Out of the Ashes, Beauty Will Rise.

sam_4166.jpg The dusty, smell of autumn filled the air like a warm bear hug. The wonder of autumn enticed me making me take a much-needed walk. After sitting for hours in conference sessions, it was time for an immersion in the fall perfect.
I didn’t have much time and so I quickened my pace. I strolled past all the cabins, past the people, and past all distractions. I saw a path on the right side of the road. I smiled and pretending I was ten again took it with a sense of adventure. I walked under a covered bridge and trailed up the path full of leaves. The path was full of leaves that the trees shed.  They had to drop all their beautiful layers. The trees still had their autumn allurement, but they were becoming bare as they dropped precious gems onto the path where I was walking. How like my own life, before I can grow, I must first shed each thing I hold dear. The shedding is necessary, so God can radically use me as a vessel only focused on Him, because He is all I have. I continued my journey enjoying the air of mystery and the aroma of adventure.

I found some steps which I eagerly ran up. It was a miracle I didn’t fall backwards from those slippery leaves. And then I saw it, the chapel at the top of the hill. My heart was warmed. This was what I’d long been yearning for. You can talk to God anywhere at any time. He’s always there. But I think there is something extra special about being alone with God in a church. Reverently I opened the door to the empty church. The emptiness didn’t bother me. God filled every square inch, in a way that I hadn’t noticed before. With an attitude of awe, I slipped into a pew. I simply sat there, taking in the beauty of His presence. I sensed God nudge me to go to the altar. So, I left my fifty- pound purse on the pew, and with only a paper, a pen, and my broken heart I obeyed. The last two weeks, God had tested me and tried me through a fire I didn’t want to walk through. God was making me into gold, but I was struggling to surrender. Like the autumn trees from before, God had been stripping me of all that I clung to.  I was like a tree, no leaves were left, only my branches reaching upwards in surrender. But out of the ashes God can redeem if only we let Him. So, I penned a letter to God, expressing my heart.
I wanted to linger, but I had to be somewhere soon, and I’d already walked a long way. I almost picked up my letter from God to keep. But I sensed that God wanted me to leave my note on the altar. It was like I had surrender my pain, and my desire to control. Leaving my baggage at the altar was like saying, okay Lord You take it. I surrender my control, my dreams, and my past. So, I eased myself up, grabbed my hefty purse, and silently strode out of the quiet cathedral. I turned back once, but I trusted that I could leave it all in His Almighty Hands.
I had to run back to my hotel, down the slippery steps, and past the bridge. But I didn’t mind. The run was worth it. I had made my peace with God and that was what I needed.
If you are broken, weary, or worn, run to Jesus.
If you are happy, excited and joyous, run to Jesus.
If you are afraid, anxious, and sick run to Jesus.

Take your desires and leave them at the foot of the cross. It is not until we have laid down our dreams that God can truly repair the old ruins into a vessel for His glory.
I know it’s spring time now. The trees have buds, the air is warmer, fresher, and more exciting. What does something from last fall have to do with spring time? In autumn the golden yellows, brash reds, and playful oranges must flourish and then fall one by one. Winter is a season where things appear dead. The trees continue to stand, but there are no leaves to clothe the barren, barked body. But though the winter is long, it is not a dormant time. This year winter seemed to drag, on and on and on. But God continued to work in nature during the winter as He worked in the winter of my heart. But spring always comes. Spring is a time for new life. It’s a time when new dreams are reborn. So, don’t despise the long winter. Spring is most beautiful when the winter has been long and harsh. When God asked you to lay aside your dreams, it seemed painful, and maybe even pointless. And then came the winter. You shivered and shook. All you had was God to lean on. He was the one to comfort you and sustain you through the long dark night of the long winter. But then Spring peeked her head up. Out of your sorrows flowers were born. And now you can stand tall, as a blossoming tree, a testament to how God uses the broken. I know because He is still using me. ❤

 

