Lately, I’ve been finding myself sitting at my computer in front of the window at just the right time of day to enjoy twilight. Glowing patterns are created across the sky, and the sounds of the day lessen until I can hear the water fountain running, from across the street. The muffled sound of a plane flying in the distance reminds me of how big the world is, and at the same time I notice how easily palm branches move in the wind…they don’t fight it. Then, a single bird chirps, as if he is the last of his fleet to find out that the day is coming to a close. Twilight is a gift, when the quieting of the day draws my attention not only to the wonderful things that have been made, but to the One Who so kindly made them.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You
created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” – Revelation 4:11
What is love? To me, love is Jesus forgiving Peter for denying that he knew Him. Love is Jesus inviting Matthew, an unpopular tax collector, to follow Him, learn from Him, and to be His friend. Love is Jesus washing His friends’ feet. Love is Jesus multiplying loaves of bread for the hungry masses. Love is Jesus asking His Father to forgive His persecutors at the same time that He was suffering. Love is Jesus assuring a humbled, dying thief that he would, that day, be with Him in paradise. Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to love. He forgave. He invited. He washed. He multiplied. He interceded. He accepted. Thank you, Jesus.
“And now these three remain: faith hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Hearts In Pieces
Was just me and a book
in my small kitchen nook
when the sun cast a ray
over me as I shook
Light turned to dark
hearts were in mourning
and suddenly thoughts
of loss without warning
Stories emerged of special lives
teachers and nurses, and husbands and wives
of heroic deeds, and self-sacrifice
of those who passed and of those who survived
To the mothers and brothers and sisters and daughters
the spouses, grandparents, grandchildren, sons, fathers
the nephews, the friends, the cousins, the nieces
to all those affected, whose hearts are in pieces
When the sun comes up, we wake with you
we mourn your loss and ache with you
pray comfort, you can take with you
know the stories of courage grew our hearts too
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18
My husband and I flew to Vermont last week to see his mom and stepdad. It made me uneasy, as I am an unenthusiastic flyer. I sometimes wonder if at least part of the reason for this is that my grandfather died in a plane crash, and although it occurred before I was born, I witnessed the hole it left in the hearts of his (my) family. So although flying is statistically a safe form of travel, it can make me fearful. Some may think that a Christian should not be subject to these feelings since they believe that God has their back and in the end, will be with Him anyway, but the feelings are a result of our humanness, and although I believe that God would prefer we trust Him in every situation, I know that He also has compassion on us in our weaknesses. My husband often says that once we move beyond this life and are with God, we won’t have a care in the world, and that it’s toughest for the people here who mourn our passing. I do agree. When we are in God’s presence, we will be completely content. The Bible verse I read on the morning of the flight encourages people to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy” (Matthew 6:20). It reminded me that if what we value most is our eternal life with God, then our hearts can rest more easily when we are doing things that make us afraid. Like flying, for instance. I’m glad that God calls us to Himself through Jesus, not only so we have our eternal home with Him, but so we can also experience the comfort of knowing Him as we walk (or fly) to each new destination in this life.
Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is how God in the Old Testament (OT) sometimes seems different from the God Jesus came to make known. I know that He is not different because God does not change…“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). The Bible also reveals that Jesus is God…“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), and that He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). So why does it seem like God was more stern in the OT, whereas Jesus makes familiar a God of love, patience, mercy, and forgiveness? First, I need to say that the OT is not without examples of the love and forgiveness of God…I just get more insight into the gentleness of God, in Jesus. So this is a question I will continue to ask God about. But one thing I do know. I know that God is love…“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). And I have experienced His love first hand, when at times I have acted less than loving toward Him and He has made it known to me, whether it was through something I read, something someone said, or just a reassuring thought, that He was still there and was present with me. Through Jesus, God forgives us our shortcomings and not only that, but like the prodigal son, He sees us from a “long way off” and is “filled with compassion” (Luke 15:20).
For some reason, I was aware of the love and reality of God, early on…
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
“‘Am I a God who is only close at hand?’ says the Lord. ‘No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?’ says the Lord.” – Jeremiah 23:23-24
“The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” – Psalm 121:8
Have you ever woken up feeling anxious about the state of the world? If so, Psalm 46 is a good one to read. It reaffirms God’s sovereignty and His continual presence. It also includes a truth that is helpful in countering every worry…
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”- Psalm 46:10
Seed to Stalk
I saw you shoot from soil to sky
So little I knew of the you still inside
That one day you’d flower
that your stalks would reach high
So little I knew of your special design
I saw you flourish, then one day you stopped
Your pieces changed color ’til some parts, they dropped
the earth below you seemed hard as a rock
Then suddenly life in a place it was not
I saw you move as soon as you knew
that you had a home, and quickly you grew
almost out of the pot you came home in, it’s true
And the more that you grew, the more beautiful you
It’s from God, is it not? You, from seed to stalk?
The flowers that bloom, and the new life in spots?
The reason we grow almost out of our pots?
‘Cause we now know Home, with His life, has been bought.
“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:7
“It was not only the people of His day, but it is so common for people of all times to just keep commandments and church laws and observe the externals of religion. In living this way, we miss the point of what worship of God really is, falling each day more deeply in love with God, expressing that love by our sensitivity to the pain and hurt around us, and reaching out to help others, even strangers. To a person who has found God, no person, ever again, is a stranger. In that is the perfection of love, the kind of love that God is, a love that knows no strangers.” – Joseph F. Girzone, “A Portrait of Jesus”
“…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me…” – Matthew 25:35