I’m a Constant Guest in the Secret Place

(You’ll hear waterfall in addition to the music on this post. If it’s distracting, feel free to mute either as you read.)

When I became a Christian, I became a new person in spirit. Naturally, my spirit yearns to shelter in the comfort and protection of the Father. The Psalmist refers to that place of shelter as the secret place of the Most High God, El Elyon. (Psalm 91:1) And when we dwell, actually reside, in that secret place, we find rest. Rest of mind – peace – assurance. Isn’t this kind of rest what we really want? I do.

Some places on this earth, even right here in Michigan, would make amazing secret places.

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An Evening in Paris

The vibrant young couple one day became old. It wasn’t sudden, but it seemed sudden.

The years between the young and the old seemed to have passed quickly – sometimes in a moment’s time. The memories were sweet and good, yet sometimes sad. It was the sad memories that caused the aging, as is true of most.

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Mountain-Size Fear

After a perfect day, driving through the mountains of Glacier National Park on “Going to the Sun Road”  (See “A Day in the Park”, we drove up to Babb on the east side of the park and then in to the small town of Many Glacier. Ron and I enjoyed lunch in an Alpine lodge while we reminisced

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The Sun is Shining!

So many people are sick now – maybe you – or your loved one. I was very sick a few years ago around this time of year. We had just arrived in Florida for the winter. . .

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Whispers of Advent – Luke Chapter 18

From a state of brokenness, she heard Jesus whisper to her throughout the Advent Season.

Her son – her only son –  was ill. It was a strange illness – undiagnosed, puzzling the doctors. One doctor after another. One hospital after another. 

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Remember what He said . . .

The day was the worst ever. It was neither “Good” nor “Holy,” as we now refer to the Friday of Holy Week. In the midst of the curious, the angry, the Jewish officials, and the Roman soldiers, this handful of Christ followers – the women – stood near the cross, numbed in their sorrow and despair. Their Messiah, their Lord, their Savior,  had been brutally beaten – beyond recognition. Earlier, they had followed Him and the procession of onlookers as He carried His cross, sometimes falling to the ground, up the hill.

How can He possibly continue. Please God.

But He did continue.

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Seeking. No, Needing, Solitude

Are you trying to spend more time alone with God? I am. As I’ve shared before, I don’t find it easy to do so. My excuse is probably a lifetime of multitasking. 

Reading and watching TV at the same time. 

Talking on the phone with a Bluetooth while doing dishes or completing household tasks. 

Writing while watching the children play. 

Always something – rather two or three somethings going on. Not sure how or why it came about – how I got this way. I observe others quietly reading for hours at a time, napping on the back porch in the summertime, leisurely humming while fixing dinner. I covet that contentedness.

This isn’t a new problem for me. I wrote about it a few years ago, and I’m opening up about it again today.

Ron and I are blessed to have a little ranch home in Florida – I’ll write more about it in tomorrow’s post. Anyway, we most often arrive in this little house mid-late December. Was true this year, as well. It’s stressful – preparing for the drive down from Michigan – making the lists, closing up the house, and packing until the back of the Buick Enclave is ready to burst! By the time we leave, we’ve had our family Christmas, which in itself, is awesome! But it’s the other things that create stress. Our jobs, for example. Although retired, we are often still working, as was the case this year. I took an interim full-time high school English teaching position. It was delightful! (You can read about it here.) I loved every day with those kids; nonetheless, it requires MUCH time of study and prep and long days of making every moment count in each class. If only it was just the physical work, but it’s not. I invest in each student. I care. Their problems keep me awake at night. I want to make a difference in their lives. I know they see me as a caring teacher; I suspect they see me as a Nana; but I hope they see yet more. I hope they see Jesus in me.  I might be the only Jesus they see that day. And oh, how they need Him. Even in our sweet little community, these kids are hurting. Many are depressed, many are hopeless, and most are already more broken in their brief 17 years than their parents are in 40. Only Jesus can reach into the depth of that brokenness. I care. I pray. And I lay awake at night. So when that semester is over and we head south to Florida, my heart is still full of love and hurt for them. This Nana carries it and it doesn’t end when I leave Michigan or even when I cross the Florida line. It goes all the way to the little house in Venice. And stays awhile.

I actually came to Florida to heal, but it was not from the normal stressors of a recent semester teaching.

I’ve shared the marvelous story of healing in When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers, but I’ve been unable, for various reasons, to share the depth of the ten-year struggle for healing for one I love, and more recently, the agonizing, lengthy struggle for healing for another. I love both more than life itself. They are my own blood.  While one is now healed, I await the healing of the other with confident expectation. I thank God. I praise Him. I rejoice. Yet the memories of their past and present sufferings are embedded in my heart and soul, often triggered by the simplest life observations and sounds. And small, trivial, daily stressors are sometimes aggravated by the ongoing pain within me. 

Now I also need the healing. 

So it is not hidden in the darkness of the enemy, I bring this situation into the light; I present it to Jesus, the Light of the World. I share these things because I know some of you have the same ongoing pain. You, like I, need to heal. We will! God promises it in His Word! Isn’t He wonderful!

  I seek – actually “need” solitude with Him. I must make an effort to be alone with my Father, to read His Word, and to listen as He speaks to me. In His Word, He whispers to me threefold:

a bit about family love,

a lot about compassion,

and a reminder about the importance of occasional solitude.

Here’s what The Holy Spirit teaches me today:

I call him John the Baptist. I’m sure Jesus just called him John – His cousin, John. A cousin like no  other, I assume, for while both babies were yet in their mother’s wombs, cousin John leaped noticeably when he heard the voice of Mary, his mother’s cousin, whom John’s mother Elizabeth referred to as “the mother of my Lord.” Mary responded to this honor by singing and glorifying the Lord God. Both baby boys heard their mothers’ voices magnifying God. Both baby boys were sent from God for specific purposes. John’s father was Zechariah. But Jesus’ father was Almighty God. A beautiful familial bond was set. The baby boys were born just months apart.

