Though the Earth Gives Way

This morning I had planned to write about gratitude and thanksgiving. I had planned to write that even in the midst of awful circumstances there is always hope. There is always something to be thankful for. This has been a theme in my life, always looking for the silver lining.

Like everyone else, I am horrified and deeply saddened by the events that have taken place in Paris. The most recent report I read indicates that at least 127 lives were lost in the attacks. In the midst of such carnage and violence, it is difficult and contrary to human nature to have a “grateful heart.” We all experience suffering in our lives, but for the majority of us, when we read news like this, it really puts our own suffering into perspective. Not many of us can say that we have experienced tragedy at the level that Paris experienced it this weekend.

Reading my Bible this morning, this passage jumped out at me and I began to pray that it’s words would reach the hearts of those impacted by the attacks:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Ps. 46:1-7).

As I think and pray on these things this morning, I realize that a message on thanksgiving is still appropriate today. We can be thankful that He is our refuge. We can be thankful that He is our strength. And we can be thankful that He is presently with those in trouble. The article I read mentioned how ISIS has taken responsibility for the attacks. The group has released a statement describing Paris as “the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe.” I am reminded that the cross is the ultimate symbol that God is with us in tragedy. Jesus understandings our suffering, because He willingly chose to suffer on our behalf that we might know His joy, His peace and His love. Let us continue to stand in prayer with the city of Paris and let us continue to carry the mark of the cross upon our lives.

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The Cross That Stands Over My Past

As an adult, you start to realize some things. You start to realize what a tremendous impact your childhood has on your life. The way you think, the things you do, your personality, it was all being formed during the youngest stages of your life. This is an idea that has really stood out to me over the past week or so.

I spent most of my childhood living in the same house in a quiet residential neighborhood. Like everyone else, my childhood is filled with memories, both good and bad. We, as a family, have been through our fair share of tough times. Although many of my friends mistakingly assume that I grew up in the perfect household that is far from the truth. The truth is that my family has always loved me, but that love couldn’t shield me from experiencing the harsh realities of the world from a young age. I had to grow up way before it was time to and much of what I went through happened in that house that I grew up in.

I dream about the house often. In my dreams, I walk through the rooms. Everything is set up the same way, just as if no one ever left it. I always feel this sense of being unresolved, as if I was torn from the house before I was able to fully process all that happened within its four walls. I dream of the surrounding houses as well. I dream that I am being chased through the neighborhood. Someone is after me. Someone is trying to take my life. I dodge through backyards, hedges and shrubs, until eventually I open my eyes and realize it was only a dream.

This week I felt a pull to go back there. I can’t explain it, but I just felt I needed to. Luckily, my old house is not far from where I currently live. I parked my car near the playground I always played in and began to walk. As I walked, I began to pray. I asked God that every good thing that was planted in me during the time I spent there would be watered and would grow. I asked God to uproot and tear out any seeds that were sown by the enemy with the intention of destroying me and taking me out. I stood in front of my old house, with my toes right at the edge of the property and I began to let the memories play out in my mind. As I looked at the windows from the outside, I can envision the whole layout of the house in my head. Each room carried so much significance. As I allowed myself to go back to the past, I began to ask God to bring beauty from ashes, that from that place revival and restoration would be sparked. I asked God that every good seed sown would bear fruit and that every painful memory would be redeemed, ultimately bringing life and being used for His purposes. I began to let go and release the past to the Lord.

Near my old house, is a baseball field. Surrounding the field, in a circular fashion, are the backyards of the houses of the neighboring streets. I recognized these houses as being in my dreams as well. In my dreams, I jumped their fences, trying to escape from the presence of someone who sought out to kill me. One particular yard really stood out to me. As I stared at the house, I could see that at the edge of the property was the remainder of an empty clothes line with no string. It stood as a tall cross on the perimeter of the property.

I realized that throughout my childhood there was an enemy that was chasing me and trying to take me out. Satan, knowing my identity as a daugther of God and fearing all that I would accomplish, had sought to destroy my life. His intention was to beat me down and bruise me until my life would be rendered totally broken and ineffective. However, his plans were foiled. Although there were definitely seasons where I was beat down and bruised, God used every one of those instances to make me stronger. God, allowed me to go through pain so that he can make me resilient. God has used every broken place in my life for His purposes and has ultimately made me whole. Looking at that old clothesline, reminded me that through all I went through, the cross always stood over my past. The cross stood as my beacon of safety, my hope and my refuge. Instead of running through backyards and hiding, all I ever needed to do was to bring myself to the foot of the cross.

The past is in the past. If I were to go inside my old house, I would see that my childhood home no longer exists. It is a distant memory. If I were to go inside, I would see that the rooms are different colors. The furniture has changed. I wouldn’t find my stuff in my old room. There is a new family inside, making new memories. God is making all things new.

What is it from your past that you are holding onto? What is it that you have been through that you haven’t been able to let go? Bring it to the cross today. Release it into the hands of your loving Father. Know that He is doing a new thing in you.

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