Preoccupied With This Treasure

Jars of Clay 1

Preoccupied With This Treasure | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 27

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 1 – end

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)

“We have this treasure in jars of clay,” we being the jars of clay; God being the treasure inside of us, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. God calls, rescues, redeems the weak and broken so he is most glorified. We are simple, unadorned, and ordinary clay pots that God uses to bring glory to himself, yet the most persistent challenge we face is ourselves. We fear our own inadequacy more than we trust God’s sufficiency. We stumble into self-reliance, self-promotion, or self-loathing.

We need to be more preoccupied with this treasure. We need to look at the cross again and again. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves. Every time we look at the cross, Christ seems to say to us:

I am here because of you.
It is your sin I am bearing,
your curse I am suffering,
your debt I am paying,
your death I am dying.

The treasure within these jars of clay is the gospel of Christ. And this is what is encouraging:  We’re fragile; he is not. We are transient; he is not. We are weak; he is not. We need sleep; he does not. We grow weary; he does not. We lose patience; he does not. It is God’s all-surpassing power that is dramatically displayed through our weakness.

The gift is to be far more preoccupied with the treasure within than with the pressures without.

jars of clay 3

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
I’ve been writing a post everyday during this “40 Day Lent Challenge” and not only have I unwrapped a new wonderful gift everyday through daily readings, to write everyday has been the most challenging thing I have done in a while. Writing has been the best gift I’ve given myself in a long time. To be still, to think, to dream, to connect words on a page that have meaning and worth. Writing gives joy when we least expect it.  Writing is a gift…It is a gift handed to us from the Creator, the Writer of all good things true.

 

 

A Solitary Place

A solitary place

A Solitary Place

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 9
Reflections on Luke 1 – 4

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place… Luke 4: 42

I would find her there, in a secluded place alone. As a girl, I thought she needed this solitary time because she wanted to get away from us kids. But actually she needed this space to get away with God.

My childhood home always had more people living in it than the family that resided there. We had extra cots and air mattresses when there wasn’t enough beds. Our supper table had extra folding chairs squeezed between and I learned to spoon soup into my mouth with my elbows tucked into my side. Mom served us all with joy and grace as our home became a lighthouse of escape for many.

Over time, even the good things will take its toll, clamoring for peace and competing for rest. There’s the danger of pride crowding humbleness, pushing it aside…tempting us to focus on ourselves, thinking we can do it all.  We focus more on the people needing our attention, their voices wanting to be heard and the food cooking on the stove while the sheets need to be washed and the children are asking for help with homework.

All of the good busy things crowd the one best thing.

Now years later, here I am repeating her life in many ways.

I think of my Mom going to a solitary place to unwind her crowded thoughts, to be refreshed and focus her energy off of herself (and others) and instead on to Christ. Taking time to be alone with God was a gift to herself and to her family.

Thank you Mom, your life is a gift that keeps on giving long after you’ve gone.

“Solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons who are so deeply convinced of their own great sinfulness and so fully aware of God’s even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry.” ~Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

A Solitary Place 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. I want to focus on the freedom I have in Christ to overcome strongholds, yet also to gain strength, hope, and peace as I lean into the trials…To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Five Minute Friday

Linking up at Five Minute Friday to write five minutes about the word: CROWD

To Treasure This Red

RED

The sky burns red the glory of God yet is just a flicker of a glow of His majesty and power and humbleness. Oh, to be brave and steely as the three with faith and resolve to embrace those shackles without fear of the fire. They are rescued by grace, refined by the fire.

When facing the furnace of the refiners fire, He sweats drops of red while I sleep, yet I whimper and cower when the rooster crows because I’ve grown accustomed to taking lightly this treasure of red.

To wake up early to see the sunrise and stay awake to watch the sun go to sleep. The fire in the sky is a safe place to find comfort but it stirs a longing. I want to feel the red in my soul that longs for more of the refiner’s fire. To be made pure but not consumed. Not destroyed. Refined by grace.

 

 

Beautiful

Our day on the lake…just the two of us

Yogurt and strawberries, warm coffee with cream, a morning walk

Sitting on the deck, watching fisherman, reading the bible

A quiet cove, dropping the anchor, reading a book

Floating in still water, talking quietly, smiling

Cold drinks, pulled pork sandwich, ice cream

Sunburn, sunscreen, speeding fast across the water

Our day, on the lake, just the two of us

Beautiful!

Linking up with everyone for Five Minute Fridaywhere a remarkably encouraging and loving  community gathers to write for five minutes. This week’s prompt is: BEAUTIFUL.

Imagine the Adventure!

What if you were the only one to go?

What if you were the only one to go?

