Who…or What…is Following You?

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life...

~ Psalm 23: 5 (NKJV)

Hmm…I don’t know about late night pizza cooking up a stew of dreams, but I have noticed…words and pictures do

Especially the ones that are still circling in my mind, or entering just before the last click of my remote and bed…

Indulging in one last flip of the stations the other night, I came across a PBS documentary of 70’s singer-songwriter Nilsson.  Somehow, as much as his music had been a soundtrack to my growing up years, I’d never seen his picture, known anything more than his sweet, sometimes delightfully quirky sound that holds nostalgia close in heart.  Who is this guy, I’d often wondered as a teen. Now I would find out.

Wondrously creative.  Endearingly remembered by many of his close friends and listeners.  Mixed up, lonely, brokenhearted and abandoned by his father at two years old… Searching for God’s rainbow…following after tragedy…  All of these could describe this nice-looking young man lost much too young

And as weariness pushed me to bed without finishing the show, some of his old lyrics whispered their heart of melodies across my pillow…

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever know… (I loved discovering the story behind this song… of the day he’d been stuck on a phone with a persistent waiting dial tone…when suddenly it sparked his creating the clever repeating sound in the background…)

The tender song lines he wove so integrally into a warm old TV program about the love between a widower dad and his young son…

And one of my most favorites…from his song, Remember….

Long ago,
far away,
life was clear;
close your eyes…

Remember,
think of all that
life can be;
Remember,
life is never
as it seems;
Dream…mmmmmmmm…

    Into my dreams that night came the oddest storyline.  “Where did that come from?” I abruptly awoke asking…

A faceless guy friend and I had been trying to help some children who seemed alone. I’m not sure if they were orphans, or how they came into our homes, but they became like our own in many ways.  One day a little boy…maybe three years old… appeared out of nowhere and began to terrorize the others, spewing angry words, beating at all of us with his doubled-up fists.  We tried reasoning, disciplining, comforting… nothing softened his struggling heart.  Often we prayed for him, but hurt and fight was all he seemed to know… a charcoal cloud literally engulfing and following after him.

I don’t remember all the details, but a moment came when we were going to have to make him leave if one more horrific tantrum erupted.  It seemed inevitable, but I hoped against it. For I was somehow elected to handle it.  Things were smooth, then it happened.  I grabbed him up, scooping his tiny body high into the air and began running with him outside in the street, when something spoke into my heart to ask him a few questions…much more grown up questions than I’d normally ask a small child.

“What words do you hear in your thoughts, right now?”  I asked, still running, flying him down the street.

Weeping, he choked out, “I’m alone.  No one likes me.  No one ever will.”

I stopped and put him down.  “Why do you think that?”  I asked.

Trembling in my arms, he muttered, “Because I am unlovable.  My dad said so when he left me–”

I turned him around to face me.  “Now…what words have you heard from my friend and I while you’ve been here?”

He sniffled, looked up at me, tears smearing his cheeks.  “I am beloved,” he whispered.  “You want to be my friend.  There is a Father who treasures me and calls me a good boy.”

“Which words do you want to believe?”  I asked him gently.

And… woke up.

Suddenly, as I thought this story over, I was painting thoughts about words and their power, like swirling so many colors to make a new one on a palette, and thinking of this blog post.  I remembered asking Him the night before for an idea…

“But God… what an odd dream!  Where did this come from?”  I pondered, thinking too how unusual it was for me to remember a dream so vividly, even one minute after waking.  Always elusive and out the door before I can grasp them.

Nilsson…,” whispered, an illuminating thought.  Then, I remembered.  He was the two year old boy whose life was forever changed, according to the PBS account.  They’d even shown a dear photo of him at that age – blond, curly haired, eyes smiling behind a sadness.  Always deeply insecure.  Forever struggling against demons that eventually stole all the joy and beauty he was to create… left lost, not knowing or believing how deeply one Father loved him…THE Father…

I don’t know if he ever found out…

But something else from that dream emerged and reiterated ideas I’ve been thinking a lot about these last few years.

How no matter how much we love and follow the Lord, we often speak out lies that He would never tell us.  Words that essentially call Him a liar.  Maybe hundreds of times a week. Proclaim them over and against ourselves in everyday clichés, or words that falsely seem like inevitable.   Or couch them in the guise of just being realistic. (After all, we have to face life, right?)  Sometimes they are even said slightly tongue in cheek, but even so, establish doubt in our hearts.

And how those words stab at God’s heart. 

Words like:

“With my luck, I’m going to catch the flu, lose my job in this economy… for sure.”

“I am SO stupid, when will I ever learn?”

” I just have to live with this pain and sorrow…”

“I’m probably going to have, or I’m worried that I’m going to have, or I KNOW I’m going to have  [name the disease or ailment] because it ‘runs’ in my family…”

“I know God heals…but he didn’t heal so and so, so maybe I just have to go through the worst…”

“I am just unlucky.”

