Reaching Upwards

by Melissa Taft

photos and writings by June Friesen

Reaching Upwards

When all seems dark,

When all seems hopeless,

When all seems barren,

When all seems forgotten…..

What is there one wonders?

What future is there?

What more can one try?

What more can one pray?

Brokenness abounds,

Bringing fears and tears,

Bringing one not only to their knees,

But prostrate before God empty.

As I lay motionless,

The sobs so deep only the Spirit knows,

The body is as if it is without life,

The Spirit prays from the depths within.

I lay……

I wait……

I feel……..


A flicker of warmth reaches towards me,

A whisper of peace is offered,

A touch of gentle care is so real,

A presence – no – A PRESENCE –

I feel my breath coming back into me –

I sense a warmth flowing through my being –

I am beginning to hear the whisper –

“My child, I am here.”

This photo was taken hours before the invasion of Ukraine … the following morning as I was looking through my photos of the skies I was immediately attracted to the one tree, totally void of leaves reaching as into the clouds, almost as if it was wanting to touch the sunlight but was a bit off to the side … yet reaching none the less believing that the Creator cared … even in its barrenness. I found myself thinking of times in the Scriptures when the sun is mentioned and particularly bringing with it a sense of hope. I share with you from Matthew and Malachi from the New Living Translation:

Matthew 4:12-17 When Jesus got word that John had been arrested, he returned to Galilee. He moved from his hometown, Nazareth, to the lakeside village Capernaum, nestled at the base of the Zebulun and Naphtali hills. This move completed Isaiah’s revelation:

Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, road to the sea, over Jordan,
Galilee, crossroads for the nations.
People sitting out their lives in the dark saw a huge light;
Sitting in that dark, dark country of death, they watched the sun come up.

This Isaiah-prophesied revelation came to life in Galilee the moment Jesus started preaching. He picked up where John left off: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”

Malachi 4:2 The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking.

Every day each of us finds ourselves in need of God’s presence – sometimes one is more aware of that need than others and sometimes one is more aware of His presence than other times. Depending on the struggles, the issues, the concerns that one is facing, a family member or friend may be facing or our country or world is facing, we need the reminder(s) that God is indeed present and He is concerned. I find the words in these verses encouraging as well as comforting. John the Baptist was telling the people around him that there was indeed a ‘Light’ coming – one that was going to bring the promised hope and light talked about by the prophets in the Old Testament. As I listen/read the words of Jesus – “Change your life … God’s kingdom is here” and then read Malachi 4:2 – “how the sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking,” then another photo from a few years ago comes to mind.


Here you have a palm tree just after a rainstorm, the wind still blowing and the sun is beginning to shine once again. And even though it is a still life photo the fronds were dancing in the sunlight and the sparkles of the water glistened with new life. Yes, as one comes and sits with God in the storms of life, there is so much that happens. There are so many feelings that come to the front of our minds. Sometimes they may be feelings one has never experienced before. Maybe they are feelings one does not want to feel or maybe admit that one feels. Again, I am reminded of some more words of Jesus – an invitation to each one of us in Matthew 11:28 (New Living Translation):

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

What burden(s) are you carrying today? How can you allow Jesus to help you carry your burden today? Sometimes I find that it is not only helpful to share it with Jesus in prayer; sometimes I find it necessary to ask someone else to also pray with me through the situation. Again, a verse comes to my mind Galatians 6:2 from the Amplified reads: “Carry one another’s burdens and in this way, you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].” God created us to live together in community with each other. This is how we can stand strong as the trees do in the storms of life – as things come into our lives that cause us pain, fear, loss, etc., we help each other. Have you ever wondered why Jesus had the disciples with Him so much of the time? Yes, it was so that He could teach them the new covenant as well as have them be witnesses to His death and resurrection – but I also believe that it was helpful to Him at times. Thinking of the last hours of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion – He could have gone off by Himself – but instead, He chose to eat one last meal with the disciples and them invited them to come to the Garden of Gethsemane afterward. Even though one may want to judge the disciples for their lack of praying and their fear when the arrest happened, I believe that it was helpful to Jesus to know that they were aware of what was happening.

What is it today that you need to have Jesus help you with or through? Maybe you feel like a tree, stripped of its leaves and barren and cold? Find a nice warm blanket, wrap yourself in it, pull it tight and rest in God’s hug for you right now. He loves you. He is holding you. He is praying for you. YOU ARE LOVED! Amen.

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