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Addressing the Elephant in the Room…

When his brothers got ready to leave Egypt, Joseph called the manager of his palace once again, and ordered, “Fill the men’s packs with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money just inside his pack.  Then, put my silver goblet just inside the youngest one’s pack, along with his grain money.”  The manager of the palace did as he was commanded.

The brothers left with their donkeys at daybreak, but before they were far from the city, Joseph gave this order to his palace manager, “Chase after those men and when you catch them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!'”

So, the palace manager took off and chased them, and when he caught up with the brothers, he exclaimed, “Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!”

Joseph’s brothers were shocked at the man’s accusation, and replied, “Why do you speak this way, my lord?  We would never do such a thing, may heaven forbid it!  Don’t you remember?  When we found the money inside our packs, we brought it back to you from the land of Canaan!  So how could you think that we would steal silver or gold from your lord’s palace?”  Confident that they were guilty of no crime, they finished with, “If you find the goblet on any one of us, put him to death — and the rest of us will serve as your slaves!”

“No,” the palace manager replied.  “The one who has my lord’s silver goblet will be my slave, but the rest of you will be blameless.”  Then, each one of the brothers hurriedly placed his pack on the ground and opened them.  The manager searched each bag, starting with the eldest brother, and ending with the youngest, and he found the governor’s silver goblet where he had planted it, in Benjamin’s pack.

When the brothers saw this, they moaned and ripped their clothes in grief.  Each of them remembered their father’s fearful countenance, when he had finally allowed Benjamin to travel to Egypt with them.  Losing Benjamin, on top of his continued grief for Joseph, would kill him, and then, his death would be on their shoulders, too.  Each of them, except for Benjamin, who didn’t know of their sin against Joseph, realized their sins had finally caught up with them.  They believed that God’s retribution was finally upon them.  Therefore, each one quickly reloaded his donkey and returned to the city to face the governor.

Joseph was still in his palace, when Judah and his brothers arrived, and all of them fell down before him on the ground, trembling with fear.  Joseph was startled to see that all of them had returned, and he said, “How could you do this to me?  Don’t you know that I’m able to see into the future?”

Judah fearfully replied, “O my lord, what can we say?  There’s no way for us to prove our innocence.  God is repaying us for our sins, so here we are.  We have all returned to be your slaves, not just the one with whom my lord’s silver cup was found!”

Again, his brothers surprised him, and Joseph replied, “Heaven forbid!  I would never do such a thing.  Only the man who stole my goblet will be my slave, and the rest of you may go in peace to your father.”

Judah’s heart broke as he remembered both his father’s fear of losing Benjamin just as he’d lost Joseph, and the promise that he had made to protect Benjamin from harm.  So, he arose and beseeched Joseph, “Please, my lord!  May I speak freely with you, without arousing your anger?  For you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.” 

At Joseph’s nod, Judah proceeded, “Do you remember when you asked us, ‘Do you have a father?  Or a brother?’  We truthfully answered your questions, my lord, telling you about our father, who is an old man, and about our youngest brother, who is a child of his old age.  We told you that this youngest brother also had a full brother, who is dead, and that he alone is all that remains of his mother’s children, and our father loves him greatly.

“Then, when you ordered us to bring our brother down to you, so that you could see him, we told you, ‘The boy can’t leave his father, for if he were to leave him, our father would surely die.’  When we told you this, my lord, you said that we would not see your face again, unless we brought our brother back with us, so we went back home to your servant, my father, and told him what you had said, and when our father told us to return to Egypt to buy some grain, we told him that we couldn’t.

“We said, ‘We can’t go down to Egypt again, unless our youngest brother is with us, because the governor won’t let us see his face without him.'”

Wiping tears from his eyes, Judah drew a deep breath, and continued, “Then your servant, my father, said, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons.  The one left and never returned, for he was surely torn to pieces by some wild animal.  Now, if you take this son away from me too, and something happens to him, you will send this white-haired old man down to his grave with grief.’

“So, how can I go to your servant, my father, without his youngest son?  For his heart is bound up with the boy’s heart, and when he sees the boy isn’t with us, it will kill him.  If his heart is broken yet again, the grief will send our white-haired father to his grave, and it will be my fault.  For I, your servant, guaranteed my brother’s safety.  I told my father, ‘If I fail to bring him to you, then I will bear the blame forever.’

“Therefore, my lord, I beg you to let me stay as your slave instead of the boy, and let him return home to my father with our brothers.”  Judah sobbed, remembering Jacob’s pain when he lost Joseph, because of his and his brothers’ sin.  Now, more than twenty years later, his father still grieved for Joseph, and losing Benjamin would no doubt kill him.  “Please, my lord,” Judah pleaded, “allow me to stay as your slave, and let Benjamin return to our father, for I couldn’t bear to see his anguish, if I return without him.”

When he saw their compassion and discerned their repentance, Joseph could contain himself no longer.  He ordered his servants and attendants to leave the room immediately.  Then, when no one but his brothers remained, Joseph wept loudly, and revealed himself to them.  More than twenty years of torment were loosed with Joseph’s tears.  Indeed, he wailed so loudly, his entire household and even Pharaoh’s household heard his keening.

“I am Joseph!” he gasped in the midst of his wailing.  “Is it true that my father, Jacob, still lives?”  His brothers were so dumbfounded at the governor’s actions, that they couldn’t speak at first.  So, Joseph beckoned his brothers, “Please!  Come closer.”

elephant in the room 3

They approached him hesitantly, as fear and hope warred within each of them.  “I’m Joseph, your brother, whom you sold as a slave to Egypt,” he told them.  Their eyes widened in alarm, as the truth of their sin was finally exposed, and the elephant in the room was addressed for the first time in more than twenty years.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said, as the tears continued to flow down his cheeks.  He looked into the eyes of each of his brothers, who had betrayed him, starting with Reuben, the oldest, all the way down to Zebulun.  As he looked into each of their eyes, they at first tried to avert his gaze, but then they each looked back at him, and tears soon flowed from their eyes too.

Meanwhile, Benjamin stared at Joseph, completely enthralled by his brother, and filled with joy.  He couldn’t wait to share the good news with his father that Joseph, who had been lost to them for more than twenty years was found.  He couldn’t wait to see his father’s joy when he discovered that his son, whom he thought was dead, still lived!

Joseph grinned at him, then turned back to his other brothers.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said again, as he fully addressed the elephant in the room.  “For it was really God who sent me ahead of you to preserve your lives.  Indeed, the famine that has been over the land for the last two years will continue for yet another five years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

“Don’t you see?”  Joseph asked.  “God sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance.  So, it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.”

Joseph drew closer to them and said, “Brothers, hurry up and go to my father.  Tell him that Joseph says, ‘Elohim has made me lord of all Egypt!  Come down to me and don’t delay!  You will live in the land of Goshen and be near me with your children, your grandchildren, flocks, herds and everything you own.  I will provide for you there, so you won’t be impoverished because five more years of famine are yet to come.’

Artistic close up of an African elephant in black and white

“Brothers, you can see with your own eyes see that it truly is me, Joseph, speaking to you.  Benjamin, you see with your own eyes that I am truly Joseph, your long-lost brother!  Now go,”  Joseph said, as yet more tears began to flow from his eyes.  “Tell my father how honored I am in Egypt and everything you have seen, and hurry up and bring him down here to me!”  Finally, Joseph gathered Benjamin into his arms, and wept as he embraced him.  Benjamin, too, wept into Joseph’s neck.  Joseph then kissed all of his brothers, washing them with his tears.  Then, Joseph’s brothers finally began to speak to him, and each one finally gazed at the elephant in the room, the horrible sin they had tried to bury, and addressed it…

If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.  (1 John 1:9 Complete Jewish Bible)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

Feast in the Midst of Famine

As the famine ravaged the land, and their supply of grain dwindled down, Jacob feared that his family would starve.  Therefore, he gathered his sons together and said, “Go back to Egypt and buy us a little more food.”

“Abba,” Judah replied sadly, as he gently gazed at the old man, who seemed to grow more and more frail, with each passing day, “The man was serious when he warned us, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’  If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy more food.  But if you don’t let Benjamin go, we won’t go either.  Remember, the man said, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.'”

5-they-get-home-and-tell-jacob

Jacob’s heart constricted, and he regarded each of his sons, before he finally settled his gaze on Benjamin, his youngest.  The heavy weight of pain that he had carried for years, seemed to grow heavier, as he contemplated losing yet another son, and tears flowed freely from his eyes.  “Why were you so cruel to me?” Jacob moaned.  “Why did you tell him you had another brother?”

“Abba,”  they gently replied.  “The man kept asking us questions about our family.  He asked, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’  So we answered his questions.  How could we know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here?'”  It grieved all of them to see what the anguish their sin had brought to their father.  If only they could go back and change it all, but that wasn’t possible.

How long, O Lord, must others suffer for our sins?” Judah silently prayed, as he gently laid his hand on Jacob’s shoulder.  Guilt and shame washed over him, for his part in bringing his father to this piteous state.  The results of his and his brothers’ evil acts were far worse than they could ever have imagined.  His abba was wasting away, not because of the famine, but because of their evil act of jealousy.  No longer the vibrant man he had once been, their Abba was now a shell of his old self.  He had grieved for Joseph for more than twenty years, after Judah and his brothers had given him a death sentence, and now, they were asking Jacob to trust them with Benjamin.  Who could blame him for his fear?

Judah spoke tenderly to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will be on our way.  Otherwise, we will all die of starvation—and not only we, but you and our little ones.  I personally guarantee his safety.  You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you.  If that happens, let me bear the blame forever.  Abba,” he earnestly said, “if we hadn’t wasted all this time, we could have gone and returned twice by now.”

Jacob sighed and prayed,  “Which is worse, Adonai?  Losing Benjamin to his brothers’ wicked schemes?  Or watching him, and my other sons and grandchildren die a slow painful death before my very eyes, due to starvation, because I’m afraid to trust You?”  Jacob blew out a deep, shuddering sigh, as he answered Judah,  “Alright.  If it can’t be avoided, then at least do this.  Pack your bags with the best products of this land.  Take them down to the man as gifts—balm, honey, gum, aromatic resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds.  Also take double the money that was put back in your sacks, as it was probably someone’s mistake.  Then take your brother, and go back to the man.  May El Shaddai give you mercy as you go before the man, so that he will release Simeon and let Benjamin return.  But if I must lose my children, so be it,” Jacob said, as he drew in a quivering breath, and clutched his right fist over his heart, which pounded rapidly.

The brothers immediately packed their belongings, with Jacob’s gifts and double the money, as soon as he announced his decision, and headed to Egypt with Benjamin.  They watched over Benjamin protectively, as they made their way to Egypt, lest any harm fall upon him.  As soon as they arrived, the brothers sought out the governor, and presented themselves to him.

When he saw Benjamin with them, Joseph’s heart soared within his chest, and he informed the manager of his household, “These men will eat with me this noon.  Take them inside the palace.  Then go slaughter an animal, and prepare a big feast.”  So his manager did as he commanded him, and led the brothers to Joseph’s palace.

When they saw that they were being taken into Joseph’s palace, his brothers were terrified.  “It’s because of the money someone put in our sacks the last time we were here,” they said.  “He’s going to pretend we stole it, then seize us, make us slaves and take our donkeys.”

Fearfully, they approached the manager of Joseph’s household, and said, “Sir, we came to Egypt once before to buy food.  But as we were returning home, we stopped for the night and opened our sacks.  Then we discovered that each man’s money—the exact amount paid—was in the top of his sack!  Here it is; we have brought it back with us.  We also have additional money to buy  more food.  We have no idea who put our money in our sacks.”

The household manager smiled at the brothers.  “Relax.  Don’t be afraid.  Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure into your sacks.  I know I received your payment.”  Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them.

All of the brothers rejoiced when they saw Simeon, and took turns hugging him and patting one another on their backs.  The manager then led them into Joseph’s palace and gave them water to wash their feet.  He also provided food for their donkeys.  Informed that they would be eating here, they prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon.

An overwhelming array of emotions filled Joseph when he came home that day, and his brothers bowed low to the ground before him, presenting him with gifts from their (his) homeland.  He felt great elation as he looked at his brother, Benjamin, who knew nothing of their brothers’ treachery, and great nostalgia for his father and his homeland when his brothers presented their father’s gifts to him.  He also felt some doubt and misgiving at his brothers’ seemingly changed hearts.  Had their hearts truly changed?  Or was their professed shame for betraying him, merely a ruse?  After receiving their gifts, he asked the brothers, “How is your father, the old man you spoke about?  Is he still alive?”  With bated breath, he awaited their answer, and anxiously prayed for his father’s health.

“Yes,” they replied.  “Our father, your servant, is alive and well,” and they bowed low again.

After he expelled a breath of relief, Joseph again looked at his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother.  Feigning ignorance, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?”  When his brothers acknowledged that this was indeed their youngest brother, Joseph was overcome with emotion.  “May God be gracious to you, my son,” he gasped, before he rushed from the room and raced to his private room.

Tears began to run down his face, as soon as he exited the dining room, and raced to his room.  Joseph quickly slammed the door behind him, threw himself on his cushions and wept with great misery.  How he longed to hold Benjamin in his arms and shower his love on him…  He yearned to see and hold his father again…  And, despite their betrayal of him, his heart ached to love and forgive his other brothers, but could he trust them again?  Finally, after shedding many tears, Joseph regained control over his emotions, washed his face, and returned to the dining room where his brothers and  his cohorts were gathered.  Then he ordered the meal to be served.

Joseph told each of his brothers where to sit, and amazed them by seating them according to their age, from the oldest to the youngest.  The waiters served Joseph and his Egyptian cohorts at his own table, and his brothers were served at a separate table, because Egyptians despised Hebrews and refused to eat with them.  Then Joseph filled his brothers’ plates with food from his own table, giving Benjamin five times as much as he gave his other brothers, and they feasted and drank freely with him.

Adonai had indeed blessed these errant sons of Jacob, by allowing them to feast in the midst of famine.  For the first time in the more than twenty years since their great sin against Adonai and their brother, Joseph, the brothers felt hope arise within them.  Could it be that He had seen that their hearts were broken and contrite?  Had they prayed to Him as their descendant, David, would do one day?

Psalm 51
New Living Translation

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of Your unfailing love.
Because of Your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against You, and You alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in Your sight.
You will be proved right in what You say,
    and Your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But You desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    You have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from Your presence,
    and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey You.
13 Then I will teach Your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to You.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of Your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise You.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
18 Look with favor on Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
    with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
    Then bulls will again be sacrificed on Your altar.

 

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

When All Hope is Gone…

The burden Joseph’s brothers carried on their shoulders, when nine of them, and not ten, left Egypt was crushing.  “How are we going to tell Abba that Simeon is now imprisoned in Egypt, and their governor wants to see Benjamin as well?”  Reuben choked out, as he fought back the tears that flowed freely from his other brothers eyes.  As the eldest brother, he had to be strong for the others.  “This could kill him!”

