The Hope of Renewal

Warm sunshine beckoned to me today, after what seems like weeks and weeks of chilly, rainy weather. I picked up my camera—a DSLR Canon Rebel T5 that I need to teach my amateur photographer self more about using—and enjoyed a short hike along a river’s edge.

moss on a tree trunk

river seen through a hole in a log

forested riverbanks

When I hike, I like to look around me, try to really see what I’m passing by. I always marvel at what God has made, at what beauty this creation has—and what we see is creation in bondage. God’s word tells us that

creation was subjected to frustration … in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:20-22, NIV).

Can you imagine what creation will look like when it is free from the bondage of sin?

bud on a tree

blossoms on a treemossy tree trunk in front of a river

As I looked at the trees today—especially those that towered above the rest and reached high into the sky—two fanciful thoughts came to me. (I’m not normally prone to fanciful thoughts, so indulge me for a moment.) First, the leaves at the top branches looked like feathers from where I was, feathers caressing the sky. Second—and my favorite thought—I wondered if, perhaps, trees grow tall into the sky hoping to reach back into heaven, to grow a bit closer to their creator. There is nothing biblical about that thought, but the great thing is that our creator has also given us imaginations. I don’t think he minds when we imagine trees reaching out to their creator when he himself told us that if we don’t praise him, the rocks will do it (Luke 19:40).

graffiti on a sanitation cover in a foresta bruised reed he will not breakdandelion puff-ball

The beauty of God’s creation, even in its state of decay and bondage, is that it can still testify to us about him, about who our creator is (Romans 1:20). I saw the reeds* depicted above and the following verse came to mind:

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. (Isaiah 42:3-4, NIV)

The creator establishes beauty, cares for it tenderly, and will restore it in the end. All we need to do is look around us to see the evidence of this hope. I am so grateful for this world we live in, broken though it is.

*Forgive me if this isn’t a reed—I’m no botanist, but I do see beauty in even the broken things!

Memories of Mom

adored, admired, aunt, bashful, bookish, beautiful, Christian, capable, conscientious, cautious, caregiver, devoted, disciplined, daughter, disciple, earnest, encouraging, faithful, friend, God-fearing, generous, genuine, gracious, grandmother, humble, inspiring, introvert, Jesus-follower, joyful, journaler, kind, knowledgeable, loving, loyal, letter-writer, MOM, nervous, nurturer, obedient, patient, persevering, prudent, prayerful, quiet, redhead, rational, sensitive, shy, steadfast, sister, teacher, tactful, tender, thoughtful, upstanding, upright, vigilant, victorious, vulnerable, warmhearted, wholesome, wonderful, wise, wife, xoxo, yearning, zealous

On this Mother’s Day, I tried again and again to describe my mom—there were all the words, and no words at all. I decided to just post a picture of my mom with me and my sister, and to include small surprises for my siblings and family in the links (excuse the static—the surprises are quite old).

❤️ you, family.

Wishing all my friends and family a happy Mother’s Day.

God’s Shadow, Our Shelter

This afternoon I reluctantly attempted to write the chorus for a worship song. I never felt the pull to write it, but I did feel the pull to at least try. And it was in the trying that God taught me a bit more about himself. I love how God does that.

Why was I attempting this, especially if I was reluctant to do so? I was following a prompt from a devotional for a small group I’m in. The prompt directed readers to use the working title Shelter, and to read Psalm 91 as inspiration. The minute I picked up my Bible and started reading, I knew why God had given me the pull to try: he wanted to bring Psalm 91:1 to my attention.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1, NIV)

That’s an image that never appealed to me much. I hate being cold, but love sitting and resting in a warm patch of sun, like a cat finding the sunniest spot to nap in from the light streaming in through the window. So the thought of resting in a shadow—one I think of as dark and cold—never seemed attractive. But as I read this, I thought about that shadow, that resting place. And a thought occurred to me: But God is light.

How can light have a shadow?

True, without light there are no shadows. But the light itself does not have a shadow; the only thing that truly casts a shadow is something standing in the way of the light; that is what gives shape to the shadow. The shadow belongs to the thing blocking the light.

What does it mean, then, to be in the shadow of light? Of the source of light? Not just the source, but just—light?

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5, NIV)

If there is no darkness in him at all, if there is just light, then it stands to reason that the shadow of light is light.

The picture this has always invoked in my mind changed. Rather than sitting in the dark, the coldness, this shadow—the Almighty’s shadow—is a place to which one can run and be bathed in light and warmth. Those who need shelter and rest can turn toward him and feel the light. Because to be in his shadow is to be in light, not darkness; in warmth, not coldness. I saw a picture of a warm embrace, of light and love and truth bathing the one who longs for shelter with peace and rest for the soul.

As these thoughts came to mind, so did one of my friends. This friend is in deep mourning for her sister and is longing for his light.

Friend, you are in it. She is in it. It may not feel like it right now, but God’s shadow is light, and I have no doubt you and your family, who have run to him, are wrapped in his arms and bathed in his light. I pray that you will feel the warmth of his tears—he grieves with you, as he grieved with the family of Lazarus—and feel the warmth of his embrace as he consoles you and cares for you. Know that in him there is no darkness, only light; there is no death, only life.