossible with God. And I’m ready (knees shaking, heart quaking) to do this.

Not to deny the reality I live with but to embrace the life Christ died to give me. 

Because when God won’t let something go, then neither should we. When He asks us to let go of something, we need to pay attention.

Those things He may be pointing to in your life? It could be time to #listentoyourlife and listen to His voice.

You too can join in with Jennifer and the Love Idol community as we seek to unearth our ‘Love Idol’, confess and address it.

I’ve been privileged to read a preview  of the first chapter of Jennifer’s  book. You can pre-order it here. And  for the free printable resources, click here.

I’ve also been greatly helped on my continuing journey toward healing from childhood sexual and emotional abuse by readingNot Marked’ by Mary de Muth.

I’ll be writing more about where this journey is taking me in the weeks ahead and I’d love you to join me.

Treasure mined in darkness

Christmas may be over for another year; food supplies begin to deplete along with our flagging energy and enthusiasm.

Yet hope, love and grace are evergreen ~ lingering eternally in our hearts even through the darkest days.

We may clear away the debris of celebrations but we hang on to memories we have made.

Think of Love come down to earth and how that impacts the everyday with awe and wonder.

Admire our gifts and consider the greatest Gift ever given to us ~ our Lord Jesus Christ.

And we may ponder the worth and value of the gifts we have been given by God over the last year and beyond.

For a gift may come wrapped in sadness and sorrow, problems and pain, suffering and shame.

It can take some searching to see the light shining through the darkness.

Appreciate grace glimmers in hard places.

Such a gift came to me and it took me many years to receive, unwrap and appreciate its worth.

‘Hidden Depths’

It can be really hard

to understand

how weakness and fragility

that render lives

dependent, still and slow

may be gifts

from God’s right hand

that He, in infinite mystery

has chosen to bestow

And yet there lingers

surprising nuggets of His grace

glinting bright in dark

circumstance and place

we deem rightly painful, sad;

though from His loving fingers

we can trace joy and hope

rising through all that seems

heavy weighted-down and bad

For those who cling

desperate closer toThe Vine

can find strength beyond measure

as they seek to bring

their lives as daily offering

found in their struggle,

pain and suffering, it can

yield unexpected treasure

of hidden depths to mine

©JoyLenton2013

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” ~ Isaiah 45:3

This poem links with the theme of the blog post ‘When a gift doesn’t look like one’ that I wrote as a guest post on my writer friend James Prescott’s site. You can click here to read it.