In Grace We Stand…

Duck Island Cottage, © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

I love a good story. Indeed, as you have certainly guessed, story-telling is part of my family DNA.

Perhaps, this accounts for my son’s love of history. Stories of the past have delighted him since he was a little boy.  For this reason among many others, travel has become an ongoing priority for our family.

And so it was that on an overcast,  autumn afternoon, this homebody found herself standing in St. James’ park in central London while her then nineteen-year-old and his father wandered off to purchase tickets for another historic tour.

The canal and ducks initially invited me to wander further.  While there wasn’t time for me to squeeze in any plein air painting, I did carry my trusty Canon camera.

The grassy causeway offered such peace despite the heavily traveled London streets  that surrounded it.  Thus,  I longed to explore.

I knew instantly that artistic inspiration had found me.

“Click, click,” my Canon seemed to chatter.

I quickly gathered images of that storybook place to warm the walls of my studio.  Quietly, I watched children chase and feed the ducks that waddled along the shoreline.  And life’s tableau soothed my soul.

As I turned to cross the street to our late afternoon historic destination, a small cottage caught my eye.  Its whimsical design captivated me, and I lingered, eager to absorb its history… its story.

The park, of course, was developed by James I, of King James’ Bible translation fame. However, the current “Duck Island Cottage” did not occupy the small island until the 1840s.

At that time, the Ornithological Society commissioned architect John Burges Watson to design a cottage for the Royal Bird-keeper and the cottage has remained a part of this city haven since then.

However, the peaceful setting gives no indication of the cottage’s stormy history.  Indeed, the bungalow has stood stalwartly through two major world wars.

Artistic inspiration had found me.

I imagine that the air raids of World War II were particularly formidable in this central London location.  On the surface, this small gingerbread house built to house the keeper, who gently and faithfully cared for the birds of St. James, appears quite vulnerable.

But that is only part of the story.  You see, the historic site that my son, husband and I visited that day is hidden from view.

Built under the sidewalks of the city, Churchill’s war rooms, his command central throughout  World War II, kept a watchful eye on the enemies’ movements and, from there, the Prime Minister and his trusted advisers orchestrated the defense of not only the city but also of the nation.

That’s right. No more than a few yards away, unbeknownst to Londoners and, very likely, the occupants of the cottage, Churchill and his team stood guard; they were the invisible sentinels.

Had I lived in that cottage during WWII, I know I would have felt tremendous fear as the sirens blared and the night sky lit up.  Danger surrounded that small dwelling.

I likely would have succumbed to fear.  The sirens blare undoubtedly filled the cottage occupants’ natural senses. And I know from experience that faith’s sight, under such circumstances, becomes foggy or dusky.

Yet, only a few feet away, unseen warriors secured the nation’s safety.

You betcha.

My sojourn in this sometimes fear-fraught world parallels that of the cottage.  And even though, my head reminds me that I am not alone,  my heart sometimes finds it difficult to hang onto faith when night raids ensue.

Churchill and his team stood guard; they were the invisible sentinels.

Like Peter, I focus on the wind and the waves.  I sink instead of stand.

I think, perhaps, that this was the case with Elisha’s faithful servant.  Elisha had come under fire.  In 2 Kings, Elisha received a warning from God: the Israeli army should avoid a certain road since Syria planned an ambush.

When the Syrian strategy thus failed, the angry king looked for a scape-goat. Having learned of Elisha’s prophetic warning, the Syrians plotted to capture Elisha while he stayed in the city of Dothan.

Scripture records the Syrian king’s plan in chapter 6, “And he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city.”

As darkness surrounded Dothan, the enemy gathered to destroy Elisha.

When the sun rose, Elisha’s servant went out to begin his day’s work.  I can well imagine his terror when he saw a vast Syrian army encamped on the city’s doorstep.  All hope seemed lost.

“Alas, my master,” he cried in fearful despair. “What shall we do?”

Elisha’s answer reminds me of God’s uninterrupted night and day watch:  “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” (2 Kings 6:16).

If I had been there,  I probably would have spewed my morning coffee.  After all, as far as Elisha’s companion knew, it was he and God’s prophet against the world.

