Dream Like a Child

“That big, big shadow in my dreams… Why can’t I find it when I’m awake?” “Why do I call it the Keeper?” “How come other children dream of the keeper too?” And “Why don’t grownups dream of the Keeper?”

These questions, asked by the young heroine in Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia’s Colors, won’t stop turning in my mind. No, I’ve never dreamed of a creature called “the Keeper”, but I wonder why it’s so much easier for a child to believe in the unbelievable.

“How can I see something in my sleep I’ve never seen awake?” Auralia questions. “And how come others have seen it there too?”

That’s where children live – somewhere in the dream world, even as they walk along the shores of reality. We “grownups” laugh at their antics as if they are the foolish ones, but I’m willing to bet that children are often closer to the heart of God than even the most spiritual adults.

The fairytales and magical lands we dreamed of as children aren’t foolishness as we’ve come to believe; they are a wonderous picture of a greater reality that we have ceased to believe in. Yet there are other worlds out there. If you claim to believe in the Bible, you can’t deny the existence of angels and demons and heavenly cities. This is the realm of which children dream.

It’s time we return to the dream world and allow our hearts to be captivated by the impossible. Sometimes, when we let down our guards, we get a little glimpse of Neverland. Sometimes we dream of “the Keeper”. And if the only place I’ll ever see Him is in my sleep, I’ll be content to remain in the dream world forever. Because that’s where He beckons me with words all too similar to the ones Tinkerbell spoke to Peter Pan in Hook:

“You know that place between asleep and awake? The place you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you… That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

No Greater Words

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.” -Matthew 18:50-52

Sometimes I’m at a loss to say what I want to say. There are no greater words than the words God gave to man that we may know Him. And there are no greater words that I could say in celebration of Easter than the magic of what happened in the moment Jesus surrendered His life.

The temple curtain tore in two, the earth shook, the rocks split, those who were once dead walked the streets of Jerusalem…

I am filled with awe and wonder. I’m rendered speechless at the power of my God. Creation trembled at the death of its Maker, and shook with joy at His resurrection.

Celebrate. Jesus is alive. And my words will never be great enough to convey the wonder of the miracle of Easter.

What Held the Angels Back?

What held the angels back?

What kept them from Your side?

How  could they bear to stand

And just watch as You died?

Tell me how did they stay in their place

As they watched the tears stream down Your face?

What held the angels back?

Or did they watch as You cried?

What held the angels back

As their Jesus bled and died?

Did the Father hold them with one arm

As the other covered His face?

Did they fight against His authority

As they watched Your show of grace?

It’s something I’ve been pondering

That runs deeper than my imaginings.

I’m wondering, what will Your answer be?

Please tell me what held the angels back

As my Savior died for me?

God is Weak?

“God is weak. And for this reason I love Him.”

I stared at my friend. Blinked a couple of times. Maybe his English was failing him because I had certainly never thought of God as being weak. “What exactly do you mean?” I pressed.

With a little further explanation I came to realize that he meant exactly what he said. God is weak. He is weak because His love makes Him vulnerable.  He is weak because His creation is capable of breaking His heart. And for this reason I love Him.

I’d never really considered it a weakness, but I’m familiar with the depths of God’s sacrificial love. I know that nothing else would compel Him to endure the cross for me. And I know it didn’t stop at the cross.

God cares so deeply about every little detail of my life that He grieves when I grieve. When Lazarus died and the family was in mourning, what did Jesus do? He wept. He cried right along with those who were hurting. And I’m fully convinced that He was hurting too.

I grew up knowing that Jesus loves me – that He catches every fallen tear and knows the number of hairs on my head. I was raised with a God who loves. The god my friend once served was quite different. It was because of his experience with a god who lords his power over his creation that my friend found himself attracted to God’s vulnerability. This is why he could look me in the eye and say, “God is weak. And for this reason I love Him.”

I serve a God who concerns Himself with sparrows just so He can say that I’m worth much more than them. I serve a God who loves with such fierce passion that He is moved to tears. I serve a God who would give His life as a ransom for many, even knowing that the majority would reject Him in the end. For this reason, He may be considered weak; but it is for this reason I love Him.

