I’ve had those days. Those days…when I’m fighting the I’m not’s. And I know I’m not alone. Conversations with friends and loved ones reveal the stress and agitation that takes root in our minds like ugly weeds that strangle growth… robbing us of fruit. Good fruit.
Posts from the ‘Gifts’ Category
The last week has had me wondering about the circumstances in my life. I’ve been contemplating the why’s, which is never a good thing. I know better than to give mental space to questions that cannot be answered.
Looking out over the glassy morning water of Lake Michigan, calm ripples reached out, gently touching the shore at my feet. Graceful curves of sand stretched under clear waters, as far as the eye could see; etched into an underwater linear labyrinth by the tender hand of the divine. Stooping to scoop up a smooth brown pebble with hints of ochre, a glint of color caught my eye. Turning to find the source, I saw it there, glimmering in the water. A small piece of glass, smoothed by sand, after tumbling in the waves. Illuminated by soft morning sunlight, the sea glass glistened, true colors revealed. Hints of blue and green, in hues so pleasing to the eye; a treasure to an early morning shore dweller, like myself.
In my last post, I mentioned a small antique book that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, Phillip Brooks’ Addresses. In his sermon True Liberty, he talks about calling and that when we find our unique calling in God, we find true freedom. Along with freedom, Brooks suggests that when we bring our nature “out into the fullest illumination,” the light of God, we may find we’re surprised by the things we might do.
His words, again I’ll say, are so poetic. Inspiring words that spur me on to not live little, but to fully realize what it means to be a child of God, in my life. I hope they inspire you, as well.
“Oh, how this world has perverted words and meanings, that the mastery of Jesus Christ should be seen to be the imprisonment and not the enfranchisement of the soul. When I bring a flower out of the darkness and set it in the sun, and let the sunlight come streaming down upon it, and the flower knows the sunlight for which it was made and opens its fragrance and beauty; when I take a dark pebble and put it into the stream and let the silver water go coursing down over it and bringing forth the hidden color that was in the bit of stone, opening the nature that is in them, the flower and stone rejoice. I can almost hear them sing in the field and the stream. What then? Shall not a man bring his nature out into the fullest illumination, and surprise himself by the things that he might do?
Oh! The littleness of the lives that we are living! Oh! The way in which we fail to comprehend, or when we do comprehend, deny to ourselves the bigness of that thing which it is to be a man, to be a child of God!”
Light streamed into the room, waking us from slumber a little after 6:30 on Christmas morning. Standing in the doorway was my five year old son, jubilant and grinning with wonder. “Thanks mom and dad! I love my presents!” His happiness so great, all my husband and I could mumble back in response was, “You’re welcome, J.” Had he temporarily forgotten opening presents in our home was a shared experience or simply been overcome by the excitement of knowing good gifts awaited him at the foot of a towering, glimmering tree?
Years have come and gone since that five year old burst into our room. The picture has stayed with me, deeply ingrained in a treasure trove of memories. His unassuming nature and confidence in two flawed parents, who loved him deeply, shaped who he was as a child. A little boy who would never question if he was the intended recipient of the many gifts wrapped in red and green. No suspicions of what might be required, if the gifts were accepted. An absurd thought to a child. Without question, he knew he was the intended recipient to an abundance of gifts, given out of love. No strings attached. Just love and grace.
As a newly married bride, I remember being overwhelmed by the grace shown me by my husband. It didn’t make any sense. I knew he loved me, but to cover over mistakes and offenses with a generous helping of grace was beyond my comprehension. I expected anger, harsh words or a cold look, at the least. None of these were given. All of them, out of character with the man I married; the husband I loved. Yet the reality of my life experiences made me hesitant. Anything but the harshness I’d expected, made me, for a time, slightly suspicious. Unlike my son, I was suspicious of grace.
Over a period of time, I realized grace was freely given in love. In fact, grace defined our relationship. I was overwhelmed by it. How could someone love me so much, he’d overlook the very things I knew were wrong? Grace changed me. The grace of a loving husband.
How much more the grace of God? We experience so much negativity in our lives, often we walk around a bit shell-shocked, hunching down, preparing for the next strike, the next bad thing to happen. Why is it we’re suspicious of grace? We’ve heard God loves beyond measure, lavishly providing good things to his children. Yet rather than looking up & seeking Him, we go about biding our time; sure that something bad is inevitable, just around the corner. We live precariously walking a fine line, certain any gaze upward will be met with nothing but anger and disappointment. Living as imperfect people among other imperfect people, we’ve conditioned ourselves to expect the worst. Never realizing, we’re viewing God through our understanding of human nature. But that’s just it, God isn’t defined by flawed human nature. He is perfect. Divine. His responses of love make no sense in light of our understanding. So with our focus in the wrong direction, we never look up long enough to see the blessings laid right before us.
How much more does God freely give good gifts to his children? Allowing nagging doubt and fear to force our eyes to our feet robs us of the pleasure of these gifts. Why not look up expectantly, knowing even when difficult circumstances are allowed in our path, God has good gifts to give, reserved just for us. Each of us. Everyday.
Like a small child racing down the stairs to receive gifts from loving, generous parents, how much more joy might there be in racing to our Father in heaven, seeking Him with the knowledge that He is good? He longs to see joy on our faces, particularly when that joy comes from knowing Him, the one who gives immeasurably more than all we could ever hope or imagine.
Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress