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On Seeing Clearly

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It’s a stretch for any one of us to express how we see God. It’s awkward to admit it but it’s easier to perceive Him as being a lot like our parents. Perhaps distant or preoccupied; or too intense and demanding; irritable at least some of the time. “Ugh, stay out of the kitchen. Mom’s on a tare and unless you want to get stuck doing the dishes you’d better lay low.” And yet, what is the closest reference that we have to understanding God? It’s the people around us … the emotionally healthy ones. The ones who are chasing God.

If He is the sun then we are all moons reflecting His glory. — Author unknown

Though we underestimate the far-reaching power and magnitude of His love, and it’s ability to bring about radical change in a life, God falls over Himself to show that love to us. For me that love comes through the men and women He has given me as friends. Through loving them, and permitting them to love me, I have opportunities to see glimpses of what He is really like. I was talking with the Lord recently and He said this to me about some ladies who have walked over glass for me. I believe the message would be true of my husband if I had one. To the men reading this, I pray that you have men who have run the gauntlet for you and, slightly altered, you would find the Lord saying something similar to you …. in hurly-burly man-words like power, and guts, and war, and sharp, pointy objects. Oo-rah! Whatever. This is what He said to me ….

“Be ever in awe of what I am doing in her. She is carrying Me and manifesting Me in the natural realm. Because you know Me and see Me in her you can help her become more than she is today. You can help stretch her belief and her faith for what I am doing in her and through her. The more she believes, the more expansively I can be expressed through her life. My beauty is expressed in her beauty. My creativity is expressed through the creative works she encompasses. Walk with her and help her pull down her dreams and destiny into the Now of Time.”

And so seeing God accurately is more about seeing God in those around us. Find a friend who is chasing God. Walk beside them and carry their dreams in your heart. You might find they’ll do the same for you. Christ in you, the hope of Glory . That is the mystery.

Ciao!

Getting Back With You

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Dear Friend,

Not long ago you trusted me with some rather heartfelt questions. I’ll be honest. The questions caught me a bit blind-sided and my answers were small, I thought. I just wanted to say thank you for trusting me enough to express them. With your permission, I’d like to try to answer them again, having given them more consideration.

Understanding the purposes of God can be a bit tricky. As I navigate this turf I want to point out my frame of reference – or starting point – for this response to you. I truly believe that there is a God. If we wanted to talk about the proofs of the existence of God, we could. But I think that you know – deep down – as well as I do, that He most certainly exists.  I also believe that our God has feelings, just like you and me. The Bible says we are created in God’s image. There’s a whole lot of meaning to that statement. Just as you or I wrinkle our brow or feel a tear drop on our cheek, why shouldn’t God do the same? Every single thing that we know about ourselves, we can know that our God is wired similarly. Simply because you cannot see Him wrinkle His brow, or shift His gaze doesn’t mean that He hasn’t the ability. And so, this God who has feelings has deep feelings for you, and for me, wants to be in relationship with you.

He wants to know what *you* think, Friend … even your ugliest thoughts. He can take it. In fact, He’s better at fielding the questions that I am. I find that He doesn’t even care if I use rotten, un-ladylike language. (Yes, I did balk at your language. But it’s because I love you, and want you to become a fierce and lovely lady; one the world must reckon with.)

But, I digress…

I think it will help you in your discoveries to know that absolutely everything about God will be upside-down from the way you think it should be. That means that the reasons why He does things will often confuse you at first glance. But when you look a little deeper, and you ask Him about it, He will show you the deeper meanings and reasons of His ways. But you have to ask Him. He’s the kindest Person you’ll ever meet. He waits for you to look at Him, for your questions. And, once you ask, He will answer.

It will also help you to know that when we become followers of Jesus Christ we actually transfer our citizenship to the Kingdom of Heaven. In doing so, we suddenly realize that our priorities and focus has shifted as well. Remember that God created all things – all things – and through Him all things hold together. So, that means that He created time. And space. And stuff. And people. He created the enemy – satan and his household- that antagonizes us and, for a time, they rule this world. Knowing that there are two kingdoms at work sometimes helps me understand the conflicts

Whenever I get bogged down with the questions, “Why did You leave me here?” “Why was I born into this family?” and “Who are You, anyway, and why don’t You speak to me?” I really only do one thing… I sit quietly and ponder God’s big-ness. Smile. I become like a first grader, and expect that, as my real Papa, He’ll explain everything to me. So where do I look to understand God’s big-ness? I might look at Scripture. I could just look at the horizon, or the night sky, and see the stars and all the things around me that He’s created. But I happen to like Scripture and usually after I read the book of Job, or even just the chapters 38-42, I almost always get a sense of the magnificence of the one true God.

Ciao! Until next time…

The Journey…

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Recently I drove through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest – at night. It was pitch-black, mountainous driving and Motel 6 was nowhere to be found, let alone having left a light on for me. I knew that my drive was going to take me into the late evening hours yet I was completely unprepared for the narrow roads flanked by rock sheers, and the hair-pin switchbacks every 50 feet….so 360 degree turns first left then right. Left, right, right, left. Each one dropping or inclining at 6%-10% grade…that feels almost vertical. I kept my white-knuckled hands on the wheel and my eyes glued to the road. At anytime there could be deer, bear, rabbits or a tree. Mostly trees. Big trees. Do.not.miss.the.turn. The drive to Redding took 6.5 hours. By the last 75 miles I was almost bleary-eyed with exhaustion.

This past year, I have had the privilege of walking with friends and loved ones through some very dark places in their lives. The deep valleys they are walking through are not the same as those I drove through in the forest. But dark is still dark .. and lonely is, well, as lonely as it always has been. The correlation is unmistakable. If I had been traveling with a companion, we might have stopped to look up and see the stars that were certainly there. Yet, unlike the capable and content person that I typically am, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more small and alone in my entire life. We might have paused to contemplate the incredible beauty I’m sure I drove though and yet missed for my concern of reaching my destination.  Nevertheless. Deep was my certainty that I was on the right track, and to turn around would have been impossible and unthinkable.

‘Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out’ … ‘At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORD’S charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.’ Numbers 9:22-23

I enjoy reading this rendition of the Israelites experience more so than where it is first recorded in Exodus 13. If you take a look at the chapter you’ll find a cadence, an unmistakable lilt in the repetition of the phrases, “at the command of the LORD they camped” and “at the command of the LORD they set out”.

What does the command of the Lord have to do with a journey through the forest or the dark, uncertain trials experienced by friends?

The intentionality in my decision to complete the trip that night might be considered by some to be bull-headed, I suppose. Yet that same strong determination and confidence are a way of life for me, founded on a deep certainty that I’m following the command of the Lord. I know, deep within myself, that I hear Him speaking to me: about the path to follow, the way to sort through my experiences, the way to show His love to those around me, a moment-by-moment dialogue between myself and the God of the Universe. His words, spoken into the deep places of my heart, are never at odds with His written Word or with His character. Yet, no matter how sure that foundation, there will always be the deepest of valleys, the darkest of nights. Walking alone on a path lit only by His Word need not be our concern but being on the wrong path must.

I was fortunate to arrive at my destination that night. I later learned that locals drive a completely different route. They spoke somberly of the numerous people that have been killed along the route I took. It’s not unlike life at all, which can be so very short. Choose wisely.