About fifteen years ago I was part of a group of women who were reading The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis. It was a book that changed my life. John has gone on to write many other books..his wife and son also write. I appreciate their ministry and their message. This initial book is still my favorite..I often refer to it in my counseling practice and recommend it. The concept of a sacred romance was new to me and a little unnerving at first. Was God truly a romantic and was it true that He was romancing us in this very fallen world? As I began to open up to that possibility.. I saw glimpses of the goodness of God in ways that were wonderfully surprising. Of course.. it began to make sense.. we are created in His image … we embrace and long for romance.. He must have invented it.
Over the years since that time in my life I have kept the romance alive as much as possible..there were times when it seemed exceedingly real and times when it seemed to be an impossible dream. I read John’s other books and reminded myself that I needed to fight for this. I keep thinking about the reminder at the end of the book.. John writes ” Finally, we were meant to remember together, in community. We need to tell our stories to others and to hear their stories told. ..our regular times of coming together to worship are intended to be time of corporate remembrance..’ This God has done’, we say this, He will do.’ ..remembering is not mere nostalgia it is an act of survival.”
He is the Great Romantic who fills the sky with colors for no reason other than our pleasure. He created the ocean and filled it with living things for our pleasure. He wakes us up in the morning with songs..birds singing their hearts out for our pleasure.. just some reminders.. in case today is a day when you need them.
These photos were taken last night from my deck.. and no I don’t live in Hawaii! I wanted to share them with you so that you can remember.. so we can remember together that the larger story of God has a wonderful happy ending.
We are desperate for this life giving water that God promises us.. our hearts long to be filled up with the living water that flows from His throne. I don’t claim to understand it all.. but I know that He supplies everything that is missing in us. His life in us is what keeps us safe and directs our steps. It mystifies me that we find ourselves so dry..absolutely parched..unable to even speak.. when all we need to do is go to Him.
He longs to fill us..to flow through us..to use us. Yet we resist and we keep trying to meet our own needs.. to be our own source. It never works..we are slow learners, aren’t we? Our God is so faithful and patient.. He waits for us to be ready..to come closer.. to drink deeply. He knows when we cannot.. when we will not.. He accepts our reluctance and He never abandons us. He made us and He understands the human heart.. our weaknesses and failures.
I really need a drink of that amazing water today..tomorrow I may need even more.
“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”‘
today..I was widowed after living in a very difficult relationship for 25 years. I lived in a prison that I did not deserve..with an addict who never tasted the freedom that God wanted to give him. I thought my life was over when this happened..I thought I was too old to start over. I could not see a future for myself..God had a different plan.
My life now is unbelievable..I have an amazing husband , wonderful grandchildren, a beautiful place to live, lots of free time for the things I love. God has been so good to me. He has given me more than I could ever ask for or even dream about. He continues to surprise me. He has replaced my small sad story by placing me in His larger story..a great adventure..the abundant life that I was longing for.
Now..this does not mean there are no problems..or that my life is a bowl of cherries. There are struggles and challenges..loss and disappointment. The good and the hard..they go hand in hand. He is the redeemer and the one who takes all of it and uses it for good. His plan is perfect and He is to be trusted.
I am celebrating His goodness today..recognizing His faithfulness and encouraging you to do the same. Take a little time to stand back from your life..look for the thin places where His goodness breaks through and your are overwhelmed by His love.
” Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.”
That is the title of a daily reading in God’s Message for Each Day by Eugene Peterson. This man has a gift when it comes to writing. The way He expresses thoughts and ideas never ceases to amaze me. Here’s the message that follows that title:
“Each morning we wake to a world…that is given by God. God shares who He is and what He makes, His love, and His salvation. He is not just maker of heaven and earth; He is not just the revealer of truth; He is not just architect of salvation.. He gives…
Where all is gift, I do not own things or persons and thus have to protect them. Therefore I do not have to be anxious. In a world of grace I do not live in laborious struggle trying to fashion a world that suits my needs and desires, hammering together a life out of the bits and pieces of scrap lumber that come my way. I do not live in anxious suspicion, nervous about what others might do to me, what others might think of me, I simply discover and receive.”
Isn’t that beautiful? I especially like the part where he talks about hammering a life togehter out of the bits and pieces.. Wow! Don’t we do that? It reminds me of how we try to live in our own small story instead of the larger story that God has in mind for us. We are incapable of imagining all the wonderful gifts that He has for us, our finite minds are unable to truly conceive of the goodness of our God.
Some thoughts for this advent season.. Let’s move forward to discover, receive, and anticipate all that He has planned for us.
“Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven”
Yes..this post is for you! Remember to rest. What exactly is this rest I am talking about? It is intentional, not incidental. It doesn’t just happen because it is Saturday or Sunday or whatever day you may have without scheduled activities. The rest I am writing about is learning to be still and rest in His goodness. It is an inner rest..one that happens in our emotions, spirits, and bodies. This is the rest that God promises to His people.
How many of us experience it? I’m afraid the answer is sad..not many. We live in our busy demanding culture..often there is not even time to think about resting. Technological advances help make us more and more available to anyone at any time. We are plugged in..waiting for the next text, phone call, email.. whatever. Maybe it is time to take a break and look at the condition of our hearts. Is your heart heavy? Filled with anxiety or worry? Fearful? Tired?
All of these are signs that you need to rest. Corrie ten Boom wrote a little book about forty years ago .. the title is ” Don’t Wrestle, Just Nestle.” I love the title and today I pulled it off my shelf. I used to read this book over and over and I remember the reason. Her faith is so solid, so pure and so practical. She reminds her readers of the joy and peace that God has for us as we trust Him. Her life was filled with incredible trials..time spent in a concentration camp where she watched her sister die. She did not have it easy.. that was not the point. She learned to rest in Him.
The book is full of quotes.. I wish I could read it to you right now. One that jumped out at me says.” To worry is the same as saying to God ‘ I don’t believe you’.” Wow!
When we rest in God, we are telling Him that we believe Him, that we know that He is good and that we will lay down our own agenda in exchange for the abundant life He offers us. As we stop striving and trying to write our own stories, He will unfold each new chapter of our lives at just the right moment. He carries us in His arms and takes us forward..protecting and providing for us.
“Today is yesterday’s tomorrow you worried about, and all is well.”
” Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there.”
We walk by faith.. desire to live by faith..pray for faith..wonder about faith. Faith is hard to grasp because it is counter-intuitive. Our natural inclination is to look at our circumstances, evaluate our options and move forward in a logical way that involves the least amount of risk. Living by faith is completely different.
Our decisions are not made by looking at our circumstances..we have to overlook many of our natural inclinations. Faith based decisions often are not logical and involve great risk. It is very challenging. I was remembering some decisions I’ve made over the past decade that were based on faith. I got married for the 3rd time after I was widowed at 51..and after having two bad marriages. That was a risk. I borrowed money to go to Seminary without knowing if I could even earn enough to pay back the loans..very risky. Money is the biggest area for most of us. We feel secure when we look at the numbers in our savings account..if we have one.
God asks us to trust Him..to walk with Him..to believe that He will meet us and sometimes He keeps us on the edge of our seat as we so this. I’ve been happily married for over 9 years. We are still trusting God for the money to pay back my student loan. We are walking by faith..not by sight and believing in the goodness of our God. He is still asking me to take new risks and I am still praying for courage as I live this life of faith.
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.