I love the stars. When I was in 5th grade I wanted to work at NASA because I went there on a field trip and it blew my mind. I don't work at NASA now (#nomath), but I still wonder at space and how infinite and beautiful it is. Kenton and I live at Camp Allen for summer camp May through August. While it's a challenge to straddle two homes for 4 months, the plus side is that my backyard becomes quite the adventurer's playground. I've always loved outside and I've always loved to take pictures of what strikes wonder in me outside. Turns out a huge pro of living in our little cabin this summer is the proximity to dark skies - perfect for shooting stars. I've really gotten to unfold my wonder this summer doing sunset walks and stargazing with Bowie. Every time I look at the sky around dusk and finally as the sun sets and the stars come out, I'm so filled with wonder and awe at the Creator. Have you ever stopped to gape at the night sky? Seriously, every time I look at my camera after a shot and see that I've found the Milky Way, I kind of lose it a little bit. SPACE IS SO AMAZING! It's good at reminding me how small I am and how sovereign He is. It's certainly enough to rekindle my wonder in the wild (shout out to Hillsong United for dropping the perfect record for summer).
So here's a glimpse into an evening of sunset and star chasing. Just a little taste of my summer backyard (truly #blessed) and the beauty of the piney woods and east Texas summer night skies. And special thanks to my sidekick explorer, Bowie. He's a good adventure buddy.
Ps. I realize this is more of a photo post, but a picture is worth a thousand words, right? No amount of my best words could explain the summer scenes below or describe how absolutely amazing our Creator is!
In the desert, the Israelites complained about the Lord's provision when they tired of its flavor. The every day provision of the Lord became a sour taste in their mouth. They wanted a new flavor, something different. They wanted the things for which they waited, they were ready for the promises to be fulfilled. They complained.
Promises aren't bad. The heart's desires aren't (necessarily) bad. I look at their situation and by process of elimination it's easy to find that what made the situation bad was their ingratitude followed by complaint. Manna miraculously appeared new each morning, but they got tired of it and grew ungrateful.
Personal application: though the current conditions of my life may not be exactly what I desire or am hoping and praying for, what refines me in faith and binds my heart to the Father's is praising him despite what I lack, whatever the lack. Responding to undesirable situations with ingratitude and complaint blinds me into thinking that God has not provided for me. It blinds me into thinking He's withholding things from me.
Ew. I'm embarrassed to be that entitled and self-centered.
I have everything I need, just not everything I want. Maybe He'll allow me to wait 40 years like the Israelites to discover that everything I need and everything I want can be found in Him, and the waiting is meant to give us rest when we trust in Him. Hopefully I'm a fast learner though, and I'll be able to live in my now with gratitude for what I have while also humbly, gratefully lifting up my dreams, hopes, and desires to Him, trusting Him with them as His timing is perfect. But I hope it never comes down to just wanting a new taste in my mouth, because clearly, there is purpose for every moment of my now because He still has me in it.
This father fought for his daughter. He looks at her now, a precious miracle resting in his protecting hands, with love too deep to explain. God looks at you the same way.
Every single one of us is made with purpose, yourself included. You are a unique design with a unique Creator. But when when we forget that we are made by the Creator, we forget that we have a special purpose. There is a mysterious and intricate reason for our every heartbeat and every breath. When we know that deep in our bones we won't settle for the lies the enemy sells us. Because they are all lies. "The enemy comes to to steal, kill, and destroy." Since the very beginning, the devil's strategy has been to make us not trust God. Period, the end. Simple as that. Break the trust, break the connection. He knew that if he could get us to doubt God then he would have power. He lead Eve to disbelieve that God had her best interest in mind when He told her not to eat fruit from that one tree, and Adam was right next to her buying the lie. Satan leads us into the temptation to doubt the truths that God is good, that He loves us, that He has our best interest in mind, that He has good for us, that His word is truth. And the fact that our world is full of evil makes it easy to believe the lies, so we end up "sacrificing God's goodness on the altar of human understanding," because how can God be good and also allow evil (Bill Johnson)? How can God love me and yet bad things happen to me? How can God's word be politically incorrect and still be loving?
The doubt we purchase from the enemy poisons our understanding of who God is and what love means. When we look at our world through the filter of doubt, certainly nothing about God will seem good or loving. That's like looking at the Rocky Mountain National park through a microscope. You'll see only a spec of dust. If you're looking at that spec of dust through a microscope and I tell you "that's a mountain range," you'll think I'm lying to you. You'll say that's not the truth. It would seem like you're right and I'm wrong. But if you were to take your eyes out of the microscope, step back, and look out the window you'd see that there's actually mountains as far as the eye can see and they're beautiful and impossible to explain.
When we doubt God, when we live by sight and not by faith, we can only see the spec, not the mountain range. And that's all Satan wants us to see of God. Because he knows that if we see the whole picture of who God is then it's the end of his tyranny on earth. Seriously. The moment we kill our doubt about God and trust Him completely and take Him for His word in scripture is the moment we defeat doubt and the enemy loses his power over us entirely. Which, by the way, also means we live in total freedom, which is why Christ came - "for freedom Christ has set us free" (Gal. 5:1). The degree to which we have faith in God is the degree to which He moves in our lives. More trust, more abundance. More doubt, more chains. And that's the story of the enemy waging war against creation. As long as we are mislead about who God is we will be mislead about who we are. And as long as we are mislead about who we are we will continue to fall away from our true purpose here on earth.
"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it to the full" (John 10:10). The degree to which I trust God and trust his Word is the degree to which I have abundant life, and truly there's no end to that full life, so I know I've not yet tasted it all.
"For freedom Christ has set us free." The second part of that verse explains how we can grasp this: "stand firm therefore, and do not again submit to the yoke of slavery." The enemy wants us enslaved by lies and the Lord wants us liberated by His love. I'm tired of being cheated of abundant life, of full connection to God. Doubt severs faith. Faith channels connection. Connection brings life.
God is a loving Father. He fought for us. His desire is to hold us close. His tender affection for us is unending. It's why He gave his Son so that we might be able to spend forever with Him. When we embrace this fully, we receive Him fully and our thirst for identity and purpose is satisfied as we drink from the well that never runs dry.
Today I woke up still tired. I went to bed at 9:45. Slept over 9 hours. My eyes are puffy and the circles underneath them are hugging them real tight with an oh so flattering shade of dark. I feel like no matter what I do, I’m tired. For the past few weeks it’s been impossible to get out of bed and then once I do I’m slumping again in the afternoon, only to push through to 9:30 pm before I tell my poor husband I’ve gotta hit the hay. Whatever, you get the picture: I’m tired. No clue why. Probably stress and lack of Sabbath (there’s a reason God ordained every seventh day to be still - especially for me because when I don’t abide by that rule I slowly start to melt into disorderly efforts at productivity fueled by quarter-hearted motivation).
So I sit on my patio this morning, heavy eyes and all, and just sip my coffee while I watch Bowie continually harass Howie as they frolic in my backyard. It’s 65 degrees, blue skies, and birds are chirping as they enjoy the seed I faithfully provide for them in the feeders. What’s happening in my backyard is totally opposite of what’s happening in my head and it’s medicating my crazy as it sit here doing absolutely nothing. I asked God to speak to me today because I feel like I’m coming up empty. The wind blows, making dapples of light dance through the trees, and I hear him say, “Let me take care of you.”
The wind keeps blowing, the birds keep singing, and I’m thinking about what that means. It’s not an answer to a problem I’m having, it’s not a direction I’m supposed to walk in, it’s just, “let me take care of you.” Classic God. He always says to me, “Be still,” instead of what I want, which would be more like: “Okay do this then do that then cut this out then call this person then do this thing.” I always want God to tell me what to do. But all he ever comes back with is that He wants me to love him and let him fill my heart, thereby fueling my life. “Let me take care of you.”
I write this today because I figure there’s a bunch of you really tired people out there who might need to hear this: Let God take care of you. Only you know how to do that, but it probably requires you quitting something. Maybe quitting doing everything. For me, it means that I sit on my porch and letting my brain be empty as I enjoy God’s presence in my back yard.
Sometimes being still is more productive than being productive.