A sign and a wonder

The Esther BlessingLate on a winter Thursday, I finished the rough draft of The Esther Blessing: Grace to Reign in Life. I completed and published the e-book later that spring.

Of course, a rough draft does not a finished book make. But a completed draft is a huge step in the process and a cause for celebration. That Thursday night, I celebrated. Imagine my astonishment on Friday morning to see:

God had showed up to celebrate with me.

The Esther Blessing explores a concept I’ve never heard taught: that grace flows in an amazing cycle very similar to the water cycle. Here’s a taste of chapter 8  – and a testimony to the God of all grace.

The rain comes down from heaven. As I finished drafting The Esther Blessing, I watched the rain fall, gently, persistently. Evening, morning and afternoon, it pattered against the windows and soaked into the ground.

The water flows into rivulets, streams, lakes and oceans. The day the rain just kept coming, the previously dry creek bed down the hill behind our house filled nearly to overflowing. As I concluded the first draft of a work inviting God’s people to cooperate fully in conducting his grace, I watched the newly surging creek waters flow past.

Photo courtesy of zjscullin at stock.xchng

Photo courtesy of zjscullin at stock.xchng

The water evaporates, rising upward to form clouds and start the process again. The morning after the all-day rain, I stepped out onto our back porch to refill our bird feeder. I gasped to see an ethereal mist rising from the ground. The sun peered through the treetops, calling the soggy land to release the water droplets skyward. The earth responded with a resounding, yes!

What a beautiful sign and wonder God had sent! Stunned, I stood silently, watching the earth itself praise the Creator. Then, I began to sing: “How can I keep from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough how amazing is Your love? How can I keep from shouting Your name? I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing.”

Before I started singing, a fine, translucent vapor rose about knee-high from the winter-white grass all across our back yard. As I praised the Lord, the mist visibly increased and intensified. By the end of my song, it had literally formed a cloud – a glory-cloud shimmering in the sunlight – that filled our lawn and extended far above my head.  Undone, I stood in awe.

Continually, the Lord God accomplishes the wonder of the water cycle:

  • “Who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land – the Lord is his name” (Amos 5:8).
  • “He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water on the countryside” (Job 5:10).
  • “Behold, He restrains the waters, and they dry up; and He sends them out, and they inundate the earth” (Job 12:15 NASU).
  • “He casts forth His ice as fragments; Who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow” (Ps. 147:17-18 NASU).
  • “He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land – the Lord is his name” (Amos 9:6).

Continually, the Lord God accomplishes the amazing cycle of grace:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work … You will be made rich in every way [as grace flows down] so that you can be generous on every occasion [as grace flows out], and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God [as grace flows up!] … Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:8, 11, 15 NIV).

Adapted from The Esther Blessing: Grace to Reign in Life, by Deborah P. Brunt, © 2013.

Learn more about The Esther Blessing: Grace to Reign in Life.
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“How Can I Keep From Singing?” Written by Ed Cash, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, CCLI #: 4822372. Copyright © 2006 Thankyou Music (PRS) (adm. worldwide at EMICMGPublishing.com excluding Europe which is adm. by kingswaysongs.com) / worshiptogether.com Songs (ASCAP) sixsteps Music (ASCAP) Vamos Publishing (ASCAP) (adm. at EMICMGPublishing.com) / Alletrop Music (BMI) All rights reserved.

Countdown to The Esther Blessing: 1

Today, I’ve finished a work begun in 1993. I’m in awe at the affirmation God has given that this is his time to release a book I’ve tried to write for 20 years.

The Esther BlessingThe Esther Blessing: Grace to Reign in Life went live today on Kindle and Nook. It’s also available on PDF.

I had thought it would be wonderful for The Esther Blessing to be released on Purim, the two-day Jewish feast commemorating the events in Esther. This year, Purim occurred February 24-25. But it took me longer than I’d anticipated to get the manuscript ready, and my commitment was not to get so hurried that I didn’t complete the work fully.

Yesterday evening, March 11, I downloaded the Kindle and Nook versions of The Esther Blessing on the appropriate sites. I did the same thing last October with The Elijah Blessing: An Undivided Heart. Last fall, the Kindle version went live immediately. But the Nook version of The Elijah Blessing remained stuck “in process” for four months. For no apparent reason, it suddenly appeared online in late January.