“I know,” Judah sighed.  “But perhaps El Shaddai will show him mercy.  For it was we, who sinned against Him, when we sold Joseph into slavery and death, not Abba.  This punishment should be ours alone.”

“Maybe,”  Levi said.  “But I’ve noticed that every time we sin against El Shaddai, everyone, even the innocent, ends up suffering.  Look at Abba.  He has suffered enormously since Joseph died, and look at Benjamin.  He certainly committed no sin, and yet, he too, has suffered.  Since Joseph’s death, Abba won’t let him out of his sight.  He smothers Benjamin in his grief.”

The brothers nodded in agreement, then fell silent, as they made their way home, with their donkeys.  They made camp by a river, as the sun began to set, and a few collected firewood, while others led the donkeys to the river to drink.  Then, after the donkeys had their fill of water, one of them opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and discovered his money on top of the grain.  He face paled, and he began to tremble, as he called for his brothers to come.  “Look!  My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!”

Their hearts sank, as they gazed at the money in his sack of grain, and they, too, began to tremble.  Fear filled their hearts and minds, and they asked each other, “What has God done to us?”  But no one had an answer to that question.  Needless to say, no one slept well that night, and they were up before dawn.  They quickly packed their belongings, and were headed home, just as the sky began to lighten.

When the brothers got home to the land of Canaan, they went to see their father, Jacob.  There was no point in putting things off.  “Did you get the grain?”  Jacob asked, expectantly.

“Yes Abba,” Reuben spoke for the group, and continued, “but the man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us.  He accused us of being spies scouting the land.  We told him that we are honest men, not spies.  We said that we are twelve brothers, sons of one father.  We told him that one brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan,

“Then the man who is governor of the land said, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men.  Leave one of  your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home.  But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.  Then I will know you are honest men and not spies.  Then I will give you back your  brother, and you may freely trade in the land'”

Tears welled up in Jacob’s eyes, as he gazed at his sons.  “He took Simeon?”  Jacob whispered and the brothers nodded, with their eyes downcast.  Then they opened their sacks, and everyone saw the bag of money, which they had used to pay for the grain, in each man’s sack.  Jacob began to wail, and he mournfully ripped his robe, as terror swept over him and his sons. Then he exclaimed to them, “You are robbing me of my children!  Joseph is gone!  Simeon is gone!  And now you want to take Benjamin, too.  Everything is against me!”

Reuben knelt down in front of his father, and the tears he had kept at bay for so long, ran down his face and into his beard.  He gently placed his hands on his father’s shoulders and waited for Jacob to look into his eyes.  Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you.  I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”

Overwhelmed by grief and anguish, Jacob had lost all hope.  He had forgotten that El Shaddai, the All Sufficient God, cared for him and his sons.  He forgot the visions and dreams he had received from El Shaddai over the years.  He forgot the many times El Shaddai had provided for him and his family.  He forgot the promises El Shaddai had made to him, his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham, before him.  In his pain, Jacob was blind to the many blessings El Shaddai had given him.  He only saw what he had lost. “My son will not go down with you,” he spat at Reuben.  “His brother, Joseph, is dead, and he is all I have left.  If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.”

Beloved reader, have you ever felt such searing pain and loss?  Have you been so blinded by grief that you are no longer able to even see the many blessings God has given you?  I have.  When such agony envelops you, it is impossible to rise above it, as wave after wave of despair encompasses you.  But thanks be to God!  Even in the midst of our suffering, He is with us, ready to heal and deliver us from those broken places, if we will seek His face.  When we are overwhelmed with hopelessness and grief, let’s cry out to God, as this psalmist did:

Psalm 42
Complete Jewish Bible

Just as a deer longs for running streams,
God, I long for you.
I am thirsty for God, for the living God!
When can I come and appear before God?

My tears are my food, day and night,
while all day people ask me, “Where is your God?”
I recall, as my feelings well up within me,
how I’d go with the crowd to the house of God,
with sounds of joy and praise from the throngs
observing the festival.

My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for the salvation that comes from His presence.
My God, when I feel so downcast,
I remind myself of You
from the land of Yarden, from the peaks of Hermon,
from the hill Mizar.
Deep is calling to deep
at the thunder of Your waterfalls;
all Your surging rapids and waves
are sweeping over me.
By day Adonai commands His grace,
and at night His song is with me
as a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
under pressure by the enemy?
10 My adversaries’ taunts make me feel
as if my bones were crushed,
as they ask me all day long,
‘Where is your God?’ ”

11 My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for being my Savior and God.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

The Heavy Weight…

When Jacob’s ten eldest sons left Canaan for Egypt, guilt weighed heavily on each of them.  Foremost in their hearts and minds was the image of their father, so frail and old now, with fear for his youngest son, Benjamin etched in his face, as he refused to let him travel with them.  Their father had been such a strong and vital part of their lives, as he cared for them and their mothers over the years.  He had always had such a strong, unshakable faith in El Shaddai, but in the years since Joseph’s death, even his faith seemed to have failed him.

Nothing had worked out as they had imagined it would.  Their evil actions hadn’t brought them more of their father’s love, without Joseph there to steal it.  Instead, it had brought them more pain and loneliness.  Instead of earning their father’s undivided love, they had earned his fear and distrust, as well as a heavy burden of guilt, like a massive weight that threatened to break them, as they carried it with them everywhere they went.  Indeed, in the twenty years since they had sinned against their brother, Joseph, their burdens had only grown heavier.

When they entered into Egypt, they learned that they would have to ask Egypt’s governor to allow them to purchase the grain needed for their families to survive, due to the severity of the famine.  Therefore, they lined up, behind the others who had gathered to collect the much needed grain.  Finally, after waiting for many long hours, the ten brothers stood before the governor of Egypt, and immediately dropped to their knees and bowed before him.

Joseph, the governor, paled at the sight of his ten older brothers, bowing down before him.  He recognized them instantly, and caught his breath, as his heart pounded furiously within his chest. It felt like it might break free from his ribs.  As the lump in his throat grew, Joseph fought the tears that threatened to spill.  Looking at them now, bowed down before him, he couldn’t help but remember the dreams he’d had as a youth, in which, his brothers had bowed down to him.

Struggling to pull himself together, Joseph’s voice was harsh as he spoke to his brothers, “Where are you from?”

“We come from the land of Canaan,” they replied.  “We have come to buy food.”

Although he had immediately recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize Joseph, and why should they?  In their minds, they imagined that he had probably died, or at the very least, was still a slave to a foreign master.  Joseph didn’t reveal himself to his brothers.  Instead, he pretended to be a stranger, and said to them, “You are spies!  You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”

How rigidly he must have held himself, so as not to break down in front of these brothers that he had loved as a child, only to be betrayed by them when he was just a teenager.  Beloved reader, have you known the pain of betrayal at the hands of a family member?  If so, surely you can understand how difficult it must have been for Joseph to maintain control of his emotions.  How conflicted he must have felt.  For, on the one hand, he loved these brothers, and he must have longed for news of their family.  Yet, on the other hand, he must have felt an intense explosion of rage welling up within him, to see his betrayers, for the first time in twenty years.

Proverbs 29:11
Complete Jewish Bible

A fool gives vent to all his feelings,
    but the wise, thinking of afterwards, stills them.

Fear gripped the brothers’ hearts, and they quickly responded to Joseph’s accusation, “No, my lord!  Your servants have simply come to buy food.  We are all brothersmembers of the same family.  We are honest men, sir!  We are not spies!”

Joseph continued his charade.  “Yes, you are!  You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become,” he insisted.

“Sir,” the brothers replied, desperate to make him understand, “there are actually twelve of us.  We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan.  Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.”

Still, Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies!  This is how I will test your story.  I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here!  One of you must go and get your brother.  I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison.  Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true.  By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.”

So, Joseph put them all in prison for three days.  How tormented he must have been, as all of the emotions that he thought were long gone, came rushing over him.  It was like reliving his brothers’ betrayal and brutality all over again.  How he must have cried out to ‘Elyon, to strengthen him, and give him wisdom.

Psalm 3
New King James

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

On the third day of their imprisonment, Joseph spoke to them again.  “Look, I am a God-fearing man.  If you do as I say, you will live.  If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison.  The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families.  But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.  This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.”  The brothers agreed to Joseph’s terms.

Speaking among themselves, the weight of their burden of guilt was evident, when they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph, long ago.  We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen.  That’s why we’re in this trouble.”

Tears ran down Reuben’s face, as he asked, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?  But you wouldn’t listen.  And now we have to answer for his blood!”

His brothers, who still didn’t know Joseph’s true identity, had no way of knowing that he understood every word that they had spoken, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter.  Upon hearing his brothers’ words, he turned and walked away from them and began to weep.  The emotions, and the weight he had been carrying for more than twenty years, was simply too much to bear, as his brothers openly spoke of his betrayal.

So deep was their own fear and anguish, that the brothers took no notice when Joseph turned away from them.  They were all lost in the midst of a storm that had been brewing for more than twenty years.  When Joseph regained his composure, he spoke to them again, and chose Simeon from among them.  He ordered Simeon to be tied up before their eyes.

Then, Joseph ordered his servants to fill his brothers’ sacks with grain.  He also gave them secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack, and he gave them supplies for their journey home.  So, although ten brothers had started on the journey to Egypt, only nine returned home, and the weight they carried grew heavier with each step…

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

The Elephant in the Room

Can you imagine Jacob’s torment?  Can you imagine the pain he must have felt, when his sons returned to his tent, the day they sold their brother Joseph into slavery?  He thought his son was dead, and the pain nearly killed him.  It aged him overnight.

I wonder how much greater his pain would have been, had he known what really happened to Joseph?  Do you think he ever suspected foul play at the hands of his older sons?  Do you ponder whether Jacob ever doubted the validity of what his ten oldest sons claimed had happened to Joseph?  The bible doesn’t say for sure, but I reckon Jacob suspected more than he let on.  Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, too often, there are just some things that are too painful to be spoken out loud.

Jacob must have known how much his other sons hated Joseph, for they had made no attempt to hide it from anyone.  They openly mocked him at every turn, and their jealousy of Joseph was evident to all.  It must have seemed dubious to Jacob, when Joseph turned up dead, after he sent him to check up on his brothers.  After all, he knew full well, when he sent Joseph to them, how angry they already were with Joseph.  After all, hadn’t Joseph given their father a bad report about them, just days earlier?  And what about the beautiful robe Jacob had given to Joseph?  It was the same robe his ten older brothers later returned to Jacob, covered with blood.  Their rancor towards their brother had known no bounds, when Jacob rewarded Joseph with that beautiful robe.  Indeed, Jacob had made it abundantly clear, over and over again, that Joseph was his favorite son, which caused their loathing for Joseph to burn even deeper.

Elephant-in-the-room (1)

Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, they ignored the proverbial “elephant in the room,” and no one ever addressed the issue.  The ten eldest sons never spoke directly to their father about the pain he had caused them, in showing favoritism towards Joseph.  Instead, they allowed their bitterness to fester, turning into a poison that blackened their souls, until their hearts turned violent.

Indeed, this wasn’t the first time that these ten sons of Jacob had turned violent.  They had slaughtered and plundered an entire town, after a man named Shechem, the prince of that town, raped their sister, Dinah.  True, what Shechem had done was evil, but what these ten sons of Jacob had done, was no less evil.  For they had tricked the men into believing that they had forgiven Shechem, and they would allow him to marry their sister, Dinah, if he, and his entire town would be circumcised.

Eager to make amends and marry Dinah, Shechem, and his father, King Hamor, agreed to the deal, and when they met with their council, they agreed too.  Therefore, all of the men in that community were circumcised.  Then, three days later, while all of the men were still in great pain from their circumcisions, the ten eldest sons of Jacob attacked and killed every single male, and afterwards, they took all of the town’s livestock, and enslaved the women and children who remained.

elephant-in-the-room

Yes, Jacob surely knew the violence his oldest sons were capable of, but, again, like the proverbial elephant in the room, he didn’t discuss his suspicions with them, because to actually hear the truth spoken aloud was too much for him to contemplate.  And now, as famine swept across the land, Jacob worried about his family’s fate.  There was no grain to be obtained in all of Canaan, but he had heard that there was grain available in the land of Egypt, so he assembled all of his remaining sons, and had a family meeting.

“We’re going to starve if we don’t get some grain,” Jacob spoke bluntly to his sons, who exchanged glances with one another, but said nothing.  “Why are you standing around looking at one another?” he asked impatiently.  “You know what I say is true.  However, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt.  Therefore, I want you to go down there and buy enough grain to keep us alive.  Otherwise, we’ll all die.”

“You’re right Abba,” Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son, replied.  “We must go to Egypt right away.  Come brothers, let’s pack up and leave for Egypt at first light tomorrow.”

“NO!”  Jacob shouted.  “Benjamin, you will stay with me, and your brothers will go to Egypt.

“But Abba,” Benjamin protested.

“NO!”  Jacob shouted once again, as he fought the panic that boiled up within him.  His heart pounded loudly in his ears as he drew a shuddering breath, trying to slow his heart rate, and speak calmly.  “No, my son,” Jacob repeated.  “This is a job for your older brothers to handle.  You must stay with  me.”

Benjamin looked closely at his father, and noted the terror in his eyes.  Then he knelt down beside Jacob, and gently hugged him.  “Alright Abba,” he whispered softly.  “I will obey and stay here with you.”

Jacob’s oldest sons exchanged guilty glances with one another, for they, too, had seen the fear and pain in their father’s eyes, and they knew that they were the cause of his agony.  Though no one said a word, once again ignoring the elephant in the room, the brothers knew that Jacob wouldn’t allow Benjamin to travel alone with them, for fear they might harm him, just as they had harmed Joseph.  

Both Jacob and his ten eldest sons felt guilty.  Yet, still, they didn’t speak of what they had done.  Each was trapped in his own torment, and it seemed there was no hope for redemption.  Each one was a captive of a moment that had long since passed. Jacob was trapped in the moment when he had chosen to love Joseph more than all of his other sons.  In doing so, he had rejected their love as insignificant.  His rejected sons were trapped in the moment, when they had taken their anger out on the wrong person, their brother, Joseph, rather than confronting their father for neglecting to love them as a father should.  They were all, utterly without hope.

Yet, in the midst of all this turmoil and anguish, El Shaddai had a plan.  It was time for each one, Jacob and every one of his sons, to face the elephant in the room, and address it once and for all.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Nothing Compares…

Adonai had truly blessed him.  Joseph smiled as he gazed at his wife, Asenath, who slept on their sleeping mat, her arms gently cradling their second son, Ephraim, who was born the day before.  Her belly was still swollen from carrying their son, but Joseph didn’t care if her belly stayed that way, for she was by far the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and she was his.  After giving her a gentle peck on the cheek, Joseph slid from the covers, and walked around to the other side of their sleeping mat.

As he knelt down beside his wife and his newborn babe, he was struck by how tiny and perfect the child was.  He had ten fingers and ten toes, each one with nails.  He had long dark eyelashes, like his imma.  He smiled as the babe suckled in his sleep, though nothing was in his mouth.

