Please read the following, and then answer the questions at the bottom over the next four days.
Thursday, December 16
Two months after Steve’s death
Annie feels like her life is “over”—and sometimes I do too. I understand those widows in pagan places who climb up on the funeral pyre and are burned with their husbands’ bodies. When I told Steve I wanted to go with him, he shook his head, “No, no—you must go on—the children, the people you touch. Go on because I can’t.”
I know, deep in my soul, that our lives are not our own. You have left us here for a reason. Yet I look out at the frozen ground, covered with snow, and think, “That’s how I feel.”
I told Liz Curtis Higgs (an author and friend) that’s how I felt. She e-mailed back: “Good, Beloved. He will slowly melt your ‘frozenness.’ And it is, after all, winter now. Beneath the frozen ground, new life is preparing to burst forth come spring. I feel certain that’s what will happen with you as well.”
In Narnia, the land that C. S. Lewis created, it was always winter and never Christmas—that is, until Aslan appeared. Then the ice began to thaw, yellow crocuses began to poke their heads up through the snow, and the snow began to fall in great clumps from the trees and melt into the ground. Aslan’s enemy, the White Witch, who traveled by sleigh, was stopped in her tracks.
“This is no thaw,” said the dwarf, suddenly stopping. “This is Spring. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you! This is Aslan’s doing.”
How can we get through the frozen tundra of grief to spring?
Only one way. Aslan—Jesus—must come.
And He will. He hears the groaning of His people and His heart is moved. He cares, more than a mother cares for her fretful baby, and He has the truth to calm our fretful souls.
1. Comments or reflections on the above reading?
2. Find evidence in Scripture, either from historical incidents, or from the psalms, that God hears the cries of His people and cares. (You can do a word hunt by going to Biblegateway.com and typing in words like cries, groanings, sorrows — and see what you find.) Write down the phrases that touch your heart.
3. Often when you are in the midst of a spiritual winter, as many of you are, you cannot imagine that spring will come — that Aslan will come. What I want you to do is look back to a different winter, when spring did come, when Jesus did come, and write down what you remember.
4. Memorize the first verse of Be Still My Soul and share your reflections on it.
It’s in the back of The God of All Comfort or you can google it.
5. For Narnia fans, share a comforting word picture of Aslan.
6. Meditate on Psalm 30. Taste it. Savor it. When a verse leaps out at you, The Spirit is speaking. Go slower. Savor. Memorize. Then (and only then) tell us what you see.
You know I think my spring is coming little by little….only by the grace of God can I continue on the journey. I will keep the hope, keep the faith, keep the will and the strength that God has given each of us.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13
1. “He hears the groaning of His people and His heart is moved. He cares, more than a mother cares for her fretful baby, and He has the truth to calm our fretful souls.”
My most obsessive fretting is when I become distracted and/or deceived by lies. I am so encouraged by the reminder that His truth will and does calm me. And Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). How often I settle for half-truths and counterfeit attempts at life by seeking calm and comfort from sources other than Jesus. “Even so, Lord Jesus come” to each of us.
I am posting this from last weeks blog, I got behind in my study. Hopefully today I will be able to catch up. I couldn’t find where to go back and look at all the responses to last weeks questions.
4. He knew that Job served God because God offered him to Satan as his servant. I am stumped on What loss reveals about our hearts. If anyone can help me search deeper here, I would appreciate the input.
5. I do believe that Satan was also behind Horatio’s tragedy and meant it for harm, however, Horatio had a heart to continually serve God.
6. I think Satan wants the Christian who suffers loss to completely give up. According to the 2nd verse, Horatio realized that Christ has regarded his helpless estate, “and shed his own blood for my soul.” He redeemed our sin which is definitely a part of the bigger picture. Our helpless estate is bigger in eternity than those losses we bear hear on earth.
7. Maybe I am misunderstanding, but from the verse I am getting that my losses here on earth are not in comparison to the loss of my soul if Christ had not died for me or if I disregard his suffering. The scripture comes to mind that all things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to His purpose. I am suffering an incredible loss over and over in my life. My son has Cerebral Palsy and for the first time this morning I have had to make the decision to stay home from church. I have hurt my arm in the lifting process and I just cannot lift him today. I am grieving over the fact that he is getting so big and I can’t carry him around like I used to. My heart is hurting this morning. This study is my “church” today.
Robin, my heart goes out to you.
Lord, I ask You to be very close to Robin right now. Bring comfort to her soul right now and healing to her body and soul. Lord, I don’t understand the suffering endured on this earth, but I trust You. I believe that when we get to heaven we will give no account to the sufferings of our lives here because of the weight of Your glory. Until that time, Lord, help us to trust You in quietness and rest.
