Captured by Pam

words and images by pam wright

Tag: God’s Provision

Captured: Encountering a Dream Angel

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I have had encounters with angels. Several times. This is the story of one of those encounters.

Many years ago, I was just coming out of several years of heavy drinking that very nearly killed me. I was so very fragile emotionally, physically and spiritually. I started going to a 12-step program in Seoul, South Korea, where we were living at the time, and there I met a fellow alcoholic with more than 25 years of sobriety, who would have a great impact on my own recovery.

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Captured: Querencia

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(This comes for a devotion I shared with kids at a preparatory meeting for VIDA Nueva on Jan. 31, 2009. Reading it again today was a good reminder to always invite Jesus into all that I do, into my life circumstances and into every other aspect of my life …) 

I want to tell you about Wednesday. It was a good day in the end, and I was reminded in a powerful way about two of God’s lessons. They weren’t new lessons for me, but I was shown them in a really cool way.

The first lesson was this:

When Brittney, Francis, Amos and I met this week to prepare for today’s meeting, it came to me that I really needed prayer against distractions. I was feeling like everything was getting in the way of my time with God. I really thought that if I could make a greater commitment to having more quiet time or being more focused on my relationship with God more often during the day, things would be better.

And, so, we prayed for that specifically.

And God had an answer to me for that prayer… the next day…

In October, I read an amazing book that I know some of you have read called The Shack. It’s a great book that has shown me so much about the nature of God. I gave it to my best friend, Helen, to read and she just returned it. As I was flipping through the pages, I came across a section of the book with my typical underlines, circles, highlights, lots of exclamation points and stars. I read it and had a ‘eureka’ moment. In the novel, the main character is having conversations with a personified God.

Here’s the section that interested me:

God and the main character are having a conversation about this very topic and the main character asks God, ‘Don’t you want us to set priorities? You know: God first, then whatever, followed by whatever?

And God Says: The trouble with living with priorities is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you can go on about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?

You see, I don’t just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece; that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day. I don’t just want to be first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile where everything in your life is connected to me.’

WOW… it reminded me so powerfully that this was exactly what I have been doing… I was making lists, setting priorities. Yes, I was trying to make God my priority, but I was actually getting it all wrong. I should not be worrying about distractions from God. I cannot stop the distractions from coming… life is so full of distractions. We are busy. We spend time reading and watching TV and doing other enjoyable activities. We spend time in prayer. We go to church. But, he doesn’t want us to spend an hour on Sunday, or certain parts of the day in prayer or in quiet time with him, etc. He wants the joys, the laughter, as well as the tears… even the times when we are ashamed of ourselves. He wants to be our constant companion for everything. I’ve also learned that nothing will ever disappoint Him… He already knows every single thing I will do, every single day of my entire life. He’s not surprised by anything. He simply wants us to include Him… just like a lover wants to be included in everything concerning the beloved…  the good AND the bad.

OK… great, sure… I want that too… but how do I do that… with a bracelet, an alarm, what… ?? How do I feel an intangible presence all the time? I’m a really touchy/feely person, so this is very hard for me. My love language, if you’ve heard of the love languages, is physical touch and God’s seems to be quality time. How do we broach our differences?? And yes, I do feel closest to God when I am surrounded by beauty, etc… I am reminded of His glory, but what about in the mundane of life?? While grading papers, or washing dishes, or simply lying around doing nothing? It’s even harder to feel close to God then.

The ONLY answer I came up with is to pray for it, to pray that God creates this in me, does that work in me, because I know that I can’t do it by myself. So, my prayer has changed from God protect me from distractions, to God come with me into the distractions, to be with me in everything … please help me to feel your presence in all aspects of my life… I want you there for everything… the good, the bad and the ugly!!

The other ‘lesson’ is this….

That same day, I was perusing a book for English classes about writing, called Writing toward Home. One section of the book talks about finding your ‘querencia’. Now, apparently querencia comes from the world of bullfighting… the bullfighters want, above all else, to keep the bull from his querencia… the place in the bullring where the bull feels most at home, a place where he derives his strength… it’s a dangerous place for the bullfighters because now the bull has the upper hand… they’ll do everything to keep the bull from that place. They study the bull to learn this about him.

So the exercise in the book calls for writers to find their querencia… the ‘wanting place’ where they feel most at home; a place from which they can garner inspiration for their writing.

This led me to contemplate my own ‘querencia’… yes, I am inspired and feel at home in nature, with a camera in my hand, when I listen to music, when I sing, when I am surrounded by beauty, when I journal, when I write. And it also came to me that these are also the very places where my desire and my longing for God are most palpable. For me, it’s the same place.

Well after reading about this and contemplating on it, I went back to The Shack again and thought more about priorities, etc…  and I came across something I had written on one of the pages. In Guam, where I initially read the book, at a cross country meet that I was coaching, I had to accompany a runner to the hospital after she was injured. While waiting for her to be treated, I read the book, and I wrote this in a margin….

(A baby is crying here, saying over and over ‘I want to go home’- she knows it’s safe there… much like we long for that somewhere safe…) Whoa!!! I read that and was so amazed… I wrote underneath that statement… ‘querencia!!!’ … so ironic!! Or was it… )

That night as I lay in my bed feeling sad and sorry for myself, I began to contemplate this ‘querencia’ idea. That’s when both lessons of the day kind of came together. I was crying… feeling really miserable. I remembered how God wants to be a part of everything, so I invited God to share in my pain … I was reminded of times when I would just cry, never sharing it with God… instead, just feeling incredible loneliness.