Joseph stood and tiptoed quietly to the cradle, where his firstborn son, was also sleeping, his long, dark lashes resting quietly on his chubby cheeks.  He gently caressed Manasseh’s soft cheek, smiling as the toddler gave a contented sigh.  After leaning over and placing a gentle kiss on Manasseh’s forehead, Joseph quietly exited the bedroom, and walked onto the balcony, where he knelt down on his prayer mat.

Psalm 30
Complete Jewish Bible

I will exalt You, Adonai, because You drew me up;
You didn’t let my enemies rejoice over me.
Adonai my God, I cried out to You,
and You provided healing for me.
Adonai, You lifted me up from Sh’ol;
you kept me alive when I was sinking into a pit.

Sing praise to Adonai, you faithful of His;
and give thanks on recalling His holiness.
For His anger is momentary,
but His favor lasts a lifetime.
Tears may linger for the night,
but with dawn come cries of joy.

Once I was prosperous and used to say,
that nothing could ever shake me —
when You showed me favor, Adonai,
I was firm as a mighty mountain.
But when You hid Your face,
I was struck with terror.

I called to You, Adonai;
to Adonai I pleaded for mercy:
“What advantage is there in my death,
in my going down to the pit?
Can the dust praise You?
Can it proclaim Your truth?
10 Hear me, Adonai, and show me Your favor!
Adonai, be my helper!”

11 You turned my mourning into dancing!
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my well-being can praise You and not be silent;
Adonai my God, I will thank You forever!

“How my lips praise You, the living God, who saw me in my time of trouble, and in Your great mercy, You heard my cries and delivered me from all my fears!  When my brothers tried to kill me, You, O Lord, heard my cries, and saved my life from the dark pit.  When they sold me into slavery, even then, O Lord, You heard my desperate pleas, and sent me to a kind master.  In the midst of slavery, You  set me over my master’s entire household.  Then, when his evil wife tried to seduce me, You kept me from being killed for a crime I had not committed.  Even in the dark dungeon, where I became a prisoner, lower than a slave, You raised me up, and gave me charge over the prison.

“Then, if that were not enough, You raised me again, from the dark dungeon, to Pharaoh’s second in command, over the entire nation of Egypt!  You gave me a beautiful wife, who loves me, and a son, Manasseh, to help me forget all my troubles, and my father’s family, who betrayed me.  And now, You have blessed me, yet again, with another son, Ephraim, for you have made me fruitful in this, the land of my grief.

“Who is like You, O Adonai?  Who can compare to You, my King?  Indeed, there is no one like You, Adonai.  For You are King of the Nations, and none can compare to You.  Indeed, there is no other god who would stoop so low, as to lift a prisoner and a slave from his prison!

“Adonai, I give You thanks, not only for what You have done for me, but for the seven years of abundance You have given to my wife’s people.  As the time of famine draws nigh, El Shaddai, thank You for providing for our needs by giving us these seven years of abundance, to carry us through the the dreadful famine.  Thank You for seeing to it that my children will not go hungry, nor will the people of this land, for You have provided for all our needs.

“And Adonai, I would be remiss, if I failed to ask for Your hand of blessing to fall on my father, Israel, and his household, especially Benjamin, my full brother.  Protect them, ‘Elyon, from all evil, and deliver them from the coming famine.

“O Adonai, guard my heart from bitterness.  Please, ‘Elyon, bless the brothers who betrayed me also, for my father loves them deeply, and I would not want him to suffer anymore pain and anguish by losing yet another son.  Therefore, please protect Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar and Zebulon.  Most importantly, El Shaddai, protect Benjamin from all harm, especially at the hands of our brothers.  Don’t let them do to him, what they did to me, Adonai!  Protect him.

“Adonai, You alone are worthy of praise.  You alone are holy and just.  In You alone, I have placed my trust, and I know that nothing in heaven or on earth, nothing in the oceans and the seas, nor in the graves, indeed nothing on the highest peak of the highest mountain, nor nothing in the lowest valley can compare to You.  It is to You that I pledge my life, O Adonai, for nothing compares to You.

“In times of feasting, I will praise You.  Even in the coming famine, still, my lips will sing Your praises, for nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You, Adonai!”

Rising from his prayer mat, Joseph lifted his gaze towards the heavens, smiling, as he heard Ephraim’s wails from the bedroom.  “No, Adonai, nothing compares to You!”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Not Forgotten…

In the time after the cupbearer’s release, Joseph ran the prison like a well-oiled machine.  He cared for the prisoners, the guards and even the accounting and record books.  Indeed, no other prison or business for that matter, ran so smoothly, for the Lord continued to be with Joseph and bless him.

While he toiled in prison, a full two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams one night, that deeply troubled him.  When day broke, Pharaoh arose, and immediately sent for all of Egypt’s magicians and wise men to seek an interpretation of his disturbing dreams.  However, not one of them was able to interpret the dreams’ meaning to him, which caused him even more anxiety.  “Is there no one in this entire land that can help me?” he cried out.

“Your majesty,” the chief cupbearer finally spoke up.  “Forgive me, for today, I am reminded of my failure.  Do you remember when you were angry with your officials, and arrested the chief baker and me, sire?”  At Pharaoh’s impatient nod, the cupbearer quickly continued.  “One night, while we were in prison, both the baker and I had dreams, which greatly disturbed us.  The next morning, a young Hebrew man, who was a servant of the captain of the guard, came to care for us, and asked why we were so downcast.  So we told him our dreams, and he interpreted each one of our dreams individually, for us.  What’s more, those dreams came to pass, just as he had prophesied.  I was restored to my office, and the baker was impaled.”

“This is true?”  Pharaoh asked.  At the cupbearer’s solemn nod, Pharaoh summoned Joseph to court.

Joseph, meanwhile, was in the midst of his morning prayers, before beginning his duties as the warden’s assistant. 

Psalm 13
Complete Jewish Bible

How long, Adonai?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I keep asking myself what to do,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long must my enemy dominate me?

Look, and answer me, Adonai my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.
Then my enemy would say, “I was able to beat him”;
and my adversaries would rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in Your grace,
my heart rejoices as You bring me to safety.
I will sing to Adonai, because He gives me
even more than I need.

 

Then, as he finished his prayers, guards from the royal palace came and led him quickly out of the dungeon.  After Joseph shaved himself and changed his clothes, he was led into Pharaoh’s presence, where he respectfully knelt, his heart pounding frantically.  “O Adonai,” he silently prayed.  “Protect me and deliver me from my foes.  Give me wisdom, to know when to speak and when to be silent.  Adonai, let me speak Your words, and not my own.”

“Last night, I had two dreams,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “and there is no one here, who can interpret them, but I was told that you are an interpreter of dreams.  Is this true?”

“Pharaoh, I am not the interpreter of dreams.  El Shaddai is the giver and interpreter of dreams.  If you will share your dream with me, El Shaddai will give you an answer that will give you peace,” Joseph said gently.

Pharaoh's Dream 1

“Very well,”  Pharaoh responded.  “In my dream, I stood at the edge of the river, and I saw seven fat and sleek cows emerge, and they fed on the swamp grass.  After they came, seven more cows emerged from the river, but these cows were sickly and emaciated.  I’ve never seen such a sorry group of cows in all of Egypt!  Then, the scrawny, miserable cows ate up the seven fat cows, but even after they’d devoured them, you would never guess they’d had anything to eat at all.  For they were still as miserable and sorry looking as they were before they ate.

Pharaoh's Dream 2

“At this point, I awakened, but I quickly drifted off to sleep again, and I had another dream.  In this dream, I saw seven full ripe ears of grain growing out of a single stalk, and after that, I saw seven more ears of grain spring up, but they were thin and shriveled up by the east wind.  And then, right before my eyes, I saw the shriveled ears swallow up the seven ripe ears of grain!

“This morning, when I awakened, I summoned my magicians and wise men, and I shared these dreams with them, but not one of them could explain them to me.  Are you able to interpret these dreams?”  Pharaoh questioned Joseph.  

Joseph listened intently to what Pharaoh shared, while also listening to what the Spirit of the Lord spoke to his heart.  Now, he felt the peace that only comes from ‘Elyon, as he drew in his breath and began to speak.  “Pharaoh’s dreams are the same.  God has told Pharaoh what He is about to do.”

Joseph spoke with the authority that only comes from God, and Pharaoh and his counselors all leaned forward, to hear every word he uttered.  “The seven healthy cows and the seven good ears of grain represent seven years.  Likewise, the seven scrawny cows and the seven blighted ears of grain also represent seven years of famine.  This is what ‘Elyon, has shown Pharaoh He is about to do.

“There will be seven years of abundance throughout the entire land of Egypt, but afterwards, there will be seven years of famine.  Indeed, the famine will be so dreadful, that Egypt will forget all of the abundance from the previous seven years.  Indeed, the famine will consume the land, and it will be truly disastrous.

“Do you wonder why this dream was doubled for Pharaoh?  It is because the matter has already been decreed by Elohim, and it will happen according to His word very soon.

“Therefore, Pharaoh should look for a wise and discreet man to put in charge of the land of Egypt, so that he can appoint supervisors over the land to receive a twenty percent tax on all of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.  All of the food produced during the coming seven years of abundance should be gathered.  Some should be used for food in the cities, and the rest should be stored.  This will be the land’s food supply for the seven years of famine that will follow the seven years of abundance, so that the people do not perish as a result of the famine.”

Joseph’s demeanor and his wise suggestions impressed Pharaoh and all of his officials.  Pharaoh looked at his officials and asked, “Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!”  His officials agreed wholeheartedly with Pharaoh, so Pharaoh released Joseph from his position as a slave and prisoner that day, and placed him in command of all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself.

“There is no one as wise and discerning as you,” Pharaoh told Joseph.  “Therefore, today, I am placing you in charge of my entire household.  You will rule over all my people, and they will obey what you say.  Only when I rule from my throne, will I be greater than you.”  Then, removing his signet ring from his finger, Pharaoh placed it on Joseph’s finger and continued, “This day, you will not only rule my household, but the whole land of Egypt.  I, Pharaoh, decree that without your approval no one is to raise his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.  Furthermore, your name shall henceforth be Zaphenath-paneah.” 

Pharaoh then called his servants to bring him fine linen clothing, and a gold chain, which he placed around Joseph’s neck.  Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife, whose name was Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On.  So, at the age of thirty years, Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt, serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Afterward, Pharaoh sent some of his servants to the royal stables, to bring his second best chariot to Joseph, telling him ride the chariot throughout the land of Egypt.  As Joseph rode the chariot through the streets of Egypt, his servants ran before him, shouting, “Bow down!” to the citizens of the land.  Thus, when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt.  

In the midst of all that was happening around him, Joseph found time to give thanks to Almighty God.  For though others may have forgotten him, the Lord had not forgotten him.

Beloved reader, do you think the Lord has forgotten you?  Do you feel as though you are alone in your circumstances?  Fear not, for though a woman may forget her child, God will not forget you.  If you continually seek Him, you will find Him.  He has a plan for you, His beloved child, even in the midst of the worst circumstances.  You are not forgotten.

Isaiah 49:14-15
New Living Translation

 

14 Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;
    the Lord has forgotten us.”

15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
    I would not forget you!”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Forgotten…

He rose early, as he did every day, to pray and give thanks to the Almighty, before he set about his work…

Psalm 5:2-4
Complete Jewish Bible

Give ear to my words, Adonai,
consider my inmost thoughts.
Listen to my cry for help,
my king and my God, for I pray to You.
Adonai, in the morning You will hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my needs before You
and wait expectantly.

Because he had found favor with God, and with the prison warden, Joseph was awarded his own cell, which, though it was still a prison cell, afforded him much needed privacy.  Thus, he was able to spend uninterrupted time alone with ‘Elyon in the mornings and every evening, when he retired.

Joseph had quickly established a daily routine, when the warden promoted him, and he made sure that the prison was kept as clean as it was possible to keep a prison in that day and age.  Because of this cleanliness, pestilence and plagues within the prison had dropped dramatically.  Rodents no longer had free reign over the prison, but were soon killed and burned, which also cut down on disease within the inmate population.

Joseph also made sure that the prisoners were fed decent rations, twice daily, and that they had access to plenty of water.  He treated them as he wished to be treated, never taking more for himself than they were allotted.  Additionally, Joseph visited each of the prisoners daily, to ensure that no rioting or violence would break out.  He separated those prisoners who couldn’t get along with others, from the rest of the inmates, so that bullying and fighting were kept to a minimum.

The warden was both pleased and amazed at all that Joseph had accomplished in such a short time.  The prison was cleaner and healthier than it had ever been before, which made his job easier, and also made him look good to his superiors.

One morning, as Joseph made his rounds, visiting his fellow inmates, he saw the two most recent convicts sitting on their sleeping mats against the wall, looking utterly sad and dejected.  Both of them were servants of Pharaoh.  One had been his cupbearer, the one tasked with serving and tasting drinks, to ensure that Pharaoh was not poisoned.  The other man had been Pharaoh’s chief baker, the one in charge of all of the baked goods, both breads and pastries, served to Pharaoh.

Both of these men had somehow angered Pharaoh, and he’d had them cast into prison for their misdeeds.  They had been imprisoned for a few days already, and both had seemed resigned to their current status, until this particular morning, when Joseph checked on them.  Now, their distress, evident on each of their faces, concerned Joseph, so he gently asked them, “Why are you looking so sad today?”

The cupbearer replied, “We both had dreams last night, and we don’t understand them.”

“And here, in this prison, there is no one to interpret our dreams for us,” the chief baker chimed in.

Kneeling down on the floor with them, Joseph gently asked them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God?  Tell your dreams to me, please.”

Cupbearer Dream 1

The chief cupbearer then shared his dream with Joseph.  “I dreamed there was a vine in front of me, and the vine had three branches, which budded, and suddenly began to blossom.  Almost immediately after they bloomed, clusters of ripe grapes appeared on the branches.  I had Pharaoh’s cup in my hand, so I took the grapes and pressed them into his cup, and gave the cup to him.

The Lord gave Joseph, whom, you may recall, had experienced many dreams and interpretations in his own life, the wisdom he needed to interpret the cupbearer’s dream.  “This is what your dream means,” he told the cupbearer.  “The three branches are three days.”  Joseph gently reached across to the man, and lifted his his chin, so that his downcast eyes rose to meet Joseph’s gaze.  “Within three days, Pharaoh will lift your head and restore you to your position as his cupbearer, and you will be giving Pharaoh his cup, as you did before, but please don’t forget me, when everything is restored to you.  Please show me this kindness, by mentioning me to Pharaoh, so that he will release me, too, from this prison.  For the fact is that I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, though I did nothing to deserve such a fate, and even now, I am unjustly imprisoned, though I have done no wrong.

With gratitude and hope in his eyes, the cupbearer replied, “Indeed, good friend, I will remember you and tell Pharaoh about you, when I am released from this dreadful place.

Chief baker dream

Upon hearing the favorable interpretation of his friend’s dream, the chief baker eagerly shared his dream with Joseph.  “In my dream, there were three baskets of white bread on my head.  The top basket had all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.  What could this mean?

