How to Get Out of An Auto-pilot Life

photo (4)My windshield is smeared with salt and grime, striped with my windshield wipers’ attempts to polish the world.  The wiper fluid is frozen and its meager attempts at throwing up liquid just makes the snow on the front of the car splatter with blue.

It feels like that sometimes, this trying to see the world’s glory.  Beauty is veiled and I hunger to see as the Eucharistic prayer says, “God at work in the world about us.”

 

Last night, as I climbed onto the couch with my journal, I had the sense that God wanted to call me “to walk with Him in the cool of the evening.”

 

Have you ever done that, walked through a gardener’s small plot of land in the summer growing season? Full of the pride of creation they point out how the blueberry bushes have taken off this year and the hydrangeas are embarrassingly abundant.

 

You take time, listen, drink in beauty.

 

If we were Adam and Eve and invited by God to take that slow putter around His garden, I imagine He would point out the highlights: the leathery broad leaves of elephant’s ear shining with the evening sun, the orchid’s delicate spots, the scurry of the chipmunk. Perhaps He would even gaze into the kaleidoscopic color of your eyes and point out His delight where function and glory mix.  You, my friend, are a crowning achievement of creation.

 

Could it be that is how God desires us to walk around in His world?  As a beauty seeker always on the hunt.

photo (7)

We were on our way home from a flurry of errands when I prayed for open eyes.  It’s so easy to live, eyes down, barreling through the hours.

 

The sun was shining on the morning’s fresh snow and the shadows spread out long across the yards, dark filigree against white.  My eyes blinked open and then squinted into a world covered with snow and reflecting light.

photo (5)

Lord, clean the smear of a life on auto-pilot. I live anxious and self-focused, giving more worship to my to-do list than to my Life-giver. I weigh my value in ticked off lines instead of Your delight. I pray for epiphany eyes to take in beauty and search for Your hand at work in the world about me.

 

Join me in continuing to search for God in beauty and in the Word.  Slip your email into the Connect box on the front page and together…we’ll pilgrimage eyes wide open.

1. penne with Parmesan Béchamel sauce

2. Waking up to a songbird which found Caed’s new feeder

3. Caedmon with a new pair of binoculars naming birds

4. Madeline feeding the birds strings of seeds along tree branches and windowsills

5. A fire, Narnia, and a girl giggling beside me

6. Carrying a sleeping boy upstairs

7.   .75 primroses, a bit of pink frilliness for my desk

8. planning a week of meals and a week of how I will treat my family

9. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with Madeline

10. Andrew praying for our week in the light of the fire, the children quiet in the holy

photo (6)

What delights did you feast on today?

Joining Ann Voskamp and continuing to count the gifts:

 

and writing in community with Laura Boggess here:

Continue Reading

Learning to Abide

John 1:29-42

Confession time: I have built a habit over many years of learning about God so as to have tastes and appetizers instead of going straight to God and waiting with Him for His Presence, gathering a whole meal of manna.

Instead of coming home with Him to sit at His feet, I circumnavigate the outskirts.  Perhaps I’m like the disciples of John listening to prophetic words about the Lamb of God but not stepping out of the comfortable discipleship of the prophet to search for He who is unknown, He who is greater.

Sometimes I read books about God, listen to sermons, thinking they are an end in themselves, loving the “aha” moment, the road to God getting cleared of debris.

But am I seeing the Word from afar and only listening to mumblings about him?  This is the question.

Wow, and the truth is hitting home now.  It is as if I am a homeless one satisfied with this huddled warming of my hands over a candle when I am free to open the door, draw close to the fire and sit with the Lamb of God Himself.

Abide with me and I will abide with you. (Jn 15:4)

I have always convinced myself that I want pure God of pure God when perhaps some days what I really want is the hunted thrift store find to stuff my already full closet with more knowledge, more self-revelation, more… pride.

And here the question goes deeper? Do I really want to go home with God to sit at His feet still, emptying of agenda, pouring out my hands, and offering myself, poor of spirit?

Andrew and the other disciple of John’s follow the One, but some did not and would I make the trek across town and have the courage to ask, where are you staying?  Would I have the courage to wait and hear Him say, “Come and See?” and then follow Him into riches where there are treasures of heaven, but not of earth.

The two are received into companionship, communion with God Himself, offered a simple but exceedingly vulnerable “Come and See” where the door to the simple dwelling place of God, the sleeping mat, the table, the chair is opened wide in an intimate gesture of friendship.

They are not meeting at a neutral Starbucks where each keep their lives defined, feeling out whether there is a future for this new acquaintance.  They are ushered right into the room where Jesus is staying.

He has opened the door when they “knocked” showing us how to do the same…to risk intimacy.

My dear friend, Linda, comes each morning to her time with God armed only a cup of hot coffee and whispers “Abba” and sits still in His Presence.  She comes without journal and without agenda but always with expectation that He will meet her there.

She tells of the day when He told her just to come with that simple mug of coffee and how awkward and fumbling she felt not to be weighted with books and worship music and journal which had been the habit for finding daily bread.  The awkwardness lifted slowly and she became hungry not for IT but for Him.  She says it felt like walking through a torn veil.

Do I often come to a “quiet time” as I might to a morning conversation with my husband about schedules and overlapping to do lists? I come with the attitude of,”Let’s get this done so I can pack the lunch box full, get dressed, guide the kids through the maze of morning tasks.”

We hit all the necessary bullet points but entirely miss the relationship.  In my quiet time, I often hit all the truths I need to be full, nourished, stomach packed, but miss the Bread of Life Himself.

In the afternoon, when my toddler goes down for a nap, I rest too using contemplative centering prayer but so often even there I come with a to do list, an agenda, multi-tasking always.  I sit taking deep breaths, drinking refreshment, but honestly, what I want is to hear from God about a question that’s been festering or I want direction, to hear the Voice leading ten more steps down the road.

Finally, about ten minutes in, my shoulders drop and so do my walls and I remember the invitation to “Be Still and Know that I am God.”  I open my fingers and my agenda slips through and I am empty, poor in spirit.

My purpose is to love God and enjoy Him forever.  Period.  Everything else can wait.  I abide.  Fruit will come.  Because here is my peace and He is my peace and the search is over and I am home.

Summer Gross

Thanksgiving:
a whooping big celebration of Grandpa’s 98 1/2 years of life,
grieving Grandpa’s death
hearing of salvation, my Grandfather, a channel for God’s grace
the gift of remembering His support, his hand on my back at ordination, his prayer
family packed with joy and stories
children able to attach roots, getting rich nourishment

Continue Reading

Love Saturated Evangelism

 

Mark 1:29-42

Andrew and another disciple zigzagged with Jesus through the crowd to his home, perhaps a room at an inn, maybe a space on a rented rooftop able to feel the vibrations of a busy family below.  Their minds must have echoed the words of their own teacher, John the Baptist, who yelled out in a busy town square the day before as he saw Jesus come near, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him…I testify that this is the Son of God.”  Andrew and the other must have asked what treasures will pour out of a man on whom the Spirit rests or truly, will we even be able to understand His cryptic messages?  The mystery draws them on and then they sit, stay, listen to this man Jesus, this Lamb of God.  They soak words, eat bread and then soak up more Word in the Presence of the Alpha and the Omega, the Creator.  Then, Andrew impatient with joy jumps up, says he will returns and runs…straight for his brother, “We have found the Messiah.”

My commentary on this scripture said this: “it appeared that Andrew had been with Jesus that he was so full of him. He knew there was enough in Christ for all; and, having tasted that he is gracious, he could not rest till those he loved had tasted it too. True grace hates monopolies, and loves not to eat its morsels alone.

But, here is the question: How can we like Andrew point to the living God, go home and grab our brother when we have not tasted, have not seen God Himself, not soaked in His voice?  When we have only tasted God someone else has shown us, we have no desire to usher another into His Presence, drag them to the holy.  We’ve got a Roman road and a track and evangelism tools thrust in a box under the bed but we are so often leading people to an assent to ideas about God and not tearing off terra cotta roof tiles, lowering them down into the Presence of the One who sees their pain, but speaks straight to the source of what is festering in their heart, “Your sins are forgiven.”  They are released and Grace Himself heals.

If we have not been home with God and tasted the good news of life free from the twisted pain and shame of sin, free from the captivities which like cataracts layered, hold us blind, our “Come and See” is anemic, embarrassed, hollow.  It was only when Andrew had been in Jesus Presence, sitting at the feet of the one in whom is hidden all the mysteries of wisdom and revelation that his calling to his brother had any substance.

“We have found the Messiah,” Andrew told his brother.  Found.  He, the pearl of great price, the treasure in the field, the Messiah the earth has been groaning to feel walk upon its dirt is Found.  And you, my friend, my brother, my sister, should come and see!

Summer Gross

Continue Reading