The Desert Cry

Desert Cry
Desert Cry

"Speak tenderly to me, Be patient in your love. Speak words of hope, And free me, You are making all things new"

Today I was leading worship, and we truly had a wonderfully intimate time with God, where his presence was tangible in the room. For some reason my mind immediately went to Hosea and the amazing story of him and his wife, Gomer. This love story which dances between the story of Hosea and Gomer, and God and Israel, has so many facets to it, and so many things to be learned from it. Most famous is probably the verse "I will allure her to the desert and speak tenderly to her".  There is so much in that one sentence.

The word 'allure', means 'to woo'. It has romantic connotations, and is a word which indicates a deep and passionate love and interest.

Desert is a dry, difficult place to be, with little or no physical refreshment to the body. Hot sun, dry heat, no water, and dangerous conditions, it's not a place to get lost! But for some reason God wants to 'allure' us there.

Why?

He has great plans for us once we're there. He wants us to be in a place with no distractions, with no ability to depend on ourselves, and no people around to take our gaze off Him. He wants us to be in a difficult place, because it's only when we're in a difficult place that we can see him plainly. We can hear Him speaking to us. We can hear those tender words of love and affection that He is s0 desperately longing to whisper to our hearts, if we could only hear Him.

What happens when he whispers to us?

We are made new! It is impossible to be spoken to tenderly by the King of the universe, the Maker of all things, the Messiah, Saviour and Lord of all, without being changed. In an instant. This is a rehearsal for eternity! When we see him we will be changed in an instant! But we can begin the process now, if we'll only accept that alluring call into the difficult place.

We are so desperate NOT to enter the desert. We go kicking and screaming, and complain the whole way! But what happens when there is no one there to hear the complaints anymore, and nothing to remind you of what you left behind? You forget what was so 'great' about your life, and realise that most of it is plastic, and worthless, and you couldn't probably do without it!

When you're in the desert, you really deal with yourself. You realise what idols have been on your heart all along, which you hadn't even seen. You hear the way you talk which you may not have noticed before. You realise the way you've been looking at others, or the way you've been hoping others will see you. You see what's become your standard for life are so far away from what God's standards for life are. It's only when you're in a place where it's all taken away, that you realise non of it matters, and most of it was wrong.

You are truly free to see.

It's at this point that God gently whispers those words of hope, those words of truth, those words of love which set you free from all that bound you before, and makes all things new within you.

It's in the desert that we are most deeply refreshed, renewed and satisfied by Him. I love how God makes the places we most dread going to, the most incredible places of restoration.

I don't know about you, but I'd quite like to live in the desert.

Your Great Rescue

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"Grace abounds, In waves so strongI'm all out at seaI'm right where I want to beGrace aboundsEngulfing me all aroundI'm all out at seaRight where I want to beUntil you've done all you need inJust me and You..In your great rescue. "

Life is an ocean. It's full of twists and turns, currents pulling you in directions you didn't know existed, it can get rough in an instant, but can also be so beautiful and refreshing at times too. I don't believe there has ever been a person who hasn't experienced the choppy, tumultuous times life can throw at us, even the most sheltered and luxurious of lives have these times. It's not always circumstantial, it's out inner being that can encounter these waves crashing in, and that is universal.

Sometimes we're ready and waiting for these waves, because we know we're walking through a storm , we saw it coming, it started with a light drizzle, the winds picked up, and we were ready, with our coats, boots, umbrellas, and we're heading as quickly as we can to get 'out'!  Although we may not anticipate every wave, we are almost prepared for dealing with them because we know, we're living in a storm.

Other times we're happily enjoying a quiet, peaceful picnic for the soul, and in an instant we are being pounded with the lashing rain's of a storm that arrived with no warning. We're not ready, we're left outside in our summer clothes getting soaked to the bone! Our picnic is ruined, our food has turned to a soggy mess which is no longer appetising or satisfying. The rain stings our skin, and we can't see anything clearly, so we just sit there, getting drenched by the rain, hoping it'll pass quickly so we can get back to life!

But what if God had a plan in the suddenness of the storm? What if he meant to 'catch you unawares'? What if he didn't want that food to satisfy you anymore? What if he has things he wants to do in you during the storm? What if he wants you to stop fighting the tides, and give all control to his currents. Let Him carry you. Even if that means being all out at sea, with seemingly no hope, and no direction. Would you let him? Probably not!

God knows that he gets a lot less done in us when we're ready, and prepared to fix all the things which are going 'wrong' around us. We don't look to see if these circumstances are God's way of doing a work in us, we just get on and fix it. I believe that's why some storms come 'suddenly' and out of the blue. Because in His mercy - he saves us from ourselves, from our incessant need to fix everything and find the easy way out.

