Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Love That Will Never Let Me Go

As I mentioned in my post "Waiting for the Morning," I have been realizing and experiencing the depths of God's love in a deeper and more meaningful way as I walk the current rocky path of trials.  Some songs about God's love have been in my head and heart and often on my voice as I go about my duties day to day helping me to carry on in joy and hope and in the comfort of God's very real and rich love.  God's Love is ENOUGH!  I don't need anything else in this world.

There are no circumstances -- good or bad-- and no places in this world we can find ourselves in where God's love can't reach us.  God's love is an unwavering and all-powerful love that embraces the very essences of our beings, holding us close, and never letting us go.  No matter where you find yourself today, reflect and meditate on God's Wondrous, Deep, Deep Love that will never let you go!

"Oh the Deep, Deep Love" 
By Bob Kauflin 
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus 
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free 
Rolling as a mighty ocean 
In its fullness over me 
Underneath me, all around me 
Is the current of Your love 
Leading onward, leading homeward 
To Your glorious rest above 

Oh the deep, deep love 
All I need and trust
Is the deep, deep love of Jesus 
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus 

Spread His praise from shore to shore 
How He came to pay our ransom 
Through the saving cross He bore 
How He watches o’er His loved ones
Those He died to make His own 
How for them He’s interceding 
Pleading now before the throne 

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus 
Far surpassing all the rest 
It’s an ocean full of blessing 
In the midst of every test 
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus 
Mighty Savior, precious Friend 
You will bring us home to glory 
Where Your love will never end 

"O Wondrous Love" 
By Steve and Vicki Cook 

O wondrous love that will not let me go 
I cling to You with all my strength and soul 
Yet if my hold should ever fail 
This wondrous love will never let me go 

O wondrous love that’s come to dwell in me 
Lord who am I that I should come to know 
Your tender voice assuring me 
This wondrous love will never let me go

I’m resting in the everlasting arms 
In the ever faithful heart 
The Shepherd of my life 
You’ll carry me on Your mighty wings of grace 
Keeping me until the day
 I look into Your eyes 

O wondrous love that sings of Calvary 
The sweetest sound this sinner’s ever known 
The song of Your redeeming Son 
Whose wondrous love will never let me go 

O wondrous love that rushes over me 
I can’t escape this river’s glorious flow
You overwhelm my days with good 
Your wondrous love will never let me go 

"My Redeemer's Love" 
By Joel Sczebel, Jordan Kauflin, Mark Altrogge 

My Redeemer’s love is deeper 
Than the depths of sin and hell 
He who was enthroned in glory 
Came to bring us to Himself
My Redeemer’s love is wider 
Than the breach my sins had made 
He reached down into my darkness
 He alone has pow’r to save

 Deeper than the rolling seas 
Higher than the mountain peaks
 Your love is all I need 

My Redeemer’s love is stronger 
Than my fiercest enemies 
He will hold me in the tempest 
Through the flood He carries me 
My Redeemer’s love will lead me 
Through the deepest valley here 
He will shepherd me and guide me 
He will ever keep me near

Deeper than the rolling seas
 Higher than the mountain peaks 
Your love is all I need 
Stronger than the rushing wind 
Shattering the power of sin 
Your love is all I need

My Redeemer’s love grows sweeter 
As eternity draws near
 I’ll enjoy His love forever 
At His throne for endless years 
My Redeemer’s love will fill me 
On the day I see His face
I will love Him back forever 
And forever sing His praise

Learning to be Content

Last month, I had the pleasure and blessing of attending a women's retreat where I was truly ministered to through the sessions digging into God's Word and exposing our obsessions with self and comfort that are preventing us from flourishing.  The music was also so spiritually challenging and was so cohesive with the truths being presented and did a great job pointing us to God reminding us of his sovereignty, love, and care.

As I had mentioned in my blog post "Waiting for the Morning," God has been convicting me of my lack of contentment.  The depths of my discontentment were exposed at this women's retreat.  The speaker at the retreat was author and Crossway editor Lydia Brownback, and each women was given one of her devotional books she has written on various topics.  The book I happened to get was on Contentment.  I laughed at God's sovereignty in that when I simply chose the packet in which the book was beautifully tucked based on the green cover I saw (my favorite color is green).

I have been meditating on the devotionals since then and working hard to be content on a daily basis.  I have far to go, but I am making progress and experiencing greater daily joy as a result in a shift in my focus--upward not inward or outward.

When comparing the present to the past and future, Lydia says, "[The present] is better because God is the one who brought us where we are today.  And the God who led us here is good, kind, and let's not forget, purposeful.  Everything he does in our lives, everywhere he leads us, is designed to fulfill his primary intention for us, which is to know him better.  Contentment does not lie around the next corner.  It is not waiting for us on the other side of today's difficulty, nor is it lost with yesterday.  Contentment is where God is, and God is with us today" (Contentment by Lydia Brownback, p. 24).

Earlier in the book, Lydia says, "Contentment in the valleys comes when we stop fighting so hard to climb out.  God is the one who leads us into the valleys, and he will lead us back out in his time.  God ordains valleys for our good; why else would a good and kind God allow them?  Trusting God in our hard times is the way to contentment--not just trusting him to get us out, but trusting his goodness while we are still in them" (Contentment by Lydia Brownback, p. 16).

