The Silly and the Sacred

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel God’s presence in my life, but I vividly recall a time in my life when I turned away from His presence. It was a time when I thought I deserved to be deprived of His love. I know how ridiculous that is now, but I didn’t know it then. I saw God as a smiter at worst and a disappointed Father at best. I’ve come to know Him as a loving Father who delights in me the same way I delight in my son and his sweet little girls.

I hear God’s voice and feel His presence most clearly outdoors. I love sunrises, sunsets, mountains, oceans, trees, creeks, and all of His beautiful creation. In sweet moments alone with Him,  I know I am loved. I even captured what looked like His reassuring smile last year when I cried out from a dark and lonely place. He brought me out of my self pity with a beautiful sunset in the midst of some very ominous clouds and made me laugh. I have always had a very vivid imagination, but I’ve never been able to capture any of the images I see. You may not see the smiling fellow looking back at me in the picture below, but the image was, and still is, crystal clear to me.

Sunset Watching Me

If I find myself surrounded by dark clouds, I think of a sunset when God reminded me that light is brightest in the darkest hours. I am not a theologian by any means, but I do know God has a beautiful sense of humor. I have experienced it on many occasions. He’s the Master when it comes to teaching, and all good teachers know that humor is a very effective teaching tool. I’m thankful for an imagination that runs from silly to sacred at any given moment. God provides images that make me laugh and ones that humble and bring me to my knees in awe.

Mama had an imagination much like mine and so does little Lillyann. I used to be ashamed of the way I processed information, and mama warned me over and over that I wasn’t like everyone else. That made me keep the images to myself for a long time. Now, I’m thankful to be different, and I hope I’ll teach Lilly and Mylah to celebrate their differences. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world that celebrated the same.

Follow My Heart

To treasure is to love or value greatly. If you want to find my treasure, follow my heart. It’s tempting to store up earthly treasure, but Jesus warns that earthly treasures are physical in nature and do not last. He suggests a different treasure that involves a change of heart.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:19-24)

In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates verses 22-23 this way:

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

I can relate to the terrible image in verse 23 because I pulled the blinds and stayed hidden in the dark for too long. God is opening my eyes wide in wonder and taking the blinds off my heart so I can see the true treasure of His Son’s precious love.

Dark cellars are safe places for hearts and treasures. I learned to hide my heart at a very early age and kept it hidden for most of my life. Jesus knows love only grows in openness, and I’m learning the same.

If you had followed my heart during most of my life, you would find a safe, dark cellar. If you follow it now, you’ll find an open window.

Photo Credit:  twomaisons
Photo Credit: twomaisons

A Brighter Light

I’ve struggled with Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 this week and have been putting off looking deeply at what God has for me in this psalm of lament. It’s Christmas, and I’m not in the mood for lament or tears. When I returned to the psalm today, I saw it in a new light. It really is all about light, and the plea for God to shine upon and restore us is what Christmas is all about.

Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your power
And come to save us!
O God, restore us
And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.

O Lord God of hosts,
How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And You have made them to drink tears in large measure. 

You make us an object of contention to our neighbors,
And our enemies laugh among themselves.
O God of hosts, restore us
And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. (NASB)

God laid aside His anger when He decided to come down and be with us. Christ is God’s Light, and He restores, saves, and causes God’s face to shine upon us all. Everything changes in the light of Christ’s precious love, and we celebrate that Light each time we remember the birth that did more than cause God’s face to shine upon us; it brought God’s heart to earth. A brighter Light than expected came upon us, one we will not fully understand until we are in God’s presence. Immanuel did, does, and always will save and restore those broken and feeding upon the bread of tears. Thanks be to God!!

Brighter Light