Listening and learning

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Words linger on in receptive minds and hearts. They outlive the moment of their birth.

Whether written, spoken or sung, soul utterances speak soul-deep and can have eternal meaning and resonance.

Though some have a bitter taste (perhaps when correction is required?), others express sweetness learnt in the dark places, the deep spaces where God speaks to those eager to hear from Him.

Last year, with ‘Listen’ as my #oneword365, was a time of more intentional listening for me as God drew me into closer communion with Him.

A period to perfect the art of listening… in theory, at least. A time to lean toward greater intimacy with the Lover of my soul.

Although, it is something I was already doing long before last year, and something I will continue to do for the rest of my life, always relying heavy on grace to show me the way.

How can we ever become so accustomed to God’s voice that we lose the wonder of being able to hear it?

How can I stop trying to catch those prayer whispers on the wind?

It’s a habit I would hate to grow out of. A way of life necessary as breathing.

So here I am, expressing oh so imperfectly in poetry, just a tiny taster of how precious it was, and still is, to attempt to hear from God.

‘Listening’

You whispered in the silence

of my waiting, watchful heart

It was hard at first to listen

but I was keen to make a start

My heart stilled expectantly

My soul sought to give You ear

My pen ready to savour

words of wisdom from You here

Sometimes I wrote hastily

so I didn’t miss a thing

Or waited for words to arrive

for the offering You would bring

I soon learnt I shouldn’t come

with an impatient, restless soul

Thought time spent in Your Presence

would restore and make me whole

Then as I went about my day

tuning my heart to hear

I found You spoke willingly

and I could sense You near

You have been training me

to pay attention, to heed

the soft whispers of Your voice

The soothing balm I truly need

As I go through the year ahead

I pray I’ll remember, hold dear

the things You have said

to guide, reveal, repair

And pass on Your wisdom

to other hungry hearts

who long for the messages

which Your voice imparts

©JoyLenton2015

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You may wonder what ‘word’ God has given me for 2015. However, it felt right to linger longer with listening for a while before letting it go as my main word to mull over.

And I’d like to encourage you to persevere in your own times of listening to God, to take opportunities you may have for a few minutes pausing in prayer, and ask Him to speak to you in the silence of your heart.

It can feel rather frustratingly like trying to find the right radio frequency at first, but that makes it all the more precious when you can ‘tune in’ and hear His voice, and it will get easier over time.

I hope to write a poem soon about my new #oneword365 it but you can read the big reveal over at ‘Words of Joy’ if you’re eager to know it now!

**Note** ~ I’m a bit late catching up with things after being  particularly unwell since Christmas, but I hope to pen poetry here as often as God gives me words to write and energy to share them. The poem above was actually written a few weeks ago, waiting for a moment such as this to air.  A rather belated ‘Happy New Year’ to you all! Thank you for your support throughout 2014. I really appreciate it. 🙂

Living freely

Aren’t you relieved there are no identi-kit Christians?

We don’t have to look or sound alike.

Having unity together is more about fellowship and being united in love than having full agreement on more than the fundamentals of our faith.

We are allowed to be ourselves. See wood where others see trees. Sense Holy Spirit’s presence in a variety of ways.

God meets us right where we are, at our point of greatest need.

He chased me and wooed me with His unconditional Love.

It was something I’d never encountered before, but my empty, old before its time, desperate-child heart yearned for it.

Here was safety. Here lay security. Here flowed acceptance and peace.

And I came to faith in a ‘happy-clappy’ environment where joy and exuberance were the order of the day.

I wore ‘Jesus Loves Me/You’ stickers, a big grin, innocent optimism in sharing my new-found life in Christ, and a profound gratitude toward God for the glorious gift of salvation.

So I continued for a little while until mental health breakdown, partial recovery, followed by life’s multiple challenges, another breakdown and a haunting legacy of childhood abuse sucked all the joy out of life.

Depression and emotional pain skewed my thinking, clouded my judgement, and left me lost in the wilderness for many years.

Where did God feature? Was His love enough? Was it my fault?

A slow recovery took place and I had a fresh revelation of grace. I drank it deep into my very being as soul manna and sustenance.

But having begun my faith journey majoring on love and forgiveness, I was still largely ignorant of sin and reluctant to speak or think about it. This woman was already stained by her past, full of guilt, shame, self-recrimination and condemnation. And God loved her anyway. 

Because, wasn’t God a God of love? Didn’t grace and forgiveness cover all?

