Today I had the privilege of attending our local ANZAC Day service - it was a moving experience as the community gathered to honour the men and women who have given their lives to protect and ensure our freedom. As I watched the veterans lead the parade, followed by a new generation of Servicemen and women, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for their selflessness and bravery for my benefit. As the names of the fallen from WWI and WWII were read aloud, I was humbled that these men had died so that a generation they would never know could be free. I was reminded today, that I enjoy freedom because someone paid a price for it; because men and women continue to be willing to pay a price for it.
The commemorations caused me to ponder afresh the blessing of inheritance and the challenge to like those we honoured today, be someone who leaves a legacy. An inheritance is a gift - when you receive an inheritance, you receive the benefits of what another has laboured to establish. It costs you nothing, but it may have cost them everything. An inheritance is what I am given, a legacy is what I choose to build; what I choose to lay down my own life for.
Every inheritance will either be squandered or built upon - and the extent to which we realise and draw upon the riches of our inheritance will determine the reach of the legacy that we ourselves build for the coming generations. In Ephesians 1, Paul prayed this:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.
Paul had spent the preceding verses listing all the varied and incredible blessings that God has given His children - that we are chosen, made holy, adopted, forgiven, included in Christ, that we are given the riches of grace and so much more! And he is now saying, God help them understand the fullness of all these blessings; help them grasp this inheritance that they have to live out of, the hope that should mark their lives and the power that You have given them!
Jesus died to give us each and every one of the blessings Paul lists and to gift us the most incredible of all inheritances - He died so that our souls could be set free from the curse of sin and death. He died so that we could be free on the inside. But He also died so that we could have all the resources of Heaven to stay free and to bring that freedom to others.
Every day men and women around the world continue to give their lives for others; they continue to lay down their own rights because they believe in something bigger than just themselves - they believe in the yearnings that God has placed in all of our hearts for peace, for freedom, for unity. The believe in these things enough to take action and as a result they are legacy leavers.
Our inheritance, our internal freedom cost Jesus everything - the challenge for us is what are we doing with what we have received?
I don't know about you, but I want to live for more than just myself, I want to leave a legacy worthy of the One who gave us our freedom. I hope that you will join me in praying Paul's prayer so that we can truly understand our incredible inheritance and use it to build something beautiful for the generations yet to come.
Live today with purpose,
If you haven't already figured it out, I'm a words girl! I love nothing more than getting lost in a good book, having a long conversation with a friend or having the opportunity to use my words to inspire and equip others. Words are my gift, but I am also well aware that my words have the potential to be my greatest downfall. Because sometimes I just say far too much!
Compounding this excess of words, is my tendency to be an external verbal processor - which is why God's word to me this year that in quietness and trust is your strength, is such a challenge. When I encounter obstacles, quietness is not my natural response - its not that you're likely to find me complaining and wallowing in self-pity, but I will talk and talk and then talk some more about my problem and how I think I can fix my problem. But the more I talk, the bigger my problem feels - and this preoccupation with trying to solve everything myself often fills me with fear about how things will turn out. Before I know it, words of impossibility, of negativity, of criticism and defeat are coming out of my mouth.
In this current season when I am tempted to open my mouth to speak about the challenges I face, I can sense the Holy Spirit saying, "just shush Aimee!"
Last week we looked at God's strategy that He gave the Israelites in Isaiah 30:15 saying,
“In returning [to Me] and rest you shall be saved, In quietness and confident trust is your strength.”
God puts the four aspects of His battle strategy into two groups – repentance and rest bring us salvation; quietness and trust bring us strength. The words for rest and for quietness have similar connotations in the original Hebrew. Rest meant rest, quietness, a quiet attitude; quietness – to be quiet, tranquil, at peace, lie still, to show or display quietness.
In other words the ability to be quiet is an essential part of experiencing God’s saving power and strength in our circumstances. But we will only have the ability to ‘just shush’ if we have reached that place of, as the amplified puts it, ‘confidently trusting’ God; we will only be able to display quietness when we know the One that we wait on.
Isaiah gives God two names in this verse:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says...
Our God is THE Sovereign Lord – that means that He possesses all power and authority; He He is on His throne and we can trust Him to rule and reign in our lives and circumstances. He is also the Holy One – He is sacred, and perfect, not a single flaw to be found in Him.
And if those two names were not enough to fill me with the confidence to wait quietly before Him, as I have meditated on the verses that follow on from v. 15 I have learnt that He also:
Longs to be gracious
That He rises to show compassion
That He is a God of justice
That He blesses those who wait on Him
That He is gracious when we cry for help
That He hears and He answers
That He guides
The more I give my attention to who He is, the quieter and stronger I become.
Life gives us equal opportunities to choose fear or to choose worship. I can spend my time and energy - my words - on the obstacles that I face, or I can view them as an opportunity to turn my heart to worship; to open my mouth in praise.
When we slow down from everything that feels so pressing and turn our attention back to Him; when we close our mouths, just shush, and consciously choose a posture of quiet, of trusting worship – that’s when the real quiet enters our souls and we find rest in Him.
Live today with purpose
As I write this I am enjoying a rare moment - the house is quiet! Everyone is out and Lucas is sleeping. A quiet, still household is a luxury at this time in my life - I am ever grateful for such a full home and heart, but you'll hear no complaints from me when I get the opportunity to have the place all to myself!
When I launched this new site back in January, I did so with the post 'In Search of Quiet', sharing with you the longing of my heart for a quiet soul. A soul that was at rest, at peace no matter how much 'noise' was happening around me. Over the past few months, as I have meditated on my key passage for the year - Isaiah 30 - and journeyed through various experiences, God has enabled me to understand the power of choosing to be quiet before Him.
