My Trinity in the Sky

“The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky displays what His Hands have made.”

Psalm 19:1

Today was a rough day.   Disappointments seemed to be having a party, and I was the honored guest.  I would have much rather not been invited!

I decided to just get out and take a drive, ending up in  my son’s driveway, facing a beautiful sunset.  For some reason, watching sunsets over the fields  surrounding his home are unusually lovely, and seem to last a long, long time.  The clouds far across the fields hold the light and colors for almost an hour, subtly changing as the light slowly moves beyond the horizon.

I simply watched for a long time.  In the past, I have tried to capture the sunsets there on my phone’s camera.  But the colors never look as beautiful on the photo’s as they do to my watching eyes.  Mesmerized by the changing beauty, my thoughts were also focused on some disappointments today, and my sadness of handling life on my own for the past few years.

After watching for a long time, I got out of my car and  looked at the surrounding skies.  While I had been focused on the beautiful, moving sunset, I hadn’t realized that behind me was a huge full moon, softened by a hazy glow.  Looking back to the colorful sunset, and then at the beautiful moon, the double display seemed to be suspended.  I sensed God’s Spirit’s whisper….

“I Am here.  I was with you in all those disappointments today.  You have been watching what I can do with everyday air…every day, whether you are watching or not.”

“And with a simple turn of your head, you see the beauty of the moon… reflecting the Sun’s light all night long.  In the darkness of Life, the blackness of night, I extend My Light.  It is how I bring the sun’s powerful light into a gentleness through which you can sleep.”

 Then, I heard an unexpected sound to the north, many miles away on my right.  Fireworks!   Some small country town was having their celebration a day early.  The loud, powerful explosions of earth-bound sparkles and colors had joined the celebration taking place in the heavens.  All three were happening at the same time.  I was surrounded!   I sensed God’s un-capturable and indescribable, lasting Presence in the sunset, creating beauty “out of thin air.”   Then the soft, gentle glow of the full moon gave it’s peaceful comfort in the darkness, where fears lurk and thoughts trouble.  In the fireworks was a happy celebration as He dances over us in Love.

I had been given a glimpse of His Heart for me:

Beauty in the fading light of day…

His gentle Peace  reflected even in the darkness of night,

and the Joy He gives as He dances over me.

He surrounds me with His Love.

Show and Tell!

“The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky displays what His Hands have made.

One day tells a story to the next.

One night shares knowledge with the next.”   

Psalm 19:1-2

Did you realize how much celestial communication is going on all around us . . . day and night?

We’ve got the heavens shouting about God,   the sky showing off His artistry,

Each day telling stories of its day to the next,

And each night passing  to the next night all that it knows!

And I’ve just been enjoying looking at the moon, stars, clouds and birds!  (with thoughts of  how it might affect my plans…)

Our world is full of people who wish they could know God….hear from Him,  understand Him.   We tend to point people to read, or study, or take in written and spoken words to gain knowledge and understanding of God.   All of that is good.  Helpful. Enlightening.

But God has also designed a way of communicating beyond spoken and written language.  It’s something that is  accessible to every human being on this globe.  If we only focus on words, we are missing a galaxy of communications that God set in place to help us know Him.

So the next time you are thinking about God, or wondering about what is happening on this earth, or are struggling with questions about life, don’t forget to step outside . . . day or night . . . and look up.  Listen to the Conversations going on in the Heavens.  It may not involve spoken or written words.

It may simply go straight to your heart.

 

 

The Song

“No one could learn the Song

Except the 144,000

Who had been redeemed from the earth.”

Revelation 14:3

I have always loved music.  My mom often had music playing at home, and drew my sisters and I into singing and piano lessons.  It has always been a major part of my daily life,  surrounding myself with classical music, preferring instrumental over words.  It is a beautiful cushion of sound day and night.

Songs have been written throughout the ages, throughout the earth, throughout the nations and peoples who have walked Earth throughout Time.   Languages, melodies, rhythms, expressions, and sounds as varied as the people and places from which those songs have come, have covered the world, impossible to number.

But there is one Song yet to be sung.  It is “The Song of the Redeemed.”

