Beauty

29 09 2009
3D visualization of Landsat imagery of Glacier...
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The last few months have been difficult.  That’s putting it mildly.  God gave me a message and a vision for my church, but it didn’t involve those who would like to think of themselves as leaders.  Instead, it involved the marginalized, the broken, the un-churched.  The vision was a for a passionate, deep, transforming relationship with Jesus.  Deeper than anything a mere knowledge of the “truth” could ever bring.  This kind of transformation only comes about through much fasting and prayer.  This type of transformation only comes when we quit trying on our own strength.

As I’ve been hiding out in Adullam’s Cave, I had this urge to read what Jeremiah wrote.  The more I read, the more discouraged I became.  I wasn’t reading about a world 3000 years ago.  I was reading about today – and it isn’t good.  I can’t bear the weight of that knowledge anymore.  I had to let it go.

So, I attempted to go back to my regular Bible reading and journaling format.  But even that led me into Ezekiel and other prophetic words of doom and conviction.  Like Elijah, I just wanted to rest on the banks of the brook Cheroth and rest.  I imagine though that in Elijah’s resting, there was hurt, dismay, mistrust, anger – I’m pretty sure he wallowed in the words God gave him and the unfairness of the leadership.  He may have even poured over the words of the prophecy.

“Did I miss something,” he wonders. “Did I misunderstand what God wanted me to say?  Maybe I was too harsh?  Not harsh enough?  Maybe I shouldn’t have run away – should I have stayed and fought for the people?  What about my family?  My cousins, brothers?  Uncles?  Oh my, what have I done?!”

For the past week or two, I’ve felt impressed that I need to find a morning worship tool that is refreshing and uplifting.  I began to look for my copy of the God Encounters book – a devotional/discipling book, co-written by some friends of mine.  But it wasn’t showing up.  Then I found it.  I promptly plopped down on the couch in my office and started reading where I left off – chapter 2.  Here is my journey…

◊◊◊◊◊ ◊◊◊◊ ◊◊◊ ◊◊ ◊

Encounter

◊ The secret is out. What difference is it going to make in your life today?

As I read the preceding pages, about God’s love through the creative process.  At first, it was just words.  “So what?”  I said.  He did that with everyone – billions of people.  That doesn’t make me special.  It’s almost like a factory…  billions of people, knit together, next!

But then it hit me.  I don’t feel that way about my kids.  Each of them is special in their very own way.  They were conceived in love – they are surrounded by grace.  They are cherished, adored, and very precious.  I feel that way about my family too – especially my nephew and nieces – not to the depth of my own kids, but pretty significant, nonetheless.

I don’t have the capacity, or the time, to love billions – but why do I doubt that He does?  I’m not so sure I doubt – it’s more like unfathomable.  I just can’t wrap my head around that.  Intellectually, I get it.  Emotionally, for some reason I feel like I’m in fourth grade again, being picked last for kickball and standing ignored in the corner of the gym.

◊ What perceptions have changed for you?  What can no longer be the same with what you now know?

Suddenly, I see the teacher looking my way.  Though I’m standing forgotten in the corner, the one in charge sees me.  One time, he came over and urged me to step into the fray.  Another time, he pointed me out to one of the team captains who was picking teams.  And still another time, he took me into his office as I cried hot teardrops of brokenness.

My God sees me.  He knows me.  He loves me – just as I am.

◊ What difference will this secret make in your life the next time you worship (alone or with people)?

Just thinking about it makes me want to worship.  I want to express my love to Him for being the lover He is.  The fullness in my chest is bursting.

◊ Why is this secret so important to living a life of God encounters?

I believe it has much to do with legalism vs. grace.  If I worship God because I have to, it is worthless.  But if I worship Him because I want to – well, that is love.

  • What experiences have you had that inspired awe in you?
    • Awe can be an illusive thing.  But there have been moments:
      • When I was out of money, in seminary, ready to get married, and out of the blue I’m hired by the Rocky Mountain Conference – I wept.
      • When I had been asked to take a position in Rwanda, and after debating over it for weeks, finally I surrendered to the possibility, and God said no.  That not only brought awe, but pause.
      • Sitting on the shore of Glacier Bay, Alaska – the last morning there.  The water was like a mirror of unblemished glass, a lone wolf watched me, dolphins circled the bay, and the mountains rose is mighty and spectacular majesty.  I could only whisper, “wow.”
      • The night before, in Glacier Bay, there was a bright moon, the most spectacular Aurora Borealis that had been seen in years, a pack of wolves howling, dolphins in the bay, and the ubiquitous stars.  Magical – purely magical.
      • When my kids were born – truly stunning, humbling, awe-inspiring.
  • Top five most beautiful things:
    • My kids born
    • Glacier Bay
    • Top of Mt. Whitney – with the sun rising and moon setting simultaneously.
    • The starry night from an isolated fired in Baja
    • An empty snowfield in an isolated Cascade mountain.
  • Who do you enjoy sharing beautiful things with?  What motivates you to bring it to their attention?

This question baffled me a bit.  It’s like asking a man, “How do you feel?”  I don’t know the answer to that question.  Ask me what I’m thinking about and I might have more success…might.

I like to share beautiful things with my wife, my kids, those close to me – especially if they appreciate it.

But what motivates me?  Hmmmm.  I guess it would be the opportunity to make a connection.

  • What might you imagine was God’s intention in creating beauty?

Well played Yoda.  You set me up with these questions.

I can only imagine that God is looking to establish a connection with us.  Which makes me think.  Instead of just sharing beauty with those in my physical realm, wouldn’t it be neat to enjoin God into the conversation – and vice versa.

IOW, sometimes, I just want to get out on my own and commune with God.  Share the beautiful sunrise with Him.  Enjoy the quiet of the awakening birds with Him.  But what if I brought my kids and taught them to appreciate God’s beauty – with God – and with me?  Or, vice versa, if I’m at the beach with my kids and I see something beautiful, what if I pointed it out to God first, and then my family?

hmmmmm…..

Prayer:

Father God.  Teach me to be more aware of your presence in my life.  Teach me to understand you, appreciate you, commune with you, and to walk with you.

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