Sometimes, when you are right next to something it seems bigger than it is.
I was in my kitchen, looking out the window at my children playing outside when it happened. Now let me preface with the fact that I don’t like bugs. That said, there are only a few of them that completely freak me out. Cockroaches… ‘cause eeeew! If my child catches something and sticks it in my face… I don’t care if it is a rolly-polly, you just surprised me with it in my face. Or spiders… size doesn’t matter, I just don’t like them. I have heard over time that there is a type that jumps - this is what I experienced today. Out of the corner of my eye, right next to my face, I saw this GIANT SPIDER move. Yes, I squealed. But I have gotten better over the years (mom-strength) and I regained composure and went to kill it. Then it jumped. At me! Paralyzing fear ensued and I began screaming and yelling for my husband. More like shrieking for him. He is my hero, and he saved me from the GIANT SPIDER. Which, as it turns out, wasn’t actually any bigger than my pinky nail.
All I’m saying is, perspective matters. Fear causes things to be much bigger than they actually are. There is an old Veggie Tales song called “God is bigger than the boogie man”, and I think we should all heed its message.
Deuteronomy 31:3a, 6, and 8 (HCSV)
”The Lord your God is the One who will cross ahead of you.” “Be strong and courageous; don't be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you." “The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged."
Now these verses were all in reference to the Israelites losing Moses, and the change over to leadership of Joshua and their ongoing journey. However, God’s promise is just as true for us as it was for them. This was during the enormously miraculous time of Him taking them out of Egypt and going before them in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night. The fire wasn’t to freak them out, it was to light their way.
"I, the Lord, have called you for a righteous [purpose], and I will hold you by your hand. I will keep you, and I make you a covenant for the people [and] a light to the nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, [and] those sitting in darkness from the prison house. I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, or My praise to idols. The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur." Sing a new song to the Lord; [sing] His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea with all that fills it, you islands with your inhabitants.
I heard once from a speaker that it is sometimes helpful to replace the references with your own name to understand the gravity of the promise.
“I, the Lord, has called Niki for a righteous purpose, and I will hold Niki by her hand, and I will keep Niki…” and so on. Means more to me when I grasp the fact that God is holding me, walking with me. I also love that we are to sing. Isaiah 43:21 says this, “The people I formed for Myself will declare My praise.” God is expressing his redemption, and the thing he asks us to do is praise him. Sing.
This strikes me as our family is going through a time of hardship. We are right up in it, and it looks pretty big. GIANT even. But perhaps I should put more faith in God’s perspective, let him hold my hand through the difficulties, and sing a song to my Lord. Soon, I know it will turn from praise for who he is in spite of my circumstances, to a mighty song of praise for what he did throughout my circumstance.
“Ouch!” I was making the bed and stubbed my toe on the corner of the frame. Now those of you who know me well, are not at all surprised. I think I may be the clumsiest person who ever walked this planet. I have broken 2 fingers, one arm, and too many toes to count. In fact, we’ve come up with a phrase in my family, naming the third toe down. We call it the “Niki toe” because it seems that it is the one that always takes the brunt of abuse and gets broken most often. So now, whenever someone, whether be my husband or mother, bumps into something, they simply say they hit their “Niki toe”, and we all know what they are talking about.
So, if I am this clumsy in my physical life, have I expressed the same characteristics in my spiritual life? Do I bump around, get bruises, and keep moving forward praying not to do it again? I certainly have not been as purposeful as I should be. I definitely haven’t been prepared and looking out for “sharp corners”. But the bible says those things are real.
1 Peter 5:8 (CSB) “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.”
The devil is actually prowling, looking for a way to trip us up. The NIV says it this way in Ephesians 4:27, “do not give the devil a foothold.”
Both of those verses are referring to two different circumstances, but the one in 1 Peter is in context of telling us to humble ourselves before the Lord. The complete passage discusses that God cares for us, and we should put our concerns on him. It lets us know others go through similar difficulties, and we should take heart because God will restore us. He is ultimately in control. (1 Pet. 5:6-11)
And let me just mention, for me – humbling doesn’t just mean saying “you’re God and I’m not”. There is a much bigger statement that I am having to come to terms with (don’t know why it took me so long to realize the significance!), as in Deuteronomy 6. The chapter discusses Fear of God, but also the fact of remembering him in times of prosperity. He is the one who gave the good things. He is the one who rescued and placed. He is the one who sustains and provides. But it’s the fear thing that I missed.
