This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Month: February 2016

Gift from Heaven

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Lamentations 3:22-23

 

I awoke this morning to a world blanketed in snow.

 

Not the thick, heavy duvet cover of last month’s blizzard. Not the kind you are forewarned of and prepared for. Not the kind of snow that falls relentlessly for days on end.

 

This morning’s snow was a surprise. And it was all the more lovely because no one had anticipated it. It was a gift from heaven. Like manna was to the children of Israel.

 

My blanket of white wouldn’t last long. It couldn’t last. The crystal clear blue sky was promise enough of that.

 

But it was mine for the moment. To relish or to let pass by. The choice was mine to make.

 

Would I see the beauty in this moment or would I see instead the inconvenience of a 2-hour school delay? Would this simply become an intrusion on my tightly scheduled day where I was focused on preparing my family to travel out of state to be with friends for the weekend? How would I respond to this morning’s surprise?

 

His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.

 

On our drive to school this morning, my 16-year old daughter gave voice to her response to this unanticipated gift of beauty. It was more than a whisper, but too reverent and drawn out for a simple statement of fact. Perhaps it was a prayer of praise to the Artist who gave us this gift. “Oh goodness,” she said, “it’s so beautiful.”

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Mornings like this are a gift. A gift of beauty. A gift of grace. I can pass it by without really noticing or stopping to think about it, and it will evaporate. I can kid myself that I will think about it later. That I will enjoy the splendor later. But if I don’t stop in the moment and make a little altar, and give thanks and give praise, then this gift of grace will melt away, even as this new-fallen snow will melt away, and the memory of it will be no more, and the opportunity to stop and worship will have passed me by. And the opportunity for my fingers and my spirit to touch heaven, while my feet are touching earth will have passed me by. If I want to live connected to the Kingdom of God here on earth, I need to open my eyes and see each of these moments as the gift of grace that they are.

 

And so I too stop, and give praise to the ultimate Creator of all beauty. This is not just a gift of beauty and wonder for my eyes to behold this morning. It is a gift of mercy. You alone, oh God, know how my heart needed this touch of your creative power today. It will sustain me like manna all the day long.

 

In the distance, the trees are already shaking off their heavy white coats, trading them for gossamer gowns of silver that sparkle in the sunlight. I know it is only a matter of time before the silvery streams also melt away and the bare trees stand once again proud and strong in their gray-black winter coverings.

 

But this day I have paused to feast at God’s table in the early morning hours. And He has sustained me in His great love.

 

His mercies are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness Lord, unto me.

 

 

In the Beginning

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Genesis 1-2

 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

 

Ten simple words that introduce the most widely read book of all time. Ten simple words that tell me much about God’s nature. Ten simple words that whisper to me how deeply God loves me.

 

Like the Prologue in a great Shakespearean drama, these ten words set the stage for us to be eyewitnesses to a most exquisite unfolding of the account of Creation.

 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

 

Whether you interpret these two chapters as a strict 7-day history, or lean more toward a God-initiated big bang that resulted in a slower appearance of landmass from water, species from species, may I encourage you to reread these two chapters with fresh eyes?

 

With no preconceptions. Just a desire to listen.

 

I am struck at once by the orderly, almost methodical nature of the verses as they gently unfold one after the next. Perhaps this is because I too am a person who seeks order.

 

I like order in my home. I seek out patterns and rhythms to help me understand life. Perhaps my father, the CPA, is to blame; or maybe I just like to know what’s coming next.

 

And there in the Great Prologue of God’s narrative to mankind, I see that God likes order too.

 

A vast Emptiness precedes The Beginning. Separation of sea and sky precede the formation of land out of that vast, deep sea. Vegetation sprouts and grows mature before the creation of birds and animals whose lives depend on its abundance.

 

My father, the CPA, has always been able to relate to this God of order.

 

If truth be told, more often lately, while I look for patterns and structures to order my world, I also yearn for the messy unpredictability of the creative life. Less left-brain and more right. Can I still relate to a God of order when I fear too much structure will dry up my soul?

 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

 

And as I listen to the story afresh, I realize that these same verses that are so full of order and structure are also incredibly lyrical and melodic. The verse “Let there be” is followed by the chorus “and it was so”. Let there be…and it was so. Let there be…and it was so. Over and over again these majestic words are sung in the round, proclaiming the splendor of the creation and the pleasure of the Creator. Six times the melody is sung and repeated, until the Master Artist rests from the creative work of his hand.

 

And I discover that my God is at once orderly and creative. Equally at ease with the accountant as with the artist. And my soul rejoices.

 

The Beginning shows me not just that God can relate to the artist as well as the accountant (and everyone in between!), it shows me that God wants to be in relationship with us. With all of us.

 

The Beginning declares that every living creature sprang to life by the mere spoken word of the Master Creator. Every living creature, except for man. To create man, The Beginning declares that God breathed into Man the breath of life, the sacred breath of God Himself so that God and the Man and the Woman could be in relationship with one another. And then, in an outright rejection of all we think we know of what a “god” should be, we read that God would walk with the Man and the Woman in the garden in the cool of the evening.

 

Such audacious love.

 

God’s written revelation to us ends in the Book of Revelation where it begins in the Book of Genesis: in Paradise, with a river, the tree of life, the Creator God, and those who love Him. The entire narrative in between those two books is quite simply the story of God’s relentless pursuit to be in loving relationship with His people.

 

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