I am sooooooo tired. Last night I tried a pill that was supposed to help me relax but not necessarily put me to sleep, and then I did a relaxation muscle exercise in hopes of helping me feel ready for bed. But no, I was still up around 2 am when they finally gave me a real sleeping pill, and then even that didn't work. Zero sleep. I got out of bed for breakfast and then came back to bed and had a "nap" from 9-10am. Yuck.
I thought I'd share with you some spiritual themes that have been emerging in strange ways this last little while.
I always skim over this passage because I've read it a million times and "already know what it says". But it was brought to the forefront of my mind weeks back at the Equip seminar at my church. As a group we practiced the SOAP (Scripture, Observe, Apply, Pray) method of reading this passage. and verses 7-12 jumped out at me saying:
"Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight?.... Then i said to myself 'oh, He sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!' It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; night and day darkness and light, they're all the same to you"
After that day, I've been wanting to read this passage with Branches (the youth group I help lead) and see what they found in those words.
And yesterday, a dear friend prayed this passage over me with lyrics from a song that was adapted from Psalm 139. It's just been a continuing passage on my mind....
The Almond Branch:
In one of my readings by Thomas Merton he refers to the almond trees several times, and that sparked curiosity in me. What do they represent? Merton was specifically referring to Jeremiah 1:11. Turns out that the word almond is pretty much the same word as "watch" in hebrew. The almond tree is known for blooming and bearing fruit before all the other trees, and maybe it represents God's faithfulness? It could also represent God's "judgement" and I say with hesitancy, because it sounds harsh but this is what Ted Enns Dyck says "It may be about judgement and this always seems negative to us, but often is God's process of purifying and bringing his people back into relationship. It also might mean that it is a sign to Jeremiah that God is going to move soon."
So I think God is speaking this over me, that God is present and alive no matter what I'm going through and that he is faithfully WATCHING over me, like an almond tree.
Now this is weird to me, because I NEVER think of Mary (mother of Jesus) or anything to do with Mary really. But I'm in the Seeds Christmas play about a Christmas play (confusing right?) and my character ends up becoming Mary, and some of my lines are straight from the Bible when the angel speaks to Mary about bearing the Son of God. I was connecting to Mary and trying to "get into the role" and it touched my heart in a way I didn't expect. And then 5 minutes later my friend Jenny sends me a message using Mary as an example of how God can do anything (the same God who placed the Saviour in a virgins womb is walking with me in depression and bipolar).....
"Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:9
"But now, God’s Message,
the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you." Isaiah 43:1-4
And then I'll just write parts of Isaiah 41 that have calmed my soul...
"Quiet down, far-flung ocean islands. Listen!
Sit down and rest, everyone. Recover your strength.
Gather around me. Say what’s on your heart....
I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.....
That’s right. Because I, your God,
have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.’
“Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob?
Don’t be afraid.
Feel like a fragile insect, Israel?
I’ll help you,
I, God, want to reassure you.
The God who buys you back, The Holy of Israel.
I’m transforming you from worm to harrow,
from insect to iron.
As a sharp-toothed harrow you’ll smooth out the mountains,
turn those tough old hills into loamy soil.
You’ll open the rough ground to the weather,
to the blasts of sun and wind and rain.
But you’ll be confident and exuberant,
expansive in The Holy of Israel!