Mundane Vessel

 

Do you ever feel like you are caught up in a cycle of living life through mundane moments?  Do you wonder how other people manage to live their lives in an almost constant state of wonder and awe, with incredible depths of holiness?  Over the last months, we have settled into a sometimes predictable pattern of work, school, family time, spouse time, sleep, church on the weekends, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that “steady is sexy”, but I yearn in my heart for the depth of closeness that comes from truly abiding in the presence of my Maker.  He didn’t call me to be another average “susie-homemaker”; He called me to leave a legacy of faith, kindness, love, and selflessness.

As I have been preparing for the next season of life, learning and leadership; I have immersed myself in study and listening.  I have studied politics, historical figures, Biblical figures, the wisdom of leadership, the fashion of leaders, the food of fit people, the needs of those around me, the frustrations of those who feel un-heard, and the sermons of those much wiser and more eloquent than myself. I was voracious in my study, feeling soul-parched as I consumed wisdom to satisfy my “thirst”.

It has often felt like I was wearing someone else’s shoes. It’s worked, but it hasn’t resonated that I am fully living my life the way that I was designed to live it. I have often felt the pressure to act a certain way in a certain situation, to look a certain way at certain times; and I fully understand the importance of honoring others with a respectful appearance and decorum; but I am not like every other person in the world, North America, and especially within the West Michigan culture. I AM ME.

God has specifically allowed every single moment of my life to shape me for this moment, and the next. Who am I to limit Him by trying to be someone that He didn’t create me to be?  It’s a form of using His name in vain. Think about it.  He created a specific purpose for me, as I am; to fulfill. By me changing things to be “more acceptable” or more “palatable”, then I am really saying that I don’t trust him fully to use me as I am.

This morning, I just longed for a deep connection with my Maker.  I sat in my window seat with my Bible, and just absorbed the quiet; asking Him to silence my preconceived ideas, to silence the distractions of the enemy through Jesus Christ, and simply to speak.  I sat in silence, thinking about God’s kindness and goodness to me. I opened my Bible to Psalm 81.

There’s a part in it that mentions the “feast of the new moon”, and I wanted to know more about it so I searched the term, the history, and the origin.  I learned that it was designed to be a monthly re-focus and dedication for the Hebrew people. It was a time of renewal; but it was held as something deeper than that. It was believed that the Hebrew people were actually “making the new moon holy”. Below is an excerpt that explains it:

Do you want to understand this? Take a lesson from the serving vessels in the Holy Sanctuary. Moses sanctified the tabernacle. Who sanctified all the tabernacle’s vessels? You might think that Moses did. But actually, what happened was that a High Priest would bring a simple mundane cup or other vessel, and put something holy in it, and the cup would automatically be holy. It worked the same was as when Moses sprinkled sacrificial blood on the altar and it became holy; or when he poured a wine libation, or performed any aspect of the Holy Temple service with any mundane vessel, and it thereby became holy. -Midrash Shmos Rabbah 15:24 [emphasis mine]

 Leviticus 20:7-8 is below:

