Relentless by Ronda

So I have been pondering this word “relentless” since Peg gave us this topic in early August. Needless to say, I overthink just about everything. When I hear this word my thoughts go to the phrase “Relentless Bride” that has become so popular with the prophetic art of James Nesbit. This Christian artist depicts the church as a beautiful bride ready to marry her King. The bridal season for the church is a topic of many teachings since events in our daily lives tell us that our King is coming soon. What makes me a little nervous is whether or not the bride is actually “relentless” in preparation for her King?

It would be easy to speak about the church and the areas that need improvement but it may be more effective to just look into the mirror and examine myself as part of the bride. Am I being relentless in my own personal relationship with my Bridegroom? This is where the rubber meets the road! Our faith is more than religion; it’s relationship.

I want to be part of the relentless bride. I want to be prepared with oil in my lamp when the Bridegroom comes. To be ready means I must be relentless in my pursuit of relationship. I don’t think Jesus wants to be unequally yoked. He was relentless in His assignment and obedience to the Father! He was relentless in His desire to please the Father. He was unyielding in His obedience even to the point of sweating blood! So great a salvation He has purchased for us and we out of love for His unspeakable gift should be unyielding in our pursuit of a vital relationship that is demonstrated through our every action. In Him we live move and have our being. Our Bridegroom demonstrated the love of God in every action…we are His and must be inspired to be relentless to fulfill our destiny as His bride.

I have always been partial to the bridal imagery in the scriptures. I relate to it much more than to the Body of Christ. As a bride, we are encouraged to be motivated by love: God is love. As a Body, sometimes I think that the church focuses too much on activity and not relationship. I have had seasons in my walk with the Lord that I felt more like the Body and times now when I feel more like the Bride. I know that the church is described as both in scripture but I do believe that this is part of the mystery of Christ and the church. There are those who are motivated as the body and those that are motivated as the bride. I don’t have any deep revelation on why there is even a distinction in scripture. I do believe that this is part of the deep things of God and that God has His purpose for both.

As we mature in Christ, I want to believe that Christ begins to reveal Himself as the Bridegroom and we respond with a deeper desire to be His relentless bride. It takes a level of pursuit, determination and longing that is characteristic of a modern day bride who is no-nonsense, no holds bar at having a wedding of pure bliss! Truly that is our destiny: a beautiful wedding where we are presented to our Bridegroom without spot or wrinkle. Fulfillment of this destiny will be a result of our relentless

desire for deep fellowship with the lover of our soul. It will be relationship not religion that manifests the “Relentless Bride”.

I pray that each of us relentlessly pursue Our Beloved so that we can be transformed into His image and likeness and fulfill our destiny…a wedding of purely divine

eternal bliss!

Listen by Ronda

This month’s blog theme reminded me of my time as a homeschooling mom who desperately wanted to educate her children and to encourage them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  What I soon discovered was that training them to be attentive during school hours was extremely difficult because we were at home.  As a homeschooling parent it is imperative to develop a schedule that keeps you and the children on tasks because there are so many distractions.  I couldn’t imagine attempting it today with the level of technology our children are exposed in one day.   One lesson that always needed repeating was based on the difference between what I called “ selective hearing” and  “listening”.

Selective hearing is hearing what the person wants to hear.  Back then, this was my children’s common response to many of my requests especially those that were related to assignmentS and chores.  If a simple request was connected to a positive reinforcement (bribe) then the children heard and even listened. However, if a motivating factor was absent then selective hearing was the mainstay.  Constantly having to deal with this issue would lead me to “preach” about the difference between hearing and listening.  I am sure my kids thought I sounded like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoon series… “wah wah wah wah…wah wah” !!!! Hearing is a physiological ability of the ear and it’s parts, but listening involves deliberate attention to what is being heard.

As a believer, I think there are levels of hearing or listening to God.  We can all probably agree that listening is a very important part of communication.  In reference to a believer’s prayer life, I would say it is the most important part.  It is easier for most of us to share our concerns and cares with God than it is for us to hear his voice and listen for his instruction in response to our request.  I don’t think it is much different than my analogy for my children.  We mature in our relationship with God and are able to hear the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts or through others.  We all begin there.  Hearing is important.  Further growth in our intimacy with the Lord will draw us into more attentive listening.  We begin to desire to hear and understand more about the Lord; not simply answers to our prayers but a deeper sense of intimacy.  This is listening.  Our spiritual relationships are similar to our natural relationships in that we not only want to be heard by those we love but we also want to be listened to with attention. I believe God desires this of his children, just as we desire it of our own children.