The truths of these words were enough to knock the wind out of me and make me really reflect on how I was living my day to day life.  I have continued to trust God in the hard times.  I learned from an early age of trials to not let difficulties rob me of my trust in God.  However, what I have been failing to do is look at the hard times through the lens that God would have me view them.  I am not content in the hard times.  I am often distracted with praying for them to end quickly and waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel that I don't realize what God is doing in me in the moment.  After all, James 1:2-4, 12 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything...Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."  The process within the trials has purpose, and I am missing that truth too often because I am too busy fighting the process!

Hebrews 13:5b says to "be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  Going back to the phrases I find myself saying often these days: "God is ENOUGH!"  or "God's God this!"  I conclude as this verse promises -- God is with me, and He will never let me go.  As I shared one of my favorite songs in my post "Waiting for the Morning," God will hold me fast.  I CAN be content in being kept in His wondrous care just as Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

Many of you are aware of the current situation with our oldest especially if you have read my post "Learning to Let it All Go."  Things with him continue to get more difficult, and he is becoming more hardened toward God and his faith in Him.  We are very concerned about his spiritual state.  Our prayers are often pleas with God to hold onto his heart and not let him go.

I read Jen Wilkin's book None Like Him last Fall.  It's a book that digs deeply into the incommunicable attributes of God and how we often vainly try to take on those attributes ourselves.  That book totally changed the depth of how I view God and his majesty and awesomeness and convicted me in so many ways.  I turn back to that book frequently to be reminded of who God is and who I am.  Not too long ago, as we were really struggling with our concerns about Josh's spiritual state and current rebellion against God, this statement by Jen jumped out at me: "We cannot create hope where there is hopelessness...We cannot create repentance where there is unrepentance, but we can cry out to the God who can." I can be content that I am resting in the one and only Self-existent, Creator-God who is fully capable in continuing His miraculous work of redemption and sanctification not only in my life but in my son's life as well.

Tim and I spend some time each night having devotions together as a couple.  As part of our devotions, we use the Tabletalk devotional booklet.  I love what Dr. James Harvey III said in his devotional for May 5-6 called "Rediscovering Contentment," and I have made his statement my resolve:  "I am going to lead the life the Lord has assigned to me, the life to which God has called me.  I am going to find satisfaction and joy in Christ, whether in a season of trial or blessing" (p. 37).

Waiting for the Morning

Sometimes, I feel as if I am suffocating as I drown in our trials and sorrows that seem to come in continuous waves over my head.  Other times, I feel that I am just about to the top ready to pop my head above the water and gasp for a breath of air.  I haven't experienced the comforts on being on the other side in quite a while, but I'm learning that it's okay because God's got me where He wants me, and He will hold me fast!

As the wearying months go by one by one, I find comfort in phrases and songs that the Holy Spirit brings to my mind always at just the right times to keep me going.  Scripture continues to be a solace daily where passages I read end up being just what I needed to read to carry me through yet another day.
  • For the last year and a half, one of my favorite songs has been "He Will Hold Me Fast" sung by the Gettys (ORIGINAL WORDS VV 1-2 BY ADA HABERSHONNEW WORDS AND MUSIC BY MATT MERKER©2013 GETTY MUSIC PUBLISHING (BMI) / MATT MERKER MUSIC (BMI) (ADMIN BY MUSICSERVICES.ORG).  It has been a comfort at many points throughout the darkest of times.  David and I recorded it a little while ago to encourage my grandmother who was struggling with health issues.  As you listen to the words, you will understand why it can bring anyone who is a child of God comfort.
  • I have been realizing God's love in a new and real way lately, and some powerful songs have really helped turn my eyes upward to my great God whose deep, deep love never ends and that will never let me go.  More on that in my blog post "Love That Will Never Let Me Go."
  • I long for the morning, for light at the end of the tunnel, for newness.  These verses of the morning bring comfort to my heart and hope for each day:
    • Psalm 30:5b (ESV) - "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."
    • Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) - "Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
    • Psalm 130: 5,6 (ESV) - "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning."
  • Yet as I long for the morning, God has really convicted me lately about my contentment or I should say lack of it!  I am prone to long and wait for the morning, but I need to make being content in all circumstances--including the difficult and dark ones that don't ever seem to end--my daily practice.  I'm starting to get it, but it's definitely a work in progress.  More about that in my blog post "Learning to be Content."
  • "God's Got This" or "God is Enough" - I can't tell you how many times a day, I say these phrases in my head reminding me of the reality of my circumstances.  I honestly don't know how I could continue on if I didn't have God or if He didn't have total control of my daily circumstances.
As I wait for the morning, I will find comfort that I am being held fast by my great God who is so full of love and has perfect control of my circumstances.  In the good and the bad, I will chose to praise God and say, "Blessed Be Your Name!"

"Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful 
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out, I'll 
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering 
Though there's pain in the offering 
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I'll 
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name...
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
God you give and take away
Oh you give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name"
Words by Matt Redman