Faith Over Fear, Part 4: Let the Peace of God Rule in Your Heart

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Hey, dear readers! I am so sorry it has taken me awhile to write this. It has been a busy but enjoyable couple of weeks editing my novel for my publisher (you can check out more about that here). Check out my previous posts about being filled with the Spirit, love, and joy. This series is about how the Holy Spirit counteracts fear in our lives, which is especially applicable as we are in a global pandemic and many are afraid. The Holy Spirit also fills us with peace that overcomes fear as we trust in God, which is what I am discussing today.

Do you want more peace in your life? Is your mind scattered, disordered, or are you filled with obsessive thoughts? Do you worry a lot? Do you get anxiety or panic attacks?

Well, have no fear, my friend! Jesus doesn’t want to leave you there. He wants to lead you into perfect peace.

Peace is something we all want. This world is full of strife, bitterness, and malice, especially observed on the news lately in gruesome and unjust ways. People try to take control of their lives, which often leads to broken relationships with others and/or a fragile, anxious mind.

We don’t realize that what we are really searching for is the One who can relieve us of the burden of being in control. The One who is entirely good and knows what’s best for us. The One whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts and ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).

This good Father in heaven is a foreigner to hate, and He is the definition of Love. He so loved us that He sacrificed His perfect Son, Jesus, to make peace with human beings who otherwise could not stand before a Holy God.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” – Colossians 1:19-20

In short, the only way to find peace, both inner and outer, is to find Jesus.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:1-2a

Dear friends, to attain true, inner peace and the ability to maintain peace with others in our lives, you need to be at peace with God through believing solely in Jesus’ work on the cross to save you.

Are you at peace with God? Have you trusted in Jesus to reconcile you with God? Have trusted in His blood, shed on the cross for you to set you in a right relationship with God?

Many people try to do good works to be at peace with God. Let me tell you what I’ve learned the hard way: this doesn’t work! Doing good things in and of themselves have nothing to do with being connected with God. Doing good things must come as an outflow of our relationship with God in order for them to be fruitful and lasting, and in order for us to experience true peace.

I used to try to be at peace with God by doing good things, and let me tell you, I ended up feeling miserable. I felt discouraged. And I actually felt disconnected with God.

The only way to be at peace with God is to trust that Jesus in and of Himself is sufficient to clear your guilt and unite you with God Himself. This means you will desire to do good and, even when you stumble and fall, you always have your Heavenly Father to come back to with total forgiveness and acceptance. He will never leave you nor forsake you! (Deut. 31:8)

Once you attain this salvation that is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you have entered God’s forever family. Jesus is the Lord and Shepherd of your life, to lead and to guide you on paths of righteousness. He absolutely knows what’s best for you, knows your future, and is taking care of you!

As a believer, our job is to trust God with every detail of our lives. To give our burdens to Him continually. To leave everything in His hands.

Beloved, if even a small discomfort makes your heart uneasy, you must bring this to your loving Father, and He will help you to trust Him with it. From then on, you must let God’s peace rule in your heart at all times. Don’t let the little things get to you–in regards to both your own anxieties as well as the irritations that others cause you. Trust in the Lord! With Jesus in charge, things are going to work out just fine. Truly!

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” – Colossians 3:15

The enemy will do anything to destroy your peace. But you must persevere in trusting Jesus. Persevere and push through the ridiculous reasons the enemy throws at you to be afraid. Even if you feel you have very real reasons to fear, the truth is your life is in the hands of God, no matter how terrible your circumstances are. You have nothing to fear, because the Lord is with you and is watching over you, day and night (Psalm 121:8).

Peace happens first in the mind, and then it affects the rest of your life. This following verse always reminds me what it looks like to be a peaceful person:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

When a person trusts in the Lord, he has a steadfast mind. This settled, unwavering mind is the mind which is at peace–not only that, but perfect peace!