So we begin by hearing from the Lord, then we mature into deeper listening to the Lord.  However, I don’t think our listening ends there, and then there is hearkening. In scripture you read times when it says, “listen” and times when it says, “hearken”.  Sometimes the Hebrew word is the same and sometimes it is not.  For me both listen and hearken include hearing with intent, purpose and attention.  However, hearken (shama in Hebrew) implies obedience as well.  To hearken is to hear, listen and obey!  This is where listening goes to the next level.  This is where we are learning to obey what we hear the Lord speaking to us.  So then the real challenge of becomes learning to be quick in our obedience.  As we mature as believers, just like children, our obedience becomes more and more important.  We can’t just get goose bumps over hearing a word from the Lord. We must grow to the place where we commune long enough to discern what it is he is asking us to do with what we hear as we listen.  This month of listening has been just that for me…what do you do when you are listening in prayer and you still have yet to discern your obedience?  Sometimes prayer can be like that…at least for me it can.  I enjoy fellowship with God and His Spirit.  I am learning that as we grow and go deeper into intimacy we are challenged to not only hear and listen but also to hearken- to obey.  Obedience is what parents want for the children. We are so blessed to have a Father full of so much mercy, patience and longsuffering that we get so many opportunities to get it right.  So even when we don’t, His unfailing love and goodness lead us to want to try again.  So I think I may have answered my own question.  When it seems difficult to discern your obedience to what your hear as you listen to the Father’s heart, as you tune into the Mind of the Spirit…in the famous words of Dory from Finding Nemo…”just keep hearing…just keep listening…just keep hearkening”…. (my paraphrase) and simply BELIEVE.

 

 

 

 

Grace by Ronda

GRACE

 

Ephesians 2:7, 8

“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

Ephesians 2 verse 8 is one of those foundational scriptures like John 3: 16 that you learn at vacation bible school as a child or during the membership class at a church. It contains truth that is foundational to our faith. Having said that it is also probably one of those scriptures we get so comfortable with that we can overlook the deep revelation that it holds.

In learning about this scripture, as a child and even as an adult, the focus was always on the free gift of salvation. It is amazing that our faith is based on gifts that are totally free. We don’t earn them. Our salvation is free but the grace that makes the salvation free is also free. Some bible translations, define grace as “God’s unmerited favor”. I agree with that but I want to assert that it is more than favor that is undeserved. Grace is a spiritual force. It is a spiritual empowerment. Grace comes from who God is and it belongs to Him. Notice verse seven of Ephesians says “His grace”.

There are scriptures in the bible to speak of the Spirit of Grace. This is one reason why I believe it is a spiritual force and empowerment. It is a divine enabling that is part of our spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. All of which are free by faith! Not granted based on ability but freely given through Christ because we receive these exceeding riches of “His grace.”

Zechariah 12:10

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

Hebrews 10:29

“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

Good ole’ King James!   I wanted to use that particular translation because it says Spirit of Grace…not mercy or favor. King James doesn’t make its understanding any easier with King’s English! So what do I think these verses are saying? Grace is favor freely given. Grace is mercy freely given. However, it is a spiritual force from God through the Holy Spirit that makes salvation possible but also continues to empower our walk with God. In my experience, I know that grace, a spiritual force and empowerment, helped me homeschool my children for 10 years. I did not accomplish it in my own strength not even in my own gifting. I needed God’s grace. I prayed for His grace many days when I thought I couldn’t do it another day. I can testify to tangibly sensing the empowerment, similar to His Presence and His Spirit but more. I find this difficult to explain, like most spiritual things because it has to be revealed by the Holy Spirit. DISCLAIMER: In no way am I suggesting I have a full revelation of grace…I just believe there is more to it than is traditionally taught.

Another clue I received about grace being something a little deeper than my general understanding came through observation. I noticed that almost all of the Pauline epistles have a salutation in the letter extending “grace and peace from God”. So the Apostle Paul, writer of most of the New Testament, thinks it’s important to speak grace and peace to believers to whom he is writing! I then thought, Ronda you might want to start doing that too. So now when I greet believers I usually extend “grace and peace” either in the greeting or as a blessing. Apostle Peter takes it a step further and says in his second epistle, “grace and peace be multiplied to you”!

