It was nearing the end of the season. A snow storm was coming toward California, and the time was now. Alex Honnold (Free Solo climber and the first person to climb Yosemite’s El Capitan without a safety rope) and Emily Harrington (five-time US Sport-Climbing champion) set out to free climb Yosemite’s El Capitan. They chose to simul climb, which is where climbers ascend at the same time on the same rope.
“It’s essentially done for speed,” Emily said.
This, admittedly, wasn’t the safest way to climb, but it was a risk they took in order to climb it in 24 hours, a vast difference from the six days it took her years earlier.
Emily led and kept gear between her and Alex on the rope. It was cold (25 degrees), and Emily remembered her toes were numb. Obviously, for a rock climber, this wasn’t good, as you need to be able to feel the rock; it affected how she stood on her feet. Her foot “skated off.” She fell about 40-50 feet and hit her head. She told Alex she was ok, but she was hurt. He lowered her down to safety, a ledge on the wall of the mountain, where they waited 90 minutes for Yosemite’s Search and Rescue.1 During the wait, Alex “calmly maintain[ed] spinal immobilization on the wall, g[ot] things ready for an evac, and t[old] stories and ke[pt] her talking throughout.”2 Spinal immobilization uses different ways to stabilize the spinal column to keep the spinal cord from being damaged. Amazingly, she didn’t break any bones or have any spinal injuries, though she did injure her left leg and left elbow, lower back/tail bone, and neck!1
“May my words and my thoughts be acceptable to you, O LORD, my Refuge and my Redeemer!”Psalm 19:14 GNT
The Holy Spirit’s put this verse on recall, over and over, again, in my heart and mind this week. It’s a well-known verse, but I feel it gets misquoted, sometimes, and I lose the full meaning, if the end of the verse, “my Refuge and my Redeemer,” is left off.
In order to absorb these honorifics, I looked deeper into this verse. The Hebrew word for “thoughts” (“meditations” in many translations) means they’re concentrated on one area or subject, and they’re very thorough.
What comes from the heart is serious business. We’re talking about the center of our feelings, will, and even our reasoning and understanding…things public (words) AND private (heart). The heart affects everything, so it needs a good, frequent walk-through!
LORD, in these verses, as you probably know, is “Yhvh,” pronounced yeh-ho-vaw’, which is where Jehovah comes from. It means that He’s self-existent and eternal. No one…nothing else caused Him to exist! He’s always been there; He always will be!
“Refuge” is a figurative description for a place of safety from pursuit, danger, or trouble. It refers to an area that’s next to a dangerously high, steep, cliff drop.
“Redeemer” refers to One Who saved another. When someone saves you, whatever they save you from, that action should, naturally, bring about a bond between the two of you. It’s a different kind of relationship than you have with others, and it changes your life.
Verse 14 is the last verse in Chapter 19. The rest of the chapter talks about creation continuously declaring the glory of God everywhere and how obeying God’s code of law, etc., brings great reward. After recognizing the weightiness of all of this, David goes on to petition God to “cleanse [his] secret faults,” keep him from those who don’t pay attention to the limits of what’s allowed or is appropriate (and keep them from controlling him), and that he’ll “be blameless” (Vv. 12-13). He, then, prays that the words that come out of his mouth as well as what his heart ponders will be offered to the One Who saved him and keeps him safe as an offering…and that they would be acceptable before Him.
What He’s done for me is weighty!! He’s saved me and is still keeping me safe! Why would I put myself in a position where I’d slip off the cliff with my tongue and heart? I want to cling to Him and focus on His being my edge, the One Who saved me, who’s always been and always will be; He’s my safe place! Because He’s so good, I want to honor Him with my words that well up from my deep, secret places. Cleanse me, LORD! I want to join creation in using my words and thoughts to continuously give You glory…not just out in public, not in certain places, but everywhere!
1 DangerStikTV. (2020, January 2). S2, Episode Two: The Accident [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY01H8UtSAU. *Warning: This does have some language in it.
2 Daily Mountain. “Climber Emily Harrington Rescued by ‘Free Solo’ Star Alex Honnold after Fall.” Mountainplanet.com, 2020, https://mountainplanet.com/blog/climber-emily-harrington-rescued-by-free-solo-star-alex-honnold-after-fall-7230#:~:text=years%20ago%20created-,Climber%20Emily%20Harrington%20rescued%20by%20’Free%20Solo’%20star%20Alex%20Honnold,Free%20Solo%E2%80%9D%20star%20Alex%20Honnold.
