Life: the Beauty, the Wonder, and the Sacred

Ephesians 3:14-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father,
from whom EVERY FAMILY in heaven and on earth derives its name.
I pray that out of HIS glorious riches HE may strengthen you with power through HIS SPIRIT in your inner being, so that
Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that YOU, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to HIM who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE
than all WE ASK OR IMAGINE,
according to HIS POWER that is at work within us, to HIM BE GLORY in the church and in CHRIST JESUS throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! Amen.

I am overcome this morning with the beauty, fragility, and wonder of the human life today. Over the past six weeks I have learned so much, not from living in Germany, but from the events of life that have gone on around me. I am sickened by the thought that this revelation may just have come from slowing down my pace and enjoying each day for what it brings. I think it is some of that, but also events that have made me pause and realize how much of a BLESSING each moment of this life really has to offer. Before I left my fathers best friend, my husbands mentor, our matchmaker (he set David and I up on a blind date) and dear friend was diagnosed with liver cancer. It was a blow to our family, but I rested in the fact that he is a bold follower of Jesus. I have been praying for his healing. Before I left, my parents and I went to pray with him, and the Lord said, Blake “I believe therefore I speak, pray over him, tell him, and give him the prayers you wrote”, so I did. I felt like as I looked through my compiled scripture prayers that God is so good, all the time. God loved Tad so much, before he was diagnosed, he was having me compile prayers specifically for him, nothing to do with me, all God, I just was obedient, it is his word, thank you Lord for allowing me to share your words that breath life, with him. He is doing better, to God be the Glory, but it made me pause…and give thanks for the health of my family and myself. Jesus, I praise you for your word in Isaiah 55:11:

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

I think I have been overwhelmed with the wonder, beauty, and sacredness of life for many reasons. One reason is definitely because I have not been able to communicate with others around me. When you can’t speak a language it is isolating, but it also makes you reflect in silence and listen, and listen, did I mention listen. I also have not been able to talk on the phone, because when I can talk, you all are asleep, when you can talk it’s the middle of my day, after the kids go to bed and I can talk again, you all are in the middle of your day, when you all can talk in the evening I am asleep. It’s tough, but it has been a blessing in that I have had time alone with my thoughts, alone with God, to think, pray, and dream. A world limited in distraction brings clarity and I have been able to hear God speak to me more than ever. I always have known if I turn down the volume of the world and silence myself; I would hear him more clearly…his volume has been amplified in every way. After the events that unfolded in Italy with my sons health, Praise and glory be to God alone, because he is the only reason he is alive. To him be all the glory, thank you God for sparing my son. The wonder… the beauty…the sacredness of life….
One of my dearest childhood friends called two weeks ago and told me her dad passed away suddenly, he had been ill, but was about to have surgery, and then in a breath he was gone. I was shocked. I remember my mother telling me as a child, when I was older, I would realize how short life was, and she was right, it is short, hug those you love and tell them you love them, and please share the love and hope of Jesus with them above all else. Then, last week another one of my best and oldest friends called me and told me she has bone cancer. I was shocked, unable to speak, crying, panicked, fearful, and distraught…She is so young, she just has been recently been married a little over a year ago, and they have a small 3 month old baby girl,
“Lord Jesus, why?”
I cried, I prayed, I wept, I prayed, and he said
“do I give you strength when you are weak?”,
I said
“yes Lord”,
and he said
“I will give her strength.”
I called her and prayed with her, I explained the power of words and speaking blessing over our lives and our bodies. It was as if all of the sudden the Lord said to me all those prayers you have been compiling give them to her, and as I searched through my word documents, it was as if so many of them were written for her. I remember his word says:

Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

I believe, Jesus gave me the scripture to write into prayers for my son, for my friend Tad, for My dear friend when she lost her father, and now for my friend battling cancer. It is as though the Lord downloaded and impressed these on my heart, months ahead of time, for each moment. I can’t write, spell, I can not type fast (not sure I ever made it past level 3 on the computer skills test), but Lord, you give me the words to speak like you did to Moses (not comparing myself to Moses to clarify, just that he did not want to be used, and didn’t like to speak), and even though I am embarrassed about writing (because I have always been told I am terrible at it), I do because you, Jesus instruct me to, you instruct me and give me the words, and speed(like the speed Jesus would have been so helpful in college), all in your timing not mine, for your glory not mine. Jesus all you do, and all you create is filled with wonder, beauty, and each moment is sacred.
The wonder and beauty of the places that surround me overwhelm me, Munich is like living in a fairy tale designed specifically for the lover of art and history like myself… as I picture the places I have been this summer, the opportunity to see creation and experience culture these things stand out: the Majestic Alps surrounded by green pastures and pine, the raging waters of the Garmisch gorge hike (made me feel small and frail), the old city in Prague more intact than any European city I have ever seen and more beautiful than I could ever imagine, the Ottoman influenced Hapsburg guilded buildings in Budapest surrounded by its painful communist story, looking at the streets of Athens and peering up at the majestic Parthenon imagining the temple in its former glory, the coastline of Santorini so perfect and vibrant in living color, Swimming in the river in the English garden and listening to the sound of the peaceful breeze and gently moving water, seeing the people in Germany enjoying life, the small moments like soaking their feet in the river on their lunch break, the wind while riding my bike around Starnberg, the stars at night in each city, person, and created thing radiating your glory and telling a story of a CREATOR who wants to be found… Psalm 19:1-4 says all of creation shouts your praise:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

And Isaiah 55:12:

“You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.”
And Psalms 98:7-8

“Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;”

I love all the beautiful places and all their history. I have realized however, the past is the past… full of mystery, lessons, and intrigue, don’t get me wrong I love history. But I don’t live in the history, I live in the now, and what has made my life so beautiful is not the beautiful places or things, it’s all about Jesus and the beautiful people that have impacted my life. I think of Paul’s words in Athens to the Greeks who were told by the world their culture changed the world. He spoke to them about all their majestic temples, imagine they were the most sophisticated city by the worlds standards. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle frequently visited the Agora and debated their philosophies amongst the people. Paul, went and said with all boldness, You are not the center of the world. He basically said, you people of Athens are worshiping the created, not the creator. He has given you the created, to know there is more. He, the God of the universe, does not need you to build him temples to live in, he needs your heart as Acts 17:23-28 says:

“For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship —and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

And I think to myself, this life, the beauty, the wonder, each moment, each breath, screams of a CREATOR full of love. A CREATOR that can not be contained in a temple on a hill. A CREATOR who is present in every language, every culture, every economic sphere, and if we are willing to pause, he is willing to fill us with joy, surround us with his love and place those around us to love and to love us back. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:13-21:

“If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

and we mere mortals have the privilege to love, serve, and let others see the gospel through us, and to tell them of our CREATOR. The best way to show His story, the greatest redemption story the world has ever known, the sacrificial offering of his only son, sent for the world, sent for you, and me, is to LOVE, to be PRESENT enough to see the BEAUTY, the WONDER, and SACREDNESS of expressing the love of Jesus Christ to those around us.
So I challenge you today to pause, breathe, and listen. Although most of you are surrounded by every day routine, bogged down by the activity of life, please pause, even just for 5 minutes and be thankful for the stressful moments (and all of you who read this: remind me in October when I have 3 games each day of the weekend, homework galore, and many things that are piling up that need to be done). At least they are moments in this life, where you have breath, and you are alive. I keep pinching myself saying, thank you Lord, for this day of life, for this chance to love, speak through me, use me, draw my heart closer to yours, more of you less of me, your will not mine, help me to live like today is my last, love like today is my last, and live for Christ like today is my last. Help me to be slow to anger, quick to love and show mercy, because this day may be all I have, and if I died today would I be happy with how I treated and loved those around me…I take heart and know that one day, with my fellow Christ followers, whether it be family or friends, that I will see them again:

Zephaniah 3:20 (the message)
I’ll bring you back home—a great family gathering!
You’ll be famous and honored
all over the world.
You’ll see it with your own eyes—
all those painful partings turned into reunions!”
God’s Promise.

 

All my earthly partings and painful goodbyes will be joyous reunions in heaven one day, and it will be for eternity. I do not fear the troubles I face in this life because I know they are just a small piece in the puzzle of my life. Though I myself and those around me waste away, I remain hopeful, because I believe in what is unseen, you have guaranteed me what is to come, the promise of eternity serving the one true HIGH KING.

Other scripture:

2 Corinthians 5:1-10
Awaiting the New Body
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
For we live by faith, not by sight.
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad

2 Corinthians 4:5-18
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Romans 8:38
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Song of Songs 8:6-7
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

Psalms 103:10-18
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children —
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalms 8:4-6
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:

Hebrews 2:6-10
But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor
and put everything under their feet.”,
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.

Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

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