Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Walking in the Light



“To walk in the light means that everything that is of the darkness actually drives me closer to the center of the light.” – Oswald Chambers

Imagine that you take a nightly walk, holding your lantern, to a particular destination. Around you is darkness, but because you hold your light, your path is illuminated. In fact, you may occasionally take different routes, turns, and other adjustments to your course. This is no problem for you, because you are holding the light. Perhaps years go by, and you do this journey yourself, never thinking much as you get more comfortable with each journey made.

Then one day … you lose your light.

Lost, you see another distant light, and then a hand reach out into the darkness guiding you back. You don’t know why, but you feel you should follow … so you do. This individual leads you to another that has a light, one that seems brighter in ways you can’t explain. So the journey continues, and while unsure, you decide to follow this new leader.

As you begin you immediately begin to see the struggle as he is taking completely different turns and routes than you ever have. In fact, he is taking what you think to be a much harder way, even the wrong way at times. Yet he now holds the light to illuminate your path. You may think you know where to go on your own, but the darkness prevents you from leaving. Sometimes you try to push the limits, hoping that your distance may even force your leader to follow you, but alas it does not.

The darkness drives you back to the light.

You don’t walk in perfect step with your partner, and even if you try to get as close as possible, you still never have the feeling of control … because … you’re no longer the light bearer. He is.

Sometimes you get so lost in the darkness as the frustration and temptation to go your own way overcomes you, but even when you find yourself completely lost in your surroundings, you seem to never have lost sight of that faint glowing Light in the distance. At times, it’s so far away that your journey back is met with falls, trips, scrapes, and bruises …

It’s bewildering why at times you still try to go your own way when you know what darkness surrounds you; yet the pull is always there.

This journey with your new Leader has taken you through some incredibly tough climbs, challenges, and even some long swims through waters you felt would consume you. Yet this path He leads you on has brought you to see more beautiful places than you ever thought imaginable. Beautiful things you never even knew existed. At times He pauses … allowing you see this beauty around you … and then, there are other times He pauses. The first time you didn’t know why until you saw those eyes in the distant dark staring back at you … lost … you waited, and just stared back until you realized after looking back at your Leader that it’s you He was waiting on. As you muster the courage, you venture out into the edge of the light, grab a hand, and lead them back to Him.

This continues! Companionship grows, help and encouragement surround you now, and you get to share this journey with others. You now help each other cross those difficult passes, weep with and help heal the wounds of those that the darkness had injured. You get to laugh and share the beauty now, and celebrate as others continue to join in this journey. You try to help each other and guide others back to His Light as they start to wander. After all, you have seen what is out there.

Sometimes though … those eyes that we see … they don’t come. Some don’t want to as they still carry a finite light of their own. Others just sit in the darkness waiting for something … someone. You try to encourage, and talk about your Leader, and even the journey that you have seen (difficult and beautiful) … some even laugh and think these stories of things you have seen are too much to believe. Then with prayer, and sometimes tears, you have to leave … but at least you leave having the hope that you now know; that His light is never too far away to see if they ever wish to come back.

Each time you have to leave them, it is never thinking you are better or smarter for walking in His Light … because even still … you heart is prone to wander back into the darkness … and you pray to remain strong yourself. After all, it’s not a walk of perfection – it’s a walk of submission to the Light, the Leader … Jesus.


Thank you Oswald that your words continue to speak. This is what I thought of when I read those words you penned. I look forward to meeting you at the end of my journey.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

From Blah to Blessings



So today has been kind of a blah day ... not bad, just blah ...

Work was blah, lunch was blah, had a headache for a bit so that was blah, came home early to help watch my daughter who was feeling blah, and watched my wife and oldest daughter head to Secretary of State and all the frustration that came with that which was blah. My dinner was blah and since I was hanging out with my little one I really didn't get to get outside and tackle what I wanted to do (nor get a walk/run/bike in) which also made me feel blah.

*Looks at FitBit* ... 5400 steps ... blah ...

Now you're probably feeling blah after reading that!

Usually when I feel blah, it sort of leads to a downward spiral of blah ... even in my relationship with God. I sort of hunker in a metaphorical corner, savoring all my introvert-ness and isolation and am surprised that my icky quiet corner of space didn't make me feel better. It's supposed to recharge me! Why isn't it working like that?

But today?

