In the Garden of Eden, we see humanity make a massive mistake – disobeying God’s one and only direction. Immediately, they experience consequences – shame, fear, blaming others, loss of connection, and more. WATCH VIDEO…
As the Bible continues on, we see that the story has only begun. God continues to move in pursuit of the heart of humanity. He reaches down to individuals and nations, gives opportunities to change their way of perceiving reality and return to Him. Some do and others don’t.
But His heart is always for restoration, redemption, reconnection.
Paul wrote: “…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Not after we cleaned up our act – because we don’t have the power to do it anyway. Not after we checked off all the boxes of requirements to get into His good graces. While we were still living lives defined by sin, He died…for us…to restore that connection.
His heart longs for us regardless of our performance.
Think of someone in your life who can uplift the atmosphere of a room just by walking into it. Suddenly, dull becomes vibrant. Sullen becomes joy-filled. Negative complaining turns to hope-filled conversation. WATCH VIDEO…
In the Garden of Eden, we see that God made a habit of walking with humans in the garden. He created a space where He could connect on all levels with His creation. God’s intention was and is to have relationship with humanity. Not merely collectively, but also individually, uniquely.
This life we live on planet Earth is filled with daily opportunities to connect with God’s presence. Moment-to moment we can experience His nearness if we will seek Him out.
In Genesis 1-3, we see that God spoke to His triune self, to humanity, and to the serpent). He stated His intentions and reasons to create, declared a reality that being alone is not good for man, called out to the humans who hid from Him, confronted the man, woman, and serpent with Truth, gave consequences of their rebellion, and gave a promise of a future redemption. WATCH VIDEO…
God’s Voice was literally heard by others in both the spiritual and physical realms.
All throughout scripture, we discover times where God spoke and people heard. Sometimes it felt normal, sometimes they had no idea what was going on at first. And, His Voice came in various ways to various people in various situations.
Communication is vital to any good relationship. And what God wants most for us is that we live in relationship with Him.
Imagine a couple in love, separated by war. One goes off to fight, while the other stays home. They exchange letters, reminding one another of their love, commitment, and promises for the future. Even though they can’t physically feel the one they love, they sense their nearness inwardly and they are reassured of their character.
That’s what the Bible is for us. It’s not a list of rules to oppress us. It’s a love letter; God reminding us of His love, commitment, and promises for the future. It’s one way we can remember His nearness and be reassured of His character.
He didn’t stop speaking when the Bible was canonized.
God is still speaking today. And we can hear Him. We also have the benefit of the Bible to both help us get more familiar with the sound of His Voice and the character of His nature. Anything we hear, we need to weigh against proven scripture to test its validity because God’s is not the only Voice speaking. (We also hear ourselves, other people, and the enemy.)
Let’s lean in further to the sound of His Voice.
Where does life come from? Eden, the original place of perfection, where we have our first glimpses into the Source of life. The intention for Eden was to be a place where intimacy lived and moved freely. WATCH
“…the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7)
The “breath of life” points us to our Source. God’s original intention, and ongoing intention, is to be our Source, our only Source. WATCH MORE HERE…
Every day, I hear from others their declaration to stand strong, to live unshaken. Usually it comes right after some kind of upheaval in their life has turned things upside-down and they are determined to never let that happen again. But, can we truly live unshaken? What would that look like? (WATCH VIDEO HERE)
Imagine a mountain, hugged by a curving road below. Cars zip along, occasionally stopping to take a picture. Metal netting protects smaller debris from falling down the mountainside on the people passing by below.
On rare occasion, someone will decide to get out of the comfort of their car and begin to climb the face towering above them. They bring their ropes and harness and anchors to stay securely pinned to the side.
As they climb, the mountain begins to shake. Strong quaking knocks loose small rocks first, then the larger rocks tumble. The metal netting is ripped free by huge boulders.