I DO Believe in Fairies

Did you know that every time you say, “I don’t believe in fairies”, a fairy falls down dead?

Well, I don’t know if you believe in fairies or not, but I think this is an interesting thought to ponder. Of all things that could possibly sap a fairy of its strength, why is it disbelief?

I don’t think fairies are the only ones whose existence thrives on belief. I think we humans are similar. So maybe we don’t physically die, but sometimes our dreams do.

When I was in high school, a friend of my father’s used to come up to me, take my face between his hands, kiss me on the forehead (he’s one of the precious few people who can get away with doing that), and tell me, “I believe in you.” At the time, I thought it was a strange thing for him to say. Exactly what was he referring to when he said he believed in me? Silly me was looking for specifics; my friend was saying precisely what he meant.

Me. He believed in me. He believed in the infinite possibilities God had placed within my heart. He believed in anything and everything I was capable of doing. Even the things I had yet to discover.

It’s amazing how much of our potential begins or ends in our minds. If we tell ourselves we can’t, we can’t. If we’re convinced that we will fail, we fail. Sometimes all it takes is that one person looking you in the eye and saying, “I believe in you.”

I have a cousin who is six years old. She can’t walk, can’t talk, and has no diagnosis and, therefore, no known cure. But I know that Leah thrives on belief. My aunt tells me stories of how Leah shuts down around certain people. Basic functions are difficult for her to perform, so if you don’t believe she’s capable of doing them, she won’t waste her energy trying to impress. But I’ve only heard the stories because I know that Leah is much more capable than she lets on. She comes alive around me because I’m the kind of person who takes her face in my hands, kisses her on the forehead, looks deep into her eyes, and whispers, “I believe in you.”

If I could see your face right now, I’d tell you the same. I don’t care what anyone else has told you. You are capable of so much more than you ever dreamed you could be. So this is me, clapping my hands, rousing you back to the realm of dreams and possibilities. Wake up, my friend. I believe in you.

A God Who Says “Come”

I was always the kind of babysitter who was right in the middle of all the action. I considered my job to be not just watching the kids, but entertaining them as well. I bounced up and down on the trampoline, dressed in all kinds of get-ups, and danced around to the High School Musical soundtrack (which I probably have memorized by now, though I’ve only seen the actual movie once). I have the same approach with the youth group I now help with. I figure that the best way to encourage group participation is not to say, “go,” but “come.”

Let me tell you, I’m glad I serve the kind of God who says, “Come.” What a comfort it is to know that when God calls me to step out, He is not asking me to go alone; He’s inviting me to join Him on the adventure of a lifetime.

“Rebekah,” He says. “Come to Virginia with Me. Leave behind the home you’ve always known, and embark on this amazing journey alongside Me.” And though I told all my friends I was going to Virginia, I was truly following my Beloved into the great unknown.

It was frightening at first, to leave everything I’d ever known and follow God to this place. It’s always a little unnerving when He first guides me into something new. And if He had called me to “go”, it would perhaps have been impossible; but as I’ve already said, my God calls me to “Come” (which is much easier.)

So I encourage you to not be afraid to accept His outstretched hand. The place to where He calls you is not as frightening as it may seem. Not when the Author of Life stands by your side. The next time you hear Him calling,  don’t hesitate,  and don’t turn away. “My child,” He whispers, “Come.”

Celebrate the Maker

A glimpse of restoration conceived in tiny dreams,

A promise of salvation may not be what it seems.

A prophecy fulfilled, a miracle to be;

A tiny babe was born to save the likes of me.

With an infant cry, the Maker came to earth,

And what was there to be said of this amazing birth?

The angels dance, the heavens sing

To the music of His Glory.

The stars collide, they beam with pride

As they tell the world His Story.

The world stares on so silently

Immortalizing this sacred dream.

Tears stream from the virgin’s eyes.

In heartfelt gratitude she cries…

Celebrating the birth of the Maker.


Miracles are happening – water into wine.

This girl was once deathly ill, but suddenly she’s fine.

He’s here for a purpose; you can see it in His eyes –

So full of love, so knowing, as expansive as the skies.

No one ever spoke with such authority.