“Set yourselves apart for a holy life. Live a holy life, because I am God, your God. Do what I tell you; live the way I tell you. I am the God who makes you holy.

~~~~~~~~~

Do you see it, beloved?  Do you understand?

The Hebrew people were called away from their past traditions and routines, to intentionally and deliberately focus on the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night.  Their daily life consisted of traveling, following, walking, eating, setting up camp, and resting…with worship at the tabernacle on the Sabbath.

How mundane is that?

Yet, the act of faith in following is the process for God to fill our mundane lives with His  Holiness!

For example, if we consider ourselves to be the “mundane vessels”, then what or who is the “Holy” inside of us?

The Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit makes us holy!  As we turn our backs to past patterns and traditions, to the former ways of life; we face God the Father. As we seek to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength; following Christ’s example, the Holy Spirit within us is the holiness!

Think of a plant! If you place it on a plate, without dirt, it will eventually die because it needs sustenance for its roots, light, and water. We are like the plant in our spiritual growth!  We need to be rooted in studying God’s word (Jesus) and in focusing on the light of God the Father’s love, dependent on the Holy Spirit inside of us! The plant can’t just be moved into a greenhouse or a garden and hope to grow; it also needs the life within for it to grow and flourish!

We, the mundane vessels, as we go about our days; are filled with holiness through the Holy Spirit. By Christ’s grace, we are holy just as our Father is Holy. So focus in amazement and awe of Him in His Holiness, goodness and love; as you celebrate the beauty of the one who chooses us as we are…mundane vessels, being filled with his Holiness!

mundane vessels

“Mundane Vessel” (c)Gracie K. Harold 2017

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A Lure or a Fortress

Ancient wisdom: “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in YHWH is set on high.”  Proverbs 29:25  (ISR98)

The original Hebrew word for “snare” is מוֹקֵשׁ môwqêsh.

It literally means a “bait, lure, snare

So, “fear of man brings” this:

lure

a lure. Photo Credit: Gracie K Harold 2016

A lure is “something that is artfully crafted to arouse hope”.  The worm lures the fish, and the fish hopes for a satisfying meal; but instead the fish is the meal.

Fear of man or woman arouses hope.  Hope to be popular, hope to be accepted, hope to belong.  The reality is that the fear itself controls its victims.  The hook of fear drags you in every direction, wildly reminding you that your peace is not your own.

It’s a stark contrast to “whoever trusts in YHWH is set on high”.   The Hebrew word for “trusts” is בָּטַח bâṭach  and it literally represents the imagery of being within a fortified tower sound asleep while your enemy has you surrounded. You can sleep securely because you trust that you are safe, confident, and secure.  It’s the image of you being sheltered from a rainstorm in a cavern like this:

DSCN4546

a fortress from the rainstorm. Photo Credit: Gracie K Harold 2016

So, trusting in; finding confidence in God alone results in being “set on high”.

“Set on high” in Hebrew is שָׂגַב sâgab  and it literally means, “to be high, be inaccessibly high, to be (too) high (for capture).”

When you place your hope for acceptance in Christ alone; look what happens:

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us5 made us alive  with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens7 so that in the coming ages  He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

After Christ died in our place, look what God the Father did:

20 He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens — 21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  Ephesians 1:20-21

Christ Jesus is seated in the Heavens because he has already defeated death and sin.  Our trust in Him is our declaration that through Christ Jesus, our fears are stilled.  Our clamoring for acceptance is silenced.

Christ holds all dominion and authority, all power and every ruler under his feet.

Placing all your hope in Christ, fixing your gaze and your expectations on Christ Jesus alone sets your heart and soul “too high for capture”.

Your insecurities and grasping at popularity cease.

You settle into your refuge, trusting that this strong fortress is your confidence.

Jesus Christ is His name.

YHWH is his name.

Do you live confidently?

Does your life show the refuge that you trust in?

It’s never too late to ask him to free you from fear’s lure.

May your eyes be opened and your hearts encouraged, may your confidence be found in Christ alone, and may your fears be stilled by His great Love for you as you are overwhelmed by His grace.

Some…One

Some of us women are catty.  Some of us are so busy trying to jockey for respect and position that we leave others behind us in a whirlwind of hurt.  Some of us have hearts that yearn to make a difference, so we set our goals and zero in like a laser beam…forgetting the loved ones that wait for our stolen moments of attention, love and reassurance.

Some of us women have the best of intentions, but the hectic pace of life; or our own insecurities and past hurts leave our hearts calloused…so we hurt others before they can reach our hearts and hurt us.  Some of us have tongues that are razor-sharp as they spew out a barrage of criticisms.

One woman takes courage in the midst of some.  One woman who chooses the courage and grace to forgive is a brave woman indeed.  One woman who prays for balance, and seeks wisdom in when to let a project be done so that she can focus on her loved ones; she is not the current “status quo”.  One woman who deliberately sets aside sacred time for herself and her loved ones is not regularly appreciated in today’s society.  One woman who responds to razor sharp criticisms with kindness and silence is not regarded as “intelligent”, but looked down upon as weak, clumsy, and socially awkward.

I’m tired of living a half-life as some women do.

I want to be one woman who lives as some haven’t.

I want my words and demeanor to drip grace and kindness. I want forgiveness to practically ooze out of my pores when I walk into a room.  “I want to leave joy in my wake wherever I go…and never leave a room as if it were in the midst of a wake” (Quote by Larry Doornbos).  I want every single interaction with every single person in my life to leave them feeling like they have a better sense of who God is, and how deeply he loves them…not because of me; but because of Jesus loving and living through me.