What if we're supposed to embrace the storm, and all it brings, and trust that He's good. He's always good. His grace abounds, engulfs us, surrounds us, it carries us in His currents to the places He wants us to be. If we stop fighting it, we might discover that we have been transformed, washed clean, renewed, restored and directed in ways we never could have accomplished for ourselves.

What if God isn't as interested in saving us from our circumstances, as He is in saving us from ourselves? What if the circumstances are his tools?

What if God is leading us right into the eye of the storm, and being in the storm with Him, IS His great rescue plan?

Nothing Can Move Me

GIrl on a rock
GIrl on a rock

"Nothing can move me, Nothing can move me, Your joy came in the morning.. Your promise will keep me, Your word it will lead me, From death to life.."

Have you ever fallen in a fast flowing river? I have.

When I was a kid I used to go do water sports in the river which ran through the middle of the city. One time my wind sail caught a current of wind and took me out of the safe area, an inlet, or dock where we did our activities, and took me into the main body of water where I immediately felt the strong pull of a massively powerful river. I fell off my board almost immediately and began screaming for help. I realised instantly that although this huge river looked lazy and slow, it was powerful and swollen, had the potential to suck me under and lose me in it's depths. Fortunately for me, my coach was nearby and got to me before I got carried away. I don't remember much of this episode because I think I was completely overtaken by fear, but what I do remember was that moment my coach got hold of me and pulled me up onto the safety of the deck, the sheer relief was so enormous, it totally overwhelmed me. The deck was so solid, immovable, safe and still. The complete opposite of how I'd felt in that water - which I had no control over.

Recently I was struck by how I could describe an experience God took me through in my personal life, in the exact same way. I felt like I'd been lifted out of this situation I had no control over, which could have destroyed me, could have taken me to places I would have been lost to, and really had huge power over me. I didn't even realise that I was screaming for help until I realised that God had rescued me! He heard the cry of my heard without me even needing to utter it. He saw me, saw the danger and grabbed me before it took me away.

Sometimes we don't realise what God rescued us from, without hindsight. Sometimes we really do reach the depths of despair, and hit rock bottom before God grabs us, we all have different stories, and different experiences of God's rescue plans, but one thing we all have in common is that immovable place He puts us. His rock, His peace, His rest, where nothing and no one can move you. Nothing can rob this from you - they can try, but it can never be stolen. It's His precious gift to us - He sets us on a rock, props us up, dries us off, washes us clean, and as His word says - "Nothing can separate us from Him".

I've found through my rescue experiences that after that initial plucking from imminent danger, we are often plunged into a night of the soul - a time where nothing much happens, we're left alone with our thoughts, our prayers and our relief that the situation has changed. It's a time for deep healing, deep restoration and often painful realisations, but after night time, always comes morning. And with the morning comes new mercies, He knows what the soul can bare, what the mind can cope with, and what the heart can carry. His mercies are always towards us, His mercy always triumphs over judgement, and He loves to show His mercy. Even when we deserve to be left to that swirling current and be swept away, He shows His mercy, because that's who He is.

Only when we have a full realisation of that mercy in the dawn of this new day, that undeserved, and unending mercy that He shows towards us, can our morning truly break,  and that joy can burst forth. That joy which wells from places we didn't know existed, bubbling up from that deep place of relief, is what leads us into understanding His promises for us, that He led us from death, to life. From drowning, to flourishing. From despair to joy.

From this place, nothing can move me.

Won't you break me?

broken-clay.jpg

"Made of clay

I pour myself out

I don’t have the strength

So Lord I ask, Won’t you break me

I’m alabaster..." 

The woman with the alabaster jar has to be one of the most well known and loved stories in the Bible. It talks of a woman scorned, who should have been turned away and rejected, in the culture of the day, she was known to be unclean, she was thought to be embarrassing herself, and was a woman.  All reasons for her to be forgotten. But she isn't forgotten, she is remembered, and Yeshua said himself that she would be remembered through the generations. For me, this is a beautiful thing which can't be ignored. Yes, she was embraced and accepted by Yeshua, but more than that - she was remembered. Appreciated. Her act was commemorated. Why?

What did she do that was so important for us to remember? Was it simply that she was accepted, where the religious leaders of the day would have rejected her? Was it that she was tenacious enough to reach Yeshua, through all the obstacles in her way? Was it that she washed his feet with her tears? It may be for all these reasons, they are all reason enough to remember her! Her act of outrageous worship was one to learn so much from!