Joseph answered the man gently and honestly.  “The three baskets you saw are three days.  Within three days, Pharaoh will impale your body on a pole, and you will not even receive a burial, for the birds will devour your flesh.

“That can’t be!” the man sputtered, fearfully.

With tears of compassion in his eyes, Joseph softly touched the man’s shoulder.  “Seek Adonai while He is available, call on Him while He is still nearby.  Abandon your wicked ways and your evil thoughts; turn to Adonai, and He will have mercy on you; turn to my God, for He will freely forgive you.”

With bitterness boiling inside him, the angry baker spat out, “Seek your God?  What has He done for me, except sentence me to death?  No!  I will cry out to Ra, the sun god, to shine his blessings on me, and to Osiris, the god of the dead, to deliver me!  You can keep your God and your false interpretations.  Now leave me!

Joseph rose and left the cell sadly, for by rejecting El Shaddai, the man had surely sealed his fate.  Still, Joseph remembered both men in his prayers each day, hoping the chief baker would repent and seek Adonai, before he was executed, and also praying that the cupbearer would also seek and find Adonai.  He faithfully visited the men and served their rations to them, each day, and on the morning of the third day, he came to them once more.  “It is time now.  Please come with me,” Joseph ordered the men, as he unlocked their cell.  

Both men came forward, eager to leave their dark cell behind them.  “Where are you taking us?” the chief baker asked suspiciously.

“I am taking you to bathe and put on fresh clothing.  Then you will go to the Captain of the Guard, and he will take you to see Pharaoh,” Joseph replied.

“Good,” the baker replied.  “When I see Pharaoh, I will tell him how you mistreated me, and you will receive the punishment you are due!”  Joseph, with a heavy heart, for the man’s unrepentant soul, gave no response, as he led the two to the bathing area.  When they finished bathing, he then led them to the Captain of the Guard, who led both men away.  

Joseph had done all that he could for both men.  They were now in the hands of ‘Elyon, and of Pharaoh.

That third day was also Pharaoh’s birthday, and he had a lavish party for all of his officials.  The chief cupbearer and the chief baker were both led to the party, and both rejoiced as Pharaoh called them forth.  As they approached the throne, both knelt before Pharaoh, with their heads bowed and right fists against their hearts, in a pledge of loyalty to him. Pharaoh walked first to his chief cupbearer, and lifted his head, ordering him to stand.  He then restored him to his former position as chief cupbearer, and presented him with his royal chalice.  Tears ran down the cupbearer’s cheeks, as he accepted the chalice in gratitude.

Pharaoh then walked to the chief baker, and lifted his head.  The baker eagerly arose, and with malice for Joseph in his heart started to speak, but Pharaoh silenced him.  Then, just as Joseph had prophesied, Pharaoh ordered his former chief baker to be impaled.  The man was immediately hauled away and impaled, and, as Joseph had prophesied, there was no burial for the unrepentant baker, for the birds devoured his flesh.

All that Joseph had prophesied had come true, but, sadly, the cupbearer had forgotten him. So Joseph remained in prison, for a crime that had never been committed.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

My Shelter

Cast down into darkness, the pain of his wounds was nothing compared to the anguish of his heart.  He grieved for his lost relationship with his master, whom he had loved and served faithfully, these many years, since he was sold into captivity.  “O Adonai,” Joseph wept.  “How could my master, Potiphar believe the wicked lies of that woman?  Yes, she is his wife, but he knows what she is like!  How could he believe such a thing of me?  You know, O Adonai that I was not even tempted by her wicked ways.  Indeed, I was repulsed by her.”

He remained in the place where he had been cast down for only the Almighty knows how long, but eventually, Joseph lifted his head from the cold and dank floor, looking around in the darkness of his new abode.  As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw the forms of others, imprisoned with him.  Some laughed and jested, using epithets, while others withdrew into themselves, staring blankly into space, neither seeing or hearing what went on around them.  Joseph shuddered.

“‘Elyon, You are the Most High God,” Joseph whispered softly.  “And it is in Your shelter, under Your wings that I dwell.  I will say of You, Adonai, that You are my refuge and my fortress, my God!  In You, I will trust.  You will rescue me from the trap of the hunter and the plague of calamities.  You cover me with Your pinions, and under Your wings I am sheltered.  Indeed, Your truth is my shield and protector.”

Joseph’s head snapped around to the noise of raucous laughter, as some of his fellow inmates kicked and bullied another, weaker prisoner, who tried to cover his head and his sides with his hands and arms, curling into a ball, to protect his vital parts.  Eyes snapping, Joseph arose to his full height, glaring down at the man’s tormentors. “Enough!” he spoke with all of the authority he had been given by ‘Elyon.  “Get away from this man immediately.  You will not torment him while I am here.”

The bullies looked up at Joseph, standing above them, so strong and mighty.  Then, without argument, they backed down.  He had spoken to them with such power, that none, not even the biggest bully dared to cross him.  Joseph, whispered his thanks to Adonai, as he knelt down to the man, who was still curled up in a ball.  Gently, he checked his wounds, ripping his own clothing, to bind the worst of them up.  The man thanked him profusely, and watched and listened, as Joseph continued to pray.

“I will not fear the terrors of night or the arrow that flies by day, or the plague that roams in the dark, or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon.  A thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand; but it won’t come near me.  I will keep my eyes open, and I will see how the wicked are punished.”

“Who is this god that you pray to?” the man asked Joseph.  “You speak to Him so familiarly, as though you knew Him.  Is He not offended, as other gods are, when you speak to him in such a personal way?”

Joseph smiled gently at the man.  “No, my friend.  My God is not offended.  He is the God of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He is the living God, the only true God.  Indeed, if you will makeAdonai, the Most High, who is my refuge, your dwelling-place, no disaster will happen to you, no calamity will come near your tent; for He will order His angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go.  They will carry you in their hands, so that you won’t trip on a stone.  Indeed, you will tread down lions and snakes, young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.

“Because I love Him, He will rescue me; because I know His name, He will protect me.  I will call on Him, and He will answer me.  He will be with me when I am in trouble.  He will extricate me and bring me honor.  He will satisfy me with long life and show me  His salvation.  He will do the same for you, my friend, if you will make Him your dwelling place.

The entire prison had fallen silent, when Joseph shared this good news with his fellow inmate.  Now, many began to question Joseph about his God, even the warden, who had come to see why the prison had become so calm and quiet.  It was clear to Joseph that God had a plan for him, even in this dark and dirty place, and with his face set like flint, he spoke silently to God in his heart, “Yes Lord.  I will follow You and obey You, even in the darkest of prisons.”

Because of his love and obedience, the Lord was with Joseph, and showered him with His faithful love.  Joseph became the warden’s favorite that day, when he brought God’s peace into the often violent prison, and before long, he put Joseph in charge over all the prisoners, and everything that happened in prison.  Indeed, because the Lord continued to shower His love on Joseph, and the prison now ran so smoothly, the warden no longer had any worries…

Beloved, even in the midst of prison, Joseph was able to not only find peace, but to thrive, because he understood that His dwelling place was in the shelter of ‘Elyon, the Most High God, not the prison where he currently resided.  Where is your dwelling place?  No matter where you reside, you, too, can have peace that passes all understanding and even thrive, as long as you dwell in the shelter of the Most High God…

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Psalm 91
Complete Jewish Bible

You who live in the shelter of ‘Elyon,
who spend your nights in the shadow of Shaddai,
who say to Adonai, “My refuge! My fortress!
My God, in whom I trust!” —
He will rescue you from the trap of the hunter
and from the plague of calamities;
He will cover you with His pinions,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His truth is a shield and protection.

You will not fear the terrors of night
or the arrow that flies by day,
or the plague that roams in the dark,
or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand;
but it won’t come near you.
Only keep your eyes open,
and you will see how the wicked are punished.

For you have made Adonai, the Most High,
who is my refuge, your dwelling-place.
10 No disaster will happen to you,
no calamity will come near your tent;
11 for He will order His angels to care for you
and guard you wherever you go.
12 They will carry you in their hands,
so that you won’t trip on a stone.
13 You will tread down lions and snakes,
young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he loves me, I will rescue him;
because he knows my name, I will protect him.
15 He will call on Me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him when he is in trouble.
I will extricate him and bring him honor.
16 I will satisfy him with long life
and show him my salvation.”

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

He’d been sold.  Again.  First his brothers had sold him to the slave traders, and now, Joseph had been sold to an Egyptian soldier!  How far he had fallen!  How had he become such a bitter taste in his brothers’ mouths?  Knowing that he would see neither his father or his brother Benjamin, who knew nothing of his half-brothers’ evil intent, again, brought tears to his eyes, every time he thought of them.

Depression threatened to overwhelm him, yet, by Adonai’s grace, he was still alive.  He was now a slave, and there was nothing he could do to change it.  “Elohim,” Joseph whispered softly, as he was led away to the Egyptian soldier’s home, “please be near me, lest I die in this pit of despair…  And comfort my father, Adonai.  Give him peace, and please, protect little Benjamin from the evil intents of our brothers.  El Shaddai, deliver all of us from evil!”

Each day Joseph worked hard for his owner, dropping to his sleeping mat at night, often too exhausted to dwell on his fate.  That doesn’t mean that he did not mourn for the loss of his father, his family and his freedom.  He deeply grieved for them, hiding his pain from everyone during the day, as He served his master, Potiphar, faithfully, and without complaint.  In the cover of darkness, at night, however, especially during his first year as a slave, Joseph often wept, as he pleaded with Almighty God to protect and bless him and his family.  The Lord answered Joseph’s prayers and showered him with His favor, so that everything he did succeeded, and Potiphar, being a shrewd man, recognized and rewarded Joseph’s success by giving him charge over his entire household and everything in it.

Despite his bitter circumstances, Joseph was truly grateful to Elohim for allowing His blessings to rain down on him, and he set his heart to walking in humble obedience to both God and his master.  Though he desperately missed his family, even his deceitful brothers, Joseph worked hard, refusing to give in to the depression that sometimes threatened to overwhelm him.  Several years went by, as Joseph worked for Potiphar, and he grew in strength and stature.  Indeed, Joseph was a very  handsome young man, and it wasn’t long before others noticed…

potiphars_wife

She began to watch him, as he went about his business in her husband’s house each day, seemingly oblivious to the effect he had on her.  She didn’t say anything to him at first.  She just watched him, and wondered what it would be like to be touched by such a man.  He wouldn’t be her first conquest, for her husband was gone much of the time, fighting battles and wars.  He often left her alone for months at a time.  Certainly, no one in their culture would blame her for her looking to others to satisfy her needs, for most of them did the same thing.

After some time had passed, the woman finally acted on her desires, and boldly walked up behind Joseph one day, while he was working. She placed her arms around his waist.  “Come sleep with me,” she softly whispered, her lips so close to his ear that he felt the moistness of her hot breath against it.

Startled, Joseph turned to look at her in shock.  Oh mistress, I couldn’t!  Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”

Without waiting for a response, Joseph quickly spun around on his heel, and left the room.  “El Shaddai, protect me,” he gasped, when he was alone, as fear and trembling threatened to overtake him.  It felt like a weight had settled in the pit of his stomach, and Joseph felt the bile of nausea rising up in his throat.

From that time forth, Potiphar’s wife made it her mission to coax Joseph into having sex with her.  She refused to take no for an answer, and his rejection only seemed to fuel her desire for him.  Though he tried to avoid her, she somehow managed to find him again and again.

Finally, one day, when no one else was around, Potiphar’s wife came upon him and insisted that he have sex with her.  She walked up to him, and ordered him yet again to, “Come, have sex with me.”  Then, grabbing his cloak in her hands, she attempted to remove it.  Not knowing what else to do, Joseph slipped away from his cloak and ran away from the conniving woman.  She was furious.

Potiphar and his wife

Holding his cloak in her hand, she screamed in fury, and when her servants rushed to her aid, she said, “Look!  My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to make fools of us!  He came into my room to rape me, but I screamed.  When he heard me scream, he ran outside and got away, but he left his cloak behind with me.” 

Later, when her husband returned home from work, she repeated the story to Potiphar, saying, “That Hebrew slave you’ve brought into our house tried to come in and fool around with me, but when I screamed, he ran outside, leaving his cloak with me!”

Joseph, meanwhile, was in his room, crying out to the Lord for mercy.  The situation had become unbearable.  He could see no way to escape from this untenable circumstance, but one thing was certain.  He would betray neither El Shaddai nor his master Potiphar.  As he bowed before the Lord, the door to his room burst open, and Potiphar entered, with rage on his face.

“I have given you everything!” he shouted.  “There is nothing that I have withheld from you, except my wife! Yet you betrayed my trust and tried to rape her.  Is this how you repay my kindness, slave?”

Joseph paled and his eyes grew wide at Potiphar’s angry accusation.  “Master,” he whispered softly.  “You have been very kind and generous to me, indeed, and I am very grateful.  I would never betray your trust in such an evil way.  Nor would I betray Elohim’s kindness to me.”

As Potiphar gazed into Joseph’s eyes, did he realize that his wife had duped him?  Because his wife’s accusations had been so public, and because no one took the word of a slave over his master’s wife, there was no trial.  Potiphar had to save face, even at Joseph’s expense.  Therefore, Joseph was thrust into prison, for a crime that he didn’t commit.  Indeed, he was cast into jail, for a crime that didn’t even exist, except in the twisted minds of his accusers.

Joseph in Prison

Beloved reader, things are not always what they seem.  In this day and age, we are told to believe certain things without question, even though there is no evidence to back them up.  We have seen false accusations against men and women abound in our country, and in others as well.  Yet, Joseph is a true life testimony that things are not always what they seem.

Jesus was wrongfully accused of blasphemy and many other crimes that simply were not true.  Yet, He was led away like a lamb to a slaughter, bearing the guilt and sins of you and me.  To many in the world, He seemed guilty.  Yet, things were not what they seemed…

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Not Just an Animal

Today, I feel, I must write about the unbelievable choice to deny the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would ensure that babies born alive after being aborted, would be cared for, hospitalized and afforded the opportunity to live, by the U.S. Senate this past Monday.  The final vote count on this act was 53 in favor of the bill, and 44 opposed.  How could there be any opposition to this bill?  Don’t we live in a land that is supposed to guarantee that all men are created equal?  That we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights?  That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Don’t we elect our senators and congressmen and women to protect these rights?

I won’t lie.  I HATE abortion.  I believe that it is infanticide within the womb, and that one day, we, as a country, will have to answer to Almighty God for this sin.  However, that is not what this article is about.  The purpose of this article is to decry infanticide outside of the womb!

Once a child is born alive, no matter the circumstances or his/her birth, or his/her condition when born, that child has as much right to live, as any other child that is born.  The penalty for destroying a bald eagle egg is between $10,000 and $250,000, depending on what state you live in, and up to 5 years of imprisonment.  Yet, the very people we elected to serve and protect us, refused to pass a law that would penalize doctors for killing and/or refusing to care for a child born alive after an abortion!  Does anyone else see the depravity in this?  Is anyone else outraged by this radical decision?

