Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sunsets

I’ve fallen in love with sunsets all over again. I have always been drawn to them, but lately, they have been extra special. As a kid, even though I moved around a lot, I always seemed to live in a place where it was hard to really see a sunset because trees or buildings hid the horizon. So when we went to visit my family in Oklahoma where the land is flat and the trees are few, I always looked forward to watching that moment when the light surrendered to the darkness. When day and night come together, they create a beautiful scene for the eyes to behold. God’s artistry in the sunset is far greater than what any artist can capture on paper, film or otherwise. It was a glorious experience to see such vivid beauty unfold right before my eyes.


When we moved to north Texas, I was excited to be reunited with the beautiful sunsets of my childhood. I enjoyed watching them with my husband and children. I loved being in the middle of something greater than myself. But, it was only recently that I came to appreciate their divine beauty in a whole new way. A few weeks ago, I read an article where the author spoke of the beauty in God’s creation (When God Shouts at You by Jason Kotecki). And how God uses His beautiful creation to touch us – to whisper “I love you” in our ears. That statement stuck with me in the week that followed. And then it came true. At the end of a very busy Sunday, I was leaving a home of a family who was preparing to invite Jesus into their home and hearts. After we finished praying together, I got into my car and turned down the street to leave their neighborhood. As I started driving up the hill, I almost had to stop the car. The sunset the Lord painted in the sky was the most breathtaking I had ever seen. God’s “I love you” rang in my ears as I gazed at the brilliant and pretty colors all dancing in harmony with the wispy and perfectly made clouds. As my eyes took in the moment, I could feel His arms around me and hear His voice in my ear. Yes, sunsets would never be the same again – they are now special “I love you” moments I share with my Lord.

I have shared several more sunsets with the Lord since that day. And through them, the Lord has shown me glorious sights, whispered sweet words in my ears and filled my soul with divine love. But today, the sunset was a little different. Once again, I found myself in my car and driving west at that perfect time of day. I was anticipating the beautiful display that would unfold right before my eyes. But, it never seemed to come. Today’s sunset just didn’t appear to be that glorious. The little devil on my shoulder said, “Ha! See! He doesn’t always give you that sunset. He doesn’t always show you His love. You just aren’t always that important to Him.” I didn’t want to believe him. But I was tempted to. You see, there was something that I really wanted to work out. There was something I really wanted to happen. And then the circumstances aligned so it seemed as if it would happen. And so I prayed. At first, I prayed for God’s will. But in the end, I shamelessly begged God for my will to be His will. To make a long story short, it didn’t work out. God said “no”. And I was disappointed. It is hard to hear that word – no. When we hear that word, our minds want to know why. And God doesn’t always make the why obvious. He doesn’t explain the ins and outs of His will to us. He doesn’t tell us what lies ahead on the road; He just gives us what we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Then He asks us to trust Him and hold His hand as we walk along on the dark and ill-traveled road together.

One scripture that comes to me frequently is Matthew 6:25-34, where Jesus tells us not to worry. He explains that God takes care of the birds and the flowers so why wouldn’t He take care of us? He loves us more than the birds or the grass in the field, so surely He will make sure we have what we need. Jesus tells us that, rather than worry, we should seek out the kingdom of God. In other words, don’t let worry steal your precious moments with God. Instead of worry, we should worship.

I’m also reminded of Job’s story. God allowed horrible things to happen to His beloved Job. God knew that Job’s love for Him was greater than any of the blessings Job experienced in his life. So, God let the devil take all those blessings away one by one. And Job, although distraught, never wavered in his love. Job never stopped worshipping. He continually turned to God when the world told him he had every reason to turn away. Job did not let worry steal his love or his precious moments with the Lord.

As I continued to drive my car towards the setting sun, I pondered all these lessons. I thought about my specific situation. Although I don’t know how things are going to work out, I do know I shouldn’t worry about it. My future is in God’s hands. I know His plan for me is much greater than I can imagine. My purpose is to seek out the kingdom of heaven- not to worry about tomorrow. And as I came to these conclusions, it happened. The so-so sunset began to give way to a beautiful and splendid sight. As the vivid colors began to dance across the horizon, those three little words rang in my ears once again. And in that moment, hope filled my heart as I realized just how perfect God’s timing really is.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrate that Night

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the land,
Every creature was anticipating the celebration at hand.

The stockings are hung and the Christmas tree is trimmed,
And we all take a moment to slow down and find meaning within.

With all the hustle and bustle we often lose sight
Of the glory, majesty and wonder in this beautiful night.

With humility and love, He took on man’s form;
And all nature rejoiced when God was born.

He walked on this earth and talked of God’s love;
He spoke of God’s mercy and preformed signs from above.

Then the time came when He used more than words and signs;
The time came for Him to show God’s love to mankind.

He was sold by a friend for 30 pieces of silver,
And then beaten beyond all reasonable measure.

He was mocked, ridiculed, belittled and scorned,
And then they pressed on His head a crown of thorns.

His broken body struggled with the cross to Calvary,
Where they nailed Him to it and hoisted Him up for the whole world to see.

He hung on that tree in unimaginable pain,
And, when the time came, He gave up His spirit- the lamb was slain.

The world shook and the veil in the temple tore,
For the covenant God made with Abraham was no more.

A new sacrifice was made; an unblemished lamb;
God’s blood had been poured out in a new covenant with man.

After three days, He walked on this earth again,
And showed us that perfect love conquers sin.

He showed us from the depths of His heart and soul
What true love is and how to be whole.

The love that burns inside His Sacred Heart for man
Is greater than our minds can ever imagine.

So, we pause from the hustle and bustle we’ve created for this season,
And remember who we celebrate and His magnificent reason.

We dance in the love and joy He brought to this earth,
And rejoice in the glorious miracle of His birth.

By His stripes we are healed, by His death we are free;
All He asks from us is to love Him back for eternity.

So on this beautiful night, give Him the best present of all;
Give Him your heart and answer His call.