Receiving the Moment

It’s no secret that I am not prone to meandering. Because I tend to out walk most everyone around me when I’m moving with a crowd, I find myself pulling ahead if I do not consciously practice the art of slowing down to match the pace of others. Just yesterday, I was frustrated once again at the slowness of automatic doors. I nearly ran into them… multiple times in multiple stores. Seriously, can’t someone invent a system that can actually keep up with me? puerta-deslizante-diraglide-2000

Sadly, I seldom realize the pace at which I rush through life. Until it is pointed out, and I brake enough to give attention to it. Like the day an elderly store employee asked me if I was in a hurry. I paused long enough to look at him questioningly and responded, “No. Why?” wondering if he needed assistance with something. He just smiled and said, “Well, as fast as you were moving, I just assumed you were in a hurry.”

Apparently, my natural state of movement is hurry even when  I’m not rushing.

Which brings me to today’s question: Did Jesus ever rush anywhere? 

I doubt it. I doubt if the local fishermen called out to Him, “Hey, Jesus, what’s the rush?” as He hurried along the shoreline. I doubt He appeared frantic in His dealings with the local merchants or consistently preoccupied with His next divine appointment. In all his dealings with people, Jesus never rushed. Even when a mob threatened Him with death at cliff’s edge, He didn’t run off in haste; He simply passed through the midst of them and went His way (See Luke 4:28-30), leaving them to wonder in His wake.

No rushing. No worrying. No pause as to whether or not He would make it somewhere on time. Just moment-by moment living. Here. Among the creation He came to save.

Jesus never seemed distracted by anything. Every step was purposeful, leading more fully into Father’s will. Every touch filled with Holy Spirit wonder, even if merely a pat upon child’s head. Every moment heavy with blessing. Every spoken word revealing a greater glory than that to which mere law could lead. Every interaction filled with compassion, seeping with love to recover, redeem, and restore.

Every encounter with heaven’s Savior was resolutely weighted with grace to draw humanity toward Father’s heart.

No, I daresay Jesus never rushed. He deliberately stepped with purpose. Light of the World steadfastly obliterating the shadows of death one footfall at a time.

Noticing God. Noticing people. Overcoming darkness with moment-by-moment intent.

It’s so like Jesus to be constantly aware of others… and so unlike me.

Today I pray not only for eyes to see the people around me, but for determination to slow my pace to match theirs. To catch myself if I’m rushing though the motions instead of receiving all each moment offers. To look for God and notice Him in the dawdling little girl at play, in the tottering steps of aged saint, and in the person waiting for a kind word or smile… even if that means I have to slow down for automatic doors.

 

 

 

Every Empty-Full

So if we don’t begin with surrender, we inevitably dream with vanity, with ego, with control.
Jennie Allen, Restless

To present myself in surrender to God means I bring Him every empty, full thing.

I come to Him with hands stretched heavenward, filled with every empty placebo – every offering of a life lived for Him in the guise of my own desires and visions of my own making. Simultaneously, I bring all the longings straining to break free within while I release my grasp instead of clutch aimlessly for all I’m worth.

Funny how I cling so tightly to this filling of empty which has consistently proven to only steal my innocence and my peace.

By bringing all my empty-full, I am declaring my surrender. Presenting God with this blank canvas of a life made new in Christ, inviting Him to pen the desires of my heart. Asking Him to fill me with the beauty of His dreams which far surpass anything my finite mind could create on its own.

In this place of sweet surrender, I come to know the One whose design is the perfect masterpiece for my life. Not for yours. Not for anyone else.

Simply, perfectly designed with me in mind.

I am amazed to be a part of such abstract and colorful dabs of dreams and thoughts and gifts and opportunities extended and brought together – swirled into one breathtaking collage where His glory is both felt and revealed. Bit by bit. Moment by moment. Memory upon memory.

Even the drops which seem to bleed me out and and drain me dry burst into life and goodness at the touch of His hand swirling colors upon palette. Not one drop hits the canvas without determined purpose. There are no random smudges, no shadowing without the consuming of radiant light. All comes together, every scary unknown and every stretching of the canvas, to create a work declaring Father’s fame.

In this surrender, I am reborn to life. To love. Held secure while released into this aching world by the Builder of dreams and of wild imaginings.

Breather of Life, come and fill me with creations of Your grandest desires as I pour forth from earthen vessel yielded to Your hand. Make beauty from my every empty-full as You reveal Your glory from the inside out.

