Don’t Leave Me

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unsplash-logoIvana Cajina

“But you Lord, do not be far from  me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me” Psalm 22:19

I have an image in my mind of this verse, of someone looking back with tenderness at a strong and loving Father and a cry of don’t leave me. A dependance that knows who is with her. Who faces the challenge ahead, who does not retreat, but just pleas for strength, for help to remain, for the Lord himself to stay. Stay with her, stay the path.

Have you ever begged for strength, for aid to come swift to your side. Postured in position to grab the hand of God to allow his strength to steel your spine, to allow his breath to cause you to rise up, to allow his presence to give you voice, to allow his hand to nudge you that little way forward, to allow his gaze to remind you of who you are and to whom you belong. All the while knowing you can face the next if he is with you, if he doesn’t leave, if he remains.

Understanding his strength is not only for you, but within you, his presence that awakens your purpose, your position and your advance. His strength that brings new vision, a new way to see, an awareness of what is and what could be.

But to see with vision is a dangerous calling, for vision is never easy, it does not come cheaply and it requires strength, humility and something beyond yourself. Vision should stir the heart and simultaneously make you weak at the knees. It often finds us both strong and broken as we chart the course. Lifted and kneeling.

It is such an intimate picture of help that is close, come be near me, don’t leave me, help me. How beautiful that we can know that call will be answered, that he will not leave, that he will be close, that he will bring strength. Companionship with the King of Kings.

Lots of Love and Strength for your day

Rachel x 

 

We Have Heard That He Is With You

WE Have Heard that He Is With You “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the  Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.’ This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.”

{Zechariah 8:20-23 NIV}

This is one of my favorite images of Scripture. People running towards God and his people, for they had heard of how good he is. For this God, chose to show his love and favor on the people of Israel, caring for them like a tender shepherd, guarding and  guiding them. The nations around them took notice when his people lived out worship to the one who was good to them. It stirred their hearts as they watched a showcase display of God’s love in action, calling to the them to ‘Come and See that The Lord is Good.’

So good in fact, so strong and full of tender loving care, that the people surrounding them, hung on to them, ‘take me with you, let me see your God, let me find him, I can see he is with you’.

What a stunning thought, that God is so good, and he has designed his story that people who don’t yet know him would see his love on display through us, and most perfectly in his son, who declares with all he is and all he has done, ‘Come and see that the Lord is good’.

Love, Grace and the beautiful goodness of God for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 31 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

My Strong Place

Rock“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” {Psalm 18:2 NIV}

This safe hiding place, a refuge from the coming storm, a quiet and strong place, he not only provides the shelter he is the shelter. He is my rock, my hiding place, where I find safety, strength and saving. In every season this has been true for me.

I love that David, the writer, sings this story, declaring God’s faithful hand over him, in all his days, in the days of running afraid and the days of a King’s strength. Though there were places to go and to hide, true safety was found in his God. Wherever he ran, nowhere was as safe as running into the one who made him, who cared for him, who knows him and loves him. With enemies on all sides, nowhere was stronger than the care of his God. Such peace to run to the arms of the one who made you.

Fear can at times cause me to want to run away, to give up, to lose heart. To consider tomorrow’s concerns before they have yet come to be. God has taught me in those very moments,  to run to him instead. To find strength in his never giving up, never running out love, he has reminded me as the one who holds salvation in his hands, that He is bigger than this. Bigger than what is not yet, bigger than what is and bigger than what could be.

I am found safe in Jesus, his forever saving strength, found safe because there is nothing outside of what he can do. He is bigger than any problem that may or may not come, he is bigger than my greatest need or fear. Because of his forever love for me I can rest and find shelter in him, the one who will never change and remain always the same.

Love, Grace and Hope for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 29 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

To Know

To Know “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” {Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV}

His prayer was that they might know the fullness of the love of God for them. He prayed power for them to be able to hold on and understand, down to the depths of their souls, how big God loves them. Because you can’t just know about this love, to grasp it, to hold and let it take hold of you is unraveling.

To understand this love, to know it, requires power we don’t have, it takes a work of the Spirit to unveil how strong, powerful and forever this love is. And were we to take hold of it, to know it in our bones, it would then fill us and completely transform us. It would shape our life, our thoughts, our relationships, our perspective.

To know that which surpasses knowledge is to know the things of God that seem to make no sense. It is to take hold of the wisdom of the cross, that displays his love most fully as Jesus, the one who sat in the highest place, took himself to the lowest place, that through him, each person to the farthest reaches of humanity would know that God is for them. That there was nothing they could do to remove his love for them, because the saving work of the cross is permanent, forever fixed in order to eternally save any who call on his name.

Then to be filled with the measure of all of Him, is to no longer count my own measure of goodness, but to take hold of the depth of his grace and mercy, to be filled with a rich love for people that he so deeply loves. And he who cannot be measured, will not run out of love for me.

