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.
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Eagles know how to git ‘er done. They migrate along specific mountain ridges because of thermals, air currents that rise due to warmer air at the base of the mountains. These natural air currents give the birds extra lift, allowing the birds to fly with less effort and making their long distance trips possible. I want to be like that. I want to allow myself the freedom to rest in the presence of the Lord (wait on Him) so that this race I am running is made easier. I want to be caught up in the flow that is God instead of fighting gravity on my own in the lowlands. It’s beautiful and amazing that He offers us this.
John 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”
“Should not abide in darkness”. What a beautiful promise. Whatever else is going on around me, I have a fully notarized invitation to live in the light, where peace and beauty are the rule and not the exception. I have been given the dignity of getting to choose whether to stumble through the darkness and chaos of the world or to put my faith in Jesus and walk in his light. Today, I choose his light. I’m so grateful it’s really that simple!
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.