Today ... I decided to grab my laptop ... my Bible ... and see what He says about my blah (maybe it's Greek for something) day ... this isn't post-de-blah-ness, this is right in the middle of it all so let's see what we can learn together. Real time bloggin y'all ...

BTW, did you know boring isn't in the Bible?

Anyway ... let's try something else. I feel like being washed over in a Psalm ... they (usually David) tend to express emotions pretty openly like I do. Many shout praises, but many also are pouring out depression, anger, fear ... all with an underlining knowledge that He is in control.

Hmm ... funny I should mention that. That's really where all this blah is from isn't it? Not being in control? Work, lunch, sickness, errands, chores, etc. Things just didn't go the way I had planned.

Planned ... a plan ...

Well this isn't a Psalm ... but here ... there's a lot of backdrop to this story, but nonetheless:

“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9 ESV

Know God
Serve God
Seek God
[and you will] Find God

Well, I would say I know Him ... I may not understand His will all the time, but I do know Him.

... and He knows me ... *big smile* ... but I digress ...

Serve Him? Well, at this particular moment when I read that word (serve) I immediately thought of the alternate, to serve sin; serve my flesh. Sitting here with you (well, you eventually) right now reminds me of one of the few good choices I made today. I chose God over my sulking in my metaphorical corner, or worse. I served Him and not my flesh ... and sin ... and by doing that very thing, I naturally begin the journey of seeking Him.

*another smile* ... OK, we do have to pause now ... and maybe when these words reach you, perhaps you can do the same ... I need to sit with Him for a bit in prayer. BRB ... AFK ... whatever ... I'll be back in a bit (though for you, just the next line!)

...

God is just ... refreshing. A well of living water indeed!

I was reminded what author Shelley Hitz said in one of her books about faith. She has a beautiful view of Pikes Peak that she sees most every morning. Each time she looks out at that beautiful work of art and takes it in ... except for one morning in particular. Likely not the first time, but sometimes it takes things a while before it hits you. Through the overcast, clouds, and poor visibility ... out her window ... Pikes Peak ... was gone. Then she realized, and simply but profoundly stated:
Just because I couldn't see Pikes Peak that morning, didn't mean it was no longer there.

Shelley Hits
How often do we feel distant from God in our blah times? Are we staring at the clouds, or seeing beyond them with eyes of faith? Are we letting life and daily routine so eclipse our view of God that we live like He's not right there beside us? God doesn't change ... but our view of Him certainly does. Perhaps not in word, but certainly in action.

I was also reminded of community, and how we really need others who call on His name around us. For me, in this quiet time, it is the communion of saints that have gone before us, or even books from others like Shelley that remind us we are on a journey together. With all the bad press that social media sometimes gets, it can still be a great tool to reach out, and draw in, when we seek the right sources. We need community, not isolation.

I was also reminded of how many blessings my day was full of, and how many everyday things I perhaps (ok, very much so) take for granted. From my job, my family, my security, and even God.

Know Him ... Serve Him ... Seek Him ...

... and you will find Him indeed!

Blessings friends

His,
~Matthew

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

... and is to come.

When we read a passage like this ... 

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.



James 5:7-8 ESV

What comes to mind for you? For me, it's the simple question I ask myself; do I live like I really believe the Lord is returning? Is my theology matching my life, or do I seem to have a detachment from the reality that Scripture speaks?

But I am patient for His return say some!

Let's not mistake the farmers' patience with inactivity. The farmer worked ... and worked hard ... so that his crop would be fruitful. He had patience and trust in the Lord of the harvest. He let God work on the result, but certainly he put his hands to work.

I'm not a farmer say some!

Neither am I! So I will ask another question: Do we take more care preparing our home for a dinner party than we do preparing ourselves for the return of our Lord?



If I'm the only one that cringes slightly at that question, than perhaps this world is more prepared than I would have thought, but I'm guessing not. I'm guessing we get far more worked up about the casserole, the dirty floor, and place settings than prepare our hearts for His return.

If you haven't yet, I strongly suggest you read The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence (published in 1691). The mundane and worldly responsibilities are not separate for God, in fact God is in them all just as beautifully ... and we can be in presence with Him through them all. Brother Lawrence does a wonderful job of illustrating that here in this book.

So whatever your plans are for today ... I suggest we all take a moment to ponder the Lord's return. Perhaps not the children's Sunday School version, but the Isaiah version ... 

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:4-5 ESV

He was ... is ... and is to come ... 

His,
~Matthew


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