Bedtime Thoughts: God

What does a spirit look like when you finally see it? I don’t know. But I think about it a lot, usually at night before I fall asleep.  Maybe it will be strange and scary to see God. He must have thought so because there were times he told people not to look.

But when I say “I’m putting something in God’s hands”, I’m not thinking of a scary God. I’m thinking of Jesus – God, who gave up being whatever unusual, powerful, and possibly scary thing he was and became like a man forever.

Jesus had hands. He could hold things.

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Those Who Write

It has to be true, that there is nothing new under the sun, that even though we are unique, we have thoughts in common with others. That is why I love reading. It’s through reading that I learn I am not alone in my experience here on earth. Of course, I would have nothing to read were it not for those who take the time to write. I am grateful.

We have family treasures – letters from our ancestors to each other – that my mom and I were discussing recently. What an experience it is to be encouraged by words written down a century ago, by someone who had no idea who their readers would be. And it’s not that their messages were necessarily wise or well crafted. Often they were recounting the mundane ups and downs of everyday life, but in doing that, their resiliency, ingenuity, optimism, and strength of spirit were displayed. We can say “these are the people I came from”.  What is written down has power to influence.

I’m often struck with that need to communicate. I feel restless when I’ve not been writing for a while. I start feeling isolated and want to reach out somewhere. I read something this morning that resonates, sounds true. It’s Sarah Young’s interpretation of scripture in her book “Jesus Calling”.

I speak to you continually. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you. I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence.

You can find me in each moment, when you have eyes that see and ears that hear. Ask My Spirit to sharpen your spiritual eyesight and hearing. I rejoice each time you discover My Presence. Practice looking and listening for Me during quiet intervals. Gradually you will find Me in more and more of your moments. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me above all else.  Psalm 8:1-4; Psalm 19:1-2; I Cor. 6:19; Jeremiah 29:13

I thank her for writing that, and I thank God for all those moments when I can “read” him so clearly. wpid-20150930_181847.jpg

Being Known

“You know when I sit and when I rise.  You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways.” Psalm 139:2,3

 I was scrolling down through Facebook and came upon a video of a young man who was visiting his mother in a care facility for Alzheimer’s patients. He was sitting with her at a table as she ate her ice cream, asking her questions about her life and family, trying to jog her memory to remember him. She couldn’t. He went out to his car to finish the video and the tears were streaming down his face. It was a devastating thought, that his own mother did not know who he was.

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This from mollysmovement.com, YouTube video series.

So I spent some time thinking about the importance of being remembered by those who know us well, especially those who have the most reason to love us. We allow the concept of “being known” to shape us probably more than we realize.  Love, from someone who knows our faults as well as our good attributes, can give us a strong platform from which to love ourselves in spite of the ups and downs we experience in careers, in relationships, in accomplishments of all kinds.

Memorizing scripture has been an eye-opening experience for me lately. Verses like the one above from Psalm 139 suddenly seem close and relevant to everyday life. There was a person, a writer, who felt this way about God – that he was intimately known by his creator. I could see and feel the comfort in that. God was not going to get Alzheimer’s, or run away, or die, or become inaccessible in any way that a person could. It was his perception of God based on his personal experience, but it holds hope for anyone who spends time getting to know who God really is.

These verses could give rise to a lot of questions, and those would be good questions to put to one claiming to be Creator of the universe. Creating beings capable of thought is something we haven’t quite figured out yet, not for lack of trying (hello, Artificial Intelligence). Knowing what those beings are thinking would be the next step and David thought God could do it. I do too, just sayin’…

 

The Last Day of May

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This last day  of May 2018 – the perfect morning to sit with my cup of coffee and my book. At this time of year the sun in the east finds a break in the wall of trees between us. It shines through the translucent blades of grass, lighting them up. It shines through my dusty windows, to the floor and back up into my eyes. The husband thinks it’s too bright and shuts the blinds. But what on earth is light? Why can’t I see it, but without it, I can’t see anything else?

It’s a wonderfully quiet time of day. I can hear the cardinals, a mating pair, that live in the backyard. I can hear the refrigerator running and the faint hum of my “device” as I sit and think and type. It’s a wonderfully quiet time of the year, as the number of summer tourists is much less than the number of winter tourists. The traffic problems are lessened, noticeably. It’s the last day of May and I realize that summer is starting and the slower pace and the heat affect everything, in a good way. I find it easier to relax. I have slept well.

I can sit here and think so many different thoughts. Am I hearing all the electrical synapses as they connect and bring up memories, phrases, mental pictures? (I think I can!)

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. “

 I don’t want May to end but I don’t know how to hang on to it either. Time is like light, another thing that I can’t quite comprehend. Some people think they know all about light and time, but I don’t believe them. If that were true there would be nothing left for science to explore. We will never have it all down. Light and time are actual creations of someone not like us. Someone “other”.

“Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

 It’s not just me. People have been thinking thoughts like this for a very long time.

The Bible, Psalm 139 (My new memorization project)

 

 

What I Read for Encouragement

pexels-photo-247195.jpegI’d like to encourage people today, although I don’t know exactly who or in what way. Does your head hurt? Did you sleep poorly last night? Have you gotten bad news lately? Are you feeling stale? Numb? Anxious? Maybe I want to encourage you.

Go read Psalm 103. You don’t have to be someone who has a religion – it’s literature, a book that’s been around a long time and is easily accessible. Just read it.

What if there is a God and that is an accurate picture of him? What if there is some “pit” he wants to pull you out of? What if he does want to satisfy the desires you have to be loved and valued? You could jump on that train of thought, just for a few minutes and see how it feels. I’ve memorized this chapter because I so often need to hear what it says.

I’m getting pretty aware of the things that are wrong with me.  When I hear a writer describing a distance “as far as the east is from the west”, and he’s telling me that’s how far away all my wrongness is going…  I get the impression that someone has a plan to deal with bad stuff, mine and everyone else’s. Thinking along those lines gives me hope. Hope is important.

Here is the most hopeful part of the reading for me – the part where “he knows how we are made, that we are dust, earthly”. I do kind of add my own translations as I think more and more about it. To me, it says “I know how I made you – different from anyone else. I know exactly what you are capable of and I don’t expect any more from you than that.”  That’s the way I want to be known. It encourages me to think that God and I might be on the same track in that regard.

The writer of this psalm felt that even when God knew him completely, he still loved him in a way described as “from everlasting to everlasting”. I’m a writer, and I can’t think of a way to top that. When I rehearse this psalm in my mind, I always think I want to be know that way and loved that way. It would make me happy, encouraged, hopeful. It’s a place to start.

Sure, there are some qualifiers in there, referring to those people who are known and loved. Again, as a writer, I’m paying attention to the verbs throughout the whole chapter. “Rescues”, “satisfies”, “works righteousness and justice”, “made known his ways” – all things that God does and is doing instead of things I have to do. I think the writer is saying that God is willing and able to work with people, to bring them to where they love him back, want to keep his covenant and remember to obey him.

It encourages me because it’s a good deal. It’s better than finding an honest used car salesman, or whatever analogy you want to use.  There’s more in that chapter and maybe there are other parts that will seem important to you, if you read it. Try it on.  See what it makes you feel and want. And consider that it is meant to encourage you.

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding 101

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not paraticularly inviting…

Depending on how you look at it, being at the end of a long, unpaved, often pothole filled, dead end road can be very comforting (like, what bad guys would even want to drive down this?) or really creepy (if they do come they are highly motivated and wanting to avoid witnesses). And isn’t that how life always is? We often get to choose a viewpoint.

I am coming to the end of a project, that of keeping house for Dr. Julia while she visited Cambodia and the children of Asia’s Hope. I find it interesting to step inside someone’s world and reflect on their experience. I’ve lived with her family of animals, sweated in her less than efficient air conditioning, traveled her frequented roads and busy city highways, walked in her pastures, waded through her mud, mowed her grass, eaten dinner with her friends and driven her vehicles.

I’ve gotten the flavor of north eastern Florida, from the hospitality and southern courtesy of its inhabitants, to the ever present matttresses, broken tv’s and toilet fixtures waiting on the side of the road for garbage pickup. What I will miss is the silence. I don’t know why I call it silence – it’s really the sound of a crew of frogs in the pond in the yard, and the wind in the trees, and the rain on the roof. But I can actually hear these things and it’s not hard to sleep peacefully with that kind of music in the background (if you’ve chosen not to worry about the bad guys…)

For me, coming away with a better understanding of another person’s joys and struggles is the bonus in this experience. Now, when Dr. Julia tries to explain the feelings of isolation in the evenings, coming home to a dark house, with only her cats and dog and her “friends” in the box (tv), I get it.  When she mentions her frustration with the rats getting into her horse feed again,  I get it. I saw those critters.  I hope there is some comfort for her in knowing that her experience is more known by another.

I am thankful for this season in my life. I am benefitting from these extended periods of time spent with family, sometimes in their homes, sometimes in mine. I marvel at how gently God is teaching me empathy, compassion, and how to discern other’s needs. I want to learn how to honestly express interest, and love. Often that class takes place at the end of a long, bumpy road. Just sayin’…

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recently graveled, but working on some new potholes

This Is Where I Start

“And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things.”

From “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth

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This is where I start to find a God I can love with my heart, my soul, my mind. A good place to start…

 

 

A Season of Crying

 

I felt it coming as I was reading that morning, and it did several times. The words on the page set the tone for the whole day. The tears came again as I gave Mom a good morning hug, and again in church, and again as I talked with my friend, and oddly, again when I stopped to “air up” my tires at the WaWa station.