I love that the Bible is full of completely absurd, extremely tenacious women, who definitely fell from the same tree as Jacob - in that they refused to give up until they got what they wanted. This woman would have been pushed, shoved, scorned, she probably had to cover her head and most likely, her face, in order to get anywhere close to Yeshua. She had to hear comments, rude remarks, and would probably have felt judged at every turn she made, but she kept going, because she had to reach his feet. She had to weep, she had to give him something. She had to acknowledge Him as her messiah. And the way she did it, I think it one of the greatest pictures there is in the Bible of how we should interact with our Messiah.

She fell at her His feet. Undone by his presence. She had no words, she had nothing to give. She poured herself out, she wept. She wasn't afraid to give extravagantly, even though all those around her shamed her for doing something so foolish - she smashed open her jar of perfume with reckless abandon, without a second thought, and poured it, unashamedly on the feet of her saviour. She didn't hesitate, she didn't care what she heard, all she wanted was to be completely abandoned to Him. She trusted that she would be accepted, she trusted that He knew her heart. She trusted that He would truly see into her, where others just saw past her.

This is how we should be each day. We are that jar of clay, we need to fall at our messiah's feet, knowing we have nothing to offer, unless it's been made whole by Him. We sometimes don't even have the strength to ask him to break us, but really that's the best prayer we can pray. It's a dangerous prayer, because He'll do it. Being broken isn't easy, but it's truly the most beautiful thing He can do to us, because what comes out of us when we are broken and poured out at His feet, is such a treasured and precious fragrance unto Him, that he will be pleased. He will see into us, like He saw into her, and He will remember.

That is true worship.

Of course He doesn't leave us broken, He doesn't leave things in pieces. He is a God of order, a God of restoration, a God of making all things new, a God of new seasons, a God of second (and more!) chances, a God of compassion and love. He gently breaks us, so he can restore us, and mould into what He always intended us to be. He brings us back to what he purposed for us. He also intended for the woman with the alabaster jar to worship Him, but she had to reach the end of herself before she felt she needed to do it!

We are so good at fixing ourselves too, we patch things up, thinking we're 'healed', only to find a little way down the road that actually, it would have been much better to just ask God to fix us. But often by the time we get round to doing this, the only way to be fixed is to be broken, and reset - like a bone which has healed in the wrong place. But how wonderful that our God is gentle, and will never break a bruised reed, or snuff out a smouldering flame. He is a God of patience, and tenderness. He will walk with us on this journey of brokenness, and carry us if needed.

"So Lord I ask, Won't you break me.."

The question really is - do you dare to ask this?

Who's on the throne?

throne of your heart
throne of your heart

"There is space only for you On the throne of my heart. I long and yearn to sit at your feet. Just to be with you, Just to stand in your presence, Just to see you in your Glory, Just to hear your voice This is all my soul desires"

It's really easy to say that we love God, we adore God, we put no one else before God, we worship God, we serve God, and a thousand other things about how we interact with God.

Recently I was challenged about really, who, or what is on the throne of my heart? Who or what is taking that space from, or sharing that space with Yeshua?

For me, this challenge came in the form of food and exercise. After having 3 kids I was determined to take control of the situation, get fit, lose weight and live more healthily. I threw myself at it, working out daily, trying many different eating programs which left me rigidly following plans which had no 'give' to them. I enjoyed it! It got results! I got fit! I gained muscle tone! I made it to many personal goals, like running 5K! I did it! right?

Wrong. I reached an all time low, emotionally, when I realised that if I was going to maintain this weight loss and fitness level I was going to have to deny myself constantly, discipline myself relentlessly, and have no leeway for the rest of my life. That isn't living. That is slavery.

I was desperate - it was something I'd struggled with since I was a child, I cried out to God, and it came crashing in on me - I had never sought to hear what God's opinion was on this matter. I had tried to fix it completely humanly, completely scientifically, and it wasn't His way!

Over the next few days and weeks came a very deep and at times, painful process of realising how much I had put things before Him. Even when it was with good intention, and a 'right' desire - to be healthy and look after my body. I suddenly felt freedom for the first time in my life in this area, and once I understood that God had made a way for us to live healthily, without plans, calorie counting, restricting myself, without viewing foods as 'good' or 'bad' - and guess what? I was free and I lost weight.

The amazing side effect of weight loss isn't what I'm writing about here, I realised how many times I'd not run to God when I felt down - I'd run to a chocolate bar. I had this horrible realisation that I'd put a piece of chocolate on the throne of my heart, rather than the Almighty creator of heaven and earth. Chocolate.