Children are not animals to be euthanized when they are sickly or too much trouble for their parents or physicians.  They are human beings, created in the image of God, who are supposed to be protected under the U.S. Constitution.  Who gives anyone the right to decide whose life has value, and whose life isn’t worth living?  Doctors don’t have that right, and neither do parents.

Beloved readers, you and I are the ones who have elected our current representatives into office, and I will be honest with you.  I am just as angry with our Republican senators as I am with the Democrat senators, who voted against this bill.  If ever a bill should have been passed unanimously, it was this one.  However, the bill did not pass the senate because of its arcane voting rules, which demand a 2/3 majority to pass.  Our senators have been more than willing to bypass this arcane rule, using the “nuclear” option, when voting for justices and other things that are important for the country, however, in this instance, they have shrugged their shoulders and looked helpless, claiming outrage at the outcome of this bill, while doing nothing more than posturing.  Meanwhile, the other side has done a victory dance over the failure of this bill.

Beloved readers, I ask you, is this not one of those instances when the “nuclear” option should be invoked?  If our senators were truly as outraged as they proclaim, would they not use this option immediately?  Beloved reader, are you as outraged by this bill’s failure to be passed as I am?  Think and pray about this very carefully, because you will be  held accountable by God for your choice.  If you are outraged, then you must act.  Contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to vote in favor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, and, if necessary, to enact the “nuclear” option.  Also, contact your U.S. Congress Representatives, and urge them to vote in favor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, as well.  If your senator or representative refuses, remember this, and do not re-elect him/her when he/she runs for office again.  To do nothing, is to condone this wickedness.

Remember, beloved reader, babies are a gift from God.  They are not animals to be put to sleep when they are no longer convenient or healthy.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

P.S. – If you are unsure of what to say to your senators and congressmen/women, here is the letter that I have sent to my representatives.  Please feel free to copy it fully or in part, but please act today!

Dear (Insert Senator’s name or Congressperson’s name),

I am writing to urge you and your colleagues to bring the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act to the floor to be voted on once again, this time, using the “nuclear” option to pass this bill. Surely, the Senate’s arcane rules regarding a 2/3 majority should be overruled in this instance, when protecting a child born alive, from infanticide!

As a member of the Senate, you have sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and to protect your citizens from murder and injustice. I appreciate that you voted in favor of this bill, but it is not enough. We, the citizens of this country need you and your colleagues to bring this bill to the floor once again, and to pass it into law as soon as possible, lest our country slide further down the slippery slope into infanticide than we have already descended. Your opponents, the democrats, have made no secret of their agenda, and if you fail to act now, our country is in danger of losing all the rights that we hold so dearly.

Thank you in advance for your prompt action on this matter, and please remember, that time is of the essence!

Sincerely,
Cheryl A. Showers

 

Tragedy? Or God’s Will?

Filled with hatred and rage, Joseph’s brothers had thrown him into an empty cistern (click here to learn more about cisterns).

ancient-cistern

Can you imagine the fear he felt at his brothers’ rage?  Joseph was simply doing his father’s bidding.  I’m sure he knew his brothers didn’t like him, because they had made no attempt to hide their disdain from him.  Yet, they were still his brothers, and, confident in his father’s love for him, I don’t imagine it ever occurred to Joseph that his brothers’ would ever want to kill him.

Yet, their hatred of him became nauseatingly obvious, when they grabbed him, ripping his coat off him and hurling bitter angry insults at him.  Joseph was only seventeen years old, and there were eleven of them against him.  This was no mere child’s play.  He could see the fury in their eyes, as they grabbed him.  There was no gentleness in their touch and no holding back their ire.  They hated him, and they wanted him to know it, as they roughly dragged him to the empty cistern and threw him in.

Can you imagine how Joseph must have pleaded with his brothers, begging them for mercy?  Can you imagine the utter terror he felt, as they ignored his pleas?  Then after being dragged by his brothers, he was forced into the small opening of an empty cistern, falling, who knows how many feet to the bottom?  I can picture them covering the cistern, then walking away, while the boy cried out to them, still pleading for mercy.

Alone in the dark cistern, his throat raw from crying out to his brothers for who knows how long, do you think Joseph prayed?  I can picture his tear stained face pleading with El Shaddai for mercy, as it began to dawn on him that his brothers would show him none.  I imagine he thought of his father, weeping at the pain his death would cause the old man.

Then, probably after many hours, Joseph heard the sound of the cistern’s cover being rolled away.  I imagine his heart leapt to his throat, as hope filled his chest.  His brothers had returned!  They were sorry for their actions.  Praise YHWH (Yahweh), who had heard his prayers and answered them!  As light filled the dark chamber, I believe Joseph would have forgiven his brothers.  I can picture him grinning up at them, as he stood there, bloodied and dusty, with the stains of his tears still on his cheeks.  Did he thank his brothers for their mercy, as they dropped a rope down, for him to tie around his waist, so they could pull him up?

Did his joy turn into fear once more, as they drew him up, and he saw the same hatred in their eyes as before?  Did he fear they were going to kill him?  As he looked from one brother to another, did Joseph even notice the Midianite traders at first?  Was it his brothers or the Midianites, who informed Joseph that he was now a slave?  Did his brothers smile in satisfaction, as they saw the look of horror on Joseph’s face, when the realization hit him?

Did Joseph see his brothers, with their backs turned against him, greedily dividing the 20 pieces of silver they had just earned for selling him?  Did he rue the day that he was born?  Did he wish for death at that point? Did his faith in the Most High God falter or remain strong?  How he must grieved the loss of his father, his home and yes, even his brothers!  What a tragedy for such a young man to endure!  Or was it a tragedy?  Could Joseph’s tribulation have simply been the fulfillment of God’s will?

Too often, in today’s church, we are taught to believe that if we are faithful, our lives will be filled with health and wealth.  But, if you truly study God’s word, you will discover that this is a lie straight from the pit of hell.  Jesus told His disciples, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33 NLT)

Beloved reader, His words weren’t just for His twelve original disciples.  They were for everyone who would follow Him, then and now.  We will face many trials and sorrows in our lives, just as Joseph did, just as Jesus did, and just as His disciples did.  If someone tells you any different, they are lying to you.

Joseph's Bloody Torn Coat

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are alone in your suffering.  Joseph wasn’t.  Imagine how Jacob, his father felt, when his sons returned to him with Joseph’s bloody, torn coat.  Those of us who are parents, can imagine nothing worse than losing one of our beloved children.  I can only begin to envision Jacob’s horror, as his elder sons informed him of his loss.  How he must have lamented sending his beloved son to check on his brothers that day!  Did he blame himself for Joseph’s loss?  While his other sons tried to comfort him, Jacob swore that he would go to his grave mourning for Joseph, as he wept.  (Read Genesis 37)

Did his brothers feel any remorse for their crime?  Did they, too, suffer for the sin they had committed against their brother, Joseph?  Do you think they felt pain for their father’s grief?  We’ll explore this another time.

But remember this.  As tragic as it was, if Joseph had never been sold into slavery, there would have been no need for Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, more than 400 years later.  So, was this truly a tragedy, or was it simply God’s will?  Is your life a tragedy?  Or is it, too, God’s will?

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Where Do You Live?

I’ve lived in the same old farm house for the last thirty-one years.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s my home.  When I’m at home, I know that I’m sheltered from the many storms that have blown through over the years.  This old house has endured blizzards, hurricanes and tropical storms, yet it has stood firm, despite being more than seventy-five years old.  That could be because the floor joists beneath this old house are whole logs (with the bark still on them), and there are actual 4″x4″ posts, (as opposed to today’s 4″x4″ posts, which are really only 3.5″x3.5″) in the walls, and the 2″x4″ boards truly  are 2″x4″ as well, (not today’s 1.5″x3.5″).

At any rate, when I’m in my home, I feel safe and secure.  If I’ve been out in the world, and someone hurts me, I long for the security of my home.  Whenever I leave my home for a long period of time, I always feel great joy, when I return to the house I live in, because home is where my heart is.

house_PNG50
House (Image Not Mine)

The same thing can be said spiritually and emotionally.  Where we abide is where we live.  Where do you live?

4 *Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it *abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you *abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who *abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not *abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you *abide in Me, and My words *abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

(John 15:4-8  NASB)

Strong’s Lexicon Definition for Abide

ménō, men’-o; a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), × thine own.

For many years, I lived (abided) in Jesus, and I was quite happy there.  I’ve preached and shared the gospel with many people, and I’ve been blessed to rejoice in the salvation of others, who came to know and love Jesus.  Yet, because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen, even when we’re in our homes, where we feel safe and secure.

Six years ago, my back started hurting, causing weakness and shooting pains in my legs.  I’ve dealt with back pain my entire life, off and on, and when it started, I figured it was just another flare up, and soon I would be back to normal, but that’s not what happened.  Before long, my back and legs were hurting constantly, and within a year, I had to stop doing prison ministry, and shortly thereafter, I had to leave my job, because I was no longer able to work.  The constant pain began to consume me.

During the next six to eight months, my mother passed away, and my children and grandchildren moved far away, to other states.  I fell into a deep depression.  I was totally overwhelmed by the darkness of pain and depression, and my faith began to waver and wane.  I was no longer abiding in Christ; I was now abiding in pain, depression, guilt and anxiety.

Because of the constant, chronic pain, I was unable to spend as much time as I wanted to spend with my mother before she died.  And although I had shared the gospel with her many times over the years, I was unable to do so, while she lay dying, and I was consumed with guilt because of that.  I questioned  my own salvation.  “How could God continue to love me, when I couldn’t even minister to my own mother?”  I thought.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; *abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will *abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and *abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.

(John 15:9-11 NASB)

Over the next several years, I continued to abide in pain and depression.  I no longer prayed, because I was so disappointed in myself, and I was sure God was too.  I no longer felt His presence.  I simply lived in my pain and depression.  This was now my new abode, and to be frank with you, I’ve been miserable.

Then, just this week, while reading, I was reminded of the scriptures above, and I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “Abide in Me.  Abide in My love.”  He was telling me to live, dwell, endure, tarry, stand in His love; in Him!  I still have the same physical pain, but I don’t have to live in and wallow in it.  Instead, I choose to immerse myself in His love for me.  His love didn’t stop because I didn’t share the  gospel with my mother one last time before she died.  My pain isn’t a punishment from God.  It’s just a part of life in this fallen world.

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

(John 16:33 NLT)

Losing my mother, my chronic pain, and having my children and grandchildren so far away from me are just a few of the many sorrows and trials I will endure, but I don’t have to try to go it alone.  Jesus tells me to take heart, because He has overcome the world.  I’m not alone and unloved, for His love is unending, just as He is, for God is love (1 John 4:8b).

I am so very thankful to serve the God of all grace, who remains faithful to us, even in our frailties.  Yes, I continue to have chronic, sometimes debilitating pain, but I don’t have to live in pain.  Instead, while living with pain, I will live in Christ.  Where will you live?


* Emphasis added

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

America’s Immigration Problem from a Biblical Perspective

In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah 1:1-3  NLT

Wailing Wall of Jerusalem

In my last post, I promised to address the United States’ Illegal Immigration problem from a biblical perspective, and one of the first things that I want to note is that Jerusalem, God’s holy city is and has been surrounded by a great wall, for many centuries.  In fact, when the Jewish refugees returned to their ancient home, after being captives of first Babylon, then Persia for seventy years, they returned to find their city in tatters.  Walls were torn down and burned.  Why was this wall so important to Jerusalem, and can we draw any parallels between their wall and the United States’ determination to build a wall today?

When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4  NLT

As you well know, there has been a lot of outcry in the U.S. regarding the building of a wall along our borders.  On the one hand, we have people crying, “Build that wall!” while on the other hand, we have people equally outraged crying out against it.  As I was preparing to write this post about illegal immigration from a bibilcal perspective, the Lord placed Nehemiah on my heart.  Therefore, as I share his story with you, we will compare Jerusalem’s need for their wall to be restored, and our own nation’s cry for a wall.

Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.”

Then I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”

With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”

The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.

Nehemiah 2:1-6  NLT

After much mourning, praying and fasting about the sad state of his homeland and its broken wall, the king of Persia, whom Nehemiah served as a cup-bearer, inquired about his obvious heartache.  Nehemiah then told the king about his concern for Jerusalem, and his brothers and sisters, and the king immediately asked, “Well, how can I help you?”  Obviously Nehemiah had favor with both God and King Artaxerxes.  

The walls of Jerusalem were originally built to protect its inhabitants, including the Judean king, and the holy Temple of God, from the attacks of their enemies.  The walls were built and rebuilt to keep Jerusalem’s enemies out…

After praying to the Lord, Nehemiah asked King Artaxerxes to send him to Jerusalem, so that he could rebuild that once great city on a hill, the land of his fathers, and the king agreed to do so, giving Nehemiah a letter to Asaph, the manager of his forest, instructing him to give Nehemiah the lumber he needed to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, its gates, the Temple gates, and a house for Nehemiah.  King Artaxerxes also sent letters to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to allow Nehemiah to pass safely through their land so he could rebuild the city of Jerusalem.  The king also sent horsemen and army officers along to protect Nehemiah.  (see Nehemiah 2:7-9).

11 So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, 12 I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. 13 After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. 14 Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. 15 So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.

16 The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration. 17 But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” 18 Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.

They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.

Nehemiah 2:11-18  NLT

walls
Rebuilding Jerusalem’s Walls

As I read the response of Jerusalem’s city officials, priests, nobles and members of the administration, I immediately drew a parallel to the response of many of our nation’s citizens cry for Donald Trump to, “Build that wall!”  Like those Jewish refugees from so long ago, our nation’s citizens are weary of the terrorism and hatred that is taking place within and without our nation’s borders.

Please bear with me as I attempt to speak for those United States’ citizens who love our great nation, and who, contrary to the accusations of many more liberal people within the nation, are neither bigoted, racist, hate-filled xenophobes, homophobes, or any of the other epithets aimed at them.  The men and women of this nation, who are crying out for our immigration laws to be obeyed, are simply men and women who care about this nation’s citizens and its children.  Those who want that wall built, do not want it built to keep good, law-abiding immigrants out, but to keep those out, who have no respect for the law.  We have not cried out for new immigration laws, but for those laws that have already been written, to be enforced.  There are some who accuse the people who believe this way of being inhumane.  Some even accuse Christians of not being “good Christians” because they hold these beliefs.  I disagree.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

Romans 13:1-5  NLT

According to scripture,  a “good Christian” obeys the law of the land, providing that law does not cause us to disobey God.  Enforcing our nation’s immigration laws does not cause people to disobey God.  Furthermore, I would submit that many, who are promoting sanctuary cities, and encouraging people to disobey federal immigration laws, are not being humane, but anarchists.  Indeed, when we look at the actions of those who accused President Trump of being a demagogue, who stirred up violence in his campaign, we soon discover that it is many of these people, who are in fact, demagogues.  They have attempted to preempt free speech, by leading violent riots against anyone who does not support their views, on many college campuses across the country.  It is many of these people, rather than the ones supporting adherence to the nation’s immigration laws, who are engaging in anarchy.

anarchy

 [an-er-kee]
noun
1.  a state of society without government or law.
2.  political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control:

The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
3.  anarchism (def 1).
4.  lack of obedience to an authority; insubordination:

the anarchy of his rebellious teenage years.
5.  confusion and disorder:
               Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

It was impossible to find the book I was looking for in the anarchy of his bookshelves.

