Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kyrie Eleison

Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us
~ Kyrie Eleison

A beautiful way to start this snowy day. I'm watching fine flakes shaken like caster sugar over all the orange, yellow, and green leaves of Autumn... Thank You Jesus for Beauty!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

And We Are Filled With Joy...

The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

~ Psalm 126:3 (NiV)

What has the LORD done for you today that has filled you with joy?

Here is my list from the weekend:
  • Good Summit friends from across the country converging in Colorado
  • Sunset in Estes Park over jagged, snow-capped peaks across a still lake
  • Bouldering with awesome friends
  • Photo shoots
  • RED maple trees at Celestial Seasonings factory, and all around Boulder in general
  • Extreme yellow cottonwood-type trees along the river
  • Good chilli at Snarf's sammich shop
  • Fantastic conversations
  • Fun and hoopla @ the Stonestreet's
  • Laughing so hard that we cried @ Savannah's awesome stories
  • Really, really good food - especially avocados
  • Reading/Finishing Perelandra
  • Good hymns and service at St. George's this morning + Middle School FUSE ;)
  • Phone calls from good friends needing a listening ear and advice (and the same friends giving good advice and exhibiting humility)
  • Amazing cups of tea with cream and sugar
  • Liverwurst sammiches w/avocados
  • John Michael Talbot and Michael Card music to chill out with in the evening
  • Time to write letters
  • A heated blanket on my comfy bed, and just having a bed!
  • My car running like a champion through the Mountains and the Beautiful drive to/through Estes Park (and the moosen we saw in the woodsen!)
  • Fun hikes and lovely walks
  • Cold nights with clear skies and no moon; perfect for viewing the stars
  • My friends Joseph and Edna who always bless me with good conversation and sweet, unlooked-for gifts
  • Considering and mulling over the fact that at a literal point in history, God wasn't a man and that at one specific time He set aside His rightful glory and splendour to be clothed in flesh to share man's smudge and smell
  • Psalm 126 (check out the end after the above verse... Soooo good!)

Ah! And there is a new week ahead to gather more realisations that God has done great things for us...
...And I am filled with joy!

~ Johanna

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stepping Stones

Have you ever tried to cross a creek by jumping from stone to stone? I often go about this task rather gingerly (and not just because I am red-headed). Stones in a creek can be slippy, moss-covered, treacherous, and wobbly. Sometimes it is no easy task picking your way across such hazards; especially when you do not know which (if any) you will meet on your trek.

Life is rather like crossing an immense stream by stepping from rock to rock. It is hard to tell if you will have sure footing, if the shallow water rushing over a stone is perilous, or if you will find a solid place to pause. Sometimes one puts their foot out onto a stone, trusting their weight to it, only to find that it is weak and wriggling. When this happens to me I usually make a mad dash to find the next rock in the chain of stones. If the next stone is solid it is a good halting place to recover balance and nerve; but when the next step is also shaky, it can be a disastrous course. Sometimes I get wet.

Reality is like that... I trust my heart to something inordinately more than God (people, intellect, work, and on it goes) and I find that thing too weak to support me. Not because the thing is bad of itself, but because I rely on it disproportionately to trusting God. If I do not change my course and seek the solid rock of obedience to Jesus I end up getting wet. Sometimes just my 'shoes' are sopping and soggy; other times I am completely submerged in the rushing river coursing between the stones.

"I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping stones
Of their dead selves to higher things."
~ Tennyson

My friend Andrew shared the above lines on his blog recently and it struck a chord inside of me. There are times when our course lies across a part of the stream where there are no stones we can reach. Unless the Creator Himself lays a path before us (which He does surprisingly often), He often gives us things to sacrifice to become the next step.

As the Israelites built altars of memorial stones when God did something great, we too, at times build memorials to God out of things offered or sacrificed to Him. We offer Him the root of bitterness, lust, lies, or some other brokenness needing to be consumed from our lives. We sacrifice the good things in our lives, seeking the best things. We offer praise and thanksgiving at all times, even in sorrow and suffering. These things are memorial stones to the testimony of the power, kindness, and goodness of God. It is with these stones that the Father paves our way before us. We step upon our dead selves, our dead past, to step closer to Him.

What stepping stones does the LORD desire to lay before you? What sacrifices can be made into altars of memorial? Will you let the Shepherd take your weakness, brokenness, and sin and turn them into a place of surrender and hope [confident expectation]? What part of you needs to be crucified and stepped upon to reach the next step in life?

Would you be so bold as to comment below with your answer to one (or all) of these questions? I will go first... Right now the LORD is working in me to be better disciplined with my time, especially in giving Him the first fruits/portion of the day... And He is reminding me not to fall into old habits where I waste mornings by sleeping in - which reminds me that I need to go to bed so I can rise to spend tomorrow with my dear friends from out of town. Goodnight all!

~ Johanna

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pressed, but not crushed...

"Remember, however, that to be breakable is not the same as to be perishable."
~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Chesterton pens the above line in a chapter labelled "The Ethics of Elfland" in his superior little book Orthodoxy. (Project Gutenberg has the entire book on-line for free, see above link. You can even download it to your Kindle.)

I thought of Paul describing all of the punishments he had endured for the sake of Christ, how he was pressed, but not crushed, persecuted, but not abandoned. And then the line from Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" came to mind. So I have been pondering what it means to allow God to break me, while knowing He won't discard me.

I go back to Chesterton's thought: God has made us imperishable, yet breakable. Why? He has built us with frailty in us (need for food, sleep, etc.). Why? After all, in Him there is no frailty, no shadow of turning, no going back on His word.

The Psalmist understood that we were built with frailty in us when he said,

"My heart was hot within me;
While I was musing, the fire burned.
Then I spoke with my tongue:

'LORD, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am'."
~ Psalm 39:3-4

God is so different from us, yet He not only knows that we exist, He knows us! I am overwhelmed with this realisation... That God would know us, care for us, draw us in to the most intimate fellowship with Him under the shadow of His wings. It is too much, He is too much!

That is my thought for today, God is too much. He is far more than 'enough'. He is beyond the scope of our greatest imaginings. When we remember how great God is, how good He is in spite of circumstances, how kind and patient He is, we find that we can be pressed, but we are not crushed. We are breakable, but not disposable or perishable. Let us be breakable in the Father's hands, which is the safest place to be broken.

~ Johanna