Preparation and Celebration – What God has Joined Together!

Wedding!This past weekend, we celebrated the marriage of one of our sons, Christopher, to his glowing wife Laurin! Wahoo!! The brilliance of the sunshine was surpassed only by the sea of radiant smiles and sparkling joy. Congratulations and heap upon heap of every Good thing to our happy couple! To you both, we wish every last drop of blessing that we know our generous Father has within His vast storehouses for you! xoxoxoxo!

It was a beautiful ceremony, full of palpable love, moving music, and rich Scriptural nuggets of inspiration and affirmation in my own walk with the Gardener. But as the final acclamation of the celebration rang out, “Let those whom God has joined together, no one separate!”, another rang in and claimed my heart:

Let no one separate us from the Lord, Who, through His Son, has joined us together with Himself!
Pity the one who tries – or even contemplates – to separate us from the Son,
from the One who first loved us, in Whom lies all the Power and Authority,
and in Whose All-mighty Hands our hearts are safe!

So…

  • Let no one separate us from our introduction to Him; from His calm, imperturbable and gentle softening of our hardened and wounded hearts to endear us to His; from His meaningful Word; from His quiet persistence in pursuing and courting us, and our spirits’ shaky consenting response to His tender invitation.
  • Let no one separate us as we walk and talk with Him; as we discover and are stirred by His character and passion for us; as He reveals He is the safe place to live, land and fall; as we are invigorated, inspired and excited by His vision of our fullness so wildly above and beyond the world’s imaginations, expectations, judgements, labels and assumptions, and as we take that timid step to live and move in His deep, protective and demonstrative love for us.
  • Let no one separate us from Him as He pours His strength into our weaknesses; as He coaxes and brings out the best in us; as He stands as our security and shield against the world’s attempts to wound and destroy us; as He steps in to remove or helps us cast away all that harms or keeps us from perfect fulfillment within ourselves, and as He fill those holes to overflowing with His Goodness.
  • Let no one separate us from Him and His proven and proving promises; from His reliability and solid trustworthiness; from His patient assurance and knowing guidance through all the dark valleys and atop bright hilltops.
  • Let no one separate us from His profound affection and sacrificial love for us; from His wide and genuinely joy-filled smile and Heart; from His always-listening ear and sympathizing touch as we sigh in relief, settle and sink more deeply in our relationship with Him, and as we are strengthened by His unshakable, unmovable devotion and provision for us.
  • Let no one separate us from His tender, wise and learned influence over our hearts and minds; from the fulfillment, handsomeness, loveliness, and glistening power of increasingly resembling Him as we grow closer and closer to Him, and as we cherish Him more and more.
  • Let no one separate us from Him as He invites us to get to know His own Father, and from His encouragement to call His Father our Father.
  • Let no one separate us as we join our spirits and souls and minds to His; as we find inexplicable joy and restorative fire in Him; as we commit to live our lives in unity with Him, and as we joyfully partner with Him with fresh purpose and desire to plant, water, tend, harvest and sow His Kingdom’s seeds and fields.
  • Let no one separate us from Him as He prepares and sets the jewels in our crowns and to bedeck us in finery; as He prepares for today, and in all our moments, all that is needed within us in joyous anticipation for the day of celebration and jubilation when we rejoice in the Love of the most wonderful I AM!

The Groom and Best ManLet no one separate us!

“And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
(Mark 10: 8-9, New Revised Standard Version)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39, New International Version)

Erin
Soil and Seed

 

 

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Maintenance – Following the Current

2319796141_6b9f1eaec2_zAhhhhh! Sitting on the deck, soft breeze gently blowing, sun shining and warm, birds peeping, flowers illumined with splashes of light. Coffee steaming, reading glasses clean, fresh journal and new pen. Now this is the life!

Sabbath.

Sabbath: a word often sadly brushed aside in today’s world. But if you observe today’s world, surely the very thing we frequently avoid might be amongst that which we need the very most?

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
(Genesis 2: 2-3, New Revised Standard Version)

A recent Sabbath morn I spent studying Genesis 1 – 2:3 with my son Greg. As usual, much like every young person I’ve ever come across, he fired up my imagination. I just had to share. It was his analogy as to why it’s important to carve out time for Sabbath, why there was deep significance in God’s command to keep it holy that had me fascinated. And not just to keep a day especially reserved on the weekend, but seizing moments during each day of the week to touch base and steal time to spend in the company of the Gardener. It was the significance of the very terms used, their definition and specific functions that struck me.

Greg is studying to be an Electrician, and for illustration for his point, he used the concept of electrical voltage in a power supply. (I suspect our Gardener happens to also be The Master Electrician!)

First, he explained, the goal of every electrician is to channel the wildly fluctuating Alternating Current (AC) in his power supply into a smooth Dependable Current (DC) using specific tools to achieve the task.

