Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Random Vacation Photos

Before I share pictures I want to thank everyone who gave me such a nice vacation! First of all the B family in SC for having me over for the weekend, and especially Caroline who shared her room with me, Seth and Tara who had most of the family over for dinner, then Caleb and Adri who let me spend a week with them, Granddad who had us overnight, all my friends up at Liberty and Grace Reformed Church in VA, the Es who picked me up very early this morning at the train station....I appreciate all of you and have come back to SC with lots of good memories:-)

A perfect way to begin a vacation week, relaxing outside:-) This was actually during a break we took from setting up for the church picnic on Saturday, May 21st.

We had a fun family dinner at Seth and Tara's on Saturday night. Here's my niece, Laura. Isn't she pretty?!

Adri with some of the brothers (there are 7 more!)

A random shot from the family gathering. Yes, we did sit and talk to one another...some;-)

Sisters, and a niece and nephew.

In case you missed this picture the first time I published it....most of the family at church after my nephew's baptism.

On one of our shopping trips I bought these pretty candles to save for the home I hope to have someday. I love blue and white china but I'd never seen candles with that pattern. I couldn't pass them up:-)

We came across this display of goat cheese - I took a second look and realized that I know the people who make it. Cool!

Caroline took this fun picture of me while I was modeling hats when we shopped.

We drove up to Maryland on Saturday to visit my Granddad. It was a beautiful day for a drive!

On the way we stopped for ice cream. There's a story behind this stop.....we have driven past this cool little shop in Charlotesville more times than I can count, always saying 'someday' we are going to stop. Well Caleb said today was 'someday'! Since my sister has always wanted to eat their ice cream we called her while we were eating and told her what we were doing:-)

I had frozen mocha - very yummy:-)

At Granddad's my aunt pulled out boxes of old pictures and scrapbooks for us to look at. My little cousin Teresa being silly in the background.

Old pictures of my Mom that I had never seen.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lo, I am with you always.....

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.On my mind today are these quotes and verses. I've been thinking a lot about the Lord going with me as I go into situations that make me 'step out of my comfort zone', that I'm afraid of, or that I simply don't want to do, though I know it's what's right. It's a comfort to know I'm not alone and to think of the Lord going beside me wherever I go.

"The Lord never asks us to go where He Himself is not going."
Andrew Bonar

"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
Deuteronomy 31:8

"The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."
Nahum 1:7

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
Isaiah 41:10

"I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."
Psalm 16:8

"The Lord shall keep thy soul; he shall preserve thee from all ill.
Henceforth thy going out and in God keep for ever will."
Psalm 121:7-8

"My case is bad enough, and I am ready to think it deplorable, till I consider the infinite goodness of God; but, finding I have that to trust to, I am comforted, though I have no merit of my own. In former distresses I have trusted in the mercy of God, and I never found that it failed me; his mercy has in due time relieved me and my confidence in it has in the mean time supported me. Even in the depth of this distress, when without were fightings and within were fears, yet I trusted in the mercy of God and that was as an anchor in a storm, by the help of which, though I was tossed, I was not overset."....Having put his trust in the mercy of God, he is fully assured of salvation, and that his heart, which was now daily grieving, should rejoice in that salvation. Though weeping endure long, joy will return." 
Matthew Henry on Psalm 13

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Psalm 63

"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.

They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.

But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Empty Places....

 I've been reading in Andrew Bonar's diary all week and have been impressed by what a godly man he was. As I was saying to my sister in law, what one writes in a diary isn't the same as writing something intended to be published where the author probably tends to show their best side! To my mind a diary shares what is on the heart so I have found his thoughts to be pretty amazing at times. Then yesterday afternoon I came to the part where his wife died very suddenly after giving birth to a daughter. I kept rereading what he shared about his thoughts and pain afterwards and it made me cry. Here is one thought that really struck me:

 "..on looking back I can see very many lessons she has taught me as to how I should feel toward the Lord Jesus, and how truly He may come into the place which He has seen good to leave empty." 

While I'm thankful to say that I've never lost someone that close to me to death, I, and I'm sure many others, have their own 'empty places' that cause much pain....and I was encouraged by the way he was so submissive to the Lord in it, yet at the same time not denying that it was hard and painful. For awhile now his book Heavenly Springs has been a favorite of mine to go to for encouraging quotes, but I think it will be even more special to me now knowing his story, and the suffering that went on his life, yet realizing he was still able to trust and love the Lord so much. It's inspiring, comforting, and encouraging to me, and I hope to others. Below are a few more excerpts from his diary in the days and weeks following his wife's death.

