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sighThis is another in a series of letters to the members of the Prayer for Prodigals community, with reality for all of us.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

“Sigh.”

How many times have I said, “Sigh”?!  With a deep sigh.

When my prodigal does the same thing again!

When an anticipated good outcome becomes not good at all.

When bad choices require hard choices of me.

When my prayers don’t seem to accomplish anything.

A sigh is a lament.  It expresses sorrow, yearning, weariness, resignation.

And when our journey is ongoing, and our prodigal keeps making the same poor choices, and the pain is weariness, we are deeply sad.  We do sigh in resignation, despair, even hopelessness.

We make a lament.

Which is very biblical.

A lament is an elegy or a dirge.  It is verbalizing our mourning.

And many times we are in mourning, lamenting the loss of peace and hope and dreams.

Scripture has an entire book of laments:  Lamentations.

God is not offended by our tears, our laments, our sighs.  He understands.  He receives and treasures them.  He reaches out to comfort and encourage. He invites us to rest in Him.  To hope in Him.

sigh linusIt is then that a wonderful thing happens.  My sigh changes.  Instead of sorrow and resignation, it becomes my response to His invitations:  A sigh of being understood and accepted, of leaning on Him, of snuggling into His arms, of resting in peace and even contentment.

I have sighed often in the past six months.  And just when I thought the sighing was done, it is back.

So I am giving my lament to God, and asking him to transform my sighing from despair to trust.

May He do the same for you.

Love and grace for your new year.

Judy

What about you?  What causes you to “sigh”?

c2013 Judy Douglass

If you love a prodigal and would like to join this loving, praying community, write to PrayerforProdigalsatgmaildotcom and request an invitation.

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How Long, Oh Lord?

Emotions.   Passions.   Sorrow.  Joy.  Loss.  Birth.

I’ve been on the road for much of past four months—Estonia, Ethiopia, California, North Carolina, South Africa, Colorado, with brief stops at home.   My body doesn’t know what time zone it is in. My stomach doesn’t know what country it is in.  Sleep doesn’t know where to find me.

And during this time of much travel, there has been great emotional upheaval.  A divorce in my very family.  Sweet time with my sisters.  A splintering among friends.  The birth of my newest grandson.  My heart and my mind struggle to absorb the wide swings of my feelings.  Such pain! Such joy!

Yet my ministry goes on.  I write.  I speak.  I meet.  I care about people.  I listen, I pray, I encourage.   My passions for full engagement of women in the cause of Christ, for prodigals to return to their Father and receive mercy, for people to know and love Jesus, for women and girls to be free from sexual abuse and trafficking continue to vie for my attention….too many passions to try to tackle.

How long, Oh Lord?

I am weary.  I think I need time to rest, to pray, to think, to listen, to grieve, to rejoice.  To trust You.

Once again, the emotions of David serve me well:

My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long? (Psalm 6:3)

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:2)

Relent, LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. (Psalm 90:13) (from Moses)

How long must your servant wait? (Psalm 119:84)

David responds:

The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;

    the Lord accepts my prayer. (Psalm 6:9)

I trust in your unfailing love;

    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

 I will sing the Lord’s praise,

    for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

And once again I return to the verse I have rested in over and over:

I am the Lord.  In its time I will do this swiftly. (Isaiah 60:22)

Still I plead:  May it be time.

What about you?  About what are you asking “How long?”

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I’m resting.

At least I’m planning to rest.

After 3 months of much travel all over the world and the U.S., many meetings and projects, and the June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer, I’m ready for some rest.

So I’m at my favorite place—the beach.  With intentions to rest, pray and read.  And maybe a little writing.

I, however, have a long way to go when it comes to resting.  REST was my “word” in 2011.  I spent a lot of time reading about rest in Scripture, and in other books.  I got some great insights.

So much so that I made it the theme of 2011 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.   For 11 weeks I wrote mini-devotionals about rest for last year’s Prodigal Prayer Day, and as I read over them, I realized how much I had gained from that study.  Though the letters in it are written to “lovers of prodigals,” it has great help and hope for all of us who could use a little rest.

So I put the devotionals in a book—a FREE E-BOOK.  I want you to have a copy.  And I would love if you would send it to your friends and share it on Facebook and Twitter.

So here it is—FREE to you:  Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Rest.  My gift to you.  For your Kindle, Reader, Computer. (Instructions included.)

So get some rest!

What about you?  How have you been able to rest?

C2010 Judy Douglass

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Arrowhead Mountain

For many years I lived at Arrowhead Springs, in the San Bernardino mountains.  Right above me was a giant natural formation in the shape of an arrowhead on the side of a mountain.  The area is filled with healing hot springs and legends of flaming arrows striking the mountain.  It was the major landmark in the area.

But for me the formation looked very much like a great shepherd, extending robed arms, saying “Come to me.”  Which, of course, is what Jesus has said to us in so many ways.