In Isaiah 30, the Israelites faced a very real threat - the Assyrian army. In their fear and panic to save themselves, they had reached out to Egypt and formed an alliance with her, hoping that she would be strong enough to protect them from the Assyrians. But the problem with this, is that is wasn't God's strategy - it wasn't His solution to the issues that they were encountering.
God's strategy was this:
...In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength...
As you study the original language in its context, God was literally saying - you don’t need to race ahead and fight your own battle – in fact you need to withdraw from the fight. You need to come back and position yourself with Me. You need to slow down and wait on me; you need to stop talking to everyone about this problem and be at rest in this situation because you can have absolute confidence in who I am. And as you do this I'm going to give you MY strength, I'm going to let you see my mighty deeds and ultimately I'm going to bring you to a place of salvation, of victory. What a promise!
Sadly verse 15 ends with this statement - but you would have none of it. Ponder those words for a moment - you would have none of it. How often do we encounter obstacles, threats, mountains and just like the Israelites, allow fear, anxiety, what we perceive as time-pressures and constraints to dictate our response. We rush ahead and make our own plans - and then pin all of our hopes on these plans and on other people. Sometimes if we’re really honest – we’ve not only not asked God what He thinks, we’ve actually deliberately chosen to ignore His promptings. So we’ve pressed ahead, usually with the well-meaning intention of being responsible and self-sufficient but not leaving much room for God to do His thing in our lives!
Part of learning to be quiet before God is learning to slow down. Consciously pushing aside our fears, the timetable and schedules that seem to demand an instant decision and choosing instead to seek the Father.
Our year began with a multitude of changes as well as some significant uncertainties. Many of the decisions that we needed to make hinged on other people making decisions first, and so we found ourselves at a crossroads - did we wait to see how those decisions would play out, or did we just get on with it and make our choices? Waiting meant we faced a significant short-fall in our family budget and so getting on with it, racing ahead seemed like the logical and responsible thing to do. But it didn't sit right with us. We could sense God whispering that this was not our battle to fight, that we were to follow His strategy - we were to slow down and wait quietly, wait with a posture of trust and confidence.
As we waited, we experienced what God promises in Isaiah 30:21:
Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left.
Slowing down to seek Him enabled us to hear Him; hearing Him allowed us to see Him. That's the power of being quiet!
Over the last few months His strength has become our strength - we have seen His mighty deeds firsthand and experienced Him bringing 'salvation', breakthrough into the situations that we faced. His instructions throughout this time have not been how we would have gone about things, and just like the Israelites, we could have had none of it; we could have so easily missed out on the power of quiet if we'd allowed our fear to cause us to race ahead of God.
Where do you need to slow down today? What situation are you facing that is causing you to race ahead? Where do you feel like the battle is dependent on you and your limited resources? Don't be like the Israelites - embrace God's strategy of quiet so that you too can hear Him and see Him at work in your own life.
Live today with purpose
It's another busy week in the Walker household as we prepare for our eldest, Dave's daughter, to move in for a season while she studies. The last eight months have seen us go from a household of four, to five, and now six - and I should mention our couch is in regular use by extended family who have moved out of town, but are frequently 'in town' needing a place to crash! We joke that we should just hang a sign over the door saying 'Walker Inn' - I've taken to saying that there's been Full House, Fuller House so why don't we pitch for The Fullest House!
All this change means I'm busy making room - cleaning, clearing, reconfiguring sleeping arrangements (I think Lucas is quite happy to be moving in with mum!), ensuring that things are ready for when Des arrives this weekend. All of this 'making room' has coincided with Easter and it's had me thinking about how Jesus makes room for us.
How He makes room in His heart for our struggles
How He and the Father make room for us in their Home
When His heart and mind should have been preoccupied with His own imminent suffering, Jesus, ever-aware of the struggles His disciples faced spoke these words,
"Don’t worry or surrender to your fear. For you’ve believed in God, now trust and believe in Me also."
The disciples were experiencing betrayal - someone they loved and trusted disappointing them; they were on the precipice of grief as they tried to wrap their heads around the fact that Jesus had just told them He wouldn't be with them much longer, and Peter - Peter was having to come to terms with his own shortcomings as Jesus told him that that very night he would deny Him not once, but three times! Disappointment, grief, failure - sound familiar?
In the midst of His own troubles, Jesus made room in His heart for His followers and spoke words of comfort and truth to them. He assured them that just as they had spent their lives trusting the Father who they had not seen, that they would still be able to trust Him - even when they could no longer see Him.
And He speaks the same words of comfort to us now, makes room in His heart for our struggles and whispers - trust Me, I'm still with you. And not only that, I've prepared a place for you!
"There is more than enough room in My Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?"
As Jesus went to the Cross He was preparing the way; removing every last obstacle and making it possible for us to occupy our room in the Father's house. How blessed are we that God brings us into His home, welcomes us as family! And unlike our little house - which is well and truly at capacity - the Father does not run out of room or resources. He has more than enough room for us all!
Jesus laid down His very life to make room for us. The question now is will we make room for Him?
When troubles come will we make room for trust?
When we're struggling to know the way forward will we make room for His Spirit to teach us?
When we feel afraid will we make room for His peace?
"But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Whatever troubles you face today, Jesus cares about them. And He doesn't want you to face them alone - He wants you to stick close to Him; to experience His comfort and peace.
He's made room for us to do this journey with Him.
Live today with purpose,
If you want to hear more about how Jesus comforts us in our troubles, have a listen to my recent message, 'Comforted' here.
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from the blogging team encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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