The Sun is Coming Back!

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I picked up a nasty case of the flu this week. My health has improved so much in the last few years that I am rather impatient with illness now. I’m reminded of what life used to be like when I just accepted sickness as “God’s will for my life,” never considering that maybe it wasn’t.

I used to take pride in myself as an overcomer, pushing through pain to accomplish something greater than expected – under the circumstances. Then one day, after someone asked what it would cost me to be well, I realized an overcomer needs things to overcome to preserve their reputation. I was subconsciously creating a place for chronic sickness as part of my identity. Quite frankly, I enjoyed a lifestyle that drafted caretakers and gave me an excuse to remain uncommitted to future projects. I was insulted by the question, but oh, it was a good one. That was a humbling moment.

Am I a healthy person now? Healthier, yes, but I still wait on the Lord for a number of things that are still disordered. But I’ve passed the postulated sell-by dates more than once and have seen some chronic conditions go away. In November hearing loss in my left ear was restored after kind people prayed for me. (Thank you, Lord!) Now it’s wonky again because of a block of mucous that feels like it takes up more space in my head than my brain, but this too shall pass.

I was thinking about set-backs and the number of dear people I know who have felt the disappointment of set-backs in all sorts of areas in this past year, or even this past month. Then I decided to come against the woe-is-me stuff in a different spirit. I started thinking about gains for which to be thankful.

Here’s one. I just checked. Since December 21st the valley has gained 9.13 more minutes of sunlight a day. For me that’s like the Dow Jones surging upwards for ten days straight.

I’m recycling a photo today because I haven’t been outside for a while. But hey, the sun is coming back, and I rejoice in hope.

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Yes, She Knew

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I love the song, Mary Did You Know? I was thinking about how much Mary knew as I wondered and wandered out in the valley with it’s traffic-muting hush of new fallen snow.

I also love The Magnificat, Mary’s prophetic response of praise after her cousin, Elizabeth gave her prophetic confirmation:

You are blessed, Mary, blessed among all women, and the child you bear is blessed!  And blessed I am as well, that the mother of my Lord has come to me!  As soon as I heard your voice greet me, my baby leaped for joy within me.  How fortunate you are, Mary, for you believed that what the Lord told you would be fulfilled.

Mary responded with her own prophetic declaration:

My soul lifts up the Lord!

My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!

For though I’m God’s humble servant,
God has noticed me.
Now and forever,
I will be considered blessed by all generations.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
holy is God’s name!

From generation to generation,
God’s lovingkindness endures
for those who revere Him.

God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.
The proud in mind and heart,
God has sent away in disarray.

The rulers from their high positions of power,
God has brought down low.
And those who were humble and lowly,
God has elevated with dignity.

The hungry—God has filled with fine food.
The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.

To Israel, God’s servant,
God has given help,

As promised to our ancestors,
remembering Abraham and his descendants in mercy forever.
(from Luke 1 The Voice)

Did Mary know?
She knew.

Elizabeth knew too. These two women had a greater understanding of God’s magnificent plan than the religious specialists around them. In the Christmas story God spoke through women as well as men and angels.

He still does.

A song of joy, great joy:

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And We Beheld His Glory

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I prayed that God would show me his glory. I prayed and prayed for both an intellectual and experiential understanding of glory. “Show me!” I cried.

He did. He showed me a child, a child born to parents who were told they could not conceive a child. Shortly after that I read an explanation of God’s glory. It is however he chooses to express himself (I believe it was Paul Manwaring who wrote this.)

I wonder sometimes if God is setting us up when we continuously look for the grand and he responds with the simple. He has done it over and over again. Through his prophets he said, “Expect something really, really big. Your Anointed One is coming!”

What could fit our image of a mighty delivering King less than a helpless newborn baby? The book of John explains to us in the first chapter who he was.

So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw his splendour (the splendour as of a father’s only son), full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 Phillips)

This baby was The Word, the Voice that spoke all into being.

But not everyone recognized this marvelous gift to the world, even when he grew up and told them.

That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world. He came into the world—the world he had created—and the world failed to recognise him. He came into his own creation, and his own people would not accept him. (John 1:9,10)

Mary caught a glimpse of the Kingdom and the way God works when she exalted him with her prophetic song of praise which said, in part:

He has shown the strength of his arm, he has swept away the high and mighty. He has set kings down from their thrones and lifted up the humble. He has satisfied the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away with empty hands. (Luke 1:51-53)

God’s ways have often been to do the unexpected, to choose to work through the humble, the broken, the underdog, the less-than-mighty. Jesus himself danced with joy when he saw how his Father chose to express his glory through the seventy ordinary folk Jesus ordained to go ahead of him, healing the sick and casting out demons.

At that moment Jesus himself was inspired with joy, and exclaimed, “O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, I thank you for hiding these things from the clever and the intelligent and for showing them to mere children! Yes, I thank you, Father, that this was your will.” Luke 10:21-22

I read a prophecy the other day which said, essentially, “Expect great things in the coming year. Prepare to be surprised!” My tendency (after overcoming some skepticism) is to say whoo-hoo and prepare to look for the grand, the spectacular, the really big show. The surprise could be a a mass choir of shining angels, but I need to remember it could just as easily be a scruffy child with a lunch of buns and fish – or a baby born to a couple who were told they could not have a baby.

I don’t know what the Lord’s provisions for us in the coming year will look like. This I do know, they will be full of grace and truth, because that’s who he is.

And, if we pay attention and stay humble, we will see his glory. Expect the unexpected.

But Jesus, knowing what they were arguing about, took a little child and made him stand by his side. And then he said to them, “Anyone who accepts a little child in my name is really accepting me, and the man who accepts me is really accepting the one who sent me. It is the humblest among you all who is really the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48

May we become like little children. May we never lose our wonder.

Branch

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But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising,
will sprout from Jesse’s stump;
A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit.
And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.

By the Spirit of wisdom and discernment
He will shine like the dew.

By the Spirit of counsel and strength
He will judge fairly and act courageously.

By the Spirit of knowledge and reverence of the Eternal One,
He will take pleasure in honoring the Eternal.

He will determine fairness and equity;

He will consider more than what meets the eye,
And weigh in more than what he’s told.
So that even those who can’t afford a good defense
will nevertheless get a fair and equitable judgment.

With just a word, He will end wickedness and abolish oppression.

With nothing more than the breath of His mouth, He will destroy evil.

He will clothe himself with righteousness and truth;
the impulse to right wrongs will be in his blood.

(Isaiah 11:1-5 The Voice)

Re-gifting and Re-joicing

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“It’s pretty and all, Lord, but I miss the flowers,” I told God while out on a walk in the winter garden. Then I walked past this cluster of snow flowers and felt him smile. It was as if he was saying, “Here ya go!” I smiled back and thanked him for the gift.

I took a photo and now I pass it on to you. My gift to you.

I love getting gift cards for Christmas, especially for coffee shops. One day I was with a friend who was popular among the many families she worked with. She collected a pile of gift cards on her desk in the days before the holiday. Then I saw her do the most surprising thing. She took a some of the cards, re-wrapped them and wrote other names on them.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Re-gifting,” she said. “I have been given so much I just want to share. These are going to people who live alone or just need some cheering up.”

Today I was reading about the fruit of the Spirit and how joy comes from God because he delights in us. He is the source of joy. Re-joicing is like re-gifting. It is taking from the abundance of God’s delight and giving back to him as well as to others.

The good news of Jesus Christ is a gift of abundant love, joy, and peace. Pass it on.

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What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

(Romans 8:31, 32 NLT)

Just ask.

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