Be still and know

Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas
Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

“Be still and know,” echoed in my mind long after the song ended. Still enough to see. Still enough to hear. Still enough to raise my cupped hands with my paltry offering, all that I have and all that I am in one handful. I offer it to God, hush my thoughts, and wait for the knowing.

And with the part of me that won’t quiet, I give thanks.

Thanks for the pain that stopped me in my tracking race.

Thanks for the awareness of heart pain of others.

Thanks for the dark night that shook my hands from their grasping after perfection.

Thanks for the grace of now.

And as I wait — finally stilled — the nail-scarred hand reaches out and receives my gift.

What can he do with so little? I can’t write like Ann Voskamp, or sing like Nicole Nordeman, or teach like Beth Moore.

But he smiles. And even as he did on the hillside over two millennia ago, he thanks the father and blesses. He transforms my offering into nourishment for others.

He whispers that no one can love my family or friends in the unique way that I can.

No one else can be me (or you).

receiving hands
receiving hands

My life, his gift.

I receive my life again from his hand, and give thanks as he feeds the poor and hurting and hungry from the little I offer him.

And in the process, I hear the mountains sing of their great Creator.

Majestic Swiss mountain
Majestic Swiss mountain

I see his power in the crest of the wave.

Maui wave
Maui wave

His perfection in the flight of the hummingbird.

Cloud Forest hummingbird
Cloud Forest hummingbird

I know his tenderness in the baby seal.

Espanola baby seal
Espanola baby seal

I feel his delight in the grace of my granddaughter in her gymnastics routine.

Granddaughter on bar
Granddaughter on bar

I taste his goodness on walks by snow melt streams,

Spring melt
Spring melt

and the sweetness of friends I’ve never seen, but love across the invisible lines of the Internet.

I don’t need to be on a hillside in Galilee to see the miracle.

Be still and know.

He is here.

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us Ps 46:1-3 The Message He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Have you had a Be Still season?

(To see the photos and the song, click on the title for the web version.) All photos property of Jack H Thompson. All rights reserved.

Fine Wine

Among those who tasted the wine — the guests at the Wedding at Cana —  did anyone notice how special that wine was? Or were they too far gone after days of celebrating, or so busy with their friends and family, that they didn’t even stop to savor it?

When we run dry, do we dance to conceal our lack from others? Or turn to Jesus to see how he will meet the need, rejoicing in the refreshment he offers?

Are we aware of the times our Lord has met a need or lack in our lives, filled our everyday world with the divine?

Do we even know it’s available?

With two of my daughters, I’m working on The Healing Path. In chapter two, Dan Allender asks us to look at our desert places, times when we have experienced betrayal, powerlessness, or ambivalence, and their effects. He instructs us to talk about our silence, poverty, danger, or aloneness.

Although I’ve had prayers for inner healing for every area of my life, “desert” and “silence” smacked me in the face and brought me to a standstill. Supported with my daughters’ love, I took the journey inward.

After hours of thought and anguish — of silence — I picked up a pen. As the words flowed, I allowed that little girl to actually feel the agony — the rejection, lack of love, fear, and the lack of any acknowledgment of my feelings,

or that they mattered at all.

Janie  all rights reserved
Janie in Ocean City, NJ

For the first time, I suffered the pain as a helpless child in a cruel world, and I wept.

It became clear, like the flakes settling out of a snow globe.

Thanks to m_bartosch at
Thanks to m_bartosch at

When I was overwhelmed as I child. part of my heart had run for safety, and frozen over.

Rather than live a full life, I then allowed my mind to assume the job of living.

I worked hard to take care of the family, and perfected co-dependent skills. As an adult, that made me a good teacher, servant, missionary, church worker, etc. (Inside, I’m adding: wimp, doormat, approval-seeker).

And even though the Lord has worked in and through me for years, I’ve been frustrated to keep banging up against the same obstacles in my emotional life. Deep inside, something was missing.

No wonder. How could I live fully with a partially frozen heart?

As I wrote, I hurt and cried, as should have when I was wounded as a child.

