Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Beauty of Now

"Then he said unto them, 
Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, 
and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: 
for this day is holy unto our Lord: 
neither be ye sorry; 
for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10

I love when I dig out a brand-new nugget from the Bible.
Even though I have read it through,
I must have missed so much along the way.
I think I was so intent on being able to accomplish the task,
that I failed to completely enjoy the journey.

I've heard the end part of this verse quoted repeatedly,
and I have basked in the truth of its words,
on a very personal level.

I am keenly aware that the joy of the Lord is my strength.
When I don't stay in tune with Him and allow Him to daily saturate my soul...
with His joy....
I become weak...
and spiritually-anemic.

But, today, I studied....really dug into...
Nehemiah 8:10.

I have loved the story of Nehemiah for years.
Have you ever really delved into it?
Chewed on the meat of it?
There are many spiritual lessons and glorious revelations...
just waiting for you to discover in this wonderful story.

I highly recommend you giving it the benefit of your complete, undivided attention.
It is action-packed and chock-full of wonderful spiritual gold.

I never caught all of the good out of this verse before,
but I especially love the second to the last phrase.
It is seldom quoted when you hear "the joy of the Lord is your strength".

God spoke to me through it today.
"Neither be ye sorry."

I have spent a lot of my life feeling sorry....
for a multitude of people and internal reasons.
Under a cloud of guilt.
Never feeling like I was enough.
Continually feeling like a failure.
Never quite measuring up....no matter what levels of self-sacrifice
I put myself through.

I'm in a life-phase...a season, if you will....
that is liberating, in many ways.
My white-knuckle grasp on feeling sorry is loosening...
slipping....ever so slightly.

God is teaching me...ever so gently.
I am slowly catching on.

I am finding it is okay to just be...
the woman God wants me to be.
Minus the expectations of others.
Because what they want...
what they expect....
matters not....one....bit....to my Creator...
Who loves me completely and unconditionally.

I have been slowing down. 
I mean, in earnest. 
Letting some things go...even "good things".
Staying home...even more.
 Focusing on what is most important....more....than ever before. 

I've been reflecting.
I do that often. 
But, not in the way I do when I am away from home
surrounded by mountains and the bliss of being far removed. 

That is where I was recently. 
And it felt great. 
For 25 years now, I have been a married woman. 
I have felt complete. 
I have rested...replete...in the fact that the mate of my soul is by my side.

The other day, I snapped this picture of two Mallard ducks sitting side-by-side...
sharing a rock...
with the swirling waters of the Chattahoochee flowing wild around them.

They just sat there.
Male and female.
On solid ground.
Clinging fast.
Each comforted by the presence of the other.
Both looking in the same direction.

Later, as we looked at it together, Kevin said it reminded him of us.

When I first took the picture, I didn't notice the second duck....
the female, on the right.
She kind of blended in with the colors of the water and rocks.
I only saw the colorful male on the left.
Only when Kevin told me they reminded him of us,
did I see the second duck.

They are mates.
Happy to be alive.
Resting...side by side.
Not feeling the need, at the moment,
to do anything other than be together.

I have thought much lately. 
Over the important things. 
Like how our lives have changed since we said "I do". 
All of the changes. 
All of the life alterations. 

Here we are.

Here I am. 
46, peacefully, beyond-happily married 25 years,
and mama to a sweet, precious boy named, Zach. 
I have never felt more comfortable....or grateful.
God deserves every drop of glory...
for allowing us to see this silver anniversary.
I boast not, in any selfish way....
only in what HE has done.

I love that it is now.  

Even though I wish we were younger again, 
I wish our health was like it was 25 years ago,
I wish I didn't have so many gray hairs,
it does no good to wish to go back.

Because life passes over the river of time,
just like the water flows over the rocks of the Chattahoochee.
It is there...at a particular spot...for the briefest of moments...
then it is gone...flowing onward....always moving.

It is impossible to ever go back.  

We just have to accept where we are....now...in the grand scheme of things.

And that is okay.

Because I love this.
I want it to be now.  
This moment matters so much to me.  
I don't have to long for yesterday.
I don't have to be sorry.