As Children

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  (Luke 18:16)

We think we need to know so much, or be so holy, or have it all together.  But no, we are to come in ignorance, immaturity, just as we are.  We are to come to him as children.

To Fish

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19)

He says to come to Him and He will put us to work.  And what work it is:  To fish for those who need to know Him, to draw them into His Kingdom, to offer them new life.

Surprise!

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  (Luke 19:5)

Talk about surprised!  Zacchaeus was short so he scurried up a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.  Jesus stopped right under that tree, looked up at Zacchaeus and called his name.  He said, “Come down so we can go together to your home.”  He says the same to us, wherever we are when we encounter Him.

In the Storm

Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  (Matthew 14:29)

When the earth shakes, when the money runs out, when illness comes, when a loved one betrays…when the waves overwhelm, Jesus calls to us Come.  In the midst of the storm He holds our hand and holds us up.

When You Are Thirsty

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  (John 7:37)

But there is more.  He says that the water He offers is living water that will satisfy our every thirst, our every need, our every desire.

For Some Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

He sees us rushing about, so busy, and He invites us to rest.  Yes, physical rest.  But He also offers rest for our spirits—rest from striving, anxiety, fear, manipulating, trying to make it all happen.  “Sit awhile with me.  I love you and I’m in control.  I will make it happen.”

To Life

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  (John 11:43)

They said he would smell—he had been dead 4 days.  But Jesus called Lazarus out and gave him life.  Some of us have been dead for years, and our lives really stink.  Jesus calls us to come and live—new life, abundant life, hopeful life, empowered life, eternal life.

For Your Reward

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  Come and share your master’s happiness!’“  (Matthew 25:21)

We all like to hear “Well done!”  As we walk with Him, living in the power of His Spirit, becoming and doing what He created us for, we anticipate the invitation from our Savior:  “You are such joy to me.  Come share in my happiness.”

His arms are stretched out, waiting, beckoning you:  Come, my child.  I have so much to tell you, to give you.  I have wonderful surprises ahead for you.  We will love our life together.  Come.

What about you?  In what way is Jesus inviting you to come?

© 2011 Judy Douglass

Thanks to Lynn Koehn for the original idea.

en español: Ven a mí

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So REST has been my word for 2011, though I can’t say I am feeling “rested” yet.  Still working on resting.

I have discovered, however, that there are places in my life that refresh my spirit and my body, providing a Sabbath experience for me.

Three of them, all very different, have restored and revived me repeatedly.

Ride a Horse.

I can’t remember when I didn’t love horses.   My early birthday gifts were usually coupons to ride at Glen Lakes Stables.  My first horse was Diane, a feisty palomino, followed by Dawn, a crazy horse who could easily have killed me.  My college summers were spent teaching riding to 6-12-year-old girls at Merriwood Day Camp.  I loved it!

I don’t ride often now, with waning confidence and non-existent gripping muscles to prove it.  But gratefully I have occasional opportunities to put my boots on and saddle up.

The moment I settle into the saddle, I’m at peace.  Solace.  Comfort.  Rest.

I realize this is not the experience of most, but for me riding is both exhilarating and reviving.  An hour or two on horseback  just exploring creation beauty—it’s always beautiful where I ride, it seems—are better than any spa treatment for me.

Riding is Sabbath for me.

Read a Story

I love a good story.  I immerse myself in the lives of the characters of any novel I read.  When I am weary—or discouraged or burdened—I make a temporary exchange.  I trade the exhaustion of my current experience for the adventure of fictional people.

In recent years I have chosen biographies instead, especially the stories of women and men who have surrendered their lives to serve God wherever He sends them.  So challenging and uplifting.

I know I can’t employ this kind of escapism to avoid real issues and situations in my life, but I also know that escaping into another story—for a little while—is restorative for me.

Reading is Sabbath for me.

Relax at the Beach.

The beach has become my optimum place of rest.  Once or twice a year, I head to the shore for a few days or even a few weeks.

I love the sound of the waves, long walks along water’s edge, sunshine.  Those things in themselves are refreshing.

But what makes my time at the beach truly restful is what I do there.  I sleep.  I spend lots of time with God—in His Word and on my knees. I listen to what He is saying.  We talk and talk as I walk and walk.  And I read—once I read seven books, but usually two or three.

Relaxing at the beach is Sabbath for me.

 

What about you?  What places give rest to your life?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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At Rest by Pablo Picasso

REST.

That was my word for this year.

I have prayed, rested, listened, read.  And I am still seeking to discern what all God has been saying to me.

One very tangible outcome of my focus on REST occurred mid-year.  REST became the theme of the annual June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.  For two months leading up to our day on our knees, I wrote mini-devotionals on REST for our community.  I thought I knew where I was going with each one, but God had something specific and different to say with each one.  I have been deeply ministered to by these simple sources of REST.

I am posting the introduction here, followed by links to the other articles.  Though they are written to those who love prodigals, each of us will find REST in these truths.

Take the Day Off

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

Are you tired?  Weary?  Need a break?

