Walk With Me

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
It's pretty amazing, the idea of taking a leisurely stroll with the Creator of the universe. I imagine that scene in the Garden of Eden, where Adam literally walked with God, the One who made him and all of creation around him.
Can we just take a step back and be stunned by that?
Equally stunning is this concept that we can wake up every day and take a walk with the same God -- yes, the very same One. I read somewhere that we naturally as a people are unfit for even the name of God to pass our lips. It's so true. That is how holy, how awesome, how magnanimous He is. And yet, in the stillness of the morning, just before we open our eyelids, He is waiting to walk with us. He walks with us every day, through trivial moments and heart-wrenching trials and months of numbness. He is always there to take our hand and bid us walk on with Him.
But can I just be honest and admit that countless mornings, I blatantly ignore that precious outstretched hand? That some days I look Him in the face and purposely turn away to do less important things? The most compellling excuses we find to neglect devotion with Him are often the most pitiful, meaningless ones. Have you found that to be so? It really is pathetic, how made of flesh we are. But can I also say that even on days when we so desire to ignore Him, He continues to love us and walk by our side? Is that not so beautiful? No lover, no friend, no family member on earth could ever be so devoted!
Dear reader, walk on with Him.
I started this blog a little over two years ago at a point in my life where I was really just beginning to learn how to walk with God. He spoke to me so tenderly and clearly in my little college dorm room in the midst of my junior year, and this blog has given me the chance to voice some of the things He has shown me. Though only two years ago did I really begin this journey, I am so much a different person from that time. That is one of the amazing things about our walk with the Lord -- we find as we walk that we are consistently changing, growing in grace with every step.
And that is not simply a trite phrase, "growing in grace." The farther along we are in this journey with our Savior, the more we realize how amazing His grace really is. The more we grow in such a truth, the more we watch all areas of our life blossom and bloom into breathtaking beauty. This is our God. He gives more grace (James 4:6). He makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Anyone in Christ is a new creation, all things becoming new -- an ongoing, regenerating process (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
Because of His grace, I am still walking. At this stage in my life, I am overwhelmed by His blessing nature and steadast love. He has filled my heart with joy and gratitude. I do not deserve such a Savior in my life. I am also very much aware of just how human I am, disturbed by my countless limitations, but overjoyed at the thought that in my frailest state, He can use me best. So I look forward to that. I ask Him for the strength to surrender all of me on a daily basis -- a moment to moment basis, rather. And He carries me when I just don't have the strength anymore. All the way my Savior leads me, who have I to ask beside?
It is at such a place in my journey with the Lord that I have decided to stop blogging. If I decide to pick up blogging again, I will probably start from the ground up again, and I am not sure when that will be. We'll see where He leads. I hope this work has been encouraging. I love writing so much, and I hope you have enjoyed reading some of my posts. I wouldn't have kept writing and sharing if it had not been for you, dear reader, so I thank you sincerely for sharing a bit of the road with me.
Genesis 5 tells that Enoch walked with God, and he was no more, for God took him. Could it be that Enoch had such a close friendship with his Lord that one day, God just had to take him up to be with Him because He missed Enoch so dearly? What if we walked with Him like that? If you will pray for me, reader, I will pray for you, that such a walk can be ours. That we can take advantage of as many opportunities as we possibly can to be close with Him. He has loved us with an everlasting love and cares for us beyond the sin and shame.
Keep walking close to Him.
The voice of my Beloved!
Behold, He comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills ...
My Beloved speaks and says to me,
"Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away ...."
Song of Solomon 2:8,10


Not For A Moment

"For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"  Heb. 13:5


He Will

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act. 