Love, Grace and Strength for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 28 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Because He Hears Me

Psalm 116“I love the Lord for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” {Psalm 116:1-2 NIV}

He turned up, at a time you would no expect anyone to turn up, or have anyone able to help, when he was all there was left. More than that, he was the one first there and best to help and also the last left, when everyone else was gone. In those moments when he turns up and transforms pain to testimony, when he hears the whisper in the quiet place that no one else hears. A soft word that asks for help, a call for a savior. When the God of heaven shifts his gaze, his ear attentive to your greatest need. In that moment, you really know the relief of his power and goodness.

What a sweet relief it is, to know the help of  Jesus the forever Prince of Peace, to not be left, stranded and alone. What comfort to know that you are seen, known and loved just as you are, whatever you face,  because he loves you, because he is good, you have the ear of the Eternal King.

And I cannot help but love him in those moments. Filled with a forever gratefulness for the way he listens, the way he turns up to rescue, like a light that shines in the darkness, the one who really sees and really hears.  His love and care minister to me, assuring me that he can be trusted, for the one who is faithful and true, I can call on for all my days.

His help does not make me weak but strong. It means that whatever has happened, whatever lays ahead, there is one I can call on and he always listens, ready to bring help, because of him I am never alone. My voice is not lost in a multitude of need and noise, he turns his ear to me, he turns his ear to you. For whatever you face this day, whatever you have faced, the one who orders the stars, he who aligns the planets and causes oceans to roar loves to listen to you, and holds salvation in his wings.

Love, Grace and a still small voice for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 26 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

An Audience Before the King

An Audience Before the King“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the strength of the warrior; the Lord delights on those who fear him,who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

{Psalm 147:8-11 NIV}

It would be easy to assume that the God who covers the earth in clouds and causes grass to grow, may only be interested in Kings and Princes, in Mighty warriors with strong horses and impressive resumes. That is normally how we see power isn’t? The more power someone has, the more impressive you need to be in order to have an audience with them.

It would seem natural to assume then, that to find favor before the God of the universe you may need to be fairly impressive yourself. And yet the God who is sung about in the Psalms changes all the rules of power and favor. God is already for you, he already loves you, in Jesus he became weak that you might become strong. He does not require strength, but he gives it freely.

To find an audience before the King of Kings, simply requires humility, recognizing Him for who He is and what he has done and understanding our need for Him. There is no one like him, he requires nothing, because he has already given everything. He does not have love reserved only for those who may seem to have earned it or deserved it by some ordering of beauty, strength, intelligence or family line, but gives with delight to any who would humbly come, and simply ask.

It can be easy to slip into feeling or behaving like we need to prove ourselves to God, by trying to somehow earn what was freely given. Even ministry can become a set of tasks looking to achieve some form of equilibrium in the relationship between ourselves and the creator, hoping to make a good impression rather than generously living out worship. This beautiful freedom of God declares that we don’t need to try to earn his favor, we already have it, we don’t need to earn his love, it is already given. His delight is in us knowing Him more, seeking after Him, understanding more of who he is that we might understand each other, this world and ourselves in light of his power and grace.

This day, I will not seek to earn his love, I will seek rather to know more of it and find more of Him.

Love and Grace for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 25 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

He Has Done Great Things For Her

Like those who dreamed“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. those who go about weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

{Psalm 126 NIV}

This people, oppressed, unsafe, weeping and without hope were transformed with the mighty act of the saving power of God, and her whole frame changed. Her stance changed from one bowed down with suffering to one who stands tall in health and strength. Joy and Worship flowed from the lips of the people as they declared the good things God had done for them with unbridled praise. From the low place,  she was brought high because of the loving arm of the Father.

This is the same song of God’s people today, the same words we utter and stand together with this people of Israel. Our God has restored us, he has brought salvation and strength in his Son Jesus and in the power of His Spirit he has brought life back to our bones, we are like those who laugh and are filled with joy because of the great things he has done.

As we declare his faithfulness to us, as we live out the praise of God by bearing testimony to the great things he has done for us as a people, and in our own lives. As we live with joy, because he has been so good to us, as we live lives of worship, the nations, those around  us will see Him. They will see that He is the one who has changed our lives, He is the one who transforms and saves, he is the one who brings good, He is the one who can change sorrow to joy.

For me, the people of God changed my world, the church is not perfect, but He is, and the beautiful people of God showed me love, hope and joy in Him, that without their faithful witness I would never have known. This song of Israel I love, it is true in my life, where there was sorrow He has brought peace, what has been sown in tears He has returned with joy.

Real joy. Saved into the family of the one who my soul longed for, saved into His people who bring strength and love, saved into His ways that guide my life in hope, saved into a life of worship when my soul feels most at rest. When I was most alone, he made me a daughter of the King of Kings, for that I am forever thankful.

