View from my hotel room window, Chicago, IL

God wants to bless you a lot!

I didn’t plan to post this morning because last night went so late, but I had a thought in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone. So if this is rambling and strange and disjointed, blame it on a late night and no time for coffee yet this morning. =)

View from my hotel room window, Chicago, IL

View from my hotel room window, Chicago, IL

Today’s verses are Ephesians 3:14-20.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

We ate at a pretty swanky restaurant last night. Usually folks just call it Joe’s, but its full name is something like Joe’s Seafood, Steak and Stone Crabs. It was nice. When your servers all wear fancy suits with bow ties and take fifteen minutes describing the menu, you can usually tell it’s a pretty upscale kind of place.  What they did that was different from other swanky places was that when you ordered crab legs, they actually brought them out, showed them to you, and then they broke the meat out for you. So all you ended up with at the end was a big plate of truly delicious crab.

And that was followed by another round of crab claws. And that was followed by blackened Madagascar shrimp the size of my hand. Followed by wedge salads the size of my head, covered in egg and bacon and onion and avocado and tomato. Followed by entrees that ranged from bone-in filet mignon to seafood. I ordered sole, mainly because I was curious about it. But the waiter put the wrong order in, and I ended up with parmesan coated halibut instead. So he gave me the halibut AND brought me the sole too. And then he brought out two slices of key lime pie. And everyone ordered a round of coffee and cappuccino.

So. Much. Food. I couldn’t eat it all. And it just kept coming.

The really ironic thing about my meal last night is that the wrong parmesan halibut was actually better than the mushroom sole I ordered. It was so cool because I didn’t expect any of it. I knew we were going to a nice restaurant. I’ve been to nice restaurants before. Usually they’re very stuffy and proper, and while the waiters are normally pretty gregarious they don’t go beyond what’s needed to make a good impression. This place was amazing. And it didn’t hit me until I got back to my room at Midnight (ugh) that God wants to treat us that way too.

I think we have this idea of God as a benevolent genie in the sky, sometimes. He’s there to grant our wishes, and when we hit that third wish, we can’t ask for anything else. Or we don’t want to bother Him with our petty little problems. Or we don’t want to always be asking for stuff because when the day comes that we really want or need something from Him, He’ll remember that we’re low maintenance and grant us our request by default because we haven’t asked for anything else.

Is that really how God is? I don’t think so. Check the verse again. God has unlimited resources. And He is able to accomplish more through us than we can even imagine. Does that sound like a God who will stop at three “wishes” granted?

God wants to knock us off our feet with His love and goodness. He wants to bless our socks off. He wants to give us so many blessings that we can’t carry all of them.

And I’m not saying that God hasn’t already blessed us. absolutely not! We’re the most blessed people in the world. If you woke up this morning, you’re blessed. If you have family that loves you, you’re blessed. If you have a car to drive and a job to work and food to eat, you’re blessed. But while I’m thankful for those blessings, God doesn’t want to stop there. He wants to give us more. He wants to bless us exceedingly above what we can imagine.

We just have to let Him. And sometimes blessings don’t come the way you think they will, but they come. Sometimes they’re not easy to accept, but if you accept them, you’ll find yourself way better off than you ever thought you could be. And the beautiful thing about God’s blessings is that they keep coming and coming and coming, even though you’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve any of them. If you show yourself faithful with what you have now, God will bless you with more.

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Bust of Pericles in the British Museum, London, England

How a ride on an elevated train reminded me of heaven

In June and July of this year, I got to go to Scotland and England. I can tell you it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I’m a history buff. Always have been. And it was so strange to walk around a corner in the British Museum and come face to face with a sculpture I read about in a history textbook in junior high. But to a certain extent, I expected that in the United Kingdom. I had prepared myself for facing the reality of Scotland and England, grasping that what I had only read about and seen photos of was actually real.

I didn’t expect to experience the same sensation in Chicago.

That’s where I am as I write this blog post this morning, Chicago. Downtown in a swanky hotel. I’m here for the week for a media event for work. I’ve never been to Chicago before, unless you count the airport, and thus far I really like it. It’s a beautiful city, even though most drivers seem to be a little horn-happy. But as I was riding the Blue Line into downtown from O’Hare, I sat in my seat and realized something.

The “L” really does exist. And it looks exactly like it does in The Fugitive. That movie, starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, was one of my favorites growing up, and I realized that the elevated train I was riding in really reminded me of the one where the shoot out takes place between Dr. Richard Kimball and the one-armed man who killed his wife toward the end of the movie. Maybe it’s a silly revelation, but getting to ride on that train solidified in my brain that what happened in that movie wasn’t all a figment of Hollywood’s imagination. Why? Because I experienced it for myself. I didn’t just take the movie’s word for it. I rode an elevated train myself.