"... Lord, let me not love Thee less, but more, because of this stroke."

"....my Lord and Saviour is henceforth to be to me instead of what I have lost..But He does not forbid me to mourn. Nor will He forget to bless." 

"The very many letters of sympathy that have come tome are so many tokens of how the Elder Brother has been thinking upon me, touching these hearts and saying, 'Go, speak in My name.'"

"The Lord's kindness to me in many ways has been quite remarkable. I have had very many letters full of sympathy, and really most helpful, for they were just messengers from my Lord's presence to carry me
cups of His new wine."

"....then I remembered,  'He doth not willingly afflict,' and when I compared that with 'These have quieted my spirit,' I thought I saw that the Lord in afflicting was doing what costs Himself some pain, and that when it was over He was glad and could truly pour out consoling love and tenderness, I think He is doing this with me."

[reading abut Abraham sacrificing Isaac] 'Because thou hast hearkened . . . therefore blessing, I will bless thee.' So I have tried solemnly to give my full consent to this doing of the Lord, and will look for the blessing following. My surrender is not so full nor any way so difficult as Abraham's ; but in measure it is what the Lord calls for from me. May He enable me to make it really without reserve or regret, and to wait for the after-blessing."

"But, blessed be the Lord, I have been kept until now from doubting His love in the stroke, though I have almost slipped,' ready to say ' Lord, could it not have been otherwise?" 

"This seems to be my time for glorifying and serving the Lord by bearing and suffering, as formerly by active doing. Lord, may I not fail now. But still the sorrow comes from time to time with sudden violence." 

"....I have been thinking too of the greatness of God. It is because He is so very great that He can and does attend to each one's smallest care and sorrow. Each one soul is to Him as much as a world, and he can bend down with the same love and loftiness of sympathy on that one as if that one were all. The very greatness of the ocean enables it to fill to the full every creek and bay. It is thus that my littleness helps to set forth God's exceeding greatness, and His sympathy in my sorrow, and His marking every tear, all sets forth the immensity of His grace and compassion. Therefore I can plead, 'For Thy name's sake, Lord, deal bountifully with Thy servant.'"

Sharing with Serenity Now.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Today's thought....

A Wounded Rose

"In all our afflictions he is afflicted. He is, we may say, the common heart of His people; for they are one body...It is blessed to be like Him in everything, even suffering. There is a great want about all Christians who haven't suffered. Some flowers must be broken or bruised before they give any fragrance."
Robert Murray M'Cheyne

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A letter to the Lord......

Today I'm thankful for these reminders from my reading. I hope they are a blessing to you all too.

"I have begun to write out my desires on paper like a letter, and so to pray when I feel my heart and thoughts wander. What is real prayer but a letter to the Lord Jesus, reminding Him of His words and of our needs?"
~ Andrew Bonar's Diary

"The best we can say to God in prayer is what he has said to us. God's promises, as they are the surest guide of our desires in prayer, and furnish us with the best petitions, so they are the firmest ground of our hopes, and furnish us with the best pleas."Lord, thou saidst thus and thus; and wilt thou not be as good as thy word, the word upon which thou had caused me to hope?" The most general promises are applicable to particular cases. "Thou saidst, I will do thee good; Lord, do me good in this matter."  
~Matthew Henry

Sharing with Thought Provoking Thursdays,
 Women of Noble Character, and Thankful Thursday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Snakes and futons.....

A few events from a somewhat crazy, but fun day.....

The day began with Adri heading out the door to run a few errands. A few minutes later she popped back in, "Hey, Stefanie, do you feel up to an adventure?"  As it turned out way down the road someone was giving away a futon just like the one her brother wanted....it wouldn't fit in the back of the Blazer, so....you guessed it, we carried it all the way home. Laughing the whole time of course. Everyone who drove past us stopped, stared, then drove away laughing. The two of us end up doing the most random things;-) Did I mention that it was really, really heavy?

A bit later in the day Adri went outside to do some painting. I was peacefully reading in my room when my phone rang...A frantic Adri called me to come help her, she was painting the shed and had come across a snake. She wanted me to kill it because she wanted it GONE.  I told her I don't kill things.....after a few minutes of discussion I offered moral support while she went after it with the shovel. It didn't want to die, kept writhing - we screamed a little...or maybe a lot. There were a bunch of men doing yard work next door and I was kind of surprised that no came to check on the screaming women.

At that point I grabbed the shove, scooped it up and flung it into the neighbor's bushes. Adri was scared he had a girlfriend, or babies so I had to poke around and look for more, but didn't see any.

I told Adri, I don't do nature. I don't like bugs and snakes:-( It was an adventure though. I hope none of the neighbors read my blog....just saying;-)

Garter Snake
After it was all over we realized we forgot to take a picture of the snake! This is kind of what he looked like though.

Adri's mom said we needed a drink after being so 'brave' so my brother made us a concoction of cherry bourbon and fruit juice. It was good - tasted like fruit punch.

And now it's time to say good night, and here's to hoping that tomorrow is less dramatic!

Sharing with Randomness, and
Coffee Talk.

A Letter.....

100_1094 This week I brought Andrew Bonar's Diary along with me to read and have found it to be an encouraging book that has given me plenty to think about. I've always enjoyed reading books that are made up of diary entries, and letters as they give a good picture of what day to day life was like. So far from my reading I'm impressed by what a man of prayer he was....yet he constantly speaks of his need to pray more, before he preaches, or chooses a text to preach on, before family worship, and even to pray first in the morning before he speaks to anyone else, etc, etc. This has been just one more reminder in my life of the importance of prayer....I keep being reminded in books, from the pulpit, in conversation.

Below is a letter, from the diary, that was written to a friend whose sister was dying. I thought it was really good and encouraging and wanted to share.

My Dear Mrs. Manson,

Isabella [his wife] and I have been sympathizing deeply with you. You will be ready to say, "Deep calleth unto deep," but you must not say "All Thy waves and billows are against me." These billows are helping you forward to a haven of unbroken rest, and by sanctifying you now are preparing a deeper rest in the end. As you sit watching at your sister's bedside may be tempted to say, "Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious ?" but if you are so tempted you will look again to His holy temple and say, "Shall I not be subject to my Father's will?" Shall I not think on my Forerunner and learn of Him to say, "The cup which my Father giveth me, shall I not drink it?"

Perhaps you feel anxiety to be as difficult to bear as even the certain stroke of calamity. Well, your Elder Brother has felt the same. Did He not once cry in Psalm 142:3, "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knewest my way." At a time when I could not see the Lord's ways, and was perplexed and anxious and burdened, at that very time this was my consolation, "Thou knowest the path by which Thou art leading me." Were you even come to this, "Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say ?" I doubt not that the Comforter would enable you to follow Jesus and to say, not "Save me from this hour," but "Father, glorify Thy name! "

Here is a message for your sister : " He is all my salvation." Christ is my obedience to the law, my satisfaction for having broken the law, my payment of the ten thousand talents I owe, my righteousness ! " He is all my salvation "-—my feelings, my thoughts, my prayers, even my faith are no part of my salvation in coming for acceptance as a sinner. My soul is the dry empty pitcher. He is the deep well. Drop in, O my soul!

Yours truly in the Lord,
Andrew A. Bonar.

Sharing with -

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Waiting in silence...

Below are sections from my devotional the last couple days. Does anyone else find that often their reading fits with whatever circumstances they might be dealing with, or thinking about? So often that has been the case for me....I'll sit down to read and be like, "wow, that's just what I needed today!" These sections got me thinking, though I must confess that I am not always silent - those who know me well have heard me complain over second causes, or ask, "why?' The thing is is that I find enormous comfort in realizing the Lord is behind everything that happens in my life, but it made me realize if I truly believe that, then to be complaining about second causes is finding fault with what God is doing. I'm reminded once again of how much of the Christian life is about submission.

"I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
   for it is you who have done it."
Psalm 39:9

David looked through secondary causes to the first cause and was silent. The sight of God in an affliction is irresistibly effective to silence the heart, and to stop the mouth of a gracious man. It is the duty of gracious souls to act so under the greatest afflictions and saddest providences. This is a prudent and holy silence. It sees God and acknowledges Him as the author in all our afflictions. "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away." Job 12:21. If Job had not seen God in his affliction he would have cried out, "oh these wretched Cahaldeans, they have plundered and spoiled me!" Job discerned God's commission in their hands and laid his hand upon his mouth.
Aaron beholding the untimely death of his sons held his peace (Leviticus 10:3).
Joseph saw the hand of God in his brothers selling him into Egypt (Genesis 45:8)......
When afflictions arrest us, we shall murmur, and grumble, and struggle until we see that it is God that strikes. We must see Him as King of kings, and Lord of lords, and stoop under His almighty majestic hand.

