Green Pastures?

A friend of mine and I were talking about Psalm 23, and how a lot of the imagery is not what we’ve been brought up to think it means. He sent me this link, and it made a lot of things click into place, and I just had to share:

 

In my hope journey, this reminds me of the Psalm 121:1 “I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?” If the hills look desolate, my only hope is in trusting My Shepherd to lead me. It is a journey, not a destination. Selah.

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Hope on Display

As I travel the hope journey, I contemplate the very familiar verse, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB). I began reading that verse in the context of the chapter and realized it was saying something slightly different from what I’ve thought for a long time. Jeremiah is talking to the captives in (Babylon), and he told them that they were not going home anytime soon, no matter what the prophets there said. The land needs the rest from all the Sabbath years that they didn’t allow it to rest. Settle down, he said. Build houses, get married, have babies, bless the land where you are. They’ll go back, but not now. (Full Passage) Talk about hope deferred.

But then he relays what God says, about the plans He has for a future and a hope. In the face of exile, they were to look to hope – 70 years down the road. A hope in a land not their own, driven their by their disobedience and sin. What kind of hope does that look like? How do you hold on to hope in that situation? How do you hope in the face of a broken heart, crushed dreams, pain, despair – I could go on and on. What is the substance of that hope?

So of course, I looked it up. The Hebrew word from Strong’s is 8615, ‘tiqvah’, and it literally means cord, as an attachment. Figuratively, it means expectancy – expectation, expected, hope, live, thing that I live for. So this cord represents my hope – it’s something I can hang on to. I wonder if the phrase, “I’m at the end of my rope,” is rooted from there. Anyway, I went to look up where it was first used (law of first mention, and all that), and became undone.

Image from Tiqvah Counseling, Coaching and Education – https://tiqvahcce.com/

Tiqvah is used 34 times in various forms, and the first of which is in Joshua 2:18. This is the promise to Rahab to save her and her household from the destruction coming to her city of Jericho. The spies said, “…We [shall be] free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household.” (Joshua 2:17-18, NAS). Her faith in a God she barely knew that made her help the spies turned an ordinary rope (Strong’s 2256) into a scarlet thread of HOPE. A hope of salvation from the emptiness and idolatry that surrounded her. A hope of life in the picture of death.

So she sent the spies away, and hung her hope out on display. It was a scarlet thread, not a quiet color, not a passive, fade in the background type of rope. This was easily seen by the spies when they came, easily seen by those who came and went. What was her explanation to those who asked? Was she ridiculed, admonished, discouraged, tempted to draw back her tiqvah?

We know how that story turned out. The spies saw her tiqvah on display, and fulfilled their promise and rescued her. It challenged me, though, about not only hanging on to my cord, my hope, but putting it on display as a sign, a testimony, a promise, a commitment. The Lord has given me a future and a tiqvah – how am I going to anchor it and display it, knowing that He will fulfill it? How will you?

Trusting to Hope

Mount of Blessing, Israel

From my series on trust, I find myself being led to the concept of hope. It has been a battle, though, as I try to reconcile that oft quoted verse in Romans 5:5 where it says that hope doesn’t disappoint.

I know the bible to be true and stand by its veracity, and its application to my life. That is the only thing standing in between me taking up a pair of scissors and redesigning that part of my precious scriptures. I’m sure tomes have been written on Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart-sick, but when longing is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.” But what happens when you seem to be stuck in the land of the deferment of hope?

As I pondered this, I sense the Lord pressing a bit on the issue. Laughing in the face of the Creator is not polite, but it was an instinctual reaction, and He’s still cleaning me up, in many ways. I realize that I can dodge the issue, which, to be honest, I have been for several months, but He has His own plans and purposes that rarely seem to match ours. So here I go, down this journey. And as I started to really focus, I realized that hope never seems to let its light flicker out. In another entry I wrote years ago, oddly enough, Trust to Hope, I commented about hope, “… the heart was fashioned to always hope – it always has to hope in something. And it has an amazing amnesia of what happened to hope the time before.”

