Psalm 139 – You Are There

Have you read this wonderful Psalm of David? I first became acquainted with it through one of the most beautiful songs I ever heard. This piece of music struck me somewhere deep in my soul where powerful, impacting music lodges and changes everything. It was a song composed by the very talented, Dan Burgess, called “You Are There.” It became a bit of a theme song for me way back in the early ‘80s and my heart would about come out of my chest every time I sang it. I haven’t heard it in a very long time. But I thought of this song tonight when Psalm 139 was referenced in a message I was listening to. I wondered if I might be able to find the song on YouTube, and to my surprise I did! I have searched for it before. And yes, it is just as wonderful as I remember although with slightly different lyrics. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to this powerful rendition of David’s incredible love story to God written so beautifully by Dan, sung by Cynthia Clawson, and played by Brian Mann on piano.

PSALM 139 paints such stunning word pictures of a loving Heavenly Father who has known us from even before our birth watching as we were knit together in our mother’s womb.

No matter where we go, where we come from, how high we fly or how deep we may fall, we cannot escape from God’s presence. From the desert to the mountains, from the forest to the oceans…wherever we go He is there. This psalm (song) was set to music as David himself was the original composer.

I hope you will read or listen to the Psalm and find encouragement for wherever you find yourself today Because you can never be lost to His Spirit or get away from His love.

Right after listening to and humming along with this song tonight, I happened across a post on Facebook where I was stunned to learn that Dan Burgess passed away last month on March 11, 2021! Somehow I feel this was God’s way of allowing me the unique privilege of acknowledging the talent and gifts of this wonderful composer and to share how much this song meant in my life. I hope that somehow his family will realize he left behind a significant legacy. He was also the composer of (In Jesus’ Name) “We Press On” another very beautiful song, among many others.

We all have a life to live and for good or for bad, we will have an impact. Dan Burgess had an impact on me that I just felt compelled to share! It’s been almost 40 years since I’ve sung his song. But each time I knew the beauty of the message and the soaring power of the music. There is a place in my soul that this song resides and I trust that I am not alone in my feelings. I am grateful I could acknowledge a gifted composer who touched my life. He painted with a musical paintbrush creating beauty for the ears that reached to the very soul.

Well done, good and faithful servant.🎶

Meet, Know, Follow

As we move forward on the paths of life, we will encounter loss. It may come gradually over time slowly filling us with anguish. It may happen suddenly causing profound and devastating shock. But loss is unavoidable and however it happens, we are forced to face the changes – ready or not.

I met Jesus in my mid-twenties after years of rolling my eyes and changing the subject when He became a topic of conversation. I was searching for Him even though I didn’t realize it was HIM for whom I was searching. One day, God found me. To my amazement, I met my Savior and was captured by the “Hound of Heaven.”

Over many years I came to know and build a relationship with Jesus. I studied the Bible. I attended a church learning under a Godly pastor. I began to recognize Jesus’ voice leading me, and as the years went on and the pain of loss began to tear deeper into my world, I clung to Him. I trusted His faithfulness and great love for me even though I did not understand much of what was happening in my personal life. I KNEW He loved me although I lived shrouded in emotional and relational struggles. He did not take away my pain, but He was there with me everytime I cried

God led me through one painful step at a time. After many difficult years, He led me slowly out of that hard season of loss into a time of joy and abundance. I learned that although He may not answer my prayer as I expected it should be answered, He did have an answer. And it was one I never would have dreamed.

FAST FORWARD Loss continues to follow me of a different sort. From my youngest years I knew I would sing. It was just built into me – even though the reality of it scared me. I first picked up a microphone to sing a solo before our church when I was in my mid twenties. I was terrified! But the joy of communicating a powerful message with beautiful music was like nothing I could have imagined. I continued to sing for over 4 decades loving the sense that I was communicating from the depths of my soul. I sang to an Audience of One regardless how many faces were in front of me. God heard. And each person sitting in their seat heard, each receiving it themselves – as one. Singing was one of the ways I defined my life. Music was a Big Deal to me.

