Jehovah Shammah: The Lord is there. This is the last name used for God in the Old Testament in Ezekiel 48:35. It beautifully describes the promise of the Lord’s restoration and faithfulness in our faithlessness. When the Israelites were rebelling against the Lord, God said He would remove His hand from them. And He did, but not completely. His love; grace; and mercy were always there with His people, and He was constantly drawing them to Himself. He promised through the prophet of Ezekiel that He would bring restoration to Israel and they would be the city of Jehovah Shammah.
I am that city. I am constantly failing and doing things for myself and out of the righteous love that I believe I have for others. But thank God that His promise is true. That He is there. He has already redeemed my future and ultimately won the battle. He is holding my hand to walk with Him into tomorrow, even after I already screwed up today Not only that, but He is here. Jesus brought that promise to life when He hung for me- a sinner who nailed Him upon the cross two thousand years ago. He is here. He is holding my hand, constantly drawing me near to Him, inviting me into His glory.
I’ve found my true cry of hallelujah to be born in the complete climax of turmoil with myself. It comes when my acute awareness of my depravity and my soul’s ardent yearning to choose and please Jesus eclipse. And my hallelujah’s cry begins to bleed and shake when I accept failure is inevitable because I’m the epitome of “worst of these.”. But my hallelujah will be made complete when I remember that He has already seen my monstrous unfaithfulness and He’s relentless in loving me just the same.
I wondered yesterday ‘if you asked the fatherless to create a father’s portrait, what would they create?’
Tonight I received an answer.
It looks like Vermont hill covered trees being blanketed with the bright blue sky. That’s the portrait of a Father. It looks like an wooden dance floor of a wedding. Twinkly lights hanging off branches of the trees that delicately seem to sway over it, it invites you to dance with your life long love. That’s the portrait of a Father. It looks like a long table set with a feast. Sitting at the table are people whom you love, people whom you don’t particularly care for, and people whom you’ve never even met. That’s the portrait of a Father. It looked like hundreds of souls on a beach breathing songs of praise to the very One that created the infinite grains of sand that hold the weight of my body up. That’s the portrait of a Father. It looks like an alabaster body leaking crimson. That’s the portrait of a Father. It looks like a ship riding the waves of a stormy sea, guided by the light from a red light house that happens to be on an island of green in the middle of the ocean. That’s the portrait of a Father. This life is a portrait of my Father.
I trust in your faithfulness to give me a life as I let you take away mine because I know that there are people who need my voice more than I do; who need my hands and feet more than I do; who need my time and my strength more than I do. so I ask for the grace to let my purpose of bringing glory to you be fulfilled wherever they are. and as I journey there, I pray for peeks of mountain tops through the clouds.
What a beautiful wonder it is that God doesn’t just speak to us by simply writing on a stone tablet anymore. He uses things of Himself- poetry, music, art, dance- creative things, to speak to us. We get to experience God through the miraculous things He has created. And last night, when I picked up a paint brush for the first time in ages, I laughed as I got frustrated that my strokes were uneven and my colors weren’t mixing, but He chose to breathe on my art anyways. But that’s what He’s done with my life, isn’t it? My disheveled hands are all over it, making a mess of things, and yet He breathes on it and reveals Himself through me anyways.
Remember how Jesus takes the small amount of bread loaves and fish to feed and satisfy thousands of people?
He does the exact same thing with the little things we lay at His feet. A slice of pie? A cup of coffee? A spontaneous visit to the florist? Every single time.
Every moment of our lives are just little offerings. Our moments are to us what the bread and fish were to that fisherman. We need to go to the Lord and offer him our little moments and expect him to feed thousands, including us.
I find myself in the same place most days. I’m fighting for energy, choking on recycled air. I find my efforts lacking like those I have buried grudges against, six feet under, for their absence, and yet, I’m absent- the least of these, I am she.
And as easy as it would be to let this psalm end, I want to fight like David.
So I cry “forsake me not when my strength is spent” and I hope continually, and I will praise you more yet, never stopping to count my aches, only to count the ways you love me because you are good. Your very essence is good, and you don’t withhold from me. My God, with you, I lack no good thing.