Sunday, December 29, 2013

Oregon Coast

There are times I wish I didn't live in my head so much.  Like, when I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Beauty all around me and although I appreciated it, I don't think it really sunk in.  There are people who are a lot more connected to their surroundings than I am, and it affects them more than it affects me.  When I am in the company of someone like that, who are touched emotionally by what they see, I wonder what I'm missing. Do I really know what it is that I'm beholding?

Which worries me when I travel.  I'm planning a few trips in 2014, and I'm afraid that I will be there but not really be there. It's happened to me before.  And it is really hard to describe.  So, in preparation, I'm reading about the history of the places I will visit--it's a lot to take in.  I have to work to be "present" it seems.

Spiritually, there are dangers like this.  We look but don't really see.  We hear but don't really listen.  Jesus appeared, He dwelt among us and we didn't even notice.  He created all things that ever existed, and He became one of us and we didn't comprehend. 

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18
I need God to open my eyes so that I can really see Him and open my ears so that I will listen to His voice, and open my heart that I would take in His truth.  I want to experience His glory and be more like him, one small degree after another.

I don't want to miss out on a thing.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

He is With Us

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
 For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me int he presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Psalm 23

Monday, December 02, 2013

A Sacred Journey

Once upon a time, I responded to my church's "Year of the Bible" challenge with a reading schedule and memorization program. I've done this before, in two years with a regular reading plan.  I've also read the whole Bible on my own without a schedule or a set goal in mind. I love to read the Bible, only without a deadline or structure. The Church's Bible reading plan was a new one for me, with a different reading everyday in a different genre of the Bible--Law, History, Poetry, Prophecy, Psalms, The Gospels and The Epistles. And a deadline.  So, being open to new things, I gave it a whirl.

Within weeks, I was in the weeds.  I valiantly kept trying, despite losing "The Plan" which began to look like "The Matrix" with my checkmarks in one column in the grid getting ahead of schedule opposed to the various levels of progress in the rest.  Sometimes, I read ahead because I simply loved the particular book I was in at the time.  Sometimes I lagged behind because the content was hard to absorb, so I wanted to slow down instead of just rushing through it.

At the year's deadline, I was discouraged, because I was close to finishing by a few months.  I knew if I buckled down I could make it give or take a few weeks.  But I didn't want to do it for the sake of accomplishment.  Or pushing through just to say I did it.  In the end, I did finish within a year and eight months without breaking a sweat.  And it was worth it.  It accomplished what I needed to grow in my walk with the Lord.  And I'm ready to do it again, only with clearer vision of my motives.

Spiritually, I had a more panoramic view of God's work and purpose through His Word.  I saw connections where I didn't notice them before. The prophecies from the Old Testament linked tighter to the New Testament in my mind.   I saw God's mercy and kindness as well as His justice and holiness through His law and commands, and His faithfulness in His promises.  This particular structure helped me even though I often struggled with it.  My rebellious side likes to buck the systematic approach to everything, but systems are sometimes necessary and beneficial.  My phlegmatic nature is in wont of more discipline.  I needed this more than I realized. 

And I'm hungry for more.

This time around, I will definitely give more priority to reading everyday and sticking to the schedule.  The reason is that the stuff that was harder to absorb before has become more familiar, which will continue to build every time I go through it.  My motive is not to "get it" all at once.  I simply want to take this long journey, noting the landscape of God's plan and admiring the view.  I want to journal as I explore the terrain, drawing a map of the year long trip.  I don't want to just wander aimlessly (as I tend to do).  If I do this every year, I would have a steadily increasing record of various landmarks even in well worn pathways.  I'm taking the long way home, and I am not traveling alone.  I have a guide and a companion.  My Shepard, my Lord.  And I'm taking this trip to learn from Him.