Finding Healing in His Presence

It’s mid-afternoon and I stand in the middle of the grassy yard, eyes transfixed on the movement of light dancing all around me on the ground.  The maple branches are caught in a lyrical dance that fools and I cannot stop watching this masterpiece before me.  

My daughter runs past, asking, “What are you doing, Mommy?”  By this time, I’ve pulled out my phone to try to capture this magic.  It’s hard to explain that it’s not so much the shadows and light that I’m taking pictures of, but the feeling in which I’m enveloped.

This late summer trickery takes me to another backyard, another time period, and another mother.  It calls me in to reflect on time now lost and people now passed.  The dancing light lures me in like a cosy bed on a cool day.  It’s familiar, comfortable, mystical and it feels like time has stopped.  

My daughter stops and asks me again, “What are you doing, Mommy?” She peers at the screen on my phone and positions her feet and legs in the frame to capture herself.  “Look at me!” she exclaims.  Two and a half and full of life and joy and expectancy.  

The light draws me in and she pulls me out – a lifeline in the grief that has poured another wave over my head since returning to my hometown.  She leans over and presses the button to take a picture on my phone over and over again, except it’s still in video mode and the result is a small collection of millisecond videos.  She insists on playing each one.  She laughs and skips off to play with her big sister.

Why am I capturing light when the picture of beauty is in these two beings who grew in my womb?  Why am I so distracted?  Why am I entranced by the movement dancing from tree to grass to bush to shrub?  Its ethereal nature draws me in like the intimacy of the Holy Spirit nurturing my soul.  It’s like a gift from God, communicating His very presence with me.   

Henri Nouwen once wrote, “Each day holds a surprise.  But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us.  Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or joy.  It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”

In this holy space, time stands still.  God’s presence is loud but gentle, His voice firm but loving. He picks up a little piece of my heart that had broken off and makes it whole, along with the rest of me.  

___________________

I often find that the Lord speaks to me when I’m out in nature.  How has God been meeting with you lately?

heavenly yearning

The end of day sun shines in through our kitchen window as Dear Dear waters our small vegetable garden. Today was uneventful but generally good in its fullness. Friends visiting over night. Meals with long conversations. Goodbyes before their drive back to the big city further south.

One of our friends and I talked about the choice to trust in God’s goodness – the necessity to daily choose to trust in Him. So many highs and lows we’ve each faced the last several years. I appreciate our spirit-filled and spiritual conversations. Our introspectiveness is sometimes overwhelming but I think it’s partly because we’re both such verbal processors and also perfectionists. But we also both have a desire to grow, become more holy and to be an effective witness for Christ.  Our challenges and lessons learned are a help to each of us I think.  If only we could let go of our perfectionist tendencies…“Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall…” (J. Garrels)

This song came to mind after she and our other friend left.

Let the words soak and refresh you.

Farther Along by Josh Garrels

Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves em’ both
We’re all cast-aways in need of ropes
Hangin’ on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I’ve seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin’ that line back home

So much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
And wash away all the things you’ve done
Forgiveness alright

Chorus

Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin’ for my soul
And I’ve got no place left go
Cause I got changed by what I’ve been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin’ on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I’m free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I’ll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the son of god is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we’re the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon

Chorus

“the credit belongs to the man… in the arena…”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”      -Theodore Roosevelt

God’s faithfulness and our perseverance

Perseverance is not the result of our determination, it is the result of God’s faithfulness.  We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous, because God sticks with us.  Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms.  It is out of such reality that we acquire perseverance.
Eugene Peterson, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, p. 133

right perspective

We speak words of praise in a world that is hellish; we sing our songs of victory in a world where things get messy; we live our joy among people who neither understand nor encourage us.  But the content of our lives is God, not humanity.  We are not scavenging in the dark alleys of the world, poking in its garbage cans for a bare subsistence.  We are traveling in the light, toward God who is rich in mercy and strong to save.  It is Christ, not culture, that defines our lives.  It is the help we experience, not the hazards we risk, that shape our days.
-Eugene Peterson, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, p. 79

whetting our appetite and being changed…

Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God – it whets our appetite.  Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship – it deepens.  It overflows the hour and permeates the week.  The need is expressed in a desire for peace and security.  Our everyday needs are changed by the act of worship.  We are no longer living from hand to mouth, greedily scrambling through the human rat race to make the best we can out of a mean existence.
Eugene Peterson, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, p. 56 

action into feelings – nurturing our relationship with God

“We live in what one writer has called the “age of sensation.”  We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it.  But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting.  Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.  When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured.”
-Eugene Peterson, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction,” p. 54

recalling God’s goodness

We need… reminders of God’s goodness.  We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace.  This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God.  We forget that we already have everything we need in Him.  Because we don’t often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worthy to be worshipped and loved.
– Francis Chan, in “Crazy Love”