“I will walk freely in an open place because I seek your precepts.” Psalm 119:45
Greetings Dear Readers!
It’s hard to believe we’re almost midway through February, 2018. For me, January of this year has seemed oddly set apart with wide expanses of precious time spent with the Lord. Some were ministry related, which included helping to facilitate a “Come to the Quiet Retreat” and a second Spiritual Direction weekend. Some others were weather related, caused by harsh winter cancellations and delays. In an odd way, the first weeks of 2018 have “presented” as a type of wide threshold…into the open space of the year ahead.
In light of all this, I’ve spent much time pondering a passage in Genesis 26 that had also impacted one of my daughters. It’s all about Abraham’s son, Isaac and a very significant time of his life. For the purposes of this blog, however, I’d like to focus, and point you in the direction of verses 12-33. In particular:
“So Isaac left there, camped in the Valley of Gerar, and lived there. Isaac reopened the water wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and that the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died.” Genesis 26:17-18
Because of God’s tremendous blessing it had been necessary for Isaac to move his whole entourage to this area called Gerar, and dig for water to sustain his camps. Each of those wells has a story and several have names that reveal the story lines. Take some time, dear readers, to also camp out in Gerar for your devotions. Perhaps the Lord will speak to you as He has to me.
Notice though – and here’s the important part – all of this takes place while: “Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in that year he reaped a hundred times what was sown. The Lord blessed him…” (verse 12)
Sowing seed and digging wells represent slow, but steady activity. In the weeks ahead we’re going to be talking more about what that means in your spiritual life. Meanwhile, spend some time at Gerar. We really still are at the threshold of 2018. Truly in this year, you could reap a hundred times what you are sowing.
“He moved from there and dug another, and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Open Spaces and said, ‘For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.’”
I still enjoy opening Christmas cards from dear friends, and reading their “enclosures”… those special updates on the past year’s highlights and happenings. They often bring a smile… sometimes a tinge of sadness…always a flood of warmth to my heart.
Pondering this I realized…I look forward to reading other precious letters at this time of year also.
Those letters are the thoughts, prayers, and heart cries, that have filled my spiritual journals most of the past 365 days; and often, the faithful responses from Him, the Lover of my soul.
Reopening those journals has become a yearly ritual for me.
You won’t regret it.
See you in 2018.
“I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1
Periodically the Lord brings a powerful insight from His Word that remains etched…chiseled as it were…in my heart forever. Such was the case with Migdal Eder, “the tower of the flock” and the podcast my daughter and I listened to last Christmas while I was in Kentucky.
The site, Migdal Eder, is first encountered in Scripture as the place near Rachel’s death after she gave birth to Benjamin:
“So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). And Jacob set a pillar on her grave which is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day. Then Israel journeyed and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.” Genesis 35:19-21.
Hebrew tradition also speaks of this site:
“There was a place just outside of Bethlehem city, but still within the region commonly known as Bethlehem, where Passover lambs (as well as those born at other times), were kept by specially trained and purified shepherds. The lambs were born in this ‘tower of the flock’ known as Migdal Eder under the watchful eye of the shepherds who would then lay them in the manger for inspection. Either they would certify them for use as sacrifices in the temple or designate them to be released for common use. The newly chosen lambs would, according to some sources, even be wrapped in special swaddling clothes, as the shepherd would direct: “wrap this one up.”
Then, somewhere around 4 BC:
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Luke 2:4-8
Was Migdal Eder the actual location of Jesus’ birth? Was this the ceremonially clean manger where Jesus was laid, wrapped in swaddling clothes? Were these specially purified shepherds the ones who received the angelic host that night? Only God knows for sure, but isn’t it wonderful to ponder as we approach this holy day again?
“…So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on even forever. And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.” Micah 4:7-8
God bless you all!
Well, there’s no denying it now! The seasons have changed, daylight savings time has kicked in, and… the shortened daylight hours are a reality.
While most of us will probably admit to a vague internal battle with sadness, it is kind of nice having this pause between lawn mowing and snow shoveling. It also is nice to have long cozy evenings to perhaps enjoy fireplaces or wood-burners…and having that “extra” time to dig into a good book.
