Connectivity and Living Fully

(August 31, 2014)

Today my friend and I lay on the grass and watched the clouds float by. She’s only three, but that’s OK. Cloud watching is a skill to learn young.

There was a happy face and a heart in the clouds. I guess Mickey Mouse was there too, or so she said. I didn’t find him.  And there were butterflies in the trees. At least she said that if she squinted she could see them.

I mentioned how the sky goes forever. How when we climb each hill to our horizon a whole new expanse lies ahead. She smiled happy, looked into my eyes with her own sparkling bright and whispered soft: “goes forever.”

I thought then of how lovely a picture would be, of how to capture the light  in her eyes. But my phone was safely in the car, and a life can be lost in capturing on camera each moment.

We watched more clouds. We played the tumble game (gently fall off something). We smiled and these moments were moments to treasure.

I think sometimes it’s better this way. To set the electronics aside, to step back and forget that you are a perfectionist, and totally find it hard to relax–and to just treasure life.

Because what if today were my last day to live: Would I want to spend it immersed in an online world or hidden behind a camera lens? Or would I rather spend those moments fully present, wherever I am?

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As I contemplate the past few days I realize how nice it actually was to have limited (or no) cell connectivity for 9 days of camping and just to be able to treasure each moment and live life fully there, to take the time to gaze deep into a pool of blue water that seemed to go forever and think of how His love is like that….

Much is lost when an electronic connection is where I spend my life, and much is lost when my goal is to capture on camera every moment of life. Sometimes it’s better to be captured by the glory than to capture the glory itself.

(There’s a reason His love is greater and deeper than my understanding can ever fathom.)

As the future stretches before me I am certain of one thing: I want to live fully here and to treasure each moment as the gift it really is.

So, join me? Step back sometime, leave your electronics untouched, and watch the clouds (metaphorically speaking) for a while. The grass may be wet, the to-do list undone, but choose to treasure the simple and you’ll see a hundred little things you would never have noticed. Minuscule flowers, buzzing bees, or just maybe His love shining in a smile.

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Praise Him Anyway

Around me hovers these clouds that limit my sight. His face is hard to see. His hand is hard to feel. His heart is hard to know. Storms rage. And the sun just doesn’t shine. For days.

I think. I work. I pray. I try to focus. I search for gratitude; hang on to the promise that God is still there, that He is good; struggle to believe.

I fight through thoughts I know are false, seek for Him who is truth. I search for the certainty that He is faithful. I choose to trust.

Even when I don’t understand. Because I don’t understand.

The office floods. I think of to-do lists 200+ lines long, look down at drenched carpet, think that Satan must be desperate to distract us, determine that he won’t win, and decide to give thanks anyway. It’s a good day. We work hard; to-do lists sit stagnant.

Another day dawns. The sun shines briefly, but everything comes with a million challenges, and the sun doesn’t help much. I fight against feeling overwhelmed all morning. Seek to remember that He is good. Climb up seemingly insurmountable smooth walls seeking gratitude.
And this is a fight. Trust me.

Next morning I wake, flip to Psalms. Get two verses into the chapter my Bible opened to.
“I will sing praise unto my God while I have any being.”

Any being?

Even if I’m dying? Even I can barely breathe?
Even when I can’t see His face? Even when all around is dark?

I see it now.
Surrender is sweetest when it’s been fought for.
Praise is truest when it is sacrifice. When it costs me all to give it.

God is glorified when His children praise Him anyway.

The sun shines again, and this time it stays.

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Because they believed

He was just a man, but he believed. He’d gone to ask Jesus to heal his daughter; she died before he could return.
But when Jesus told him to only believe, Jarius did. And his daughter was made whole.

The closest she could get was just the hem of His garment. The crowds pressed, seemed not to notice. Her courage nearly gone, she touched His hem.
And because she believed she was made whole.

The lepers. They asked for healing. They risked all, despised and rejected by their countrymen. Why wouldn’t this person reject them, too? But He didn’t. He told them to go show themselves to the priests. But what good would that do? They’d doubtless been before, hoping vainly that they’d been healed.
But they didn’t question. They went.
And in the obeying, in the believing, they were made whole.

The list goes on. The one who cried, “Lord, if You say only the word my servant will be healed.” The thief on the cross who dared to hope in a dying man.

And, going back several hundred years, we have the serpent lifted high. The multitude, dying from snake bites, bidden to look on the snake lifted high on a cross and be healed.
And so it was. Those who believed looked, and they were healed.
And yet, this was just a type. Type met anti-type that day on Calvary where the true Savior hung on a bloodstained cross.

He, too, bids us look and live. A life given gives life to me. A life, broken, heals all wounds.

Oh Lord, You set each spirit free,
Who dares accept Your love.
Your cross stands tall through every age,

For all to look and live.

And when I look You haste to come,
To mend each broken piece.

For sin has shattered, wounded, torn;
But You have set me free.

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Connection

The city flashes past my window, but I take no heed. All I want is to go home. This hasn’t been my best day for shopping. I was more than ready to quit before I’d even hardly started. I’m usually tired of the city after a few hours, but this started after a few minutes. I wonder why. I search deep to understand. If something like this happens there is usually a reason. I think it must have something to do with the city itself and how it’s such a congregating place for sin of all types. Maybe it’s the countless strange songs and strange Halloween-ish sounds issuing through store sound systems. I search for answers. Find none there.

