Daily it seems that these words cross my mind. Something else, going wrong, unexpected, tragic, discouraging. In those moments hope seems to fade. My response is to create my own reality. I tell myself that it won’t last, or it isn’t really THAT bad. It’s not biblical…well not until now.
Romans 8:19 “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.”
This verse is sandwiched in a passage where Paul laments the damnable position of all mankind. He points out that even creation is suffering because of everything gone wrong. But he does not draw a wholly negative picture. There is the anticipation of a future glory. A day when all is as it was intended and should be.
In his commentary on this passage, William Barclay summarizes the situation like this:
“The Christian is involved in the human situation. Within he must battle with his own evil human nature; without he must live in a world of death and decay. Nonetheless, the Christian does not live only in the world; he also lives in Christ. He does not see only the world; he looks beyond it to God. He does not see only the consequences of man’s sin; he sees the power of God’s mercy and love. Therefore, the keynote of the Christian life is always hope and never despair. The Christian waits, not for death, but for life.” (emphasis added)
As a Christian, by faith I accept that God has redeemed me through Christ Jesus. This redemption is not complete until I am able to enter into God’s presence. And so while the world all around me seems to fall apart, I take heart in a different reality.* A reality that will bring hope from despair. A reality that is only found in Christ.
(*Qualifiers: 1. My life is difficult, but not falling apart…it just seems like it sometimes. 2. Denial of reality can lead to unhealthy views of oneself and situation. Denial must be balanced carefully by an honest assessment of whatever your situation might be. Are you contributing to the downward spiral by not owning up to your part of the problem(s)? Overall our attitude and outlook should be positive and hopeful. We know how it all ends and who wins.)
If you follow me on Twitter or have me as a friend on Facebook there’s a good chance that you have seen me post a sunrise photo with the title “Good Morning”. I get the joy of crossing the Arkansas River on Southwest Boulevard each morning as I come to work at the office. As the sun rises over the river casting a silhouette upon the sleepy city there is a reminder that today is a new day. A day of new opportunities. I am reminded of the verse:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)
On a more technical side I really enjoy looking back at these photos and learning from them. Composition and lighting dramatically influence the final image (photography 101). What better demonstration of this than seeing a variety of shots from basically the same location but with varying light, exposure and composition. So for all you photo newbies like me out there–exercise: Take a series of photos from the same location and bring them all together and critique them based upon composition and lighting. What moods are differentiated by the changes? What composition and lighting combinations work and don’t work?
Don’t you just love digital photography?
Don’t you love a new day?
Today is the day that I mourned for a son.
I grew up in a house mostly full of men and today I realized; no pictures of my son playing football, no posts about how fun it is to wrestle on the floor with my boy, no young man to sit and pour out what little accumulated wisdom and experience gained from my years.
Don’t cry. I’m not.
Because I know that, even though God has not graced me with a son (yet), I have so much. I have a beautiful and extremely intelligent daughter. She is healthy and strong. And what I and her mother lack in wisdom and experience, God graciously provides.
This isn’t so much about my daughter or lack of a son as it is about how God moves to fill us with things we never expected would be fulfilling. How God takes the voids in our lives and fills them so deeply that the thought of mourning for them feels like a waste of time.
Here’s a great song from a band I don’t know about. But for me today it speaks to the joy of knowing that in the voids of my life God has stepped in and covered them all.
What music is speaking to you today?
I’m challenged this morning by these words:
“Live to make an impact, not an impression.”
My mother-in-law is a Master Gardner. Which basically means that when it comes to gardening, she can beat up your mother-in-law. It also means that she keeps some pretty amazing gardens at her house. I’ve watched her over the years transform various areas of the yard into beautiful landscaped pieces of art. It’s a lot of hard work.
It’s fall now and you can tell everything is in a natural state of decline. Some of the flowers are still blooming, but get lost in the piles of leaves or dying plants. It is a shame to see all that hard work begin to fade away. I realized that there are two seasons that you really get to enjoy the beauty of all the work put into a garden. In the spring the aesthetic beauty is amazing and in the summer the fruit is just as tasty.