The Song:

  • Is not written, not studied, nor learned from listening;
  • The Song begins when the unimaginable happens….at first it begins as a Whisper in the darkest night. . .
  • It comes unexpectedly . . .
  • It cannot be copied, or recorded, or planned.
  • The Song comes from deep within….from the Spirit of God into the heart of the crushed,…devastated….when all that was is no more.
  • When the Life that was has ended, or becomes a mere shadow, the whispered Song begins…
  • It flows quietly, no words necessary, out of the shadows of the broken heart.
  • Without any score nor recording to follow, the Melody begins to trickle from the wounds deep inside…inexplicably….quietly.….awakening New Life from the depths of mourning.
  • You will meet a stranger and detect the Song in them. There is no explanation, except that it has been written with the Pen of deep sorrow…sorrow that has somehow become unexplained Hope.
  • It is God’s Song . . . Who Was, Who Is, and Who forevermore shall Be.

His Spirit has come.  The Song is there.  We are learning to sing.  And someday, when we see Him, the Great Choir….all those who have been redeemed throughout Time….will assemble, each one singing their own unique melody and words. And as the Song of the Redeemed swells, all the Universe will begin a New Day, which will last for eternity.

 Inspired by and Borrowed from George Matheson (1842-1906)

Scottish Preacher, Author, Hymns Composer

Echo

Come.  Follow Me.”

Mark 1:17 

Think of a time when you heard an echo.  Maybe you were in the midst of mountains.  Maybe you were on a quiet lake.  Wherever it was, it probably stopped you…grabbing your attention…and fascination.

How often do little kids “echo” what they hear.  It’s usually delightful….not exactly what the original was, but recognizably an echo.  But it can also be embarrassing.

An “echo” involves an original sound, which travels to another surface, causing the sound to bounce in other directions, extending far beyond the original.

Jesus, while on this earth, created an original Sound….”Come, Follow Me.”  It began with one listener, then repeated to more and more listeners, and went on to echo throughout Time…generations, nations, and worlds.  It continues to echo globally….one hearer at a time.

An Echo is not selective about the hearer.  Anyone who is listening can hear that simple invitation. . . whether an echo through sound, or written words, or through the life of anyone who has heard the Echo and chosen to not simply absorb the Sound, but reflect it.

From the time I was a little girl, I heard the simple Message, “Come… follow Me.”  It echoed through the lives of my parents, my grandparents, and many, many people who passed through my life.  But some of the most amazing Echo experiences have been when I’ve heard the Echo reverberating from the lives of people with whom I don’t even share the same language…yet their lives echo the Spirit of God that carried the Sound to their hearts.

I want to be an Echo. . . simply reflecting what came to my ears and went to my heart.   Not complicating or changing the Sound…not muffling it…not selective of who, when, or how the Echo catches their attention.  May the delight of that Sound be reflected  . . . echoed . . . through my life to the world around me.

Holding Hands

“Yet, I am always with You. You hold on to my right hand.”

Psalm 73:23

One of the most basic contacts between two human beings is the simple act of holding hands.   Putting words to that simple action creates quite a list:

  • I want you to be near me
  • Stay close to me
  • I like you
  • I love you
  • I want you to be safe
  • I want to know you are there
  • I don’t want you to step into danger
  • I want to be connected with you
  • I want you to be connected with me
  • I want us to “be” together
  • I want to keep you away from harm
  • I feel close to you . . . etc.

The writer of this Psalm verse is talking to God.  He had been regretfully describing actions that were far from proper, kind, loving, or cooperative.  He had made choices that were quite out of control, foolish, and just plain wrong.

As a mom of 3 boys, I can relate to the importance of “holding hands” with them.  With one, especially, it equated with keeping him alive.  He was so challengingly active that I actually tried one of those safety “leashes” while walking through a crowded Mall.  I had clipped the end of it to his pants, and  I held the “retractable” handle.  We practiced walking together before going into the crowded main foot-traffic area.

But as soon as we headed down the wide, crowded mall, ( about 5 seconds!) he had successfully wrapped his coiled “leash” around a lady stranger with whom he became immediately closely acquainted.

Back to the hand-holding for us!

In the part of the world where the Bible stories took place, the “right hand” is more honorable.  It’s the “clean” hand reserved for human – to – human touch.  The writer had obviously been making wrong choices and failing in relationship to God.  Yet, God was still there.  Still near. . . near enough to take him by the hand….by the right hand. Not in a shaming way, but in an honorable way.  Not in a frustrated way….or a “power” way….nor with a sense of discipline or punishment.