When I think of the reality of what Robin goes through each day to care for her precious son, I ask You to provide. It is such a difficult job in many ways, but in this area in particular, I ask Your provision. Give Robin the strength. Provide resources for her as only You can.
Finally, Lord I ask for Your special blessing on her today, a glimpse of Your glory in her son, a kiss from Your word.
All blessings we have because of the precious blood of Christ our savior and so we ask in His name alone. AMEN
What a sweet prayer Anne. I too pray for you Robin.
Robin — my heart goes out to you too. I pray for a solution for lifting your son, and for comfort for you.
I believe that loss reveals if we love God for Himself, or just for His blessings. And I believe that when we doubt God’s love, we just have to remember that He “regarded our helpless estate and shed His own blood for our soul.”
When you want to go to a past blog, click Blog at the top of the home page and scroll down and you’ll find past posts — then you need to click the replies and scroll down again. But you are fine sharing on the current post too. Good for you for catching up! A joy to have you with us.
I’m sorry to be slow to reply, but I have been burdened for you since reading about the pain you are suffering because of your son’s cerebral palsy. Our daughter has cerebral palsy. Even though their ages or challenges may differ, I wanted to let you know that if you would like someone to be in touch with who may be able to understand some of your challenges, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I pray that God will give you the grace and comfort and strength you need at this time.
I thought of ya’ll-my sisters of comfort-this morning as our choir sang ‘For Thou O Lord’ (Ps 3). I can’t describe the joy I felt as I stood in the court of praise singing to my Glory and Lifter of my head.
Robin I have added your name to my prayer book. I will be lifting you up.
I want to begin with #3. I hope I am on the right track.
In Dec 1997 my pastor, of only five years, passed away suddenly. One day he was walking on earth. The next he stepped into eternity. He was in his early 70’s and had been preaching for over 50 years. He loved Christ so much that he was back in the pulpit preaching just 3 weeks after having 5-bypass heart surgery. He refused to take the advice of his doctor to retire. He preached till the day of his death. He was a wonderful Shepherd. When he died I felt abandoned and I grieved for him for five years. One night in 2002 I had a dream. In my dream I saw my beloved Bro. Olan. He spoke to me and told he was alright. As he hugged me I woke up with tears streaming down my face. I realized I had just been given an incredible gift. I began to see that I was not being faithful to pray for my current pastor because I had not ‘weaned’ myself from Bro. Olan. I will miss Bro. Olan for the rest of my days but I will see him again. I can’t describe it but I know Christ was there as I hugged Bro. Olan in my dream. I’ve never had another dream like that since.
I forgot to clarify my winter and spring. Winter set inafter death of my pastor. Spring returned after I changed congregations and moved forward with getting to know my new ‘shepherd’ and praying for him. I have been under his leading for 9 yrs. and can’t imagine my Sundays without his teachings.
Living in the deep south where snow is rare, it’s hard to relate to ‘frozen ground.’ If I understand right, ‘frozen ground’ represents our souls as we mourn our losses. Pain eventually fades and you move forward.In his bio of David, Chuck Swindoll states that it takes more strength to recover from a crisis than going thru it. Moving forward is HARD WORK! As I focus on planting God’s word deep through memorization, I believe the Spirit is adding another layer to the bedrock of my faith so when the next time loss comes, I will be able to stand firm in God’s strength.
Great story, Tammy. Reminds me of the dream the man in Faith Like Potatoes had after his friend’s son had fallen off his tractor and died…
So glad you could respond to God’s message to you and move on — to spring!
Thou, Oh Lord! is a wonderful song. It goes straight to my heart.
Qu.1 This is comforting for me to remember when I look out on the bleak winter landscape and feel the coldness in my soul. It is comforting to remember that new life is just beneath the ground. I am in North Carolina so we seldom have extended periods of ice or snow although the last few weeks, I thought we would break a record. I was beginning to look for substantial ice on the pond. Now it is warm but still looks so bleak out the window. I will be honest and say that I have never experienced the grief that Dee and some of the others have. I am glad for that but I think it can put me at times in the insensitive category and I hope that someone will call me down if I ever come across that way. To hurt anyone else especially one who is already in pain is the very last thing I ever want to do. What I have felt is depression, I guess. Just a deep sadness, sometimes with reason and sometimes without.
Qu.2 Word search for cries groaning and sorrows. Ex 22:27 Don’t take your neighbor’s cloak as collateral unless you return it before sunset. If he cries out to Me I will listen because I am compassionate.
Judges 2:18 The Lord was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing them.
That is all I could find for those 3 words that was relevant. There must be more. I know God heard the Israelites in Egypt but that didn’t show up.
Just these 2 verses show how compassionate God is when we cry out to Him.
