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Posts Tagged ‘Shadows’

I have a secret shame … but, I guess it will soon no longer be secret …

It all started about eight and a half years ago, when we had company over for dinner in our new house. We had experienced quite an exciting process in the purchasing of this current house, and selling of our previous place (in the order … sigh), and we truly felt that God had provided this little piece of heaven on earth for us.

20130611-171131.jpgFrom the moment that the couple arrived, until they left hours later, the wife of the couple was constantly making comments about how big the house is, how excessive the house is, how extravagant the house is. By the time they left, later that evening, my joy of our new home had been popped like a helium balloon.

big

excessive

extravagant

For the thrift shopping, Scottish heritage bearing, tightwad in me those descriptors of our home were enough to make me feel shamed.

As I look back now, my desire to move, to downsize, started with that evening. I could not bear to imagine people thinking that I, that we, wanted to live in excess.

This story came to mind the other day when I was planning a party at our home, and I pulled one of the people invited aside and asked him to please not judge me on our over-sized house. Each word I communicated to him, I did so with the similarity of a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs after being caught ripping up the baseboards (not that that has ever happened with our beast). What I was really communicating to him was not humility, but shame.

But now, as hubby and I are looking at ending this season in this house I am remembering that, although I have referred to it as an albatross, although I have referred to it as the original Money Pit, although I have referred to this house as owning us (and let me tell you, it does), I am remembering how, originally, we looked at it as a blessing, from the hand of God …

It is what we have done with that gift … allowing it to own us, allowing it to dictate how we spend our time … our money, allowing the words of one person to cast a shifting shadow on the gift that God delighted in presenting to us.

May we learn from this secret shame … may we overlook the shadow to see the light of God in the blessings … all of the blessings … that He has given.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

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A few weeks back I wrote in the post Memorizing by Heart, about challenging myself to memorize Psalm 139.

I had no idea how fantastic this self-challenge would be. The more verses I memorized by heart, the more burned into my soul was the richness and depth of the message of them.

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I knew this recently as I stood among the beauty of creation, feeling a lacking in hope in an area of my day. Standing there, beneath the tall trees, hearing the birds chirp and the squirrels chatter, the message of that Psalm started to flow from my lips, as though an ‘on’ switch was pushed automatically.

“You have searched me Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.”

How comforting those words, which reminded me how intimately the Creator of these tall trees and carefree creatures knows me.

“You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.”

As those words came to my lips I sensed the communication that He is not just with me, but His presence is like a protective, fatherly embrace.

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

Even when I feel that I am surrounded by doubt, by discouragement, by darkness, He is the light that I can see in the shadows.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

He has been with me since before Creation, He knows what tomorrow, and every tomorrow after it, holds for me.

” when I awake, I am still with you.”

When the bad dreams, the nightmares of this present day, this season of life that you and I might be going through, and we awake … we will see that He is still with us. He never left our side.

But, before the nightmares end, the words hidden in our hearts can remind us of the promise of His presence … even when our eyes are too consumed by the dark.

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Since the start of the new year, I have been overcome with light.

The topic of light has been everywhere. It has been in the music I listen to, the ‘pins’ I see (on Pinterest) , the conversations I have had, the classes I assist in, the sermons I have heard. Light has been shining brightly in my eyes!

Now, as spring is progressing, I get to awaken to lightened skies, as the light of the sun push the darkness away, even on the gray and dreary days.

That is what light does … it pushes the darkness away.

As someone who finds the monsoon-like dark winters, where I live, to be rather depressing, I really like how light can push away the darkness. I have even known a certain hubby to try to woo me with moving to places like San Diego, where they get about two hundred and sixty-six days of sun a year (compared with Vancouver, BC’s miserable daily averages of 1.8 and 2.0 hours a day of sunlight in December and January).

When I awaken to even a speck of sun through the clouds, my day looks brighter. When I awaken to dark, gray and rain, I can feel my spirit drop. Light can set the stage for things to come.

