Thursday, February 26, 2015

May I Never Lose the Awe

For those of us along the Gulf, whose climate is driven more by tropical breezes than by arctic blasts, snow is a glorious and mysterious sight. We become overwhelmed by flurries we can see dancing in our backyards.  We anticipate the white blanket blurring the harsh deadness of winter grass and barren trees. We envision sledding and slushing and watching the Iditarod pass by in front of our houses. We shut down schools and businesses. We crash into parked cars because we don’t know how to drive on snow.  And, yet, we are amazed.

First Snowfall - Tampier

People who actually live where it snows much of the winter laugh at our excitement. To them, snow is just a seasonal obligation. They shovel it out of the way and keep on going. They put on chains—kept in readiness in their trunk—and drive wherever the snowplows have cleared the path. They deal with it, not as a blessed sight, but as an ordinary, normal occurrence.
Normal occurrences often fall into the category of non-spectacular, regular, where the awe gets quickly replaced with life. What we see as incredible and stop our lives to relish, they see as an obstacle to be pushed aside in order to keep life going.

Occasional sights are far more inspiring to those who rarely get such glimpses than they are to those who deal with them regularly. Whether it’s snow, mountains, oceans, skyscrapers, airplanes, horses, music, the difficulty lies in keeping the experience from becoming ordinary.
One of the hazards of knowing God for a long time is losing the impact of who He is. Listen to new believers whose excitement in discovering God’s love is overwhelming. They burst with delight from each moment they spend with Him. Their prayers are fresh and personal, honest and hopeful. Their worship is free and unencumbered. The Bible is alive and inspiring. Us older believers are much more reserved. We carry out the duties of our service with the dull obligation of shoveling snow. We miss the beauty by the routine. This is the hundredth time we’ve been at this very same place, doing the very same task. All we want to do is get done.

I want to be excited to see snow. I want to dance with the flurries. I want to anticipate the beauty to come. And yes, I even want to build a snowman! But I also want to live with such freshness with my God that He still thrills me by just being there.

Lord, I’ve known you all my life. I do not want that fact to condition me to ever lose sight of how great You are!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Waiting for Dawn

There’s that moment, just before sunrise, when you can tell something’s about to happen. The darkness is giving way to the light. It’s like finishing the chapter of a book and turning the page to start a whole new chapter. It’s a reminder there’s more to come.

Posted by Mark Cote - Lyricist at 10:07 PM

I can remember as a kid sitting in deer stands during cold, damp and dark pre-dawn hours, waiting for the light. Every snap, rustle or drip of dew hitting the ground sent shivers up my already frigid spine.  I kept straining to see what I couldn’t see.

But then after a while the woods began to wake up. The night sounds were taken over by the birds greeting the day and squirrels running across limbs. Gradually, my vision moved past a few feet to several feet and soon to the whole field came into sight. What was there all along was now visible. It had never left, only my view was limited because I can’t see in the dark.
There are times in our lives when we’re caught in that pre-dawn moment, just before God turns the lights on and we see He’s been there all along. He’s been keeping us in the dark while He was getting ready to reveal the fuller picture of what He was doing.

I have to admit sitting in the dark on a tree stand was my most unfavorable part of hunting. But I loved when the darkness gave way to morning.
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lam 3:22f

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Stepping Out in Faith

A favorite scene in one of my favorite movies is when Indiana Jones must step out in faith to cross to the other side of a deep chasm. He repeats the mantra of what is expected then places his boot out into the vast unknown. Landing on a rock bridge he had not seen, he was able to go into the cave on the other side.

Leap of faith
Yesterday was one of those days. Sometimes you find yourself making a choice beyond your ability to see the next step. I’m not sure why that should have surprised me. Believe it or not, choices like that are the rule of life for a believer, not the exception. We are required, as a product of faith, to live by faith. Faith is the action of trusting God.
Earlier that morning, during my quiet time, I read of Abraham taking Isaac up on Mt. Moriah to sacrifice him to the Lord. Abraham didn’t know what would be there for him to step onto when he placed his sandal into the vast unknown, but he was determined to trust God was committed to His faithfulness. He knew God would provide even though he didn’t know what that provision would be.

Faith acts upon God’s faithfulness not ours. Having to see the rocks in the water before we step out of the boat, having to know what’s on the other side of the mountain before we climb, having to have our ducks in a row before we start the parade…lack the main ingredient of faith—trusting God for what we cannot see and places too much emphasis upon our wisdom over against God’s.

Faith often includes a struggle. Like the man who brought his son to Jesus for healing and said, “Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief.” Don’t think for a minute that Abraham whistled Oh Happy Day all the way up the mountain and was still whistling at the moment the angel stopped his hand. This was the biggest challenge of his life. Every fiber of what made him who he was was charged with the question: Could he trust God beyond his ability to see what God was going to do?
Abraham told Isaac God would provide. He didn’t know how, when or to what degree, only that God would provide. That was his hope.

Can you live with that hope? Regardless of how yesterday went? Can you trust God to make a way where there is no way, to make an invisible path visible as soon as your boot hits it, to produce a ram in the thicket at the perfect time?
As people of faith, we live by faith, not by sight. Probably one of the hardest things God ever asked us to do.