Come, O North Wind

Bright lakeOn Saturday, Winthrop Harbor was gusty with the tumult of Winter fighting to be Spring.

The snow departed almost overnight with a warm wind on its heels, and only a few bold chunks of dirt-laden ice still hunch in corners. The rest of it has soaked through the ground and become mud, and the little streams at the park and in the gulleys trickle freely, released from their frozen cover. The grey trees, no longer wearing snowy coats and icy diamonds, are stretching bare arms to the sky, begging for the sun, only to be buffeted constantly by the wind.

The gales were swift and intense that day, producing a whooshing rush that resembled a wave crashing. Every few seconds, it pulled back, receding only to pick up speed and cascade back again. It was a persistent force, knocking over garbage cans, hurrying loose leaves over roadways, even fighting to yank cars from their lanes. Across the street, our neighbor’s shingled roof looked like the edge of a sheet about to be unfurled. The wind here taps at our windows and dances with our screen door, opening and shutting our mail box and then leaping over the house to writhe in the treetops. It presses on our walls, as if demanding entrance. But my favorite are those brief moments when you can almost see the wind—when it rolls up and dives along the ground, throwing shadows against sidewalks, pausing as if it can see its reflection in the puddles.

There’s a specific verse in an obscure section of the Bible that always comes to my mind when I think of wind. It begins, “Awake, O North Wind and come…blow upon my garden…” Song of Solomon 4:16

Though Song of Solomon is a highly figurative and symbolic book, I always think of this verse in terms of how the wind cannot be seen and yet it changes things. In symbolic literature, the North Wind represents a cold, gusty, somewhat harsh presence that blows over gardens, releasing power, and unlocking new seasons with its very force.

My big question these days, as the natural seasons struggle around me, is what is God’s purpose for me this next season? What useful qualities does He want to release from my garden with the North Wind of change?

“For land that has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.” Hebrews 6:7

Too often, I feel like my heart is like land that just lies there, getting wet with the blessing of God but not drinking, not useful, not producing a crop. Obviously, the Lord wants more for me than a simple mental assent to His Word brings. Everything begins with a simple acceptance of the Gospel, but it doesn’t end there. Wherever I see a lack of maturity in my life, a lack of focus or purpose, it is because I am receiving without practicing and seeking. Am I modeling my life after Jesus? Am I taking my cues from how He acted…resisting temptation, submitting to God, learning obedience through suffering?

Am I clinging to the Word of God for dear life? The book of Hebrews says the Word of God is a double-edged sword, and it pierces to the division of soul and spirit, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Sometimes that is painful. But I shrink back from it to my detriment.

I am praying for the Lord to open my heart wider to the searching, cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, never shrinking back from anything that would make me more like Jesus. Wherever you are lost or empty, confused or lacking in focus or purpose, I invite you to join me in this prayer and actively seek Him. Let His Word offend you, challenge you, pierce you. Let Him deepen your walk. Let’s not be hearers only, deceiving ourselves, but doers.

Let us hold fast our confidence to the end, so we may present ourselves useful, fully assured, and mature.

A few days ago, God reminded me that He doesn’t build a foundation and then neglect to finish the building that goes on top. Hebrews 3:4-6 says: “Every house is built by someone, but the Builder of all things is God…Jesus Christ is faithful to God’s House as a Son. And we are His House if indeed we hold fast our confidence, boasting in our Hope, firm to the end.”

My house is not falling to pieces in the wind. My house is built on the Rock. Praying for firmness, steadiness. Holding out for the Spring.

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Writing in Ripples~Poems

Mountains

Pink haze wreaths a scarf around

Rock shoulders,

Steadying dizzy scapes

Against arctic wind.

 

The land’s jagged, full of sharpened edges,

Drops

Deepened where His Fingers shaped

And carved the canyons,

Nestled Knuckles

Between trees breathing cold.

 

Scattered points of pine

Flock the valleys–

A conifer carpet

Amid open spots of white.

 

From above, flattened ridges

Watch the sky, waiting

For the blushing warm

To cast a smile on their face.

— Jubilee A. Lipsey, 2016

 

 

 

 

Songs for the Seasons~”Heroes”

IMG_1341.JPGWelcome to February, everyone!

I’m excited about this new category I’m introducing… I hope to add to it at least once or twice a month, but definitely before each month ends. Growing up, I measured time by the books I was reading and the songs that captured my attention. As the months turned into years, I realized that a certain song could not only trigger a single memory, but paint a whole scene, bringing me right back to what was happening when that song was my favorite. As I got older, songs highlighted more of what God was teaching me in specific seasons, which is why I’m calling this category Songs for the Seasons.

I started asking the Lord for songs, so that I wouldn’t just be looking back at my favorite music for memory’s sake, but looking ahead, expectantly awaiting what He would teach me in the month before me. It became a regular and beautiful thing, with God putting His Finger on specific songs throughout the month and each song contained a theme that followed me for that month. I began to look forward to the songs and the different ways in which He would point them out to me. Each time was completely unique and special, and I was often brought to tears over this personal and intimate way that He was caring for me. The songs served as reminders that He knew what I was going through each step of the way and was ready to equip me by providing the tools and the power I needed to take the next steps and learn the lessons He had for me at a particular time.

This tradition has continued for several years and I have lists of songs for each season in my journals. These past couple months, my attention waned, and though God gave me songs, I didn’t allow myself to focus on them as I had in the past.

But just last night, the end of January, I was in prayer and received what I wasn’t even sure I was asking for.  God gave me a song…and it’s the type of song you want to pore over diligently until you know the words—not a song that preaches at you, telling you what you need to believe, but one that you feel the need to sing until you believe it.

If you haven’t checked out Bethel’s newest album “Brave New World”, you should; you will be blessed! https://bethelmusic.com/albums/brave-new-world/

The album title alone is applicable to my life right now…a glorified way of saying that I’m in a new place and I often find myself acting out more bravery than I feel. A new world requires bravery, and you don’t always get to prepare as much as you’d like. In places where you are comfortable, you don’t feel this inadequacy, this desperation for God to fill you with Himself, because nothing else will do. The “brave new world” drives you to your knees for what you lack, “overwhelmed by the conviction that you have nowhere else to go,” as Abraham Lincoln put it.

The song God gave me was one I had only heard once in passing…“Heroes.”

You’d think from the title that the song is about being heroic, but the first lines are “Let the heroes rest/Let the striving cease.”

This song highlights the choice that lies before each of us every day–a choice to trust while “in the mystery”, knowing that in the midst of things you don’t understand, God doesn’t change. The chorus is a beautiful refrain…

“Awake my soul to sing/with your Breath in me/I will worship.

/You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment/And I will worship.”

This is the type of song you can declare in any season…because, let’s face it…even in seasons where everything is going “perfectly” and you are doing God’s will, there will always be something to surrender to Him, something that didn’t go your way, some part of your will, your mind, your heart to give to the Lord. And this sacrifice isn’t a burden…

This song speaks of the joy in all that He is making new…a reason to choose to sing Hallelujah! To find everything in Him when we’ve looked in vain for it elsewhere. A reason to cling to Him–the only One who can teach us to dance, to scale the heights, to rejoice.

I am so thankful for a song that can be my anthem for this season. Thankful for a God whose patience and limitless love don’t ever end.