About three years ago, I realized my “instrument” wasn’t working as it always had. I felt as if I had somehow swallowed someone else’s vocal cords! My range was rapidly changing, my high notes disappearing. I lost confidence in my ‘identity’ as a soloist. I realized it was time to hang up my soprano hat. And that has been and continues to be difficult for me. I have lost part of what had been part of my identity. Yet I FOLLOW Him where He leads. I trust Him as I walk the path of my life: sometimes in light, sometimes in darkness – not often knowing what lies ahead for sure. But I TRUST Him, wherever He takes me.

If God has seemingly taken something important from you, I know it hurts. There is grief and sadness, confusion and pain. There is a period of mourning for our loss – there is no way to avoid that. But He is always there! He KNOWS. He CARES. He DOES have a plan for our lives and it likely looks nothing like we had imagined.

Here I sit. Writing to you. Painting now and again when my paintbrushes scream to be taken into the light. 🎨 I could NEVER have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would write – that I would PAINT, for goodness sake! That I would care so much to share what the Lord has taught me over 50+ years of holding tight to His hand. That my paintings would bring a smile to someone’s face is such a surprise. Writing and painting did not happen until my voice began to fade away…

I pray these words might encourage you in your season of grief or loss. He is FAITHFUL and He will continue to use you in ways you may not have yet considered.

I have followed and trusted Him these many years since He ‘caught’ me. And Jesus has loved me well. He has forgiven me for every mess I’ve made, for every heart I’ve wounded, for my anger and frustration and hurt for so many years – He has loved me and will love me, to the last breath I take. And He is there for YOU. All you need to do is call out to Him and invite Him into your wounded heart.

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Meet, Know and Follow Jesus is the mission statement of my home church, Traditional Service at Sun Valley Community Church, Tempe, AZ

I Will Lift Up My Eyes

I live in the Grand Canyon state. Most people living anywhere in the world can identify this breathtaking piece of real estate. If you are standing at the rim, you will look down and across and as many times as you may have seen it in photographs, your mind can barely grasp the awe of what lies before you. If you make the significant effort to hike down to the bottom you will most definitely be looking up, possibly seeing the same place but from an entirely different perspective. Your perpective matters.

My heart hurts over the tangles and knots of this past year. Many people we love, trust and respect are separated from us by distance or by opinion. FEAR seems to be the word of 2020/21. I propose we replace the word fear with these words:

Giving and Blessing

One of God’s greatest gifts is the gift of giving. “It is better to give than to receive.” These words are attributed to Jesus in Acts 20:35 when Paul said, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

This has been a hard concept that has taken a lifetime of learning for me! In one of the most amazing verses in the Bible God says this: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” Malachi‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭RSV‬‬ Test me in this, God says. This is not prosperity gospel. This is God saying I have made the world to operate this way. Obey me and see if I do not bless you in return.

There were times in my life I had absolutely nothing to give but the gift of encouragement. It cost nothing other than paying attention to and investing in relationships with others. There is joy in giving our time in service to needs in our community and in obedience to His calling and nudges on our heart. And we can seek to be more intentional in ways that will bless people who are really struggling. So many are emotionally wounded and hiding behind doors and masks desperately hoping to find their real life return to them! So where we are now and in whatever place we feel confident to stand, I pray we would test God in this, and reach out to others as we are able in obedience to His direction. We cannot take any of it with us: time, talent, or treasure. Help us be blessed to be a blessing, Jesus.

Lord, we most desperately would love to see our world as you see it! Your perspective is so much higher than ours. We see through a glass darkly, as Paul says. In these days where so many of us are weary and discouraged, I pray You would help us to look UP!

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.” Psalms‬ ‭121:1-8‬ ‭RSV‬‬

So as You give to us Your protection and Your watchcare, Lord, I pray You would enable us to be wise and to seek Your leading that we might spread JOY and HOPE in these days. Help us to see as You see and love as You love. Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness, and that You reached down and offered us the incredible GIFT of YOURSELF in Jesus.

