Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Tag: hard circumstances

The Weak Seasons

We all face weak seasons... but it's out opportunity to let God reveal Himself fully while we rest.

The autumn season here in Ontario, Canada, has been a great contrast to our summer so far.

Maybe it’s the Scottish blood in me but the cool, wet summer and now the warm, dry fall is perfection for me, and I will gladly let the trend continue.

As far as weather goes, with our almost non-existent winter last year, this has been a banner year for someone like me.

But if I look at it closely through eyes searching for more?

It’s been a rough and extended season of wondering what could possibly go wrong next. A season of worry. A season of weakness.

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The Life Repaired

What comes to mind when you hear the words “the life repaired”?

The kicking of an addiction? The landing of a job? Someone being given a second chance? Someone being rescued, fixed up, lifted out of troubling circumstances?

I was reading in the New Testament what is perhaps my favorite Jesus encounter out of all the Gospels. A pressing crowd, people following Jesus through the streets for various reasons. But one in the crowd is desperate for repair. Repair of both health, AND of an emotional nature. She has had men try to heal her from her issue of blood for over a decade without success. Who knows what manner of crude treatments they had experimented on her with. And her illness is such that without a cure, she cannot be allowed to be a proper part of society. That she cannot even just approach the Teacher personally. So she uses the cover of the crowd to hide in. She has heard things about this man.

He is her only hope for a repaired life. A restored life. A redemptive life.

So she hides in the crowd. A bold move at that. If she was recognized, there would be consequences. She was considered completely unclean.

Untouchable. An outcast.

And though she has heard of the Miracle Man, the compassionate Teacher, did she wrestle at all with whether He would even respond to her desperation? Would He have any time for someone so broken? In such a crowd all calling for His attention, what would she matter to Him? So she trails behind him.

Don’t we ask ourselves the same thing? We look at our own reputations, we size up our own shortcomings, we think about our own impossible requests.

And we’ve been so unsuccessful with our circumstances, that we’re more used to shame than hope.

And instead of going boldly before Him, we simply hedge a little closer, we hide in the crowd, we try to blend in and not call attention to ourselves, all while hoping to reap the benefits of His Presence.

Regardless of all of that, here’s why I love this Jesus encounter best.

She knew without a doubt, that despite all of that, she wanted a life repaired. And that just laying a fingertip of the hem of his coat would be enough to give her back her hope.

And a hand outstretched in hope towards the Life Preserver, is a life forever restored.

So she touches his garment for just a moment while the masses vie for His attention, all of them selfish for His gaze and His words and His smile and His laugh, yet she trails behind, drinking in new hope, drinking in His Presence in a faith way unlike the rest.

Just a fingertip-faith. But it’s enough.

And He stops.

If ever we need proof that we do not go unnoticed in the crush of a noisy, chaotic, crowded world, it’s here.

Everyone was pressing in. Everyone was touching Him. Everyone was jostling, demanding, calling, reaching, pushing. But the reach of the desperate. The reach of a faith certain enough that it was now or never. He cannot help himself. When His beloved reach an urgent, sincere hand towards Him, He stops to complete the encounter, to make it His personal mission to hear our cries. To respond to our faith, no matter what that faith in action looks like. Every time.

To repair what needs repairing.

In the passage in Mark chapter 5, with that one brushing of her fingertip, she felt sickness, desperation, hopelessness, helplessness, and abuse leave her body, and completeness, wholeness, and new life flood her from head to toe.

But as I read the passage, her repair is not complete until she has a personal encounter with the Saviour. He makes a point of asking who touched Him. He seeks her out. And a woman who hasn’t been able to look anyone in the eye for 12 years, hasn’t been able to stray far from her home, hasn’t been able to experience community and relationship, nor any of the things a normal woman gets to experience, her first human connection in over a decade gets to be with the One who grants her very wholeness. Who doesn’t just heal her, but in front of the bustle and the followers, calls her Daughter. Restoring EVERYTHING to her, with words of utter compassion and understanding. Who won’t just heal her there, but will later see her face in the billions of faces before Him while He hangs on a cross.

The ultimate repair. Available for us all.

The same power she felt run through her veins was just a small taste of the power about to provide the ultimate healing. The power about to defy the grave.

This is available to us. Your battle with depression. Your grief. Your cancer fight. Your impossible situations. Your desperation. Press in with your faith, such as it is, and hear Him call you Daughter, hear Him call you Son, and the title of belonging means life in His Presence becomes, not just repaired, but new.

