Monday, December 5, 2016

Stillness



The Stillness of the first Snow 
ushers in the Pause,
The Pause of Advent,
 When waiting hovers all around
And Mystery calls out to me. 



Yesterday I read the words of Bonnie Gray, The Faith Barista, again, and  remembered my first weeks as a blogger, when she began her #OneWordLent series. Only now, the months have passed, and she invited us to join her as she begins a new series for #OneWordAdvent. Find her first post  by clicking here where she shared her words at the (In)Courage Site.



Those first weeks as a blogger were so scary to me (not that I feel much braver now, 80 posts later,) and her words of invitation brought a stirring followed by a response in my heart that was hard to ignore. I knew that God was the one calling me out, and asking me to listen for HIS #OneWord. 


Could it be that He is still
asking me to seek out
the #OneWord He 
would speak today?



And the Ancient Words flutter
down through time,
words we memorize as children
become so familiar
that we miss the meaning
lose the mystery.

 

" And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'"
Luke 2:8-11 NIV 


I wonder how dark the night was as they watched their sheep. The darkness seems very deep around my soul, around the souls of many that I love right now.  Who is keeping watch?  Who is guarding the sheep this night?  And how well were those shepherds trained to listen for the predator in the dark?

I have a feeling that no amount of training could have prepared them for the explosion of mystery that rang around them, and brought them to their knees on THAT NIGHT.  Who was watching the sheep then? And where was the BRAVE when the sky fell down around them?

My heart is heavy
for those who watch
the sky falling
and find their faces on the ground.

My prayers feel useless under a weight
that is full of my own fear as well.

Did the shepherds cry out for mercy
in that moment
before the 
Angels sang?

The angel's first words make so much more sense to me now. Unless the sky has fallen around you, you cannot feel the weight of those words:

"Do not be afraid"

And unless you have felt the weight being lifted off your shoulders
as the Mystery of God Coming to Earth envelops you, you cannot see the beauty:
 Grace in a Shepherd, 
Mercy for the sheep.

  
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:7, 9-10  


So what is my #OneWordAdvent
for this week?


STILLNESS

I will be still, and know that HE is God.

God come to earth
for me and for you

to be the perfect shepherd caring for us
the sheep of HIS fold. 

GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY for all the people. 




I am linking this week with:
#TellHisStory, Jennifer Dukes Lee 
#TeaAndWordTuesday, Meg Weyerbacher 
#LiveFreeThursday, Suzie Eller 

  

20 comments:

  1. It's funny you should go here, Bettie, to the fear of the shepherds. Because for the first time ever I sat reflecting on that too, just a few days ago. I'm truly seeing that we work out our faith in "fear and trembling" because where we walk in God's powerful will for us, the enemy hits hardest. Hugs from afar, just hugs. The song "Whatever Comes" by Rend Collective has just come on my Spotify mix: love how God works. "Be my bravery when I am trembling...be my fireplace when my heart is wandering. Be my Father whatever comes"...just tears. Sometimes it all feels too hard, doesn't it? But oh the joy and peace and comfort He holds out each and every time. But step we must into that fear, and just as the shepherds let Him speak to us through the messengers He sends: "Do not be afraid.I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." Holding your hand from afar and believing every giant will fall, every mountain will fall for nothing is impossible for our mighty God as we step into His waiting arms, again and again. Hugs. Huge hugs.

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    1. Oh, Anna, thank you for your beautiful encouraging words! And I listened now to that song by Rend Collective--it is just right for this place. HE truly is our bravery, when it's too hard to be anything except fearful. What joy and comfort there is to be found in accepting HIS hand being offered to us. I am so thankful for the messages He does speak to us, and for the words that He has given through your words as well. Those giants are falling around us, even as we pray and walk forward! Hugs returning to you across the miles my friend! And Blessings as you step forward also!

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  2. Thank you for blessing me again today, Bettie. May we be still and listen for the whispers of God to our weary hearts! I'm especially touched with how unless we have felt the sky falling on us, we cannot feel the impact of those words, "Don't be afraid." And unless The Mystery of God envelops us and lifts the weight off our shoulders, we cannot see the beauty. My heart is still as I soak in these truths. Advent blessings to you! Hugs!

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    1. Dear Trudy, Thank you for your encouragement so much! I am continuing to learn more about that stillness--it doesn't come easy sometimes! I am glad that His Coming is the start of the beautiful miracle to help us! May you have a Blessed Advent Season also! Hugs!

