Saturday, December 31, 2011

The invincible future with Him

I particularly enjoyed the reading from today's (December 31) My Utmost for His Highest  by Oswald Chambers. This writing sets an excellent and wonderful tone for the new year.
"Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.
"God’s hand reaches back to the past, settling all the claims against our conscience.
 "As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.
"Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him."
I wish each of us such a future!  Blessings, Eric

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas holds the key

Reuben Job writes, "Christmas holds the key to unlocking the deepest mysteries of our lives: who are we, where did we come from, is there meaning to our lives, and where are we going?  Granted, we focus at this time on the birth of Jesus, on the exchange of gifts and cards, and the place of joy and triumph even when the days are dark and foreboding.  But the enormous truth of Christmas rests in the revelation  of God's self to humankind....When Jesus appears as the revealer of the transcendent Creator God, God becomes near, loving, and approachable.  Now we know that God understands us and that we can begin to understand God.

"The great mystery of God unfolds in the birth, life, and death of Jesus.  Jesus Christ came and was clothed in human flesh to let us know who God is and what God is really like. Now we know who we are--God's beloved children; to whom we belong--our faithful redeemer/savior; and where we are going in our journey of life--to a place prepared for us.  Thus the Christmas story is such good news."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reciprocal love

       God calls us to participate in a reciprocal relationship of love, but too often we are too busy, too "moral" (in our own eyes), too self centered to respond. More than three thousand years ago, when the people of Israel were forming their relationship with him, Yahweh instructed the Israelites to show their love for him by "walking in his ways and holding tight to him." As we know, then and now, we fail in this walk. Yet God never gives up on us. He "delights in showing us unfailing love." 
And so at this time of year, we are again reminded of how much our Creator cares for us.  We could not recognize his love in the abstract, so he came to live with us, to join us on our journey, to listen to our story.  As Henri Nouwen writes, "the God of love who gave us life sent his only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles, but can always trust that he walks with us."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joyful surprise

On Saturday, I participated in the annual Christmas Market at our local conference center. I have participated since 2003 and sell a variety of my photographic products. Toward the end of the day, a young mother and her five year son came by my display.  The boy could barely see above the table, but he saw a picture I had taken of a dolly varden fish jumping up a rapid.  He held in longingly, hoping his mother would buy it.  However, the fifteen dollar price was more than she wanted to spend.  So, I told she could have it for a dollar. When she paid, and the boy knew it was his, his joyful surprise of a hope fulfilled was an absolute delight to be swept into. He will never remember me, but I do hope he remembers this moment and passes it on to others when he is an adult. And I also hope that he, like each of us, will have  more opportunities to be "surprised by joy."

Certainly, that is one of the messages of the Christmas season: to be surprised by the wonders of joy and love and to share with "even the least of these."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Patient waiting

This week was filled with unexpected encounters--meaningful meetings that interrupted "my" schedule, but were part of "His" plan. I will not go into details, but those unplanned conversations caused me to slow down, to let go of my needs, and to enjoy the opportunity to listen and to counsel.

Henri Nouwen writes, "That is the great conversion of our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for his return.  Our great temptations are boredom and bitterness.  When our good plans are interrupted by poor weather, our peace of mind by inner turmoil, our hope for peace by a new war, our desire for a stable government by a constant changing of the guards, and our desire for immortality by real death, we are tempted to give in to a paralyzing boredom or to strike back in destructive bitterness.  

"But when we believe that patience can make our expectations grow, then fate can be converted into a vocation, wounds into a call for deeper understanding, and sadness into a birthplace of joy."