The Hawaiians have a saying, “Kapu…no stack stone!”
Kapu. Forbidden. Taboo.
But it carries with it a much deeper sentiment:
Sacred. Consecrated. Holy.
The island natives believe nature should be left alone…undisturbed. The ground is sacred, holy and consecrated. If a stone falls from the mountainside, it should not be moved from the place where it lands. Sad to say this is often ignored as stacks of stone litter the paths leading to the ocean edge.
It seems we humans cannot resist altering things from their natural state. Logic begs us leave things alone, but our innate desire to rearrange stones into patterns of our own design and choosing are strong. We ignore the warning signs – forbidden…taboo. We fail to honor the sacred, consecrated and holy! As consequence we bear the marks: damaged relationships; distorted truth; poor self-worth; deep remorse; divided family structures; altered religious practices; false reality; death…just to name a few. All symbolic of an eroding landscape.
Who are we to think we know a better way – to stack the stones of life into our own pale imitation? This practice began in the garden and now flows all the way down to the jagged edge of the ocean. I examine my own life – mistakes I’ve made; bad choices I’ve promoted; sinful practices I’ve justified. All from my attempt to stack stone my way. After all, it might look better if it were arranged differently; might serve a greater purpose if it were used a different way; might work better if it were moved to a different spot. By my own design though, it still ends up being just a pile of stone and nothing more. What remain are divots of bare earth, stacks of regret and littered edges. I can never put the stones back into their original places now. The ground looks the same every direction I turn. Thankfully, I don’t need to know the full lay of the land.
God knows precisely the place where each stone fell in my life.
I can trust Him to restore every stone back to its original resting place.
I am learning to head the warning sign: Kapu…no stack stone!
Deeper Reflection: What stones have you rearranged in your own life which should have been left undisturbed?
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, but no one could heal her. ~Luke 8:43
How would you like to be immortalized forever, in print, with such a name? Can you imagine introducing yourself to a total stranger. “Hello, my name is Bleeding Woman. Very pleased to meet you. How do spell it, you ask?”
It appears as though she wasn’t important enough to have her name in print. Yet this bleeding, broken woman remains historic…her story epic in nature. For 12 long years she suffered. Such was the impact of her tale that a reformed Tax Collector, young Disciple and Greek Physician all wrote about her. This woman’s life was truly of great value. Were it not so, the Healer would not have stopped.
She touched Him.
While on the way to heal a dying young girl, Jesus felt the surge go out from Him. Her touch was important to Him. It captured His attention. She stayed hidden, yet He beckoned her, come. Falling at his feet, trembling, she met compassion, mercy and grace all rolled into one…the One. He restored her to health and set her free from her suffering. Free from isolation. Free from rejection. Free from shame. Free from death. Voila!
He restored her.
In turn, He gave her a new name, “Daughter.” He gave her a promise, “Your faith has healed you.” And He gave her an eternal blessing, “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Peace = wholeness.
What is your condition today? Are you bleeding and broken? Are you hiding? Are you feeling isolated, rejected, abandoned and suffering from shame? Let Jesus give you a new name, set you free and restore you to wholeness. You can trust Him. Go ahead…reach out to touch Him and see.
Therefore I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the days she came up out of Egypt. ~ Hosea 2:14-15
There is something oddly symbolic about being in a desert when it comes to sorrow. If you’re someone like me, you find the heat intolerable, the loneliness unbearable and the vastness impossible to navigate. I have never been much of a fan of that much sand and prickly plants. I would much rather be in lush, green vegetation surrounded by miles of rushing water and earthy terrain than stuck anywhere near a landscape resembling the surface of a barren planet. Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme but you get my point – not a fan. That is until I found myself there, yet again, several years ago.
It was during a critical time of healing and near dissolution of my own marriage that I wandered back in. Or was it that I never really left and had only just become aware of my surroundings? I’m not sure. What I do know is this – it was a very dry heat. My pain and sorrow left me parched…dehydrated. I was sure I would never know comfort again or experience color of any variety other than shades of brown and grey. My tongue glued itself to the roof of my mouth as gritty silence forced me inward. Nothing but desolation and hunger surrounded me night and day. Even my tears were encased by grains of sand so small there seemed to be no end as they came pouring out.
When I believed all to be lost (and by “all” I mean me) I was met there in the desert by my Hope. His name is Jesus and He knows well the path of desert travel. He sat with me and began to speak loving, tender truths to my heart. He gave me water to drink which saved my life and restored me to health. He loved on me and made me a promise that if I would trust Him to, He would give it all back to me in time. He taught me that the Valley of Achor actually means the Valley of Trouble but through it, He would make a door of Hope for me to open. But first, I must learn to navigate through the desert on my way to the door. And it will be in the valley, not on the mountaintop, that I will learn to sing again as in the days of my youth – as in the days I came up out of my Egypt. It feels like a lifetime ago since I was in that desert place but I will never forget my time spent there. My vineyards are now lush and overflowing. My song of joy and praise rises up every day since passing through the door.
If you ever find yourself in the middle of the desert – look for the door. It is your passage out to the other side.
“But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” ~ Job 32:8
I absolutely love watching a great performance in action, particularly one that reaches in and stirs at the core of my soul. It could be a singer who emotes with such depth of feeling that every note appears to be divinely inspired. Or a dancer who posses controlled power over her body – making it leap, bend and turn in ways which defy logic. Held rapt, I am transported in the moment with them. Immersed in wonder. Captured by beauty. A very present moment of joy! Somehow, I feel myself breathing within breaths. How is this possible? It’s as though I have a middle breath – an invisible breath which hovers, unseen, between 2 natural breaths until something happens to ignite my awareness of its presence.
To me, this is what it is to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of the Living God. When we are born, life is breathed into our mortal bodies. When we die, it leaves the natural state, supernaturally returning back to the One who gives it. Abiding in between is the middle breath. This is where we come to experience who God is as He relates to us. Who Jesus is as He relates to us. Who we are as we relate to both. Moments of spiritual growth, maturity and understanding all dwell in this long pause as we take in our destination toward eternal life. It is where we have an intimate encounter with the very breath of the Almighty – rushing in and out of us as we inhale a deeper understanding of His nature…His creation…His eternal purposes. In doing so, we gain a deeper understanding of our own nature, existence and purposes according to God’s plan. This is where we learn to breath, in sync, with the Great I Am.
God is the ultimate orchestrator and choreographer of our life. His displays of art are magnificent to observe. Held rapt, we are transported in the moment with Him. Immersed in wonder. Captured by beauty. A very present moment of joy! We are living in between breaths right now. The first has come to pass and the last is yet to be. This time is our middle breath and its rhythms are perfectly measured. After all, the thriving breath of the Almighty Himself dwells within us, unseen, between two natural breaths until something happens to finally ignite our awareness of His presence. So tell me…are you breathing?