The River of Mercy (the infinite flow of God’s Grace)

woman on body of water

Photo by Daria Sannikova

We lost all of the image of God when we were found  outside of His Holiness. We are born rationalizers, barterers and liars.   Yes we are all created in His image just as he says but Sin’s first act shattered that mirror image inside of us, at least until such a time as we receive the Power of the Cross of Jesus to regenerate us, to rebirth us from our darkness into His perfect light!

It doesn’t take much to look around us and see these powerful tools of the deception of Sin.

  • Rationalizing our need for redemption and need for God By using our intellectual achievement or even our good morals or religion.
  • Bartering  with The Holy as if He could be bought with our arrogant rhetoric of being self-sufficient, mantras of our feeble idolatry of self love, celebrity, money, or even good deeds.
  • Liars- we are all in darkness and deceived by our own Sin some even professing a form of godliness but do not Honor God as our Lord, not do we give Him thanks.

 

Sounds bleak doesn’t it? However, we have been given The Good News. We have been given infinite Grace flowing in the River of Mercy so that we might repent and obey to be Reborn into the Image of God in all His Goodness and power!

I am learning that the River gets deeper not shallow the further down stream I go. I am depending and counting on the fact I have been born again by the Blood of Jesus Christ and I have nothing to offer Him and  never did but here is the beauty of the Truth of God’s plan to bring us back to Him in every way… The beauty of The Gospel is this: His love and Grace and all that implies is freely given to all who will receive it.

 

I have seen the River of Life and Mercy

A crystal clear river flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb

All who come to this river will be clean and whole

All burdens washed away, no more sorrows, tears, or death…

Revelation 22

Magen veLo Yera’e (Defender that shall not be seen.)

switched beige table lamp

Photo by 祝 鹤槐

Like silver liquid the moonlight poured over my head spilling down my back renewing my eyes and my mind…

I had stepped outside the hospital to get a breath of fresh air. It had been a long shift and my body, mind, and spirit had grown weary…

As often happens to nurses, I often received words, tokens and notes of thanks and appreciation throughout my career from patients and families, and each one is so very meaningful…

Loss is hopefully made a bit more endurable by compassion and kindness. It is perhaps the truest calling of a nurse, for inside of me lives “Magen veLo Yera’e” which in Hebrew means “Defender that shall not be seen.” Of course, that Defender is not me but the Spirit of Jesus abiding in me. For there is no one good but God as Jesus said, so I know it isn’t me doing it, but I digress…

As I look back over the past forty years my memory runs to the many wonderful people, I have had the privilege to care for and their families. For some there is a reluctance to embrace the future and losing meaning of the past. For some they linger in the pre-dawn haze digesting an outcome they perhaps always knew was coming.

The greatest gift these people have given me is the privilege and opportunity to see that God’s design of our longing to live is not a fragile thing. It is in fact the very strongest thing about us. Yes, our physical bodies wear out with time or disease. Ah, but the soul, the spirit of a person, it fights for life! We were designed for life not death and that is why the “Unseen One who defends us” is the Holy Spirit who lives within those who believe.

Jesus told his follower that He would send us the exact essence of himself in the person of the Holy Spirit to comfort us, to guide, and teach us about Him. It is the transforming phase of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that He sent us the Holy Spirit, who is unseen but defends us all the way into eternal life.

This is one of the many gifts that nursing has been to me for I have seen, I have witnessed the presence of the Magen veLo Yera’e. He is faithful. He is comfort. He is Peace. He is Jesus the Christ, the presence of the Holy God himself. Jesus is the gift of eternal life and the forever Defender of our Faith and there is a day coming for each of us when we will see Him face to face and we will know Him in Spirit and in Truth. So, when the night is long and dark and grief comes and hope seems so silent I remember the “thank you” from my patients, other human beings just like me with whom I am allowed to care for, hold a hand, say a prayer, shed a tear, and talk of our loved ones we will miss and already miss. Oh yes, there is much physical  technical data in taking of lab work, blood pressures, procedures, surgeries, and various myriads of daily physical care. But the expressions of “thank you” and the bittersweet outcomes are more than a gift.  I have been gifted with the precious sight of a Child of God being carried home in the arms of the Magen veLo Yera’e, the unseen shield, the Holy Defender of God’s precious people.