The very words that shaped the stars

Caused the blind to see.


The angels glow, the heavens roar

As He sets the plan in motion.

The stars still gleam, and each moonbeam

Is dancing on the ocean.

The world spins in turn with joyful shouts

For the Lord came to walk about.

The people flood to His side.

For a moment they are gratified…

Celebrating the life of the Maker.


A kiss that would betray Him, planted on His face.

So intimate a gesture from one who fell from grace.

A prophecy fulfilled – a Lamb led to the slaughter.

He would die for all mankind, for every son and daughter.

They nailed Him to a wooden tree

Where His wounds would find the lost

And cause the blind to see.


The angels weep, the heavens sob

As the Maker becomes sin.

The stars they hide, as though they’ve died;

The earth trembles from within.

The sun goes out, the sky turns red

As the created declares the Creator dead.

The world is silent once again,

Still and formless as it began…

As it’s mourning the death of the Maker.

For a whole three days the darkness reigns

Then He rose again breaking all my chains,

Because the day that curtain tore in two

He was declaring that nothing could separate Him

From me and you…


So celebrate the birth of the Maker –

The day He came to die.

Celebrate the life of the Maker –

The form of Glory Divine.

Celebrate the death of the Maker –

Who came down from heaven above.

Celebrate for death is not strong

Enough to conquer His love.

Stories

In the words of one of my favorite authors: “I love how irreverent Jesus is in His stories. He compared Himself to a chicken, the coming of God’s Kingdom to a robber breaking into your house, God’s message of hope to an uncorked bottle of wine, and prayer to a nagging neighbor hungry for a sandwich at midnight. According to Jesus, we can learn about God’s Kingdom from eccentric landowners, dishonest managers, idiots who built condos on quicksand, demon-possessed do-gooders, a warm loaf of bread, a field full of weeds, and a little kid tugging at your pants leg asking you to come outside and play. The Kingdom of Heaven unfurled from His lips in story after story after story.”

On that note, let me tell you a story…

Her name was Lily and she was absolutely adorable. I sat, watching her play happily in the nursery. At one point, she leaned into a toy box to get something. As she leaned farther and farther in, it became apparent to me that she was going to crack her head on the table when she stood back up. I jumped to my feet, hoping to slide my hand into a position that would cushion the impact. “Lily, wait. Don’t stand up or you’ll get…”

CRACK!

“Hurt,” I winced, wishing I had moved more quickly. “Owie,” I said, placing my hand on her head. “Lily, honey, are you alright?”

At first I thought she would fall into my arms or maybe run to her mother for comfort. For a moment I even thought that she would brush it off like nothing had even happened. What I wasn’t expecting was the look of betrayal that crossed her face as she glared at me accusingly. One second of looking into those angry blue eyes was enough to tell me that she thought I was the source of her pain. Her nineteen-month-old brain couldn’t comprehend that her pain had been caused by her own mistake.

She screamed and ran to her grandma, and I briefly explained what had happened. At that moment, her father walked up, egging her on. “Aw,” he cooed. “What did that mean girl do to you? Did she hurt you? Rebekah’s so bad. Poor Lily.”

As she buried her face in her father’s shoulder, I stood in the nursery, hoping she would eventually forgive me for the pain I had tried to prevent.

I think it is somewhat humorous (albeit ironic) that we so often ignore God’s voice as He warns us to stop and then we blame Him for our pain. “Why did you let this happen?” we cry as if He had not tried to prevent it. And when we remember His words of warning, we act as though we never heard them as we cry to our friends, “I don’t know why this happened.”

Don’t you? Didn’t you hear His voice as He gently called, “My child, don’t do that. You’ll only get… Hurt.” But we bury ourselves in our pain and leave Him hoping we will turn back into His arms. We’re mad at Him for our own refusal to listen. ”Wait just a moment,” He warned. Had we obeyed, He would have softened the blow. But we didn’t listen. And now it hurts.

But maybe, for once, we should stop trying so hard to blame God and turn into His comforting embrace instead. Maybe it is time to fall into His loving arms and let Him chase away the tears as He whispers, “It is okay now, beloved. I’m here.” Maybe, just maybe, He should be the One we run to rather than the One from which we run. Maybe this time, we should give Him a chance to soothe away the pain we have inflicted upon ourselves.

