Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A reflection on... reflection.

About a week ago, I took a long walk at the beach one night. From past experience I knew it was about two miles from where I was starting to the pier and that along the way there were quarter-mile markers painted on the bike path. As I started walking I noticed I was at the .25 mile marker. As I walked, I was curious how far I had gone. Since my normal walking path was only a total of two miles I didn't feel the need to go all the way to the pier. Strangely, I didn't see any of the mile markers and before I knew it I was at the pier.

As I turned to walk back I noticed the 1.75 mile maker. Funny, I thought. I hadn't seen it before. And then, even more surprisingly I noticed almost every single quarter-mile marker as I walked back. Some were more noticeable than others, but had I really been that oblivious?

I began to think about how many of us live our lives this same way. We start out with no particular goal in mind, just a general destination. Before we know it we've gotten further from where we started (and read me here, not necessarily in the direction we first intended), seemingly unaware. If we can take a moment to look back at what has brought us to where we now are, the signs seem very clear - even stupidly clear.

On Sunday morning I was thinking about this as Pastor Josh shared Ezekiel 37, the fascinating story of the Valley of Dry Bones. None of those bones were created dry and left in the desert. It was a process. The body the bones once belong to were first brought to the desert (whether by means of work, war, capture, maybe all sorts of reasons), then killed (again, whether by natural causes, nature, murder), and then left there. Then, over the course of time, the bodies rot and all that is left are the bones. Sorry for the visual, but follow me. If this were the end of the story, it'd be pretty sad. Instead, God takes the bones, attaches tendons and flesh, and then breaths life into the bodies. Miraculously, God has taken nothing and made it something.

If I can take a moment to reflect on who I am, will I see that God can restore anything and everything I may have lost over the years?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Like a Sock

Do you ever feel discouraged when you look at the people around you - the people you see at the grocery store, or a restaurant, or who pass you on the freeway? Sometimes I do, and I know logically that there is no reason for it. I know I am loved by God, my family, my friends... but sometimes that voice of doubt sneaks in and whispers, "Why do you feel so special? You're just like everyone else." It's silly, I know.

The other day I was folding laundry and as anyone who has ever done laundry will tell you, I have a slightly OCD way. I had just about finished folding everything, and had gotten to a big pile of socks. Kids socks. Work socks. Dress socks. Bed socks. There were a lot of socks. At one point, I couldn't tell the difference between a few very similar looking grey socks, until I finally realized that if I looked inside I would see the stitches were different, and then of course I'd be able to pair them quite easily.

It was right then and there that I heard God tell me I'm like a sock. Profound, I know. =) The point, however, is that it doesn't matter what people seem like, it matters who they are. And, God knows who we are even when it seems no one else does.

One day he said, "Samuel, I've rejected Saul, and I refuse to let him be king any longer. Stop feeling sad about him. Put some olive oil in a small container and go visit a man named Jesse, who lives in Bethlehem. I've chosen one of his sons to be my king." Samuel answered, "If I do that, Saul will find out and have me killed." 
"Take a calf with you," the LORD replied. "Tell everyone that you've come to offer it as a sacrifice to me, then invite Jesse to the sacrifice. When I show you which one of his sons I have chosen, pour the olive oil on his head." Samuel did what the LORD told him and went to Bethlehem. The town leaders went to meet him, but they were terribly afraid and asked, "Is this a friendly visit?"
"Yes, it is!" Samuel answered. "I've come to offer a sacrifice to the LORD. Get yourselves ready to take part in the sacrifice and come with me." Samuel also invited Jesse and his sons to come to the sacrifice, and he got them ready to take part. When Jesse and his sons arrived, Samuel noticed Jesse's oldest son, Eliab. "He has to be the one the LORD has chosen," Samuel said to himself.
But the LORD told him, "Samuel, don't think Eliab is the one just because he's tall and handsome. He isn't the one I've chosen. People judge others by what they look like, but I judge people by what is in their hearts." (1 Samuel 16:1-7, CEV)

If you continue reading, you'll learn that David was the last choice. Not out of two or three, but of seven brothers, David was the last one to be considered. It's very encouraging to know that even David, one of the great kings of our Christian history was the underdog too.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Beautiful Voice

Yesterday at church I sat on the opposite side of where I normally do. As we were singing, the most beautiful, deep voice boomed from somewhere near me. Wow, I thought. Who's voice had I not been hearing all this time? Subtly looking around, I systematically eliminated all of the men I could see until the only person who remained could hardly be considered a man. He was perhaps 16, and standing next to a woman who appeared to be his grandmother. And then, just like that, it was confirmed for me as I saw him open his mouth to bellow a smooth, deep verse of the song we were singing. I honestly felt I could listen to him all day!

Then it hit me - God hears our praise the same way I heard this young man. He loves to hear us speak His name and watch us serve Him. He enjoys every moment of it. It is beautiful to Him. How often do we hold back because we think we're insignificant? Truth be told, there is no good that is too small for God to appreciate.