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Posts Tagged ‘God’s glory all around us’

 

The summers of my childhood included a blend of games and activities with neighborhood friends, afternoons at the community pool, bike rides to the library, and a few weeks spent with Grandma Clara and Grandpa Henry who lived four hours away in Iowa.

No doubt some would describe our summer experiences as mundane, not realizing the joy hidden among the ordinary:

  • The delight of lazy Monopoly marathons
  • The wonder of fireflies in a jar
  • The satisfaction of a big bowl of buttery popcorn–after biking to the park and spending several hours of nonstop cavorting in the pool, then biking home again
  • The pleasure of tucking ourselves under the willow tree to read
  • The fun of an evening bike ride with Dad

 

 

It’s the small, happy moments—not the grand events—that contribute to satisfying days and a joy-filled life.

 

The joy of small…makes life large.

–Ann Voskamp (1)

 

However, I have to admit: my childhood-self took those lovely moments for granted. I lived unaware of God’s glory pervading my everyday experiences: his creative genius on display—even in the backyard, his love, peace, and security within a family grounded on Christian values, and his goodness to provide joy-filled moments that shimmer in my memory with holy perfection.

Now, as the decades have passed, I’m learning to identify more of the transcendent moments God provides, including:

 

 

  • A cardinal filling the silence of the woods with his hope-inspiring “Cheer! Cheer! Cheer!”
  • A toddler wrapping her arms around my neck and crying, “I love you!”
  • A devotional that speaks exactly what I need to hear
  • An opportunity to encourage a waitress and see her concern turn to hope
  • A small gathering of family and friends quickly ballooning to twelve—with much laughter, camaraderie, and delightful conversation

 

 

God’s glory is on display right “in the middle of our minutes” (2).

 

So each night before falling asleep, let’s measure the moments of our days:

  • Taking note of God’s blessings and the delights of his creation; singing our praise for his breath-taking handiwork (Psalm 92:4; Job 5:9).
  • Thanking God for the camaraderie and conversation, hugs and support among family members and friends who keep us strong (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
  • Counting the riches that result from abiding in God, beginning with peace (Isaiah 26:3), stability (Psalm 16:8), and contentment (1 Timothy 6:6).
  • Celebrating the honor of ministering to others in Jesus’ name (Matthew 25:40), giving us purpose and cultivating fulfillment in our spirits.
  • Delighting in the opportunities to smile, laugh, and find moments of joy—even in the midst of trouble or frustration (Proverbs 17:22).

 

“Laughter is to life what shock absorbers are to automobiles.

It won’t take the potholes out of the road,

but it sure makes the ride smoother.”

–Barbara Johnson

 

 

And just as inches are measured into feet, so we can measure meaningful moments into satisfying days and a joy-filled life–because God is in them.

 

What meaningful moments are at the top of your list for today?  Please share in the comments section below!

 

Notes:

  1. One Thousand Gifts, Zondervan, 2010, p. 167.
  2. Sara Hagerty, Unseen, Zondervan, 2017, p. 109.

 

(Photo credits:  http://www.geauxguard.la.gov; http://www.pixnio.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pexels.com.)

 

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Which would you say is the most common human weakness?

A. Living unaware?

B. Greed?

C. Pride?

D. Selfishness?

According to pastor and author, Lou Guntzelman, the answer is A.*

Even twenty years ago when Guntzelman wrote his book, he saw many people living superficially, busily, and distractedly –moving too fast and focusing too much on insignificant matters.

 

 

Maybe those descriptors don’t apply to you. But I have been guilty on all counts.

And those of us who tend to fly through our days are at great risk of missing life.

We don’t see the unique qualities of the people around us.

 

 

We don’t hear the laughter of our children.

 

 

We don’t even think to take in deep gulps of rain-scented air, just for the pleasure of breathing.

 

 

We don’t taste and see God’s goodness in the world.

 

(Blackwater Falls, WV)

 

We don’t sense His presence.

 

 

But!

 

When we learn to engage the mind and especially the spirit in the moment at hand, we discover the splendor of God’s glory tucked into surprising places–right in front of us.

 

 

“The moment one gives close attention to anything,

even a blade of grass,

it becomes a mysterious, awesome,

indescribably magnificent world in itself.”

–Henry Miller

 

The obvious question is: how do we reprogram ourselves to live more aware?

 

Perhaps the first step is to condition our minds through quiet reflection.

 

In a place of solitude, we avail ourselves of his presence and redirect our attention from the day’s cares to God’s truth.

 

 

Sometimes that might include:

  • Studying and contemplating scripture, open to a change of heart or a change of direction.
  • Naming God’s attributes and celebrating how he’s demonstrated those attributes in our lives.
  • Keeping a gratitude journal, to help us tune in to the positive.  (It’s a transformative habit!)
  • Reading books by thought-provoking Christian authors, then mentally processing their tenets, and seeking ways of application to life when appropriate.