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  3. Bettie,this is so beautiful! I love the peace and soothing stillness that emanates from your words. My heart found solace here, especially:

    "Unless the sky has fallen around you, you cannot feel the weight of those words:

    "Do not be afraid"

    And unless you have felt the weight being lifted off your shoulders
    as the Mystery of God Coming to Earth envelops you, you cannot see the beauty:
    Grace in a Shepherd,
    Mercy for the sheep."

    How true and how hopeful those words are! I sense God is already stilling your soul, my friend, letting His perfect Peace envelop you through the darkest of nights, His love shine strong like a beacon to light the way Home. Bless you for this lovely offering. It's just what I needed today. May you keep writing out your heart this Advent season, as God gives you strength and inspiration to do so. xoxo

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    1. Dear Joy, I am so thankful you were encouraged here today. Isn't our Lord amazing how He sends words to confirm the work that He is doing? I was so amazed when I read your post today, and saw the word "stillness" there also! He is so good to help with His Grace during this Season of Leaning in closer to Him. May you be blessed my friend during this Advent Season. xoxo

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  4. Stillness is certainly a word to ponder during Advant -- and a quality of life that can only improve ANY season of the year. Blessings to you, Bettie!

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    1. Thank you Michele! Yes, I want to keep pondering that Stillness, and seeing more of His Grace that is found there! Blessings to you also!

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  5. This is my third time commenting, it didn't save the last time... I'll make it brief! I just wanted to say thank you for your encouraging message and I am amazed the creativity God gives us from using one word prompts, it is such a great way to ensure it is His message not our message!

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    1. Thank you for being persistent to get your comment to come thru Stephanie! Yes, isn't God's Spirit amazing when He sparks a thought in us, even through just one word? I am so glad that He reveals so much to us through that creative process, when we let Him have His way. Blessings to you!

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  6. Bettie, I really love this. I love how you interspersed your poetry amidst the words from Scripture. I guess I never really thought about how frightened the shepherds must have been. Thank you for encouraging stillness and helping me ponder anew the night of Christ's birth. Blessings to you! xo

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    1. Dear Gayl, Thank you for your kind words! I am so grateful for all of the ways that you share your poetry too, you are a great encourager! I want to keep learning more about stillness too. There is so much more contained within the story of Jesus' Birth that is waiting for me to see, if I can slow down and see through open eyes. Blessings to you also! xo

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  7. Hi Bettie,
    Stillness -- there is so much beauty there! I love how you put us in the midst of the shepherd's story to consider the terrifying sight in the sky they saw that night and what courage it took for them to say, Let us go see what this is all about! Familiar words often take us out of the story, but your beautiful words here have put us right back in it to consider all that God has done -- for them and for us!

    Bettie, I'm so glad you answered the call to start blogging and I'm counting you as one of my dear blogging friends that I have had the privilege of connecting with! xoxoxo

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    1. Dear Valerie, Yes, you are so right that sometimes we let ourselves be taken out of the story when we become so familiar with it. Thank you for sharing your perspective on that! To be drawn in--isn't that what Jesus wants for us? I will be pondering your thoughts tonight. And, I am so thankful that God's call to blogging and to link-up led me to connect with you! You have become such a beautiful encouragement to me, and your words are such a gift! xoxo

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  8. I love this word! Stillness! And the photo of the snow goes so well with it. It is what I think of when it does snow. How it blankets everything and makes it pure and clean (like Jesus blood on the cross did for us!) This is a beautiful post, Bettie. I pray you are doing well this week and thanks for sharing this story from scripture with us, and for linking up!

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    1. Dear Meg, I am so glad you liked the snowy picture! The stillness of it all touched my heart as I stood outside looking up. One of my favorite Christmas songs was a medley by Twila Paris where she sang "Whiter Than Snow," because I also love that thought of Jesus' blood cleansing us to be whiter than snow! Thank you so much for your prayers, Meg! You are a blessing! Hugs!

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  9. Those words, "do not be afraid," are ones I repeat to myself over and over again. I'm a worrier by nature, so those words help remind me that I don't need to fear.

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    1. Yes, aren't those words so precious when we are caught in the middle of worries? I am so thankful that our God understands what we need, and is here to help us lay down our fears! Blessings to you!

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  10. Bettie, I had to develop a taste for stillness. Now I love the quiet. It is amazing to consider what it would have been like to have the heavens burst with the brightness of the heavenly host after years of quiet nights.

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    1. Hi Debbie, Oh it's good to know that I'm not the only one who has had to purposely choose the stillness. Even though I have always loved the quiet, my mind was usually busy planning the "next thing" instead of actually slowing my heart to rest in God there. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings to you!

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