"For God alone my soul waits in silence;
   from him comes my salvation."
Psalm 62:1

A gracious prudent silence under the afflicting hand of God includes a holy quietness and calmness of mind and spirit. It shuts out al inward murmurings of the heart. Such a soul is submissive to God. It was a Father that put those bitter cups in your hand. It was love that laid those heavy crosses upon your shoulders, and grace that put the yoke about your neck....This holy silence humbly acquits God of all blame and injustice.

"I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
   and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me."
Psalm 119:75.

God's judgments are always just. He never afflicts, but in faithfulness. His will is the rule of justice, and therefore a gracious soul dare not question His proceedings. The afflicted soul knows that God can do nothing but that which is righteous, and puts his mouth in the dust before him....A holy silence shines in no greater way than to humbly clear God from all that which a corrupt heart is apt to charge Him with in the day of affliction. God can give nothing and do nothing, but that which is good. Others do frequently, but He cannot possibly.
Thomas Brooks.

Sharing with Soli Deo Gloria, and

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baptism video

Continuing to look back on the weekend from my last post...I wanted to share this video of the baptisms of my nephew, Julian and of Matthew Henry.

A look back at the weekend....

Here are some snapshots from my weekend,  a fun, busy, special...and exhausting time:-). Friday afternoon was spent with family and friends, on Saturday we had an all day church picnic, including a Psalm sing, and an address on David Livingstone, then a family dinner at Seth and Tara's with as many of the siblings as we could get together. The Lord's day was another big day, out of town family was able to worship with us, and two little guys who are very special to me were baptized, Julian and Matthew. Then the long drive back to Virginia with Caleb and Adri and a week of vacation to look forward to:-). It was a blessing to spend time with family, and celebrate the baptism of two more covenant children!

Below is a video I made up of the Psalm sing/picnic pictures, and a few stand alone pictures of family. Enjoy, and don't be surprised if I share more pictures throughout the week!

As we were saying goodbyes we gathered everyone we could find for an impromptu family picture.

Four sisters (Adri, Tara, Becky, and me), a nephew, and a niece, all squinting into the sun!

Adri and me being silly? No, that never happens:-)


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Psalm 62

"Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.

How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.

They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.

Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.

Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend plans....

It's the weekend! And not only the weekend, but a weekend I've been looking forward to for a while. We're celebrating the baptism of two little covenant children on the Lord's day, Matthew Henry, and Julian and Becky, Bill, Laura, Caleb, and Adri will be joining us in South Carolina for the occasion! It's always good to see my family:-) If that wasn't enough, we're also having a church picnic/Psalm sing today. Then a family dinner with most of my family at Seth and Tara's.....and after all that I'm going back to Virginia with Caleb and Adri for a week:-). Vacation:-)!

Lord willing later I'll post pictures, but for now I'm praying for the Lord's blessing on all we'll be about over the next few days, the baptism, that time with family will be good, and profitable, and for safe travels for everyone.

I hope everyone has a blessed Lord's day tomorrow.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Magnifying Mercies....

Lately I've been talking a lot about sadness, grief, and struggles; things which I would say most of us are all too familiar with, but I today I wanted to balance that with remembering how many mercies I do enjoy. As a background to this post, for some reason, though I have read so much of Matthew Henry's writings, I had never spent time reading about his life, however when a question came up in conversation about his wife  we did some research and came across this website. I found it encouraging to read through, especially this list of his mercies received. I would think most of us could say that we've received all, or most of what he has listed here. That made me think just over the past few days and all the mercies and helps the Lord has given me in them......remembering that gives strength to trust that He will gave grace for tomorrow too. He is good!

ercies Received

1. That I am endued with a rational, immortal soul, capable of serving God here, and enjoying Him hereafter, and was not made as the beasts that perish.

2. That having powers and faculties, the exercise of them has been no wise obstructed by frenzies, lunacy, but happily continued in their primitive (nay happily advanced to greater) vigor, and activity.

3. That I have all my senses; that I was neither born, nor by accident made, blind, or deaf, or dumb, either in whole, or in part.

4. That I have a complete body in all its parts; that I am not lame or crooked, either through original, or providential want, or a defect, or the dislocation of any part, or member.

