A Way Through the Desert

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Eternal One: Don’t revel only in the past,
        or spend all your time recounting the victories of days gone by.
  

Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak,
        and you’re about to see it.

I am preparing a way through the desert;
    Waters will flow where there had been none.
   Wild animals in the fields will honor Me;
        the wild dogs and surly birds will join in.
    

There will be water enough for My chosen people,
        trickling springs and clear streams running through the desert.

(Isaiah 43:18-20 The Voice)

God makes a way –through the desert, through the valley, through the floods, through the fire, through depression.

Don’t stop now. Look for His way.

Higher

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It is in vain for man to endeavor to instruct man in those things which the Holy Spirit alone can teach.

— Madame Guyon

I had a dream a few years ago in which an angel came to visit me. I wasn’t frightened, just terribly curious because I couldn’t discern its gender. I kept looking surreptitiously for lumps or bumps under his/her/it’s loose garment that would give something away. It’s quite an unusual occasion, to say the least, to dream of seeing an angel and I wasn’t sure why he/she/it was there or what I was supposed to do.  Finally it dawned on me that I should do something hospitable and I offered to make tea.  I grabbed an old-style kettle with a long narrow spout and tried to fill it at the sink. The water from the faucet came out with greater water pressure than we had ever had before in that house. The hole in the spout was partially closed and I was having a difficult time filling the kettle through the tiny opening. Water was spraying all over the place.

My guest sighed.

“That,” he/she/it said. “That is the problem!”

“What is?”

“You are asking questions but trying to explain the answers to you is like filling a big kettle through a tiny hole. Take the lid off!”

Why didn’t I think of that?

“You have much to learn but answering your questions is like trying to explain the internet to someone who has never heard a radio, or a seen a light bulb. You need another way to take in information than the way you have been doing it.”

Then I woke up, confused of course, and feeling a little reprimanded – and questioning my sanity because I didn’t know how seriously to take a dream. But I had a sense this was a God-dream. What was I doing now and how was I supposed to do things differently to “take the lid off?” I could study harder, and sign up for another Bible study course! Then I realized that would increase the pressure, and my brain was not receiving it all anyway. I was still stuck in old thinking patterns.

I tried to imagine myself explaining my day to a great great grandmother who knew nothing of electricity or motorized vehicles. I started with the radio alarm going off in the morning and listening to a man hundreds of miles away read the weather forecast for the day and talk about the price of oil in Azerbaijan. Then I took some cooked quinoa from South America I had stored in the refrigerator and warmed it up with raisins from California and cinnamon from Sri Lanka (the old Ceylon, Grandma)  in the microwave for breakfast. While the coffee from Columbia was dripping into the carafe in the coffee maker I threw a load of laundry in the washing machine and tossed the wet clothes that had been there into the dryer…   It didn’t take long to realize that great great Grandma would have a lot of catching up to do. She would be amazed; she would be overwhelmed. I couldn’t explain it to her. She would have to spend time with me and learn about television remote controls and ignition keys and Google. I’m sure it would be disorienting, so maybe we would start with a light switch.

I have a lot of catching up to do. Sometimes my need for “prudent wisdom” is actually just the fear that the power of the deceiver is greater than the power of the One who gives the gift of wisdom. The result is narrow-mindedness.

Going higher means adopting a wider way of receiving than the physical senses can provide. It means opening up to the Holy Spirit in a way that does not require everything to pass through the tiny opening of mere scientific method and logic. It means knowing that some things can only be ascertained through spiritual senses (taking the lid off) and that requires spending a lot of time with Holy Spirit to learn his ways. If you don’t believe he exists, you won’t hear what he has to say or experience his input in understanding the scriptures or anything else. His ways will continue to seem strange — like explaining to a nineteenth-century person that using a “mouse” to move an arrow on a screen to click a publish button will allow people around the world read your words the same day.

We have not yet even begun to fully understand the basics, let alone imagine all that the Lord has for us.

But a person who denies spiritual realities will not accept the things that come through the Spirit of God; they all sound like foolishness to him. He is incapable of grasping them because they are disseminated, discerned, and valued by the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:4 The Voice)

Enter In

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The teacher asked us to reflect on what “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” means to us, then paint it.

This is not a detailed work of art. It’s a quick painting done during an evening of worship. As I thought about her question, this image is what came to mind.

I understand “repent” to mean change thought and direction.

The cross of Christ is the intersection where time and the eternal, and the physical and supernatural meet.

Jesus has broken every barrier down and his grace gives us the ability to change direction.

We enter everything God has for us — the Kingdom — through the cross.

From Heaven

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“Let all of God’s angels worship him.”

Regarding the angels, God says,
“He sends his angels like the winds,
his servants like flames of fire.”
(from Hebrews 1)

Other thirteen-year olds asked for the new Beatles album for their coming of age birthday gift. I asked for a recording of opera singer Joan Sutherland’s greatest hits. I’m sure it caused a few eye rolls in my country and gospel music loving family, but Grandma bought it for me anyway. I thought the singer’s voice was “angelic” although I’d never actually heard an angel sing. I could only play the record when no one else was around but I still managed to almost wear it out. Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim became one of my favourites.

Let the bright seraphim in burning row, their loud uplifted angel trumpets blow. Let the cherubic host in tuneful choirs touch their immortals harps with golden wires.

I could imagine myriads upon myriads of fiery angels singing and blowing brilliant trumpets that sent their sound spinning through the galaxies.

I am on a quest to understand worship. I don’t think I understand it yet. Okay, I know I don’t understand exactly what it is or the nature of its expression yet. It is going on non-stop in heaven as the angels and the elders and the creatures, overwhelmed with God’s majesty spontaneously bow before the Great Throne. What must it be like?

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels,

numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
(From Revelation 5)

One of the jobs of angels is to help us to worship. Somehow our worship is connected to theirs even though we can’t hear it all yet. It starts in the throne room in heaven.

I remember the chorus of a song my mother sang:

Holy, holy, is what the angels sing,
And I expect to help them make the courts of Heaven ring;
But when I sing redemption’s story, they will fold their wings,
For angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings.

I hit a milestone today. My 1001st blog post. I could thank my readers and post links to most popular past blogs, or discuss the experience of blog writing, but as I sit here at the end of a beautiful summer’s day preparing a post for the morning I find I have nothing profound to say. All I want to do is thank God for his goodness and for the hope that does not disappoint. I thank him for a blog on which to express praise that can be flung into cyberspace, if not the galaxies. Today I all I want to do is sing redemption’s story.

God is good. For some reason I will never understand, He loves me — and you. Any other thing I could celebrate pales in comparison.

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.

Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.

Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies…
(From Psalm 148)

Worthy is the Lamb.

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