Friday, January 13, 2012

Transformation

The six inch snowfall we received over the past 24 hours has made it the topic of conversation; especially since we had been experiencing an unseasonably warm January with temps in the 50's!

That's all been transformed in just a few short hours - every tree branch is outlined in pristine white, every bush supports clumps of snow at the junctures of their evergreen boughs.  It's beautiful. It's also cold and treacherous, but the environment has changed, and surprisingly this was really apparent last night when I turned off the lights.

We love night lights here; a single light pushing back the deep darkness of winter nights- they're so comforting and hopeful! But last night when the lights went off the darkness wasn't so dark. A solitary beam of hope wasn't as necessary because the whole environment was now clothed in white and the darkness had been lightened.

Yes, it was still night.  Still winter. Still cold but it wasn't so dark: it was no longer that deep palatable darkness it had been.

Darkness in our lives is inevitable.  There will be some tragedy, or disease, or disappointment that will throw everything into deep night.  Scripture says the rain falls on the just and unjust alike - it's the age old question of "why do bad things happen to good people?"  They just do. Loving God does not make us exempt from suffering.

But, from last night's evidence, I've realized there is a difference.  Our night, our hardship, might be as dark as another's but the love and grace that God spreads out in our hearts, lighten this darkness.
Just as the snow cover reflected light so does our awareness that we do not walk through the dark nights alone.  He not only goes with us (Ps. 23) but covers us with His love.  We have hope and light; no matter how intensely the darkness tries to push into our souls.

While we would wish for a lack of hardship; or for God to transform our circumstances so that all is well we have no guarantee that will be how He works but we can be confident that if we seek Him, we will find Him and he'll transform our hearts.
 Sometimes He calms the storm but He will always calm his child.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When the time comes...

It is January 10th, in Chicago, and 54 degrees!!!

Every kid who got a new bike for Christmas is cruisin' the sidewalks!!

I can imagine that a bike under the tree Christmas morning (depending on your latitude) would be both welcome and frustrating; frustrating because of the possible very L O N G   wait until Spring to test out the new wheels. It's tough having a gift and  not being able to use it!

Today Max Lucado was talking about the gifts God has given to us...
You’re Pre-Packed
There are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. I Corinthians 12:6
You were born pre-packed! God looked at your entire life, determined your assignment, and gave you the tools to do the job!
You do something very similar before you travel. You consider the demands of the journey and pack accordingly.
Cold weather? Bring a jacket. Business meeting? Carry the laptop.
Time with grandchildren? Better take some sneakers and pain medication!
God did the same with you. Joe will do research—install curiosity! Megan will lead a private school—an extra dose of management.
I need Eric to comfort the sick—include a healthy share of compassion. Denalyn will marry Max!—instill a double portion of patience.
Exodus 35:35 says: God has filled them with skill!
God packed you on purpose for a purpose!  


Andy Wood, on his blog, LifeVesting, said today "A thousand opportunities dance before those whose eyes are open to see them.  Ten thousand chances pass by those too lost in fear or consuming to notice them."

May our eyes be open to the opportunities God is putting before us to use those gifts He's pre-packed us with!




Monday, January 2, 2012

Let's get FAT in 2012


It's that time of year again.
The stroke of midnight now signifies a new year.

So it's time for New Year's ____?_____.

Yep, resolutions.

I, like you, have gone through the cycle of New Year's resolutions from making them with great idealism, to realizing their futility and inevitable failure, to merely thinking about things I'd like to change but not calling them resolutions, to, well, to not even bothering...

But this year I am making one resolution.

I want to eat rich foods and I want to eat until I am satisfied.
I want to do all that I can to get fat.

No stringy celery, dry rice cakes, and small plates of entrees for me.
Bring on the richest, sweetest, most tender foods and bring it in on platters!

I want things that melt in my mouth because they are so full of fat themselves- smooth like chocolate, buttery like pastries, and tender like marbleized beef. I do not want to walk around constantly hungry.

I even found a verse that describes what I want perfectly!
Isaiah 55:2 "Hearken diligently to me and eat that which is good and let your soul delight itself in fatness".

I want a fat soul.

No power-of-positive-thinking inspirational sayings for me. No bumper sticker theology, no religious rhetoric, not even warm fuzzy quotes with cute pictures or verse-a-day calenders will suffice.

Why would I be happy snacking on "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" when instead I have the invitation from God saying "Come and talk with me" (Psalms 27:8 ). I can commune about anything and everything at any time with Almighty God or I can try to motivate myself that today is a fresh start....
I think I'll respond "Lord, I am coming!" (Psalms 27:8)

I want to feast on the richness of God and of His Word, on His love and grace, His holiness and justice, His compassion and unfailing love. This is God, who is not some abstract idea, historical figure, or uncaring deity, but the One who seeks me and invites me to know Him.

I want to claim the verse in Jeremiah 31:14 where God says, "I will satiate the soul of the priest with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, says the Lord".

I want to say with the Psalmist, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips". (Psalms 63:5)

This word fatness means richness, abundance and blessing.

Psalms 36:8 promises that "They shall be abundantly satisfied (filled up, to the brim, not wanting any more!) with the fatness (richness, blessing) of thy house (the place where God is) and you shall make them drink of the rivers of thy pleasure". Reminiscent isn't it of Psalms 23 where we're told that "He makes me lie down by still waters...he restores my soul." ?

So this is my resolution. To feast on the abundant richness of God, to listen to what He says, and to let my soul revel in it's increasing girth.

And if "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45), it might not be such a bad resolution for all of us!