This season’s looked different for us. From my going down again off and on (mostly on) for a couple weeks, affecting our plans to get together with my side of the family for Thanksgiving; to both of our kids having jobs, now, and seeing them less; to a weird situation, where I have a migraine hit during most church services, limiting or squelching opportunities to connect with others after those services…time with others has been restricted. Sometimes, this can leave a void, as we’re created for relationship.
A bright spot to my season was a recent invitation from a dear friend to attend an auction/bizarre at the school my kids used to attend. The LORD blessed me with pretty good health that day, and I was able to go! I found a small sign, made by one of the school’s teachers, that caught not only my eye; it caught my heart. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read its words: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!” Its message captured my affection and flooded my emotions…my inadequacies…my lonely feelings. “Rejoice!” God’s Spirit within told me; “God’s with you!”
We sing songs; we know the name–Immanuel–and Whom it belonged to; we know what it means (God with us); but do we pause to really reflect on what this means?!? Do we rejoice that GOD is with us? I mean, REALLY rejoice? Do we even grasp what rejoice even means?
“‘Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel.'”Isaiah 7:14 NKJV
“Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste…and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy! Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.’ And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”Luke 1:39-47 NKJV
“Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’ When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them until it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”Matthew 2:7-10 NKJV
The prophet Isaiah told of Immanuel’s arrival 600-700 years before the Son of God actually arrived on earth. The excitement experienced by those who believed Who Jesus was, that Immanuel was finally here, and the reality of His presence was recognizable! John (the Baptist), while in Elizabeth’s belly, leapt for joy, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, her relative, carrying Jesus, God’s Son, in her womb. The Spirit of God filled both John and Elizabeth (Luke 1:15, 41) and allowed them to recognize the presence of Immanuel…that GOD was with them, though inside Mary’s belly!
The wise men, when they, again, saw God’s sign of the star, leading them to where Jesus, the Son of God, was, “rejoiced with exceedingly great joy!” What does that look like?
REJOICE (“chairó in Greek)
Rejoice means to experience and be glad for God’s favor…for His favorable leaning in toward you.
JOY (“chara” in Greek)
If you’re experiencing God’s favorable leaning in toward you, it’s enough to ignite great joy! You know how you experience something, but don’t always understand it? Joy isn’t ambiguous. It’s recognizable! You see God leaning in! You see His favor…and you get it! You’re aware of it! You know what it is! You know Whom it’s from! THIS is JOY!
EXCEEDINGLY (“sphodra” in Greek)
“Exceedingly” means “done all out…with total effort!”
GREAT (“megas” in Greek)
“Great,” obviously, means “large,” but in Matthew 2:7, it’s referring to the intensity and measure of the wise men’s joy–their awareness of God’s favor, His leaning in toward them! The effort is totally intense; the measure is all out! It affected what they were fond of as well as what they felt and thought about!
This is really resonating with me right now! No matter what situations arise that affect my plans, what lies or distractions Satan hurls my way, what family is or isn’t around, what choices I see others making that I feel I should have had more of an impact on, MY GOD IS HERE WITH ME!! He sees me! He’s leaning in toward me! The reality of this needs to affect what I like, what I put value in, how I feel, and what I think about! When I stop long enough to really soak this in, to be aware of Him, to recognize Him, His Spirit inside me wells up like a fountain, and I can’t help but want to shout, leap, do everything He’s laid out for me to do today with total effort! He’s with me! I believe this, and His presence, interest, and attention gives me renewed strength, value, purpose, and confidence!
I pray this for you, too, friends…that you will more deeply cultivate your relationship with Him; find peace and rest in Him; and go all out in serving Him, as you experience, recognize, and are glad that He’s near!
It’s usually associated with mumbling under our breath, disgruntled words or sounds, and a sense of visible (and, I’d say, audible) displeasure. I’ve been before the LORD the last couple weeks with this topic (check out the last post for more), and He’s pressing in that grumbling is bigger than just what we see.
It started with verses I memorized with my kiddos when they were little (complete with hand motions, mind you). The Spirit brought these words (and a couple fun motions) to mind while I was thinking about “grumbling.”
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish, though you live in a crooked and perverse society in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life…”Philippians 2:14-16a NETB
“Grumbling,” (Greek word: “goggusmos”) means just what we’d think it would, according to its root word, “gogguzó,”–“to murmur or mutter (grumble) with muffled undertones; to show “smoldering discontent” (Souter), droning on in a low, constant murmur.”1 Sound familiar? Look recognizable?
