The Deeper You Go…

Amy-lakelthough water was flowing through the aqueduct this week, the water level seemed lower than usual. As I walked around the lake, my attention was drawn not to the mountains or sky or birds, but to the water itself. At the edge, the water was very clear. I noticed many tiny fish, only a couple of inches long, clustering in the shallow areas. They darted back and forth, but never left the shallow rim.

fish-646162_640A few feet out from the edge, I could easily see larger, longer fish. They were orange, and a good eight to twelve inches. They didn’t move around as much and seemed to keep their distance from the smaller fish. These I had seen before. Their color and size usually made them easy to spot. They are what I think of as the average fish in the lake.

 

Then I caught a glimpse of something else. Something was moving, gliding slowly through the water: something deeper, where the water was cloudy. First I thought it was just a shadow or piece of wood. But intrigued by something new and unique, I took the time to stop and get a closer look.

Something was definitely moving in that darker, deeper water. The movement was slow and graceful. When it was joined by a second shadow, I realized that these too, were fish! Their shape gradually became discernable in the murky water. They were huge! They must have been three or four feet long. And so graceful. I had never seen these here before. Living in the deeper water, they had grown enormous.

This can be true of Christians as well. New Christians often have lots of energy and enthusiasm. They revel in telling others of their newfound life, happy to be in the Living Water.

People who have been Christians for a longer time may be easily recognizable, by their attitudes and actions but may have less spiritual zest and energy. Their presence is apparent in the world, but may be seen as somewhat average: not bothering anyone, but not really blessing them much either. Unfortunately, they are sometimes perceived as apathetic and possibly hypocritical.

ripples-640872_640Then, we notice mature Christians: the big fish. They have grown by the experiences of going deep into God’s Word and God’s will – so graceful and at peace that they attract attention just by being what they are! Their passing through the water causes deep waves and new currents though they call no attention to themselves. They don’t have to be ‘showy’ because they have a quiet confidence and trust in their faith. Their living testimony speaks loudly of what God can do.

Of course, this doesn’t hold true for all believers. But I have known some mature Christians who are just like these big fish.

And I believe in fish, as in Christian life; the deeper you go – the bigger you grow!

Where is your focus?

pelican-916325_640

I walked around the lake today and watched a pelican take off. It flew more gracefully than I imagined it could.

 

 

AMERICAN_WHITE_PELICAN_FLYING

As it moved farther away, it became a delicate, graceful figure in the sky, deftly riding the thermal currents higher and higher, circling one way, then another. I found myself transfixed on this majestic, mesmerizing motion.

 

Without realizing it, I had covered one-third the distance around the lake. When I took my eyes off the pelican to look around it was hard to find it again.

white-pelican-flying-overhead

 

It grew smaller and smaller, but searching, I did find it and continued to walk and watch. I began to wonder how long I could look away, and still locate the ever-shrinking image in the sky. After several glances away I lost it completely.

It made me think about where my focus is in life.

I need to fix my eyes on Jesus and not look away. To look away from the pelican’s flight was to miss the grandeur and gracefulness of it and risk not finding it again. To look away from Jesus, is to miss His guidance, presence, protection, comfort, and have to spend time getting Him in sight again.

Even focused on the bird, I made good time walking. With my eyes lifted up I was led by peripheral vision without even realizing it. After I had lost sight of the pelican I made a second trip around the lake, I noticed the area I had crossed had quite a dirty sidewalk. Between the dog and duck and goose droppings, there was a real mess! Yet, I had crossed this “minefield” the first time without getting any of it on my shoes!

Looking up at the bird, I was spared the ugly sight of what was around me, and the misfortune of getting involved in it, yet had completed my goal of walking around the lake.

Keeping your focus on God gives you the same benefits. You are aware of your surroundings, but your focus is not on the ugliness. You don’t get so tied up in the “messes”.

You will reach your godly goals. God will lead you through the ‘minefields’ of life.

And you get, as the focus for your life, the beauty and grandeur of lifting your eyes Heavenward!

Use the wings God gave you

Sometimes a walk is just a walk. But most of the time, I have found, it is an invitation for God to speak to me.

Recently I was walking with a decision weighing heavy on my mind: Should I choose the offer that was easiest? Or the one that was attainable, but would take me out of my comfort zone?

Nearby a Great Heron began to flap its wings and take off.

herontaking off

Being so close, I was amazed at the great measure of the bird’s wingspan. Usually I see them wading in the water – tall and stately, wings tucked back. With their wings fully outstretched, the width extended double the bird’s height. It reached far beyond seemingly realistic proportions.

great-blue-heron-1765261_640

 

 

With an unexpected majestic grace and ease, the heron climbed, circled, and flew out of sight.