A light turns red. I stop. Surrounded by cars full of people. Disconnected people. Hurting people. Each going his own way. Doing their own thing.

The light changes. We move forward. And then I see it.
Disconnect. It changes everything.

I’m dismayed. How did I get here and why!? There was no disconnect when I got to town this morning. There certainly is now. I search for answers, find none.

Dismay changes to steel-clad resolve. I didn’t leave home this way this morning. I’m not going home this way. Fortunately, I have a two hour drive ahead of me.

The last of the city fades away in my rear-view mirror. My iPod playlist streams music from my car speakers, courtesy of batteries and radio waves. I hardly hear it.

I wrestle with this restlessness. This separation from His heart. Magnified torment since I know I could have avoided this if I’d just paid attention. I’m ashamed now. Almost too ashamed to seek His heart. But seek it I do. Believing that He meant it when He promised that if we sought He would be found, and that He’s always near.

Trees flash by my window now, and God speaks peace to my heart. It doesn’t take as long as I expect and well before I’m halfway home the hurry is solidly replaced by the calmness I need. I call, He answers.
Always. He’s been waiting for me.
Even though I’ve grieved His heart.
He comes, tells my enemies to depart.

And I’m back where I belong. For now anyway. I wish I’d always stay here.

Times like these are getting rarer. Rarer enough that I can actually tell when my heart has gone astray. This life requires so much more than I could ever give. Connection to Heaven is a necessity. A necessity I love.

Each day that I seek to know His heart is a day in which I never want to know anything else. He always amazes me.

I didn’t skip that this morning. But somewhere between home and town I forgot that I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand. Dreadful to forget this. For when I forget this, I forget Him.

I’m asking Him now to keep me ever closer by His side, to remind me often just how much I need Him (Every moment. Every day.), and to never let me go.

It’s only through knowing Him that I can want to know yet more. It’s only through a heart connection with Infinite Love that I can even remember why I love, live, pray.

And it’s only through this that I can be at rest and full of gratitude. He gives the gifts. He gives the gratitude too.

It’s only through this that life is truly lived.


(written a few days ago)

Treasure Life

I’d forgotten just how important it is to treasure life. That is, until this weekend.
No, I didn’t almost die. To my knowledge I didn’t even come close.

But someone else is. (A lot of someone else’s.) But specifically my aunt is dying.*

I saw her this weekend. And I watched those nearest her deal with the knowledge that she won’t be here much longer.

The family? Some are resigned, some hoping for the best. And the others?
They struggle.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for Grandma and Grandpa to know their much-loved middle child is dying.
But I watch, and it’s tearing them apart.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for my other aunts and uncles to lose a sister, to watch her die a slow death, and to know that if her heart stops they’re not calling 911.
But I watch, and they support each other while grieving the loss of a dream.

And my dad? The one who flew hundreds of miles to see his sister one more time before she’s gone….
I watch—he’s grieving too.

I watch them all.
I hear them wonder how they’ll get through this. Me, the lone person under the age of 49 that is present.

I hardly know this aunt. I hardly know this family.
Brokenness does this to a family. Living across the country from the rest of the family does this too.

But she is family. And I’m learning that those family ties are strong and this heart hurts. For those who are left, who have to deal with loosing their child, their sister.

I wish they knew Jesus more.
I wish they found Him to be a true and faithful Friend.
I wish they knew His comfort.

The fragility of life is amazing.
The gift of family is precious.
The peace and trust that comes from knowing God is priceless.

Friends, treasure life.

It’s fragile. Here one moment, gone the next.
And it’s always a gift from God.

Life isn’t given just so it can be merely lived. It’s given to be given away.

So, treasure life. And give it away.

* She has at least four different types of cancer in various parts of her body and at least 24 tumors in her brain. The doctor has given her only a few short weeks to live, which are almost up.

Beholding His Glory

Isa 6:1-7

We each have a task to do. And, we do it. We rejoice in our strength. We count ourselves worthy.

But then we come to the glory of God.

Even the angels cover their faces and feet.**

Seeing God’s glory brought Isaiah to his knees.

He realized he was nothing.

He saw his uncleanness.

He expected to die.

But God loved and He purified with fire.

And then He commissioned Isaiah.

Beholding God’s glory changed Isaiah (and Moses and countless others)

And, beholding God’s glory changes me.

*Isaiah 6:2)

Seek Judgment

November 8, 2012

Isaiah 1:17

“Seek Judgment,”

I love how God never does anything halfway.
For once we have been cleansed. Once we have been purified. Once we have learned to do well….

Then He takes it to yet another level.

Don’t just be content with doing well… with being clean…
But seek for, follow after, do not rest until you have found justice [judgment].

I’m not just set free simply to be free.
I’m set free that I might help others find freedom.
I’m set free to seek justice for those who need justice.
I’m set free to serve.

And if I don’t feel qualified… so what.
Because the same God who set me free, who called me to seek justice,
Is the same God who qualifies the called.