Do It Again, Lord! (Guest Post by Cynthia Hyle Bezek)

I am delighted to host Cynthia Hyle Bezek as today’s guest writer! Cynthia’s greatest passion and privilege is to help ordinary men and women connect with an extraordinary God through prayer. Leading people into satisfying, two-way, relational, personal conversation with God is the aim of whatever she does, whether as an author, editor, prayer leader, speaker, teacher, mentor, or prayer retreat leader. The following is reprinted with permission from Let’s Talk: Deepening Your Relationship with God Through Prayer.

Desert Sunrise I

Do It Again, Lord!

by Cynthia Hyle Bezek

Sometimes I get annoyed with Bible people. Like this morning. I was reading in Exodus and getting really excited about God. He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites—incredible to imagine! And then when the Egyptian army tried to follow, the waters crashed down on them and they all were destroyed. What an amazing rescue!

Is it any wonder the people rejoiced and worshiped? Moses led them in a song of praise to the Lord. And then his sister, Miriam, led all the women in a joyful dance before the Lord. As I read, the people’s joy nearly vibrated off the pages.

“I will sing to the Lord. He has won a glorious victory!”

“The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my Savior. This is my God, and I will praise him, I will honor him!”

“O Lord, who is like you? You are glorious because of your holiness and awe-inspiring because of your splendor. You perform miracles!”

“Lovingly, you will lead the people you have saved. Powerfully, you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The Lord will rule as king forever and ever!”

(excerpted from Exodus 15, God’s Word translation)

But a mere two verses later, I got pretty upset with the whole lot of them. For Pete’s sake, they act as if God had died! True, they’d traveled for three days in the desert without water. That’s a problem. But instead of asking God for help, they griped about Moses. Instead of trusting God to provide for them as He had done not even 72 hours earlier, they whined: “What are we supposed to drink?” (verse 24).

I paused from my Bible reading. “I cannot believe these people!” I said out loud.

Really? a Still Small Voice asked in reply.

I realized I’d been busted. The Holy Spirit was gently pointing out how much I have in common with the Israelites. Immediately I thought about a situation that I’m struggling with. It’s a genuine problem, no less real than the Israelite’s need for water. And I am utterly incapable of solving this problem. If I think about it very long—like more than about three seconds—I am very likely to gripe and whine, just like the Israelites did.

The irony is, like the Israelites, I have also experienced God’s deliverance in desperate situations. I can name at least three examples of God’s loving intervention, working things out in ways I never would have imagined, and never could have orchestrated on my own.

Still, I forget. The new crisis looms in front of me, and I forget the victory song I’d sung just a few days earlier. Or I doubt. Sure, God delivered me before, but who says He’ll do it again this time?

Either way, my responses are not pretty.

God, I don’t want to be like the Israelites, I told Him this morning. You have delivered me wonderfully before. You have walked through fires and floods with me on other occasions. You have never abandoned me. You have never failed me. I am sorry I forget. I am sorry I doubt. Please help me to remember Your deliverance. And please deliver me again.

It’s a full 15 hours later, and God has not answered my prayer yet. He has not led me to water as quickly as He did the Israelites in Exodus 15. I’m still waiting for His deliverance. But however long I have to wait, I want to do it with faith, not doubt. I want to hope in the Lord. I want to trust that He will help me—as He promises always to do when I call on Him. So that has been my prayer throughout today, and probably will be for days to come: Help me to remember, Lord—and please, please do it again!

Looking back

Photo credit (bottom photo): Susanne Nilsson via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo credit (top photo): TLV and more via Flickr Creative Commons

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Photography Lesson

The following is a found poem from Jennifer Dukes Lee’s piece at (in)courage today: Light, for Your Darkest Days. (Scroll down if you want to know what a found poem is, or how to write one.)

To learn the magic of light, she said, I needed to wake before sunrise. I needed to watch how light overtakes dark.

– Jennifer Dukes Lee

Photography Lesson

To learn the magic of light, wake
before sunrise. Stumble barefoot
on gravel. Chase light before dawn

in the silky mist of valleys
where landscape yawns.
Then wait. Press

one hopeful eye against
the viewfinder and capture
the last word:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness
has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

Have you ever written a found poem? The Academy of American Poets defines it:

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.

If you’ve never written a poem, try a found poem. It’s a gentle, fun, and easy way to dip your toes into poetry for the first time!

Related:
See more of my found poems here.

Found Poems from The Homesick Heart

Have you ever written a found poem? The Academy of American Poets defines it:

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.