WOW. SELAH. Both of these apostles in my opinion probably had a deep revelation of God’s grace. Not only what we would call in church as “saving grace” but also the spiritual force from God that empowers and strengthens you to do what you could not possibly do without His grace! It’s what Paul realized when Jesus says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” WOW. RIGHT.

We experience the spiritual force of grace when we come to the place we know we cannot complete the will of God in our own strength. Grace is the free gift God gives us to complete the plans He has for us. We will come to the end of ourselves more than once. I know I have. We will cry out for strength. We must cry out for grace…not our own strength…because His grace is made perfect when we are totally weak! When I feel like the rug is pulled out from under me, and I don’t have strength for another step and I have cried and cried…I pray for His grace…not my strength. His joy is my strength but in my weakness I need His empowering grace to complete His plan for my life.

Remember pray for grace…His grace!

Grace and peace from God be yours

Ronda

 

 

 

 

Destiny by Ronda

Romans 8:29-30

“For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

FOREKNOW, PREDESTINATE, CALLED, JUSTIFIED, GLORIFIED

Destiny is a powerful word loaded with meaning and images often associated with the future. It may be the achievement of success and accomplishment for some or for others the deep sense of fulfillment and completeness from living life in one’s purpose. Those are the ways I have looked at destiny and the perspective that I have I used to describe it. However, I just recently returned from a Christian’s women’s conference that has deeply affected my perspective concerning destiny: my destiny as a Christian woman.

The theme of the conference was SHINE: Training Women for Greatness. A powerfully profound theme, wouldn’t you agree? I was immediately attracted to this conference because of its theme and my own belief that my destiny and those of many other women is discovered through a revelation of us SHINING as we use our gifts and talents. The conference was remarkable! The presence of God was so tangible. The speakers were true servants pouring out revelation for us to receive. It is difficult to express how deeply I feel I have been changed. Revelation is that way….difficult to express in words alone…it must be accompanied by the Spirit. What I didn’t expect from the conference was to be directly confronted with my OWN lack of revelation concerning WHO GOD created when He created me as a WOMAN.

I would not consider myself insecure, but we as women all know we can be both confident and insecure at the same time. As Christian women, all too often we have had these views of ourselves as “lesser” in the Kingdom of God. The TRUTH of the matter is that in the ETERNAL ORDER of all things we are NOT. As the scripture in Romans reveals GOD has KNOWN us from the beginning. He has foreordained or predestinated us ALL as BELIEVERS (not as male and female) to be conformed to the IMAGE of His Son. We ALL as BELIEVERS are JUSTIFIED. We ALL as BELIEVERS are GLORIFIED in Him, our Christ.

I realized that I was living in a deceived state if I considered my gender as a limitation in the Kingdom of God. We are fearfully and wonderfully made women. We are eternal beings, not simply a gender. Our Father chose us to be women for His ETERNAL PURPOSE but it is in NO WAY a limitation to what we can accomplish for HIS KINGDOM. Our Father is the I AM THAT I AM. He sees the end from the beginning because He is ETERNAL outside of time! Our perception as women, OUR

BELIEF about who He created us TO BE can’t be in the future and based on gender. It has to BE a PRESENT BE as in ETERNAL. We are already NOW In CHRIST. (I pray that you are following me.) Holy Spirit revealed to me that my DESTINY isn’t future because it is directly connected to WHO I BELIEVE I AM IN GOD AND HIS CHRIST TODAY! Hebrews says NOW FAITH is….faith is always in the present because faith is ETERNAL. My destiny in Christ, who is in God, isn’t future it’s ETERNAL and it is based on what I BELIEVE TODAY.

I AM FOREKNOWN. God created me as a unique expression of Himself (Who is Spirit and Eternal) in this world. I am come from the very breath of the Almighty God. ( Job 33:4). I AM PREDESTINED. God has already hid me in Christ. I am conformed to the image of His Son. I AM CALLED. God is my Father and He calls me His daughter. I am child of God. I am a daughter of the King. Full rights and full privileges. I AM JUSTIFIED. God gave his Son for me. I am no longer guilty. The blood of Jesus Christ has redeemed me. I AM GLORIFIED. God decided before the foundation of the world that I might be reconciled back to him through his Son and glorified with Him forever.

