Spider webs in the sunlight at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Real is what you can’t see

You can’t see them very well, but the ground beneath the cedar trees in this photograph is layered with spider webs. I couldn’t get the light right to show how many there were, but you can see a few of them. But the only way to see them at all is with the sunlight. Without the sun setting behind them, I wouldn’t have noticed the light reflecting off the webs at all.

So if I didn’t see them, would that make them unreal? If I said that, you’d tell me I’m nuts. The spider webs in this photograph are real whether I can see them or not. So if that’s true with spider webs, why can’t people believe the same thing about following Christ?

Spider webs in the sunlight at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Spider webs in the sunlight at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 4:18.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

I don’t know why the human mind has trouble accepting the truth of something it can’t see. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t make it unreal, but for some reasons our brains aren’t wired that way. We have to experience it to understand it. It’s the whole “see it to believe it” mentality, and it’s prevalent in our world today (for everything except evolution, but that’s a different topic altogether).

Since when did people’s experiences dictate truth? I’ve never been to Japan, but I know Japan exists. I know people who’ve visited. I’ve read stories about it. I’ve seen it on a map and in photographs. But since I’ve never experienced it for myself, I could take the position that Japan isn’t real. Now, you’d tell me I’m crazy, because everyone knows Japan is real. And that’s the truth, whether I believe it’s true or not.

The way the world tells us to think is so backwards from what the Bible says. Every day the world tells us to believe our eyes, but that’s not how a Christ-follower is supposed to live. Actually, it’s the exact opposite.  The world would have us believe that real is physical, that it’s the things and people you can touch and see. But that’s a lie.

The things we see, the parts of life we can touch and feel, are temporary. Our bodies. Our possessions. None of it will last forever, and when you die, you can’t take any of it with you.  All of it will end.

Real is what you can’t see. The human soul. Love. The intangibles of following Christ are the things that you’ll never lose, even in eternity.

So how is that encouraging? Well, I can tell you that one thing I see a lot of is trouble. Financial trouble. Health trouble. Political trouble. And because all of those things are front and center in my vision, it’s easy to think that they’re real problems. But if real is what I can’t see, all of that is just a passing inconvenience. Why waste time focusing on any of it?

Real is what you can’t see. It’s people, not their bodies, their souls. It’s relationships. It’s families and friendships. Don’t focus on the temporary things that are just passing through; focus on the real, eternal parts of life.

You can’t see them normally. You have to look for them using the Bible as a filter. The Bible reveals life and living in a whole new light, sort of like the perfect angle of a sunset can reveal a patch of ground layered in invisible spider webs.

Just because you can see it doesn’t make it real. The trouble you’re going through right now is temporary, so don’t waste time thinking about it. Focus instead on what will last forever. Your relationship with Christ. Your friends and family. Love.  Your troubles won’t go away, but they will get easier to handle because your perspective will change.

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One dove ornament from a matched set hanging on my tree, Haven, KS

The best gift you’ve ever received

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received? Do you remember it? A friend asked me that this weekend, and the answer popped into my head almost immediately. It would have been Christmas of 1992 or 1993, and I remember coming down the stairs to see a beautiful wooden dollhouse, made by my grandparents. It was the coolest thing I ever got, one of those gifts that just means so much because of all the work and care that went into it. I still have it, and someday, if I’m fortunate enough to have a daughter of my own, I’d love to pass it on.

But sometimes the best gifts we’re given aren’t physical. They aren’t the gifts you find under the tree. They aren’t in the boxes you unwrap. They aren’t stuffed at the bottom of a stocking. And I guess if you want to be literal about it, what made that dollhouse so special to me (both then and now) isn’t the fact that it was a dollhouse; it was that my grandparents took the time and effort to make something so beautiful for me.

I honestly think the most amazing gifts we’ve can receive are intangible.

One dove ornament from a matched set hanging on my tree, Haven, KS

One dove ornament from a matched set hanging on my tree, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 4:18.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

I know I’ve posted about this verse before, but it struck me today as I was sitting to write this post that the best gifts I’ve been given in my life are the irreplaceable moments with the people I love. Those moments aren’t tangible. They’re not something I can reach out and touch. I can’t grab it and put it in a box and wrap it up to give to someone else.

But just because I can’t touch it or see it necessarily doesn’t mean it’s not real. On the contrary, it’s more real than the presents currently under my tree.

I try to be thankful for those moments. I try to appreciate them. But I don’t think I can do a good enough job of it.

This weekend my best friend who’s been in England since January came out to my place with her sister. We ended up getting snowed in for a bit longer than we planned, but that was okay. We just made more hot tea and watched more movies and talked more. And I couldn’t help but be absolutely astonished how nothing had changed. A year of separation ocean and it felt like we had just been in the same room a few days ago, like no time had passed at all.

That kind of friendship is priceless. That kind of relationship where someone knows you so well that you don’t have to explain what your heart is feeling–that’s beyond amazing. That’s a gift.

I have been so fortunate in my life to have so many people who I love so dearly, people who have changed me, people who have helped me keep my head on straight, people who’ve pointed me in the right direction over and over again. Parents and friends and teachers and pastors. And no thing wrapped up in a bow with pretty paper could ever mean more to me than a moment with any of them.

Christmas is almost here. People are going to be gathering together soon to spend time as a family or as a group of friends. And believe me, I know the stress of the holidays can be overwhelming, but let me encourage you to take a moment–just a moment–and be thankful for the people in your life. Think what your life would look like without them. Think who you would be without them. And do yourself a favor? Tell them.

Outside of our salvation through Christ, I don’t think there’s any greater gift in our lives than time with the people we love. Make the most of it this Christmas. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the gift your loved ones this year.