Take heart

For Spiritual Journey Thursday

As it’s February, the word heart came to mind when I prepared to write for Spiritual Journey Thursday (the first Thursday of each month).

No doubt Valentine’s Day conjured the word. Still feels a bit early for that, although I saw grocery shelves being stocked for it back before Christmas.

I began thinking more along the lines of taking heart. As in courage, which derives from Latin cor, meaning heart, and encourage, from Old French encoragier, to make strong, or to hearten.

One of my favorite images of courage and being encouraged is a scene from the Chronicles of Narnia. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, young Prince Caspian’s ship has sailed into a mysterious, enchanted darkness where nightmares come true. Lucy prays to Aslan, the Narnian lion-god: “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us, send us help now.” The darkness doesn’t change but Lucy senses an inner change. She sees a speck of white materializing above. It comes closer and closer. An albatross, which whispers in her ear as it sweeps past: “Courage, Dear Heart.” And it leads the vessel through the infernal, terrifying darkness to the light just ahead.

We are nearing the year mark of nightmarish things come true. The COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Numbers are still high. New and more virulent strains are developing before vaccines can be obtained. Schools closed last spring and are still in various stages of reopening. There’s been turbulence in the streets, at the Capitol, a heavy toll taken on people’s lives, livelihoods, psyches, and souls…a long, long darkness.

Yet there is faith. And prayer.

Even when it seems eternal
Night cannot last forever.
Courage, dear hearts
One guides you onward
Until the morning comes.
Remember you are never
Alone.
God Himself walks alongside you
Every step of the way
.

While the darkness may not have lifted, we can always sense the light.

There are, after all, the children.

They are unique encouragers. At the end of some of my remote learning sessions, students have signed off by holding up “heart hands.” My own heart lightens as I give heart hands back. While our church was closed, kids mailed handmade cards covered with crayoned hearts to my husband and me: “Pastor Bill and Miss Fran, we miss you!” Years ago, long before I entered the education profession, my oldest son, around the age of five, spent his own money to buy me a little piece of artwork bearing this quote on encouragement: A teacher in wisdom and kindness helps children learn to do exactly what they thought could not be done.

That is true. For it is exactly what the Teacher did for His students, otherwise known as the disciples, just before the the darkest days they’d ever experience. They could hardly have imagined the light ahead. Nor, I imagine, can we. But the heart, it senses. And clings to that hope.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. —John 16:33

Spiritual Journey Friends, please click here to leave your link

19 thoughts on “Take heart

    • Thank you, Linda – the post was built on Christ’s words, as you must have guessed. I find that verse immensely encouraging. And the children! I have added your link to the Inlinkz. I so admire and appreciate your creativity, and always, your words.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Fran, your post brought tears to my eyes! For one thing, I thought about writing about that very scene from the Dawn Treader. It’s one of my very favorites, and I said those words to my daughter the night of the earthquake as we tried to sleep on the soccer field: “Courage, Dear Heart.” For another, I so need the encouragement of your words right now.

    Here’s my post: https://thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com/2021/02/spiritual-journey-thursday-take-heart.html

    Liked by 3 people

    • That image is always with me, Ruth; it rises to the surface when I need it most, so that I nearly feel the wingbeats of the albatross and hear the whisper of the King’s voice in my own ear. The “Courage, Dear Heart” graphic is a photo of my T-shirt, which I wore as I composed the post. You cannot know how the image of you whispering those words to your daughter while trying to sleep on a soccer field (I am imagining stars in the night sky) flood me with peace. Thank you for YOUR words. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, there were so many stars. I think if I ever lose my memory, that night will be one of the last things to go. I was so terrified, and the ground kept shaking, but there were the stars, and those words, and my family was all together. I love your T-shirt. ❤

