Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday — Dark Saturday

Photo by AJ Spencer
When I was a youngster, school officials dismissed classes early on Good Friday—the Friday before Easter Sunday—so families could attend church services commemorating the crucifixion of Christ. Easter vacation usually came the following week.

Today that vacation time is called spring break and we never hear the term “Good Friday.” In fact, very few churches hold services any more.

But everyone knows what Black Friday is—the big spending day after Thanksgiving.

I’d argue that the heftier expenditure occurred on a hill outside Jerusalem one spring Friday a couple thousand years ago—the day the Light went out.

The Gospel accounts of Christ’s crucifixion tell us the sun was darkened, the earth shook and the dead climbed up from graves ripped open.

Imagine living during Dark Saturday—the day after the death of Jesus. Sure, the sun came up again, but how cold and dismal the world. How puzzled and fearful Jesus’ followers must have been when they saw dead men walking, not as zombies but alive, and the One who had given life dead and buried.

Jesus had called Himself the Light of the World. He said men would not walk in darkness if they knew Him. What did His disciples think that Saturday, a Sabbath that prevented them from doing anything other than sitting and thinking?

Sometimes we feel the same. We brood over the death of a dream or missed opportunity, and we have no idea that resurrection life is about to come with the dawn.

When God first said, “Let there be light,” light appeared before He made the sun and moon and stars. There is so much more to the Light of the World than we could ever imagine.

Today, let His power shine in your world. And may you be confident in the knowledge that darkness will never conquer the Light of Life.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Breathless Beauty

God still takes my breath away.

"Let the morning bring me word of
Your unfailing love,
For I have put my trust in you."
–Psalm 143:8

Saturday, March 16, 2013

To pour or not to pour

The graceful lines of a beautiful pitcher draw me like a thirsty soul to a bubbling spring. Several styles in various colors top my kitchen cabinetry. Hand-thrown pottery is my favorite, and rare mugs sometimes squeeze into the line-up with their hearty handles and heavy weight. But mugs don’t have the one qualifier that sets apart a lovely decanter: the lip that pours out.

I have long joked that the only thing I collect is dust because housekeeping is not my best event. But one day I noticed my several cream pitchers—some tin spatter ware, some china. And the larger ceramic, glass, and stoneware water pitchers. The deep blue matching mugs and server my husband bought me for Christmas last year. The old tin coffee and tea pots that hold fresh flowers or new plantings of spring annuals.

I have a penchant for pitchers. The vessels are everywhere.

And then I realized the connection.

One Sunday morning years ago our pastor asked us to write down the dreams of our heart—the things we really wanted to do, to accomplish. He handed out envelopes for us to fill with our dreams, address to ourselves and seal, and he promised to mail them six months later.

My dream was to become a columnist and a novelist. As a long-time journalist and freelance writer, I was familiar with publishing. But as much as I wanted to be a regular newspaper columnist who wrote about her own ideas and observations, I was terrified that I would run out of things to say after I signed a contract. What would I do?

The Lord led me to the Old Testament story of Elisha and the widow’s oil (2 Kings 4). The prophet told the needy widow to collect all the vessels she could find, take the little bit of oil she had, and pour it into the vessels. Then he told her to sell enough to pay her debts and live on the rest.

I found it interesting that the widow did not run out of oil as long as she was pouring. The flow didn’t stop until she ran out of containers to hold the oil. And that’s where the Lord spoke to me about my writing:

“As long as you pour it out, I will pour it in.”

Obedience and trust were key components for the widow, and they became as important to me as well. In the last eight years of writing columns for newspapers, blogs, and national non-profit newsletters, the Lord has faithfully “poured in” as I have poured out.

His faithfulness has recently flowed over into longer manuscripts with a Christmas novella published last year and a novel set to release this August from Heartsong Presents. Two other full-length works are in publisher’s hands, and even more stories stir in my heart and find their way from my fingertips into my computer storage tank—right next to a diminutive pitcher that sits on my writing desk.

The simple piece of craftsmanship reminds me of the Lord’s promise and His ordained process of obedience and trust.

So I ask you: What has the Lord promised He would do for you? What has He said He would provide so you could in turn “pour out?”

My challenge to you is to try Him. See if He is as good as His word. And decide whether you will be a pitcher or a mug.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ever Just Need a Hug?

Ever feel like you need a hug from God? I do. Sometimes I just want to crawl up on His lap, lay my head on His chest and listen to the beat of His heart.

I believe we can do that.

“But that’s not productive,” you say.

Maybe not, but I find a tender side to my Lord in His word that says He wants to love me and give me what I need. And sometimes I just need a hug.

“He will quiet you in His love,” wrote the prophet Zephaniah

In these days of instant messaging and Smartphones and social networking and constant noise and clatter, that’s exactly what I need—a moment on my Daddy’s lap, quiet in His love.

 Zephaniah 3:17  

The More I Seek You

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What's Your POV?

POV—point of view—is critical to a writer. As he creates his story, he must decide from whose point of view a scene will be described. Whose head will the reader be in during a chase, an argument, a conversation, or a tender moment?

It’s all about perspective. Remember high school debate class when we had to argue on the side we didn’t agree with? We were forced to consider someone else’s perspective.

Objects take on different colors and contours when viewed from different angles. So do situations, lives.

Because we are finite, personally motivated creatures, we don’t often see the big picture, or around the next bend, or the other guy’s viewpoint. And sometimes we think no one sees ours.

But God does. He sees the sparrow, the lily, and the panting deer. He sees the blind man begging and the woman weeping.

Take a trek through the gospels and count how many times Jesus looks at someone. Really looks. Sees them. Can you feel His warm Creator-God eyes on you?

An old song says, “His eye is on the sparrow – and I know He watches me.” The hymn is based on what Jesus told the people about that tiny, dull, unnoticed bird. Not one falls to the ground without God seeing.

We are more valuable than sparrows, Jesus said.  

Whose eyes are we looking through?

God sees us and loves us. Maybe if we sought His perspective, we’d understand this better. Maybe we need a little less of our own POV and more of His.

 Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel, 1905