Our Father determined our destiny as BELIEVERS we would say “a long time ago.” (But remember God is outside of time). TRUTH. It is an ETERNAL DESTINY…and it is manifested by faith NOW in time, as we BELIEVE.

(Morning Star Ministries hosted the conference. For more information on tapes or DVDS of the conference contact the ministry.) http://www.morningstarministries.org/events/morningstar-conferences/shine-training-women-greatness#.U1_F2l6Z1Z8

I am sharing this link to promote the Kingdom of God and Our Christ, not any ministry or minister.

Ronda

 

 

 

 

Frazzled by: Ronda

“Frazzled” sounds like the title to the latest Disney movie…oh yeah that’s Frozen. I haven’t seen the movie but I can guess there may be some analogies that can be made. Frazzled is a state of existence, maybe even being for some where you are simply going through the motions of life, barely existing because you are tired, burned out and just plain worn out. Your life source has fizzled…you aren’t running on empty you are running on the fumes!

Ironically or maybe unfortunately this term is most associated with women. We tend to be more prone to stress and being overworked than our male counterparts. Interestingly, I googled “Frazzled” and there is a book and movement called “Frazzled Female”. I haven’t read the book and I don’t know much about the author Cindi Wood…other than she is a Christian author. Needless to say, I can relate to the concept of “being” frazzled, “living frazzled” and thinking this is just the way life is for me…daughter, sister, wife, mother, business owner, student, advocate, counselor, doctor (healer), prayer, minister, and the list goes on for most of us. We women wear many hats and play many roles in the lives of those we love.

This frazzled female realized that I could not exist in the chronic flow of stress, tension and depletion of energy. It took a health challenge several years ago to MAKE me change the way I was living. At that time I was homeschooling 4 children, two with special needs, running a retail boutique with a partner, an elder in my church and overseeing ministry. I was suffering from symptoms of MS. After an MRI and an appointment with a wise neurologist, I accepted the truth. My symptoms were “psychosomatic”, his words not mine, and “my demon was stress”: his words not mine. It was interesting he said “demon”. He calmly told me, “you can’t be all things to all people” and I had to stop. I listened. I put my children in public school, released my half of my retail business, resigned from my eldership at church and began to recover myself. It was not easy. I am sure I went through phases of depression.

In order to recover myself I had to start in prayer. I had to begin to bring spiritual disciples into my life that would help me maintain some level of balance. I had to realize that life with children with special needs could present varying levels of stress on a daily basis. It was not good for me to add onto these stresses by filling my life with unnecessary obligations; especially if those obligations didn’t serve as life-giving additions to my life. Matthew 11: 28-30 (MSG) helped me then and continues to remind me of the “frazzled” self I must resist:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
There is much I could say to expound on this scripture, but I will allow the Holy Spirit to speak. Those bold portions are my reminders. Selah.

It would be wonderful to say that I never contend with my “frazzled” self, but it’s just not the truth. I have learned that as a type A personality I am prone to overextend myself. I have learned that when I am suffering from chronic stress it will manifest in my body. I have learned that I must be diligent to DO those things the LORD has revealed to me to do…come to Him, recover my life, learn the unforced rhythms of grace and keep company with him…in order to keep Ms. Frazzled from ruling.

Earlier I mentioned the book Frazzled Female, I haven’t read that book but two books that I would recommend are: Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life by Keri Wyatt Kent and Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. I have read several books by both authors and their practical wisdom for women has blessed me tremendously. Both authors encourage silence and solitude as spiritual practices just like prayer. I absolutely agree with them and have practiced both as a result of their wisdom. My ministry, Spirit Soak, is the fruit of my spiritual discipline to keep company with Jesus. Soaking is all about communing with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is about “being” with God and not “doing” religious activity.

Most recently, I have been compelled by the Spirit to observe the Sabbath. It is interesting the number of Christians who do not observe a time of rest. The Sabbath is a holy day that our Father consecrated as an appointment with Him. For several months the Lord commanded me to rest. It was imperative because I was again faced with a health challenge. I thank God for the victory but I earnestly believe my obedience to His command was instrumental in the outcome. The book Hebrews says that there remains a rest available for God’s people and we must be diligent to enter into it (Hebrews 4: 9-11). The truth is living a frazzled life is not God’s plan for us; His plan is Sabbath rest. A life of complete total dependence on His goodness and grace to lead, guide, protect and provide for us in every situation and circumstance.