I want this kind of mind! I want this kind of trust. I want to trust in the Lord no matter what, maintaining a steady mind, and a heart at total peace. No evil thing can unsettle this mind. No matter what happens, God is good. No matter where you go, God is with you. No matter what you do, God loves you.

With this great certainty that God is dependable and reliable, nothing can stop you from accomplishing all the wonderful things God has planned for your life. Nothing can stop you from reconciling with others in your life and maintaining peaceful relationships. The only thing that can stop you is yourself, refusing to trust God and to do the will of God!

I have experienced peace before: incredible peace. When I lay burdens at God’s feet, it is like a breath of fresh air. I’m not in control anymore. I never was in the first place. Now the God who knows what He’s doing is accomplishing His purpose in this hard situation. Though I can’t see what He’s doing, I know He’s working out something good for me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Sometimes the feeling of peace is so strong, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why God is so good to me, even though I don’t deserve it. I don’t know why He cares. I don’t know why He treasures me so deeply.

But He does. And He does the same for you. Press on and trust Him with every detail of your life, every worry in your heart, every burden on your back. Release it all into His hands, and watch Him move in incredible ways!

Trust in Him today, Beloved, and experience the peace that passes all understanding, which guards your heart, in Jesus’ name! Amen.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

In every situation, say “It is well with my soul,” and watch as you grow in deeper peace with God.

 

 

An Eternal Romance

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“Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.” — Psalm 146:3

People often talk about marriage as if that is the highest goal in life. As if once you are joined with another soul you are finally complete. As if trusting fully in another person is the greatest thing to pursue.

A few weeks ago, I went to a conference that radically challenged me in my view of marriage and God. Do I truly believe my relationship with Him is the most beautiful, satisfying relationship that exists?

Do you?

While many of us may theoretically believe this, I don’t think most of us believe it so completely that it transforms our everyday lives.

Below is a common passage about marriage and our relationship with God:

“’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:31-32

I used to think—oh, come on Paul! Why do you have to talk about Jesus right now, all I want to know is how on earth should married people behave!

Well, I’ve come to realize that Paul is making a crucial point. The relationship between husband and wife is merely a reflection of the greater reality—Christ and the church. That means that Christ and the church are united as one flesh, just as the Father and Son are one. When you believe in Jesus, you have entered into an eternal covenant with Him, and one day you and I will dine at the wedding feast with our dear Bridegroom, the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sins of the world!

Our relationship with God is certainly not like earthly romance. No, it’s even better (I’m not kidding). It’s an eternal romance, more satisfying than any other relationship we will ever experience.

And the best part is? Eternity starts now.

While our culture glorifies passion, sex, and romance, what we are really longing for is God Himself. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Every time a man knocks on a brothel door, he is really searching for God.”

We shouldn’t waste our time putting our trust in earthly princes or princesses. Human beings cannot save. They can’t save us from our loneliness. They can’t save us from our aching hearts. They can’t save us from our need to feel loved.

Really, truly, absolutely. God can fill this hole inside our hearts, and He will if we simply let Him. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Despite all the hype about marriage, there isn’t any marriage in heaven, as Jesus said:

“At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” – Matthew 22:30

Marriage won’t matter after we die, so why are we spending our whole lives planning the day we trust in a spouse rather than right now choosing to trust in our Eternal King?

The relationship between husband and wife is a beautiful sacrament that reminds us of how beautiful the day will be when we meet Jesus face to face. It is good and honorable to marry, but just the same it is good and honorable to love others. Love friends, love family, love strangers, love God. All of this reflects the love of God, just as marriage does.

Whether or not you’re married or you will one day married, please, right now, make much of Christ. Make much of your romance with Him and less of your romance with people. Make much of your purity in Him and less of your passion with other people. Make much of your hopes in Him and less of your hopes in human beings who fail to satisfy.

Because He’s worth it. I can’t promise you anything, but He can promise you everything, and He does, over and over again in His word.

