Clouds

13 05 2011

The sky is filled with clouds today. A soft layer of grey covers the blue, filtering the sunlight through prisms of mist. The world looks softer today. Wrapped in a blanket of clouds, the earth waits – a little quieter, a little cooler, and seemingly a little slower as the weight of the clouds presses in on the atmosphere.

Clouds should do more, however, than remind us to pick up an umbrella. The Bible is filled with pictures of clouds. Clouds announce the presence of God. They trumpet His nearness, calling us to prepare our hearts and bend our knees.

Clouds can remind us of the way God covers us, protects us, and leads us. Israel walked under a canopy as the pillar of cloud led them to the Promised Land. The pillar of cloud provided very visible, tangible evidence of God’s love and presence.

Clouds can help us focus on God’s holiness. In Exodus 19, a thick cloud covered Mount Sinai as Israel prepared to meet God. The cloud helped to showcase His awesome nature, His majesty and might, and the holiness to which He called His people to live.

Clouds can call us to pay attention to Jesus. Standing on the Mount of Transfiguration, a voice called out of a cloud, proclaiming, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” (Mark 9:7)

Clouds can heighten our anticipation for the return of Jesus. Clouds play a large part in the pictures of the second coming painted in Revelation 1:7 and I Thessalonians 4:17. Every time we see a cloud, it should make our heart beat in wonder and our eyes look for His light.

My Jesus Resolution today is to watch the clouds. Clouds are more than vapors of water molecules bunched together in the sky. Each cloud testifies to the movement and majesty of God. The way the clouds wrap around the earth can remind me of the way I am enfolded in His love. The way light plays off the clouds can help draw my heart deeper into the light of His holiness.  Nahum 1:3 paints the neatest picture of clouds –“His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Every time I look at the clouds, I am going to see them as trails that trace the movement of God through my day.





God Wins

11 05 2011

I had the neatest reminder of an important truth today. Our four year old friend was riding with me in the car. He is into comparisons – who is bigger, faster, stronger, and tougher. He compares dinosaurs, superheroes, cars, birds, kids on the playground, and wild animals. After making an exhaustive list and concluding that a cheetah could outrun a dinosaur, he announced the most important news of all. “But you know, God wins everybody.”

I need to remember that God wins everybody. Kids aren’t the only ones who spend time on comparisons. We compare our bills with the money in the bank, our struggles with our strength, our worries with our wisdom, our appearance with the television, and our to-do lists with our resources. Inevitably, I come up short. The mountains are too high, the oceans too deep, the problems too vast, and the lists too long. I spend time worrying and fretting, keeping my eyes on the shadows when God calls me to look at the Son.

God wins everybody. There is no giant that can defeat Him, no enemy that will beat Him, no mountain that matches His strength, no problem that can outsmart Him, and no struggle that is too hard for Him. Whatever I am facing today is not bigger, stronger, faster, or tougher than my God.

Paul put it this way. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31.

God has promised to walk with us through the darkest circumstances, the brightest joys, the deepest worries, and the fiercest storms. He faced death so we can have life. He lived in our shoes so that we can walk by His side. He defeated sin so that we can have victory in grace. He calmed storms, raised the dead, healed the sick, and cast out demons so that we could spend today absolutely sure that God wins everybody.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make the right comparison. I am going to measure whatever comes my way today by the size of my God. I am not going to let the shadows of the world’s giants pull my eyes from the cross. I want to lay every problem, struggle, storm, and worry in His hands and watch them be swallowed up in His all-sufficient grace. God really is bigger, stronger, and faster. The world may try to dazzle me with its speed, strength, and smarts, but God really does win everybody.





Children

9 05 2011

“See the kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” – I John 3:1 

I have great kids. Every day they open my eyes to the presence of God, His incredible mercy, generous grace, and amazing love. They teach me how to count my blessings…slowly and with a smile. They help me understand the inexpressible value of a word of gratitude, a gesture of kindness, and a simple touch. God blessed me with children because He knew that through them I would see Him in richer, fuller, deeper ways than I ever could on my own. They are my telescope into the vast reaches of God’s love.

Here are a couple of lessons my children have taught me this week.

Kids have no problem recognizing that they are under construction. Transformation is a part of their day. They expect to change, grow, and mature. Adults tend to put up an “I have it all together” finished product mask. Kids know that they are works in progress. They delight in the ways that they are becoming who they are supposed to become.

Children know how to celebrate. Kids are big celebrators. Give them a reason and they will do it up right. Leave them alone, and they will find their own reasons to express joy. They seem to understand the value of stopping and acknowledging the moment. Too often, I rush through on my way to the next “big thing”. I don’t take the time to praise God for the butterfly, cheer someone on for their step of faith, or notice the quiet triumph of kindness or sacrifice.

Kids love to be included. They are imitators by nature. They learn best when they stand alongside you, get their hands dirty with you, and match their steps with your own. In their desire to “help” they show me a picture of God’s delight. They are mirroring exactly the heart God wants me to have as I walk with Him. He never rolls His eyes and thinks that it would be so much simpler to do it all Himself. He loves it when we mismatch the forks, spill flour on the floor, or let the pitcher overflow because He knows that the best growth is found in moments when we try to match His steps. Just look at Peter, Moses, and David. My children regularly teach me that a wobbly step of faith is worth more than all of my good intentions combined.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be like my children. I want to grow up to embrace transformation, celebrate His presence, and imitate His heart. I want to anticipate the changes that tomorrow is going to bring to my heart and delight in the truth that I am a work in progress. I want to be someone who celebrates quickly and often. I want to count blessings before I complain about burdens. I want to spend my day playing Follow the Leader, matching my steps to His, eager to do whatever I see Him doing. Watching my children teaches me how to be His child.





