Where the Rubber Meets the Road

The funny quote about opera, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings” came to my mind as we were sitting in a hospital room in Seattle where my brother-in-law was fighting leukemia. His red cell count kept dropping. After numerous infusions of red cells, he still remained unable to produce his own. We went back and forth between the waiting room and his hospital room. Praying and hoping. Trying to encourage him and each other.

Another thought unexpectedly sprang into my mind… “It’s not over until God speaks. We’ve heard what the doctor says, but we are waiting to hear what God says!”

My father-in-law put it another way. “It’s never too late for a miracle.” It occurred to me that what we’ve been waiting for is The Bright Shadow of God. When things seem to be the darkest is when God’s Bright Shadow can bring the greatest illumination.

We sat around that hospital bed, telling stories, laughing about our childhood, sharing love. It was stormy and raining outside, but the heaviness of cancer seemed to float away and a sweet light filled the room. Faith and hope replaced the fear and doubt. God met us in our darkness and transformed it into His great light.

As we chatted the nurse pointed out the window. The most vivid double rainbow I had ever seen appeared in the sky through the raindrops. The dark clouds behind it made it appear even brighter. Everyone in the room was mesmerized by the beautiful sight. Even the nurse wanted to take a picture of it. God’s promise shone brightly against the dark sky.

Although he was not out of the woods, within a short period of time, my brother-in-law’s condition began to improve. His numbers began to stabilize. It is still a day by day, sometimes hour by hour situation, but my faith is stronger, my hope is greater. Not because of the circumstance, but because I have a God who is greater than the current situation.

Even when circumstances seem to be dire, I can still find hope in God. He will never disappoint. I don’t find my hope in circumstance. I have to believe in God’s love and know that He has a better answer… a greater hope… an eternal plan.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” – Psalm 43:5

My faith is tested in these dark times. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where God meets me and I encounter His Bright Shadow.

I must remind myself of this simple truth, “It ain’t over until God speaks… It’s never too late for a miracle.” I will always expect His Bright Shadow to illuminate the dark places. I will never lose hope.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” John 1:5


Enjoying the Journey

I ride a commuter train to work each morning. It takes about an hour, giving me plenty of time for observation and contemplation. I watch all of the other passengers. With very few exceptions, they all have cell phones or other electronic devices. They are reading books on their Kindle, playing games on their iPhone, or listening to music. What they are not doing is paying attention to the scenery or talking to each other.

One day, I was looking out the window of the train, counting all of the hawks I saw on my daily commute. I was a little alarmed when the older lady sitting next to me began talking to me.

“I so rarely see people smiling on the train” she said.

I didn’t realize I was smiling. Looking out the window at the scenery had put me at peace. I was content.

I replied, “I didn’t realize I was smiling.”

“You look so happy” she replied.

“I was just enjoying nature” I chuckled a little.

This began a conversation that lasted until my stop downtown. We talked about many things during that 45 minutes. What intrigued me was one of her observations. “I’m guessing you are a spiritual person.”

I smiled again, “yes, I am a Christian” I replied.

She paused for a moment and then said, “Well, most ‘Christians’ I encounter don’t seem very happy… what’s your secret?” she asked.

I had to think a bit. “Well, I have my moments, but for the most part I’m pretty happy” I replied. I continued, “I don’t claim to know everything. I am a learner and a sojourner. After I finished my Master’s Degree I thought I was really smart. But I’ve learned one important thing about life and spirituality. When I think I’ve got everything nailed down and there’s nothing more to learn, God teaches me something new. I suddenly realize that I’m not so smart after all. That’s what keeps me learning and keeps my faith fresh. It’s very humbling. It keeps me anticipating what’s coming next! This gives me great joy.”

Her face brightened, “I’m a sojourner, too!”

As our conversation continued she shared her spiritual journey with me. She had been involved in the Haight-Ashbury counter culture movement in the 60’s. She had dabbled in Buddhist literature and in Hindu teachings. She moved to a Northwest commune and spent time exploring a variety of spiritualism. After moving away from the commune, her hunger for spiritual truth brought her to a Christian community where she experienced the Bright Shadow of God. It transformed her life. She was so excited to meet another sojourner along the way.

That chance encounter on a commuter train was another lesson for me. I never know when the Bright Shadow of God will come and transform a moment, a conversation, a life!

This is what keeps me enjoying the journey. The hope of God’s Bright Shadow continues to fall on my life in unexpected ways.

I trust that others can experience this in their lives. Allow God’s word to guide you. Allow God to shine over you, in you, and from you to illuminate the darkness.

Keep learning, keep growing, and most of all, keep shining!


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.


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