I read Psalm 146:3 last night, letting it sink into me as I turned my affections completely to Christ. When I read further, I grew more in awe of the God who is nowhere near to being a frail human incapable of saving us. He is the God who saves:

“Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.” Psalm 146:3-10

The Lord reigns forever; human beings do not. Who are you entrusting with the happiness of your soul? Only God can bear the weight of it, and fill your heart with total comfort.

My favorite song at the conference completely sums up what I learned there. After vainly striving after the things of this world, I always find my rest in God, because “to be with Him” is where I truly belong.

I have a light

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The most terrible thing in the world is hell, and I want to save everyone from that. But I can’t.

At times, I feel absolutely helpless.

At times, I weep for the souls of millions.

At times, I feel selfish for living bold and free in Christ, while others are charging blindly into agony.

But what else can I do but be bold and free?

What else can I do but speak truth to the souls of millions?

What else can I do but trust God to help us all?

Some people are already in hell, and some are going to hell. That’s horrific. Why aren’t we doing more to show them the Way to hope, to peace, to everlasting life with our wonderful God?

The temptations of this world are so many, and so alluring. Sometimes I ask: Doesn’t God understand the appeal of sin? Doesn’t God understand how easy it is for us to displease Him?

And yet, He absolutely does understand. Jesus, God made into flesh, completely understands every tear, every longing, and every lure of the devil.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16

Let us hold fast to our confession, and be truly humble before God! And let us seek Christ’s sympathy so we may find the courage to stand. When we fully allow ourselves to bask in the grace of Christ, His own perfection cleanses us and empowers us with fresh love for the world.

We can’t convince the world that God is real until they see the reality of God inside us and in our everyday actions. We can’t convince the world that God is love when we speak to the truth to them out of fear. We can’t be the light when we allow darkness to settle over our souls.

I am mainly writing this for myself. It’s hard for me to stand tall when everything’s crumbling around me. This world is crazy, and people are suffering everyday. But God is going to win in the end. Each of us is going to bow before Jesus Christ at the end of this age and confess He is Lord. (Phil. 2:9-11)

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

God is good, but the only way people will know it is if we believe it. And the only way to truly believe it is to die to ourselves and seek His will every day. Once we live fully understanding His love, fully trusting that He has sent His Son to bear our sins, we can be free. And once we are free, people will know at first glance that we’re completely changed.

The most terrible thing in the world is hell, and I want to save everyone from that. But I can’t. I can’t fix everything—or anything, for that matter. I’m completely helpless, on my own.

And so are each of us, on our own. But together? We can change the world.

We as Christians need to acknowledge our fear of evangelism, so we can overcome it together, and win the fight together against our flesh together. In doing so, we can band together, and stop ignoring the deepest need in our world today. Together, let us not be silent about the God who is infinitely greater than we can ask or imagine. With hope, let us pray, for that is the very foundation of all our interactions with unbelievers. And with faith, let us shout His name.

And with wide eyes, let us watch to see God move.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” — 2 Corinthians 5:20

Not only do we need to unite as believers, but first and foremost we need to unite with Christ Himself. The only way we can win souls is if the world is convinced that there is true freedom in Christ. And for that we ourselves need to experience abundant freedom in Christ. And for that, meaningful time in God’s presence is needed, where we can find fullness of joy. Don’t settle for a timid declaration of God’s truth–that won’t last. Connecting yourself to the Vine is the only way to bear fruit.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” — Psalm 16:11

A Message To My Brothers In Christ

 

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I want to take a moment to address you, men.
The strong ones;
The brave ones.
I want to address you as my brothers in Christ.
I plead with you on behalf of the girls in my life:
Stop for a moment,
And listen.

Too many of us have bad opinions of you,
And perhaps many of us have a right to;
You have a responsibility as men to take care of our hearts,
But too often you play or you steal or your tear us apart;
Too often you treat us just as you view us—as objects to take pleasure in
Or simply persons to ignore.
And while that sounds harsh, I want to set for you a higher standard,
To encourage you to be the men that God will first and foremost admire.

