Reaching out in faith

reaching out FMF PJ file image

Hearts, hands and voices reach out to God.

There’s a yearning, a desperate need to be heard.

To have our needs fulfilled.

And so often it feels like we come up empty.

Prayers appear to go unanswered.

Hopes are dashed.

We droop with disappointment and discouragement.

But could it be that we fail to receive because we fail to fully believe He will answer?

Missed careful study of His word to see what He has already said about this issue.

Been impatient, failed to linger in His Presence long enough to hear a response.

Or we’ve already worked out just how the answer will look, and This. Isn’t. It.

And in our haste to have answers, we can so easily forget that God often uses our confusion and pain to rouse us into deeper dependence on Him.

God has already spoken fully through Jesus, the living Word of God Incarnate.

He speaks still in hearts receptive to His voice and surrendered to His will and ways.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” ~ Isaiah 55:9

In pondering this, here are my best ‘five-minute-friday’ thoughts on ‘Reach’:

‘Reaching out’

Sometimes answers to prayer feel out of reach

no matter what we say, think, pray or preach

It feels like something could be missing

or maybe we’re not too good at listening

Failing to heed Your written word

or receive its wisdom seen and heard

Yet, there are many ways in which You reach out

with love and goodness in a whisper, not a shout,

Soft breaths fall as dew in the morning air

as manna drops to feed us, and to share

We are never left empty or alone

because in every heart You make a home

And Your arms were impaled, pierced to a tree

to reach out to all suffering humanity

Revealing Your forgiveness, grace and love

as they poured like wine from heaven above

So as we sit and ponder, rush and hurry,

there is really no need for us to worry

You hear and answer every prayer

with Wait, Yes, No, I am here

©JoyLenton2014

reaching out FMF poem pin file image

Linking here with Kate for #FMF (as we write freely for five minutes flat, with the joy of abandoning perfection) about ‘Reach’, and with Jennifer as we reach out to encourage one another and #tellhisstory in the process. You are warmly invited and encouraged to join in.

Lost and found

busyness ~ lost and found PJ

Something has got lost in our increasingly busy, frantic lives.

We’ve forgotten how to detach from activity.

Neglected to resist the lure of the urgent over the important.

Taking time out just to ‘be’, to pause and breathe slow is rare.

Hours spent hunched over screens is making us more concerned with what’s in front of us than what’s going on in our hearts.

How can we see the way ahead when eyes are glued downwards?

Maybe we need a break, to lose ourselves in the inner life instead of outer activity.

Read a book, rest, relax, pray perhaps.

Perhaps we’d hear echoes in our hearts, reminders of our need for God.

Listening could take the place of continual noise.

In the silence we encounter ourselves as we truly are.

And that can be alarming.

But we also allow space for God to enter in.

We find what our souls have always been looking and longing for.

And that can be life changing.

‘Lost and found’

Lost in busyness

occupation, activity,

endless toil, never at ease

Lost in despair

hopelessness, gloom, misery,

failing to see God can set us free

Lost in dreams

hopes, schemes and plans,

missing the best from His hands

Lost in sorrow

sadness, grief and pain,

He comes close to us again

Lost in ourselves

our lives, our world,

waiting for future to be unfurled

Lost and alone

in the midst of a crowd

voices sounding harsh and loud

Lost and found

when we release our cares

let go the burden of years

Lost in Love

when He calms our soul

comforts, cleanses, makes us whole

Lost in peace

we cease from anxiety, worry,

relax in His Presence

no rush, no hurry

©JoyLenton2014

Linking here with Lisa-Jo, Laura and Mel

lost and found ~ PJ MS image pin

Whistling in the dark

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Sounds reverberate off the ceiling. Bounce back to knock us sideways.

We hear our voice alternately whispering, crying, calling out.

Is this a monologue or a dialogue? Better not to say anything, perhaps.

Does silence really speak volumes?

Sometimes praying can feel like speaking to ourselves.

Is anybody listening? Or are we just whistling in the dark?

Thoughts swirl loud. Hearing our heartbeat pounding.

Murmurs of life pulse and throb, yet all around is a seemingly empty void.

Can you hear me, God? Am I getting through to You?

So often we feel lost. Adrift on a sea of sounds of our own making. All feels dark. Empty.

Yet it is here, in the depths of silence, where God reminds us darkness is as light to Him, and there is no place where He cannot be found by seeking souls. No way He cannot make Himself known to a listening heart.

Cathedral cloisters ~ listening poem pin

 

Our tears are prayers, carefully collected, cherished.

The unspoken cries of our hearts are heeded.

