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Eternity in this moment

  Life is fleeting.  Time flies.  Moments pass in the blink of an eye.   That’s what they say… and to a degree, it is true.  We do not get to pause our lives, relive our pasts or guarantee our futures. We only hold each moment we are presented with.  

That is the beauty. The mystery. As creatures of time we have been designed to hold this moment, right now, while we also hold our memories of the past & our hopes for the future in the very same hands.  Somehow, through this mystery of trifold time, we can grasp eternity. 

Does this call to something deep within you? A longing? A hope?

I believe this mystery is the grand story God has written in the stars, whispers in the wind, echoes through the mountains & calls to us in the face of a newborn babe.  A longing for wholeness.  A desire for our past, present & future to find a home. He created us with eternity in our hearts.

This Christmas season I have been struck with this concept anew. Meditating on John 1 I have been in awe of the God of eternity who has woven his love throughout history to invade time in a specific moment, place, person & point towards the hope of the future all at once.  In a dynamic convergence, one moment radically transforms all three strands of time at once. The God of Eternity, who created time itself, has become one with His creation. 

This is John’s statement about the birth of Jesus.  

“In the beginning the Word already existed.  He was with God and He was God.  He created everything there is.  Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in Him and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going to come into the world. So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us.”  John 1:1-5, 9, 14 (NLT)

Can you see the mystery that has struck me so deeply? Through the stretch of eternity we can hear God’s words from Genesis 1 “Let there be light” echo from the beginning of time itsel through John’s account of Jesus coming & into the unknown of the future where the light can not ever be extinguished. What power, what mystery, what hope.

It is easy to feel like our past is a mess. We often look ahead with fear or uncertainty towards our future.  Today can feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Yet, when I consider my life & journey in light of John’s view of eternity I am convinced that each moment matters. That each moment is held together with the strands of eternity I can not always see.  

Years ago, I was struck for the first time by the eternal aspect of our prayers to God. The story of Zechariah & Elizabeth in Luke’s account of Jesus’ coming taught me to see this.  They prayed, pleaded with God for a child.  Years went by.  No child. Then one day in the temple Zechariah is told “Now is the time, your prayers have been answered.” Just like Abraham & Sarah centuries before, God was providing a miraculous child in their old age.  God heard their prayers & answered them in light of eternity. He spoke his “yes”at just the right time. The time that was perfect for the kingdom of heaven. 

I don’t think Elizabeth thought. God was going to say yes.  It was too late.  She asked & time passed so it must have been a “no”. But her prayer was not lost in the cosmos.  It had not gone unanswered.  It just needs to fit into all 3 strands of time. God wove together His past promises, their present longings & our future hope when He answered their prayer. 

Our prayers & our lives are no different.

Paul writes to the early believers that “we know God causes everything to work together. For the good of those love God & are called according to their purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

We are called to live lives of purpose.  Each moment that we we live is woven into the fabric of eternity.  Our pasts & our futures have a home in the present eternity we hold right now. For me, that perspective transforms how I view my life.  It helps me find the focus to choose my next steps & fills with me with hope.  I am anchored in eternity & the God who holds me in his hands is working for good in all the strands of my life.  That is joy for the journey whatever lies ahead. 

 

This Life

imageHow do you see your life? Do you sit & wonder about how you ended up here?  Do you stare ahead into the uknown with dread? Do you turn toward the memories to escape the present? Do you fix your eyes on today just to make it through?

These can be hard questions for us to ask ourselves. Even more challenging to ask them to one another. They touch so deeply in the heart that we often push the questions away, afraid of what they may stir up within us. Why are we afraid of asking, looking and answering the deep questions of our souls?

Fear & failure. They are bullies that push us around on the playground of life. We listen to them & we allow their taunts to keep us from living in hope & freedom.  Their voices are so loud, their words hit so close to our insecurities, their strikes hurt when they find a place to land. So they have control over us when we live in the shaddows of their power.

My life has not gone the way I thought it would. I have faced the dissapointment & fear of surveying my life as the shaddows of my dreams have drifted across the strange landscape I live in. I have struggled to live in the place that my heart longs to dwell. It has been a challenge not to give up hope when the bullies wander near. This place can keep me a prisoner if I don’t listen to the voices of others calling me out of this place of uncertainty.

Can I be that voice for you? I want to invite you to a safe place. A lush green field where there are no bullies. A place where you are welcome to ask, reflect and speak truthfully. A flat, firm & secure place from wich you can survey your life. Come to my Father’s land with me. This is where we can go, just as we are, to find the hope we long for & gain the strength we need to defend against the bullies. This is where we can come together to find a new view, dream new dreams & honestly face the journey of life with joy.