His look probably said it all because Elisha immediately responded, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see,” (2 Kings 6:17).

Immediately, Elisha’s servant saw God’s invisible army on the mountains around;  vast numbers of horses and chariots of fire stood ready to defend Elisha.

And God’s unseen guard also protects you and me.  When the enemy comes against us; when we face persecution for our faith; when trials batter our physical bodies, hearts and souls, God is there.

In the middle of the night, as sirens blare and fire shatters the sky, I do not see the silent sentinels standing guard.

Yet, God, in mercy and grace, guides me to safety. The light is always on in God’s war room.

And God’s unseen guard  protects you and me…

I understand this in the morning light.

True, the enemy prowls “seeking those he may devour,” (2 Peter 5:8).  Satan demands permission to sift Job.

Demons fight with Michael as God’s messenger makes his way to deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayers, (Daniel 10).

Without a doubt, the journey can be extremely treacherous.

Yet, God, with ever-present goodness and grace, leads us safely home. Despite the fact that waves often overwhelm me, my Savior’s hand catches me when I begin to sink.

While I may be blind to His hand in the world around me and while I find it easy to focus on the dark armies encamped against God’s people,  Abba’s protective wings cover me in spite of my frail faith.

For this reason, as storms and darkness in this world continue, I pray that our faith eyes will  be opened (Ephesians 1:18).

I ask Abba to enable you and I to be, as Paul has written, “… strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might…”(Ephesians 6:10).

I pray because I am absolutely convinced that through His mercy and grace, we will “be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm,” (Ephesians 6:13).

Indeed, I know this to be a promise.

The battle rages, but my Savior stands near.  And my safe passage will not depend upon me, but upon the Unseen One in whose grace I stand.

“For Thou has been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy,” ~Psalm 63:7

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” ~Hebrews 11:1

88 Replies to “In Grace We Stand…”

  1. Lynn, I’m so excited to sit down with this post! It’s worth a pre and post post! I started a post last night not necessarily about Grace; but that’s where I ended. You’ve inspired me to return to it. Love you! ❤️

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    1. Aww… thank you, dearest Deb. I have been very frustrated because either your posts are not showing up in my reader or somehow they are getting lost there. Sigh. So,this morning, I have clicked on the “follow by email” button on your blog. Hopefully, that will make the difference! I hate missing any of your phenomenal posts! Love you, too! ❤

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  2. Great and encouraging post, Lynn. This paragraph really says it all: “And God’s unseen guard also protects you and me. When the enemy comes against us; when we face persecution for our faith; when trials batter our physical bodies, hearts and souls, God is there.”

    An enthusiastic amen!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, David! As always, your encouragement means the world to me. I so admire and respect you. By the way, I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but my husband is really involved in supporting several organizations in Israel. Have you heard of Israel First Fruits? That’s one of the groups with which he is involved. He also has the opportunity to visit Israel frequently as a business mentor through Chick-fil-A. He’s traveling right now, but when he returns, I’d like to email you about your ministry if that would be okay with you. God bless you, my wonderful friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Lynn. No, I didn’t know this about your husband, but I will definitely check out Israel First Fruits online. Regarding my ministry, I’d be happy to share about it.

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      2. Hi, David!
        I’ve updated my email and facebook with your contact info, but have deleted it from your comment to protect your privacy… Dunno if that was something that you wanted left permanently on my blog, and so I took the liberty of removing it from your comment. Thank you with all my heart for being willing to share your contact info with me. We definitely want to hear more about your ministry! God bless you big time, my friend!!

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  3. Always enjoy seeing you artwork Lynn and love the image of spewing the coffee at seeing the enemy army before you. I would be spewing as well lol. That’s such a great bible story. I need my eyes constantly opened for sure.

    Thanks for sharing, you are a story teller for sure!

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  4. As always—-all so beautiful—-the painting, the story, the history…
    I too have walked in places imaging a life prior—the worries, the heaviness, the life, and death balance of those who trod the land before me—the tremendous precarious events that played out long before I walked the same piece of the earth…and you Lynn capture it so beautifully by your words, reflections, and ethereal dream-like images—
    I do love a good storyteller…and you are that person!

