Happy Spring everyone!
As this letter lands in your inbox today I will be welcoming my “girls” for the weekend. Dennis is out of town speaking at a men’s event in Minneapolis and I invited my four daughters and two daughters-in-law for a weekend of relaxing and pampering without husbands or kids! It will be short but I’d rather have them wish for more than feel it was too long. Then they may be eager to come again!
Five are coming and our one goal is to do a lot of nothing except lounging in pj’s, sleeping in if possible (we will have Laura’s baby, Emma Cate, who will be delightful entertainment), eating yummy food and favorite snacks and telling stories and laughing.
I’ve made the beds with the best sheets, bought little gifts and fresh flowers for them all, written nightly devotions for them to read before lights out and have planned a few simple but elegant meals. The weather is supposed to be perfect and my peonies are blooming so I’ll have bouquets of my favorite flowers on the coffee table and the island.
We may go for a leisurely walk or some may choose to hike Pinnacle Mountain which is two miles from our house. No matter how the hours unfold I’ll be here to listen, delight in their presence, and serve them in every way I can. And I can’t wait! I’ll be posting photos on Instagram, so watch for them there.
Here are a few from the prep work earlier this week.
An insight from God this month on the redemptive power of creating: The story is too long to tell in the detail it deserves so I’m planning to write a post on it at some point later this year. But I wanted to share with you something God showed me about myself that I think is true about all of us created-in-His-image children.
Earlier this month after hearing some unexpected difficult news unfold in a conversation of several hours Dennis and I both got up at its conclusion and went outside. I grabbed my work gloves, clippers, kneeling pad and hat and walked to our backyard to resume work repairing a pathway that had deteriorated from the effects of our sometimes-harsh weather.
I walked outside feeling hopeless and helpless because there was nothing I could do to change this situation. But in God’s undeserved kindness, His Holy Spirit gave me an insight, an awareness, an understanding as I began to dig and move rocks and make sense out of this small backyard mess. I saw with clarity my desire to create order and beauty as a response to the chaos and broken I had just heard was a picture of what God did at Creation and does all the time in the hearts of men and women.
In Genesis 1:2, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.” Out of those conditions of shapelessness, disorder, emptiness and perhaps loss and even sadness God began to redeem the nothingness into a place of light and life and beauty.
That afternoon as I knelt on the ground, so symbolic of prayer and in a sense a posture of humility before God, I moved and leveled rocks, ordering and making them safe for walking again. And in a God-like way I was digging in the dirt with my hands, using this earth, this clay and mud, to secure the rock steps and mold new life into this pathway.
After an hour of silently creating outside in the fresh spring air I felt surprisingly refreshed, alive, hopeful again. The discouraging and deflating news we’d heard was put in its proper place—in God’s hand, not by my prayers but by my creating. By making something of beauty out of my own feelings of chaos and loss and bewilderment God created in me a new heart of hope, I experienced the truth of Psalm 50:10, which says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Though this was a new understanding for me it is practiced everywhere in our world where people begin foundations, research, donor campaigns, and more to bring good and beauty from personal tragedies.
As I’ve reflected on my experience eager to glean as much from what God wants me to understand as possible I’ve discovered some questions … questions to which I don’t yet have answers.
- How can I take the suffering of difficult relationships and create beauty in the place of loss?
- What do You, God, want me to do in these relationships of mine?
- How can I create light as a carrier of the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14-16)? Every family in every generation has in its circle those who are challenging to relate to or love or understand. So learning to create goodness out of difficulty needs to be learned first at home.
On a larger scale, the same weekend I was hearing from God about creating as a way to restore and redeem I was trading emails with my dear friend Joanne who lives in Minneapolis with her pastor husband. As I listened to her stories of what was happening to people she knew, not reported on the news of course, I asked the question:
“What can believers do to create beauty and redemption in the chaos and disorder that is reigning in that city right now? It is not yet in my town, my city, but it is coming. What can we do then?”
I’m listening and waiting to hear what He says.
As is so true of God He most often works in secret, in hidden ways, behind the scenes. The entire Sermon on the Mount addresses these questions, but Matthew 6:1-14 specifically describes serving in secret. I’m confident there are unknown unnamed believers who are working to restore order and create beauty and hope in Minneapolis. But I believe God is waiting for more of His children to ask Him what they can do.
This month’s letter therefore is a call to pray and listen and then to pursue ways to mirror the redemptive work of God. Our spheres of influence are a series of ever widening circles, beginning in our families. Start imagining how to create redemption at home first. Then we must ask how can we do the same in our neighborhood, our community, our city, region or state.
God has called us to push back against evil but always in humility and love as servants just as Jesus did. Today Christians are not known for our love. We are known for our anger, our demands, our defensiveness or our refusal to be in relationship with certain family members. Again Jesus addresses all of these common issues in the Sermon on the Mount, specifically in chapter five.
I would love to know your thoughts in response to my questions.
- You who live with difficult painful family relationships: what has God shown you to do that is redemptive and healing?
- You who live in cities experiencing unrest and high levels of anxiety: what are you seeing God’s people do?
We will not find our example, our model of how to respond from any news source.
Our example is Christ alone who modeled perfectly the life we were created for in Eden. Our goal must be to become more like Jesus every day no matter the cost.
I hope you will invite God to reveal Himself more and more to you so we will become more and more like Jesus. It’s God’s big purpose for each one of us.
Hope to hear from you!
Enjoy these spring days.