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Tag Archives: spiritual reflection

Hope in the Harbor

My husband and I love to visit areas where ships clutter coastlines and the waters disappear into the horizon.  I am drawn to water, no matter the depth or type of coastline it is.  I love rivers, oceans, lakes, ponds, and creeks.  I’m the type of person that can’t just look at a body of water and enjoy the scenery.  I have to dip at least a toe or finger in it, even if it’s freezing cold.  But, if it’s warm or the chill isn’t unbearable, I have plunge into the water, even if I’m not properly clothed for it.  I’ve always been this way, my parents can attest to it from stories of me as a toddler, escaping their attention and jumping into a pool of water, clothes and all.   With that said, my husband loves ships, boats, and lighthouses.  He prefers to float on the water in a vessel or at least admire it from the shore.

I wonder if I’m just anxious for a vacation or if God’s trying to show me something today.  I think it’s a little of both.   This morning, I was praying and not really going anywhere with it.  I have so much on my mind right now and a lot of emotions and thoughts swirling around my head, so this blog post could cause a little seasickness to the reader.  Disclaimers are necessary in the world today!  Anyway, I was loading laundry into the washer, when I just felt like God spoke one word to me, that word was harbor.  I felt like he wanted me to explore that word, so I did.  It lead me to first look up the definition of the word, although I know the definition, but investigating it and chewing on it often leads to other thoughts.  There is a noun definition and a verb definition.  The noun definition is a place on the coast where vessels may find shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures.  It is also a place to seek refuge.  So, thinking of harbors, I immediately think of mine and my husband’s love for them.  But, being a believer, I also think of God and Him being the place that I find shelter during the storms.  He is my refuge in all the emotional thoughts and feelings that I am having at this moment.  I think of sailors who are at sea and a storm comes upon them, they have to act quickly, but their thoughts are immediately on seeking out the horizon, trying to locate a place to dock their vessel, searching for safety.  The depths of the seas surround them; waves crash over the boats, the storms probably feel like they aren’t ever going to end.  I wonder how hopeless they feel when they see the strength of the ocean and understand they aren’t in control.  Then, how do they feel when they spot land, a lighthouse, a harbor with hope inviting them in?  I’m sure they feel relieved, glad, and thankful.  I think of myself and certain times in my life when I’m trying to ride the storms out without seeking direction or looking for refuge.  When I do that, I may feel in control for a little while, but then the severity of the storm hits me and I get scared and realize that I need a refuge, a savior, a harborharbor on the horizon.  With all that being said, I feel like God is just saying that I need to dock my vessel.  I need to tie up to His dock, rest, refuel, and await instructions for the next step.

However, there is also a verb definition for the word, harbor, in two forms as well.  The first is to keep (a thought or feeling, typically a negative one) in one’s mind, especially secretly or to have in mind a thought or feeling, usually over a long period of time.  With this definition, I start thinking, what am I harboring in my mind?  What bad thoughts are keeping me weighed down?  Is this why I feel like I’m drowning sometimes?   Is it worry, anger, doubt, self-pity, aggravation, or maybe a molotav cocktail of them all? Whatever it is, I know it’s not healthy for my soul.  The other verb definition is to protect someone by providing a place to hide.  This points to God again; he protects me and gives me a place to hide.  The scripture that I immediately think of when I think of this definition is Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”   In this, I know I have to give all my thoughts, feelings, and hurts that I’m harboring to God.  He will cover them and I’ll find refuge there.

The next passage that I was led to was Psalm 107.  I love this and have highlighted the theme of this blog today, but the whole passage is spiritually filling, I hope that it feeds you as well.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

    His faithful love endures forever.

2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

    Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.

3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,

    from east and west,

    from north and south.[a]

4 Some wandered in the wilderness,

    lost and homeless.

5 Hungry and thirsty,

    they nearly died.

6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he rescued them from their distress.

7 He led them straight to safety,

    to a city where they could live.

8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

9 For he satisfies the thirsty

    and fills the hungry with good things.

 

10 Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom,

    imprisoned in iron chains of misery.

11 They rebelled against the words of God,

    scorning the counsel of the Most High.

12 That is why he broke them with hard labor;

    they fell, and no one was there to help them.

13 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

14 He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom;

    he snapped their chains.

15 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

16 For he broke down their prison gates of bronze;

    he cut apart their bars of iron.

 

17 Some were fools; they rebelled

    and suffered for their sins.

18 They couldn’t stand the thought of food,

    and they were knocking on death’s door.

19 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

20 He sent out his word and healed them,

    snatching them from the door of death.