For you it may not have anything to do with food or exercise - it may be music, work, technology, money, friends, ministry, family - it could literally be anything - where do you run when you want comfort?

It's hard to run to God because it's usually the moments when we need to run to him, that he feels furthest away! So we find a quick fix, which usually becomes a crutch without us even knowing or noticing. We shove things between us and God which fix us for a few minutes, or even hours, but it doesn't deal with the root.

For me, the root was emotional - I was a comfort eater, and I didn't even notice! I had no idea how many times a day I ran to food instead of God, and until I found a strategy to distinguish between my heart needing to be fed, and my stomach needing to be fed. Up until this point I couldn't tell the difference, and used my self made comforter for both - food. Now I learned the difference I could feed my heart on God, and my stomach on food. Both in their rightful - and enjoyable, places.

Recently a good friend and co-worker quoted "The final question presented to humanity is this: Who will you worship?". I was worshipping food, fitness and the ideal of being thin and muscly, and I didn't even realise.

Whatever gets our most attention is what we worship. Those things can be good things - like our families, being a good mom, being a good friend. But if those things become slightly too emphasised, and it becomes a crutch where we gain even the smallest amount of identity, then they've climbed up onto that throne and have taken the place of the King. I'm not saying we should deny who we are, I am a mom, there is an aspect of that being my identity, but it's not the summation of who I am, it's a part of the calling and role that God has for me. My identity, the essence of who I am made to be, is wrapped up in Him.

As I've walked through this process it's becoming increasingly clear to me that this is what God does with us. He gently peels things away, he strips us back, getting rid of the 'stuff' we wrap ourselves us in. He wants us to be who he made us to be - without all the bolt-ons we add. He's stripping us back to the original design, and yes, he'll use all we've been through to enhance that, and teach us things, but we think we can outsmart God so often. We think we can help Him out by adding things to the already perfect recipe. God didn't leave things out when we made us - he got it right - exactly right.

When we clutter up our throne room, with little bits and stuff which we think we need, the process of emptying, ordering, stripping back and restoring get harder and harder, more and more painful. Some of those things have taken up residence in your throne room for decades! Those are hard things to root out - but you see, the King wants a clear throne room, with no distractions, where he can speak, and you hear clearly. Where you can run to Him and not trip, where He can love you, and you can not share it with anything else.

The question is - are you willing to clear the throne room? You may find unexpected things sitting on your throne - like I did. You may already know what sits on your throne. In either case, the King is ready to be given back his throne, He's waiting on your acceptance of this challenge to gently re-order your throne room, and let him take up permanent residence.

Rest your soul

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"In me all things are possible

In me all things are made new

All things made perfect in my hands...

So rest your soul "

Ever dreamed of something, worked towards it tirelessly, imagined life as if the dream were the reality, but eventually given up on it? I think most of us have. We all have a deep place in our souls where we dream of what we could be. Our dreams for ourselves were often God's dreams for us, before he gave them to us to dream. I haven't often met someone whose childhood dreams bear no relation to who they are.

We often give up on these dreams because 'life gets in the way'. We think that what we're busy all day doing has nothing to do with what we dream about in our 'off time'.

What if all the things that we think have got in the way of these dreams are actually part of the preparation for the fulfilment of God's purposes for us? For me, my childhood and adolescent dreams are still buried deep in my heart, and for the longest time I thought they were foolish, unenlightened and immature.

Recently, God has challenged me in a very raw and deep way, not to scoff at and disregard the things he put in my heart. Just because I was a child, or a young person, with less life experience doesn't mean those dreams were wrong, they were simply seen through the eyes of a child, they were innocent and uncorrupted.

Sometimes the dreams of our youth are too big for us and we need to mature in order to handle them. Yet in the wait, we push for shortcuts, tainting good dreams with worldly desires and ambition, rather than waiting for God's perfect hand and timing to bring them forth.

Recently, God has begun to restore the things I thought he had spoken to me throughout my childhood. Yet these dreams have been shot down so many times that I'd given up on them completely. The word for the season of my life is "I am making all things new. I am making OLD things new". Sometimes we forget that the word "all" includes old things, meaning things we left on the back of the highest shelf, where dust is allowed to settle and build up. For me, these are things that I abandoned and shoved in a box and sealed the lid on tight. Right now, God is gently taking those boxes out from the back of the closet, dusting them down, and taking out those dreams, and showing me that now is the time I might be ready to handle them.

I love this journey because I had reached the point of giving up on so many dreams, that there's no doubt that if any of them do happen, I know it's purely and only because He decided it was time.  