Drought

6 05 2011

It hasn’t rained in months. The ground is dusty, cracked, and thirsty. A brown haze fills the sky as the unceasing wind pulls the dry earth into a dance with the cloudless blue. Withered crops crumble in the fields. Livestock move aimlessly looking for green pasture. Fire leaves scars on the ground as evidence of the ravages of rainless, sun-soaked days.

Drought is not pretty. It wounds the land, stabbing its fierce heat into the heart of the soil. It eats away at life, pulling the green we recognize as signs of growth and health out of the landscape. It leaves dreams in the dust, hope withering under its fury, and a sense of desolation and destruction in its slow, choking wake.

Droughts don’t happen overnight. They take slow steps forward as days without rain take their toll. At first, no one thinks about a week without rain. It is only when weeks turn into months that people start seeing the effects the lack of life-giving moisture has on the life around them. Defined by a reality that first impacts the basics of soil, roots, and seed, the drought takes hold deep in the heart of the land, tightening its grip with each rainless day.

Droughts of the soul are even more devastating than droughts that ravage the land.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1

Droughts of the soul can only be answered in the refreshing, renewing presence of God. The only way to quench the thirst burning in our hearts is to dive into the deep well of His grace. The Living Water is the only answer to the cracks and deep brokenness revealed in times of spiritual drought. Our roots need to be buried firmly in His Word. Our ability to thrive and grow is nurtured in dependence on His faithfulness. The shade of His presence is our best refuge from the scorching heat of the world.

My Jesus Resolution today is to drink deeply from the water of life. Farmers have no choice about a drought on the land. They know the value of water. They would choose drenching rains over the terrible wastefulness of drought any day. Droughts of the soul can be caused by inattentiveness, lack of focus, or dipping into the mirages offered by the world. Today I am going to be deliberate about immersing myself in the pool of His mercy. I am going to seek His face and soak in the delight of His love. As I pray for rain for the land, I am going to pray for Him to reign in my life, quenching the deep thirst of my soul with His presence and power.





The Hotel Room

4 05 2011

It was a beautiful room in a great hotel. The bed was soft, the pillows were fluffy, and the amenities made everything very comfortable. I settled in for the evening, waiting for the morning flight that would take me home.

Wrapping a warm blanket around my shoulders, I looked around the room and admired its features. Much thought and planning had gone into making this a comfortable space. There were clean linens, a wide work space, and a television with more channels than I could count. There was a little refrigerator in case I wanted a cold beverage, bedside reading lamps for finishing the novel I had started, and a luxurious bathroom designed for pampering.

There was only one problem. It wasn’t home.

Looking around the room, I appreciated its beauty and comfort, but didn’t even think about settling in for the rest of my life. This was a temporary home. A place to lay my head and dream about where I really belonged. It was a stop on my journey – a journey that was propelling me toward open arms, wide smiles, deep love, high fives, and inexpressible joy. I got up in the morning, glad for the good night’s rest, but ready to move on. I packed my bag, saying goodbye to maid service, stacks of pillows, and the perfectly coordinated, professionally pulled-together room in order to travel to the place where my heart can truly rest.

I am thankful for home. I am also thankful for the lessons of the hotel room. It reminded me not to get too comfortable here in this world. This is a temporary home. A place to enjoy and appreciate, but that is meant to open our eyes to our real home. Our souls were never meant to settle here. Our hearts were meant to stretch homeward – to a place where we are deeply loved, intimately known, and graciously received.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember what is temporary and what is permanent. If I can’t take it home with me, then it deserves hotel room status. Useful, enjoyable, but temporary. I tend to invest way too much of myself in the things that will be left behind at the end of my stay. I am going to let home realign my priorities and redefine my possibilities. Today I am going to look around with the eyes of a traveler – thankful for the blessings that are mine today, but always with an eye on the journey that is taking me home.





Loving God’s Word

2 05 2011

She is in the third grade and cute as a button. Her strawberry blonde hair falls over her freckles. In her eyes, you can see the promise of the graceful woman she will one day become. Her heart, however, is already stunningly beautiful.

She loves God’s Word. Excited about learning something new, she leans forward to tell me lessons from David and Paul. She talks about wanting to learn more about Jesus. She anxiously tugs at her mom for permission to dive in and soak up more.

I want to be like her. How long has it been since a passion for God’s Word overwhelmed your heart? Like a sponge soaking in the ocean’s goodness, she lets lessons about God’s grace, love, mercy, and purpose shape her soul. Her heart creates a path for the light of His presence to direct her steps. Already a radiance  plays on her face because she spends time with God.

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” – Psalm 119:97 

My Jesus Resolution today is to love God’s Word. I want to do more than read it; I want to see God in its pages. I want to do more than listen; I want to anticipate the gentle whisper of His presence. I want to do more than dryly digest the words; I want to taste and see that the Lord is good. I want His light to shine from my eyes, His love to shape my soul, and His goodness to flow through my words. I want to be so in love with His Word that it inspires someone else to take a fresh look at Jesus.