Archive | October, 2013

I See You

26 Oct

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Barely able to wobble across the floor, the little one screeched as I chased her to the end of the row of chairs. She hid behind the next row thinking she was invisible and safe. But she couldn’t resist peeking out.

“I see you!” I intoned in sing-song baby-speak.

She giggled and took off again, looking behind to make sure I was following.

Our church has a new crop of babies. After the worship service, they come out of the various baby-holding-rooms like ants after watermelon. The worship center becomes the cutest game of hide-and-seek, each toddler eager to run (what is it about wide open spaces that encourage running?) and to be noticed.

Babies go for it with abandon; adults hide it better, but still long for it.

We want to be seen.

We want to be known.

God made us this way. Just under the surface of our image-of-God construction is the desire for relationship. Extroverts are fulfilled when surrounded by it – knowing and being known by lots of people. Introverts also long to be known, but by a select few. Quantity, not quality is the difference because God built us for relationship.

As Jesus begins his ministry on earth, he calls his twelve disciples. One by one he calls, and they follow.

After Philip receives his invitation (John 1:43-51), he invites Nathaniel to come and see Jesus. As he approaches, Jesus calls out, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” Nathanial is blown away and asks, “How do you know me?” To which Jesus replies, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” (Emphasis added.)

This concept is similar to what is meant by the I see you phrase in Avatar. “In the Na’Vi cosmology, what’s really happening is the Ai’Wa in me is connecting with the Ai’Wa in you. This is echoed in their greeting, ‘I see you,’ a direct translation of the Sanskrit Namaste, which means the same thing.  As the Na’Vi explain in the film… ‘I see you’ doesn’t mean ordinary seeing – it, like Namaste, really means ‘the God in me sees the God in you.’ I see Myself, in your eyes.” (Jay Michaelson)

As I watched the movie, I didn’t know about the Eastern Mysticism “god in me, god in you” bit. (And now that I know about it, I certainly don’t agree with it!) The message that I heard is the same concept that was happening between Philip and Jesus– the terrifying and wonderful moment when Philip understands how much Jesus knows about him– everything.

Philip could have run in the opposite direction, afraid of being completely known.

But he stays.

Here is why I think he does:

  1. Philip is searching for God. Jesus says that he is “a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false.” Philip is doing everything he can to be rightly related to God.
  2. When he sees God, he knows God: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

And because he stays, Jesus says he will see far greater things.

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READY FOR SUNDAY

Even though I know God, my human knowledge is incomplete. He knows everything about me, but I don’t come close to knowing all about him. In fact, just when I think I do know him, he does something so unexpected, I have to revise my knowledge of him. This is terrifying and wonderful at the same time.

Terrifying, because he is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, and more. He sees my actions and motives!

Terrifying, because he works in ways I don’t understand.

Wonderful, because he is bigger than my knowledge. (I understand how much I know, and it is SO miniscule). I don’t want a God I can completely comprehend because he would have to be smaller than my understanding. That is not even close to big enough to be in charge of the world!

Wonderful, because I can trust him. He is all-knowing, so he’s got “this”. (Fill in the blank for whatever the need is.)

So it comes down to whether I want to run away in fear, or whether I stay, completely known, pursuing him with the promise of seeing even greater things.

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On vacation this week

19 Oct

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See you next week! In the meantime, share with everyone by leaving a comment how you are worshiping God this week.

For me, it’s been a long year. Having some space to enjoy God in his creation is awe-inspiring, especially in the north with the glorious fall colors. What a creative God we serve! And at the same time, he’s predictable. Fall comes every year, and the leaves change just like the year before. He is truly amazing and worthy of our worship!

 

If You Seek…

12 Oct

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I’m in Michigan, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to be clear, for vacation in the town in which I grew up.

The Michigan Motto is: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you. (Or for you Latin buffs: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice.)

The wording is a little outdated, and doesn’t have that marketing ring to it (so now there is also “Pure Michigan”), but it really is the heart of this state.

First a geography lesson. Most people think of Michigan as the mitten part surrounded by the Great Lakes. That is only half of the state and where trolls live (because they are under the bridge – check out the Three Billy Goats Gruff.) The better half is farther north, connected to the mitten by the Mackinaw Bridge. While I obviously favor the Upper Peninsula, or da U.P., and I am a Yooper, both peninsulas are really beautiful. Everyone reading this post should come and see for yourself!

Now, back to the motto. The state is gorgeous, but sometimes, only if you seek beauty. Even the urban sprawl is usually near water where sunsets and deep blue reflections can transform crumbling industrial sites into pretty vistas. Looking for beauty is also important for those of us who have lived in places surrounded by natural wonders, because always having access can dim the view and numb the soul to how glorious the scenery is. Being back in my hometown after 30 years I see it all with fresh eyes and can’t get enough. That wasn’t always the case when I lived here, though.

Even this morning I overheard a conversation in the hardware between a tourist and a resident:

“Last night we just sat on the beach and watched the sun set into the hills.”
“You know, I need to do that more often. I just get so busy, I forget to take the time time do that.”

It’s easy for me to see God here. In the boundless deep blue of the lake, in the unending glory of golden and crimson foliage, in the chatter of aspen leaves to the wind. Everywhere I look. Everything I hear. I see and hear Him.

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READY FOR SUNDAY

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:13. This prophecy is written to Jewish exiles in Babylon, but the Scriptural principle is throughout the Bible – when we look for God, we find him; when we listen for his voice, we hear him.

And when we see and hear him, we can’t help but adore him, worship him, and fall on our knees in awe and wonder.

In nature, it’s easy for me to worship him at every new panorama. But he is no less present in my current suburban home than he is here. If I seek him, I will find him. And when I find him I will bow in worship.

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Photo: Sunrise over the bay in Grand Marais, Michigan at the mouth of Carpenter Creek taken two days ago.

The Great Reversal

5 Oct

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My human intellect anticipates God will zig, and he zags.

This is especially true in the Gospels where we have the opportunity to see God operate in human form. Time and again he acts 180 degrees from the cultural expectation. (Take the challenge – read the Gospel of Mark and keep a list of circumstances in which Jesus defies human logic and understanding.)

One of my favorite verses in all of Scripture is Revelation 21:5 – He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

The entire chapter is the triumph we all long for. When I read it, I can’t help but read faster and louder. With growing excitement, I keep reading the next chapter that ends with: “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

I long for him to come! But while I wait, I enjoy seeing the Great Reversal already in progress.

Sin and disease still have a hold on this world, but the death grip is weakening. You see it when a scientist, years away from retirement, negotiates the ravages of leukemia on his body with peace. And when a couple adopts a drug-addicted infant. And as a family moves out of a gorgeous home because dad lost his job, without bitterness, but excitement to see how God works in their lives.

There are still plenty examples of darkness, pain, and hate in this world. But, as CS Lewis described in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, winter is giving way to spring. And this from Solomon: “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.

The Great Reversal has begun!

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READY FOR SUNDAY

What if we had a controller for the universe that could rewind the situation and make it right? A young mom killed in a car accident would live; a person of color enduring racial injustice (again) would be spared; the hundreds or thousands killed by the latest natural disaster could be warned. What if we had that kind of power? Would we use it?

While we often don’t have power over life and death, we do have power over the forces of darkness. In every situation we DO have a reversal controller. We can bring light into darkness, hope into despair, mercy into injustice, and love into hate. The Great Reversal happened in my life when I understood that Christ died for me, removed my sins, and transferred me from darkness to the Kingdom of Light. That fact alone makes me want to worship him!

And now I am a Deputy in the Great Reversal taking place all around me. And this is my worship.

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