Tag  |  god

The Heart’s True Home

We had a West Highland Terrier for a number of years. “Westies” are tough little dogs, bred to tunnel into badger holes and engage the “enemy” in its lair. Our Westie was many generations removed from her origins, but she still retained that instinct, put into her through years of breeding. On one occasion she became obsessed by some “critter” under a rock in our back yard. Nothing could dissuade her. She dug and dug until she tunneled several feet under the rock.

Now consider this question: Why do we as humans pursue, pursue, pursue? Why must we climb unclimbed mountains, ski near-vertical slopes? Run the most difficult and dangerous rapids, challenge the forces of nature? Part of it is a desire for adventure and enjoyment, but it’s much more. It’s an instinct for God that has been implanted in us. We cannot not want to find God.

We don’t know that, of course. We only know that we long for something. “You don’t know what it is you want,” Mark Twain said, “but you want it so much you could almost die.”

God is our heart’s true home. As church father Augustine said in that most famous quotation: ”You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.“

And what is the heart? A deep void within us that only God can fill.

Seeing Masterpieces

My father creates custom quivers designed for archers to carry their arrows. He carves elaborate wildlife pictures into pieces of genuine leather, before stitching the material together.

During a visit, I watched him construct one of his works of art. His careful hands applied just the right pressure as he pressed a sharp blade into the supple leather, creating various textures. Then he dipped a rag into crimson dye and covered the leather with even strokes, magnifying the beauty of his creation.

As I admired my dad’s confident craftsmanship, I realized how often I fail to acknowledge and appreciate my heavenly Father’s creativity manifested in others and even in myself. Reflecting on the Lord’s magnificent workmanship, I recalled King David’s affirmation that God creates our “inmost being” and that we’re “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13).

We can praise our Creator in confidence because we know His “works are wonderful” (v. 14). And we can be encouraged to respect ourselves and others more, especially when we remember that the Maker of the Universe knew us inside and out and planned our days “before one of them came to be” (vv. 15–16).

Like the pliable leather carved by my father’s skilled hands, we are each beautiful and valuable simply because we are God’s one-of-a-kind creations. Each one of us, intentionally designed to be unique and purposed as God’s beloved masterpieces, contributes to reflect God’s magnificence.

Seeing God

Author and pastor Erwin Lutzer recounts a story about television show host Art Linkletter and a little boy who was drawing a picture of God. Amused, Linkletter said, “You can’t do that because nobody knows what God looks like.”

“They will when I get through!” the boy declared.

We may wonder, “What is God like?” “Is He good?” “Is He kind?” “Does He care?” The simple answer to those questions is Jesus’ response to Philip’s request: “Lord, show us the Father.” Jesus replied, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9).

If you ever get hungry to see God look at Jesus. “The Son is the image of the invisible God,” said Paul (Col. 1:15). Read through the four Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Think deeply about what Jesus did and said. “Draw” your own mental picture of God as you read. You’ll know much more of what He’s like when you’re through.

A friend of mine once told me that the only God he could believe in is the one he saw in Jesus. If you look closely, I think you’ll agree. As you read about Him your heart will leap, for though you may not know it, Jesus is the God you’ve been looking for all your life.

 

 

 

Mightier than All

 

 

Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina is a spectacular waterfall system of 275 falls along 2.7 km (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Etched on a wall on the Brazilian side of the Falls are the words of Psalm 93:4, “Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” (rsv). Below it are these words, “God is always greater than all of our troubles.”

The writer of Psalm 93, who penned its words during the time that kings reigned, knew that God is the ultimate King over all. “The Lord reigns,” he wrote. “Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting” (vv. 1-2). No matter how high the floods or waves, the Lord remains greater than them all.

