Monday, December 28, 2015

A Firm Foundation

Today I finally had a quiet moment to sit down and savor all your wonderful Christmas cards and letters.  Thank you to all of you who still carry on that tradition.  I thoroughly enjoy your family news and well wishes.  However, as much as I enjoy sending out cards, this is the first time I've failed to get that task accomplished, and so this will have to do.  

Last January, God pressed upon my heart this phrase, 'prepare the way for the Lord'.  I can now look back and see God's faithfulness to carry it out.  The hard ground of our hearts has been painfully plowed, the rough clods stirred up, broken and humbled, so that the presence of the Lord can be more evident in our lives.

For once upon a 2015 there were six little sheep belonging to the Shepherd.  They looked tasty to a big bad wolf seeking whom he might devour.  That wolf huffed and puffed but he could not blow the house down, for those sheep had built upon a sure foundation, anchored in Jesus Christ their Savior. When trouble came they ran pell mell to Jesus, who is not ashamed to call them brothers.

The year started on the mountain top with our annual youth winter retreat.  There we learned about being salt and light in the world.  But at the time of green grass and budding flowers the path plunged downward into a dark valley where shadows of shame loomed large. A crisis with a children's minstry, discovered the big bad wolf creeping down the chimney, totally unexpected. But he was met by the boiling pot of truth.

Later, I was tested in the orchard's of my lush Oregon stomping grounds where I visited my family. With my daughter Heather, we went on to attend my youngest brother's wedding in Seattle. The wolf was lurking in our travels but we hopped in the butter churn, our faith in action, and rolled all the way back home, safe and sound.

Not long after, my husband took the youth to the inner city of Chicago where the wolf sought to wreak havoc, but even there he could not break through, for our hope is fixed on the Shepherd.  He remains faithful.

However, the big bad wolf was not easily deterred.  He showed up again at the kitchen where my husband tore his rotatory cuff and found out that he has no cartilage in his shoulders. Because of the missing cartilage, the rotator cuff could not be repaired.  Hence, pain medication was prescribed. And the pain medication led to an ulcer which threatened to take his life.

Yet, God has done more than we can ask or think in His great provision and healing.  In the midst of these encounters with the wolf, we have been led to green pastures and been refreshed by the presence of our Shepherd.

In June we spent a glorious day at the sweet pea patch near a creek close to home.

We had a special time with Jeff's parents at our friend's luxerious cabin.

Jeff and I celebrated 25 years of marriage in our own beautiful mountains of the San Juans.  Earlier in the year, (before the injury to his shoulder), we coached a volleyball team together.  It was such a rich experience and good for our marriage as well.  We still keep in touch with those kids.

Heather was chosen for her dream job at a children's hospital in Ohio, where she is finishing her senior year of college in nursing.

Tyler recently received a job in his field of computer science.  After taking the fall semester off to work, he will be back to college in January.

Ivy is adjusting to high school while Summer is holding her own in 8th grade.

The year has certainly weathered our house, but it still stands, for no one, not even the big bad wolf, can snatch us from our Shepherd's hands.  We are weary from all the huffing and puffing, but not dismayed, for our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  We take shelter under the protection of His wings.

Christmas brings us full circle where we are enjoying the season with family and friends.  Thank you for touching our lives, each in your own unique way.  We are truly blessed beyond measure.

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Joyful and Triumphant

Every year at this time I crave meaning. The emphasis on things, the fluff, and clutter, even the indulgent foods, shout so loud that the Bread of Life, my real sustenance, can seem dimmed and hard to find. Yet, God always brings His presence to the forefront in unexpected ways.

At times God has brought sickness or injury to turn my attentions toward Him. Other times it is financial strain, a move, or even the death of someone close to me. While these life difficulties add stress to the season, at the same time, I can look back and say they were a gift, for God made Himself known to me in ways I never imagined. He showed His faithfulness in the midst of them and brought me to the other side overflowing with His fullness . . . rich meaning.

These experiences enhance worship, taking it to a deeper level. Like the boy with his five loaves and two fish, I bring before the Lord what I have. I lay it out before Him. I present my worry, my sadness, my trial, and, miraculously, He gives grace upon grace. Yet, the process of laying my concerns at the feet of Jesus never comes without a wrestling match.

