I stood beside a long and bare banquet table. The Lord stood on the other side. I lowered my head and said to him, “I’m disappointed in the waiting. I’ve not seen the fulfillment of some promises I thought you’d given me. Maybe I got it wrong; maybe I misunderstood you.” I lingered in the pause, then said with action, “But I will still serve you and I will still praise you! You are still God.” I then proceeded to lay everything I had on that banquet table. Some were in tidy little packages, while some were complete messes. All these I gave up, filling the table, were things such as my perceived timetables, my dreams, my hopes and visions for the future; empty expectations of what I thought were imminently assured divine appointments or alignments. What I thought the Lord spoke to me about new seasons and new directions; new conditions, healings, and circumstances I’d expected to come to pass by now… all the snaggles, disappointments—everything. It was an intense flurry of surrender. When I’d finished, all fell quiet.
I then looked at the Lord. He’d taken everything I’d offered and had cleared the table. Then lovingly and with a gentle smile, he wrote words down on a crumpled piece of paper I’d recognized as something I’d torn and thrown into the trash a half of a dozen times in my bouts of doubts and frustrations. He slid it toward me. “What’s this?” I asked, as I glanced at what he’d written. It was a revealed highlight on something that he’d once promised me, a highest hope that has yet to be fulfilled; an umbrella under which all else would base. Then I noticed two other things on the table alongside the slip of paper. They went together.
The Lord didn’t speak, only smiled compassionately, yet I heard his voice: “My timeline is not your timeline, but my promises never go unfulfilled. Never. Sometimes, a process of transformation is needed for callings and dreams to flourish. And remember, you’re not the only one in my lineup. When you’ve sensed no movement in your times of waiting, felt stuck even, I’ve still been moving, an undercurrent—positioning things in your favor for the time, my appointed time, for the day of delivery and expansion. The impossible I will make possible.” There was such love flowing from his side of the banquet table toward me that the words of Song of Songs 2:1 began sweeping over me: I am truly his rose, the very theme of his song. I’m overshadowed by his love, growing in the valley! Humbled and grateful, I worshipped him and was filled with peace.
I realized that if God has promised you something, the blessing meant for your good will come to pass. Yet, even if it didn’t in human terms, he is still God and his indescribable love is greater than anything we could want, need, or imagine.
This was a dream I’d had a while back. This last week, though, I’ve been reminded of it again and again, so I thought maybe others might benefit from reading about it. Perhaps it’s something someone else might need to hear today. I hope this entry encourages you.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV)
Sometimes, we need to step out of our own peripheries to see that there are other things that matter and other people who matter more. It’s estimated that 90% of global goods are transported by sea. I was one of those who relied on the shipping industry for just about everything, yet hadn’t considered the human beings behind the vital vein we all depend on; the largely unseen individuals who toil hard and sacrifice greatly at mentally and physically taxing, and often spiritually challenging, high-risk jobs on ships at sea.
When this book, The Seafarer’s Mind: The Questions I’ve Always Wanted to Ask, popped up out of nowhere as I was busy doing something else, I glimpsed at the cover and knew I was meant to read it before understanding the context. Then I found the words inside gave deeper insight, as well as affirmed what the Lord had already spoken to me.
I am not a seafarer, but I am an intercessor, and many months ago, the Lord asked me to commit to praying and fasting for seafarers, as one part of a three-strand cord of intercession. At first, it seemed like a strange request from the Lord for little ole me in landlocked Tennessee, who has always feared water, to venture into my “prayer closet” for seafarers. But I didn’t question the assignment for long; the persuasion was strong. Besides, the Lord asks for obedience often when the big picture is not clear or understood. At the surface, with human eyes, my prayer cord doesn’t look as if the strands are related, and yet the Lord keeps assuring that they are connected, and I have to trust.
The aforementioned book is expertly crafted for the sake of seafarers. The impassioned testimonies are inspiring, the resources offer help and support for various challenges that many seafarers face. So if you work in the maritime industry, The Seafarer’s Mind is truly an anointed aid for thriving in your environment. And if you’re in a landbound profession, this is an expander of knowledge and understanding; should be read by all lest we forget the largely unseen individuals on whom we depend.
