We’re exploring the images of God in images. We’ll reflect on the metaphors God’s given us to understand who he is.
What would’ve happened if Jesus never turned his feet toward Jerusalem? Would we know his story at all? Or what if Sister Teresa, the little nun of Loreto had accepted the first ‘no’ to her dream of ministry in Calcutta? What if William Wilberforce had resisted his concerns over slavery? Or if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had sat in a Birmingham Jail, considered his options, and chosen the quiet path of a corner church preacher?
Oh, would that we could walk in this truth every moment of our lives!
The thing is, we live, breathe, choose and act among helpful and hindering forces. It’s like we’re walking through shifting weather patterns. For a while, it’s sunny and warm. Then the sky darkens, pouring rain so thick all we can do is hang on for dear life.
I have my own storms, the forces that hinder my forward progress. I’m thinking you might, too. The most effective are those carefully crafted to strike me in my weaknesses and wounds.
I thought eventually I’d be immune to such interfering strategies. And maybe, someday, I will be. Sadly, and truthfully, I’m not there yet. So for now, it helps me to know the weapons most effective at bringing me down.
You are a precious and unique child of God, created in his image, invited into his purposes. I know you know that, at least if you pause to think about it. But sometimes, we forget, don’t we? I mean, not on a cognitive level but perhaps on a gut or heart level.
Some of us look ahead into the year to come. We consider how we might want to live: What might I continue doing? What might I give up? What new thing might I begin?
Some call these New Year’s resolutions – simple declarations of our intent to live differently in the year to come than we’ve lived in the year passed.
Leadership gurus encouraged us to create personal mission statements, as well. These statements articulated who we are and guided how we would live. Our person mission statement would be a kind of lighthouse, leading us safely in and out of the harbor. The theory is that each person has a unique God created purpose and that joy and satisfaction comes in fulfilling our God ordained mission.
In other words; know who you are and do what you’re created for.
Each year, the Christmas season seems to come earlier and earlier, defined by marketing campaigns and the need to unpack, display and move product as quickly and profitably as possible. After Thanksgiving, Christmas rushes over us, full of decorations to unpack and festoon, presents to purchase and send, and parties, dinners, concerts and children’s pageants to attend.
Is this really Christmas?
I love to learn. I’m always reading books, often old ones; exploring the wisdom of others and trying to find the way God has for me. I’ve learned that there are activities that nurture my thirst for learning and growing, activities that feed my imagination, that help me to see more deeply and live more clearly.
I believe these desires within me are God created and that pursuing them leads me toward God, so I want to pay attention and be intentionally about responding to the God-created desires within me.
A guy had a vision. It didn’t work out exactly as he saw it, but it was good enough to move him in a very fruitful direction. Another time, he just had a strong sense within himself that he wanted to do something in particular. The godly voices in his life told him his idea was utter foolishness. They warned him against it. In many ways, they were right. His decision led him into chaos. Nonetheless, he took it, and as he was walking through it, God confirmed his choice through a message spoken into his spirit. By the end of his journey, it turned out that his “foolish” decision was exceedingly fruitful.
Most of us want to know God’s will.
Paul the apostle began his life’s journey as a child of two parents whose names are lost to us. He grew in what was very likely a deeply religious home. He undoubtedly learned the tenets of his faith from his parents and extended family. At some point, he studied Torah and discovered both interest and capacity to learn. Later, he became a student of Gamaliel and took his place among the Pharisees; the religious leaders and teachers of his time. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Paul encountered the preaching of Jesus’s followers and became a zealot, persecuting those he saw as heretics in defense of traditional Judaism. Eventually, he met Jesus on the Damascus Road and the trajectory of his life was forever changed.
Was God moving in Paul’s life before Paul encountered Jesus on that road?