Legal immigrants and refugees have been, and always will be welcome to settle into our country.  However, those enter into our country illegally, already demonstrate a lack of respect for the laws of our land.  It is utterly wrong to reward those who illegally enter this country, demonstrating their contempt for our laws, while other immigrants, who choose to come to this country legally, must wait for years sometimes.  Further, how is it logical or reasonable to expect the taxpayers of this nation to support illegal immigrants with free healthcare, no taxes, food benefits, and other aid, while many legal citizens are often unable to obtain the help they need???

Is it reasonable to welcome people that we know nothing about, people who may be terrorists and criminals, into this nation?  Absolutely not!  Those who claim that welcoming everyone into our land is humane are wrong.  It is not humane to our own citizens, who may become prey to terrorists and criminals, simply because some people wanted to feel good about themselves by letting anyone and everyone enter our country.

Laws are put into place for the good of the citizens of that land.  Immigration laws protect a nation’s citizens.  Look at how quickly  and horribly radical Islamic terrorism has invaded Europe, since those countries within the European Union have no borders.

A border wall between the United States and Mexico, another nation, is not the same as the Berlin wall, which separated brothers and sisters from the same country (indeed the same city!).  Just as Jerusalem’s walls were necessary and approved of by God, to protect Judea’s sovereignty, so too, is it necessary to protect the sovereignty of the U.S.A., and if that means building a wall, I feel certain the Lord would approve.


Footnotes:

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

Tears of a Clown

Picture it & Write

16 Sunday Jun 2013

Posted by  in EliabethPicture it & Write!
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Tears of a Clown

Words cut deeper than the sharpest razor or sword, piercing a person’s heart, and severing  his/her very soul, killing his/her as the life just drains out of him/her like blood gushing from an open wound…

Wanda sat in the middle of her bed, trembling and hyperventilating as she rocked back and forth. Her stuffed animals and school books  were strewn all over the floor, where she had thrown them all in a fit of rage when she got home from school. “I can’t take it anymore,” she said to herself, as the tears that she’d held inside all day began to pour down her cheeks in a steady flow, mingling with the snot that freely flowed from her nose, as though the floodgates had been opened. Grabbing a tissue from her nightstand, Wanda blew her nose, though the tears and the snot continued to flow unchecked.

Grabbing a piece of paper and a pen, Wanda began to write… Continue reading Tears of a Clown

Home…

Five Sentence Fiction – Home

Jun 12, 2013 ~ Written by lillie

What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction.
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Last week, my husband and I flew to Georgia to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, and though it was the first time I’ve ever been to Georgia, I was home. When we were at the airport in Atlanta, which is like a ginormous maze that was much to large for me to walk through, I was transported by wheelchair to my destination, assuring that my husband and I would catch our flight on time, and there, in that airport, surrounded by strangers from all over the world, I was home. 

Above the Clouds Cheryl A. Showers
Above the Clouds
Cheryl A. Showers

As my husband and I flew high above the clouds and I saw the world below from heaven’s perspective, taking note of the homes and buildings, which seemed too small for even a miniature doll house, while the people below were much too small to be viewed by the naked eye, again, I was home. Continue reading Home…

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

by michelle w. on May 31, 2013

When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction?
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When I read this topic, I had to respond, because I’ve been dealing with guilt for several months now, because I didn’t respond as I wish I would have, and I am so deeply ashamed and disappointed in myself, that sometimes I just can’t stop crying. Even now, I tremble, because if I write about this, family members that I love could read it and be very offended by it. Regardless, many of them think the worst of me anyway, so I’m not sure why that worries me. Perhaps, there is still a part of me that hopes beyond reason that all of the old wounds will one day be forgiven, and there will be restoration between my family and me. Then again, how can there be restoration, unless everyone is willing to face our past openly and honestly?

I will give you back your health
and heal your wounds,” says the Lord.
“For you are called an outcast—
‘Jerusalem for whom no one cares.’”

(Jeremiah 30:17 NLT)

Anyway, back to the questions… When faced with confrontation, do you head for the hills or walk straight in? Was there ever a time you wished you’d had the opposite reaction? Continue reading Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Blow Wind, Blow

#FWF Free Write Friday: Image Prompt

Posted on May 24, 2013 by ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Image Credit: Tumblr

Her eyes furtively stole a glance at him, sitting rigidly upright with both hands on the steering wheel. His firm young jaw line was tightly clenched, while his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed, trying to rid himself of the lump in his throat that signified how close he was to tears. She quickly returned her gaze to the passing fields, fighting just as hard as he fought, not to cry. Continue reading Blow Wind, Blow

Unconditional Love

Previously, I shared with you how excited my five grandchildren were when they saw the picture of their long-awaited baby brother, and how the Lord had spoken to my heart, showing me that this is how He longs for us to worship Him. I can’t even begin to describe to you how blessed and excited I was as the Lord revealed that to me! For those of you who didn’t see the post on True Worshipers, please check it out.

As excited as I was about that post, I’m even more excited to share with you today. Previously, I shared with you how excited my five grandchildren were when they saw the picture of their newborn baby brother, but that was NOTHING in comparison to their response when their Mommy and Daddy brought their baby brother home. I have never witnessed such screaming and shouting and jubilation as when their parents entered the house with their baby brother. There were ooh’s and ah’s and “He’s so cute!” and “I love him!” I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to witness my youngest grandchild’s homecoming, because it was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had! Continue reading Unconditional Love

M is for Mom

m-is-for-mom-2#FWF Free Write Friday: M is for Mom

Posted on May 10, 2013 by KELLIE ELMORE
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My mother passed away on February 15, 2013, just a few short months ago, and I miss her more than I ever dreamed I would. She wasn’t a perfect mother, just as I am neither a perfect mother, nor a perfect daughter, but she loved me the best she could, and that was good enough for me!

“There’s a story behind everything… but behind all your stories is always your mother’s story… because hers is where yours begins.” ― Mitch Albom

Mama, the quote above says it all… your story is the beginning of my story, but I’m not strong enough or ready to write your story yet, so, I settled on these acrostics to give a brief, though incomplete glimpse into your life… God alone, knows how much I love you. Continue reading M is for Mom

Daily Prompt: Silver Screen

Daily Prompt: Silver Screen

by michelle w. on March 13, 2013

Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!
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“Do not cite the Deep Magic to me Witch. I was there when it was written.”
Aslan – Chronicles of Narnia
“The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”

Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: Th...
Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If ever there was a show stopper, this was it. In case anyone wondered what this story, this allegory was about, it suddenly snapped into focus, as everyone suddenly realized that the character, Aslan, Lion of Narnia, was truly an allegorical character for none other than Jesus Christ, Lion of the tribe of Judah, and that the witch was merely an allegorical characterization of Satan himself. My heart rejoiced at this famous line in the movie, as the white witch tried to explain the meaning of the words, written by Aslan, much in the same way Satan tried to twist God’s Word to Jesus as he tempted Him in the wilderness, until Jesus, also known as the Word of God, had finally had enough!

10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only Him.'”

~ Matthew 4:10 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://hbiblecommentary.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/john-11/

If only everyone could see that as beautiful as this allegorical movie is, there is even more beauty in the true story of Jesus Christ, who was both the Lion and the Lamb. My heart’s desire is that all who enjoyed this movie would know the true joy of knowing the truth about Jesus Christ, who was the very Word of God.

1 In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and He was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 He created everything there is. Nothing exists that He didn’t make. 4 Life itself was in Him, and this life gives light to everyone. 5 The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

~ John 1:1-5 NLT ~

He was in the beginning with God, and He created everything there is. In fact, nothing exists that He didn’t make. 

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. 16 Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see — kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together.

~ Colossians 1:15-17 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://darrellcreswell.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/god-and-math-prove-that-nothing-is-greater-than-the-love-of-god/

My friends, you can go ahead and call it gravity if you want, but the truth is that everything was created through Christ and for Him, and it is He that holds all of creation together. It was He, who knew before He even laid the foundations of the earth, that man would sin, yet He chose to create us anyway. He knew that we would be tempted by the devil, and that we would choose to lie, cheat, steal and kill, rather than follow in His ways, but He chose to create us anyway. 

He knew that the only way to pay for sin would be death, but He had a plan.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ Romans 6:23 NLT ~

He knew the only way to save us from death and eternal damnation would be for Him to leave His throne in heaven and come to live here on earth as a man, and He made up His mind to do just that. He knew that no one else could do it, because there was no one who was just and holy. Everybody had sinned, so it would have to be Him.

10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is good — not even one.”

~ Romans 3:10 NLT ~

23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

~ Romans 3:23 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://petehise.com/2010/02/jesus-carried-the-weight/

He knew that Him living a perfect and holy life would not be enough to save  us from the penalty of our sin. He knew that He would also have to suffer for our sins. He knew that He would have to carry the weight of every person’s sins on His shoulders. He would have to suffer the pain of every man, woman and child who had ever lived before, and who ever would live. He would have to carry the sins of people who would never repent, and He would have to pay for them. Can you imagine how difficult that must have been? 

21 God made this sinless Man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with Him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.”

~ 2 Corinthians 5:21 CJB ~

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/inspirationalimages/4484580976/

Have you ever been punished for something that someone else did? Have you ever felt the righteous anger that rises up as you are falsely accused? Do you know what it’s like to experience rejection because of something you were wrongfully accused of? It’s hard, but you can tolerate the rejection of strangers, but what about those that you love? Do you know what it feels like to have those that you love turn their backs on you, knowing that you have truly done nothing wrong? Have you ever felt the pain of someone you love looking at you with disappointment and shame, knowing that nothing you say will convince them that you didn’t do what you were accused of? That’s what Jesus endured, and yet, He didn’t even try to defend Himself against the false accusations. Instead, He chose to lay down His life, so that you and I could live.

As I watched Aslan die on the stone slab, I thought of all of this, but inside, my heart was rejoicing, because you see, I know the ending of the true story… Jesus did suffer dreadfully. And unlike Aslan, people didn’t see the Lion of the tribe of Judah when they saw Him. They just saw a plain, unimportant man…

1 Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal His saving power? 2 My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. 3 He was despised and rejected — a Man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God for His own sins! 5 But He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! 6 All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him the guilt and sins of us all.7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. 8 From prison and trial they led Him away to His death. But who among the people realized that He was dying for their sins — that He was suffering their punishment? 9 He had done no wrong, and He never deceived anyone. But He was buried like a criminal; He was put in a rich man’s grave. 10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush Him and fill Him with grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, He will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s plan will prosper in His hands. 11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of what He has experienced, My Righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear all their sins. 12 I will give Him the honors of One who is mighty and great, because He exposed Himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.

~ Isaiah 53 NLT ~

Oh my friends, the people of His day totally missed who He was! They didn’t put two and two together — and sadly, many people throughout many generations since have not been able to put two and two together. They too, have missed who He is!

Beloved, do you recognize who this Jesus is? Do you know this Lion of the tribe of Judah? He is the King of kings and Lord of lords! He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end! He is the Savior of the universe! He is our hope… our peace… our joy… He is Jesus Christ and He is Lord.

Image Credit: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/every%20knee%20shall%20bow

There is also one more thing that I must share with you, beloved, so that you will know the whole truth. Yes, Jesus suffered, bled and died on the cross for your sins and for mine. And yes, He was buried in a borrowed tomb. BUT, on the third day, He arose from the dead, and He is now seated at the right hand of God, the Father, Almighty, and He is coming back again one day, to reign and to rule forevermore. Therefore, whether you acknowledge Him as Lord now, or whether you reject Him now, know this… There is coming a day, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

6 Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. 7 He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. 8 And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a name that is above every other name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

~ Philippians 2:6-11 NLT ~

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Erasure

Daily Prompt: Erasure

by michelle w. on March 12, 2013

You have the choice to erase one incident from your past, as though it never happened. What would you erase and why?
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Image Credit: http://www.dickblick.com/products/soft-pink-beveled-eraser/

If I had the opportunity to erase one incident from my past, as though it never happened, what would I erase and why? This is actually a question that I’ve given a great deal of thought to. In fact, I’ve even ministered to female inmates about this very subject, and the truth is that if I could erase one incident from my past, I would pass on that opportunity. 

If I could erase one instance of pain, abuse, rejection, abandonment or fear, I would refuse to do so, because every terrible, horrible incident in my life was ordained by God, to help mold me into the woman that I am today. 

2 Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. 3 For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

~ James 1:2-4 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://gallery.mobile9.com/f/952728/

If I could go back to that day so many years ago, when as a scared little girl, I experienced the unthinkable, as my stepfather molested me, leaving behind a traumatized little girl with some very serious issues that would take more than two decades to resolve, I wouldn’t change a thing. For you see, that frightened little girl learned to cry out to God, seeking safety in Him, because there was safety in Him alone. Certainly, my earthly parents didn’t protect me.

If I could go back and pinpoint the time when I first felt unloved and unlovable, I would not erase that time, because when the Lord revealed to me the height and the depth, the width and the length of His love for me, I appreciated it so much more.

 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. 39 Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ Romans 8:38-39 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://www.c28.com/streetteam/contentdetails.asp?ContentID=318

Shall I give you an illustration of how God revealed His great love for me? My whole life, I felt unloved and unlovable, and I remember from the time I was a little child, having a deep longing to be loved. I used to hug my mother tightly and tell her I loved her, and though she said she loved me too, I couldn’t believe it, because I felt unlovable… Then, many years later, I remember riding in my car with my daughter, who was expecting her first child, a little girl, and we were talking about baby names and their meanings. Suddenly, as we rode along, I said to her, “Do you know what my name means?” When she said no, I told my daughter, “My name means, ‘Beloved.'” 

Suddenly, the Lord began to speak to me, and I began to weep. “That’s right Cheryl,” He said. “Your name means ‘Beloved,’ because you are My beloved. It was I, who named you in your mother’s womb, and your whole life you longed to be loved, not knowing that I loved you all along. I loved you before you were born, and I loved you after. I loved you when you were rejected, and I never forsook you. I loved you when you were molested, and when you thought you were unlovable. You have always been My Beloved, and you always will be My Beloved.”

If I could go back and erase any instant or any day, I would erase none, because every step I’ve taken has led me here. I am now in a place where I know I am loved, and because of the pain, the abuse, the rejection and abandonment that I’ve suffered, I am not only loved, but I am able to love freely. Because I’ve been forgiven much by God, I am also able to forgive much. Because I know what it is like to be miserable and depressed, apart from Christ, I appreciate the joy that I’ve found in Him all the more.