This year is no different. I'm fighting hard to align my will with God's. At first I resisted being forced to simplify, but now, in that simplicity, I'm finding great treasure. The deadlines rushing up to meet me, no longer matter. I can be at rest in the fact that Christmas cards won't be sent, there is no flurry of shopping, and no frantic cooking or endless decorating of cookies. Instead, there is great creativity in using the resources I already have around the house, and much delight in doing so. God is reminding me loud and clear that this world is not my home.

Yet, while I enjoy the creativity, I fight to keep my focus on eternal values because there is a constant pull towards the tangible expectations of how Christmas is supposed to look. The temptation to be short sighted is very real. And the lie lingers in my mind that I must be a bad parent if my children are disappointed.

However, as I'm choosing to fix my mind on Jesus, my eternal home is becoming more and more clear and I'm finding a joy which cannot be explained. I don't mean that I'm happy all the time. (My family can certainly attest to that!) In fact, the opposite is often the case. I've been grieving over the serious illness of my father-in-law and over a bondage that has captured a dear friend. But I'm learning and growing. I'm not the same person I was before. It may have taken my whole lifetime, but I think God is finally getting through to my thick skull, and that is this. Where I choose to settle in my thoughts determines where I dwell in my living. 

All this time, all those years, I never fully understood who I am in Christ. Oh, I knew it positionally, but allowed lies to crowd and clutter truth so that it could not always be worked out in my everyday practice of routine life. What a difference it makes that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us! This baby, the Christ child, changes everything. Because He lives, I live. Not a mere existence, nor a drudgery, or a dread of the future, but joyful and triumphant living!  My circumstances do not matter, because meaning is not found there.  It is found only in a relationship with Jesus, the anchor for my soul. This Christmas, I sink deep into His embrace.  O the wonders of His love!

O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem,
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels,

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Beautiful Feet

Waves threaten to capsize the boat, and He sleeps?  The danger is real.  The circumstances urgent. Likewise, the countdown to Christmas and the pressure to deliver has already begun with its contracting expectations. The strain is real and the pressure urgent.  Ready or not, the 25th will come. But this year is different . . . because of shoes, the shoes of peace.

I love the sparkly snow clad Christmas cards, the scenes of tranquility and the nostalgia of warm family happiness, but this kind of peace seems a dream, an ideal which eludes us all.  In reality, I need a peace that can stand in the misdst of turmoil, stress, deadlines, busyness, and noise.

This year, perhaps more than others, I have reason to be unsettled.  Torents have beaten violently against my house.  Between the failing health of my in-laws, my husband's recovery, and my children's growing pains, I enter some ominous territory I've never seen before.  The forecast brings monumental waves which would seem to be anything but peaceful.

Yet, as I enter this hoilday season, I'm finding a new understanding of the word peace, that it's found only in the anchor of my relationship with God.  Rather than a perfect setting with well behaved people, perfect gifts, and warm fuzzy feelings, I look to my standing in Christ.  I am accepted before God, not on whether I meet the image of a perfect holiday, but on the basis of His righteousness and His perfection.  That never changes.  Ever.  This peace with God provides a launching pad for peace with others, the peace of God which transcends all understanding.

Last year at this time I did not fare so well when it came to peace.   I allowed my circumstances to absorb my attentions.  I was so overwhelmed that they became all consuming.  I'm sorry to say I was rather prickly and disagreeable.  I entered the season lacking shoes of peace.

Yet, I learned something from those experiences, that peace is not passive.  Instead, I have to actively pursue it by focusing on the greatness of my Creator.  Does God really reign?  Is He truly in control of my life?  Can He tangibly provide for my needs?  Of course He can!  But so often I don't live by what I say.  Peace comes as I live with the awareness that God. Is. Big.  He's got this!  Every bit of it! Therefore, I can live settled, quiet, and peaceful, because I trust the One who rules my life.

With this perspective, I enter the season having my shoes of peace laced and ready to move forward.  My heart overflows with gratefulness, for I was once the object of God's wrath, but now, because of the blood of Jesus, I am the object of His great love.  He sent the perfect gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  No wonder the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."  (Lk. 2:14)

Christmas baking?  A clean house?  Perfect pictures?  A beautiful tree?  Lushious meals?  Exact gift? Some of this might remain undone, but it doesn't matter.  The pressure is off.  The reason?  I have what really matters, my life in Christ, and no amount of turmoil can change that.  