Hmm. Hope – it is infinitely more than wishful thinking, but rather, a confident expectation. Hope remains, in some way, form, or fashion, always. 1 Corinthians 13:13: “Now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Hope is one of the three that remain, a light that refuses to be put out. And so begins this next adventure

Trust and Obey

I’ve been humming that old hymn “Trust and Obey” lately. There are a bunch of verses, but the chorus is this:

Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.

Those two really do go together. Obedience is a manifestation of trust. How can we say that we trust Our Lord and disobey what He asks of us? If I say, “Yes, I trust Him,” then when He asks something that seems impossible to my eyes, I need to rest in that trust and take the leap. And that is my thought for the day. Shana Tov!

RedShoooz – He Wants It All
BYNA 40 Days – Day 30, Day 31

Day of Trumpets

Today is Rosh Hoshana (the head of the year, or Yom Teruah (the Day of Trumpets or the Day of Blowing). It is the onset of the fall feasts, and the beginning of the 10 Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur, and the Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. There is a lot of speculation as to what this time means in regards to the Day of the Lord, end times and all that, but I will leave that to people more knowledgeable than I.

I’m reflecting on the fact that this day is about announcing. It’s heralding the time of harvest, prodding us to reflect and repent, which can be bitter, humiliating, and I don’t know what else. It’s also a preparation for a glorious 8 day party, celebrating the Lord, His blessings, our family, our community, etc.

In Deuteronomy 32, the Song of Moses is taught. Yah instructed Moses to compose a song and teach it to the children of Israel, which was passed on from generation to generation. It calls for His people to learn from the past and look to the future. We sometimes either get bogged down by our past to the point that we can’t move on to what He has for us, or we completely dismiss and ignore our past, and can’t figure out why we keep making the same mistakes. Our Father –  so loving, trustworthy, and faithful – framed the appointed times in such a way that we are always growing closer to Him and shedding or turning away from the things that hinder. I am in awe, and during these Days of Awe, I will continue to reflect, repent, and learn, that I may go into the future celebrating His glory!!

Redshoooz – Give Me Your Eyes
BYNA 40 Days – Day 28, Day 29

 

Trust on another level

I did mention before that this trust thing is not a journey for the faint of the heart. Today was rough – very, very rough. So, my reading this morning took me to Genesis 22, the recounting of God asking Abraham offer his only son, his Promise, on the altar to Him. I can only imagine Abraham’s shock and second guessing, but what we see in this passage is a steadiness, confidence, and trust that blows my mind. In verse 5, he tells his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go over there and worship, and come back to you.” He’s being completely obedient, yet trusting that the promise the Lord has given him about Isaac will still come to pass. When his son asks, understandably, where the sacrifice is for the offering, Abraham replies, “…Elohim does provide for Himself the lamb for an ascending offering.” Hebrew 11:17-19 (NASB) tells us:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

There is no dialogue of discussing, reasoning, pleading. I simply see obedience and a trust that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, regardless of the circumstances.

So as I sat reflecting on that – a trust that seems to me to guide an unequivocal obedience, a confidence in a trustworthy Father who fulfills His promises – He brought to the front of my mind a couple of promises that I had folded, boxed up, and put away because it was no longer possible. I had let them go because the time seemed to have passed, and the process was truly one of the more painful times in my life. I figured I needed to just take my hands off and leave it to whatever God wants to do with it. But as I reflected on Abraham and his son, I felt the Lord point them out and ask me if I will trust Him in that, too.

I wept. I cried off and on all day, and I’m wiping tears off my keyboard as I type. This is way harder than trusting Him to provide for the bills. I remember some verse about those faithful in a little will be faithful in much, and I’m thinking, I’m so not ready for the much. I feel so bruised once again; I don’t have the strength for this. And still He asks, will I trust Him in all things.

I find myself repenting – not just repenting, but making teshuva, changing my direction. Instead of walking away from broken things and dreams, I choose to stand and make an offering to He who is Trustworthy. Instead of reasoning based on circumstances, I choose to trust in His promises. And in spite of the whirling emotions of fear, pain, weariness, etc., I chose fulfill my promise I made to my Father decades ago, that whatever He asks of me, the answer is yes.

BYNA 40 Days – Day 21, Day 22