As I consider your powerful word pictures Dee I think of the courage that it takes to go on after a loved one dies, especially a husband. How much easier it would be to throw yourself on the funeral pyre! I love to read sayings and I remember one about courage that I like, it says this: “Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” Good for everyone who finds the courage to go on and thank you Dee for teaching us how to find it in Christ. The idea of Christ giving us a blueprint for grief in the Psalms… It boggles my mind that I have never heard this. How can I be 47 years old, in the church my entire life and never heard this teaching? I simply can’t express my appreciation for what we are learning here Dee. Can you imagine the hope this is bringing?!
Thank you dear Kim. I learned late too, and have my dear pastor Mike Lano to thank!
I love the saying about courage and so agree. At the beginning of my winter, it was that small voice that told me to just hold on for one more moment and, as I did, the Savior moved in “the moment” and lifted up my battered heart. Like you and Dee, I had not ever heard about the blueprint in the Psalms. God is so amazing!
So thankful to each of you for blogging. I just finished my time speaking in the prisons and found more life in them than in the church outside. Such hunger and enthusiasm. Pray for more to go in — for the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.
Eager to be reading your responses this week!
Good Morning! It’s still morning here anyhow. I had an incredible encounter with God this past week that I would like to share that was evidence that He was and is listening to the cries of my heart. As I have said before that I am currently not attending a church, due to my circumstances and what God’s will is for my life at the moment, although I really am incredibly happy and content as I see God at work in my life; yet I have also been grieving over how much my life has changed over the last 7 months – I’ve moved to a new area (after living in a small town for 12 years), I have lost many of my good friends (including who I thought was my best friend) and my ministry, I have taken on the fulltime responsibility of providing caregiving to my mother-in-law(love), and we’re filing bankruptcy which includes letting our vehicles go back to the bank.
In MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by Oswald Chambers today, the devotion started this way, which is a perfect lead to my true story of how God touched me last week. “As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him – to give God ‘elbow room.’ We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. …Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. …We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly – God meets our life – ‘…when it pleased God (Galatians 1:15)…'”
When I had my God encounter – I posted this news on my facebook the next day: I heard this song for the first time last night. See my story below about how God used it to touch my heart and my soul to remind me of His Presence. http://www.youtube.com (Smiling Down)
My true story: While driving home from the movies last night, I began thinking about how hard it has been to travel this journey outside of the walls of the church. I was feeling all alone. So I started to pray – and all I could say was “Jesus!” The radio was on low, but I really wasn’t listening to it. Then suddenly, I felt like crying. So I said to the Lord “Why do I feel like crying?” And that’s when I heard it. These words, as if they were coming from the heart of Jesus, just for me… “Next time that you feel like crying, next time you will feel like trying, just remember I’ll be right there – smiling down on you.” I was stunned to know that Jesus would still be there for me right here, right where I’m at. I was overwhelmed by His love and His grace and I still am.
The following verse of the song also touched me deeply as they speak of a God that still loves us even when we don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning (which is something that I am very attuned to with the battle of depression), and also in those moments that we all go through when we don’t have it all together and are even led to compromise our faith… “In the morning you don’t feel like rousin’, next time you feel like compromisin’, just remember I’ll be right there, smiling down on you.”
Oops – I don’t think that song will come up automatically. But if you click on the youtube website, it is Smiling Down, by Zack Cloud/Tribute.
Thank you — beautiful story. He is smiling down on you — as you are a caregiver, caring for “the least of these,” you are with Jesus. So glad you are blogging with us, Belinda.
Belinda, I too read the My Utmost…today and it was very comforting to me “always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.” I need HIM soo much today…my daughter is entering an in-patient place for at least 3 weeks…again I let it become about me and me wanting to talk with her and hold her. And I am crying out to God why did I lose my mama and now my daughter???? And if I just sit here in His presence I can feel His loving arms around me and desire to heal my broken heart. In the past I have looked for scripture of His hearing and coming to the cries of His people but today I just know and feel His presence…it’s like He’s sitting quietly in the room just holding me. Again I have to say to myself…TRUST GOD TO DO HIS JOB…and He is…
I just read the following verses. They must be for you.
My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Ex.33:14
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7
The Lord your God is with you…He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His Love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:15,16
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16
My prayers are for and with you and your daughter today Claudia. This Psalm is one of my favorites and has been a blessing to me for quite some time now regarding both my children and my parents. Perhaps the Lord will lead you to pray it back to Him as a Lament, especially verse 10 that says: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me” (NIV). The NKJV is also good: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me.” For these verses remind us of the reality that we cannot always be there for our children, even as our parents have not and will not be able to always be there for us – but God will never leave or forsake His children. When I can’t be there for my children, I know that God will be there all the more.
Psalm 27 (NKJV): “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.
One thing I have desired of the LORD, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavillion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also on me, and answer me. When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, LORD, I will seek.’ Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me.
Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen up against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!”
In prayer – I have often replaced all of the “I” references with my children’s names: such as (vs. 10) “When Jaime, Kayla, and Nathan’s father and myself cannot be there, O LORD, then I know that You LORD will (or will You please) take care of them”(etc…).
I’m really behind in my blogging but I wanted you all to know that I am keeping up with your posts and praying. I just finished reading these and just started praying…that Abba would send each of you a special “kiss” of His love. I didn’t realize at first…”It Is Well With My Soul” was playing while I was praying…wow…truly the God of ALL comfort.
Thanks El! What a blessing it is to know that people are praying for you. I’m praying for all of the women in this study as well. I receive His kisses and blow them back to you as well! =]
Thank you, Belinda. You made my heart smile…
2. I’m praying that this first passage will comfort and encourage moms who are grieving about children (when Hagar and Ishmael were sent away from Abraham and wandered in the desert):
Gen 21:15-20 ”When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up.”
A couple more passages:
Exodus 2: 23-24 (The part about God remembering his covenant encouraged me)
“During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.”
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. 18 Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD : 19 “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,from heaven he viewed the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”
Pretty cool— This was written for us, “a future generation” that we may praise the Lord!
Wonderful verses, Renee.
Your description of your brother really impacted me. You’ve been heavy on my heart, and I’ve been praying for you throughout the past week. I thought about posting this last week, but I was concerned that I might sound trite. Please forgive me if it sounds that way, because I know I sometimes have difficulty finding the words to express what I’m thinking or feeling.
One of the reasons the description of your brother as a dancer struck me is because watching gifted and practiced dancers worshiping God through dance captures my spirit and directs my thoughts toward God more than almost anything else. I’m NOT a dancer and have only seen professionals performing worshipful dances a couple of times in person, but those times are carved into my heart and mind (even though it’s been years). Yesterday morning when I was sitting in church (as well as last week and today), I was looking forward to seeing your brother dance in worship of our Lord. Just as the performances years ago brought tears to my eyes, I’m crying as I long to see your brother dance in worship in heaven.
I think God has used that vivid memory to remind me to pray for you.
You are doing well — feel free to jump in with questions 1 to 3 if you haven’t —
but let’s go on to questions 4- 6. Praying for you!
I found this song on youtube and posted it on my facebook page. This song is a part of this weeks’s online study. However, the Scripture reference quoted in this video is wrong – it should be Psalm 37:24 intead of Ps. 27:34.Be Still My Soul by Selah
Be Still My Soul by Selah
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change, He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end…
Dee, I’m so glad you were able to minister in the prison and that hearts were ready. I do pray for more of that.
Qu.3.I can’t remember if I have shared this on this blog. I don’t think so, I think it was with my small group that I shared. But if I repeat I’m sorry. I was in a winter of fear when I started this study. My mother died about 12 years ago from dementia. We took her to a memory clinic. The doctor she saw there was in the midst of a genetic study and found that she did have the genetic disorder that was his research study. At the time he said that he could not help her because it was too advanced but that he might be able to help us, her children. I will try to brief and fast forward 15 years when I went to him because I felt that I was having some cognitive difficulties. He tested me and I have the same genetic disorder my mother had. He was sure he could help me with specific vitamin therapy. So he did memory testing and I take the vitamin. That was over a year ago. In the mean time, I have yearly MRI’s as follow up from a benign brain tumor I had. Last fall I discovered that I can read my MRI reports on line, which I did. It said that I had evidence of small vessel disease in the white matter of my brain that was inconsistent with my age. The doctor following my tumor situation never said anything about this and I guess she thought it not that unusual but it scared me to death. Anyone else might have thought nothing about it but I had emotional baggage from what happened with Mom and I knew that was what her MRI showed.
I did try very hard to still my soul and I did pretty well at first. I focused on what I knew about God and on submission and trust. As time went on I would catch myself making plans for myself in case I did develop dementia. I began to get depressed and notice every little slowness of thinking or forgetfulness. It was like a snowball growing under the surface of my conscious mind that colored everything. I would try to still myself but just when I thought I was getting there I’d turn around and find myself face to face with a big grizzly.
Because of issues in my life I was 3 months late getting back to see the doctor. I was finally able to get back on January 6th. I took copies of my MRI reports to show him. The timing was God’s (never early and never late). He did my memory testing and the results were amazing. I had concrete numbers that I could compare to before, and I had gotten better. He said that the small vessel disease showing on MRI was normal aging.
That was when the sun came out for me. The fear was gone and I had new plans for the future. I feel like I should have been able to trust God and not fear but I just couldn’t. Maybe I had to walk through the darkness to be changed.