Don’t run away. Fall into His arms today.

The Pattern of Our Lives

My dad is a carpenter by trade. As I grew up, I spent a considerable amount of time at some of his job sites watching him turn an empty room into a masterpiece. I remember one time he recruited Mom and I to help him with a huge tile job. I walked into a basement to find what was, without a doubt, the most unusual floor covering I had ever seen. There were seven different colors of eighteen-inch square tiles spread across the floor in no particular order. “There’s no pattern,” I observed, somewhat shocked.

That’s when my dad chuckled and informed me that I was staring at the most complex pattern he had ever created. When the owners of the house told him that they didn’t want a pattern, Dad had to carefully create a pattern that would give the appearance of no pattern. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to wrap my mind around that concept. To the untrained eye, that basement appears to be a jumbled mess of color, but in the eyes of the master carpenter, it’s a carefully concocted design. I believe that’s the way God works in our lives.

To be perfectly honest, my life doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t know why I was raised in the woods of Ohio with four siblings. I don’t know why I’m obsessed with names and their meanings, or why I think that life should be a musical. I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to write the thoughts that stir in my heart, and I certainly don’t know how all of those things tie together to make any sense at all. When I look at my life, I often see it like I saw that basement I helped Dad grout. It appears to be so random and sporadic that I can’t imagine there is any sort of pattern there at all. But there is a pattern, though it can only be seen by the Master Carpenter.

Check out these verses referring to God’s carefully concocted pattern for our lives:

“All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.” -Psalm 139:16

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
       before you were born I set you apart;
       I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” -Jeremiah 1:5

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

These verses and others like them are a reminder that my life is an intricate pattern created by the hand of the Master Carpenter. The same hand that set the universe in motion carefully arranged every detail of my life. Though I cannot see the pattern with my untrained eyes, I trust that when the job is completed, the “tiles” of my life will rest in the exact place they were intended to go, and my life will be the masterpiece God purposed to design.

Significance

I just returned from the top of the world. Okay, so it wasn’t the very top. In fact, it wasn’t even close. My brother who lives in the Himalayan Mountains tells me that the Blue Ridge Mountains are “just hills.” If that’s a fact, I don’t think I could handle the view he sees every day, because as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing more breathtaking than the Blue Ridge Mountains in October. I think the words of my friend and coworker summed it up quite perfectly: “How can anyone think there is not a God?”

How can anyone possibly look out over the splendor of creation and think that this world “just happened”? Jesus said that if we failed to praise Him, the rocks would cry out. I think they are already crying out. Those enormous chunks of granite were screaming at me this weekend. Most days, I fail to notice the glory of God’s creation, but looking out over the world from the peak of a mountain, I couldn’t help but find myself struggling for breath. It was truly that amazing. I think I know how David felt when he penned the words,

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

That’s how small I felt. I’m just a tiny piece of a colossal universe. So insignificant. And yet so loved by God. He’s so concerned about my quickly passing life that He counted the number of hairs on my head. And He keeps track of the ones that I shed, and the new ones that keep growing. So insignificant. Yet, oh so important to Him. He sees the leaves that fall from the trees every autumn, and the tiny buds that bloom every spring. He catches shooting stars in the palm of His hand, and breathes the wind into motion. The ocean echoes the beating of His heart as the waves rush in and out, in and out. He controls the big things, and still finds time for the small, seemingly insignificant things like me. That just blows my mind.

I don’t understand it. I won’t try to understand it because I’ll only end up with a splitting headache. In a world of sunshine and mountains, oceans and planets – a world where more than six billion people live and breathe, God still cares about the itty-bitty details concerning my life. What is man that God is mindful of us? I wonder if David ever received an answer to that question.

Once upon a time, God said, “Let us make man in our image.” And that is where our story began. God wrote our story, and He became a part of our story. In a world so big, He is still concerned about us. He is still actively involved in our stories. And when I stand on top of a mountain, looking down at my world, I feel so very small, and yet so very big all at the same time. Because no matter how insignificant my life may seem, God is mindful of me. And that gives my life great significance.