Not only does God restore the dreams he gave, he suddenly opens our eyes to see the purpose of the things we have walked through, which at the time had seemed such a painful or pointless waste of time. At the right time we can see that these experiences actually make us more able to achieve God's dreams for us in a way that points to Him so much more than if we had accomplished things alone, and in our own strength.

My favourite thing about this journey of restoration is that I don't need to fret, worry, or force anything through. We all have the potential to strive after our dreams, and to push hard to make them happen. It is important for us to work hard and work faithfully, yet there are also times when we reach walls that simply cannot be broken through in our own strength.

God wants us to be so absolutely convinced about his hand at work, that he brings walls down in ways that are seemingly impossible. He created the Universe. All things are possible. My story at this point is an accumulation of seemingly impossible events colliding into one massive blessing, which points towards the dreams of my childhood, realised in his perfect way and in his perfect time.

There was no way I could have manufactured any of the circumstances I find myself in, even with all the striving and pushing and hard work in the world. They are simply Him. His work. His hand. Making all things perfect.

And the best thing about this?

Rest.

My soul can breath. He's got this. His hand is on it all. It's not hard for him. I can breath, exhale, find His joy in the moments, and Rest.

That is heaven, on earth.

Simcha shares the devotional message behind the song 'Rest' from her first of three EP project - 'Dreaming'. HIT SUBSCRIBE TO GET MORE LIKE THIS! Simcha would love to connect with you! To learn more about the Dare to Ask project, hear MORE MUSIC, see Simcha's books AND artwork see below: Connect with Simcha: Subscribe: www.

Fresh Oil

olive oil
olive oil

"Let the pressure be just right.Let the darkness be fleeting and never lonely,So that what comes forth is pure, and an oil you're pleased with"

On a recent family visit,  I had the privilege of  seeing my son operate an ancient olive press. He followed the instructions given to him perfectly, and pressed a few (not quite ripe!) olives and we saw the beginnings of oil coming forth from them.

Ever since then, the enormity of the meaning of the olive press has been made more real to me than ever. The struggle that each olive goes through to produce this precious oil, is such a representation of what God is doing with us. We need to be squeezed, refined, and put under pressure in order of that pure offering to found in us.

Do we dare to ask for that pressure? That's a dangerous prayer..

It's a scary thing to be thrown into the olive press, I have to trust that the press won't crush me completely, that I will survive this ordeal. This trust has to be coupled with knowing that God loves me, he isn't out to crush me, he will not give me more than I can bare, and he wants the best for me. I have to trust that the pressure which I'm subjected to is just right, even when I think, in my humanity, that it's too much, I must trust that God knows me better than I know myself. The pressure is just right.

When an olive is in a press, it's not only subjected to pressure, it's surrounded by other olives, all of which are also being subjected to pressure, from different angles and at different times. This is also true of our journey with God. We are never alone, even if we rest assured that God is with us and doing a great thing in us through this pressure, we also know that others are also going through their own press, their own journey, their own story.

As that great olive grinder rolls around in it's rut, there is a moment, when it passes over the olives for the very first time, that those olives are in complete darkness. This is the time of the most intense pressure, but it's also the time when the most pure oil is produced.

I have been learning recently to embrace the times of darkness, of pressure and squeezing, trusting that this is God's beautiful way of getting the most pure and sacred of offerings to come forth from my heart.

No one said it would be easy, but do we dare to ask for the process that brings about the most precious and pure of sacrifices?

Dare to Ask

"Can I come with you? 
Do I dare to ask?
Can I join with you?
Do I let this moment pass?" 

One of my favourite stories is that of Rahab.
Have you ever stopped to ask just how bold she was to ask the spies to let her join them? She was a prostitute, a gentile, very definitely classified as 'unclean', and moreover, she was a woman.

Yet she grabbed a moment that came her way, and did not let it go. She was tenacious, and courageous, and she fought for a change in her circumstances, in a way that you don't often see. She refused to accept that the spies coming to her residence was a coincidence, there was a reason, something was happening, and she didn't rest until she saw it through.

The thing I love most about her story, is that the exact symbol of her profession, the scarlet threads in the window, the advertisement of her trade,  became the exact symbol that allowed her to be rescued and freed. It was by these threads that the Israelites were able to identify Rahab's quarters and rescue her and her family according to their agreement. What a beautiful picture of redemption!

Rahab grabbed her moment, she had her eyes open to see that each opportunity that came her way could be the one to bring about change, a shift in direction, or in her case, a completely different life. She was able to find her freedom, and joined the lineage of Yeshua, along with several other unlikely women like her, who God chose to raise his sons ancestors.

What would you dare to ask?