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Encountering The King In The Courtyard

The last week I have been sweetly reminded how God often uses His people to manifest his presence. Three times, to be exact, I have been swaddled by His embrace through encounters or conversations with a friend. Sometimes these unexpected blessings play out in a way that it is undeniable whose pen strokes scripted the story.

I am resharing this for anyone struggling today. Whether it be fear, physical or emotional pain, anxiety, depression or anything else that renders you feeling alone, this is for you. Sometimes God sends His children, and sometimes His creatures to articulate and authenticate His affections.

May you feel the security of the shady shelter of His wing today! You are loved.

Does your faith need a cool drink of refreshing water?  Read along.

I see our Lord everywhere; in people, in children, in my dog, (yes, my dog), and especially in nature.  Some people raise their eyebrows at this concept, but when Jesus Christ saturates your life you cannot help but view life shaded in a reflection of Him.

I will never forget last Thursday when one of my more memorable encounters with My King happened in a courtyard at Covenant Counseling Center.  I had finished a session with my counselor, but earlier in our time together I was describing a story a friend told me about when she was a little girl.  She explained that her daddy would kneel every night and pray before she and her sister went to bed.  The two sisters would fight to be the one who got to get under him as he was kneeling in prayer.  The story was so precious and touched me so much that the imagery I formulated will forever be imprinted in my mind and on my heart.  It was a story that reminded me of a verse that is very special to me. Psalm 91:4 ~ He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

I was telling my counselor how this verse has been layered over me time and again the last couple years.  Little did I know that just a short time later, that very verse would come to life right before my eyes.

I finished my session and walked out to a crisp, sunny, beautiful day.  I had an urge to be outside, so I drove home, got my reading materials and came back to the same location to sit in the peaceful and inviting small courtyard in front of the building.  One thing I love about that courtyard is it appears like an umbrella of trees, so it feels secluded and safe. While I was sitting on the bench, I was praying and again reflecting on many verses in addition to Psalm 91:4.

I was there about an hour when my peace was interrupted by an onslaught of noise in one of the trees just to my left.  A majestic, red tail hawk landed on a sturdy branch, and he had an army of crows, after him.  Crows are loud, and they are relentless predators.

I suddenly froze and was unable to think or react quickly because I could not believe what was evolving.  In that quiet place Psalm 91:4 was beautifully played out in the nature that surrounded me.  I was in awe of my faithful and loving Father, who goes to creative lengths to express His presence and love.  Let me explain.

After studying the battalion of crows charging at the hawk for several minutes, I noticed the hawk was using his wings as a deflector and shield of protection.  I eventually maneuvered myself into a location that I could see the hawk was protecting something under his wing.  Time and time again crow after crow would dive at the hawk, and the hawk would bat his wing to deflect the attack.  I watched this go on for over 15 minutes. The hawk was protecting a baby and was doing so with such commanding diligence, strength, and care.  The crows were not giving up easily, but neither was the hawk.  He was resolute.  Despite the continuous assaults, the hawk shielded that vulnerable baby.

The other thing that impacted me was the stability of the hawk; as he was hit over and over again using his wing for defense.  Some of the attacks were aggressive enough that he would bobble or slightly lose his balance.  Every single time, however, he would regain his footing, readjust and return to an anchored stance on the branch.  He never moved from the same spot the entire time even though he would stumble at times.  He never flew away in an attempt to flea from fear.  He never gave up, and he was the lone one standing in the end!

When we are under the shelter of our Lord Jesus, we are a lot like that hawk. Attacks come, fear assaults us and enemies persecute us.  We may lose our balance; we may have to readjust, and we may be shaken, but we are never shattered because our anchor is under the wings of a King, who is our armor and protection.  He will not be moved.  When our foundation is solid in Him, we may falter, and need adjustments at times, but we can withstand life’s storms still returning to a stable stance.

I was also reminded of Revelation 5:6 that day. ~ Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders.