We may not always admit it to you,
But we’re weak—
Just as you may not always admit to us.
We may not always say it, but when you open the door wide for us our soul smiles wider;
When you take the time to just listen to us,
We admire your endeavor to honor us;
And when you ask us how we’re doing,
The whole world seems all right again.

Men, we might act casual, but you are important to us.
We often look up to you hoping we can trust,
Hoping we can trust you to be truly good men.
Don’t ignore the power of sensitivity—
To us, it’s the highest form of masculinity.
Be interested in who we truly are inside, not merely what we are on the outside;
And while this may be a lot to ask,
View us as your sisters in Christ—good friends whom you will never marry;
And when we see the deep respect you carry,
Your selflessness will teach us more of God and His glory.

Men, don’t settle for less than your best;
We challenge you to be truly great men.
Dare yourselves to be the men you want to be;
Dare yourselves to be good, strong, and free.
Don’t compare yourselves to those around you;
Compare yourselves to Christ who is in you,
And you always see that you can be something more.

“[Treat] younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” — 1 Timothy 5:2b

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” — 1 Peter 3:7

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Thank you for reading, and look out for my next post, A Message to My Sisters in Christ!

My Childhood Best Friend

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Don’t be bitter.
Even if your friend walked away
As you stood with your hand reaching out
And your voice about to shout,
Don’t be bitter.

These words I tell myself
Whenever I think of her.
I’ve mourned for her as I mourned for my dog when he went away,
But it’s even worse.
I can’t be bitter.

We planned to be best friends forever,
Because as children we couldn’t imagine being without each other.
We shared laughs, we shared dreams;
There wasn’t much of a thing she didn’t know about me.

She won my heart from the start with her wild game plans;
She knew how to have fun like no one else I’ve ever met.
And when the day was over, and our laughter died,
We talked of deep things, the kind that make you cry.

I’d always ask her what she wanted to do,
She’d say, “How about this?”
And I’d let her choose.
We poured out our hearts like cement,
And I don’t know about hers,
But mine’s been stuck since.
Our sisterly love was like nothing I’d ever known;
She was my hero, she was my home.

When she drifted away, I felt rejected;
I felt like a worm being dissected,
Unworthy and small.
I guessed our personalities weren’t right for each other at all.

I blamed her for things that weren’t really her fault;
I opened my wounds and poured out the salt.
And when I finally gave up trying to make her be my friend again,
That’s really when I looked up from the ground,
And God got my attention.

He told me I was clinging to a plant that would die;
He told me I was missing out on His Son who was crucified.
He grabbed hold of my shoulders and looked me in the face, said: “Now you’re done with your best friend being your idol in My place.”

The Things You Say

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“Did you hear that…?”

“Isn’t so-and-so so stupid for…?”

Too often hearing gossip affects my perspective on the not-so-liked people. It’s terrible that before even meeting this one girl, I had a bad opinion of her. It’s easy to judge people, because it makes us feel better and more valuable. But your pride costs the dignity of others. And it often doesn’t give people a chance to change.

Whether we like it or not, gossiping is hurtful. The victim of gossip is likely not altogether a horrible person. Maybe they just messed up once. Or maybe they could transform if they noticed you had high expectations of them instead of low expectations. Think about it: would you more likely stop your habit of boasting about yourself if people whispered cruel words about you or if they gently congratulated you for being good at playing the piano?

Often people do stupid things because they feel insecure about themselves. So instead of rolling your eyes at them, try to just love on them, to let them know you care and they don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary for you to care about them. Expect the best from them. Assume they are going to be a nice, humble person by treating them how you would want to be treated. Get on their level and treat them with respect.

The gossip I had heard about the girl drastically affected my view of her for awhile in a negative way, so I was cautious about being friendly with her. Interestingly, it turned out that later I realized she was one of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met. The rumors may have been true, but everyone messes up sometimes, and messing up doesn’t define people.

