The Invisible Exists

We decided to drive all night to get to Las Vegas for my niece’s wedding on Saturday.

Bruce and I left Estes about 9 PM and drove south to intersect with I-70, the interstate that runs through the Rocky Mountains.

We’ve driven this route hundreds of times and we are always thrilled by its beauty.

Since we know the way so well, and have seen it, we know where the road will curve, we know the speed limits, the towns, the sights well before we encounter them.

This was not a trip for sight-seeing. We drank coffee to stay awake, and got through the desert to our air conditioned hotel before the morning sun could turn up the thermostat.

But as we drove through Colorado’s Glenwood Springs Canyon, I pictured the magnificent cliffs looming above us, hardy little pines and spruce trees clinging to the rocky base. By now, in August, the Colorado River wending its way at the bottom of the canyon would be groovin’ like a laid-back hippie, and rafters wouldn’t have to fight any powerful currents.

I felt sorry for tourists driving at this time of night. If they hadn’t seen the glories of this route on some other trip, they’d be driving blind, imagining that the darkness surrounding them contained nothing but black sky.

Oh, what they were missing!

I believe that’s how it is with the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus frequently referred to in the gospel of Matthew.

As Christians, when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us, we get a taste of what heaven is like. And sometimes, like tourists, God comes near and we get glimpses of His indescribable beauty. Having touched, tasted, smell, felt His glory, we anxiously look forward to more experiences.

But I can only tell another person about Him and how wonderful it is to be near God and to spiritually see Him.

It’s great to read about wonderful things along the route.

But at night, without sight, the traveler only knows from his reading of a map, or by someone who’s already been there.

A whole wonderful, colorful, exciting world exists.

It’s there even when the traveler’s eyes don’t see it.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” (Matthew 5: 8, The Message)

My Heart an Altar

On Monday, I wrote about Cain and his unacceptable offering to God.

Most likely, Cain brought his offering to a family-constructed altar, but bore some sort of sin attitude.

Today, as I read about Abraham, I note that when the Lord called him to leave Haran and “go to the land I will show you,” (Genesis 12: 1) Abraham did not hesitate to obey.

In Canaan, the Lord appeared to Abraham, so he built an altar to worship.

The idea of an altar seems a bit strange to us westerners. In the Old Testament writings, why did so many people build altars?

I did some searches on google and brought up this information:

Altars are structures that help a person focus his prayer, devotion and worship. It is also a place for sacrifice.

In those early days of the Hebrews, a neglected altar was a sure sign of a back-slidden people.

As Christians we no longer need a physical altar.

Because God now resides within us.

My heart is God’s altar.

It is there, in the seat of my personality, my deepest emotions, my greatest yearnings, my intellectual wrestlings, my sincere questions, that God meets me.

I do not need to bring a burnt offering, or a grain offering, a fellowship offering, a sin offering, or a guilt offering.

Because Jesus Christ supplied the only sacrifice that I need.

The only thing I need bring Him is my broken, contrite heart.

I like to imagine what the altar in my heart looks like.

At times, it is constructed with rough stones, piled one on top of another, straining upward to some unfathomable and incomprehensible space in heaven.

At times, God meets me in a palace of crystal, where my altar rests, swathed in gem-like hues, swirling and dancing—set in motion by my worship—then bending, as though through a prism to blend into new heavenly colors no tongue can describe.

Then, at other times, my altar neither strains upward, nor resides in a splendid house.

Not lofty. It is fleshy and intimate.

It is the place where human words express their most impassioned complaints, hurl accusations, issue ultimatums, plead,  demand explanations, offer deals…

And finally…surrender.

(Is this the altar Abraham would have described when God called him to sacrifice Issac? )

Perhaps this last altar is the most glorious.

“Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame: the baptism of the heaven descended dove—my heart an altar and Thy love the flame.”

( from from Spirit of God, Descend upon my Heart: Croly/Atkinson)

 

Don’t Stay Angry!

Cain was the first criminal.

He wasn’t a criminal because of his disadvantaged background.

His parents were probably about as close to perfect as any man and woman could be. And Adam and Eve certainly didn’t have any personal baggage handed down from their parents!

