Abigail’s Appellant Faith

00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200710195104460_cover8597528095156793940.jpg

“Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God.” Tozer’s words echoed within me as I sat down to listen as my Father introduced me to His precious daughter, Abigail. This woman and her faith, what a powerful display of humility, grace, and wisdom. Aside from the fact she is one among only three women in the Holy Scriptures to be singled out and noted for their outward beauty, she is a woman noted for her inward magnificence as well.

The Lord says of his daughter that she was “a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance…”

Her life had certainly not been a fairy tale while living as wife to Nabal. No two people could have been more antonymous than they. The Lord described Nabal using the Hebrew words qâsheh and râ‛âh, meaning he was cruel, grievous, hard-hearted, obstinate, rough, stubborn and troubled, evil and wretched. A deeper word study reveals Nabal was most certainly a beastly and cruel man.  Abigail was described with Hebraic words such as, ṭôb, śêkel, yâpheh and tô’ar which are the exact opposites (and then some) to Nabal. In detail, Abagail was noted to be beautiful on the outside and one who had a favourable countenance. She was bountiful, cheerful, joyful, kind and most pleasant. This sister of grace was known for her intelligence (by implication of success;) discretion, wisdom and her pleasant ways were her testimony.

Now can you picture her life?

Her home?

She walked in a path directly opposite from her spouse, yet aligned perfectly to Her Creator’s will. She sought hard after the ways of her God, and as one commentator states, “manifested a love stronger than death.” 

As I continued to read from the pages of history, it was becoming increasingly clear Abigail was a sweet peacemaker whose life modeled the ways of her Lord. Her words were gracious and seasoned with salt, and she looked well to the ways of her household – she was trusted. The events that unfolded around her were not of her making, she could not control how her husband behaved. Yet when her servants came to her with the grim news of Nabal’s insolence toward King David, Abigail was quick to respond. All the King had asked was for a show of kindness and Nabal, in his churlish and evil way, refused David and his men kindness, respect and decency. Needless to say, the King was furious. Nabal had provoked the wrath of King David and, had it not been for Abigail’s prepared and appellant faith, Nabal and all of his household would have been destroyed. Her discernment in withholding her thoughts and actions from Nabal until the next day show wisdom in placing her trust in God alone.

As she quickly loaded the donkey with more than enough food and drink for the King and his men, take note of how humble, appealing and encouraging she was when finally reaching the King.

“She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him….Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.”

-I Samuel 25:24-31

In the history lesson taken from the book of I Samuel, chapter 25, it is revealed Abigail is a woman of patience who cloaked herself in the love of God. She “put on kindness, mercy, humility, gentleness and patience,” and pre-dated Paul’s exhortation to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” What an amazing moment in history, where faith in God from the Old Testament marries the sweet teachings of the New Testament.

One need only read of the events that could have cost Nabal’s household their lives to see the actions of this sweet daughter of God were clothed in love and humilty. Abigail, fearfully and wonderfully made was a woman of beauty, prudence and grace.

Abigail must have known a little something about storing up treasures where moth and dust do not corrupt, about those eternal jewels thieves cannot steal – and, about the faithfulness of God to be a rewarder of those who have the faith to diligently seek Him.

Her convictions and meditations in the ways of the Lord must have been her most valued inheritance, for she walked in them and lived in a manner pleasing to Him. And, in the end, He brought her to the palace of the King. Abigail was a woman after God’s own heart, it is only fitting she ended up the wife of a King described this way too. 

Eugenia Price said this of gracious Abigail, “Only God can give a woman poise like Abigail, and God can only do this when a woman is willing to cooperate as [she] did with Him on every point.” 

Abigail’s life and witness have challenged, rather, beckoned me, to walk closer to my Maker, for He is my true love. She has encouraged me to take a look inward and sit before the Lord, asking this question, “How do I actively treat those who are unkind?” And, on an even more personal level, her life begs the question, “How do I respond to my spouse when I don’t like him very much?”  I most certainly do not live with a man such as Nabal, and for this I am increasingly grateful. However, do I clothe myself as Abigail did, with love and mercy when he behaves in an unkind way? Or, do I feel vindicated when I behave in an unloving manner toward him? Is it possible to muster an appellant faith, and am I willing to intercede on his behalf to the King? When I go to my closet, do I find a wardrobe of love, humility, forgiveness, kindness and wisdom or selfsihsness, envy, impatience and self-righteousness? I am most certain the later can be found hanging there ready, but oh that my King would remind me to outfit myself with the first instead. 

There will be many times in our lives when we are faced with the nastiness of human selfishness, anger and frustration. I am not, by any stretch, suggesting God says we are to be abused by another person’s behavior, I am simply saying He calls us to be kind in the we handle them in return. When we choose to turn away from hurtful situations (and nabalish (my word) type of people,) we should pray to walk in a manner worthy and pleasing to the Lord. This speaks volumes to the world around us of the love of Christ which compels us to regard one another with a heart fixed on the One who gave His life for us all. 

In encountering Abigail on the pages of HiStory, I am finding myself inspired to pray for my spouse more earnestly, and to yield to my Savior more readily. One woman’s faith marked the pages of Scripture with a fragrant grace and purposeful poise, and is changing my life for the better. 