Ahhh and isn’t it neat to replace the wafting grill aromas with soups and chili and perhaps homemade bread or rolls (at least on the weekends)? I think it’s safe to say that most of us are ready to pull out our fleeces and sweaters as well.
However, this all means one thing. It’s that time again. It’s time to tackle that dastardly deed…changing out the closets and drawers! For moms of larger households, it is a daunting task that pretty much requires setting aside a whole morning or afternoon. I smile as I think about years gone by.
For me now, life is much simpler. As I finally faced the job last week, my mind really wasn’t on the clothing. It was focused instead on the choices. Do I need this? Could someone else benefit from this “still really nice, only gently worn” jacket? In my new season of life is this suit, or dressy banquet dress or long velvet skirt still relevant? And speaking of relevance, what joy that jeans are in! Aside from a pair of basic black slacks, all I now need are clean, well-kept jeans that can be beautifully dressed up or down. I’m free!! I am free!!!
In the last blog I challenged you to stop and ask yourself some questions…..and then decide, what is the greater good?
Thinking about your responses, this week’s question is: what are you wearing in the midst of what you are doing?
Scripture has much to say about this. Here are only a few verses:
“The Lord reigns. He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength…” Psalm 93:1.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,…” Isaiah 61:10.
“Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” Colossians 3:12-13.
“The royal daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors;..” Psalm 45:13-14.
As you think about what’s in your closet, ask yourself: What choices am I making? What is my soul wearing today?
With this blog and the next, I will temporarily be hitting the pause button in our series of going deeper into the Lord’s prayer. I believe you will see the timeliness of these next two heart messages that brought me to that decision. We’ll finish up the beautiful prayer that Jesus taught, in November.
Greetings Dear Friends,
When you read this, most probably the recent glorious Fall days of Northeast Ohio will have given way to the more seasonable rain and chill of late October. I will have just returned from a week of literally stepping “out of time”…reveling in the love and presence of kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. I will have also had the privilege of holding and snuggling extensively with my latest newborn great-grandson. What a truly precious gift that was.
It also was God ordered, because from the perspective of that sweet space I received a little wake-up call from the Lord. I recognized that ever so gradually, I was being pulled back into the vortex of overscheduling, overextending, and the mindset of over-busy-ness (if that is even a word).
Being recently retired from full-time employment, the new rhythms I have been establishing are indeed, freeing and fruitful. All the things I’ve put my mind to are good.
They are all good.
But…(I started asking myself)…am I supposed to be doing all of them all the time?
Are there not times when I’m supposed to be choosing between two goods?
Are there not times when I’m supposed to be choosing the greater good?
Reading this passage of Scripture I saw something very important:
Where are you in your life now? Are you doing much that is good? Are you trying to do it all?
Are you sure you’re supposed to be doing all that you’re doing?
Perhaps the Lord would assign simply a greater good for you to consider…at least for now.
When was the last time you checked in with Him?
Perhaps this week you can take some time, as I have, to just ask Him.
“Let us go…for that is why I came out.”
I'm a spiritual Director, speaker, and teacher with a sincere desire to share all that the Lord has taught me. It is my passion to help you create a “sacred space” of deeper intimacy with Jesus.
Resources for Going Deeper
Consider the Lilies
1. "Busy Lives & Restless Souls" by Becky Eldredge
1. "Sensible Shoes"
2. "Two Steps Forward-A Story of Persevering in Hope"
3. "Barefoot - A Story of Surrendering to God"
All titles by Sharon Garlough Brown
What Would Come Out if Someone Bumps Into You?
1. "The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making" by Elizabeth Liebert
What is Your Sacred Pathway?
1. "Sacred Pathways, Discover Your Soul's Path to God" by Gary Thomas
Spring Training...have you Started?
1. "The Good and Beautiful God, Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows" by James Bryan Smith
Hurry and Slow Down
1. "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook" by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
2. "Answering God" by Eugene Peterson
3. "Soul Keeping: Caring For The Most Important Part of You"
by John Ortberg
STOP Before You Start Your Journey
1. "Sabbath" by Dan Allender
2. "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook" by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
3. "Soul Feast" by Marjorie Thompson