Seven months ago, my own Mother who was not acutely ill but was called home from this body while all alone was in fact not alone at all,  the unseen defender was present to the very end.
In this season of giving gifts I am like the little drummer boy…I have no gift to bring before my King but the thanksgiving of letting me know some of His children in this intimate way and being an eye witness to the presence of Magen veLo Yera’e, The unseen miraculous presence of The Holy.
So, you see there is much more to our Christmas celebration of the Jesus Child for with Him he brought all we need for life and godliness.

I Know…

 

aerial photo of boat on sea

Photo by Pok Rie

 

I was not your faithful friend

I was not truthful, no

I am not the best daughter, sister, wife, or mother

But I know The One who is all I have not been

 

The One who is a kind and faithful friend

The One who always tells the Truth, yes

The One who is the best in me that I cannot be

The One who’s is all I have not been

 

So when you think of how I let you down

And remember the times I did not live in truth

I want you to know that I know

Jesus is The One who is all I have not been

I was flayed open with a razor sharp knife

silhouette of girl during evening

Photo by luizclas

He was the only one there in that dark still night

I was flayed open with a razor sharp knife

He said are you ready to rise from the dead?

Through sobs and his blood yes was all I said

 

He said I am the love you are counting on

I am the only One when all  others are gone

I am the one who carries you when you fall

Through doubts and sorrow I’ve paid it all

 

He is the one who  gave His all for me

He fought for me to the bloody end

And on that day when He rose again

He said I am all I have ever been

 

He held me there as life seeped in

He is everything no one else has been

He is my champion, teacher, Redeemer, and friend

He is the one I will count on until the end

 

 

 

 

 

Bell Fright

door wooden bell old

Photo by Little Visuals

 

Her hooded gray blue eyes are unexpectedly bright

She speaks of the “old days, the days of Bell Fright

The terror, relentless ringing in the darkest hour of the night.

 

Communism she says, “did not deliver futures bright.”

Just more betrayal and fear, and torture called Bell Fright.

Not the Nazis, no but Comrades Stalin and Marx

Different regimes but same death toll ringing in their hearts.

 

Haunting broken melodies played on Hungarian violins

She still shivers with the memories of dark dank cells

She says  no one ever knew before  it could be so cold in hell.

 

This poem is inspired by the book Goodbye to Budapest by Margarita Morris and to all who have survived the Bell Fright of dictators of evil.

 

 

Eroding survival default (letting the Spirit of God be my coping skill)

 

red human face monument on green grass field

Photo by Mike

Oh yes I learned at an early age that my face and eyes and smile could paint a picture of self confidence and a surety I could articulate all the answers expected of me. I am after all, my Father’s daughter and “no one” would get next to me…

For years I danced this dance of being strong and able. Of not letting by hurts show. Of being articulate to hide the pain. Of keeping it all together for the sake of…

By God’s grace over the years this survival mode of being all together began to erode away as I grew into the realization I wasn’t made to just survive and I wasn’t made to please others or be strong or lead. I was made in the Image of God to live my life in such a way that He would be known and glorified by it (my life).

Now when I see my self coping with life in that old default survival mode more often than not I can spot it and go to the Holy Spirit for guidance and He is always ready and present. God does not help those who help themselves. Nope. That is recorded nowhere in Scripture. God knows that we cannot save ourselves  which is why, of course, He saves us through His Son Jesus, by Grace, by Mercy, by His atoning blood shed for us. God saves people who think their coping skills are working until they aren’t. God saves us because of who He is not because of who we are or anything we have done. This is a great relief to me and probably any fellow believer in Christ. This truth gives me great comfort every day.

When Jesus told the disciples that He had to return to the Father’s house to prepare a place for us and said he would send us The One who would dwell in us, with us, guide us, and yes give us heavenly coping skills until that glorious day we go to our Father’s House forever.

How are your coping skills working for you? Eroding survival skills are a slippery slope that gives way to dying. God’s way is so much better. I choose not to go back to my comfort zone in order to avoid exposure, pain, or suffering. The cost is much too high so I choose to stand in The One who really did pay the highest price for me.

 

The first time I touched heaven…

sky sunny clouds cloudy

Photo by Skitterphoto

The first time I touched heaven I was a five year old little girl who knelt down beside her parents and prayed to Jesus, who loves me…The faith of a child was heaven…I touched  the face of pure love. I prayed to Trust Jesus.

A twenty one year old college girl alone in the sand and sea with Hope renewed. I touched the King of the Kingdom and I confessed all my fear and failure… and we walked anew.

A thirty year old wife and mother…tired and scared of what I didn’t know. I touched the Spirit of God and he whispered to me that He would never leave me…I rejoiced in Peace.

A thirty-four year old woman who was breaking her marriage and her life and had depression and despaired of the goodness of God…but he gave me a man who would not walk away and I touched a Faith restored in God’s goodness.

A forty-five year old daughter I put my Daddy in his earthly grave and a light went out of me in this world but the Light of the World kept shining and I touched the Power of the Resurrection in Jesus Christ.

A sixty-three year old grandmother of five…I kneel each day in gratitude for every breath and every family memory…I touch Joy unspeakable and full of Glory…

When I leave this body to go to my Father’s house…I will go to The One who died for me and I will touch eternity and live forevermore in His presence finally touching my Lord who is Heaven…

Sharp Shooter on the roof tops…

automatic weapon bullet camouflage close up

Photo by Pixabay

 

I dream I am  in guerrilla warfare, watching for sharp shooters on the roof tops

The King was right when he said we do not fight flesh and bone

Yet we insist on killing our own over and over,  the choice made, cannot be taken back

There are many traitors among us, or most likely they never were a child of the King

They look just like me so I cannot know who will gun me down, it is not for me to judge

The Truth can pierce the bone from the marrow, I know because it happened to me…

I must don God’s armor at all times, be vigilant in lie detection, oh the enemy is so smooth, it is a false light…

My heart is pounding, I cannot be silent, for every day is a day of war in the spiritual realm, to immense to be ignored.

The manifold wisdom of God sees all, the Captain of the host holds all power in his name, Messiah, Jesus, God with us

So I take up my weapons… the belt  of Truth, the shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation …

I continue to walk behind the enemy line for I know the Battle is the Lord’s, I long to remain a diligent warrior

The sharp shooter is still on the roof, the scope on the rifle is aimed at my head, I can see his eyes dead like dolls eyes

I choose to keep walking

 

I walk on vigilant always for any inkling of the enemy’s presence…deafening silence

yet in a split-second a pervasive white mist envelopes me…

I feel heavy weight and aching in my body  and spirit,  it is the supreme stealth weapon of the enemy

It is shame, my most relentless foe

The ballast of Shame slaughters aggressively,  the deadliest of weapons, worse than sarin  gas…

If I don’t kill it, it will kill me and all it touches, shame is unholy from hell

I cry out to the King,  blood seeping from my chest, a razor-sharp slice

I did not feel it at the point of entry

Towering above the shame the King appears, brandishing his two-edged sword

it blazes and radiates like a million Suns, in a blink the sharp shooter

on the roof top falls dead

I am blind now, crouching down behind my shield of Faith

the King wields his Holy two-edged sword and shame screeches like the demon it is…

instantly there is silence, my heart is no longer bleeding, I regain my sight

The Holy Spirit is the watchman, the Angels encamp around me

I savor the Holy rest of  victory this day…

 

I

 

It was the brightest sky in a hundred years

 

amazing astronomy background bright

Photo by Luck Galindo

It was the brightest sky in a hundred years

an ancient song that drew me here

There is no burden that these stars will fall

I know you will answer when I call

 

