Going Home: Passing the baton. Picking up the mantle

“It’s time for me to go Home, Baby…” The weakened voice on the other end strained hoarse vocal chords to announce what we thought was one last time. If I hadn’t been participating in this ongoing conversation with my spiritual mother, I would have been confused about her meaning.

See, she’s been ill, tossed from hospital to rehab and back to hospital, as she had a heart attack yesterday. Kidney function diminished, and the rest of her temple started to close up shop and agree that it was transition time. But… her organs suddenly shifted and miraculously began performing at a higher level than previously. 

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I’ve heard her “death talk” before, and I have grieved this eventual circumstance long before now. In other conversations, her announcement has butted against my customary resistance.

Today, however, was different. Her farewell embodied a living eulogy. While it has been difficult to receive, I’m now in a different place with this reality.

I acknowledge that the time is close, and not because of any particular health threat. As believers in Christ Jesus, we are citizens of another, Heavenly Kingdom. Plainly put, we did not come earthside to stay. 

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Unlike years past, I’m no longer trying to talk her out of talking about “it,” that is, death, anymore. For five years she has edified, trained, sharpened me through our fellowship.

On the almost-eve of her 81st birthday and preparation for Home, I am coming alongside her amidst this transition, through the valley of the shadow of death, guided by Our Shepherd Himself. Instead of cursing it, I count it a blessing to traverse the last leg of her journey with her. Part of that is simply being present: to love, laugh, pray, talk about the Lord and life like we always have. 

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This prompts my imagination to wonder how Elisha felt when Elijah was expected to leave this earth, not by death, but rather by divine lift in a fire chariot. Long before, Elisha had kissed his parents goodbye, burning the path to former things when he set ablaze his family’s oxen and farming equipment.

Turn back? Nah… It was never an option…Neither for the protege at the outset, nor the mentor at lift-off. After whirlwinds of miracles, signs, and wonders, Elijah, the one who mantled and trained Elisha, and became father and family, was preparing for certain and sudden departure for Home. 

When I think of that connection in light of my own, questions surface: Did Elisha feel the threat of abandonment? Overwhelmed by the ‘what ifs’ of Elijah’s imminent transition? Adequate to walk out his assignment without his mentor? 

These queries bring to mind other Biblical conversations about separation and loss. For example, How did Christ’s disciples process as Jesus repeatedly announced His death–meal after meal, walk after walk, lakeside encounter and teaching session after another? Between the black and red-lettered verses, I sandwich myself in the evolution of those exchanges, imagining the range of emotion of those close enough to grasp His baton and receive the Savior’s mantle.  

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Envision with me his followers’ elation at the beginning of their journey. “Suddenly” had erupted! “Messiah had come!” The Word had put on a flesh suit and dwelt among men after four centuries of silence from Heaven.

Generations of prophecy collided with Jesus’ contemporaries. The Father’s eternal plan combusted with time to pass the baton and the mantle of heaven and extend it to the earth, converting orphans into daughters and sons.

Enter another “suddenly.” Three and a half years with Jesus vaporized while another reality with the promised Holy Spirit evanesced. What were the followers to expect? One might think that as their worlds were turned upside down, that those same sons and daughters then turned the world upside down with the power activated in them.

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What is being turned upside down in us? What do we then turn upside down?

As I consider these questions, I remember that I was not a participant in the conversation the Father had with Mama. He didn’t notify me or gauge my opinion about bringing His daughter Home. That alone turned me upside down, disrupting my errant thinking that God “owed” me explanation for His Sovereign privilege.

Since I have been turned upside down, I am compelled to turn some things upside down. I hear Holy Spirit clarifying what that means. Pick up the baton! Put on the mantle! It means that I must walk out my own covenant and kingdom assignment, clear every life hurdle and press toward the prize at the finish.

Write His Heart, and keep writing. That’s my prescription. Just as Jesus touched many who were healed “as they went,” I am increasingly aware that the Lord is administering healing for me in the ‘going’ and in the ‘doing.’

It is in this place with the Holy Spirit that I release my grief of the living and the dead to the Comforter. I take courage and comfort under the shelter of His Wings, remembering that the hurt is essential to the heal. I look to Scripture, peppered with intertwining stories of apparent, yet temporary loss and burgeoning, enduring renewal.