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    1. Aww… thank you, dear Julie! You have made my day! What beautiful things to say! Yes, I was somewhat inspired to post this when I read your review of “The Darkest Hour.” Isn’t it wonderful to imagine the stories of those who have gone before us? A little like people watching, I suspect. Oh, what wonderful fun you and I would have if we could have such adventures together! Love you much! ❤ ❤

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  5. “Immediately, Elisha’s servant saw God’s invisible army on the mountains around; vast numbers of horses and chariots of fire stood ready to defend Elisha.” Such a vision! May our eyes be opened! Thank you for your beautiful painting and parable dear Lynn. It brought me to tears. Love, Deb

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    1. Oh, Deb… you are truly a treasure! Yes, I pray with you that we will see with eyes of faith all that God does on our behalf! Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness! Your friendship means the world to me! Love and huge hugs!

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  6. I love this post, Lynn I like when you said, “… even though, my head reminds me that I am not alone,  my heart sometimes finds it difficult to hang onto faith when night raids ensue.”

    I agree, sometimes what our natural eyes take in can hinder our faith, but if we just ask God to open our eyes like Elisha did to his servant, we would know that God’s unseen army is more powerful than our fears.

    “While I may be blind to His hand in the world around me and while I find it easy to focus on the dark armies encamped against God’s people,  Abba’s protective wings cover me in spite of my frail faith.”

    Amen! Lynn. While our frail faith may make it seem that we can’t win the “battle” there is always the unseen army of God watching and waiting as the invisible sentinels.

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  7. This subject has been on my mind lately! I’m so glad you put it into words for me. There is so much strength to be found in Him. Oftentimes we let the bad around us block out the good and we lose that strength. But, if we look with “God eyes” as you said, we will be able to clearly see the good.

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  8. I’ve often wondered how many times, during the course of our routine days, God’s protection keeps us safe and we don’t have a clue what was about to happen… Raising teenage sons, there were many times I asked the Lord to send angels – “those really big warrior ones, please” – to keep them from harm, especially during frightening times. Trusting God’s protection allows us to replace anxiety with faithful peace. This post, this painting, your prayer – all of it brings JOY! Thank you, Lynn.

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    1. Dorissa, I truly smiled and giggled a little as I read your lovely comment here. Yes, sons have a way of pushing the physical/gravitational limits of this world. 🙂 I love that you prayed for the “really big, warrior” angels! Although my son is now in his twenties, I think I’ll begin to pray the same! 🙂 Thank you with all my heart for your kind words, encouragement and truly godly example! Your friendship is a treasure to me. ❤ ❤

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  9. Ooh, I just love history! Yes, no matter how frail our faith may seem at the moment, He is always there for us. ❤

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      1. You’re welcome. You should write a book, though, for you have so many things to share. ❤ God bless.

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  10. This post is jam-packed with hope for me today, Lynn. Thank you! What a rich, lesson-filled history the cottage stands for. As I was reading, I thought of Elisha’s servant’s eyes opening to God’s army surrounding them. Then you wrote about it! That story has often been an encouragement. Yes, the battle rages, but our Savior is near! His loving hand reaches for us in the midst of overwhelming storms. There is such comfort in that. Thank you for refreshing my heart today! Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Trudy, I love how we are so very often on the same wavelength! You are truly a kindred spirit! I wish we could sit down and just share life over a cup of tea. Yet, I am truly grateful that God has introduced us here in the blogosphere! 🙂 What a blessing your friendship is to me! You are such an encouragement and your wisdom buoys me again and again. Thank you with all my heart! Love and hugs right back to you!

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    1. Thank you so very much for your thoughtful words! I am truly delighted to meet you here. It looks like you are just beginning your blog, and so I will look forward to visiting you there as you begin to write your first posts! Thank you so much for stopping by to visit me here. ❤

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  11. Excellent post, Lynn (and beautiful painting!!).
    Churchill’s sanctuary is an excellent analogy for how God watches over and protects us!
    On another note, did I tell you, I saw The Darkest Hour? It was very good; we enjoyed it very much.
    Blessings to you, my sweet friend!

