Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don’t Blink!

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love… Ephesians 1:17-18, 3:17-19

Challenging moments filled the past weeks as we finished our year of firsts without Peter. Memories of a year ago mingled with those of a lifetime. They created tear-filled smiles and hearts of longing. These trials easily trigger doubts and hopelessness and despair. But God promises to make a way out when temptations come so we can endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). I found these past weeks that God himself was the answer to my victory. Profoundly evident, yet easy to miss, I had to look for it; I had to look for Him.

Let me explain.

Surviving the first anniversary of Peter’s passing was tough. My husband and I grieve in very different ways. I need to do something to express and process through my grief. Often that involves sharing it. But he retreats within. He finds it difficult to do the things that I find beneficial. Over the past weeks he has pulled away from the very places where I tend to press in. We give each other grace and allow each other our own journeys toward healing. But moments arise when I feel alone.

One such moment was the Sunday after Peter’s anniversary. Part of the worship team that week, I headed off to church alone. I fought feelings of loneliness and abandonment as once again I’d be worshiping as half of a pair. The temptation of judging, withholding grace, embracing resentment stared me in the face. My heart already raw, how could I endure?

As I left the house I struggled with emotions and prayed God would settle my spirit and provide a heart to lead others to worship. Suddenly, movement caught my eye. Coming toward me across the intersection, a blue heron flew low. I slowed to turn, slowing more to watch. The heron flew right over my car.

Those who know me know the heron’s message.

I know, God whispered.
I’m here.
I’m faithful.
You’re not alone.
I’ve got this.

Trust me.

I wiped at tears as I reveled in God’s tender care for me. Under the shelter of wings…

Later that morning we circled for prayer as we prepared for the service to begin. Our Pastor opened and our worship leader closed, with several others praying in-between. By the end, God answered my prayer. I stood ready to worship.

The heron was a gift. But God didn’t stop there. When our Pastor prayed, he spoke towards his topic that morning. He asked that God would help us grasp the understanding of the special place He has in his heart for those abandoned, the orphans and widows, those unable to care for themselves.

God whispered, You are not abandoned. I’ve got you.

Then as our worship leader closed, he referenced a verse God impressed upon him that week. Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. I didn’t hear the rest of his words through my tears as my heart cried out in worship and gratitude. For that was Peter’s verse, the life verse we gave him when we dedicated him as an infant.

All three seemingly ordinary, unimportant moments, but they left me awed at God’s tender care for my fragile heart; for I recognized the orchestrator behind them all. God wanted me to see his presence. I was not abandoned! His acknowledgment of my struggles with my husband and my missing Peter brought comfort. I worshiped that morning completely engaged out of the gratitude that now consumed me, replacing any hopelessness, doubt or despair.

Fast forward to Thursday.

I sat in front of the fire with the Christmas tree lit as I read my devotions. Reading through the Chronological Bible, the date suddenly jumped off the page. December 8th. Exactly one year before, we had laid Peter’s body to rest and celebrated his homecoming. Mixed emotions again arose within me, joy at his peace, happiness over the beauty and significance of his ceremony, sorrow in saying goodbye. Then the music playing broke through my thoughts. Sidewalk Prophets sang the words that touched my heart, “hope was born that night.”

Right then I took hold of the answer to my memories. Hope - made possible because Christ did come. Last year was not a goodbye, but an until we meet again.

So many gifts this week. Each one individually selected by God for me. But each one could easily be ignored-
missed if I wasn’t looking for them,
looking at Him,
looking for Him.

In his weekly UpWords Devotional this week,I appreciated Max Lucado’s thoughts.

“Have you ever wondered why God gives so much? We could exist on far less. He could have left the world flat and gray; we wouldn’t have known the difference. But he didn’t.

He splashed orange in the sunrise
and cast the sky in blue.
And if you love to see geese as they gather,
chances are you’ll see that too.

Did he have to make the squirrel’s tail furry?
Was he obliged to make the birds sing?
And the funny way that chickens scurry
or the majesty of thunder when it rings?

Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste?
Could it be he loves to see that look upon your face?

If we give gifts to show our love, how much more would he? If we—speckled with foibles and greed—love to give gifts, how much more does God, pure and perfect God, enjoy giving gifts to us? Jesus asked, “If you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?” (Matt. 7:11 TLB). God’s gifts shed light on God’s heart, God’s good and generous heart.”

This is the God who loves me. This is the God who cares for me.
This is the God who loves and cares for YOU too!

Friend, no matter what you face in life today, joy or sorrow, chaos or peace, know that God is there. Intentionally look for him. The little moments are not mere coincidence but kisses from the King as my friend says. They are gifts from a God who loves to give, giving of himself as he romances you who he loves. He will meet you where you are with the best answer he can give – Himself. He is all you need. He will not fail you, but hold you tenderly close to his heart.

Pray, as Paul did for the Ephesians-

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, [would] give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better… that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love. Ephesians 1:17-18, 3:17-19

As you survey the circumstances in your life, don’t blink. You might easily overlook the presence of God. Keep your gaze firmly fixed on the God who loves you. When you’re looking, he’s easy to see. He is exactly what you need.

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