Only when you lift your eyes to the face of Christ and allow Him into your pain and suffering will you truly be set free to live a life where that weakness will become your strength.
“You are living in a ‘rainbow and butterfly’ world that is not reality” and “How can you always be positive and only see beauty” – these are just a couple of the phrases that have been spoken at me during the last few years BUT are far from my living reality. I too, live in a world full of struggles – physical, financial and emotional stressors tug daily whispering doubts and fears that could easily derail me. Every day I make a choice – my eyes look up – the only place that my strength can be found.
The last 19 months have been some of the most difficult of my life as physical disease robs and steals my sleep, thought processes, every day movements, abilities and even my hopes and dreams. Many days I have been to weak to get up from a bed where I have barely slept due to pain that nothing releases – willing myself to push up and roll off the side to begin my day. BUT in the midst – I look up – I make a choice to see the beauty in a new day, a flower, a butterfly – all of life that buzzes all around me.
I make a choice to look up – not down, inside or even around me (though I admit I have done all of these over these months) BUT I look to Christ – He has me, carries me, loves me and is ALWAYS there for me. He is GOOD all the time – even in the darkest most difficult places.
Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
During these months I have found that His strength is my strength – when mine is totally gone – THEN He comes in and gives me hope, purpose and direction where there has been none.
Through Christ – His strength floods in and I can always be positive, I can see only beauty, I can love living in a “rainbow and butterfly’ world – for it is a specific decision to lift my eyes to the hills and to be strengthen by His loving hand in the midst of my own weakness.
If you too, are living in the midst of pain and suffering – begin to look up for your hope – not down, in or around. Only when you lift your eyes to the face of Christ and allow Him into your pain and suffering will you truly be set free to live a life where that weakness will become your strength. You will step into a world where living a ‘rainbow and butterfly’ life can be a reality.
II Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The majestic eagle depends on his physical design; strength, speed and and sharp vision, for his survival. Just as the eagle does, so do we often depend on the “I” of our own abilities.
There comes a time to the eagle where a molting process must be faced. This process brings this majestic strong bird to a weakened position. His feathers, strength, vision and ability to fly or hunt are eliminated during this time of preparation for renewal.
We too, come to this place; where all of what “I” can do and what “I” have done are no longer of value. We then face a choice, a choice of the heart. A choice that requires a willingness to give up all of what “I” can do and trust in what “He” did for us at the cross.
The eagles too must make a similar choice. Many roll over and die choosing the memory of the “I” of their former majesty. Those who are renewed are those who turn to the sun, rest and wait. They then are restored not to the former majesty but to a stronger and greater one.
We too can only reach new heights with renewed vision and strength when our eyes are on the “Son” not the “I”. Only then can His plans, purposes and design for our life be renewed.
Trust that His plans for you are far greater then your “I” plans. So chose today to learn from the renewed eagle. Join me and look to the Son – Rest and Wait! This hard time of “molting” will bring forth the fruit that changes lives; you will come out better then you ever were before.
Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)
Revised excerpt from Winters Rest – J.K. Sanchez “The Choice – To Mount Up With Wings Like Eagles” 2014
Walking through my yard this morning with birds and butterflies swooping and fluttering by, an unexpected peace settled over me as the word “Sanctuary” dropped into my heart. Thankfulness grew within as I looked at our little paradise – a not so big home and a way to big yard that has matured over our 18 years of care giving.
Our home has been filled often to the bursting point at family gatherings. Family has been added and grown to include so many who have truly become “family” though not by any reason other then our love for each other. As well as the times when we have opened our home to house those in need of a place of refuge. We have often questioned – why us? But we too, have matured as the house and yard have. Now, realizing it has been His love that has drawn the broken, needy and just those who needed a little TLC into our home – this sanctuary. We have simply said yes to His request and invited them in and watched as in some small way we have helped to heal, restore and release people onto the next steps in the journey that God has begun for them.
Our yard with it’s enormity overwhelmed us many times over these years but my vision of what it was to be has slowly evolved as many hours of work have created our little oasis. I researched and chose many plants and flowers that would draw hummingbirds and butterflies – planting and often re-planting. Every year has brought more work; more plants, more flowers and more ways to creatively landscape. By creating less grass to maintain yet producing our slowly materializing park the vision has slowly come to pass. Today, I look out and see a plethora of birds of all species as well as my hummingbird friends who fill the skies throughout the day. And now joining them butterflies swoop in and out to nibble on my flowers. What began 18 years ago has become an amazing sanctuary for birds, butterflies and me! The peace of God surrounds every area we have lovingly created.
Paralleling this long-term creation in the natural to my spiritual walk I realized that to truly see and experience the sanctuary that God has created within me and around my life requires TIME. As we continually turn construction over to Him – He digs, plants, moves things in and out – and suddenly His peace is reigning and we begin to SEE the fruit and are blessed to enjoy it. It is always after much has been done and all of the hard work and mess has been cleaned up that the beauty presents itself and fruit is flourishing.
As we allow the loving hand of Christ to create His sanctuary within us we are allowed the great joy of being part of the same process of creation in others. In love we pour out His healing, His restoration and encourage the release of His children into who He created them to be.
Our lives then become a place that is filled with love, peace, and refuge, which draws those in to this “God” place of sanctuary.
I woke up early this morning with plans to get yard work accomplished before the heat of the day moved in but my morning plans were interrupted by an unexpected visit of three of Gods amazing creatures.
