“It’s gone” - words texted by my mother a couple of weeks ago. She was referencing a barn that has been on my parents (and my grandparents before them) property for about a hundred years. My heart sank. I had known it was coming, part of it was dismantled a few months ago. I’d known insurance determined it a liability almost a year ago. I knew even before that others had also said it probably wasn’t salvageable. Deep down I always hoped maybe the right person would come along and restore, rebuild, or preserve it. Staring at the rubble a few days ago, reality had proven otherwise. I know it may sound silly. It’s just a barn. The loss is so minimal in comparison to so many other things, but my heart still hurt.
I intentionally set out determined, and maybe even a little dramatically (yes I brought yellow flowers), to invite the Lord into this place of visual destruction that represented places in my heart. The first image above was taken a little over a year ago. A friend met me in Montgomery (close to where my parents live) and gave me this beautiful bouquet of yellow roses for my 41st Birthday. Isaiah 61 had been a passage on my heart at the time. The outpouring of the Spirit. Beauty for ashes. Joy for mourning. Restoration of devastation. The yellow roses (read Hinds Feet for High Places), the deteriorating barn (soon to be ruins), and the beauty the Spirit continued to bring into my life during that time inspired the photo and has since marked my heart.
Isaiah 61 is such a beautiful passage. It also brings to mind my mother. I see the way the Spirit of the Lord in her exhibits a living example of what the Spirt of the Lord came to do in the hearts of all believers. The Spirit speaks life to our hearts. He then gives us those words to encourage others. As I sat a few days ago reflecting in the rubble on Isaiah 61, the yellow rose photo that now hangs in my mother's house, the Spirit of the Lord….”the heart” came to mind. The heart is what He is after. The heart is what He came to heal and set free. The heart is what He longs for a daily relationship with. The heart is what I’ve heard Him ask for…”bring me your heart. Bring me all of it. Bring it to me daily”.
It doesn’t matter what it is or how silly it may seem in comparison to whatever the rest of the world is going through. The Lord cares about YOUR heart and YOUR reality. He wants YOUR heart healed in the places it’s broken. Sin has broken us all. Unless you bring whatever it is to Him, it can’t be covered by His blood, healed by Him, or used by Him. There are so many times we can’t control what causes joy and pain. And then there are probably just as many other instances where our actions of obedience or rebellion lead to the places we find ourselves in. He wants you to invite Him into all of it. Ask Him when the disappointment surfaces. Literally say the words…”Lord, Jesus, Father, Daddy (whatever you would personally use here)...just ask Him, “Will you come with me here?” “Will your heal my heart here?”
I took this next image to remember the moments. To remind myself of what I’d heard from the Lord. To know He will comfort, He will provide, He will rebuild, He will restore. It may not always look like what we want it to look like, but that doesn’t change His faithfulness. His words do not return void (Isaiah 55:11). I knew I’d invited Him in. I had named my disappointment and heart ache (more than a barn). I honestly wasn’t sure what He was going to do with that and honestly in that very moment, the countenance of my heart didn’t change a whole lot. I was still standing in ruins. I walked around, took a few more photos, thought “ok, I’ve paid my respects to what my heart feels, I’ve brought it to you Lord, now what??”
As I was headed back to my parents' house, the open gate caught my attention. The verse that came to mind first was Matt 7:13 and 14. What followed was “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” I then was reminded of words I’d heard in a sermon. The sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Here on earth is where we get to offer a “sacrifice” of praise. To speak the name of Jesus in all circumstances. There won’t be death, sorrow, or crying in Heaven (Rev 21:4). Here on earth is the only place we get the chance to praise Him and walk with Him in our disappointments. I thanked the Lord for His beauty, the sunset, the gate and everything it brought to mind. I later looked up the verse. "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Psalms 100:4. The end of the passage - “The Lord is good, His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. (Hesed).” I love that He drew my attention to the gate after sitting with me in the ruins.
The next morning, want to know what my daily devotional reading was from? Isaiah 61:1 and an encouragement to bring the Father our broken hearts. (Restoration Year: John Eldredge) I listened to a sermon on the way home that day as well. Want to know what he quoted from? Isaiah 61. And then in a podcast by Emily P Freeman, she says these words: “Be gentle with yourself. When it comes to life with God, there’s no wrong way to be together…After taking an honest moment of reflection, after naming my disappointment, no matter how silly it kinda seemed, I was actually able to sort of laugh at myself. That’s what a life of reflection can do. Rather than avoiding the emotion I let it rise, and in the rising there was release, and in the release there was freedom…”
How incredible is our Lord? He sees us. He knocks on the door of our hearts. He gives us a safe place in His presence to let our disappointments rise. Honestly walk with Him through the destruction of your heart. Don’t ignore what causes it pain. Ask Him to heal those places, give those places to Him, name them, walk into them, surrender…do not give the enemy a foothold by hiding any part of your heart. Trust Him. He will walk with you through the ruins. He will restore the places of devastation and then gently lead you to His gate towards green pasture. He’s the only one that can truly open the right gate (John 10:7). The gate to freedom where hope and praise overflow. Where goodness and love will follow all the days of our life (Psalm 23). Where we can find rest for our souls (Matt 11:29). Where we are held in His hesed love.
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.