Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Tag: God with us

With Unveiled Faces

I’ve always been taken with this one phrase from scripture…

“… with unveiled faces.”

It comes from a couple of verses in 2 Corinthians 3, verses 17 and 18 and they always sounded so uplifting that during one of my heavier bouts with my Dysthymic Disorder years ago, I taped it to my journal at the time and it became a kind of lifeline for me.

It spoke of freedom, which anyone who lives with depression can tell you is the ultimate goal, and transformation via the Spirit, the Great Comforter, which is also something we cling to as we battle the ups and downs of mood disorders, and I always took solace in the passage on that very specific level.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s Glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory also, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

So for a great while, it was a lifeline during dark days and even darker nights.

And for the longest time, unveiled faces was a phrase that gave me hope.

Continue reading

When He Becomes Every Good Thing

I’m sitting here surrounded by tissue and elderberry cold extract, and sneezing, and coughing and sounding like my voice has dropped seventeen octaves.

Shoot me now.

But then I watch as my husband makes supper, from my perch in my comfy chair, of his own volition after a long day working in the bowels of an old and complicated yacht, and I see the blessing that resides next to my germy Kleenex mountain.

Pots are simmering, the oven is humming, dishes are clanking.

There’s a goodness to it. My virus-submerged head acknowledges it.

God’s blessing filling the places where despair tries to settle.

I choose in that moment to say, “Lord, you are good.”

Earlier I was tucked into bed, letting my body do nothing else but fight off this doozy of a lurking head cold. Stuck under blankets, unable to get up and greet the day, I feebly lifted my phone and noticed a dozen notifications awaiting me.

They were friends from a writing/blogging group I participate in, sending me a barrage of prayer and warm thoughts and scripture, worrying about me, and encouraging me to feel better soon.

And we’ve never met face to face, and they didn’t have to say a thing, but those messages felt like this very real blessing where exhaustion and defeat were sneaking up on me a moment before.

And I stopped to sneeze, then closed my eyes and chose in that same moment to say, “Lord, you’re so gracious.”

Later on the couch, my dog laying across my feet snoring, not leaving my side all day, sensing I wasn’t myself, all lights except the Christmas ones off, (yes, I will keep my lights up through the chill and darkness of January when most folks have long taken them down) I doodle in my journal next to my son, and he chats about history of war, this class he never thought he’d enjoy in school and is, and I take a soul-snapshot of the blessings happening right there in the room.

And I silently lift a, “Lord, you are this sure foundation, right here.”

And maybe it’s the elderberry extract, or maybe I’m just a baby when I’m sick, but it occurs to me that once again today might just be a lesson in peace. In faithfulness. In happiness not being a reaction to the good, but a substance that endures through the dross and delights of life.

Happiness lurks in the very ordinary sometimes. There in the daily stuff we all take for granted is the thread, the tracing of His Hand in the hum.

He is the author of every good thing. He IS every good thing there is to be had. Durable and accessible.

The question then becomes;
Has He already become your Every Good Thing?

I sit with my honey lemon tea and my husband’s thickest socks and decide that if I’m stuck at home with this illness, then I might as well avail myself of some time to tuck into all the evidence of His presence, of His faithfulness, of His goodness. I have nowhere to go, but into His courts, and soak in the grace, and healing, and relationship that I sometimes place on the back burner because I’m too well and too busy most times to remember that He’s been waiting to be what propels our day, or carve our path.

Head colds lurk, family issues arise, heavy choices pop up, chaos, drama, and complicated situations will abound at various times. But we have a Strong Tower to run to, a Provider who aches to provide, and a Friend who sticks closer than any other.

I guess I say all of this to urge you to take a look around. Look for the trace of His Hand where ever you are right now. Threads of His provision. Glances of His graciousness extended to you right there.

Acknowledge it. Give thanks for it. Rely on it. Treasure it.

Finally, I curl up with my blanket and think of all the times I thought I had to go searching for Him and hunt Him down because the situation I was in was less than ideal, so God must be elsewhere.

And instead, He chose to be right there, already in the middle of it, and I missed every sign of Him despite my anxiousness to locate Him.

That’s just so like us, isn’t it?

But not today. Today we look closely and shift our perspective.

Today He becomes our Every Good Thing.

Resetting That Inner Compass

I’ve been doing it again.

It hasn’t been the first time, and I know it won’t be the last.

I’ve been depending on my surroundings, and the people and things within those surroundings, to help me get by.

And ignoring my inner compass.

