“I shall not want”

At the retreat I attended the day before I headed to the Festival of Faith and Writing, there were several contemplative sessions that were headed up by Ed.

In one of our last sessions before heading out for the evening, we were given several lines of different verses, and were to choose one to meditate on and to listen to what God wanted to speak to us about.

Previously in the day, we had already repeated and listened to Psalm 23 and it washed over us in lilting melody. Pieces of the verse had reverberated at that point, but this particular time of reflection had me pondering the first verse:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…

My mind stuck on the term ‘want’. I pondered what it might stand for.

If I ‘shall not want’ then it means that I will not lack, that i have more than enough, there is grace and mercy for my life, and that what is necessary will be taken care of.

I also thought about what ‘wanting’ might look like: to be focused too much on self, to feel a sense of scarcity and to fear.

As I focused on the term ‘want’ it seemed to resonate with me that it was an ‘aching hole’ that could only be filled by the One who alone knew what I needed, and knows what I need.

And then I was reminded that there was a ‘not’ that meant – He will provide, He knows and sees what I need and what I long for.

My heart pondered the idea of MY shepherd, how he hadn’t pawned off my soul and its wants to something/someone else. That he takes care of every one. He does so with everyone.

This is not a task for Him, but rather he does these things with a heart of love, a heart of direction for those he loves and holds dear.

There is also a sense of a heart of sacrifice in what has been given on our behalf, to render this gift available to us, that speaks to that wounded place of want.

As MY shepherd, ‘He joins me in the journey; in the midst of the fray. He is looking too and fro, there is never anything that catches Him unaware. His eyes miss nothing. He hears each voice, and gives of Himself undivided to everyone who calls on His Name.

(reflections from Renew and Refine Retreat, Grand Rapids, Michigan; April 13/2016

 

When others whisper truth

We gathered in  a cement floored room, down two flights of steps, and seated on hard grey plastic chairs. We were seated in what can only be described as a very loose semblance of a circle, with our courageous leader seated to my left. I have a vague recollection of who was seated where, but that doesn’t progress the story.

What I do remember…whispering what had been heavy on my heart for many months. With tears running down my face, with a room full of quasi-strangers, I bared my heart…and knew it was safe. Because no one gave me trite answers. There may have been whispers of me too. But what resonated most was when someone got up at the end of the session, walked across to kneel directly in front of me and speak life into my wounded soul. And another friend, came to my side and embraced with and spoke truth into the places that had long listened to lies.

They came to me. They sat with me. They said ‘me too’ and they gave me a means to fight the lies. Community.

As I left that room, and headed upstairs for another piece of our retreat, a sign posted on the ledge by the stairs caught my eye…it spoke to me of healing, but little did I know that it would speak of so much more as my heart opened wide to listen and learn that day.

recovery

#FMF – Unite

Joining up with Kate and her motley crew of writing buddies over at Five Minute Friday where we all write on a one word prompt for five minutes. No editing, just letting the words flow out of your fingers. Link up and then go check out what others have written 😉

Prompt: Unite

Words are just words until you unite them. Then they become sentences. And they begin longer forms of communication, and even begin to form stories.

There are days when I read words and i just revel in the fact that someone had the presence of mind to put those particular words together. I have to admit, I have an English Literature degree, so I have read some Literature but not everything I’d like to consume. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to attain that. But there were some writers, particularly the Romantic Period poets who just knew how to turn a phrase.

These days I find my imagination inflamed and my heart aflutter with those who write in a lyrical form of language. I’ve often been one for word pictures, so the better the description the more I eat it up. However, there is a limit to description, ie late 19th Century Russian and English novels…OH.MY.WORD how they went on. but I digress.

it is this unification of words that brings what is being said or what is being written to life. to form. to an ability to be understood. and it is in this unity that people come to a conclusion about what is being said or not said.

There are those who display a deft hand at placing words in a line and taking us to another place. There are those who are still working out the uniting of the lines they have held on to for awhile now, know that they need to speak or share, but know that they must use just the right words for understandings sake.

As a reader (and sometimes writer) I am a great proponent of the uniting of words.

END

five minute friday

#FMF – Easy

joining up at the last minute with Kate and the crew as we write for Five Minutes on one prompt, without editing and see what comes out of our fingers on the keyboard, or through our pens. Always a fantastic exercise and always fascinating to read others takes on the word as well. Don’t forget to link up and to read some of those who have linked up around you 😉

Prompt: Easy

I’m a strange combination of introvert and extrovert. Meeting people is usually not a problem for me, one could say its easy. But i prefer it to be one on one. That is how I best am able to take things in.

So at a place like the retreat that I found myself at this past Wednesday, or the Festival I found myself at Thursday through Saturday, I generally didn’t have alot of problem connecting with individuals with whom I found myself sitting. I can’t say that they were all fast friends, in fact that was the one time that I saw several of them. However, there were a few whom I was blessed to see each day, and they kept me going.

I’ve never really been good at maintaining friendship. Sometimes social cues and constructs are things that pass me by in a sea of haze. and it seems that there are those to whom friendship making and keeping seems to come easily and naturally. I am blessed to have friends. I’m blessed that they put up with me despite me. And i’m blessed that there are those whom I meet in days past and perhaps days ahead that God would have a specific purpose for friendship with in my life.

I have been learning, as I grow older, that there are people in your life sometimes for a short season and sometimes for a longer season in life. And sometimes its not something that I have particularly done that has ended the friendship or caused it to change, but rather just life moving on and people changing.

I am blessed to have people in my life that I can look to as models of friendship. i know they aren’t perfect. But they are striving to make things right if they need to be, and invest into people and be willing to share of themselves in turn. I am thankful that building friendships seems to come easily to them, they are certainly good at sharing it before others. and as someone that needs to learn how to build and maintain deep relationships, I am indeed blessed.

END

five minute friday

 

#FMF – Whole

Joining up with Kate and the community of writers over at Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes on a specific topic and then see what others have divulged in their writing. No editing and the five minute limit often means my heart spills pretty vulnerably on the page. i’m thankful for this group. They have been there for me through many things in the past year, and I’m so blessed to be able to have met several of them in real life. Thankful for this community.

Topic: Whole

The words I’ve found myself associating with lately are words about brokenness, like ashes, wilderness, darkness becoming light, shattered, etc. And as I’ve pondered these words I’ve found it to be an interesting thing. I struggle with depression and have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. I also am a pessimist. So all of these together cause me to focus more on dark things i think than the lighter items. I’m broken in that sin has wreaked havoc in my life, because its human failing and falling are my lot as one who claims humanity as kin. and yet there is redemption. Redemption through truth found only in Christ.

I’m not sure that all those pieces, that all this darkness, will fully be restored until heaven. This world is a fallen place. I am a person who struggles daily with the sinful nature of my heart. Some days its something that I don’t acknowledge, perhaps i like to think that on a scale of one to ten i’m not that bad. but then i see myself for what I am…and i’m reminded. Fallenness bares many forms.

Yesterday, I searched Instagram looking for pictures with the hashtag ‘wilderness’. I have to admit, i had a pre-conceived notion that I would find starkness, barrenness, stark light and dark. and yet while there were a few of those, i had forgotten about the places that are wild, but are alive still. Like forests, glades, meadows, rain forests, etc. that there is a wildness to these places that is untouched by human hands, hence their wilderness, and yet there is life there. for some reason i’d always associated wilderness with barrenness, with very little hope or light.

and yet my mind was re-framed. a piece of my understanding was changed.

in some sense…my idea of wilderness, was reshaped, becoming closer to ‘whole’ in one area of my wandering.

End

five minute friday