We need to remember this as we call out as the psalmist did:

“God, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries” ~ Psalm 102:1 (The Message)

It’s in rest and quiet, in a drawing aside, a laying down, a giving, offering and opening up that we ready ourselves to hear and receive.

Come aside. Breathe deep. Inhale Holy Spirit breath. Lay aside doubt, preconceptions and prejudices.

Come empty to be filled.

Come thirsty to be refreshed.

Come to the One who knows you inside out.

Make space to just be. To let go of anxiety and pain. God is big enough to take it all.

Quiet your heart. Still your voice. Tune out the world and tune in to Him.

We can never emerge from God’s presence the same as we came into it.

Let Him love on you. He is the giver of all good gifts, Father of compassion, Restorer of all brokenness.

Come, my friend, come…. seek the Light, seek grace, seek God.

He is here. He is listening. Meet with Him in the mundane moments. Sense His hand in everything. Listen to your life.

Wait with holy expectation. Keep hoping. Keep believing. Stay in faith. Live mindful of His Presence. In due time, answers will come.

47051-ExcellentQuotations.com-Mother-Teresa

Our friend

friendship post file image

Genuine friendship is a gift to treasure.

To proffer the hand of friendship to another is to offer yourself in support of their wellbeing, and open yourself to reciprocal attention, care and concern.

Feeling heard and understood is rare in a world that is often too busy to listen or too indifferent to care.

Multiple connection points are provided, but true friendship is a gift of grace.

When it’s all about what you do, who you are, what you look like and who you know, it provokes competitiveness, discouragement and despair at not fitting in with the world’s perceptions of who they think we should be.

As we get assessed, found wanting and bypassed, we can easily feel isolated, rejected and neglected.

So where does our security lie? Is it in the numbers of followers, fans, ‘likes’ and comments we receive?

No, far from it. It’s a shaky foundation indeed to build our self-esteem on other people’s fluctuating, fickle feelings.

Though it’s not all bad news on social media; it does have its positive side regarding friendships.

I’ve been greatly blessed by the wonderful on-line community of writers, poets and bloggers, M.E and chronic illness sufferers, and fellow Christians I have got to know and consider to be real friends.

They are genuine, giving and caring people who lift, encourage and help me come up higher. I thank God daily for them.

And I’ve been bruised by putting too much store on how people in general interact with me.

There is only one friend who will never let us down, always be there for us, consistently reliable, capable, loving unconditionally despite knowing all there is to know about us.

His Name is Jesus.

Our greatest Friend, Lord and Saviour.

And as my real life friendships often fall foul of the challenges presented by my having M.E ~ finding it hard to never know when I’ll be well enough to speak on the phone, be visited, or meet up ~ it is His friendship that means the most to me.

I’m joining here with Lisa Jo and other brave writerly souls  for the challenge of Five Minute Friday, where we write freely, letting words fall as they will with no deep reflecting, on this week’s topic of  ‘Friend’. You are very welcome and warmly invited to take part.

START…

‘Our Friend’

This friend

has arms stretched wide

forming an extended circle

of Love for you and me

This friend

calls us to His side

forming a fellowship of grace

as brothers, sisters, community

This friend

provides a safe place to hide

when life’s storms overwhelm

He is shelter from all harm

and balm for every calamity

This friend

will brook no boast or pride

in knowing Him, for all

are welcome to enter in

embraced, held, received

This friend

is Rock against the tide

of sin and shame

taking all upon Himself

when He died and rose again

to set us free

©JoyLenton2014

STOP.

friend ~ our friend poem file image pin

 

Calling for hush

There’s a signal, a flow.

A day moves forward.

Earth slows.

Cease from hurry and rush.

Light fades and dies.

We breathe out.

A silent sigh.

Holy hush..

dusk ~ toward evening tanka poem pin

 

And we listen.

Hear more than eyes can see.

Make space for a greater reality.

God calls time on our day.

No matter what has taken place, we can be thankful for His blessings.

Be awed by His unlimited, unconditional love, His unmerited, undeserved favour ~ poured out freely.

Rest from our labours and prepare to face a new tomorrow.

Receive manna and grace to begin again.

 

Making space for not knowing

Spiritual insight can hover light as butterfly in the air, fluttering gentle in the breeze, alighting soft on our senses.

Or nudge like a querulous child, becoming ever insistent.

Maybe it sparks bright, a lightning flash of inspiration.

However it strikes us ~ holy whisper or holy fire ~ we do well to pay attention.

Any reading of Scripture yields wisdom and insight as much as it throws curve balls.

We put on Holy Spirit lenses to help us focus on the meaning, application and practical outworking.

“What do we do with all the hard/weird stuff in the Bible?”  is the question being pondered over at Diana’s place this week. Do we ignore, refuse to ‘go there’, puzzle, pause, pray, or something else?

