Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The little light...

It sits silently beside the roaring ocean under an enveloping sky. It's tiny, unnoticed by most everyone who passes by it. There is a path beside it, that offers a smooth walkway to the waters beside it, but those who walk on the path will most likely not notice it; the tiny light beside the noisy waves.
To miss the small messenger would be all too easy.

But all day long as the sun shines down, the light is being fed. And all day long while the waves beat the shore and the coastal breezes blow, the light holds tightly to the place where it has been placed. And in doing so, the light is fully prepared to do what it is designed to do; shine when darkness comes.

I'm envious of the little light, not in a sinful sort of way, but rather in a "oh what a sweet place to be" sort of way. This little light overlooks the shores of Rosarito Beach, with a mountain island in its view and a majestic sky overhead. Nothing is expected of this little light, except --- that it light the pathway when darkness comes. The views that it enjoys each and every day are magnificent, the quiet droning of the waves a constant reminder of a great, huge, good God.
The light from the sun will feed the little light beside the waters all throughout the day. The little light doesn't do anything to acquire the energy to glow in the darkness, other than receive its power from the sun overhead.

We are fashioned to be like the little light. There is no need to be envious, for we/i are much like the little light.
We are designed to draw strength from the Son. His power can and will flow through us, lighting the path for both ourselves and for those around us. We simply need to sit still with Him. If the little light by the sea did not sit still under the sun, it would not have the power to shine when darkness comes.

And so it is with us.

If we do not sit still with the Son, we will not have the power to shine when darkness comes.
(oh we might "endure" the darkness, but will we  have the ability to shine)

The little light by the sea is so peaceful.
I know it is a simple stick of bamboo with a solar light atop it, stuck into a flowerpot on a patio at the Robinson's beach home. But isn't it beautiful how a silent tiny object can remind my soul of a monumental truth ---- a truth that in the busyness of life, can too easily be forgotten.

We are tiny.
We have been placed by the Father above.
He will pour out His power on us, He will strengthen us.
He is always over us, we are not alone.

The vast world around us makes us look insignificant, but we are not. We are called to do one thing. Shine where we have been placed with the light that comes from our Father.

I'm reminded --- the little light does not yell to those passing by, it gives no commands or requirements of those who walk near it. It is not called to orchestrate the waves it overlooks, organize the sunset it witnesses each evening, or direct the activities of those on the path beside it. It is simply called to shine when darkness comes.

Yes - we have many tasks we must accomplish each day, we can not and should not ignore the realities of being productive and beneficial in the world where we have been placed.

But why is it that we can all too easily forget to sit under the Son and get our strength from Him.
That would be the clever plan of the darkness, the dark one, the enemy of the sun, the enemy of the Son; to keep us too busy --- to sit with the Son and be strengthened.

I love the bold reminder the little, quiet light beside the sea shares with my soul.

I am tiny - I have been placed by my Father - He will pour out His power on me if I will sit in His Light - He will never leave me. Without Him, i can not shine. With Him, i can.

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5

(photo taken at Rosarita Beach, Mexico)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Skin is the boundary ...

Today, I will walk about with skin on - and it will define the boundary between me and what is around me. The same will be true for you. The edge of your skin is the edge of you. Your words may travel further, the fragrance of you may exceed your borders (hopefully it's a sweet fragrance). :) But the physical reality of you will not go past your boundary of physical skin.
And you are fully equipped to meet the day, because God is within you. He has promised us, that for those of us who call Him our Savior, His Holy Spirit lives within us and is present with us at all times. Our "perfection" is not a condition of His presence. After all, His good presence in us has little to do with us, but has everything to do with His grace towards us. All we are asked to do is believe and receive. Then once that has happened, He's there, with us, always, everywhere. Whether we acknowledge and remember or not, He does, He keeps His promise.

So today, the boundary of my skin and your skin, marks the edge of "us" in this world. The presence of the Holy Spirit in us will enable to meet the day and guide us through. Oh how much sweeter the walk is when we pause to remember, HE is with us, He is enabling us, He is guiding us, He is. When we stop relying on ourselves to accomplish what needs to be done, and instead we rely on Him to enable us to accomplish it, there is beauty in the outcome.

Learning to live in our skin with the Holy Spirit, our Father God, giving the perfect pressure from the inside so we can withstand the pressures put on us from the outside ---- is an art, a skill, an obedience. It's the way of Peace.
It becomes exhausting and overwhelming when we try and use our skin to counter the pressures of this world. We're not equipped to do it, we're simply not strong enough. We need someone to save us from the heavy weight of life this side of Heaven. And so, He gives us a Savior; the One who can easily counter the pressure of this world with His powerful presence within us.