Therefore, although I appreciate your kind offer of erasure, I must decline.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

I Will Always Love You, Mom

I will always love you, Mom
No matter how far away
It doesn’t matter how long
No matter what some may say

You are the mother God chose
And I will love and respect
The love that you gave — God knows
As I look back and reflect

Mama, I miss you so much
Though it’s been only a week
And though I long for your touch
Comfort in Christ I will seek

Mama, I fervently pray
While in this world I still roam
That we’ll meet again one day
When my Lord Christ calls me home

Mom, your work is completed
It’s time to go to your rest
With Christ, you’re not defeated
I’ll always love you — be blessed!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Update on My Mother

Greetings My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

I would like to thank each one of you for praying for my mother and my family. I know God heard our prayers, and on Friday night, February 15, at approximately 11:00pm, my mother went home to be with the Lord. I praise God, because He took her gently, as my sister, me and our husbands sat beside her praying, for her and talking to her.

I’ve always loved my mother, but now, in her absence, I’m coming to realize just how precious she was to me. Please continue to pray for my sister and I, as we adjust to life without our mother. I truly appreciate your prayers, and I hold fast to the hope that one day, when I step over into glory, I will again see my mom’s sweet face. I look forward to that day, when I will see her in no more pain, with no more sorrows and no more fear.

May the Lord bless each and every one of you for your continued prayers!

In Christ’s Love,
Cheryl

Updated Update on Mom – 1/31/2012

Image Credit: http://images.sodahead.com/polls/000495795
/polls_inChristPrayerLittleGirl_2944_960947_poll_xlarge.jpeg

My Beloved Readers, Followers, Friends, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My mother suffered a mild heart attack last night. Please continue to pray for Mom, my sister, and me. Mom is really having a difficult time, with the dementia, loss of independence, and failing health. She must be so scared. It breaks my heart, because I love her so much, and I hate to see her suffering.

My sister also needs your prayers and love. She is carrying a lot on her plate, between caring for Mom, as her POA, and work, and her family. Please pray that she feels the Lord’s love, strength and comfort during this difficult time.

Image Credit: http://lessonsinashell.blogspot.com/2011/04/prayers-and-praises_27.html

Please also continue to pray for me… I love both my sister and my mom very much, and want to be there for them and help them as much as possible, but pain is hindering me. Please pray for the Lord’s strength so I can be there with them and help them both.

I’m going to try to rest some now – much love to you all. I am so thankful to be a part of this great family of believers, who continue to edify and pray for me though we have never seen one another face to face. Much love to you all!

God bless you,
Cheryl

Update on Mom – 1/31/2013

My beloved friends and brothers and sisters in Christ,

Thank you for the prayers that you are lifting for my mother. We didn’t have a good day today. It started off pretty good, but it soon took a turn for the worst.

Mom became very angry and frustrated, and I became frustrated and hurt too, because she wouldn’t let me help her. She said some hateful things, and I let it get to me… In hindsight, I now know that she was starting to feel worse, and she was getting frustrated, because she wasn’t able to do the things that we all take for granted, like feeding herself and caring for her own personal needs. She was feeling weak and probably frightened, which caused her to snap at those closest to her… my sister this morning, and me this afternoon.

Because of our past history, I took it personally, and missed what was really going on. Tonight, at around 9:30, she went into acute distress, having difficulty breathing. She had to have another breathing treatment, and more tests and meds.

Please continue to pray for Mom, my sister, and me. Pray that the Lord gives me wisdom to recognize what is really going on, so that I don’t take things so personally, when she says hurtful things. I love her, and I know she loves my sister and me too. This dementia can be both a blessing and a curse.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers… I know that the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, and if two or more will touch and agree, according to God’s will, it will be done.

Much love to you all,
Cheryl

Update on Mom

My beloved readers, followers and friends,

Image Credit: http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww32/
Ladybee2009/Thank%20You/
ThankYouforPrayingforMe.jpg

It’s about 1:15am on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, and I am getting ready for bed, but I just wanted to give you a quick update on my mom. Her fever is down, praise God! However, she still has some “crackling” in her lungs, and she is coughing now. My sister and I are praying and believing that the coughing is a good thing, because it is breaking up the fluid in her lungs. 

Please continue to pray for her. She asked me if Dad came to see her last night, and I said no, and then, later today, she asked my sister why Dad hasn’t been to see her. My sister didn’t want her to think that Dad didn’t care for her, so she reminded mom (who has dementia) that Dad had passed away.

Please pray for my sister too, because I know that was hard for her to do, and she really misses Dad (who died more than a year ago) too. I love her. She is a good, strong woman, who has been a good daughter to Mom and Dad, taking care of them on her own, when I couldn’t be there for them. I pray that the Lord will let me be a blessing to both my sister and my mother.

At any rate, this has been a difficult day for Mom. Dementia can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing, because Mom is able to forget her grief a lot of the time, but it’s also a curse, because whenever she is reminded of Dad’s passing, it’s as though she begins to grieve all over, and for her, it’s like it just happened.

I need to go to bed now, but thank you for praying, and please don’t stop. We all need your prayers.

I pray that the Lord continues to bless each one of you, my beloved brothers and sisters, for sacrificing your time to pray for my family…

One final thing – although I hadn’t planned to write anything today, the Lord gave me a strong word, which I posted a few minutes ago. Please pray for the word that He released through me tonight, that it will touch the hearts of each one who reads it, and accomplish all that He has sent it to accomplish.

Much love to you all,
Cheryl

Daily Prompt: Clean Slate

Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?
Daily Prompt: Clean Slate

Photo Credit: http://thechristianwallpapers.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/christian-wallpaper-large-172.jpg

“Oh my,” I think to myself as I’m greeted by the short overweight woman’s friendly smile and she invites me to sit at her dining room table, which is covered by a gaudy lime green  Christmas table-cloth covered with red and white striped candy canes. The table-cloth matches nothing in the room… It doesn’t match anything in the entire house, but this woman doesn’t even seem to care. 

Directly across from me sits a pellet stove atop a beautiful deep dark red brick hearth, which is approximately five feet by five feet. It looks very old fashioned, and the lovely brick hearth rests in the right hand back corner adjacent to the kitchen and climbs the two walls around five and a half feet in height. The hearth is capped by a brick mantle about six inches wide, on top of which rest black framed photographs of the woman’s many grandchildren. 

Photo Credit: http://shareyourwallpapers.com/upload/wallpaper/photo-art/christian-wallpaper/christian-wallpaper_7a8ffcbf.jpg

Above and beside the hearth is unfinished drywall. It’s as if someone began a home improvement project that was never completed, but again, the woman who sits at the table across from me doesn’t seem to mind it. Next to the hearth is a single window, which is covered by white mini blinds, which are closed. The woman explains that the window and pellet stove are on the north side of the house, which is the coldest, and receives the most wind in the winter, so the mini blinds stay closed. “Besides,” she grins at me, “it’s not like there’s a great view. The window overlooks my neighbor’s driveway and house, and I don’t want them to think I’m spying on them,” she laughs gaily.

Photo Credit: http://www.desktopbackgroundsfree.net

In the next corner is a lovely beech wood china hutch, which sits caddy corner, holding her husband’s great-grandmother’s china, which consists of white plates and bowls with turquoise and red willows, lined in silver trim. The sugar bowl, and the coffee cups have turquoise exteriors, and white interiors, again, lined with silver.

All in all, the hutch and the china are lovely, which is what makes the next wall seem completely out of place. On the next wall, which faces the front, west side of the house, are twin windows, side by side, covered with white mini-blinds, which are closed. These blinds are also kept shut year round, because they are drafty in the winter, and in the summer, they allow the air conditioning to escape. The wall on either side of the windows is a beautiful, aged knotty pine wall. Directly in front of these windows sits a dusty, plush green recliner that has clearly seen better days, and is loaded with books and dvd’s. The woman laughingly explains that her husband and son-in-law forgot to load the chair when they went to the dump a couple of months ago, and so there the chair remains, collecting books and dust.

Beside the chair is the woman’s printer, computer tower, and a telephone with a very short cord. Above the computer rests a cordless phone. Again, the woman laughs as she explains that the cordless phone no longer works, and the corded phone was given to her, and since she can’t afford to buy another phone right now, she makes do with the short-corded phone. I’m not sure why the broken phone remains hanging on the side of the woman’s bookshelf, unless, like the green recliner, her husband and son-in-law forgot to take it to the dump also.

Next, is the spot where the woman says she spends most of her time. The combination desk with bookshelves is built into the knotty pine wall and is also knotty pine. The prior owner from many years ago had built this, and it is quite lovely. I note right away that this woman must be an avid reader, as the shelves are filled to the ceiling with books. Also, as I look at the books on the shelves, as well as the ones in the green recliner I see at least ten different bibles. 

I look at the woman in askance, “Why so many bibles?” I question.

“Oh, I love to read the different versions,” she replied. “Sometimes the wording of one translation speaks to me more clearly than another might.”

“But don’t they all say the same thing?” I question.

“Sure they do, but even though they say and mean the same thing,” she replies, “the wording of one translation may bring things to light in a clearer way.”

I nodded. That makes sense. Anyway, continuing, I notice that most of the books are religious. I ask the woman about that, and she smiles and says, “I’m a Christian, and I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. He is my passion, and I love to talk about Him, read about Him and study His word. 

“Do you see that chair in front of the desk?” she queries, then continues when I nod in acquiescence, “I spend a lot of time there. Sometimes, I waste my time and play silly computer games, but other times, I write. I write posts for my blog. I write poetry, and I work on writing my book. I also spend a lot of time burning worship cd’s which minister to me and to others.” Indeed, as I look closer, I see that she has a stack of cd’s on the stand next to her desk.

As I look around, I also can’t help but notice that the woman has papers strewn about in various places, and I have to ask, “How can you find anything?”

Photo Credit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com

Again, she bursts into gales of laughter. “Sometimes I can’t,” she replies. “If you ask me to find something on the computer, you will find that I am extremely organized. Everything is organized in files and folders. But alas!” she says dramatically, “I’m horrible with paper. I just can’t seem to organize myself. I try, and I will go through like a whirlwind and clean things up, but within a short period of time, I will again have this disarray to contend with.”

As I look around the room, and then look behind me into the living room, I’m struck by the contrast, and I question her about it. “My husband is just the opposite of me,” she replies. While I have a very abstract-abstract personality, my husband has a concrete-concrete personality. I think he has OCD,” she confided. “He has to have things very neat and organized, or it throws him off kilter, while I, on the other hand, am simply scattered. Therefore, in order for him to have some semblance of peace, I’m careful not to leave a mess in the living room.”

Again, she grins mischievously, “At least I try most of the time. There are too many occasions when I miss the mark, but praise God! I’m married to a good man who is very forgiving.”

I peruse the room one final time before I must leave, and in spite of the clutter, despite the seeming chaos of papers, there is a warmth here and a peace that I am loath to leave. “You’re welcome to stay awhile,” the woman lovingly invites, and as she offers me a drink, I find myself accepting her offer. “That’s what it is,” I think to myself. “The warmth I feel in this house is love. I believe I’ll abide in the warmth of this woman’s abode for a little while longer.”

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

(Colossians 3:14 NLT)

Swift Blogging Challenge: Look into Your Eyes

Swift Blogging Challenge: Look into Your Eyes

Look at yourself in the mirror. Make sure the mirror is big enough for you see your whole face, and do this in broad daylight. Look yourself straight in the eye and don’t flinch. Say out loud (don’t look away) “I am a good person. I am a good person. I am a good person.”

Write about the experience. Was it easy? Did you struggle? Could you do it? If not, why not? If you did, how did you react? Serious? Laughing? Sad? Did you tell yourself, this is silly? If so, why do you think you said that?

Write it all down, and share!

This exercise brought back memories to me… memories of another time when I stood in front of the same exact mirror, uttering words very similar to these. What a difference fifteen years can make… What a difference God‘s healing grace makes.

Mirror mirror...
Mirror mirror… (Photo credit: antkriz)

Fifteen years ago, when I stood in front of the same mirror, telling the person who stared back at me that I am a child of the Most High God, and that I am worthy of His love, I struggled to look at the woman staring back at me from the mirror. I was instructed to look beyond the woman that I was then, and look back to the little girl locked inside of me, and tell her that she is worthy of love, and that loved her… I was told to retrieve pictures of the little girl that I once was, and to talk to her and show her the mercy that I showed other little girls.

Unless one has struggled with self-hatred and low self-esteem, you can never fully grasp how difficult this assignment was. I remember looking into the eyes of the little girl that I once was, as though I was the third person, looking into the eyes of someone who was not me, and talking to her. I remember the hatred and contempt I felt as I looked at the pictures of this child with my counselor.

When my counselor mentioned the pain and the innocence that was stolen from this child, I remember snarling back, again, as though the little girl in the picture was someone other than myself, “She was never innocent!” You see, I blamed the little girl I once was for all of the sins that had been committed against me. I blamed myself for the beatings I received. I blamed myself for the rejection by my parents, my teachers and my classmates. I blamed myself for causing my dad to molest me, because I had never been innocent.

eye
eye (Photo credit: Ricky Justus)

I could not bring myself to believe that this little girl was ever good, ever innocent, ever worthy of love, and I could not bring myself to believe that I, as an adult was good and worthy of love. And then, I remember visiting my counselor one evening, as we again spread my school pictures before me, and my counselor covered all but my eyes in each picture. As I looked at the eyes, who could have been anyone’s eyes, I could see pain in each of the eyes, but that pain was mingled with hope… except for one picture.

As I looked deep into these eyes, I saw death. It was clear that this picture was taken after I was molested by my daddy. In the eyes of this picture, I saw that all hope had died. Gone were this little girl’s hopes and dreams that had prevailed throughout all those other years despite the beatings and despite the many rejections and ridicule. In all that this little girl (I) had suffered up to this point, I had always retained some hope for the future, but after the final betrayal from my daddy (I had always thought of my stepfather as my daddy), and my mother’s refusal to protect me (“Because,” I thought, “I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love”), my hope had died, as evident in my eyes.

“Cheryl,” my counselor wisely said, “look at those eyes. They could be the eyes of your daughter,” and she was right! My daughter very closely resembles me. “What would you say to that little girl, if she was your daughter? Would you blame her?”

augenblick
augenblick (Photo credit: westpark)

Suddenly, it was as though a dam burst, and with that bursting of the dam, all of those years of bitterness and anger I had directed at myself washed away, as I saw that poor hurt little girl, who tried so hard to earn everyone’s love, but always fell so far short. My heart broke for the little girl I once was, a little girl who had once been innocent. I felt a rush of love for Little Me, who longed so desperately for love, and yet I wasn’t even able to love myself.

