Firmly Planted

©Lynn Abbott. Used with Permission.

© 2019 Lynn Abbott

Fifty years later, I can’t remember what we fought about.  But fight we did.

We were only 4, but even so, my neighborhood buddy and I had a true falling out.  She and the girl down the street stormed to her house, and I ran to mine. I slipped in through the side gate to find a quiet place to nurse my wounds.

My mother found me there.  “I thought you were playing with Jill,” she said.

It had been a terrible day, and I knew what was coming.  I didn’t feel like smoothing things over with Jill…not yet.

Mom, however, believed in making peace.  Always.

“Relationships are more important than most of the things people fight about,” mom usually reminded me.

Yet, I was too hurt to join my best buddy and our other neighbor that day.  Tomorrow would be different, but today, I wanted to cry.

For this reason, instead of answering my mom with the full account, I said, “Jill had to take a nap.”

It was a little fib…with big consequences.  But I simply didn’t wish to displease my mom, and I couldn’t face Jill.

I slipped in through the side gate to find a quiet place to nurse my wounds.

Moms, however, have a sixth sense.  My mom’s intuition was fine tuned.

She quietly walked into the house, and unbeknownst to me, called Jill’s mom.  After all, it was rather late in the afternoon for a nap, and most of us had given up regular naps.

Needless to say, Mom caught me.  And just punishment came swiftly. I never forgot that lesson: lying is never acceptable and it certainly isn’t the way to handle conflict.

My mother’s response that day became one of my most vivid childhood memories.

I couldn’t bear disappointing her. My stomach turned at the thought. Thus, rather than face either my mother’s or my heavenly Father’s displeasure, I steered clear of lying from that day forward.

Nevertheless, I still hated conflict, and found other ways to avoid it whenever possible.  I preferred to play it safe where people were concerned.

You might say that “Keep everyone happy and thereby maintain a tenuous peace” remained my default setting.

Such a stance became a bit problematic, however, when I chose to follow Jesus.

That’s right.  I decided to follow that same Jesus who said, “…In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33).  Little did I know that I was in for a wild ride.

I hated conflict, and found ways to avoid it whenever possible.

Trouble should come as no surprise. You and I have been fairly warned.  Christ himself noted that, in a world pursuing its own path rather than Abba’s, Christ is a divisive figure, (Matthew 10:22; I Peter 2:8).

Of course, whenever anyone stands for something, people take pot shots.  How much more so when you and I swim against the world’s current and follow Abba?  Conflict, then, is inevitable.

We may do our best to follow Paul’s injunction to live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18); however,  our very identification with Christ will ultimately place us in the middle of a spiritual storm.

Perhaps, this is why I so relate to Simon Peter.

When we think of Peter, most of us remember his bold confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Or perhaps, we recall his heartbreaking denial the night of Jesus’ trial.

What I love about Peter was his big heart.  He truly loved his Savior.  Yet, as I view his life in its entirety, I see someone who vacillated between great faith and tremendous fear.

From the very beginning of his earthly walk with the Savior, Simon Peter demonstrated a desire to avoid conflict and difficulty.

Sure… At times, he spoke boldly, but often, he waffled and advocated the safe road. Matthew 16-17, in fact, recounts a few of Peter’s pendulum swings.

After Peter boldly proclaimed his faith, Jesus began to describe the journey ahead, the Via Dolorosa.   He even told his disciples that He would be killed and then, would rise on the third day.

Christ’s words didn’t sit well with Peter.  In fact, Peter took Jesus aside and spoke to Him privately:  “‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!'”

Our very identification with Christ will ultimately place us in the middle of a spiritual storm.

Peter longed to protect his Savior.  Peter wished to avoid the coming conflict.  But this was not Abba’s plan.  His Son would ride a donkey into the storm.

For this reason, Jesus rebuked Peter and identified Peter’s root issue, “…you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men,” (Matthew 16:23).

Isn’t that the way it is?  When fear unsettles my faith, I’m sorry to say that I regularly consider people-pleasing over God-pleasing.

After all, persecution is not my favorite part of the faith journey.  In truth, I’d rather walk on water with Jesus than take up my cross daily.   Thus, when fear and faith collide, sometimes courage wins.  Other times… not so much.

And so it was with Peter. He sought a more pleasant path for his Lord and for himself.  come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me… What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16: 24, 26-27).

Jesus calls me to stand with Him.

So, because of love for the Savior, Peter followed Jesus to Jerusalem; Peter defended Jesus in Gethsemane… under the cover of darkness.

But then, fear openly denied Christ in the temple courtyard.  Fear of man. Fear of all that comes with controversy, conflict and persecution.