John the Baptist “prepared the way for the Lord,” baptizing people in the name of the Lord, whose “sandals I am not worthy to untie,” he said. Unlike those people John called to baptism, Jesus went to John for baptism.

Shortly after Jesus was baptized, John was imprisoned for his message. Scholars believe it was about 15 months later that John was then beheaded. When the Lord Jesus heard this news, He was undoubtedly grief-stricken: “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”

Have you ever done this? In grief or in sorrow or in exhaustion, you’ve withdrawn to a place of solitude. Jesus did. But the Bible tells us that when he had arrived at the place of solitude, he discovered that He wasn’t really alone at all. A large crowd of people had followed him, along the shore. They were desperate for Him. I understand. Do you? I’ve been desperate for Him in the past. And I am desperate for Him now, as I write. It’s really a desperation I’ve had for years now. I do understand. And so does Jesus. I know this because of His response to the people who interrupted His desired solitude.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus saw this large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Then he fed them by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish. That’s my Jesus! That’s your Jesus, beloved! Compassionate. Loving. Healer. Bread of Life. 

After He met the needs of the people, He again sought solitude, this time succeeding. He went up on a mountainside. To pray, the Bible says.

To pray. I must let that “sink in” to my desperate, multitasking mind today.

I don’t know how long He was alone in prayer, but I assume it was through the evening and most of the night. We read that along toward morning, He went out, on the lake, walking on the water during a storm, to meet, comfort, rescue, and teach His disciples who were in a water-drenched boat, tossing to and fro, thinking they were going to die. That’s my Jesus! That’s your Jesus. Teacher. Comforter. Savior. Deliverer. The Great I Am! The Son of God!

And it didn’t end. His ministry didn’t end when He was crucified – because of the Resurrection! He’s still compassionate. He still comforts me. He’s still loving and healing. My teacher. My Savior. The Great I Am! The Son of God. The Bread of Life. The Light of the World. That’s my Jesus. And if He is your Savior, that’s your Jesus too.

He’s the one who becomes family.

He’s the one who is compassionate.

And He’s the one who teaches me that occasionally I need to get to a place of solitude ~ to pray.

Click here to read more posts in the series: Lent: This Time of Reflection.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Click here to learn more . 

When you pray . . .

I was pleased that little granddaughter Kaylee was sound asleep. She had seen me cry enough throughout this last year, each time, hugging me, “Are you missing Grandpa and Grandma ?” she would ask.

“Yes, honey,” I’d answer, thankful to receive and return the hug, but forcing the smile. Her tenderness brought me back. Her smile  gave me focus. And with it came new  strength.

But this night, as I left her sleeping, I could feel the tears welling up. These tears –  tears from missing someone so desperately, knowing you’ll never see her again in your life time – don’t well up in the eyes. They build in a pressure beginning at both sides of the top of your neck, spreading behind your ears, instantly to the sides of the bridge of your nose, then flooding your eyes and overflowing down your face.

“Nana, will you sing to me?” Kaylee had asked, just a few minutes earlier.

It had become our nightly ritual. Kneeling beside her bed, rubbing her back or stroking her cheek as her mommy had, singing her to sleep. My repertoire usually consisted of “Go Tell Aunt Tabby,” “Bye-Baby Bunting,” and my made up song for Kaylee:

Sweet dreams, my Kaylee Joy; 

Sweet dreams to you.

Dream about butterflies,

Dream about baby dolls,

Dream about teddy bears too.

And each night, after several made up verses, my soft singing turned to quiet humming; and eventually diminished, as I left the room and walked down the hall. She was contented and asleep.

But this night, as I knelt by her bed and had sung several verses of Kaylee’s made up song, I quietly hummed two notes – the fifth and the third notes of a  chord – and those two tones immediately took me back  in  time.  . .1951 AD Newborn Kathy copy

. . .  to my mother’s arms.

She was holding me. I felt the warmth of her arms. I looked into her face. I could see my chubby little arm reaching up to her soft cheek. She was humming the song to me – the same two tones. I was tiny – perhaps a few months – perhaps a year. In all my memories, I’ve never had one of such a young age. I felt so small. I remembered being a baby! It was so peaceful but oh so brief! Nearly as soon as the memory had come, it was gone! I was back in the present! Back in reality!

As I left Kaylee’s room that night, the other tones, the melody of the song, came to mind, and the words came a bit later. This time, I wasn’t taken back in time but I sat in the dimly-lit living room, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to picture and hear my mother singing – the  little chorus I hadn’t heard in years:
Music Notes

When you pray, will you pray for me
For I need His love and His care
When you pray, will you pray for me
   Will you whisper my name in your prayer.

At the close of the day, when I kneel to pray
I will remember you
You need help every day, this is why I pray
And I will remember you.

When I pray, I will pray for you
For you need His love and His care
When I pray, I will pray for you
I will whisper your name in my prayer.

1954 B Christmas Margie and Kathy (6) copyTonight, Mama, when I pray, I will whisper your name in my prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, for my Mama, who held me and sang to me and prayed for me. And thank you, Jesus, for the wonderful memory .

Click here to listen to the Gaithers sing “When You Pray.” It’s not as sweet as my Mama’s voice, but you’ll get the idea! 🙂

If Only in My Memories . . .

Walking through the house one Michigan summer morning, I heard the “honk” of a car. I didn’t know if it was on the TV or from a car going by. But it brought back some memories. Perhaps you can relate. 
 

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