I’ve found that there is very little literature in the way of ministry to seafarers, and I appreciate this author, Rev. Martin Otto, who helped fill a gap. So I went on a recent binge-reading journey, as I felt like I was meant to read all of the following titles. The Lord asked me to be still, draw in, and absorb highlights of the seafaring world. I gained some clarity into visions I’d seen and dreams through which the Lord had already spoken. Sometimes what doesn’t have shape, form, or sense in the beginning, if you focus on God, filling your mind on things above, and with a heart full of lovingkindness and thanksgiving, eventually the fog will dissipate and you see what you before couldn’t; and comprehend what made little sense. And then sometimes, it’s a crash-course in faith-building, to believe though we can’t see.
As I am learning about and appreciating the crucial international community of mariners and their families, praying for their spiritual edification and encouragement, I’m also praying for those serving at ports in missions to seafarers, an area of ministry that still needs expanded.
Back at the start of this segment of my intercession, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that there are individuals who the Lord has planted a seed for specific ministry that is emerging from the oceans. Where cultural background, work experiences, and particular exposures lend to a uniqueness of testimony only God could orchestrate and use—for all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But the devil has been especially hard on these ones in the past season, trying to trip up and discourage to thwart the call and birthing of ministry in service to others upon and between the waters. In some cases, mistakes in the flesh-vs-spirit barrages have almost caused a giving-up, a falsity propounding disqualification. The only perfection any of us has is Jesus’ perfection within us; we are holy as he is holy within us. Works and/or clean behavior can’t save us, but Jesus, who unconditionally loves us and by his grace forgives seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22), each day renewed, can. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We fall down; we get back up. Even when circumstances feel overwhelming, there are people who are praying, lifting weary arms like Aaron and Hur to Moses (Exodus 17:10-13). Appointed to pray healing and strengthening words, to intercede, instill hope and encouragement, stand as watchmen on the walls, and help battle principalities and strongholds. A company of Christians you’ve never met are called to your cause; I’m only one in the appointed mix. And an invisible force of angels has been assigned to your spiritual welfare to help carry you through your life’s purpose.
So this blog today is more than another book review, but these titles are spurring standouts. There is much to embrace within the pages. I highly recommend each one.
I have this relationship with the sky. When I wake up first thing, I grab a cup of coffee, step outside, glance up into its face and ask, “Well, what would you like to do today?” And whether the answer is filled with clarity, clouds, storms, or stillness, I make it a point to add, “This day belongs to you, Lord.” It has become a habit, this daily dedication. No matter what, come what may; in good times, bad times (you know I’ve had my share 🎶), there is no other name under heaven than Yeshua.
I’m a seer yet can’t seem to see what’s directly ahead of me right now (the irony). Other than a few significant dreams—about ships and clocks, specific people and cultures—I have no idea what God is doing. Yet, for some reason, I can glimpse up at the expansive sky and find reassurance, a reminder that HE’S got this day, and every day is in his hands. Instead of analyzing or fretting, I can rest in his presence, trust in faith, albeit blind faith sometimes.
As I was out visiting my horse, pondering the meaningful metaphors of the sky, I looked upward when my favorite Mr. Heron made a sudden appearance, changed direction and flew right over my head. I watched the stoic air-traveler meld into the horizon. I then drew a big breath—because I think I’d stopped breathing for a second there—and exhaled with pleasure. Then last night when I greeted the full moon, I acknowledged and appreciated its reflection of the cross.
Yeah, the sky inspires me. It is ever-present yet full of surprises. Just like my God who created the lovely, larger-than-me-and-my-issues, hope-filled sky. This day belongs to him.
Imagine you’re in a long, dark tunnel and the only sound you hear are the arrows of the enemy whizzing past your head. You search for light at the end that you have trouble distinguishing and stumble while groping for some semblance of deliverance—because surely there has got to be a ceasefire to this relentless onslaught. But what if the light isn’t at the end of the tunnel? Instead, you are the light—the only light some will ever see. If Yeshua/Jesus is in you and you are in Yeshua and clothed with the mantle of the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit, then you are not only protected, but you have the radiance to illuminate the darkness no matter how offensive the corridor appears.