When you love a prodigal, it is often easy to say “yes!” to those questions.

Our minds are exhausted trying to know where they are and what they are doing, and striving to find something that works.  Our hearts are so weary from the battle, the confusion, the loss, the fear.  Even our bodies are tired—depleted from conflict, sleep-deprived, worn out from going to and fro looking for help.

God says, “Take the day off.”

He is a fan of rest!  He rested after creating the universe.  He provided a day of rest for us.  In fact, he commanded us to rest—he said everyone in the home, including the animals—needs to take a day off and REST!  He even required that the land get a year off every seven years.

I think God is really serious about REST. And I believe this is the theme he has given us for the 2011 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.  It is just over 9 weeks until June 2—9 weeks for us to prepare to do major battle for our very loved wanderers.

Our first focus will be on finding rest for ourselves—our bodies, our minds, our spirits.  But we will also talk about praying rest for our prodigals.

Just think how weary they must be as they fight against us, against their demons and addictions and against the eternal God.  Perhaps some rest for their souls will give them the will to abandon the fight they have chosen and walk a different path.

Our theme verse is Jeremiah 6:16:  “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Over these next 9 weeks I will send additional thoughts on REST.  Be seeking the Lord for yourself and for your prodigal.

With love and grace,

Judy

Here are the links to the rest of the devotionals on REST:

Rest in His Presence

Rest in Repentance

Rest in Release

Rest in Giving Thanks

Rest on the Right Road

Rest in Obedience

Rest in Perseverance

Rest in the Promises

And finally, here is one more post, previously unpublished:

Rest in Forgiveness

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

I still remember the night he lied to me on his way to spend the night with his girlfriend.

The terrible things he said to me in his great drunkenness.

The night he and his high friends frightened our house guest into her room.

And when he stole from his sister.

The lies, the drinking and drugs, the stealing—they happened a lot.  There were consequences, but there were also God-given grace and mercy.

But those specific events—they have been harder.  I have forgiven them many times.  I put them behind me and move on in peace.  But then something triggers a memory, the pain resurfaces, the anger returns.  And once again I need to consciously extend mercy—I need to forgive.  He, of course, knows nothing of this ongoing battle over past offenses.

Unforgiveness is exhausting.

Eventually our prodigals need to know they are forgiven for all they have done—though usually that need comes after they have made some kind of turn around.  We are the ones who are being worn out and worn down when we are not able to forgive.  But what about consequences?  Yes, there will be consequences.

But we must forgive them—and in that forgiveness we will find rest.

Conflict by definition implies lack of rest.  Conflict, being wronged, the ongoing battle: all of these bring offense, something we hold on to, grievances we embrace.  And that grasping will surely exhaust us.

God has given us the key:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

So, is there something you are holding on to, a wrong from your loved one that you have not forgiven?  Take it to Jesus. Consciously forgive.  Then the door is open for peace.  For conflict to dissipate.  For REST.

In His mercy, Judy

Where have you found rest?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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This is another in a series of letters to those who have prodigals in their lives.  This is part 10 of the REST theme for this year’s Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals on June 2.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

God is a promise keeper.

He has invited us to believe Him, to trust that He keeps His word:

…since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.( Hebrews 4:1)


Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
 (Psalm 119:116)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it like God is keeping his promises.

Unfulfilled promises are exhausting.

A few things we can know:  His answers rarely look like what we had in mind.  His plan is always better.  He is working on us even as he works on our prodigals.  He is up to something bigger and better.  And His timing is never our timing.

Over the years with our prodigal, as I read Scripture and sought the Lord, I claimed promises from God for Josh.  Did God say, “This is a promise for Josh”?  Sometimes.  But usually the Scriptures reflected work God had done in history, or wanted to do in His children.  And I have over many years prayed these for our son.

Have they all come true?  No, but some have.  Are the answers what I imagined? Not usually.  But is there strong evidence of God’s powerful work in His life, along the lines I have prayed?  Oh yes.

There is rest in the Promises of God.

Here are a few of the promises I have prayed and claimed for Josh.  Maybe they will be ones for you to hold on to as well.

Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.  He said to me, “You are my servant,… in whom I will display my splendor.” (Isaiah 49:1,3)

Fear not, for I have redeemed you.  I have summoned you by name.  You are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

I have called you. I have chosen you and not rejected you. I will strengthen you and help you.(Isaiah 41:10)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees. (Ezekiel 37:6)

I will guide you and satisfy your needs. You will be called repairer of broken walls and restorer of streets with dwellings.(Isaiah 58:11-12)

You can find other promises in God’s Word here.

Our God keeps His Word.  Listen to this promise in 2 Corinthians 1:20:

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.  And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

So rest in His promises.

June 2 will be here in just over a week.  Be praying.  Post names of all wanderers you know who need prayer.  Be inviting others to join with us.  Determine how you should participate on June 2.

So grateful for you and for our faithful Father,

Judy Douglass

For more info on the June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals, write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom.

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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