Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for February, 2014

Thoughts in a Departure Area

Waiting for my flight, I smile as I remember a man in the check-in area carrying a box with holes in it and tail feathers sticking out the end.  Smile

Now I watch passengers going down the jetway just a few yards, then out the side exit and down the stairs to the tarmac.  There, they are offered bright yellow umbrellas for the one-minute walk to the airplane. I should add that it’s a bright, sunny day. 

Another thing I notice is smiling faces, even the guards.  I appreciate that friendly spirit.

Whenever I set out on a trip (even just a short flight), I have to reorient my thinking.  I need to release to the Lord my “need” for security and familiar surroundings and remind myself that He is my Companion, my Guard and my Provider  Nothing’s going to happen that He has not planned already and made provision for.  And I must say, He has never let me down–whether the trip was extra delightful (such as a nice chat with the taxi driver) or more complicated.  Getting out of my nest provides a chance to trust Him in different ways and delight in His company. 

These lines of a song, by Keith Getty, have been running through my mind a lot lately:

May this journey bring a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
In Your likeness let me wake.

When God Roars

Indignation, and admittedly fear, welled up in me as I read news this morning of repression, oppression, injustice, vindictiveness and vile wickedness perpetrated by those who have power over others.  Some say, “Does God care?”  I discovered a wonderful blog this week http://ourrabbijesus.com/articles/mr-spocks-god-mistake-of-western-theology/ where the author addresses the question of whether God is impassive or passionate.  She quotes Rabbi Abraham Heschel:

Man’s sense of injustice is a poor analogy to God’s sense of injustice. The exploitation of the poor is to us a misdemeanor, to God it is a disaster. Our reaction is disapproval; God’s reaction is something no language can convey.

She goes on to say–

God is not indifferent or disinterested—he’s an Arab father who is crushed by his son’s apparent lack of love [as in the parable of the prodigal son]. God is a mother bear who roars a warning if you get too close to her cubs. God is a jilted boyfriend who’s beside himself when he spots his true-love on another guy’s arm. Israel’s God is not less emotional than we are, he is even more. (brackets mine)

So how should I respond when I hear about terrible injustices and even fear that the same things might eventually be perpetrated on me or those I love?  In Psalm 52, David’s heart cries out against Doeg (see the story in 1 Samuel 21-22) who had betrayed him, predicting how God would one day bring him to ruin, drag him out of his tent, uproot him from the world of the living and shame his memory.  Then as David winds down, he calms his own heart with these words:

But I am like a luxuriant olive tree in the house of God. 
I trust in the covenant-loyalty of God forever and ever. 
I will give you thanks forever for what you have done. 
And I will hopefully and expectantly wait for you…

How Would You Vote?

For three years people had had opportunity to to be exposed to Jesus’ life, teaching and miracles.  Now the end was near (though they didn’t know that).  The battle lines were being drawn, becoming more distinct—or did some become more fuzzy?  Here’s how some of them lined up, including a few surprises. 

                                               For       Against     Undecided 

Religious leaders                                     √                            

Mary of Bethany                     

Judas                                                      

Nicodemus                              

Joseph of Arimathea                

Jewish crowds                                                     For Him on Sunday
                                                                               but against Him on Thursday

11 disciples                                                  Like deer in the headlights!

What about you?  In which column would your name appear, really? 
Especially when identifying with Jesus is unpopular and even dangerous? 

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.…”–Jesus  (Matthew 10:32-33)

Perfect Love

God loves me.  What does that mean? What is love, other than fuzzy feelings?  My search led me to an article in a decades-old magazine entitled, “God’s Intensely Personal Love.”*  The author starts out with a beautifully complete dictionary definition (I don’t know what dictionary) of love.  The Scripture references after each point are given in the article to illustrate how perfect God’s love is on each of these counts:

“a strong personal attachment and ardent affection which includes three things:

1) sympathetic understanding…

Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses, having been tempted and tried as we are.  Hebrews 4:15-16

God has compassion on us, keeping in mind that we’re merely human.          Psalm 103:13-14

2)  good will & benevolent, kind action…

God has good plans for His children, to give them a secure future.              Jeremiah 29:11

He will make an everlasting covenant with His people and never stop doing good for them. He enjoys doing good for them!  Jeremiah 32:40-41

He cares for us and invites us to turn over all our concerns to Him.  1 Peter 5:7

3)  delight & pleasure in the loved one”

God rejoices over His people like a groom rejoices over his bride.  Isaiah 62:5

He delights in us, quiets us with his love, and rejoices over us with singing.  Zephaniah 3:1

And then how does this apply to my own love to God?  Do I try to see from His perspective?  Am I motivated to serve Him from a pure heart?  Do I take pleasure in Him?  And then what about my love to others?  How does that compare with these criteria?  Lots to think about while drifting off to sleep.

