Here are my most recent highlights from the Upper Room magazine devotional reading and writing. Just me and my daily doodlings, courtesy of the little book that reaches around the world. That God, He is always slipping in a good word when we’re not looking.
It is human nature to want to push the limits of what the law allows. But Jesus tells us that even thinking about breaking a law is breaking that law. (When God makes the law, stepping a millimeter beyond it means you’re standing in sin.)
Once my father grafted a pear-tree branch into an apple tree. In time, the grafted branch produced fruit that looked like an apple but tasted like a pear. (On God’s tree, I’m still me!)
When God calls us to do something, God gives us the ability to obey. (and the freedom not to)
(after a prayer of complaint) I expected to feel God’s displeasure, but I felt God was pleased, not with my complaining but with my willingness to trust God enough to express even the unpleasantness in my life. (Every offering has value to God, even the sour ones.)
Job wanted God to be his ultimate resource with the assurance that he was a child of God. “Before, you were only a theory to me,” Job was saying. “Now I know you are my ultimate reality.” (thank goodness my salvation doesn’t rely on me)
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) This, friends, changes everything. (thank goodness for Easter)
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16) (‘Keep up the good work!’ is a slap in the face to someone who can’t.)
People put forth extraordinary effort to get results. God wants us to put forth extraordinary effort to bring about the dreams God has for us. (Why would I work harder for my dreams than God’s?)
We were taught “stop, drop and roll” if our clothes caught on fire. (If our tongues are aflame) we might do well to “stop, breathe and pray.” (Fire prevention safety never goes out of style.)
“Tell her not to worry, because she is ‘strong like me’.” (Three words that will last a lifetime.)
Selah, (written in between stanzas in the psalms) probably means, “pause, and think of that.” (Pause and reflect, perhaps the greatest untapped power in the universe.)
Sometimes as Christians, we focus more on how we look than where God wants us to look. (nuf said)
where we teeter
at the intersection of
RUN FAST and BE STILL.
I look at the branch as it curls upward, or does it curl downward? Wait, that is its reflection. The bent and twisted branch arches and bends, its sprouts excursioning just a bit and one just like it follows suit, its mirror image. Still water does this. It makes a fool of you. Were I not so clever, I might reach for the wrong branch.
Were I not so clever.
But that branch below, so very near the surface, must see its fellow above. Unless there are ripples or wind or waves, unless the bright sun blinds it or silt buries it, that lake-locked branch must think it’s the real branch. In the stillness it might wonder at that impostor who dares to look down and mock him. Surely, he, there under the water is the real branch. Weighty, yes, damp, yes, sometimes dark and lonely and tumultuous. Real must fend for his life while that sunny, dim and oddly dimensional branch goes missing every time.
On this still day, in these still waters, when the sun is low on the horizon, does that watery branch wonder at his fickle image above? If I came up out of the water, arose and shook off the weight that presses me down, what might I be? Is life as I know it not all of life? Is there more above the surface? Is that other branch real? Could it be even more real than I am?
Perhaps heaven is like that. We think the murk and mud and tumult we are under is real but we get a glimpse – in the stillest moments – of something that mirrors our existence. Maybe, if we were just pulled from under the water, lifted above the abyss, we would see that it is real. Brighter, broader, fuller in dimension and grander in color, it would be the glorious real we thought we were all along.
We are but a dim reflection, indistinguishable by the naked eye. It is such a human mistake to be taken in by such an optical illusion. Only in perfect stillness, at rising and setting of sun, do we glimpse real. Fully real.
Funny things happen when you sit in stillness and look from the lake shore. Which branch am I?