Anne, Thanks for posting this! It would take pages for me to explain how much what you shared has encouraged me (so I won’t, right now anyway); but God has used you to help me lots 🙂
I’m glad you are encouraged Renee. The Lord is truly on our side!
Hmmm. . . I’ve been reflecting on “Be Still My Soul” off and on since Saturday night. Warning: This will not be a “typical” reflection 😀 I’ve learned that there is a time and a place for reflection, especially if that reflection leads to deep meditation
Since this Bible Study began, I decided to track down some songs/artists that contributed to my clinging to God during the most difficult times of my life. On Sunday morning on my way to church (out of town) the morning after an ice storm, I had the fleeting thought “I’ll probably get stopped for speeding on the way to church.” (I don’t intentionally speed there and don’t “collect” speeding tickets, so that thought seemed strange). On the way, I was reflecting on the lyrics of one or two of those songs, and my heart was at peace—-even when I saw flashing lights in my rearview mirror (and my heart often speeds up just seeing a patrol car!). I was so deep in reflection that I barely realized that I passed through a small town; and although I had slowed down somewhat, I was going WELL over the speed at which they give tickets. To top it off, I had expired insurance documents. I deserved a ticket, but only got a warning. I know I experienced one of God’s many everyday mercies through that patrolman, and I thanked him for not giving me a ticket.
As soon as I started driving again, I thought about “Be Still My Soul” and realized that some of that “cross of grief or pain” is due to what I’ve brought on myself. I grinned the rest of the way to church because I saw evidence of God protecting me (and others) from danger, giving me His undeserved mercy, and giving me His peace. Further, awareness that God cared about that has helped to me use the hymn to work through some grief today.
5. I haven’t read the Narnia books for a long time, but some quotes from the books brought the memories right back — and brought me comfort.
Here are three quotations from 3 different books, and we can see the children’s growth and questioning:
From the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (beginning of the series, Lucy had asked if Aslan was safe):
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
From the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Wow— that last sentence, if that’s true about our relationships with Jesus??, is powerful. I’m also reminded that it’s not so much heaven as a place that I look forward to, it’s being with Jesus, being reunited with loved ones, and worshiping God and enjoying His presence)
“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
From the last book, The Last Battle, Chapter 16. A good ending when the main characters died — counter-cultural! This one gives me the chills (and makes me cry):
“’You do not yet look as happy as I mean you to be.’
Lucy said, ‘We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.’
‘No fear of that,’ said Aslan. ‘Have you not guessed?’
Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.
‘There was a real railway accident,’ said Aslan softly. ‘Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is over: this is the morning.’
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Although the last part of the quotation was what was most comforting to me, the first part of it made a difference in my life today. I realized that fear has kept me from moving forward through grief (and life), and that something far better awaits. In “A Grief Observed,” Lewis wrote “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
God is doing something in my heart. Hymns and Scripture verses (and now, even books) that I read or learned long ago are sinking in and changing me. In the past, I desperately clung to them, but now they’re becoming part of me.
Dee, THANK YOU for this gift of an online Bible Study— I think God arranged the timing, because my heart was ready. I first got on your email list a few years ago when I was looking for pictures of a lion. I ordered a poster of Sally’s painting for a gift and signed up for the email list at the same time. So, the discussion of Aslan is fun 🙂
Renee — what a wonderful contribution you have made. I love how you comb the great classics and share. Thank you so much. I particularly love that last quote too. The real story has begun! Wow.
Qu.4 Reflection on 1st verse of Be Still My Soul. To order and provide is God’s part. My part is to bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. He is on my side always and I should rest in Him. The last verse really speaks to me. In every change He faithful will remain. Even if I do develop a dementia of some sort or anything else, He remains faithful. In all of my contemplation about this I knew that even if I should become, not myself, He is still sovereign. His purpose will go forth and I may be used of Him just as much as if I were a brilliant scientist or doctor.
My pastor gave an illustration Sunday about his watch. The back is clear so that you can see the works from behind. He said when you look at it some of the wheels turn backward but still the hands move forward. His point was that even our mistakes and backward steps are part of His divine purpose that moves forward no matter what we do. I can see this also applying to things I don’t understand.
It seems that every conversation I’ve had today somehow points to the many things you, my sisters in Christ, have talked about above. What a wonderful reminder that when we immerse ourselves in prayer, worship, and study all creation sings of the glory of God.
My job is downtown revitalization and at the moment I am immersed in bricks and mortar projects. So the moanings of the people that have been with me are those of the brickmakers in Egypt. As the stories of Moses’ ups and downs and God’s patient molding of Moses’ character swirl around in me,I am struck by vs. 6-7 of Psalm 30:
“When I felt secure, I said, ‘I will never be shaken.’ O Lord, when you favored me you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.”