(Deut. 6:24-25) “And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes and to fear the LORD our God, that we may always be prosperous and preserved, as we are to this day. And if we are careful to observe every one of these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us, then that will be our righteousness.”
Our righteousness is in the recognition. Do I seriously recognize and respect the fact that I am coming before the Creator of all? Everybody has a dad. And no matter the rate of performance, most of us have daddy issues. But we have a perfect and good Heavenly Father that has adopted us as part of his family. Not a step-dad situation, but fully connected and beneficiaries of all inheritance that is the Kingdom of God.
Rom. 8:15-16 (NIV) "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children."
As someone who was adopted, I totally get what this verse is telling me. Its about acceptance, inclusion, and confirmation of position. The reality is that we are only accepted through Christ, yes, but just as a step-kid can rebel (or really any kid for that matter – scary!) and be a pebble in the shoe of the newly acknowledged parent, that is not the case with God. The fear of the Lord is what is the way to having the “right relationship” or righteousness. We need to recognize who it is that adopted us.
So, let’s get humble and get the relationship right.
So, this week I, as I’m sure others did , I received an email regarding the Paycheck Protection Program set in place due to Covid 19. I was a bit surprised to read that, even though I qualified and was listed as “eligible”, my husband and I weren’t going to receive funding despite what a “success” the program was… you see there just isn’t enough funds to go around. This left me as a small business owner and taxpaying citizen feeling, well, second class. We were down to our last of funds – enough for groceries. I have been furiously applying for anything to get us through, but still, we are not on “the list”. Like some sort of swanky night club, yet this is designation of country, and it means the difference of feeding my family or not. So yeah, not like an “A-list”.
No finger pointing here, just fact.
Point being, there is no “class scale” for God. You are either for Him, or not. You are either His child, or not. You are either bearing fruit, or not. You are either doing as He commanded, or not.
But the beauty in the “or not” is that you can come to Him. He doesn’t have some ridiculous application process that changes at whim; He is available. He is always there. There to hear you, hold you, forgive you, and mold you. The cry of “Abba Father” is never met with silence. The tears of repentance are never gone without being counted. The joy of mercy is never without song. And the cry for new, is never gone unchanged.
Today, seek Him. Know Him. Lean on Him. He will not disappoint!
I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate[a] pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. How happy is the man who has put his trust in the Lord and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies! Lord my God, You have done many things—Your wonderful works and Your plans for us; none can compare with You. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told. You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; You open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, “See, I have come; it is written about me in the volume of the scroll. I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction lives within me.” I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; see, I do not keep my mouth closed— as You know, Lord. I did not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I spoke about Your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal Your constant love and truth from the great assembly. Lord, do not withhold Your compassion from me; Your constant love and truth will always guard me. For troubles without number have surrounded me; my sins have overtaken me; I am unable to see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my courage leaves me. Lord, be pleased to deliver me; hurry to help me, Lord. Let those who seek to take my life be disgraced and confounded. Let those who wish me harm be driven back and humiliated. Let those who say to me, “Aha, aha!” be horrified because of their shame. Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let those who love Your salvation continually say, “The Lord is great!” I am afflicted and needy; the Lord thinks of me. You are my helper and my deliverer; my God, do not delay.
Routine? Totally gone. Bedtimes? Null and void. Cleaning? Ahhhh, yes. All the reasons for weekly cleaning such as a friend, family member, or the ultra-serious mother in law visit – no longer an issue. Thanks, Covid 19. But my toilet is dirty. And because I’m not on my usual routine, I didn’t even realize how bad it was, until I saw how bad it was.
This got me thinking (and cleaning!) about what else I had become lazy about. I let the weekly bible study that I was participating in slip. I stopped diligently reading my verse of the day sent by You Version. I even stopped listening to worship music (not in the car anymore, so its not default behavior). Actually, I can’t remember the last time I truly sang to my Lord and Savior. I have been diligent in prayer… that has become much more of a regular habit and dependence. But one area of faithfulness does not account for slacking in the others.
Proverbs 20:6 – “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy (faithful) man?”
