Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

Always Faithful

Faithfulness is not something that we can find a lot of in our modern world. It’s increasingly difficult to find a faithful wife, a faithful husband, or a faithful friend.

Faithfulness takes on different aspects too. This week, I’ve sat back and observed wives being emotionally unfaithful to their husbands, and husbands being physically unfaithful to their wives. I’ve seen friends help “friends” betray friends, and watched the results of friends not being faithful to keep promises. I’ve heard people share confidences that they swore to keep, and I’ve seen people walk away from faith in God.

It’s all very depressing.

Yet, no matter how unfaithful humanity is, God remains steadfastly faithful. He does not betray our trust, or abandon us to ourselves. We don’t have to work through things alone, nor does He abandon us to our own foolishness when a “better person” comes along. He’s there for us, whenever we need Him.

All we have to do is reach out.

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Blessed

I’ve had a rough week. There’s various reasons for this, some that I’ve shared with you all and some that I’ve not talked about here. Sometimes all you can do in life is keep moving forward. When you don’t know where forward is, then you have to just press on blindly and pray that you are doing the best you can.

Right now I feel like I’m in that blind place; I know that the end of this difficult time has to be near, but I can’t see light or hope. So, I press on, hoping that I’m doing what is right, and trying not to take adversity as discouragement. This life takes faith, whether you choose to believe in faith or not.

Quite frankly, I can’t live without faith.

I’m sure that you, dearest of readers, are probably going through similar issues. This song has resonated in my head this week; I hope that it can bring you the same comfort that it has brought me.

Be strong, dear ones!

Update: Steve Pearson, who takes some of the most lovely photographs ever, referenced a Bible verse in his comment. I thought that I would put it up here so you all can benefit from it as well; I found it very comforting and encouraging. Thanks, Steve!

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you and He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8, NASB

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Held

There’s a song by Natalie Grant that I’ve loved for a long time, but never quite knew why. Lately though, I’ve come to believe that I was drawn to the song for such a time as this. Trust me, this is not a fun time.

You see, the lyrics of the song start off quite melancholy:

“Two months is too little, they let him go, they had no sudden healing. To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling.”

Right now, I know a child who is dying. She’s so young, and she’s been so brave for so many years. Understandably, she’s grown tired of fighting, of sickness, of pain.

I can’t fathom what she’s lived through.

Hearing about her struggles, it really makes me question why certain things happen in this life. Of all the things that seem senseless, children struggling with illness makes the top of my list.

“We’re asking why this happens to us who have died to live; it’s not fair.”

It really does feel unfair. Why do people like her have to suffer and die, while others get to live?

Basically, why do good people die while bad people live?

I don’t know that there is a good, logical answer to this question; at least, not an answer that would give comfort to people. Rather, the only comfort I find in this particular situation is found in faith: faith that God is with her, that He is in control, and that He is sovereign over the affairs of humanity.

In essence, this is the same conclusion that the song comes to, only Natalie puts it much more beautifully:

“This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is what it is to be loved, and to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.”

Held.

It’s such a powerful word, with powerful imagery attached to it. What I particularly like about it is the fact that none of the action depends on the person being held. If someone is holding you, they don’t need for you to respond or react in order to do so.

No matter what, they hold on to you.

My friend is weak, she is frail. I don’t think that she has the physical or emotional strength to hold on to anything, but that’s okay.

God is holding her, and He’s not going to let go.

So far, the song lyrics are comforting; however, they don’t stop there. The lyrics go on to talk about the best way to react when the things that are difficult go horribly in your life or the lives of people you care about.

“This hand is bitterness; we want to taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrows.”

This is all too true. When bad things happen, the most natural reaction is to become angry and bitter: sometimes at those involved, but most often at God.

That’s not a good thing to do. Rather:

“The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.”

It’s okay to grieve. In fact, it’s natural. However, wisdom means coming to accept tragedy, acknowledge its effect, and then turn to the future. Because, no matter what tragedy happens, the greater amount of life goes on; hope goes on.

Love goes on.

So in all of this, I choose to believe in hope, I choose to trust in the providence of God.

I choose to believe that God will hold my friend to the end of this trial, whatever or whenever that end might be.

She is held.

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What Lies Beneath

Last night at work I went to my sarcastic place.

I’m not proud of that fact. While a sarcastic me is a funny me, and my coworkers appreciate the laughs, it doesn’t leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. However, last night I found myself pushed to the edge of my reserves, and I had two choices:

1. Be as silly, goofy, funny, and witty as I could muster at short notice, or

2. Burst into tears.

I think I speak for all when I say that humour-ish statements were preferable to tears. Besides, I had already been crying earlier in the night. Now, allow me to explain. In the almost two years I’ve worked at Starbucks, I’ve only been brought to the point of tears three times (this is a pretty good record):

1. By a former coworker who would be awful mean to me when we were working alone, but sweet and wonderful if any other coworker was around. *rolls eyes* It got reeeaaallllyyy old.

2. By a customer’s story of the death of their parent. Sad, sad, sweet story.

3. Tonight. Enough said.

Now, I’m a Christian. For some of you, I’m sure you involuntarily shuddered at that statement. Christians often have a stigma attached to them: aloof, condescending, self-righteous, holier-than-thou. I hope that I am not like that. I strive to not be like that.

However, the people that came in tonight were, sadly, acting like that. The thing is, I have a history with these people outside of the store. I’m not just some random barista, they aren’t just some random fellow Christian people. We know each other. I do my best to treat them well; I call them by name, ask about their lives, and am just generally friendly to them. Friendly, even though I know what the outcome is going to be, how they are going to treat me. Not that they are horrible, but they aren’t exactly nice either. Last night it was too much for some reason. It hurt. I ended up in the back room trying to wipe away traces of tears.

Would someone remind me why I wear mascara to work?

So, like I said before, I went to my sarcastic place. I really, really hate that about myself. I hate that their poor behaviour impacted me so much that I felt the need to alter my behaviour. That’s not good, healthy, or right.

Earlier yesterday we held our first meeting for a 40 minute Kay Arthur Bible Study. The topic is “Living Like You Belong to God“, and the key idea of the study is that of “holiness.” My favourite university Bible teacher describes holiness as “being set aside for special use.” It’s not that there’s anything inherently different about something holy from something that isn’t; rather, it’s mainly how this thing is used.

These people tonight decided to not act holy. That’s fine; it’s their decision to make.

I, however, don’t think that I ultimately responded in a holy manner. Not that I was mean to them or anything like that, but I allowed my hurt at their behaviour to turn into biting humour later on.

*sigh*

No one is perfect, right?

So, that’s one of my goals for the summer. I’m going to take what I learn in that study and work on not letting other’s behaviour influence mine. By the end of the summer, I hope to be able to just shrug off customer issues and keep on keeping on. I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes! As my new manager says, “It is what it is.”

Until then, let me leave you with this thought: 6 months until Christmas!

Yeah, coworkers and customers weren’t overly thrilled with this news either. Peace; out….

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Give Me Words

This song has been coursing through my brain for hours. Listen to the lyrics, and enjoy.

Blessed Sunday, dearest of readers!

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Footprints

This week’s Friday Frame-Up is from my trip to the beach on Monday. Enjoy!

One night I had a dream–
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
“I don’t understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never, never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
“When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson

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Everything Glorious

Recently I’ve had the words of David*Crowder*Band’s song “Everything Glorious” running through my head. Specifically, I’ve been hearing the part of the song where they ask God that if He makes everything glorious, “what does that make me?”.

It’s a question that’s been running through my head this week, especially at work. Every day we see a stream of people, never stopping, never ending. Overworked and overtired, it’s far too easy to become frustrated with the customers who are rude and difficult to please. Yes, I know you don’t like milk in your cappuccino. No, the reason your drink looks like that is because I did shake the soy. Yes, I do know how to make a caramel frappucino. Yes, I’d be glad to make you a new drink because you didn’t know what you were ordering. It’s like the demands and questioning of my abilities never end.

