Posts tagged Hope
By Blood and Word {DWITW 365}
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 “As long as we have our stories there is hope.”
-Henri Nouwen

“Will you read me a story?” is a common request in our household. It doesn’t matter if you are family, friend, or acquaintance. If you sit near one of the stacks of picture books, it’s likely a pair of tiny hands will bring you at least one, if not four, of them, accompanied by a pleading smile and excited eyes. Regardless of how silly or unusual the premise of each story seems to be, there is a bit of hope to be found in them more often than not. From Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire, I am reminded  I belong somewhere, but it might not be where I think. From The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat, I am mindful that even when I’m doing the seeking, I could still need to be found myself.

As our year of DWITW 365 draws to an end, I can’t help but reflect on all the stories we have read. I’ve watched the genealogy of Jesus unfold across the pages, from Abraham to David to Joseph. I’ve been able to savor the grand chronicle that spans from creation to fall to redemption to restoration; from the Tree of Life in Genesis to the Tree of Life in Revelation. When I look back on it all, a few verses from the middle of Revelation sit in my mind:

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!’ ” (Revelation 12:10-12)

By the blood of Jesus, we are made conquerors. By the testifying of Christ and the work He had done, we conquer.

Our accuser has been conquered, our adversary overcome! Not only through Jesus’ death is the kingdom of God victorious, but also through the testimony of His people. A people who treasure their Savior and God more dearly than their very lives. By the blood of Jesus, we are made conquerors (Rom. 8:37.) By the testifying of Christ and the work He had done, we conquer. While God’s victory needn’t rest on the deeds of people, He chose to include us.

As so many before us, we get to participate. We get to be a part of this great story that is still unfurling all around us, even though the end has been decided. We get to speak of what Jesus has done, of His death and resurrection, of the new life He has given us.

And this testimony, this story we are to proclaim, to whom do I tell it? Anyone. Everyone. But especially my children. I tell them of a big God who became a tiny baby, of impossible hopes that took on skin, of beginnings and endings and beginning again. And in the light of that hope, I tell them of hurts and healing that go beyond kisses and band aids. Of death that brings life. Of Jesus.

And so I wage war against the darkness with my words. I fight to remember. I fight to remind. I fight to give my voice to the Spirit, that the truth of what I see and know of God and His kingdom, His Son, and His Spirit may be imparted to others. Through the vibrancy of Christ’s blood and the unfading tenacity of His love, we are transformed. Our stories merge with His in a tapestry of memory, time, and divine intervention. An intervention undertaken by a Man, whose face we’ve yet to see, who loved us enough to give up His life so we could dance in His presence forever. So that we could become part of the community He knew before the first flower bloomed or the first wind blew.

in the light of that hope, I tell them of hurts and healing that go beyond kisses and band aids. Of death that brings life. Of Jesus.

I can’t help but think of John when he was writing his gospel as I’m imagining the expanse of Jesus stories there were back then. Too many to count, too many to read them all. Too many for the world to hold (John 21:25.) It’s from that abundance of stories, that the testimony of Jesus’ work in my heart and life has bloomed into victorious life. A life of a conqueror in Christ. 

Sisters, as you reflect on the past year, what are the testimonies of Jesus that have grown from your heart? What evidences of His love have given you life? How has He been faithful to refine your mind? What is the story of Jesus you need to tell?

In 2019, the DWITW blog will be focusing on the gospels, one each quarter of the year. We would love nothing more than for you to share your own testimonies of what you are learning as you read and study the life of our Savior. If you feel prompted to share, you can do so via our submissions page. We are so thankful for the work the Lord has done this year. We look on to the days ahead with great expectation of the stories we will hear.

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Robin Zastrow wants to live in a world where coffee never gets cold and kindness abounds. When she's not discovering the wonders of construction paper and cardboard tubes with her two little ones, you can find her sneaking in another few pages of a book or jotting down bits of writing on scraps of paper.

One of her favorite Scriptures is:“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV

It’s More Than Just Land {DWITW 365}
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Can we be honest for a moment? Are you like me and wrestle with the idea of death and destruction by a loving God? I was tempted to skim over this week’s reading laden with conquest and geography. But I didn’t. And God spoke to my heart in a tender way because of it.

What was so important about the land the Israelites needed to take possession of anyway? Didn’t it belong to others who were already dwelling there? Was God just being cruel and socially unjust? What kind of a God would do that?! We’ve all encountered difficult passages we have either wrestled with or wanted to ignore because they’re challenging and uncomfortable.

Our reading this week is like that. It’s messy. And in our Western Christian culture, we don’t do messy well.

How often I am quick to take my culture and insert it into the Bible. And when I do, I come away with a misunderstanding of the passage and most importantly, misinformation about God.

Instead of ignoring the “elephant in the room,” I decided to face it. First, I had to remember that God delivered His Word to us in the context of an Eastern culture that is more organic and relational than ours. This culture also has a “two-handed” approach to thinking (“On the one hand…. but on the other hand…”) and welcomes discussion and wrestling with the tension of opposing options.

Personally, I seek comfort in having all the “right answers.” I cling to truth as a cherished possession I own. Everything should be black and white, balanced and fair, and coincide with my own values. I pull truth out of my pocket and wave it around when I’m backed into a corner. I place my full weight, trust, and life behind that truth as I’ve come to understand it. I even find security in it. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, there’s not much right with it either. And so began the struggle, and the Lord calling me back to center through the tension found in Joshua.

As I dug in, I learned something helpful: the book of Joshua was written in the form of an ancient land grant. Land grants were made for the benefit of vassals (slaves/people) living under a suzerain (lord/king) -- much different than treaties which were made for the king’s own personal benefit.

Just as God offered the Israelites kingdom identity, I need to understand the identity I have in Him as my King.

In a land grant, the land remained a part of the kingdom and was under the king’s control and protection. As long as the nation to whom the land was given remained loyal to the king, the land was theirs to keep. This arrangement gave the people a kingdom identity and sense of security. So what does this have to do with the Israelites? In the book of Joshua, God takes on the role of the suzerain. As such, there was no place for those who proclaimed loyalty to other gods.

God was carving out a place of identity for His people, and the world would know He is the one true King.

As I was digesting this, I began seeing similarities of my own heart to the “land.” Just as God offered the Israelites kingdom identity, I need to understand the identity I have in Him as my King. Just as He helped them vanquish the enemies and strongholds that stood in their path, I need to address the stubborn enemies and strongholds of my heart.

The Promised Land was to be a place of rest and kingdom living for the Israelites--a place where God’s glory would be on display for all the nations so they too might come to know Him as the one true King. This made me stop and reflect. Is God’s glory on display in my life? Am I tolerating strongholds and sins that are, in effect, enemies toward God? What is it that keeps me from enjoying the provision of my King -- from fully living in that place of security, peace, and identity He desires for me to enjoy?

These are the things God tenderly spoke to my heart as I read this week’s passage. And in them I find hope in a God who fights for me.

“How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors has given you?”
— Joshua 18:3
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Jackie Perseghetti wants to live in a world where every human realizes they are walking wounded and in need of God’s grace. Her heart is to be God’s person at God’s time in the life of another and she looks for God-given moments to breathe life and encouragement. When Jackie is not going on adfuntures with her hubby (adventure with fun at the center) or teaching drums or the art of papercrafting, you can find her digging in her garden, storytelling to her grandkids, or sharing the stirrings of her heart at  www.smallstepsintofreedom.wordpress.com  She takes great comfort in her favorite Bible verses: Isaiah 41:10 and Isaiah 46:4.