Nehemiah 8:10–Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
How refreshing to think I don’t have to fight to be strong. It’s the joy of the Lord that gives me strength. Of course, being an overachiever, I worked for years to make myself be joyful in the Lord in order to make myself strong. Sigh.
While it is true that being joyful in the Lord, meaning we’re joyful because He has saved us, gives us strength, what if there’s another way of looking at this verse? What if we don’t have to be joyful right now, in this season, in order to be strong? What if we can be strong by resting in the knowledge that even now, when everything seems to be a swirl of angst, bad attitudes, grief and pain, He is joyful? What if what’s happening around me hasn’t totally ruined God’s day? If He is still on the throne, in control, working things out to the best possible end? Maybe that’s where true strength lies. Not in my ability to be strong enough or happy enough. In His joy. In His ability to not be blown about by circumstances, thrown into despair or depression. It doesn’t depend on me; it depends on Him continuing to be, well, Him. He is joyful enough, strong enough, faithful enough. If I can remember that, I can be strong.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.- Philippians 4:8
Beauty is fascinating.
It is everywhere, yet elusive.
In the midst of people behaving badly, where chaos presses in on every side, beauty can be hard to find.
This is part of what drives my artistic decisions.
The need to find peace.
The need for a happy place to dwell.
Today I’m grateful that beauty always exists.
That it is there, waiting. Waiting to be that reminder that God is still in charge and has an amazing plan. It drives me to my camera to find the still small place where beauty exists. Where the promises of God still shine. And in that place, as I encounter who He is, the Great Artist and Creator, I remember who I am.
Corey Russell, a Bible teacher, said this week, “Christ has made you His dwelling place-the question this week is-will you make Him YOUR dwelling place?” I’d like to say yes, but in all honesty, I’m still working on it. It would be easy to say yes because I’ve been a Christian for almost 40 years, but reality is reality. So far my answer can only be “I’m trying.” What a blessing to know that in God’s book, that counts. He doesn’t call us to perfection, but to try. We do our best, and it counts. He doesn’t require of us perfection, even though I tried my hardest to attain it.
Today, as everything I touch seems to implode on impact, I’m glad to know that my weak attempt at faithfulness, because it’s the best I can do right now, is enough.
John 1:5-And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
I made the above image at Longwood Gardens during the Chrysanthemum Festival. It was a beautiful sunny day, which means everything was well lit. (Yay for light!) It’s interesting to realize, though, that what makes this image so stunning is not exactly the light. Without the shadows the light was just there. Everything was flooded with light and therefore nothing stood out. In the presence of shadows, though, certain flowers are highlighted and their beauty is spotlighted.
How like life that is! Sure, we wish for peace and sunshine all the time, but it is in the times of turmoil and darkness that the beauty of God is fully seen. I want to stop looking at the darkness and see the light.
I’m glad God created creativity. That sounds silly, I know, but it’s the truth. I took the above photograph at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. It’s a fountain made with no water. Instead of water? Succulents. As in plants that need very little water. What the heck? Who thinks of this stuff?
Geniuses, that’s who. People who come up with ideas of things that don’t exist and bring them into existence. How cool is that?
Creativity can be useful, as in coming up with a brand new way of doing something that needs to be done. It can also be purely for fun, like inventing a waterless fountain. Either way, creativity is incredibly cool.
For today, this is what I choose…
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:1-4
My favorite thing about this photo is what you can see inside the water drop. If you look closely you can see the daisies that were surrounding the bud as well as the roof of the conservatory where I found this beauty. I think people are like this little drop. What we are surrounded by is what can be seen deep inside us. While we can’t always control the field we’re growing in, we can control what we gather around ourselves. Today I choose to surround myself with beauty and with thoughts of God and his Kingdom. When you peer inside of me, I hope that’s what you see.