Raindrops and Rainbows

raindrops-2rainbow-1A few days ago an ordinary experience became an extraordinary enlightenment. The weather had been extremely hot and humid. Finally the rain came. I stood in the doorway watching the rain descend as the air temperature decreased. It was refreshing. I became aware of how high in the sky the raindrops originated. This was certainly not the first time I had watched rain fall, but the point of origin of the rain captured my attention. I knew the raindrops always spilled from the clouds above, but that day they appeared to be the Lord’s teardrops falling from heaven to earth. I was mesmerized by the long liquid lines of rain falling from a point I could not even see. I was reminded of a comment I had recently read in the novel The Looking Glass by Richard Paul Evans,   “I have heard it said of Cork (Ireland) that the sky doesn’t rain, it weeps.” Yes, I interpreted what I was seeing as God weeping. Finally other responsibilities called me away from the door where I was standing as the rain continued to fall. A short time later, nature beckoned me back to the doorway in time for me to see a double rainbow spanning the sky that previously had been filled with raindrops. My thoughts then turned to the promise God made to Noah in Genesis 9:13, “I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.” God was in the raindrops and He was in the rainbows. A double rainbow spoke to me of a double portion of His blessings through His faithfulness. Raindrops and rainbows are part of both the natural and the supernatural realms.

My thoughts go back to my experience with the rain shower There would not have been the atmospheric conditions for the creation of a rainbow if it had not rained. I can make a similar application to my spiritual life. I would not have an appreciation for the blessings of the Lord if I did not encounter difficult situations that cause me to reach out for His help. All of us will experience both sorrow and joy in His presence. Psalm 30:5 says, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Raindrops fall during the dark times and rainbows appear during times of joy. In Desiring God, John Piper  quotes a Minquass proverb saying, “The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tears.” We have a greater appreciation for the joyous times when we contrast them to the more difficult times.

Is there any validity to my perceiving natural raindrops as being symbolic of the Lord’s supernatural teardrops? Does God actually weep? In her AnGeL blog, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, has mentioned that her mother once said if there are any tears shed in heaven, they are going to be shed over all the answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask!” It amazes me to think that I might cause God to weep just because I do not take time to lift up prayer requests to Him! Am I causing God to shed teardrops as raindrops rather than allowing Him to create a rainbow of fulfilled promises into someone’s life?

Sometimes we experience rain showers. Sometimes we experience rainbows. Sometimes we experience sunshine. All are needed for plants and people. Ecclesiastes 3:4 states that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Emotions, like weather, can be hard to forecast and predict. All are part of God’s plan. However, our understanding of weather changes and emotional changes may be different from the Lord’s perspective.  I again quote from The Looking Glass by Richard Paul Evans, “To choose life is to choose sorrow as well as joy, pain as well as pleasure.”  We must remember that the Lord is more concerned about our being holy than our being happy. Or, something we might consider being in the category of sorrow may be in the category of sacred for God. The outcome of these times may not be easy but they will be eternal. May we be aware of how the Lord desires to work in our lives and allow our ordinary experiences to become times of extraordinary enlightenment!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The Magnifying Glass

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magnifying-glass-2Today I am imagining that I am a young child seeing my surroundings through a magnifying glass that I hold in my hand. I observe the increased size of a blade of grass. I view closeup the veins within a leaf. I notice the rough texture of the tree trunk. I am fascinated by the intricacies of a flower. There is so much to see through the lens of a magnifying glass that I would ordinarily overlook with only my eyes. Through magnification, I am aware of three things. First, the object appears to be closer to me. Second, the object appears larger. Third, I can see the object more clearly.

music-notes-2I realize that not only does magnification apply to objects from a physical perspective, but it also can apply to my relationship with the Lord spiritually. In Luke 1:46 NKJV, Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Luke 1:46-55 is referred to as Mary’s Song or the Magnificat. It is Mary’s response to the angel’s message that she is highly favored by God and will give birth to His Son. Mary expresses joy, admiration and gratitude unto the Lord as she embraces the revelation of God’s purpose for her. The word magnifies comes from “magaluno,” the Greek word meaning to make great, to enlarge, to show respect, to hold in high esteem. This is a very appropriate word to describe Mary’s response. Other Bible translations for Luke 1:46 use such words as glorifies, praises, exalts, proclaims the greatness of the Lord. Mary declares that her soul magnifies the Lord. From her words, I conclude that my soul (my inner being consisting of my mind, will and emotions) is my spiritual magnifying glass just as a high-powered convex lens is my physical magnifying glass.

