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Sometimes I swear I can feel their witness-eyed stares; feel them gazing down at me. The whole whopping cloud of them, waiting with baited-breath and wondering if I—if anyone on the face of this earth, will take up their mantles, grab their batons and set out on the next leg of the race. The race they lived and died running.
Some are namesakes for millions over centuries. Far more are nameless; their martyred run, a mystery. But ALL are Faith-Heroes of whom the world was not worthy. Each one earned their place by putting all their eggs in the basket of things hoped for, based on evidence of things unseen. All proven by living in reckless passion for a country they’d never known.
I only wish something so noble could be said of me. But when I sift through the stuff of my every day I just sense the smallness of my life. I wonder if anyone in that witness cloud ever felt like me?
What about that beautiful woman who lived in Iraq 4,000 years ago? Did she ever feel her life was small? Did she know her call was to something bigger than herself?
Was she brave?
Did she thrill to follow her husband into wild unknown or cringe reluctant?
Did her mind dance a million “what-ifs” on that cross-continental camel ride or did the excitement of adventure push all her fears aside? Did she think her faith journey would make her mother dreams come true? I wonder how long it took for her to get sick and tired of empty starry night hopes for children like sand on the shore? What tipping point pushed her to take baby matters into her own schemes? Still, in Heaven’s time, in Heaven’s better way, her 25 years of barren sadness ended with a perfect child of laughter. And to think she lived to see him grow into a man of 28! I smile when I see her name posted on the roll of that great witness cloud.
There’s another woman in the cloud that fascinates me. Her beauty was so breath-taking it stole a Persian emperor’s heart. Her courage so amazing it plowed a path for God to save a million lives or more. Her act of bravery even inspired an ancient Holiday and a whole book of Scripture. Yet Iranian history fills in details not recorded in the book that bears her name. They say when she stepped prayer-protected, onto that infamous throne room floor, her legs gave way. Three times she fainted in fear while in the very act of God-anointed courage. Hmm.
So… if scheming doubts can become forgiven, heroic faith. If obedient legs that shake in fear and a fainting body that stands back up and follows still is counted brave…
If courage is not the absence of fear but perseverance in the face of fear, then maybe—just maybe, there is hope for my small life. Perhaps I too am called to something bigger than myself.
Lord, when doubts pervade and my faith walk turns to a crawl; when my legs give way as I step out into the great unknown, give me the strength to see beyond today. Give me ears to hear the clouded throng– the echo of eternal cheers. Then even if I faint in the stepping—by Your grace, step I will!
Happy are those whose strength is in the Lord; who set their heart on pilgrimage…. When they walk through the Valley of Baca (weeping), it will become to them a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the autumn rains. They will grow from strength to strength…until each appears before God. …. For the Lord God is a sun (our Light) and shield (our protection); HE gives grace and glory; No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, How blessed are those who trust in You! ~Psalm 84
Leaves fall heavy feather weighted piles in yards and along sidewalks. Colors so brilliant, so alive send waves of melancholy wonder through the soul. Every season has its charms but Autumn out charms them all! At least in my heart and in my Grandmother’s seasoned soul. We walked together, her and I, past the barn and into the overgrown woods. Musty earthy smells ignited nostalgia sending her thoughts plunging down twisting years. I listened to her talk of younger days, all melted now; melted into the stuff of a lifetime. The stuff that makes us mortal like grass and wildflowers that flourish and fade. Yet seasoned souls like hers produce years that pile high like feather weighted autumn leaves; the body older–the soul younger, lighter, colored deep and all set to fly away.
Somewhere along her many years of narrow road walking, my Grandma set her heart on pilgrimage. Her valleys of Baca became places of refreshing springs where pools of blessing filled the autumn of her life and spilled out all over me. Those were the years I walked closest to her, drinking in every drop her beautiful soul offered my twenty-something self.
Its been over thirty years since I took that last Autumn walk in the woods with Gram. The following October, she walked on streets of gold. But there are cords inside my heart, cords that reach across light-years of time and space and connect my heart to hers. She’s one of those in that great cloud–It’s her witness-eyed stare I feel the most. It calls me to take up the mantle she left for me. To pick up the baton, she held out to me; to run my leg of the race as she died running hers.
Oh Father, set my heart on pilgrimage!
Turn my valley of Baca into refreshing springs.
Fill my valley high and deep. How I long to have water to share as the autumn of my life unfolds!! Long tall drinks of blessing for my children. Pools to share with my sisters and water to spare for this broken, dry and barren world.
They say all true heart pilgrims face foes–Baca only becomes Blessing through holy warfare. Victors must fight their battles on their knees. Two weapons are all that’s needed and mastery only comes thru frequent use. The shield of Faith, extinguisher of every fiery dart, and the mighty sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God– crafted from a wooden crossbeam; engraved in Blood, “Unrelenting Trust in His Unfailing Love”.
Join me, in this faith fight Sister, our victory’s already won!!
Let’s pick up the shield together and grab the sword together when financial pressures crush and worries for children overwhelm. For when hurts devastate and hidden stress mounts, the shield and sword stand fast!
In the face of failed attempts and dreams deferred may we NOT despair. Instead, let’s hold our weapons higher and charge the enemy fearless, shouting in our wake:
UNRELENTING TRUST IN HIS UNFAILING LOVE….
Forever, Lord, we shout it. We hold it. We cling to it. We claim it. For we have seen Your power and tasted Your goodness!! We refuse to be discouraged.
We reject all emotions that try to make us feel defeated; every lying attempt of the enemy to demoralize or steal.
He will not get our children or husbands or our homes! He will not hinder our churches or sow discord in our sister-love. It’s not his to do or take; he has no right. We are blood-bought conquerors thru Him who loved us and we are one with Him in the power of His cross!
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” ~Psalm 27: 13-14
“Courage is not the absence of fear but God-breathed perseverance in the face of fear…”