Both my dad and my father-in-law have commented on my square feet.  They are not very pretty by the world's standards, but God says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 
'Your God reigns' ".  (Isa. 52:7)  Yes!  Turns out, I have beautiful feet afterall, for they are engulfed in the shoes of peace.  

Ignorance is not bliss!  When I forget who I am in Christ and do not realize the overwhelming fullness of the gift of Christmas, I become ungrateful and unsettled.  I worry about many things. However, to know this great work of God and His involvement in my life provides a rich foundation because I "stand firm...with my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15)  Therefore, I can sing this song with confidence.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains.

God's love never fails, never runs dry, never runs out on me,
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul 
And I never ever have to be afraid,
For God's love remains.  
(by Kristian Stanfill)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Sacrifice of Praise

As the season of giving thanks is upon us, I cannot remain silent, for my eyes have seen a great work of God.  Yet, it is nothing like I expected.  In fact, this year could be summed up in one word--injury. However, in the midst of hurt, God remains faithful.  I cling to Him as my refuge and strength.

Last spring I experienced a setback in a ministry that was close to my heart.  The very people I was trying to reach, lashed out in hate, causing my presence among them to end abruptly.  I was wounded in my spirit, and, though outwardly I tried to carry on, inwardly I was bleeding to death.   My heart wilted and I grew faint with discouragement, thinking I could never be useful to God again.

However, God reminded me over and over through Scripture and song that His love never fails and His mercies are new every morning.  My accusers had no ground on which to stand, because my life is hidden with Christ in God, and the blood of Jesus declares me righteous.  Yet, never in my wildest imaginations, did I realize that God was about to give me a vivid real life illustration of His great work on the cross to heal my heart.

It was Aug. 1st, my husband's birthday, when he awoke to profuse bleeding.  As the morning wore on, his condition became an emergency.  But once at the hospital the bleeding stopped and we were sent home.  I felt foolish for bringing him in.  Yet, the next two days at home were sober, for the bleeding started up again and he could scarcely crawl without fainting.  We took him back to the doctor who stared in disbelief, for my husband had no standing pulse. He was then sent immediately to the hospital where we learned he had a stomach ulcer.

I watched as the nurses set up equipment to give him blood.  But it could not be given in one big whoosh.  Rather, we waited...and waited...and waited, while 3 units of blood were infused into his body, one. drop. at. a. time.  I began to see his energy gradually return.  By the time we left the hospital two days later, my husband was his usual upbeat self.  Weak, yes, but the blood continued to circulate through his body bringing healing in its time.

It was in the quiet of that hospital room, during the patient waiting on the blood to be transferred into his body, that this message came to me.  "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isa. 40:30-31

The visual of the blood hanging in its plastic case, caused me to see that I needed a blood transfusion from my Heavenly Father!  I needed His blood to heal my spiritual wound. Yet, this life giving blood required that I wait on the Lord.  Yes, I had His life at my initial salvation, where, at nine years old, I placed my faith in Jesus as my Savior.  But the death of Jesus on the cross to pay for my sin runs even deeper than that.  It also means that His very life is infused into mine daily. Because He rose from the dead, I live.  Not simply breathing oxygen, but real, vibrant, soulful, abundant life!

The injury, of which I spoke above, had zapped my strength, even the will to lift my head, for I was filled with shame.  I could scarcely walk my Christian life without fainting, let alone think about soaring like an eagle. But as I looked only unto the Lord, and cried out to Him with my pathetic heart, He delivered hope to my soul.
One. Drop. At. A. Time.

This Thanksgiving, I can honestly say that I am thankful for these experiences.  Though they brought great pain and came at great expense, God revealed Himself to me in a deeper way, a personal, tender, year long drawing of my heart into the ocean of His great love.  He is my shield and the lifter of my head.  My heart now understands the value of faith in the waiting and has seen the healing result.

The fall season, (pun intended), has brought great fruitfulness in my life.  Through the brokeness, God has launched me into areas of ministry that are beyond what I could have imagined.  He has fine tuned my listening so that I have a sharper recognition of His voice.  I seek to follow His lead, His agenda, not my own.  And last, but not least, He has confirmed that He is not done with me yet, for His blood covers a multitude of sins.  What was meant for evil, God used for good.  My fainting heart has been strengthened to soar, and I am truly thankful.