It’s been a long time since I have written here but I am convinced that we all need good company as we walk the roads before us. So, I am comitting to write about this life of discovery. Will you come with me as I go again & again to this land of my Father in search of joy for this morning?

 

With your whole heart…

The call to live a life of faith can feel like a lot of hard work. To be good, do what is right and swallow our pride takes effort. The kind that, if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t always want to make. It’s hard to tithe when the budget’s tight. It’s hard to make time in your day to pray or read the Bible when you never feel like you can sit down. It’s hard to control your tongue when every ounce of your being wants to complain. It’s hard to go against the grain.

In this environment, choosing good sometimes feels like trying to push a big boulder up a hill. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to this struggle when he wrote in Romans 7:18, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

Do you ever feel like Paul?

In my last post I focused on Jesus’ words of comfort for those who follow his way. He said, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.” He was talking about the kind of rest we long for… freedom from the boulder pushing life.

In Matthew 22:36-40 a teacher of the law; a ‘good’, diligent & righteous man, came to Jesus & asked him, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Jesus, in that simple yet profound statement said, when put to the test, all the laws… all the rules… all our good effort can be measured by this: Love.

Love God. Love others. Simply love.

There is such freedom in those words. Who does not want to be loved, to give love? To spend their days both giving & receiving love? There is no list of rules, there is no checklist or unattainable goodness in this life of faith. There is one request.

With you whole heart, love. With all you do, love. With all you are, love.

Today be set free in your life from the yoke, the labor, of goodness. Instead, freely come to the one who loves you as himself and take up his yoke of love. This is the way of faith.

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Rest for your soul

IMG_0883Sometimes I feel totally unqualified for my life. It’s not a new revelation or growing fear. Simply, when I look at the balance sheet of my life, with all that needs to be done and measure it against all that I bring to those tasks, it doesn’t equal out. My resources and talents are simply not enough. At least by my own measure…. I lack.

My talents, my resources, my time is never enough for my ideas, my plans, my insistence on perfection. When I consider my own ability, I don’t see what others see. I don’t see what God sees. All I can see is the lack. The problem is that the scale, by which I measure, is one of my own creation. I am the one saying what is “enough”. Living by that standard, the burden of my life, my way, can get so heavy.

It’s only when I set down my grandiose ideas about life at Jesus’ feet, it’s only then that I realize how unnecessarily heavy they are. In a world of great ideas, glossy photos, self help books & how to manuals it is easy to feel like I have to be enough. That I have to do it all. That it is realistic to expect my life to be storybook picture perfect. Jesus has another way, another standard of measure.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invited us saying, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

I love this passage for so many reasons. It is one that reminds me that I am not journeying this life alone; that there is one who loves me, has compassion for me and walks with me. Jesus doesn’t simply say, “Here, do it my way. It’s better. Now get on with it.” He does not leave me to figure out how to do the new way on my own. Instead, he says to me who is struggling, “Here, let me help you. Let me show you another way. I will make this easier for you.” He fills me with his spirit, teaches me with his word and gives me new ideas for my life.

He does not look at my life through the lens of my ability or from the perspective of my ideals. He looks upon me with grace love. He does not leave me alone with my burdens. He invites me into a new way. He gives me a new measure. When I look at his version of the balance sheet of my life it is written all over with the red lined edits of grace. That balance sheet doesn’t have me come out in the negative but in the over abundant excess of his grace.

Are you weary? Heavy-burdened? Jesus offers rest to your soul.

For me, this process of lightening my burden means setting aside the ones I’ve put on myself. It means being freed to listen to the gentle teacher who says he will help me understand what my true burden should be. I’ll be writing about that process here. I’m choosing his way. Want to walk this journey with us? ~ A

Tasting Delight

A little over a year ago, we were expecting our fourth child, planning to move across the country, preparing to sell our house & figuring out how to raise our own support for the first time ever in our lives.  Needless to say, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all & when I get that feeling like I could sink at any moment I often go to the psalms for comfort. The poets of the psalms have a way of calming my soul like David did for Saul with his lyre & songs.

At that moment in my life I came to Psalm 37 & found great comfort there.  I read it over & over.  I posted it on the wall above my kitchen sink.  I prayed & meditated on it.  It was a story of righteousness in the midst of difficulty, perseverance even when the odds seemed impossible, provision in time of need, encouragement to keep hope & the promise of blessing for “committing your way to the Lord”.  The more time I spent with this chapter, the more I was challenged to ‘press on’ and the more puzzled I became with exactly how it should be done. My trouble came from this single verse:

It mystified me.  Delight? In the midst of everything…all the trials, all the adversity, all the hardships, all the fear? When it feels like I am just getting by, making it through, keeping it together, what does it mean to ‘delight in the Lord’? I wasn’t sure I was delighting in much.  “I want to know how to do that!”, I cried.  Little did I know what this past year or so had in store.

