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That is how it is written, in Sharpie, on my stainless steal refrigerator.

when i … then he

I wrote it on my cool appliance months ago, when I was (to quote Anne of Green Gables) in the depths of despair.

It had been a rough day (and we all have those to walk through). I had had an interaction with a professional that left me feeling misinterpreted, unheard and as though I was a system user. You could say it was a personal worst case scenario and I was feeling it all the way down to my bones.

So, I did what came natural … I sobbed my eyes out. Felt the depths of hurt with each sob that racked my body.

Finally, I had to do something else, for, though the tears falling were availing a sense of release, they were doing nothing for the tension I was feeling from my head to my toes.

So I went for a walk.

Now, if you were to see me walking that day, what you would have seen was a woman on a mission. I marched fast, each step landing on the sidewalk with great force. Eyes straight ahead, wide open, yet unable to really see anything, anyone else … for they were completely turned inward, focused on the pain I felt.

I remember trying to pray, but realizing that if God was to hear my heart, it would have to be through my inner groans, for my brain could not form the words, until …

I remember in my frustration to pray thinking I just needed something to repeat, to focus on … to get the focus off this agony, off … me.

when i … then he

Four words popped into my muddled mind and I began to recite them, over and over, for the remainder of my determined walk. I walked hard and fast and I spoke them the same, over and over. It was not the words, but their meaning, that propelled me, that, eventually, slowed my mind, my heartbeat, my pace. Those four words and my chosen humility in speaking their truth, not just with my tongue, but with my heart, my mind … brought me home (figuratively and physically).

The words I spoke, I rewrote into my circumstance, were words of faith. These were the words of the Apostle Paul. Paul was speaking of that thorn in his flesh, the issue that he had prayed and prayed and prayed that God would take away … but God did not take it away. Paul’s response is this:

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

So, I may have done a re-write here on scripture, my chant

when i … then he

written in scripture is actually

when i … then i

The thing is … I was chanting the words in faith, not in sight. Paul had been praying, and growing, and stretching in this area of a thorn, for years (possibly his entire life).

I was in the moment, feeling ever so weak, simply praying, in faith that God would be my strength, that he would carry me, would flood my body and mind with the Spirit of peace, that he would be my advocate of strength.

and He did.

I love how Matthew Henry speaks to this passage (this experience with God in our weakness) :

When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.

Matthew Henry Commentary

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Produce is ripening. The days are dry and hot. The sun still high in the sky … but we now begin to really notice it is setting earlier in the evening.

This mid summer, this quarter season signifies the beginning of harvesting.

Harvesting … the taking or bringing in of the fruits of our labor.

I have begun harvesting my tomatoes daily. Little cherry tomatoes, ripe and round and delicious for salads. The Romas, a perfect balance of sweet taste, firmness and more flesh than seeds. I am anticipating thick slices atop mayo on artisan wheat bread … maybe even today.

For weeks, months even, I have anticipated the harvest of these fruits. Gardening in our newer, smaller digs, in pots, has not been as successful as gardening in the past. Yet, these plants are full of growing, healthy, ripening fruit for weeks to come.

I think that mid summer harvesting is a plot of God. I think this is his way of reminding us to keep our eyes on the prize of the present. While we are harvesting and tasting the fruits ripening before our eyes we are present in this very moment. This is what it is to not just be content, but know it too.

Pause for a moment.

Close your eyes.

Breath in deeply, slowly.

Exhale, slowly and completely.

Now, let your mind search for fruit in your life. The fullness of seeds which have been planted deep into the dark of the soil. Seeds that have been watered, fed, cared for. Dry, lifeless seeds that have sprouted, grown tall, with leaves, flowers and now the fruit is ripening … the fruit of your labor … the fruit of faithfulness to the Master Gardener.

What is he showing you?

What is he reminding you?

He is faithful. The seeds planted in him will grow.

they. will. grow.

See that fruit!

Don’t get discouraged, dear soul, when the ground seems dry and absent of life. He is in the dark, dry places with you. This midsummer harvest, today, is to encourage you in the winter times, when the days are dark and lifeless. For today bask in the sunshine of the harvest, let it’s delights seep into your soul, know the joy of this contentment.

“And another angel … cried … Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.”
-Revelation 14:18

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By Ahuva Klein

Where I live, it is dry.

A heat dome (a new word for the local vernacular) last month resulted in over 800 heat-related deaths. If you walk around it will quickly become obvious that plants and trees have been dying in this heat in which they are not designed to survive.

Everything is dry!

There has been no rain in July, only 37mm in June … the first half of June.

It is dry.

With the heat dome and the dry conditions forest fire season is upon us. Every day I awaken to updates on the radio, the weather websites. Images of smokey skies, people in shelters and fire racing up tall trees and hillsides are the daily visuals.

The other day, while listening to a podcast about (ironically) Moses and the burning bush, it took on new significance in this hot, dry summer.

The story of Moses is told in Exodus.

Just the other day I wrote about the conditions into which he was born in the post, Hidden in Their Hearts. His destiny at birth, like all the other Hebrew babies, was a permanent water bath (drowning).

So, years later,

Moses,

born in love

given back to God in trust

was in a hard place.

He had been raised in the palace of the Pharaoh,

killed an Egyptian guard,

run away,

protected seven sisters from shepherds who hadn’t allowed them to water their flocks at a well (but … maybe he was the one who was really thirsty?)

was given one of those daughters, in marriage (a Midianite woman who thought he was an Egyptian … so maybe he was still struggling with his identity?),

and now he’s off wandering in the dessert with his (his father-in-laws) flock.