I’m brought into these seasons of crying not by hormone imbalance – that I recognize and this isn’t it. It happens when I realize that I’m on to something important, maybe life changing, certainly life enriching.  It happens when I become aware that I’m learning something, not by my own doing, by through God’s hand, his methods, his inspiration.  It’s so cool, it makes me cry.

Suddenly, I feel kind of raw, hyper-aware of people and circumstances around me.  There is possible meaning, potential meaning in EVERYTHING because I feel God in action and I have no idea what he’s going to do next.

I guess, to start with, I’m just so impressed that he’s dealing with me, on a personal level, giving me something I didn’t have before.  That happened, with the aforementioned book.  Later, the same subject came up with a little more to think about as I listened to the sermon. And the friend thing…  I think it’s pretty common to lose it when a friend who knows you well notices that something is going on. All it took was a sympathetic word and I was crying again.  Sorry Christine (haha, and thanks).

The hyper-awareness part comes when I realize that I’m being taken care of by someone in high places who is listening in on every conversation, every thought and is literally everywhere around me, even as close as the air I breathe. Small favors are no longer coincidences, they are blessings and assurances.

How does the gas station work it’s way in there, you might wonder.  Lately I seem to be searching for air pumps at gas stations all the time.  I felt pretty lucky when I started finding that they accepted credit cards and I didn’t have to hunt for change.  But last Sunday when I pulled into the WaWa, I found an air pump labeled FREE AIR! What unexpected generosity…  It was a sweet machine with good instructions.  It gave me a digital reading for each tire before it pumped it up to the amount I punched in.  And I was crying again because it was cold and raining and I was grateful for something that worked, worked well.

Today, to match this season I’m in, the sky is also crying and I feel somehow aligned with it. We were made to have seasons, the sky and I, and I’m glad for that.  Just sayin’…

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lots of tears out there…

Grass

20160104_083019.jpgConsider grass, the perfectly rounded tips of new blades, the translucent greenness as the light shines through.  Consider the unseen numbers of tiny cellular factories actively converting the sun’s energy into growth.  This far surpasses any technology we call “awesome”.  Whoever is behind the idea of grass is the real “awesome”.  Just sayin’…

A Lesson Through Family

family blog postAnd by “through family” I mean through the experience of having children and to some extent by being a child.  I can hardly begin to name or number the  “aha!” moments when something going on between me and my children has caused me to stop and wonder if I am being taught a lesson.  I have so come to believe that the family was intended to be God’s school of life, teaching us how he wanted us to view him in his role as father, teaching us how to grow strong, smart, productive and fulfilled as children.

So lately, I am alongside a few family members who are struggling with feeling significant, cared about and noticed.  They are on my mind daily, sometimes hourly and sometimes for every minute of the hour.  I want them to know I love them.  I’m not a person who routinely stalks others or obsessively calls or texts (well, maybe a little too free with the texting…) but I do get desperate at times – wanting them to know how I value them for just being themselves.  I love them.  I want a word better than love to describe how I feel.

For these reasons, something in my reading today just leaped off the page for me.  Here it is: “Love always wants to be known.”  Have you felt the truth of this?  It’s also true that I want to be loved but this is talking about the giving side of the equation, not the receiving.  I somehow feel that if I could communicate love to someone, it would help them.  They would not view their circumstances in the same way.  They would not feel alone. They would have their “I AM LOVED” armor on and it would protect them.

And then I get it, suddenly, a richer, wider view of God.  This is what he wants me to know, really know.

 He loves me.  That’s where my experience of him is supposed to start. 

Okay, there is Jesus giving up a previous position, going through the human thing and dying for my sin.  That’s big, but honestly, I sometimes have trouble relating to it.  I sometimes miss the “why” behind it all.

 He loves me and wants me to know it.

In his book “The Divine Conspiracy” Dallas Willard quotes another writer, Julian Norwich, “…for God wishes to be seen, and he wishes to be sought, and he wishes to be expected, and he wishes to be trusted.”  In my frustrating, doubting times,  I’ve wondered how I could become convinced of this.  More often, I’ve wondered how I could convince others of this.  I think I know how it’s happening with me.  Again, Dallas Willard explains it in a way I totally understand.

“Persons rarely become present where they are not heartily wanted. Certainly that is true for you and me.  We prefer to be wanted, warmly wanted, before we reveal our souls — or even come to a party.  The ability to see and the practice of seeing God and God’s world comes through a process of seeking and growing in intimacy with him.”

I have to want God, want to be loved by him and to know him. And maybe that is the question for many.  Who is God that I should want to know him?  Is that your question?