As I lay there crying, praying, and talking to God, the ‘querencia’ idea led me to imagine where my ‘querencia’ really was. I wanted strength and I wanted peace. In the desire to share my pain with Jesus, an image came to me. I was lying on my side on my bed, in a fetal position, hugging a pillow to me… But, in my mind, I saw myself lying in the same position, but now at the foot of the cross, with Jesus hanging on the cross above me. It was a very vivid picture in my mind and heart. I was lying there, gathering strength and sharing my soul with Jesus. I could smell the dust and feel the hard ground, the air was warm, and I could feel the blood and tears fall from Jesus onto my body… grace rained down upon me in the form of blood and tears… and understanding. He knew first-hand my pain… and he comforted me there, in his own pain…

I felt safe there. I felt entirely myself there. I didn’t have to pretend like everything was alright and I didn’t have to put on a happy face like I do much of the time. He knows me. He loves me. I’m safe there. He’s my ‘querencia’… there at the foot of his cross.

ISAIAH 40:33

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

My prayer for all of you is that you, too, begin to invite God into all aspects of your life, not just relying on the QT’s, or praise times, or VIDA meetings, or church to be with God, (mind you, these are all VERY important) … but to bring Him into everything you do because…He’s there already…

He IS your Querencia…

Captured: Sweet Rain of Forgiveness

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I love how God speaks into my life, not only through his Word, but through other artistic mediums as well, especially music. There is a song written by Sting that I first heard at his concert in Seoul years ago, ‘Dead Man’s Rope’. It really got to me at the time and it gets to me every time I hear it because it is my story, including ‘the hand of an angel reaching down above my bed’. I was reminded of it again this morning…

‘Dead Man’s Rope’ by Sting  (Click on the link)

A million footsteps, this left foot drags behind my right
But I keep walking, from daybreak til the falling night
And as days turn into weeks and years
And years turn into lifetimes
I just keep walking, like I’ve been walking for a thousand years

Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,

If you’re walking to escape, to escape from your affliction
You’d be walking in a great circle, a circle of addiction
Did you ever wonder what you’d been carrying since the world was black?
You see yourself in a looking glass with a tombstone on your back

Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away in anger, walk away in pain
Walk away from life itself, walk into the rain

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
I’m just hanging here in space

Now I’m suspended between my darkest fears and dearest hope
Yes I’ve been walking, now I’m hanging from a dead man’s rope
With Hell below me, and Heaven in the sky above
I’ve been walking, I’ve been walking away from Jesus’ love

Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away in anger, walk away in pain
Walk away from life itself, walk into the rain

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
I’m just hanging here in space

The shadows fall
Around my bed
When the hand of an angel,
The hand of an angel is reaching down above my head

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
Now I’m walking in his grace
I’m walking in his footsteps
Walking in his footsteps,
Walking in his footsteps

All the days of my life I will walk with you
All the days of my life I will talk with you
All the days of my life I will share with you
All the days of my life I will bear with you

Walk away from emptiness, walk away from sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away from anger, walk away from pain
Walk away from anguish, walk into the rain.

I have a choice to make every day… whether I walk into emptiness, sorrow, pain, anger, and from life itself … or into the abundant life Jesus offers… walking away from emptiness, sorrow, pain, anger, and into life itself, through his sweet rain of forgiveness.

I was reminded this morning of the wonderful verses in Psalm 139:5-6 … ‘I look behind me and you’re there, 
then up ahead, and you’re there, too…Your reassuring presence, coming and going. 
This is too much, too wonderful…I can’t take it all in!’ (The Message).

And it came to me that as I ‘walk in His footsteps’ into the future that He has already prepared for me, He is also behind me, brushing away, with his hand, the footprints left behind that are dirty and polluted… much like a mother cleans up her child’s muddy tracks from the kitchen floor after a time outside … the addictions, the sin, the filth of my life … things that have nothing to do with how He created me to be, but are, instead, just ‘filler’ for the one truth for which my soul truly longs. And that even now, in this present moment, He is cleaning the years of accumulated dirt off my feet. (‘You hem me in and behind, and you lay your hand upon me.’ … NIV)

Ah, SWEET rain of forgiveness…

I love the picture above that I took during a rainstorm on a recent trip to Guatemala. I love how the raindrop forms a sort of chalice… there’s a certain irony that I enjoy… it looks as if we could fill that very chalice of water with water… I think of how Jesus offers himself to us as ‘living water’, to fill our very souls with the things of eternal value. But, because we are broken vessels, the things of this world, our ‘circles of addiction’ that we think will fill our lives, fill our chalice … yes, they may fill us for a moment, but ultimately, they just seep through the cracks of our broken lives, leaving us even emptier, wanting even more … more food, more drink, more gadgets, more internet, more television, more noise, more clothes, more ‘love’… more, more… MORE!

In this crazy world which batters us with messages that more stuff, more experiences, more everything will satisfy, I know, with absolute certainty, that as Sting put it in his song… in the ‘well of my memory’ … the ‘memory’ that God placed in me when he ‘knit me in my mother’s womb’, and which, at times seems so difficult to tap, there is ‘living water’ that… through connection, through prayer, and through surrender and reliance on Him, will always fill my soul… will satisfy my thirst like nothing else ever could. I KNOW this!!

…. ‘Ah, too wonderful for me to take in!!’

‘Search me, God, and know my heart; 
test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me,
 and lead me in the way everlasting.’ (Psalm 139:23, 24) … as I walk into Your footsteps lain before me… away from sorrow, away from pain, away from emptiness, away from anger, away from endless ‘circles of addiction’ and need…

… into Your sweet rain of forgiveness.

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