What Would Become of Us?

by Mary Beth on December 24, 2020

All alone, Mary believed the angel Gabriel. She responded, “May it happen to me according to your word.” Such courage to believe. To act in faith, trust, and surrender. Understanding came later as a reward.

Do we fear or do we trust? Patty Callahan Henry, the New York Times best-selling author, probes this question in reflection of Mary’s courage and choice to surrender in faith, or to take on fear after her encounter with the angel. Mary’s spiritual posture and reply was simple, humble, and yet profound in a trusting statement of surrender. How encouraging for our walk of faith. To simply exercise trust during our unexpected and challenging times, especially extended delays experienced in our lives.

Truly open hearts move against fear, with a willingness to speak into the here and now. Daily we have opportunities that arise in our ordinary lives to respond in faith against fear, When appropriate to speak into the eternal now.

Joy Davidman Lewis’ quote, “If we should ever grow brave, what on earth would become of us?” I’m drawn to the passion, challenge, and adventure in this question to “grow brave” and its implications of what would become of us. It implies God has more for us!

Mary’s example of imperfect but pure-hearted faith, her steps of trust, surrender, and humble action welcomed God’s powerful purposes. It also welcomed His faithful promises and guiding presence. What mercy from our gracious heavenly Father to give so profoundly! Are we giving too little to God?

Do we fear or do we trust? What does this look like? Obviously a devotion to God and His ways, which are costly and weighty in practice for each follower of Christ. Scripture reveals from the life of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and even the Shepherds in the field, there is a quiet adventure and passion for all of us. We’re invited into His goodness through trust and often quiet action over fear.

Many times our actions play out in quieter environments, not necessarily in front of a lot of people or on a stage. Maybe the question is, Will our faith and trust be significant enough for us to be brave? Lord, help our unbelief. Help us to allow for space to grow. Walking with God is a daily practice of enjoying His presence, goodness and rich blessings. It’s so worth it. “Mary has the presence of God with her and she has the blessing of God upon her,” states Matthew Henry. This is the case for every believer.

Our God is on the move. Adventures in faith and great inspiration often surprise our timeline and press on fears of inadequacies, doubt, opposition and long seasons of waiting. How long? This is also our challenging cry along with Jeremiah, David, and Hannah. Let us recall, goodness greets us every morning, great is His faithfulness. Let us continue to surrender in faith and grow to be brave. God’s grace surrounds us, therefore, we have hope and joy as He changes us to be brave from glory to glory.

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Present Rest

by Mary Beth on August 4, 2020

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“You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found
to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.” ~C. S. Lewis

Plowmen Dug

Since my youth oppression

Followed after to confine me.

Yet,

Not prevailing; nor victory gained

Yahweh is faithful to cut me free.

*

Over my back plowmen dug

Making their furrows long.

In its place, the Lord will train

That each endeavor is a song.

*

Those who hate will turn back.

From first to last their efforts defaced

To constrain my life and its effectiveness.

Now I’m in a spacious place.

*

Jehovah will contend, and in shame

 Turn them back!

On those who contend with me,

With death in all their attacks.

*

To this day I proclaim your name

And declare your power.

Do not forsake me when I am old and grey

To the next generation, aflame.

Psalms 129, Psalms 71:17,18, Psalms 18:19, Isaiah 49:25

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As a Plan for the Fullness of Time

by Mary Beth on April 3, 2020

Together seagulls celebrate Lady Lake Michigan, in her deep silence and beauty.

“I have had dreams of absolute delight,

Beyond all waking bliss-only of grass,

Flowers, wind, a peak, a limb of marble white;

They dwell with me like things half come to pass,

True prophecies-when I with thee am right,

If I pray, waking, for such a joy of sight,

Thou with the gold, wilt not refuse the brass.”

~George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul.

During this Lent season, which ushered in the concerning Coronavirus pandemic we acutely face, I am currently experiencing a combination of both spiritual reflections and practical home projects. The photo above of seagulls over Lake Michigan was absolute delight for my soul as I walked the beach early one morning. “A joy of sight…”, rings absolutely true from MacDonald’s poem. Further MacDonald writes about a limb of white marble; however, in our home project the past week we have attempted to clean several counters made of marble stone.

Literally hours and hours of attempting to clean our kitchen marble counter tops after engaging online suggestions for remedies, we had no perceivable progress to remove the many little water spots and food stains from fruit, vinaigrette or wine. To name a few: flour and water or baking soda and hydrogen proxcide wrapped in Saran Wrap overnight, or warm soapy water, or an expensive product, or water and a drop of ammonia. None of these concoctions worked, only cleaned the stains, failed to remove them! Did I mention the hours? Our last resort was the option to use 1% steel wool/1000 sandpaper lightly, finally after more hours the sanding removed most of the stains except a few tough ones. When the sun shines though our kitchen, the one or two stubborn stains hopefully are visible only to us. So, the white marble counters look 90% better, sanded and shining from the nourishing polish.

How stubborn stains and chronic sins of my heart are viewed in the sight of the Lord, but thanks be to God, the blood of Christ covers over me; over all my scarlet sins to be white as snow! No reflection of tough stains that remains, or too difficult to remove. By His mercy, deep and hidden sins will surface to be covered, even deeper removed is our guilt when we draw near to God and reason together with Him. How Isaiah’s prophetic words, “…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow…” hit afresh to the heart. Oh, sufficient grace is offered to cover over our human condition as disabled patients, tainted in sin, and most often spiritually handicapped. As much grace as a soul needs to perfectly remove ALL the stains; for where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

Praise the Lord our God, almighty and everlasting Father for His steadfast love to those who fear Him! The blood of Jesus is the best detergent in the world. Applied to our sins, mistakes, and failures, it removes the stains completely to place us free before God and others. May we surrender to His kindness and mercy, and be responsible stewards of such costly bought freedom.

We actually enjoy the home projects during our social distancing and the ongoing TV news updates. Simply to daily enjoy God’s creation in His generous and creative faithfulness, power, wisdom, holiness, and goodness is bliss. I can hardly take it all in. Although I feel personally invited into the Ancient of Days grandeur and majesty, try as I may, I cannot fully grasp it all now! Thankfully it leaves me yearning for more, craving for more grace and beauty, for another country where God, “as a plan for the fullness of time” will in His perfect love unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth. Eph.1

Be well and take care!

Mary

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