Matthew 25:21 – “His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
Luke 16:10 – “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
But what is faithful?
1. loyal, constant, and steadfast.
2. true to the facts or the original.
According to the internet, this is a definition. But what are the facts? Not just prayer. The facts aren’t only in the conversation. The facts are in His Word. In truth. The original is in the bible. Are we focused on that? I haven’t been. So, what now? Well, if I am only speaking something through breath but not through action… I may as well be whistling a happy tune as the ship goes down (or violining, aka “Titanic”).
1 Cor. 13:1, while not entirely in context here, does express support of the theory. If all I am doing is blowing hot air at God as I declare my love, what is really happening? Love is in the doing. The action. My pastor used to say for demonstration, “If a man said, ‘I told you once I loved you… why isn’t that enough’ ” again, slightly out of context, yet still relevant. How are we expressing our love/ faithfulness to God? In the lack of certain physical accountabilities, have you slacked? Because I know I have. And there is no shame in the knowing… just do something different! Shame is something that the enemy wants to keep you in… make you live there. Shame is not from our Lord. Our Lord says, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)
Rest- ease of burden? No shame in that. I can absolutely accept those terms. However, what will I do because of the terms? I’m not going to whistle or play violin on the deck of the ship that we all know sinks…. So perhaps I need to refocus my efforts; or call it priorities. God, family, then others. Don’t misplace where the placement should be.
He is always faithful. But the question is, what am I doing?
1 Cor 13:1
If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
This morning my reading prompt was from Romans anddiscussed the mercy and grace of God. One verse referred to us (Christians) as being part of one body. I glossed over it, after all I had the concept down…. but then tried to read my verses aloud and found it strangely standing out in importance.
Rom 12:4-5 (CSV) says, “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” This is proceeded by the verse warning against thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. I pondered the significance of this warning when it seemed to me that there was no impending consequence to warn off. Hmm… when in ponderance (not sure that’s a word…) I try a different translation!
Rom 12:4-6 (MSG) says, “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”
Well then, that helps! Hence the warning suddenly has more weight. I think the point may be to suggest that if we start viewing what we are “adding” to the body in our self-importance verses our identity coming from our place “within” the body we lose sight of the true picture Christ is trying to present.
In high school, I had a variety of sports injuries. No, not because I was super-athletic in my younger years, but more so because I was especially clumsy and didn’t have the coordination when it came to PE. So, I ended up with broken fingers, toes, an arm, etc. Once when I had a broken finger, it coincided with our band’s first trip to a major competition. We would be going to Georgia, and I was to play a challenging part on flute. Well, then I broke my finger, and being so gracious as to not leave me out, the band director allowed me to play temporary percussion – specifically, to use the cymbals in the competition. I was terrified. For good reason too, as when it came time for the finale of the piece, I clashed my ginormous cymbals one measure too soon! Ackkk, total mortification. But, complete… ok well minor recovery, as I repeated my dramatic clash at the actual end of the piece.
A clanging cymbal, or resounding gong is completely self-dramatizing without the entire band playing the piece in congruency to produce the desired sound and effect. It never occurred to me before today that these two different verse references are very much buddies in terms of their point. Meaning that we have a responsibility to the other “body parts”aside from performing our own role. Not because of some form of “metaphorical superglue” that lays within our own individual participation, but in fact because we owe it to the body (Christ) to sync up and suck up our individual feeling for the sake of that same body. If you are focused on being awesome for God, and not simultaneously loving the other parts of His body (and no, it is not your place to rate their performance), you are clanging a gong without the context of the band. Or even more graphic, you are a cut off finger or hand (think Addam’s Family, lol) snapping along to a beat, sans the other essential body parts.These verses go into great detail about what love is and looks like, truly giving a symphonic approach to what it means to bring glory to God. And after all, isn’t that how He made us? To gloriously come together for His purpose and pleasure? So for me, I have to start viewing other members of the band in love… even when they clash the cymbal too soon.
In school we had to take a class on economics. I’ll admit, I felt fairly confident about the subject matter – I understood the basic principles and had already been experiencing working in retail including marketing and advertising. But as the class progressed, and specifically after a group project gone bad, I started to reconsider my initial brush-off of understanding. I recognized that I had no clue why it didn’t make sense. It was infuriating. How could I not understand something, where, at its core was just about production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services? I mean, it really just comes down to valuation of items, right? Well, hahahaha economics class…. I still went on to a successful retail management career, and now I am co-owner of a small business. Plthhhhhhhhhh!