5. That I was formed, and curiously fashioned by an All wise hand in the womb, and there kept, nourished, and preserved, by the same gracious hand, till the appointed time.

6. That, at that appointed time, I was brought into the world, the living child of a living mother; and that, though means were wanting, yet He that can work without means, was not.

7. That I have been ever since comfortably provided for with bread to eat, and raiment to put on, not for necessity only, but for ornament, and delight; and that without my pains or cares.

8. That I have had a very great measure of health (the sweetness of all temporal mercies), and that when infectious diseases have been abroad, I have hitherto been preserved from them.

9. That, when I have been visited with sickness, it hath been in measure, and heath hath been restored to me, when a brother dear, and companion as dear, hath been taken away at the same time, and by the same sickness.

10. That I have been kept and protected from many dangers that I have been exposed to by night and by day, at home and abroad, especially in journeys.

11. That I have had comfortable accommodations as to house, lodging, fuel, and have been a stranger to the wants of many thousands in that hand.

12. That I was born to a competency of estate in the world so that, as long as God pleases to continue it, I am likely to be on the giving, and not on the receiving hand.

13. That I have had, and still have comfort, more than ordinary, in relations; that I am blessed with such parents as few have, and sisters also that I have reason to rejoice in.

14. That I have had a liberal education, having a capacity for, and been bred up to, the knowledge of the language, arts, and sciences; and that, through God's blessing on my studies, I have made some progress therein.

15. That I have been born in a place and time of gospel light; that I have had the Scriptures, and means for understanding them, by daily expositions, and many good books; and that I have had a heart to give myself to, and delight in the study of them.

16. That I have been hitherto enabled so to demean myself, as to gain a share in the love, and prayers of God's people.

17. That I was in infancy brought within the pale of the visible Church in my baptism.

18. That I had a religious education, the principles of religion instilled into me with my very milk, and from a child have been taught the knowledge of God.

19. That I have been endued with a good measure of praying gifts, being enabled to express my mind to God in prayer, in words of my own, not only alone, but as the mouth of others.

20. That God hath inclined my heart to devote and dedicate myself to him, and to His service, and the service of His Church in the work of the ministry, if ever He shall please to use me.

21. That I have had so many sweet, and precious opportunities, and means of grace, Sabbaths, sermons, sacraments, and have enjoyed, not only the ordinances, themselves, the shell, but communion with God the Kernel.

22. That I have a good hope, through grace, that, being chosen of God from eternity, I was, in the fullness of time called, and that good work begun in me, which I trust God will perform.

23. That I have had some sight of the majesty of God, the sweetness of Christ, the evil of sin, the worth of my soul, the vanity of the world, and the reality, and weight of invisible things.

24. That when I have been in doubt I have been guided; in danger I have been guarded; in temptation I have been succored [comforted]; under guilt I have been pardoned; when I have prayed, I have been heard and answered; when I have been under afflictions they have been sanctified; and all by Divine grace.

25. That I am not without hope, that all these mercies are but the earnest of more, and pledges of better in the kingdom of glory; and that I shall rest in Abraham's bosom, world without end.

26. Lastly; thanks be to God for Jesus Christ, the fountain and foundation of all my mercies. Amen. Hallelujah. Matthew Henry, October 18, 1682

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Despair and promises...

Today I'm sharing more from my reading in Pilgrim's Progress. I'm  thankful for the reminder of the promises, also for the reminder to be hopeful, and to remember all the Lord has done for me.There is so much to learn from this book!

Key"....Now there was, not far from the place where they lay, a castle, called Doubting Castle, the owner whereof was Giant Despair, and it was in his grounds they now were sleeping: wherefore he, getting up in the morning early, and walking up and down in his fields, caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds. Then with a grim and surly voice, he bid them awake, and asked them whence they were, and what they did in his grounds. They told him they were pilgrims, and that they had lost their way. 

Then said the giant, "You have this night trespassed on me by trampling in and lying on my grounds, and therefore you must go along with me."
So they were forced to go, because he was stronger than they. They also had but little to say, for they knew themselves in a fault. The giant, therefore, drove them before him, and put them into his castle, into a very dark dungeon, nasty and stinking to the spirits of these two men. Here, then, they lay from Wednesday morning till Saturday night, without one bit of bread, or drop of drink, or light, or any to ask how they did; they were, therefore, here in evil case, and were far from friends and acquaintance. Psa. 88:18. Now in this place Christian had double sorrow, because it was through his unadvised counsel that they were brought into this distress.