Though it would appear that he knew his location, I think Moses was lost. The identity he portrayed was not that of a Hebrew, but Egyptian. He held within him the unconscious memories of songs and messages and prayers of his mother who buried them into his lovingly nurtured heart.

I think Moses might have been as dry as much of the landscape of British Columbia is currently … ripe for fire to burn it to ashes, to dust. He was a man born to a purpose, one his mother knew was a purpose given by the God who saved him as a baby. Yet, here he was, tending sheep in the hot, dry desert.

“the angel of the Lord appeared to him (Moses) in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.” (Exodus 3:2)

Moses was seeing the impossible. A tree, on fire, yet the tree was not destroyed. That would catch my attention!

Then he said something that reminded Moses who he was,

“I am the God of your father, 

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (v. 6)

“the God of your father” … in this statement and the following fathers of the Jews, God reminds Moses of his identity, of who he is, of the whispers of his mother, buried in his heart before he could understand. This is the beginning of his rebirth, the beginning of his life of really living. This is his holy ground moment.

As God tells Moses his plan to save the Israelites through him, Moses gets doubtful (the dry bones of doubt). And he says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (v.11)

Now, if I were God, I would be rolling my eyes (like a parent) and saying, “did you hear me? were you listening? I just told you who you are!”

But God, still burning in that still full of life bush, is much more patient and compassionate (v.12).

“And God said, “I will be with you.””

And this is the God I serve. He reminds me who I am and then he reminds me that

He.

will.

not.

leave.

me.

alone.

Yet, Moses still has doubts …

I think what is happening here is fascinating because there’s a bush on fire, but it’s not destroyed. God is speaking to Moses, telling him who he is, that he will not be left alone and it is Moses who is brought to ash in the face of this fire.

His life so far has been one of confusion and feeling lost and lacking attachment to anything and anyone. There have always been whispers of identity within his soul, yet they have always been out of reach, a jumbled mess. Now, in the midst of an isolated desert, the God of his people, God himself is challenging him to abandon his fear. To make the faith of his fathers HIS OWN FAITH. He has a choice to make … the choice we all have to make … do we chose to live the life God has for us?

And who shall I tell them sent me? This is Moses last question and the answer, though perhaps odd and indefinite to us (and to him) is nothing short of definite,

“I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.”


I am … no beginning, no end. Reliant on nothing and no one.

This is the God who creates, who never leaves our side, and, later in this story of Moses being willing to follow and obey God, we get to hear God’s ultimate promise, to the Israelites and to us all …

I will redeem you

Redemption is the result of obedience, of trust. It is the result of our ashes being born into new life. Only God can make new things out of the rubble of our dry and thirsty lives.

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I have nothing left. I am just at the end of my rope … at the end of me.

Those were my words, my prayer, in the midst of a time of struggle, a time where I didn’t have the answer, the solution, the ‘fix’ for the problem.

As I spoke the words, at the end of me, an odd sense of relief was felt from within out. It was as if my verbal confession freed me from invisible, self administered chains. It was as if this was the most wise next step.

Baffled, that this peaceful feeling could accompany the equivalent of waving the white flag in defeat, I then remembered to whom I was praying.

“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 

1 Peter 5:5b

Pride … such a human disease of pandemic proportions! And I am not always so quick to admit that I have been infected. I think I need to do all the fixing, the solving, have all the answers. Then, along comes reality and my pride takes a hit … reminding me that there is a higher power, a greater one, who has a plan and purpose that can come of the chaos in my life … and he doesn’t need my efforts, so much as my obedience, my reliance on him.

“Coming to the END of MYSELF and all SELF effort…seems to be the very point that God steps in and shows HIMSELF to be more than ENOUGH.”

John Paul Warren

That peace that accompanied my forfeit … that was God, as I submitted my ‘power’ to him. I still was worried, I still had concerns and I still had more questions than answers, but I had been reminded that I was not alone, that I did not have to do anything … except trust, stay close to him.

“God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

Matthew 5:2-3

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Though the Easter weekend has past, somehow it could almost feel like it never happened.

I have to admit that I didn’t do too well with my lenten sacrifice. I had intended that each day I would read a number of chapters in John, starting with the death of Lazarus and going to Jesus’ arrest in the garden. Despite having the time, with self isolation and social distancing becoming a reality, contemplative reading was not something I have done much of these weeks.

The one lenten practise I did maintain was a frequent, silent praying of what is known as the Jesus Prayer,

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner.

I put an image of it on my phone’s home screen, so I saw it every time I went to turn my phone on (and man, have I turned it on often during these days of Covid 19 updates and breaking news).

I have been constantly reminded, in the lead up to Easter, who I am in relation to Jesus. What he has done for me.

Then Easter, during this season of Covid 19, came … and went. No crescendo of voices on Easter morning, no large family gatherings, no face to face Easter embraces and greetings of “He is risen” to respond, “He is risen indeed.”

Yet …

The words of song, the words of an ancient creed, have been mulling in my mind for weeks …

The first writing of the Apostle’s Creed was in 390AD …

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of the saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

In this time of Covid 19, in the light shadows of the Easter weekend, we are called to the question,

what do I believe?

And the words of this Creed echo in my mind, in my heart. For this is what I believe is the essential belief of we, the Easter people. The people who follow, not blindly, but in faith of the one who died for our good … both here on Earth, but even more so, for the eternity that awaits us all.

So, my soul sings what I believe, reaching a solo crescendo … one reached by millions of followers throughout the ages.

We all have to answer the question of Pilate,

“What shall I do, then,
with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

And I believe what I believe
is what makes me what I am
I did not make it
no, it is making me
it is the very truth of God
and not the invention of any man
I believe it

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