Yes, that is a picture of me taking a Sunday afternoon nap on the couch with my dad and dog, Mickey. This picture resurfaced a few weeks ago at our Verkaik Christmas gathering. A gather- ing that was reinstated after my sister’s cancer diagnosis. Maribeth brought a box of sentimental treasures that she had received from my mom before she passed away in 2015 for us to go through, so it had been sitting around for a while.
The picture now resides in a cabinet in our house, in a place that was very difficult for Dawn to find, but I am glad she did. God brought this picture to the forefront of my mind last week Thursday as I began seeking him in the Psalms. A few days earlier I had read Psalm 27 and made the comment, “I should read that Psalm everyday”. It is a Psalm written with an amazing confidence in who our God is, and perspective on a right relationship with him. For a person, like myself, who can struggle with fears, verse one is my battlecry when it proclaims, “Yahweh is my revelation-light and the source of my salvation. I fear no-one!” Psalm 27:1 (TPT)
However, this morning the way the Passion Translation translated verse four caught my attention, stating, “I want to live with him every moment in his house…” Psalm 27:4 (TPT). After reading that sentence, I stopped and wrote down this phrase, Living with my Father.
After Dawn, Maribeth and my brother-in-law, Jim, flew back to the States last Tuesday, I remained at ORC. While dwelling here I have continued to process conversations, prayers, and the worship we had together, while also preparing for a middle school team arriving later this week.
The diagnosis of cancer Maribeth received has impacted all those who know and love her. For me, the news brought a new layer of perspective into my daily thought patterns and schedules, scripture readings, praying and contemplating life, especially Jesus’ life. How he lived in the midst of sickness, and with his Father.
While the week went on, that phrase – Living with the Father – was underlined, and surrounded by arrows. Reading Psalm 33 added this addendum – Living with the Father, for me is — a place of song! For people who know me well, know that when I burst out in spontaneous worship and song it reveals my soul and the closeness of my relationship with God at that moment.
How do we even begin to live with our Father, the creator of our world, our bodies, our hearts and souls without worship? Regardless of how weak and frail, fearful and discouraged we are, His words of assurance state:
The eyes of the Lord are upon even the weakest worshipers who love him – those who wait in hope and expectation for the strong, steady love of God. Psalm 33:18 (TPT)
The perfect love of our Father accepts even the weakest worshiper, living life with Him and says, “my eyes are on you”, or for me, on this day, “feel the warmth of my embrace around you.”
On the contrary to the world’s imagery of noticing others and showing love, God has mysterious, supernatural and an unconditional way of enhancing our awareness of His strong, steady love for us. On this day it was a preparation question from John 13, dated Thursday, February 2, for the upcoming team:
Ask the Father to show you who He wants you to serve today?
With that request as my final journal entry, I put my earbuds in for a much anticipated hike up the mountain to prepare my heart for a mentorship meeting later that day. Halfway up, heaven came down and crossed my path with Denise.*
I had seen Denise earlier that week in passing with Jim and Dawn. We said, “hi”, and I think she asked, “How are the ants?”, as they have been a problem lately. Hindsight, I now know that was a prelude for our extended conversation today. This time as I passed her on the trail, she paused and turned towards me. So, taking out my earbuds the Holy Spirit led me to ask. “Hiking again, where are you from?” Being from California and having a brother in Grand Rapids, MI. provided a bit of small talk or, as we say, “dutch bingo”. However, this was short lived as the Spirit opened the floodgates of a turbulent last year and her three young daughters, struggling in the midst of an uncertain future, and a longing and searching for peace. As I listened my heart overflowed with Abba’s heart of love and compassion for her pain in the midst of a life she could not control.
Little did Denise know that as we met, shared and prayed on the side of that mountain, Abba was showing both of us His strong and steady love for us. One in the privilege of serving and sensing His presence in me and another in the receiving. As our prayer ended, there we were both in a better place of peace, of rest. Standing there with our Father wrapping his arms around us, like my dad’s. However, I can also imagine Abba maybe winking at us, in our weakness, saying, “I’ve got my eye on you!”
So now put into practice what I have done for you, and you will experience a life of happiness enriched with untold blessings. John 13:17 (TPT)
* Name was changed