But as I reflect on this past experience of not just misunderstanding, but moreover not comprehending the valuation methods, I also see the connection to my faith. We are humanly drawn to try to evaluate and size up situations… as well as people. I don’t just mean figuring out what box to put someone in, although that is a fleshly problem, but also considering whether and to what measure someone or something is worth. I’ve noticed more and more tools out there that are designed to help people feel “in control” of their buying experiences. You can go online and compare what someone else paid, who someone else paid, and whether their review leads you to believe they were happy to have paid it. The functionality and “worthiness” of an item has entire marketing groups of companies devoted to managing the buying experience. So... with all this around us, it doesn’t seem a far stretch to also view our experience with God under similar scrutiny. I don’t mean the opinion we take of Him, but actually the view He takes of us.
1 Cor. 6:20 reminds us, “you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your bodies”.
1 Cor. 7:23 echoes this with saying, “God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world”.
Gal. 3:13 talks about how God “bought us with His blood”, and verse 14 reiterates the “high price Jesus paid”.
There are in fact a huge number of verses in both Old and New Testament giving description to the purchasing of us by our Lord. So, from these terms, and our basic understand of value from our own economics and currency, it does make sense for there to be some complications in our casual thinking of this crucial faith transaction. Let’s look at a few right now.
1. We are not a tax write-off for God. We do not depreciate in value due to use.
2. There is no Kingdom market value. We cannot lose or increase in value because of what the world around us is doing.
3. Our purchase is already settled. There was no negotiation in price. God purchased each of us through the crucifixion of His only son, and did not offer anything low-ball because of His foreknowledge of our individual sin. He knew what He was getting!
4. God did not check any apps to verify our value before He planned the purchase. He chose us and called us each by name- not only did He know what He was getting, He wanted us.
5. And here’s a biggie… God made us, then we walked, then He bought us back. Let that sink in. Read Hosea. Consider what it means to value something so much that you didn’t just put into it once, but bought it again.
6. We are not an item on layaway. Yes, there was a deposit (Holy Spirit!!!!! [2 Cor. 1:22]), but God paid in full. Even on our worst days, He’s not bummed about our value, and wishing He could return us to stock.
7. And finally, the only devaluing we have is the kind that Satan wishes for us to do to ourselves. God sees us with favor. (Eph. 1:4-6)
You are valued in God. All you were, all you are, and all that you will be to come. If He sees such a high value in us, why do we shame ourselves into thinking He might be wrong? Live today like you know your worth. Child of the Most High God!
This morning I woke up with a song in my head – it was one that got a lot of radio play in the 90’s by Jewel. The song, which speaks to going through the motions of life, has a line that says, “I feel so far from where I’ve been”. That is sticking with me this morning, and I feel like it applies to me right now with God. I feel so far from where I’ve been. I am the lost sheep, only I didn’t realize it until I looked around to see nothing familiar, and the Shepherd’s voice that I long to hear had grown quiet.
The reality is that God doesn’t play peekaboo, he is not hiding his face from me and wondering how long I will give in to the anticipation of seeing him again. James says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you (Ja 4:8a)”… so what gives? AM I not seeking? Again with the games… I never liked hideand seek. As an only child it felt frustrating. You finally have other kids to play with only to indulge in a game of hiding from each other? I could have stayed home if I wanted to feel lonely. Only this is not a game, this is my relationship with the One and Only Creator and Savior of the world. And yet I feel like a sad kid at a picnic who can’t find her friends. As I read more in James, I was struck by the familiarity I had with the passages, but yet for some reason, I never knew they all went together. (Another reason it is good to know a verse’s address… then you find out who it’s neighbors are!)
Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously? But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Thank God for his grace. Yes and amen. Next part… The grace is ours, true, but it is in the humbling submittal to God. Then we draw near to him and he to us. It’s like a puffer vest. Which I admit I have bought, although I have no idea why. Our climate typically doesn’t support the need for the item, not to mention it looks terrible on me, but I digress. When we put on a vest stuffed with the cares of the world, and fluffed with personal concerns and interests we all look pretty ridiculous. And, have you ever tried to hug someone in a puffer vest? If we care to get close to God, we need to unload our own “good intentions” and “good Christian expectations”. Depuff. Lay ourselves out before the Lord, weep and ask for cleansing.
