The tall, slender jars are continually pouring into each other, a steady stream of sparkling water that seems encouraging. It brings to mind the familial relationship as it should be. This minimal concrete fountain never caught my eye before, but today it hits me like a brick wall. How simple the gospel is; pour yourself out and fill up others.
Completely contradictory to our Western culture that focuses on self-achievement and acquisitions. I’m becoming fascinated by paradoxes. If it’s backwards, what does the world look like through those lenses instead?
We give, we donate, we help. We bite a tongue that wants to curse and we swallow selfish comparisons and replace them with hands that serve. Our life changes because we move the spotlight off of ourselves. Living water that shines and sparkles like liquid stars, illuminating others and refreshing their souls; that’s the starting point. Letting go feels foreign. A new page begins.
The things we block out, we turn a blind eye to, the ones that we don’t allow ourselves to address and comprehend fully. Like cobwebs, they sit in dark corners and increase over time. Sticky and undesirable, they are the subjects we would rather not discuss, and perhaps we don’t even want to admit they exist. This type of denial also makes it possible to gloss over injustice or wrongdoing and tell ourselves, “what can I do about it?”
I’ve turned my brain off; I’ve closed doors to things I didn’t want to face. Like an imaginary curtain to hide the darker elements of this world, we’ve looked past the facts because they were ugly. I wonder if that’s how it started when the German soldiers began targeting the Jews at the beginning of the Holocaust? Did people avert their gaze to avoid seeing the condemnation and eventual murder of innocent people? Maybe they said, “life’s not fair and bad things happen,” then thanked their lucky stars it wasn’t them. If we keep the door open, does it mean we’ll have to play out the whole story from start to finish without twisting the outcome to suit our wishes?
As humans, we tend to think our plans are superior to anything else. This flies in the face of our relationship with God, who created us with His plan that far exceeds any we can devise. Do we trust Him or not? That’s what it boils down to. If we do, we live every day in trust, and all of our actions and choices are based on faith. Sadly, it’s when we step aside to be independent that we walk a different road that looks nothing like the one we belong on. Trust. Trust is what keeps us connected. It’s a map that guides our journey. It lights our way in the dark. Without it, we are lost.
I know that turning away from the ugly or unpleasant things means I don’t want to deal with them, but that’s probably the exact thing I should be doing. Maybe you feel that way too? We can move forward one day at a time and look directly at whatever we face, narrowing our view from a sizeable overwhelming picture to simple steps of faith. “In all this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” —1 Peter 1:6-7. Let’s trust that the things we face are not too big for us. Here’s to opening doors and following lights that chase away all the darkness.
Go! Fight Win! We’ve heard these words chanted at stadiums by crowds with colorful stripes of face paint as they bellow in unison with other activated bodies who pulse the same energy beside them. Sports aren’t the only thing we get riled up over. Insults, promotions, success-all potential sources of fuel to light us up. Picking our battles is a different story.
There are things in life worth fighting for. Clean water. Education. Children being allowed to grow up safely. We can agree on that. The difficulty lies in knowing when to pick a battle. What would you be willing to fight for? How do you know when to remain silent and when to speak up?
Sometimes, not getting into a skirmish is the smartest thing you can do. Another situation may need your voice when others cannot use theirs. Differentiating between the two options requires wisdom.
As our bodies mature, it would be nice to think our ability to make good decisions improves too, but that’s not always the case. Age is only one element for some to truly grow. Let’s go back in time to a historical figure we can learn from.
Solomon is one of the most famous men in history. He had a chance to ask God for anything and he chose correctly. Wisdom.
“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” —1 Kings 3:9
Discernment: Understanding, intelligence, knowledge. Soak that in for a moment. This man had a chance to ask God, the creator of everything, for anything. Solomon asked for wisdom. That’s a good starting place for all of us.
Take a look at the people you admire and look for this sign of wisdom; restraint. Do they run their mouth with an opinion on everything? Do they listen carefully and choose their words wisely? Solomon wrote, “whoever guards his mouth and tongue guards his soul from troubles.” —Proverbs 13:3
Ouch! A hard, but necessary reminder that whatever we carry in our heart and mind is what spills out of our mouth. I’m going to sit quietly with that one for a bit. Let’s be the type of people who encourage others with words and deeds. Life really works better that way.
Noise. It’s everywhere. So many types and so many causes. We even categorize it into good noise versus bad noise. We like it when it makes us feel a certain way. Sometimes the noise can’t be molded or controlled, it gets to be overwhelming and there’s a tug of war in our minds between all the things we should do, have to do, want to do. So many requests. Time to change the channel. Where’s the one that calms us and makes us feel normal again? That one needs to be programmed as a preset so it’s easy to find.
Station 1: Fun Car Ride, No Kid Arguments.
Station 2: Comforting/Nacham
Station 3: Date Night 80’s Music.
That’s what I’m talkin’ about. I’ll take Station 2 please. Nacham is Hebrew for comfort and I’d like a double serving of that please.
Today I sat on a rock at the botanical garden while my kids played (nicely) and tried to remember the perfect peace I had that one day in the desert. The day that I heard God say “Be still and know that I am”. (Psalm 46:10) One of my favorite days ever. I whisper, “Let me back in, please.” I sat and waited. “God, you are the one that lives in me, not the other one. Can we stay clear and not get separated by the static?” Suddenly, I saw a picture of gale force winds pushing everything sideways with their sheer force. In the middle, I sat undisturbed and He said “don’t worry, you’re with me”. Yes! Sweetest words I ever heard! Now I’ve got a picture I can hold onto, what it looks like and what it should feel like to be perfectly calm in the eye of the storm.
Why is there a storm? Things are good, we are well and I am blessed. True, but don’t forget that as humans, you and I are subject to the swing of life. It’s back and forth every day, throughout the hours we have to navigate the normal up’s and down’s and if we’re not careful, they can take pieces of us with them. It reminds me of stories we learned as children about good and evil, about believing in the light even when you can’t see it. Neverending Story was one of those movies. The rock monster, the princess, the flying dragon-I love that story. We had to imagine and believe in things we hadn’t seen before. We still have to do that. Every day. What I believe in may not be visible but I know it’s real. “ There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) I am redeemed through my faith so I have nothing to fear. This is freedom and this freedom is peace. Peace over the noise, peace over the storms, peace over the swing that is going to move back and forth every day. This love covers everything. Period.