The Lord is in This Place

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The sun was back yesterday. I left my work sitting on the desk and headed for the hills,  continuing my Kootenay back roads exploration. Half the leaves on the plum tree blew away during the night, reminding me we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

I am thankful for this day, these moments.

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As I stood on a road lined with colourful trees and listened to the birds and felt the refreshing breeze a song began to play in my head – This is My Father`s World. But not the first verse. A later verse. I still knew it!

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

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I guess the events of this past week with violence in Las Vegas and in my husband`s hometown of Edmonton, and the sadness of seeing people in positions of power who refuse to listen to each other were still heavy on my heart.

I looked up the lyrics to make sure I remembered them accurately and I was surprised to learn good old Maltbie Babcock wrote more verses than the ones I knew – the verses I sang in elementary school choir when such things were still allowed.

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This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

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This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

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Today I walked on holy ground in His Presence.

In His Presence. That`s where I belong.

Beauty and Time

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We’ve been overwhelmed with grief;
Come now and overwhelm us with gladness!
Replace our years of trouble with decades of delight!
Let us see your miracles again, and let the rising generation
See the glorious wonders you’re famous for.
Oh Lord our God, let your sweet beauty rest upon us, and give us favor.
Come work with us, and then our works will endure,
And give us success in all we do!
(Psalm 90:15-17 TPT)

Can I be honest? This has been a tough year for a lot of us. The details are not necessary. I find that listing them often leads to a you-think-that’s-bad kind of discussion, and your challenges are much more real to you than mine are. Let’s just say that for months I have not been able to get outside as much as I like to.  This week, in a lull between storms, I am making an effort to go to the places around our valley that refresh my soul.

Autumn is my favourite season in the mountains. I feel a bittersweet urgency to soak up as much colour as I can before the snow arrives. Yesterday beside the quiet turquoise water of a local lake I wanted to cry for the overwhelming beauty and the overwhelming sense that this time will soon pass — sooner for me since I face another surgery and hospitalization in two weeks and will be inside again.

The circumstances of my life this past year have made me aware of entropy and mortality and that most precious of entities – time. This week two events in which we were blessed with the gift of more time caught my attention.

One, which you may not be aware of (which is just as well) was another prediction of the end of time, supposedly on September 23rd.  It failed to materialize – or dematerialize depending on your eschatology. It would appear we have more time.

The other began with a phone call from my brother. His son was in an accident. My nephew’s neck was broken. Badly broken. Please pray. We prayed. Many people prayed.

I don’t know how my nephew managed to pull himself out of the wreckage with a shattered C7 vertebra without damaging his spinal cord and becoming a quadriplegic. I think that was the first miracle. I do know that I am deeply grateful to skilled surgeons and medical engineers, and the God who placed talent and drive in them to find solutions. They replaced his broken vertebra with an artificial titanium model, stabilized his neck with a plate, and twelve hours later he was walking. To me, that was the next miracle. He was given more time. He has grown up hearing the stories of what God can do, supernaturally and through people with skills. Now this young man of the next generation has seen them for himself.

Years ago, my uncle was teaching his fiancée to drive when they ended up in a similar roll-over. His neck was also broken. He died. My mother was a young teen at the time. Since she had no mother and her father was an alcoholic, her brother was one who cared for her. Her grief at his loss lasted a life-time. Knowing what could have been makes the gift of time for my nephew all the more wonderful.

I’ve seen miracles and I’ve seen tragedies. I’ve seen amazing fulfillment of promises and I’ve seen heart-breaking disappointment. I’ve seen the big C Church rise up in unity to be what she was called to be, and I’ve seen it drop down in petty conflicts and compromise with the world’s way of doing things to lose its influence for good. But I have seen enough to know there is more.

When I see miracles like my nephew walking or my friend’s marriage restored or lives changed when people realize how much God loves them, I know there is more. The church is not yet the glorious spotless bride of Christ ready for the wedding feast. I sense time passing and feel an urgency to be more than we have been.

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My prayer today is the same as the psalmist’s.

Let us see your miracles again, and let the rising generation
See the glorious wonders you’re famous for.
Oh Lord our God, let your sweet beauty rest upon us, and give us favor.

 

 

 

 

Look

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But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
that all who love your name may be filled with joy.

For you bless the godly, O Lord;
you surround them with your shield of love.

(Psalm 5:11,12 NLT)

When I looked out my window I saw a dull gloomy day. Landscape photographers are dependent on the weather. Fog and rain can make interesting lighting conditions but in the autumn when the trees are in colour I wanted bright light. I didn’t feel like it, I decided to go anyway. Once I was on the road I saw a small patch of blue in the sky to the north.

I simply followed the light and  came to the end of the road at a small lake at the foot of a mountain. I parked and waited, enjoying God’s presence and soaked in the warm breeze and the song of the birds.

Then the sun broke through.

Sometimes it takes some effort to follow the light and look for the positive and beautiful around us. I’m not ignoring alarming stories of fear and evil. I care very much. But when I stay in the gloom too long my eyes become dim. I stop looking to the horizon for hope and begin to add my own sad you-think-that’s-bad stories.

It’s not so much a matter of avoiding negativity as actively pursuing the positive – things for which we are thankful.

John, who recorded his experiences in the book of Revelation, began by saying he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day when he looked. And then he looked, and then he looked some more. Seeing things from God’s perspective requires active participation on our part.

For me on that day, hope started by getting out of the driveway, looking to the sky, and heading toward the light.

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Today

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It was a difficult time. There was nothing more the doctors could do for my friend. She surprised everyone by living a happy, healthy life ten years longer than the sell-by date first suggested by her most optimistic specialists. In fact, she outlived two oncologists. Now the third told her the cancer was back and he had nothing left to offer her that they had not already tried.

She holed up in her lovely house in the forest for a while, reviewing her life and faith and relationships. Then one day she phoned and told me she was coming over.

“Today I am not dead. Let’s enjoy it.”

She was my accompanist, a misleading term, really. She didn’t accompany me like the paid companion in Victorian novels. We were a duo. We gave most of our concerts for an audience of three – ourselves and God. We chose music we wanted to do. We challenged each other. We allowed the music to say what we could not.

For six months we made music, dropping the more evocative songs when they caused one or both of us to choke up. You can’t sing with a lump in your throat. She stopped me and said the reason she liked coming to my house was that it was one place where she didn’t have the burden of comforting other people. I saved my tears for later.

She wanted to go to be with Jesus. She was ready to go. She longed to go. She felt no shame in not wanting to fight anymore.

But she determined to not make a career of dying. “One day I will die,” she said, “But on the rest I will live. Let’s sing.”

Most of the trees in my neighbourhood are barren now, but up at the top of the street a weeping willow glows in the sunlight. I stood under its swaying branches enjoying every moment of golden beauty that surrounded me. It carried a familiar message.

Today I am not dead. Today I am alive. Let’s sing.

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