God loves each person deeply and gave up His Son for us to live freely for all time. The value He places on us is the only thing that should define us… Wow! Isn’t He so good to us?

The fact is, gossiping is for prideful people. We have all done stupid things at one time or another. We all need Jesus desperately, and, with His strength, we can forsake pride and reach higher. We are all under the same God, and He cares for us no matter how stupid we act.

“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” — James 3:6 (NIV)

 

The One Who Surpasses

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I’ve been thinking a lot. I’ve been thinking and realizing that I made a mistake.

It’s the most awful feeling when you don’t want to admit you made a mistake but you can’t deny it.

Anyhow this post is not about my mistake, it’s about what God does with mistakes, and it’s about what God does through us to help us avoid mistakes.

Because mistakes are ugly. And they make you distant from God. Restless. Confused.

Just like you, I don’t want to make mistakes. But my desires sometimes become overwhelming and I convince myself that there is a good reason to make this decision, when in reality I feel like I can’t resist the temptation.

But that’s a lie. Kick it in the face; fight it to its death—Jesus has WON.

He has literally grabbed the devil and trampled him over his feet. Desire, temptation, and fleeting pleasures don’t have to rule over us. God is wise, and so we need to be, too.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” — James 4:7 (ESV)

Before you make a decision, ask yourself: Am I fully satisfied in Christ, or am I making this decision because I am restless and longing for something more to fill the hole inside me?

This really puts things into perspective. Rejoicing in the fact that HE HAS WON, and we have hope in heaven, and He cares about every detail of our lives—all this overshadows our finicky desires.

You are more precious to Him than many sparrows, so don’t be discouraged about where you are; He has you where you are for a reason.

Don’t move unless He tells you to—that is to say, treat every action as an act of worship!

You are a living sacrifice to God and you do not deserve to be thrown aside to unrighteous people who care nothing for your pure heart.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” — Romans 12:1 (ESV)

Other questions to ask yourself: Is what I am doing glorifying God? Is what I am doing worth doing in light of eternity? If I had to pay 100 dollars to do this action, would I do it for the sake of glorifying God?

But thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that when we do make mistakes, He is there! His mercies are new every morning. Don’t doubt for a second that He wants to continue the relationship with you no matter what you’ve done. Repent genuinely, and be free in Christ. Walk in the Spirit joyfully knowing God surpasses all sin and shame.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” — Romans 8:1-2 (ESV)

Just some thoughts that were on my heart to share. I would love to continue the conversation with you. God cares about you, and you matter to Him.

If He matters to you, you care about your decisions.

NP8: Chapter 8 of The Healer of Istagun – Gesu’s Blood

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This is chapter 8 of my ten-chapter fantasy novella. I hope you enjoy! =) Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

“Dahlia.”

The voice, stern yet gentle, murmured in my ear.

I opened my bleary eyes and found myself wrapped in warm comforters. I looked up to see Tarquin, who was on his knees beside my pallet, his hand on my arm. Concern shone through his intense dark eyes. When he saw I was awake, he removed his hand. Strangely, I missed the warmth of his fingers.

I quivered inside, my body feeling like a block of ice despite the pile of blankets on top of me and the fire that flickered steadily nearby. “W-where are we?”

A woman appeared, with wrinkled skin and beautiful white hair cut short at her shoulders. She smiled at me. “I am Tiana, and this is my home. Welcome.”

She had seen everything. The truth poured into me, and I was amazed. These old folks had lived full lives, in all four lands.

I gazed at my surroundings. Everything was white, just like it had been minutes before I’d fallen asleep in the glade with Hollis in my arms. We were enclosed by sheer whiteness, as pure and flawless as the Summer clouds.

“Thank you, Tiana. But I… I don’t see a home.”

Amused, the old woman tapped the whiteness, and I realized it was a solid. I looked up and around me, as I realized the walls and ceiling were made of ice. An ice home. I had never imagined such a thing.

“Dahlia, I have to go,” Tarquin said hoarsely. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay before I left.”

