God of the Whisper

When God speaks to us, it isn’t the loudness of His voice that captures us, it is the calm, quiet, assured voice of His love that draws us in closer. God's voice will always sound different than the voices of the wor

“And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah'”? 1 Kings 19:12-13

Voices with the most words are not necessarily the loudest or most resonant. Throughout my life the voices that heeded the best advice have been the calm and consistent voices of friends and family who know me best. When God speaks to us, it isn’t the loudness of His voice that captures us, it is the calm, quiet, assured voice of His love that draws us in closer. Unruffled, tender, resolute, and unwearied by circumstances–God’s voice will always sound different than the voices of the world.

Jesus was sent to shepherd his people, and like a flock of sheep know their shepherd and his voice, we too, know the voice of our Good Shepherd who calls us loved and safe. The Shepherd’s voice inflection, tone, and rhythm are familiar and comforting. We, as beloved image-bearers of God, know the voice of our Shepherd when we hear it. We may not know it’s Him at first, but once we learn to hear by studying His voice through His Word, we can discern truth from lies. But how do we know His voice when we hear it? The world throws so much noise in our direction, therefore how can we be certain which voice is truly the Lord’s?

God’s voice isn’t in the loud, crashing shouts. In I Kings, the prophet Elijah experienced the soft whisper of God when he was running for his life from King Ahab.

“Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire;

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah'”? 1 Kings 19:12-13 (emphasis added)

God wasn’t in the strong wind, the earthquake, nor the fire.

God was in the whisper. It’s amazing to me that God, who has the power and authority to shout to the entire world His presence, chose to whisper. He chose Jesus, a man who was ordinary in stature and not striking in appearance, to display His Glory to all the earth. This makes me wonder- Am I ever quiet enough to hear him? Do I believe that he exists only in loud and powerful forms? Can I accept that my God is present in the unremarkable; the mundane; the silence?

On the morning of my abortion, the clinic was so quiet. Judging by the number of people in the room, there should have been mountains of noise. At the very least a rustle of bags or shuffling of feet would have provided my ears with some reassurance, but there was nothing; no sound at all. Of all the things I remember about that day, the silence stands out. Each of us knew what the other had come for. A “simple procedure” that would set life back in motion, but even our eyes couldn’t meet for fear we may say too much. The silence was deafening. My fingernails clicked together as I waited nervously for the nurse to prepare me for an ultrasound. I didn’t know much at 19, but I knew ultrasound meant they were looking for a baby. They would confirm there was a child with a beating heart…more deafening noise. The nurse asked if I wanted to see “the image” and then it happened; from somewhere in the room that I couldn’t detect, perhaps deep inside of myself, I felt a nudge. The push was hard enough to force my heart in my throat and a whisper answered for me…”yes“. I shook myself back from the interruption and quickly replied to the nurse with a firm “NO”. The whispering voice that day came from the Lord, I know that now. But I didn’t know Him then, so I couldn’t possibly have known His voice. His whisper was overcome by the shouts to make my own decision and do what was best for me; the prevailing message that I could not carry this child resounded. His whisper was with me in the clinic that day and I had a choice—to listen and respond or ignore His nudge. Even though I chose to push away His whisper that day, He never chose to push me away. Instead, He pursued and chased me down gently continuing to whisper in my ear His love.

His whisper is near to you, sweet friend. Whatever the other voices are shouting, His whisper will always overcome. It may be decades later, but I promise, you’ll hear Him.

There are still moments when I aim to hear God in the blaring and showy. I naively search for him in booming social media platforms and in boastful man, but He isn’t there because that’s not who God is. His voice saves and doesn’t destroy; His voice loves and doesn’t despise; His voice shares truth and doesn’t condemn. His voice brings healing, not decay; and joy instead of mourning. The voice of created man can never overcome the voice of the Creator. Knowing the difference between the two will save many lives.

Father, You not only speak love and truth, but you ARE Love and Truth. Your power and majesty have been made evident to us since the beginning of creation and you do not need loud voices to do the work that your breath has already accomplished. Forgive us for the times we have exchanged your truth for lies and for the times we have trusted the worldly voices that surround us instead of yours. Help us to hear you and trust you. Help us to know your voice when we hear it. Thank you for Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who promises to lead us by quiet waters and restore us to you. We love you and thank you for His sacrifice and His silence as he submitted to you to save us. Amen.

Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.