Finally, my transition into a new career as a personal trainer and wellness consultant is also a result of my own revelation of living “frazzled”. We women spend our lives pouring into others and rarely discover that we too need to nourish our own souls. My commitment to encourage women to live lives of wellness is because I know how detrimental chronic stress can be. I know of what I speak.

Friend, we will all encounter our “frazzled” self, such is life. However, the best news is that we have a way of escape. We have someone who has invited us to learn His rhythms of grace, He will teach us. He wants us to keep company with Him and He has promised not to pressure us or put obligations on us that don’t fit who he created us to be. He is our Source of life and His name is Jesus. Leave “frazzled” and learn to live freely and lightly. Our journey continues.

 

Sojourn by Ronda

Sojourn: Answering the Call

I Chronicles 29:15

 “For we are strangers before You and sojourners, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope or expectation of remaining.”

 This scripture is from King David’s prayer after receiving an offering for the building of the Lord’s House by his son Solomon.  David had a dream in his heart to build a place for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to dwell (Psalm 132). The Lord told King David that his son, Solomon, would fulfill this dream because David was a man of war and this assignment was holy.  A nation whose forefather Abraham left his kin and traveled to a foreign land because he believed the promise of God. Now his descendant is reminded of this during a time when he is faithfully acting in response to a promise as well.  This scripture is also suggested as the very one that inspired Isabelle Baumfree to name herself Sojourner Truth.

Here is an excerpt from her edited book  The Narrative of Sojourner Truth taken from an online source:

Page 99

Her next decision was, that she must leave the city; it was no place for her; yea, she felt called in spirit to leave it, and to travel east and lecture. She had never been further east than the city, neither had she any friends there of whom she had particular reason to expect any thing; yet to her it was plain that her mission lay in the east, and that

Page 100

she would find friends there. She determined on leaving; but these determinations and convictions she kept close locked in her own breast, knowing that if her children and friends were aware of it, they would make such an ado about it as would render it very unpleasant, if not distressing to all parties. Having made what preparations for leaving she deemed necessary,–which was, to put up a few articles of clothing in a pillow-case, all else being deemed an unnecessary incumbrance,–about an hour before she left, she informed Mrs. Whiting, the woman of the house where she was stopping, that her name was no longer Isabella, but SOJOURNER, and that she was going east. And to her inquiry, ‘What are you going east for?’ her answer was, ‘The Spirit calls me there, and I must go.’

         She left the city on the morning of the 1st of June, 1843, crossing over to Brooklyn, L.I.; and taking the rising sun for her only compass and guide, she ‘remembered Lot’s wife,’ and hoping to avoid her fate, she resolved not to look back till she felt sure the wicked city from which she was fleeing was left too far behind to be visible in the distance; and when she first ventured to look back, she could just discern the blue cloud of smoke that hung over it, and she thanked the Lord that she was thus far removed from what seemed to her a second Sodom.

         She was now fairly started on her pilgrimage; her bundle in one hand, and a little basket of provisions in the other, and two York shillings in her purse–her heart strong in the faith that her true work lay before her, and that the Lord was her director; and she doubted not he would provide for and protect her, and that it would be very censurable in her to burden herself with any thing more than a moderate supply for her then present needs.

On February 19th I was at the computer and I began to think about Sojourner Truth.  I just googled her and read from Wikipedia.  I concede that this is not the best online resource for information but I did read the entire article.  I already knew a little about her from previous studies but I found out that Isabella Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth on June 1, 1843.  This intrigued me because my birthday is June 1.  I pondered it for a few minutes trying to discover exactly why the Lord had brought this to my attention but then I decided to leave it alone.

Later that day I read the email from Peg about our topic for the next blog: SOJOURN.  When I read the email, which she said she had originally sent on the 8th of  February…I didn’t know what to think.  Why didn’t the first email arrive? Why did she decide to send it again on the 19th and why had I just looked up Sojourner Truth that morning? I decided to leave it alone.

Today on the 23rd I am sitting at my computer looking at different media and articles about Sojourner Truth and I can’t keep from crying.  I read her poem “Ain’t I A Woman” and listened to a dramatic rendition by Actress Cicely Tyson during the congressional ceremony honoring her unveiled bust in 2009.  I cried.  I am not even exactly sure why I feel so emotional about this besides the fact that I am a woman of African American heritage.  Maybe that is enough.