Sometimes I feel wracked with guilt that I find myself frustrated. God made these people glorious; what right do I have to be annoyed over their search for the perfect drink? I should just love them, accommodate them as best I can, and not let them bother me.

However, just when the guilt becomes unbearable, I remember that I’m a part of God’s creation as well. That means that He made me glorious too! I don’t have to mindlessly submit to their tyrannies, putting up and shutting up. Not that I should be mean to anyone, but I really should stop mentally beating myself up because these customers aren’t happy with me giving my best.

Gloriousness is a two way street. If you want people to treat you like you’re special, you have to remember to treat others well too.

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Arise!

This is one of my favourite Easter songs. A few years ago I had the privilege to perform it with one of my music groups, and the words really hit your heart hard. “Arise, My Love” by Newsong:

The words are on the video, but in case you don’t have the time to stream the song (and I really encourage you to do so!), then please at least read the lyrics.

Not a word was heard at the tomb that day.
Just shuffling of soldiers feet as they guarded the grave.
One day, two days, three days had past.
Could it be that Jesus breathed his last?

Could it be that his Father had forsaken him?
Turned his back on his son, dispising our sin.
Oh hell seemed to whisper, “Just forget it, He’s dead.”
Then the Father looked down to his son and he said..

Arise, My love.
Arise, My love.
The grave no longer has a hold on you
No more death sting
No more suffering
Arise…Arise…my love.

The Earth trembled and the tomb began to shake, and like lightening from Heaven
The stone was rolled away.
And this dead man the guards they all stood there in fright
As the power of love displayed its might
And suddenly a melody filled the air
Riding wings of wind, it was everywhere
The words of creation had been longing to hear.
The sweet sound of victory, so loud and clear.

Arise, my love.
Arise, my love.
The grave no longer has a hold on you.
No more death sting no more suffering
Arise…arise….

Sin, where are your shackles?
Death, where is your sting?
Hell; has been defeated. The grave will not hold, the king.

Arise, my love.
Arise, my love.
Arise….Arise….Arise

Happy Easter! Christ is risen indeed!

“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” Luke 24:5-7

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The 69th Week

“Seventy weeks have been declared for your people and your holy city” the Lord tells Daniel the prophet. This message comes during a time of captivity, a time where Daniel’s people (the Jews) are out of the Promised Land and in the control of the Medo-Persian empire. Yet, even in these dark times, as Daniel prays and repents God gives him detailed information for what is to come: a time “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.” (Dan. 9:24).

Okay, big deal, right? We all dream of a day to come when good things will overtake the evil in this world. However, God’s word doesn’t stop there: “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…” (v. 25).

Wait! Did you catch that? This goes quickly, so allow me to explain. In prophetic terms, these weeks refer to 7 year time periods. God first tells Daniel that there are 70 weeks, seventy periods of 7 years, that are important to the Jews. Now, I’ll let you in on a secret- that last week, the 70th week, is still to come. Many of the events I wrote about a few days ago are contained in that last week (wars, famines, etc).

But those first 69 weeks are gone. Those 483 years have passed, but what does this mean? Why is it important to start counting out 483 years after the Jews are allowed to return home? What good can this possibly do?

Here’s where the Bible goes from amazing to awesomely cool. Daniel’s people were only in the Babylonian captivity for 70 years. After 70 years, Cyrus sends out a decree allowing them to return to their land and rebuild Jerusalem (the city had been destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar took them into captivity). Had the Jews of the time heeded the prophecy given to Daniel, and had they started keeping track of the next 483 years, they would have know to the day when Jesus would enter Jerusalem on a donkey and start the Passion week. To the day. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is!

They could have known beyond any doubt just from this that Jesus was Who He said He was- the Messiah, the Promised One, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.

So, today I take up the song and the cry of those crowds long ago, those few who recognized Jesus for Who He truly was, and I declare: “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (Jn. 12:13).

Hosanna in the highest!

