Hand in Glove

 

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His old leather gloves are worn and soft, wrinkled across the knuckles, cracked in the palms, permanently formed in the shape of his hands. If they were used for a plaster mold, the result would be an accurate cast of my husband’s hands. Clad in these gloves, his strong hands have dug gardens, shoveled snow, repaired cars, hung Christmas lights, even gently cradled newborn grandbabies in their broad, warm palms. Muscles, bone and sinew working together to perform specific tasks have given these gloves their unique shape. But when they are laid aside on the shelf, no matter how much they resemble my husband’s hands, they are powerless. Only his hands within them bring warmth to cold leather and strength to hollow fingers.

When I feel weak and empty I sometimes see myself as a laid aside glove. My spiritual form is made in the image of God. Like a glove, the shape of my soul is contoured by the life of Christ within it. But when I have in some way blocked His life-giving power from filling out the contours of my soul, then I am weak and ineffectual. Not that I have been discarded. That is not possible, for He promised, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28 NIV)

The truth is, I don’t always allow Christ’s indwelling Spirit liberty to expend the power He desires to work out in my life. Sometimes my passion for Him wanes, my eyes stray from His face, I become distracted by my own desires and self-preoccupation, worried and burdened by the temporal. And my soul begins to slowly deflate like a balloon losing air, or an unworn glove.

When this is happening, it takes me a while to catch on. I begin to notice my spiritual energy leaking away and I am less effectual within my own faith life and in the lives of those around me. So I know I need to draw near again. Set aside the tasks of the day and spend some time nourishing my soul in the Word of God, listening to His heart in prayer and meditating on His love and goodness. Gradually the fingers of my glove tingle with returning strength. Not my own but the strength of God’s power vitalizing my grip, working through me to accomplish those things He desires me to do which I cannot do on my own.

“For it is not your strength, but it is God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work, strengthening, energizing and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13 AMP)

It takes some time for a new pair of gloves to take on the shape of the hands they belong to. Fingers are stiff and tasks done clumsily, yet with use the leather gradually forms to the hand’s unique shape. I want my soul to be well-used, sculpted in the shape of my Saviour whose Spirit fills me from within to work out His purposes. It is a unique, miraculous partnership, hand in glove.

Radiance

D J weddin 28The music of a gently flowing river gave ambiance to the wedding about to begin. My daughter walked gracefully down the grassy path toward the man she loved, her face radiant with joy. The beauty of her wedding finery came second to the happiness lighting her face. Later she told me how everything else faded when she began to walk towards her groom. The lovely outdoor setting, the wedding party, the people there to celebrate — she was aware of their presence but she only had eyes for the man she was about to marry. His love was the reason for her glowing countenance.

The face is a mirror of what the soul contains. If sadness has touched someone, the muscles of their face and expression in their eyes will reflect their pain. If laughter is ready to burst out, eyes sparkle and lips turn up. Some are better than others at masking what is really going on in their mind and heart, but usually some little clue in the face or body language will give them away.

Because God lives in me, I want His presence to be discernable in my face and demeanour. I can’t manufacture that; it happens when I keep my focus on Him, my heart open to what He has to say, and my spirit receptive to His love. Only then will I be one of those the psalmist describes. “Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5 NIV)

To be radiant means there is an inner light, an internal energy conveyed through facial expression. “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” (Exodus 34:29) Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on the mountaintop in the presence of the Lord. His face radiated with this experience, so much so that he had to wear a veil over his face because the Israelites were afraid to come near him. What is interesting about this story is that Moses was not aware that his face was radiant. What mattered to him was the time he spent with the Lord, who would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. (Exodus 33:11)

An intimate relationship with God cannot help but be reflected outwardly. The more time I spend with Him, the more He permeates my life, the more of His glory will shine through without me even knowing it. And not just on my face, but radiate out from my life like the rays of the sun. I don’t want to be self-consciously checking to see if I’m showing forth God in a radiant way, I just want to be a channel for His glory to flow through me in all I do. Sometimes clouds of sin or selfishness will dim the radiance, but as long as I am seeking His face, He will shine again.

We have been given a perfect picture of God, in His son Jesus Christ. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3) Jesus Christ illuminates His Father’s glory, becoming a spotlight revealing the immutable character of God. With Christ living in me, I pray some of His beautiful radiance will shine through my life, to light the way for others.

Two Hearts, Two Homes

211I have lived in many different houses. I raised my children in a sprawling bungalow by the sea, and in a century-old farmhouse with crooked floors, and in a renovated cottage tucked in the bend of a glacier-fed river. Each one became home because we dwelt there as a family. After the upheaval of a move we would gradually settle in, learning the features and flaws of each house and its neighborhood. Pictures were hung, familiar furniture placed and cupboards organized until the house had our unique family stamp on it. I recall sitting up late at night, aware of the quiet breathing of my children asleep in their rooms, feeling the walls wrapped around us like sheltering arms. We were home.

My spirit found a home when I gave my heart to Jesus. All my restless wandering in a cold, inhospitable world was left behind at the door of this warm place of communion with Christ, the lover of my soul. At last I found shelter, nurture and peace in a place of eternal refuge. There were times of temptation and rebellion when I thought about leaving  home, then I remembered Simon Peter’s response after many of Jesus’ followers turned away from Him. Jesus asked His disciples, “‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6:67-69  NIV) Where and to whom would I go? No other place or person could give my heart a home like Jesus.

It is quite conceivable for Christ to be the home of my heart, for He is sovereign over all creation, with arms as wide as the universe. But when I discovered His desire to make His home in my heart, I could hardly believe it. He said, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)  Notice the two references to love – if anyone loves Me – and – My Father will love him. When Jesus takes up residence in someone who loves Him, the Father blesses them with His love and along with the Spirit, they create a home there.

So in my messy, fickle, broken heart …. God comes to live. I can’t just seat Him in the living room and serve Him tea. He peeks into every dusty corner, looks under all the unmade beds, opens closets and drawers to see what I think I am hiding. Then with loving care He throws open the windows, washes the dirt of the years away and creates a home filled with His refreshing Spirit. He is not just a house guest, He is the One whose love has transformed this frail human house into a home, a place of rest and refuge.

Someday when my spirit leaves its earthly house, I know where it will find home. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1-2)  I will be at home with Christ, in my Father’s heart forever.