Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting Un-lost

The Big Dipper (Ursa Major) is right outside my favorite star-gazing window tonight. It’s standing on end. I’ve felt a little up-side-down myself, lately.

One of my childhood memories is of my father showing me the Big Dipper and explaining how to use it to find the North Star (Polaris), in case I should ever be lost. I remember feeling very comforted that there was a star to help me figure out where I was – even though I don’t think I really understood the navigation lesson at that age. And now I have a young son who takes great comfort in carrying around a compass when we’re outdoors – for the same reason Polaris comforted me.

Stars, a compass, a map – these are the tools that give us security when we’re outside four walls. But what about when our hearts are out there in the dark? What if life throws you some unexpected curves or circumstances spin you around until you’re disoriented? And what about the choices you make when you’re feeling brave – choices to live outside the four-walled-safety zone of “life as usual” and go off in an unknown direction? Where is your sky-map then?

It’s God for me. He doesn’t change. Even the North Star isn’t completely reliable forever – it is shifting. God is my fixed point for all eternity and if I know to look for Him, I can’t ever be lost. He said He’d never change. Not that He’s at all predictable, but He is always true to who He said He is.

I photographed the Big Dipper tonight. My shots are all a little blurry, mostly from star movement. But it’s 25 below zero (Fahrenheit) here tonight and I didn’t have it in me to shiver long enough to get a better photo. Back in the heated house, I’m looking at my pictures and I’m still a little up-side-down, but God is right-side-up, and I can just look at Him to get my bearings.

By your words I can see where I'm going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I've committed myself and I'll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything's falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word. Festoon me with your finest sayings, God; teach me your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don't forget what you have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don't swerve an inch from your course. I inherited your book on living; it's mine forever— what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what you say— I always have and always will. (Psalm 119:105, The Message)

Now you've got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I'm on the right way. (Psalm 16:11, The Message)

Take me by the hand; Lead me down the path of truth. You are my Savior, aren't you? (Psalm 25:5, The Message)

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree. (Psalm 43:3)

Ambushed by God and Un-lost,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How He Loves

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all…

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

He loves us…
…How He loves us……How He loves!

(Excerpted from How He Loves by John Mark McMillan)

It’s that big, fat, gibbous moon out there again tonight. I just can’t stay away from the windows. So I got out the tripod and I've been listening to the song above and shivering at an open window in a dark room of the house, shooting for the moon.

How He loves. How He loves us.

He scattered all those stars, drew the lines of the constellations, set the sun and then set the moon, whose light is only a reflection of the momentarily-out-of-sight sun. The moon – that midnight reminder that no matter how dark it is right now, the sun is on its way.

That’s just like God to put the moon up there in the darkness of the night.

Oh, how He loves!

Ambushed by God in the night hours,

Friday, January 6, 2012

At Rest

I drove past some fields today. There were no animals grazing, no dogs running. No one was plowing or planting or harvesting. If there were the seeds of crops in those fields, they were asleep under a thick blanket of snow. We’re deep into winter, the season of rest.

In Alaska, our summers are short but the days are long. We spend so much of the year in the dark that most of us can hardly bring ourselves to go to bed if the sun is shining – and the summer sun keeps some long hours here. We cram in as much fishing, hiking, camping, gardening, house repair, landscaping, machine repair and general productiveness as we can. Those short months of long days have to last us until it comes around again. By the time fall’s scents are in the air and the chill creeps in, I’m tired. I’ve had about as much work and about as much fun and I can take and I’m ready to bring out the wool blankets, light the candles and settle down for that proverbial “long winter’s nap”.

There is a rhythm to life – a cycle. The God who created time and seasons and divided the day from the night and so thoughtfully set aside a day out of every seven for us to rest – He knew we’d need the rest. He’s no slave driver. If my life looks crazy and is exhausting me, it’s not His fault. God is not a workaholic and He never asked me to be one, either. He likes rest. He likes parties (Where do you think Israel got all those feasts? God made them up!). He never intended us to live on the ragged edge.

Do you think it’s hard work to love God and do things His way? He promised it wouldn’t be. Take it from the source:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (–Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

We can embrace the season of rest. We can embrace the lifestyle that’s free and light. All we have to do is embrace the God who has already embraced us.

Ambushed by God in a field at rest,