Cutting through Iron

While attempting to have a quiet time this morning, it was all I could do to not pull my hair out at the noisy construction that is still going on across the street.

Ever since that fateful day of November 30th, the day a bulldozer demolished the entire apartment complex next door, we have not lived in peace. They’re building from scratch, starting at the foundation and working their way up… A project that seems to be taking an eternity!!!

I eagerly look forward to rainy days and holidays, knowing that only then will there be a pause in the racket-causing-activity…

IRON(no pun intended)ically, the passage I was reading this morning happened to be about cutting through iron. A screeching sound I am altogether familiar with and am subjected to 24/7.

As I read, some perspective truth rang high above the noise…

Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So He subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. 
He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, 
for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” Psalm 107:10-16

As I took in the Word along with the noise, it suddenly became all too real. Construction is necessary and Jesus was more than just a carpenter; he was an iron-cutter. THE Iron-Cutter.

He came to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed… to set the captives free. (Isaiah 61)

To break the choking chains of gender-based violence, unjust stereotyping, abandoned babies in third world countries, separated families, and homelessness.

Rape in the workplace, religious traps, fear of revengeful pursuers, and war.

Poverty, substance abuse, eating disorders, and shame.

Running from murderous threats and prejudiced law enforcement.

Ignorance and apathy.

Idolatry of Self, of intellect, and of science.

We are detained and entangled because of our sin. Stumbling in the deepest, darkest, broken-down apartments, our sin takes us captive, chaining us to the condemned, cockroach infested pits.

Our only escape is our Carpenter– the Construction worker of all times and before all times.

To cry out to Him is to be saved.

He cuts through the iron shackles, breaks down prison gates, and sets His people free.

It is a deed that was done one time by one man for all men, but it is a constant undergoing of construction.

Daily are people being set free. Daily are iron bars being cut through, and once the chains are broken, the project begins. Truth sparks transformation, overseeing every stick of dynamite explosion that rebuilds lives. The old is destroyed and a new foundation is set, hence more hammering and sawing and construction in order for the Holy to take residence.

The Carpenter is at work. Both here, and above. 

… I go to prepare a place for you, if I go, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)

As one who has been freed, there is a lot of work to do before He comes back. Millions of people are yet enslaved, crying out for freedom.

So every day I hear iron being cut through, so every day I go.

Reminded that my unshackled hands are tools to be used, carrying the most important blueprint: news of the Ultimate Iron-Cutter. 

Prone to Wander

Today our team devoted the day to prayer. We met together briefly for a time of worship and instruction to guide our day, but then we each split off to find our own places of solitude. The sun was shining. I ached to spend this time with the Lord outside in His creation. However, not being as familiar with the asian side of the city, I asked a teammate if I could follow her to the park she was headed.

We pulled on our boots and stepped out into the sun.

With the command to not speak once we left the building, we placed a couple of feet between us and walked in paralleled silence. I had no idea where we were going. Staying in-step with her strides, I tried to gage where we were headed. I stopped when we arrived at a smaller, different park that I thought was the one, but she lead me forward. Ah. I groaned inwardly. Where are we going? Is this  park worth it?

Prior to meeting up with the team, my morning had been somewhat of a distracting and unsettling one; not the desired start when one is heading into a day of prayer. With these pre-existing anxious thoughts, my worry platter piled higher. Why is this stressing me out? Maybe I should just turn around. I’ll head to a park I already know.  But then I’m wasting time. But then I’ll miss what the unknown park might be like… I heard it was spacious and full of plants and that there was a “waterfall”… But will it really be where I want to be?

But, but, but. So many buts!

I wanted to envision what the park area would look like. Seriously though, why was I making it such a big deal? Not to mention, why did I feel like I had to make a plan or a layout as to the order or the agenda concerning my surroundings for prayer?

Prayer is simply being with my Father. It doesn’t matter where I am. I know this. But still (another but), I wanted to make sure I would have no distractions and freedom to worship how I wanted.

I kept walking. Each step distancing me from being able to choose other options.

My anxious heartbeat heightening as I fought my urge to turn back and resisted the temptation to ask questions of where we were going. It was cold. Really cold. My face started burning from the wind. The lighter jacket I put on that morning was useless.

I prayed for warmth.

I kept walking.

We came to a crosswalk. My guide was going to walk a little more before entering the park. I still couldn’t see it, but she pointed, gave me a rough direction and assured me I wouldn’t miss it. I asked once more for her to repeat, unsure and hesitant to go off on my own. Then I climbed up a hill.

The higher I went, the more warmth I felt.

I finally arrived at the park. Immediately, I spotted my prayer station, off to the side and into the woods, the city’s outline revealed in the patches between tree trunks. I made it.

The higher altitude inspired a higher perspective of my own self.

Super discontent about my attitude that day, I searched my heart, picking out the anxious thorns that had burrowed, digging to the root of the issues.

Life is scary. Much like not knowing where my teammate was leading me, it’s scary to not know where I’m being led in life and to not have anything spelled out. For nothing to make sense. To pass by places or people I thought were it. I would have stopped at the small park if my teammate hadn’t pulled me forward to the bigger and better. Throwing off my own agenda, there’s no choice but to blindly follow.

It’s not like I’m making any big decisions anytime soon– I’m committed to being here for these 2 years. Yet like most human beings, I prefer to dream up my own life’s timeline; intact with stable relationships and being near to the people I care about and doing what I’m passionate about. However, my plans always come with mountains of worry due to the fact that I can’t trust my imperfect self. I know who I am and that I’m more flesh than spirit. I put unrealistic expectations on myself. On others. Been there, done that. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. I’m a selfish being, hands down.

My plans will only end up with me in a breathless, tangled mess.

It is when I am in His will- in His presence- where I am undone. Yes, I’m full of dirt and grunge and sin, but all He sees is a child, covered and washed pure by the blood of His Son. His judgement on me is one of forgiveness, grace, love, acceptance, and delight. This is the One whom I can trust. This is who I WANT to be tangled up in. When I dwell on who He is and what has done, there isn’t room nor time to worry about the future. Anxieties melt away in sight of His perfect, healing peace.

Even though I had doubts and nearly turned back on multiple occasions, I’m so thankful that I kept following my teammate to this park. My day with the Lord turned out to be a smothering of kisses; He wowed me with promise after promise. I could hardly breathe, not because of anxiety, but because of His love.

If I let Him, He’ll lead me into the most beautiful tangled mess of His goodness. I don’t know every detail and often will walk blindly, but I do know that His plan is perfect and that He knows my every need. Every thought before I think it- He knows!

I’m on the path of His way everlasting; there is no reason to worry. I know who I am in Him, and I know I can trust in the One who has never, and will never, lead me astray. My life is not going to look like I want it to; it’s going to be better. It’s going to be God’s agenda.

What Joy

This morning I woke up from a text from my mom reminding me of the joy that is ours when our hope and strength is in the name of the Lord.

First of all, I just have to say how I am beyond blessed by this woman. To have such a godly influence in my life, a mother who continues to faithfully pray for and encourage me in every way possible even when living on opposite ends of the earth, that is something to indeed rejoice about!
What a gift!

And an even more meaningful gift as she points me towards a greater gift, timeless and true.

The very Word of God.

I jumped out of bed- a song of gratitude and praise in my heart. My spirit was hungry and eager to flip open to the words I know I would find smack dab in the middle pages of my two-inch thick, imperishable daily bread.

Let the feast begin!

What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their hearts on the highway to Zion. Psalm 84:5

Hallelujah! 
 
Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever.  He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Hallelujah. Psalm 146 
 
This is my God. In Him is my Joy. My Delight. My Confidence.
Looks like I just might be singing His praises all day today, tomorrow, and forever:)