magnifying-glass-1Can I apply the three observations I made regarding the perks of a physical magnifying glass to the blessings of a spiritual magnifying glass? I think I see a correlation. First I magnify the Lord by lifting Him up in a way that brings Him closer to me. I am reminded of the worship song by MERCYME beginning with the words, “Lord I lift your name on high, Lord I love to sing your praises.”  James 4:8 NLT says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you,” and Psalm 22:3 can be translated, “the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.” So, if I praise or magnify the Lord, He comes closer to me just like what appears to happen when I look at an object through a convex lens. Secondly, when I magnify the Lord by focusing upon His character and nature, He becomes bigger and my problems appear to become smaller. It is impossible for God to be made any larger than He is but my understanding of Him can increase. While magnifying the Lord, my awareness of His presence is heightened. I desire my words to be those of David in Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Thirdly, when I choose to magnify the Lord, I see Him more clearly. Psalm 96:4 NASB states, “For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” This verse portrays the clarity with which I can see the Lord by lifting Him above all else, similar to how a convex lens appears to magnify an object to be seen more clearly.

magnifying-glass-1My Reader, join me in accepting David’s invitation found in Psalm 34:3 NKJV, “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” As we engage in spiritual magnification, we will experience a depth and clarity of faith we have not previously known. As we magnify the Lord, we will begin to perceive how great He truly is. We will allow Him to have a more prominent, or a more magnified, place in our lives. When each of us says, “God, I magnify You,” each one of us is declaring, “I am envisioning You as the most important person and priority of my life.” Nothing we attempt to do can make God any bigger than He already is but our perception of Him and His majesty will increase.

music-notes-2I cannot conclude my thoughts regarding the magnification of the Lord without thinking of the hymn How Great Thou Art. The refrain of the hymn declares, “Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee: How great thou art! How great thou art!” With my soul being my spiritual magnifying glass, I magnify the Lord by declaring “How great thou art!”

magnifying-glass-2My Reader, will you join me today in magnifying the Lord while looking through a magnifying glass? It will help us focus upon the Lord. Please make use of your spiritual magnifying glass so that you can lift the Lord higher, and see Him more clearly, and envision Him greater than you ever perceived Him before.  

 Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Christ’s Confectionery

 

 

"Bicentennial and Jane Austen Weekend. Photo by Brandon Vick, Genesee Country Village and Museum https://www.gcv.org/"

My husband and I volunteer at Genesee Country Village and Museum during their season of operation. This year it is my privilege to be the interpreter for the confectionery on Thursdays. It has given me the opportunity to learn more about these specialty stores of the 1850s. After the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, sugar became more available to this area and confectionaries began to appear. These stores of the nineteenth century sold more fancy grocery and bakery items than candy but with time we developed a sweet tooth for more varieties of sweet treats. While learning about these early historical stores, I began to imagine how the Bible could be described as an old-fashioned confectionery. The Bible might be compared to the store with each book of the Bible being a big jar containing a unique confection. Each promise in scripture might be a piece of candy. Let me expand my imagination with this line of thinking.

The confectionery is a store and everyone makes a choice either to walk by or to enter  the store. Children always want to go in but adults are often too hurried to take the time. Jesus extends an invitation for everyone to come into His candy store. In Luke 18:16, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” I sense Jesus is encouraging us as adults to be more like children in a candy store in regards to our relationship with Him. We need to spend time in the Word and enter His presence. We need childlike faith to enjoy the sweetness of scripture. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” Just like a piece of candy, I want to taste and see each of the Lord’s promises and experience His goodness.

Like a confectionery of the 1850s that had its items on display, Christ reveals all His confections in the Bible. My Reader, please join me as we make a stop at Christ’s confectionery for some scriptural sweets.

lollipopsLollipops of Love
There is nothing like licking an all day sucker! I also love meditating upon love throughout the day. I want to enjoy its taste all day long.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:4&8

peppermint 2Peppermint Sticks of Peace
I want a whole stick of peppermint peace – not just a little piece of peace! Peppermint not only tastes good but smells good like the aroma of Christ.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

 gum dropsGum Drops of Grace
Gumdrops are smaller pieces of candy that vary in color and taste. I need small amounts of grace manifested in my life in various ways throughout the day. These gummies require some chewing for the greatest enjoyment – just like I need to chew or meditate upon the bits of grace Christ imparts to me.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9

jawbreaker 1Jawbreakers of Joy
There is something enticing about these big round balls. It is always tempting to try to break these hard candies with my teeth before they break my teeth. Like a kid, I search for the biggest piece of joy to break the struggles in my life.
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

 

chocolate cherriesChocolate Covered Charity
Chocolate covered charity or chocolate covered cherries? As a child, I remember biting into these big pieces of candy and experiencing the different tastes and textures of the chocolate coating, cream filling, and finally the center cherry. The three parts of this candy remind me of faith, hope and charity. While charity and love are synonymous, I think of charity as being a deeper kind of love – maybe like the cherry in the middle of the candy. More decadent. Although chocolate was not common as a candy in the 1800s, I cannot go into a confectionery without wanting some chocolate. I always desire chocolate and I always need charity!
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 13:13 KJV

My Reader, have I tantalized your taste buds for something sweet? Do you want to visit an old-fashioned confectionery or do you want to reach for your Bible? I encourage you to pop a piece of candy into your mouth along with a verse of scripture into your mind. Suck on it, chew on it, meditate upon it. Savor the sweetness of the candy’s flavor and of Christ’s favor.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Garden of Grace

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grace-3My Reader, just as you would dig into the dirt of your flower gardens, are you ready to  dig a little deeper into the understanding of how Jesus unlocks the gardens of our hearts? This week we look at the last stanza of the praise chorus entitled The Garden of My Heart. Although the Lord inspired me to write this chorus many years ago, I will admit that I have gained more insight into the meaning of the words through writing these blogs over the last four weeks. I pray our garden times together have been beneficial for you as well.

Jesus, unlock the garden of my heart;
awaken love in me.
I
 want to sit at Your feet, as the great mercy seat,
in the garden of my heart.
I want to laugh; I want to sing;
I want to dance with the King
in the garden of my heart.

Jesus, unlock the garden of my heart;
awaken love in me.
I want to gaze in You eyes, so that faith may arise,
in the garden of my heart.
I want to laugh; I want to sing;
I want to dance with the King
in the garden of my heart.

Jesus, unlock the garden of my heart;
awaken love in me.
I want to feel Your embrace, and receive Your grace,
in the garden of my heart.
I want to laugh; I want to sing;
I want to dance with the King
in the garden of my heart.

Jesus has unlocked the garden of my heart! Now I receive a personal hug of grace! I have the privilege of being embraced by Jesus after I have sat at His feet and gazed into His eyes. There has been a progression of intimacy throughout this song.

My favorite definition of grace says that grace is God’s empowering presence that enables me to be who God created me to be and do what He has planned for me to do. When I choose to embrace God’s desires, He is able to embrace and support and empower me! I must have close contact with the Lord if I am to experience the infusing of His power into my life. There must be close contact, whether physical or spiritual, for a hug to be experienced. Psalm 37:4 ESV says, Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When I choose to find pleasure in being with the Lord, whether it be sitting at His feet or gazing into His eyes, His desires and my desires mesh together allowing us to embrace.

A shorter definition for grace is simply the word favor. Ephesians 2:8 states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” When I think about grace as the goodness of God from a positive perspective as expressed in this scripture, it is very appealing to me. However, I am provoked by Ann Voskamp’s comments in her book One Thousand Gifts. She challenges me regarding my willingness to freely receive whatever God gives, whether it feels good or bad. While reading Ann’s words, I begin to realize that God’s grace often comes in the form of His being with me and helping me through difficult situations rather than His immediately resolving my trials in a positive way. I must not pull away from His presence simply because God’s grace is not manifested in the way I might want. I must let go and let God be in control. God is good so I want to yield to Him by relying upon His grace. In the first and second stanzas of this little song, I referred to receiving mercy and faith. Now I see how I need both of these gifts if I am to fully embrace grace in whatever form God chooses.

Looking at the last lines of the song, I proclaim that I want to dance in addition to laughing and singing. I do not merely want to dance, but I want to dance with the King. This is a dance I want to reserve for Jesus who is King of kings and Lord of lords according to Revelation 19:16. With Jesus as my dance partner, I want to follow His lead. I want to go where He goes. I want to move at the pace He moves. Preparing for our dance, Jesus puts His arm around me while I place my hand in His right hand. Psalm 98:1 says, “Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” As His dance partner, I feel my hand being held by the hand of God described in Psalm 18:16, “The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!” When I am this close to Jesus I can hear His heart beat!

The garden of my heart is now open to feel and hear the heartbeat of Jesus. This is my goal when asking Jesus to unlock the garden of my heart. Love is awakened in me. I John 4:16 assures me that “God is love.” His love allows me to sit at the feet of Jesus at the great mercy seat, and to gaze in His eyes so that faith may arise, and to feel His embrace and receive His grace in the garden of my heart! Now I laugh and sing and dance with the King of kings because of this understanding!

My Reader, I John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Is your heart an unlocked garden of love?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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