Majesty, Power, and New Life

Majesty.” That’s not a word that we use often is it? When we do, it is usually associated with some chosen leader or self-imposed ruler and the power they represent. We may use this word too, when describing spectacular scenes and acts of nature.

I am thinking today of the majesty of life itself, the awesome and most wonderful spark which cannot be duplicated by humankind and which is expressed in living things. “And it was good… And it was very good!” the book of Genesis proclaims.

We celebrate new life in the birth of children to family and friends… We treasure the life of our animal companions… And we depend on the life which rises from the soil and provides us with our daily food. There is majesty in the love of God. There is freedom in the discovery of God’s power and presence.

The writer of Chronicles expresses God’s majesty so well in David’s prayer:
10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours… You are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. *1 Chronicles 29:10-13

How often do I set aside my anxieties to simply sit in God’s presence? When to I release all my expectations and desires to His care? Do I offer up thanksgiving when things seem to be falling apart, when illness or economic stressors loom large? What about those times when I just feel so alone or abandoned? … These are all things which grow large in our eyes, hearts, and mind!

Yet, there’s God. Just God. He sits in His holiness and draws us to shelter on His lap, as a parent holds their child. He comforts us, protects us, and loves us anyway. He is this and more. I am so thankful for Him! This is my prayer. That we will allow God to draw us to His majesty each day. May we experience his mighty power, be comforted, and raise our heart in thanksgiving. May we take that spirit of God’s majesty with us, reminders to be thankful and to fill ourselves with His wonder.

Walk This Way… I’ll Lead You

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
Another journey has begun.

We will be companions
As we tread a common path

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
Staying by your side

And when the way grows rough and steep
My helping hand is there

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
Together whatever befalls

Sharing hope or wiping tears
Laughing living praying going

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
The Lord your banner

Positive Presence

When my daughter was very young, she would sometimes awaken at night, afraid and crying. I would go to her and hold her, pray with her, and just be with her until she had relaxed and was able to go back to sleep.

There is something about the physical presence of a loved one that brings comfort and joy. Whether a parent with a child, friends, or family, their nearness fills a deep craving and brings satisfaction through that companionship.

How many of us after long separation have spent hours talking and “catching up” or enjoyed activities together? In the case of illness or injury, the presence of someone sitting quietly close by can bring a sense of security or well-being. Words are not always necessary. What a gift one’s positive presence can be!

In the same way, God’s presence with us is a great gift. In all of life’s challenges, sorrows, and celebrations God is with us. His presence is strong, steady, and eternal even when our pain or busy thoughts and activities are unable to perceive Him.

The psalmist praised God and thanked Him for being with him.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. *

As David fled enemies and faced impossible odds, he was fearful, angry, and sometimes depressed. Where was God during all of this?! Later, there was guilt too, as he faced his own failures and wrong doings. When the prophet Nathan came to David after David wrongly took Bathsheba, David expressed his great need and desire for God’s presence. He pled with God, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. *

While I so greatly need my personal time alone to process and rest, the presence of others is greatly appreciated too. Throughout my life, I have welcomed the comfort, companionship, and support of my family and friends. What a gift it is to know that there are others praying for me and to have good positive relationships with people who accept me for who I am and with whom we can join in our journey to grow closer to God.

How humbling and awesome that God’s presence came to be with us, giving us the ultimate example and filling that need. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). *

I pray that we may take comfort and strength from Him and faithfully reach out to others, even as they offer their own presence in times of need and times of celebration.

* Psalm 16:11, Psalm 51:11, Matthew 1:23

Oink Oink, Moo, Vrrmm … Oh God!

pigs two piglets-by skeeze_Pixabay

“Oink-oink, moo, woof-woof, meow!” As the toy animals bound about the room, I smile and watch the interaction with the parents. “Vrrmm” they exclaim as another toy bounces off the couch or across the floor. Are you smiling too as you see this in your own mind’s eye?! Perhaps you too see the pig, the cow, the dog, or the cat. Here comes the toy car or favorite truck! The joyful play of a young child is a thing of wonder.

In my work with preschoolers, as a speech-language pathologist, I have seen that great communication is possible even without words. The process of learning to use words to communicate can be a challenge for them and their families. Sometimes a single simple word – a name, a “wow,” or an “uh-oh” – says it all! Having options other than their voice is important too. A gesture, a picture, or an electronic voice can also give assistance and success.

There have been times in my own life when I simply had no words to express my deepest feelings. Whether faced with unexpected joy or with great sorrow or hurt, I could only feel. When I see a magnificent display of God’s world, perhaps a sunrise, a rainbow, or a grand vista, my whole being lights up… “How beautiful!” In times of tragedy when the hurt and grief is too great, my mind and body are torn.

Some moments I treasure for myself. Some moments I am not ready or able to share… Some moments I want to and need to share, but I just have no words.

How, in our need, can we communicate what we are thinking or feeling when our insides are so scrambled up, especially when we are hurting or angry? Just as a young child expresses themselves, a simple “wow” and “uh-oh” can convey a lot. The parent or caregiver, who knows and understands their child, can supply the needed words. Silence speaks as well.

We too have a Helper, someone who speaks for us to God, who knows and understands us. I am reminded of a verse from the book of Romans. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (NIV) *

Isn’t that encouraging?! We have a voice and an Advocate*. We do not have to stress over expressing ourselves to God. A simple “Oh, God” or just resting in silence as He hears our heart is sufficient.

