Renewed Wonder

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through Him and for Him.

~ Colossians 1:15-16

Children seem capable of seeing the invisible almost as if it is more tangible and real than the immediate reality.  They can easily penetrate beyond the veil of signs and perceive their meaning as if no barrier existed at all between the visible and the invisible.  Adults, on the other hand, seem to have an inveterate suspicion of anything invisible.  If we cannot confirm something via sight and touch, then we grow leery of it.

Yet so many of the things that we rely on the most in life are in fact invisible:  sound, oxygen, electricity, the wind, the internet, love.  We never see the gasoline we put in our car.  And while it is natural for Christians to grow in their faith by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, we have to wonder where our preschool ability to “see” the invisible went.

A sense of wonder is the right thing when it comes to faith.  Jesus remains “invisible” to reawaken childlike wonder in us.  If we want to be able to experience the “Bright Shadow of God”, then we need to regain our wonder.  In regaining our wonder, our humanity blossoms in a way it never could otherwise.  Wonder is the strongest expression of one’s self.  When we wonder, we are the most attuned to the “mystery” of the invisible.   Book knowledge cannot lead us to the infinite.  When we are devoid of wonder, we remain deaf to the sublime.

Can we regain our wonder?  The surest and quickest way to restart our wonder is to undauntedly focus on a single object.  In one astounding moment the object of our focus will seem as if we have never seen it before.  Our wonder is then revived.  Focusing on the invisible God, we begin to see the Bright Shadow.  What we look at hard seems to look back at us.  Ultimately, we will receive the likeness of that which we fix the eyes on.

I want to be surprised again with the invisible presence of Christ.  I want my life to be filled with wonder again.  I want to stand in the Bright Shadow of God.


Realignment

I recently purchased a new car.  I periodically take my car in for service to keep it running smoothly.  I also take it to a professional to have it realigned.  This extends the life of my car and improves its performance.

I also visit my Chiropractor on a regular basis to get an adjustment/realignment for my back.  It’s sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary to keep me walking tall and functioning at my optimal ability.  Again, I trust a professional.  Can you picture doing your own chiropractic adjustment?

The visits to my regular physician help me to be aware of my physical health.  These visits help me to align my lifestyle to a healthier perspective.

For all of these alignments I go to the professionals.  These are things I can’t do for myself.  Not knowing the proper techniques or having the right tools for these adjustments, I would be in trouble.

In the same way, our heart, mind, and soul need regular realignment.  I wouldn’t let my car or my body fall into disrepair… even more so, my heart, mind, and soul require maintenance.  Driving a car that hasn’t been aligned is destructive to the life of the vehicle.  Living without realigning is even more destructive and perilous.

So, how do I keep aligned spiritually?  Once again, I don’t trust this adjustment to a non-professional.  I can’t do it myself.  I must turn to God’s word for guidance.  Spiritual alignment is required daily.  Our minds are bombarded with thoughts and ideas that can easily throw off our spiritual alignment.  A few moments spent with the One who fearfully and wonderfully made us will bring us back into alignment with His plan, His purpose, His will.

Lord, help me to look to You each day.  Help me to stay aligned with Your plan and purpose for my life.  Amen.

I am reminded of the words from an old chorus:

“Change my heart oh God,
Make it ever true.
Change my heart oh God,
May I be like You.

You are the potter,
I am the clay,
Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.”


Whiter Than Snow

The first shining flakes of snow fell in our yard today.  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 over the hill 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.


…we are significant

A friend posted this on their facebook page… It so resonated with me I had to share it.  Thanks, Chad Chriestenson…

“We should never feel small or insignificant.  Yes, it’s true our planet is but a speck in a grand, majestic sea of stars and wonder.  A universe filled with many celestial objects and wonders that utterly dwarf our earth. But should we feel pointless compared to this?  No!   For out of this entire plane of existence, God holds you more precious in his sight than the most brilliant star, the most beautiful galaxy, the most awe inspiring aspects of nature, or even the most valuable jewels. If our God in all of his majesty is that focused on us compared to everything else, why should we worry what tomorrow will bring or if we are ignored?  He is the God who sees us.  The one who sees us as being so valuable that he came to earth to be with us.”

