Thursday, January 30, 2014

Marked with Love (A Photo Journal of His Touch)

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me ~ John 10: 27

Photo Courtesy of Tom Curtis 
One Sunday in December, as I was leaving church, a dear friend approached me with a present.  "This was my favorite book in 2013, and I want you to have it as a Christmas gift."  She asked if I had read it yet: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.  I had heard of this book, but not ever read it, nor even put it on the "runway" (the place I put books about to "take off" in my life).  That afternoon, I got an email.  It is so hard as a mom of young children to get time to devote to Bible Study -- real, deep, meaningful study of God's Word.  A friend and I had been commiserating about our struggle to have consistent Bible Study and we had been trying to come up with solutions about a month before I was given this book.  I had thought one night, out of the blue, "What if we get together on the night our husbands are both at a common ministry commitment -- every other week -- and take turns hosting.  Our kids could watch a movie and we could talk through a study we choose together."  So, I get this email the very day I get home with the Shepherd book in my hand, and in the email she says, "I was thinking, if you are interested, that we could go through this little book I have called {you guessed it}, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23."  These are fingerprints.  We are His sheep and He calls in these ways.  Between then and now she also found a study that wasn't designed to go along with the book, but makes such a nice compliment to it: The 23rd Psalm, The Lord, Our Shepherd by Juanita Ryan.

Photo Courtesy of Evgeni Dinev
This week, the Lord has been echoing a message in my heart.  

I took this photo at a Mission in CA

Phillip Keller tells how "each shepherd has his own distinctive earmark which he cuts into one of the ears of his sheep.  In this way, even at a distance, it is easy to determine to whom the sheep belongs."  Likewise, he says, "For the man or woman who recognizes the claim of Christ and gives allegiance to His absolute ownership, there comes the question of bearing His mark."

My son branded this cross

"The mark of the cross is that which should identify us with Him for all time."  

What is this, this mark of the cross?
I ponder this in my heart like a rolling wave repeating itself over the same rock, back and forth, back and forth all week.  

I took this photo at San Simeon CA
The cross is an instrument of death.  The cross brings unimaginable suffering.  Our cross - the cross of Jesus - is the cross of sacrifice for others.  Oh, how we want to gloss over this aspect of the cross!   We seek through every means to avoid suffering and create a life of comfort and ease for ourselves.  God calls us to suffer for Him and with Him.  He says there is a "fellowship of His sufferings" and promises eternal fruit of our suffering.  These thoughts feel foreign to me in my flesh, but I know the depths to which I am called if I share this mark of the cross.  Jesus didn't waste one bit of His cross and He won't waste one bit of mine either.

My friend gave me this cross

In Hebrews God tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him.  "He endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  The cross is never an end in itself.  Our sufferings are not an end, but a glorious means to refinement, redemption and resurrection.  If we bear this mark of the cross, we do so with hope and thanksgiving.  Because the cross is a promise and a pathway.  

A reminder of thankfulness in my home

 If I am marked with His cross, I am marked with Love of the greatest kind -- a love which lays itself down at immeasurable cost on my behalf.  I pray my life would be marked with that cross - the receiving of His love and the selfless outpouring for others, which will cost, but will be my ultimate joy.  

Gratefully linking up with Bonnie and a whole bunch of other writers over at FaithJam today where we have a prompt and write.  Today we were challenged to do a photo journal of our current journey with God.  


kristinemcguire said...

This is a great post. I love how you have illustrated the truth of Jesus and what the cross means.

Trudy Den Hoed said...

Visiting from Faith Barista... Patty, thank you for reminding me of Jesus' sacrifice and the privilege to share the mark of the cross - the "fellowship of His sufferings." About suffering being the pathway to "refinement, redemption, and resurrection." Such love Jesus has!

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you, Trudy! So glad you appreciated the gleanings of my walk and also that you commented here. G

HeartsHomeward said...

I am always glad when you pop by here and leave your comments as they are revealing of your true love of the One you know well. Thank you for this.

HeartsHomeward said...

Thanks, Kristine! So glad you came over and let me know that what I wrote touched you.