Week 6: All Things Made New

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Week 6: All Things Made New
How does one sleep through the darkest night? Anna didn’t know. Sweat and tears marred her face. Her hair stuck awkwardly to her chin and cheeks, painting a rather unattractive picture. Anna was crumpled on the earthen floor in her father’s room. It was where she had fallen asleep last night. She was still clutching her father’s cloak from the night before. For a moment, Anna couldn’t remember what day it was. The atrocities from the days before had crushed of all the world’s time. Sunday, it was Sunday. Everything came rushing back like a crushing wave. Anna knew her life would never be the same again. She quickly arose. Her knees throbbed and her back ached, but she would have to deal with the pain. After brushing her hair, Anna grabbed some of her mother’s aloe and ran to the tomb of Jesus. The sky was still dark, and the stars continued to sparkle with a wink of hope. Anna strode faster, passing the notorious Olive tree. Her heart unexpectedly  exploded and she began to cry. Everyone who she had cherished was no gone: her mother, her father, Luca, and now Jesus. What was to   become of her? As Anna hurried to the tomb, she wearily searched her mind for any of the old prophecies that her father had told her. If only she paid more attention!
As Anna bended the curve before the tomb, thoughts of worry flooded her thinking. How was she to get away from the guards? She reached the tomb, but then the earth vomited the ground. Anna fell to the ground. When Anna rubbed her eyes and came to her senses she saw the two guards passed out on the ground. The boulder had been moved over and an angel was seated on it. Out of the corner of her left eye, Anna tried to look at him, but he was so bright that she couldn’t for long. He was bright for lightening. It was as if he had just been in the presence of God Himself. Anna covered her face with her shawl. Darkness was now a memory of the past. The true light had come, shattering any form of din that dared to stand in the way.
“Anna, do not be afraid. Jesus sent me to tell you that He is alive, just like he told you.” The angel’s voice rippled and flowed like water. His words were deeply ethereal creating a presence of awed reverence.
Anna continued to shake. She couldn’t yet process the angel’s words. Could Jesus really be alive?
The angel swooped down from the large boulder and gracefully took Anna’s hand.
“What I tell you is true. Come and see.”
Together they walked into the sepulcher. Anna tenderly touched the empty bed. When she turned around, the angel was gone.
Anna ran out of the tomb. She had to tell someone!

Anna’s sandaled, sweaty feet flew across the dusty road. She wasn’t looking where she was going, and she collided into Luca.
Unlike her normal self Anna sputtered out, “Have you seen Jesus? He’s alive! Can you believe it !”
“Yes, Anna. Yes. I’ve seen Him.” Luca’s voice softened, and his eyes glowed with a level of understanding that Anna had never seen.
Anna backed away. She was afraid to get to close to him again. Anna could see that Luca had seen Jesus. The change in him was undeniable and it made him more attractive than before.
“Anna, I’m sorry about what happened before. I know I wasn’t man enough to tell you to your face. But I’ve changed. Now I’ve met Jesus. You were always right. He is the Messiah. I’ve seen Him. I touched the nail scars on His hands.”
Anna smiled. Her prayers had been answered. The seed she had planted had not gone to waste.
“Anna, Sophia and I have decided that some stories are best meant to be closed. Sophia and I are going are separate ways now. But she wanted to thank you for your help the other night. I’m supposed to be going to a meeting with the chief priests and with the head centurion. But I think I’m going to quit being a Roman solider and do something simple like being a carpenter. I’ve heard so many rumors. All the Roman soldiers are trying to find a way to cover that Jesus really is alive. I’m not about to spend the rest of my life living a lie.
Anna smiled and nodded slowly. How could this be happening?
“I’m going to see Jesus. Won’t ‘you walk with me?”

Anna took Luca’s extended hand and together they faced the dawn. With their eyes fixed on Jesus they knew they would not fail.

 

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Week 5: At the Foot of the Cross