No longer is the road below the safe place and the mountain the danger. Now, the only place to stand secure is anchored to the towering mountain face.
Daily life is a constant shaking, an upheaval of things that make me comfortable.
Often in life I allow feelings to affect my foundation and I treasure the destination more than the journey, but that’s not what God does…He treasures the journey, not just our arrival on the mountain-top moment.
Hebrews 12:28 reminds us to be grateful for a kingdom that cannot be shaken…The kingdom can’t be shaken, but everything else can be.
So, when I find myself too comfortable in the everything else, then I feel jolted when I’ve got my anchors and ropes stuck into loose rock which are the comforts of this world, when the shaking happens, those comforts falter and my grounding is insecure.
What I need to stay pinned to is that which cannot be shaken: the kingdom.
We’re to seek most the kingdom of God, but sometimes that feels like the most elusive thing in the face of the daily shadow. When we remember that this shadow – this world we experience every day – this is simply an illustration for that kingdom that cannot be shaken, it helps us keep our ties to comfort and our reliance upon emotions in check.
Every physical aspect of creation has a spiritual counterpart…this world points us to the realer real.
In your life, is there anything you’ve told God to leave alone? Something that you know you could “never” do? WATCH VIDEO HERE…
A couple of years ago, many things were up in the air in life. So many circumstances we didn’t know the outcome of. Finally, I reached my last straw in “what if” conversations with Steve, my husband always up for change. And I told Steve that I wanted to table that conversation. Too much was in flux. Too much was uncertain. Can’t we just keep this one thing solid, unshifting?
Even as the words tumbled from my lips they felt wrong.
Will I limit God by my lack of belief? Will I tell Him that He may only go so far in my life? Or, will I submit everything I have, even everything familiar, to His shaking? Will I be open to and ardently seek the kingdom, or will I continue in what is known and safe and predictable?
The Lord brought me to Hebrews 12…challenging me to be open to the shaking. I had to ask myself: is anything in my life off limits to Him? If so, then it stands as an idol in my heart, more valuable, more trusted than my precious Jesus.
Putting limits on the areas God has permission to touch limits His work in our lives. Yes, we have the ability to influence God’s access to us, His ability to work through us, through the boundaries we put up. (See Mark 6:4-5) Jesus – the Son of God – was limited in His works because of the people around Him. Their unbelief hindered His work.
Are we limiting God’s work in our lives because of unbelief? Or because of fear? Will we tell Him He can only go so far?
Living limitless is as basic as surrender…surrendering that so-called “right” to tell God where He may or may not interfere in our lives.
Our surrender opens up the limits of our lives to the boundlessness God wants to work out through us. Our surrender opens the window from the here and now into the present kingdom of God, inviting Him to have His way in and through us.
My latest book, The Sacred Shadow, is an invitation to enter into this daily mystery of God’s kingdom…an opportunity to see past our limits into the limitlessness of God and all He is doing and longs to do in our lives. Get your copy here!
Have you ever wondered if your presence makes a lasting difference? Can we really affect change in the world around us? (WATCH HERE…)
Did your mom or dad ever tell you, “Leave it better than you found it”? In one way or another, I’m constantly telling my kids this. When we visit a friend’s house, we always try to leave a few minutes at the end for the kids to help clean up any messes they made. It’s just good manners. But, what if it’s more than mere manners?
As humans made in the image of God, we are designed to take dominion. We have the ability to affect change. And not just in the places we go, but also within the people we encounter.
So, I want to adjust this manners-focused message and make it mission-focused: Leave People & Places Better Than You Found Them.
With places, yes, tidy up any messes you made. But, also, bring the Presence of God with you. Bring peace. Bring joy. Your attitude affects the atmosphere. When I have a sour attitude, it affects the atmosphere of my home and anywhere I go. Which then affects the people in that atmosphere. So, let’s leave places better than we found them.