 

 

The state of our minds affects our perception of everything.

 

Second, we condition our focus.

 

We determine to:

 

(Backyard beauties at our house,

on display the end of April)

 

  • Appreciate more fully the natural wonders around us—even in the backyard, on the way to work, while running errands.
  • Honor each person we meet with eye contact, smiles, and a kind word.
  • Sift out the immaterial and apply ourselves to the important.
  • Refuse pointless worry and find priceless treasure in scriptural reassurance and God’s inimitable peace.
  • Pursue wholeness—the state of being perfectly well in body, soul (mind, will, and emotions) and spirit.  That happens as we submit more and more to God’s perfect ways (Psalm 119:1-2).

 

 

And what will be the result?

Each day there will be the anticipation of discovery and delight, joyful praise and expectant hope. We’ll find ourselves speaking to God more and more often, and hearing his whispers in our hearts. We’ll experience greater satisfaction in life as we train our focus on him and savor his endless blessings.

 

 

Bottom line: We will live on the threshold of heaven.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

Oh, this is where I want to live, Father—on the precipice of your glory. Though responsibilities must be taken care of, I can still take note and inwardly digest all the beauty, blessings, discoveries, and lessons that you bring to my attention. Help me to live aware!

 

*Lou Guntzelman, So Heart and Mind Can Fill, St. Mary’s Press, 1998.

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org; wwwpxhere.com; http://www.pixabay.com (2); http://www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.pxhere.com (2); http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.pixnio.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.quotefancy.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pxhere.com.

 

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No doubt many of you know the name, Jan Karon. She’s the author of the Mitford series, named after the fictional village tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains where most of her compelling stories take place. Within the pages of these thirteen books live Father Tim, an Episcopal priest, and a delightful cast of eccentric, endearing characters.

One of Mitford’s residents is Dooley, a foster child who is eventually adopted and the recipient of God’s generous, providential care.

In volume #11 of the series, In the Company of Others, Ms. Karon writes of Dooley: “While most people understandably took family for granted, he took it for grace.”

Isn’t that a wonderful quote? I copied it down with the thought, I want to be like Dooley and take all gifts for grace—never for granted.

Gifts such as:

  • A praise song that causes my heart to overflow in joyful, reverential tears.
  • A word of instruction or encouragement that speaks to a need in my life with uncanny accuracy.

 

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  • Participation with God in his creation–even if it’s just in the yard.  Gardening offers great pleasure and a sense of his presence in the beauty of leaf and flower; the concert of bird song as I putter; the aroma of soil, grass, and blooms; the delicate softness of petals–all gracious gifts of my Heavenly Father.
  • Holy beauty in a writer’s words (even in a secular work)–words like: “Lingering as long as it could, sunset’s sad joy filmed over the day with a delicate blush…” (Susan Vreeland, Lisette’s List, 355).

To “take all gifts for grace” can produce ethereal joy.  For a moment we experience the transcendent, as if the veil between heaven and earth is parted ever so slightly, and a single beam of God’s shimmering glory pierces through the dullness. Suddenly we’re basking in the warm euphoria of his presence.

We never want the moment to end. But inevitably the splendor begins to fade and we’re left reeling like Jacob—as though we’d been transported to the gate of heaven (Genesis 28:17).

 

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And we’re anxious to repeat the experience.

Is it wrong to desire frequent glimpses of God’s glory?

I don’t think so. Yes, on the one hand we’d be misguided to try and evoke such moments (“Come on, tears! FLOW!”). On the other hand, surely God wants us to live aware, alert to receive those gifts of grace when he sees fit to grant them.

Like Micah, the prophet, we can affirm:

 

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(“As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,

I wait for God my Savior.”

–Micah 7:7, NIV)

 

Surely watchfulness is part of seeking—seeking to know him more intimately, to experience him more profoundly (Jeremiah 29:13).

 

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And as we grow in our awareness of these glory-infused moments, we begin to realize how often they really do occur.

Just in creation alone we:

  • See him in the towering mountains and trees, the powerful oceans and rivers. There is glory in the grandeur.
  • Hear him in a pounding waterfall and crashing thunderstorm. There is glory in the power.
  • Feel him in a soft breeze and gentle rain. There is glory in the whisper.
  • Take in his aroma from the pungent pine tree and sweet honeysuckle vine. There is glory in the refreshing.

 

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In fact, his glorious gifts of grace are all around us.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

Thank you, oh God, for the gracious display of your splendor throughout each day. You fill my heart with wonder and joy every time I catch a glimpse of your glory—from an early morning bird chorus to a liturgical dance performed by children, from the encouraging word of a friend to the warm welcome of strangers. I praise you that your gifts of grace are bestowed with such delightful creativity! May I never take them for granted.

 

What gift of grace has filled your heart with euphoric gratitude lately?  Tell us about it in the Comment section below!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.goodreads.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.doityourself.com.)

 

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