May I never lose the wonder, the wonder of the cross.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  
The Lord delights in those who fear Him, 
who put their hope in his unfailing love." 
 Psalm 147:3,11

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What I Cherish

A week has passed since our eventful day, but this is the first chance I've had to write about it.  I was caught by surprise as my husband stole me away for several days to celebrate our 25 years of marriage.

I love the off season when everything, even nature, breathes a sigh and rests.  In a town normally filled with hoards of tourists and no place to park, we discovered, instead, real people . . . school children and laborers, mountain natives and grandparents with their little tikes.  At one point we found a fly fisherman practicing his cast while his dog retrieved the flying objects.  Somehow, the town drew me in with its intimacy.

Likewise, as we hiked through the aspen forests, most on the tail end of their glory, I felt the hushed nearness of their leaves under my feet.  And the fragrance, oh my!  There is nothing quite like the scent of fall in the aspens. All of nature settles in for their deep sleep of winter, anticipating their rest . . . gloriously content.

Then we came upon, this.

Appropriately named, Bridal Veil Falls.

The pool could not be seen from the road.  Only those diligent enough to hike up the hill found the treasure.

I am reminded of the beauty of marriage, the covenant we share before God, and its exclusiveness. One man and one woman, joined together to form a new family unit, a picture of the relationship between Christ and His people.

This anniversary we did something we've never done before--attend a marriage conference.  Though risky in the sense that I was not sure what would be required, the rewards far outweighed the fears.  I came away from that conference with one word . . . 'cherish'.

It's easy to joke about what went wrong at the wedding ceremony, or to make fun of the style and design at that time. And in my case, I bemoan the lack of a professional photographer which left me with few quality pictures. But, when all is said and done, it really doesn't matter.  All of that is only fluff and oh so trivial compared to the rich and rewarding treasure I have in my marriage.  I don't want to forget what I have for lack of a perfect photograph.

I cherish the covenant we made before God, because it is the marriage that truly matters, not the wedding celebration and whether everything was in place.  The beauty comes in its committment and exclusiveness, in its boundaries, for a "cord of three strands is not easily broken."  (Eccles.4:12)

My husband and I have something special, sacred, and holy. And like the awe and hush of nature in its rest, there is a contentment which comes from the Lord in the wear and tear of years that cannot be compared.

Recently, as I took some unique pictures of our rings, I noticed something.  They have scratches, nicks, and dings, obviously well worn and seasoned.  But they still matter in that they represent our marriage covenant.  Like any couple, we too have experienced conflict and trials, heartbreak and disappointment, but God has preserved our lives and kept us only unto Him and for each other. Our marriage was founded on Christ as our Solid Rock and continues to do so, providing great stability.

If I had it to do over again, I would still marry this same man.  He is one of the most selfless, capable, and understanding persons I know.  He loves God deeply and is passionate about living in a way that honors His Lord. However, we are not the same people we were when we got married.  And this is by God's design.

When left to ourselves we miss the checks and balances of relationship and can easily fall into extremes. If we are not in fellowship with other believers, it is easy to miss our own blind spots. And marriage, being the closest of relationships, does this the best.  I, for one, would have been steeped in miserable legalism were it not for my husband who lives so free. I love that about him, that he knows such joy and confidence in the Lord.  I shudder to think where I would be today if God had not brought him into my life to turn me away from extremes, and to provide perspective that is broader than it would be on my own.

I cherish my husband who is truly a gift from God.  I cherish the covenant we made before God, and recognize that it is binding, a serious matter, and not to be taken lightly.  I cherish our rings, a symbol of our promise. I cherish our four children and the way they have enriched our lives. I cherish those tiny ones known only from the dark of the womb, who precede us in heaven. And when I think of all we've gone through together, I cherish our marriage of 25 years.  Last, but not least, I cherish our parents, our heritage, where they have both now celebrated 50 years of marriage. What a treasure!  I look forward to the day when we can offer the same to our children.

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  
Your people will be my people and your God my God."  Ruth 1:16b

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Heart Check

Last weekend my family drove out to the desert and caught the tail end of the airshow.  As the jets flew overhead I couldn't help but wonder, what elite sort of person flies a Thunderbird?  I knew that it could not be easy, for if it were, everyone would be flying them.  These pilots had my respect because I was certain they were familiar with disciplined concentration and hard work.