I decided to leave it alone. I walked away from it for a few days.

A few days can always help you gain perspective.

I think I understand my response now.

A sojourn is a temporary stay in a given place.  King David and Sojourner Truth understood that their time here upon this earth is only for a season.  David’s prayer says it is but a shadow.  Both recognized that what was in their heart to do was from the Lord and that it was important to respond to it.  We all are children of God. This earth is not our eternal home.  As believers, we know we are strangers here as well and are citizenry is of a heavenly kingdom.  Yet we all have a call to answer while we are here.  We all have something in our hearts that compels us to action.  Sometimes it takes a little time for us to discern exactly what it is but once we know what it is, we usually recognize Who gave it to us and Who intends to empower us to complete it.  Both King David and Sojourner Truth recognized Who empowered their purpose and they answered the call.

The more I pondered the life of Sojourner Truth, the more I understood why the Lord had drawn me to her testimony.  I believe God has a plan and purpose for each human’s life.  I believe each of us is uniquely designed and gifted to complete that plan and purpose.  The difficulty is in the discovery of it and then sticking with it.  Difficulty will come. Obstacles will hinder.  Disappointment and even failure will greet us.  However, the more I thought about this woman, Sojourner Truth, the more I realized that I am simply without excuse.  If an uneducated illiterate slave woman can hear the call of God and respond with obedience despite every societal obstacle imaginable against her; who am I not to complete the race set before me? Who am I not to be fully persuaded that this same God can complete the plan that he has for me?  Who am I to shrink back from any challenge or obstacle when I have not faced any thing like those of “like precious faith” who have sojourned before me?

God creates us with purpose. We are not just here.  We have a call to answer.  Everyone’s call is not the same nor is it of the same magnitude; the differences are not important. What is important is this similarity; that our Creator ordains every call and therefore it is important to the fulfillment of His purpose.  King David and Sojourner Truth answered the call to be sojourners fulfilling a God-given purpose. Their obedience has inspired and compelled this sojourner to fulfill her God-given purpose, full of faith knowing that “faithful is He who is calling you and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24 AMP).

Sojourners be inspired and compelled to answer your call.

COCOONS by Ronda

Pro 31 WC

Cocoon

Seasons change, people change-isn’t that a song and a cliche.   The truth of the matter is that for most of us, we don’t like change.  As a wellness professional, one of my goals is to encourage clients to welcome change.  It is an important part of maintaining health and wellness.  It is important to life as well. SPOILER ALERT. Change isn’t fun. It is difficult.  Since it can be challenging, we don’t welcome it.  We resist it, when the real lesson is to embrace it.  Free will. Humans.

Animals on the other hand, instinctively welcome change.  Many animals go through a process of transformation that is critical to survival and growth. Interesting. Without change, without transformation growth is aborted.  ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.  For animals the “cocoon” becomes the vehicle that precipitates their transformation.  SPOILER ALERT. Cocoons aren’t very aesthetic. Chances are it is going to look ugly. Nevertheless, animals instinctively surrender to this process. It is embraced and welcomed.

We are not like animals. Bet you saw that coming. We are mammals but we don’t act on instinct for survival. We have a free will. We have a choice.  We must learn to surrender to the process of change when our season presents itself.  We must choose to yield to transformation.  Embrace our own “cocoon” season if we truly want growth and transformation.  Surrender to the process. Yield.  We lay down our will.  Sounds easy. SPOILER ALERT. It’s not.  It requires some spiritual ingredients. HOPE. FAITH. TRUST.

Here is the lesson we learn from our animal friends: creatures trust the Creator.

King David in Psalms 139 gives us creatures some insight.

Verse 16 of The Message Bible reads

“Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

            all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

            The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

Our Creator knew us from the beginning. Plans were made, but ultimately the choices are OURS. FREE WILL.

Verse 7 says

“Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight?”…

Verses 11 & 12

“Then I said to myself, “Oh he even sees me in the dark! (in my cocoon, my translation). At night I’m immersed in the light!

It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you: night and day darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.”

The cocoon is dark.

CHOOSE HOPE. CHOOSE FAITH. CHOOSE TRUST.

Some of us will have darker cocoon seasons.

Lamentations 3:6

“He locked me up in deep darkness, like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.”