What I found, as I looked into this verse deeper, is that it’s not just visible or audible grumbling that we’re not supposed to do! This verse also addresses what’s going on secretly in our hearts! We know that what our hearts are full of, our mouth speaks (Luke 6:45), so this verse does end up speaking to grumbling that comes out of our mouths, yet I needed to hear this deeper meaning to keep what’s going on “behind closed doors”…what may not be given away by my behavior or words…in check, as well!
“Serve the LORD with gladness…”Psalm 100:2 NKJV
Our pastor spoke on Psalm 100 this week, and it’s fitting; it’s a psalm of thanksgiving. According to this particular verse above, we’re supposed to work/serve/worship the LORD! EVERYTHING we do is to be to and for HIM…and we’re supposed to do it all WITH GLADNESS!…Strike a chord for anyone else? I’m all about serving the LORD, but do I do everything with gladness? (Insert wide-eyed, blushing emoji here!) It’s not just what we do; it’s how we do it…what heart is behind it! Over and over again throughout Scripture, we see that the heart is important to God; He wants it all, not part of it; He wants us to be willing, at the heart of our actions…and joyful.
We see in Philippians what our hidden areas aren’t supposed to contain: disgruntled attitudes or motives, while Psalm 100 shows us how to clean up those areas–according to the Biblical meaning of the word “gladness,” we’re supposed to be joyful-minded!
“He made us; we belong to Him; we are His people, the flock He shepherds.”Psalm 100:3 NAB
The first few verses of Psalm 100 give a number of commands; serving joyful-mindedly (the meaning of “gladness”) is one of them. While this doesn’t mean that we have to be excited and happy about something tough we’re working through, we are instructed to internally search for joy and to think about what we find; then, find pleasure in those things. Maybe we experience something dark, and it seems hard to find joy in it. THAT’S where the problem lies! We aren’t instructed to find joy in the circumstance! Verse 1 of this same thanksgiving psalm instructs us to shout with joy TO THE LORD! Maybe the reason we’re not finding joy is because we’re thinking about the wrong things…the wrong person!
We’re instructed, in Psalm 100:1-3, to:
Verse 3 goes on to tell us: Because He is Creator God, Who made us! We’re His people! We belong to Him! He’s caring for, feeding, and protecting us like a shepherd does his sheep! It’s the LORD Who is our joy! He’s Whom we can find pleasure in!
I saw an ad for a sweatshirt that said, “I Had My Patience Tested…I’m Negative!”2 I laughed, when I read it! Unfortunately, it rings true for me too many times! I’m reminded of these Scriptures, and while the sweatshirt’s saying can totally be true for me, I don’t want it to be! I’m trying to set my focus on the LORD, find joy in Him, not grumble in my heart or mind nor make my displeasure evident! It’s hard to maintain that focus, but that’s what I’d take pleasure in!
Happy Thanksgiving, Liv friends! Let’s “shine as lights in the world by holding on to the[se] word[s] of life…”
1 “1111. gogguzó.” Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/1111.htm. Accessed 20 November 2022.
2 “Women’s I Had My Patience Tested I’m Negative Cat, Funny Sarcasm Casual Sweatshirt.” Lilicloth, https://lilicloth.com/products/casual-autumn-text-letters-regular-fit-long-sleeve-crew-neck-cotton-blend-regular-regular-size-sweatshirts-for-women-14044412?variant=1097726. Accessed 20 November 2022.
Ugh! Another e-mail…another thing to look through/respond to/read. I didn’t have time for that…yet the Spirit urged me to open that one…I’m glad I did. In it was a challenge to not grumble (Yup! Pegged!)! It gave some specific ideas for each day during the month of November, which I’d starred to bring back to the surface once November arrived.
November 1 came! We have a board at the end of our hallway, where all of our bedrooms are. I’ve used it for years, writing on it different messages to the fam (i.e., daily or weekly jobs, welcome notes to guests, something the LORD had shown me that I wanted to share…). Over the last few months, my husband has started getting in on it, too, sharing with us words of wisdom…of focus. I figured this board was the best place to post this “grumble-free” challenge, as all of us need this daily reminder!
DAY 1 was worth leaving on the board for a couple weeks, not just one day…and we have!
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”Proverbs 16:24 NETB
If someone says NOT to do something, is that where your focus goes? That tends to be the norm here, so I love that the initial focus of not grumbling was what TO do in its place–speak pleasant words–words that really please someone, are beautiful, and give a sense of happy satisfaction and joy! If someone speaks words like that to you, do your insides feel a bit “mushier,” feel like they’ve gotten a hug, or just bring a wholeness to what did seem to be in pieces?