Now, a week later, as I'm preparing to play songs for worship, my thoughts keep returning back to these words:

There's nothing worth more, that will ever come close
No thing can compare . . .Your Presence, Lord.
(by Bryan Torwalt and Katie Torwalt)

And I thought, do I really, truly crave the Presence of God to that degree?  If there is nothing comparable to the presence of God in my life, then what action am I taking to be drawn into Him?  I can pray more fervently, worship more intensely, and seek more diligently.  I can sacrifice my all or hush my heart, but in truth, more of His presence boils down to one thing: simple obedience.  If I want to know more of God's presence in my life I have to live by His terms.

Those F-16 pilots may have flown proud that day, but in order to arrive at that place, they had to be teachable. Resisting instruction from a commander would have been disastrous, not only to them, but to many others as well. In order to know such precision and glory, they had to fly by the rules.

Yes, I want more of God's presence in my life, but I will not arrive there by singing a meaningful song.  In fact, if my life has become self-indulgent and disobedient, my heart becomes sluggish and insensitive to the voice of God . . . . hardened.

Often God means to bless and draw me into intimacy with Him but I miss it because my heart is not in the right place to receive it.  I've become very aware of this in recent days as I've noted the response of those hearing the Word of God.  Like the parable of the farmer, some receive the Word thinking they've already arrived.  Others accept it with great gladness but then as the week progresses, lose interest. Some actively resist.  It is only those whose hearts are softened, yes, even broken, that the Word takes root and grows. (Matt. 13:3-9)

We were made for righteousness.  Therefore, in obedience is where we find the greatest joy, the highest freedom. "Be holy as I [Jesus] am holy," we are instructed. (1 Pet. 1:16) It seems an unrealistic command, and yet, by the power of God's Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we can defy gravity . . . this pull of sin on our lives.  Soaring is possible.

Yes, I want to be more aware of God's goodness in my life, more aware of His presence.  Only yesterday I saw Him pour out an unexpected blessing on my family.  But I might not have recognized it as that, if I had not been acting in obedience to Him. Living by God's terms has many motivators, but one of the greatest rewards is that it draws us into His presence.  For this reason, I "prepare my mind for action; remain self-controled and set my hope fully on the grace to be given me..."  (1 Pet. 1:13)

"With what shall I come before the LORD?  
Will [He] be pleased with thousands of rams, 
with ten thousand rivers of oil? 
He has showed you, O man, what is good.  
And what does the LORD require of you?  
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  (Micah 6:5,7,8)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Well Preserved

I was about to speak before a group of unknown women when the lady sitting behind me found out I had a son of 23 years. She leans forward and whispers in my ear, "You are well preserved, my friend, well-preserved." I've been described in many ways but have never heard that one before! Needless to say, it tickled my funny bone.

Having just gone through the canning season where every manner of produce is put up and preserved for the winter, I got to thinking on that thought even more. The process of canning food consists of many things, but perhaps most importantly, sealing food within a jar holds back spoilage or decay.

There is coming a day, perhaps very soon, when the LORD "will gather the lame...assemble the exiles and those [He] has brought to grief. [He] will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation." (Micah 4:6-7) I am encouraged to think that God preserves those who are His, keeping us for that day when we will dwell with Him in the heavenlies. Although, contrary to the rules of canning, He does not choose the perfect. Instead, He chooses the lame, the weak, and the outcast.

Last week my children were off school for fall break, but nothing went as planned. We met one disappointment after another, from sickness to conflict to frustration to a funeral. The week seemed a smorgasborg of trials and I found my heart becoming angry and bitter with the unfairness of it all. But by the end of the week I realized I'd been fighting . . . resisting what God was bringing my way. My hope had been in my expectations rather than in the Lord.

When at last we made it to Sunday, my focus was drawn to Naomi from the book of Ruth, and her long journey to Moab, away from the land of blessing. Yet, years later, she took the road that would lead her back to Bethlehem, back to obedience and fellowship with God. El-Shaddai, her Great Provider, had dealt with her for the purpose of preserving her as His own.