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Ploughshares and Pruning Hooks

Today in Precept class we talked about war. Joel 3:9-10 talks about the very end of time, around the time of the events taking place in Revelation 19. (If you’re not familiar with Revelation 19, please take a few minutes and refresh your memory. This post will make more sense!) The nations are at war, the soldiers are gathering. In these verses in Joel, the Lord tells them to “Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears.” (NASB)

This is the ultimate call to war, a call to take your means of growing crops for food and life and turning them into weapons of war. The implication is clear—if you do not prepare to defend yourself, then you will not need to worry about growing food. You won’t be there to eat anymore.

Matthew 24:6-7 warns us that the end of time will be bloody and violent, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Revelation alone details 10 wars that take place in about 7 year’s time:

1. First seal, the rider on the white horse who comes conquering and to conquer (6:2).
2. Second seal, the rider on the red horse, who comes to take peace from the earth (6:4). Well, war will take peace from the earth.
3. Fourth seal, rider on an ashen horse name Death, who had Hades following him (6:8). They kill a quarter of the earth with sword, famine, pestilence, and with wild beasts.
4. Sixth trumpet, fire and brimstone come out of the mouths of 200 million horsemen (9:16-17). Read that number again: 200 million. 200,000,000. Wow. Moving on….
5. The beast makes war with the two witnesses (11:7).
6. The dragon makes war with the archangel Michael and his armies (12:7).
7. The dragon makes war with the followers of God (12:17). (The beast and the dragon are other, prophetic terms for Satan, just so you don’t think I’m trying to write the plot of a fantasy novel and pass it off for Biblical truth!)
8. The beast assembles armies to make war against Christ and His followers (19:19). *spoiler alert* This does not go in the beast’s favour.
9. 10 kings of the nations go and destroy Babylon (16:19).
10. Gog and Magog gather for war by the order of the beast (20:8). Fire comes down and destroys them. By the way, this is the only battle that does not take place in the 7 year time frame, this happens after the Satan is bound and Christ rules for 1000 years. We’ve a while yet to wait for this battle.

It’s a lot of war, a lot of fighting, a lot of death. Right now I can hear you all thinking; “What kind of God would bring this destruction to people? What is the point? What good does this all do?” I don’t want to get into the first two points because they are vast and deep subjects to explore. If I were to go there now your eyes would glaze over and your head would nod and you’d start snori….

Ahem. Basically, suffice it for now to say that God would not be true to Himself if He didn’t bring judgment at some point. However, it’s been almost 2000 years since Revelation was given to John, longer for the other prophecies. God intends for man to know what is going to happen so we can make an informed decision: will we trust in Him or not? We know the future, we can control our fate. Do you want to be on the winner’s side, or do you want to experience the punishment dealt out by the victors? It’s your choice, but I choose to be on God’s winning side.

The last question is worth examining. What good does all this do? For the answer, let me take you to one of my favourite prophetic books, Isaiah (though Joel’s a favourite too). There? Good! In 2:4 there’s a very interesting verse describing what life will be like after God establishes His kingdom for good; “and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” It’s the exact opposite of the verse in Joel.

What a wonderful thought! In these days of war and uncertainty, it’s nice to think about peace. It may be hard in these modern time to understand all this business about ploughs and pruning hooks, so I’ll try to update it for you. Imagine an Air Force bomber being unarmed and turned into a mail carrier. Envision a tank rolling through neighbourhood streets playing “Turkey in the Straw” and selling ice cream. Things normally meant for military combat are instead converted for peaceful, everyday use. Can you imagine how secure these people will feel? Just the sheer amount of peace and lack of fear that allows you to turn your weapons into tools blows my mind.

More than this, they won’t even learn war. No sane nation, even a peaceful one, goes without some sort of combat training. There are always people learning to fight, just to be prepared, be ready, be safe. These people will not learn war—they will not fight nation to nation. This is absolute, utter peace—a peace the world has not known since sin entered the world, and death through sin (Rm. 5:12). It is just a wonderful, hopeful picture.

That is why I believe. This is what I live for: ultimate peace that comes from the ultimate source, God. One day, in His time, it will happen. Until then, I just hold on preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter the gates into the city…He who testifies to these things says “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. –Revelation 22:13-14,20 NASB

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