 

Simple Sunrises – Perfect Vision

Perfect Vision

Have you ever wondered why some days seem extra-ordinary and some just seem a little less? I have. Yet, the more I age, the more I seem to long for those days which are, to others, a little less grand. I don’t think I realized my need for ordinary until I watched a sunrise that was not colored with hues of majestic proportions. I had never noticed how wonderfully comforting it could be to experience a sky filled with the simplicity of basic colors – and fewer strokes from the Master’s paintbrush.

So often I stumble when I allow my heart to tread the waters of “less than” because the world tells me to be special means we must live a life filled with only majestic sunrises and sunsets. To take the most beautiful snapshots and display them for everyone to “ooh” and “ahh” over seems to be the #goal. And, I am not only speaking of the physical photographs, but I am also talking about our lives and how we live them out before one another. It is our natural desire to be noticed, to be validated by others.

But what about the subtle colors we may quietly illustrate with? The lovely strokes of kindness, meekness, gentleness, self-control, joy, love, peace – all painting the way we react, the way we move. These are the simple, yet glorious, pigments that color our lives into the beauty God longs to see.

I believe we have things a little mixed up. Most definitely, God is grand, and His beauty is most assuredly more wonderful than our human eyes or hearts can comprehend. Nevertheless, we do not have to be living lives of extraordinary proportions for Him to view us as beautiful, for He already sees us that way – from the moment we begin to grow in the womb.

It is when we reach the place in our lives where Jesus is our portion, our Redeemer, that God sees us as Holy, for then when He looks upon us, He sees His Son’s righteousness shed over our humanity. Now, that is spectacular!

Our Creator’s eyes roam all over this earth, seeking to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose lives are painting even the most elementary of portraits for Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9) So, the next time I see the subtlest of sunrises or simplest of sunsets, I pray He reminds me the beauty of the ordinary is glorious to Him. What a gift it is to trust He sees me with perfect vision and knows my heart.

What a Picture

Valentine’s Day might be the most conducive 24 hours to fester a goofy kind of envy in my heart. How often am I guilty of trying to measure my own marital bliss, i.e. success, by someone else’s standard? However, I increasingly grow more aware it is perfectly kind of my Father to afford me the opportunity to live this wonderfully messy way to teach me lessons which draw me closer to Him. Frequently, the learning begins before I even realize it has started.

Case in point, a few weeks ago I snapped a picture of my husband’s and my house shoes laying side-by-side in our bedroom. At the time, it was the perfect visual for me. It represented just how different our personalities are. But I quickly moved on, not really thinking anymore about it. Yet the image remained in my heart – waiting to find its way into God’s curriculum for my life. And, it soon did.

On Valentine’s Day I walked in the kitchen to see a card sitting on my purse. And in that simple, ordinary moment, the snapshot of the house slippers flashed across my mind. My shoes were messy and sideways – one on top of the other. My husband’s, in contrast, were neatly sitting side-by-side, in the same exact spot they can always be found. Such a simple thing, but an incredibly sweet representation of not only our differences but our daily life too.We have struggles and sweetness, stormy days that shake us and the steady ones that keep us going. I am slowly beginning to see this picture of our marriage squarely framed by God’s amazing grace and providence.

I Corinthians 13 speaks to us as to what the way of love should be.

Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. And marriage is a prooving ground of sorts.

It isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. When I begin to scavenge the ordinary, I am always amazed at how beautiful it is – different isn’t always bad, and hard isn’t always wrong. I’m thankful I had a friend remind me of that recently.

So, you see, romance doesn’t always mean flowers and candy. It can be an acts-of-service-husband stepping outside his comfort zone to write his words-of-affirmation-wife a love note.
Love isn’t always bold proclamations of affection. Sometimes it is the faithful kiss on the forehead at night before going to sleep, or the gentle nudge waking you each morning to get ready for work.
Quite possibly, love is the emptying of the dishwasher, or him doing the laundry for you when he’s off work. I dare say love can be found in the faithful balancing of the finances, sharing of household chores, and conversations at the dinner table each night.

Life framed with God’s presence and truth makes for a much different picture of what good is.

And I am grateful for God’s delightful way in how He teaches me His truth. This week a picture truly was worth a thousand words (and so much more.)

Snowroom

Can a sunroom be a snowroom?

In jest, I asked my friends this question earlier today. It was a simple and silly question, however, it left me to ponder a few things in my heart.

As the snow fell softly to the ground outside my window, the white against the gray sky was a bright light of calm. Yet, it is normal for us to think of winter months as drab and depressing. We often feel as if the only light which can bring us warmth and peace comes to us wrapped up in a sunny day.

This Is not so.

Snowy days may seem cold and dull, but wow, the cardinal never looks more beautiful than when he is perched on a snowy white branch, and the light from the hidden sun makes the crystals glisten around his crimson wings.

Just as nothing is as brilliantly luminescent as a woman who has found the warmth of her Savior’s embrace during those winter days of struggle. His robe of righteous grace and love blinds the enemy and shines a sweet light of victory for others to see.