        Liked by 3 people

  2. I love the path you take us on in this post. I’ve not read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but I am currently teaching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. C. S. Lewis was a master.
    Your acrostic built upon the word encourage is inspiring. I embrace the idea of teacher in Christ. Such a gentle encourager in his teachings. Thanks for hosting. I’ll link up later in the day.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Margaret. My son is reading LWW to his daughter now. Lewis is one of the great loves of my life; I have lived it with a good portion of my heart in Narnia. Funny thing: on my first reading of Dawn Treader, it was not my favorite. Fortunately, we grow… I find myself returning to it more often than the others. Looking forward to your post.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Fran, your words are a gift. And because of you, take heart has new meaning and focus in my life. I love the acrostic and especially these words – “While the darkness may not have lifted, we can always sense the light.” Thank you for turning us to the light and sharing your faith.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am so moved by your response to “take heart” and its meaningfulness to you, Ramona – it’s added one more layer of beautiful to this day. Thank you for the words about the acrostic – sometimes I think it is a greatly underutilized form. After all, Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, IS an acrostic! I wanted mine to convey that the Lord is with us all the way, in all things – He doesn’t take everything painful away, but He sees us through. Deeply grateful for your words. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Fran,

    Words are insufficient to express how terribly I enjoyed your post today. I extend special thanks to Ramona who mentioned it to me in another comment on my blog in recent days. She also reminded me to stop by and read today, for which I am ever grateful.
    It can be increasingly difficult to “take heart” if we focus only on the circumstances around us, coupled with the reminders of how frail we are as human beings. However, as you so beautifully depicted in your post, when our confidence lies in Him, we are affirmed and strengthened through a Source (His strength) that far exceeds our own capacity!
    Your words are so inspiring and heartfelt! I read them thoughtfully and repeatedly as I basked in the remembrance that He is able to handle what we cannot on our own. I also duly appreciated the lyrical acrostic you wrote, reminiscent of His faithfulness to us, even when we don’t deserve it.
    Thank you so much for sharing your sentiments. You have encouraged my heart and lifted my spirits. In tandem, I’ve shared a post on my site on what comes to mind when I think of what it means to “Take Heart.”
    You are a gift to this community. May you be richly and wonderfully blessed!
    With All Sincerity,
    ~Carla Michelle
    https://carlambrown.wordpress.com/2021/02/04/take-heart-cherishing-the-gift-of-courage/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carla, it is a joy to me to know the post encouraged you and lifted your spirits; that is the Lord Himself shining through. It is so easy to succumb to tribulation and exhaustion (who among has has not battled these of late, especially?). I have heard – felt – His words, “Take heart, I have overcome” very often in recent times, just when my courage began to fail. Like Lucy in the Dawn Treader story on hearing the whispered “Courage, Dear Heart,” I’ve felt my spirits lift even though the circumstances remained. I note that it was in response to her plea for help, much as we read in the Psalms: “Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!” (102:1). It is also amazing how the Lord reaches through our words to touch others, when we are earnestly reaching toward Him. He comes to meet us right where we are, gives us what we need right at the very moment we need it. He is eternal, His strength is infinite; so is His love for us. We can rest in Him. YOU have encouraged my heart here also. Thank you for leaving the link to your own powerful, beautiful post on faith and courage. Seems “take heart” was what so many of us needed to hear today. So very grateful for your response ❤

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      • Dear Fran,

        Doesn’t He work in mighty ways? I’m so glad He does! I am often in awe at how He helps us to encourage one another in times when it is least expected.

        Thank you for the other encouraging Scriptures that you shared in this response. I don’t think we can ever remind one another enough of the confidence we can have in Him.

        You are right indeed. “Take heart,” is an admonition that has resonated with us loud and clear(ly) for such a time as this.

        Be Blessed,

        ~Carla Michelle

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Fran, your post started with inspiration: The image of the heart, the statement, “Take Courage, Dear Heart”. and led me to your acrostic poem-prayer. Favorite line: But the heart, it senses. And clings to that hope. While I was so ill this past week, each minute seemed like forever, I called out to God, as I did 18 years ago when I was in treatment for lymphoma. He is always there to listen. In the future, when I call out I shall listen for the words Take Courage Dear Heart. Many thanks for this beautiful post and for hosting, Fran.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Carol. I’ve come to understand that faith itself is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) – it is, in a sense, the voice with which we cry out to Him. It is also the ability to ‘hear’ His reassurances – “Take heart”/”Courage, Dear Heart”- as a stirring within the heart. Our hearts are made to desire Him, much like the surgeon told me after performing my husband’s bypasses: “As soon as I made the first graft, his heart started beating noticeably stronger. It WANTED that flow; it was hungry for it.” Likewise we must remain connected to our God, to keep that flow, that communion, that strength, for each day of earthly living. I had not known of your lymphoma diagnosis until now. How merciful is He. How He hears the cries of His children. You are an instrument of His grace in so many ways, Carol!

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