A coffin sounds like a cocoon to me.  Jeremiah, a prophet of God, wrote the book of Lamentations. (The title speaks volumes).  He is known as the weeping prophet.  Here he says God put him in deep darkness.  Just like our animals friends experience cocoon or pupa stage as part of their natural development and transformation; so it is with us.  WHY?  Speaking from experience, we learn HOPE, FAITH & TRUST.  In my cocoon I learned hope, faith & trust.

Jeremiah also said this,

“I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes,

the poison I’ve swallowed.

            I remember it all-oh, how well I remember- the feeling of hitting the bottom.

            But there’s one thing I remember, and remembering I keep a grip on HOPE.

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.  They’re created new every morning. How great is your faithfulness!

Lamentations 3: 19-22

In the cocoon the creature dies in order to be reborn all by the hand of the Creator. Don’t be a victim of arrested development. Don’t resist the cocoon season.  Let’s learn from our animal friends who have gone through this process of transformation over and over again.  We can choose to have hope in the Creator’s love for his creation.  We can choose to have faith even when everything looks like darkness, knowing that even then we are not alone.   We can trust that the One who formed us ONCE can do it AGAIN if we will embrace the cocoon. Welcome the transformation.  SPOILER ALERT. Be reborn.

Choose HOPE. Choose FAITH. Choose TRUST.

Where In the World is the Proverbs 31 Woman? Who Can Find Her? by Ronda

I wanted to be Proverbs 31 woman as a newlywed. I was pregnant with our first child by our first anniversary and just so happened to be a first year law student too.  I believed I could do it all then.  I had even studied this passage of scripture early in my marriage so that I would “study to show myself approved”!  New wife, young mother, student/career- isn’t that the Prov 31 woman?  Back then I thought so.  She was the standard bearer for the Christian woman, right?  Isn’t that what we were taught? Fast-forward twenty years.  Well, today, after staring at and discarding a cup of fungus I found in a bedroom in my house. Then doing all that I knew to do not to totally snap out and lose it. True story.  I believe differently.  I know differently.

The Prov 31 woman is the type of woman that is discovered. She is formed.  When we look at the scripture text we find that these were the words taught to King Lemuel by his mother.  In some scripture texts Proverbs 31 reads as a prophecy or oracle.  My layman definition of an oracle is a spoken prophecy.  The Dictionary App definition reads: divine communication or revelation; a person who delivers authoritative wise or highly regarded and influential announcements.  Arguably Proverbs 31 serves as both.  It is directly stated as the words of King Lemuel’s mother who obviously was a person of authority and influence in the king’s life.  Indirectly I would argue it is a divine communication and revelation as well.  Where in the world is the Proverbs 31 Woman?  King Lemuel’s mother said it this way, “Who can find a virtuous woman?”  Who can find her?  The virtuous woman is discovered and formed.

Each woman finds herself in Proverbs 31 at different seasons.  There may be some seasons when more characteristics of this “virtuous” woman is alive and well in each of us; then other seasons when we don’t see ourselves at all in this portion of scripture. Touché`- my cup of fungus moment.  The book of James tells us that the word can be like a mirror.  (James  1:23-24).   We can look into it and see what manner of woman we are.  The word reminds us of whom God created us to be.  The writer of the book of Hebrews describes the Word of God as sharper than a two-edged sword, dividing the spirit from the soul even down to the marrow and the bone. That’s pretty deep (Hebrews 4:12). If we as Christian women are faithful enough to keep looking into the mirror of the Word, regardless of what we see, we will learn that the Word, when mixed with faith, conforms us to the image of Christ.  Proverbs 31 may be a set of guidelines (or prophecy!!) to help us to understand the virtuous woman. She pursues excellence in her marriage, family, business/career and community because she fears the Lord.  Reverence toward a loving God will keep us looking in the mirror with faith believing that His Word is true-we are being changed from glory to glory into the image of Christ.  So if you find yourself someplace like where I found myself, with a cup full of fungus, be encouraged!  This too shall pass. Tomorrow is a new day with new mercy.  If you are full of faith or even not so full of faith go get your mirror, the Word, and remind yourself what manner of woman you truly are-a truly virtuous one that believes (and does) the mirror of the Word. Touché.  The Proverbs 31 woman is found in the Word; she is discovered, formed and then revealed by it. Amen.