21 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving

    and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.

 

23 Some went off to sea in ships,

    plying the trade routes of the world.

24 They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action,

    his impressive works on the deepest seas.

25 He spoke, and the winds rose,

    stirring up the waves.

26 Their ships were tossed to the heavens

    and plunged again to the depths;

    the sailors cringed in terror.

27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards

    and were at their wits’ end.

28 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,

    and he saved them from their distress.

29 He calmed the storm to a whisper

    and stilled the waves.

30 What a blessing was that stillness

    as he brought them safely into harbor!

31 Let them praise the Lord for his great love

    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

32 Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation

    and before the leaders of the nation.

 

33 He changes rivers into deserts,

    and springs of water into dry, thirsty land.

34 He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands,

    because of the wickedness of those who live there.

35 But he also turns deserts into pools of water,

    the dry land into springs of water.

36 He brings the hungry to settle there

    and to build their cities.

37 They sow their fields, plant their vineyards,

    and harvest their bumper crops.

38 How he blesses them!

    They raise large families there,

    and their herds of livestock increase.

 

39 When they decrease in number and become impoverished

    through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

40 the Lord pours contempt on their princes,

    causing them to wander in trackless wastelands.

41 But he rescues the poor from trouble

    and increases their families like flocks of sheep.

42 The godly will see these things and be glad,

    while the wicked are struck silent.

43 Those who are wise will take all this to heart;

    they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.

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Leftover Thoughts after Vacation

Genesis

When I explore new places, I see so much beauty in the Earth that God created.  When I am still and submerge myself in these natural surroundings, I cannot help but be in awe of the subtle differences in landscapes and waterways.  I have always found peace in quieting myself and wondering about our creative Father ever since I was a child and ventured into the woods or the farm I lived by.  This world is beautiful underneath all the ugliness that man has created by his own fleshly nature.  My quiet place is anywhere that I can be still and notice the clear brooks, green hills, or feel the soil between my toes…..soil.  Just thinking of that alone, the gritty odor of soil and the way that it shifts and molds under my feet, whether it’s sand, clay, or peat.   The feeling of coolness from shaded soil or the hot sand that you quickly walk on that is exposed by the blazing sun.  How God took something filthy and created humans to have relationships with.  Yes, by our very nature we are dirty, yet God sees each of us sprouting, growing, and blooming to the potential He created us with individually.  Distinctive differences on numerous levels, each with different markings, characteristics and traits, yet similar enough to know that our origin is dirt.  Only God can take something so grimy and shape it into something pleasing and necessary to its environment.

Revelation

When I sit on the ground, whether it’s a mountaintop overlooking a valley or on a beach with my feet in the sand, I want to remain there forever.  My soul is quiet and I feel God’s presence around me.  Remain….that’s a word that I don’t think of often, but to remain means several things, look it up in the dictionary and think about each meaning. Synonyms of remain are abide, stay, wait, tarry, rest, or endure.  That word also makes me think of this scripture “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:4.  My filthy self, needs to remain in Christ if I want to be productive and fruitful….if I want to live to the fullest potential of what I was created for.  I can’t do that on my own, severed from Christ.  I’ve tried before and it doesn’t work, I wither and become dry dust without Christ. Ashes to ashes, we all fall down.    abide

I wonder, as I view turquoise skies, emerald seas, and chocolate mountains, how much greater the eternal kingdom will be with a remaining known presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I used to be scared of thinking about life outside of this world, but when you remain in Him, it’s a paradise we cannot truly fathom.  It has to be a stillness we’ve never even come close to feeling even on our highest moments on Earth.  A place where time doesn’t matter, harmonies float in the air like the wind, and worries are non-existent.  Paradise….if I remember the vine and stay attached to it.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Recognizing Him

salmonbread

Do we recognize Jesus in our day to day walk through life?  I know that I usually don’t.  I’ve really been reflecting on that thought for the past week in reading about Jesus’ resurrection and those he encountered after he arose.  He met the men on the road to Emmaus and asked them what they were talking about.  They couldn’t believe that he hadn’t heard what happened to Jesus.  They suspected that he was new in town.  I think Jesus enjoyed being a little rascally in this situation.  He asks them what things happened.  They tell about Jesus being a prophet and being crucified three days ago.  They tell him the rumors they heard about the tomb being empty.  Jesus shares with them the scriptures and what the prophets had said in the Old Testament.  They listen to Jesus share and begin to approach the village.  Jesus continues on ahead like he’s going past the village and the men immediately invite him to stay with them because it’s getting late.  Jesus accepts their invitation. When it was time to eat, Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks the bread and hands it to the men.  The men suddenly have an aha moment and then Jesus disappears.  Can you imagine, not recognizing Jesus for that length of time and then when you finally do, He’s gone?  But, they can’t keep this discovery to themselves.  They return back to Jerusalem immediately to find the eleven disciples that were gathered together to tell who they saw.

