Are you on an island?

Has life caused you to be isolated?

Is there an aloneness that is tangible in your heart?

Pain and suffering, change, betrayal, loss….

John was on an island.  He was exiled to the island of Patmos.  Christians were going through a time of persecution and those who held that Christ, not Caesar, was Lord, were facing hostility.  John was sent to Patmos as punishment for his faith.

In his exile, God showed up.

His eyes were opened to the realm of the supernatural, of things to come.  Imprisoned on an island, away from the people and places that he loved, the Lord of the future overwhelmingly revealed Himself and His plan to John.

The book of Revelation is so stunning that it takes my breath away at times!  The things written in this book, so distinct and curious, are a taste of the judgment and the wonder to come.  John was overcome.  He says, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead.  Then He placed His right hand on me and said:  ‘Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One;  I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!'”

There was a point in my chemo journey when I realized that I was an exile like John.  On a much smaller scale, mind you, but I felt it nonetheless.  Because of the winter season, wanting to stay away from germs, and because of feeling bad physically, I was home most of the time over the course of a few months.  I was home, and I was bald.  While I was grateful for a warm home, it felt like the walls were closing in on me at times.

God opened my eyes to my island.

What I did with my time came into sharper focus and I longed to be closer to God.

I determined that I didn’t want to waste my exile.

Sowing aloneness can reap growth.  Sowing aloneness can also reap self-pity, discouragement, resentment….

What I set my mind and heart on determines what I sow.  I know because I have sown both.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on this earth,” God’s Word says in Colossians 3:2.

I have found that in exile, determination to follow truth and to follow hard after God take discipline.  It takes a “setting” of the mind.  Your mind and heart will be pulled away if you don’t.

“So let us come near to God with an honest and true heart. Let us come near with a faith that is sure and strong….”  Hebrews 10:22

My prayer for you is that you will draw near to God in your exile, and there He will share with you His amazing love and His undeniable truth.

– Susie Stewart


(photo of the island of Patmos courtesy of bibleplaces.com)

Falling (by my son, Arik Stewart)


 Once more you pulled against the nails, lifting yourself as the splinters scraped your torn shoulders. The thorns at your temples were nothing compared to the agony at your wrists. A last breath, and with it, you gasped a cry through the echoing universe. Your head dropped, your soul carrying the weight of the entire world into death.

I imagine you falling. I see you as a light crushed under the strain of all evil, dropping down into the darkness. A falling star thundering into oblivion. And for three days you fell through the terrors of wrath, enduring flames and shadow.

Until finally you arrived.

I felt the bedrock of damnation tremble under my feet as you touched down. Nothing less than the thunder of a million strands of lightning colliding with the ground. Yet, as you were consumed by the greatest punishment of all, you endured. Though the light had been ripped from my soul, your’s survived the tortures.

You found me broken and alone, the radiance of salvation gleaming through your eyes. As you neared, the loneliness and hopelessness of all eternity began to retreat and the surrounding darkness drew back into itself, fearful of your awesome power.

Taking your hand, I felt its warmth and life, fully aware of the coldness and death of my own. But something happened. You took on my darkness. You pulled it into yourself and endured its terrible price, destroying it forever. You put your hand to my heart and ignited the flame within, making it stronger than ever before. The light returned to my soul and I began to breathe.

Then we rose.

– Arik Stewart

Photo of Alek taken by Arik Stewart

Do and Be

Sometimes when I’m praying, something comes out of my mouth that makes me pause…  It makes me marvel.  Because the Holy Spirit dwells in me there are times when what comes out of my mouth is not at all an original thought from me.  I know it is God teaching me.  He is  using the words that come out of my mouth, as His words to me.  Amazing because HE is the  One I am speaking to.

This morning I sat by our living room window admiring the falling snow of a spring Colorado storm, thinking about God and talking to Him about the beauty outside, about things I’m thankful for, worshiping Him.  Then I said, “Lord, today, help me to DO and to BE.”  Wait, what did I just say?  Help me to Do and to Be.  Yes, that’s right, that’s what I hope for as a Believer in Jesus!

Our days can be so unbalanced sometimes.  Go, go, go.  We hit the ground running and at the end of it all, we drop into bed, only to start it again the next day.  Life is like that.  “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)  BUT I have this to finish, I have that to do, I don’t have time….  Time needs to be found to BE.  Time needs to be found to meditate, to contemplate, to listen.

And what am I DOing, too?  Is what I am doing counting for anything?  Or is it just work and entertaining self…  What of the Kingdom?  The heart of God for the souls of people?  What of that?  Ephesians 2:10 is my husband Andy’s favorite verse, “For we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do.”  That’s the DOing that I want to be about.  I want to be about the good works that my Lord has prepared, in advance mind you, for me to do.  There is purpose in that.

There will always be the “regular” stuff of life, like cleaning bathrooms, and feeding the dog, and pulling weeds.  But can’t those things even be done to the glory of God?  Can we not do those things without a complaining heart, but a grateful one?  I say yes.  When the Spirit of the living God is living inside of you, He can even make a prison cell a place of worship and praise.  Ask Paul.  Ask Peter.  Ask the Believers who are currently in prison cells in dark places around the world right now.

As humans, I don’t think we’ll ever get the balance of DOing and BEing just right.  But submitting to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to speak to us, to love us, to minister to us, to teach us before we head out into the go, go, go makes all the difference in the world.  It will help us to listen for His voice that enables us to BE in the middle of busyness.

BEing is deliberate.  DOing is also deliberate.  I think a person can go throughout their entire day and do neither.  I want to BE before God and I want to DO what He has prepared for me.  Awareness, a listening heart, saying no to things that steal my heart away from the Way, the Truth and the Life….

Jesus, show me what I should be doing today as I abide in You.  (John 15)

– Susie Stewart

Photo taken by Susie Stewart