He turned away, but I grabbed his hand to stop him. “Where are you going?”

“Dahlia, you can’t come with me, you’re too sick…” He looked away, but didn’t let go of my hand. “We need…” He shook his head, as if I wouldn’t be able to bear the news.

“What do we need, Tarquin?” I asked, exasperated at his silence.

“We need Gesu’s blood,” he said slowly. “His body is on Medfuna island. I have to go there.”

I sat up in bed, ignoring the sharp pain in my back. “I have to come with you.”

He sank to his knees and massaged my fingers, looking gently in my eyes. “Dahlia, the plague has affected you.”

“But not yourself?” I observed his spotless skin in amazement. How had he avoided the sickness?

“Long ago Gesu gave me the power to resist certain poison spells,” Tarquin said. “Then, I didn’t know how it would help me, but now it’s all clear.” He grinned, his eyes searching my face in earnest. “I’m going to be King, Dahlia. As soon as Queen Hazina’s out of the way, I’m going to rule Istagun.”

I stared at him steadily, taking in his confident words. I fingered his ragged beard, deciding to not take him seriously, at least for now. “A King, eh?” I smiled. “That doesn’t mean you can order me around, you know.”

“Dahlia, how could you feel well enough to do anything?”

As his eyes flickered with unease, I let my hand fall from his chin.

“I don’t…” The pain still gripped me, and nausea filled my stomach. “I’m just determined, that’s all. Will you carry me across the sea?”

As soon as he laughed, I realized how flirtatious I must have sounded. Oops. I folded my hands together in my lap.

“Turns out I won’t have to get my fancy miner pants wet in that ocean,” he said, a glint of mirth in his eyes. “Prima and the healthy Summer people sailed here in my boat. Don’t know how they got the thing out of my basement, but, hey—it’s here!”

Relief flooded through me. “And Kari is here, too?”

“Yeah, somewhere. Probably finding his brothers. Prima’s taking good care of him—even soothed a deer and fed venison to him along with the whole village while she was at it.”

“Good,” I said thoughtfully. “So we will sail to Midfuna island on that boat of yours?”

Tarquin nodded. “So it’s ‘we’ now, eh?”

I just laughed, but I hoped desperately he’d get the thought of us-together-forever out of his head this minute. It was ridiculous. If only he’d understand that I could never have children!

Yet, somehow, his calm nature and good humor had filled me with a peace I’d not felt in a long time.

***

After I drank a hot bowl of Tiana’s soup, Tarquin carried me out into the village, his strong arms easily bearing my weight. Soon he rounded up the Gesu-following fairies. I bade farewell to Prima who had to stay and take care of Kari. Midfuna Island was where every human and fairy alike was buried, and it was no place for children.

But Hollis is there.

The realization spread through me as horrifically as the plague inside me. Tarquin had informed me that all the dead sick ones in the glade were gone by the time he found me and took me to Tiana’s house. Hollis would be buried along with Gesu, with no funeral to celebrate her little life.

The boat did indeed float. Tarquin and the fairies pushed through the water with wooden sticks that were flat at the end, which somehow heaved the vessel forward into the enormous sea. I watched in amazement at the steady pattern of motion and listened attentively to the rhythm of the waves.

Dolphins shot out of the water now and then, showing of their beautiful figures that gleamed in the sunlight. Yet it was cold out here, and I wrapped Tiana’s blankets around me, thankful for the warmth they provided.

We steadily approached the island that sat faintly in the distance.

I watched Tarquin paddle with the wooden stick. Hollis was dead. I could hardly believe it. I was too shocked to cry again, at least for now.

“How are you doing?” Tarquin asked as he strained against the waves.

His earnest words revealed his genuine concern for me, but I wanted to hide away my scarred soul, too overcome by pain to know how to express it.

Hollis was the sweetest sister, always smiling, and wise beyond her years. She couldn’t be gone. How had I let her just die like that? I could have done something—if only I’d listened to Prima when we hadn’t found my sister in Spring and believed her when she insisted Hollis was in Winter. If we’d gone straight to Winter instead of back to Summer, I could have saved her.

