Today, as we gather to worship I’d love to encourage Moms of Prodigals in particular, by sharing how God worked powerfully through my Mum to turn my heart back to His. And even now, He is still working through her, despite her having left for heaven three and a half years ago. Don’t ever think it is too late for God to restore what has been broken apart.
BTW- the photo in today’s post was taken on one of my runs, just as I was reflecting on how Revelations talks of the prayers of His people as incense 😊. I have never ever seen the sky like this before and since.
Life and More Life
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10: 10 NIV)
New Life He Breathes
By Anna Louise Smit
Dead to self
Alive to Christ
In Righteous Life alone I breathe.
My life I laid
Have my old
Each tear, each fear, each prayer.
In You now raised
Freed from bowed down low
Your hand, my face it cups
To Yours it lifts.
My mother cried
Her tears my heart to pour
Her death she gave
In Life to breathe.
No chains me bind
Her incense raised
My heart released
Now yoked to Love so Free.
No noose my neck does choke
Faithful love has worn
And torn to Life I speak.
In clouds they sing
My Father’s robe
Has found its child to clothe.
No longer bound
My heart now freed in tears to pour
My mother’s child, my death
To New Life He breathes.
Thirteen years after I left for the other side of the world, God fully broke open my heart to receive what I had, since the tender age of 12, believed to be beyond my reach. Walking my one year old daughter back in my home country, with the mountains stretching out before me, I heard Him speak: peace. Not in audible words, but in the most powerful experience of His majestic creation. An unbelievable knowing covered me, as my heart heaved with the three months given my beloved mother.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar…
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain…
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…
(Psalm 139: 1 – 14 NIV)
And this Love pressed so deep it broke open a tidal wave of grief, as my heart began to consider the amazing possibility that He loved me, just as I was.
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8: 4 NIV)
Caring for my mother those last few weeks of her life, thousands of miles from my husband and our eldest three-year-old girl, more of that amazing peace flowed. Not in myself, but from the breaking body of my dying mother. A mother whose brain cancer had removed her social filter, forced her to rest and finally gifted her the opportunity to speak the truth fully and freely, like never before.
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
(Isaiah 30: 15 NIV)
In those weeks, as I happened to repeatedly wake up to find her sitting alone in the living room, she gave me such open hearted advice based on her own regrets and confessions. Advice that has been a major driving force behind so many of my life altering decisions since – decisions to seek hard after both rest and truth in my life.
Because of my Mum I was encouraged to:
– give up my job as a high school English teacher, choosing for rest, healing and building up a stronger bond with my husband and children
– acknowledge I had been suppressing emotions: my Mum’s “Anna, why are you SO angry?” in her final weeks laying a finger on my failing attempt to keep a lid on so much beneath
– go into therapy and counseling (for PTSD): my Mum got her counseling diploma a few months before dying and encouraged me to look into counseling myself, sharing how valuable it had been for her
– share my struggles more openly with those around me
– start speaking the truth in love to people who hurt and had hurt me, rather than press it aside and pretend I was fine
– acknowledge and repent of my own sins as a wife and Mum in particular
– put healthy boundaries in place for myself and my family, giving me the opportunity to rest, heal and love from my heart, rather than just my will.
This time also gave my Mum the opportunity to seek my little brother’s forgiveness for her and my Dad’s punitive discipline of him as a kid, which I shared about yesterday. Mum had been unable to stop weeping through a film for her counseling course in which the effect of separation from birth mothers and lack of physical affection was shown. It was so beautiful to watch how God restored what had been broken between them.
So, even though life was rapidly receding from my mother’s cancer-ravaged body, the Spirit of God within her was more tangibly present than ever.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
All these years, I had fled, numbed and busied the pain away. Yet here was my Mum entering the most excruciating of suffering, but clothed in such Peace. Oh yes she grieved and she fought to stay alive, struggling to let go of those she loved so very much. But God met her in that open and honest struggle: a struggle that revealed her trust in her Savior – her willingness to lean heavily upon the goodness and faithfulness of her God. I will never ever forget the palpable Peace upon her, despite the rapid and horrific attack of cancer upon her body.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62: 8 NIV)
My Mum was strengthened by the Holy Spirit to take the cup to her lips and say, “Not my will but yours be done”, to enter the Gates of Heaven, whole and restored.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4: 18 NIV)
And in embracing the human path of suffering, facing the hurt and childhood trauma unearthed beneath, His truth has been taking hold of me, ever since. Returning home to read multiple testimonies of grace, I gave my heart back to my God, repenting of my past sins and receiving a new life in Him.
I will always be so thankful for the gift of my Mum. Even now I sense that her many, many prayers are still being answered in my life and in many others’. The Holy Spirit shone so brightly in and through her. Praise be to the One whose breath remains in her still.
Father God, thank You that You welcome our wounded and deceitful human hearts. Thank You that because of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ we now have access to your holy Presence at all times. Thank You for inviting us into all things new, into the gift of life and more life, by the power of the indwelling of Your Word and Spirit. Thank You that You [earnestly] wait [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to [us]; and therefore [You] lift[s] [Your]self up, that [You] may have mercy on [us] and show loving-kindness to [us]. For [You] Lord [are] a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for [You], who expect and look and long for [You] [for [Your] victory, [Your] favor, [Your] love, [Your] peace, [Your] joy, and [Your] matchless, unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:18, AMP). We praise and worship You, the One and Only True God. Thank You that You pity us in our distress and listen to our cries, even when we have rebelled against you, by worshipping idols in our life (Psalm 106: 44- 45). Father God we cry out for your mercy for our loved ones who have turned away from you. Save them by Your mighty hand and pour out your unfailing love upon them. And give us your wisdom to love and pray for them according to your will. Amen!
Today, I have chosen quieter hymns and worship songs. I pray that the Holy Spirit would breathe His hope into you as you listen and that He would press you more deeply into His overwhelming love for you and your Beloved Prodigals.