Rather, God initiates and takes hold of his hand. . . mercifully, kindly, honoringly….to bring him near so they can walk together without shame or distance.

This will be a walk that’s not just for a moment, not just to cross a road or to avoid danger.

This walk will be for always.

 

 

 

 

IN THE NIGHT

“All that night the Lord drove the sea back.”  

Exodus 14:21

I don’t usually think of “the night” as my favorite time of day.  I love the “sleep” part (though that is not often successfully accomplished.)  It’s often the time when worries and fears surface in the quiet darkness.

But God created night time just as intentionally as day time.  Since He never sleeps,  He’s got it covered.

I try to imagine the nation of not-so-recently freed slaves – God’s People who had spent 400 years as slaves to Egypt.  They were only days away from that dark period in their history  when they came face to face with the Red Sea.  Everybody was there….old, young, babies, sick people, animals, and all the stuff they could grab and carry in their rushed departure.

Pharoah’s highly-tuned, VERY powerful army was at their back, headed full-bore to wipe them out on the shores of the sea.

Then, God said (through Moses), “Go!”  As one brave man took his first steps into the water, the Sea moved to the side, until every last Hebrew slave had reached the other shore.  It took all night.  But God was there, actively providing a safe road along the bottom of the Red Sea.  When the last foot stepped onto the shore, God let go, perfectly timed to take out every enemy soldier, horse and chariot, soon buried on the bottom.

God was there, on active Guard duty, until His people safely stepped onto their new Path into the future.  All night.  No one was checking out the strength of that Wall of Water, nor calculating safety factors, nor referencing any “wall-building” blueprints, nor setting up “fleeing plans.”   God, via Moses, said “GO!”  And He did the rest.

God has a loooooong His-story of working in the night.  The darkness of night is often where the Enemy of our Souls tends to work overtime.  He likes darkness.  It’s his favorite domain.

But God is there, quietly holding back the darkness.

Advice of a Wild Man

“Be happy in your confidence,

be patient in trouble,

and pray continually.”  

Romans 12:12 

Paul, in my opinion, was a wild man.  He was straightforward,  brutally honest at times, passionate, and literally all over the map.  He didn’t do anything half-way, but threw himself fully, tirelessly, into whatever was on his heart and had captured his attention.  I have met a few of those in my lifetime.  Fun to watch, but can be exhausting to live with.  😉

 Back to Paul, considering how extremely active he was in carrying the Good News to many nations, he has boiled down priorities of living  Life to a few points:

  • “Be happy in your confidence”… Paul was in the middle of the Roman-occupied world, with its brutal, arrogant power on earth at that time. Rome had taken over his own country, especially thriving on brutalizing those who worshiped Jesus, Whom they had literally crucified.   Paul was addressing Romans who had become followers of Jesus at great risk of their lives.  For Paul to have and encourage “confidence” within that setting is incredible!
  • “Be patient in trouble.” …  Imagine what “trouble” looked like, not only for Paul, but for all those Roman Believers living in the center of a powerful nation that was actively trying to wipe Christ-followers off the earth. As I write this, my own world is in the middle of a pandemic that has changed everything. . . our world, and life as we’d known it.  “Be patient,” he says.  That’s tough.  We are having a very tough time being patient to  follow a new way of life for only a few months…

For the past 21 years, I have been privileged to personally watch a living example of a small nation (the Saharawi people) living under the effects of a conquering nation, as Rome was to Israel.  Brutally forced from their homes by an enemy nation, they have somehow retained their dignity, kindness, and integrity in spite of all they have suffered.  To be patient through a season of life is difficult.  But to be patient under decades of suffering, especially as the world looks away, is  extraordinary. 

Paul had grown up under Rome’s occupation of Israel and knew the powerful effects of that kind of experience.

  • “…and Pray continually.” We have troubles that  we cannot fix.  They’re beyond our control.  Paul has nailed the only absolute action we can take in the midst of the kind of “trouble” far beyond our repair.  It requires looking to God…    It means pouring out our hearts to Him, and humbly asking Him to step into the situation with us.  It means giving up our own control, and choosing to trust Him.

Paul could have had a very different life.  He had gained “success” in his nation.  Fame, respect, strong leadership, prominence, power, and all that comes with such a life was part of Paul’s story.