Finally, transparent and aching, I opened the Bible. I flipped through the Psalms, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Philippians and Colossians, reading verses I’d highlighted over the years.

And somewhere in those pages, Jesus turned the water of my tears into wine.

Now, I can see how he has been turning water into wine in my life all along.

Just like the guests at the wedding in Cana, I’ve been holding out my cup, happy for him to fill it up, unaware of how great a miracle he offers.

How fine the wine.

courtesy of James Barker ay
courtesy of James Barker ay

But God

Each week I bounce back and forth between my work in progress, a Pre-Colombian historical novel set in the Caribbean, and pondering my blog. It’s like living in two different worlds, certainly using distinct parts of my brain. I can go from an intense scene adrift at sea after a hurricane, all hope gone, to considering how a Bible verse I read this morning may impact my life, and perhaps yours.

I’ve viewed this as an incompatible tension, until I started reading Dan Allender’s, The Healing Path.

Dramatically different from anything I’ve read, he asserts that we decide which life experiences define us. Even if we have a childhood full of terrible experiences and only a tiny touch of love, we can choose to let that one touch define our future story.

As I read, I thought of my female protagonist, Kiva, a young woman from an eastern Caribbean island invaded by a tribe of cannibals, who flees her island to avoid marriage to the chief’s fierce son. She experiences one disaster after another, and reaches a moment where she must choose whether to give in to darkness, or respond to a chance for new life.

Driftwood © Jack H Thompson

I purposely create dramatic conflict for my fictional characters so they are forced to make decisions, grow and become all they were created to be.

My youngest daughter asked me to write my own story. My response was a shudder, saying, “Who wants to read all that misery?” She responded, “But look how much you’ve overcome! People need to know it’s possible. Your story can give them hope.”

That didn’t click until reading Allender’s book. Just as I do in my fiction, I actually get to choose my own story from here on out, by what I allow to define me.

Isn’t that exciting? Whatever side of the nurture vs nature debate you’re on (is it what happens to us, or what we inherit that makes us who we are), what really matters is what you choose to take from it.

By itself, this is simply positive thinking. I tried that, when The Power of Positive Thinking was all the rage. It’s only a Band-Aid, with a guaranteed let-down.

The difference for a Christ follower is his work in our lives. We call it redemption, and it’s much more than saving us a spot in heaven.

The Holy Spirit has been working in my life for years, guiding, healing, protecting, prodding, and directing (when I’d follow). In spite of the hard times, I’ve seen God work. I’ve seen miracles. I’ve felt God’s love when I was totally unlovable. I’ve been redeemed, and am being redeemed. And that is what gives me the faith and hope I need to write a new story for my life, from this point forward.

I’ve always been fascinated with Joseph’s story. His own brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. No matter how good he was, things got worse. Years later, Joseph, as Pharaoh’s right hand, saved his family, and thereby the Hebrew people. He forgave his brothers, stating, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Joseph wrote the ending to his story, choosing to believe the whispers of the Spirit over years of the taunts of evil.

Have you resigned yourself to what has been? Believe it will always be like this, or fear it may get worse?

I am so grateful that Jesus offers hope.

Hope is the quiet, sometimes incessant call to dream for the future. The present moment is not enough to satisfy our soul completely; no matter how good or bad, the now leaves us hungering for more. And our insatiable quest for more is the root system of biblical hope. . . . Hope looks at the shattered remnants of the soul hit by the storm and envisions not merely rebuilding, but rebuilding a life that has even more purpose and meaning than existed before the loss. . . Hope takes the experience of loss and powerlessness and uses it as the raw material for writing a new and unexpected story. The Healing Path p 137.

In my novel, Kiva longs to return to her old life, before all the storms and losses she thinks are too much for her. But God whispers hope into her heart.

Ironic, isn’t it? I’ve been writing my own story all along.

Psalm 90 v1,2 on sand © Jack H Thompson
Psalm 90 v 1,2 on sand

Have hard experiences, or lack of good ones, tried to drag you down? Can you see a glimmer of light?

Is there a “but God” moment in your life, a turning point for a new story line?