So today, you and I are equipped to meet the pressures of this world and it's many demands on us, at the boundary of our skin, when we allow the Holy Spirit to reside in us and apply the counter pressure.

My Steve loves to dive in deep waters. He's ok to stay at the surface if he must, but given a squeak of a chance, he'll go deep. He has explained to me the pressure one feels as they descend, the water has power and is pushing in on the divers skin; if not countered with pressure from within the diver, the water can and will crush them. So as divers descend to the deep, they must pause periodically to equalize the pressure. If they do not, they will experience severe pain, and their dive will end prematurely. So the diver must manage the pressure the waters are inflicting on them with the pressure they can build up on the inside of them. Likewise, when the diver is ascending from a deep dive, they must pause to equalize the lessened pressure on their body, or they will be in trouble with what diver's call the "bends" (also called decompression sickness). If not managed and attended to carefully, it can prove fatal. It is that serious --- the pressures from within and from without must be equalized --- or it can kill the diver.

The same is true with life on the surface. The pressures we feel, the weight of all that comes at us, well, it's more than our skin is equipped to hold up against. We sometimes foolishly think we are suppose to be strong and endure it on our own. After all, it seems those around us are managing it well. But in reality, we don't know what is going on inside their skin, we don't know if medications are needed in order to help them "get through the day". We don't know if their personal relationships are shattered or their physical health is suffering. No one, no one is immune to the pressure and no one, no one is equipped to handle it alone.

We need a God to counter the pressure. He knew we would need Him. He knew the pressure would be too great. He tells us He will carry our burdens, He will give us His strength, He will Shepherd us through the valley.
And so He gives us His Holy Spirit, to live within us, to counter the external pressure with His great, loving internal presence.

It's one of the reasons we can sometimes fall apart when we try and look at tomorrow and examine "how" we will ever manage it. We are equipped, with Holy Spirit presence to counter the pressure of today. Not tomorrow, not yet. We might imagine our "skin" in the tomorrows, and it all seems too heavy, too much, simply impossible. "How will I ever manage?", "How can we possibly?", "What will I do if?" These are weighty, heavy, unbearable pressures to look ahead to ---- because while you might try and imagine your "skin" there --- you can not factor in accurately the Holy Spirit pressure/presence that will be given to you THEN. We cave in on ourselves when we try and imagine ourselves there. But we can stop the madness, when we are tempted to worry over tomorrow ---- and remind ourselves that, God will be with us then. He is our loving Shepherd, He will know exactly how to maneuver through the terrain of tomorrow, if we simply obey Him today.

My skin is the boundary of me today. It's the line between the outside pressures and the inward countering of my Holy God. God can and will perfectly equalize the pressure placed on me, with His powerful presence today.
My skin will be the boundary of me tomorrow. God will be there as well.

Thank you God!

Luke 12:12 ..."for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."
Matthew 6:34  "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Act 1:8  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

(photo taken in Kenya of Maggie's hands and an orphaned child's hands by me)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pure white forgiveness...

My small part of the world is covered in white pureness. It’s mesmerizing. I know our friends to the north enjoy it every year, but for those of us in Georgia, this is a treat, a gift, a chance to think on things not so common to our world.

We might get a couple of inches of snow each winter --- not enough to cover everything. But this snow – has covered everything. And oddly enough, it has spoken to my soul.

And so as I woke yesterday morning, to this wintry world of white -- I pondered ---

The snow that covers the ground --- fell one flake at a time --- and blanketed the dirt of our little world with pure whiteness.

The blood of our Savior ---- fell one drop at a time --- and covered the sins of our lives with pure white forgiveness.

Oh how the pureness of the snow draws my soul to the purity of our Savior.

It doesn’t matter how dirty the ground is underneath the snow. Whether it’s slippery mud or rocky terrain – the snow has completely covered it.
It may be hard smooth concrete that is swept daily and kept clean by the sure wisp of a broom, still, the snow has covered it over.
It may be the dog’s favorite laying spot on the lawn, where he keeps his favorite chew toys and makes a mess of things, the snow has covered it over.
It may be the compost pile at the edge of the yard, where decaying foliage, broken eggshells, and rotting fruit peels are wasting away, the snow has completely covered it.

It’s a visual picture of the spiritual reality of our Father’s love for us isn’t it?

