Keep A Quiet Heart

There is nothing I love better than morning.  All is still, all is calm, and above the trees across the eastern pasture the sun begins to shoot brilliant golden rays into the sky.  It gleams on the dewy backs of the horses as they graze and glimmers on the blossoms of the cranberry tree.  On days like these I like to go out on the front porch with a cup of tea and watch the sun rise.  It’s a view I never tire of beholding. 

What does a sunrise signify?  To me it is a sign of peace.  It is a beautiful recognition of the new day — a new start. It is silence and song.  It is wistful and wild.  It is trust, it is faith… it is peace.  Because peace is all those things.  It is the silence of the world when the soul is in song; it is the wistfulness of wishes and wildness of dreams; it is trust in One who holds our hearts and faith that He will direct us where to go. 

Peace is not a feeling, which is something I wish I had learned long ago.  Peace is the acknowledgment that God is in control.  It is the product of trust in Christ.  Just as you can’t force the sun to come up any sooner than it does, so you cannot force yourself to have peace. Jesus said:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  (Jn. 14:27)

Peace is a reflection of a heart trusting in the Lord; a lack of peace is a sign that one is carrying her burdens alone, refusing to cast them on the one who is strong enough to bear them.  True happiness and joy is found when you are free from the cares of life because you have given them to God, because in exchange for our burdens, He gives us His peace.

I am currently reading Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot.  And that is what we need to do today and every day — and here in the morning, although it is raining and the sun can’t be seen, I know that the Son is still behind every cloud… and I can keep a quiet heart.

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Early I Seek You

In my last post I talked about God’s plan for us, and how we must seek Him in order to have the abundant life He promises.  This morning, as I sit on my bed looking out the window at the dawn, I am reading Psalm 63.  Not only did David seek God, but he specified when he sought God… early in the morning.

“Oh, God, you are my God; [early] I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.  So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisified as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” (Ps.63:1-7)

I don’t know about you, but I love the morning.  I get up as early as possible, while everyone is asleep and all is quiet, and watch the sun come up over the trees across the road.  The dew is usually all over the grass, and the sun glistens on each individual blade, making our lawn shimmer in the light.  The horses’ backs reflect the sunlight as they graze in the pasture, and all the chickadees and doves start to sing.  I get myself a cup of tea and read my Bible while the sun continues to rise.  It’s the perfect time to be with God. 

I once read a sermon called “Meeting God in the Morning” by the Reverend Matthew Henry.  Although it was written in the 18th century, everything Mr. Henry wrote still holds true today.  He held that the best time to pray and read was in the morning because it is then that we are not yet burdened with the cares of the day. We are fresh in body and mind, and we are beginning our day in the thought of God so we may continue in that vein for the proceeding hours.  David held to this same concept:

“Oh God, you are my God; early I seek you…” (vs.1a)

The word you may read in your Bible for “early” may be “earnestly”, but the actual Hebrew translation can be read both ways.  Early in the morning we earnestly seek Him.

“…my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (vs.1b)

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep.  Where do you get that living water?… Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.””  (Jn. 4:10-13)

“So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” (vs. 2-3)

When we pray, we enter into the very presence of God.   We are talking to Him; conversing with Him.  Sometimes I find that I have to stop praying and just be still… not keep talking AT God but more WITH Him.  You can’t converse with a person who does all the talking herself, nor can God speak with you when you are all talk and not much listen.  When we are listening, praying, we are in God’s sanctuary.  My room is my physical sanctuary in the morning, when all is quiet and peaceful.  Jesus himself said, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6:6)  But what about during the day, when we need Him just as much or more than in the morning?  It’s so easy to feel like you’re in God’s sanctuary when all is quiet and peaceful — but what about in the hectic whirlwind of the other 24 hours?  Catherine of Siena said, “Build yourself a cell in your heart and retire there to pray.”  No matter where you are, that “cell” is there… that “sanctuary” is with you always.

“So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” (vs.4)

His steadfast love is better than life to us…  or is it?  I have to ask this question sometimes.  Sometimes life seems more appealing than steadfast love.  We can’t physically feel God’s love; we have to take it by faith.  Of course, we can grow to know and understand it more and more, but occasionally, life on earth can be all we desire.  If His love is better than life to us — if He is really the center of our world — we will indeed bless Him as long as we live.

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips…” (vs.5)

Being satisfied in Christ is hard for me, and I know for a fact it is a common struggle among homeschooled young ladies.  We have been raised with the mentality that to serve and love a husband and family is the crowing glory of a woman, and it is right and good to desire it.  But too often the desire gets out of control.  Every girl I know has at least some part of her that yearns to be loved by a man, and to have a beautiful wedding and someday a family… but the hard part comes in being content where she is.  She needs to be satisfied by who God is.  He promises to be very satisfying, too… David described Him to be something like a Krispy Kreme donut!  “Fat and rich food” sounds very good to me. 🙂

“…when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night…” (vs.6)

And so we come full circle.  In the morning we are with God, and at night we are still with Him. We seek Him in the morning and remember Him at night.  If every thought is taken captive for Christ — if we are living in the thought of God from morning to evening — then the day can be lived in victory, because He is the recurring theme throughout it.

“…for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” (vs.7)

He is our help from the morning till the night — seek Him early on, and He will be with you the rest of the day, and in the shadow of His wings you will find contenment and freedom from every care.

My Portion Forever

Has anything ever felt like a “wearisome task” to you?  There are plenty of things I could think of.  They range from actual tasks to character issues, to even the ever-present “wait” so many girls are in.  It can be very wearisome — trusting God.  Sometimes you can feel like you’ve waited for an answer long enough, or that God is holding out on you.  I felt like that in deciding on a college. Why didn’t God answer?  I had deadlines to meet!  But God doesn’t work with deadlines.

“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” (Ps. 73:16-17)

In the end, everything worked out perfectly.  I continued to pray “in the sanctuary of God”, and within a day of the deadline, everything was made clear.  Decisions were finalized.  Plans were laid out.  All because we waited on the Lord.

“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel and afterward you will receive me to glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  There is nothing on earth that I desire beside you.” (v. 23-25)

Uh-oh.  There is nothing on earth I desire beside you.  Is that true?  I have a hard time saying it.  I have no one in heaven but Him; but couldn’t I maybe have someone down here, too?  Perhaps in time.  But for now, He wants to be everything to me — for if He is not, my focus will be on myself and my own desires, and not on His will. 

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (v. 26)

What a promise.  Even if I fail, He is the strength of my heart, and my promised portion for all of my life.  A ‘portion’ is like a ration — a ration of food.  Food satisfies the hungry.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Ps. 90:14)

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (v. 28)

It is indeed good for me to be near God.  When I am not, my flesh and heart DO fail.  But when I am near him, He is my refuge and my strength.

Nearer, my God to Thee; nearer to Thee; Even though it be a Cross that bringeth me.  Ever my song shall be “Nearer, my God to Thee!”; Nearer, my God, to Thee; Nearer, to Thee….