This is where I spend so much of my time. I work here. I create here. I socialize here (media-wise). It’s my spot. That’s why there’s so many things on the mirror.
There’s phrases or Bible verses that move me…
There’s a picture of someone special who’s no longer here…
There’s a card from my husband that makes me happy…
Something from my son’s holiday shop at school…
And then, there’s this…
I just love the message of this. And it moves me today. It causes me to think before I open my mouth. Because really, do I have a song? Or do I just have an answer…
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3
Honestly, for so long I thought I had the answer. That’s why I opened my mouth. It’s reflected in my son here lately when I try to tell him something. He cuts me right off and says, “I know, I know.”
Amazing thing is He always knows.
Just like me. For once upon a time, I thought I knew it all. So I spoke it all.
This morning, though, I pause. And I contemplate God’s people who went before me. Like the children of Israel who were delivered from slavery. They saw God’s great power and believed. Then, they opened their mouths in song.
They sang, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted.” (Exodus 15)
Then, there’s Mother Mary. She saw God’s great power when He filled her with His mercy and grace… fruit in her womb. And she was blessed for she believed. And like Israel, she opened her mouth in a hymn of praise.
She sang, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
Then there’s me. For so long, I opened my mouth because I thought I knew something. But today, I pause.
I wonder… do I have an answer or a song? And if it’s simply an answer, then I think I should hush up. Because no one wants to hear a know-it-all, right?
Rather, people want to hear something lovely. Songs of redemption. And deliverance. An hymn of praise…
That’s what people want to hear. It’s what they need.
Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous ones; praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the LORD with the lyre; make music to Him with a ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song to Him; play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout. Psalm 33:1-3
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door… John Denver
Up till a couple of years ago, the above lyrics wouldn’t have meant much to me. But now, I identify with John Denver’s song. My heart echoes his refrain… a Rocky Mountain High, Colorado. However, the song of my heart sounds a little different. “She was born in the winter of her 41st year, coming home to a place she’d been before. She left her yesterday behind her, you might say she was born again. She found a key for every door… a Blue Ridge Mountain High, Virginia.”
John Denver used the term born again. That’s an expression I would have avoided up till a couple of years ago. Because despite my claiming to be a born-again Christian, I don’t think I had any understanding of that title. Not till recent years. Not till recent revelations. Recent mountain high experiences. And this past August, the birth of my baby girl gave a vivid picture of being born-again. New birth. But not just hers… mine.
At first, Annabelle was just a thought. A whisper of God. Hidden and formed in the dark. Quiet and still. And as my body provided what she needed, she grew. She flourished inside me. And the miracle is, no one could really see what was happening. All this went unnoticed. Aside from my growing belly, Annabelle’s progress was unseen to the naked eye. A real person grew inside me. It’s truly awe-inspiring. A miracle.
As the time of her delivery drew near, there were contractions. Small and irregular at first, but with more frequency towards the end. And then the big day arrived… it was time. When my water broke, it was more significant to me than my own baptism which occurred seventeen years earlier. No, this was a picture of cleansing. Of healing. For as I was pierced, water and blood escaped. A dramatic picture of what took place upon a cross some two thousand years ago…
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. John 19:34
And then came labor. Before long, a little discomfort morphed to full scale pain. It hurt. For hours. It was work. See, making babies comes easy… but birthing babies is a different story. It’s not an easy process. It took hours. My husband and mother-in-law were with me the whole time. And there was a screen we could watch… it monitored Annabelle’s progress. Every contraction was recorded. Every twinge I felt was reflected on that screen…
Susan, my in-law, took great interest in that screen. Because we could see other readouts, too. She’d study them… “Oh, there’s one… she’s getting ready to deliver.” And sure enough, we’d hear a baby cry. Then again, “Oh, this one will be soon…” And again, another baby cry. All around me, babies birthed left and right.
Me and Annabelle? We took a bit more time. Though we arrived early in the morning, and my water broke at lunchtime, delivery didn’t come till later in the evening. And even then, they had to take her out of me. She wasn’t budging. Such a picture of my own spiritual journey.
Funny thing about those screens, though. I looked at one yesterday and what I saw about floored me. Those labor pains, well, they look like a mountain range. Up and down. Once more, the act of having a baby imitating one’s spiritual trek. Up and down. Ascending the mountain and descending the mountain…
If you look at the mountain of a labor pain, you’ll notice the baby’s heartbeat slows with each contraction. And the higher the contraction reads, the more pain is involved. As delivery progresses, the contractions are more frequent. Longer. I find this to be true in my journey today. Well, with life in general.
See, we’re busy creatures. It’s our default. We hit the ground running. And our spiritual heartbeat becomes more frantic and erratic with our hectic pace. Before we know it, we feel some pain. Something may slow us down. A forced sit-still, if you will. That’s the contraction. It squeezes us and as we stand still, our spiritual heartbeat slows. But before long, something beautiful occurs. Our heart begins to beat alongside His… slow and unrushed. A holy hush. And this happens at the peak of the contraction. At the tip of the mountain. And it’s there lasting change happens. It’s there, the internal is reached. When you’re quiet. And still.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:13-15
You’re regenerated. You’re refreshed. Made new by the Creator Himself. But eventually, life sets in once more. You have to descend the mountain and reenter reality. And before you know it, your pace picks up. You become busy yet again. And life rushes by until… you have a contraction. A forced sit. But again, something beautiful happens inside. Unnoticed by those on the outside. Unseen to the naked eye… you’re changed. You develop. As you grow up spiritually, the contractions may come with increased frequency. But as you progress, your heart begins to recognize more quickly when it’s not beating in sync with His. That’s when you stop. You listen. And when your heartbeat aligns with His, you’re ready to move on. Once more.