The disciples are discussing the possibility of Jesus being alive when suddenly he shows up.  They are startled, but Jesus tries to calm them down and says, “I’m real, touch my scars.  Does a ghost have flesh and bones as I do?”  After they see that he is real, he asks them for food.  They give him some fish and he ate it in front of them.  He then explains to them how He fulfilled the scriptures through his death and resurrection.  Their minds are opened and they begin to understand.  He tells them that they are his witnesses and they will spread the good news when the time arrives.  He speaks of a helper that would give them power and that they would have to wait on that before they could spread the gospel.

The last passage I looked at was when the disciples are fishing in John 21.  They aren’t catching anything; their day isn’t going so well.  Someone from the shore gives them advice to cast their net on the other side, they follow his advice and they caught more than they could haul. Suddenly, one of the disciples realizes who it is and tells Peter, “It’s our Lord!” Peter gets excited and jumps off the boat, swims toward the shore and to Jesus.  The other disciples bring the boat to shore and go to Jesus.  Jesus is cooking fish and bread for them.  He tells them to bring some of the fresh meat they just caught to add to the breakfast.  After they eat, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him more than the others.  Peter says, “Yes, you know that I do.”  Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”  And then asks again, “Do you really love me?”    Peter says, “Yes, I do, you know I do.”  Jesus replies “Take care of my sheep.”  Jesus asks a third time, “Do you love me?”  Peter’s feelings are a little hurt from the repetitive questioning, he says “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!” Jesus tells him again to feed his sheep and to follow him.

So, the few things that I noticed that were constant in each of these passages are that Jesus wasn’t recognized immediately.  The men traveling alongside him didn’t realize who he was until he broke bread with them.  It was in that intimate setting where they wound down after a day of traveling that they realized who he was.  I find myself realizing that I’ve had instances in my life where Jesus has walked alongside me on some long roads where I didn’t recognize Him until after that journey was over.  The disciples that were gathered together didn’t understand how it could be Jesus there with them.  They saw him crucified, they saw him die and yet he appeared to them.  They were afraid, but Jesus explained to them why it happened and they had their aha moment with scripture coming alive to them.  There are times in my life when I don’t recognize Jesus. I question him and doubt, but then I find him revealed once again to me in scripture.  Lastly the disciples were working; they were busy and didn’t recognize Jesus at the shoreline.  They were frustrated with the way their day was going, not catching any fish.  They heard advice from the shore and listened to it, not realizing who was saying it until they obeyed.  Suddenly their bad day changed and they caught a ton of fish and they recognized the source…..Jesus.  I can absolutely attest to this happening a lot in my life.  I have days where I’m frustrated at work because nothing is coming in, I’m grumpy, I’m worried, but then I’ll hear a voice that either instructs or reminds me that He’s there with me.  The tide changes, something comes in and I’m reminded that Jesus will supply my need.

The next thing that ties all three of these passages together is food.  With the travelers, Jesus is invited for dinner.  When he shows up to the disciples, he asks for food and when he’s on the shore, he cooks and serves food to the disciples.  I love to eat and I’m glad Jesus does too!  We need food to live, to sustain us, to fill us up.  Jesus is the bread of life.  Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6: 32-35.  I need Jesus to truly life to the fullest, he sustains me and he fills me up, he satisfies me better than a snickers bar! And, I love snickers!  But, Jesus is truly the only one who can satisfy this hunger within me.

The last theme in these passages is to share who Jesus is with others.  The travelers immediately went to tell the other disciples when they figured out they had spent the day with Jesus.  The disciples were told that they were Jesus witnesses and that they were to tell others about Him once the Holy Spirit gave them power to do so.  The disciples, especially Peter were asked to feed His sheep.  We are supposed to share Jesus with others.  I honestly don’t do it enough. So, that makes me question myself….do I really love him?  Am I more concerned with what others think, whether I will offend them, instead of being concerned about where they are spiritually?  Yes, often times I am.  Other times, I know that I allow myself to be so busy with life that others I pass are just a blur to me.  I have recognized that I miss Jesus a lot and so I am reminded to look for Him, to spend time with Him, to be directed by him and to share him with others around me.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2018 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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