You’ve probably heard people talk about the seasons of life. Well I have realized that not only is it important and beneficial to identify those seasons, but to also enjoy them. Right now for me I am in a season of harvest particularly with my “career”. There have been so many summers and winters spent cultivating, weeding and sowing. Now the fruit is beginning to be harvested. Just as much as I want to enjoy harvesting the fruits of my labor I want to enjoy being in this season. I know that it will end. There will be another transition. Another season of tilling the ground in preparation of a new crop.
But before I get there.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Soak up the scenery. Enjoy the moment.
What season are you in? How can you enjoy the moment, even if it is difficult?
I realized this morning that I don’t like referring to my work as “my job”. Job now has the connotation of forced labor. I’m one of the lucky ones that has a calling. As Media Director at Literacy and Evangelism International I spend at least 60% of my time focused on things that I am passionate about and are areas of strength for me.
But this isn’t about me and my awesome “job”.
I realize that there are many people in my life who have invested in me and helped me learn about myself and God’s design for me.
So, like a winner at the Oscars, here is my acceptance speech:
“First, I would like to thank my parents and my family. They have always been a source of love and encouragement. My dad has taught me the value of hard work and not feeling sorry for yourself when things get tough. My mom has shown me what grace and hospitality are all about. My brothers and sister who are always so much fun to hang out with have taught me the value of family love and care. My extended family who have accepted me and trusted me to make decisions about moving their daughter and sister (and granddaughter and niece) away from her home. I would like to thank Mike Miller as a long time friend and mentor. Mike took me on my first international mission trip and since then has continually invested in me as a leader. I would like to thank The Heart Church who has been so gracious to allow me the space and time to focus in on my strengths discovering more specifically what it is that God has called me to. I would like to thank Dave Jewitt and Your One Degree for guiding me and spending so much time and caffeine on helping me to discover God’s specific DESIGN. And of course, thanks to my wife Missy and my daughter Eve, who have been my source of inspiration and perseverance. It is because of you two that I want to be the best that I can be! Thanks for all your love.”
As the music starts up and the announcer starts to talk over me…
“And of course I’d like to thank Jesus Christ who is the One who makes all things possible…”
How would your acceptance speech go?
“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Romans 8:34 (NLT)”
I don’t know about you, but for me this is revolutionary. Did you catch that? Not only are we NOT condemned, but Christ sits at God’s right hand pleading our case. Jesus sticks up for us to the Father. He’s the one who says. “Give him another chance.” “I’m not giving up on her yet!” “They are righteous on my behalf.”
What does this knowledge do for you?
So another thought hit me this afternoon. I was reminded of the account of the adulteress woman. One of the things that frustrates me about this is that Jesus charges her to “Go and sin no more.” Obviously this woman had a problem and I’m sure that if she wasn’t aware of it before, by now she was. Jesus’ charge to go and live a right life seems rather hopeless in light of the situation. He gives her no insight into HOW to go and sin no more. Frustrating. Right?
1. Jesus knew her and the reality is that she was not in a place where she was ready to turn from her life of sin. According to the Biblical account she didn’t ask the follow up question; How?
2. Jesus knows that the only way to living a life free from sin is in relationship to him. In our desire to live sinless we are left to fall on the grace of Jesus Christ as we follow him. In a sense we are pushed into a deeper relationship with Jesus because it is only there that we find true freedom. Jesus knew that in her desperation she would have no where else to turn but to him. He was the one who stopped the condemnation. He stood up for her when no one else would. He valued her when everyone else wanted to put her down.
In either scenario the problem is that we have to accept the reality that Jesus did not come to condemn us but to save us. He said it point blank to the woman. “Neither do I (condemn you).” The theme is picked up immediately following this account.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 (NLT)
It’s the theme of Jesus’ life and ministry. Paul summed it up so well: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Does this make sense? Does it mean anything to you?