We give You this day, Lord, in Jesus’ name. AMEN

WHAT Do You Want God to Do for You?

I love the author and pastor, Mark Batterson, of National Community Church in Washington, DC. One of his recent books is called “Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God.” It is wonderful and thought provoking reminding us of the many ways we can know God is speaking to us. Obviously, the first place is in His Word, the Bible. A blind man called out to Jesus from the side of the road. Jesus asked Him what seems an obvious question in Luke 18:41

”What do you want me to do for you?”

Mark Batterson said: “We’re out of touch with what we really want. If we don’t know what we want, how are we going to know when we get it? Maybe it’s time to take inventory. What do you want God to do for you? You owe it to Him to answer that question.”

Mark went on to say, “We let the expectations of others override the desires God has put in our hearts.” (pg 92 “Whisper”) Just think about that statement for a minute… Is there something you’ve always had as a secret desire deep in your heart that you have stuffed away?

Let’s each look deep within today sifting through all the COVID clutter to find our one and only true life. This is our now, our gift of breath – our present. We don’t get to do this over. What is a deep longing that You can bring to Jesus’ feet and ask Him to bless and prosper? Are you hiding from a calling because you are afraid of failure? Do you long for a good friend but have fears about their condemnation or disapproval? Do you have something you have always wanted to do or be?

What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Watercolor and writing have always been a secret desire for me. Hidden away in notebooks and closets for a lifetime, I strove to meet the expectations and needs of others oblivious to what God had placed in my heart…until I heard His call and knew it was His time.

What place in your heart aches to be filled? In James 4:2b James says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Those are pretty powerful words… I encourage you to ask Him to clear away the cobwebs and clutter around you and dust off your passions. Go before God and ASK Him for what is deep within You.
It is too easy to fill those empty spaces with very wrong things: eating too much, falling into depression, unwise choices. None of us are strangers to these things…So I pray honesty, vulnerability, WISDOM and TRUST in this process.

One of my favorite promises of Scripture is Psalm 37:4. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What is your heart’s desire today? Are you lonely, frustrated, fearful, hiding? Is there a secret part of you that wants to poke your head out and shine? ASK Him. TRUST Him. BELIEVE Him. Because He sees you as you sit by the road. He only wants to know from your heart, what it is you need from Him. And maybe more than anything, you need Jesus Himself.

Thinking About What I’m Thinking About…

Heading Home

Yesterday morning I read something on Facebook that created a shower of conflicting emotions. Where I had been before at ease, I was abruptly in a different time reliving painful feelings. As I thought about how these words made me feel, I was struck by how powerfully emotions can affect our lives. They are not “reality” as much as they are possibly a previous reality – but they can change our present if we let them. I had to have a heart to heart with my head and instruct it to straighten up and fly right. Think about what you’re thinking about, Cheryl!

Later in the evening a remarkable event occurred which brought me unexpected joy, but also enabled me to give unexpected blessing to someone I love. I experienced the profound impact of emotions and this time it was from a place of JOY. I relived how happy it made me to surprise and gift someone who matters so much to me all through the night into this morning!

I chose to share the painting, ‘Heading Home.’ This solitary bird battles strong wind currents and must continue to powerfully pound its wings regardless of how it may be feeling. There is a goal in sight and that must be its mission to stay focused on the task. The apostle Paul said in Phil 4:8, “…whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise – think about these things.” Also in Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

We are encouraged to renew our minds. To think about what we are thinking about. Don’t let your thoughts or emotions drag you into a dark place. Be careful what you focus on and what information you feed your heart. These days it is easy to feel we are sinking in the chaos and disinformation swirling powerfully against our peace of mind. FOCUS. Look up.

If you like my art and my posts, please consider visiting my gallery

“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all you do acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.“ Prov 3:5, 6

Living Water

We need You, Lord, every hour. Precious God and Savior, we come to Thee🎶

Cheryl