This morning, I awoke to find both the Kindle and Nook versions of The Esther Blessing already available! As I sat, praising God, I began to wonder what day it is on the Hebrew calendar. I looked – and found that it’s Nissan 1.

In Exodus 12:2, God told Moses and Aaron, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.” Then, the Lord instituted Passover and led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

A year later on the first day of Nissan, Moses erected the tabernacle that had been built according to God’s specifications. At God’s command, Moses placed all the holy items in the tabernacle – the ark containing the Testimony with the atonement cover on top, the table that held the bread, the lampstand, the golden altar of incense, the bronze altar of burnt offering and the basin. Moses anointed the tabernacle and everything in it. Then Aaron and his sons put on their priestly garments for the first time, and Moses anointed them.

“And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:33-35).

This year on the first day of Nissan, I’ve finished a work begun in 1993. I’m in awe at the affirmation God has given that this is his time to release a book I’ve tried to write for 20 years.

Excerpt from The Esther Blessing

One icy Saturday in January 1993, I drove onto a desolate college campus I had not visited before. Beside me on the car seat lay a flyer announcing the starting and ending times for a Christian drama conference and the building on campus where the meeting would be held. My car clock displayed the conference start time. Alas. I’d hoped to arrive early after my 100-plus mile drive.

The campus was small but empty and unmarked – no building names, no conference signs, no indication whether a cluster of parked cars signaled a nearby dorm, a Saturday class or the gathering I sought; no passers-by on foot or in vehicles to ask.

Driving in circles, growing more and more frustrated, I finally found a lone, bundled walker. He stopped when I rolled down my window, but knew little more of the campus than I did. Just when I’d decided I might have to turn around and drive home, I saw a small poster staked outside a building, signaling the conference spot.

Parking and hurrying inside, I found the same eerie emptiness. A registration table sat, unmanned. I signed the check-in sheet and picked up a conference schedule. A long, empty hallway greeted me, pock-marked at intervals with classroom doors. Inside some of those classrooms, the first-hour seminars were well underway.

A lone chair sat outside the open door to one classroom. Just inside the door, a man stood, speaking to people I could not see. Ah, but his wasn’t the seminar I’d planned to attend. I wandered farther down the hall and found the room I wanted. Alas again. The door was shut. I could not bring myself to barge in on the session so late, especially knowing I had to enter the front of the room. I could hear nothing but a low murmur through the closed door. Tiptoeing back down the hallway, I sat in the lone chair, determined to hear what I could of the class I had not planned to attend.

Of course, I’d come upon a talk about who-knows-what, midstream. As the presenter presented and I struggled to follow, he loosely quoted a phrase from Romans 5:20. “You know,” he said. “Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.”

The man kept talking, but I heard nothing else. For God had shot that portion of a verse like an arrow into my heart.

That icy morning, deeply discouraging and highly distressing situations seemed about to crush me. I saw unrighteousness getting away with murder, so to speak. I’d arrived frustrated, because of misjudging the drive time, compounded by the confusion in finding the building. But also, I’d arrived feeling as bleak as the weather, helpless, hopeless, alone.

The instant the grace arrow hit my heart, I knew God had orchestrated all that had seemed so frustrating up to that moment – the lack of clear directions, the frigid weather, the empty campus, even the chair sitting in an empty hallway beside an open door – to get me to a certain place at a certain time to hear, as if for the first time, a phrase I already knew.

Where sin abounds, nothing can be done to stop it? Where sin abounds, everyone is doomed? Where sin abounds, hope is lost? No, no, no!

Where sin abounds, God has made the way for grace to abound much more. As I sat in that hallway, the truth I’d heard exploded within me. I wanted to shout, “Yes! Yes! How wonderful, Lord! YES!”

Given the circumstances, I didn’t shout. But when the conference ended, I left, still dancing on the inside. As I drove into winter’s early darkness, I asked the Lord questions I would continue to ask long after arriving home: What is grace? What does it mean for grace to abound much more? What does that look like? Does it always happen where sin abounds? If not, why not? How can it happen here?

I knew God had given me a key. He had spoken something deeply, profoundly into my spirit. All the answers I didn’t yet know, he wanted me to seek. He was inviting me to press in to him to discover what the key opened and to unlock and own it all. I had no idea where the pursuit would lead me, or how long it would take.

From The Esther Blessing: Grace to Reign in Life, © 2013 by Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.