Image-2“If we look at a typical Alternating Current at any given cycle,” he explained, “you observe great positive charges at their peaks that dramatically proceed to dive to significant negatively charged depths. This is a lot like each of us, either during the course of the day, or a string of days that make up one or several weeks. We Alternate with great highs with God, then somehow we respond to triggers that bring us way down into the negative area of distraction away from Him and his Dependability, often falling into some kind of sin.”

“So how does an Electrician fix that current? Well,” he proceeded to explain, “he uses a Rectifier. This object serves as a tool to reduce the dramatic swings of the current. There are still dips, but they don’t slip below into the negatively charged area. As a Christian, a Rectifier that could help us from falling so far below into the negative in our walk could be a tool like regular morning, or evening, or daily periodic touch-bases with Jesus, or a combination of all three. It could be studying a passage from the Bible and journaling thoughts, or memorizing a particular verse of Scripture for recall later.”

Image (4)“But remember, the ultimate goal of the electrician is to achieve a smooth and uninterrupted current in his power supply. We’re almost there. Next,” he continued, “we would apply a Capacitor to the circuit. This calms the current, smoothing out the dips into less theatrical rippling. For us, this kind of calming measure could be something like snatches of prayer before or after a meeting, at lunch or other time of day, breathing Jesus’ Name while we’re driving, recalling a favorite Scripture verse when we’re stressed, maybe even allowing ourselves to be blown away by something in Creation.”

“The last step in bringing the Alternating Current in line to become a Dependable Current Image (2)-2is to apply a Regulator. This takes the rippling current and ‘straightens it out’ if you will. It applies the last calming measure to make the current flow more efficiently and the device that is being powered to run effortlessly and well. For me, my Regulator is Jesus; focusing my attention, my “current” on Him – Who He is, Who He is to me, how He knows me better and more deeply than anyone, is right there as my calming force, and how I have absolutely nothing to fear when I hand my life over to Him. He is my Source, my Regulator for living well and productively.”

th-47“God tells us to take a Sabbath day of rest, and we need to listen. But you know,” Greg continued, “if you look at the Gospels, Jesus was often also taking mini-Sabbaths. He would rise early before any in the household got up and go and have a One-on-One with His Father (Mark 1:35). He’d take off in the dark of night (Luke 6:12). Jesus connected regularly and depended on God throughout the day, and so should we! And Jesus’ days were full! He was a popular guy – a guy people wanted to be around! He was constantly surrounded by crowds vying for his attention, grabbing at his robe, begging for His mercy and healing, and hanging onto His every word. ‘He was made man,’ so He must have gotten tired and worn out, physically and emotionally. Teaching, healing, feeding thousands, washing feet, dealing with evil spirits, calling the dead to come out – all done with such profound and authentic Love that came from His very depths! He must have needed refilling! I wonder if he wasn’t in need of a recharge after He fed the 5,000? (Matthew 14:23) And just look what happened after He did! He walked on water! (Matthew 14:25)

I think we need to have a day of Sabbath, just contentedly sitting with God, reviewing together the week that has past and the one to come and giving Him thanks and praise for moving us through the past several days and into the next. But I also think we need the mini-Sabbaths modeled by Jesus – in the quiet of the early morning before the noise starts, stealing time away during the busyness of the day for a quick “Hey, Jesus?”, and at night to review the day together with Him. We are all “highly charged”, and it’s important that our “voltage” follows a good straight path to be truly productive, to use our talents and skills to their best potential. It’s hard, but we really need to keep from depleting and wasting away our “charge”, instead taking regular intervals to be strengthened and dependable to handle the wild ups and downs with a calm head and passionate heart.”

Wow! Thanks Greg! AMEN!

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And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place,
and there he prayed.

(Mark 1:35, Revised Standard Version)

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone.

(Matthew 14: 23, New Revised Standard Version)



Erin – and Greg!
Soil and Seed

Preparation – What Covers the Surface?

 

th-66Doesn’t it delight and surprise you when, amidst a vast vista of concrete, steel and glass, a lone perky flower unexpectedly and bravely peaks through?  It can’t help but make you smile! Even if it’s a dandelion! When you consider that all our communities, large and small, are built th-56upon a garden of some kind, I guess it makes sense that we should see evidence of its life sprouting up once in awhile. But, what more could be under there? Have you ever wondered? Life surely bustles underneath: worms still burrow, ants still march, roots still strain and spread. There is vibrancy that whispers from below, and if we were to remove what covers, it would surely spring up with energy and enthusiasm, a fertile ground that takes in, and stretches with gleeful purpose. That little flower is but a hint to tickle our imaginations to what lies below, and its defiance to the nature of its strength.

th-64One of the first steps we undertook in our new garden was to remove the ocean-liner of concrete slabs that cut a path through our back yard. Fledgling but fainting wild daisies that dared to slip around its fortress walls were gingerly transplanted. Hunks of concrete were heaved and removed to stacks elsewhere. No glamour here. Muscles were pulled. Mud was flung. Colorful expressions discovered. Hot, hard and heavy work! Phantoms of what had been were manifest in the bleached strip of shriveled and starved limp grass, its pale and frail roots bare to the unrelenting and blistering sunshine. We quickly pulled out the dead, liberally scattered grass seed, covered the raw wound with cool and soothing enriched soil, and saturated it with refreshing water.