What a perfect thought, especially at this time of year.  So many are lonely at this time of year and feel insignificant.  If you were the only one, Jesus would have come for you.  God with us… Emmanuel.


Joy

HPIM1823Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Psalm 95:1

I cannot adequately express the joy and hope I feel at this season.

There is no specific reason, no epiphany, no “aha” moment… just joy unspeakable and full of glorious hope.

I trust I am not alone… this life is not the end, this life is not the final answer… this life leads from one glory, to another glory, to another glory… it keeps getting better until that day of ultimate joy, when we see the face of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate!

Remember… Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. ~ Psalm 30:5

Enter this season with joy, knowing that Christ came to save us, to be with us.  Face the new year with the hope that He has gone to prepare a place for us, where we can be with Him for eternity.

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.


Let Them RING!

The Basilica at Montserrat

The Basilica at Montserrat

This is a repeat of a post from 2011.  Some things bear repeating…

In 2006 my wife and I traveled to Spain for the Christmas holiday.  The day after Christmas we went to Montserrat, a monastery up in the mountains just 40 kilometers west of Barcelona.  Many people from around Europe and the world make their annual pilgrimage to Montserrat for the Christmas celebration.  We found the lack of typical holiday trappings remarkable as we traveled through the countryside and finally up the mountain to the beautiful mountaintop basilica.

We stood in the open courtyard outside the entrance to the sanctuary, overwhelmed by the blue sky and the crisp mountain air.  At that moment, the bells began to ring inviting parishioners to join the Christmas Mass.  As they rang, we began to hear the chapel bells further down the mountain begin to ring.  Then, farther away, at the bottom of the mountain, the village cathedral bells began to chime.  The sound resonated throughout our bodies.  We could feel the thunder of the bells beating in our hearts.

One of my least favorite Christmas songs has always been “Carol of the Bells”.  I always found it repetitive and a bit annoying.  As we stood in that courtyard and listened to the cacophony of bells, a familiar pattern began to emerge… a lilt… a melody…  It sang to my soul!  “Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, throw cares away.  Christmas is here, bringing good cheer, to young and old, meek and the bold.  Oh how they pound, raising the sound, o’er hill and dale, telling their tale.  Gaily they ring, while people sing, Jesus is born, on Christmas morn!”

The pulse of the bells filled every corner of the world… they pounded and rang joyfully, unceasingly, sending the message of Christmas far and wide… but even more significantly, deep into me!  In that moment, I didn’t want them to stop… I wanted the ringing to continue forever.  Thankfully it does.  The truth of Christ’s birth and redeeming work continually rings and pounds and resonates in my soul.  Needless to say… “Carol of the Bells” has become one of my favorite Christmas songs.  Let them ring!!

Are they ringing in your heart and soul?


Letting Go… Moving Forward

This summer I lost both of my parents within a period of eleven weeks.  Mom passed in June and dad passed in August.  Hundreds of people came to their memorial service to celebrate their lives.  Anyone who knew them, loved them.

As immediate family gathered for the internment, I was able to hold each of their ashes for several moments to say “goodbye”…  As I stood, holding the leather box containing dad’s ashes… I thought of the many lessons he taught me.  I was grasping for some truth, some experience to hold onto as the funeral director took the box from me.

Just as the box was removed a little gust of wind blew through the breezeway where we stood.  I looked out toward the cemetery grounds and saw a few leaves blow from the trees.  Instead of falling to the ground as I had expected, they gently lifted on the breeze and floated up… up… up… until they disappeared beyond the roof of the building.

Instead of acting as expected, we can also choose to let go and move upward and onward, toward greater things.  Yes, we feel the grief and the loss… but only for a moment.  We lift on the wind of the legacy and continue on.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

No, dear friends, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.


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