My challenge is to declare these truths with my life as I live out praise for the one who saved me. 

Love, Grace and Joy for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 24 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

But Now I Have Seen You

Now I Have Seen You“Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’  Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I  despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” {Job 42:1-6 NIV}

I read this phrase over and over when I was younger, trying to understand why this righteous man Job, despised himself. Why did he repent in dust and ashes?

Job a righteous man, loses almost everything he has and through the chapters of the story we grieve as he puts words to loss. A whole book of the bible that plumbs the depths of one man’s grief, amidst the conversations of his friends and through the anguish of his prayers. A good man, in pain. A strong, upright leader who is crushed in grief. As his story is told we weep with him as he cries, as he loses sleep and as he questions every why.

Throughout the story, Job calls for God to turn up in order to be judged, like a scene in a grand court room. Though where could such a place exist? Where could there be such a place, that the God of Heaven could stand and await judgement? Yet, he turns up. He responds, but his answer is immeasurable, he bends low, but his knowledge is too great, his understanding limitless.

There is no courtroom big enough to hold the one who created the scales of justice, not even earth could hold him, for it is under his command. He who orders the sea, has watched the angels shout as the morning stars sang, he who captures storms has ordained the wisdom of creation,  he who breathes life into creation cannot be held by it.

And yet he who has no need to hold account, answers. He speaks, and as this storm of God roars, Job as he sees Him, can see himself more clearly. When in the presence of God, he sees who he really is, for he sees how big, good and powerful God is. To behold the God of the universe leads to repentance as we see our lack before his strength.

Of course He, who no courtroom could hold, who orders creation, subjected himself to judgement, on a wooden cross atop a dusty hill. So Calvary held Jesus, the saving one. The Son of God, who created the scales of justice, lowered himself to take what we could not, so that through faith in Him we could live. And as I see him there, as I see him for who he really is, I see myself more clearly and I too am led to repent.

Love, Grace and Hope for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

  This is Day 23 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

He is For You

Girl Pondering“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

It always comes back to this for me. This forever love that God promises. A safe place. A love that does not threaten, does not hurt, does not abandon, does not fade, does not wither, does not forget, does not give up, does not fail.

And he cannot fail. There will be no mistake, there is no I will love only up until this point, or only from when. This is the forever love that began before time and will last into eternity. This is the love of a father that cannot, will not and never has been shaken.

This is a to the ends of the earth and back again love, a love that pursues with care and strength. A love that bears a sacrifice. A love that sees you as you truly are, and not just the things we hope no one would notice, or that we worry if anyone did perhaps they would not care for us as much, but a loves that sees you for all you are and all you are made to be. All your strength, all your gifting, all your tenacity, all your courage, all your love and all your purpose.

Oh it’s true that Jesus loves us even though we fall short, and we so often focus on this, and well we should, for what a love that could bear hurt when he himself would never hurt. But he also loves all the things about us that he designed to bear his image in the world, every unique quirk of yours that showers blessing on others, he loves. He does not love us for those wonderful qualities he created, or only in spite of our failing.

He loves because He is love.

He cannot help but love, he cannot be stopped from loving, he is for you, more for you than perhaps we ever give ourselves reason to hope for. Jesus is so for you, he would die to save you.

Love and Grace for your day

Rachel x 

31 Days of Faith

  This is Day 22 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Hope to the Valleys

Shepherd“The Lord is my shepherd, i lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. he guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” {Psalm 23 NIV}

His goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. There is no sometimes clause, no sometimes I will be good to you sometimes I won’t. This is the comfort of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He loves, he cares and he will never leave. The Shepherd is the stronger one, he is the one who keeps safe those belonging to him.

He is not far off, and he shows me where to tread, it is not a surprise to him because he is guiding. He has purposed my steps and my life, and will use everything for good. There is no story outside of his care. No road walked that he has not traveled alongside, no path worn that he has not carried me through. He is the Shepherd that is walking me onward, leading me to rest, all the way home.

In this beautiful shepherd song he does not only promise the green pastures, beautiful ground rich with the image of peace and goodness. He does this incredible thing of making what is dark, and has every reason to cause fear, safe – because he is there. He promises not to leave, to stay and bring comfort and security even in the valley moments.

Wherever I go, his goodness and love pursue me. He blesses my days, even the days of challenge, perhaps on those days even more. For on those days I see him most clearly, I see that in those stories he is strong enough to be the one who holds, bringing light in the darkness, and in so doing brings hope.

The Chief Shepherd is the one who comes low to walk with his people. He does not stay far off, he journeys with his people, for he loves them. This is the story of a Shepherd King who brings hope to the valleys.

Love, Grace and Hope for your day

Rachel x 

31 Days of Faith

  This is Day 21 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x