And as I rocked along in my seat on the way to downtown Chicago this afternoon, I couldn’t help but rejoice in eager anticipation of another day that’s coming soon, where I won’t have to rely on my imagination anymore.

Bust of Pericles in the British Museum, London, England

Bust of Pericles in the British Museum, London, England

Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.

If you’re a follower of Christ, you believe in the bigger picture. You know God has a plan. You know He’s working everything out for our good. You know that this world isn’t our home, and we’re just passing through. Right? You know all those things. But there’s a big difference between knowing them and seeing them, between hearing about them and experiencing them for yourself. Someone can tell you over and over and over again that heaven exists, that there will be no sorrow, that there will be no pain, but how are we supposed to grasp something like that without experiencing it? How are we supposed to wrap our heads around what heaven is when we can’t even wrap our heads around the fact that God loved us enough to let us in for free?

This isn’t what I really planned to post today, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. In this world right now, we don’t see things they way they were meant to be seen. We don’t see God the way He was meant to be seen. The dirt and dust and muck of the world blinds us and makes it difficult to see. But a day is coming when all of that will be cleared away and we won’t have trouble seeing anymore. And all the whys and hows won’t matter because we’ll understand exactly what their purpose was.

It wasn’t yesterday, but it might be today. And if it’s not then, it might be tomorrow. You never know, but God has promised that the day is coming, and God always keeps His promises.  

So, yes, right now our promised eternal life doesn’t make sense. It’s like watching Harrison Ford shoot at a one-armed man on an elevated train in Chicago. We’re just taking the filmmaker’s word that elevated trains really look like that, really move like that, really have people in them like that. But one day, when you get to go to Chicago, you’ll see for yourself that elevated trains really do look exactly like that.

The day is coming when we won’t have to take God’s word on what heaven is like.  On that day, we’ll get to experience it for ourselves. And that’s enough to make me smile this morning.

Moon with no detail

Imagine the impossible

What would it have been like to live in the Middle Ages? When there was no education and very little accurate knowledge? Even the sciences of the time were less like science and more like something out of a fairy tale, which is probably why the mortality rate was so high. I have always found it fascinating as I’ve studied history that Man seems to lay out all the possibilities on the table and tell God what He is capable of doing.
 
That hasn’t changed, not in the thousands of years of human history. Even today, we present our meager understanding of the origins of the universe, displaying our knowledge like a trophy, and shove it in God’s face, telling Him that there is only one way He could have created everything. Because there’s only one way we can understand it.
 
But is God truly limited by our understanding?
 
Moon with no detail

Moon with no detail - Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 3:20.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

I have a really crazy imagination. It’s always going at full speed. It never slows down, and I’m rarely ever bored because my head is always thinking up random things. But as crazy and vivid as my imagination is, even I tend to put God in a box.

I look at the aspects of my life and my talents and my situation and my circumstances, and I tell God what He can and can’t do with me. Is that right? Is God stuck with me, with someone who can’t succeed at the one thing she’s tried to accomplish all her life? And if I don’t understand why I can’t accomplish my g0als, does that mean I’ll never accomplish them?

Of course not.

I think we try to put God in a box because it makes us feel like we’re in control. It makes us feel like we’ve got a handle on our situation. It’s an illusion if we feel that way, because we don’t have control over anything. And the truth is, if God wants to do something miraculous in our lives, He’ll do it, whether we understand it or not.

I went outside last night and took pictures of the full moon. I’m still pretty new with photography so I couldn’t get my settings right to take a picture of the Moon with details. It was super clear, but the only shots I could get painted it as a ball of light in a black sky. And even after I’d tried over and over again, I kept getting the same image. And by that time, my hands were numb and there was something wandering around in the orchard that wasn’t a cat, and I didn’t much feel like getting sprayed by the skunks that have been hanging out on my property. So I went inside.

But even our understanding of the Moon changed when we got close to it. People used to think it was made of cheese. People used to think it had lakes. People used to think all sorts of crazy things. And then we got up there, and although it’s spectacular, not much of what anyone expected was true. And it even has a side that no one can see.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to postulate things that could be or might be. But maybe we shouldn’t be so certain about things in our lives that we can’t predict. Maybe we shouldn’t be so sure that we know what God is going to do with our lives because honestly I don’t think we do. I think it’s a dangerous game to be playing when you think you can understand the immensity of what God can accomplish through us.

Nothing is impossible with God. So why don’t we imagine the impossible instead of what we think we are capable of?