Like a dazzling topaz you fill my sky

as you drift from me to that Holy high

I knew that you were glad to go

though selfishly I did not want it so

 

Then you spoke to me in that gentle way

There are worse things then dying you said that day

I cried and agreed but did not want you leave

but we both know the One in whom we believe

 

For He holds all our days and all our joys

although I can no longer hear your voice

Today I know you’re both watching over us

The family that you love so much

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night Heron

grey heron reflection on body of water

Photo by Leigh Jeffreys

She said what she first noticed was that images were spinning around her frontal lobe like those old 1950 children’s lamp shade night lights. As the lamp would spin around different nursery rhyme stories would glow in the dark. This is what she noticed first.

These scenes of life from childhood to ancient-hood would spin in her mind but then she would immediately forget what she saw. She said it was tremendously frightening at first.

She said with in a few months the the children started coming more often. Telling her what she should do more often. She just smiled and ignored them and worked in her garden. She managed dozens and dozens of tulips and daffodils around her large home built with field stones.  A beautiful home that once was in a country meadow but with human progress was now in the middle of a large city neighborhood. She said she loved to prune the bulbs and separate them each year. She used her little garden mat for her creaky knees and wore the hat which was her Mother’s. She said her Mother bought the hat in China where her family were missionaries until the Communist kicked them all out of the country.  The hat was perfect for long days in the Texas summer and was constructed so well that it looked as good as new instead of forty years old.

I would drive by her house every day on my way to work or to the market and everyday she could be found in her garden. I often stopped to chat.

One day we were talking and she said, “you know children can never know their parents young. That is why it is so hard for them to understand them as adults. They have never seen me run a relay race like a gazelle or fight with my sister. They have never seen me with skinned knees and pigtails. They surely cannot picture me as a lovely teenage girl going on her first date much less enjoying a healthy sex life at least until they were born! I also think they have forgotten that their Father always brought me tulips and daffodils our wholes lives together.”

As fall approached I would see her out there tending the bulb garden with her head bent over and her knees on her mat. It gave me a sense of comfort I think.  Then, of course, that inevitable day came when I did not see her for a week or so but had been too busy to stop by. The next week I saw a for sale sign in the front yard and stopped.

I was surprised when a nurse aid let me in and I knew this must be a bad sign but she was actually looking quite spry. I noticed when she stood up that her back was a tiny bit bent like trees whey they finally wear the shape of the wind. We sat together in some worn but comfortable chintz chairs by the front window. The gray-blue light of winter slanted through the stillness. She said, “Death’s cruel pluck is coming.” She was right.

By spring she was gone. By summer the children sold her house and the lot behind it. The new construction destroyed every single tulip and daffodil. All the lot taken up by a McMansion. They didn’t tear down the beautiful stone house but to me tearing up the garden was the cruelest act. I wonder if the children had no idea what it meant to her. I wondered why they did not see the hours she labored and loved in that garden. I wondered a lot of things.

The last time I saw her she talked about how the night Heron with it’s silver soft plumage was the most beautiful in all the marsh. She said she that the Heron had been visiting her each evening in the shadows of dusk. She said she was stuck in a memory of growing up on the Bayou of Houston and couldn’t remember a lot of things about being an adult.  The last thing she said to me with a gentle smile on her face was, ” thanks for coming to visit me Mama. I will see you soon for good.”  I just smiled and told her goodbye and thanked her for the beautiful tulip and daffodil garden.  She waved and I was gone. She was gone too.

Every time I drive by the property I go through a run of emotion from anger at her children for what seems carelessness to realizing I am not their judge. I feel sad that the beautiful tulips and daffodils no longer dance there in the breeze. I remember her smile and think of the Night Heron. I picture her in heaven with her Chinese hat on bent down on her knees with her mat working in God’s garden.

You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of the aged, and you shall revere your God. Leviticus 19-32