 

 

Seeing with New Vision

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek_ that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the e in His temple.” Psalm 27_4

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

Hair fell to the floor below the swiveling chair. Time and time again I had been here, in this chair. My hairdresser at the time was more of a mentor than someone who did my hair. She had a way with hair, but her hair-doing ability wasn’t what drew me back to her– it was her way with people. My time with her was like someone asking, “Would you like a counseling session with a hair cut and color thrown in for free?” Um—Yes please!

One of the things she would say often is how she loved seeing all the different facets of the Lord in His creation, mainly in people—His image bearers.

She would take delight in all her clients, seeing a piece of God in each person who sat in her chair. At first, I only came to add highlights to my hair, but the reason I continually returned was because she highlighted the beauty in me and called it out.

There are many expressions and beliefs about beauty. There are reasons these saying have stuck over time—truth tends to stick around.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is one of these sayings that holds familiarity. This truth has proven true since the beginning of time.

How we view others has much to do with how we view ourselves, outwardly and inwardly, which is greatly impacted by if we are “dwelling in the house of the Lord” and what is inside of us. This isn’t about going to a physical dwelling but rather a state of the heart.

In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” (“Our” referring to the Holy Trinity)

The different beautiful facets of God were embedded in the very DNA of man originally. This includes inwardly and outwardly. But how we view others often is rooted in how we view ourselves and God.

When looking at others, we can either notice the beauty of each individual creation of God, made and formed in His image and likeness, compare their likeness to our own, or make assumptions and judgments. The same is true for looking at ourselves in the mirror. We need to be kind to ourselves as well.

But if we are dwelling in the house of the Lord, or in other words, abiding in His love and loving ourselves in a healthy way from a place of identity in Him, then what comes as a result is new vision.

At this point, I can’t help but think back of all the vision statements at the beginning of 2020—The year of 20/20 vision. Could it be everything happening around us is so we can look at things with new vision –Vision that beholds the beauty of the Lord in others around us, starting within our own families and then extending to others around us?

Seeing the world with new vision allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of others and cultivates compassion, empathy, care, and kindness.

What do you see when you look at an elderly person? Do you see the beauty of a life hopefully well-lived and the years of service and pouring out of themselves to others? Or if on the outside they appear fragile and worn down, what then? Do you see the beauty in perseverance and the trials they must have endured to still be pressing on and daily braving the world?

The list of the people we encounter on a daily basis is endless: the clerk at the grocery store, the neighbor hurrying to pass by, the Uber driver, the pregnant girl who seems too young.

When we begin to see the beauty in the people around us that we pass on the street in the correct godly way, we see the beauty of the Lord in them and our vision changes. Then, it is no longer outward appearance that defines our vision, it is noticing they behold the very image of God and His likeness in some way. This new vision frees us from the bonds of judgement and opens the door for us to “inquire in His temple” (Ps 27:4b) or in other words—become curious. With these new eyes and curiosity, instead of making judgements, we ask questions, which opens the door for the Holy Spirit to work. Curiosity is the key that opens the door to compassion: Curious of what their life is like; curious if they know Jesus; curious how their day is going; curious of their story; curious of who God created them to be.

When we are inward focused, we aren’t curious. And when we aren’t curious and inquiring, we are missing the beauty—the beauty of every person God created in His image.

Father God, I pray we would see with new vision—that we would see every person with the eyes of the Lord, behold the beauty of the Lord, inquire in His temple, and be filled with compassion and grace. In Jesus’ Name.

Perhaps, like my hairdresser, we can help repair the split ends of this world and add some Jesus highlights to those around us–pulling out the light and calling forth the beauty within each person crafted and intimately designed by the very hand of God.

Today’s post was written by Sue Molitor. Sue works with the ministry of Deeper Still in International Relations. She lives in beautiful East Tennessee and loves spending time with her husband and 3 kids. She enjoys reading, coffee with friends, and taking long walks. She has been writing for the Deeper Still Devotions for 7 years and loves to encourage others and cheer them on towards finding freedom and healing.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

 

 

A Father’s Day Blessing

To Every Man

 

As the family of God, on this Father’s Day, we want to honor and encourage the stewardship of fathering. We acknowledge that the celebration of this day can be joyful for some and painful for others. But whatever your gains or losses have been regarding your fathering, we are confident that today the Lord is ready and willing to pour out His grace for healing, encouragement, and affirmation on all our men, young and old.

Let’s first acknowledge that God Himself is a father and designed the gift of fatherhood. And He has given the stewardship of fathering to men. What an awesome privilege and responsibility! Father God entrusted Joseph to be Jesus’s earthly father. Joseph probably had his moments of doubt, wondering if he was up to the task, but his simple “yes” and obedience was all that God required; God supplied the rest. This child, Jesus, also needed an earthly father for His physical, emotional, and spiritual development. Even from this example alone, we see how deeply Father God values a father. We would like to pray a father’s blessing over every man reading this today. Whether you have biological children or not, we want to honor your father’s heart and bless you as you father those God brings into your life that need your fathering imprint. We also want to include our single men, our young boys, and even our baby boys in this blessing, for they too will grow up to be fathers someday.

Father God thank you for creating your sons and endowing them with a father’s heart. Thank you that, as image bearers, they too can cry out for a heart like Yours. Today, God, would you pour out your fathering spirit upon all your sons in this place, young and old? Will you expand their hearts and give them the capacity to embrace the stewardship of fathering? Give them courage, strength, vision, wisdom, leadership, and a servant’s heart. Where they have been wounded, would you heal them so they can take up their swords and shields once again and fight for their families? Where they have failed, will you pour out your grace and forgiveness upon them and grant them a new beginning? Where they feel weak and weary, will You show them that You are the great I Am and that You can supply all their needs? Where they feel disqualified, will you show them that they have a place at your table and that you have great Kingdom exploits for them? Would you commission them to go out and find the lost sheep and run to meet the prodigal and to kill the fatted calf for every lost son that comes home? Father God, you hear the cry of the orphan, and You promise to be a father to the fatherless. Will you raise them up to hear the cries and answer the call? We ask for these blessings in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen!

Happy Father’s Day to every man. We honor you as a son of Father God and your stewardship as a father!

~Deeper Still

(This Father’s Day blessing was from Karen Ellison’s book Healing the Hurt that Won’t Heal, Freedom for the Abortion-Wounded and Help for the Church They Fear .)

Karen Ellison is the founder and president of the Deeper Still ministry. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband, Arthur. Karen enjoys long walks, sunshine, and hikes in the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. It is her heart to see all those suffering from the wounds of abortion set free and healed. 

 

 

Called to Father

All men were automatically imbued at birth with the spiritual DNA of the Heavenly Father. That Father DNA is not only meant to be stewarded n you, but it is also meant to be passed on and imparted to others.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galations 4:4-7

God the Father is one of the members of the Holy Trinity. He is first a father, and when we become one of His children, He became our Heavenly Father and we gained all privileges of sonship. The Bible is full of descriptions and demonstrations of the tender care of our Heavenly Father. Here are just a few:

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke  12:32)        

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8)                 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

For anyone who has felt the pain of an absent, neglectful, or abusive earthly father, once you receive Father God as your Heavenly Father, the door has opened for you to be fathered by the perfect Father, who is able to restore all that was lacking in your father-starved heart.

It’s also a stunning truth that we are made in the image of God. And, as such, Father God has instilled in us certain characteristics of His father’s heart. If you were born a man-child, then you were automatically imbued with the foundational building blocks–or let’s call it the spiritual DNA— of your Heavenly Father. And, therefore, He has purposed that you would grow in the image and likeness of this “Father DNA”. That Father DNA is not only meant to be stewarded in you, but it is also meant to be passed on and imparted to others. God intends for every person He has created to be “fathered” and even if we don’t get that from our own earthly father, He has made other provisions. I believe every man of God carries the mandate to father, if not biologically then certainly spiritually.

For men with abortion wounds, this mandate can seem unattainable. When you know you can’t fix your own heart, your only recourse is to deny your heart of what it really needs. Perhaps spiritual heart disease can be defined as those parts of your heart that have stopped beating. And the parts of your heart that are still beating require a tremendous amount of labor just to breathe. When a man’s heart has grown numb, he cannot hear the beating heart of his children.

However, in God’s Kingdom, He makes all things new. It’s not that God takes a giant eraser and removes all our choices and their consequences, but if we repent and cry out for His mercy, He will forgive our debts and begin to weave a new story in our life with a beautiful redemptive red thread from His own blood. He brings beauty from ashes. He takes a broken heart and breathes life and restores the father’s heart to His.

