Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chosen

"Me! Pick me! Come on, pick me!"
Excited bouncing, desperate hands stretched to their maximum height and getting-louder-by-the-moment pleading, all to be chosen for something. Does this sound familiar to anyone? 
If you've ever been around kids, or been a kid, you can visualize this scene. Do you remember when you were young, standing in a circle, waiting to be picked for the dodge-ball team, the kickball game, the freeze tag? Not being particularly fast, or strong, or skilled in any of these and other sporting events, I usually was picked last or close to it. You might recall that feeling too; the embarrassment of standing there after everyone else was chosen, or the looks of pity your team captain got from the other players when they were stuck with you. None of the kids I played with were mean to me, they just knew I couldn't help them win, and so, I wasn't wanted on the team. It eventually stopped hurting me; I just accepted that I was never going to be chosen.

Not anymore. All that has changed.

Did I get better at dodge-ball you ask? No; I cannot peg someone from 50 feet away, and I am still slow. Really slow. But I am chosen now so frequently and with such gusto, you would think I was a celebrity. Let me explain.

A few days ago I was visiting dear friends of mine. They are a beautiful family of nine, and each one of them I call friend, even down to their nineteenth month-old. I had not even gotten inside yet when I heard their oldest son shout out,
" I call Sarah!"
Instantly the house filled with just as eager cries of, "No, I got her!" or "Hey it's my turn!" and "No! I want to!" from the other kids. What were they calling dibs on? Sitting next to me at dinner. Now, this wasn't a first time occurrence; this happens EVERY time I go there to share a meal with their family. Sometimes even the parents join in! They actually keep track of who sat next to me the last time, so that everyone gets their turn. I cannot adequately express how loved and happy this makes me feel each and every time. To be singled out, for someone to want to be near me, to be chosen.

Now think about something else for a moment; this is exactly how God feels about you! He calls your name every moment, desperately wanting to be close to you. He wants you on His team! He has already prepared a place of honor, right next to Himself, and He persistently asks you to join Him there. He desires your company, your presence, your closeness. Always. This desire is made known throughout scripture, but one of my favorite times is in Isaiah 43 verse 1:

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

He has called you by name. You are His. His chosen one, His delight. Shame and fear are no longer yours to cling to. You can rest against the Almighty's chest, hear His heart beating for you, just as John did at the Passover meal. How different would your daily walk look if this was the truth you woke up to everyday? If His love song for you was what you heard in your mind throughout the day, His speaking your name the last thing you heard each night?

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

 
I can tell you from experience; being at my friend's house for a meal is a joyful thing. Being the cause of such exultation, being almost fought over, never fails to make me feel important, cherished, loved. It is not because I am awesome. I don't deserve the love of this wonderful family. It is all a gift; a gift from them and really, a gift from God. As is His love for us.

So the next time you feel left out, unwanted, or unloved, remember this. You are not any of those things.

You are chosen.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9

Be blessed.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Called

To follow you out of this vessel, the work of my hands
The work of men
To meet you among the swelling waters
your Father's craftsmanship

I should not doubt, for you are always good
Surely, you, would not let me drown

But as the waves engulf me, and darkness wipes out your face, I fear 
you have invited me to death

"What kind of Messiah are you?" will be my last bewildered thought.

And then I feel your strong hand grab my own
Human hands
You draw me to yourself, out of the depths
Your voice gentle and unquestionable
The voice of God

And now I doubt which was better, to stand on the water with you,
or to be rescued out of it by you.

We return to the boat, my heart ashamed by the relief it feels
to be on familiar ground
Your eyes lock on mine
You know
And smile
The smile of The Son
And now I know
I will be walking on water from now on.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Lord has been good to me





The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3

I couldn't do it.

It was about 3 weeks before I left for Scotland and I was at the end of my rope. Stressed by life's constant flow of cares and responsibilities, and so afraid about the unknown. Afraid of my dream, of going to the land God had put on my heart. Did I have enough money to go? Should I even go? There were many people I could think of who could use the funds I was going to spend on my trip. Would my family be ok without me? Would my friend and I get kidnapped, lost or murdered by pirates? Oh, and did I mention that I had never flown and was very nervous about going 40,000 feet up in the air in a metal tube?

Oh boy.

On top of all that, I had gotten some terrible news from a dear friend that day. Her grief and pain caused my heart to ache for her and doubt myself, because I had not seen her suffering.

It was not a good day. And I was ready to give up.

I was returning home late and was listening to Joni Eareckson Tada's short devotional on the radio when she began to sing this song:

The Lords been good to me and I will praise the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The birds and the trees and the apple seed

The Lord has been good to me

I was struck by this simplistic yet true song. The Lord has been good to me and no matter what, I need to praise Him. So I did and rested in His goodness that night.

Fast forward three weeks and a few days. My friend and I are in Scotland. We did not get lost and have not seen any pirates either. We are seated at a long table surrounded by very kind people with the greatest accents. A wonderful family had decided to take us in while we were in the Highlands of Scotland; I will tell that whole story in another post. This was our first night there and they were very welcoming, but I was still worried. What if they didn't like us? What if I was a burden to them? What was I supposed to say? How was I supposed to act? It was time to eat dinner and as we all held hands they explained that they always sang a song of thanks before their evening meal. My friend and I smiled, and I honestly thought I would not know the song and would just listen. And then they began:

The Lords been good to me

Wait...it couldn't be...

And I will praise the Lord

They were singing my song! God, in His great kindness and goodness, was showing me His love for me; that He had me in His hands, that I was His and I could trust Him. So I joined in, with one of the biggest smiles on my face that has ever been there.

For giving me the things I need
The birds and the trees and the apple seed
The Lord has been good to me

He has been and will always be good to me. Praise His holy name forever and ever!

Be blessed!

Friday, November 8, 2013

A longing fufilled

My soul clamors for something, the way things should be and are not. Every time it is urged on, lured to the sweetest satisfaction, it is disappointed, crushed with things that cannot fill the gap, betrayed by things not able to fulfill. But there is One, my Savior, Who touches the empty, barren places in my soul, my deepest being. He makes my heart leap, invites my soul to adventure, and with Him, I am not disappointed or ever let go.
                    Sarah Cookingham, 
                  June 6, 2007.  2:39pm

Six years, 4 months and 6 days since the date of when I wrote that post, I was in Scotland, the land of my dreams. The miraculous journey that God led me on to come to this beautiful land is one I hope to share with you. The story is far from complete, actually it feels as though it is just starting. But the truth is this; God is good. He puts desires in our hearts and brings about His purposes in our lives. Nothing can stop Him; He will always be God and always is good. I pray my stories bring you hope, and most of all, that they bring you closer to the Lover of your soul, Jesus.

The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.
Psalm 145:13

~Be blessed~

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The blessings of a broken oven

100 degrees.

That's all my oven would heat up to today; no matter what temperature I chose, this time-saving cooking device decided that it was only going to give 100%, uh, degrees. Well, that just wasn't going to cook the brownies I was making for a friend's birthday present (Yes, brownies are a great birthday present).
But at this rate my friend would not receive his sweet treats, so I made a plan. I went to another friend's house to use their oven, but no one was home. By now it was getting close to dinner time, and my perfectly thought out cooking and delivery time was falling apart. I was frustrated and certainly not at peace. My Mom suggested friends of ours who live around the block from us (I had not thought to ask them), and within a few minutes of calling them they called me back, asking what temperature should they set the oven to.
I went over, feeling flustered because I was even more behind on my schedule and embarrassed that I had to bother them.
I shouldn't have been.
They welcomed me with such joy and I had a wonderful visit with my friend. As my brownies baked my heart was lifted of worries and burdens that I had carried today, and I even got to share with her a dream that God is making come true. The sweet smells from the oven could not match the sweetness of our fellowship; the oven's 350 degrees could not have been warmer than my friend's love for me.

I would have missed it all if my oven had been working, if my perfect plan for the day had not been disturbed.

My friend got his brownies at the perfect time, the truly perfect time, because it was God's timing, not mine.

Thank You God.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear Jesus,

Some of the recent conversations I have had with Jesus; maybe you have had similar ones too.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for today! I am alive and well, my family is loving, I am healthy and strong. You have given me a wonderful job, many great friends, a good car, a good name, and so much more. Your Spirit is inside me, teaching me and guiding me through life. Your love has captured my heart and saved my soul. Who is more blessed than I? 

Daughter,
 It is My good will to give you blessing upon blessing. Delight Yourself in Me. I delight in you!

Dear Jesus,
I am so lost. I have no idea what to do. I am small and so very weak. My frailty frightens me; O God, I desperately need you!

Child,
I am strong, just come to Me, and do not be afraid.

Dear Jesus,
It hurts. So bad. I cannot even breathe. It makes me doubt Your goodness; do You really love me? And then such guilt invades me when I think back on all You have done for me...why do I fear? Why do I doubt?

Child,
I know Your pain, I feel it too. Trust Me, for I am good.

Dear Jesus,
Forgive me.


I did. It is finished. You are clean and beautiful in My eyes, always.


Dear Jesus,
Jesus, oh Jesus, my spirit is too full to speak any more empty words, so I cry out Your name, Jesus.

Beloved,
Let Me take you in My arms, Speak to me from the cry of your heart, for I hear your every heartbeat.

Dear Jesus,
You did it again! You answered the crying of my spirit with goodness and joy! Thank You Jesus! You have put a song in my heart and Your praise is on my lips! You are great and good!

Dear Sarah,
I love you.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sage Sarah



This morning I was greeted with a wonderful surprise; my sage seedlings have finally emerged from their potting soil beds and decided to say "Good morning" to the world!
This might seem like a silly little thing, but I haven't planted anything in awhile and after two weeks of not seeing any signs of life, I was worried. Plus I had forgotten to water them a few days too many, or so I thought. So this morning I was delighted, until I looked at my other project, my container full of potting soil and rosemary seeds.
Nothing.
My first response was akin to Charlie Brown's in "A Charlie Brown's Christmas"
"Agh, I killed it!"
But just to make sure, I looked at the back of the packet. Sage takes 10-15 days to germinate, whereas Rosemary takes 15-25.
Oh.
I hadn't waited long enough. Dissatisfied with my actions I went the way of blame, the way of not trusting, the way of believing that there was no hope for my seeds or me. What I should of done, what I need to do in every aspect of my life is wait, trust, believe. Wait on the Lord, trust in His goodness, believe in Jesus's love and His total forgiveness of my sins. If I would only wait a little longer, tell doubt and anxiety to get, and stand true in God's word.

Do you know, sage is a symbol for wisdom and rosemary is a symbol for remembrance?

Remember God's goodness, all times and always, for that is wisdom.

Be blessed,
Sarah