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God, If You Exist . . .

 

Through the years the painters of the annunciation have tried to capture her. Mary. They must have wondered; Why did God choose her? What was she like? A striking beauty? Plainer but with an inner light? How could they capture something that exceptional? How could they get it right?

Annunciation artists, for the most part, went with beauty. And haloes. The artists seem to gravitate to palettes of paleness, pastels and metaphorical purity. Mostly they capture her gentleness and saintliness. Their depictions of her receiving the angel Gabriel are some of my favorite art.

There she is, eyes downcast, hands open, sitting in submission, receiving some of the most piercing and scandalous news ever. There was no precedent for it. Never before or since has a woman heard this: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you," the angel Gabriel announced, "and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy -- the Son of God." The words of Gabriel describe nothing less than the virgin birth of Christ.

And in words so familiar they have lost their shock she said, “Be it done unto me according to thy word.”

In other words she said, “Whatever.” “I trust you completely.” “I’m yours, no limits.” “I’m in 100%.”

What a bold response! I can’t help but think this wasn’t the first time Mary said yes to God. Perhaps she took baby steps of faith that equipped her to trust him so completely that when the most unthinkable request of God was asked of her . . .  she was receptive.

But what if the artists got it wrong? What if she was more the initiator than tradition teaches. When I ponder Mary I think she longed for God. She wanted him to show himself to her. More than anything, she wanted to walk with him in the day and talk to him at night. She reached for him. She welcomed him and he came to her.

Most of us struggle with faith, not to mention a faith like Mary’s. A friend of mine told me recently, “I wish I could believe in God.” Well, faith is a gift. You and I can’t think it so. But, if we sense you were made for more than this existence, if a vague longing is unquenched in our spirits, start here with a first step. Try this:

“God, if you exist, I give you permission to show yourself to me.”

Baby steps.  Openness to him showing himself to us just because we asked.

 “God I give you permission to show yourself to me. Be it done to me according to thy word.”

And when he comes to us this Christmas . . . as he wants to, well, then we'll know Christmas as never before and ponder that wonder in our hearts until our last breath and beyond.

 

An Embarrasing Confession

I just came back from a great walk outside. Exhilarating! Refreshing! Productive! Yes! But something I really like? No! Confession: I always like walking afterward, but have a hard time committing to it beforehand. It's the "NO MATTER WHAT!" that's hard for me. So I'm setting some new goals this spring and summer: 30 minutes or three miles a day in hopes of losing weight. I hate to admit this, because I know there's some accountability that might follow, but I thought I would share something that has helped me like it more.

Twenty-five years ago, right after my doctor told me I had malignant melanoma . . . the most dangerous form of skin cancer, the next words from her mouth were, "Walk!” She even wrote it on her prescription pad, “five times a week for 30 to 40 minutes.”  In the following weeks I felt as though I had been given a life sentence.  “Why do I hate this so much?” The answer came back time and again,  “Because it’s so boring!  What can I do with my mind while I’m taking care of my body?” 

I thought I could use the time to pray, but I needed music that didn’t interfere with the direction and mood of my prayers.  That’s how PRAYERWALK came to be.  It was something I wanted for myself, but I soon realized that the beautiful music by gifted studio musician Dennis Clements, and the guided prayer time could be used by other people as well. 

It's not slick. Just a neat way to care for your soul as you care for your body. Currently there are three aerobic audio/music CDs available—and Paypal is up and running now on my website (Thanks to some gentle nagging from some of you) You can check out the description on my website. Go to store . . . resources . . . PrayerWalk.

See you on the trails! Happy summer everybody! God bless! Let's nail it this year!

 

Honestly: Aren't You Just a Little Tired of In-Your-Face Book?

She has everything. And posts it all. "Oh, gee . . . I'm a best-selling author. What a surprise! How did that happen?" Or "Junior is straight A's again for the fourth year at school. Please pray for him as they want to advance him a year and we're just not sure if that is fair to the other kids. Such a dilemma!"

Be honest: Wouldn't you be just a little bit happy if her fortunes reversed? We don't wish anything awful on her you know, I mean we're not E-V-I-L,  but just something little say. Something that would level out her life advantages. Something in the public and embarrassing camp. For instance . . . imagine how sad it would be if she lost all her hair suddenly, or on one of her many luxury travels lost her passport so she would have to live out her life in a place where the mosquitos are as big as bananas. Admit it. You're smiling and thinking of someone particularly.

Yes, envy! And we don't have a problem with it in this day of social media, or what my husband calls In-Your-Face-Book, do we?  Noooo . . . especially we Christian types.

I love this story. It's from my book A Well-Tended Soul.

"An old man showed up at the back door or a young couple. His eyes were glassy and his face glistened with silvery stubble. He clutched a basket of wilted vegetables he was selling. The young couple bought some out of pity. 

On subsequent visits he learned his name was Mr. Roth and he lived in the shack down the street. He would shuffle in, wearing mismatched shoes, and pull out his vegetables and his harmonica. With glazed eyes he would puff out old gospel tunes and talk of heaven.

On one visit he exclaimed, "The Lord is so good! Today when I opened my front door there was a bag full of shoes and clothing on my front porch." 

 "Oh, Mr. Roth," the young couple said, "we're so happy for you."

 "Yes, and something even better. Just this morning I met someone who could really use them."

A thankful heart has transforming power. Even if we are reduced to selling wilted vegetables and have lost everything, we can still feel rich.

Someone has said, "God has been so lavish in his gifts that you can lose some priceless ones, the equivalent of whole kingdoms, and still be indecently rich."

Even if we lose all our hair and our passports are stolen for life we are still rich. "And now let the poor say I am rich. let the weak say I am strong, because of what the Lord has done for us. Give Thanks!"

 (Now through September I am making "A Well-Tended Soul" available for groups of five or more at a discount and giving away the FREE downloadable accompanying study guide. You can contact me through my website or message me on In-Your-Face-Book.)