Some of how we answer it depends on our faith roots. I began my faith journey in a happy-clappy Pentecostal church, drifted into Baptist, kept a foot in Anglican, and spent many years in Independent Evangelical.

Over time, my ‘bible-thumping-in-your-face-are-you-saved?‘ days gave way to deeper reflection and grace. Made space for the ‘not knowing’ aspects of faith.

Now I am leaning toward the Contemplative and finding church is everywhere (TV and internet)  and nowhere in particular for me when housebound by M.E.

And in the letting go of fixed ideas, hungering after authenticity wherever I can find it, I find myself in a position of simply wanting to let go of too much concern about all I don’t understand.

The Bible is God’s great narrative, His story to draw us into relationship with Him ~ the whole purpose of it all.

The essence of Christian faith is faith in a Person ~ Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And people are complicated. So why shouldn’t God be even more so in the way He operates?

We can only move forward in faith, trudge wary of the weird stuff, trusting Him to reveal all He desires us to know in His own timing.

‘Trudge wary’

I tread timid, blind, in need of a Guide

I trudge wary, uncertain ~ with You by my side

And if You should choose to keep things concealed

it makes me appreciate all that’s revealed

There are treasures hidden in darkness deep

to be mined by those with eyes to seek

Challenge and certainty, joy and adversity

all wrapped up in Your word ~ to loose, set free

There are areas that puzzle, confuse and stretch our minds

and others of the straightforward, simple kind

For I still can barely comprehend

Your mercy and grace, love without end

So why should I, with great temerity,

expect You to reveal all things to me?

Should I not make room, give space

for the protective nature of Your grace

Allow for Your Spirit to open my eyes

in a gradual way ~ day after day

Knowing I can only handle so much

surprise, information, knowledge, as such?

©JoyLenton2014

God is always speaking. He is never silent. Sometimes we cannot hear Him above the chaos of the world or the noise of our own thoughts. Time taken to listen attentively is never time wasted. Much can be gained in the Quiet Place.

In essence:Although I’ll continue to wonder, ponder, question and seek answers, I also choose to rest easy in God’s great sovereignty. He alone knows how to encourage open-hearted investigation while making sure we receive all that is necessary for us to trust and believe and live well for Him.

 Joining here with friends:Diana, Mel and Lyli

Through a glass darkly

We see through a glass darkly.

A fairground hall of mirrors with shadows on the wall, distorted views.

Feet sinking into clay for those rooted to earth.

Easy to get stuck in the pit and lose The Way midst its miry depths. Feel the pinch as Master Potter re-shapes our clay form.

We cling to edges. Cry out in fear. Paste on clown smiles while bleeding on the inside.

For what is loss? What is gain? What or whom can be trusted with all the grief and pain?

Who has the upper hand when we’re all just kicking dust and sand?

Calamity calls and we cringe away, bewildered, running scared. Reluctant to face or embrace.

Until..

We remember One who ate dust as we do, choked on tears, felt pain within, without, gave and gave some more to secure our freedom and release from all that stings painful. 

He didn’t deserve to die. We don’t deserve His sacrifice. Bad things happen to good people. Sadly, this is a sinful, fallen world.

We live in an upside-down, here-but-not-here-yet Kingdom where we begin to accept the cloud of unknowing is part of belonging. 

And we look to the cross. Consider Calvary. Weep for the loss and rejoice in the resurrection. Marvel that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. 

All He asks is for us to lean on Him. Rest on His word. Seek strength and help in time of need. Find comfort and share it with others.

Meanwhile, we live with smoke and mirrors, with mystery and mayhem, with pain and with promise, with unanswered questions and faith.

One day all will be made clear. We will know even as we are known. For now? We trust and obey. Believe all sorrow, sadness, suffering and pain will come to an end and glory will come out of it all.

Prayer draws us nearer to God’s heart and there we find all the comfort and reassurance we need to keep us afloat. We begin to see an open door of hope through the painful places.

Though we may still emerge with unanswered questions, in the listening and leaning we learn to release the pressing need to know and rest in trusting all that we do understand.

God’s words to me a few months ago still hold good for today. I hope and pray they will bless you too.

Prayer Whisper:’Surrender’

Remember that I am only a breath, a prayer away. I live within you by My Spirit. You have access to all My gifts because the greatest gift of all is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Deep in your spirit rests the Spirit of the Living Christ. All of His qualities and abilities are available to you by faith. Though He works through your human body, there are still no limits to what can be accomplished according to My will.

