I came across a Gaelic prayer this week that began: “As the hand is made for holding and the eye for seeing, you have fashioned me for joy.” Have you ever considered that? That you are “fashioned for joy”? Is it really possible God intentionally designed and crafted us for joy?
Sometimes it sure doesn’t seem like it.
If the prayer were true, joy would be as foundational to our daily experience as our hand holding a morning cup of coffee or our eyes seeing the hour on the clock. Joy would be natural … and obvious … and so automatic as to barely require thought.
There are people in my life – not just acquaintances but friends – who are battling fear-inducing, seemingly insurmountable challenges: treatment for a life threatening disease, a child’s mental illness spiraling out of control, deep betrayal, job loss, marital breakdown, incarceration. These dear people are experiencing life’s lowest blows and I wonder, how are they to find or exude this joy for which they were created? Continue reading Are You Fashioned for Joy?
It was Friday the 13th and even with all the lights out, the night sky glowed brightly. The moon – tinged a slight pink – had silently crept above the horizon. Its scattered light through the atmosphere at such a low angle made it look gigantic… and caused me to gasp. It was so astonishing, my first inclination was to call someone – anyone – on the phone and say, “Quick, look out the window! You have to see the moon!”
Three of my friends became grandparents this month – two for the first time, one for the second. With each birth, our social media network caught fire almost immediately with the good news of healthy babies and happy new parents. And the pictures – lovely, poignant images of precious new lives and smiling, exhausted young mothers – made me tear up every time. Within the circle of friends and families, the news went “viral” and we were all charmed.
My sister and brother-in-law went whale-watching in the Pacific Northwest this week. To their delight, two magnificent orcas breached right next to their boat and then swam under the bow and out the other side. A fellow tourist caught it all on her smartphone and air-dropped it to my brother-in-law, who emailed it to me that night. It was – in a word – spectacular. In the background of the short video, I could hear the people chattering excitedly and squealing with joy. How could they not?
In every scenario above (and others that may have come to your mind as you were reading this), the joy and excitement of something unusual, miraculous, or simply stunning prompted a desire: I have to share this. Continue reading The common thread of a strawberry moon, good news, and playful orcas
My pastor used that phrase this Fathers’ Day as he prayed for the dads in our congregation and I was floored. The truth and responsibility of that observation was sobering, as it should be. Father. Oh, how wonderful it would be if all fathers aspired to be worthy of sharing that title with God. And thankfully, many do.
But today I read a blog post by a dear woman who was only able to overcome the damaging influence of her own father by recounting the negative lessons she learned from him. She concluded that it was the lesson of stubbornness he modeled that ultimately saved her from him.
Reading the comment string on that post was wrenching. Readers shared about dads who had abused, dads who had died, dads who had left, dads who were just emotionally…missing. So many people have had negative experiences with fathers, and as fathers. Continue reading Sharing A Title With God
The sheep is just doing what sheep do. It’s probably picking its way along an uneven path, following the ewe ahead of it, and somehow misses its footing on the side of a hillock. It could be injured from the fall or maybe caught in brambles at the bottom, but regardless, now it is alone and vulnerable. Time is of the essence.
When the shepherd realizes one of his flock is missing, he has to act quickly; he has a very narrow window of opportunity. He knows the other sheep will instinctively huddle together as a group and be safe, at least temporarily, so he hurries off to find the lost animal before it is picked off by a predator.
This is the part I love about the Biblical account in Luke’s gospel:
When the shepherd spots the missing sheep, Continue reading What’s Missing in the Parable of the Lost Sheep
For much of my Christian life, I believed I needed to “pray the answers”. My prayers, I thought, should include suggestions for God, ways He could answer my requests. I’d begin with, “If it could be your will, God, would you please ___________,” and then I’d fill in the blank with ideas for how God might respond.
I don’t think I fell into that pattern because I really thought God needed my input; I think it was a way of giving myself a kind of metric so I could know my prayers had been answered.
If things resolved the way I had prayed they would, then God had met my expectations and I was assured once more that yes, God answers prayer.
Some things were pretty clear as to what the ideal outcome would be: Continue reading A Gift Within A Gift