If you’ve never written a poem, try a found poem. It’s a gentle, fun, and easy way to dip your toes into poetry for the first time. Happy National Poetry Month!

(The following found poems are from The Homesick Heart, by Jean Fleming.)

***

Our unknown home calls, a faint echo
of a conversation originating

in eternity
sending impassioned messages full

of clues, yearnings.
Sometimes it happens at sunset

or it may come
unexpectedly, as you hear

a combination of musical notes
or read a phrase containing

a wondrous kernel of truth.
However it comes, the call

is a silvery shaft of sunlight
bestowed on you through a door

slightly ajar.

doorajar

***

I watch the moon’s
carefully measured decline.
Sharp, clear, cold lines
form against a matte-gray sky.
I wait for when the lower edge
of the moon’s circumference will touch
the mountain ridge
and balance
perfectly
in climax. And then
my lunar performer slides
away, down the slippery back
of the mountain—
a sphere,
then a blister,
then a mere
flicker
of light through the trees,
then a pale radiance
in an empty sky.

***

Pull back a curtain.
Show me something that was
there all along. Don’t try to prove
anything. Keep my eyes
open. Put myself in the way
of truth and be
gripped—Aha!

***

Cherish
the hungers
so graciously implanted
in
your
heart.

Cooperate
with them
that they might
do
their holy
work
in
you.

stonebench

***

This “almost memory” is
fleeting, evasive.
Like the name we know

but can’t recall,
it wafts past with all
the sweetness and promise,

the taste and aroma of
an answer
to our longings.

Our hearts leap for it,
grasp for it,
but we cannot
hold on.

***

Our longings buck and heave,
whinny and snort,
as they harrow our hearts.

Their muscles bunch and strain
as they keep us moving
toward Home.

Bible Reading: The “When” (Timing and Tenses)

List 1
Poverty.
Hunger.
Weeping.
Being hated.
Insults.

List 2
Financial abundance.
Comfort.
Being well-fed.
Laughter.
Being held in high regard.

Would I prefer List 1 or List 2? Which do I think is better?

***

Backwards, counterintuitive, upside-down, ridiculous. Sometimes, when I read the Bible, these words come to mind.

I love when that happens! I love those attention-grabbing, initially confusing parts of God’s Word, for they are like ice water down my back. In those passages God takes my face in both hands and turns me to look at Him. (“Okay, Daddy, I’m looking!”)

And turning His gaze on His disciples, He began to say,

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
(all quotes are from Luke 6:20-26)

I raise an eyebrow. Poverty is a blessing?

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you…”

What on earth?! Poverty, hunger, weeping, being hated—these are blessings?

I slow down to look again. Childhood grammar lessons kick in, and I spot words in future tense. I begin to think of the “when.”

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven

I look not at the now but at the later. These blessings are blessings because of the later. I think the Lord wants me to have a pilgrim mindset, a Kingdom perspective. Then, I will have a fuller realization of how blessed I truly am.

I see with dim vision, as through translucent instead of transparent glass. I still do not have a mental grasp of why I am blessed, I who hunger and weep. The mystery remains, really. But these declarations from Jesus—”Blessed are you”—help shape my thinking, bit by bit, into right thinking. The question is not, “What on earth?” The answer is, “What in heaven!”

Father, I know this is not my Home. Give me a Kingdom perspective so that I may live the way You want me to live, and truly count myself blessed according to the mind of Christ. And help me, if not (yet) to have a complete understanding of your Word, to take in the simple truths that You have for me at this point.

***

(Originally posted September 2, 2009.)

Most times I tend

to forget there’s no wall,
anywhere or ever,
no brick wall or iron bars
so tall it reaches all
the way to the sky

but this truth I tend
to forget unless I look
up.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me?” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
(Zechariah 8:6)

IMG_4313

IMG_4315

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(For the “Looking Up” PhotoPlay challenge due Nov. 16. Join us!)

He said that from WHERE?

It sounds like a song. Listen to the exuberance, the excitement, the fiery and exhilarating passion in this:

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21)

Then, find out from where and in what situation Paul speaks:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord…
(Ephesians 4:1)

How’d Paul do that? How could he say that?
What kind of joy is this?

What kind of joy is this
that counts it a blessing to suffer?
What kind of joy is this
that gives the prisoner his song?
What kind of joy could stare death in the face
and see it as sweet victory?
This is the joy of a soul that’s forgiven and free!

(from Steven Curtis Chapman’s What Kind of Joy?)

Father, may I always hope in You; may I always have and proclaim this kind of joy, wherever I am.

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