                                                                                             *Disciple Journal magazine, Issue 4, article by Ruth Myers

Love Beyond Limit

A few weeks ago I posted a link about the amazing extent of space known already to mankind—14 billion light years!.  As soon as stronger telescopes are made, the “limits” of space expand.  Of course, there’s a limit somewhere—it can’t be infinite.  Here’s where my analogy breaks down:  God’s love is beyond limit.  The more we explore, search, experience—the greater we find it to be.  Infinitely beyond our knowledge and imagination. 

And oh, the beauty!  We see pictures of stunning nebulae and other breathtaking things out in space.  It’s a reminder of God’s love–infinitely varied, splendid, and magnificent!  It will take a lifetime and eternity to begin to plumb its wonders. 

But if we’re content to settle for a tiny taste, that’s all we get.  Will we glance at the little pinpricks, turn away and go back to our trivial pursuits?  Or will we spread out a blanket and settle down for a long session gazing into the heavens?  Will we delve into the depths of divine love that goes on and on forever?  I don’t want to be satisfied with less.

  1. The love of God is greater far
    Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
    It goes beyond the highest star,
    And reaches to the lowest hell;
    The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
    God gave His Son to win;
    His erring child He reconciled,
    And pardoned from his sin.
    • Refrain:
      Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
      How measureless and strong!
      It shall forevermore endure—
      The saints’ and angels’ song.
  2. When hoary time shall pass away,
    And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
    When men who here refuse to pray,
    On rocks and hills and mountains call,
    God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
    All measureless and strong;
    Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.
  3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade;
    To write the love of God above
    Would drain the ocean dry;
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.

By Frederick M. Lehman, 1917

Responding to love

Jesus gave it all!  He had no possessions to bequeath his followers, but He gave His body, His blood!  And eternal life, blessing, and access to the Father!  It cost Him his life.  It was pure, unselfish love.

But what was the disciples’ response every time Jesus spoke of his impending death for them?  To argue about who of them was the greatest!  Sad smile  Why?  When Jesus prayed (John 17) for His followers, his #1 concern was that they be united in love for one another.

Fast-forward.  God is doing amazing things in the world, and more to come.  What are we Christians doing?  Are we jealously guarding our turf, competing for top ratings?  Are we being picky and in-fighting, majoring on “minors”?  Or are we focusing on God’s priorities of loving one another and taking His love and truth to the world?

The Best Invitations

I love to be included.  When I was 3-4 years old, some young mothers and babies were sitting on a blanket on the grass between our house and the neighbors’.  I felt left out and was sort of hanging around hoping for an invitation, when one of the ladies said, “Would you like to join us?”  I wasn’t sure what “join” meant so I ran back into the house to ask my mom!

A few days ago I wrote about Jesus’ invitation to four fishermen to COME with him.  That word is one of the most inviting in the Bible. When Jesus utters this invitation, my heart says, “Yes!  I’m coming!”

“Come follow me”—to a life of companionship & discipleship  (Mt. 4:19)

“Come to me all you weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!” (Mt. 11:28)

“Come”—to Peter who asked for an invitation to walk on the water (Mt. 14:29)

“Come you have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you!” (Mt. 25:34)

“Come with me privately to a quiet place and rest a little.” (Mk. 6:31)

“Come and see (where I’m staying).”  And they spent the rest of the day      getting acquainted with Jesus Smile.  (Jn. 1:46)

“Come eat breakfast (on the beach).”  (Jn. 21:12)

Can’t you just see Jesus smile, sparkling eyes, and extended hand?  Who could resist an invitation to hang out with the one who loves us more than we could imagine, who made us, watches over us,  gave His life to save ours, knows us inside and out,and keeps on loving us all the more?  Here’s one more:

The spirit and the bride (God’s people) say, “Come!” (Rev. 22:17) 

This is the invitation for all those who hear God’s call and thirst for the eternal life that He is freely offering.  Why not accept?

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