Psalm 37:3-5 



We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask you, "What do these stones mean?"
Then you can tell them, "They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord's Covenant went across." These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.  -- Joshua 4:6-7

If each one of us looks back at his / her life, we can clearly trace a beautiful pathway of God's faithfulness to us. Just as someone embarking into new territory leaves a trail of pebbles behind him to bring him back to the beginning again, it is vital for a Christian to remember those moments of God's deliverance, His miracles, His faithfulness, by recording them upon a page, by marking them upon his heart, or by sharing them aloud with others beside him. With these testimonies, we can leave a trail behind us for others to follow and for us to fall back upon when we have forgotten the way to the Father.

I have always love the idea of the Ebenezer, the monument of stone set aside to remind us of what God has done. A stone is an immovable object -- something that withstands the test of time. Just like God, who is immovable, who is our rock:
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength in whom I will trust -- Psalm 18:2
For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? -- 2 Samuel 22:32
Such said David, a man who endured the most chaotic circumstances in his lifetime. Nothing in his life was ever quite stable -- except for His God. He was the rock David leaned upon in all things. What an encouragement to each of us that in the midst of what may be crazy, turbulent times, one thing, one Person remains the same. He is God, our Rock.

I just want to encourage whoever may be reading to not give up. Look upon the trail behind you of every incident in which God came through for you. He has answered every prayer and heard every cry. Even if the trail behind you may be hard to see in the darkness of forgetfulness, there is one stone at the very beginning which shines brighter than all the rest -- that is the moment of your salvation, when Christ first walked into your life. From even before that day, He has walked beside you and performed wonders in your life. You are a miracle of His grace.

Keep leaving those stones of remembrance behind you. They are not only testimonies for those around you, but they will guide you back home. I imagine that on the day when we stand before the throne of God, when our past is playing before us, we will see a dazzling, macadam pathway tracing through our entire life reflecting His immaculate glory. He is with you always, dear one, even to the end of the age.

Morning by morning, I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season, I watch Him amazed,
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

**From the hymn "He's Always Been Faithful," as sung by Chelsea Moon 


The Gaze of Grace

Some thoughts, after I cried tonight when I heard these tender lyrics:

Jesus bends to hear you breathe
And His tender hands are holding you tonight
And His heart is ravished when you look, when you look at Him
And oh, the endless mercy in His eyes

It's alarming yet immensely comforting that there is nowhere I could go to escape His presence.

I've come to realize that one of my biggest fears is that of being pursued, chased. I admit sheepishly that my heart rate increases and chills run down my spine when I feel someone running, or even walking close behind me. Granted, if a person chased me with the intent to harm me, then the reflex to run is probably a safe one. But my heart hurts when I realize that I do this to God Himself.

His closeness is chasing me. And I run. I know I've mentioned before that I fear intimacy. There remains this fear of turning around and looking directly into His eyes -- the endless mercy in His eyes. Why does it hurt so much, His tender gaze? Because deep down within, my pride is burning in a painful demise.

In worship, whether I'm singing on a stage or in the quiet corner of my living room, I am always given those moments to turn and gaze. Actually, worship literally means to "turn and kiss." So we not only turn around in moments of worship to face His visage. Worship entails action: adoration, connection, vulnerability, surrender.

Maybe it's falling. Releasing clenched fingers of pride and self-sufficiency which cling so desperately to the ledge of merit and will, and falling into His arms of grace. Grace is so humbling. It's certainly unfair. I could be a Pharisee my entire life, yet all of my pride built upon religious ritual would melt beneath it's warmth and light. A grace so glorious.

I never had a "conversion" so to speak, a dramatic turn from sin which thrust me suddenly at the foot of the cross. I have always known who God is, who Jesus is. I lamented to Jesus one night, "God, why don't I have a testimony like so many others? I need a radical conversion." But He whispered gently into my ear, "You don't need a radical conversion, Noelle. You need only to experience my love and grace full-fold." It has been such a gradual process to adopt this idea of grace, even throughout the years of remaining close to the truth of Christ. But the older I get, the more I recognize the sinner within myself, the more I recognize my need for grace the same as anybody else.

Maybe Grace is something we will wrestle with our whole lives, something that we may never understand while we are trapped in this fleshly vessels so prone to prideful ways.

