Friday, May 28, 2010


"We live by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV

Provincial:  adj.  Of or relating to a province; limited in perspective. 

The hardwoods in my home are being refinished.  My choice of stain color is called provincial.  It is a medium shade and the sample looks so right when placed by the fresh, neutral walls and white trim.  Imagining the contrast of the walls and floors and focusing on the look, feel, and smell of new is now turning impatience to anticipation.  I hope provincial and all preceding choices will bring out the best in our home.

When all the work in our home is complete, our little 1941 cottage will be quite a different kind of comfort than it was before the fire, which was last November.  You may read about it here.

What was once a quaint, crowded, space full of vintage finds will be a cheery home of light and life.  Soft colors of beige, cream, yellow, ivory, and white now grace the walls.  Happy hues are a turn from the bright gold, rose, and deep taupe we had before.  I chose light colors because my heart cried for anything that would lighten our life and lend oxygen for a new beginning. 

The shock of the sudden, involuntary transition the fire caused for Jeff and me still bears on our souls as the final, remaining reparations come to a close and we look toward returning home.  In the midst of it all, we are and have been in awe of God's faithful handiwork and peaceful presence.  God is amazing in his detailed weaving of our life threads.  What began seven months ago as shock is growing into surrender.  Seven months of struggle becomes weary.  Seven months of stress-survival tells truth.  Seven months of waiting sizes up a lifetime of seeing.  Seven months of seized self moves once thought needs to the only desired compartment of the soul. 

In biblical terms, scholars often say that seven is God's number of completion.  "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work" (Genesis 2:2, NIV).  "And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6, NIV).  Seven, in God's terms, can represent perfection.  The complete work of Adonai, God, who is flawless authority.

By any measure, as a Christian, I am not flawless.  If I told you I felt like refined silver, I would be lying.  In truth, I will not be perfected until my journey on this fallen sod we share is over.  I can rest in that fact, however, knowing God will continue his work of grace in every place he leads.  He has planned this earthly journey for me, and he owns its map and my provision.

During this short, seven-month season of my journey, God has provided moments of solitude.  Time is a gift.  And time alone, when tied in small sprigs, is like delicate baby's breath.  Fragile, elegant, and gracious.

These small sprigs of solitude were only the outer wrapping of God's gift.  The real blessedness of this seven-month season has been an awareness of God's presence and his peace that passes understanding. 

As we draw closer to closure of shock and aftershocks, God's mark on this unstable season becomes clearer and clearer.  His holy hand has left its imprint on the whole landscape.  And seeing his seal in the picture reminds me of my limited and God's unlimited.  The two are incomparable.  I, Andrea, very human, frail, full of questions, and short on vision versus God Almighty, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, complete in love and vision, infallible Savior.

Yet, I wrestle. . .

trying to find answers, to grasp rest, to see light on a dark path, to know how, to explain pain, to envision the finished work of grace and bear the rebuilding of our lives.

My own struggling has caused me to search the book of Genesis with wonder about Jacob and how he felt as he sent his family and all his possessions across the Jabbok River, while he stayed the night alone in darkness and wrestled with God until daybreak.   

"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man" (Genesis 32: 24-25).

Jacob, the man who always took the initiative, who always made a way for himself, who always felt strong, who always created solutions, was, in his lonely, empty place of struggle, made helpless by God.  God dislocated Jacob's hip joint, which was the very strength of Jacob's ability to wrestle.  Jacob was then forced to face his human futility.  As he limped away, however, he was not dismayed.  Why?  He was blessed and had a new name for his new life that awaited him when he returned to his homeland.  Jacob had been  touched by God.  Eternally challenged and eternally changed. 

"Then the man said, 'Let me go, for it is daybreak.'  But Jacob replied, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'  The man asked him, 'What is your name?'  'Jacob,' he answered.  Then the man said, 'Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome' (Genesis 32:26-28, NIV).    

"You have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."

"You have struggled" and you "have overcome."

"Yes!" God says to all who wrestle til daybreak for blessing, "You have overcome." 

Struggling means I am human.  Wrestling means I intend to conquer.  Wrestling til daybreak means fighting for a forever-changed moment.  It is holding on for a dawn of hope.  It is hanging in there for an appearance of light, and it is denying fatigue and accepting brokenness.  Wrestling til soft light is seen at a distant space means I have, in that night, overcome self.  Overcoming self means Jesus reigns greater in me now than he did in a time past.

I have a very long path of daybreaks behind me, and a very long path of perfecting processes ahead of me.   I will leave these seven months changed and a little more surrendered.  I hope to leave the provincial vision of my pre-fire life and reach to embrace new vision as we return to our home.

As future testing seasons approach, I, hopefully, will not see them with dim, limited, provincial vision.  I pray to see them with God's unlimited vision.  Yes, my eyes can see what he visions when I submit absolutely to God's creative voice and will.

I am merely human and within my own power, so limited.   We, who all originated from dusty earth, who depend on God Almighty to hold our world together, who trust his word for the air we breathe, can share the vision of our Creator!  Through Christ, we can have faith-vision, and faith-vision is what overcomes the world.   "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith" (1John 5:4, NASB). 

Friend, we may have no answers.  No details.  No professional title.  No human help.  Little worldly stuff.  

But, . . .  we can have the eyes of Jesus. 

His seeing is not provincial.  His perspective is complete.  His focus is flawless.  His eyes are pure. 

Just lean back in his arms and rest your weary head and allow Christ's victory to strengthen you and be your strength.  You will soon find faith vision, and all sight will be new.