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’ I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

In less than six weeks, I will impart on an adventure to another part of the world. Not too far away…I’m not leaving our continent but far enough to need a passport. The airline ticket is purchased. Survival kit for the backpack is coming together–band-aids, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray, fiber bars and toilet paper. I know how that sounds, but it’s the nasty disturbing uncomfortable things about adventures that concerns me.

I imagine the time away from home will be a challenge at first. Such as the heat, the crowded spaces, the heat, the smells, the heat, the language barrier and the heat. I am planning on sweating a lot.

They were looking for someone to share in an adventure, but it seemed difficult to find anyone. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been reminded, “The harvest is huge. But there are only a few workers.” (Matthew 9:37) Those words are usually preached by the ones who have already experienced adventures, like the one I am about to have. They know the beauty of bright eyes, happy smiles, laughter and hugs from grateful people.

I think with any adventure as this one, we imagine and anticipate seeing evidence of changed hearts and lives in the people we serve. I hope that happens. But actually, I think the evidence of change will be seen more in my own heart and life. I will leave that place but that place will leave with me.

Linking up with everyone for Five Minute Friday, where a remarkably encouraging community gathers to write for five minutes. This week’s prompt is: IMAGINE.

A View of the Unexpected

A view of the unexpected

I am loving the view from here and it’s not what I expected to see. It is not what I anticipated to have a fondness for. I drive past this quiet stream, near a meadow of yellow flowers, several times throughout the week.  It is a comforting view of stillness and calm of beautiful yellow and green against the blue sky and blue waters.

After driving past this meadow of yellow marigolds for several weeks, I decided to stop driving, park my car… and use my camera to remember what captivated my attention each time I passed by.

God does that. He gives the unexpected of stillness and calm, a simple view of His grandeur. It is good to stop and soak it up.

For the moment, I am content with the view of yellow but I know that it will change in a few days. The farmers will plow the yellow land and plant seeds for a harvest of corn. The view of the farm lands around my home have changed in preparation for the harvest to come.

Stopping to look at this quiet plot of land, waiting to be plowed and seeded, made me think about my own life. It looks pretty on the outside, but it needs constant plowing on the inside.

The average stuff needs to be plowed away in order for the awesome stuff to grow.

This is the unexpected view into my heart. Ready to be plowed and seeded. Waiting for the awesome that God will cause to grow.

You may enjoy reading this too:

The Story of All Things New

Courageous for Something

Linking-up with everyone for, Five-Minute-Friday. The word theme is: View. 

To Find Comfort in the Creative

Watercolor by Donna

Watercolor by Donna

I am a Creative. I find comfort in the creative. I enjoy a variety of things, but primarily I like to write and paint. If I’m in a good mood, being creative brings on the joy even more so. If I have the blues, being creative brings lightness which lifts the heaviness I am feeling. Like Julie Cameron author of “The Artists Way” says, “It is difficult to be depressed and in action at the same time.”

However, I don’t always find comfort in the creative. First, I struggle to write an article or a blog post. Just writing the first paragraph takes a lot of effort and because I’m a perfectionist, I’m usually never satisfied with the end result. Secondly, to pick up a pencil to sketch a design or a paint brush to splash on color can be an effort as well because it will require that this ADD temperament of mine to focus on finishing the project.  And then it’s the mess of the paint supplies, or the pile of books (research material) taking over the dinning room table. My husband has grown to appreciate my messiness and gives me encouragement and comfort to explore being creative.

I have a friend that happens to be a watercolor artist. She inspired me to unleash the “wanna-be-artist” hiding inside. She encouraged me to relax and to find comfort in the creative. She is the most gracious friend that sees beauty in everything that I attempt to paint. She encourages me not to hide my work, but to keep it in view and then paint another one. Always paint one more. Always write one more article.

I’ve asked myself what manic or compulsive hours will I give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or paint? Time is not free—that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for. (Ann Lamott said that. She is the author of “Bird by Bird” as well as many other books.) As a gift to myself, I am saying,”no” to some things so that I may say,”yes” for time to find comfort in the creative.

I once wrote a short post about the photo of my granddaughter sniffing a tulip. She loves to discover all that is creative. Her comfort with exploring a beautiful piece of creation made me wonder what a tulip smells like. It made me notice the tulips.

Finding comfort in the creative is noticing those small details–to be in the world–present and in awe. To thank God, the author of creativity, the designer of all creation for splashing beautiful colors on a blank canvas, called my soul. For writing His words of truth and hope to guide this perfectionist to realize that real comfort in the creative can only be found by knowing the Creator.

Linking up with everyone for Five Minute Friday, where a remarkably encouraging community gathers to write for five minutes. This week’s prompt is: COMFORT
 
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