Hold My Heart

“How long must I pray to You?

How long must I wait for You?

How long ’til I see Your face, see You shining through?

I’m on my knees begging You to notice me.

I’m on my knees; Father, will You turn to me?”

The lyrics are from “Hold my Heart” by Tenth Avenue North. To me, it’s like a modern Psalm, words spoken from the depth of a heart not afraid to ask the difficult questions.

I used to think it was somewhat sacrilegious to ask those difficult questions, to ask God “Why?” But anyone who reads books of the Bible such as Psalms and Job will see that men of God were not afraid to ask those searching questions.

The Book of Jeremiah quotes God saying, “You shall seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart” (v. 29:13). It was a verse I knew from the time I was a child, so I never gave it much thought. But searching, with all your heart? Doesn’t sound like a walk on the beach. Sounds more like weeping from the depths of your heart in a gloomy garden at night. We might not receive the answers right away; we might not always get the answers we like. But part of the solution is found in the searching, and if we fail to ask, we will doubtless never find the answer.

If you have questions on your heart, don’t be afraid to ask them. But turn them toward the One Who holds the answers, and you, in His loving hands.

He is the one who holds your heart, and He will keep it safe.

No Life is Lost

Grains of WheatBack in 1921, a missionary couple named David and Svea Flood went with their two-year-old son from Sweden to the heart of Africa-to what was then called the Belgian Congo. They met up with another young Scandinavian couple, the Ericksons, and the four of them sought God for direction. In those days of much tenderness and devotion and sacrifice, they felt led of the Lord to set out from the main mission station and take the gospel to a remote area.

This was a huge step of faith. At the village of N’dolera they were rebuffed by the chief, who would not let them enter his town for fear of alienating the local gods. The two couples opted to go half a mile up the slope and build their own mud huts’.

They prayed for a spiritual breakthrough, but there was none. The only contact with the villagers was a young boy, who was allowed to sell them chickens and eggs twice a week. Svea Flood-a tiny woman only four feet, eight inches tall-decided that if this was the only African she could talk to, she would try to lead the boy to Jesus. And in fact, she succeeded. But there were no other encouragements. Meanwhile, malaria continued to strike one member of the little band after another.

In time the Ericksons decided they had had enough suffering and left to return to the central mission station. David and Svea Flood remained near N’dolera to go on alone. Then, of all things, Svea found herself pregnant in the middle of the primitive wilderness. When the time came for her to give birth, the village chief softened enough to allow a midwife to help her. A little girl was born, whom they named Aina. The delivery, however, was exhausting, and Svea Flood was already weak from bouts of malaria. The birth process was a heavy blow to her stamina. She lasted only another seventeen days.

Inside David Flood, something snapped in that moment. He dug a crude grave, buried his twenty-seven-year-old wife, and then took his children back down the mountain to the mission station. Giving his newborn daughter to the Ericksons, he snarled, “I’m going back to Sweden. I’ve lost my wife, and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.” With that, he headed for the port, rejecting not only his calling, but God himself. Within eight months both the Ericksons were stricken with a mysterious malady and died within days of each other. The baby was then turned over to some American missionaries, who adjusted her Swedish name to “Aggie” and eventually brought her back to the United States at age three.

This family loved the little girl and were afraid that if they tried to return to Africa, some legal obstacle might separate her from them. So they decided to stay in their home country and switch from missionary work to pastoral ministry. And that is how Aggie grew up in South Dakota. As a young woman, she attended North Central Bible College in Minneapolis. There she met and married a young man named Dewey Hurst.

Years passed. The Hursts enjoyed a fruitful Ministry. Aggie gave birth first to a daughter, then a son. In time her husband became president of a Christian college in the Seattle area, and Aggie was intrigued to find so much Scandinavian heritage there. One day a Swedish religious magazine appeared in her mailbox. She had no idea who had sent it, and of course she couldn’t read the words. But as she turned the pages, all of a sudden a photo stopped her cold. There in a primitive setting was a grave with a white cross-and on the cross were the words SVEA FLOOD. Aggie jumped in her car and went straight for a college faculty member who, she knew, could translate the article. “What does this say?” she demanded.

The instructor summarized the story: It was about missionaries who had come to N’dolera long ago … the birth of a white baby … the death of the young mother … the one little African boy who had been led to Christ … and how, after the whites had all left, the boy had grown up and finally persuaded the chief to let him build a school in the village. The article said that gradually he won all his students to Christ… the children led their parents to Christ… even the chief had become a Christian. Today there were six hundred Christian believers in that one village…. All because of the sacrifice of David and Svea Flood. For the Hursts’ twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, the college presented them with the gift of a vacation to Sweden.

There Aggie sought to find her real father. An old man now, David Flood had remarried, fathered four more children, and generally dissipated his life with alcohol. He had recently suffered a stroke. Still bitter, he had one rule in his family: “Never mention the name of God- because God took everything from me.”

After an emotional reunion with her half brothers and half sister, Aggie brought up the subject of seeing her father. The others hesitated. “You can talk to him,” they replied, “even though he’s very ill now. But you need to know that whenever he hears the name of God, he flies into a rage. Aggie was not to be deterred. She walked into the squalid apartment, with liquor bottles everywhere, and approached the seventy-three-year-old man lying in a rumpled bed. “Papa~” she said tentatively.

He turned and began to cry. “Aina,” he said. “I never meant to give you away.”

“It’s all right, Papa,” she replied, taking him gently in her arms. “God took care of me.”

The man instantly stiffened. The tears stopped. “God forgot all of us. Our lives have been like this because of Him.” He turned his face back to the wall.

