Those Places

You fill

those places, God,

of emptiness

 

You heal

those places, God,

of hurt

 

You restore

those places, God,

of brokenness

 

You find

those places, God,

that are lost

 

You inhabit

those places, God,

of loneliness

 

You comfort

those places, God,

of deep pain

 

And we get stuck

in those places….

 

but You want us

to find YOU

there

 

– Susie Stewart

 

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.

– Psalm 34:18 (MSG)

 

When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close and revives him in his pain.

– Psalm 34:18 (VOICE)

 

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

– Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

 

You, my people, have sinned in two ways— you have rejected me, the source of life-giving water, and you’ve tried to collect water in cracked and leaking pits dug in the ground.

– Jeremiah 2:13 (CEV)

 

Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting You.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to You.

– Psalm 143:8 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Embraced

You

are wrapped in Light

 

You who trust God

 

He promises

to surround you

with Himself

 

And if you could but see

 

the Lord

with His arms wrapped

lovingly

 

around you

 

fear would be dispelled

and loneliness would fade

 

Trust Him

 

and know that His angels

also encamp about you

 

Know the enveloping

of True Love

 

Know your protection

in Him

 

Know your position of embrace,

beloved child of perfect God

 

KNOW

you are surrounded

by Him

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.

– Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

 

You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder.

– Psalm 139:5 (VOICE)

 

In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of His eye,

– Deuteronomy 32:10 (NIV)

 

You are my hiding place. You will keep me out of trouble and envelop me with songs that remind me I am free. 

– Psalm 32:7 (VOICE)

 

Just as the mountains around Jerusalem embrace her, the Eternal, too, wraps around those who belong to Him— for this moment and for every moment to come.

– Psalm 125:2 (VOICE)

 

For the Eternal One says, “Instead of a wall of stone, I will be a wall of fire protecting her all around, and I will be the shining glory within her.”

– Zechariah 2:5 (VOICE)

 

For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with Your shield of love.

– Psalm 5:12 (NLT)

 

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in and relies on the Lord shall be surrounded with compassion and lovingkindness.

– Psalm 32:10 (AMP)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Alone

Loneliness.

Ever been there?

Everyone has.

Sometimes loneliness lasts for hours.

Sometimes days.

Sometimes years.

Loneliness cuts deep.  It is a place where thoughts can run wild.  It is a place where discouragement can settle in and make itself at home.  It can be a place of overwhelming self-focus.

Loneliness.

Even the word brings sad sighs.

Loneliness is real, right?  But is aloneness a reality?

Am I ever truly alone?

Webster says loneliness is a sadness because one has no friends or company; the quality of being unfrequented and remote, isolated…

Jesus knows alone.  On that cross.  Everyone had turned away, even the Father who loved Him perfectly.  He knows alone.

Amazing, isn’t it?  Jesus knew loneliness like no one has ever felt.

And yet.

He never leaves us in that state.

He never leaves us alone.

Aloneness is not a reality!  It is an illusion!

We are never alone.  Even when we are.

What a glorious fact to ponder!

Even in my isolation.  Even on my island.  Even in my seasons of being companionless, there He is.  And He knows.

He knows the feelings.

He knows.

And He is sitting there by me, and looking into my distant eyes, and loving me, and reminding me with blessing after blessing after blessing….

And yet sometimes…

Instead of noticing, instead of being there with Him, and listening to Him, and sharing my heart with Him…

I choose instead, the path of self-pity.  I’m worn-out and dwelling on the muck.

Why can’t I see with my spiritual eyes that He is RIGHT THERE.

It’s because loneliness dwelt upon shuts out.

It shuts out gratefulness.  It shuts out pursuing others.

It shuts out God.

The One who faithfully and lovingly pursues me, and is present always,

gets. shut. out.

He reminds me, even just this morning, that I am serving beautiful, forgotten, lonely children half a world away.  As I sit in a quiet house day after day by myself, clicking away at these keys, Jesus the Rescuer, is taking that time of island-dwelling to reach down with His loving hand outstretched and leading precious ones to a place of refuge.  A place of belonging.  A place of abundance.  A place of love.

Small and innocent, abused and forgotten, hungry and hurting…. what is my loneliness compared to theirs?  They are not forsaken.  And neither am I.

What we do with our aloneness matters.

Love God, love people.  The two greatest commandments.  How simple, right?

Keep me from eyes that study myself way too much, Lord.  Thank you for taking on ultimate loneliness so that I didn’t have to.

– Susie Stewart

 

Click here – “Alone Yet Not Alone” by Joni Eareckson Tada

 

Photo taken by Susie Stewart

Exile

 

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)