I have a lot of snake-handling dreams. And no, I don’t condone real-life snake-handling—unless you enjoy that kind of hobby. My dreams are symbolic, and they almost always represent healing and/or deliverance. The other night I dreamed of a long dark tunnel full of swift-flying arrows; there was also a large menacing rattlesnake seeking to do damage and immobilize. Just before its fangs struck me, I stomped on its head, holding it in place. While it hissed and tried to bite my foot, I grabbed it at the base of its head, lifted its thrashing body and flung it back where it came. I admit, I was panting from the turmoil in wrestling this strong and venomous serpent, but the snake fearfully disappeared (as did the arrows) in a snap like a yelping coyote pup. There are other elements to this dream, including people, and I owe a lot of light-expanding insight to my sister/bff here, but the gist of the message was straight out of Luke 10:19: “I have given you power to tread serpents and scorpions underfoot, and to trample on all the power of the Enemy; and in no case shall anything do you harm.”
Did you know that even in the darkest hour and the vilest place, you have the power to shift the atmosphere by your presence if you have the Lord in you? Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. It can calm storms.
No matter how life looks, how crazy and chaotic the days are; if despair overwhelms you, just remember that we win. And God’s divine alignments, timetables, and promises WILL COME. But we also have to take care by not getting so shaken up that we give up. Rise up, rise up, rise up! Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice! Nurture, nurture, nurture. Even if you’re battle weary, clap your hands to dispel the clouds of discouragement. Shout or whisper (whichever your style) a favorite verse, sing an uplifting song, and yeah… go ahead and do a “shake-off” dance even if someone’s watching; I mean, at this point, who cares, right? What have you got to lose other than the dregs of the enemy’s jump-scares?
“The seed of faith is planted in the inner man to care for, nurture, and grow where the enemy cannot touch it except to upset the outer man to the degree that we might be shaken and abort it prematurely.”—Heidi Hayes
Don’t let it happen; don’t give up. Trample the devil and his underlings underfoot where they belong. Recapture the sense of what’s ahead… nothing but guarantee, gain, and goodness… and a wide-open horizon of boundless possibilities.
We can settle in a place of peace, regardless of what’s going on around us. It might be our nature to desire delineations, even if we dive deep in the Spirit. We might want to see above the surface, or how far to the floor. We might yearn for a glimpse of what’s around or ahead of us. We think we need explanations. Lines and restrictions can give a sense of security… or control. But what if God is asking us to abide in the depths of his fathomless grace? To just linger in his presence, in stillness, even if it’s dark and we can’t see as far as our own hands in front of us? To truly, wholly, trust in him, his mercy--just trust. A hurricane can rip over the surface and destroy everything in its path; impacting everything as we know it; perhaps ridding the familiar or comfortable. But in trusting him, in letting go and allowing him to sweep through our circumstances, our lives, our hearts; we can all the while abide in the depth of his peace, in calm. We can remain in an immovable space, a divine place; one of intimacy and confidence in the God of Glory who speaks to the storms. Instead of the storms threatening to destroy us, we watch them as they shift and scream away at his whisper. All that’s left is what was there all along. Peace, calm, assurance. To trust at a place in the present, where neither height nor depth nor anything can separate us from his love (Romans 8:39). May you abide in his immeasurable peace.
There’s a current onslaught of opposition in life for many. I’ve heard from others and have experienced this myself. One bad thing after another, making one feel like a walking piece of bad luck. Opposition can appear as fire, war, storm, pestilence, disease and/or chronic ailments, destruction (and sometimes construction), relational distress, broken possessions, unexpected debts, stuck-ness—i.e., impossible situations and you don’t know what to do, delays, malicious gossipers, unfair or unseeing bosses, scrappy coworkers, clingy people, even difficult pets. Maybe daily life resembles Tzorah, a place of wasps, and you feel the unending stings and wonder when it will ever end.
But as the conflicts keep coming, God’s favor and blessings build up with the energies of a tsunami to wash over your life at the appointed time. Many are expecting breakthrough yet grow weary of waiting for what seems like eons. God’s promises never fail; but we have to do our part to believe and keep faith. Even—and especially—when it’s hard. It’s always toughest right before a quantum leap. The Lord’s angelic armies rush to our defenses, removing obstacles, enabling us to walk into the freedom of our fruitful destinies. Where divine alignments replace discord. But it’s God’s timeline and not ours, and he charges us with uttering from our own mouths his Word. And praise weakens the enemy.