  • Elisha followed Elijah until he was caught away in a sky-bound chariot.
  • John the Baptist decreased, so that the Savior would increase.
  • Jesus transfigured, commissioned His followers, and later gifted them (and all of us who believe) with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • Paul offered the benediction that he had finished his course. 
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This leads me deeper into meditation with the Lord. Since I don’t “get it” with grief, I have to ask the One who knows it all. What is the mystery behind the Father regarding the death of his saints as ‘precious?’ (Psalm 116:15) What is He saying? What does He intend for present grief and pain?

As I ruminate on these and other examples of loved ones gone ahead, Holy Spirit breaks the cloud of fog and heaviness with the brilliance of revelation. He says, “greater and glorious awaits on the other side of eternity.”

Just as the farewells described in this article have marked temporary separation, there is anticipation of divine reunion, far more than our longing for those departed. We desire to be with God in our eternal Home.

Heaven’s other citizens long for reunion with us! All of heaven rejoices in the soul that has returned Home, having completed its mandate and entered into the fullness of redemptive rest. Abba Father, Himself, longs for unrestricted, eternal fellowship with us in the Heavenly Home that Jesus has prepared for us.

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This is so important to the Father. He has reserved for Himself exclusive knowledge of one day soon when another “suddenly” will erupt. When the archangel’s trumpet pierces the atmosphere, Jesus will appear for those who died in Him and the believers that remain. Believers snatched from mortality. Holy Spirit extracted entirely out of the earth. We will all remain in our eternal Home to eventually reign with Jesus Christ, King of Kings forever.

That future rapture of the saints is comforting, but I’ll be honest with you about the right-now pain and grief that toggles between my throat and chest. In the meantime, I have asked the Lord for a dream or vision to let me know when my spiritual Mama passes, so I don’t have to hear it first from anyone else. No dream yet, so I picked up my phone and dialed…(856)…

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Phone to voicemail. I have not heard the update from the Lord or anyone else for that matter, so I decided to try again several days later…

Hmmmm….

Tried again. She picked up! We talked as if it were a regular Thursday. I shared the words I felt compelled to convey. I didn’t lose anything by trying to reach out just one more time; and “since Mama was still here,” I consoled myself, “I’m going to ride it out as long as I can…” That is, keep connecting until her final assignment is complete…the one she keeps referring to… and then she’ll really be gone… until we meet again. 

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I am not looking to draw one more drop of wisdom, even though it happens every time we speak for what seems like the last. I want nothing, but to serve and give and pour cool water on her the way Elisha did his predecessor (2 Kings 3:11). I want to bring our favorite servings of laughs and words to savor and strengthen. I want to walk through whatever not-so-final conversations, days, moments, prayers we have, enveloped by the joy of the Lord, grateful hearts, prayerful spirits. 

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The Holy Spirit walks us through this valley of the shadow of death, comforting in His kind way, reassuring that her labor is not in vain. She has planted seeds in my life. While much has bloomed “early” and flourished abundantly, there remains more covert and dormant fruit, ready to break the surface, awaiting its due season debut. He nudges me that my labor of love is also fruitful. I have been privileged to turn and serve her, thereby marking these days of passing batons, preparing mantles, and such… 

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She may not remain to see the fullness of fruit concerning what she has spoken into my life, but Hebrews’ writer reminds me that there is a great cloud of witnesses that cheer all of us on in our race (Hebrews 12:1). She will soon join them, and I hope that along with her reward and crown, Jesus allows her to see how her life pointed back to Him…even as she was running the home stretch, ready to pass the baton and transfer the mantle, entering into eternal rest.

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©2020 Angelique Thomas. Feel free to forward this article in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past articles or subscribe to receive these articles in your email inbox.

Cancel? Don’t Waste the Gift of Now

“Make the most of your gifts. Make the most of your nows,” is what You say as I sit here to write. Unable to sleep another moment, You dial my mind back to the last living image of my dad. Resurrection Sunday was closing, the clock soon to turn over into Easter Monday. A few family members lingered at my Uncle Steph’s into the latest night, bidding farewell to one another and planting the last hugs and kisses to seal our festive gathering.