If anyone didn’t have an excuse for his bad attitude, it would be Cain.

None of us knows exactly what Cain’s problem was.

He had an attitude, that’s for sure.

Genesis 4 recounts how both Abel and Cain brought their offerings to the Lord. Abel, of course, brought offerings from the firstborn of his flocks, and Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil.

The offerings themselves weren’t the problem.

God was displeased by something in Cain.

Cain was very angry. God said to him, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you. But you must master it.” (Genesis 4: 6,7 NIV)

Even after God’s warning, Cain continued to be angry.

His anger centered on his brother, Abel, and the perceived favoritism God was showing him.

Can you relate? Do you ever think someone else—your sibling, your friend, your business associate, etc.— is getting the long end of the stick and you are always receiving a lesser portion?

It’s so easy to focus on what you’re not getting and to grow resentful and angry.

I’ll bet you can think of at least a handful of news stories where some disgruntled employee killed his boss or associates because he felt he’d been treated unfairly.

We think: I’d never get that angry. Those people in the news were crazy.

Maybe, maybe not.

I believe most murderers aren’t crazy.

Just really angry and selfish.

Like Cain, they focus on themselves.

They fail to see God and how He can bless them if they will submit to Him.

Cain could have repented of his really bad attitude.

But he didn’t. After God rebuked him, he just got more angry.

Cain selfishly held onto his anger, and the result was death.

For us, the sin of unconfessed anger may not lead to physical death.

But think of the ramifications of our anger in all of our relationships.

Do you want to be around someone who’s angry?

When I was a young mother, I had to pray for Jesus to help me deal with some anger issues. I knew, if I didn’t, not only would it harm my relationship with the Lord, but it would harm the spirits of my precious young children. Thank the Lord, He made me sensitive to His prompting to get out from under the yoke of anger.

Is there anger in your life that is getting in the way of your relationships?

What would the Lord have you do?

Ephesian 4:26 says: “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

 

 

Fish Creek Beaver

Bruce and I took a walk along Fish Creek Road last evening. A beaver has taken over a large part of Fish Creek, which runs parallel to the road.

A few years ago, when he first appeared, the signs of his presence seemed minimal.

But as the years have passed, Mr. Beaver has really made Fish Creek his home.

He’s built a large lodge.

He’s dammed up several sections of the creek.

He’s downed multiple trees. The damage to trees around his environment is truly awful…or impressive. It looks like a bomb has blasted all the trees down to pointed stumps.

He’s gotten himself a mate, and recently we saw one of his kits swimming upstream of the lodge.

So last evening as we strolled near the beaver environment, two photographers were just leaving.

Aha, they must have seen the beaver if they’re carrying all that heavy photographic equipment and a tripod.

Sure enough, Mr. Beaver was swimming in his do-it-yourself swimming pool. We followed him upstream. He came out of the water and headed straight toward a large aspen tree about ten feet from the water.

Poor tree, you’re doomed.

While he noisily gnawed near the base of the tree, another family joined us to watch.

Beaver must be pretty used to humans because he didn’t seem bothered by our presence.

Mrs. Beaver came out of the water, too, and daintily cut greenery, then dragged it back into the pond and floated toward their lodge.

There are many things you can say about beavers: large rodent, industrious, architecturally amazing, great swimmers, destructive, voracious, a nuisance, or a pleasure to watch.

But the lesson I learn from the beaver is that he continues to build his kingdom, year after year.

If a storm comes and damages a part of his claim, he’s right out there, fixing it.

He inspects his watery property daily and continually maintains it.

He stockpiles food for the days when summertime abundance fades.

God has called Mr. Beaver to be a beaver.

He doesn’t look up at the heavens and shake his fist because of the lot he’s been given.

He doesn’t whine that he was not made an eagle or a moose or a mountain lion.

The beaver has a calling to cut down trees, construct dams, and lodges. Unless he dies, he will be faithful to live out God’s plan.

May I be more like the beaver: humble to do what God instructs, faithful to keep at the job, and determined to expand my influence.

 

 

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

%d bloggers like this: