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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Stones of Remembrance

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of our nation. It's one of my favorite holidays as I'm an Army brat and fiercely patriotic. Mostly because words stir my soul and the words of our Founding Fathers never fail to bring tears to my eyes. Also because I've seen those words in action, seen the lives of men and women committed to God and to our country. Men and women willing to give everything to serve.

We spent time yesterday morning singing patriotic songs, reading poems, praying for our nation and our military, and reading the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights... we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Words like that remind me of the sacrifices I've seen as a third generation military dependent. My grandfather gave his life for this country. My father served in Desert Storm. I've seen what our military fights for~ freedom. And I’ve seen what we fight against. Tyranny. The control of a people by one not concerned with meeting the basic needs of those people. I’ve seen the result of freedom's absence in the hollow, longing eyes of an old woman begging for a taste of bread, knowing she could die for simply asking us for help. That look is something I will never forget.

I’ve had that look. The emptiness of bondage. The hopelessness that life as I know it is nothing but pain. But I’ve also tasted Freedom. And that I can’t forget either.

Last Saturday was a special day of Independence for me, a day where I experienced anew the glorious Freedom that is mine. A Freedom I too often forget.

I spent the weekend at a friend’s camp in North Carolina. Early Saturday morning I hiked up an overgrown trail that led to an eighty-foot waterfall. But God had me stop by a smaller waterfall and spend the rest of my hiking time with Him. That was one of the best choices I have ever made.

The sky was a sapphire blue, the sunlight danced on the rushing stream at my feet. Surrounding me were brilliant greens and beneath me hundreds of stones. I listened to the roaring water and felt my soul relax.

Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.” Though I didn’t make it to the eighty-foot one, I didn’t need to. My little waterfall filled my ears and my heart. As I pondered this verse, I realized why being near the water is so important to me. It’s where I most hear the Lord. Where the roar of the water reminds me of His greatness, and its gentle refreshing reminds me of His love. It’s where I hear Him call, “Come deeper.”

And so I did.

When I first sat down at the stream I felt so alone. No one to share the surrounding beauty with, no one to talk to. God didn’t get offended. But He did ask me what I’d do if someone were there with me. I said I’d skip stones. So He invited me to do that… with Him.

I skipped stones until I laughed. I plunked most of them in the bottom of the stream. But when I skipped a few the number I wanted to achieve, I cheered. And God cheered with me. It was a neat time of just hanging out with God.

Then I listened to the water and looked around at the stones. I remembered David’s battle with Goliath. He chose five smooth stones and defeated his gigantic foe. I felt led to choose five stones too. And so I picked up five little ones, too small to do much, if any, damage. Especially since my gigantic foe is a battle with my husband’s addiction and the battle for my family.

But then I found amid all the brown rocks, a bright red one, and a tiny white shard of a stone. Immediately I thought of the blood of Christ that washes me white as snow. I knew then that the Lord had much to show me of Himself. With two little rocks He took my focus off my battle and put it where it belongs… On Him.

I pulled out my Bible and looked up the word stones. There were six verses. As I went through each of them God added a very powerful one that reiterated what my stones Bible study verses said. Second Chronicles 20:12, 15, 17 spoke directly to the battle I faced and how I was to face it. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” “For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” “Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.”

I read those verses and looked at my stones. I wouldn’t need them to fight. But I would need them to remember.

My wonderful home school president’s last Bible study of the year was on Joshua 4 and how Joshua was commanded to choose twelve men and have them each retrieve a stone from the middle of the Jordan river. “When your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them…these stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” They were to help His people remember the deliverance of the Lord.

So I asked the Lord what should I remember when I looked at these stones. He reminded me of my favorite name for Him. I AM. This name is in the center of my all-time favorite Bible story in Matthew 14. The story where Peter walks on the water. Jesus addressed the terrified disciples and told them, “Take courage! I AM. Do not be afraid.”

So my stones remind me that God is my “I AM.” He is everything I need in this and every other circumstance I will face. He is my Daddy, my Best Friend, my Heart Healer, and my Defender. He will fight for me. And He promises that He will work in all things for my good.

I love the line from CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia where one of the children asks if Aslan is safe. Another child answers, “Safe? No, Aslan isn’t safe. But he is good.”

That's my God. He’s not safe. He calls me to frightening, painful places and allows more hurt than I think I can bear. But He is good. In the frightening places, He holds me and guides me through. He teaches me He is worthy of my trust and that He is where I can run to find everything I need. He provides the relationships He created me for, first with Himself, and then with others He provides. But He alone is where I’m to run. He’s the Truth. He knows me best and loves me most.

By mid-morning I was excited about all God was showing me. I had my stones, knew what they meant, and knew this battle I faced was in His hands. But I was starting to feel restless again. Ready to run back home and get started.

God had another plan.

He brought to mind my mentor’s words about “unforced rhythms of grace.” There I was trying to force my heart to hurry up and grasp all my mind had received from the Lord. I wasn’t ready to go anywhere, certainly not home yet. So I watched the water and listened. God asked me to sing. So I did in my normal worship style, eyes closed. I got a little bolder and did what I do when I let myself go and just praise… I signed. As I sang quietly and signed with my eyes closed, I started to cry. Really cry. Especially during one line of the only song that came to mind. It says, “Oh my soul rejoice.” I thought, how in the world could I rejoice right now. Life hurts.