But after being literally “knocked off his high horse” when he encountered the resurrected living Jesus, all of that changed.  His new-found confidence in Christ became his driving force, “patience in trouble”…which dogged Paul for the rest of his life, became his new message to all those who had also come to follow the resurrected Christ.  And the necessity to “pray continually” became his lifeline.

Like a skilled attorney, he traveled his world presenting the Good News of the One he had spent so many years actively condemning.  And the articulate speaker who had worked so tirelessly to silence the  message of Jesus, became His relentless Follower, and voice.  Paul’s simple “Three Point Message” is as true for us now as it had been when Paul said it:

“Be happy in your confidence [what you know is true],

be patient in trouble [hard realities],

and pray continually.”  

Romans 12:12

 

 

Two Mountain Tops. . .  and a Hill In-Between

 

Mountain tops . . .with their breath-taking views,  the freshest of air,  and the quiet of being far above the noise of our daily world.  Without the distractions of our busy homes and surroundings, our senses are sharpened.  We see things that are overlooked in normal life.  The beauty silences us, because it is so far beyond anything Man could create.  God seems so near.   It’s tough, and scary, making the journey to the mountain top, but the perspective from the top can be life-changing.

Now, getting to the top and back down were the most scary parts for me,  especially in a car with my husband driving and 3 young boys who thought hairpin curves were best experienced at increased speeds.  Having been in the car with such a group changed my perspective to one of closely studying the floor between my two feet, screeching, “We’re gonna die!  Slow down!  We’re gonna die!”  This only added to the delight of the boys.  All four of them.

But, back to the Mountain Top, there are two stories from Jesus’ time on earth about when He climbed to two different mountain tops.  The first was witnessed by three of His closest followers (Peter, James, John).  They saw Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah…  As if that was not enough of a shock, a brilliant Cloud came down, and a Voice like none other came from the Cloud, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I Am well pleased:  Listen to Him.”  Needless to say, the three friends were knocked right down to their faces.   They were terrified!  The next moment, Jesus was there with His reassuring Touch, telling them to not be afraid, and to get up.  Their eye-witness story has carried through the ages.  [Note: That mountain is believed to be the mountain in Israel whose snow melts down to fill the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee…the life-sustaining waters for the Land of Israel…significantly symbolic.]

Fast forward three years, and Jesus was again with His same three friends, as well as a far larger crowd of friends.  They had all been through so very much together….Jesus’ crucifixion, death, burial, and many days of being with Him, back from the grave and fully alive.  This time, before their very eyes, they watched Jesus rise right up from the mountain top and disappear into the Cloud, reassuring them that He would return.  On the second Mountain-top, Jesus gave the world a glimpse of Who He truly is, and where He truly belongs.  He promised to be representing us, in all of our flawed humanity, to His Father.

But in-between those two mountain-top experiences was another history-altering moment.  The “mountain” was much smaller, referred to as Mount Calvary.  Before that mountain-top experience, Jesus had walked through His earthly world teaching and living out what God is like, and giving us a picture of the “perfect human life.”  If He had gone back to Heaven from that first mountain-top, we would have been left with the story of “perfect man.”  But He came back down that transfiguring mountain for our sake.

It was that small mountain in-between where the Purposes of all that was from the beginning, and all that will be for the future, was forever altered.  On that small mountain, Jesus opened a Door,  the Door that opens into an eternity in Heaven, where He waits for us.

Sharing the Yoke

“Come to Me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads,

And I will give you rest.

Place My Yoke over your shoulders, and learn from Me,

Because I am gentle and humble.

Then you will find rest for yourselves

Because My Yoke is easy

And My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-29

 A yoke is the old-time wooden collar stretching between two oxen to pull a heavy load.  It keeps them in step with each other as they pull together to plow fields for planting.  (Now known as rustic  wall decor.)

“Yoke” was  a term that also applied to a student being taught and trained by a teacher/mentor.

They were “yoked” together.

In day to day practical life, two oxen were ultimately working to provide literal food for people.  But in a teacher / student context, the student was being trained through practical daily life to ultimately be able to provide “knowledge or spiritual  food”to benefit others.

Jesus used this  word picture to describe being connected to Him in a similar way…  in a training way, His students would be walking along with Him, learning to be “in step” with Him.  To be yoked with Jesus meant that you would be going in the same direction beside Him.  Closely.  Not out ahead of Him nor lagging behind Him.  His student would be in step with Him,  lending his/her strengths in doing the work together.