Feeling low, feeling inexplicably tired and defeated, feeling sleepless and hard done by for no other reason than my chronic depression creeping up on me sometimes, and other times just letting stress overwhelm, I’ve been trying to get myself out of the fog and into better health, spiritual, mental, and physical.

And going in that direction, toward better health IS good… but I’ve been using a broken compass to get there.

Ever try to use a compass to calculate a much-needed direction, when it’s obvious it’s stopped pointing North?

When it’s not really North, nothing else is right either. And it could take you forever to wind up in the direction you should be heading in. Walking in vicious circles. Winding up exhausted and depleted.

The same goes for what I call our inner compass.

Everyone has something that dictates what North is for them. For some it’s money. For some it’s importance. For some it’s the urge to be needed. For me, it’s faith. My faith gets me to a place where no matter what, when my inner compass needle points to the Father, I know how to get myself back on track. Back on the path I need to be taking, so I don’t wind up where I shouldn’t, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Regardless of what it is, I don’t have to tell you how easy it is to become overwhelmed and distracted. How sometimes you want an easier path, a more comfortable path, a prettier path to take. So we discard all things pointing North, and begin to resemble the Israelites, wandering in the desert for 40 years, confused and refusing to acknowledge that only He is the way, the right way, to get to our destination happy and whole and victorious.

This morning I needed to make sure I reset that compass. My faith needed to rest on Him. My faith needed to point North. The true North. The only way to survive the elements of the coming week. The only way to get back onto the path that pointed in the proper direction.

Here are three ways we can reset our inner compass and get back on the right track:

1. Be vigilant about what you allow near your inner compass.
Just like a real compass can give you an inaccurate reading depending on where your compass rests, near other far more magnetic materials and elements, the same goes for your spiritual compass. We have to ask ourselves, “what am I basing my sense of direction on, today?” It can be feelings of self-worth, on past failures, on how we feel, on how much work we have, on what we’re carrying around on our shoulders. It can be based on things that temporarily disguised pain. But we need to make sure we keep our spiritual compass away from all those things that influence it wrongly.

In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” in Proverbs 3:6 makes no bones about it. Base your inner compass on the King of Kings, and He won’t steer you wrong.

2. Get used to using it all the time.
It sounds simple but sometimes we think we know the terrain well enough on our own. Sometimes we forget to check the compass. Sometimes it’s a pride thing. Sometimes we’re just so excited that things look familiar enough that we rush on ahead.

It’s one thing when there’s a very clear path outlined, getting us from point A to point B, but that’s rarely the case. The spiritual places worth getting to are trickier to navigate. The path is much narrower. It requires you to be careful. Requires real effort. All things that are worth it always require work. This week I choose to refer to my spiritual compass. To refer to His leading and direction. To listen for His voice in the wilderness. To be on the lookout for His footprints that have gone before. To trust it when He says, “North is that way…” And to do that at every twist and turn of the journey.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day long.” This verse, Psalm 25:4,5 is my compass verse for the rest of the week. I won’t head in any direction without Him. I will reset my inner compass to rely on Him.

3. Trust that valleys won’t last forever.
So you reset your spiritual compass. So you kept using it. He has been your North. Nothing has influenced His magnetic pull. And yet, you’re spending your week hiking through some of the most frustrating valleys and they seem endless. Where did the line of sight go? What happened to clear open fields and the high of the mountain top? Why is your path including impossible boulders and downed trees and deep valley shadows?

There is nothing that can separate you from the love of the Father. Try to trust that. He knows exactly where you are. He knows the clearing is around the next bend. He knows what you’re capable of, and that you won’t drop the compass. And all the while, He supplies everything you’ll need while you navigate it. Need nourishment. He’s called the Bread of Life. Need your thirst quenched? He’s the Living Water that never runs dry. Need rest? Trade your bags for His easy mantle, His lighter yoke. And let Him carry you.

I’ll help the blind walk, even on a road they do not know; I’ll guide them in directions they do not know. I’ll turn the dark places into light in front of them, and the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I won’t abandon them.” Wow. Isaiah 42:16 is an amazing promise. Valleys and hard journeys may come, but we can walk in that promise that He knows exactly when to supply. And that He has never forgotten us.

Those three things can be the difference between a good journey this week, or a bad one. We can stop fending for ourselves, and start relying on Him for the best and most accurate destination.

Or we can wander around, relying on our own (albeit limited and misguided) steam, in the barren desert.

I believe today is the day for resetting that inner compass.

Don’t you?

 

© 2019 Christine Duncan

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: