“I knew immediately that this was not ‘just’ a park shelter but a REAL shelter.”
I had sent a friend a photo of the beautiful day in the park in reply to her sharing an outside photo of the day. I had taken the photo on my previous walking lap to send to another friend with whom I share significance in the specific shelter.
Because of all the open-hearted conversations and prayers my friend and I had shared over the years, I rarely walked by the shelter without a sense of peace, as well as a prompt to pray. I found comfort in the history, and most importantly, the consistent experience of God’s presence.
Yet I rarely sit under the shelter.
Real shelters are more than a roof under which we have to position ourselves for protection. Real shelters are more of a portable shelter that moves with us. We choose how to position ourselves and where to abide even as we move through many places, stages, and circumstances of life.
I am thankful for God’s presence and protection wherever I go.
The birds’ chirps sound crisper this year. I seem to notice them as soon as I walk outside and, sometimes, first thing in the morning before I step outside.
The birds’ alertness and beautiful sounds encourage me, reminding me of Spring, bursting with hope, warming my heart, and fueling my soul.
I don’t know what every chirp means, but they sound like bursts of sunlight to me this year. They invite me to step into the warmth of revealing sunlight, which nourishes the world.
As the sunlight enables plants to boldly grow into color, God reminds me he does the same for me.
He’s been working on me in the cold, dark, dampness of winter.
He wastes nothing.
He knows what is coming.
Spring is on the horizon.
What a beautiful day.
It was the first Saturday nice enough to walk in my favorite park, and what a grand sneak peek of Spring it was. My walk time was limited, sandwiched between work and an evening commitment, but the time stretched. I soaked in every minute. I took in the experience with my eyes and heart wide open.
I watched families play together, eat together, relax together. I watched couples walking hand in hand. I saw dogs frolicking and anxiously pulling their owners to move a little faster. Young boys and older men fished. Geese lazily paddled across the water. People cruised in their freshly-washed vehicles with the windows open.
I smelled the fresh smell of damp leaves being burned and the tempting scent of a grill, perhaps prepping its first meal of the year. I smelled warm earth and crisp air. I smelled a freshness all around me.
As I briskly walked the meandering path up and down hills, I felt strong. I remembered a year earlier when I felt I was just getting my walking legs beneath me, when I tried my best to notice and appreciate details around me but had to push through numbness, tears, and a swirl of emotion.
One year later feels so different. As I walked, I steeped in appreciation of God’s provision, strength, peace, and trustworthiness.
Every day cannot be filled with sunshine, but I can walk in God’s light and presence every moment. I can experience the fullness of him no matter what the weather. I can appreciate who he is no matter what circumstance I’m walking through.
I have shared this song before, but it is a powerful one for this Monday morning.
Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won
For You have never failed me yet
Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet
Worse than what someone says about you is what you say to yourself in response.
You can get twisted up in what someone says. You can give someone’s words much more power than they actually have.
On the other hand, you need to consider what is truth. We shouldn’t set aside something just because it makes us uncomfortable.
Perspective matters. If you start from the wrong vantage point, you won’t have an accurate view. You can’t focus on the right things. You’ll get easily distracted.
What you say matters.
Be truthful. To yourself and others.
“Whoever listens to you listens to Me. Whoever rejects you rejects Me. And whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16)
I don’t know about you, but as for me, it’s comforting to know that sometimes people’s rejection of me isn’t personal. Oh, it might feel that way, and someone might actually believe it is. But sometimes it isn’t.
“For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)
We don’t get to determine how someone responds to us. And many times, they aren’t responding to us as much as to God’s presence. And God can handle someone’s rejection. We don’t need to take rejection nearly so personally if someone bigger is taking it personally for us.
Sometimes we tear down walls like Jericho, and sometimes we rebuild or strengthen them like Nehemiah in Jerusalem. Both involved community. Jericho’s walls fell after a group of people worked together, and Jerusalem’s walls strengthened because of people working side by side. Both involved time, trust, and anticipation. I imagine both involved doubt and apprehension, too.
It’s only with God’s guidance that we can know whether we are to tear down relational walls or rebuild and strengthen them. Only he knows what is important to keep out and what is important to keep in. Only he knows how those things shift over time. We can trust him to guide us through the shifts, through the building and tearing down. We can trust his strength, wisdom, and power in either circumstance.
Perhaps that’s the most important thing. Whether we are strengthening relational walls or breaking them down, are we relying on God through the process?