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    1. Thank you, dear Robbye! Your kind words mean the world to me… And I can’t wait to see The Darkest Hour. My husband certainly wishes to see that movie. Just haven’t had a free few hours to go to the theater yet. But the film has had such excellent reviews and we are both huge admirers of Churchill. He wasn’t perfect, of course, but what a strong and inspiring leader he was during such a terrible time in humanity’s history. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it! You’re the best! ❤ and hugs to you, my wonderful friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, sweet Lynn, you are very welcome!
        I know what you mean about finding time, it’s almost impossible anymore!
        I wouldn’t say it’s the very best of films, but it was very good. Churchill was a great leader whose true worth was never realized until many, many years later.
        Hugs to you, too!

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  12. In Grace We Stand… and how privileged are we, that He not only stands WITH us as He did with His prophets, but He who is IN us is greater that he who is in the world?

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  13. Quoting from your post: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them,” (2 Kings 6:16).

    “For this reason, as storms and darkness in this world continue, I pray that our faith eyes will be opened” (Ephesians 1:18).

    “I pray because I am absolutely convinced that through His mercy and grace, we will ‘be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm,'” (Ephesians 6:13).

    “The battle rages, but my Savior stands near. And my safe passage will not depend upon me, but upon the Unseen One in whose grace I stand.” End Quotes from your post.

    Amen! And Amen! God is absolutely amazing, isn’t he? He had me write on this subject, too, today, from Ephesians 6 about spiritual warfare. This morning, I was feeling attacked by Satan in my mind, so I prayed, and I asked the Lord if I had done something wrong. I was being attacked with regard to the book the Lord gave me to write and which I had just completed. I shared this with T.R. earlier today. And, as I was taking this to the Lord in prayer, asking for his counsel in this matter, he spoke to me through this:

    “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 1 Kings 18:36-37

    Lynn, as I read your post this evening, I could see so well how this scripture passage went with what you shared, too, about all the armies of heaven, I think you said, which are standing with us on our side, so we are definitely not alone. Satan is fighting hard against us, it seems, but God already won this one for us! Satan is a defeated foe. He just doesn’t know it yet. So, keep up the courage. Praying for you! Love and hugs being sent your way. Sue

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Sue… I’m so very glad that God used this post to further confirm again what He has been lovingly saying to you! How wonderful He is! I look forward to reading the post that you have written. Very busy days here for me as it is the end of the month and I once more have much preparation for new art exhibits coming at the first of the month. But I will visit your blog as soon as possible for I know that I will be truly blessed by what God said by way of encouragement to you! Your comment here is so uplifting and inspiring, and I am truly thankful for all that you have shared! Huge hugs, my lovely and godly friend!

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  14. “In that day the Lord Almighty
    will be a glorious crown,
    a beautiful wreath
    for the remnant of his people.
    He will be a spirit of justice
    to the one who sits in judgment,
    a source of strength
    to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” Is. 28:5-6

    I believe this “turning back the battle at the gate” has to do with those who have resisted Satan’s lies and deceptions and temptations in their own lives, as well as this represents those who are actively involved in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to turn back this battle of Satan against God’s people, and at the gate of human’s hearts so that people can be saved, so they can be free from the power of Satan and sin over their lives, and so that they no longer allow Satan and sin to overcome them. They stop it at the gate. For those who have done this, i.e. for those who have “turned the battle back at the gate,” God will be their refuge and strength. This does not mean they will not suffer or even die for their faith in Jesus Christ and for his gospel, but it means that he will be with them even in death and he will bring them safely into his glorious presence.