Now, fifteen years later, as I look into the mirror, I do see a good person. I see a woman who may not be beautiful in the world’s eyes, but in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of those who love her, she is truly beautiful, from the inside out. I see a woman who loves deeply, and who is deeply loved. I see a woman who has overcome many obstacles in life, by the grace of God and by His mercy and love. I see a woman who has been called by God to share the hope that I have found with others, so that they too will see how much God values each person, and so others will know that if God loved me enough to set me free from the pain of my past, He can surely do the same for them, if they will allow Him to do so.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Dear Mom

Write a letter to your mom. Tell her something you’ve always wanted to say, but haven’t been able to. 
Daily Prompt: Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

A birthday cake
A birthday cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s interesting how the Lord works. Today, the day before your birthday, the daily prompt is to write a letter to you and tell you something that I’ve always wanted to say, but haven’t been able to. And now, when I could say something to you about this, I find that I can’t, because I don’t think you would understand, and I don’t want to cause you anymore hurt or confusion than you already have to deal with. Therefore, I’ll write this letter to the woman you used to be, the younger you, who would be able to comprehend what I’m saying.

I love you Mom, and I want to tell you that I finally understand. I couldn’t have told you this years ago, because I didn’t understand then. I was so ravaged with my own pain that I was unable to understand why you abused me, and why you allowed Dad to abuse me as he did. I always wanted to ask you, “Why?” and, “How could you?”

I remember when I confronted you and Dad about the abuse and told you how deeply it hurt me, I didn’t ask why, because for some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And the truth is, I don’t think you could have told me why, because I don’t think you understood it yourself. But Mom, I get it now. I understand why, and I understand how you could have done it and allowed it, and I wish I could share it with you so that you could understand yourself, and forgive yourself.

You grew up in such a painful dysfunctional family, and you tried so hard to always say the right thing and do the right thing, and I understand how horrible it is when you have so much self-disgust. I understand what it’s like to think you’re not quite good enough, and to try and hide behind a mask of self-confidence, because you’re so fearful that if anyone discovered the truth about how you really feel, and what you really think, they would hate you as much as you hate yourself, and that could destroy you. Mom, I wish that you knew that I understand because I used to have those same feelings, and they’re wrong.

You never had to bury and hide the real you because God loved you anyway, and I would have loved you no matter what. In fact, I did and I do love you in spite of the years of abuse. I loved you despite the fact that you allowed Dad to continue abusing me, because you couldn’t handle the truth.

I understand so much Mom, because I inherited some of your coping mechanisms. It’s easier for me to ignore the unpleasant things in life, rather than facing them until I have no choice. It’s easier for me to wear my happy mask than to be open and let others see what I’m really feeling. It’s easier for me to be “strong” and numb, hiding my feelings even from myself, rather than acknowledging and allowing myself to feel pain, sadness and sorrow, and anger. But the problem with living like this is that it’s all to easy for our whole lives to become a lie, and when we refuse to feel, our hearts become hardened, and then it becomes all to easy for us to begin hurting others… Hurting people hurt people.

Mom, I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who lives in me, because I could have very easily turned into a hardened, embittered woman, who is unable to love her family and those outside of her family, because she has no love or mercy for herself. Mom, I wish you could see yourself as God sees you. You are a beautiful woman, who has suffered much, and that suffering could have been used for good, if you had allowed it.

Even now, that you’re in the nursing home, I think that if you would allow Jesus to heal your broken places, He would give you peace, and empathy for others. My prayer for you, Mom, is that you would know Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and that you would allow Him to be Lord of your life, so that He could begin the good work of healing you from all of the years of pain that you’ve held bound in your broken  heart. I pray that you would know, as all of God’s people should know, the length and the width, the great heights and the depths of God’s love for you. And I pray that you would love yourself as God loves you. I pray that you would know real peace and real joy, both here and now, and in the next life.

This is what I would express to you if you could understand. I love you Mom, and I pray that you have a wonderful, blessed birthday.

Love always,
Cheryl

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Childhood Revisited

What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.
Daily Prompt: Childhood Revisited

I have to be honest with you. My earliest childhood memories are not very pleasant. I have some good memories, but you’re asking for my earliest childhood memory, and I don’t like that one. I didn’t take part in yesterday’s daily prompt, because I’m not ready to write my own obituary, and that just wasn’t something I felt like doing. 😛 However, even though it isn’t one of my fondest memories… (did anyone ever think about doing a prompt about one of our fondest memories?) I will dive in and take you back to another place and time in history…

It was Christmas time, 1964, and…

The children were nestled all snug in their beds
Though visions of sugar plums never danced in my head! 

English: Screenshot of Julie Andrews from the ...
English: Screenshot of Julie Andrews from the trailer for the film Mary Poppins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve often wondered, what is a sugar-plum anyway? The plum in sugar-plum doesn’t sound very appetizing to me, although I have to agree with Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar does help nasty things such as medicine go down much easier… But I digress… okay, back to the topic.

It was Christmas time, 1964. My mother had just given birth to my sister on December 14, and I loved that little bundle of joy, but I was really excited about what was going on in my Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom, where I could hear them talking and laughing. I could hear the sounds of paper ripping, and Christmas music playing on the record player.

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.
English: A bauble on a Christmas tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was our first Christmas together as a family, and it was also the first Christmas that I had at least a small concept of what was going on. I knew that I liked the pretty Christmas tree in the living room, with the tinsel and garland, and its big colorful light bulbs. And oh! The shiny balls that hung from the tree were so pretty. There were red ones and gold ones and silver and green ones. I would have liked to play with those pretty shiny balls, but I wasn’t allowed to touch them.

Even though we only lived in that house a short time, and though I was only three when we lived there, I remember some of it vividly. It had quite an unusual set up, as I recall. I would love to visit that house again, to see how it compares to my memories of it, but it’s been through several remodels over the last forty-some years, so it probably wouldn’t be at all as I remember. Anyway, I digress again (do you get the feeling that I’d rather not think about this memory?). 

To enter my little bedroom, you had to take one step up from the kitchen. There was a door separating the kitchen from my bedroom. It was just a small room, but certainly large enough for a little 3-year-old. Only a few feet away, on the back wall, was my bed. There was probably about three to four feet from the left-side wall and the foot of my bed. It was a twin bed, one side pushed against the back wall of the room, and the head of the bed was pushed up against the right-side wall, on the side farthest from the kitchen entrance. Beside the head of the bed was another door that led to my Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom. There was no closet in the little room, and there were no dressers either, as the room just wasn’t large enough for that.

Oh, and I remember that I really liked the door that led to Mommy and Daddy’s room, because it was one of those doors that was wooden on the bottom half, but the top half was windowed. This allowed the light from my Mommy and Daddy’s room to spill over into my room, which was wonderful, especially for a small 3-year-old with a vivid imagination, and a strong fear of the dark and being alone. Many nights, when I was frightened, I would stand up on my bed, and leaning against the wall by its headboard, I would peek into my Mommy and Daddy’s room, and seeing them made me feel safer. I would watch them for a while, until sleepiness would take over, and then I’d lay back down to sleep.

This night was different, though. There was excitement in the air, and as I heard the laughter and the music coming from their bedroom, I just had to look and see what was going on. So, from my usual perch, I peeked through the window into Mommy and Daddy’s room. Whatever it was that they were doing looked like a lot of fun, and I wanted to get a closer look, so, jumping down from my bed, I walked up to the window of the door, and standing on my tip-toes, I peeked into their room once more.

merry christmas
merry christmas (Photo credit: katie-landry)

Oh my goodness! It was every child’s delight. There were bright shiny ribbons, and packages, and beautiful bows strung about the room. And there were Mommy and Daddy, laughing and dancing, and Mommy was singing at the top of her voice, each occasionally taking a drag of his/her cigarette, as they would wrap the beautiful paper around the boxes. Oh, it looked like they were having such fun! I wished I could join in their fun, but some instinct within me warned me not to let them see me watching them.

I only wished that instinct had warned me a little sooner, as the laughing and singing came to an abrupt halt they spotted me. I quickly jumped back into my bed, covering myself up, as Daddy, followed closely by Mommy stormed through the door and began yelling at me. My earlier joy quickly melted into fear, as Daddy grabbed my left arm and lifted me from the bed, beating me with his open palm, cursing and swearing all the while. And then Mommy, grabbed me and started beating me, threatening to take all of my beautiful packages back to the store.

All of those beautiful packages were for me? My confused little mind tried to wrap itself around the thought of it, but I couldn’t, as my Mommy and Daddy continued to beat me and scream at me, accusing me of ruining Christmas for everyone. I didn’t mean to spoil Christmas for everyone, but it was obvious that I must have, because they had so quickly gone from laughter and joy to bitterness and rage.

As they commanded me to return to my bed and not to get up again, I laid there trembling, trying to be quiet my breathing, which came in gasping little breaths. I could hear Mommy and Daddy talking in their room again, but their joyous laughter and singing had ceased. Their conversation now consisted of grumbling about the stupid little b@!&# in the other room. I knew that I was the stupid little b@!&# they were referring to, and I was so, so sorry for taking away their laughter and their joy, and for destroying their Christmas.

It was then that I began to believe that there must be something terribly wrong with me, and it wasn’t until many, many years later that I came to realize the truth. How sad that I don’t remember that Christmas, although I’m sure I still received presents, because old pictures show that there were presents. I only remember this sad event, and as I sit here writing this earliest childhood memory, I can look at the little girl inside of me, the girl that I once was, with love and compassion. And I remind her of the words our heavenly Father spoke to us, “Can a woman forget her child at the breast, not show pity on the child from her womb? Even if these were to forget, I would not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands, your walls are always before Me…” (Isaiah 49:15-16 CJB

Little girl within, your heavenly Father loves you with an everlasting love, and He promises that even though your father and your mother may forsake you, He will always care for you, and He will never leave you or forsake you.

For any who read my earliest childhood memory and have their own sad childhood memories, I would encourage you to take time to talk to that child who still lives within you, and comfort him/her. Many times in our lives, people speak lies to us, causing great harm within us, and oftentimes, causing us to hate the children that we once were. I encourage you, to seek the truth about what God says about His children. He is the One who reminds us that we are not accidents, not someone’s mistake, but that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. We are so precious to Him, that He carefully knit us together in our mother’s womb. He says that He knew us before we were even conceived, and He promises that He will not abandon us, but will be with us always, even to the end of the age.

I pray the Lord blesses each one of you, and that you can see that even in the midst of sometimes painful memories, He can do turn them into something good.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Coming Home

http://www.picturesofwinter.net/snowoncabins.jpg
http://www.picturesofwinter.net/snowoncabins.jpg

He was up early that morning, well before the sunrise. Like a child, he ran to the window, beaming with delight as he saw the snow. Yes, he was an old man of eighty-seven years, but there was still a twinkle in his eye, still a childlike wonder as he gazed outside and saw the freshly fallen smooth, white blanket of snow that covered his lawn.

As quickly as his old body would allow, he scurried to put on his long johns, insulated socks, trousers and a blue flannel shirt, given to him last Christmas by his lovely granddaughter Adelaide. He smiled as his gnarled old fingers snapped the buttons, thinking of Adelaide’s clear blue eyes as she peered into his eyes, explaining that she had gotten the flannel shirt with snaps because she knew how hard it was for him to button his shirts, with his arthritis. He sighed. Adelaide was so much like her namesake, his beautiful wife of fifty-seven years. His heart still ached for his beloved Adelaide. Though she had been gone for ten years, her absence still pained him. Shaking his head, briskly, he finished dressing and walked into the kitchen to make some hot cocoa before he went outside.

Then, cocoa in hand, he opened his bible as he did every morning, and prayed. He read just a few verses, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3 KJV)

Removing his glasses, he wiped the tears that suddenly filled his eyes, and whispered, “How much longer, Lord? I miss my Adelaide so much, and I yearn to finally see Your face.” His body shook as great sobs overwhelmed him, and he gave in to the pain and loneliness that had wracked his spirit for so long.

Finally, after several minutes, he pushed his chair away from the table, and regaining his composure, he blew his nose with the sound of a trumpet blast into his handkerchief, replaced his glasses and placed his empty mug in the sink, to be washed later. He grabbed his winter coat from the hook beside the door, after wrapping a warm woolen scarf around his neck and a toboggan over his head, both knit for him long ago by his beloved Adelaide. Finally, after his coat was zipped all the way up to his neck, and the hood tied onto his head, he placed insulated gloves on his hands, laughing at himself as he caught his reflection in the window of the door.

“I look like an Eskimo,” he chuckled, as he walked outside into the bright, pristine whiteness. “Lord, You make all things beautiful,” he whispered, in awe of the beauty all around him. He loved gazing at the beauty of the snow, before any animals or humans had walked in it. There was just something so pure and holy about it.

http://www.picturesofwinter.net/winterscene-55.jpg
http://www.picturesofwinter.net/winterscene-55.jpg

As he continued to gaze at the beauty around him, his heart suddenly skipped a beat. “What’s this?” he exclaimed, as he spotted footprints in the snow, leading away from his house. Now the sight of footprints walking away from his house might not have been disturbing, but for the fact that it was obvious that whoever had been walking away from his home was barefooted.

Curious and fearful lest someone was injured, the old man began following the footprints, until they stopped, at the little grave under the oak tree, where his beloved Adelaide had been laid to rest. Confused, and somewhat fearfully, the old man looked around, and his heart began to palpitate irregularly when he saw Him, and he fell to his knees in the snow, unmindful of the cold dampness as he stared into His eyes, which looked like flames of fire.

Tears filled his eyes, as he looked at the beauty around him, and at the One who now stood before him, asking, “You did all of this for me?” As his Savior nodded, he whispered in awestruck wonder and joy, “Is it time, Lord?” He nodded and lifted him up.

“It’s time, Beloved,” He replied, smiling gently, “Let’s go home to our Father.”

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

Here’s the title of your post: “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse.”
Daily Prompt: Race the Clock

“Let’s do it,” he said, and I couldn’t resist. It was an offer I just couldn’t refuse. My fiance had just begun working swing shift, and after completing the 4p-12a shift, we were desperate to have more time together. “Next weekend is long weekend,” he said, “let’s get married then.” I was ecstatic – of course my answer was yes.

It didn’t matter that both of us still lived at home with our parents, and we had no place to call our own. It would all work out… and it did! Within a week, he had found an apartment for us, we had made arrangements with the justice of the peace to marry us and we had received his parents’ blessing.

My parents were another story. My mother was absolutely certain that I was pregnant, and she made that week one of the most miserable weeks of my life as she kept demanding the “truth” from me. And I have to tell you, it’s pretty horrible when your own mother calls you a “no good whore.”

Still, we made it through that week, and we married on a Friday night in April, at 6:00pm. I rode to the courthouse with my parents, who are always early to everything, and waited for my soon to be husband to arrive. I have to tell you, I was never so happy as when I saw his ugly white Pinto pull into the parking lot.

We were married not a minute too soon, and I always thought of him as not only my husband, but also my rescuer. You see, he rescued me from an oppressive household of abuse, and he loved me and accepted me just the way I am. One of my mother’s parting shots before we left to get married was that this marriage would never last more than six months, but I am happy to tell you that though we only dated for seven months, and although we decided to get married so quickly, we’ve now been married 31 1/2 years and still counting.

He is the love of my life, and I am blessed to be his bride. I always called him my red tag special, because we met at Ames Department Store, where we both worked, and when I saw the title of this post, “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse,” my heart and my mind immediately flew to my husband.