No Shadow of Turning

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift descends from above, from The Father of lights with whom there is no change nor a shadow of turning.”

As a boy, then as a young man, I experienced some things that no one should ever have to endure. From the age of nine until my first year of marriage at age twenty-six, I lived with anger, self-doubt, and deep emotional pain. I felt as if God had completely forgotten me and had left me vulnerable and unprotected. As a result, at the age of nineteen, I began abusing drugs and alcohol. I could barely live with the pain and the shame. These substances temporarily numbed the pain. But when they wore off, the pain was still there… sometimes even greater than before. Although I didn’t always see it at the time, looking back, I can see times where God sent “angels” to me at my darkest moments. At my deepest moment of pain, contemplating suicide, I felt the touch of Jesus’ hand and heard His gentle voice speaking His peace and love to me. This is a moment I will never forget.

During my first year of marriage, I was able to, with the help of God, my wife, Brenda and some good and godly counselors, finally conquer the pain and endless self questioning. Never during this time did my dad or my wife reject me or judge me.  They just loved me, prayed for me, and continued to reach out to me… although at times I’m sure they had their own questions, they showed me only their love.

This life can bring some hard but important lessons. I learned some lessons about my father, whose love carried me when I could not carry myself. I learned some lessons about my wife, whose strength and courage bolstered me at my weakest moments. Most of all, I learned a life-altering lesson about God.  The Bright Shadow of God is a constant. It exists without change, without fail!

As humans, we falter. We can utterly fail. We are painfully flawed. But we have a Father who is perfect. He longs to give us every good gift. He desires the very best for us. He never changes. His Bright Shadow never moves away from us.

Looking back on my life I can clearly see all the moments where His Bright Shadow fell upon my life, bringing His overwhelming love and comfort. Occasionally we will reject Him. Our pain can blind us to His love. We can turn away from His love, even blame Him for our pain. But we have a patient and loving Father. He is there, even when we are not fully aware. He gently draws us under His Bright Shadow.

He never changes.

His compassion and love are constant.

As He always was, He will always be.

He is faithful and true.

He LOVES us… and His immense faithfulness endures throughout eternity.

There is no shadow of turning!


Hope

HopeThe word, Hope is both a noun and a verb!  This noun called hope is an anchor, a resting place, and a solid foundation.  So many times we think of hope as some unattainable, ethereal, abstract idea.  Hope is so much more.  It brings comfort and solace to the soul.  It speaks not only of what can be, but also what is.  Hope is a solid rock, a tangible thing on which a life can be built.

The verb, Hope is an action.  Hoping, dreaming, and acting… they are all connected.  Hoping is what keeps us looking forward and doing what seems to be impossible.

We need both.  We need that solid rock to stand on.  We also need the verb to keep us moving toward a better life, a bigger dream and a brighter tomorrow!

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand!  All other ground is sinking sand!

Keep Hope Going!

 


Book Coming Soon…

the brightshadow ofgod(1)Coming soon… a new book, “The Bright Shadow of God”  Weekly meditations to bring hope, encouragement, peace, renewal and inspiration.  Experience life in the Bright Shadow of God.  The book will be available to order soon.  If you are interested, please add a comment.


Ordinary Light

It’s amazing when ordinary little lights magically transform a Christmas tree into a spectacle of wonder.  There is nothing particularly phenomenal about a string of Christmas lights.  Little LED lights connected with fairly inexpensive wiring.  But when they are strung around a tree, and electrical current is humming through those wires, what a transformation they make!

A star is an ordinary light shining in the heavens.  Nothing particularly remarkable.  Some are brighter than others, especially when seen without the interference of city lights.  But when a star powered by the light of heaven shines, it points to something remarkable and wondrous.jesus-birth-nativity-star-outside-bethlehem-stable

A star, powered by the light of heaven shone on a manger where the true light of the world was born.  The birth of the Bright Shadow of God… Jesus Christ.

Something happened on that night in Bethlehem.  The Bright Shadow of God illuminated that stable and the Child in the manger. That Child became the Bright Shadow of God to a dark world. 