And, with people, while we are not responsible for the emotions or behaviors of others, we are responsible for the life or death that we speak over them. What brings death? Gossip. Slander. Judgment. Negativity. Simply, the words of the enemy. What brings life? Encouragement. Faith. Positivity. Acceptance. Expressed Love. Hope. Simply, the words of God.
Imagine how different things could be if everywhere you go today you planted seeds of life, hope, love, positivity. If you encouraged another person. If you really looked at a stranger in the eyes and smiled like you know how precious they are to God.
Imagine if you prayed for the people and places you passed by while on a walk instead of only focusing on your number of steps.
Let’s go beyond manners and be mission-minded. Let’s leave people and places better than we found them.
You may have noticed semi-trucks with safety decals on the back of their trucks stating, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you,” or “The No Zone,” with blue highlights of unsafe areas around the truck. They are designed to warn you of well-known, possibly deadly areas around their truck that they cannot see. These blind spots can be fatal for whomever is in them and the truck driver as well.
I was driving home one day on a small two-lane road when traffic came to a standstill. Someone disregarded all of the warning signs on the truck and came alongside the truck as it was making a wide right-turn. Not seeing the car in its blind spot, the truck driver proceeded into the turn and the car slammed into the side gas tank, rupturing the tank, leaking diesel onto the street and into the drainage ditch. Thankfully, the diesel did not ignite , but there was still a mess to clean and we had to wait for the hazmat team to soak up all of the fuel. While we all may not drive trucks, we do have our own blind spots.
Do you know where yours are, these areas of our lives that something could be creeping up unexpectedly?
What’s in the blind spot is not always something bad, but it can be. It could be a beautiful view of a mountain range in your side mirror or a motorcyclist, a surprise promotion or a family illness, falling in love or a spousal affair, or one of an infinite number of situations. Why they happen varies from ignorance to distractedness, a busy life, to not knowing what clues to look for, and even literal blindness.
As a child, I had a freak accident where, floating in the middle of a lake on a tractor innertube, my brothers and I, as brothers often do, started wrestling and jumping on top of our tubes. As I came up over the edge of my tube, from under the water, my brother released his grip of the metal stem used to inflate the tube. The tip of the stem struck my eye and, with intense pain, I fell back into the water and struggled to get back to shore, wailing in pain.
Thirty-something years later, during a visit to my doctor’s office, we got on the topic of blind spots. I’d recently noticed that in that same spot where I got hit with the tractor tire stem, I now have a blind spot. I noticed one day as I pointed at something that I saw only the lower half of my finger. The tip of my finger disappeared as if it was stuck in a vortex of time and space. I pulled my hand down a little and I could see the whole thing again. I moved my finger up even further than before and I could see my hand and the tip of my finger, but the base of my finger was gone. It was the oddest thing I have seen.
Mr. Doctor said it was likely some sort of Charles Bonnet Syndrome, explaining how the human mind will fill in the blanks with random images or samples of the area around the blind spot, because it can’t make sense of the lack of information it is receiving.
In my case, my mind is likely filling in the void created by the injury to my eye, blending the surrounding area over the blind spot. It’s not a big portion of my vision, however it’s enough to make me conscious. My awareness of it allows for me to look around to ensure that my mind is not playing tricks on me.
The same principle applies to our spiritual lives. Many of us have been hurt or injured by someone or something in our lives. Our mind’s defense mechanisms put a wall around that pain so it isn’t injured anymore and so the pain will subside. We eventually become numb to it and just start looking past it. God didn’t want it to be this way though. We were created to bring everything to Him, to be able to see things from His point of view.
The belief that the hurt is too great to address and there is no hope of it stopping is often a symptom of the real issue, a belief that God doesn’t hear, doesn’t care, or isn’t there. Could it be that we just can’t see Him because we have become blind to His presence? What if our minds are just playing tricks on us, covering up His existence and all that He has done for us?
