When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers…
The sun dipped below the horizon, waving goodbye to the day. The sky looked as if God had broken open a pumpkin with His gentle hands and poured out all of the colors inside. How beautiful it was! I sat on the wooden bench under the pear tree and admired the sunset as the night slowly erased the orange and ochre tones.
“Thank you, God, for my eyes that see your beauty. Thank you, for my heart that feels your love. I am humbly grateful.” I whispered as the dark reached out her cold fingers across the meadow. I buttoned my coat and tied my scarf tighter.
“You’re welcome. Here, let me keep you warm,” God said and put His arm around me. “Shall I walk you back to the cottage?”
“I don’t want to go in just yet,” I said. “I want to stay here with you a little longer.”
“I’ll light your way when you are ready,” He replied and lifted the full moon into the dark sky. Its soft lantern of light cast a glow across the meadow. I sat there for quite some time, enjoying everything about my life. Enjoying everything about God.
When the stars began to shine, I rose and began my way back to the cottage to build a fire to warm my body as I slept, trusting that God would keep heart and soul warm.
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Every holiday season as a child I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was a tradition. But it wasn’t until I was older that I saw the most important message in the movie. Linus took to the stage and told the story of the shepherds abiding in the field, watching their flocks by night. Here’s where the movie gets profound. When Linus quoted, “But the angel of the Lord said unto them, ‘Fear not’” he dropped his security blanket before he continued the story— “for I bring you tidings of great joy, for unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
For Linus, it was a blanket. For you and I, perhaps it is our looks, our careers, our bank accounts, our fancy cars, clothes, and houses, or even our addictions, that we cling to for security. But we should drop all of those things and cling to God instead. We have nothing to fear because God loves us so very much that He sent His Son to walk among us and teach us about the greatest lesson we will ever learn: to love.
As we enter into this season of celebrating Christ’s birth, let us drop the things we hide behind. Let us drop our fears, especially our fear of one another, and embrace the message Christ shared with us. Let us dismantle all the barriers we’ve created to love and take to heart the glorious words of the angel, “Fear not,” for God is with us.
“…a time to be born and a time to die…”
Today’s Soul Reminder comes from a quote I read and felt strongly about sharing with you.
“You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.
But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realizing this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude. Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.”
— Jeff Foster
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should
be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
“They aren’t listening to one another,” God told me this morning. “Tell them that I want them to open their hearts and minds and to close their mouths and listen. Not with the intention to change of fix anyone. Not with the intention to give advice, or to make someone wrong. Listen with the intention to hold the space for another person to share their truth, no matter how painful, messy, or different that truth may be,” God explained.
“I’ll pass it on, God,” I promised.
So I am telling you. God wants us all to learn to listen better. Listening is love in action. When we listen the way we God wants us to listen, people feel safe enough to tell us who they really are. What a gift it is to be trusted to deeply!
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? ”
It hurts when people share their negative opinion of us behind our backs. It hurts when they are brave enough to share it with us face to face. Even unasked for advice can put us on the defensive and make us feel that we aren’t good enough. What can you do to safeguard your heart from other’s opinions? You remember that you are on this Earth to serve God, not man. You aren’t here to seek the approval of others. You are here to live out your life according to the purpose and plan that God has for you.
There are always going to be naysayers—people who don’t like the way you think, act or feel. There will always be someone who holds an opposite viewpoint of your own. You will never make everyone happy with your decisions, beliefs, feelings, or actions, so make yourself happy. Make God happy! Frankly, what other people think of you is none of your business! You can’t control what other’s think of you. You can only control you! Besides, God’s opinion of you is all that matters. You have permission to be the you God created you to be.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
~1 Corinthians 13:5
The wind lashed at my umbrella as I leaned into the force of the gale, determined to complete my morning walk in spite of Mother Nature’s wrath. When I turned the farthermost corner of my journey, I walked past a church. A young choir inside sang, their voices spilling out onto the sidewalk. I stopped and listened, forgetting the weather. Their voices filled my heart with such sweet innocence, that I was transported back in time–before the hurt, before the shame, before my hardened heart.
My heart ached for all the paths I’ve wandered that took me away from God, away from my goodness. I shivered standing there in the rain.
“I have loved you anyway,” God whispered as the tears I was fighting won and chased my regrets down my face.
“What?” I asked, raising my face to the rain.
“I knew you’d break my heart, but I loved you anyway,” God said gently.
“Oh God, how could you?” I could barely get the words out.
“I created you. You’re mine. How can I not love my creation?” He answered.
“I’m so sorry for all of my mistakes. I’m so sorry I lost my way so many years ago.”
“I know you are. I’ve forgotten all about those years. I wish you could forget them too. Tell the others that even though I know they too will break my heart, I love them anyway,” God asked.
“Yes, of course, I will,” I answered.
Here is that message: God wants you to know that He isn’t a keeper of wrongs. He loves you, even when He knows you’ll break His heart. You are still His precious innocent child. No matter how far down the wrong path you have journeyed, you can always turn around and come home, back to His arms, back to His heart.
I dried my tears and pushed on, each step propelling me towards home. I savored the company that I was now aware was walking with me—had always walked with me. “Thank you, God,” I whispered, full of gratitude for a love I can only appreciate, never fully fathom.