Aggie stroked his face and then continued, undaunted. “Papa, I’ve got a little story to tell you, and it’s a true one. You didn’t go to Africa in vain. Mama didn’t die in vain. The little boy you won to the Lord grew up to win that whole village to Jesus Christ. The one seed you planted just kept growing and growing. Today there are six hundred African people serving the Lord because you were faithful to the call of God in your life. … Papa, Jesus loves you. He has never hated you.”

The old man turned back to look into his daughter’s eyes. His body relaxed. He began to talk. And by the end of the afternoon, he had come back to the God he had resented for so many decades. Over the next few days, father and daughter enjoyed warm moments together. Aggie and her husband soon had to return to America-and within a few weeks, David Flood had gone into eternity.

A few years later, the Hursts were attending a high-level evangelism conference in London, England, when a report was given from the nation of Zaire (the former Belgian Congo). The superintendent of the national church, representing some 110,000 baptized believers, spoke eloquently of the gospel’s spread in his nation. Aggie could not help going to ask him afterward if he had ever heard of David and Svea Flood. “Yes, madam,” the man replied in French, his words then being translated into English. “It was Svea Flood who led me to Jesus Christ. I was the boy who brought food to your parents before you were born. In fact, to this day your mother’s grave and her memory are honored by all of us.” He embraced her in a long, sobbing hug. Then he continued, “You must come to Africa to see, because your mother is the most famous person in our history.”

In time that is exactly what Aggie Hurst and her husband did. They were welcomed by cheering throngs of villagers. She even met the man who had been hired by her father many years before to carry her back down the mountain in a hammock-cradle. The most dramatic moment, of course, was when the pastor escorted Aggie to see her mother’s white cross for herself. She knelt in the soil to pray and give thanks. Later that day, in the church, the pastor read from John 12:24: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” He then followed with Psalm 126:5: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”

[Reprinted from: http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/14168.htm%5D

Validation – A Calling

I love this video, because the main character has found his purpose — “validating” others. When his heart is broken through rejection, he tries to let go of that calling, forget about it and leave it behind. But he can’t. And through it, his deepest hope and dream is realized.

It’s the same with us. If you have a calling, a purpose, you will feel it deep inside, and following it is what will bring you truest joy and meaning in your life … and to others as well!

And for the record:You are Amazing!”

I Am Yours

The quest for individuality continues. Its vague evanescence beckons, “Follow me.” So we follow, adopting whatever lifestyle or actions it tells us will help demonstrate our individuality.

We wear clothing that we think will somehow express who we are. We look for things that will make us feel complete: friendships or relationships, drinking or eating, gaming or partying – ever in search of that something that will make the heart whole.

Still, the question beckons from deep inside: Who am I?

The answer we give is determined by many factors; sadly, it is rarely determined correctly.

We can search on the internet, “Who am I?” and find a slew of self-discovery questions. Answer them, press submit, and discover who and what you are meant to be. Perhaps at times these are helpful, but more often than not we would probably like to respond with, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

And the quest continues. Who am I?

We can seek the answer from others. Some of them might be honest and tell you what they see. Some might be hurtful, or seek their own gain from the relationship. Some might be just trying to discover who they are themselves. Some might not care at all, and leave you feeling that you really don’t matter to anyone. We mirror the reflection that they send back, leaving us more confused than before.

Who am I?

How can I find myself, discover who I am meant to be? Is there a “meant to be”? A destiny? Or is it all just going to fade away into nothingness sooner or later?

Not long ago, I went through a time that my heart felt both full and empty, and I felt broken, fallen and confused. The future was a bleak and colorless blur. And I felt the purpose that drove me from the time I was a child was nothing more than a hazy question with no answer.

I heard a song that began with the question, “Who am I?”

A fading flower, a wispy wave, a momentary mist…and yet it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about who I am, or what I’ve done. “But because of what You’ve done…” “Because of Who You are…”

The realization, both humbling and beautiful, reached deep into my heart and picked up the fallen pieces.

“You’ve told me who I am.”

I finally saw who that was, and knew that nothing else really mattered.

“I am Yours.”

When we belong to Him, the quest ends and we find ourselves – loved, cherished, and chosen for a purpose.

Our Deepest Fear

Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. …
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.” – Marianne Williamson

Like a Bird in a Cage

Bird in a Cage“Who am I?”

It is a question we can never fully answer, for we see life — and ourselves — through a tinted window of sorts. But one day, one day we will see and know as we are known.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the following poem. He was a man who was willing to sacrifice his life and future for what he believed in. [Read more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Wikipedia]. He was a German who opposed the genocide of the Jews during WWII. Because he was not afraid to speak out against the evils of his time, he was arrested, sent to prison, and hanged less than a month before Germany surrendered.

In his poem, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrestles to understand who he is — that which people saw of him, amazed at his cheerfulness, calmness and strength in the face of his hopeless plight in prison. Or was he what he knew of himself — “restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage”?

Are we what others see of us? What we know of ourselves? Is this all we are? Or are we more? More, perhaps, than we can even imagine?

 

“Who Am I?”

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
like a Squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
freely and friendly and clearly,
as though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
equally, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
struggling for breath, as though hands were
compressing my throat,
yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person to-day and to-morrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Songs and quotes to inspire

Tolle Lege

Take up and read!

Praying for the millennials

A Guide to Praying for the Next Generation

Jewel Rose Reviews

Mother & daughter reading team

Author Zoo

A place writers can go to find everything from a to z about the writing life

The Road

Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice