lightness: learning to release our burdens to God

“Are you weary of the pace of this world? Does the never-ending deluge of information from the media wear you out? God promises that when we meet him, we find our true rest along these ancient paths—not in a new technology, a new medication, or the passage of new legislation, but through intentionally and habitually coming to Jesus and casting our burdens upon him. Only there do we find true and enduring rest.” — Ed Stetzer

Lightness

 Hot coals burn
 these palms of mine
 as a daily kind

 of frantic juggling 
 act goes on.
 Each burden sears 
 my soul

 as I grasp tightly
 at insubstantial things
 which dissipate

 like smoke,
 like lifeless rings
 blowing here and there.

 But if I pause,
 slow down,
 breathe you in
 with every inhalation

 I take,
 my empty hands
 of faith become

 filled with rich gifts
 of Light, of Life
 Hope, Joy, and Peace.

 Here in the stillness
 I let my burdens
 drop down
 Into your waiting hands,

 falling as dust,
 without form,
 substanceless.

 Each weighty care
 flows freely
 as if it were

 a balloon,
 a mist,
 but vapour rising
 then falling

 over distant hills.
 I watch
 them all floating
 on a breeze

 while lightness
 also fills 
 my mind, my heart,

 my spirit,
 and a smile
 twitches itself
 onto my upturned lips.
 © joylenton

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” — Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

lightness - lightness poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“I am about to go to sleep and so I turn over to him all those people I have been carrying in my heart. He never slumbers, he never sleeps, he never fatigues, he never stumbles. I won’t pick them up again unless he prompts me to do so. His burden is light, his yoke is easy. He carries the heavy end of the load, always. I am just his kid, carrying what I can carry, and he is a good Dad and never gives me a burden that would discourage or harm me by its weight.” — Katherine Walden


May I pray for you?

Lord Jesus,

Turn our hearts more in the direction of your face, your heart, your voice, your love. Reveal just what unnecessary loads and heavy burdens we might be carrying, and encourage us to let them fall at your feet, where we receive your Peace.

May we sense the wisdom of spending quality time in your Presence to offload our cares and concerns and become strengthened. Help reorient our anxious souls back to faith, back to calm, back to rest, and back to hope.
Amen

wholeness: sensing hints of wholeness

“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” — Wendell Berry

Hints of wholeness 

 Where do we begin and end? 
 Is there a boundary between you and me
 and other living things?

 Don’t we all draw breath, our sustenance 
 given by a generous, almighty hand
 that loves us without restraint?

 Now we look at air and water,
 fire and earth, tree and leaf,
 noticing the connectedness.

 We see and sense our union 
 with all living things, our sentience 
 linked inexplicably with theirs.

 Earth in its rawness, primitive 
 soil teeming with hope,
 with richness, and with life.

 Fire exists in the heavens,
 wrapped in the golden glow of sunset 
 and sad devastation of forests.

 We see repeating patterns
 in the sky, in a flower,
 in each day, the length of hours.

 And our souls can sense
 areas of difference still
 giving hints of wholeness.

 Variety is seeded in the universe,
 in all burgeoning plants,
 in faith, and in infancy.

 What we will become
 is still a mystery
 for now, waiting to be revealed.

 Brokenness is our default state
 throwing us on God's mercy,
 his great forgiveness and grace.

 We learn not to divide 
 our hearts but yield them up
 in surrendering to his love.

 Our brothers and sisters 
 are not too dissimilar to us
 when viewed through grace.

 One day differences will subside 
 because what unites us
 is greater than what divides.
 © joylenton

“[Jesus] matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping daily with their surroundings. He promises wholeness for their lives. In sharing our weaknesses he gives us strength and imparts through his companionship a life that has the quality of eternity.” — Dallas Willard in Ruthless Trust – Brennan Manning

trust: choosing to maintain hope in the hard

“Whatever dark tunnel we may be called upon to travel through, God has been there.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

Trust

 Let us start
 here—in the present 
 moment that exists,

 where we have 
 a choice—to doubt or trust 
 in God’s great sovereignty,
 his constant care and love.

 Let us continue
 while we cling tightly 
 to Truth, to Hope, to Faith,
 embracing our challenges 

 because of the blessings 
 God has hidden within
 the hardest of days.

 Let us walk
 by leaning on the staff
 of faith, relying 

 on what we already 
 know and experience 
 of God’s mercy,
 his grace and strength.

 Let us lean
 ever harder on our God
 when troubles come,
 even as they 

 multiply like flies
 may we know, deep down,
 we will cope and survive.

 Let us journey
 with open minds
 and hearts, with open

 hands as well,
 expecting to be surprised 
 by the power of holy
 Love in which we dwell.
 © joylenton

“Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence.” — Augustine

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” — Isaiah 26:3

waterfall: being drenched by God’s waterfall of grace and love

waterfall - being drenched by God’s waterfall of grace and love @poetryjoy.com

Many years ago, God gave me an unforgettable vision, a foretaste, perhaps, of life in the Kingdom-to-come. I saw myself joyfully frolicking and laughing under a waterfall.

There were others with me who were equally enchanted by the beautiful place we were in, and overjoyed at the absence of darkness and pain. I had zest, energy, and ability in abundance, as I jumped and danced and immersed myself in the gushing water.

I felt alive, fully alive for the first time, as I dipped myself under the powerful, pounding flow again and again. Yes, little ‘ole me, who hates water and can barely swim! 😉

There, I had no fear, no worry or anxiety whatsoever. It felt like I was bathed and saturated in life itself, in love, in grace, in light, and goodness. There was an endless supply of it. It was marvellous.

“Grace is finding a waterfall when you were only looking for a stream.” — Vanessa Hunt

Waterfalls
each day
requires us to receive
linger long
under waterfalls of grace
get saturated, satiated

but it's not
to satisfy our souls alone
we receive enough
so we can pour out to others
from our excess and overflow

every dry spell
requires us to pause, to refuel
we must stop
surrender to the rest of God
keep a regular Sabbath break

we come apart
before we fall apart from fatigue
we might need
a longer season of rest and peace
for our soul's full recovery

let us breathe
let go of excess busyness
let us receive
the very best we have on offer
for our body, mind and soul's sake
© joylenton
waterfalls poem excerpt - waterfall - landscape - (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Christianity is about water… It’s about baptism… It’s about full immersion…. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that’s a little sloppy because at the same time it’s also holy, and absurd. It’s about surrender, giving into all those things we can’t control; it’s a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched.” — Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

My friends, it’s time for me to linger longer under God’s waterfall of grace because I’m experiencing greater health challenges. I’m more depleted than usual and in need of a break.

So I will be resting my words here for a few weeks. I hope to become refreshed and restored enough to return by mid November, God willing. May God bless you and pour out His abundant grace on you until we meet again. xo ❤️💜

waterfall - blessing - May God bless you and keep you blessing (Numbers 6_24-26 TLB) @poetryjoy.com

Mind if I pray for you?

Father God,

We so often allow ourselves to become drained, dry, and depleted by life. It can be hard to stop or even pause long enough to breathe freely sometimes. We ask for the wisdom to know just when to pause and take a break, maybe a little bit each day, or longer, so we can become strengthened and healed.

Would you graciously refresh and restore us as we pull back from busyness and rest ourselves in You? May this time of coming aside, however long it might take, be a precious oasis offering us a saturating waterfall of Your strengthening love and grace.

Amen

beauty: how it draws our hearts toward God

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” — Martin Luther

Mountainous

In the distance 
there is an indigo,
dark-shadowed, snow-crested

mountainous ridge rising
on the horizon,
tinged with soft sunset-pink.

It glows with invitation
to pause, to admire,
as the sky ripples with joy,

with beauty and celebration,
a daring dusk declaration,
as the dark mountains

dissolve and morph back
into the clouds
from which they are formed.

While we travel forward,
leaving a blaze of sun
golden-streaking the sky 

far behind us, 
like a final farewell,
a golden hurrah, perhaps.

And I crane my neck,
unwilling to lose
the sight or miss

the significance
of creation once again
stirring mountainous

hope in my heart,
because as this day sighs
its dying breath,

I know that dawn 
will come, light will return
to bathe the earth 

in grace, and leave us
always wanting more
of beauty, wonder, awe.

Even as I mourn
my lack of evidence,
with no photographs to show

what I saw, it has burned itself
upon my retina, with a
defined, sharpened focus 

in my mind, to become
fully developed in my soul,
as I reflect and scribe it all.
© joylenton

“Beauty reminds you of an Eden you have never known, but you somehow know your heart was created for it. Beauty says, There is a glory calling to you. And if there is a glory, there is a source of glory. What great goodness could have possibly created this? Beauty draws you to God.” — Restoration Year: A 365 Day Devotional by John Eldredge

beauty - how it draws our hearts toward God - clouds - sunset - glory (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

hope: when whispers reach us in the darkness

hope - rain - trees - countryside - car window view - when whispers reach us in the darkness (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Do you feel that? It is a calm shift in the wind. Do you hear that? It is a soft whisper of hope. Do you see that? It is the divine hand of guidance, mercifully extended to aid our good fight.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

Times of darkness within and without can disappoint, defeat and drag our souls down. It feels as if we’re saturated in sadness and sorrow. But when we’re low and downcast, that’s when we most need to seek after God.

If we can train ourselves to listen to the small whispers of hope He offers us, and deliberately look for the tiny glimmers of light shining in the darkness, then we’re on our way to becoming brighter, bolder and stronger, as our faith and courage rise up.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” — Psalm 42:5 NIV

Whispers of hope

I am determined
that these dismal, dull and drear,
unrelenting rainy days

will not steal my joy
or dissipate the fragile 
faith I retain that they

will pass, and we will see
radiant glimpses of sunlight
breaking through at last. 

Because nature whispers
songs of hope
into my ears, lingering

long after the singing
dies away, but the message
I retain is stronger,

more vibrant than the dirge
of prematurely darkened
days, replete with heavy rain.

There's a thundering
of wetness against glass,
of wind hissing through the eaves,

seeking admittance
through snaking draughts
and damp, chilly air

that makes us want to wrap 
ourselves in warmth 
from autumn 'til spring will come.

But faith will have her way,
weaving a thread of hope
through the darkest of days,

sighing in our souls 
in harmony with grace,
an eternal melody of light

and a kind of hope-fuelled
joy nothing can steal away;
dim as the wick might be

sometimes, it's still more
than a match, more than 
enough for life's storms.
© joylenton
hope - rain - storm - whispers of hope poem excerpt (c) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” ― Catherine Marshall