If the place you’re at right now is dark. If everything seems against you. When trials and tribulations trip you up. Even if it sounds broken, say it: hallelujah. Even if you’re angry, frustrated, weary, doing your best, or losing hope and you don’t feel like it, say it anyway: hallelujah. The inclination will grow stronger. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. You’re at the cusp of breakthrough. You’re almost there: the turnaround of the tide in your land. God’s Decree. Amos 9:13-15 (MSG)
~~~~~~~ 🎶 Hold on, baby hold on! 🎶~~~~~~~
I’ve heard this expression more frequently lately. It’s come from different sources and marked out a bit differently, but the message is the solid same: God didn’t call you to be good, he called you to be faithful. He didn’t call you to be successful, he called you to be obedient.
I’m not a proponent of pursuing fame or fortune. If it happens while you go about your business, super. You can do more for others if you’ve been gifted with much… Responsibility and all. But what if you’re only to do well with what you’ve been given, even if it’s ever little? That’s not to say we don’t strive to do well. But what if “to do well” means simply: with integrity, dedication, motivation, and honor?
There was a time when it was more important for me to be known and successful, to please and entertain mainstream. Now, I don’t care so much. Because in the eyes of the world (amid fruitless comparisons), I am neither good nor successful; often overlooked; and criticism can outweigh encouragement. In the eyes of the Lord, though, I am faithful and obedient. Guess whose eyes matter most?
Seek holiness and purpose, not prestige.
Sure, labor to do whatever you do to the best of your ability and within your means. But be who you are, pursuing God and not man.
“People who don’t know you can’t define you.”—Perry Noble, Second Chance Church
On my shoulder, I feel… tap, tap… the prodding of the Holy Spirit, along with the words, “The time is 0400 in Davao.”
Oookaaay. I’m perplexed. I also have to look up as a refresher what 0400 means, as I don’t operate on so-called military time. As a courtesy, if you’re like me, that means 4 AM, lol.
Other cities and times are given to me over weeks, maybe months now, at different spots in my days. Even a waking in the middle of the night, I hear, “The time is 12:39 PM in Dubai.” Appreciating better the civilian time, I glance at the clock and had already grown accustomed to looking it up, as if I still needed confirmation. It was indeed 12:39 at that instance in Dubai.
I’m an intercessor and requests of the Lord can be unusual. At first, I wondered what this was about. Then I realized these were all port cities. I asked if God wanted me to pray for these cities; did it have to do with territories, spiritual dominion, what? Then I saw in my mind’s eye distinct lines across blue. These were shipping routes. I began praying, and it led to praying for not just the shipping industry or routes themselves, more so, who works at sea. In some instances, what I was experiencing in “stepping into the shoes of another” so to speak, was rather tangible. And it wasn’t like intense spiritual warfare. This was more like prayers for edification, encouragement, a building-up of the human heart and soul.
Dates are important, and for some reason here, so are clocks. Over the past year, the Lord has taken me into three-month seasonal increments with themes. They are somehow connected, although my human eyes and reasoning cannot tie it all together (yet) but I’ve been through the wilderness, mountains, stretches of desert, and now it seems the ocean. This is my “Period of Rendering” I’ve been told, until Purim, anyway. Not sure I’ll fully know what rendering means, as there are so many definitions. But currently, images, visions, dreams seem to have much to do with the seas, ships, and nautical symbolism. It’s grown strong. Even in my prayer language, maritime terms have flown out of my mouth, including crew positions. I had to refresh my mind on, for instance, what a bosun is and does.
As I’m praying for others, the Lord is also working with me. Although I grew up in a fishing village where a lot of people were about boats and fishing, those in my immediate circle were not. And to say I’ve had a healthy fear of water is an understatement. It’s probably pretty unhealthy. I’ve watched movies like The Perfect Storm, All Is Lost, or Poseidon with abject horror—yet I can’t look away; it’s torture. I’m not a strong swimmer. The idea of cruising the ocean has filled me with dread. I’ve had a PTSD kayaking incident (rescue) in the Gulf Islands. And a recurring nightmare has plagued me most of my life where I’m trapped in a sinking ship.