I surrender.

week8-largeAnd so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.   – Romans 12:1, NLT

When the Beautiful Seems Buried

Some days my thoughts seem tumultuous. They flit back and forth like a captive bird unexpectedly released from its cage yet uncertain as to what to do with its newfound freedom. Spinning from idea to idea, yet landing upon nothing. Circling and hovering with no intent of coming to rest anytime soon. On days like this, my best recourse is to simply stop and pray as I ask God to realign my focus and help me to pursue “one thing” instead of rushing toward any number of countless opportunities I could easily grasp at any given time.

And so I pray. I pour out my heart in letters to Father who knows and sees all that I am and all that I am yet to become. Even when I don’t.

As words tumble out one on top of the other, tripping and stumbling toward the throne of grace, I ask God to keep my heart balanced. I pray for help to dig in and push hard through those times of transition and the pain that often accompanies them. For the courage to embrace change, and chance, and risk. To press in and gather the broken when everything in me wants to turn in flight. But I also ask to have those amazing moments of brushing up against hope and birthing life, too. To find times of rest and grasp bits of beauty throughout my day so that I do not lose heart in doing good. Oh how my soul needs those times of refreshing delight in God’s presence to keep me from growing weary. (See Galatians 6:9)

Partnered with those moments of both the soul-tiring and the refreshing, I need my memory to be stirred. Challenging me to look back and memorialize those times when God seemed so very far away but, in reality, was as close as the heartbeat keeping me alive. Those out-of-the-blue experiences when God showed up in unexpected and surprising ways. Both small and large. Just to remind me He was very much aware of my every breath.

Calling attention to the fact that He was/is/always will be there.

Despite my failings. Or my feelings.

In the midst of living out my days and walking out my dreams (and sometimes my nightmares), God is ever near. So very present. Even when life is less than glamorous. Even when the beauty seems buried beneath layers and layers of the downright ugly.

He is here. Here in each inhalation and exhalation of life.

Whether I am gritting my teeth and pushing through to accomplish the next step in pursuing my purpose or coasting on the winds of the Spirit carrying me along, I want to live. To be here now with a moment-by-moment, graceful awareness of God in me and me in Him – all held tightly together by His unrelenting yet unrestricting love.

To live each day with open hands as I’m called to pour out those desires He has placed within me. Both the ones I long to fulfill and the ones which I sometimes war against. (Can I get an Amen?)

It seems that divine purposes sometimes always require a patient continuance in order to bring them to completion. So I ask that God hold me close and keep me pressing onward as I present these humble offerings. Looking to Him with faith, trusting that He will focus my gaze and steady me through it all.

Each and every moment.

Even as I grow to understand that while my life may not be glamorous… it is always beautiful.

ce3f4adbeca0b995d24095b778807d74

Open These Hands

Sometimes I clench them tightly,
bent on holding,
intent on keeping
things to myself that were never mine to possess.

Sometimes I clasp them together
with anxiousness,
deftly squeezing out any chance of
peace and calm infiltrating their locked doors.

Sometimes I play childhood games with them,
pretending they cradle people
with fleshly pews for sitting and
fingered steeple hovering over imaginary church.

When really, my hands are the Church,
an extension of Your body,
broken to cradle the sins of the earth
and spill out new life where death once reigned.

So why do my hands not shadow Your own?
Why are they slow to heal and comfort?
Why do they hesitate to reach out with love?
Why do they not scatter glory?

Why do these hands You created
for openness
so often remain clutched together,
trembling in fear of being seen?

Pry them free, Master,
and make them fit for more than
clutching and grasping
to fill themselves.

Release this heart to open hands,
and open these hands to release this heart.

IMG_2455This post was written in conjunction with Five Minute Friday’s word prompt of “hands.” You can join us here: http://www.lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday

 

Big Stories Start Small

Zacchaeus was a wee, little man…. If you grew up attending Sunday school class, chances are you immediately finished the rest of this line with …and a wee, little man was he.

Big stories start small, and the story of Zacchaeus’ interaction with Jesus is no exception. This man of small stature could not even see the Messiah through the crowds of people flocking about Him, but in desperation to get a view of the Savior passing by, little Z. ran ahead of everyone and climbed a tree. I doubt if he expected Jesus to even notice him hidden there in the branches, but not only did Jesus notice the smallness of Zacchaeus, He invited Himself over for dinner.

Jesus invited Himself into the life of smallness with BIG plans in mind.

Jesus’ plan of salvation would radically transform the hated tax collector into a disciple of Christ. That one small seed of salvation took root and grew into a stalwart producer of righteousness. How else can we explain the heart transformation that caused Zacchaeus to repay everyone four times the amount of money that he had stolen from them?

A small decision to climb a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus became a story big enough to be repeated through the centuries. Thousands upon thousands of children and adults alike can sing a song about Zacchaeus, a wee, little man whose life was changed by a BIG God. Today, that man known for being small is also remembered as living BIG for Christ.