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Making sure to capture my attention, my Dad peered over the top rim of his glasses, sliding them lower on the bridge, until he gave me the signoff, a modified salute that my siblings and I still mimic as our Dad’s signature way of saying goodbye.

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“Bye, Daddy, I’ll see you later!” I called out, not knowing that final exchange would be our last.

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I didn’t know that the next morning, not even eight full hours later that I would kiss his face, and for the first time he wouldn’t kiss me back. I didn’t know that my ‘bye, Daddy see you later’ would mean that I would close his jaw with one palm and his eyes with the other. I didn’t know that my ‘Daddy, see you later’ would mean I would hold him until I felt the back of his neck fade from warm to cool to cold under my fingers.

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So, while it has become a popular refrain to dismiss or wish away 2020, I refuse to “cancel” it. Despite the global transition and turbulence, I won’t curse the gift of this time.

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Lord, the time and the gifts that You give may have sorrow and difficulty, woven with jubilation, thanksgiving, and hope. Yet I won’t rush away my life and cancel the moments that You have given, no matter how bewildering.

Friends, these moments are needed for what’s next. And if we cancel the gift of now, we lose the gift of then. Let’s build on it, refusing to cancel the hardship of the present. The gift of now unwraps the strength and resilience we need for what’s next.

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©2020 Angelique Thomas. Feel free to forward this article in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past articles or subscribe to receive these articles in your email inbox.

This short post is inspired by a one-word prompt, followed by five minutes of writing. Usually, with little to no manipulation. Author, Kate Motaung leads an online writing community in weekly writing and engagement. Savor this as a reader or share your own great writing at FMF (Five minute Friday) http://fiveminutefriday.com/linkup and https://www.facebook.com/fiveminutefriday.

Ahead: the Path Forward from Here to There

In turbulence, like that of our present day, what do we say when we don’t know what to say. Who knows what is ahead? Well, we don’t, but then again, we do.

We have confidence that is firmly placed in the One who created time and spans all eternity. He is the same: yesterday, today, and forever. He was, and is, and is to come.

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It is in this constancy of His unfailing nature and everlasting love that we are sustained through the turmoil, the turbulence, the shifting, and the shaking.

So, even as rumors of race and political wars have swirled, we remain Kingdom. We don’t gloat. We don’t sulk. We don’t take up allegiance with the world system or the structures of man. We live in the forever win, forever victorious place of the Kingdom of God.

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From this place, we reconcile. We restore. We repair. We rebuild. We love, forgive, listen, lament, and move forward as a unified Bride who is without spot, wrinkle, or blemish for her soon-to-return Bridegroom.

We don’t know what’s ahead…not entirely at the end or how we will navigate the murky middle. But we know that there is an expected end, a future, a hope, the Way, the Truth, the Life, The Lamp, The Light that orders our steps from here to there, and ultimately to There. 

That’s what is ahead.

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©2020 Angelique Thomas. Feel free to forward this article in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past articles or subscribe to receive these articles in your email inbox.

This short post is inspired by a one-word prompt, followed by five minutes of writing. Usually, with little to no manipulation. Author, Kate Motaung leads an online writing community in weekly writing and engagement. Savor this as a reader or share your own great writing at FMF (Five minute Friday) http://fiveminutefriday.com/linkup and https://www.facebook.com/fiveminutefriday.

Adventures in Love: Rejection and Resilience Teach a Lesson

Well, it took 45 years, and believe me, I had no idea that it would take that long! But after a yesterday-encounter with rejection in my most recent escapades of online dating (more like online chatting at present), the Holy Spirit bolted a lightning flash of revelation throughout my whole person. Despite the commentary of the man on the other side of my screen, I realized, “I accept me. Even if you reject me. I accept me!”  

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This narrative of radical acceptance is relatively new for me. Such an experience would have immobilized me in past seasons, paralyzing me into inertia and creating skewed stories. My heart is more resilient than I’d previously believed. While I have done plenty of heart work (and there is more as long as I’m in this earth suit), it does not eclipse this fresh revelation.

I am worth the work and I am worth the wait. 