He’s reminded me that there was a time when he’d asked if I was willing to go to remote places on the earth to share his love for others, and I said yes. Decades ago, I served as a missionary all over the world with an amazing group of people who strove to preserve cultural wholeness rather than changing everybody up. We presented Jesus exactly as he is, a Semite who came for all people. We did cultural exchange programs—and I loved these—where I’d learn the local dances; I’d also teach my Jewish dances, and together we danced and celebrated the glory of God. But the recent reminder here hovered over locations. And willingness. There’s a joke among missionaries, “Yes, God, I’ll go and serve you; just don’t send me THERE.” And that’s usually where God sends you, the place you fear the most. Kind of like Jonah running from his mission to Nineveh then getting swallowed by a whale. As I was thinking about that, I remember when God had asked me to go to some pretty challenging and hard-to-reach places, ministering, joining arts and hearts, planting churches, delivering commodities. So many places, opportunities, tribes, and events.
So the Lord recently questioned me, “Tessa, if the ocean were a mission field and I asked you to go there… would you?”
I think over much of my life, the answer would have been no. Instead, I jumped and shouted, “Yes, Lord! Hineni!” Hineni is a Hebrew term that means much more than “Here I am!” It’s a serious way of giving yourself over to complete availability and total readiness. Wildly abandoned to God’s will. In other words, if you say it; you’d better mean it. And I do.
Water is often symbolic in the spiritual sense of expanding and moving, cleansing and flowing. The important thing is being ready for anything. And trusting wholeheartedly. And this is where God is working on my fear. I was surprised at my emphatic answer. But then I realized, I’m mentally at a place in life where I could give up everything, leave everything and sail, if that’s what he wanted me to do. I know he has my life in his hands and I can face anything. For if he’s beside me, behind me, before me, and beyond me and the horizon, and even below me, then I’ll be all right. Not unlike a lot of people, I’m not void of snags and complicated circumstances that hinder a mission of picking up and leaving if this were literal. I wondered about those details when the Lord gave me a vision. I was holding two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The outline or frame of the puzzle was already laid-out. The Lord had all the rest of the pieces in his hands and he plopped them down within the frame, and suddenly the puzzle was done, pieces put together. I snapped in my two little pieces, and the Lord said to me, his little girl, “Good job! I’m so proud of you,” making me sweetly feel as if I completed the puzzle when he did it all. I took this to mean to not worry about the process or details or how things fit together; he’s got it all, whatever “it” is. Just focus on the big-picture result, and childlike-trust him.
I believe this year will be a revealing of mysteries and revelations. “He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though He is surrounded by light.” (Daniel 2:22). Things that are shifting or have been getting into position in the heavenlies will suddenly fit together in the natural. The weary will burst into rejoicing (hallelujah). And I hear the Lord say, “Thank Me. Thank Me for what I’ve already done.” I just have to interject here that I honestly don’t know why anybody would not want to pursue a Spirit-filled life. It’s spontaneous, meaningful, and exciting. As an intercessor, I sometimes get to live vicariously through someone else and what they do, someone for whom I’m praying.
Speaking of that, apparently, I’m still in the metaphorical maritime phase. Yesterday, the Lord again told me to get ready for my new assignment, and that my future is going to look nothing like my past. Then he said, “Suit up.”
I’m like, “Right on! It’s go-time! I’m ready—wait, did you just say ‘Suit up’?!”
… to be continued
“Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again, you will never come to the bottom of these depths.”—Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Choices make destinies. Destinies can also change.
A short story
In a year when thirty people jumped from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide and succeeded, one person determined to join their throng.
Near light pole numbered sixty-nine, he swan-dives off the ledge, traveling at a velocity of eighty mph, free-falling 250 feet at low tide. Bound to converge on the despondent crowd of over 1,600 who preceded him in death since the majestic span erected in 1937, something shifts. Instant regret consumes him the second he unhands the viaduct. But the chance for survival after the four-second drop stands at less than one percent.
What if somewhere between his last contact with the steel bridge and the impact of the frigid, bone-crushing bay, hovers an alternative Courtroom in the Sky? A panel of Judges who reviews the motives in a person’s life.
Here enters Ralph “Specter” Specht, the famous frontman for the rock band, Ghosts of Fleas. In the eyes of the world, he led a good life; talented, successful, and spoiled. Nobody thought he could do such a thing, fling himself over the edge, even him. Not until the dark impulse.
The defendant on trial crosses the threshold into weighted proceedings. With a blooming change of mind, Ralph wonders if he will find a different sentence than what he first intended. His verdict awaits.