Monday’s Breaking Bread
Welcome to Monday’s Breaking Bread. Today, Anna is breaking bread with us and has a Christmas video message and prayer for you. May the Holy Spirit open the eyes of our hearts to receive the Word He gives each one of us, personally and intimately.
Beloved Prodigal News . . .
Through the month of December until mid-January we at Beloved Prodigal are publishing just one post per week.
We would also love to invite you to subscribe to a weekly encouragement. Each week, from January 2018, we will then send you a short devotional with an invitation to join us in pouring out our weaknesses (fears, grief, doubts, anger, hurt etc.) and asking God to speak to us through a specific Promise from His Word (each week we will include a different Promise). We are so excited to see how God will move to perfect His power in our weakness through His mighty Word and Holy Spirit. Subscribe here to join us: Contact Beloved Prodigal.
We are also planning on opening a private Facebook group for our community to come together to pray and encourage each other through our individual struggles and testimonies to God’s faithfulness. We want to offer you a safe place to share your heart and receive encouragement in Christ from those walking a similar path. As soon as it’s up and running we will advertise the details via our social media.
We would greatly appreciate your prayers for all of this. Thank you so much.
Isaiah 40: 1-5 (ESV)
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[or hardship] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries:[Or A voice of one crying]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
When my Mum was gravely ill with cancer, two months before she entered heaven’s gates, she reminded me of my namesake. Of her just knowing I’d be a girl, even before the days of ultrasounds, and her and my Dad consciously choosing “Anna” as my name:
When she penned those words, I was still a Prodigal child. Now, when I look back I know the words she wrote on that last birthday card were no accident. For, I have so often felt my heart return to this passsage in the Bible and been so encouraged by Anna’s calling of “worshiping with prayer and fasting day and night”. This was a woman hidden from the world, but intimately connected with her Creator.
Luke 2: 36 – 38 (ESV)
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
As I have been taken through a period of incredible sifting, of a purifying fire in my faith this past year especially, my eyes have opened to the gift of hidden worship too. I have felt God’s delight pour out upon me as I’ve sat at His feet deep into the night, praying, weeping and singing. And I am discovering that He delights in an obedience that presses us to our knees in tearful prayers and to the lifting of our arms in praise.
When church became a place of rejection and pain this summer, I realized I had been seeking home and belonging in the wrong place. And with the space I’ve been given since, I’ve realized that I allowed fear and pride to clasp my hands tight over something I was never called to possess. With a mirror to my face, I saw how idolization and a possessive grip only hurt myself and those I was called to speak truth in love to, but not called to persuade, make them like me or blame when God called me to part.
But in the silence of my grief-filled night, the day I obediently told the pastors I was leaving, I poured out my heart in prayer and worship. It’s then, God turned me to the night sky before me. And as my random YouTube mix flipped to this song, that I had never heard of:
I realized my eyes weren’t just playing tricks on me. It’s then Home took on a whole new meaning. It’s then I felt Him cloak me in the Promises of His Word, and I palpably felt Him shower me in His delight:
Hebrews 12: 1 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Then, I knew that in the midst of man’s rejection, God’s favor rested upon me. And do you realize this same cloud is cheering you on too? You are not unseen. Not alone. Not praying for your Prodigal(s) in vain.
And as I worshipped and prayed deep into that one night God also placed a woman on my heart. A woman I barely knew and He compelled me to ring her door bell the very next morning. I was to sing her a hymn in her mother tongue – and as I obeyed, I watched the tears stream down her face.
It’s then opportunity beckoned to listen – to a story of another life broken by hurt meted out in God’s Name. To a story I never knew walked my own street each day. What a gift God gave me to share with her – the One True God who weeps for all her and her precious family have walked through and holds out His arms to receive them – just as they are. A gift I’d never have received if I hadn’t been asked to release a place I called home.
Mark 10:29-31 (MSG)
29-31 Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”
It’s now I realize that I idolized the church I once attended and served from as my place of belonging, and even my ascriber of worth in God’s eyes. But when it was taken from me I began to see that Home is the Presence of God. And that Home can never be taken from us. Dear friends and family of Prodigals who have turned their backs on you – know Your Home has not been taken from you either. Your Home is very much present – both in your and your Beloved Prodigals’ midst.
When God recently led me to open social media accounts for Beloved Prodigal, this Home revealed Himself in such a profound way. As wave upon wave of rejection hit me, I asked friends to join me in praying for wisdom. It’s then, I stopped feeling so very sorry for myself, and began to see the waves for what they truly were. I saw His children being pelted by the hail of enemy hate, again and again – “You don’t belong. There’s something wrong with you. He doesn’t love you. He’s really only out to hurt you. Go away.” It’s then I remembered the years I had fled the One whose body broke and bled for me. The years the locusts ate to their hearts’ content – but years God is more than just restoring and redeeming now.
My Son in You
By Anna Louise Smit
Oh there are days
I turn away
Believing your love
It’s too painful to bear.
Days the weight
Of love breaks
And my cries and sighs
Long for days of old.
Days of striving free
Of no pain I feel
But You hold me tighter, whisper:
“Days of old
I’m breaking open new
From dead and dying
To birthing Christ in you.
Feel the pain
The weight of Glory’s Crown
My heart in you
Is growing deep
Despising pain and shame
You’ll lay your life in Mine
And in that cross you bear
In the thorns that pierce
You’ll see my Light unfurl
My promised sky of bright.
Not one star is missing, gone
I know them all
And am calling even still
It’s their weight you feel.
Don’t turn away
But turn toward
My Son in you
He’ll break this night to day.”
It’s then Hope breathed into my prayers for these children of His. For I saw His heart for me – remembering how He’d never ever let me go. It’s then I thanked Him – recalling again my prayer. This was His answer – He had given me the burden of His heart in prayer for His Beloved Prodigals. The waves upon waves of rejection that hit His departed children are the waves upon waves He willingly chose to bear for them, as He gave His Life up on a Cross for each and every one of us. And interceding before the throne He speaks these precious words still: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Words that are leading each and every one of us Beloved Prodigals Home.
Precious friends and family of Christ’s Beloved Prodigals – He delights in your hidden communion too. He delights in you as you prayerfully weep for your Prodigals to return, as He gives you the weight of His love for them and you praise Him for it. Your ministry may be unseen by man, but you and your loved ones are very much seen and known of God.
Come, let us sit at His feet like the prophetess Anna this Christmas. Let us, like Anna in the Temple, stop to recognize precious Jesus in our very midst. Our Emmanuel, Christ with us forever. Let us heed His sweet nudges to: “speak of him to all who [are] waiting for […] redemption”. For as we wait for Christ to call our own Beloved Prodigals Home, the doors are already being swung wide open around us: there are baskets of fish waiting, the Broken Bread having gone before us.
Before I close, I have a more personal message for you all (this is the first time I have ever uploaded a recording to YouTube – stepping out in faith 😉😊):
Isaiah 40: 25 – 31 (ESV)
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
and because he is strong in power,
not one is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.