When the Bright Shadow of God illuminates a life, suddenly our ordinary light becomes transformed.  We are connected to a power source and our ordinary light can illuminate the entire world! 

It can’t happen without the power source… This year, let us all re-connect to that power source.  Allow the Bright Shadow of God to illuminate our ordinary light.  Each of us are lights to the world.  We shine in different ways, offering our gifts and talents to those around us.  Let it shine for all the world to see!

 


Whiter Than Snow

The first shining flakes of snow fell in our yard last week.  There is a childlike thrill when I see it begin to snow… a leap of hope and joy in my heart!

The flakes quit almost as quickly as they started.  As I drove to work I watched them begin to fall again in earnest.

As they fell, I watched the scarred areas of earth transform into a blanket of white.  The clean brightness covered the scars, transforming a bleak, stark, sad landscape into a beautiful thing to behold.

I began to sing the words of an old hymn:

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

The bright shadow of God falls on wounded souls, it falls on tragedy and heartbreak, it falls on loss and grief.  It falls today and washes everything whiter than snow.


Waiting on God

I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from Him.
He alone is my Rock and my Salvation,
my Fortress where I will never be shaken.
So many enemies against one man—
all of them trying to kill me.
To them I’m just a broken-down wall
or a tottering fence.
They plan to topple me from my high position.
They delight in telling lies about me.
They praise me to my face
but curse me in their hearts.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my Rock and my Salvation,
my Fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.
~  Psalm 62:1-8

 

Twice during this Psalm David speaks of his soul “waiting” or being “quiet” before God.  This quietness, this silence is so significant.  It is really difficult for me, at times, to be perfectly still before God.

I’ll never forget the first time I went to a classical piano concert.  There was an electric silence when the musician came and sat at the piano.  All of us in the concert hall were anticipating the moment when the silent instrument would be touched by the artist’s hand and the music would spring to life.  The breathless anticipation…  knowing the artist… knowing his reputation… ready to be transported by the music.

So, shouldn’t waiting on God be even more awesome?  After all, He alone is my rock and my salvation.  He is my refuge, where no enemy can reach me.  In the present situation, I need a “Rock”… something solid!  Someone to stand in my defense against the evil forces of the world, to protect me from all the subtle temptations of the world.  I need Him as my defense against the enemy to my soul.  Let all that I am wait quietly before God.

I compare the anticipation of hearing that concert music with the kind of anticipation I should have when I am “waiting” on the Lord.  “Let all that I am wait quietly before God.”  My soul pausing… waiting… anticipating in that electric silence the first touch of the Master Musician’s hand on the instrument of my soul.

I wait for Him with the expectation that He will keep His promises, He will fulfill His word… for my hope is in Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  It is the expectant heart that anticipates the windows of heaven opening and the blessing of God pouring down like rain.  “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10)  Anticipate it!

If I anticipate it… expect it… quietly wait for it, He will not disappoint me.  My hope is from Him… my expectation is from Him.  The silence will break… the music will begin.  After all… I am waiting for the touch of the Master Musician.


a change of seasons

HPIM1823As autumn approaches, we begin to see changes.  The leaves start to turn colors and we feel that nip in the evening air.  The smoky haze settles in the valleys, changing the perspective of the horizon.  Some embrace the change and get a sense of anticipation.  Others get a feeling of dread… wondering, “what’s coming next?”

Although change is inevitable, our attitude toward change is a choice.  I must say, I have always been a bit “change averse”.  A lot of this aversion is based upon huge changes in my life, leaving me reeling.  Change can be unsettling, to say the least.  But, change can also bring beautiful, new things into our lives.  It can knock us out of a place of complacency into new learning and new growth.

I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3… “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” It goes on to say that He has made everything beautiful in its season. Change will happen… it may be unsettling, it may be uncomfortable. Ultimately it will be made beautiful by the One who brings about change.

I am learning to embrace change. I am learning to believe it has a purpose. I am learning that what God does is for our good and is good for eternity. He has planted eternity in our hearts. Our steps… even the changes… are ordered by Him and are made beautiful in time.


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