Beauty in the Small

Recently I had a large group of photos printed to frame, which led me to combing through hundreds of photos from the last two years. I haven’t done a really great job of getting them printed from adventures during that time. That’s when I stumbled across this photo I took at Biltmore Gardens.

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That beauty nestled inside the beauty of a blossoming flower? Well it made me feel like I’d discovered a little secret God wanted to share with me. And remind me of yet again as I was rummaging for photos to print.

That secret?

Well it’s that He is cultivating work in the smallest places, in the most unassuming and unexpected places. He is growing beauty from within and we might miss it looking at the bigger picture, at the sweeping grandeur blossoming we will let the smaller inner work just bypass us completely.

I know for me I have been so focused and intent on the work I see Him doing in everyone else and forgetting the work He’s been growing and refining in me. There is beauty within the bigger, but there is breathtaking wonder at the inner working going on. I love to see how He works in others but I am so reluctant to take that moment to observe where it is He’s been in what I call the small of my life. Because frankly, I’d rather have the big in my life too. I’d rather select the sweeping beauty of the field rather than the intimate quiet of the one flower above.

But He’s in both. He works in both for our very good. The big sweeping beauty comes from hours of toil, just as the seemingly minute does the same. They both require work, both by His hand and my submission. It’s not a one or the other, but a both and if I’ll just stop focusing on what I deem as unimportant and small in my world. Instead taking a moment to admire the beauty held within that I too easily think isn’t His handiwork.

 

Fighting the Storm

Sunset from window

Sometimes a picture can communicate more of what you want to say than words.

It felt like the darkness, the clouds were trying to swallow up the sun as a late afternoon storm rolled in on Monday. The sun kept fighting back the clouds and the storm and I could see it’s fight through a window at the gym.

The sight got at my heart because that’s where I’ve been recently. Unsure of the clouds creeping in and the storm that seems to be forming. I had been wrestling for a couple of weeks on a good thing, a decision that was good and confirming where my heart was leading but that ultimately was not the best thing. Over the weekend I was affirmed in what I felt was where God was leading. Once I voiced it to one person, just one person, I could feel this darkness creep in and a storm brewing. I could feel myself bristle up for a fight because I was choosing the best God has intended and not this very good thing that isn’t for me.

To see that play out visually just hours after I’d started to get that notion was just for me. But maybe it’s for you too. Maybe God needed you to hear, to see, to read that the thing you decided on and now feel the darkness creeping in is what He wants for you. He wants that very best thing, and not the really good thing you said “no” to right now. He wants that obedience in what He has long been calling you towards, reminding you of. The darkness doesn’t want that, Satan doesn’t want you going hard after obedience because it scares him when you are in God’s will, in relationship and fellowship with Him pursuing after what He’d have for you.

May this bring you hope, affirmation, confidence in the fight ahead. The sun always fights back against the encroaching storm. The Son already fought it off so that you could be in Him in all things. When the storm comes. When the clouds creep in. When the devil would have you doubt and fear the very best God has for you.

Solomon, Temples and The Body

And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 1 Chronicles 29:1 (ESV)

Y’all I am quoting from First Chronicles, what? It’s an actual book in the Bible in case you were thinking otherwise. It’s back before Psalms and Proverbs, but after Genesis. It chronicles (heh) the Davidic kingdom moving forward from David to Solomon. The transition of the kingdom (and an uprising from an angered son not taking the throne) is laid out as well as David’s heart for building the temple of God.

God gave direction to David that he would not build the temple but that his son, Solomon would. And so here is where we pick up in the story. David is giving instruction to his son, whom is young and inexperienced but that God has chosen to complete. If we blink, we miss it, but the work is great. It’s not that it would be a large scale task, because obviously it would be.

The emphasis here is that the work is great because it’s for God, not for man. It is the most worthy of consideration in what is done. It was for God Himself that the work would be done. The temple was constructed to be where God’s Presence could be with the people of Israel, where the designated priest would go in for the people to give sacrifices and offerings to God, to cleanse the people and give praise on their behalf. The construction of the temple and all the intricacies of it are detailed throughout Scripture.

If I am honest with y’all, I often flip through those pages whether it’s from a devotion or a reading through the Bible plan. But something has switched in my mind and heart on this. Because it’s Scripture…God-breathed….intentional for inclusion in God’s instruction and word to us. So I see the work of the build was arduous, hard and sacrificing work. But the people were willing to give because they were loyal to serving God.

When I read about the temple, I cannot help but look to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Our bodies are now the temple. We are the ones now carrying within us the very presence of God in the Holy Spirit with us into everything. But that also means we are the ones called just as David did there in 1 Chronicles to do the hard work of crafting the temple. The very dwelling place of God in Spirit is within us for us to bring our praise, our confession and our sacrifices to and through. He prompts us to go before Christ as our Intercessor, our High Priest. It is hard work, building upon the Cornerstone of foundation that is laid in Christ, seeking to give the most valued things of our lives over to Him in order for Him to be praised and glorified within us.

Just like the “young and inexperienced” Solomon who was alone called to the work of building the physical temple, we are called to the work of the temple of our bodies, of consecrating and sacrificing in order to bring God praise, glory and honor. Just like Solomon, am I aware of my need for divine direction and my own limitations in the work? Do we see our need for others to come along with us to assist us in the building up of our temples, our own selves, in order to be the embodiment of who God would have us be, living temples for Him?

The Royal Family and Control

Confession moment: I adore the British royal family. I like reading about them, watching films and documentaries on them. Maybe it’s the fascination with their structure and history that I just don’t see with our democratic structure here in the US. Or that I love the British in general.

I watched the news of Princess Kate’s third pregnancy announcement yesterday excitedly. Yay for other people having babies! I noticed on one news outlet’s coverage of the announcement they had the succession to the throne mapped out. With this announcement, Prince Harry (William’s brother, second son to Prince Charles) has now slid to sixth in line for the throne.

Something he has no control over-his birth order and the pregnancies of his sister in law- dictate what he will be able to do with his future. I can’t imagine that or what his desires might be, or how he is able to rectify that how dynamic.

I thought on that more as I read further into King David’s life in the Old Testament. He’d already incurred his own sons trying to overthrow his rule. Now as he lay on his deathbed word comes that his 4th son (one that in the natural succession line would take the throne) has decided to thwart his father’s-and God’s-plan for Solomon to assume the throne. He meets in secret with those who aren’t loyal to his father and then publicly sacrifices offerings to name himself the new king.

My thoughts went directly to questioning Abinojah and his crafty nature. He had no control over his father’s proclamation, or God’s larger plan. So instead of acquiescing to the plans he takes them into his own hands to manipulate and control. Then I saw a lot of myself in him…desiring to control his own life and what he felt was his. His life, his plan, his control.

Oof.

How hard is it to accept God’s plan when it’s not what you would’ve made for yourself? How difficult is it to rectify your desires and plans with God’s? What do we sacrifice in order to live within the authority of God Himself in every area of our life?

I know for me I’d much rather have the control and say so, being able to pursue the desires I deem worthy and good. But that’s not what God plans for us most of the time.  He wants good for us, but not on our terms and in our ways. It’s a life of bowing in submission to the throne, to the rule and authority of God Himself and how that looks in our life…and not in anyone else’s. It means realizing we cannot control which a Sovereign God controls.

It means that sometimes we are sixth in line to succeed and we must relinquish any idea that we can control that.

Making Plans and Building Houses

“Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.” 2 Samuel 7:11 (NKJV)

Ever made plans and they didn’t go as you had expected? Like they were really great plans, ones you were excited about and had put much thought into and it just kind of felt like a big NO was stamped across every bit of it?

I wonder if that’s how David felt when he felt led to build a house for the Lord. It was something worthy and honoring to God, a temple to give Him a home that wasn’t makeshift and temporary. He looked to making plans for it, securing the materials, and then God said “No.” But here’s the bigger rub of it all. God said no to the temple but yes to Him building David a house that would last beyond the materials, an eternal legacy befitting their relationship and honoring God all the more.

I mean y’all, that’s pretty amazing right?

As I looked at these verses again and saw the covenantal promise from God here in second Samuel, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I like to tell God what I want to do for Him, for His kingdom. Much like David, we know He is to be honored, given all the glory for Who He is, and all that He has done and will do. But we put our spin on it, our hands on the design thinking we know better how He should be given the glory. We mean the very best out of it, just as David did in building a temple. We just haven’t listened for God in it. We haven’t removed ourselves into His Presence alone to see where He would have us be.