Looking back through the pages of the Bible, it is easy for us to see BIG stories, but that is only because we have the perspective from history’s side of the tale. In reality, most of the BIG stories started with smallness.

A word… the universe came into being.

A babe in a basket floating down a river… the deliverer of an enslaved nation.

A shepherd boy… the king of Israel.

Five loaves and two fish… a meal for a multitude.

A mustard seed of faith… mountains move.

A babe born in a manger… salvation for all mankind.

One small, empty tomb…  the defeat of death for eternity.

In God’s kingdom, the humble are exalted. Servants reign. The last finish first.

Small becomes BIG.

Take a lesson from Zacchaeus as you go out of your way to get a glimpse of the Savior. Who knows… today may be the very day Jesus looks at you and invites Himself over to your house with BIG plans in mind.

 

Unknown

This post was written in conjunction with Five Minute Friday, a weekly challenge to write from a word prompt and link up with others over at http://www.lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday. Join us today in writing about “small.”

Worn Out

For the soul-weary saint whose prayers continue long after the sun sets at the end of each day…

Worn Out…

…like a favorite pair of jeans, soft and form-fitting, but ready to split in all the wrong places at any second.

…like a ragtag stuffed animal dragged everywhere for the comfort it provides.

…like a tattered Bible, pages and chapters falling into lap from so much reading.

…like my mother’s denim shirt filled with the fragrance of her person and her prayers.

…like rocks in streams, rough edges smoothed from the constant flow of life.

…like husband’s knee pads, scraped from hours of toiling in their protection.

…like the eyes of an old saint, wizened from years of so much seeing.

…like gnarled limbs of sheltering tree, protecting from storm and providing a perfect climb.

…like scuffed sandals encasing feet bruised from scaling remote mountain heights to bear Your name to those who have never heard.

…like cherished dishes, cracked and chipped from holding decades of recipes prepared with servant’s heart and hands.

…like an old screen door, filled with punctures and tears from the comings and goings of a full life.

…like aged hands, wrinkled and veined, used up in loving and caring for others.

Lord, if I be worn out, may it be from Kingdom living. A life wrung dry for Your glory, each drop lived with purpose and intent.

Teach me to walk as a child of light. Daring to shine in the darkness of a world cast in shadow. May I give my life as an offering to be used up. Every breath a prayer. Every prayer a plea for your presence to come and dwell in me, to touch lives through me.

Take my life and let it be worn out only for You.

…Children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the Word of Life.
…Yes, and even if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (from Philippians 2:15-17)

1fa01587a6433dfc71e7c2832a8daaba

Believing Something Is One Thing

Believing something is one thing; living it is the miracle.

Slowing down.

Savoring the simple.

Noticing the moments compiling into memories.

Being here now.

It all stems from the belief that your something is the one thing you should be living with this very breath.

Instead of constantly searching for that ever-elusive defining moment, open your eyes to the wonder you are in. Right here and now, in this something surrounding you.

Redefine your ordinary.

Embrace the miracle playing hide-and-seek in your everyday.

Ponder the precious routine of rousing your children from slumber each morning.

Relish welcoming your husband home from work.

Enjoy sipping lemonade on a sunny summer evening or curling up with a mug of hot cocoa on a frosty winter morn.

Savor the simple and stop wishing away your days. For all too soon, they will pass and fade into the recesses of yesteryear, slipping like sand through aging fingers still reaching for the wonder.

bms025657

Today is your day to live.

Right here is your moment to shine.

Don’t wait for the significant to find you.
It. Already. Has.

Open your eyes to see it dancing before you in the form of muddied toddler hands wrapping around your legs, straining to squeeze the love out of life.

Watch it tango through the elementary school where your son’s third grade class thinks you’re awesome for bringing in those cupcakes with sprinkles.

See it waltz across the soccer field where you’ve devoted to coach that rambunctious group of middle-schoolers, all gangling arms and graceless feet.

Hear it dubstep through your house accompanying the late-night laughter of that group of teenagers who know they are welcome in your home.

Believe that every something is your one thing.

Your opportunity to impact lives. The lives surrounding you — wherever you may be.

The world needs you.

It needs your strength and gentleness. Your kind and faithful presence. Your being — being fully alive — in every second of the day. No matter how insignificant you may feel those seconds to be. No matter how much you may be longing for something more. Something bigger. Something beyond what you see in the present. For now, this is your gift and your calling. This day is your day to reach your full potential and purpose.

So step into this moment with gaping heart and arms flung wide to embrace whatever lies before you.

After all, believing something is one thing; living it is the miracle…

sand-castle-in-hand Every moment possesses its own kind of magic and what we do with it counts. It counts. (from Stargardener)