But Jesus, as usual, put a new twist on the old familiar reality.

  • He made it a choice for the student to decide, no commanding or forcefulness being required. To “take” His yoke is on our part.  He doesn’t put it on us.  He offers.  He makes Himself available.  It’ up to us to respond..
  • The typical work in the fields was hard work.  Physically taxing.  Often prodded, shouted at, and smacked with a stick for not doing the job quickly enough.  That would be “normal.”
  • Jesus, the Master Teacher, described His “style” of teaching as gentle and humble. The effect would be a sense of rest.  [A big, long exhale is appropriate here.]  There was a gentleness and strength about His teaching, not force, or harshness, or demandingness.  No “headi-ness” or arrogance.  Who learns well under that kind of teaching?
  • “My Yoke is easy….” A Yoke is still a yoke, heavy and uncomfortable, and still needful in accomplishing the goal.  Otherwise, there would just be some poor farmer out there chasing after rogue oxen more interested in who-knows-what.  But Jesus’ Yoke will be an asset to the work that is needed, rather than a tool of punishment or cruelty.
  • “My burden is light.” Though the work still involves a “burden”…which is rarely a “joy” to carry, Jesus describes it as “light.”  Not gone, but not too much to carry.  No burden is weightless.

Anything that matters carries weight.  But the weight He invites us to carry with Him will be do-able.  His Strength will be there, bearing the  heaviness we could not bear alone.

As I contemplated these words this morning, a vivid image came to mind.  Thinking about what it looks like to share a “yoke” with Jesus, the mental picture that came was of me walking beside Him,

listening, asking questions, and catching glimpses of His Heart in His Words.  But instead of a wooden

Yoke between us, His Arm was stretched over my shoulder, as we walked down the path together. 

                                               I felt that I could listen to Him all day.

Only in the Dark

“Tell me what charges You have against me…”

Job 10:2

Hard times have a way of getting our attention, and this old world is going through a very dark time.  It becomes tempting to want to blame our hard times on somebody…something….often, questioning God Himself.

A good man named Job was going through an extremely dark time.  He had experienced sudden, tragic losses on many levels.  Life as he had known it had taken a serious nose-dive.  It was too much for him to understand.  With the input of his “friends” he had concluded that he was being punished somehow…punished by God.  In desperation, Job asked God directly what he had done to deserve the devastating losses in his life.  What had he done that was so wrong??  God was silent.  However, his “friends” had much to say, and it wasn’t good.

But being in the dark isn’t all bad.   It does have its moments: 

  • Fireflies (Do they only come out at night? Or do they only become visible in the dark?)
  • Stars (they are always up there . . . we just don’t see them unless it’s dark!)
  • Campfires still burn with warm glow and sparks in daylight. We just don’t see it with all its mezmerizing colors, brightness and sparkle unless it’s dark.

Much of the world has had life as we’ve known it dramatically altered.  It feels like a dark time.  In the midst of a pandemic that has affected the whole world, hearts and minds around the globe have been shaken, forced to re-evaluate our lives and consider what really matters.

Life on this planet is not kind.  But God is.  In His Goodness, He will use the bad things…tough things of life….and turn them around for Good when we hold onto Him.   He did that with old Job.  He has done that in my life, too.  In God’s Hands, the bad times…the dark times, will be used for good.   He has done that in the past, and I know He will do it in the future.

When I am in the desert…in the refugee camps…the nights become the backdrop for the most incredible light shows I’ve ever seen in my life.  Though the situation is wrought with tragedy, loss, heartache, and long-standing injustice, every night the vast black sky becomes the backdrop for a celestial “light show” like none other.  It takes effort to fall asleep, because the moving display lasts all night.  My heart can hear Him reminding me that He is Present, He sees me, and nothing going on in my life is beyond Him.  I don’t have to understand it. . . if I just keep looking up,  He is there.  He’s “got this.”

So in the dark nights, watch for the fireflies.  Look at the stars.  Take in the moon’s light.  Visibly shining only while you are in the darkness, these are God’s everyday,  global reminders that He is there.  He repeats that message to the whole earth in 24 hours, every day.  Those glimpses of His Light…perhaps in very unexpected moments, are to remind you that He is there.  He is the Light.