Look Up…

I love being outdoors!  Whether it is day/night or hot/cold outside, I’d rather be enjoying the outdoors than the indoors any day of the week!  I recently was talking with a few of my kids.  I talked about how in the evening after the sun goes down about my love for sitting on the deck watching the stars.  If you have never been out west in the middle of New Mexico the view of the heavens are unbelievable.  With no city lights around to dull the view of God’s beautiful creation.

It was another tough day.  It was one day of many that one of my children have had to walk through.  The frustration and the hurt was great.  I could see it in his face and hear it in the somber tone of his voice.  On the drive home from church, to make a little conversation, I asked about Sunday School.  He told me they talked about 1 Kings 8:56-58 and he began to read those verses in the Bible.

Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised.  Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.  The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers.  May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him. To walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. (ESV).

As I drove,I thought there couldn’t be a more perfect verse for us to discuss in light of the situation.  We walked into the backyard at our home.  We sat down on an old porch style swing and began to rock back and forth.  The swing creaked with every movement.  Moments later the old swing cracked.  Just before the swing gave way I had told him to look up.  There was one branch of this tree that had already turned to a beautiful color of red.  We talked about that branch of this tree that already turned leaving all of the summer green behind.  We talked about that branch and how we would never had seen the beauty there had we never looked up.

In the moment, I began to talk with him about God’s desire for us to seek him in all of our seasons of life.  It was at that moment the swing began to give way to our movement and weight.

The night before, our family had gathered around a small fire pit to roast marshmallows.  The chairs were still set up so we made our way to sit and talk there.  After we read the above passage, once again, I looked up and could see two trees.  Both of them are large yet one was a bit larger than the other with its limbs full all the way around the tree.  Whereas, the other tree was large its limbs reached to the sunlight that comes up from the south.

I pointed out the large tree was well-rounded and full.   We observed how it was an obstacle to the growth of the the smaller tree.  Yet the smaller tree was still full of life… even thriving in the midst of the the obstacle of the larger tree.

I reminded him of the situation that was feeding his hurting heart.  I encouraged him to keep reaching out to Jesus, the Son of God.  That as he turns his face toward the Son, Jesus would never leave him or forsake him.  Just like those Israelites came to know that God wouldn’t forsake them, my son would also come to know, Jesus will never forsake him.  That is a promise we all have.  I pray that as you hear God’s voice drawing you to himself, you will not ignore him but rather turn your face to Jesus and lean into him.

Forever Young

I had an experience last night that has not let go. The experience is as fresh now as it was then. It’s a very personal experience but something that impacted me deeply. It’s my desire that this will impact you the way it has me.

Each Tuesday night I have the opportunity to spend time with my children. I went to their house to pick them up for dinner. Jacqueline is sick and stayed at home. Valerie with much enthusiasm was ready to go. She had her ball glove and softball ready to head to Dad’s house to play pitch as she gears up for a new season. Walker was also very playful as he was trying to hide from me in the yard as I awaited his arrival into the Jeep. I finally got him out of the bushes and into the back seat.

I had no idea that the events of the night would lead me to this. Lead me to be so very contemplative and introspective from the inside out.

We had a great time playing outside before dinner. Alexa my stepdaughter joined us as we played pitch outside as Lori prepared our dinner. (Lucas is sick too and was indoors).

After dinner I loaded Valerie and Walker back up and headed for their house to drop them off. We were in the driveway giving out hugs and kisses to each other. Walker held onto me so tight and didn’t want to let go. It made me tear up. I knelt down to return the embrace and I said, “You know buddy – you really make me smile!” He pushed back and looked at me and just gave me a big smile back. And all the way into the house he kept looking back with that same smile as Valerie hugged me with her cold hands and talked about getting stronger for softball.

I recognized as I was driving home that God wanted to use this tender moment. This moment so wrapped up in love. It was through this that I also began to experience God in a real and personal way.

As I drove home, I was listening to Rod Stewart’s, “Forever Young.” As I listened to it I thought about my children. I thought about all the times I have knelt down hugged, encouraged, cheered, had devotions at night, and loved on my children. I began to think about the time now spent apart due to the divorce. I thought about that separation from my children and how miserable it is. I thought about the love I have for them and how I desire to show it and give it to them physically everyday!

I began to think about God. As I thought about my relationship with God, God began to speak to me. I began to think about the times that I separated myself from Him. I thought about how He feels when I have done things and I have separated myself from Him. I began to think about how many people are now living separated from God. Those who have never decided to trust in Him. They are His creation living separated from God. Living apart from the love He so strongly desires to give.

I meet with a great group of guys each Wednesday morning. This morning Joel read a passage from Romans 8:31-39. I’ve listed part of those verses below. Once we give our lives to God in Jesus there is nothing that can separate us from His love. It is only us who push back from God. But even that can not separate us from God’s loving arms as they are always – always around us.

“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (The Message).

I always want to be with God the way my children were with me last night. I want to be returning the embrace back to my Heavenly Father. I always want to return back to God the love He gives me. I always want to look to God as Walker looked to me last night with a returned smile. I smile of love… I smile of thanksgiving… a smile of worship.

Here is the video to the song I mentioned earlier. Think of your relationship with your children. Think about other relationships you have. Think about God. Who is it that you are trusting to drive your family and those other relationships?