Oh yes.

Though grace is cheapened if we fail to fully appreciate the price Jesus paid to secure it for us.

Now, a little older (and wiser maybe?), though I still struggle with self-esteem issues and will always veer the conversation round to grace and encouragement than otherwise, it is gradually dawning on me how sin cannot be ignored or swept away.

And I am still getting my head around how to achieve the balance between hating sin yet not hating myself. Maybe you get stuck there too?

My soul seeks freedom from all that chained me and those things enslaving me now.

I want to embrace grace and be free to give it to others.

So I am leaning into His love as I think. question, talk about sin’s effects and outworkings, see how fallible and tainted I am and yet (marvellously) so dearly loved and cherished by our heavenly Father ~ just as you are too.

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Here is a ‘Prayer Whisper’ which God poured into my listening heart last February. It still speaks volumes to me and I hope it will bless you too:

file000402181324“How easily you can fool yourself that you’re not sinning. To justify your actions with excuses and cover-ups.

Allow My Holy Light to shine upon your thoughts, words and deeds. Do not be afraid of its consuming power. It will not harm you.

I seek only to burn off the dross and detritus you carry. Such things weigh you down, sully your relationship with Me and sour your interactions with others.

I want to set you free, even from those burdens you have barely noticed as such ~ so familiar have they become.

It is only in the cleansing which follows letting go and laying down that real change and transformation can happen.

Bad habits pollute your mind and body. Once you are able to set them down before Me, you can begin the process of breaking free from them.

Open yourself. Be real before Me. I already know everything about you. Seek to live freely and lightly in the liberty of My Presence.

My purity and power are available to enable and equip you for the next stage of your journey.”

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“The fact that God is love, that He is pure, holy and righteous is the reason why He is angry at sin. It violates, distorts, and destroys what His purpose is. Wrath is inevitable to a God of love, otherwise the love would be tenuous and weak” ~ Charles Price ‘My Daily Journey with Christ’ 

Joining here with Diana and other questing souls as we are #LivingtheQuestions and #LivingintotheAnswers

This week’s question:”What’s with all this talk about sin?”  You are very welcome to hop over and join in the discussion.

Also linking with Mel and Laura

Sensing His Presence

Come away for a while. Sink into a comfortable seat. Resist all rush and hurry. Rest your weary body. Ready yourself to receive from the Lord.

Breathe deep ~ be calm ~ find a place of stillness and peace.

God is with us ~ we are on holy ground.

Seeking the supernatural in the natural.

Experiencing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Each time we make space for God’s glorious Presence, He enlarges our appetite for it ~ a holy hunger develops.

The new year could be a time ~ of deliberate listening ~ to those Holy echoes in mind and heart ~ whispers on the wind ~ as God imparts His life to us ~ in a journey without end.

In the awareness, attention is required, a stilling of the soul, a watching and waiting, every sense attuned and alert.

I have heard prayer whispers intermittently throughout this year, and they are speaking to me more as I re-read them.

Now I sense a call, not just to ‘Come’ and approach His throne of grace but to linger, lean hard, and listen… the word He has given me for 2014.

And the first thing to heed is how God makes Himself known to us in myriad ways as the poem below describes.

‘I AM’

I AM

earthquake and volcano’s fiery outpour

waves lapping gently on the shore

wind ripping leaves straight off the trees

the soft caress of a mid-summer breeze

Grey fog and mist obscuring the view

an irredescent-coloured rainbow hue

a wake-up trumpet’s strident sound

peace and stillness in the air around

I AM

The One who has tasted salty tears

brought joy and comfort to your years

stamped upon all your enemies and foes

walked Earth with sand beneath my toes

Who felt forsaken on the cross

as I defeated sin, death and loss

cried out in nail-pierced agony

to secure your forgiveness and set you free

I AM

The Lion of Judah’s victory roar

as I keep you safe for evermore

blood and water, Spirit and Life

to heal, restore and deliver from strife

Songs of praise without an end

your beloved and closest Friend

echoes throughout human history

whispers on the wind ~ Holy mystery

©JoyLenton2013

I would be honoured if you would join me in learning how to listen better to God in 2014 as I aim to keep a prayer journal, share ‘Prayer Whispers’ and poetic inspirations here and write longer blog posts about my discoveries on Words of Joy.

May you be filled with a sense of awe and wonder and be greatly blessed in seeking and sensing His Presence in the year ahead. You can also join in with #oneword365 here.

Happy New Year to you!