God told me today not to be sorry.
I have never, ever caught that part of this verse before.

Do you know how good that feels?
To be told you don't have to be sorry?
That the joy of the Lord is your strength?

Living in a sorrowful, sorry state is life-draining.

I love life.  
Worship flows from the core of my being.  

Everything life has brought....
the gut-wrenched laughter, the flowing tears,
the wounds, God's healing,
the joy, the pain, 
the triumph in the midst of my many struggles, 
have brought me to this place.  

Now I am here.  
What now?
What is next on the map...for us?  
I know not what is around the next bend.

Only He Who made us...and brought us together in the sweetest of ways,
 holds the key to our future, 
and He chooses to unveil the mystery...
one blissfully-life-filled moment at a time.  
Just like He has done in the past 25 years.

Like the two Mallards, we stand side-by-side,
on the Solid Rock, Christ Jesus.

The swirling rapids flow around us,
sometimes, violently,
but we cling fast....
to HIM...
and to each other.

So, we trust.  
I find comfort in knowing the One Who brought us safe thus far, 
is the same One Who will lead from this point forward....safely home.  
And I beg Him to give us...at least...25 more years....please, dear Lord?
I know it is a lot to ask...but still I ask.

The past 25 have flown by.
I don't know how it happened so fast.
How did we get here at such lightning speed?
How did the river flow so quickly?

God's track record is impeccable.  
I rely on His faithfulness...His steadfastness....His unwavering strength.  
The joy I find in Him is the source of the joy in my heart.  
His joy...is my daily strength.  

He is a good God, full of mercy and truth and love.  
I have turned to Him, to find that love, for all these years.  
I will continue to do that.  
Kevin and I, together, will continue to do that.
It has always worked.  
Why change now?  
Why look for anything more...when your soul is full to the brim?  

I do believe I am just now beginning to understand the meaning of the word grace.
I've heard about it all my life.
But, only now am I starting to really understand what it means.
I've been digging into that subject, too.
Reading lots about it.
Finding out more and more that it is okay....
to accept His grace.
That I don't have to follow a legalistic set of man-made rules to earn it.
Neither do you, my friend.
Earning it is an impossible effort that will leave you exhausted beyond words,
weary to the point of death,
and feeling sorry.

Grace is the gift of God.

Free to you...and me...because Jesus paid our debt.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; 
and that not of yourselves: 
it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ephesians 2:8,9

My chains are gone.
I love the sound of that.
I bask in the reality of it.
And I love this song about it, sung by Chris Tomlin.
So many of them.
Chains that held me fast...
under bondage...
in misery.

Bless His holy name, they are gone...through His amazing GRACE!
I wonder how I survived them.
It took fire to burn them off.
Severe, excruciating, breath-smothering fire.
But, when I walked out of the furnace...holding His unchanging hand....
to my surprise, the ropes were burned....off.
Completely severed.
In two.
No longer binding me fast.
I was free!
I was alive.
More than I have been in years.

I would not want to walk through that same fire again.
I don't think I could outlast its heat...again.
Thankfully, it is behind me...not ahead of me.

I say that often, these days.
Speaking of losing parents, and other furnaces I have known.
"Thank God, that is behind me, and not in front of me."

I'm glad its now.

Because now is a precious gift....
because now is beautiful.


  1. Dear Cheryl, I finally got to read this, and this was the perfect time. I love how you emphasized
    "neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength." This means so much to me, because there are times I do feel sorry for being ill, like it is my fault. I know it's not, but I get caught up in frustration over things I cannot do that I want to do. As I was reading this, I thought of another blog post I read yesterday by our former pastor. You mentioned that you are learning to "be." I think you would enjoy reading what he wrote about 1 John. Here is the URL: http://www.vtmbottomline.blogspot.com/2013/06/gettingdoingbeingwhat-spiritual.html.
    Love and Prayers,

  2. Dear Deborah, Bless your dear heart! Thank you for your dear, kind words. They mean so much to me. I am looking forward to reading the words of your former pastor. God knows just what we need when we need it most! Love and blessings to you, my friend.