A few months ago, I decided to tackle this puzzle from a fresh perspective. I pulled out my Merriam-Webster Dictionary to see how it defined delight. There it was, exactly as I expected, ‘extreme satisfaction or gratification’ with the synonyms of ‘pleasure’ or ‘treat’ listed below. Not exactly the words I would use to describe my attitude towards my life & circumstances. Well then, I guess I was NOT delighting in the Lord or much else for that matter! Thankfully, however, those were not the only words on the page as I kept on reading.  There they were.  The words I needed. Manna. Joy.

Manna, as you may recall, comes from the story in Exodus of the Israelites who were freed from the servitude of the egyptians to wander for 40 years in the desert. It was God’s provision for them , where there was none, so that they could thrive in a place no one would expect them to even survive. I knew the story & I knew the word but I went to Merriam-Webster anyway. I was curious. It said:

a : food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness

b : divinely supplied spiritual nourishment

c : a usually sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain

Instantly I wept. Manna.  Joy.  Those were not things I manufactured.  They are not things that begin with me.  They begin with the one who gives them… freely…that we may thrive, not just survive this life!

When my daughter, our fourth child, was born last year it was after much hardship.  Though the odds were stacked against us, I had chosen hope, waited on God, embraced His peace instead of my fear, persevered in the midst of much difficulty, embraced  thankfulness in my time of great need. I was trying to ‘trust in the Lord’ as Psalm 37 declared I should. But not until our baby was born did I realize the true lesson I had been learning all this time. I was being given just what I had cried out for. It was my daughter & her amazing birth story was my lesson in delight. Her very life is God’s lesson of “sudden and unexpected source of gratification, pleasure, or gain”. His provision, entirely, ‘miraculously supplied’.

When I hold my daughter I am often  reminded of that lesson.  I am amazed at the One who continually provides & cares, guides & protects for our good.  He does provide, not just our material needs but so much more! The very presence of my daughter, my husband & our 3 other  children are an amazing gift in which I can delight. My eyes are opening to a whole new layer of beauty around me and that beauty is what my heart desires! I want to see it, I want to experience it, I want to savor it, I want to taste it… Delight.

Choosing treasure

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Today I am choosing to delight in the treasures of this very moment…

 

Berries in my fridge

Pansies on my windowsill

Clean linens on the line

Bare feet in the summer

Pen on paper

Moments of reflection

A tall, cool drink

Red beads on my wrist

Sunshine & blue sky

Laughter in the yard

Eyes to see it

Ears to hear

Time to notice

 

Choosing to treasure my life & taking the time to see it means setting aside the dirty dishes littering my kitchen. That simple act of setting aside a moment of reflection completely changes my heart. The busyness of the day can choke out the beauty that’s right there waiting to be seen. I don’t want to lose the wonder in my days. Take a minute. What has surprised you as a hidden gift today?

What is precious?

After posting my last blog on choosing (see The act of choosing) I’ve had a few poignant songs running through my head. One of my favorite singer/songwriters right now is Sara Groves. She writes earnestly about life & faith and does so using her own personal struggles or life changing revelations. Below is a link to a song about choosing what is precious in the hum drum of everyday life.

Listen to this: Precious Again by Sara Groves

Sunrise, sunset with no eyes to see it
Garnets and rubies ground up in the sand
Words from my children with no ears to hear it
Where is the wonder?

New tender mercies and infinite graces
Woven like threads in the cloth of my days
Deep wells of glory behind common faces
Where is the wonder? Where is the wonder?

Oh oh, I need a song that’s never old
Oh oh, I need a story never told
Promise that just when love grows cold
You’ll make it precious again

Friendship and goodwill, a sweet invitation
Kindred in spirit and eager to share
Love in familiar and long conversations
There is the wonder, there is the wonder

Oh oh, sing me the song that’s never old
Oh oh, tell me the story never told
Promise that just when love grows cold
You’ll make it precious

Press mud with holy fingers, light the ineffable
Fused in the ordinary, so much to wonder
Oh, what a wonder, wonder, wonder

Oh oh, sing me the song that’s never old
Oh oh, tell me the story never told
Promise that just when love grows cold
You’ll make it precious, oh, make it precious
You make it precious again

In our daily act of choosing, can we make the small, every day, graces we experience precious treasures? How have you witnessed grace & blessing in your life? What can you treasure today?