If a little flower could speak, it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals, or the storm bruised its stem, if it knew that such were not the case.
-Therese of Lisieux
Humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us. No more. No less.
What image could possibly describe something so unique –so holy– as the concept of oneness and perfect unity? “Holy” means set apart. God is holy. The only God. Wholly other. Unique. One.
As I meditated on this I kept going back to the source of all life, the moment when God, in perfect unity, spoke, “Let there be light.”
If we can’t fully understand the power of perfect unity in the Godhead, how can we understand how One so holy makes it possible to be in Christ and He in us? What kind of power is released when we are perfectly aligned with him and therefore with others who live and move and have their being in the Three-in-One?
It’s a mystery.
Any single image will be totally inadequate, but I thought about light and refraction and how prisms show us the diversity of colours within light. The sun shining on crystal in a local shop window display caught my attention. Many facets, one Light.
“I am not praying only for these men but for all those who will believe in me through their message, that they may all be one. Just as you, Father, live in me and I live in you, I am asking that they may live in us, that the world may believe that you did send me. I have given them the honour that you gave me, that they may be one, as we are one—I in them and you in me, that they may grow complete into one, so that the world may realize that you sent me and have loved them as you loved me.” – Jesus, recorded by John the Beloved in chapter 17 of his record of life with the One in human form, Phillips translation
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 96:11-13 NIV
Rejoicing seems counterintuitive in a world where nothing seems certain, where everything is changing, where good is called evil and evil good. The darker things become, the more people fear the unfamiliarity of light.
John the Beloved wrote in the introduction of his book about the life of Jesus Christ on earth, that Jesus was the Light. He also wrote that, faced with the light, many people preferred darkness, because they clung to their false comforts, self-serving actions, and mindsets that didn’t include God.
Rejoicing, giving thanks, and worshipping the Creator turns our eyes on the One who loves perfectly, the One who is faithful and gives grace extravagantly.
We often think judgment means only condemnation. Of evil, yes, but judgment also means assessment, reward and/or redirection. Christ came to bring life, abundant life, and to re-set our fear-filled mindsets to peace and joy in restored relationship with our heavenly Father.
I saw the sun shining through a flowering bush in my garden that has suddenly woken to life in this new season. My soul rejoices in the God of creation who makes all things new. He comes to show us a better way, a brighter way, a beautiful way.
It’s a new day. It’s a new era. Can you see it?
“And though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” ( from This is My Father’s World by M.D. Babcock)
I haven’t even tidied this corner of the garden yet. With other projects demanding attention, I’m late with weeding and clean-up. And yet here they are, my faithful, happy harbingers of joy, unpainted fence and plastic detritus notwithstanding.
Leopard’s bane are called perennials because they come back again and again, year after year, without me having to do anything. They are also called “bane” because they were thought to be a threat to threats. Joy as a threat. I like that.
As I downloaded photos today I thought about faithfulness. Faithfulness is one of the attributes of God that he has been emphasizing to me when I ask the question, “Who do you want to show yourself to be for me in these current circumstances?”
It is easier to go through a crisis on your own than to see your children and grandchildren face challenges. We can read about God’s faithfulness, but when we experience God’s ways of bringing us to experiential knowledge of that faithfulness, our relationship with God deepens and becomes our own. My mother’s years of experiencing God’s keeping power through pain meant nothing to me until I heard him sing over me during long dark sleepless nights.
She had her relationship and I have mine. Now I am watching my children and grandchildren discover for themselves that he reveals who he wants to be for them. As I pray for them, I’m learning to stand in the gap without standing in the way.
God is good. Perennially. And not just for me.
Your faithfulness flows from one generation to the next; all that you created sits firmly in place to testify of you.
Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection.
Made for joy, we settle for pleasure.
Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance.
Made for relationship, we insist on our own way.
Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.
But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise.
Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world …
That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.
Hiking – I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word.
Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers.
Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
The mountains are my Holy Land. I go there to pray and rest in the presence of the Lover of my soul. It’s holy because He is holy.
The Lord laid the earth’s foundations with wisdom’s blueprints. By his living-understanding all the universe came into being. By his divine revelation he broke open the hidden fountains of the deep, bringing secret springs to the surface as the mist of the night dripped down from heaven.
That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning.
All creation took place through him, and none took place without him.
In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind.
The light still shines in the darkness
and the darkness has never put it out.
(John 1:1-5 Phillips)
I’ve heard that glory is however God chooses to express himself.
When the light of Jesus shines in dark places, when forgotten dreams and shattered hopes spring to life, when love flickers in a heart grown cold, when the beauty of creation glows in unexpected places, he is showing us his glory.
“If a man just stops to think what he has to praise God for, he will find there is enough to keep him singing praises for a week.”
-Dwight L. Moody
Two years ago the leaves on our double flowering plum suddenly started shriveling up. Within a week most of them had fallen off. Many of the trees on our street suffered the same fate. Leaf miner bugs staged an invasion while we were out on the porch enjoying our ice tea.
We sprayed and fertilized and watered, but it was too late. It was a sad sight. On her way to her car after a visit, my friend Rhonda stopped and held the tip of a barren low-hanging branch in her gentle hand. I knew she was praying for the tree’s recovery. Rhonda is sensitive to nature. She could feel the tree’s pain and she had compassion.
Last spring the tree sprouted leaves, but there were no blossoms. My husband suggested cutting it down, but I couldn’t bear to let go as long as long as it still lived. I pruned it back and fertilized hoping for revival even as more leaves browned and blew away.
This morning as I look out the window above my desk, branches decked in beautiful pink blossoms wave in the breeze. I can’t see them hiding in there, but I can hear the birds singing. Buzzing bees don’t even trigger my fear of them because they are far too busy with flowers to notice me.
The thirty-five-year-old double flowering plum made a dramatic comeback this spring. We marvel in the show because we feared we had lost her.
This week also marks the fourth anniversary of our son-in-love returning home from the hospital. He was miraculously healed after doctors gave him a 0% chance of survival from flesh-eating disease. We thought we had lost him too. But God had other plans, and we still marvel.
To be honest, this has been a year of set-backs. Half of our house is still uninhabited and awaiting restoration after heavy snow-melt floods destroyed the renovation work barely finished. Just when I thought my nagging health issues had finally been dealt with, the tests say ‘not so fast.’ This will require more treatment and more recovery time.
You may be in a season of hope deferred as well.
One thing I have learned in my life: Complaining attracts spiritual forces who are quite willing to help you with dismal projections and align to undermine hope. Praise attracts the angels who live in the atmosphere of worship of the God of Love. They align to bring about God’s purpose – reconciliation between the Father and humankind and restoration of all creation.
Today the plum tree is vibrant with petal colour and birdsong and the hum of honey-makers. Today I have a reminder right outside my window that God is still in the restoration business and there is always, always something to be thankful for.