It is a promise of potent provision!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

I thrill every time I read about this singular encounter. So much restored. So much repaired. So much extended. So much love and healing. And we don’t see words spoken rehashing her illness, or words spoken about her past. He speaks of her faith. He addresses her courage. That she belonged the whole time.

We don’t know if she ever saw Him again. We don’t know what she did with the life He gave back to her. But, I know if an encounter with the Saviour on my knees, from my simple livingroom while I pray, can be life-changing, then how much more epic would a face to face encounter have been?

I have no doubt hers was a life repaired.

I have no doubt yours can be the same.

And far more important that your physical circumstances altered, is your spiritual circumstances changed. Your heart repurposed. Your soul re-ignited. Your mind renewed.

My prayer for you is that you have an encounter today with the only One who can repair what has been ripped apart. Taken from you. Broken up.

That you accept the healing and the life He can offer in it’s stead.

Time to press in, to use your ‘now or never’ faith, and receive a life repaired beyond anything you ever hoped for.

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Thanks for reading! Have a tremendous day, and if you’d love more great blogs of encouragement and truth, I hope to see you at:

What’s your ocean today?

You know what I mean. That thing that swamps you. That floods and overwhelms. That rages and storms and turns suddenly, deceptively, calm. That lulls you into thinking you can navigate the waters all on your own, then creates swells so high that your day is capsized and you can’t remember the last time you didn’t have that sinking feeling.

What’s your ocean?

Mine isn’t necessarily one thing, much like many of us, but if you’ve been keeping up with us here at P&LP you know that my major tidal waves come from Dysthymia, more commonly known as chronic Depression. It wreaks havoc without much warning, it affects my moods and senses in a rather large and inclusive way, and it rolls out again before you can say, “Bob’s yer Uncle.”

This leaves me treading water and doggy paddling around in my routines, exhausted and afraid to wander too far from life’s shore, let me tell you. What if a tempest of stress scatters my focus? What if the next billows drown my ability to complete tasks and function normally? What if the tides shift and I spiral into a pool of despair?

You know, a good seaman doesn’t spend all his time counting off “what ifs”. He spends his time understanding the waters and the elements. And knowing that even when prepared to the hilt, if the weather decides to become chaotic,  he needs an anchor that will keep him from drifting into the rocks, and he needs a life-preserver.

The ultimate assurance for something out of his control.

Can I tell you what faith is? Faith is going moment to moment in the middle of the crashing waves of exhaustion, doubt, anxiety, and frustration, and STILL deciding that the Life Preserver and the Steadfast Anchor will hold, and is ENOUGH to hold on to. And deciding to never let go. Even when you can no longer see the shore.

To remain sure. That He alone is anchor enough.

In the middle of your cancer battle.

In the middle of the job loss.

In the middle of that smear campaign they’re throwing at you.

In the middle of that marital dispute and custody battle.

In the middle of dire and threatening events.

In the very middle of betrayal.

In the middle of your dream being shut down, or that door being closed, or that miracle never happening.

In the middle of that wrenching, soul battering, heartbreak.

I’d never pat you on the arm and tell you it’s okay. It’s not. Hurts and pains and disappointments are hard stuff. It’s a flippant kind of faith if words are spoken hastily over your ocean tides that wear you down each day.

But the hard-won faith, the one that’s weathered its fair share of storms, now enables me to tell you that something bigger than the biggest ocean will hold you steady if you’ll just cling to Him. I can sound like a broken record about this, but I choose to keep professing His faithfulness that holds in any torrent.

He alone is anchor enough. The ever-present help in our choppy trials. Ever heard of a sailor deciding the anchor took up too much room and required too much effort and set sail with it sitting behind in a boat shed? Nope. If one such sailor existed, he didn’t exist for very long.

I got a new album a week ago, and I need to share this powerful song with you by the musical legend that is Michael W. Smith, called You Won’t Let Go. And the scriptural truth that “nothing can separate us” from the Rock of our Salvation beats its own truth-filled rhythm that drowns out the crashing of any wave. Every time.

Waves are always gonna crash. There will be no perfect calm until eternity. But the truth of even the smallest faith can overpower the sound of the temporary pounding of the most difficult seas.

Really listen to the words? The promise laying there for you?

If you get this album the whole thing is incredible. But this song? crank the volume and let it WASH over your tempest-tossed soul. And it will.

Grab hold of the Anchor. Let Him take the strain. Let Him prove His promises.

Calmer seas will eventually prevail. And until then….

Don’t let go.

Peace and Quiet Craving

Ever come to a moment when you just crave quiet?

Where the phone stops notifying you of another message, where your boss stops sending memos, where the neighbours stop partying before 3 am.

Ever notice how things give off noise even when they’re silent?

That pile of laundry and toys still sitting at the bottom of the stairs screams at you, reminding you how you’re not good enough.

That pile of unopened mail that keeps growing reminding you how you need to get your act together.

That project sitting in the corner for months, crying out to be completed, and reminding you all the while of how ill-equipped you really are.

And your heart, your head, your soul, simply crave for some quiet.

Or perhaps what we really need is PEACE and quiet.

The noise pollution of the day is one thing. The noise pollution of the heart is another. Either way, we all have days where if it doesn’t stop, we don’t know if we’ll last to see tomorrow.

Peace is something we have to be ready for. We have to desire it in every aspect of our lives. Quiet is a quick emotional and physical remedy. But peace permeates every layer of your life physically AND spiritually.

And sometimes I think we get our craving for one mixed up with the other. And then wonder why we never really were able to reap any real contentment. It’s why the benefits we find become short-lived.

Is it simply quiet you crave today? Or do you need peace to flood your day?

There’s a contemporary Canadian photographer whose work fascinates me, his name is Edward Burtynsky. In his documentary called Manufactured Landscapes, it starts off with an 9 minute long intro where the camera pans the entire length of a Japanese factory for the entire 9 minutes. Because that’s how long it takes to get from one end to the other in a cart with the camera. The factory is easily ten football fields long.

You pass by workers quietly and methodically working assembly lines. No one talking. No one barely looking up at the camera. And once you get past the machines running, and the products getting assembled and packed, you realize that for a factory, it’s actually quiet, and meanwhile this smooth manufactured dance is non-stop.

A minute from the end, a bell rings. You watch as everything comes to a complete halt. Machines stop humming and buzzing their soft chorus.  And as one, the workers all file out of the building for their short break, chatting and tidying workstations. And the camera, continuing to travel down the floor, comes to the end of the shot and rests on an empty, totally quiet, cavernous factory… except for a lone individual.

Asleep. Over his work station.

That’s peace.

So tired of the quiet restless hum of life, that you pass out where ever you are, and become completely still. Unaffected by your surroundings.

How many times have we settled for quiet, when we need peace in order to keep going?

I’m learning with my chronic depression, that sometimes the only thing that soothes my disjointed, agitated mind and emotions (a very common symptom of dysthymia) is peace, not just quiet. And the only source that seems to provide a peace that can out-weight my restless self, is the Father.

And a restless heart is not just reserved for someone with a mood disorder. We’ve all needed the internal hum and noise to cease at some point. So that we can think straight. So that we can be productive. So that we can be complete for others around us. We’re in a day right now that seems to have been drained of any and all real peace. Right around the world and back again.

My days need refined with peace. I lean over that love letter from the Life Preserver and I dig out the golden truths containing peace. And I breathe them in. And I inhale a holy refreshing. And I feel the Peace Speaker cast a blanket of assurance, and promise, and refuge.

Isaiah 26:3

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Oh, isn’t that all we really need. To keep our minds, our thoughts, our reasonings, SET on Him. And we don’t just get peace. We get PERFECT peace. Our natural reaction should then be to continuously lean into Him more. Incline our minds, hearts, and spirits to the One who speaks all things into existence perfectly.

But we still confuse peace with quiet. And we settle. We assume we have the drill down pat. But it can’t be enough. And our world is a very good example of that right now.

And our spiritual world? When I take my spiritual eyes off the One who supplies peace, I’m really saying I don’t trust Him to meet my need for peace. When my focus leaves His side, and I start focusing on the things around me to the point of needing absolute control, assurances go out the window. And all it takes is one small crack in our exterior, and suddenly inside and out we war with life once again. And war brings too many victims with it.

When I tire of being a victim of my circumstances, I remember that somewhere along the line, I did not stay my mind on the assurance Giver. We were designed to walk hand in hand with Him. We trust, we endure, we surrender and in turn, remarkable provisions of assurance consume the noise and the chaos and the pain.

A God who created you for absolute intimacy, absolute inclination towards His Great Mercy, absolute hunger for His Peace Presence like the air you breathe and like the daily bread you require. It’s about the most wonderful give and take for the soul.

You’ll wonder how you ever survived each day without it.

It’s amazing what happens when you crave a little Peace and quiet at that level. It’s amazing where His absolute supply will take us.

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