I am so thankful to God who understands us all. We are His children, sometimes joyously bounding about the room with our “oink-oinks” or “vrrmms” or other times curled upon ourselves in voiceless pain. Whether our words pour out to Him in great torrents, with simple utterance, or are voiceless… He gets it!

My prayer for us today is that we may be encouraged that He hears us and knows us, and that we can come before Him as a little child.

*Romans 8:26, John 14:16-17

Responsible Freedom

Sunrise 2_IMG_1787

I’ll be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.” What budding young adult upon first striking out on their own, or dreaming of doing so, has not had that thought or something very similar? Children too, fret at times under the authority of their parents or others.

I can remember similar thoughts of my own and I see in my mind’s eye that eighteen-year-old me as she headed off to college. Admittedly, there was a little anxiety as well. Though I was “on my own” I did not leave all behind nor dump what had been instilled in me for the previous eighteen years. I brought with me my faith, my values, life’s teachings, and lessons learned from my parents and others. I realized that with this newfound freedom, there was also great responsibility.

As unfinished and developing human beings, we allow our thoughts, emotions, and actions to drive how we react to others. The familiar, “He (or she) hit me first” of children is echoed in many forms for we adults. We justify ourselves by placing blame and by not recognizing our own responsibilities within our freedom to choose.

Paul said this well in his first letter to the church in Corinth. I like that my Bible titles this section as “The Believer’s Freedom.” He said, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. *

Wow! That was pretty radical and certainly not something usually promoted, including today. Two words that stood out for me in Paul’s statement are “beneficial” and “constructive.” Not everything that we have the freedom to do results in good. Not everything we have the freedom to do serves a useful purpose or builds up others. While this freedom may be related to written laws or practices it is much more than that. This freedom has to do with personal character and integrity. It has everything to do with personal faith and commitment. Tied into all of this is compassion, love and care for others, and mutual respect.

That doesn’t make it right” is a common response to the child’s declaration of “He (or she) hit me first!” What are our thoughts, our reactions, or our words to everyday situations? Do they reflect responsible freedom? Do they shine Christ’s light? This is a challenge for us all, I think.

I pray that I will better walk the path of responsible freedom. May we all seek and follow that path, ever striving for that which is beneficial and that which is constructive. All praise and thanks to God who draws His children closer to Him.

*1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Windows of Our Hearts

fan electric_by Roy Muz_Unsplash

The hum of the big exhaust fan in the window of our upstairs hallway signaled the beginning of another summer evening. As night drew closer, the familiar voices and sounds of my family about the house or in the yard were comforting and familiar. In those days of yesteryear, I see myself stretched out on my bed or curled up on my window seat reading a good book or just watching life from my bedroom window. To this day these same things in my own home bring contentment and peace.

We always closed the windows and retreated to the cooler lower floor during the day as summer’s heat began to build around mid-morning. Then, as evening’s cool touch came, the windows were opened, and the fans began to draw out the warm air that had built up in our upstairs rooms through the day. I remember breathing deeply of the cool night’s air as it was drawn in and listening to the sounds of life… the voices of insects, tree frogs, and owls and the rhythm of our small-town. The refreshing coolness brought a sense of peace and renewal, especially if the day had been long or difficult.

The windows of our hearts can be like those rooms on hot summer days. Sometimes we close them – perhaps due to doubt, anger, or fear – as we seek to guard ourselves or to declare our own will. I know that when I am hurt, let down, angry, or disappointed I too tend to withdraw and shut off as much as possible from its source. This may bring some relief for a time, until there is room for healing and the opening of those windows.

As we beat against the ills we see, so that our ears are deafened to all else, God’s cool healing breath washes over our world. May we not fail to see and feel it! There is injustice in this world, but there is also the breath of God. Like those fans, as we open our hearts to God, His breath fills us and draws from us that which is stale and stifling… that which has caused hurt.

Have you considered the breath of God? As in the beginning of time, “then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” *

We are living beings, whom God loves, and He said it was very good. *

My prayer for our world is that we will know God’s refreshing and renewing breath. I pray that He will draw from us that which is stale and stifling, driven by hurt, and fill us with the hope of His Spirit.

* Genesis 1:31, 2:7

Trust Fully

small white starshaped flower_rotated

At dawn’s breaking, day’s nooning
Eve’s dawning, night’s sighing
What message sending
… trust fully

When rising in doubt, so restless foreboding
Or lonely now stressing, growing angry or fearful
When foremost is … self
Trust fully

What attitude taken, what visions or angst
When anxious or doubting, ‘I deserve’ and ‘why me’s’
Spreading discontent’s seeds
So hard to trust fully

Not foolish naive, of life’s follies and stress
Walk slowly take courage; run swiftly, greet confidence
Still self; be assured
And trust fully

Are you pointing to … Him, God’s hand held each day
Thoughts that are fruitful, for others to know
Nourishing lifting
… trust fully

Where vision does take us, eyes do perceive us
Words spew or bear up; actions tear or build up
Ear shut out or listen
… ah, trust fully

Contentment and blessing, joy enriching,
Smiles bring laughter; peace offers comfort
God is present
… trust fully