Today’s Reading: Ezra 3:1-6:22
Last night I had quite the night. I sat down on the couch shortly before bed and flipped through a Christian book publishing catalog that had come in the mail. The more pages I turned the stronger I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to contact that publisher about printing one of my books. I finished browsing through the catalog and picked up my smart phone to look up their website. When I clicked on the “About” page to find out more on what kind of publisher they were I found myself transported into the founders visionary experience. In his road-side experience, Don was visited by none other than God Himself. He took Don to a Christian publishing trade show where everyone was bustling around trying to do something for God’s kingdom, when in reality they were only working on building their own kingdoms. None of them were caring about the heart of God, what HE wanted. This in itself struck me and made me ask “Do I care about the heart of God? Am I seeking His desires for me and His kingdom? Am I being like one of these Christian tradeshow people, too busy to even ask God what HE wants?” In the least it was shocking to me. And the saddest part was, I couldn’t really answer any of those questions myself because I didn’t know the answers. They were questions that I had to take to God Himself because only He could and would answer them truthfully. So I ended up laying my head down on my pillow with that very prayer in my heart “Jesus, am I seeking Your heart? What is Your heart, Your desire for me and my place in Your kingdom? (Most importantly) What is Your desire for our relationship?” And I resolved that whatever time He woke me up, no matter how early, I would get up and spend some quiet time with Him to discuss this very question because I knew that it was that important to Him.
I have no idea what time it was when I did wake up again because I refused to look at the clock and tempt myself to moan and groan about the amount of sleep I was losing, but I do know that it was most certainly the middle of the night when the storm came booming in. So as the thunder began rolling I rolled myself quietly out of bed doing my best not to disturb my husband’s rest and softly padded my way back out to our couch. I had intended to read my Bible when I got up, but I could feel in my Spirit that that wasn’t what Jesus wanted me to do at this particular juncture. I pulled back the curtains from our picture window and snuggled down into the soft cushions to watch the light show, while one line from a show the kids had watched earlier in the day played over and over in my head; “whatcha’ doin’? Whatcha’ doin’, I really wanna know” Now I’ve learned that when one line of a song plays through my head repeatedly like this that it’s the Holy Spirit singing to me, communicating to me through the lyrics. This time asking me, “what ARE you doing?” Now, He’s the one who was leading me to DO what I was doing so asking me what I was doing seems kind of redundant until I realized that He was asking me because He wanted me to ask myself “What is God having me do right now? Why?” Here I was getting up in the middle of the night to watch a thunderstorm? Why???
As I sat there I kept asking “Why” and wondering when God would start to speak to me and tell me His heart. But He never spoke to me the way I expected Him to, this one was a special question that deserved a special and more memorable answer. He needed to show me. Now if you’ve been reading for long you’ve learned how much I love nature and how I photograph it in order to capture little pieces of God-art to take home with me and to share with you. You also may remember that I’ve been reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp where she encourages us all to write down the little gifts God gives us throughout our days. In this book she, being a very gifted writer, doesn’t just write down her list in plain simple terms, she describes the gift, rolling waves of white (snow drift), colorful orbs filled with sun (bubbles in sunlight)… And reading all these descriptions has certainly pushed me as a writer myself to go beyond simple descriptions of events and really name the gifts, like Adam in Eden naming the animals, there’s something very intimate and special when you do it that way. And this is precisely what I found myself doing last night sitting before the picture window gazing out into the midst of a mid-night storm, I started naming gifts:
The sparkle of water reflecting the lightning as it trickled down from my rooftop,
Shadows dancing on the once bone dry lawn,
Rooftop music played by thousands of raindrops,
The way I can feel the thunder resonate within my soul like a clap of heavenly hands,
The flash of lightning and the way it ALWAYS makes the shadows flee, even if only for that instant, but then He does it again, and again, and again, keeping them running for their lives.
It was the lightning that I was particularly interested in too because it was part of my puzzle yesterday! I had started with the verse in Genesis about the flaming sword which brought me to another key flame in the scriptures, the cloven tongues as if of fire in Acts 2:3 when the Holy Spirit came down to dwell within humanity for the first time in all of history. That word fire, in the Greek means just that, fire. But it can also be translated as lighting which really had my brain hopping yesterday. Because all I could think about was Jesus talking about seeing Satan fall “like lightning”. How is it that the Holy Spirit could fall in the same way that Satan fell? It just didn’t seem to fit. Then here I was, sitting and watching the lighting chase the shadows away and turning the dead of night into mid-day. Suddenly the puzzle was clear, yes, the Holy Spirit did fall in the same way that Satan fell! And it’s magnificent! This father of lies started a mutiny in heaven and was cast out, thrown down, and he “fell like lightning” to the earth; quickly and without delay because he had been sent away. The Holy Spirit of Truth on the other hand had been sitting around in heaven waiting for thousands of years for that moment; the moment when He could FINALLY come down and be a part of the picture for all of us. The day when He could come and abide in us and we in Him, through Him. Yes, the Holy Spirit was sent out of heaven, but not because He had done something against God’s wishes, but because we had. The Holy Spirit was standing at the door of heaven in a runners starting position waiting for that starter pistol to fire so that He could sprint down here as fast as His supernatural legs could carry Him and start to set this upside down world right side up again. And when Papa nodded His head that it was time, off He went, as fast a lightning bolt to the earth to chase away the darkness and make the shadows in our hearts flee. And every time a storm comes along we get to watch what that moment was like. We get to trace that speedy trail of light with our eyes and smile at the eagerness of the Spirit of Life. Like the end of a sappy chick flick where the man and the woman are running across the screen to embrace one another because they’ve been apart for so long… only not in slow motion. He really does love us. A lot.
This was all terribly exciting for me, I will admit, but it still didn’t answer my heart question did it? That puzzle piece was still dangling from my finger tips waiting for me to finally see where it fits. Hmmmm…
Puddles that shine on ground dry and desperately thirsty,
The gurgle of a fish tank pump in need of more water in one ear and overflowing water splashing on the ground in the other ear,
ribbons of light and color through the dark night sky,
The heavens declare, they pour forth speech, they reveal knowledge!!! God’s creation speaks! What was I doing? I was sitting and listening, I was watching, I was witnessing God’s creative poetry in motion! When you look at a painting you can see the artist’s heart in that piece of art. When you read a writer’s work you can see their heart in the piece. When we stop the business of our lives and pay attention to The Creator’s art it speaks to us and reveals His heart of amazing love for us!!! It’s no wonder I feel such a connection to my camera and my photography, God speaks to me through them! Each photo is a well filled with living water, it’s no wonder I find myself just staring at them sometimes, it’s because my eyes are thirsty for a word from the artist!
Thank You Jesus! I love You too!