Wednesday, August 21, 2013

a mental picture

While talking to God yesterday about the church, a mental picture crossed my mind. I thought of children and how they tend to color all over the page making random scrawls with all sorts of colors. When they are done they proudly display their "pictures" to Mom and Dad, eagerly awaiting words of praise and adoration for a job well done. That is how it should be, with children. However, as our children grow and mature, we don't assume or expect that their works of art will remain colorful scribbles, but hopefully they will develop into more distinct works of art. Works that we will at a glance be able to recognize specific shapes, sizes, and perhaps even themes.

Lately I have been praying over my church family more fervently. For quite some time our growth has been stunted numerically, but even more importantly, spiritually. I believe it is because we are still behaving like little children. We are consistently and even excitedly coloring page after page after page to give to Him. We should be well passed this stage. Not only should we be more skilled with our strokes, we should be asking the Master what it is HE wants us to paint and how HE wants us to paint it. What are HIS favorite colors? What is HIS favorite theme? But we aren't doing that. Even though our color pages in and of themselves are not evil, they simply are, well... simple. They do not produce a perfect picture of Christ that can be seen by the world and thus drawing them in to Him. Our pictures are merely ones that only we can recognize. You know how a child will say, "This is you, Mommy. This is Fido and this is me", only to the parents' eyes it all looks like a jumbled up mess.

There comes a point in time when we need to stop being childish. We need to cease doing things our way and finally surrender to God's way. Only then will we be able to make perfect strokes that result in complete works of art. Only then we will produce pages that our Heavenly Father will eagerly accept and proudly display for all to see because the final piece reveals the Master of our masterpiece.

(This was originally written in 2010.  Since that time I have seen some growth in my particular church body. However, there is still room for much more.  Of course I personalize that first and foremost.) 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Look Again

Picking green beans in the garden is enjoyable to me.  I am always slightly amused at how I will set about harvesting all of the beans and just when I think I'm done, I'll glance in a spot I already checked and there - hanging directly in front of me - will be another strand of beans.  "Now I know that I already looked there", I say to myself, but these little guys blend in so perfectly with their live-giving vines that playing hide-and-seek in plain sight just comes naturally.  If beans could laugh, I imagine they would be stifling giggles as they watch me and the expression on my face when I focus in on the ones literally dangling in front of my face! 

If you have been reading my posts for any length of time, you know by now that I saw a spiritual parallel in this green bean scenario.  It made me think of God's Word.  Day after day I read Scripture in order to grow in my relationship with my Lord.  Yet I have lost count of the times God has revealed something new to me within the exact same verse (or verses) that I have read so many times before!  It is much like picking green beans.  I start out looking at what is on the surface, or the outside, and begin by picking and placing those beans in my bowl.  Then I go in deeper, lifting up the leaves and the long, twisting vines that sometimes will conceal the beans until I look harder.  There are times when I have to look up and there are times when I have to literally bend down.  It takes action. It takes effort.  If I want to get the most out of my beans, I have to look and look again. God's Word is alive!  It never gets old.  It never becomes irrelevant.  There is always something there for me to find that I can then pick, hold on to, receive nourishment from and hopefully at times pass on to someone else who can then benefit from the harvest.  And, just like the imagined giggling green beans, I can imagine my God taking delight and joy in the expression on my face after I realize what was always before me, but I just discovered for myself!  

(These are not from my garden.)

Psalm 119:10-16 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.