Soaring into the Light

Canada Geese Flying at Sunrise

After days of glowering clouds and rain, the sun finally breaks through, beaming on the wet upturned face of a grateful world. I drive to work beside the crescent lake where hundreds of Canada geese find sanctuary before their winter journey south. I love this stretch of road with water, trees and sky offering a new vista each time I pass by, especially when the geese are in residence. Night shadows linger over their sleepy forms floating on the lake this almost winter morning. Then with a flurry of wings on water, an arrow of geese arises, angling sharply skyward. Reaching the treetops, they break through gloom, their dusky forms instantly aglow with golden morning sunlight. Gilded wings flashing rhythmically, graceful necks outstretched, they form a phalanx across the blue-washed sky, and I am smitten.

I remember how that felt for me, flying out of the shadows into light. Set free to soar, breaking loose from a mud-mired existence up into the stratosphere of God’s love. I relive that burst into freedom in the moment by the lake and my heart sings with joy all over. It lingers with me as I go about my work tasks, until I take time to read a passage in a translation of the bible which speaks to my heart.

“Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God. This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator; His speech shaped the entire cosmos. Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him. His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light — a light that thrives in the depths of darkness, blazes through murky bottoms. It cannot and will not be quenched.”
~ John 1:1-5 The Voice

“His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light.” I read this several times with the fresh image in my mind of birds in flight aflame in morning sunglow. God gives me these epiphanous moments as gifts drawing me back to Him. I have been walking in His love for a long time, so He well knows I need an occasional jolt with a glimpse of His glory. The living, breathing light He has imbued in all He has made speaks to me of His light gifted to me the moment I first knew Him as my savior. Not only a lessening of darkness in my spirit but a lightening of the burden of sin He lifted from me.

Is it any wonder Christ is so often described as light? He has made us to respond to light, to thrive on light, to require light as much as we need air. How much brighter His light shines when compared to the darkness of this sin-soaked world. He Himself said, “I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives light and will not know darkness.” ~ John 8:12

With His light I can find my way. He reveals all that I need to see to make it in this life. It could be that the geese took flight this morning because they were in search of food, but I like to think they were soaring into the light because it drew them upward. I too want to continually soar aloft where His living, breathing light cannot be quenched, where His love is the self-perpetuating glow warming all the world.

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Perfection Born

IMG_0317 As a child I remember having a constant sense of anticipation, of longing for something I didn’t even know how to name. In hindsight I now recognize that vague feeling as a desire for perfection. Within my childish heart God stirred the memory of life back in the Garden, when perfection was reality and nothing stood between the Creator and His creation. Of course, I did not know it as that, only as a yearning without words.

I remember moments which seemed on the verge of perfection, only to fall short of realization. Sitting on a cushion of springy moss in a sun-dappled forest, I experienced the piercing epiphany of seeing beauty in a furled sword fern shoot. The symmetrical detail of  the tightly curled fern captivated me, bringing unexpected tears. Those tears surprised me, later becoming a sign for identifying longings not quite realized. I’ve had many ephemeral moments of near-perfection since then, but I’ve discovered only one moment in history which fulfills my longing completely.

When a star shone on a lowly stable …
When a woman cried out in the pains of childbirth …
When a feed trough was prepared for an infant’s bed …
Then perfection was born.

Perfect man, perfect God.
Jesus, God’s son, came at the perfect time in history.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5 KJV)

Born of a woman, veiled in flesh as a man. Born to a virgin, a pure woman. As the angel told her, “So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35b NIV)
God’s son, conceived without sin, because He is sinless.
“But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)

He came to fulfill God’s perfect plan. A plan wrought before time began, because He knew we needed a Savior to redeem us from our sins. And only perfection would do.
“He is, therefore, exactly the kind of High Priest we need; for he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin, undefiled by sinners, and to him has been given the place of honor in heaven. Under the old system, even the high priests were weak and sinful men who could not keep from doing wrong, but later God appointed by his oath his Son who is perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7: 26 & 28 TLB)

He gave Himself, His very life, as the perfect sacrifice, so we could stand clean before God. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”(Hebrews 10:14 NIV) What an amazing provision! We are made perfect because of His perfect sacrifice.

What kind of paradoxical thinking brings perfection into the world in a dusty animal barn, as a helpless infant, with a poor, adolescent mother? God, whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, created this plan and gave it to us as a gift, whether we understand it or not.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  ( James 1:17 NIV)

The perfect gift of Jesus, our Savior, requires acceptance from humans hopelessly flawed. God’s perfect plan is implemented when His Son is acknowledged for who He is and invited to live His life within us.

And so my childhood yearning for perfection at last finds rest, completion, fulfillment in a baby in a manger. In that tiny infant hand, reaching to where He came from, destined for cruel nails, He holds my heart and I am content.

The Sound of His Roar

prairie thunderstorm

Light leaches from the sky, absorbed by dense, roiling clouds heavy with rain. The air holds its breath yet emits a sharp metallic scent, a forerunner of the storm to come. The long, flat horizon of the prairie is suddenly transformed into a vast stage on which sheets of lightning streak and flash. Frozen by brilliant light, trees, fences and farmhouses stand out in brilliant relief on the edge of the world. Then the curtain drops and miles away another silhouetted scene blazes forth.

I count after each lightning flash, waiting for the sound of thunder. At first it is a distant rumble, a growl far off. But as the storm draws closer, agitation in the clouds breaks out in fury close behind each burst of lightning. I feel the power of cosmic sound waves reverberating in my chest; I thrill at the forces unleashed in the heavens.

A scientific explanation of thunder does not capture it for me. “Thunder is caused by the rapid expansion of the air surrounding the path of a lightning bolt.” (Library of Congress) Not nearly dramatic enough to define this amazing phenomenon. I need to dip into my allegorical imagination and describe thunder as the voice of God in nature.

“Listen! Listen to the roar of His voice, to the rumbling that comes from His mouth. He unleashes His lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of His roar; He thunders with His majestic voice. When His voice resounds, He holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding.” – Job 37:2-5  NIV

A thunderstorm brings me up short out of my small, self-absorbed life. Each day I make decisions, perform duties, seek knowledge, seldom looking beyond the next item on the agenda. I live with an air of entitlement, a smug expectation that all will continue as it has been, not often remembering at whose hand the universe holds together. But when my ears ring with primal thunder, I snap to attention.

This is His voice; the voice of my God, the voice of my Creator! I need to be reminded in just such a dramatic way. I need to know in the depths of my soul the answer to all the questions the Lord asks Job in chapters 38 to 40.  “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm?”  And to the myriad of other rhetorical questions the Lord asks Job there is only one answer … El Shaddai, God Almighty.

The reality is, this God of thunder Who moves vast forces of nature at will is also the Lord Who is mighty to save, Who takes great delight in me, Who quiets me with His love, Who rejoices over me with singing. (Zeph. 3:17)

Come, thunder! Come, lightning! Proclaim the power of the Almighty before the whole earth and remind me Whose voice you speak with. I delight in the sound of it.