Today, let’s pray for a restoration of the hearts of our fathers (our husbands, our sons, our grandsons) to the heart of the Father.

Father God, we honor you as our good Father. We thank you that in you we are sons (or daughters) and that you have given each man the heart of a father. Lord, where there has been wounding causing the men in our lives to not be able to be the father you have called them to be, Lord Jesus, would you heal and restore those places of their father’s hearts and enable them to be the mighty men, protectors and providers and warriors that you have called them to be. Thank you Lord that your Father DNA is in them. We call it forth, we say come forth in Jesus Name and for faith to arise and every man to embrace His father mantle, In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

(Today’s post was excerpted from Karen Ellison’s book Healing the Hurt that Won’t Heal, Freedom for the Abortion-Wounded and Help for the Church They Fear .)

Karen Ellison is the founder and president of the Deeper Still ministry. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband, Arthur. Karen enjoys long walks, sunshine, and hikes in the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. It is her heart to see all those suffering from the wounds of abortion set free and healed. 

 

 

Tired.

Having to prove that we’re worthy of basic human rights is a constant issue. People are tired. I’m Tired. It is exhausting having to beg people to see your humanity. -Gloria Nolan (1)

 

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

Events over the past week are weighing heavy on many hearts. I have reached out to several dear beloved friends in the black community trying to hear their hearts and understand their pain. As a white American woman, I know I can’t understand the suffering of our sisters and brothers of color. But I want to. I want to understand at a deeper level. I want to listen and hear.

For me, this is a life issue. Life is dear, every life is precious. Every person is uniquely created in the image of God.

“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Genesis 1:27

Then in Genesis 3, in walks the serpent.

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God has made.” (Emphasis added)

Subtle.

In the next verses, this subtle serpent tricked Eve and planted a lie into her mind that God was holding back on her. He tricked her, lied to her, and man fell. Just a subtle twist of truth led to folly and slavery and pain.

Over the years, many people groups have been targeted in hate and evil, all starting with a lie founded on one people group being more important or more valuable or more something than another. It is atrocious and horrid and downright evil.

One of my friends of color said it like this:

“It feels like having to prove that we’re telling the truth or that we’re worthy of basic human rights is a constant issue. People are tired. I’m tired. It is exhausting having to beg people to see your humanity or step out of their comfort zone for a moment to seek justice.” -Gloria Nolan

One thing I know and has been proven over and over again in the Bible and in history is that God will defend and justice will come—it may take time, but it will come if we join God as He brings justice and defends His sons and daughters.

Social injustice of any kind is a life issue and our hearts ache at the injustices and violation of human rights and devaluation of life.

We want you to know we love you, we value you, we see you, we hear you, and we recognize all lives are precious. It is sad we even have to say so. Forgive us. Forgive us for not being better listeners and not better learners. Lord, help our friends heal. Lord, heal your people. Heal our land.  

Dear Heavenly Father, our hearts ache over the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters. Lord, we know Your heart is completely broken over the injustices your sons and daughters have endured. Lord, we ask for you to hear the cry of those suffering and in pain from injustice and fight on their behalf. We ask for You to break our hearts for what breaks yours and that the value of life would be fought for and upheld. Help us hear, listen, and love well. In Jesus, name, Amen.

*This post was written as a group effort from different voices in the black community and on the Deeper Still Devotional blog team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

Sitting in Discomfort

Sitting in comfort in attempts to avoid pain, increases pain; sitting in discomfort with pain, increases peace.

“For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11b-13

In my living room, there is a soft cushy oversized chair. Many mornings are spent sitting in my comfy chair reading the word, drinking coffee, looking out to the view of the forest through the glass doors to our porch. However, if I did that all day or too long, the chair wouldn’t be the only thing to be cushy. Resistance and pressure are needed for building strength.

My husband has some back issues and as a result, he cannot sit in this comfy chair. What is comfortable for me is torture for him. This is true for many people. Have you ever offered a comfortable chair to someone only to have them choose a hard, solid chair because that is actually more comfortable? When someone has pain, the comfy chair isn’t always the answer.

What if the hard chair is the answer?

So often we are looking for the comfy chair when what we need is to sit in the uncomfortable hard chair because that is what is best for our pain.

Sitting in discomfort isn’t comfortable at all, so we, as humans, usually avoid sitting in discomfort at all costs. But what if when it comes to emotional and spiritual issues, the answer lies in sitting in discomfort? What if that great paradox was true—that true comfort from the Comforter was found in discomfort?