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“Anna, Anna, did you hear?” Tirzah the little girl from next door said anxiously as she ran quickly down the street.
“Hear what?”, Anna shouted back.
“They are going to kill Jesus! There are even rumors that they plan to crucify Him!”
Anna refused to let the words penetrate her soul. Tirzah was a sweet child, and not one to stretch the truth, but perhaps Tirzah had heard wrong. Jerusalem was known for their incorrect gossip.
“Tirzah, wait!”.
Tirzah came back to Anna’s house. Anna’s fingers trembled as she prepared a few food items in a basket. It was always wise to be prepared, though she doubted she could ever eat again. She had no idea how long they would be gone.
“Hurry Anna!”
Anna grabbed her father’s cloak that still hung by the door.
Tirzah yanked Anna’s hand and together they ran down the dead, empty streets of Jerusalem. Everyone wanted to see Jesus.
Anna was grateful that the child knew exactly where to go. Anna was worried that she would’ve simply sat down and cried.
Tirzah brought Anna to the courtyard right outside the judgement seat where criminals were sentenced to death. Anna inwardly hoped that Pilate and King Herod would release Jesus. After all it was evident that He was not a criminal! Anna saw Pilate and Herod in the center. On either side of them was Jesus and Barabbas. Barabbas was the notorious criminal of Jerusalem. He had been in and out of prison since before Anna could remember. The look of Barabbas’s face was apathetic, he was used the normal procedures. The look on Jesus’s face was full of pain and deep sorrow. Anna wanted to cry. She couldn’t yet force herself to look into His eyes.
A hush fell over the crowd as Pilate stood up to speak.
“Neither, Herod or I find any fault in this man. We plan to release Jesus to you since it’s custom that someone is released on the week of the Passover.”
“Barabbas, we want Barabbas!” The silent crowds turned violent as they shouted for Barabbas’s release. Barabbas grinned a cocky grin as he side-glanced Jesus.
Pilate tried to calm the people, but to no avail. “Jesus has done nothing wrong. Let’s release Him”. Pilate’s soft-spoken words were lost in the abyss of screams.
Anna had hoped that Pilate’s good intentions would appease the people, but it did not.
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
“For what reason? This man has done nothing to be deserving of death at all and certainly not such a cruel death as this”!
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate looked distressed and Anna saw fear in his eyes. Pilate wanted to release Jesus, but he knew that his job and his life were at stake.
“Alright, we will crucify Him”.
Anna feared she would faint, so she clutched Tirzah’s hand. Tirzah squeezed back. Anna saw all the people that had shouted that Jesus be crucified. They were the same people that had praise His name last Sunday. They were the same people that had been healed by His hand, who had eaten the bread He had broken, or watched him raise Lazarus from the dead. What had happened to their loyalty?
The Romans soldiers roughly grabbed Jesus. They shoved the cross at Him and forced Him to walk. Anna and Tirzah were told to back away. They both found Mary the mother of Jesus and other men and women that loved Jesus. Anna wouldn’t leave Jesus. It didn’t matter how much turmoil she was in. She had to be near Him.

The clouds were dark, ominous, and billowing. The Via Dolorosa looked different than a week before. There were people lining the streets, but they were not shouting words of joy but of curses and insults.
Tirzah held tightly to Anna’s hand. Jesus continued to bear the cross. Anna wished to scream and tell everyone to stop. This was Jesus, not some criminal! Once, the weight of it was to much and He collapsed on the cobblestone street. His body was laid in a heap. Before Anna knew what she was doing she left Tirzah and knelt down near Jesus. She poured some water from her flask that she had sense enough to pack hours ago. She poured the water on Jesus’s hair and into His mouth. She wanted to speak, but she couldn’t. Her tears continued to flow. Jesus looked at her with such compassion. It was as if He was suffering for her.
Quickly, Anna was roughly brushed aside by the brawny arms of one of the Roman soldiers. Anna gasped and screamed. “Why are you doing this?” Anna’s face turned white when she saw Luca. She shook her head. Before she could utter a word, Luca disappeared. His face was stoic. To him Jesus was simply another criminal. It wasn’t right! It wasn’t right! If only she could stop this cruelty! For a few minutes or maybe an hour Anna simply stood there stunned. Suddenly she came to her senses. Where was Tirzah? Suddenly, she spotted the little girl’s pink dress.
“Come Anna. They have taken to the cross.”
Anna wanted to say no. But she wouldn’t leave Jesus. He was all He had.
Meekly Anna followed. She saw Jesus hanging on a wooden cross. He was stripped, bleeding, and dying.