Hard and heavy work too for the Gardener of my heart and soul, as he removes the weights and rigidity that afflict and burden heavy upon the growth he has nourished, upon growth he further envisions. But he has never stopped, nor ever will, working in the underneath. That little flower only hints at the much more that he wants and anticipates to carpet the world with. More. Our God has and wants more for his children. Splendiforously more. More within and outwardly to be extravagantly seeded, to be nurtured and grown, to be spread beyond in the tag-team of relationships to light up the world. If only I would agree to remove the slab to expose the effervescent glory, to absorb his much more! Thankfully, he is not one to stand aside and watch me do it alone. Nor is he one to stand on top to make it an impossible task. No. He helps.  th-50Whether the soil, the fainting flower or the limp grass beneath the weight, I can be encouraged that he is actually willing to get hot and sweaty and do some heavy lifting. But he won’t do it alone.

As we work, I can be assured that I am the love of his heart, that he is eager to lift that little bloom out from under, to uncover others ready to push upward, to scrape away the lifeless, to lavishly scatter seed for new. But for goodness’ sake, Erin, let’s lift that comfort-zone slab off of all this potential! I can choose to believe and know that he will soften and break the surface that has been hardened by th-78my ego and pride and their thorny relatives, to uncover, to scrape away the deadwood of my own misguided doings, the misguided doings of others upon me, and my chosen reponse to their misguided doings.  But for heaven’s sake, Erin, let’s get this slab of hurt, resentment, anger, fear, snap-judgements, hopelessness and faithlessness out of the way to let the sunshine in to truly heal, and render this patch fertile soil for new seed! I can choose to believe that these very difficulties are his affirmation that there is always something glorious, surprising and persistent deep beneath to be sown, watered, and ready to push through resistance in perky bloom. Will I get out of my own obstinate way to let him in?

Can I muster the strength to push aside my ego, hurt, fear and stubborn willfulness, to invite the Gardener through the gate, to survey together and to begin? Will I agree that a condition rarely stays the same but is always dynamic, and when I look back, grows into something good? His good? And when I do, will I trust his hands to bring me there, trust him to judge whether the slab needs to be gently lifted, ripped in whole away, or given a good, hard wallop to smash it into a layer of dust that serves to somehow fertilize future growth?  Can I find hope that he could choose to open floodgates of tenderness and love to wash over the ossification and wear it down to powder?

Will there be pain? I don’t care for pain. I’d rather not. th-81But have you found like me that avoiding pain only seems to prolong and actually intensify it, propagating like a poison? That it takes little to unexpectedly trigger it and send you into its dizzying spiral all over again that seeps into everything you think and do?  But what if I were to turn it on its head, to use it as an opportunity to tune into a truth – that it can be a whistle and wink to the truth of our Gardener’s pure nature and heart and his desire to see a change in me? Could I lean into his heart, to agree that he wants only what is best for me, that he will accompany me through these moments into a healthier, new direction? What if I held a vice-grip on that assurance that he will face it with me, prescribe according to the condition of my condition, and take my heart into his own and move me ahead?  If today is a living and breathing testament to his past work in me, I will live to tell of that day, and tomorrow will yet again. In fact, I think he delights in each moment of victory right along with me!

cropped-seedling.jpg“Let’s do it,” whispered with unexplained and newfound determination. Erin, keep eyes on the well-equipped and deftly skilled Gardener, no matter his prescription and method. Eyes on him who grieves deeply out of love over my hardness, and to spare me its outcome. Eyes on him through the pain, and as he and I work together, uncovering the shriveled seedlings and starved roots of dormant resplendent beauty. Eyes on him as he gently removes the deadwood, soothes with the rich soil of his love, seeds with his lavish abundance, waters with his tears, and cools with his grace. Eyes on him as he softens and tenders, transplants and prods growth to infuse and spread across his masterpiece creation. Eyes on him as he rejoices with me, with us, at each interval!

th-61

“Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.”
Matthew 13: 18,19 (The Message)

All the days of the poor are hard, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.
Proverbs 15: 15 (New Revised Standard Version)

 Jesus was angry as he looked at the people. But he felt very sad because they were stubborn. Then he said to the man, “Let me see your hand.” The man put his hand out for Jesus, and it was healed.
Mark 3: 5 (International Children’s Bible)