The comfy chair for us may look like numbing with alcohol or other addictive substances, Nexflix, extensive scrolling on social media, food, or just checking out emotionally. It could be video games, music, or movies we are using as a way to avoid facing pain or escape. Even positivity or going to “happy places” in our minds or actual locations can be used to avoid pain.

What I am finding out, and the reason for this post, is the more I try to escape from pain, the more pain I feel. Sitting in comfort in attempts to avoid pain, increases pain; sitting in discomfort with pain, increases peace. Anxiety often comes for me from wanting to escape but there isn’t an escape. Now instead of fighting it, I’m embracing it. Embracing the pain, sitting in the discomfort, and inviting the Healer to come around me with the soft arms of His chair as I sit and rest in Him.

There is a paradox here that I cannot explain other than we live in an upside-down Kingdom—the more we give, the more we receive; the more we bless others, we are blessed; and the more we sit in discomfort, the more we discover healing, comfort, and peace.

This paradox occurs because when we aren’t trying to escape from the pain or numb, we are going to the Source for healing. Our salvation and healing are not in a TV show, a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies, or a cocktail at happy hour. There is only One Savior and One Healer and He isn’t found in fantasyland—He is in the hard places, when our fight, flight, or freeze kicks in, and instead of looking to escape or run, we sit, we feel, and we seek our Healer.

As I think of the Apostle Paul, I cannot help but think of all the times he sat in discomfort.

Beaten, stoned, shipwrecked. Sitting in a prison cell (not the cushy type we think of today, one where he was most likely sitting in sewage and filth). He “sat” in the deep literally for a night and a day. In perils of many kinds, sleeplessness, hungry, cold, naked, plus the concerns for all the churches (II Corinthians 11:25). All of that shouts uncomfortable. He knew what it was to sit in discomfort. That is why he could write with full confidence:

“For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11b-13

Lord, I hope I don’t have to be in the deep for a day and a night or be stoned and beaten in order to learn the things Paul learned. But what he learned through adversity is what enabled him to be able to sit in prison stocks with Silas and sing praises with peace instead of panicking. Sitting in discomfort will also transform the way we respond to pain from a place of panic to peace.

Sitting in discomfort is where Paul found His Source of strength—Christ. Similarly, as we are still and sit in discomfort, we will find our strength, healing, freedom, and peace. I know it sounds upside down, but it is in the hard chair where we find healing and peace from the only true Source of comfort.

Father, thank you for how you comfort us. Thank you Lord that when we sit with you in our pain that we actually find the peace that we have been searching for all along. Lord, we invite you to sit with us in the hard chairs, the hard places, and we ask for you to heal and strengthen our hearts. Only You can heal our broken hearts. And may we learn as Paul did to be content in all things knowing we can do all things through Christ who has strengthened us. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, amen.

Today’s post was written by Sue Molitor. Sue is on staff with the ministry of Deeper Still in International Relations. She lives in beautiful East Tennessee and loves spending time with her husband and 3 kids. She enjoys reading, coffee with friends, and taking long walks. She has been writing for the Deeper Still Devotions for 7 years and loves to encourage others and cheer them on towards finding freedom and healing.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

 

 

Will I see God?

 

Our stained and ragged garments are exchanged for crisp,white linens; fresh, pure coverings. Accepting Jesus’s sacrifice is the first step. step in gaining our sight. (1)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Silly stories and word games are all part of the bedtime routine in our house. Bedtime has proven to be the best time to talk with my kids; they let their guards down and don’t mind allowing me a few free moments of goofiness before the lights go out each night. My 8 year old son loves to play the game “Would You Rather”. You know…the game where you are presented with two different options and you must choose one. You can’t say “pass” or “none”; you must make a choice. He usually offers up scenarios like “Would you rather eat earthworm salad or eyeball spaghetti?”; or one of my personal favorites “Would you rather eat frog skin soup or a gym sock sandwich?”

From time to time, we get to have more contemplative conversations: “Mom, what does heaven look like?”; “Would you rather meet Jesus or Michael Jordan?”; “Do you think God looks like an old man?” I love the places that his imagination will take him as he pictures his heavenly Father reclined in an eternal home. We get to talk about how Jesus is not on the same level as Michael and how our brains can’t begin to imagine the majesty and beauty of heaven. Maybe God does look like Gandalf, but maybe he doesn’t look like a man at all.