Anna found the small group of Jesus followers. Tirzah ran to be with her weeping mother and father. Anna bravely ventured toward the cross. Maybe her presence would provide Jesus with ounce of comfort.
Anna stood at the foot of the cross. The rain continually washed away the blood that resurfaced and stained the body of her Savior.
She saw Sophia crumpled by an Olive tree. She was separated from the other onlookers. Anna’s heart went out to her. But first she ran to the cross.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Jesus, who was nailed to the cross was able to forgive, and Anna realized that for so long she’d been unable to forgive her father for dying, Sophia for being more beautiful, and Luca for rejecting her.
But if her innocent Jesus could forgive while bleeding on a cross why couldn’t she?
“I’m sorry Jesus, so sorry. I forgive them.” Her grudges now seemed like just a drop of water amidst an ocean. Anna knew Jesus had spoken the words just for her. Her tears made it difficult to see.
Now she knew what Jesus wanted her to do. Wiping away her tears, she walked tenderly over to Sophia. Sophia hadn’t moved positions in the past few minutes. The rain had messed up her perfectly matted red hair.
Anna stood near her not quite knowing what to say.
“Sophia.”
Sophia looked up. Her face was devoid of all color.
“Are you alright?”
“No, no, I’m not.”
“Sophia, I know that it doesn’t make sense, but Jesus is dying for us. He loves you and me.”
“That much?”
“More than that much. We just have to bow at His feet and call Him Lord.”
“No, no, I don’t want to call a dying Jesus Lord. That’s crazy.”
“But Sophia, it has long been foretold that Jesus would die but
Sophia quickly ran away. She didn’t want to hear another word.

She loved Jesus so, but she needed to get away. Thinking of her father, she ran to the temple. She clutched her father’s cloak tightly to her hoping to block out the terrible day. It only it was a dream. Anna knew there was a prophecy about Jesus coming to die. Which one was it? Anna ran to the temple, she had to find out.
By the time she reached the deserted temple, darkness blanketed the land. There was no hope of finding her father’s scrolls here. Anna stood in the temple and wept bitterly.
And then Anna saw it. She blinked her eyes three times to make sure it was true. The veil of the temple curtain tore in two from top to bottom. As a little girl, her father always told her never to go into the holy of holies. Only the highest priest was allowed in once a year. Her father had been in once. Anna remembered her father’s face glowed. But now, now, the divide was broken. Anna realized that she didn’t need to find the scrolls. Now she knew. Jesus died on the cross to break the divide between God and man. She knelt alone in the holy of holies and wept. “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.”
Luca sighed. Something about this night was not right. Crucifixion was a part of his normal duties as a Roman solider, but never darkness covering the land so early in the day.
For the past few hours, Luca had stood guard at the foot of the three crosses. Jesus, the man in the middle was different. Luca knew that Anna adored and followed Him. But what was the reason to have Him crucified. Luca knew he couldn’t question Pilate or Herod, but it wasn’t right. Sure, Jesus had overthrown the moneychangers in the temple, but they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Luca saw Sophia and Anna out of the corner of his eye. Anna was talking to his girlfriend! Luca knew that something was up. Anna had her comforting face on. She looked like she was soothing her and pointing her to the cross. It was ironic, but Luca knew that Sophia was in good hands. But mostly Luca couldn’t take his eyes off Jesus. It just didn’t make sense.
“Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ “
In His eyes Luca saw peace. He saw the image of eternity. Luca had been watching Jesus’s rib cage struggling to go up and down. But after Jesus spoke, His body stopped. Luca knew He was dead.
Suddenly, the earth began to shake violently. Luca had no choice but to fall at the feet of Jesus.
The rain continued to pour. Luca’s face was flat on the ground beneath the cross. “Truly, this was the Son of God.” Luca began to cry. His foolishness shamed Him.

 

 

Week Four: Palm Sunday

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Morning dawned fresh and beautiful. The dewdrops glistened on the rosebuds that curved up to the roof. They had yet to be touched by the power of the sun. Hope. Anna saw hope. Anna smiled a bittersweet, weighty smile as she looked out over Jerusalem from her roof.  She missed her father even more but she felt his presence when she sat here. It was almost as if her father was here. Her heart was still pained but she had met Jesus and she was slowly beginning to heal. Anna slowly stood up from the bench. She decided to go to the market for some fresh produce. She hoped that she would see Jesus. She wanted to see Him again, to touch His robe, to hear His voice, to just be near Him. That was enough.
As Anna was selecting the best apricots she heard a symphony of noisy, joyous, cheering. Now what could that be? She saw Jesus coming on a donkey. The townspeople took off their robes and quickly cut branches off the nearby trees. They shouted joyously. Some of the women were weeping tears of joy.
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”! (Mt. 21:9)