I am so glad that God preserves me through my trials and my wanderings. He not only creates and redeems, but He sustains. Seasons change. Circumstances are unreliable. People let us down. But God is my strong tower, the One who holds back the decay in my life and the tendency towards evil, because I am sealed as His own.

This gives me great hope as I pray for others as well, those who are struggling to find their way and who have settled in a land of rebellion or disobedience. I know that God has the power to turn their hearts back home, back to the land of blessing, for He has preserved them in His grace and love. I can pray a prayer of faith rather than worry for He is trustworthy.

Well-preserved? By all means! I am held secure in Christ, and nothing can shake that fact.

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  
He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, 
and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, 
guaranteeing what is to come."  
2 Cor. 1:21-22

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fall Apart

Would you follow your friend over a cliff?  Obviously not, but God is different.  Because His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts beyond ours, He sometimes leads us to follow Him right over the e

Like a mountain stream, our lives meander through the ordinary or rush through the busy, always moving towards the lowland where it is safe.  But God would take us beyond safe, even free falling out of control.  Life pushes hard and every once in awhile I find myself plunging over the precipice,


Maybe you know it too, this feeling of arms flailing and legs floundering, heart caught in your throat, the point of no return.   But I'm learning that this is a good place to be, fragmented and undone.

When I walked into my church and saw the decorations for VBS, I knew, without doubt, what the message held for me.  That was two weeks ago.  The decor has since come down, but God's work in my life  remains.  In fact, my heart is so full I can scarcely take it all in, let alone try to communicate it.  Yet, I'm compelled to try.    

Like water that rushes down from the snow packed peaks, my life is on a journey.  Most often I would like it to be predictable, careful, and familiar.  But every now and then God brings me to the falls.  This is not only life's circumstances that I cannot control, but also choosing to risk the difficult, doing the hard thing, in order to promote personal growth. 

We each live and move in areas where we feel safe.  But what would happen if we actively chose to venture out beyond those boundaries?  What if God directed our steps in a direction we've never been before?  Would we follow?  It causes our knees to shake and our lips to tremble.  Our hearts grip with fear as we frantically reach for anything stable.  But God removes all handholds and there is no where to go but down, sinking deep into risk and great humility. 

Is God mean to send us catapulting over the falls?  Never!  Rather, it is His deep passion for our growth that motivates Him.  He desires only good for our lives and does not want us to remain immature as infants.  It is His graciousness that takes us to a greater sphere of influence, bringing us to new ground.  Most of all, He wants to reveal Himself to us.   "Show us Your glory!" we cry out.  This is one way He displays His majesty.  Will we accept it? 

Time seems to hold still as droplets hang in the air.  The water  f a l l s   a p a r t  , separating into tiny particles.  At the bottom are boulders ready to pierce the torrent and the resulting collision is deafening.  Like that noise, so our trials can seem overwhelming and we hear nothing else.  Yet, this constant pounding produces deep pools at the base of the falls.  It is from these depths of grace, that the river rushes on to new territory, for God "opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Submit yourselves, then, to God."  (James 4:6-7)  

So why is it, that the common stream does not catch our eye like the falls?  Why is it that the waterfall receives so much attention?  The creek is nothing, not given a second thought . . . until it starts to fall.  Then it becomes glorious.

Likewise, in our weakness, in our  f  a  l  l  i  n  g     a  p  a  r  t ,  the glory of God is revealed.   For this reason, "I consider it pure joy when I face trials of many kinds, because I know that the testing of my faith develops perseverance."  (James 1:3) 

Note the arms of exuberant triumph on the bridge
Faith is tested in the flailing that occurs over the edge.  It is there that trust is real and I can truly lean on my Savior's everlasting arms.  He remains faithful, for at the base of the falls, in the midst of all that churning and spray, the waters come back together and continue on their trek.

God will never forsake His own.   He might bring us through severe discipline, cause us to reap consequences for our sin, or simply want to build our character, but through all of this, He will not let us go.  These trials are not brought into my life to push me away from God, but rather to draw me ever closer, and so I accept what God brings.  He seeks my good and His honor.   

Journey off the map?  For sure!  I want to go places I've never been before so I might become more acutely aware of God's presence and know the strength of His right hand.   Most of all, I want to see His glory!  Though the way is unknown to me, it is certainly known to Him.  I can trust Him.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.  

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
support me in the whelming flood,
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.