I have had so many moments when God’s blessings have wrapped me in joy and resolve. I, too, have felt secure and said that I would never again let myself lose sight of God’s presence with me. Then, bam!, I get slammed again and begin worrying and fretting – definately dismayed, just like the psalmist.
Today, while doing building research, I held a book in my hands that was handwritten in 1872 transferring property from one family to another. It seemed like a sacred moment. My assistant and I spoke in hushed tones as though some extra amount of respect was due the names in that book. One hundred and thirty-eight years later, we were looking at their dreams, knowing what had become of the property they had invested their lives in. It was one of those God-moments where I realized that God looks at my hopes and dreams and knows what will become of this “property” I invest my life in.
I’m thinking again tonight about those Israelites and the incredible high of being “passed over” and led through the parting of the waters – one of the most clear moments of God’s favor in all of scripture. They felt secure; how could they ever be shaken again when it was so clear that God was taking care of them? Yet after all the dancing and celebrating ended, the desert loomed ahead. It didn’t take long for the whining to begin and soon they felt abandoned by God. This is what has happened for me with my son’s situation. His drug habit was killing him. After he was arrested and put in jail, he tried killing himself. They told us if he lived he would have severe brain damage. He didn’t die and he doesn’t have severe brain damage. With great confidence and trust I believed the Lord protected him from himself and intends to use him for a greater purpose. But time has passed and I grow weary of trips to the jail. I’ve begun a digression into woe-is-me. I can see the desert ahead of us. So I turn to the Lord for help. Crying out for his mercy, I remember the conversation I had with my pastor over lunch today. We talked about fear and she told me that the baseline of fear is the unknown. Because we don’t know how something will come out we become afraid to venture into the unknown. Those Israelites didn’t know how they would survive in the desert, those property owners of 1872 didn’t know what their investment would become, and I don’t know if I will ever get my son back from his addiction. I’m 62 years old. Will I ever know him healed and whole? I guess my fear is that I won’t.
“Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; in every change, He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”
“Weeping endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morn.”
I am going to remember holding that book of hopes and dreams in my hands this morning and picture my heavenly Friend holding my hopes and dreams in His hands. He smiles, knowing what is to come, and that makes me dance with joy.
Good story, Janet!
I had a wonderful moment this morning at the local coffee shop while reading “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken. He was talking about working at the Grand Canyon “and off duty we explored and wandered far out along the rim, the moon filling the upside-down mountain, as the Red Indians call it, with mystery.” (p.47) The upside-down mountain. That spoke to me in a very deep way impressing the image upon me that our valleys are God’s mountain tops. That makes me smile.
We are currently planning a trip to the Grand Canyon this summer, rafting the river through the canyon. The Great Mystery of all these things coming together is very exciting and energizing.
Thanks to you all for praying me through this day of visitation. What was anticipated as a day of great sadness has been filled with light and joy! What a Friend we have in Jesus!!
You got kissed in the midst of your valley of pain.
How sweet of God.
A Severe Mercy is one of my ten favorite all time books.
Good Morning to you,Dee,and to all my unknown to me personally sisters. I am not currently participating in this study, but I have been reading your blog. I am blessed immensely by all of you. The study that I am presently doing is Jennifer Rothschild’s “Fingerprints of God”, and it corresponds beautifully to your “God of All Comfort.” I love how the Holy Spirit ties it all together so well. This has been a sorrowful, confusing, and fearful season for the past few weeks. I identify so much with you Janet H. in the fear you have concerning your son. Sometimes I become despondent and hopeless fearing that my son and daughter-in-law will never come out of bondage and that it will be passed on to entangle my beautiful granddaughters. God has so faithfully shown me in the past week that I am wanting to know Him more and experience His resurrection power like never before, but I don’t always live a crucified to flesh life. For me to experience resurrection power, I must first die. I really get tripped up with pride in its various forms. I am so grateful that God is the God of all comfort and that I am always accepted in the Beloved. Janet, you ministered to me this morning. Thank you so much. I have been a Christian for such a long time that it is sometimes amazing to realize that I have to go back and visit the basics again and remember that I must die daily. Thank you, Dee, for your godly influence and your faithfulness to share.
I’m so glad you are with us Deidra. I know many share your fears in similar situations and we can pray for one another and encourage one another.
#1. Dee wrote that her heart felt “frozen”. I think of how our grief can be felt, in a very real, physical way. For me, since my nephew’s death, I had many days where I felt like a very heavy, oppressive weight was literally pressing down on me and surrounding me on all sides.
#2. Evidence in Scripture that God hears and cares
I think of Joseph, in Genesis 39:20-21. He was in prison, but God was with him and was kind to him. God didn’t arrange his release right away, but He was there. God always knows where we are, physically and spiritually.
In Psalm 34:17-18 I learn that the Lord hears the cries of the righteous, and He is close to the brokenhearted.
