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.

 

Legos, Pillars and the Temple

When I was little I often preferred Legos to Barbies. That’s not to say that at some point there wasn’t a large box filled with chopped hair, markered face, scandalously naked dolls in my room (I tended to not like outfits on my Barbies, but did like to cut their hair thinking it’d grow back). But there was a large red bucket of Legos that I would avidly drag out more times than not. The reason being is that I loved to build things. To construct and design what I wanted, just the way I wanted it.

legosMy own community, created and orchestrated by my hand.

If I am honest, I haven’t changed much in that mentality from those days of playing with those Legos. I like community on my terms, even when it comes to those in the Christian faith, my very brothers and sisters in Christ. Yep, I’m admitting that frankly it’s alot easier to be with and listen to people who I choose. To not be challenged to love harder and think deeper, to sit in judgement rather than in the hurt and compassion of others. I like community on my times and in my orchestration.

And yet, that’s not how the body of faith is built. And it most certainly isn’t how I am called to be a part of it either.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

Ephesians 2:19-21 (ESV)

I am being fit into the building of His very holy temple. The imagery here points back to when the pillars were built on structures, and no seams were seen on how rocks were smoothed and sanded to fit, to mold into one specific structure with complete unity.

That means I am being fit in to the very structure that has laid the likes of Paul, John, and Esther alongside the ones I find difficult in the church, brothers and sisters I would “rather not” with. It means I am being sanded and smoothed down to fit in complete unity with them too. My roughness and scratchiness smoothed out to be in community in order to build a seamless temple for the Lord. His holy Church, the Bride He awaits.

And I really don’t like that idea because it butts up against my selfish nature, my comfort and my idea of control in what community is for me, for the church. And y’all it’s just plain ugly. To live in the comfort and security I have created and ordained as “good and right” rather than what He has defined as the Church. It humbles me to think of the selfish nature and my personal preference has taken the prime spot of life instead of listening intently for where I am supposed to be in the community of God.

It means disagreeing in love, it looks like uncomfortable silences and awkward reintroductions. It means giving forgiveness when I really just want to be self-righteous in my pride. Most of all, it looks like a seamless temple being built not out of my design but out of His.

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God will do whatever it takes to frustrate my desires for lesser things, lesser loves, and thwart my attempts to run and hide.

These words, paraphrased from Amanda Bible Williams, are what I’m dwelling on presently. Often we desire to pour out our hearts and at others we pull back to quiet, to alone. Maybe you’re in a space of alone too and needed to see these words today, just as I needed them over the last few weeks.

 

Blank Space

Blank spaces can be exciting. Filling in your new married name…putting down the name you are giving a child…entering a new address….or even a new job occupation.  Reasons to be excited about a blank space.  But then there’s the blank cursor of a page. Or the blank dates in a calendar. The bare ring finger of a left hand. The quiet of an empty house.  All blank spaces that are painful and difficult. The stillness and quiet of something can be exciting and new or terrifying and lonely. We can look at the opportunity or see the bleak obstacle. I think both are equally worth pondering and also valuable in life. Each one having its own season of merit and definition in a life. I might be the only one but there are few more times that I am seeking to fill that page, with dialogue, action, adventure and life rather than allow the blank page to be bare. To sit and look at the openness with appreciation and the tension of the unknown. I want too much to push the words, the life, the filling of the blank space rather than be in it with myself. With God.  Blank space means that I have to be just me. With Him right there with me. That’s a scary and anxious place to find oneself sometimes all the time. Even when facing the good blank space,  not knowing (or being able to control) the outcome or what will fill it will always be a gamble. It will always mean that I have to relinquish what sense of control I thought I had in the filling of the blank space completely to Him. It means I stand there bare before Him giving over the pen, the hand, the heart and the mind for Him to do as He sees fit.  What a joy to realize. And what a frightening thing to live out. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t apprehensive of living in the blank space. But I am finding when I allow Him to come into that starched white area of life, in whatever season He is writing His name….and He’s been long doing it without my consent, this time I have handed it over willingly instead of fighting to put my own graffiti overtop of the prose He is writing that is my life.  So, sorry Taylor but the only name that will be written on this blank page will be God’s.

Are We There Yet?

From what I recall, and my family can correct me, I was never an “Are we there yet?!” kid when we traveled. I just didn’t mind the journey. Of course I was usually asleep or reading, until I got the Game Boy and then life changed forever.

Now though? I ask that alot.

Or rather I assume that far too often in my faith journey.

Whether it’s a a specific area God is having me address in my life or my entire spiritual walk. I find myself trudging along sometimes behind repetitively asking “Are we there yet God? I feel like we should be there by now. Seriously? How much further?!” I am the ubiquitous 15 year old in my faith. I am petulant, defiant, and constantly asking “But WHY?!?!?” to God when this journey seems to be taking so long.

Then I stop and consider the truth that spiritual maturity isn’t something I will fully complete this side of life. I must continue in my development, yes, but to complete this journey will take my entire life.

Many of the paths will be longer than the others, and often I will wonder if we are there yet…and that’s the interesting thing about this life. My timeline and God’s are drastically different. When I am in those moments of tiredness from the journey or frustration in the delay I have to remember one thing:

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
” -Isaiah 55:8 (NLT)

Meaning the way He chooses for my journey to go, I cannot question when I have arrived. I have to trust His way is good, is right and is true. Sometimes though that makes me yell from the backseat “ARE WE THERE YET?!?!?!”