So Simple…a Knock

Wood crackled and hissed as the fireplace radiated its soothing warmth throughout the living room inviting toes, once frozen, to bath in the toasty warmth only a hearth fire can bring. Earl Grey set steeping on the side table as I sat mesmerized, gazing into the fire lazily relaxing from a morning jaunt outside, ignoring the book that lay on the sofa next to me waiting for its opening letting me dive into today’s reading. Sleepily I opened the pages and began to read…when suddenly I was interrupted by a knock at the door. Curious, I made my way to the front hall wondering who might be standing at the door of my warm sanctuary.

Our lives can get hectic, moving this way or that, never really stopping or slowing down. Phone calls, text messages and social media have taken the place of interpersonal one on one conversations, so that when we finally do come face to face with someone we fidget with our cell phones dying to crawl back into our digital world. Friendly visits, Potlucks and Game Night have given way to the glow of our devices displaying Facebook, Instagram and online gaming acting as the means that we communicate with our friends and family. All the while we disconnect and throw away lost the art of fellowship.

Take for example the door knock, itself giving way to push buttoned intercoms, security guards and video monitoring. Long before the advent of any of this the proper way to announce yourself at someone’s dwelling was to walk up to the door and knock. It took commitment. It took planning and… it took…. but a second. One second to let the party behind the door know that you were waiting for them to acknowledge your presence and open their lives to yours and you too theirs. It all began with one simple gesture…a knock on a piece of wood.

Conversely, for the person inside all they had to do was open the door and receive whatever awaited them. Be it good news or bad they also had a choice to make, either open the door or ignore its beckoned call. Sometimes theirs was the harder choice, as with our sleepy friend in the opening paragraph, we also must stop what we are doing and receive those waiting for the door to be answered and this is the part of fellowship that our phones, computers and video screens can’t provide. In our quest to be immersed in the world and striving to not miss anything, we lose the possible surprises or disappointments that may be on the other side of the door depriving ourselves of what we really need…interpersonal relationship one with another.

I remember a game that several of my friends had put together one summer evening, where we would divide into teams and starting at one person’s home eat finger foods and share a few stories from our day. At the appointed time, we would all pile into a couple of vehicles and make our way to another friend’s home for a sit-down meal, all the while competing in teams to answer questions about some random subject all culminating at a dessert filled living room of yet another compatriot that relished in our company. Throughout the entire evening everyone got to share in the lives of folks that otherwise might not have been shared without that game. It took planning, commitment and a willingness to be vulnerable. It was the best!

As I write this, Christmas Season is upon us. Our days are filled with anticipation for Christmas Day festivities that will hopefully include spending quality time with long forgotten family and friends, attending Worship Services and spend some time disconnected from the electronic tether that controls our lives. The Bible’s Book of Revelation, Chapter 3, verse 20 states, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with Me.” Now is the time to not only open our lives to our friends but also to the God that created us all. For He is the One knocking at the door of our hearts beckoning us to Him and drawing us to understand His Son Jesus’ sacrifice so that we can once again have fellowship with Him.

So Simple that I almost Missed it

OWPSunriseSat

I remember this particular morning. I had awoken early, well before dawn, with the hope of capturing some great images at the local wetlands. A ritual that I look forward to most of the week. Getting away from my daily grind like this usually lets me wash away the “grit” that I accumulate over the span of previous week. However, this morning was not what I expected.

It started out very cloudy, a heavy rain had happened the night before and the outlook for this morning called for more of the same. As I drove to my destination I thought to myself that I should have stayed in bed believing that I would not capture anything on this dreary morning. Yet I pushed on as small droplets of rain splashed on my windshield confirming at least for the moment that my warm cozy bed offered more relief than some wet sticky patch of dirt I was about to step into.

When I finally arrived at the shoot location the earlier rains had subsided. I unpacked my gear and headed into the Wetlands to look for a suitable spot to set up. It was a subtle quiet as I approached the water’s edge where I wanted to capture the Sunrise but instead of seeing clear skies on the horizon I saw nothing but low hanging clouds. Undaunted, I pressed on although I have to confess that I did hold some thoughts of heading to a different locale, one that I thought might be better and one that had clearer skies. What happened next can only be described as “completely taking me by surprise”.

The clouds started to display a hint of color usually associated with that time of day; gray gave way to red then orange which manifested the sky into a soft pastel yellow as the Sun made its journey over the horizon. Clouds that once hung low seemed to unfold allowing the full glory of the Sun to break through and display its brilliance. All of Creation woke with a shout as the Sun passed through the clear opening, paused and continued back into the expanse once again being swallowed up by the approaching storm. But for a few minutes, within a click of time, the amazing images I was allowed to capture were truly wonderful. It was as if God said, “…wait…wait a sec, let Me show you this”.

Reflecting on that morning I realize that sometimes we miss the best opportunity or ignore simple truths because we think that something better might get us to another presumed destination that we want more. We take the absolute truth and exchange it for a lie and more often than not pay a higher penalty for that decision. Had I chosen to move on to a different location I would have missed one of the most spectacular Sunrise’s I ever saw. There have been other times in my life that I thought I needed to do something else to reach a desired outcome only realizing that in the end if I just listened for God who was saying “Wait, Wait”, His Words would lead me in the right direction.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2, the Apostle Paul writes, as inspired by the Holy Spirit  that, you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” I realized that there was nothing I could do to earn salvation, I couldn’t pray harder, give bigger offerings, work harder or do any kind of man made work that would win me the golden ticket. It had all been done on the Cross of Christ and nothing else was required. God says it right here in the Ephesians that it is a FREE GIFT and that not of yourselves. I simply needed to Believe that His righteousness alone made the way possible for me to spend eternity with Him. WOW! When I realized that simple truth all I could do was weep and thank Him for His Grace.

Perhaps you have been trying to earn your way to Heaven but seem never to come any closer. Simply put…you can’t! How can sinful man even begin to think that he has any righteousness at all to stand before a Holy God. God’s provision for our sin and the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. Apart from Him there is no other way. Believe  on Him and you shall be saved. Sometimes, the simplest truth is the one that most often is ignored or passed over; like the temptation to leave my photo shoot in favor for another place. I am glad I did not give in to my wayward idea, else I would have missed Gods Gift to me.

 

When the time comes to just sit down.

It is interesting how God gets your attention. Over the last several weeks things have not gone the way I have expected. I lost the promotion that I have been expecting and this week I am really sick. No voice, sneezing and coughing and just plain yuk! I haven’t spent much time making pictures either. Yup, just plain yuk! It seems that I am stuck on the running wheel with no hope of getting off. My focus has been been so much on my troubles that I have taken it off of God and I am living with a “woe is me” attitude which I know is not a good state of mind.

This morning I was sitting outside hoping to take in some fresh in an effort to shake this cold when I had some time to reflect on all that has happened. First things first, it must be said that God is Sovereign and He has planned out all of my steps. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that where I am is exactly where God wants me to be. Now, that doesn’t mean that we are to sit around like puppets waiting for the puppeteer to bring us to life, we have determinative free will that causes us to plan our way but ultimately it is God that guides and directs us. (Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.) Even when things are going right I tend to forget this truth.

I guess for now wisdom would dictate that I relax and let this illness take it course and relish in the down time trusting in the realization that God is telling me that I need a break.