Now Giant Despair had a wife, and her name was Diffidence: so when he was gone to bed he told his wife what he had done, to wit, that he had taken a couple of prisoners, and cast them into his dungeon for trespassing on his grounds. Then he asked her also what he had best do further to them. So she asked him what they were, whence they came, and whither they were bound, and he told her. Then she counseled him, that when he arose in the morning he should beat them without mercy.....This done, he withdraws and leaves them there to condole their misery, and to mourn under their distress: so all that day they spent the time in nothing but sighs and bitter lamentations. 

The next night, she, talking with her husband further about them, and understanding that they were yet alive, did advise him to counsel them to make away with themselves. So when morning was come, he goes to them in a surly manner, as before, and perceiving them to be very sore with the stripes that he had given them the day before, he told them, that since they were never like to come out of that place, their only way would be forthwith to make an end of themselves...
"for why," said he, "should you choose to live, seeing it is attended with so much bitterness?"
But they desired him to let them go..... Then did the prisoners consult between themselves whether it was best to take his counsel or no; and thus they began to discourse:

"Brother," said Christian, "what shall we do? The life that we now live is miserable. For my part, I know not whether it is best to live thus, or to die out of hand. My soul chooseth strangling rather than life, and the grave is more easy for me than this dungeon. Job. 7:15. Shall we be ruled by the giant?"

Hopeful: "Indeed our present condition is dreadful, and death would be far more welcome to me than thus for ever to abide; but yet, let us consider, the Lord of the country to which we are going hath said, “Thou shalt do no murder, And let us consider again, that all the law is not in the hand of Giant Despair: others, so far as I can understand, have been taken by him as well as we, and yet have escaped out of his hands. Who knows but that God, who made the world, may cause that Giant Despair may die; or that, at some time or other, he may forget to lock us in....But, however, my brother, let us be patient, and endure a while: the time may come that may give us a happy release....." With these words Hopeful at present did moderate the mind of his brother; so they continued together in the dark that day, in their sad and doleful condition.

Well, towards evening the giant goes down into the dungeon again, to see if his prisoners had taken his counsel. But when he came there he found them alive; and truly, alive was all; for now, what for want of bread and water, and by reason of the wounds they received when he beat them, they could do little but breathe. But I say, he found them alive; at which he fell into a grievous rage, and told them, that seeing they had disobeyed his counsel, it should be worse with them than if they had never been born.

At this they trembled greatly, and I think that Christian fell into a swoon; but coming a little to himself again, they renewed their discourse about the giant’s counsel, and whether yet they had best take it or no. Now Christian again seemed for doing it; but Hopeful made his second reply as followeth:

Hopeful: "My brother, said he, rememberest thou not how valiant thou hast been heretofore? Apollyon could not crush thee, nor could all that thou didst hear, or see, or feel, in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. What hardship, terror, and amazement hast thou already gone through; and art thou now nothing but fears! Thou seest that I am in the dungeon with thee, a far weaker man by nature than thou art. Also this giant hath wounded me as well as thee, and hath also cut off the bread and water from my mouth, and with thee I mourn without the light. But let us exercise a little more patience."

Well, on Saturday, about midnight they began to pray, and continued in prayer till almost break of day.

Now, a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out into this passionate speech: "What a fool," quoth he, "am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty! I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle."

Then said Hopeful, "That is good news; good brother, pluck it out of thy bosom, and try."

Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the dungeon-door, whose bolt, as he turned the key, gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out. Then he went to the outward door that leads into the castle-yard, and with his key opened that door also. After he went to the iron gate, for that must be opened too; but that lock went desperately hard, yet the key did open it. They then thrust open the gate to make their escape with speed.....Then they went on, and came to the King’s highway, and so were safe, because they were out of his jurisdiction."
Pilgrim's Progress

Sharing with Women of Noble Character, 
Crazy for Books,
Thankful Thursdays, and Thought Provoking Thursdays.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thou art with me....

This post, from Pilgrim's Progress, is for anyone who feels like they are walking in darkness today....a reminder that we are not alone. Last night I was thinking and remembering something I heard in a sermon on Hannah recently that gave me great comfort. Do you remember how Hannah was one of two wives? That the other wife, Penninah, tormented Hannah because she didn't have children? Abominable behavior, but her cruel words were what sent Hannah crying to her knees, and it was then that the Lord remembered Hannah, had mercy on her, and gave her her desire. This reminded me that God can use the most horrible circumstances to bring Himself glory, and for our good.Also notice at the end of the story below - Christian's night has a morning (joy in the morning).

