BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."
I’ve been journaling since I came to know Jesus. He always knew me! He knew before I was even conceived and that his plan for my life is perfect. He will know me all the rest of my days on earth, then onto Heaven when we will meet face to face.
I love Psalm 139. I don’t reflect on it often enough, but God always calls me back from time to time to some important truths.
David admits in Psalm 139:1-6 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me, and you know when I sit and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” David knew that God knew him. He continuously failed, but turned back to God.
Let’s just look at these words for now. If you are like me and journal, then these words give us great starting points for our writing. No matter what we are going through, God is clear, that He knows us completely and is always with us.
A good starting point is to write a reflection on this question. How do I know God knows my every thought, action, and troubling struggles that I face daily? Think about 10 years ago! Where were you then? You hopefully will be able to write a lot. If you don’t keep a journal, then tell God verbally what you have been through.
I recently came across a journal that my mom wrote. It was her very first and only journal she kept. At Christmas of 1988, I had a strong conviction that I should get her started with her journal. I suggested to her that this was for her, no one else. She should just write as if God is the only one interested in reading it. Don’t hold back anything. Let it out.
Mom did an amazing job in her journal. It was in transposing this journal for my children to read, as well as myself, that I saw a different person than the one I knew and loved. I used to pass onto her the devotionals that we were finished with, and she read every one of them.
Mom struggled with a number of insecurities in her life. She was an alcoholic. At the time of this journal, she was still drinking, but I believe she wrote before she had a beer in her hand. She mentioned numerous times that Bible reading was on the top of her daily to-do list. Each time she shared this, she mentions how faithful God was in seeing to her needs. Mom was raised in a church-going family; but when she married, she stopped going to church. In the time of this journal, she returned to the truth of the Word. This journal revealed her positive nature in accepting wherever she was in life.
In her original Bible from the 1930’s, the print was extremely tiny, and one that I could not read without a magnifier. I had purchased a Living Bible as it was much easier a read. In her old Bible, I found quotes that were from her original copy. How important those words hold true to her later years.
I was so encouraged by her writings. She stayed with it (not every day), but I have 5 years’ worth of sporadic writing and she wrote about all her physical problems and her positive nature was to remain to God. In 1993, she began the journey of Alzheimer's Disease and never wrote again. But in all that, God knew her and now has her with Him forever.
This journal healed any old disappointments I had with my relationship with Mom as I finally understand her. With the blessing of finally delving into her writings, God showed me that I finally know my “Mom” and what a healing blessing that was for me this past Christmas. I am forever grateful for this.
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
These words tell me so much about the intimacy of God and the grace that He freely gives. I talk to God so much about those things that bother me. Once I unload the anxious thoughts, and share those uncertain things I do not know, dwelling on how it will all come out. I know He’s got a great plan for my life, yet, sometimes I wonder why it takes Him so long to answer my prayers.
There are times when I just need to vent and get the negative thoughts out of my head so I can clear out some space for Him so He can fill me with grace and wonder of the amazing things He’s done again.
I’ll admit, I am impatient. The waiting game is not when I put my best foot forward. However, I need I tell Him so. When I am in the middle of the venting, I can see what I need to confess. I realize that I’m the one who is demanding answers.
As I write these words, I am in the middle of a day that started at 4 am. We are currently fostering a dog, until we can make the decision to keep her or not. We had to be at the Rescue place by 7am, to where she will be taken to Waitsfield for a vet appointment. As we were leaving, they called to tell us to hold off until they can talk to the vet as there was a glitch. So, back in the house we go and finally get the call to go at 7:45. We got home to a busy morning of cleaning the house and sneaking things in that just popped up to be done. There was a barrage of places I had to be, like a Wake at 4, then called the rescue to find out Sasha still had not returned again, so I went back home and waited for the call. Finally, at 8pm we were back home with a traumatized dog under the influence of who knows what the vet gave her so she would not bite them.
You see, this whole day was about teaching me patience. I’ve learned to never pray for patience. You will be tested. The good part was the mountains of laundry was done, the house and car were cleaned after a winter of salt on the carpet. And my blog is written. The lessons of patience, yet again won out as well. In the middle of driving here and there, I shed some venting thoughts and conviction of where I needed to make room for repentance and then peace was restored.
There are times when I see things that are wrong that need to be repaired, yet, He tells me “Not yet my child.” So I ask Him to again be my patience. It’s when I turn it all over in the middle of a chaotic day that resolutions are aired out. It’s a cleansing time. The issues I was frustrated about were trivial, but also a time of cleansing and realization of God is with me wherever I go.
There is a gentle reminder from God in Ecclesiastes 3:3 where it says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up… (I challenge you to read through the rest of the chapter.)
I have found that when a tough day comes up and you can’t find the answers or a stressful situation blocks the road to communication, a simple prayer, “Jesus, stand between us!” This is my favorite prayer. This simple prayer reminds me that the Lord is always listening, and asking Him to be in the middle of these kind of days, as a reminder for ‘ME’ to take heed, Jesus is in control. Take a breather, sit a spell, and watch in wonder what He works out in those difficult and sometimes impossible situations.