“Tell Daughter, Zion, look your King is coming to you, gentle and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” (Mt. 21:5, Is. 62:11, Zch. 9:9).
Anna watched in awe. Her mouth hung open. Jesus was riding a donkey but not once did the donkey’s hooves touch the ground. The robes of the people blanketed the dirty ground. Children ran back and forth excitedly shouting the name of Jesus. A festive mood covered the streets of Jerusalem. Anna smiled when Jesus passed her by. Jesus smiled back as if she was the only person in the whole wide world. Oh, how Anna wished that her father was present. He would rejoice to see Jesus praised and to see an old prophecy come to light. It seemed such a juxtaposition for Jesus the king of kings to be riding on the humblest of animals. But perhaps, Jesus used the most humble and unwanted to best proclaim His glory. Anna wiped a tear that slipped from her eye. She was broken and rejected and yet God still decided to use her for His glory. It blew her away. Jesus turned down the Via Dolorosa where the people continued to praise the name of Jesus. Today it was not the way of suffering.

 

Luca stood in the background behind the Olive tree on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It was his duty to stand guard and make sure the Jews were obeying Roman law and that the Jesus fellow didn’t start a revolt. But he wished to remain hidden. He didn’t wish for Anna to see him. The guilt was still too much for him to bear. Anna had been a nice girl, sweet, kind, loving, and spunky. But she didn’t compare to the gorgeous Sophia. Sophia was easy to love. Anna was difficult because she had faith in a God that Luca refused to believe in. Such foolishness. How could Anna really believe that simple man riding a donkey was the so said Messiah? Luca had his life planned out to a tee. Nobody was going to ruffle his plans.
“Hey babe”. Luca turned to see Sophia slyly come up. She placed her left arm on his.
“I brought you some fresh coffee from the Jerusalem Java”.
Luca smiled and lightly kissed the top of her head.
“Thanks”.
“What’s with you honey? Something’s wrong”. Sophia’s syrupy, sweet, words flowed out and soothed any convictions that Luca might’ve once possessed.
Luca shook his head.
“Please tell me you’re not still thinking about the Jesus girl”.
“Sophia, there’s something different about Jesus. He’s different than any of the religious leaders. I mean what religious leader actually would ride on a donkey and get people to follow Him? Most of the religious rulers around here only tell others what to do without doing it. I’m sick of this hypocrisy!
“’Babe, Jesus is just a nice man doing good things. Don’t worry about him. You have better things to pay attention to”. Sophia put her arm on Luca’s armor and smiled seductively.
“Tonight, come to my house. I’ll be ready”. Sophia purred the words out as she batted her freshly mascaraed eyelashes. She quickly kissed his cheek and frolicked away.
Luca smiled. He was a lucky man.

 

Jesus had passed through the streets and the crowds had followed. It looked like he was headed toward the temple. It was time to follow to make sure everything remained under control.
Luca strode confidently ahead. His face remained stoic, showing no emotion.
Merchants of all ethnicities were selling their best at the temple square. The crowds that had just journeyed from the streets were eagerly buying in the temple. The merchants had certainly thought through this marketing scheme quite well.
Luca watched as Jesus calmly got off his donkey. He tied it to the nearest pole outside the temple square. But Luca saw his eyes. The eyes of Jesus were like a flame of fire. He was not pleased.
Jesus turned over the tables and knocked over the chairs of the those selling.
Luca covered his face to hide his smirk. This was too funny. Luca knew Jesus would mess up sooner or later.
“My house is to be called a house of prayer! You have made it a den of thieves”!
All money changing stopped. Not a sound was heard except the doves crying.
Everyone was stunned by the actions of Jesus.
Luca saw Anna kneel and start helping clean up. Luca slipped into the shadows, so he wouldn’t be seen. He had seen her face, how she watched and adored every move of Jesus. But Luca had also seen the look on Anna’s face when he had turned her away not long ago. Luca knew that his rejection of Anna hurt her deeply, though he refused to dwell on the fact. What was another woman’s heart?
Jesus stood firm until all the moneychangers had picked up their merchandise and left.
Then the blind and lame began coming to Jesus. Jesus healed each one. He looked them each in the eye and had a personal word with everyone regardless of the size of the concern. Luca marveled that someone could care for so many disgusting, dirty people.
The children were chasing each other around the temple as they waved their palm branches. They continued to cry “Hosanna, Hosanna”!
The religious leaders became annoyed and frustrated.
“I wish these children would simply shut up and go home. Do you hear what these children are saying”? The religious leaders said loudly so that Jesus would hear.
“Yes, I hear what they are saying! Haven’t you read the prophecies? Out of the mouth of infants the truth is proclaimed”.
The leaders were silent and shuffled over to Luca who was still cowering in the shadows.
“I want Him out immediately”. The tall, Pharisee whispered to Luca.
Luca nodded, and said nothing as the Pharisees stalked off.

