Life and More Life

 

Wednesday Worship

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
Faithful found
In Righteous Life alone I breathe.

In tomb
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
Each lie
Faithful love has worn
And torn to Life I speak.

In clouds they sing
And praise
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.

 

9 thoughts on “Life and More Life

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  1. What a testimony, to God’s mercies, not only in your own life but toward your Mom. I am reminded of the verse in II Cor.4–‘though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day’. You show this so clearly! Thank you.

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  2. I’m so glad you received your mom’s “open hearted advice based on her own regrets and confessions,” Anna, and that it encouraged you in so many decisions. Also that she and your brother’s relationship was healed before she left. As a parent, I wish I had known then what I do now. That I had already worked through past abuse so I would have encouraged my children to share their feelings more. Even though they have forgiven me and say they turned out alright, it still sometimes weighs so heavily on me. Sometimes God whispers, “I have forgiven you, so why don’t you forgive yourself?” I’m so glad your mom could speak with you and your brother before God took her. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Oh Trudy. What you have given your children is an incredible gift. For them to know all you’ve walked through and for them to see how God has worked and is working in and through you is huge. It takes a lot of courage and continued determination to choose for healing.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Sorry- I pressed send too soon 😆. I wasn’t done! I wanted to say that your children will have so much more empathy for others and take much more care to look further than outward behavior. You have given them a gift, truly. May God open your eyes to all the little and big ways your honesty and confession have strengthened your children. Lots of love from afar

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  3. Dear Anna, I am weeping again as I read about your story and your Mum’s story. What an awesome revealing of the precious ever-reaching love of God. And this prayer brings me to my knees, both for myself, and for my loved ones: “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” Oh, may I trust HIM more and more, and keep my eyes turned towards Him. Love from across the ocean, my friend!

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    1. Dear Bettie, You know the more I’ve seen God answering my prayer for Him to reveal how I became so blinded to His love for me, the more of His love and grace is pouring into my life. I am realizing just how much grace He has shown me and continues to show me. He is revealing Himself to be beyond anything I could ever fathom. You know I think we so try to keep God boxed into our own understanding- to keep Him “safe”. I know I do – and He just keeps stretching my heart. I’m so glad this encouraged you, Bettie. God is so good. Sending you so much love

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  4. What a beautiful, moving and awesome testimony you have shared, Anna. Bless you for opening up to us. It made me cry, because of the poignant way you describe your mother’s last “cancer-ravaged” days and how Holy Love shone from her, sending out a palpable Peace and radiance that affected you so greatly then and afterwards. And how you took a particular path because of those treasured conversations you had with her and her faithful prayers for you. These things made me think of how I so wanted to be a “good enough” mum to my sons, yet knew deep inside I was always operating out of my own inadequacies, trying to compensate for the effects of the damaged childhood I had had. That they have turned out as well as they have is nothing short of a miracle to me. But I still long to have the type of soul deep connection conversations with them that your mother had with you. Maybe one day, before it is too late… I hope and pray. 🙂 ❤

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    1. Oh Joy! I see SO much JESUS in you. Your poems have been such a blessing to me- especially your book.

      In our weakness HE is STRONG. Without you even realizing it you will have given your children gifts- the Holy Spirit pouring out of you. And the imperfections we all have only serve to grow hearts of grace – SO important in this aching world. Not one parent can claim perfection – I fail miserably daily – but OH the gift of grace that lives inside us 😊.

      You are a gift, truly. I am praying our Lord will give you these treasured moments your Mama heart so yearns for. Sending you so much love. And thank you for all your encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

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