I’ve seen this happen time after time. What changes most is my need deep in my soul where God is free to do what He does best. He fixes me, puts me in a place where I can vent about the things that aren’t going quite as well as I thought. You see when venting happens, it clears out the trash so I can have room to receive His Grace and Blessings.
BY LARA GOVENDO
"How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!"
"Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
As I type this, I’m questioning if I do actually believe that loneliness is a gift. How can something be a gift when it’s so… painful? Some of the most painful moments in my life have been when I was the loneliest. But there’s something magical that happens when we surrender EVERYTHING to God. Even the minuscule details of our lives, like our loneliness.
I’ve felt just about every loneliness there is to feel. Lonely in my illness. Lonely during the darkest seasons of depression. Lonely in romantic relationships, in friendships and family too. Lonely in not living a typical life. Lonely in being single and living alone. Lonely during the deepest heartaches and grieving seasons. Lonely in being misunderstood and left out. Lonely in the quiet battles I face that nobody knows about.
There is loneliness lurking around every corner we turn on the journey of our lives. Even though we’re in community, have wonderful family and friends, there are still lonely moments to be had. No human will ever truly understand the depths of our hearts. And that can feel pretty lonely when we’re going through trials and tribulations.
What matters, though, is what we do with our loneliness. We can choose to turn to distractions, addictions, busyness, the internet (social media, youtube, etc) – filling every waking moment with something. But none of these things take away the ache of loneliness.
BUT God does. Every time.
That still small voice spoke to me this week when I was feeling this and said: your lonely times are when you seek Me.
Ok God. I hear you – I whisper.
And He was right. When I’m lonely in whatever circumstance it is, I get alone with God and take my loneliness to Him. He’s the only One that can fill that space of loneliness with complete wholeness. I can’t find the answer in other people, books, music, tv… because God IS the answer. He’s always with us, and never forsakes us (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 31:6).
And loneliness IS a gift because I’m reminded to seek Him.
When I bring my loneliness to Him, He reveals the root of it. In this sacred space with God, I’m able to heal on a soul level from whatever is bringing this feeling of loneliness. When we fully surrender our loneliness over to God, He truly does give us the peace that surpasses all understanding.
The pandemic has brought its own level of loneliness to everyone’s life in some capacity. I’m not negating the magnitude of this heaviness. But I can encourage you that when God calls us into loneliness, we are given the space and opportunity to become all that God created us to be apart from human influence and everything that’s distracting us.
It’s hard to drown out the noise of the world and get alone with God. But when we do, there is beautiful re-creation within us. After all, we are new creations in Christ, called to die to ourselves (give Him our loneliness) on the daily and follow Him.
Thank you, God, for the gift of loneliness.
BY DONNA CHURCHHILL
“The Lord will go before you! The God of Israel will be your rear guard!”
“I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.”
He who begins, finishes. He who leads us on, follows behind to deal in love with our poor attempts. He gathers up the things that we have dropped, our fallen resolutions, our mistakes. He makes His blessed pardon to flow over our sins till they are utterly washed away. And He turns to fight the enemy, who would pursue after us, to destroy us from behind. He is first, and He is last! We need never fear!
In all things, He goes before us.
He paves the way.
He even lights the way.
He whispers, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”
We never walk alone.
We are never left to stumble and falter.
He is first.
I have a long walkway from my garage to my house and at night, without proper lighting, it can be pretty daunting. Especially because I know we have bears and all assorted creatures in the woods behind our house. Yikes!! But on the side of my garage there is a sensor light, so when I walk out of the garage, the light comes on. As I walk down the walkway, there is another light on the house that comes on at dusk and stays on till dawn. This light guides me down the walkway, but once I get past that light to the foot of my stairs, it is dark again. I must continue to the first step and as soon as my foot hits the bottom step, another sensor light comes on to guide me up the stairs. BUT, I have to take that first step. This is such an object lesson for me.
We are to take one step at a time and as our foot lifts to take the next step, He lights the way. We just need to trust that He will. Every time I walk down my walkway at night, I am trusting that my next step will light the next one and so on.
God does go before us, but we have to follow and we have to trust.
But even as He goes before us, He is also our rear guard. What comfort there is in this truth. We are not left defenseless either way!
As we walk through this life, there are so many things that we shed as we go, some good, some not so good. But they are not left haphazardly on the path. He goes behind us and takes care of all those things. He gathers them up and deals with them as He chooses. He gathers our sins up into His bosom and He remembers them no more. His mercy and grace follow us.
He brings up the rear.
He watches from behind.
He fights the enemy on our behalf.
He protects us from a “sneak attack.”
He watches our back.
He is last.
He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.
What a comfort and a blessing to know that I have a God who not only goes before me and paves the way, but I also have a God who walks behind me to protect me in every way. He fights the battle both ways. I can trust Him to order my steps and direct my path. I can trust Him to be “round about” me.
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” Psalm 125:1, 2
“You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5 (NIV)