As you surrender more and more of yourself to Me, as you allow Me to take, make and break you, as you let Me work in and through you ~ then the possibilities are limitless, for I have no boundaries. Take your eyes off yourself and your circumstances and focus on Me. Do not allow yourself to become swamped and overwhelmed by the challenges before you. I am keeping you safe through every storm.

Rest in My provision for you. Despite how it seems, nothing shall in any way harm you. The quiet centre of your being where I reside is invulnerable. Seek Me. Seek the Quiet Place and you will become renewed, refreshed and restored for the journey ahead.”

“In returning and rest you shall be saved,” says God through the prophet Isaiah, “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). They are all parts of each other. We return to our deep strength and to the confidence that lies beneath all our misgiving. The quiet there, the rest, is beyond the reach of the world to disturb. It is how being saved sounds.” ~ Frederick Buechner ‘Whistling in the Dark’

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Joining here with friends :Diana, Mel and Laura

You have a story to tell

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Sometimes our own words come back to haunt us.

Or an annoyingly catchy phrase from a song lingers way too long.

Then there are the words spoken to us, over us and into our lives.

We live and breathe story. Our lives are wrapped up and unfold in it.

The tangled threads of our days are being woven into a greater narrative of God’s design.

He finds ways to bring what we need to hear and heed back to our remembrance.

It happened to me recently. Words hung in my head and called me to pay attention. I found them in my Prayer Journal.

The ‘Prayer Whisper’ below was received over a year ago but it meets me where I am right now as a woman of faith, writer and poet.

And it whispers gentle into my future still hidden in Christ.

As an M.E and chronic illness sufferer, who is still battling a painful past by the grace of God, I need to believe it’s not all about me and my troubles but about how He is bringing me through them.

God calls me to share my pain and the overcoming of it through poetry and prose. Maybe you can do that too? We all need to know we are not alone.

There is hope. You matter. Your story matters to us and to God.

In the sharing of it we are all enriched, encouraged and supported, inspired to believe for good outcomes.

My hope and prayer is that you will find courage to share your story and grow stronger in the process.

‘Prayer Whisper:Your story matters’

You have a message to share. You have a story to tell. Surrender the outcome to Me. All I ask of you is that you are willing to write as I guide, speak as I direct, and listen continually for My promptings. Sometimes words will flow and be written down; other times you wait in faith and trust, with expectancy, and I will provide as you take the first step.

Surrender your tools to Me. Your pen, paper, keyboard, phone or voice. In My hands they will accomplish far more than you can imagine. If words stall and you feel blocked from speaking, do not allow fear to paralyse you further. Continue to believe that I will provide.

There will be seasons of bounty and seasons of fallow. Believe I am in both. Your heart may need surgery. Your attitude and thoughts may need correction. It is necessary to purify and make you fit for purpose.

Then you will come forth as gold and shine with My radiance and glory. I will renew and restore what is broken and lost. You still see holes. I see more areas where My grace can filter through.

Trust the work I am doing in you. Broken, weak and wounded people surrendered to Me are the most beautiful vessels to reflect My Light to others”.

Joining here with Ruth for #letterto ~ ‘Letter to a future me’

And with Jen as we find heaven in the everyday

Love is speaking

Love speaks to us in myriad ways. Way beyond Valentine cards, roses and chocolates ~ welcome as they are.

There is heartache and elation, pain and promise, sadness and joy wrapped up in human love, circumscribed as it is by our woundedness.

We can be broken and made new by love.  God’s love heals, renews, restores and makes us whole.

The Word made flesh  revealed in Jesus offers us the gift of mercy, grace and forgiveness from His poured out blood-bought sacrifice.

We are eternally, unconditionally and wonderfully loved beyond anything we can know or imagine.

All creation continually signals the love of the Creator.

It is never silent because God is constantly pouring out His love to us.

He longs for us to know Him and discover we are deeply loved by Him. It’s the greatest love story ever told.

‘Love speaks’

Love speaks

As

an aching formless void, seeming nothingness

into which pours poetry, music, melody and noise

In

the echoes of a dream, vibrancy we glean

in everything we encounter, visible and unseen

So

we tune our hearts to hear soft whispers

on the wind tickling our attentive ears

With

longing breaking forth in our souls,

a sense of awe, wonder, becoming and belonging

 Begin

to make us feel complete, fulfilled, whole,

so we strain to draw close, come near

 To

the Source of all we could or would be

growing familiar as He starts to appear

 And

lingers to impart His light and grace from above

into thankful hearts made ready for His love

©JoyLenton2014

The video below is a love letter from the Father’s heart to our own.

It speaks volumes about how each and every one of us is deeply loved and special to God.

May it bless and encourage your heart as you watch it.

Linking here with Jennifer,  Lyli, Mel and Laura