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  15. Lynn, you paint with words as well as you paint with the brush 🙂

    I love the history you shared, and I love cottages ❤ The story of Elisha praying for those near to see the army God provided them has always spoken deeply to me. Especially in times of perils. It's one I need to remind my heart daily. God will provide because He keeps His word, and He loves us. ❤

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    1. Yes! Again, you are my soul sister! This is one of my favorite Biblical accounts! And like you, when I face deep waters, I must constantly remind myself that God fights the battle on my behalf! Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comment! You are truly an “encourager,” and I am so grateful that God introduced us. Your friendship is truly a gift! ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I always look forward to reading your comments, not that I don’t enjoy other people’s comments of course 🙂 , but I love sharing our love for Christ. I truly appreciate your support and uplifting words as well. Your friendship is certainly a gift to me as well!!! God has blessed me with some amazing people and you are certainly one of them. You are a God send and I thank you for letting Him use you to speak to me. 🙂 ❤

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    1. Thank you, thank you, dear Trudy!! Yes, until recently when I was allowed to go off the cancer prevention medicine that I was required to take for 10 years, I had trouble sleeping– side-effect of the medication. And so, I often would browse blogs in the middle of the night. 🙂 As I read, yours particularly stood out to me; I immediately felt at home! Yup. God did indeed direct me to your site. And I’m forever grateful! He knew that I would love your blog and that you would become one of my dear friends! God bless you greatly, Trudy! ❤ and hugs!

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  16. Lynn, your stories are amazing and captivating. The way you link your personal experience with God’s word is outstanding. I love the story of Elisha and Heaven’s Army! It is easy to look at our circumstances and become overwhelmed. Sometimes the storm feels like it will never cease, or the odds seem like they are against us. But, we have the Lord of Heaven’s Army fighting for us! I love how Paul states in Ephesians 6 that we should be, “strong in the Lord.” And later he speaks of cloaking ourselves with prayer and the Spirit. We don’t have to be afraid. Father God not only equips us with the tools needed to stand against the enemy, but He fights for us.

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    1. Oh, you are too good to me! Thank you with all my heart! God is good, and when I start a painting or piece of writing, I ask Him to guide me… as I’m sure you do as well. I’m so grateful for God’s gracious teaching and direction in my life. Much of the time, I “preach” here to myself. Thank you for your uplifting words here! Amen and amen to all of the beautiful truth you have expressed in your thoughtful comment. I am so thankful that the battle is the Lord’s! God bless you greatly! You truly bless my life with your writing both here and on your blog.

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  17. Wonderful of you to share. It always gives me shivers to image the war, what it would have been like hearing the sirens and taking tickets for rationing. It’s heartbreaking. A fantastic story and beautiful artwork.x

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    1. I’m so with you, Carol! It must have been terrible to live through WWII. Thank you for your powerful thoughts! And your kind words encourage me greatly. You are a gem. I pray God blesses you beyond all that you can imagine!

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  18. Just read this again. It’s new every time. I love the closing! It fills me with joy and courage. Love you Lynn. Love your teaching and your paintings always carry me to another place as I read. 💛

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    1. Deb, you are way too good to me! Thank you! And believe it or not, your encouragement is perfect because that is exactly what I hope to accomplish with my paintings… to transport my readers to another time and place. So, God has used you in an incredible way here to buoy and encourage me today! Thank you; thank you with all my heart! You are such a blessing to me. God knew I needed a special writing/blogging friend like you! ❤ and hugs! ❤

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  19. Thank you Lynn and yes we never need to fear, God is with us all the way . Your Message reminded me of another Scripture ( see summery below) it’s one that helped me when I had to leave my Family and friends to move to Queensland but little did I know how great the Battle would be, I did not realize that it would be an ongoing Battle over many years but God is faithful to us as He has always been to His Children and He reassures me that the Battle is His and He reminds me often as He did with your Message that He has it in control, Thank you again Lynn.

    2 Chronicles 20:1-21……….Be not afraid nor dismayed the Battle is not ours but God’s……

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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    1. Amen!! I love 2 Chronicles 20:1-21. What encouragement it brings! Thank you! I’m so sorry that your move brought so many challenges. I will pray for you especially as I hit the “approve” button for this comment! You are such a blessing to me, and I truly pray that God blesses you beyond all that you can imagine…and that He brings you to tremendous victory over the obstacles that are intended by the evil one to discourage and derail you! Your faith and trust in God in this regard continue to inspire me! Thank you! Love and hugs!

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