My love and passion for nature often finds me mesmerized by the tiniest flowers that perch on top of weeds, intricate lacy spider webs and the individual trill that each bird makes; as well as the multitude of other beauties I come across. So it isn’t new for me to be aware of the beauty I find in unexpected places. However, this morning I was stunned and found myself literally holding my breath in awe as I watched the most delicate ballet erupt over my flowers.
First one gorgeous yellow and black butterfly moved in hovering over the flowers and then the dance began. A second and then a third joined in but not just random enjoyment of their floral feast but connecting one to another. Soon they swirled around like synchronized swimmers – looping, diving, and softly fluttering. I could swear I heard music, as I stood totally amazed and engrossed in what I was being allowed to witness.
I lost track of time as they continued oblivious of my presence. The obvious joy that this dance provided to them was contagious to watch and joy began to stir deep in my spirit as they presented this stunning ballet to their audience of one.
But soon, as if on cue the dance was over and each butterfly flew off to different flowers leaving me with a sense of profound amazement, honored to have witnessed this intimate dance.
The morning plans now weren’t important for God’s plan to pour out an unexpected blessing took me to a place of joy unspeakable.
I began to contemplate what God’s “deep meaning” must be for what I witnessed and experienced today. Then as if in answer to my question laughter began to bubble up inside of me – there was no “deep meaning” it was His simple gift of love – especially for me. WOW – now that truly is a “deep meaning”!
My day was filled with unimaginable joy because I took the time to stop what I thought needed to be done and participate in what He allowed to float into my day. My friend – don’t miss God’s unexpected interruptions of love by allowing your “to do” list to distract you from the blessings He has planned for you today.
Photo courtesy of : J.K.Sanchez Photography
As a mom it’s been my joy to watch my kids play, jump and run – nothing is out of reach. They fall down, we pick them up; they skin a knee, we bandage it; they even break a bone or need a few stitches in the process. But during this time in these little lives we see a freedom that most of us lose – a freedom to believe we can fly, we can reach the stars if we jump high enough, we can run the “fastest” and always WIN.
Let’s consider an Olympic gold medalist. This winner does not get to the winners platform by happenstance – not because another saw a talent, not because of special treatment but because of single focus. The journey began with love and passion – one step, one direction at a time. When this day arrived, the gun went off, the race began and the only focus was forward; there could be nothing but the finish line. Deep down inside the winner will WIN and so faith and focus prevail!
Once the gun went off was there a backward look to evaluate the “near miss”, maybe just a glance to see the cheering crowd, or for sure, to check out how far ahead of the competitors they were?
NEVER ONCE – for looking back for any reason causes distraction and can quickly end the race due to unexpected failure.
Just as in the natural so is our race in the spiritual. We often live our lives looking backwards. We find ourselves living in past hurts, joys, wishful thinking and regrets – all of which cause distractions and derailment of God’s plan in our lives. The faith for the impossible – the faith for tomorrow’s new adventures, and the finish line wins all get sidelined. We have forgotten that we can fly, we can reach the stars and we can run the “fastest” and always WIN.
When you find yourself in this place how do you get back in the race?
Just like the Olympic winner – it takes single focus! Our single focus has to be on the face of Jesus! He is and always is FOR YOU! Just ask – He will restore what has been lost so that just like a child you can jump back up, get back in the race and make it to the finish line a winner. He can restore the belief that you can fly, you can reach the stars and you can run the “fastest” and always WIN.
Don’t look back – look forward to what He has placed within you! Get up and move one step at a time into His impossible opportunities in your life. Run, Run, Run like a child again – for then comes the freedom to believe, the freedom to see yourself the winner that you are!
Fly – Jump – Run for the gold medal awaits you!
Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
Photo courtesy of firstname.lastname@example.org
As you see the stands explode with jumping and screaming fans you too erupt with cries of joy as the quarterback plows through the waiting wall of defense- making the final winning touchdown.
My recent enjoyment of football has my family grinning at me as I jump, shout and scream throughout – a newbie to the game. We all find ourselves expressing these same extravagant behaviors at many events in our daily lives – births, weddings, and birthdays, to name a few. These celebrations are in fact a type of worship.
Comparing these celebrations with our worship of the King of Kings brought a smile to my face; I remembered David’s extravagant – all out there – worship in the streets. Shouldn’t we have that same exuberance and freedom as we express our love and adoration in the presence of the Lord?
Our love for Jesus and our wholehearted worship of him both at church and home can be just as energetic, powerful and life giving.
The psalms are filled with life’s rough times – betrayals, persecutions and trials of every sort but the psalmist voice always comes back to a place of worship and awe for the goodness and steadfast love of the Lord.
As we look up – the very air we breathe crackles with His life. We see His glory and power in all of creation, from the towering mountains, thundering waterfalls and crashing waves to the tiny ants diligence, the bees’ productivity and the ever re-producing seeds around us. His glorious creativity blooms – the awe of who He is stirs a depth of worship beyond a song, a shout or a dance.
It’s this depth of worship that gets you through times of trial! As deep calls to deep within your spirit you can suddenly see that this type of worship is far bigger then you! It’s a response crying from within, it’s a response that brings life and freedom, and it’s a response toward your Lord whose steadfast love continually carries you. When that awe begins to grow inside of you suddenly it is just like that “touchdown”; the exuberance erupts with joyous shouts, songs and dancing.
It’s this place – this place of unabashed expression of how good God is that brings freedom, life abundant and power to overcome the “stuff” of this life.
Reach up, dig deep, go long with all that is within you – rejoice and worship at the feet of Jesus. Leave the rest behind and dive for the touchdown!