Yes, the avoid-trouble-if-at-all-possible Simon showed up not long after Peter, the rock, boasted courageously, “…I will lay down my life for you!” (John 13:37b).

I get that. And I also understand the remorse he felt when Christ noted his denial with a single look.

“She’s taking a nap,” I said.  But Mom knew better.

Yes, the temptation to self-protect rather than to God-please visits us all at some point in our lives.  Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are and yet did not sin.  And yes, in that wilderness, the enemy tempted Christ to take the easy road, to self-protect rather than to trust Abba.

“Worship me,” Satan said, pointing to the world. “All this will be yours.”

Avoid the cross; gain the world.

Uh, huh. That’s right. No temptation has overtaken you and me except that which is common to all humanity.

But Abba is faithful, and  “…He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it,” (I Corinthians 10:13).

Peter, the rock, crumbled.  Yet, after Resurrection Sunday, Christ put that rock together again on a beach in Galilee.  And in an upper room in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, Abba provided Peter and all of us with the power to escape temptation.

Peter’s life transformed with the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The same Peter, who once feared people in the temple court, stood firm before the Jewish religious leaders known as the Sanhedrin.

When threatened with punishment and persecution, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29).

In Peter’s story, I find hope.  If Peter, the pendulum, can stand strong, then so can I.

Jesus calls me to stand with Him.

I may not enjoy conflict.  My distaste for it hasn’t changed much since I was a little girl.

But I now know that Abba’s Spirit prepares you and me for whatever we may face.  By His grace and power, we stand.

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty,” ~Zechariah 4:6b
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers,” Psalm 1:1-3

112 Replies to “Firmly Planted”

  1. Lynn, I’ve always loved the picture truth of the tree by rivers of water in Psalm 1. I have often thought that no matter how hard the circumstances, if we are rooted deeply with constant nourishment, we will recover and thrive. Even ones transplanted in the wrong seasons of life can know the staying power of Gods Grace, and stand firm.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Lynn, I’m pretty sure that all of us have felt that flash of guilt at one time or another when we’ve zigged when we should have zagged. And I’ve often thought, if it ever comes down to the wire, will I stand as I ought? I’ve even thought it through, so I know my decision ahead of time and God’s word tells me not to worry about the exact phrasing, that He’ll take care of that and I believe that He will, because He always has.
    Great to see you again Lynn, we’ve missed you. God’s grace and blessings to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes… I know that feeling well, Bruce! Thank you for your gracious response to my post and for your encouragement! I’ve missed everyone as well. Sigh. Between the traveling and the “outside of blogging” workload, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. But I am trying to get back to some kind of blogging again… I look forward to all of your posts and continue to read regularly, though. Your blog is a lifeline during these confusing and concerning times. God bless you greatly, my friend and brother!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Love this post! I too often want to avoid conflict, or perhaps just solve conflict quickly, like Peter did when he lopped off a man’s ear. 🙂

    Something that really blessed me was realizing, “blessed be the peaceMAKERS,” not the peacekeepers. To “make the peace” often requires confrontation and restoration.

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  4. How beautiful, yet only though the pain of hurting and being hurt. Sadly, I’ve learned through moments like those to be careful of EVERYTHING I say and do. There are some hurts we can’t undo… including our own.
    Praying for you, Lynn! God loves you!

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    1. Aww… thank you, Warren! Your encouragement always lifts my soul! I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by my outside of blogging work and a great deal of traveling that has come with it. But I am trying to get back to blogging… even if only part-time! Your posts, though, are “cannot be missed”… even if I don’t always comment because I’m on the road. Thank you for the blessing that your blog is in my life! And for your friendship! God bless you big time, my godly friend!

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  5. I don’t think it’s possible to live in the thick of life without running into conflict. I like harmony, and I don’t enjoy strife or confrontation. While I’ve learned to deal with issues promptly instead of avoiding them, after all these years, I can’t say that the process has become much easier fort me. I still get a wrenching feeling in my gut when I have to approach someone. It gives real meaning to Jesus’ words about “dying to self” when I step forward and do what I know is the right thing to do.