 

Scripture passages taken from Matt. 21, Mark 11, and Ps. 8:2.

 

He is Faithful

 

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As I sat in the new building for Bedrock Community Church, I felt like crying. My heart was full.  I thought about the miracle of the prayed for seats that were filled to the right of me. My hand lightly touched the seat beside me. My heart wept softly at the silent seat beside me on my left.
Bedrock had gone through so much over the past ten years. They had not given up on being a God centered, gospel centered people. God blessed their faithfulness. I thought about different God dreams that had birthed in me while at Bedrock. I thought about people that had listened to the gospel while at Bedrock. My heart ached over the dreams that had died and at the seats that were absent by personal choice. God’s word does not return void. Looking around at the beautiful walls, sound system, and kitchen, you wouldn’t know the devastation that once lived there. Looking around at many of God’s people you wouldn’t know the struggles and heartache that they have endured to become the godly warriors they are today. God had rebuilt the ruins and repaired the broken. Oh, how like my own broken and wayward heart. Friend, God does repair. He heals, and He does restore. Allow the Lord to chisel away at your insecurities and carve away at your fears so you can be radiant for Him! Not every dream will come to pass, but we’re still called to walk in faith! Heb. 11:6. When you pour into a person in the name of Jesus it will not return void. Even if they turn away, God’s words did not turn void.      Isaiah 55:11. You keep being faithful!

Trust God. Trust Him. He is all sufficient. He is so faithful! Let Him repair the holes in your life. Let Him hold and restore your broken heart. The time of mourning is over. Let us rejoice and move forward! ❤
“And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations” Is. 61:4. ❤

When God Plucks Your Heartstrings

 

SAM_4433       I sighed as I slipped my violin back in its case. I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I would’ve liked. My notes were still squeaky and my fingers still clumsily trying to grasp the bow. I was defeated. My back, shoulders, and neck ached from violin posture. I wanted to give up like I had before.
I think that we are all like a violin. We’re beautifully handcrafted by our Creator. We are made in His image. (Gen. 1:26-27). He knows the ins and outs of our personality, the color of our eyes and the rhythm of our heartbeat. But to be used for God’s glory, we must surrender the bow. We must surrender control, allowing God to fine tune us into His masterpiece. We must relinquish our dreams for His amazing plans.
We must also show up. You will never be great at anything unless you show up. You will not have a dynamic, powerful walk with God unless you spend time in His word. You must show up. God is the one who works, but you must be willing.
So dear one, surrender your bow to the Creator of Music, the Creator of sound. Whatever you long to control, give it up to Him. Everyday show up and be ready for what God can do through you. God is ready to use us, but we must be willing. I think so many times we miss God’s opportunities because we were distracted and wouldn’t give up the bow.
Whatever you’re holding onto
Give it to Him.
Allow Him to fine tune you into a symphony for His glory. It will take time, trials, and tears but one day others will hear you, see you, and know that only Jesus the breather of music could produce something so wonderful from something that was once so broken.

Week Three: A Bend in the Road

 