The roar of a waterfall is truly majestic, but it is quite a different matter to be in the water hurtling toward the falls. That may be the situation you are in today. Physical, financial, or relational problems loom ever larger and you feel like you are about to go over the falls. In such situations, the Christian has Someone to turn to. He is the Lord, “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) for He is greater than all of our troubles. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing God

Caricature artists set up their easels in public places and draw pictures of people who are willing to pay a modest price for a humorous image of themselves. Their drawings amuse us because they exaggerate one or more of our physical features in a way that is recognizable but funny.

Caricatures of God, on the other hand, are not funny. Exaggerating one of His attributes presents a distorted view that people easily dismiss. Like a caricature, a distorted view of God is not taken seriously. Those who see God portrayed only as an angry and demanding judge are easily lured away by someone who emphasizes mercy. Those who see God as a kindhearted grandfather will reject that image when they need justice. Those who see God as an intellectual idea rather than a living, loving being eventually find other ideas more appealing. Those who see God as a best friend often leave Him behind when they find human friends who are more to their liking.

God declares Himself to be merciful and gracious, but also just in punishing the guilty (Ex. 34:6–7).

As we put our faith into action, we need to avoid portraying God as having only our favorite attributes. We must worship all of God, not just what we like. 

Everything Comes from God

I was 18 years old when I got my first fulltime job, and I learned an important lesson about the discipline of saving money. I worked and saved until I had enough money for a year of school. Then my mom had emergency surgery, and I realized I had the money in the bank to pay for her operation.

My love for my mother suddenly took precedence over my plans for the future. These words in the book Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot took on new meaning: "If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to let it go when the time comes to let it go or unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul. It is easy to make a mistake here, 'If God gave it to me', we say, 'it's mine. I can do what I want with it.' No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, . . . ours to let go of."

I realized that the job I had received and the discipline of saving were gifts from God! I could give generously to my family because I was sure God was capable of seeing me through school another way, and He did.

Today, how might God want us to apply David's prayer from 1 Chronicles 29:14, "Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us" (nlt). 

With Respect

The citizens of Israel were having some trouble with the government. It was the late 500s bc, and the Jewish people were eager to complete their temple that had been destroyed in 586 bc by Babylon. However, the governor of their region was not sure they should be doing that, so he sent a note to King Darius (Ezra 5:6-17).

In the letter, the governor says he found the Jews working on the temple and asks the king if they had permission to do so. The letter also records the Jews’ respectful response that they had indeed been given permission by an earlier king (Cyrus) to rebuild. When the king checked out their story, he found it to be true: King Cyrus had said they could build the temple. So Darius not only gave them permission to rebuild, but he also paid for it! (see 6:1-12). After the Jews finished building the temple, they “celebrated with joy” because they knew God had “[changed] the attitude of the king” (6:22).

When we see a situation that needs to be addressed, we honor God when we plead our case in a respectful way, trust that He is in control of every situation, and express gratitude for the outcome.

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is hard—to family and friends, to a favorite and familiar place, to an occupation or livelihood.

In Luke 9:57-62 our Lord describes the cost of being His disciple. A would-be follower says to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus responds, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (vv. 61-62). Is He asking His followers to say goodbye to everything and every relationship considered precious?

In the Chinese language there is no direct equivalent of the English word goodbye. The two Chinese characters used to translate this word really mean “see you again.” Becoming a disciple of Christ may sometimes mean others will reject us, but it does not mean we say goodbye to people in the sense that we are to forget all our past relationships. Saying goodbye means that God wants us to follow Him on His terms—wholeheartedly. Then we will see people again from the right perspective.

God wants the best for us, but we must allow Him to take priority over everything else.

Spiritual Plagiarism

When I teach English composition, I require students to write in class. I know that in-class writing is their own work, so in this way I become familiar with each student’s writing voice and am able to detect if they “borrow” a bit too heavily from another writer. Students are surprised to learn that their writing voice—which includes what they say as well as how they say it—is as distinctive as their speaking voice. Just as the words we speak come from our hearts, so do the words we write. They reveal who we are.