Psalm 147:3 says that God “…heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” What if God is inside the walls of that pain waiting for you to peek in and allow Him to heal your broken heart and bind up that wound? What if that blind spot is just where we need to look for healing?
Jesus left the disciples, but He did not leave them alone, nor are you alone.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:25-27
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?
Author of What Lies Beneath: From Lies to Love and’
Have you ever wondered if there is something beyond what you experience with your five senses every day? Beyond bills and dishes and to-do lists, is there a deeper reality we’ve become blinded to?
I don’t know about you, but I love minor chords in music – those sounds where a tension is felt, but you know that the tension is leading to a release. There is hope in the middle of that felt tension.
Every day, I feel this tension between the urgent, in-my-face things and the deep longing of my soul for more. Earth is this beautiful tension between the physical and spiritual realms where we can experience both to a degree right now. Just as a shadow reveals to us something of the substance making the shadow, so does this physical existence reveal to us something of the kingdom of heaven reality. We live in the shadow, but can sense the substance on this side of life.
The Sacred Shadow is an invitation to enter into the daily mystery of God’s kingdom…within these pages you will find windows to see into the reality of God’s present kingdom. Click HERE for more information. WATCH HERE…
I’ll suffice it to say that things have felt very uncertain around here lately. And for a girl who plans when she’s planning to buy her annual planner, that’s a shaky feeling. I like certainty. I enjoy predictability. I feel accomplished when everything goes according to plan.
But I’ve discovered that if all we do is stick to the plan, we may miss the majestic.
We made a work trip into a family vacation last spring, winding our way from Texas up to Connecticut for yet another road-trip. We’d planned on trekking through Tennessee, then Virginia and up along through New England. But the map offered an alternative route through Ohio. A lightbulb came on, recalling friends who lived up that way we hadn’t seen in years.
“Let’s go!” And so Virginia was abandoned for Ohio, for unexpected time with friends along the way, a mere 45-minute detour.
Leaving Ohio, the plan would take us straight through New York. But the map held a forgotten spot of intrigue. Steve whispered to me, “Wanna go to Niagra Falls? It’s only four hours away.”
Me, the planner, the one who panics when plans change…when would this chance come again for this homebody Texan? “Yes! Let’s go!”
Winding along Lake Erie, we beheld the majestic that could have been missed. A day at the Falls, only the second day of the season for the tour that takes you into the freezing mist and, for a moment, into Canada. Uncertainty brought beauty, surprises, eyes opened wide to see what the next bend held.
The Daily Discomfort
Things are shaking up around here – an abrupt shift in career and income, not knowing when the call will come for our baby, lingering effects of a car accident last year, surgery and sickness, the schedule and dispersion of homeschool duties looking totally different, and unpredictable blood sugars from an autoimmune illness… all at once these have me reeling, feeling overwhelmed in a sea of emotions.
And this good, Christian girl wonders, “Is all my hope truly in Jesus? All of it?”
Because I can talk the talk and I can teach the walk. But when not just one or two areas seem upended, but nearly all of them do, how does my walk stay in stride?
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
The apostle Paul said he had to learn how to be content. He had to learn it. It wasn’t natural or easy. Most things we have to learn aren’t natural or easy at first. They go against the grain and challenge our inhibitions and default settings. What’s amazing to me is that he not only had to learn how to be content in times of lack, but also in times of abundance. We tend to think that living contented in abundance would be easy, but it’s truly a slippery slope if we aren’t fixated on Christ.
This famous verse, “I can do all things…” we love to tack onto hopes and dreams for our lives. But that application has no context here. Paul was trying to communicate that his contentment despite circumstance came through Christ’s gift of strength.
The Determining Factor
When the steps ahead are unclear and the bank account dwindles and the aches and pains and illnesses have no regard for inconvenient timing – do we count everything else as rubbish next to Him? Do we find our joy and reason and purpose and strength and certainty only in Him?
Is Christ my everything? Is He yours?