God said, “Open your eyes.” I did. And I sang again. I was uncomfortable at first, and then let myself just look and really see. With His beauty all around me and His Word still fresh in my mind, I could sing. I could offer the sacrifice of praise and say, “It is well with my soul. My soul can and will rejoice.”

I went back to the Word and read my last stones Bible verse. First Peter 2:3-4, “…now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to Him, the living Stone~ rejected by men,” I stopped there and thought, “me too.” I’ve been rejected by men. Then I continued to read, “but chosen by God and precious to Him…” God said, “You too.” I smiled. Yes, me too.

He gave me another verse in Isaiah 32:2. “…like streams of water in the desert.” I thought about my desert walk and this stream I sat beside. God showed me that even though I walk through this painful desert time, He is my stream, my Living Water.

At this point I’d completed my stones Bible study and felt it penetrate my heart. I was full. Rested. Hopeful about what God had in store even as I knew the testing by fire would continue.

So I danced.

I programmed song number five of Nichole Nordeman’s CD, Woven and Spun. It’s title is “I AM.” I stood at the edge of the stream and slow danced with my heavenly Lover. His words flooded my heart.

“You saw my mistakes
And watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again
And when I was weak, unable to speak
Still I could call You by name
And I said, Heartache Healer, Secret Keeper
Be my best friend
And You said, I Am.

You saw me wear white by pale candlelight
I said forever to what lies ahead
Two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
Too much it might seem when it is 2am
And when I am weak, unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Shepherd, Savior, Pasture Maker
Hold onto my hand
You say, I Am.

When life had begun, I was woven and spun
You let the angles dance around the throne
And who can say when, but they’ll dance again
When I am free and finally headed home
I will be weak, unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer
Comforter, Healer, my Redeemer
Lord and King, Beginning and the End.

I Am
Yes, I Am.”

By the end of the song I was crying so hard I shook. I had touched and been touched by God.

And my feet were in the stream. I looked down and for a second it looked like I was walking on water.

Like Peter.

I’d reached up and been rescued by the hand of God.

And I’d danced.

With a full heart and a pocket full of stones, I left that special place. I returned home the next day and shared my stones with my girls. They thought my story was neat and my stones cool. They weren’t compelled to dance though.

But I am. Because I was there. And God’s invitation to come and dance is still open.

So I will pull out my stones and remember.

And dance.

12 comments:

upwords said...

What a wonderful, wonderful day. Stay on the stone.

Blessings,
Mary G.

my_Romancer said...

Mrs. Amy I loved that story and after I ran right to God, I was crying! I have so much hurt that I want to just go away, won't it. I want something like that. I want a story like that, more than anything. I want to call you, I will try later, but if I don't will you please call me because I really need to talk to you. PLEASE!
lov always,
christin

Amy Wallace said...

Mary,

I'm standing, slipping, and remembering the stones again. It's a painful learning process, but I'm even more sure God is good and He has good in store. Thanks for journeying with me.

Amy

Amy Wallace said...

Christin,

Keep running to God and you will have a story that is uniquely yours. It will bring tears and lead others closer to the Lord.

This journey is tough, but the outcome is sure. God's not safe... He is good though.

Love and prayers,
Amy

HeyJules said...

There are days that you just blow me away. What a post! The power of God is that I've never even met you and yet you can touch my heart with your words so deeply you leave a scorch mark in its path.

Amy Wallace said...

Thank you so much for posting! It is most definitely the power of God that can take my words and touch a heart. Your sharing about scorch marks speaks to a deep part in me. Thank you for letting me know that my words matter. I write on here to work out what's happening in my heart. That people are being affected for good is such a confirmation that God is in all of this.

Amy

my_Romancer said...

Hungry
written by Kathryn Scott
found at praisetown.com




Hungry I come to you for I know You satisfy
I am empty but I know Your love does not run dry

So I wait for You, and I wait for You
I'm falling on my knees,Offering all of me

Jesus Your all this heart is living for

Broken, I run to You for Your arms are open wide
I am weary, but I know Your touch restore my life

Amy Wallace said...

What a good word, Christin! I so needed to read these lyrics today. Thank you!

Love,
Amy

Sally said...

Amy, I never cease to be amazed at the beauty in your heart. Truly you are an angel in disguise...your words as you struggle and yet remain always faithful are a balm to my tired and weary heart! Thank you, sister, for all that you are and continue to be by God's unending grace!

Amy Wallace said...

Sally,

God knows exactly how to touch my heart and speak to my soul~ He did that today through you. I cried as I read your words. I love you dearly my sister and friend. You are a gift to me.

Thank you for seeing me and being God's hand to lift me up today and His reminder that He sees my heart and it brings Him glory. I'm crying God tears~ thank you for ushering me into His presence through your words.

Love,
Amy

thejesusguy said...

Amy,

I cannot help but believe that God has led me to your site to encourage your heart in Him. I "randomly" (I don't believe in such) happened to come by your blog as I was researching David & Goliath and why he may have selected five stones.

I am a pastor who is moving with his family to the Duluth area this summer to begin a new church. Please pray for my family as we follow His still, small/loud, large voice to join you here in this place of service.

Thanks for following Him so obviously!

Amy Wallace said...

Wow, thanks so much for your comments here! This post remains one of my favorite. I'm so glad you found it and I greatly appreciate your encouragement!

I pray you will enjoy the Duluth area and be used in a mighty way for the glory of God!

 
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