Recent and distant experiences highlight where I clamored for acceptance and validation in friend, family, and ministry spaces. I wanted to be affirmed. I wanted to be loved. When it didn’t appear in the way that appealed to my wounded soul, I repeatedly drew from the wrong wells. I errantly sacrificed time, talent, and thought where I was viewed and valued as commodity or convenience. 

I’m absolutely convinced of Abba’s Love, and I receive His forgiveness where I have idolized others’ opinions versus prioritizing what He gave in His All and His Only (Son and our Savior Jesus).

When we try to make ourselves over in the image of man instead of realizing the glorious Image of God within, we tinge our views of self and others with fear, envy, competition, and strife.

Jarring such old bruises indicates a need for deeper healing. The surface looks intact, but pain receptors below shriek otherwise. Our Savior rivets blazing eyes of love on that invisible-to-others space where joint meets marrow, soul collides with spirit. 

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Here, Jesus as the Word of God, beckons. “Give it,” He gestures. “Give that to me.” And sometimes, reluctantly like the sheepish little ones that think a reprimand is coming, we struggle to protect and hold onto places of secret hurt. He’s not seeking to tap our hands in discipline, but looking rather to free us from returning to prisons of recycled rejection, sin, and trauma. 

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Without hearing all of my stories, you can gather that I have tilted toward imbalance for a wearisome and lengthy leg of my journey. Faulty narratives have captioned intermittent portions of the livestream of my life, reflecting the trajectory of choices…not all bad, and not all good.

Tragically, when that internal script toward God, self, and other is not submitted to and sculpted by Agape Love, we learn the lessons of rejection and resilience “the hard way,” ending with frayed hearts and fragmented connections.

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However, it was right here where in the place where hurt festered, the Lord met me in my sleep to show me where cycles of rejection perpetuated to cycles of pain. That included where I rejected His view of me and traded it for popular thought. Instead of bringing the validation I’d craved, it further isolated me.

So, what did Jesus do? He took me on a guided tour of my heart in a dream and proposed a “verily, verily,” to me. That is, He repeated a change-provoking question, as when He wanted to underscore a point in the gospels. The interpretation? God wanted to bring healing into my life through new and different kinds of relationship.

Though that dream has come and gone, the message remains. I follow His healing gaze to the heart space designed to incubate connections: both present and emergent. 

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As I review the story that I’ve been living and the ones the Lord is telling through my life, I am gathering some priceless souvenirs along the way. 

One takeaway is that this experience of developing friendship and relationship has more to do with God andteaching me the timeless Truth about Himself outright than any particular man who has engaged with my profile or with me directly.

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Sure, I want to be in position to be found, but I realize (in the words of my friend Ki) that “I am not everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s okay.” I am learning that I am worth the work. I am worth the wait. I cannot be persuaded otherwise. And if I don’t believe that by first investing in believing in me, how will anyone else?

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I am accepted in the Beloved and shamelessly unapologetic about it. His compassion not only heals me of lingering hurt, but also prepares me to give and receive the next dimension of covenant relationship. 

That is the healed woman who is showing up–in every interaction and every forum, so the glory of God testifies in and through me. Gratefully, the healed one woman within is learning to live with increasing abandon in His merciful yes and amen. 

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I reject the pressure to have it all together or to fake like I do. I receive lavish grace, even while my life is moulting through another series of inexplicable transitions. Right here in the whirlwind of wild change, authenticity, repentance, and fiery revival erupt. 

What Abba thinks and says matters more than anyone else’s judgments and criticisms. For that matter, their affirmations and celebrations, though delightful, cannot make or break either–no matter how close the connection.

Jesus knew that best. In a handful of days, He went from celebration: “Hosanna, Glory to God in the Highest” to the railing persecution of “Crucify Him” from amongst His own people, the same ones He sought to redeem. 

I know that the Holy Spirit has employed rejection to teach a lesson, (and still quoting my friend Nakia), also as a place of protection. Through juicy volumes of poor judgment and humiliating experiences, my eyes are more open to this solid Truth: God alone is the Standard. He will not allow everything and everyone to cross the threshold of my life, even in this getting acquainted process.

