Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"I'm in love! I'm in love! And I don't care who knows it!"

I went on a walk with Jesus this evening.  Which turned into a run with Jesus, because I wanted to catch a perfect view of the sunset.  Which turned into a dance with Jesus, because there was this field that just begged dancing in, and because He invited me.

If you don't believe the title of this post, ask all the people who, if they looked out the back windows of their houses, saw me spinning in circles in said field until I staggered and fell over like a crazy drunk person.

Sorry.  I'm getting sidetracked and starting to ramble.  But I've learned from observation that those are usually side effects of being in love. :-)

Anyway.  While I was in the field, He told me to look at the flowers.  So I bent over and examined a simple yellow flower, which some would call a weed, that grew all over the field.  As I studied it, I began to see the intricate details that I wouldn't ordinarily notice.  I marveled at it and thought, He, the God of the universe, made every detail of this!

Then He told me to look up at the clouds.  The whole sky was filled with them.  Gray, white, pink; puffy, flat, hazy--every shape, size and color strewn across the sky like so many strokes of a giant paintbrush.  And I thought, He made all of those, too!

He pulled my attention back to the ground.  This time, I gazed at a stalk covered in blue flowers and noticed a group of the tiniest ants traversing the stem of the plant.  And He struck me with the contrast of His creation.  From the ground, I picked the smallest blade of grass I could find.  Then I closed one eye and held the blade of grass between my open eye and a massive collection of clouds.

They were the same size.

I twirled the grass between my fingers as I pondered that reality.  As I did, it broke in two.  I stared at the two pieces, and a strange thought struck me: He knows.  He knows that blade of grass just broke in my hand.  He made those majestic clouds, and yet He knows that the tiniest piece of grass has broken in two.

I took a picture of the grass and the clouds, because I wanted to remember what He was showing me.

See, I think God sees this world much the same way that I saw it when I held the grass in front of my face and looked at it and the clouds:  It's all the same size.  I don't think He looks at the clouds as big and important, while seeing the grass as small and insignificant.  I think He spent just as much time making the grass as He did making the clouds, and I think He takes equal joy in both.  I think He pays just as much attention to those ants as He does to the elephants.  I think He looks down at His creation and every piece bears equal weight in His eyes, because when He made it all at the beginning of time, He said the same thing about every bit of it: He called it good (Genesis 1).

So where does that put us, as people?

At the Little Light House, the wonderful place where I work, we've been teaching the kids about the Sermon on the Mount.  As Jesus speaks to the people, He begins to talk to them about the birds and the flowers and points out how God takes care of them.  Then He says, "Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

He created the grass of the field and the clouds of the sky and called them both equally beautiful in their own ways.  And then He looked at us--broken, fallen, sinful--and said, "You are much more valuable than all the rest."

And to prove it, He came down here, died on a tree, and came back to life again so that He could spend forever with us.

Seriously: How can you not love a Man like that??? ;-)

Friday, September 14, 2012


I love rain.

I love rain when I'm curled up under a blanket by a fire in the fireplace with a good book and a cup of mint tea.

I love rain when I'm piled on the couch with my family watching an old favorite movie.

I love rain when I'm snuggled under my covers about to fall asleep.

I love to sit on the porch and watch the drizzle of a rain so soft you can't even hear it.  I love to lie on my pillow and listen to the pounding of a downpour.  I love the thunder and the lightening and the clouds and the wind and the puddles.

I love rain.

I also hate rain.

I hate rain when my alarm goes of at 5:30 and the sound of it on the window makes me want nothing more than to go back to sleep.

I hate rain when the clouds cover the sun so it's still dark when I walk out the door in the morning.

I hate rain when it's cold and the wind blowing the drops against my face feels like I'm being slapped with a thousand tiny needles.

I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with rain.

I think we do the same thing with rain in our lives--rain and storms that come in the form of trials.  We're okay with them as long as they're outside and we're inside.  We can look ahead at the possibility of facing trials and be fairly confident.  We quote verses about how God works even in the hard things:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2-3

We know and believe these easily enough when we're safe inside our house, watching the rain at a distance.  When we're not in the middle of them, we believe God can work through trials and make good come out of them.  At times like that, we might even say we like the rain.

But what happens when we're out in it?  What do we believe when the rain is slapping us in the face and chilling us to the bone?  If we're honest, in times like that, most of us hate the rain.  It hurts.  It's miserable.  It makes us want nothing more than to crawl back in bed and shut out the world.

The disciples were the same way.  Once, they were in a boat with Jesus and it started to rain.  They didn't like being out in it.

Matthew 8:23-26,
"Then He got into the boat and His disciples followed Him.  Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke Him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!'  He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!'"

The disciples didn't like being out in the rain.  It wasn't comfortable.  It was scary.  And Jesus was sleeping.  So they woke Him.  They woke Him in faith that He could save them from the rain.  And when He did, they were amazed and marveled at His power.  That's faith, right?

Not according to Jesus.  Jesus said they had "little faith".  You see, their faith was based on the rain stopping.  But what about when the rain was still falling?  What about when Jesus was sleeping?  The disciples had not yet learned a very important truth:

Jesus was not any less God when He was sleeping than He was when He was calming the storm.

Do we believe that?  We believe in His power and His goodness and His love when He makes the rain stop.  But do we believe in that same power and goodness and love when He lets it continue?  When it seems like He's sleeping in the middle of our storms, do we still have faith?

This morning when I left for work, it was raining and cold and dark.  All I wanted was to go back to bed.  As I turned on my windshield wipers and grumbled to myself about the rain, the Lord whispered to my spirit a truth I hope I never forget:

"Learn to love this rain, too."