Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reflecting, part 2

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, 
are being transformed 
into the same image from one degree of glory to another…”
II Corinthians 3:18, ESV

In the process of beholding and reflecting God to my world (an incredible privilege by itself), the underlined words, are being transformed greatly encourage. Not only is God allowing us to reflect him, in the same moment, he is growing and maturing us—one step (one degree) at a time. YES!

Several years ago, The Navigators sponsored a two year seminar. The participants traveled four times during those two years to an enviable location to learn from a group of people I admired. This seminar was by invitation only; I was not among the invited.

That was hard—very hard. Jealousy raged; I wanted to be in the ‘in group’. My experience of God’s love faltered. Rejected was the better descriptor. As I thought about my colleagues flying away to the meetings, the old lie, I’m not good enough was the loudest thing in my head… that hurt!

Each morning on the thermometer nailed to our front porch I check the degrees. I live
Yes, it was cold the day I snapped this.
in Colorado; I know the degrees will register higher throughout the day.

Spiritual growth, like the mercury in our thermometer, moves slowly, glacially even. The degree-by-degree climb recorded on my outdoor thermometer is a picture of spiritual growth, subtle yet real. What I reflect today is different from what I will reflect next month.

This fall the invitation came my way. I was among the invited. Invited to participate in a graduate level course taught by the same people who led the seminar I missed out on several years ago.

Strangely it wasn’t a slam-dunk decision. Neutral described my response. As I considered the surprise invite and my more surprising response, I prayed, reviewed my journals, and talked with my husband.  In the end I decided yes, count me in.

What led to this different response? Several things. The most important … I no longer anchor my identity in invitations. My new identity allowed objective consideration. Ahhhh, what freedom! “… and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 
II Corinthians 3:17

As your eyes scan these words, the course commences. I’m a bit nervous; I am also excited; I’m anticipating that spiritual maturing will happen degree by degree and I will be a changed person on the other side, a better reflection of the One who created me.

“’But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God tell you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way!’    
 Romans 6:22, The Message”
The Maroon Bells reflected in the still lake below. It was suggested I name this blog Reflections of Grace.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reflecting, part 1

  “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory…”                                                                                                               II Corinthians 3:18, NIV

Yes, this is me.
The vivid memory flooded back. I remembered what I had seen paddling down the Green River several summers ago: tall red rock cliffs towering over me on the west reflected perfectly in the calm waters of the slow-moving river. I looked up to see massive stone. I looked to my side and there again the handiwork of God… this time the mammoth red  painted on water.

The amazing clarity surprised as I beheld the glory of the Lord in creation.

Walking through the tall pines that border our property one cool fall morning, once again I was mesmerized by reflection. This time the Ponderosas showing off the full length of their majesty in the small pond nestled in the forest behind our home. Again held captive by God-created beauty.

From the south the still, clear, dark water provided the perfect canvas for the silvery green needles resting in sunlight. No breezes, no ripples, picture perfect, a live watercolor. I love these God-created pictures. I get to enjoy his creation twice.

I circled around to the other side of our unnamed pond. The sun now offered a new picture. The mirror image of the tall pines obvious still—but something changed. On the surface water bugs, flecks of dust, and growing green offered a different view, not quite as clear.

The apostle Paul using the analogy of reflecting (NIV) or beholding (ESV) is both challenging and affirming; it ignites a desire God placed in my heart. I want to behold his glory and reflect him to my world—even when the reflection is a bit cloudy, which it often is.

One thing that makes it cloudy is fear. I fear my image is not a true God-reflection. So I wear a mask. I mistakenly think the mask is a good idea.
My unveiled face (as Paul described) is now veiled, or masked. Masks cover the real. A mask is my way of trying to control who you think I am. I am purposing to protect me and God. But it doesn’t work. Instead I am creating a barrier. You can’t know the real Sue; you know only a masked image. The mask sometimes accomplishes my desire… I want you to think I am ____________ ; you fill in the blank. Sometimes that comforts. I want you to believe the mask is me. I purposely don it. But the comfort is elusive.

Then one day in my haste, I forget my mask. How embarrassing; how intimidating—my personal bugs and flecks of dust now obvious. Yet, how glorious, how freeing. 

The real Sue appears—without a veil, without a mask, able to reflect. God is seen. It makes me smile just typing these words. Paper maché and synthetically created masks can’t reflect. Paul teaches, I only reflect with an unveiled (unmasked) face.

God trusting me with the picture of himself is scary, exciting, and honoring at the same time. I return the trust to God by refusing the invitation of a mask.
Beholding another awe-inspiring God-scape

I want to behold his glory. 
I want to reflect his image.

“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, …”                      Philippians 1:20
To be continued next Thursday…

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Holy Ground

The twenty-five year memory is as clear as if it were one of the 4x6 pictures I see on my fridge every day.

She was one of my BFFs (best friend forever)—I thought. But something came between us—funny, I don’t remember what. I do remember laying face-down on our king sized bed sobbing.

Forgiveness and reconciliation were needed, given, and received. BFF intact.

Last week another friendship challenged. Fears replaced tears. Courage was called for. 

A third dear friend is battling cancer. Bill and I desire to love this couple well in these very hard days. What does kindness and compassion look like now?

Life is hard.

God designed his children for relationship. Each of these special people know personally the love of God. As we do life together, I hear God whisper, “… take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5, Joshua 5:15, Acts 7:33. 

As I pray for these friends, these situations, I am on holy ground.   
As I listen for the voice of God, I am on holy ground.                                      
As I ponder his words and my next steps, I am on holy ground. 
Wisdom comes.
Peace descends.
Courage and compassion surface.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
I walk with my friends in confidence on holy ground.

These words of Abraham Herschel encourage, 
“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,”                                                 
 Colossians 3:12