So my advice to myself? The distance is in the decision. Jesus is coming after me, ready to return me to my pasture... His pasture. And when he says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” he’s not talking about a loss of spirit, or poverty like a hunger. He’s talking about true reconciliation with the fact that humbly, we are His. To use as he will, for what he will – His Spirit is jealous for complete sovereignty within us. Only to be had when we deflate on the outside, and let him inflate within. My decision today is sorrowand mourning. Yes, I feel so far from where I’ve been. And just like the breakup song that inspired that line, I should embrace the ending of a relationship. But if I breakup with myself, the promise is for a far truer relationship than that which I was holding on to, to begin with.
Let freedom ring! What a beautiful thought; a joyous sound of no longer being enslaved, indebted, controlled and in captivity. But it’s much more than the history of a country, it’s the history of humanity. The bible speaks very clearly about our freedom.
John 8:32 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:36 “So if the son sets you free, you really will be free.”
We are no longer a slave to sin. We’ve been given a new name. Yes, good things. But freedom comes with cost. Being “bought out of slavery” doesn’t come cheap. Our freedom that we have been given – well, it was undeserved. We have been redeemed, but not for our own sake.
When is the last time you purchased something costly? Was it a vacation – maybe Disney World, or a cruise to the Bahamas? Not me… no rollercoasters or boats, thank you. (In fact, they both give me the same queasy feeling.) Perhaps it was a new tech device. Giant TV? Anyway, it could be as simple as a gumball purchased from a candy machine. (Yup, they still have those… but I seem to recall a different price point, holla penny candy!) Whatever the purchase was, there were expectations on the buyer’s end. Vacation = good times and memories. Tech device = functionality. TV = Awesome movie/ sports experience. Gumball = duh. And as the buyer of whatever it was, why wouldn’t you have expectations? You paid the price, you put in the purchasing effort. You made the commitment. As did our God.
So why do we seem to think that the freedom, the actual transaction of our salvation, was the destination? God didn’t bring the Israelites out of slavery and say “well, off you go, you’re free”. No, he tookthem somewhere. He had a destination in mind – the promise land.
In Isaiah 61, the same passage that Jesus reads in the temple and says that it is fulfilled by him (Luke 14:17-21), it lays out the purchase arrangement. Verse 10 gives an interesting picture:
“I greatly rejoice in the Lord, I exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Think of it this way: you get all decked out for the marital transaction. But the point isn’t the ceremony, it’s the commitment and the lives to be fully lived out together. The belonging to one another. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the devil wanted them to stay where they were. Naked, ashamed. But God clothed them and continued to bring them out to a new place. Yes, it was a place of consequence, but he didn’t smite them. He didn’t throw up his hands and say, “You ruined everything!”, no. He tookthem somewhere. The same God who gave us free choice never intended us to sit down in the emptiness of that freedom. The Israelites received their freedom and God had a kingdom in mind. The wilderness was part of the transaction, the freedom that they journeyed through in order to get to their destination. The kingdom they were heading to was one of belonging. True fulfillment of being purchased by the Lord and changing their identity. He said, “You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ex. 6:7). So that ringing that you hear? It is the bell of freedom, reminding us to usher in the Kingdom – the true destination of our redemption.
This little light of mine… I’m gonna let it shine! Ahh, the season of VBS is upon us. I have memories of learning this song complete with hand motions. The image then was a bright shining light that no one could blow out; and it would shine so bright that you couldn’t hide it if you wanted to. Well, just as real life isn’t the same as Summer vacation… real walking with God isn’t the same as a week of VBS. Sometimes the flame flickers. Sometimes life lowers it and weighs it so heavy that it is just barely a blink. Sometimes we want to put it under a “bushel”, just so that we don’t have to keep tending the flame. How do we as Christians deal with always having to have our “lights on”?
