Chasing God’s Reflection

And the happy life is this: To rejoice in You. To rejoice for you. To rejoice because of you. I say it again: Life is joy in You, who are the truth, O my God, the light of my soul, health of my body!

Those who think there is a different way to find a happy life are pursuing something quite different from happiness–how sad that they do not even realize it. It is true they will find some reflection of joy. But they will not find the true thing, and in the end they will be sadly disappointed, as I once was. Augustine, Confessions 10
I was thinking of the truth and beauty of Augustine’s words yesterday as I sat in the quiet. I was remembering Saturday night and how Elaine and I raced all over the golf course across the street looking for that perfect shot of the Big Moon……She was my human tripod. She calls herself my camera caddy. And she doesn’t mind a bit……As darkness closed in she said, “Let’s go and find the water so we can get a shot of the reflection.”
A bit further, and we found it. I balanced the camera on her shoulder and she clicked away on her IPhone……it was magnificent, and yet, it wasn’t the reflection itself that held us captive, it was what it was reflecting that continued to turn our eyes upward.
We can get so caught up in the reflection of God through all the wonderful things He has made that we can actually miss God Himself. Augustine was right. And yet, as Elaine pointed out, the fact that someone created all this times doesn’t factor in to many folks pattern of thought. Their minds don’t go there.
Why did I? Why did she? Why do any of us?
Therein lies the whole miracle of the conversion experience…….And how could I not be bursting with Gratitude each and every day. It humbles me to the point of silence…..
And He did it all for us, “See, what I made you……” Everything we see around us is a reflection of His love for us. His hope is that we will look just a bit further. To lift our eyes to Him so that we may not only know Him, but be One with Him through Jesus…..
My list continues……..Big beautiful moons that take the breath away……a garden springing to life……still cool mornings for which I am oh so grateful……a great follow-up conversation with our girl Heather…..another week to worship with the fellowship of believers…….another great lunch after church…..watching Mama feed her baby bird while taking a break at work……answered prayers as I looked back on my journal of two years ago……another day off! #877-887

We are smart, but God’s smarter

We do things in this building, and all others on our campus….fantastical things. Things never thought possible even 60 years ago. We create all sorts of wild imaginings and then put them into form. We think, “what if…..” And then we do it. That is, at least the creative brains do that. I am just a small cog in the wheel of technology….but I do my part.

And it all changes and grows so fast, that by the time a new process comes out, it is already outdated….
Considered obsolete.

People are creators because God made us that way….

All of us have that God spark that seeks to create because He put it in us.

But, with all this human achievement and rushing around, what we call progress; we still can’t even come close to making a moon or setting the stars in place.

Or calming the sea with a word.

We aren’t so smart…….
And as long as we have been alive, there is a danger, a temptation in worshiping that “created thing” instead of the One who put it all in motion to begin with. “And they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology! It has been my bread and butter for 16 years now and the industry has treated me well. I don’t feel as my Mom does, that computers are the Antichrist. But ever since the golden calf and before that, we have been tempted to put things in place of God.
The idols may change over the centuries, but the temptation is the same.
This whole train of thought started with the radio this morning. There was a discussion about our gadgets. The female commentator had left her IPhone home and was feeling a bit lost. I can relate to that. I never felt that way about a phone before I got mine. She further stated a quote attributed to Steve Jobs that said something like:
“When people can put their wedding pictures on their phone, they will be emotionally attached.” Or something like that.
She was saying that it troubled her a bit that she felt an emotion, an attachment, like something was missing because she didn’t have her phone. I can relate. I am ashamed to say I feel the same way.
She said all her friends were having a great time playing “Words with Friends.” She didn’t start it. She didn’t want to feel like she had to respond every time the phone dinged.
Well, I succumbed.
I started……I am addicted. And now I have to go.
It’s my move.
Maybe it’s time for a gadget fast.
Just after I play this word.

God Whispers Things

And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

Sometimes God whispers things in the dark and silent moments between breaths…..and prayers. I was feeling so dry this morning. As dry as toast. Hollowed out. Like someone took my dreams and hopes for the future and blew them away with a puff of air.
 
I know I have Heaven…….I know what awaits me is better than anything I can imagine. I have nothing but hope there. But I need hope now, and for the rest of my life. Hope that it will all work out. Hope to fill in the holes.
 
He whispered……..”Those holes and empty places you feel? That fear of the future? Those holes are all the better for Me to fill.”
 
Sometimes He does empty us out so He can fill us with Him.
 