Psalm 56:8 I think of when I cry, that God is taking note of my tears. “Each tear entered into Your ledger, each ache written in Your book” (The Message)
#3. A spiritual winter for me was after the birth of my daughter, and I was having some problems with my heart that were really scaring me.
I was taken over by fear, anxiety, and at times, panic. One of my friends was having a luncheon at her house, and I didn’t want to go because she lives way out in the country and I was afraid to be far from medical help in case I needed it. I did go, and before we ate she read from a Max Lucado devotional that was all about fear, from Isaiah 41:13. I had never read that verse before and I felt like God meant it for me. I clung to that verse and would picture the Lord literally holding my hand.
My spring came when God revealed to me sin I had in my life. Looking back, I believe He was trying to get my attention and change the course in which I was heading. Even though it was a frightening time, I had never felt closer to God, and He answered so many prayers. I look back and am thankful that He cared so much for me to not let me continue the way I was going in my sin.
#4. Reflections on “Be Still My Soul”
“Be still my soul” reminds me of Psalm 131. To still and quiet my soul and not concern myself with great matters. My part is to be still and trust Him, God’s part is to take care of all the rest.
“Bear patiently” is so hard. How I always want to get out of the fire quickly and “get life back to normal”. I’m learning you live life right where you’re at, and God is there, even in the midst of the storm.
“In every change, He faithful will remain”. How I resist and do not like change! I am often fearful of change. But God – the same, yesterday, today, and forever – must be the constant in my life that I cling to.
In Renee’s post the quote from C.S. Lewis, that no one ever told him grief felt so much like fear. I often awake early in the morning with the vague sense of fear. I have to remind myself that fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7)
Am praying for all of you as you have shared the burdens and sorrows of your hearts; Tammy, Anne, Janet, Robin – as you care for your son; Belinda, Claudia, Livingloved – your poem you wrote on last week’s blog about your brother was so moving and just shows the love you have for him bursting from your heart – and Dee, as you lead us and teach us from the wisdom the Lord has given you.
Thank you for your prayers Susan. I particularly like what you said about learning to live life where you are and finding God there.
Sat down with a cup of coffee during work break and read your recent posts instead of eating a cookie. Your words are sweet strength. I plan to blog after church tonite. Pray for me. I was selected to be the Awana Bible Quiz coach this year. We begin practice tonite. Also on Feb 6 I will be giving the Devotional during half time at our Upward Basketball games. There are 3 games that day so I will be speaking 3 times. The words are swirling in my head and I must begin putting them down on paper next week. Love and prayers to you all! Janet I’m thrilled that our prayers were answered. Gotta get back to work.
3. I’m having a hard time with this one — and keep coming back to it. Is it possible that I can’t even comprehend “spring” or have never experienced it? When I first saw the question, I FINALLY thought of an experience that fit — but it was my mom’s experience, and the spring she experienced after becoming as a 40 year old widow with children at home (I recently read what she wrote about that experience and was encouraged).
But when I look back to my own winters, I don’t remember spring. Certainly I remember Jesus coming and being with me during the winter. But even after I clearly was aware of His presence and peace, winter still lasted several more years. When I think of winter (given my experience living in a few cold places), I think of the long, hard winters. And I’ve been in one (of varying degrees) for some time. With the weather, I consider anything above zero tolerable, especially if the sun is shining. In my life, it’s similar — above zero is tolerable, but still freezing. I do have hope, but expect that the situation which I am grieving now will last at least a few more years. I’m not as tired as I once was, and Jesus is with me. I can see Him at work. But that’s the way it was in the past, too. I jumped from winter to summer and seemed to miss spring altogether. Or maybe I just don’t recognize spring when I see it, because it is often messy and winter storms often occur in spring.
I’m also wondering if maybe I haven’t experienced spring because I haven’t prayed for myself enough (learning to pray the psalms is helping me express myself in prayer). But I think God’s grace is bigger than that. . . When I was looking at the Narnia quotes, I liked the one that follows (makes me smile!) and because God desires to be in relationship with us, there is probably some truth to it. But I’m also a little bit troubled, maybe because I’m reading too much into it. Here it is: (from The Magician’s Nephew)
“‘Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,’ said Digory.
‘I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,’ said Fledge.
‘Wouldn’t he know without being asked?’ said Polly.
‘I’ve no doubt he would,’ said the Horse (still with his mouth full). ‘But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.’”
Thinking about what you wrote, Renee. I think all of our paths through grief, suffering, or trials are as individual as we each are. So maybe someone describing their path as “winter into spring” doesn’t “fit” our experience. I know I haven’t come close to being over the death of my beloved nephew. And I know there will be more “winter” times, like when his birthday comes every year, because we always celebrated our birthdays together, as they were two weeks apart. And yes, I think God’s grace is big – Ephesians 1:8 says that the riches of God’s grace were “lavished” on us.