“Dahlia,” Tarquin said firmly. “It’s okay to cry.”

I hugged my knees to my chest. “I’m fine.”

“Just fine?” He searched my eyes, then paddled again, his face worn and full of sorrow. He must be exhausted. He cared about me. Did he understand my pain?

“Fairies are awful,” I moaned.

At that, he hushed me, for we were surrounded by kind, Gesu-following fairies.

“Yeah,” I laughed shortly. “Prima would be offended.”

Tarquin chuckled. “Well, yeah, I get what you mean. Queen Hazina is awful. She had us fooled for a long time, except for me. The docile spells didn’t work on me, so I had to live knowing full well how mistreated we all were. No one believed me. I guess when Gesu gives you the power to rule Istagun, you have to face some hardship along the way.”

My eyes widened. “Tarquin… are you really going to be King?”

“Gesu said I’d be, and his word hasn’t failed thus far.”

I ached at the mention of Gesu. He was gone: his love, his healing, his redeeming the bad for the good, as he had done to the fairies who now followed him. “How is his blood going to meet all our needs?”

Tarquin gripped the paddle tightly, staring out at the horizon. “The fairies say we’ll have to drink it.”

“What!?” The thought was sickening, to say the least.

He shrugged. “Without intaking his mercy, how will we breathe in new life and health?”
I narrowed my eyes, yet I believed him nonetheless. Gesu had power beyond the queen. Last night his love had spoken to my heart in unbelievable ways. It didn’t make sense until you experienced it. His power was real, more real than anything I’d known before.

As we approached the shore, we saw the Hazina-following fairies ready to sail back to Istagun in their own ship after their day’s work of burying the dead. The boat bumped into the sand and we scrambled out, making sure to curve in the opposite direction of the grave-digging pixies.

Yet a sharp yell erupted. Tarquin, holding me in his arms, ran with the fairies deep into the forest, away from the chaos. But the Hazina-followers were chasing us. Our fairy friends were soon out of sight, for their wings were faster than Tarquin’s legs.

“Can you run any faster?” I clung to him, fear racing through my heart.

He quickened his pace, without speaking a word. I felt his heart pounding as I leaned my head against his broad chest. It only comforted me that his arms held me secure.
We reached the open glade where stones marked the deaths of thousands. Fresh sadness washed over me. Hollis was here, under the ground, with not a breath left in her lungs.

I shuddered as Tarquin rushed to the Gesu-following fairies who had found a stone. It was only a pebble, but it marked Gesu’s grave, according to a pixie who had a spell that found what was lost.

The Hazina-following fairies were nowhere in sight. We could only hope they too didn’t have a finding spell in one of their pockets.

The fairies dug through the fertile earth quickly. Soon they revealed Gesu’s corpse, the smell reeking through the air. A smile played on the man’s lips, yet his eyes looked full of a deep sorrow.

“Here he is!” one exclaimed in wonder.

“Hurry, everyone!” another declared.

I looked away, hurt knotting a rope inside my stomach. “Why, Tarquin? If he’s so powerful, why didn’t he just save himself?”

Tarquin lowered me to the ground to let me rest. “He loved us more than his own life.” His voice choked with emotion. “And his blood was our only cure.”

One of the fairies had brought a glass bottle, which they proceeded to fill with Gesu’s blood. I closed my eyes and lay on the dirt ground, straining against the nauseous feeling in my stomach.

“Who goes there!?” a voice roared in the distance, but it quickly approached, along with the sound of rapid fluttering wings.

“It is only us!” cried a fairy. “We are making sure Gesu is dead.”

I cringed at the stupid lie.

“What do you mean—making sure?” The Hazina follower smirked. “Of course we’re sure! We stabbed him three times to be doubly sure!”

“But Gesu claimed to have untold power—greater than even Hazina!” Tarquin declared, and I was both amazed and terrified at his bold words. “What if he is undefeatable?”