When I look at these words deeper in second Samuel, I see God coming close. To tell Davie that He would be the One to set up the house for him, not the other way around. In these words, in David’s life, and in our very own, He is revealing an aspect of Himself to David and to us, His sovereignty, a glimpse at His plan in the promise. We don’t get that if we are busy going our own way, even in the very best of intentions.

It isn’t about what we can do for Him, but what He is doing in and through us to reveal Himself because He is God.

 

David’s Swagger

I love a good war speech. The bravado and confidence as warriors go out to fight, called to bear arms by their leader. But I love the underdog in it too, where the cards are obviously stacked against them and there’s just zero way they can pull this out. Led often times by a humble individual who knows the call to lead. (One of the many reasons I do love me some Jon Snow and Sir Davos’ intro to the queen on GoT)

Maybe that’s why I love David’s speech in 1 Samuel as he goes out to face Goliath. Like I fist pump the air when I read it, that’s how much I love it. But it’s not because of any confidence in David’s strength or abilities, but his absolute love for God and trust in God’s provision of victory in battle. David doesn’t mention once in that speech before the giant his own victories over a bear and a lion….y’all, a bear and a lion.

Nope, David points directly to the God of hosts. The God of hosts will deliver the Philistines, He will strike down Goliath. It is all in His hands and His power because He is the God of hosts. I’d often bypassed one of God’s titles in my reading simply out of habit. But this is more than God’s title, it’s a descriptor of Who He is, part of Him. You see, God of hosts means that all the created agencies and powers are under the dominion of Yahweh, our God. He is sovereign and He is power.

Here Goliath is talking about his spear, his might, his shield bearer going out before him….and David’s pointing to the All-Mighty God as his weapon. I mean y’all. How triumphant and fist-pumping are those words from David? The God of all armies is on his side? Yes and thank you.

It’s not a false speech, dependent upon man’s strength or power. It’s not a swagger of false bravado. It is the words that are full of praise and soul-digging truth, that the God of all hosts goes before us into battle. He is with us and is strong enough for any battle that is calling us to the field. Those giants may taunt with words, they may scare with swords and spears, but He is our God. He is THE God of all armies. Power and might are His.

Here’s my question for myself today…Do I take that same trust and truth into my own battlefield? Do I confront the giants in my life with my confidence in God or in my self?

Biopsies, Bandages and Sin

This week I had to have a biopsy done on an area that was of concern to my doctor. I was going in for a routine check-up and to ask about something in particular. This biopsy popped up out of no where once she did her check and it was a little startling. Biopsies are routine obviously as I have chatted with a couple of people about them since then, but let me tell you, I was not prepared for the slicing out of part of myself to then be looked at to determine if it was cancerous.

Nope. Not in the least.

I have a sheet of instructions for the next week or so to care for the area that was sliced, and let me tell you, it still hurts.

As I was re-bandaging the place this morning it got me to thinking about the unrealized areas of ourselves that often need to be sliced and put under a magnifying glass for review. Areas we weren’t expecting to get addressed but are brought to our attention rather suddenly and often hurt to have even a small amount removed for further examination.

We can be deceptively content with the comfort we find ourselves in-settled in the routines of life, only to be jarred with the painful revelation that all is not fine within us, whether it is our attitude, our words, our thoughts, our job, our relationships, our home, our hearts. So quickly it needs to be dug into, magnified and dissected to see if there’s a cancerous piece infecting it. It can be small and unassuming but when sin wiggles it’s way into those areas, it will spread and eat away from within.

So we allow God to reveal the deep down root of the sin in these areas, and then begin to apply healing to them. Slowly and deliberately, taking great care to see the cause of it in our lives and setting about through Him to remove it. Not just the spot, but the deep-seeded root of it. Then we seek out the balm and healing that only He can fully cover us in. It won’t be immediate, there will be waiting and echoes of the pain still there. But there will be lasting healing, there will be a space that once was eating away at us that is now filled with Him, His grace, His love, His forgiveness…with Him alone.

So maybe today we sit with our bandages, from where we have allowed Him to dig out the sin within, where we have examined what was within us and brought it to Him to dispose of. Bandages are not to be embarassments, they are proof of healing, proof of our weakness and inability to do it ourselves. Bandages show we are dependent upon something greater for healing, for restoration, for refuge. We wear them, not in shame but as evidence of His work in us.