Jesus suffered throughout his life.  Many attacks were forged against him and He was eventually crucified.  Sometimes life can leave us feeling battered, bruised, betrayed and cut up as if we, too have been slain.  The key to the verse in Revelation is the Lamb, though he looked as if he had been slaughtered, He was still standing.

Life is hard, but when His feathers are our garments and His wings our refuge, there will be times we are disturbed, but never defeated because the Promiser keeper says He is our sure foundation.

 

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Depression

Someone needs this today. Christ followers are not exempt from depression! Depression holds no prejudice and often strikes the most committed of believers. If you are weary, worn and maybe depressed, do not let shame tell you that you do not have enough faith. It is not up to us, and playing the role of savior is a crushing burden. The point is not how big our faith is but how big our Father is.

After a great victory in 1 Kings, Elijah runs away and seeks refuge under a tree. He is in the depths of depression asking God to let him die. The angel of the Lord visits him, and it is important to note what he says as well as what he does Not say to Elijah. The angel does NOT state; you need to pray more. He does not say; you just need to have more faith. The angel of The Lord does not tell Elijah if you had a more consistent quiet time you would be better. The angel says to Elijah, get up and eat, so he ate and slept some more. Then a second-time the angel tells him to get up and eat some more or the journey ahead will be too much for you.

Friends, it is good news that our adequacy is not dependent upon us. We have a Savior outside of ourselves who lived to know every ache, pain, and ounce of turmoil we feel. God isn’t shaking his head in disgust at your depression. He longs to touch you and give you the nurturing rest that only he can offer.

If you find yourself feeling blue or outright depressed, I pray that you leave it at the foot of the cross where all our struggles are known, accepted, accounted for and redeemed. The story of Elijah demonstrates God longs to acknowledge our most basic needs first; then in due time, He will take care of the rest.

We often are good at giving grace to others but not ourselves. I pray you love yourself today where you are, not where the enemy says you should be.

You are loved!

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The Good News

You may have a prodigal child, be in the middle of a messy divorce, enduring anxiety or suffering from a deep depression because life is just not going as planned.  The good news is, it is still possible to hear your Father say; job well done daughter/son.  He loves you that much!

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Good news

There are many things that I do, feel or say that shock me when I honestly look at my heart.  Self-examination would be defeating, were it not for the good news of the Gospel.  The Bible discusses every one of my flaws as a struggle for someone within its chapters.  I am so thankful those things are there!  Without God’s word I would either have to live a shallow life of pretend and denial; or under so much condemnation that anxiety, fear, shame and depression would likely be my best friends.  The gospel is good news!

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You Were God’s Idea

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Are you feeling condemned?  Maybe your awareness of you inadequacies has you keeping company with shame, anxiety, and depression.  Some days you are on the mountaintop and the next in the valley.  That is what our expectations do to us, friends.

Expectations are the executioners of embattled hearts.

They will always spotlight our shortcomings.  I have been a prisoner of that camp far too many times.  My heart is prone to forget what my head knows.  Romans 8:1 ~, therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  

I am at a place that I know it is my brokenness, not my goodness that is my badge of honor and that has made all the difference.

However, do I forget this at times?  Yes!  Do I have to remember this and reapply it when The Lord is excavating yet another lump of coal out of my heart?  Absolutely!  C.S. Lewis captured a brilliant truth when he said, “people need reminding a lot more than they need instructing.”  I am forgetful, especially when it comes to myself.  

Grace isn’t just for the shiny people who occasionally make mistakes because the truth is, inside there are no shiny people.  Grace is for me, and it is for you; the sinful and struggling but always seeking.  

God recently reminded me that my self-condemnation is an insult to Him.  It is equal to me saying to Him; You got it wrong.  You made a mistake.  Let us not be deceived; The Lord makes no mistakes, and He works with imperfect, not impeccable people.  May your heart find a glimpse of freedom here this Friday, friend.  You were God’s idea; He makes no errors, and He says you are enough!