I want to be the one woman who nurtures not just her children, but herself, her husband, her friends, her co-workers, the strangers in her town, and her community.

I may not ever be like some women; but Heaven help me be the One Woman.

Tulip Mix_edited

(Almost) Symmetrical Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

It’s almost symmetrical.

The idea is there.

Aren’t you glad that God looks at the heart, and sees our desire to honor Him; 

even if we don’t quite get it perfectly right?

English Standard Version I Samuel 16;7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Thankful Thursday – Who I was, Who I am, and Who I will become.

Images speak to me in metaphors that cannot always be conveyed with words.

This is my story.

This is my journey, depicted through images and words.

I was a manipulator. It’s true. I was devious and controlling and very very mean.

I lived in constant fear of rejection.

I feared failure so much that my perfectionism became a defense mechanism.

Prison cell window

Prison cell window

I found myself shutting others out of my life, even though I desperately longed for closeness and intimacy.

I could not understand or accept it when people said that I was “chosen” by God.

Instead, that single phrase made me dry-heave…and sometimes vomit.

Literally, I vomited at the thought of being chosen.  I physically ran out of rooms if I thought someone was approaching me for friendship.

I carried the weight of my own failures well, but I was far greater skilled in holding onto the lies that had been pounded into my mind.

The first time that I was sexually assaulted, I carried the shame of that night…until I was able to find the grace to forgive my perpetrator.  Then, when my close “friend” raped me in college, when I started to piece things together after I miscarried the daughter that I hadn’t known I was pregnant with; my shame and guilt threatened to bury me alive.  My sorrow was overwhelming.  My grief became my god.  My identity was interwoven and entangled in what I had survived.  I remember my mentor taking me to a cottage in Michigan for a day, so we could simply sit on the lake shore and soak up the beauty.  I started to paint a picture, and effortlessly slipped into the artist’s “zone”.  I was surprised that I had painted a prisoner on the floor of their cell, with open shackles at their feet.  A light shone down the steps, and the prison gate was opened.  I entitled it, “a step of faith”.  This photograph is very reminiscent of that painting.

Open Prison cell

Open Prison cell

See how the door swings out?  See how the light shines in? This is the invitation that I am talking about.

The abuse that I endured and the sorrow that I carried was not my fault.  The horrors done to me were not God punishing me!  If you have received abuse and horrible things in your life, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!  

GOD DOES NOT ALLOW ABUSE BECAUSE YOU OR I ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE.

ABUSE HAPPENS BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT IS DYSFUNCTIONAL.

HE CREATED THIS WORLD TO BE PERFECT, AND DEVOID OF DYSFUNCTION.

He loved us enough to allow us to choose.  God, in his loving understanding and kindness allowed Adam and Eve to make the choice.  God knows that “a mind changed by force was never changed at all”.  Adam and Eve wanted knowledge of good and evil more than they wanted to know and be known by our loving God. Genesis 3:6, Mechanical Translation by Jeff Benner follows:

Genesis 3:6
and the woman saw that the function of the tree is for nourishment and that he is a yearning to the eyes, and the tree is a craving for making calculations, and she took from his produce and she ate, and she gave also to her man with her, and he ate,

http://www.mechanical-translation.org/mt/translation3.html

“The tree is a craving for making calculations…”  that is who I was.  I was constantly craving how to make calculations.  I thought that if I controlled things, then I was safe from being hurt again. 

I was wrong.

I was so desperately lonely and afraid, I felt so isolated.  Then, a light broke through my self-inflicted walls of separation.

Darkness Pierced

Darkness Pierced

New Living Translation John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

http://biblehub.com/john/1-5.htm

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.

What is that light?  I wondered if it was my effort, my attitude, my happiness.

But my best efforts were not enough.  Nothing I did was enough.

New Living Translation John 8:12
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

http://biblehub.com/john/8-12.htm

Light. Pure

Light. Pure

Was I still sad?  Sometimes.

Was I still grieving? Absolutely.

Was I still alone?

NO, I was no longer alone and isolated.  Jesus Christ reached into my darkness and isolation and drew me into HIS light, love and acceptance.

Why? How?


Holman Christian Standard Bible Zephaniah 3:17
Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

http://biblehub.com/zephaniah/3-17.htm

He will rejoice over me?

Me?!?!?!?

But, I was abused. I was rejected. I have manipulated and deviously controlled…

His answer?

New International Version  Isaiah 43:4
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.

http://biblehub.com/isaiah/43-4.htm

Precious and honored?

You, the Creator of the universe; you love me?

Me?!

His answer overwhelmed me.

Brilliance 4

Brilliance 4

“Child, just sit here.”

New American Standard Bible Psalm 46:10
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

http://biblehub.com/psalms/46-10.htm

I am learning that as I fix my gaze on Him, as I admit that I have nothing, no hope, no best effort; nothing without Him…He is slowly transforming me to reflect His love and beauty.  I am growing kinder, gentler, more patient as I gaze on Him. When I make Him the Boss of every area of my life, my religion fades away…and His love takes over.

Beloved, I had to be loved so I could be love.

Beloved, you also be loved.

Then be love.

Clamor or Reflection?

Do I clamor for the stage and all its accolades?

Do I neglect loved ones until they fade

into the backdrop like a forgotten set

from a long-ended run at the Met?

Am I so busy doing great things

in such a flurry that it brings

up a maelstrom of heart-catches

and second guesses?

Am I still?

Is my life a writer’s quill

that leaves an imprint

or is it just a fleeting stint?

Just another gig under a spotlight?

Or is my life a bright

reflection of the Holy One,

the only worthy One?

Bride of Christ

Bride of Christ