Solomon describes the beauty of his bride in the Song of Songs. Twice he compares her to an awesome army with banners. That speaks volumes about the value of the army for both the king and his bride.
As I grow in Him, this little wild olive branch grows in its appreciation of the olive tree into which I have been grafted. One of the beautiful things about learning a bit of Hebrew, is that we can communicate with other believers, regardless of our native languages. We can be one in His Spirit, with these believers from the Ukraine.
How do we, who have spent our entire lives learning to make decisions based on our needs, our feelings or our thoughts, learn to live by something so nebulous as the Spirit?
It is not easy, nor instantaneous. But, He is Abba, Who knows us, Who knows our questions, and Who has provided answers to our questions even before we ask them. I had only to seek; He revealed His truth as I was ready to recieve it.
Abba, through Moses, clearly states in Deuteronomy 30:19-20 that there are only two ways – life and death. He also makes it clear what He desires for us: life.
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days:
Sounds so easy. But death has infiltrated our lives more than we can ever imagine. Choosing Life requires that we die, that He might Live through us. We must become a new creation; that starts when we accept Him. Too often, we think it ends there, too. But we continue to have areas of our lives that have been hidden away from His love and redemption. It is a continual process of finding the lies we have believed, the death we have hidden in our hearts. To choose Life is to continually bring these to Him, as He shows them to us.
How ironic: how like Him! To choose Life, we must continually die to ourselves that we might Live in Him.
He is the master of surprises! He answered my deepest prayers, but not at all as I had expected. (Imagine that!)
Eventually, the stress of politics and the pace of a major corporation took its toll. My health deteriorated.
The crisis was over. No more stalkers, no more threats of kidnapping, no more ice cycles on the eyelashes from delivering news papers at 5:30 AM to pay for heat, no more…, no more…, no more!
We were on to a new phase of life! Our Father had us move from a small midwestern town to a city on the coast. What a joy! I love cities. I was ready for a something new!
I love adventure, but one doesn’t always get to choose them! On one of my first excursions down town, on a long overpass of an interstate, the car just died. He allowed the car to make it to the other side of the overpass, so there was a shoulder that I could at least pull off the road a bit. Now what do I do? No cell phones, yet. No gas stations or stores in sight. I would have to walk miles to even get to a public phone. I was new here; who would I call, even if I could? Father, what am I to do?
Get out of the car and praise Me!
Now, you and I both know that that kind of behavior just looks insane! But, I had nothing to loose; I didn’t know a soul in the city. So, it didn’t really matter if I looked like a complete fool!
I got out and I lifted my hands. I walked around that car and praised Him!
Just like a parent encouraging their child to take their first few steps, the reward was immediate. A kind gentleman soon stopped and gave me a ride to where I could get help.
On the way, he told me that the car had stopped in the worst part of town. No one in their right mind would consider walking through that area. And picking up someone in that area, well, that just wouldn’t happen. But, then, one wouldn’t normally see a person walking around a dead car with their hands raised in praise, either!
He is faithful. He is able, whether it is a crisis that lasts for years or a few intense moments, when we can’t make it, He can make a way where there is no way.
I absolutely could not have made it through that crisis without Him. But, through it, I was learning to walk in thanksgiving and praise. He was blessing me, preparing me to walk in His Truth.
He teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept. We so often think we have it all, when we have only touched the surface of His Truth.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
and into His courts with praise:
be thankful unto Him,
and bless His name.
I had been searching patchwork quilt patterns for the just the right pattern to make for a dear friend. The name of the pattern I selected, and my favorite to this day, was Castle Walls.
With this pattern, the design of the castle is simplified. I found it easy to picture the fields where we live, surrounding the castle with its watchtowers, walls, and the inner court of the king. There is even more truth that He can communicate through this pattern, if one only takes the time to listen. To me, it is a like parable, but a story in picture, in design, and not with words. Actually, it is very similar to praise dancing, which is a story in movement. Just like a parable of words or movement, not everyone will appreciate or understand it, but He does grant the precious gift of insight when it is His time, place and purpose.
To me, the central truth this verse and this design communicates is that He is our King. To enter into the protective walls of His castle, we need only to choose to be thankful. But it is not just saying the words once, it is learning to stand in an attitude of thankfulness. That is entirely different.
What truths has He shown you about this verse?
Our Father knows us each so well. He gives the gifts that are uniquely suited for us, at the time of our growth that will be the most beneficial. Since we are each extremely unique, there is no set pattern to follow. Like many of His gifts, sometimes He surprises us with an instant ability, but the majority of times, it is more gradual, line upon line, precept upon precept, as He explains in Isaiah 28:10.
My first lesson of praise dancing came during a period of great trial. I had been attacked physically and verbally, my children and I were being threatened on a regular basis, my family was being torn apart, finances were critically low, my parents, siblings and friends were hours away. Any one would be a great testing, but all together, it was more than one can bear.
But He knows. He cares more than we can imagine. He sustains us; He holds us in His hand (Psalm/Tehillim 139:10b) when we can’t hold on.
It is the grain of sand that causes pain in an oyster that produces a precious pearl. It is often out of our own pain, that the priceless treasures of our lives are born. He, Himself, began to teach me the importance of praise during this time. He took me out of a traditional church into a church that knew how to praise Him and through a variety of seemingly unrelated endeavors, my journey to becoming a praise dancer began.