The reason I know it was Him?
 

It was still
It was small
It was immediate
 
And it put my fears to rest……………..as only He can.

A repost from 2009……

Jeremiah 31:1-6
 

1 “At that time,” declares the LORD,
“I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people.”
2 This is what the LORD says:
“The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the desert;
I will come to give rest to Israel.”
3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
4 I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.
5 Again you will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
and enjoy their fruit.
6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out
on the hills of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the LORD our God.’ “

When I read Jeremiah 30-33 the compassion of God seemed to leap from the page this morning as I was reading in my “prayer closet” I selected just a portion above….when I think of how many times Israel turned their backs on God and yet, He reached out to them with hope and healing, longing for their restoration.
What are you exiled from today? A child, a church, God, a marriage, a friendship? It seems in life there are many forms of exile we face, but God seeks to restore us; always there is hope. Cling to His word, there is promise there.
I close with this verse, again from Jeremiah, 33:3….”Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things,which you do not know.”

The God Who Sees

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Genesis 16:13

El Roi…..The God who sees. One of the names of God. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a God who sees us? Who notices what we do?

We all want to be seen……be noticed. Even nature commands our attention……..

It invites us to look…..deeper. And it always points toward its Maker………the Grand Designer of us all.

Our God is the God who has searched us and known us……just as we want to be searched and known by others…..especially the ones we love.

Something in us wants to be remembered……..and we want others to remember the ones we have loved……even little cats spelled with a “K”

Few words this week folks…….one of those “treading water” weeks.

As timing would have it I came down with a killer cold the day before I got a new trainee at work. So I have been drugged up with Dayquil and fortified with Vitamin C during the day, and knocked out at night so I can sleep and get up by 4 am.

Two more days to go……God is good. He has kept me going. I can almost see the end of the week in sight.

Prayers please for my caregiving friend who just may head off to parts unknown really soon if she doesn’t get some relief……

all pics taken in and around Payson, Arizona by me

Nature as prayer……

In an interview with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Dan Rather asked her, “What do you say to
God when you pray?” She thoughtfully said, “I listen.” Flustered, he tried again. “Well, then what does God say?” Mother Teresa smiled…….”He listens.”

Yesterday I felt like the whole day was a prayer. God spoke through His creation once again……

……….and I listened. Nature speaks more clearly of God than anything else I can think of. If we only open our eyes and ears and let Him speak through it. So I give you some photos from yesterday’s trip north to a place I used to live.

The Psalmist wisely says……

“The Heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the works of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech…..

And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; where their voice is not heard.

Indeed, God has touched every last corner of the earth with His nature, and only the coldest heart is untouched by it…..

Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world…..

In them He has placed a tent for the sun.

It’s rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of the world.

Down to the smallest detail……..God has brushed our earth with His divine fingerprints. It is up to us to find His mark…..it is everywhere!
My soul exults. I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving once again for His marvelous works.

All pictures taken in and around Payson, Arizona and Tonto Natural Bridges State Park

Waking up in the Desert

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18,19

The rest of the world is tucking in……preparing for the winter,

enjoying things like crisp mornings and the smell of woodsmoke.
And hot cider.
The bloom of color on tips of leaves,
and the anticipation watching them twirl down…….
orange frost crunch underfoot, and
Pumpkins peek out from green patch along the country road to town.
In the desert we are just waking up again.
The barbeques come back out.
We scalp summer lawn down to bare dirt.
and Home Depot sells manure by the ton
as our desert turns golf green.
But……as I hang my fall foliage indoors,
Set ceramic pumpkins here and there….
Hang my wreath of Autumn on the door
and get out the harvest flag.
The joy of fall wiggles glad in my heart.
I remember it.
Flannel shirts…..
cracking walnuts with my Mom in the garage
I cracked and we both sorted.
I remember……cool mornings
bright maple leaves against brilliant sky.
Wind that bites.
And wood piled in the driveway.
As I plant my perennials out front in the warm sun
Fall is alive in my heart.
and for some reason I can’t stop singing.
Today I celebrate desert fall
Because God called it all good……
and it is.
Very good.
photos from google images

Evening walk

An evening walk among giants……

Cicadas were the symphony backdrop, with an occasional bullfrog and the sound of ducks splashing across the pond and dragonfly wings whirring overhead…..