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    1. Aww… thank you, dear Denise! It is a fairly new painting. It’s currently at the gallery in Lexington, VA. And yes, Mom was a wonderful lady…she was my best friend and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful and lovely comments… you are such a lovely person,and your friendship is truly one of the extraordinary gifts that has come through blogging! 🙂 ❤

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  6. Enjoyed this reading immensely! Especially these line, “But this was not Abba’s plan.  His Son would ride a donkey into the storm.” That stood out to be because it “appears” to be an unprepared event – Like knowing there’s a hurricane and not batting the windows down. For those of us who know the story though, Jesus was fulfilling prophecy and ultimately His Father’s will. He had to “enter the storm” unprepared (by visual observation) but completely surrendered and reliant on His Father (through the lens of faith observation). Wow! When we do like our Master – walk in obedience, we can be confident, that we will always be “firmly planted”. Blessings to you, beloved daughter of the King ❤️

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      1. Greetings to you, Lynn! It’s a delight to be connected with you ☺️. Thank you for such kind sentiments, truly, our Lord is a giver of good gifts. Blessings to you always 🙂

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  7. Funny how God can still use childhood experiences to teach us yet. We can look back and see how He has guided and protected and molded us; and still we can quake at what might be ahead.

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  8. wonderful testimony, thank you!
    only the Holy Spirit both in us and upon us can give us the wisdom and the power to be bold and confident in this world to share glorified Christ Jesus, not deny Jesus and the Cross, our only Salvation.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My friend, I missed your posts! I, too, find hope in Peter’s story. It was actually one of the first stories I’ve heard as a child and so it stuck with me. May God continue to bless you. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “I slipped in through the side gate to find a quiet place to nurse my wounds.” Ah, yes, been there too many times to count. And yet, as you illustrate so well, Lynn, the only dependable quiet place is the one inside of us when we’re at peace with God.

    Still, I’d love to go for a walk beside that quiet stream you’ve painted!

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  11. Wonderfully glad to have you back! Missed your stories, thoughts of wisdom, happy stance.
    Thank you for sharing such a beautifully written childhood memory, and the lesson learned. We can all relate to. The intermingled with Scripture’s truth makes it more poignant.
    It is amazing how mothers know instinctively when something’s off, not right with their kids. I can surely relate to that.

    Love the way you said, “Abba’s Spirit prepares you & me from whatever we may face. By His grace and power we stand.” Selah Amen ~ forever truth!

    I so agree, by His grace and Power we do stand! Our Lord withstood the cross for us, us, that through Him with Him, His grace is sufficient. And the power to help us through anything, always moving forward.

    On a side note, your collection of paintings are amazing! Your gift is breathtaking, thank you for sharing all of you. Many blessings to you and yours always.

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    1. Oh, wow! So much encouragement that my heart sings! Thank you with all my heart! I’m still somewhat overwhelmed by my work outside of the blogging world, but I am trying to post whenever I can. And of course, I love reading the posts of my friends here! You are a wonderful friend and I love your blog! Know that even though I am on the road a lot and find it difficult always to comment, that I am reading.

      And thank you also for your thoughtful response to this post! You have encouraged me today with your wisdom! I know I could not face a day without His Spirit! Thank you for your friendship. It means so much!

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  12. Thank you for this post, Lynn. I remember doing something mean to my sister when we were little. It was a big knot in my heart for years. After we were all grown up, I eventually wrote a letter to her and apologize. It felt so good to reconcile.

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  13. Well said!! Some of my favorite Scriptures in there – good reminders that we can only gain the temporary pleasures of the world by pursuing the world, but what we stand to lose, we can lose for eternity.

    It’s so true that choosing to stand with Jesus often means standing against popular opinion, culture – heck, even against my own inclinations sometimes! But standing with Him is the only good way.

    I was a people-pleaser, too. I guess I should say I’m a recovering people-pleaser, because I still fight that temptation. But by the grace of God, more and more I find myself wanting to please Him most. May He give us the grace to love Him more and the inclination to follow Him anywhere!

    It’s good to walk this path with people like you to keep me encouraged along the way, Lynn. ❤

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    1. Oh, my goodness, Heather! I just responded to a comment made by Sue and referenced Jeremiah! I have been studying the book of Jeremiah recently! And here you talk about Jeremiah in your comment! What a beautiful confirmation from the LORD through a kindred spirit/sister in Christ–YOU! Thank you! You have truly blessed me with your wise words today! ❤ and hugs!

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  14. I hate conflict, as well. That is probably hard to believe, since what the Lord has me write every day confronts the lies of Satan, exposes them for what they are, and it claims the truth knowing that the truth is going to be met with strong opposition. But, many years ago, perhaps when I was still a young woman in my 20’s, the Lord spoke strongly to me through Jeremiah 1, and he called me then to say whatever he commanded me to say and to not be afraid.

    But, that doesn’t mean it is easy for me, or that I enjoy conflict, or that I have a hard shell and that the bullets just jump off me. They don’t. I cry. I hurt. I bleed.