 

 

Lowering my gaze at last, I saw several little finches hip-hopping, with short little flights from the trees to the ground. Their range of flight was limited by the size of their wings. Their small wings could lift and carry their body weight for comparably short distances.

thick-and-stupid-1641038_640

Watching them, I realized what a great gift the heron possesses! For a moment, I pictured the heron’s body with the finches’ behavior. What if it didn’t use its God-given abilities to go where those abilities would take it? What a pity it would be if the heron didn’t use this gift to fly great distances, but limited itself to only hopping about its familiar lake home.

heronwading.jpg

 

There are many Christians who remain bound, refusing or unable to spread the gifted wings God has given them to fly. They make hip-hopping little moves that take them nowhere, because they are comfortable where they are. But God has given us great wings to carry us great distances.

My decision was made. I had to leave my comfort zone and fly!

What are your God-given wings? You have a talent or ability or experiences that, if shared, would reach out to others and take you to new places and new ministries.

 

Don’t be content to hip-hop when you can soar.

Recognize your wings. Spread them. And fly!

God doesn’t waste a drop

After a big snow, I noticed a drain spout exiting a building about a foot above a concrete curb. Water was flowing out in a steady trickle and splattering on the hard surface. Sunlight danced in the glistening, sprinkling water droplets and a rivulet formed carrying the water away and down the pavement. It was mesmerizing – watching the light play off the sprays of water – like watching dancing flames in a fireplace.

Entertaining, yes, but what a waste! In times of drought, like we often experience, that water could have been redirected to a flowerbed or grassy area. In fact, that building had areas with costly irrigation systems in place.

How many people are like that concrete: hard, resistant, refusing to budge, with the blessing of Living Water being poured out on them daily? And yet God doesn’t waste a drop.

flower in concreteWe all know which wins out in the encounter between concrete and water. Eventually, albeit slowly over time, the erosive power of water can change the face of solid concrete. Sometimes a crack will appear and grow. Then dust can accumulate, and a seed blown in will take root. Weeds, plants, even trees have appeared in the unlikeliest of places, like the middle of a concrete sidewalk.

Change can occur in people too. We may see on the exterior a person who seems tough, presenting a hard, unyielding face to the world. But God looks on the inside, to the heart, and sees what we cannot. He loves, when we do not. And drop by precious drop, He pours out His Living Water.

drip-628611_640

His plan is perfect. His patience is endless. His power is supreme.

If you are living with, working with, or praying for a concrete curb, don’t give up. The possibility is there.

God doesn’t waste a drop.

I’m a horse!

unbridled horse.jpeg

Psalm 32:8-9 says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”

As I spent some time meditating on this verse and its meaning, a whole scene began to play out in my mind. At first, God simply begins leading me beside still waters and into green pastures. In a quiet voice He says “Rest, eat, drink”. Although I enjoy this, it is hard for me to rest. I know it is my God in the saddle, and I am chomping at the bit (literally) to take Him wherever He would let me.

I turn my head around to face Him, as if to say “I’m ready! Where do You want to go?” I fully expect Him to say “To the mountains!” or “To the sea!” Or perhaps He will show me a map of where our journey together will take us.

pointing map.jpg

 

And that’s when it hits me: I’m a horse! A horse can’t understand a map a human has drawn. I remember riding horses as a girl when we lived in Arizona. I knew the direction I wanted to go on my rides and what I wanted to see, but never once did I make a map and show it to the horse!

I wouldn’t expect a horse to have that level of understanding. I didn’t even tell the horse what my itinerary was. And yet I would not expect the horse to be frustrated or angry if it didn’t know the length and direction of our journey in advance. As we’d leave the stable, I would gently guide it where I wanted it to go.

God is like that with us. Even though we are created in His image, He is so far above us in wisdom and power that we could not possibly understand from His perspective, the plans He has for us. If He were to show us a map as He maps out lives, we would not be able to discern its meaning in human terms. But we can be assured that He has a good plan for each of us. We can know without a doubt that from His perspective on high, He knows what is in our best interest, and we can trust Him.

girl horse

Jeremiah 29:11-13 assures us that He has a plan for us: a prosperous and protective plan, full of hope and with our best future at its heart. These verses also assure that He hears us when we call on Him in prayer and that He is accessible when we seek Him with all of our hearts.

 

So when God tells me to rest, eat and drink, I had better do that. He knows what is ahead and knows what I need to be doing. I can trust that He has planned our journey and is preparing me for it now.

morocco-555348_640He doesn’t promise to tell each of us what the plan is or spell it out in terms we can understand in advance, but like our horse, He will guide us in the right direction. And we will reach the destinations along our way if we will but attend to and yield to His hands on our reins.

Read the verse again, out loud, and ask God to speak to you through it. Imagine that you are that fast horse, or a stubborn mule like in the Psalm, and picture the LORD gently and lovingly putting the bit in your mouth and the bridle over your head. Feel the reins in His hands and be responsive to them.