Praying you this day,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

God's Stones

When I was a child, we had a bucket of rocks on our fireplace hearth.  They were the weights that held up my mother's artificial green tree and kept it from toppling.  The bucket of beauties came from rivers in the Smoky Mountains, where we sometimes vacationed.  The stones' surfaces often caused me to run my small fingers over their outer character.  I well remember feeling their somewhat sandy texture.   

My interest in my mother's stones inspired backyard rock-hunting.  My family was blessed with a lot filled with Georgia red clay that was carpeted in Bermuda grass, and filled with tall, Longleaf pines, Dogwoods, Maples, and Oaks.  The shaded, hilly land provided many hours for jumping in piles of pine straw and digging for rocks.  I loved finding God's stones.  Their various textures, colors, and weights of  captured my childlike curiosity. 

My favorite find was white marble.  (I did not then know its name.)  Determined, I would dig until I noticed it's white glitter peering up at me through the fiery soil.  I would pry it from the earth with my stick-shovel and caress it with curiosity.  It looked so beautiful and made me think of purity and diamonds.  My eight year old lips proclaimed it "crystal," and I loved holding it and watching it sparkle.  Every time I found a "crystal" rock, I washed the red clay from it and saved it, thinking it really was something special.

My eight year old imagination did not comprehend how close to truth I was.  I recently learned white marble forms when very pure limestone rock is buried deeply and exposed to high heat and great pressure.  I now understand what I could not get then:  anything that goes through a lot of heat and pressure is special because of the deep, undisturbed process used in its formation.  "Crystal" is a marvel because of its forming.  It is also a marvel because it begins in a very pure state of limestone.

It is pure in its beginning, yet, incomplete.  It is formed through specific circumstances that change its nature. 

Purifying.  Burying.  Working.  Changing.  Forming.  Becoming.  Being. 

White marble and God's unlimited capacity for analogies provide our limited understanding with more than a lesson in geology.  The way of white stone is a study in soul truth.

God's loving heart works purity in our lives, and He chooses to place our sanctified souls in the fire and vice of testing.  The Father's omniscient eyes anticipate the coming crystal result that will sparkle with divine, diamond-like specks.  Snips and shards of Christ's character that combine to create God's special stones.  His keepsakes.  Worthy of washing and holding and loving and marvelling.  Stones of life.  God's treasured collection.  His own.

With this truth planted in my own soul's soil, I today cling to Jesus Christ, the Rock of my salvation.  And I long to learn of His character and search and dig for more of His truth. 

In the process of seeking and digging, however, I often become frustrated.  Time limitations, daily duties, and physical hindrances get in my way.  My "arms" tire.  My will grows weary.  It feels that I have little of me left to unearth the treasures I crave.  I wish for instant success in my search.  I want to see more now.  Know more now.  Love more now.  Be more now.

But the understanding character of Father God has patience with my way and likewise speaks stillness to my restless heart.  As I grow weary with the process, He says, "Be still, Andrea.  Know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

Be still.  Like white marble.  Unmoved in waiting.  Unshaken in surrounding storms.  Yet, changeable with God-designed elements that will one day make me glitter in the sun. 

While waiting for the glittering reflection of Jesus, I pray for abandoned surrender, and sometimes I must search for it just as I search for Christ's reflection.  I not only need surrender to the final formation, but also surrender to the process that will get me there. 

And prayer, with whole heart, will keep me in His earth, planted in the place He has destined for design, so that I will get there and find Jesus' reflection.  

We can all find rest in His destined place.  We find that rest when we relax and let the process of Christ's forming work within us.

It sounds so simple.  Not!

When I was in labor with my sons, I well remember the words of the nurses.  They would gather close to me and strongly encourage.  "Don't fight the pains, Andrea."  I struggled with their counsel.  It was hard to let go.  My own nature wanted to fight against the intensity I felt in my body. 

As well, my carnal nature fights against the intensity of God's process, but as I stand on Philippians 4:13, I am able to do what is unnatural.  "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."

We are all in a formation process.  And prayer is one important element that guides our transformation.  Friend, would you join me in prayer?  Would you mind if I approached the throne of grace for you today?  This very moment, as I write these words, I sense our Father's enormous love for you.  You, one very special stone, who are His child.

Dear Father God, I seek you with a heart of praise for your processes.  It is your love, Oh, Lord, that buries us in the hot, dry, weighty places.  It is your eyes of love, Oh, Lord, that comprehend the glittering reflection of your Son that is and will be in each of us. 

 I pray for my friends.  Each one is a choice offering.  Each life is so individual.  Each need is so particular.

Yet, you know, Oh, Lord.  Yes, you know each one.

I ask You to fill your beloved with peace, with grace, with comfort, with trust, with faith, with joy.  Jesus, let us experience the power of Your holy presence that lifts us from our ache to our knees and to our feet.  May we all be overwhelmed with the realness of Who You are and the power of divine love that we have yet to know fully. 

 I ask You, Jesus, Who suffered for our liberty and healing, to strengthen, edify, and encourage each one who was destined to read here today.  Yes, Lord, You have set your love on her or him.  You care so much more than we can now know.  You care about things that seem small and things that are great, and nothing is too hard for You.  

Lord, You are good.  Your mercies do not fail.  They are new to us each day.  And we thank you for them, for Your merciful nature gives us hope in every circumstance.  Your grace, Father, gives us patience with the process, and please let it be so in all our lives.  

In the name that is above every other name and with faith in His name,


Thank you for the honor of praying for you, and thank you for being here with me and for me.  You are precious in the sight of God. 

Shining Together with You as His Living Stones,

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