Trickle Down Word

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“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.

It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

    You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”

(Isaiah 55:8-12 NLT)

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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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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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Exuberant

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Our daughter needed to study calculus as part of her bachelor degree requirements. She liked math and was good at it so she happily signed up for the course. The problem was that the only class that fit into her timetable was the class her father taught. She had hoped to avoid that scenario, still being a teen and all.

One day she needed to ask a question about something she didn’t understand. Her father carefully explained the concept covering two blackboards with figures and diagrams, then turned and asked her if she understood.

“What? Oh…” she said looking up from the page she had been doodling on. “Um, sorry. I heard you go into your lecturing voice and I tuned you out.”

The students who didn’t know about their relationship gasped in shock. Those that knew the prof was her dad laughed.

This story came back to me today as I was thinking about relating to the many facets of God. Our daughter was relating to the man at the front of the class as the dad who had been responsible for setting limits through some chaotic years. In that moment she wasn’t relating to him as a valuable teacher and missed what he had to offer. (All was not lost. That was the year she gained respect for his skills and actually changed direction to become a math education major herself.)

Many metaphors describe the way God wants to relate to us; He presents himself as creator, king, father, bridegroom, shepherd, healer, provider, lamb, mother, brother, law-giver, judge, protector and many more. Someone once asked me, “Who does God want to be for you now?”

I didn’t understand the question at the time. God is God. Holy Other. Unchanging. There is no one like him.  What do you mean?

Since then I have come to know God as my loving heavenly father, Jesus as a brother and the Holy Spirit as a comforter. I’ve known him as a teacher and healer and encourager and even as an intimate friend who shares confidences. What I am still learning is how to be flexible when he wants to show me another aspect of himself.

Lately I have been spending time praying about some heavy matters brought to my attention. I feel privileged to be trusted, and I do remember praying “break my heart with what breaks yours,” but I’ve been feeling the weight of it lately. I know the joy of the Lord is my strength but I must have set it down somewhere and I’m having trouble remembering where I put it. Before I fell asleep I asked for an understanding of joy, because I don’t know how to make myself feel something I don’t feel.

It snowed last night. When I looked out my window this morning I saw the berries on the mountain ash tree covered with little tipped white piles of snow that looked like gnome hats. I ran out in my robe and slippers and took a photo, not caring what the neighbours digging out their vehicles thought. The mountain ash hats just looked silly. They reminded me of little red Smurfs. I smiled.

“There it is,” he said.

“There is what?”

“Joy. My joy. It’s been here all along. You just weren’t expecting it or looking for it.”

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I need to shift my thinking and learn to relate to God as someone who has tremendous joy in spite of seeing selfish people misuse their authority and abuse the vulnerable. He knows how all this ends, and it ends well.

I remembered a passage of scripture that talks about Jesus being exuberant and full of joy because of his Father’s plans. This scene happened after he commissioned 70 people to go out ahead of him and declare the kingdom of God by healing the sick and casting out demons.

The seventy came back triumphant. “Master, even the demons danced to your tune!”

Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

At that, Jesus rejoiced, exuberant in the Holy Spirit. “I thank you, Father, Master of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

“I’ve been given it all by my Father! Only the Father knows who the Son is and only the Son knows who the Father is. The Son can introduce the Father to anyone he wants to.”

(Luke 10 :17-22 The Message)

I put on my warm clothes and high boots and went out into the dazzling light of the day, plowing through white powder nearly up to my knees. I listened to the distant birds, and the babbling brook. I stood under showers of tiny diamonds as the snow crystals fell from high branches in the sunlight. Today I am learning who God wants to be for me now. Jesus is introducing me to a happy Creator – my strength and my joy.

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He Turned and He Heard Me

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Morning slunk into my bedroom with half-hearted grey clouds and a feeble effort at rain. The moisture in the air was thicker than fog, but lighter than a shower. I guess, like me, it felt ambivalent about working up the effort for a good cry.

I planned to take photos near Steamboat Hill when I got up. I even set the alarm. When there is no wind and the water is very cold in the early morning reflections of golden trees in the misty river can be stunning this time of year.

If the light is right.

It wasn’t.

The sound of wind-blown branches scratching against my window hinted that the water would be rough and the leaves could be skittering across the ground by now anyway.

I rolled over and checked out Facebook on my iPhone. People again alternately exalted and slimed each other and their chosen candidates in another country, the way they have for the past few months, only this time with more fear and desperation in their posts. I put it down and went back to sleep.

I’m not depressed. Just tired. Lately, I seem to have more than the usual number of challenges parked in the waiting room of my mind. Not being able to do anything – or, more accurately, not knowing what to do until more information is available – can be exhausting.

I waited impatiently for Wisdom to show up, but when she did she only said, “Wait.”

I remember long trips across the prairies in the back seat of my father’s Oldsmobile. We had sung all the songs, played all the games, eaten all the snacks, and still telephone poles filed past the rain-streaked window in an endless procession of minutes. No use asking Dad if we were there yet. He just turned his head and answered over his shoulder, “If you have to ask you have not arrived. Just wait. This will be good.”

So I wait.

snapdragons-ch-dsc_0017By ten I was dressed in a warm sweater pulled from the back of the closet where I optimistically stashed winter clothes one glorious day in the spring. Warming my hands with my third cup of coffee I went out on the deck to see if the flowers in big clay pots in the corner succumbed to the cold yet. Amazingly they still bloomed under the old blankets I throw over them at night. I pulled the covers back and they sprang back up.

The sky hung low and dull, but I noticed a patch of blue in the northeastern corner on the horizon. I decided to grab the camera and go. I needed to get out of the house. I headed toward the light.

Some place in this current spiritual landscape there is joy, there is peace, there is hope. I know it’s there, but sometimes I forget to look for it. I asked the Lord to help me find it.

The light began to shine through in sporadic rays sometime after I passed the appropriately named Bummer’s Flats. By the time I reached the bird sanctuary colours brightened.

At the rest stop on the other side of the bridge tourists marveled at sights I, as a local, have taken for granted. A young German couple parked their bicycles and spread their paper-wrapped bread and cheese feast on a picnic table. They sat facing the mountain ridge silently drinking cups of steaming coffee from a thermos as if they were absorbing a scene into mutual memory with every sip. Perhaps they plan on calling it up over the breakfast table when they have been married forty four years like us. An older couple stood on the bank of the river and reminded each other that these colours did not exist back home. I looked again with their eyes and saw joy.

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I stopped by the lake and there was my peace. It rested on the still water in the form of a dock. In the summer it rocks and slaps the water as children dive from it. I can still hear their calls echoing in the hot summer sun. Now their diving platform floated steadfast in stillness under stormy skies.

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You know you’re an introvert when your idea of a good time is when nobody else shows up for the party. The Lord and I had the entire beach to ourselves. The sun warmed my face, my hair, my hands. We walked along the shoreline.

Canada geese overhead were teaching their young how to fly in formation. Birds born this last year have no idea of how long the trip ahead of them will take, they only know they have the urge to prepare for something more than they have thus far known.

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I waited and waited for God. He turned and he heard me. He said, “Wait. This is going to be good.”

In the meantime I choose to be thankful for joy found in sojourners’ eyes, for peace found in mountain lakes, and hope in the wings of young geese eager to see the world.

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