These moments bring Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount to mind as he shares the Beatitudes with eager listeners. In Matthew 5:8 Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. As I recall this sermon, my heart is filled to exploding as I promise my son that someday the pictures of God held tight in our imaginations will fade as we see him face to face. In that moment our knees won’t be able to hold our weight and our eyes will be overwhelmed with light. We will be enveloped in the light and God’s glory will surround, leaving us breathless and speechless. Just as I become sure, I quickly question myself, “Can I make my son this promise with certainty?” The scripture says the “pure in heart” will see God.

Pure? That word sounds shiny and clean and I’ve never considered myself to be either of those things. As a matter of fact, I’d feel more comfortable using words like “imperfect” and “messy” to describe my life. Pure sounds too holy. Too “church-y”.

I have two very vivid memories where I begged God to show me His face. If He did exist like everyone said He did, I demanded that He show up. I was hurting and searching for a God that everyone promised was present, but I doubted was ever really there for me. I hadn’t accepted and believed with my heart that God could save me; I didn’t know or understand God’s word to be alive and active; and I never confessed anything to anyone- my sins and deepest secrets were mine to swallow.

We are promised to see the face of God in our acceptance of Jesus’s sacrifice for us. His blood cleanses our hearts and makes them pure and presentable in the presence of a good and sovereign God. Jesus’s death not only allows us to live eternally in Heaven, but allows us to experience Him on this earth. With the Holy Spirit’s power given to us, we can see Jesus and once we’ve seen Jesus, we’ve seen God. Our hearts are the central most part of our being; responsible for emotion, will, and reason. When our hearts are purified through faith in our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are set free to see. Our stained and ragged garments are exchanged for crisp, white linens; fresh, pure coverings. Accepting Jesus’s sacrifice is the first step in gaining our sight.

God’s word and daily confession both lead our hearts to purity. You don’t have to be a bible scholar to start reading scripture- it’s alive and active, cutting to the deepest joints and marrow, judging our thoughts and attitudes. Confessing what we believe to be the worst parts of ourselves to God and to each other will bring healing and a clean conscience. We were never meant to bear the burdens of our sin alone; confession and God’s word make our hearts pure and fertile for turning over and tilling in seeds of truth, love, and faith.

I couldn’t have expected to see God’s face all those years ago in the condition I was in. My heart was in opposition to God, wasn’t pure; it was hard, angry, and unwilling to believe. However, it wasn’t too late for me and it isn’t too late for you. With the acceptance of Jesus, your heart is made pure through Him, and the payment He made for you on the cross. His desire is for us to come to Him and see Him, face to face. 

Uncover the parts of your heart you are closing off- God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything.  Step out of hiding. He’s never been hidden but has been waiting for you to decide you’re ready to stand in freedom and sing “I was blind, but now I see”!

Heavenly Father, if there is just one person reading this that needs to accept Jesus into their hearts, I ask that you move in a mighty way in their lives. Show them that Jesus is the Healer, the Redeemer, and the Restorer of all that seems broken. Father, help us commit to being in your Word, confessing our sins and shortcomings, and living with pure hearts. You promise us new lives and new identities in Jesus Christ; we want newness, freshness, and fullness of life found only in You. We love you and thank you for your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

 

A Coin Lost, Then Found

Luke 15.8,10(2) (1)

 

Today’s post was written by a Deeper Still Team Member on the Central Illinois Deeper Still Team.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

A coin has value. Maybe only a little bit by itself, but when paired with others, they can make a bountiful treasure.  When it starts out, a coin shines. Polished and without blemish. But as it’s passed around, spent, tucked away, forgotten, found, reused, left in the yard, spent again…the wear begins to show. The edges get worn. The shininess fades. The image blurred. The people, who pass that coin around, think nothing of it. Just a means to get whatever it is that they need.

But what happens to a lost coin?

Contrary to most, I have an uncanny ability to find my way around. I’ll study a location on the map, find where I need to be, and memorize the way. If it’s a difficult route, I’ll use my GPS on the first trip. But, if I’ve been somewhere, even only once, I will never forget how I got there. Like my first trip to Italy. I memorized all the tourist maps, studied the streets and took so many photos. My second trip, I didn’t need a map or to plot routes. I knew exactly where I was, and where I wanted to be. 

Even though I have this innate resourcefulness, which I’ll admit, my husband does not, I know what it’s like to be lost.

I spent 22 years of my life lost, and I didn’t even know it. Growing up in a small town was a blessing.  I knew everyone and they all knew me. They knew me by my father. My last name was a name that has toiled in that little town for generations. “Oh you’re Keith’s girl,” I would hear all the time. My father is a good man. Hard worker. Like his father before him. Pride is attached to that name. So I never had a sense of not belonging. I never felt lost. I always knew where home was. And when I needed home it was always there.

Until one day, when a series of very bad decisions landed me in a hospital bed. I heard a whisper from a father to his child. “Are you done yet?” Only this wasn’t coming from the hall or the room next to me, the whisper was to me.  This question was not one of condemnation for why I was there, but a question of love and concern. Awkwardly I said out loud, “yes.” This father reached down to his child, plucked out her heart of stone, and gave her a heart of flesh. And in that moment, I knew I had lived my whole life as a lost coin. And my father had just found me.

The new heart beating in my chest, made it obviously clear, what a worn coin I was. But this new clarity was not accompanied by fear. I knew now I was a worn lost coin, but that I made it back to the one who made me. That he scooped me up, put me in his pocket, took me home, and placed me gently into a box with all the other precious coins he’s found. And once in that box, I knew what it was like to truly be known.

Fellow coin. In this time of uncertainty and fear for many, know your worth. Know that when you were plucked up, in whatever state you were in, and brushed off by our Father in Heaven, the angels rejoiced with Him as he placed you safely in his arms. He is always with us, and never forsakes us. You are like the child known by all in a small town because of her father. You are loved, and cherished. And even though you were lost, you were found and restored to the one who made you. Walk in that certainty. Walk these troubling waters with that assurance. That the God, who made the heavens and the earth, has you found you and set you apart, for the day when he will restore ALL things to himself.

Father, thank you for your unfailing mercies. For seeking us out, and finding us wherever we were. Thank you for continuing to be with us, and never leaving us. As we walk these days and weeks of uncertainty, guard us and gird us with your truth. The truth that you are in control of all things. And that we are your treasured ones.

 

 

Healing the Mother Wound

Healing the Mother Wound (1) (1)

1 Peter 2:4 (NLT)
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.

We all have wounds. For me it was a mother’s wound, one that cut very deep. In hopes of filling the Mom-shaped void, I looked for love and validation in places I had no business exploring. I had no idea that the same void I was desperately trying to fill could only be satisfied by Jesus Christ himself. I had no idea that the same grace I had been searching for my whole life, was the exact same my own mother needed.

One particular occasion came to mind when I began to see my own mother in a different light. When the Lord revealed that while she was wounded, her God-given mothering heart was still trying to function …

It was a dark and chilly January evening, somewhere in the early 2000’s. I found myself coming home from hanging out with my childhood friend. I remember walking through the front door, and wondering if any of my family really cared it was still my birthday. The front entryway was dark, with only a distant light from the connected kitchen and family room nearby. The conversational sounds from my siblings and Dad filled the air with a familiar and typical evening. I walked into the kitchen and found her on the floor, again, those same dull dark brown eyes looking up, staring deep into mine, almost as if to say “I’m sorry I hurt you again”. Her movement slow and uncoordinated, she tried to lift herself up, with little success. I watched as she fumbled around the appliances and tried to lift her heavy body onto her feet. She eventually did. She slurred her words as she pointed slowly, with what could be construed as a faint smile, to the debris of cake batter and frosting. In both my favorite color and flavor. Pink and Strawberry. She remembered my birthday.

Growing up, I can’t remember a long period of time where my mother was sober. I was born into what felt like insecurity and chaos. I didn’t know any better. My normal looked like a lot of good mixed with a whole lot of scary. As a child, I never understood why she would choose drugs over her own family. I couldn’t understand why we weren’t enough for her, why I wasn’t enough for her? That question would haunt me for many years as I began to create my own wounds I never thought would heal.

But the fascinating part about wounds is: if you take care of them, eventually they will heal. They may even turn into scars if they’re deep enough. But scars can be some of the most powerful reminders of lessons we have learned in life.

The most powerful scars of all are displayed on the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, what a beautiful thought. Reminders that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)! The pain, suffering, and death that brought scars to our Lord are now eternal reminders of how much He loves us; of our eternal hope if we put our trust in Him.

When I stopped running away from Him and truly surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, He valiantly rescued me and set me free from all of my harbored guilt, shame, and fear of abandonment. He took me by the hand and walked me out of a serious pit of deception and misery. He took my open mother wound, sealed it with his blood, and made a beautiful scar. This scar no longer reminds me of what I lack, it reminds me of hope in a broken world. It reminds me that once I was lost, but now I am FOUND.

When Jesus heals, I believe He also reveals. What He revealed to me was a woman hurting. A woman damaged from her own wounds. A woman needing forgiveness, hope, and healing.

He showed me my own mother. A mother who, despite her own wounds and shortcomings, remembered her daughter’s birthday and wanted to make her feel special.

There isn’t a soul on earth too broken to receive Christ’s mercy and grace; Or a wound too deep to feel the healing power of the Holy Spirit.

He is waiting for you to call on Him to be your Lord and Savior; Our God, “who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4

If you would, please pray with me as I ask our loving Father to heal and bind up our wounds in Jesus’ name!

My Dearest Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Your saving grace and that through Your son, Jesus Christ, we may come BOLDLY to YOU! Lord, there are wounds so deep, especially this time of year during Mother’s Day. I pray that You would restore these precious hearts and let them know their true worth and purpose is found in the comfort and love of Jesus Christ. I pray we would all seek our validation and worth in who You say we are, and not who the world says we should be. I pray for a peace that would surpass ALL understanding this year on Mother’s Day and that we would all feel a hug from our Heavenly Father. Please teach us how to love, and how to Mother the way you designed us. It’s in your precious name I pray, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Traci Young, who is a contributor for the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Traci calls Broomfield, Colorado home, and loves spending quality time with her husband, baby girl, and two red doodles.  She left the workforce to become a stay at home mom and sees it as her mission field! Traci serves on the Fallbrook, CA Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

Trusting, Lamenting, Standing

 

Weeping may ednre for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Greetings Deeper Still Devotional Readers,

After a little more than a month into our “new normal” of quarantine and how that has impacted all of us as a nation and around the world, we have experienced these new practices from “conceptual” to “real” in many ways. At first we were in “all hands on deck” mode to do our part to crush this “invisible enemy” (as our President calls it). But as time goes on we recognize more and more the deep losses we are experiencing as a nation, as a church community, and for some as a family.

As Jesus’ Bride, (until He comes to get us) our mission necessitates that we will be “in” the world even though we stand firm to not be “of” the world. We are not super-human but we are empowered by the super Holy Spirit that keeps us steady and trusting even while we are watching, waiting, lamenting. Trusting the Lord and His ways (that are always higher) is not in opposition to lamenting our losses. As believers we have capacity to negotiate both of these realities with the grace He gives. Let’s not underestimate the powerful witness this is to unbelievers. These are the times that our internal peace shines like a beacon in the fog.

Collectively, as a ministry, we have had to lay down our Spring Retreats, and other events. Some have had to lay down fundraising events and invent creative ways to raise the needed funds for ministry.  On the other end, there is a loss for the participants who were going to attend retreats and finally find some healing and relief to years of pain and desperation. We are able and encouraged to grieve losses. This is both necessary and healthy. We can view it as both a Godly lament, as well as a Godly sacrifice on the altar. We have sadness but we also carry the long-view of His promises for redemption, restoration, and restitution. Lord, give us Kingdom eyes to see your majesty in the midst of adversity.

I have a few scriptures that I want to share with you to encourage our hearts in this season.

Come my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. Isaiah 26:20

 And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father,… Acts 1:4

 Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy2:1

 Just as it is written, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 1 Cor.2:9.

 But if he is caught (the thief), he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. Prov. 6:31

Let’s pray for our retreat participants that they will not lose heart. If they persevere through this season of tarrying they will receive even more than they would have before this “crisis”. For the thief has to return seven-fold what he stole. We will give Him all the glory and praise in the seen and unseen. Amen?!

We realize our losses pale in comparison to those who have tragically lost loved ones during this time, and our hearts and prayers go out to those families grieving and lamenting during this time.

Blessings, prayers and peace to all of you. We love you and are locking arms with you.

Father, we thank you for sustaining us, providing for us, and sheltering us during this time of trusting, lamenting, and standing with you. Lord, give us strength to endure and fill our hearts with joy and hope in You, our Everything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Until All Are Healed,

Karen Ellison, Founder and President of Deeper Still

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.