SAM_4210                Drip, drip the rain cried along with Anna’s heartbreak. Anna was almost thankful that the sun refused to shine. It would be better if the sun never shone again. What was the use? Lovingly she placed each of her father’s robes and hats into a wooden crate. She would place it in the barn when she was done.
Anna sighed and sipped her Jerusalem Java with extra cream. She moved into the back corner where her father kept his sacred writings. She might as well pass them on to the younger priest downtown. She squatted down on the earthen floor and began to sort through pieces of Malachi and passages of Isaiah. Ironically, though her father hadn’t stopped talking about Jesus she hadn’t ever discovered Him for herself.
“Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end”…. Is. 9:7
She put her finger on the familiar Hebrew lettering. Was Jesus truly going to overtake the Romans as Luca had feared? She continued to find more copies. It looked like her father had hand copied each book of prophecy by hand. Everything her father had said from childhood was penned in the worn pages.
“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and aquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surley He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our inquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed” Is. 53:3-5.
Anna thumbed away at the tears that had edged out from her lashes. The words were all very puzzling. What could they mean? If only her father were still here. She longed to talk to him again and to ask forgiveness for the way she acted. As if by a miracle the pieces began to come together. This man that called Himself Jesus was in fact the Messiah that her father had been talking about for all these years.
“Yes”! She began to cry softly. Her father had always been telling the truth. Jesus was the Messiah. She wanted Him to be her Messiah. Her Savior and Lord. She felt so foolish for mocking her father.
“Lord, let me belong completely to You. I am Yours”.
She was still Anna, but she felt like a new person. Oh, how she ached to hug her father. Luca, she must see him. It had been a week since the funeral and she hadn’t seen Luca. She ached for him with an overwhelming intensity. She brushed off her dress as she wobbled to get up off the earthen floor. She must tell Luca that Jesus was the Messiah! He was exactly who He said. Luca didn’t need to worry!

She sprinted down the streets of Jerusalem looking for Luca. Thankfully, the rain had stopped though the clouds still billowed. Where was he? As she was searching frantically for Luca she saw Jesus. Her heart quickened when she saw Him. There was a group of ordinary men gathered around Him, listening intently.
“Soon, I will be taken away to die, but do not be troubled because in three days I will rise again”.
Anna quickly hurried on before she heard what the men had to say. It was troubling. Why would Jesus die? She continued looking around for Luca. Her feet sloshed in the mud. She was in too much of a hurry to wipe away the mud off her dress. She had to see Luca. She had to tell him about Jesus!
Finally, she saw Luca. Oh, how joyous! He steps quickened closer to him. Luca didn’t see her coming. His back was turned, and he was speaking to someone else. She blushed and hurriedly began wiping away the stains that refused to come out.
“Luca, I’ve been looking everywhere for you”! She was sorely tempted to give him a squeeze but thought better of it.
After her words spilled forward she saw Sofia and her heart sank. She was the beautiful girl that exceled in everything that Anna didn’t. Her long red hair fell gracefully around her shoulders and Anna quickly wanted to hide her brown hair that didn’t glisten. What business could Luca have with her? Anna thought she trusted Luca….
Luca’s face looked pained. Sofia smiled and sashayed away.
“Luca, I’ve been looking everywhere for you. It’s so good to see you”. She tried to keep her voice light and cheery to mask the uncertainties that lay there.
“Anna, we need to talk”. His voice was heavy and troubled.
“Tonight, by the Olive tree”?
“No, Anna, now”.
“What is it?”
“We are not going to work. I’m in love with Sofia”.
Anna was stunned. He hadn’t even offered condolences for her father.
“What happened”.
“Anna, I do not wish to discuss it. You’re to Jewish and to deeply committed to your faith. I admire you for it, but I cannot support anything that has to do with worshipping a man that dares to call himself the Messiah”.
Anna felt like falling over. Her speech about telling Luca that Jesus was the Messiah were lost.
All she could utter was a meek, “I’m sorry”.
Without a word of apology, Luca walked away, his armor glistening in the sunlight, a perfect contrast to Anna’s aching heart.
Anna had to get away. She hurriedly walked away, hoping that the tears would wait to flow.
She saw Jesus sitting on a rock talking with the children. Anna smiled. Most of the leaders scoffed at the children calling them a nuisance, but Jesus took time for them.
“You must enter the kingdom of God like a child”, Jesus spoke.
Anna wanted to be with Jesus. She wanted to sit at His feet. Jesus smiled at her and handed her one of the little ones. Jesus was bouncing little Moses on his knee. Three-year-old Moses was laughing and playing with Jesus’s beard. Anna would’ve thought that would’ve upset Jesus, but he seemed to be at peace.
“You’re Anna”.
It was a statement, not a question.
“Yes, Jesus. Yes”.
He smiled.
“I’m sorry to say but I used to doubt You. But I was reading my father’s prophecies and then I knew. You are the Messiah. You are the Son of God”. Anna was weeping softly.
Jesus gently squeezed her hand and said softly, “Yes, Anna”.
Anna knew that Jesus understood and that He loved her. ❤