Our “soul” (“nephesh” in Hebrew) is the seat of our senses, affections, and emotions; it’s where love, joy, desire, and longing come from. According to this meaning and the verse above, whether it seems true for some individuals or not, everyone feeds on pleasant words…Yes, feed, like what you do when you’re uncomfortable and desiring food! We’re hungry for and desire pleasant words deep down. In the verse above, your soul, your life, enjoys how pleasant words satisfy you and how you experience the sweet flavor of those words! It makes you desire more!
It doesn’t stop there with the pure enjoyment of those words, refreshing the soul! Pleasant words are also healing. The word for “healing” in this verse (“marpe” in Hebrew) means “health, profit” and comes from a Hebrew word (“rapha”) that encompasses not only personal ailments and distresses (both internal and external), but it also expands to include nations and even God. The words we choose and how we say them have power…They have power to heal on the deepest level, from a single person to impacting a nation! God can and will use our beautiful expressions to benefit others on His behalf!
This doesn’t mean we favor pleasant, empty words over truthful ones! We just need to be mindful of how we express truth to others...that we say things in a way that will give life and healing, not take it away.
Focusing on speaking words that please the person we’re talking with, are beautiful, and give a sense of happy satisfaction and joy can be hard! So can saying them in a tone that is heard the way we mean them! I attest to that! However, the hard work DOES pay off in the long run! These pleasant words are the cure for declining relationships and afflicted conversations. I’m seeing changes in my own heart and home. If we’re faithful with the opportunities we’re given, God will do the rest in His time. Amen!
As I was cleaning, I found it. I wrote it three years ago, yet I teared up as I read it, again, feeling like it’s still my anthem! I remember, at the time, the stuff with my health felt weighty, and the Spirit moved me to write. There were a handful of times I’d write a song, in high school and beyond, in order to connect how I was feeling with Truth in my soul. I’m not big on “journaling,” but song writing? That was an easier way for me to process things and express my heart in a way I didn’t feel I could otherwise. I know the Spirit was leading, as it didn’t take long at all to put words to paper; they just flowed. I remember doing a couple edits, but they were few. This is the song the Spirit led me to write, and my soul sings today:
I stood there and listened to voices around Tears down my face; I could not make a sound There once was a day when my voice filled the skies Now, hearing my "voice" brings tears to my eyes But I will sing With all I have to give My praise will ring Through this life You gave to live My heart lays down Every pain that I bear And You, my God, You always meet me there I will sing! The list of afflictions just keeps getting longer But I walk in Your strength; my soul just gets stronger How will I now serve you? I'm so limited I still have a purpose in Your Word, I have read I'm no longer able to do what I used to But I trust You to lead me wherever You choose And I will sing With all I have to give My praise will ring Through this life You gave to live My heart lays down Every pain that I bear And You, my God, You always meet me there I will sing! My struggles have purpose I grow to know You more You reveal more of You It's You I adore! May my life tell Your story Let Your faithfulness ring No matter my path Your name I will sing! So, I sing With all I have to give My praises ring Through this life You gave to live My heart lays down Every pain that I bear And You, my God, You always meet me here I sing! Oh, I sing With the deep part of my soul I sing To the One Who makes me whole ~ Penned on 9.28.19
My health issues started with severe migraines. They affected my ability to work and function for a number of years before I started getting a glitch in my voice. I was eventually diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, which is a neurological disorder, and mine manifested itself in my vocal cords. It got increasingly worse until, when I was pregnant with my son, it sounded like someone was strangling my vocal cords. I could hardly talk, let alone sing. It was exhausting for me to try to push air into my vocal cords to produce more than a few words. My husband would order for me, if we went out to eat (talking over background noise was extremely taxing). I was a technical recruiter at the time, and some candidates would answer their phone; hear my voice; and unknowingly respond rudely to what they thought was a prank call. I had to explain that it wasn’t a prank; I was calling them about a particular job or the resume they’d sent me (backpedaling heard here…). When I talked to someone face-to-face, I learned to look them in the eye and keep my entire face directed at theirs, so they could read my lips. Even at that, my husband did a lot of interpreting for me; bless him!
I remember one Sunday, I was standing among the congregation in church, where I’d previously sung up front numerous times, in a variety of capacities. At that moment, nothing would come out, no matter how hard I tried. Tears began streaming down my face. I SO wanted to sing! It was then that the Spirit explained to me that I WAS! He didn’t need my words in that moment; He was listening to my heart, and it WAS singing! It was through this agony that He was teaching me more about true worship.