That’s extravagant grace!
You are His precious and beloved daughter. I’m glad you are learning to express your emotions more through the Psalms. Know that your heavenly Father delights in you, for just being, not doing.
Thanks, Susan. What you wrote helps so SO SO MUCH MUCH MUCH 🙂
4. The word CHANGE jumped out at me as I read this verse. In the past 2 yrs. I have experienced much change. My 14 yr marriage was annuled because my husband was still legally married to another woman. My brother who lives with AIDS, has a brain lesion and his entire immune system is no more. Any illness could kill him at anytime and I don’t want to face that reality but I have to. I have grown spiritually and that’s a great change, but, as part of the process, I have had to face my weaknesses head-on and it was not fun. It has just come to me that no matter what season of life we find ourselves in ‘He faithful will remain’. He is constancy in our bi-polar realities.
5. It’s been awhile since I read the Narinia series and I don’t have the books at hand for a quote. But I think of Aslan as the Restorer. The scene where Aslan speaks privately with Edmund after he has been rescued from the White Witch played in my head today. We don’t hear what Aslan said but I imagine it this way. “I believe you have learned a great deal from your experience. You made an unwise choice and suffered greatly for it. You are back where you belong. It happened. Move forward. I’ll never mention it again.”
I think that sticks with me because of my experience. I ended up in an emotionally destructive relationship because I ignored the gut feeling not to marry my ex-husband. I rebelled and told God I knew what I was doing. I USE TO BE a stiff-necked hard head. In my prayer journals from 1994-2008 I have the faithfulness of God recorded. Because I was being held captive by deception during that time there was so much I could not see. Once the veil was removed and I began facing everything in God’s strength, He slowly began a healing process. Many childhood wounds are now scars. It took God 13 yrs to get me to the point of admitting I needed help with my life. I had to see that I could not fix anything. The number one lesson I have learned is: GOD MEANS WHAT HE SAYS!
6. As I began medtitating and memorizing Ps 30 the word foes in v.1 played over and over in my mind. I asked who my foes were and when the anwser came it made perfect sense. My foes are the generational sins of my family. Four generations of women have suffered domestic violence. I chose to break the cycle. V.3 “O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave. You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” also grabbed my attention. Here’s why:On Jan 28, 2008 I left my home because my husband had threatened to take my life. I returned 3 months later and 6 wks after returning was when I learned the truth about my marriage. I shed rivers of tears for many months but the days of mourning for my dead marriage are beginning to be a distant memory. I’m beginning to feel alive again.
For a long time I use to feel guilty for still being alive. Over half of the women murdered in the U.S. were trying to leave abusive relationships. I stopped feeling guilty after I heard a survivor of 9-11 attack on the Pentagon speak. He stated that he was still alive because God still had work for him to do. I’m still alive because God has a plan. I want to live the abundant life Jesus promised.
Tammy, I just want to say praise the Lord that you made it out of that situation alive. What you said about being alive because God has a plan for you is thrilling. That is pure gold that you can take out when you are on the down side of this bipolar life. In Christ you are victorious over the power of the enemy and you will break that cycle in your family.
I appreciate what has been shared from Narnia. I don’t remember any particulars and it is very nice to hear what left an impression on others. All I remember is the golden warmth of his presence and Lucy and Susan loving to put their hands in his mane. I look forward to reading them again and finding precious things. I will keep notes!
I am going to spend some time with Psalm 30 now but I’m afraid it will have to be kind of split up because of my work schedule. I hope there is a kiss from the Word here for me too. Blessings to you all and good night.
I love how you are ministering to one another.
There have been some great Narnia quotes and images.
Tammy began on Psalm 30 but most of you have yet to start, so I’ll do another post to take you through it a bit more slowly.
Here are my answers to some of the questions. I will try to catch up to the rest of the study!
1. It reminds me that no matter what is going on in my life, God is there and He is at work in me. So often it feels as if nothing were changing, yet it is.
2. Psalm 13 has touched my heart for years because of the way David’s sorrow changes into sureness in God just because of Who God is. He starts with sorrows but sings to God at the end. Psalm 13:5 “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”
God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.
“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”
Exodus 22:27b “When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”
1 Samuel 1:12-17
As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
3. I am in the midst of that spring. Often I find myself growing impatient because all of the things I had hoped would be restored are slow to come, yet I am in awe of what God has done that is so good. My soul gets weary, but He has the strength I need. Everyday miracles exist all around me.
5. Word picture of Aslan: Golden perfection, warm, loving, life itself, gentle voice, tender eyes, mighty paws. greatest hope. reason to seek the good in life.