See, she was born in the winter of her 41st year. At first, she was just a thought. A whisper of God. Hidden and formed in the dark. Quiet and still. And as He gave her what she needed, she grew. She flourished with Him inside her. And the miracle is, no one could really see what was happening. All this went unnoticed. Her progress was unseen to the naked eye. But she was made over.. a new creation. It’s truly awe-inspiring. A miracle. For she who was born was born again. On a Blue Ridge mountain high… Virginia. That’s my song.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” John 3:3-4
Today, I wonder about Eve. What must she have felt like? She started off well, right? She walked in the garden not just with her mate, but also with God. And as she walked with the God of all creation, she knew no shame. Because she was innocent. But, Eve made a mistake. A big one. And it was through her mistake that sin entered the garden. And I find it ironic that Eve, whose name means “life” or “living,” also became the mother of death. Because the wages of sin is death, right? Eve, who was the mother of all living, actually became the Eve of destruction when she made her error. How in the world did this this woman feel?
Did Eve realize as soon as her teeth broke the skin of the forbidden fruit that sin just walked in? Did she feel sick as the sweetness of the fruit slid down her throat? Or did she become soul-sick after she gave it to her husband to eat? Did she feel fear when she realized she did the one thing God told her not to do? Or did she fear later, when God came calling and she hid? Did shame introduce itself before or after she ate? Or did she feel its full impact as her husband said to God, “The woman that You gave to be with me – she gave me some [some fruit] from the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12. Perhaps she didn’t feel the full gravity of her error in judgment until she answered God. She said that she had been deceived by the serpent… did God surprise her by the severity of His punishment? He said, “I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.” Not only that, God said to Adam, “The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”
The Garden of Eden… that garden of delight… was no more. Because sin walked in. Because Eve did what she knew she shouldn’t, and because Adam followed her lead, it cost them dearly. Life as they knew it was changed forevermore. Eve was deceived by the serpent, and after being tempted, she found that what looked good was not. Because what looked good led to the fall of man… it led to the eve of destruction. And ever since that day, sin has abounded on the earth. Look around, and what do we see? The news is filled with story after story, one more heinous than the next. Today’s headlines shout, “Police arrest boy, 12, for stabbing his eight-year-old sister to death at home.” Sin gave birth to violence and destruction and it blazes an ever widening path. Did Eve have any idea what was to follow? Could she have known the impact of her mistake? She must have, because she gave birth to Cain and Abel. Her own son killed the other. Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground… and it hasn’t stopped. Blood spilled upon blood. Ever deepening.
I hope that Eve knew the truth. The other truth, that is. Oh, she knew the reality of violence. But I hope Eve realized her true worth and how much God really loved her. Because although she bit into the fruit, and gave way to sin, God didn’t love her less because of it. And despite her costly mistake, He still provided for her needs. And here’s the best part… God in fact said the woman would have pain in childbirth, but there is hope in simply that. The hope of childbirth. Despite her grievous sin, Eve, the first woman, got to have babies. And with each child, there is hope. It’s the woman who experiences a baby as he grows in her womb. It’s the woman who quickly forgets the agony of delivery, when she hears her newborn’s first cry. It’s the woman who knows the closeness of a babe at her breast, drinking in what only she can offer. It’s the woman who gets to be the mother. What great mercy God showed to Eve, the very first woman, in making her what she was… a mother.
This morning, I read, “For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth— A woman shall encompass a man.” Jeremiah 31:22. This intrigued me, as I have been contemplating God’s plan for women lately. I have felt downcast, and well, quite frankly feeling less than… if you know what I mean. So, I just had to know what this “new thing” is. What exactly does God mean by saying, “A woman shall encompass a man”? “Encompass” has several meanings, and with each version of the Bible, the verse reads differently… shelter, compass, surround, protect, guard, and return to, among others. So, what? A woman will shelter a man, protect a man… what was God saying here? And as I began to see, I just have to wonder if Eve, who lived so long ago, knew the promise of this statement.
It may be true that sin entered the world through the fall of man, via the mouth of a woman. And though this stigma may trail after woman, it doesn’t have to be that way. Because the fact is, God chose women to have babies. That’s part of His plan. And because of God’s mercy and grace, it was through a woman that salvation made entrance into the world. By the hand of God, a virgin conceived. And the baby Jesus grew inside that young woman’s body. He was protected in her womb. See… Mary, the mother of Jesus, encompassed The Man. She surrounded Him… she sheltered Him… she guarded Him. And our Savior and Lord was delivered into this world through a woman. And it’s by Him that we will can all truly be delivered. Praise God for that.
Ironically, although Eve’s name means “life” or “living,” the dictionary gives the meaning as evening, night, sundown… basically darkness. And although the world looks that way now… dark and scary… there is hope. See, the dictionary also gives the meaning of “Eve” as: the evening or day before a special day, or the period immediately preceding. See, as dark the world seems right now, we are in fact living during a period immediately preceding something special. That something special is the Day of the Lord. And so we find… in more ways than we realize… we are truly living through the Eve of destruction. But we know the other truth… the real truth. We know the hope of a Child.
He who testifies of these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20