Mistakes made that left life in shambles, He covers them over with His grace.
Poor decisions that led to much pain, He covers them over with His love.
Dirty life messes made in our attempts to do it our own way, apart from Him -- He covers, forgives, and is even willing to restore, if we ask Him.

The snow covering my world this morning stirs my soul to thank my Abba. For yes, He is that mighty in my life. Where I have made a mess, He covers it with His goodness.
That does not mean the consequences vanish. No – the results of my choices must be dealt with. But instead, it means that Christ’s gift on the cross has saved me from paying the full penalty of my sins. Oh how undeserving I am. Oh how Holy He is.

Yesterday we went for a walk in the white wonderland.  I laid down in that beautiful snow ---- made snow angels --- and thanked my Father once again, for his pure white forgiveness. There’s something childlike and very right about laying in the snow, resting in it’s softness, facing the sky above --- laying in the white snow forced my eyes to look UP.

We grown-ups spend too much time looking around for something we think we need or looking down to watch where we are going. Looking for our keys, or shoes, or children, we’re so focused.  Yesterday the simplicity of laying in the pure white snow and looking up – gave new perspective. As I waved my arms and moved my legs in the powdery gift of whiteness, I stayed my eyes on what was above. And I felt like a child again ---- His child. It felt so right.

The snow --- fell one flake at a time --- and has blanketed the dirt with pure whiteness.

My Savior’s blood ---- fell one drop at a time --- and covered my sins with pure white forgiveness.

Oh how the pureness of the snow draws my soul to the purity of my Savior.

"Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Isaiah 1:18

(photo by Maggie, of one of Steve's doves)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Seeing God in ...

Isn't that the key?
Isn't that the only way to find meaning in the madness?
Isn't it the sweetest way to smother the moments between waking and sleeping?
To "see God".

It's become a sort of dance for me. A waltz. My eyes and ears take in what is around them as my feet move and my heart "sees". I've come to realize that I'm a bit of an odd bird really. So much of what is happening in front of me --- I totally miss. Those who live with me know it to be true. They can be talking to me, and know that I am just not there for a few moments. Frustrating yes. To them and to me actually. It's something I consciously try and manage --- to stay focused on what is necessary but still not miss the treasure that is exposing itself in the quiet corners of life.

For quite some time I allowed the frustration to overwhelm me. I wanted to be "present" fully for the conversation. And I would become so upset with myself when I realized I had trailed off on this "waltz" with God. But over the past months, I've come to accept it as a way I am being grown and trained. To love deeply, care intensely, attend to the details that matter, but not get engrossed in the whirl of words. After all - it's most important that I have a space open on my card for the waltz God might invite me to join Him on.

Here's an example. When I'm walking in the woods, I see God and hear His lessons to me in the trees. Their shape, leaves, bark, roots, proportion to one another, proximity to each other, even in the placement of where they will spend their life. It may seem nonsensical but it truly is not. For in all the details of the wordless tree, I can see and understand so many truths from God.
There is a lovely book in my head ----- all about the trees ----- and what God whispers to us in their silence. I've learned so much from the trees; their whispers say the same things to me as God's Word does each morning.
"Be still and know..." (a tree is a master at "being still" and when you look at it -- you know --- it knows something that can not be conveyed in words)
"I am the vine, my Father is the Gardener..."
"Love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, all your strength..."
"God made the earth by His power; founded the world by His wisdom; stretched out the heavens by His understanding..."
"...they stayed continually at the temple, praising God..."

(ever noticed how trees perpetually "praise God" with their limbs always raised high reaching for the Heavens...) I can learn much from God's trees.

In the waltz, I realize, God's profound patience. He is the beautiful Teacher. He repeats Himself over and over to me, and to you. He will send us His truths in the Bible, He will send us the same truths in the world around us too. Yes, God can, speak HIS truths even in the midst of this fallen world we live in.

The child that smiles sweetly as they pass by us on the street, the bird that sings loudly from the high branch of the tree, the sun that rises without fail each day, the mystery of the beating heart and breathing lungs. The vastness of the ocean and its rhythmic tides. God is speaking.
God wants to be seen.
God is constantly inviting us to know Him.

We simply must separate ourselves from the maddening activity ----- and waltz -- with HIM.

This year, I plan to dance more ------ and talk less.
May my dance card --- and yours ---- have open spaces in it ---- everyday.
We might just get asked ---- to dance.

"The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." Psalm 14:2
"God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." Psalm 53:2

"Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!" Psalm 66:5

(photo taken by Margaret Njoki, a precious child in Kenya as she walked with Steve - it's of a pathway between widows homes at the base of the Aberdare mountains) 

©2011 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe