The Lord’s Controversy With His People

A few years ago, I read through all the prophets on the order they appear in the Bible, over the course of some months. I had thought the prophets were mostly pronouncements of judgement and doom with a few prophecies of Jesus’ coming mixed in.

But my perspective changed as I saw the heart of God for His people in the prophetic books. Everywhere, He is seeking His lost ones. The judgements were intended to draw them back to His heart, not to drive them away. And there were always the promises of restoration, when Israeal would be returned to their homeland from the land of their captivity.

I was so blessed by these threads of mercy that I eventually compiled some of the verses into a collection, tweaked some phrasing, and added some of my own words to connect them.

I just told a friend last night that I don’t usually write long poems. But is this a poem? I can’t decide. I can only pray that the words will bless you.

I. Cry of the Creator

O mountains, hear my controversy,

and you mighty foundations of the earth,

listen as I plead with the one I love:

Though I have bound together and built the sinews of

strength in your arms,

Yet you imagine mischief against me,

strengthening resolve for sin.

Though I have redeemed you out of the land of servants

you have made your hearts as an adamant stone,

hardened against my words.

You are an empty vine,

bringing forth shrivelled fruit for yourself alone,

and your good deeds are as morning clouds

that melt in the heat of day.

Therefore I have given you cleanness of teeth,

the gift of famine to show you your sin;

I have withheld the rain from your fields,

and given you pestilence.

I said, “Surely you will fear Me,

surely you will receive my instruction,

that you may live and be spared from destruction”—

but you do not listen.

Now turn to Me, my beloved,

turn to me with all your heart and with weeping;

rend your heart, and not your garments.

For I am slow to anger,

gracious and merciful, of great kindness,

and willing to repent of the evil I have done to you.

Sow to yourself in righteousness,

and you will reap in mercy;

break up your fallow ground,

the long-neglected soil of your soul—

for it is time for you to seek Me,

to seek me until I come and rain righteousness upon you.

O, my beloved, what shall I do with you?

What have I done to you?

How have I wearied you?

How have I driven you out of my arms?

Return to me, and I will return to you.

Return, my beloved,

return.

II. Faint Answer

Come, and let us return to the Lord:

For He has torn, and He will heal us;

He has struck us, and He alone will bind us up;

He will turn again and have compassion on us.

Though we have fallen, we shall arise;

Though we have sat long in darkness,

The Lord shall be a Light unto us.

III. Assurance of Mercy

The Lord your God has come into your midst,

And He is mighty. He will save,

He will rejoice over you with heaven’s joy,

He will nestle you down in His love,

And joy over you with singing.

And the Lord your God will save you

In that day of repentance and mercy;

He will lead you forth as the flock of His people,

For you shall be as gems in His crown,

Lifted up and honored in the fruitful land.

For how great is His goodness,

And how great is His beauty!

IV. His Promise

“And you shall be mine,” says the Lord of hosts,

In that day when I make up my jewels.

I will spare you,

And to you that fear My name

Shall the Sun of Righteousness arise

With healing in His wings.”

V. Coda

Then they that feared the Lord

and hoped in His Word

Spoke often to one another.

And the Lord turned His ear toward them;

A book of remembrance was written before Him

For them that feared the Lord

And that thought on His name.

And we will walk in the name of the Lord

forever and ever.

Celebrating My Family

“Do you never write about your family on your blog anymore?” Judith asked recently. I forget what the context was, but I realized I haven’t written much about them here.

Which is a pity, because they are such a wonderful family—the best one around, I say, though when I said that to one of my friends recently, she said, “I feel like disagreeing with you about your best family! You don’t know ours!!”

Ah well, it’s a happy debate to have. My family is the best for me, and what a gift they are.

Several Sundays during the lockdown, we did some hiking together. And now that school is over, I’ve been at home far more again. It’s been such a blessing to spend more time with my family–to see the sparkle in my little brother’s eye when he tells a funny story, to linger at the table with them discussing some triviality like the flavor of almond milk, and to work in the garden with my sisters while sharing deep conversations.

So here I will celebrate my family with some photos from the past month or two.

Explorations

We’re all in there except Dad, who took the picture–look waaay up top to see the adventurers! (Okay, we were all adventurers–we all went up there after this photo=))

This is the Morse Brook Waterfall, which we explored the first Sunday of the lockdown.

Dad teased me that this was the only kind of photo he could get of me that day. =)

The trail was narrow–but what is that when you have a strong hand to hold? I feel that way too about my parents–they’re there for me, cheering me on, always looking out for the best for their children, and pointing us to Christ.

Another Sunday afternoon, we walked the old railway trail just across the fields from our place. It led through farmland and woods. Here Dad was pointing out something in this small orchard we passed.

One Sunday afternoon while Mom had a nap, the rest of us hiked to the Woodville Waterfall. I loved the rocky trails leading up the North Mountain through the woods.
The climax of the hike was this idyllic woodland waterfall. Dad, who had been there before with the boys, had said, “It’s one of the most scenic waterfalls I’ve ever seen.” When we arrived, I saw why. It was unspoiled natural beauty, water running down ragged rocks in a steady music, with no other sounds but the songs of birds (and happy shouts of children.) We sat there a while, relaxing and talking, while my younger brothers rambled about in the vicinity. I leaned against a tree and soaked in the peace. And snapped photos, while my battery lasted. Next time I need to take a tripod–I didn’t have enough stability to take excellent photos of the blur of the water. But looking at it was the best after all; I want to go back just to revel in that woodland scene again, and for the delightful hike in getting there.

And it was all the better with such amazing hiking companions as my family.

At Home and Around the Farm

It’s flower time again! It’s been fun to see what flowers break out here at our new farm, and Selema and Judith are enjoying picking them for the market.
The menfolk planning out the garden.
And working in it…

We’ve planted a lot of fruit trees, berry bushes, and asparagus here on our new farm, along with many of the garden crops like tomatoes and onions. I’m amazed at the hard work my siblings have put into it already. (And now I’m trying to do my part to help too=))

Sitting on the job, are you? But mulching fruit trees is hard work–you deserve a break now and then!
My inventive brothers built this rig from two bicycles. They call it a cargocycle, and I think the original idea was that it would help with the chores. But so far it’s mostly been used to haul human cargo, especially since we recently got a four-wheeler to help with things like hauling feed buckets out to the poultry in distant pastures.
This morning, we all turned out of bed in good time to watch a partial solar eclipse. The moon covered at least one-third of the sun at the climax. We watched the sun with tinted glass meant for welding helmets, and it looked like a crescent moon, or a cookie with a great big bite taken out of it. Our shadows went funny, sort of frizzly and separated at the edges. The light on the landscape looked flat and weird. Then slowly the moon passed by and the sun was back to its normal rising glory.

After that, Caleb took me for my first ride on the new four-wheeler. He had to use it to move a mineral feeder from one cow pasture to another, but also took a few detours to show me the latest developments on the farm, like the new pig fences in the woods. As I sat behind my competent big brother, flying across the field of yellow buttercups and purple ragged robin and green grass in the invigorating morning air, I felt like a queen being swept away by a knight. Maybe I don’t want to learn how to drive the quad anyway, if my brother can be such a fine escort.

And what would I do without my sisters, my best friends? Their listening ears and gentle wisdom help me out so often. I treasure the times we work together in the kitchen or in the garden and philosophize on life matters or talk over the little important details.

I tried to think of some quote abut family to tie this all together, but no words quite seem to fit. We work together, live together, laugh together, and no one else could quite take the place of my own dear flesh and blood. We have our idiosyncrasies and our rocks to climb over, but we love each other. We belong together. This is family.