Fall in the desert is a bit different……no evening chill yet, the heat of the day leaves reluctantly….it hangs on until the morning hours.
Two ducks heading to communal evening bath time
Still, we know that summer is coming to an end at long last. It is slow going, and yet when we get up and are greeted with the cool air that greets the morning,
we are graced with new life….
new hope.
By the time we headed back to the car, the mosquitoes were out in force…….
but we know that soon summer will lose it’s grip for good. Soon we will have the desert chill, and
fires in the firepit………hot drinks and
everything fall.

When the Desert Loves

As a pilot calls on winds and a storm-tossed mariner looks
homeward, so the times call on you to win your way to God. As
God’s athlete, be sober; the stake is immortality and eternal
life. St. Ignatius the God-bearer
I have never read much of the desert fathers (and mothers) but I understand the appeal the desert held for them. The desert has a way of calling to you after awhile. I never would have believed this, having been raised with weekends on the Pacific coast and the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range. These call too, very loudly……..it is easy to see God there because the grandeur of that beauty speaks with a megaphone.
The desert is big sky………and filled with remote and lonely places that only the cry of the coyotes fill.
And the desert is fierce and moody and relentless. At once brutal, so hot you can feel it in your eyeballs, and powerful and violent as the thunder rolls, the lightening flashes against the backdrop of eerie sky sending both human and animal alike running for cover as the hardened ground fails to contain the water that pours out of the sky in sheets. The wind blows and the dust swallows everything in its path. I challenge anyone to doubt God in a desert thunderstorm.
You feel the fierceness of the relentless heat like the Old Testament’s descriptions of God’s wrath in the summer time. You think you will never get through its oppressive agony. It is merciless, the way it beats down on you, month after month.Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God……. Then just when you think you can’t stand one more minute…….that He may exalt you at the proper time…..1 Peter 5:6
And then…….miraculously.
It cools. You feel the release of its grip like the whisper of God’s mercy. You walk outside and you realize something monumental has happened, something wondrous. It is the desert waking up…..The hope of that awakening is something a non-desert dweller could never understand.
We rejoice because we have made it through to the other side. It’s a bit like rebirth……Doors and windows are once again thrown open, and new life begins once more.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:12 
I open the screen door for the first time today….Hallelujah!

The Human Condition

I was swept along by a terrible dust storm last night after fighting through my 12 hour shift with a head cold. I was literally running down the hall trying to make it to the bathroom to the kleenex box by days end. Then, I had to go back in after I got all the way out to my car because I forgot something in the fridge at work. Part of dinner, actually. The picture above is one that was posted all across the country after our “big” storm on July 5th. I found it on a Google search, and it turns out this one came from “The Ecuador Times,” of all places!

Last nights storm wasn’t nearly as bad since I did have visibility on the freeway, but you have to be aware of debris hitting you. Birds were trying to fly and being carried off course….and when I was almost home I noticed a dust cloud, we call them “dirt devils” touching down on the freeway, right in my path. I watched the other cars (Yes, I realize this is faulty logic) as they cautiously drove through, and so I figured it was safe enough for my little bug, which holds the road like a tank. I gripped the wheel, all the while visualising my bug and me being sucked up into the vortex like Dorothy.

Once on the other side of that, the rain started along with the wind……along with a healthy amount of lightning striking all around. Meanwhile, I had used the last of my Kleenex and was resorting to my sleeve to catch drips….Ughhhh!

I looked to my left off the freeway and noticed smoke. I followed it down to ground level and it led to flames which were shooting through the roof of a house! I could see them even from the freeway. I assume it was started by the lightning. I could see the lights of Emergency vehicles already on the scene. I said a silent prayer, hoping that all had gotten out safely.



I was starting to feel like I was driving home in the middle of a disaster movie!

I thought of it all, the little and big things we go through in a day and how much of it would really matter if someone told me I was terminally ill. I also thought that I would probably treat the people in my life better if I were terminal. See things a bit differently.

So many times I feel like a kid trying to work up tears when I commune with God and tell Him I’m sorry for mistreating one of His people. I want to be so sorry that it motivates me to change…..Sackcloth and ashes kind of sorry. The kind that leads to repentance and doesn’t ring hollow.
This is the human condition. The thing we all have in common. And the things that we have in common, also have the power to bring us closer together.
Help me Lord, to treat my friends, my family, myself better. To treat my friends like treasure instead of trash, knowing that each one you brought into my life, you brought there for a reason. Help me to love more. Turn my heart of stone into one of flesh. Help me to treat others as better than myself and to not be afraid to be honest. To myself, and others and You. And help me to remember that we are all weathering storms of some kind, help me to be sensitive to that and keep my heart ready to listen. Amen