Month: February 2015

More Colors in Heaven?

More Colors

One stray, random thought…that’s all it was.

But I couldn’t shake it.

“I hope there is a new primary color in heaven. There’s only three, right? How many new colors would there be if there was just one new primary color?”

Just random lunch conversation. We all laughed, but now the idea was there.

I thought about it all day. What would it be called? That new primary color. What would it look like? (My brain started to spin – how can you imagine something you’ve never seen or even heard of before?)

I tried to dismiss the idea…but…we’re talking about God here. Who says He doesn’t have some more unimaginable colors in heaven? God, the Creator, created the heavens and the earth and everything in and on them and then quit creating? Does an artist stop creating? Does an artist run out of ideas? Especially this Artist?

So just let your mind run crazy for a minute…

  • A new primary color and all of the colors that can be created from it
  • Musical notes we’ve never heard before, and all of the new melodies and harmonies that can be created from them
  • New words – more beautiful and more eloquent than our ears have ever heard
  • Foods we cannot name with flavors no food critic can identify or describe
  • Land masses unlike our mountains and valleys, and more awe-inspiring than the most exquisite landscape we’ve ever seen
  • Plants and animals that defy our attempts to classify them
  • Dimensions completely beyond our comprehension

And would there be new innovations every day? Would God keep amazing us with His creations every day?

Crazy? Unbelievable?

Hmmm, perhaps…and I have no evidence that such things will be.

But…is it only crazy and unbelievable when we try to limit God to what we can see and touch and feel and understand?

The longer I live, the more I see that God is bigger than I thought yesterday. He is more powerful than I thought He was last week. He is more loving than I thought He was last month. He is more merciful and forgiving than I thought He was last year. He is just more of everything than I thought He was when I first knew Him.

I’m not ready to say that God isn’t creating new artworks every day.

Instead, a little smile comes to my face as I think about that new primary color.

Just imagine…

How many new colors would that make?

 

Abundant Life or A Life of Abundance?

abundant life
Who doesn’t want to have an abundant life?

Why even ask a silly question like that?

Why? Because it seems that Christians today, myself included, would chose a life of abundance over an abundant life.

Are you rolling your eyes yet? Wondering why I am differentiating between abundant life and a life of abundance? Up until a couple of weeks ago I wouldn’t even have thought about the difference.

Last month I heard Brodie Swanson, a pastor from Wisconsin, teach that if we pursue Jesus we are blessed with an abundant life, but if we pursue abundance our lives will be filled with division, distraction, discouragement, and dysfunction.

In John 10, Jesus compares himself to a shepherd. His flock know him and follow only him. He also compares himself to the door by which the sheep go in and out to find pasture. He says:

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:9-11

So following Jesus is the way to abundant life…but what is abundant life? Isn’t it having all our needs met? Like food and housing and clothing and health and transportation and family and friends and education and employment and respect and position and…and…and…

Of course, I’m being facetious, but surely abundance is at least having our basic needs met, right?

I’m not sure about that.

I just finished reading a biography of the famous missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor. Throughout his missionary life, he pursued Christ, desiring to do his will and to make his Name known throughout China.

Very often the promised financial backing for his work would be delayed or would never arrive. He knew what it was to be lonely in a foreign land. He suffered many serious illnesses. He experienced the stress of providing for and protecting his family in a less than friendly environment. He grieved through the loss of his wife, remarried and then lost his second wife as well. He experienced opposition from the Chinese, from people at home and from fellow missionaries. He traveled thousands of miles in the worst of circumstances and in all kinds of danger.

I think you get the idea. His was not what most of us would think of as an abundant life. Or are we confusing the two ideas – abundant life vs the life of abundance?

I believe Hudson Taylor had an abundant life, the gift of his Savior. He knew and trusted his God. He knew that he was called to minister to the Chinese. He knew that God would provide everything he needed. He knew that the vast Chinese population needed to hear the good news and he was content to sacrifice what the world calls abundance to follow his Lord wherever he led.

Being satisfied in Jesus. That, I think, is the abundant life.

So…which will you have? Running after Jesus and enjoying the abundant life he offers or running after abundance and all the troubles it brings with it?

Live without Regrets?

From time to time, the front of my refrigerator gets cluttered up with all kinds of things – receipts I think I need to keep, menus, grocery lists, kids’ artwork, and photos. Something in me doesn’t really like a cluttered refrigerator front. (Kinda funny considering the piles of clutter on my desk in our bedroom.) So, I go through refrigerator-front cleaning sprees.

However, there are a few things that I just can’t take away no matter what.

Refrigerator 1Refrigerator 2

I think the stuff on our refrigerator fronts tells a story about us. On my refrigerator is a picture of a 17-year-old Marine poolee. Marines don’t smile, you know.

But on that same refrigerator there is a picture of the same kiddo – probably ten years younger and smiling – photoshopped as a pilot.

A child’s drawing, although at least sixteen years old, hasn’t been on my frig very long. My oldest daughter drew it and gave it to her grandparents’ neighbor years ago. That neighbor recently found it and gave it to us.

The baby picture is my oldest grandchild, Aria, when she was a little squirt – the first smiling picture we have of her.

On the other door of the frig is the first artwork that same baby, now 2 1/2 years old, created at my house one day.

Even the magnets tell a story of my Mary Engelbreit obsession and of home repairs and carpet cleanings and dog vaccinations.

The story of the Deatherage family on a refrigerator. The seasons of our life together.

As I contemplated that refrigerator story I thought that if I had the chance to do it over, I wouldn’t really change anything. I would just try to do a better job – to be a better wife, a better mother, a better friend. To life a life that would leave me with no regrets at the end.

You know…the way people talk about living life in such a way that they have no regrets – nothing left undone. That seems to be what people want.

But…as the thought crossed my mind another thought…a question I should say…followed it.

Is that possible? To live a life without regrets?

Think about it a minute…in wanting to live without regrets are we setting ourselves up for failure?

If you’re not quite following me, let’s replace the word “regrets” with “sins”. Because isn’t that what we are really talking about?

I regret losing my temper and not honoring my husband as I should. I regret inconsistent discipline of my children. I could go on and on, but point is that our regrets are usually sins.

And yes, Christ died to set us from the penalty of sin. The Holy Spirit empowers us to resist temptation. God graciously forgives our sin.

But, in this life it doesn’t stop. Get one sin conquered and another one you never even thought about crops up.

There will always be things that I regret in this life, but I can look at those pictorial representations of my life on my refrigerator and be encouraged.

God – the God who formed the world from nothing with just a few words – can take the bits and pieces of my life, both good and bad, and create something beautiful.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

When…

My Valentine

When I met you that Sunday in May I had no idea that our paths would become one path.

When I said, “Yes, I’ll marry you”, I had no idea how much we would be stretched and how much we would grow together just in the months before the wedding.

When I walked down the aisle and said, “I do”, I had no idea what that really meant. I had no idea of all the good and bad that the years ahead would bring.

When we moved away from family and friends, I had no idea that we would become all in all to each other and the very best of friends.

When the babies came – one and then two and then three and then much later four – I had no idea of the joys and troubles and delights and worries we would share.

When the babies grew up and moved out and started their own lives, I had no idea of the new ways we would share time together and the new interests we would develop together.

When we looked at getting old together…wait! We’re still looking at that and I have no idea what that holds.

But I know that we will do it together just as we have through the last thirty-four years.

Thanks for being My Valentine!

 

Five-Minute-Friday-4

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