    Remember, Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. He didn’t like being persecuted and having people make fun of him and mock him and call him names. But, he loved the Lord, and thus he did what the Lord said, and because he loved the people of God, too, and the truth is what they needed to hear. And, so it was the loving thing to tell them the truth, even if it meant being persecuted in return.

    Lynn, it is so nice to have you back!! I have really missed your blog. I am encouraged that you are going to try to write more. I appreciated your openness here, i.e. your honesty, and all that you shared on this subject, too. You have a gift, you know, and not just for painting, but for writing, and for communicating in a way that is uniquely you. So, I hope to read more of these soon. ❤

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    1. Ah, dear Sue… it isn’t hard for me to believe… I am studying the book of Jeremiah currently. 😀 And you know that poor Jeremiah has been nicknamed “the weeping prophet” for he was called to deliver a “hard” message of repentance to his people and his heart broke over it. I imagine that is the heart that God has give you, my sweet friend! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I find that every time I try to return to writing that something goes awry… the internet shut down randomly the other day when I was writing a post. Sigh. And I should know better than to try to return to full-time blogging because God made it pretty clear a year ago that I was to focus on creating art…So, I guess the Holy Spirit keeps gently nudging me when I think I am able to pick up where I left off with blogging. Not sure when the LORD will release me to blog the way I did again or what balance the LORD will wish me to strike between writing and painting… praying about that. And always looking for His direction in the meantime. But you can be sure that I continue to read my friends blogs whenever I have a moment to do so. Love you much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lynn, thank you. God has gifted you in so many ways. I pray you have his leading in whatever he wants you to do for his praise and for his glory. Just know you are missed. Love you much. Sue

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  15. Isn’t it the truth! We try to follow Christ and obstacles come our way. Recently, it’s very much been about following Christ means to follow His footsteps…and often that means loving others more than ourselves. I want to be very selfish and focus on my wants and desire. But…that’s not what it means to follow Christ. And humility helps me the most when others cause stumbling blocks for me because Christ reminds me how I am to love and He always has my back. ❤

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  16. I can totally relate with the message of your post. I am still struggling with this today and it often keeps me from moving forward. Thank you for the reminder and the amazing analogies that help the message hit home. Bless you!!!

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  17. Oh LYNN was so happy to see your post here. I tend to avoid conflict at any cost…….I have learned that I am a peacemaker. I would rather say grace filled words into a conflict than use words that hurt. I just can’t do it……..I feel GOD convicting me often to keep my mouth closed. Guess I am more worried about words that are out there that you can never take back!
    But isn’t it wonderful that GOD sends us all those situations to learn from? And learn we do…….over and over! HUGS!!

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    1. Yes! So grateful for God’s patient instruction in my life!! Thank you for your wonderfully authentic and grace-filled comment here, Maxine! I found myself nodding and smiling in agreement all the way through my reading of your words! I so relate! Love and hugs to you!

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      1. Hi Lynn……..so understand about you now painting more because GOD I know sees your gift there! But you are a gifted writer as well and love to see anything you post! Thanks for keeping us all in mind and yes we do miss you, but so appreciated and love you as well!! Your paintings are amazing……..I know you must enjoy creating your canvas!! Bless your hands dear Lynn!

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      2. Thank you for understanding, dear Maxine. A year ago, I cried out to God for direction. Trying to pursue both writing and art simultaneously, I was burning the candle at both ends and both the writing and art were suffering. Through my close friends and counselors, my reading God’s Word and godly writings, and a serious of very specific answers to prayer, God clearly indicated that I was to put my writing on hold and to focus on my art. I’m not sure why…but I know I must be obedient even though I can’t see the outcome. And so, I am plugging along. But I am going to do really simple Scripture posts for the time being so that I can stay in contact with my dear friends–and that includes YOU, of course! Love and hugs!

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      3. Yes let us remember often what GOD guides us to do, is not what we want to do is it!! I have learned to listen to HIM. It’s funny if I don’t and I ignore HIM, HE or the idea won’t go away. It’s as if HE is continually tapping on my shoulder to “follow HIM”. I see where your true talent is your art……..however your writing is pretty darn awesome too. Blessings my friend! Enjoy and just sit in that sweet spot GOD has you!!

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  18. Now I will have your beautiful painting etched in my mind every time I think of this Psalm my dad I memorized together. What a gift! So beautiful, Lynn. I want to walk beside the river and sit on its bank. With you! One day, right? Because this feels like a picture right out of the way I imagine heaven. ❤️

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    1. Yes! I pray we will have that opportunity before heaven but if not, I’ll meet you there!! How wonderful that you memorized this Psalm with your dad! Yet, another ongoing and special connection that you have with him! Beautiful. I love you! ❤

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