A walk to remember in the sunset ".....Now at the end of this valley was another, called the Valley of the Shadow of Death; and Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it. Now, this valley is a very solitary place. The prophet Jeremiah thus describes it: “A wilderness, a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought, and of the Shadow of Death, a land that no man” (but a Christian) “passeth through, and where no man dwelt.” Jer. 2:6.

Now here Christian was worse put to it than in his fight with Apollyon, as by the sequel you shall see. Christian went on his way, but with his sword drawn in his hand, for fear lest he should be assaulted. I saw then in my dream, so far as this valley reached, there was on the right hand a very deep ditch; that ditch is it into which the blind have led the blind in all ages, and have both there miserably perished. Again, behold, on the left hand there was a very dangerous quag, into which, if even a good man falls, he finds no bottom for his foot to stand on: into that quag king David once did fall, and had no doubt therein been smothered, had not He that is able plucked him out. Psa. 69:14.

The pathway was here also exceeding narrow, and therefore good Christian was the more put to it; for when he sought, in the dark, to shun the ditch on the one hand, he was ready to tip over into the mire on the other; also, when he sought to escape the mire, without great carefulness he would be ready to fall into the ditch. Thus he went on, and I heard him here sigh bitterly; for besides the danger mentioned above, the pathway was here so dark, that ofttimes when he lifted up his foot to go forward, he knew not where, or upon what he should set it next.

About the midst of this valley I perceived the mouth of hell to be, and it stood also hard by the wayside. Now, thought Christian, what shall I do? And ever and anon the flame and smoke would come out in such abundance, with sparks and hideous noises, (things that cared not for Christian’s sword, as did Apollyon before,) that he was forced to put up his sword, and betake himself to another weapon, called All-prayer, Eph. 6:18; so he cried, in my hearing, "O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul." Psa. 116:4. Thus he went on a great while, yet still the flames would be reaching towards him; also he heard doleful voices, and rushings to and fro, so that sometimes he thought he should be torn in pieces, or trodden down like mire in the streets. This frightful sight was seen, and these dreadful noises were heard by him for several miles together; and coming to a place where he thought he heard a company of fiends coming forward to meet him, he stopped, and began to muse what he had best to do. Sometimes he had half a thought to go back; then again he thought he might be half-way through the valley. He remembered also, how he had already vanquished many a danger; and that the danger of going back might be much more than for to go forward. So he resolved to go on; yet the fiends seemed to come nearer and nearer. But when they were come even almost at him, he cried out with a most vehement voice,"I will walk in the strength of the Lord God." So they gave back, and came no farther.

When Christian had traveled in this disconsolate condition some considerable time, he thought he heard the voice of a man, as going before him, saying, "Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." Psa. 23:4.

Then was he glad, and that for these reasons:

First, Because he gathered from those words, that some who feared God were in this valley as well as himself.
Secondly, For that he perceived God was with them, though in that dark and dismal state. And why not, thought he, with me? though by reason of the impediment that attends this place, I cannot perceive it. Job 9:11.
Thirdly, For that he hoped (could he overtake them) to have company by and by.

So he went on, and called to him that was before; but he knew not what to answer, for that he also thought himself to be alone. And by and by the day broke: then said Christian, “He hath turned the shadow of death into the morning.” Amos 5:8.

Now morning being come, he looked back, not out of desire to return, but to see, by the light of the day, what hazards he had gone through in the dark. So he saw more perfectly the ditch that was on the one hand, and the quag that was on the other; also how narrow the way was which led betwixt them both. Also now he saw the hobgoblins, and satyrs, and dragons of the pit, but all afar off; for after break of day they came not nigh; yet they were discovered to him, according to that which is written, “He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.” Job 12:22.

Now was Christian much affected with this deliverance from all the dangers of his solitary way; which dangers, though he feared them much before, yet he saw them more clearly now, because the light of the day made them conspicuous to him. And about this time the sun was rising, and this was another mercy to Christian.....Then said he, “His Candle shineth on my head, and by his light I go through darkness.” Job 
Pilgrim's Progress

Sharing with -
Women Living Well,
Seeds of Faith Women, 
A Holy Experience,
Lace,   Words Matter,
and Serenity Now


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Intense Debate Comments

"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:6,8-1