The angry fairy yelled to the surrounding throng of Hazina followers. “Charge!”

Soon a battle erupted. Pain flooded through me as I lay there while Tarquin covering me with his body to protect me from the spells. At first I smelled his soiled shirt against my nose, but then the pungent odor of blood grew stronger, permeating the forest air. I tried not to vomit. Shouts rang out as spells were cast one after another.

I imagined the Gesu-follower fairies falling one after another in the face of Hazina’s more powerful fairies. It was no secret that Hazina collected the strongest spells in existence. Could Gesu save us now?

“Dahlia, I have to leave you for a moment—don’t be afraid.”

As soon as Tarquin rose to his feet, his voice bellowed through the air: “Stop, in the name of Gesu!”

All heads turn toward him in astonishment.

“No more of this, I tell you! I will be the new King, and you all must obey me now or you’ll regret it when I sit upon that throne.”

“Ha! The new king? You think you’re more powerful than—”

Silence fell, and I knew Tarquin caused it. Gesu must have truly given him more powers than just being immune to poison.

Soon Tarquin and the Gesu-following fairies returned to the boat. We set off, rushing back to Winter with our precious bottle of Gesu’s blood.

The Hazina-following fairies on Midfuna Island were all dead, and not a single one was buried with the humans.

Tarquin paddled against the current, his arms straining harder than ever. Yet he was calm, his eyes gazing out at the vast ocean as if his thoughts wandered across the sea.

“You did nothing,” I said simply. “It was all Gesu.”

He smiled thoughtfully. “Isn’t he amazing?”

As we approached Winter, shouts filled the air. Fairies were overwhelming humans one by one with their various spells.

Tarquin ordered everyone to paddle faster, desperation in his voice. I wrapped the blanket around me, as the temperature of Winter grew its hold on me. How would we ever defeat Hazina?

I was tormented at the thought of Prima and Kari dying. I almost screamed at Tarquin to hurry up, but then I realized that he was doing all he could. He was trying with all the strength he had and more… Gesu’s strength.

I found a passion deep within me for love and for truth. We didn’t need to be afraid. So instead of complaining to Tarquin, I yelled above the splash of the paddles in the sea, “Let’s fight for Gesu!”

And I knew I would never be the same again.

I want vs. I have

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With God, relationships with Him and others are an outpouring of His love. ❤

I want a connection

My mind is awake
I want a deep conversation
From a guy or a girl—
Either one, I don’t care.

I just want real interaction
All I hear is
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
But that’s it and I’m drowning
Yearning for a connection
I just want a connection.

The human connection
That grows a soul
The touching a heart
The filling a hole
Deep inside me.
I want that.

We hide in the dark
But we want the light
Friendship means nothing
If we don’t really know
One another
If we think we know them
but never feel that we need each other.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of smiles and hugs and politeness
I want to understand you
I really do.

I want, I want,
This selfishness wired inside me
It’s taking control; it’s becoming a desire
I can’t withhold.

I want love to bind us
Because without love,
We’re only a pair
Of separate individuals
Yearning for something more.

 

I have a connection

My heart is awake
In a deep conversation
With my Savior and Lord
He’s the One who cares.

This is real interaction
Not just
“Hello” and “Goodbye”
“How are you?” and a laugh
If that was it I’d be drowning
Yearning for a connection—
But I have a connection.

The supernatural connection
As He grows my soul,
Touches my heart,
And fills a hole
Deep inside me.
He does that.

When I hide in the dark
He guides me to His light
Our relationship with God means nothing
If we don’t really know Him
If we think we know Him
But never feel that we need Him.

I want meaning to this ritual
Of prayers and songs and kindness
I want to understand Him
I really do.

I want, I want
This desire fires inside me
It’s taking control; it’s breaking the boundaries
Of my restricted soul.

His love binds us
Because without love
We’re detached from our Creator
Yearning for something more.