For starters, can we all just get on board that there will be variances? I mean, even in modern times, power surges happen. Think about water pressure. Unless you forgot to pay that bill… the water is always available. But if everyone in the house is using the faucets at once, someone’s full shower head blast beating on their back is going to suddenly slow to half-power. And let’s not even talk about if the toilet is flushed… yow!! But when those things happen, they are expected. Its not a secret, and if you have guests over, you aren’t embarrassed about your water pressure. It is just seen as a part of having water that is always on. So why do we, in our purposeful walk with Christ, feel we need to “hide’ the variances? Why do we let the devil shame us into thinking that if we flicker, even in the slightest, we would “lose” our Christianity?
If we are to be the city on the hill (Mt. 5:14)… and our light shining for all to see (Mt.5:15)… the only true failure would be if we decided to go “off-grid” out of embarrassment for inconsistencies. And guess who wants us to do that? Hint: starts with “d” – ends with “evil”. God’s strength is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). God is the source; God is the consistency – its all to His glory. So stay atop that hill, dimly lit in the storm, flickering in the difficulties, barely hanging on. Besides, it has been said that a flickering flame attracts the most. He sees you there. And your willingness and intentional faith brings Him glory… and I’ll bet a swell of emotion and love.
As I listened to the sounds around me in my home, I was suddenly struck by how many of them were water noises. I noticed the turbulent whirring of the dishwasher, the trickle drip from the coffeemaker, and the gushing from the pipe as the washing machine filled. It was very peaceful, and it made me think of other water-noises, including this great app that I started using called Calm. They have several background options, and one of them is rain falling – very calming, lol. So, as I contemplated these things, it occurred to me that although the initial sound (stick with me, no, I’m not trying to make you feel like you have to pee!) of falling water in my home was similar, it does not compare to the fullness of the experience of hiking to a waterfall and looking out over the nature that surrounds you.
I tend to generalize things that I read in the bible – Moses went up “a mountain”, Jesus prayed in “a garden”, David was king of “somewhere”, and so on. In doing this, sometimes I am missing out on the fullness of the beautiful over-arching picture that God has presented as a love story to us. Just as a pizza shop in Uptown is nice (or at least usefully convenient if you are hungry), it means something much more as you look into the window with your husband and reminisce of his proposal to you on the dance floor when it used to go by a different name. Sometimes living in the same place for a while is like that, you have all these amazing memories of incredible meaning that are important to your story. I have heard from people who have journeyed to the “Holy Land” that it is a huge experience for their faith to visit and walk on the same spots that our Lord and Savior walked with his feet. Now for some of us, probably most of us, we will never physically make that journey. But there is another way.
Remember the Yellow Pages? If you are of a certain age, then yes. But for the others, let me try to elaborate. The Yellow Pages was a phone book – I know this is hard to imagine, but try – for the purpose of, well, letting everyone know your information. Funny enough, there was a time in which if somehow you were overlooked in the Yellow Pages, it was kind of embarrassing. It was a huge ordeal to get an “unlisted number” so if you weren’t in there on purpose it was an accomplishment. There were white pages for the residential-giving your name, number, and address, and yellow pages for the business providing the same info. Now on the front of this book was their logo – two “walking” fingers which sufficiently represented their tag line of “let your fingers do the walking”. Instead of walking around town, your fingers could walk down the page and find what you were looking for. Take this concept straight to God’s Word. Now don’t just meander, but go with purpose. There is such a reward in getting the fullness of the picture of history that the Living Word paints when you see that the same mountain on which God gave the ten commandments to Moses (Ex. 20:1-17) was also the mountain on which Jesus gave his first sermon (Mt. 5:1- 7:29) – “sermon on the mount” – yes that mount! The one where Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Mt. 5:17-19)! Or, that the same river God had the Israelites stack stones of remembrance after parting the waters to take them to the “land of promise”(Jos. 4:1-9), was also the same river that John used to baptizepeople (including Jesus!) (Mt. 3:13-17), the symbolic act representing the repentance and rebirth with a new “land of promise” in mind.
These moments of recognition are transforming, faith-forming. The kind of thing you can read about in a love story… oh wait, that’s the point.
what is "spark"?
Its a small thing - like the flash on a spark plug that hopefully ignites something bigger to propel you forward.
Niki is a wife and mother of 2 children. She lives in Charlotte, NC where she enjoys everyday moments that ignite her relationship with our Lord and Savior.