Beauty
Humility
Strength
Resolve
Wisdom

…all come when we weather the winter seasons of life, when we learn to live in their kind of light.

Today’s snowroom moments reminded me of this.

Kindergarten Science

For this teacher, Kindergarten Science is often a beautiful lesson in life. Just this week, we discussed how sometimes, with temperature variations, substances can undergo reversible changes (such as with water being frozen and then thawed.) But that also, with many other substances, modifications happen which can never be reversed- as with these little pumpkins.

Prior to being cooked, they were hard and could not be molded (or squished) by our hands. Yet after being heated (from the inside out) they became all-too-easy to squash, and at this point, the change was irreversible – they would never be raw pumpkins again.

We squished the pumpkins into pieces, and chatted about our actions and words, and how once we act or speak it cannot be undone. But, my thoughts couldn’t help but wander over to the truth of God’s irreversible love, and to how we can fully trust in the good news of the Gospel. When Christ sheds His love abroad in our hearts, He makes an irreversible mark on our souls that can never be erased or undone – we are His forever!

Nothing we do can alter His great love for us! What an amazing truth this is!

Nevertheless, the lesson did not stop there. While the truth of His unchangeable love resonated in the deepest part of my spirit, I began to also think of how His love reshapes us through the tests and trials of life. These are all a part of the intricate “heating up” process as we walk with Him. And once He changes us with the warmth of that kind of love and grace, we are truly never the same.

He sometimes puts us in the fire so as to help us become more “squishable” – usable for His glory. And, while this may not always be welcomed by our hard-shelled, inflexible, decorative-only selves, it is necessary if we want to become more like Jesus.

What began as lesson for my Kindergarteners, ended up a lesson for their teacher. I am thankful for Kindergarten Science – and the little pumpkins God uses to change me.

48 Seconds

Philippians 4_8A few years ago I read a book written by Tommy Newberry entitled, 40 Days to a Joy-filled Life. The Lord used Mr. Newberry to challenge me to take inquisitive notice of my thought life and begin filtering it through the Word of God. Newberry aptly asserts, “No area of your life is untouched by your thoughts,” and I would have to agree. I see it in my own life, as well as in the lives of my students. A single thought can change the course of an entire day or switch emotional tracks from one to the other.

For a couple of years now I have had a timer set on my phone to remind me to stop and “think on good things” for at least 48 seconds (Phil. 4:8, get it?) And it always makes me smile and feel a little lighter. But on the wearisome days when I ignore my reminder (yep, unfortunately, I do) before I know it, I am traveling down a back road to falsehood, where anxiety, worry, doubt, fear, and lies reside.

This week was a series of those wearisome days; so, I am thankful God knows me well and handed me the gift of a Kindergartener’s insight. This amazing kid said, “Mrs. Brown, I don’t like painting. I can’t’ do it!” I confidently reminded him he could do all things because Christ would help him. With genuine belief, he said, “I don’t need to listen to the Devil, he’s trying to trick me, right Mrs. Brown?” Without a moment’s hesitation, I agreed, “You are so right J, he is tricky!” Of course, I was convicted immediately.  The simple truth of his innocent wisdom shocked me silly! By ignoring the simple, yet powerful truths of God’s Word, I often allow myself to be outwitted. I suppose this is why I am consistently in need of grace-filled reminders from the Author of my faith.

Thankfully, there is a way to combat the enemy’s assault on our minds – put in to practice what Jesus taught us. When we view this life (and circumstances) from a Biblical worldview, it changes us – it redirects our focus back to the truths of God.

Mr. Newberry and the Apostle Paul found the gold in this veracity – think on whatever is right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy!

Philippians-4-8-Shaun-Menary

Praising God for who He is, what He has done, and all He has yet to accomplish has the power to change the course of our thought life if we would only let it! Maybe we could all challenge ourselves to think about the goodness of God, I am quite certain He will change us – 48 seconds at a time!

He Rejoices

Getting to know my Father is a precious adventure. The journey is one I find both overwhelming and comforting all at the same time. His love is so perfect it is hard to grasp how deep it truly is. Nevertheless, what a privilege it is to get to know Him!!

He is a faithful Father and loving Friend, the Prince of peace and perfecting Potter, and He most certainly is sure Salvation and the sweetest song.

Because He is a relational and almighty God, His word is alive and powerful – and perfectly personal! Zephaniah 3 reminds me of this! So each time one of my chats with my Father takes me to the stirring words of Zephaniah, my heart lingers a little while longer on verse 17 of chapter 3.

The beautiful imagery of God spinning around in delight, shouting proclamations of gladness and joy over me, leaves me dumbfounded – every single time.

To be able to rest in the arms of an almighty God, knowing He will always save me, is incredible! His boundless love for me causes Him to be merciful when I fail Him, and inspires Him to sing over me with an everlasting joy!

My friend, should you need encouragement, read Zephaniah 3:17, close your eyes and picture this – the Creator of all things, the One who created the endless Heavens and the beauty of Earth rejoices over you with shouts of gladness, joy and truth! I have no doubt it will become one of your favorite verses too.