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Because I am so cherished and so forgiven, I can better interact with potential candidates from a place of God identity and confidence. I am fully empowered and equipped to embody and extend His Standard of love, mercy, and radical acceptance, amidst my own failures and scars.

And instead of the little kid who is embarrassed and ashamed to reveal the hurt place, I am better able to offer a realistic me, enveloped by the Father’s Heart of unconditional love, guaranteed healing, and joyful overflow. So, here is a salute to adventures in resilience, soaring with the Spirit of Christ into my Chapter 45 like my Abba owns it! 

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©2020 Angelique Thomas. Feel free to forward this article in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past articles or subscribe to receive these articles in your email inbox.

Be Still, but Don’t Stop!

We were preparing: business and prayer, not necessarily in that order, though both were on the agenda. My cousin and I were settling our hearts, listening for what the Lord wanted to excavate. As we sojourned with Him, this gem was mined in this time of rich prayer, fellowship, and planning.

Be still, but don’t stop!

The Word applied to one thing and everything all at the same time. So, I settled deeper into my chair, I snuggled into cozier awareness of the Lord’s Voice and Presence outdoors–His favorite space, and mine for that matter, for our unique fellowship. Bemused, I considered, Adam and Eve had the perfect setup, as something about nature allows for communing with the Voice of Abba in the cool of the day. So, I welcomed Him in this revelation, wrapping the comfort of His abiding around me, while shivering in the fresh, yet welcome, November evening crisp.

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Rustling stems dotted with yellowing leaves waved goodnight to the retreating sun, as it claimed temporary respite under the emerging blanket of evening cloud cover. Holy Spirit responded in the tranquility, elevating my senses to capture His Heart and His Word. Observing creation, sitting with My Creator captioned the moment.

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He reminded me of the creek behind the house, one of the many that branch off from the Apalachee River in North Georgia. Within the past week, the region endured several peltings of intense rains and whipping winds. In summer, similar storms muddy the creek, tinting it with a rustic shade of Georgia red clay. Today, however, it appeared pristine and clear…rushing over boulders, dipping around bowing branches, and surging under the bridge that connects land on both sides of the smallish water body.

Creek in Summer Photo by Angelique C. Thomas

This feeder stream frequently serenades me in cool evenings and dewy mornings. It advances over and around the obstacles, river rocks, transporting leaves and even my neighbor’s grass clippings as far as eyes can follow. Its vibrance, surges life to the turtles, frogs, and insects that claim its habitat and home.

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And I sit in the midst of this ecosystem with the One who knows my name amongst every lithe lizard, cawing crow, and scampering squirrel. Just as He has provided for the praying mantis, the grazing fawns, and the unnamed creatures that I scout in this environment, He fattens my weary and famished soul with goodness in the stillness.

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Meditatively, the refreshing of the Living Water has called and stirred the deep within, washing over me, even as the agitating currents of the world events have floated past. In the stillness of solitude and meaningful fellowship, Holy Spirit words bubbled up with joy from within. Initially, the pairing ‘be still, but don’t stop‘ seemed cryptic and paradoxical. As the Holy Spirit unveiled, the meaning emerged as distinct as the gurgling creek that layered the soundtrack for our dusky repose.

Be still.

As much as the water danced and played with its neighboring elements, it abode in peace.

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“Quiet your heart with Me. Listen for My Voice,” the Wind of the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper through the evening breeze. Meander through the lush landscape and allow the Shepherd to draw and direct you, even where the green and good is unfamiliar to where you have previously fared.

Don’t stop!

The stillness of the stream does not eclipse its movement.

Although we coexist with contradiction, Truth abides. Like the creek, we adapt our pace to the Lord’s, flowing in obedience and activation. We follow Him into pastures and life-restoring waters where we feast abundantly at the Father’s prepared Table.

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Present in this paradox of stillness and swell, I am reminded to remain in rest. In the place of Jesus’ peace, provision, protection, I will be still with the Lord, soaking in the serenity of solitude. I will keep pace with His undulating tide, and surging as the stream does, I persist and will not stop.


©2020 Angelique Thomas. Feel free to forward this article in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past articles or subscribe to receive these articles in your email inbox.


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