I think those expressions stab Him…because Lent and Easter show us just how much the Lord suffered to rid us of those deceptions… exchange the curse of death for the blessing of life, here and now, restore us to choosing life with our words.  The power of life and death in our tongues…

Reading many scriptures out loud to myself this Lent, verses of his promises about light and life and healing, I suddenly see something. God has been planting them inside me and I feel like sprouts of faith are coming up…stronger as I lean into what He tells me instead of how things appear.  Or fears that others pronounce as true, no matter how well-meaning.

That there is no such thing as being lucky or unlucky.  I AM blessed, because He says so. That my life is not determined by what has happened to someone else, even if they are in my bloodline.   “Think on what is lovely, and true, and these things will guard your heart with peace…”  He has set a guard with peace around my soul, but I must align my words with His, or the protection is compromised… like a hole in a wall…

I first began to listen to words coming out of my mouth a few years ago.  So many seemingly innocuous things… but, nevertheless, words of death.  So many typical sayings laced with them.

“I’m blown away.”
“I’m deadly serious.”

“I feel sick and tired.”

“You are giving me a heart attack.”

“I died laughing.”

Those may seem like silliness…but if words hold life and death, shouldn’t we put a watch on the ones we say even in jest?

I remember a time a few years ago when everything seemed to be predicting a bad situation ahead.  Fear overtook my heart and I struggled for the peace God promises.

“O God,” I cried silently, wringing my hands at all the ‘what ifs.’  “I want to look at this realistically, but –“

“What IS real?” He seemed to interrupt my thoughts.

“We-ell…,” I started.

“Do you believe what I say or what the world says about your situation?”

“I want to believe You,” I answered.

“If you’re going to trust Me with a steadfast heart, you cannot allow ‘bad news’ to enter your heart,” He seemed to say, gently as I read those very words in Psalm 112.  “Water your heart with My truth, not what you see.  Don’t stake claim to lies with your words and thoughts.  Find what I say and speak those words out.”

“Yes!” I thought.  I’d been approaching this problem from what awful things MIGHT happen, or what so called statistics or economy or the world say will happen, rather than believing in God who always speaks light.

I could say, trouble is coming.

Or I can say with God…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all my days…

With all things looking like the problem is insurmountable, I can easily speak fear out of a pounding heart…

Or I can believe and say with the Psalmist, God is surrounding me with songs of victory, no matter what things look like! 

Trouble and sorrow have dogged me long enough.  How about you?  Do you feel engulfed by your own charcoal cloud right now?   I heard an acronym last night that flowed peace like a river over some worrisome thoughts plaguing me this week…all the things that seem to be overwhelming at the moment for me and those I love:

FEAR = false evidence appearing real.

What is real?  Every life-giving word from God’s mouth.  Yes, they often go against the “reality” that life or experience seem to suggest.  All the more reason to take our every thought captive and decide to speak out His.  To say… NO.  Enough.  I will choose to believe what God’s words say.

No matter what things look like…

I am His beloved and He is mine.  His banner over me is Love.

He keeps me in the shadow of His wing. Lifts me out of the pit and puts me high on a rock.

Surely… (no doubt, no excuse, no way that it will not happen)… He assigns Goodness and Mercy to follow me.  (I wonder if there are two huge angels who are named Goodness and Mercy? 🙂 )  And you.

Not for an hour.  Not here and there.  But ALL our days.

When those doubt-filled words of what the world calls being realistic slither across my lips… O to remember to look behind me… 

And in this resurrection season, in a time when everything may seem to be falling apart or swimming us in over our heads,  O I pray that for you too.

And that we keep before us…The stone has rolled away.  He is risen.

©  Pam Depoyan

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Sharing with:   Bonnie at   on the word follow

and     Beauty in His Grip Button    A Holy Experience

photos:  http://www.fotosearch.com

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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12 Responses to Who…or What…is Following You?

  1. Pam-
    I am responding to your post in a different way–Emotions are spilling over me as I had glanced out our back window and I saw the ambulance sitting in front of the home of our neighbors, the husband is 99 and his sweet wife is 96~~~I formed a very loving friendship with both of them, but he holds an extra special place in my heart. He had his 99th birthday about a month ago, big party planned and he had a heart attack the day of the party.

    There is great concern he fell and broke his hip today–he appeared to be so weak, I had wanted to see him sooner but two things stood in my way—-Pain in my body and FEAR.. I think you understand the FEAR part–I love him so very much and don’t want anything to happen to him. Strange how God gave me a chance and caught my attention~~~~I went inside and bless his heart, he lay stretched out–I started apologizing for not seeing him sooner~~he took that weathered hand and waved my words away, telling me it was okay… Life circling all around as I told him how much I wanted to kneel down and hug him but if I did, well they would be taking BOTH of us to the hospital!!

    I saw his sweet little wife, calm as could be~~these two are the loving image of true FAITH in the Lord–as I hugged her, again apologizing, she too said they knew I was having my own struggles-
    LOVING–nothing else. I hugged his daughter who was doing everything possible to hold her emotions in check—and then the best moment came, as the Lady EMS person asked him, “Sir, do you hurt anywhere?”

    He glanced her way and said “Well Heck yeh, I hurt everywhere! I am 99 years old!!”

    Humor, Heartbreak–as I walked outside, there stood our local Funeral Director “Recently Retired” from the business—we hugged and again–no words…. Everyone knew–we didn’t want to talk, we didn’t want to say anything that would signal Sweet Vernon was gone. So I am praying God hold him tight and comfort him.

    Thank you Pam for allowing me to use your blog as I shared this. love, martha

    • Martha, I don’t think it is an accident that God gave you that moment and time to connect your hearts. No matter how old we are, there never seems to be a good time to leave here… and it is always hard to say goodbye even temporarily to people like these friends. May God hold him and his wife so close and bless him if this is the moment for him to be with the Lord. 99 and 96 – so amazing! God comfort you today too… He is holding onto you, Martha. I know Goodness and Mercy are following you…and your friends…right now.

      • Thank you Pam–you helped me to see the spiritual moment this day has held–my husband started running toward their house and I yelled to get his attention–to which he said “Are you Coming?” I thought–“Are you kidding? Come back and get the car!” We love this couple so very much…. They have been married for over 75 years—and could still dance until he had this recent heart attack… Goodness and Mercy–following us, the words do bring me comfort today Pam…. I thank God for the words HE gave you to share with me… Very needed today…. love, martha

  2. lynndmorrissey says:

    Pam, as well you know, I needed this post. Fear keeps sweeping over me. Pls. pray that I can replace feelings of fear with God’s faithtful truths, bec. He has NOT given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind! I am going to go practice my Bach…..in German, yes, which I don’t always understand, but I know it is pure Scripture and the music lifts me to the heavenlies. And I have been praying the truths of Ps. 91. BLESS YOU FOR THIS POST…….AND PRAYING FOR DEAR SWEET VERNON! BLESS HIS HEART.
    love
    lynn

    • Lynn, I know exactly how you are feeling! Many a day and night in recent times I have felt fear shoot adrenalin through me that I can’t seem to stop. But music…and God’s Word… these are two things He uses to speak and breathe calm over me. I pray it over your right now. I have the most beautiful DVD I wish I could share with you right now. It’s called Reflections. Just beautiful instrumental set to gorgeous nature video and the words of the psalms. Try reading some of the “BE NOT AFRAID” verses… Thank you for your prayers too. Yes, how music lifts to the heavenlies!

      • lynndmorrissey says:

        oh i wish I could see the video, but I will sing my music, and then play the Bach CDs. I actually have all 150 cantatas now as a gift from Michael! He’s so sweet. ANd I love singing hymns too. Thank you for the be not afraid reminder. I can look those up as well. Praying, Pam. Bless you!
        love
        lynn

    • Pam–how The Lord works—so amazing. Lynn–We have never met but when I read the prayer you offered up for Vernon–my heart filled with warmth–it calmed me. I do believe The Lord is so happy to see us LEAN on HIM-and share with others. You have blessed dear Vernon on this day….. Thank you, thank you. I will keep you in my prayers. Martha

      • Martha and Lynn, you both bless me today with knowing how the Lord uses us all to comfort and strengthen one another 🙂 I just looked at the last photo I used on here. At first I thought they were birds, then saw those are glorious lady slippers. An example of how beautifully God takes care of us, for all the splendor He has arrayed in flowers of the field!

  3. lolita says:

    Thank you, Pam. This is a powerful and beautiful rendetion of my favorite passage. It is part of His promise when we abide. We are blessed already the moment God declared His promise to Abraham, to the Israelites.

    I need all these because my sight is so narrow that I limit God with it. Fear and insecurities hover so. I will declare this moment by moment.

    I will remember that it is not tragedy following me the moment I believed, it is goodness and mercy……. and my cup is overflowing with it.

    • Yes, Lolita… I know how fear can keep coming on me too. We need to constantly remind ourselves to remember goodness and mercy… and all God’s promises in every circumstance. He is singing songs of victory and surrounding you with them today! 🙂 The promises of Deut and Gal 3:13 and 14 about securing that blessing promised are among my favorites too. I’m glad your cup is overflowing today 🙂

  4. Court says:

    I often find myself surprised how much we lace our words in death especially when I’m sensitive to it like this week when I went to a funeral and yet still it spills out… Oh you scared me half to death… And so on. Also, what a fabulous dream. I wish I could remember mine better.

    • Yes, that is so true. I wonder how those idioms came to be… I don’t usually remember my dreams even a minute after I wake up, which is why this one seemed so significant. I would like to be able to do that more too. Sometimes I wake up thinking “this is important,” but it disappears like a vapor… Thank you for sharing, Court!.

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