This verse rings loud and clear ever and always: By grace we have been saved, through faith. We didn't earn it ourselves -- it's a gift from God. It's not of works, even if we are tempted to think so.

I think that the more we make a heartfelt, honest attempt to grasp grace, our eyes will be opened to His hands that are holding us, to the beaming smile of the Father of lights, to the endless mercy in His eyes. Grace is freedom from hiding and shame. Its fervency chases us. If we understand this great grace, our natural response would be to turn and kiss, to worship and embrace, to hold onto the joy that it brings and never, ever let go.

Oh Abba, thank You for Your great grace!

** Lyrics from "Little Light" by Matt Hammitt
   Verse a paraphrase of Ephesians 2:8


I Shall Not Want

A hymn that has been speaking to me (or rather, speaking for me) lately,
performed by the beautiful vessel that is Audrey Assad.

"When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want ..."



Because of the strong urging of a friend tonight over coffee to go home and write something, I'm going to oblige and share very briefly (or maybe not so briefly) a few verses that have spoken rather loudly to me in this season:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials ...

In a study through the book of James that my women's small group and I are going through, we were asked to read through these scriptures, taken from I Peter 1:3-6 in regards to experiencing trials. James had said that "blessed" is the man who endures great trial -- how is that? Well these verses above tell us.

I'll be honest -- these past few months have been some trying ones for various reasons. My church body and women's group have all been experiencing trials simultaneously, and we have been in need of some comfort. After reading these verses however, we were simply blown away at what comfort there is for us.

For those of you reading who are struggling with various trials (note Peter says various -- there are so many different trials that can come our way), please take heart with me in the incredible promise we have in Jesus, the resurrected Lord of all who has defeated death (please pause and fully embrace what that statement actually means for you) and right now keeps a place for you in His heaven.

 His mercy is great. Our God is one of compassion -- always. He is mercy and He is hope. There is hope for you, oh saint! When Jesus rose from death itself, He becomes now and always a living, breathing hope for us! He lives forever and waits for us to join Him in eternity, where He can hold us close in a fervent, fixed embrace.

 We have an inheritance. Because God has chosen to call us His children, we have the inheritance of eternal life. Think of what that means! We don't have to fear death anymore, and we have a vast amount of heavenly wealth stored up for us in Christ. We didn't earn it, so we don't have to worry about losing it. It remains because of the grace of Jesus, our Savior.

God's power guards us. Guess what, believer? We are protected by God Himself! We are guarded through the faith we have in His goodness, and by Jesus' gift once and for all, we have salvation -- which I do not think we will fully recognize until we reach heaven. That is why we will be floored and want to worship Him forever and ever ...

And so we rejoice in all these things promised to us!! But Peter acknowledges that, yes, we will be grieved by trials. He doesn't say that we can avoid them, nor does he say that we will necessarily walk through them easily. Trials are grievous. They're hard. Jesus knows that. He endured more pain, emotional and physical, than I think we realize. He embraced it. He didn't stop himself from weeping at his friend Lazarus' death, nor did he stop the sweat from pouring as He prayed anxiously in the Garden. He felt. He grieved. What makes us think we are above Him as to not be grieved in the same way? It's okay to grieve and go through pain. We are humanity living in a fallen world.

But, for the joy that was set before Him -- that heavenly storehouse waiting for Him to return to -- He endured (Heb. 12:2). As we are called to endure. And He did so to death -- even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8). We, His servants, are certainly no greater than our Master. If He endured trials, so must we. And as He rose from death, so will we -- when we leave this place, we will be called to our real home, that great Home in God Himself which gave our Jesus the strength to keep persevering.

Beloved, we serve a God of mercy. We have a living hope. We will partake of a glorious inheritance. We are guarded by the power of God Himself through our faith. What cause to rejoice! Be encouraged. We will walk through trials, but there is One who has walked the road before us who to this day chooses to walk with us. You are loved, child of God!
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."  -- James 1:12