I am learning to take joy in the little glimmers of light that I get in the dark months of the wet West Coast. I am gradually understanding that to get outside when the sun does shine, and to speak of the little bits of sun when it does show it’s face, is to store up the positive effects of light, for times when it is hidden by gray clouds.

Really, though, the sun is always there, even though it might be above the clouds. The many shades of gray are only visible because of the presence of light. Without light, there would be no gray, there would be no shadows. Light, cast into the darkness, causes shadows where it cannot reach directly. But, when light is cast into the darkness, our eyes need only to be focused on the light. The light draws our eyes from the darkness, and they follow it’s path.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). He also said that we (who follow him) are like a city built on a hill, visible to all, and if we live in His light, others can see it, and also choose to live in His light. (Matthew 5:14-16 … Carole Wheaton translation 😉 ).

The light is there … even if all we can see are the shadows.

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” ~ C. S. Lewis

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For months the name Tim Tebow has dominated sports news in North America. There is also growing attention for Jeremy Lin. They are both amazing athletes, they are both young men (Jeremy is twenty-three, and Tebow is twenty-four), they are both sought after to market many products, they are both nice young men (going only by what the press has said … so far … about them), and they are both loudly professing Christians.

Not long ago, I awoke to the sports newscast on the radio. There was great excitement over an amazing, game winning basket, scored by Mr. Lin with less than a second of game time. One of the radio personalities, after the sportscast, said something negative about how Lin, like Tebow, talks about God all the time.

The comments of the radio personality jarred me into an irritated state to start my day. Just why is it that when individuals are successful, when individuals are doing good things, when individuals are living in a manner that is good for society (ie. Tebow (Tim Tebow Foundation) and Jeremy Lin (Jeremy Lin Foundation) both have foundations to support underprivileged and and ill children), when individuals are doing it all in the name of God, our society would rather cut them down, and have them shut up? In a day and age of acceptance of all and toleration, can the name of God not be tolerated?

To be fair, to be a Christian means living in the shadow of those who have blown it (remember Jim Baker? Jerry Falwell? Pat Robertson? Jimmy Swaggart? The ‘Christian Brothers’ of the Mount Cashel orphanage? and so on). Sometimes it is almost fearful to state, publicly, that you are a Christian. As soon as people know this about you, you are pigeon holed with those who have blown it before. In a sense you are convicted before you even sin, because it is expected of you.

God expects it of us too. That is why his love is not a conditional one, that is why his love is littered with grace. That is why those of us who profess a belief and reliance on God, want to share it with others. We know that all that we have, and are, is due to the God who provides. That is why Tebow and Lin (and others in the spotlight, and out of it) want to share it … it is just that good. This belief in God does not make the believer better than others, it makes his or her life better than without it.

I fear for individuals like Lin and Tebow, because they have been placed on impossibly high pedestals, elevating them above all other mere mortals (much like OJ, Magic Johnson, Joe Paterno, Tonya Harding, Roger Clemens). I fear for them, because they are mere mortals, and all of us fail, and mess up, and make mistakes, and do things that are contrary to our beliefs (even atheists have been heard calling out to God before fading into the foreverland of death … you cannot get much more contrary to beliefs than that).

Jeremy Lin said, “there is so much temptation to hold on to my career even more now. To try to micromanage and dictate every little aspect. But that’s not how I want to do things anymore. I’m thinking about how can I trust God more. How can I surrender more? How can I bring him more glory? It’s a fight. But it’s one I’m going to keep fighting.” May Lin win this fight!

When being interviewed by NFL Today, Tebow said, “Mom and Dad preached to me when I was a little kid that just because you may have athletic ability and may be able to play a sport doesn’t make you any more special than anybody else, doesn’t mean God loves you more than anybody else … at the end of the day, it’s a [football] game.” And may Tebow keep this perspective.

As a fellow Christian, I pray that these two young men continue in their life walk with God, and I pray that they continue to give God the thanks, whether the Lord gives or the Lord takes away … praise the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

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