Monday, June 5, 2017

The Greatest Creator (of Them All)

I've listened to Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver sing the song "The Greatest Creator (of them all) many tymes and I've always enjoy it, but today the song rang quite true to me...

Today as I was working on my resume, a less than enjoyable task in my estimation, I started to get rather down on myself and started questioning practically every choice I’ve made over the years. The process began to go down hill rather quickly and I decided it was tyme for a well deserved and much needed break.  I went into the kitchen and started to put some dishes away and tidy up.  As I worked, I happened to glance out the window to check the state of a troubled clematis. Much to my surprise, I saw a little sparrow perched on a decorative ladder that is there for the clematis to climb. I immediately thought it a beautiful picture, but I knew there was no way to get a clean capture of the sight because as soon as I attempted to step out into the clear of day, the bird would likely fly away.

What is a photographer to do? The only window in the kitchen that offered any vantage point had a screen in it, so that option was out - I mean I am a photo editor and I could remove the screen, but really, I do have better uses for my tyme than removing a window screens from a pictures, but I digress.

Moving on, I went to the window in the door of the living room, trying to find a usable angle, but with the door closed, the only possible line of sight was blocked by the lattice work on the porch. I couldn’t open the door in fear I’d startle the bird, so it was tyme to get crafty.

Thankfully, the sparrow remain perched longer than birds tend to and I was able to utilize the zoom, focus and breathing techniques I've developed over the years - yes, breathing. You'd be surprised how much even-breathing matters when you're holding a camera and using a powerful zoom, but here I go again, digressing.

After a few attempts and some interesting maneuvering, I was able to zoom through the lattice work and freeze a moment of tyme, a moment I deemed a beautiful gift from God. It was then the thought of God as the Greatest Creator occurred to me, but, oddly enough, it wasn’t the picture that prompted the thought; it was an ability He gave when He created me.

It came to mind, as I worked with the zoom on my human-made camera, I was able to see my point of focus in far more detail than my camera could. God created me with the ability to see, process and appreciate the beauty of the world around me.  My camera saw everything I saw, but I was able to single out one thing among the billions of details in the frame. That which my camera had to zoom in and focus on, I saw in an instant, no tools or technology required.

After getting the pictures I sought, I went back to my computer and continued creating my resume. As I worked, this tyme with a different and far more positive perspective, I realized God put that little bird in my day to remind me of the gifts and talents He gave me and as a result, I finished my resume with confidence and a smile.

Yes, a human created the tool that allowed me to capture a moment in tyme, but God created both the human who created to the tool and the human who saw the opportunity to use the tool.
 In that moment, I was reminded that God creates everyone with gifts, talents and abilities, but it’s how we choose to use them that matters.  Perhaps your resume doesn’t seem up to par. Perhaps it seems like other people have all the talents and gifts in the world when you have little to none, but it’s not true. God created you with everything you need in order to do what He has you here to do. You are The Greatest Creator’s greatest creation!

His eye really is on the sparrow and I know He watches (and cares) for me and YOU!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Grace vs. Truth

I grew up in a difficult environment and honestly, to this day, I am terrified of making mistakes. As a child, the consequences for doing something wrong were far beyond what sanity would consider normal and certainly beyond anything thing I will offer details about at the moment. Suffice it to type, terror was a constant in my day to day existence.
Over the years, I've worked through a lot of the damage that situation caused, but today, in a conversation with my brother-in-law, it occurred to me that there is more work I can do. We were discussing Grace verses Truth and how 99% of people tend to be heavily weighted with one or the other and how very few people seem capable of acting as Jesus did - ALWAYS telling people the truth and ALWAYS offering people grace for their mistakes.

I looked inward and realized that I do tend to cling to truth and find it difficult to offer grace when the person needing my grace refuses to acknowledge the truth. While it's easy to offer grace to someone who wants it, it's quite difficult to offer grace to someone who refuses to admit a wrong and refuses to change, thus requiring my grace on a constant basis. Still, I think I am required to stay in the person’s path and keep offering my grace until the person acknowledges his or her need for it and accepts it.  Of course I can only do that for so long until I am exhausted.

Unfortunately, when a situation gets to that point of exhaustion on my part, I tend to pull away and not have much, if anything, to do with the person who refuses to admit he or she needs my grace.  Onlookers tend to think I took my grace with me and call me unforgiving when in reality, I laid my forgiveness at the person’s door for him or her to pick up when the need was finally recognized.  I simply could not hold on to my grace and keep my heart unscathed any longer.

So, is it wrong to walk away from people who put you in a constant state of woe or is it a healthy action to remove yourself from a situation that causes you continuously offer grace to someone who refuses acknowledge his or her need for it?

There's the old adage that God gives us only what we can handle.  While the adage is meant to be encouraging, I think it's also a bit deceiving. In a way it makes us think if we're going through something difficult, that's what God intends for us and we need to suffer until it's over. We think if we walk away from a taxing situation in order to save ourselves from permanent destruction we are failures, but does God really want us to damage ourselves to try and help someone who refuses to accept our help?  Doubtful.

There are tymes in life when we are called to plant a seed. There are tymes when we are called to water and nurture a seed someone else planted. There are tymes when we are blessed to reap the harvest of a seed someone else planted and nurtured – And there are tymes when we are NOT called to have any part of the growing process. 

I think the key to navigating this life of spiritual farming is to be in communication with God and be willing to do what He asks of us, even if it is offer grace and remove ourselves from a situation that is preventing us from planting, nurturing and cultivating elsewhere.  

It's easy to get caught up in doing what we think God wants us to do, but how often do we actually stop and ask God what He wants
us to do? Sure, we're taught to forgive people, but does forgiving someone mean you have to keep putting yourself in a position where you need to keep forgiving them for the same thing?  I don't know that there is a concrete answer to that question that will apply to every situation. The point is, we need to do what God is calling us to do instead of relying solely on what we've been taught we should do.

It's important to note, I'm not advocating for giving up on someone when it gets tough, but I am suggesting that we sometymes put ourselves through pain, angst and trouble by staying in a situation longer than we're supposed to stay. We have to have faith that God will direct us and we have to be willing to work at what He asks us to do.

Just like faith and works need each other to balance (James 1), truth needs and grace and grace needs truth in order to be effective, but if you’re not called to have a hand in the current part of a person’s spiritual cultivation, the truth is, it’s okay to offer your grace and continue on the journey God has for you.  After all, Jesus always stopped to offer His grace to people, but He didn’t let offering His grace to people stop Him from doing what He came here to do.

 If you ask yourself “what does God want me to do”, truth and grace will always go hand in hand – but sometymes your feet will be involved as well.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mini Blog: Blending in or Standing Out

A Perspective shot and a Mini Blog Post

This apple blossom is about the size of a quarter. When it was up in the tree with all the other quarter sized apple blossoms it didn't stand out, however when it was removed from the cluster and looked at closely, it became a beautiful focal point and the center of a project.

Sometymes in life we blend in and it seems we have little purpose in the grand scheme of things, but other tymes we are singled out and examined closely because we are called to God's purpose and we are placed in the exact spot God needs us to be.

The truth is, the cluster in which we blended looks different without us, meaning we DID make a difference while we were there. The spot in which we are put however becomes a better and brighter place, because we are the exact lamp God needs to shine His Light in and on that situation.

So whether it feels like you are blending in or standing out remember, you have a purpose and you can make a difference. For as long as The Son shines in you, The Son will shine out of you and others will see The Way.