Look At All The Tiny Mirrors

kitten_lion_mirrorGod is not like us but we are like Him.
God is not like us, but we are made in His image.

I have often made the mistake of thinking that being like Him means I can look at Him and see myself. But this is not true. In fact, it is so incredibly NOT true, that the earth should shake with the weight of its falsehood. It’s a falsehood, and it’s weighty because so many of us have bought into it at one time or another.

We buy into it and then we make God small. We look at Him and think we see ourselves — our anger, our selfishness, our weaknesses. But God is not like us.

He does not get angry like we do. He is not selfish like we are. He is far from weak.

When we fail and fail and fail some more, He does not get frustrated, angry with surprise that we still haven’t gotten it right. He does not turn His head in disgust because His expectations of us are unmet. Frustration, surprise, disgust, unmet expectations – these are not characteristics of God, they are characteristics of US and He is not like us. We are like Him but He is nothing like us.

His desire to be worshiped and loved by us is not motivated by selfishness or conceit; it’s motivated by love of the strongest and purest kind, love that knows that our ultimate happiness will be found when we delight in Him — delight, which IS love and worship. He desires our love and worship because He desires our joy. He wants us to experience joy and He has created us to be most fulfilled in Him. But I have bought into the lie before, that God desires – no, demands – worship because He is the Ultimate Selfish Being. And I shudder that I have ever thought such an atrocity. The most beautiful thing is the way God has loved me DURING my own atrociousness. Is that selfish of Him, to love me when I am thinking the absolute worst of Him that I ever could? No, it’s love, it’s love, it’s love. He loves me selflessly even while I shake my fist and accuse Him of being selfish for wanting me to delight in Him…But He is not selfish and He is not conceited. He is not like us.

He is not weak like we are, incapable of changing this evil world, incapable of assuaging all pain. I look at Him sometimes and think I see myself; I think I see Him failing to overcome evil with good, failing to heal hurts and comfort the broken. But He is not failing at that, I’M failing at that. He is, every day, working good out of evil (who can do that??), turning Satan’s horrible acts into vessels of love and hope (really! Who can do that??) and He has even promised that, in the very end, He will make ALL THINGS RIGHT. Now, He is either the worst kind of liar or He is a majestically powerful Being who is capable of strength that could turn every last atom of my physical existence inside out. He could do that, but He doesn’t because He loves me. He makes it very clear in His word that He HATES sin, hates it and He will destroy His enemies with a vengeance, and EVEN THOUGH I have sinned terribly against Him, more than once, He doesn’t turn my atoms inside out — He loves me. Do you know what that’s called? Do you know what it’s called when strength is restrained? It’s called gentleness.

God is not like us. He is not sinful, He is not self-seeking, He is not condescending, He is not mean or cruel or hateful.
But we are like Him, made in His image, so that everywhere you look are little mirrors walking around, mirrors reflecting God’s Person.

His creativity, demonstrated through millions of painters, dancers, sculptors, and architects.
His physical strength and capabilities, demonstrated through base jumpers, breakdancers, gymnasts, and athletes.
His nurturing and compassion, demonstrated through nurses, mothers, pastors, and The Good Samaritans that pop up in every disaster.
His talent, demonstrated through musicians, vocalists, composers, and conductors.

We love because He loved first.

We love art and music because God loved art and music first.
We love creating things in groups and with our bodies because God loved creating things first.

God is not like us, but we are like Him. Look around you and see all the tiny mirrors, the laughing, the dancing, the practical jokes, the hugs, the romance, the reaching out, the creative expression. Look at all the tiny mirrors and see tiny reflections of God.

Tiny reflections of a powerful, larger-than-the-universe, creative Being who LOVES…

This God loves me.

He loves you, too.

I know this more fully than I know anything else and I do not know it fully enough.

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An Awful Lot of Scandal: Part Ib

Jesus with meHis footsteps come on the heels of those whose hands are dipped in blood, in lies, in adultery and prostitution. HIS hands are clean, untainted by any kind of evil whatsoever. But does He strut? Does He take this opportunity, handed to Him on the silver platter of centuries, to rub it in the faces of those less righteous than He?

No.

His pace is meek, His dignity unassuming and humble. He is preceded by men with tarnished reputations and He is surrounded by them as well, but He taunts no one. He does not make a noisy celebration of His own exemplary example. He does not say, “See, this is what you should be like and I am better than you for being so.”

No.

Rather, He does the most astounding thing. He does a thing that the most righteous of human beings have never even contemplated. He takes His exemplary example, His righteous reputation, His flawless life and He walks up to me and says…

“Let’s trade.”

…What?

“You are drowning in regret, swathed in a past that is rife with wrong, more so than with right. But I have come, and walked upright and righteous — see? No stains. So come, let us trade.”

You mean to say…You’ve done all that work of righteousness, not to illuminate and chastise my own unrighteousness, but to trade….righteousness for unrighteousness?

Yes.

His footsteps come on the heels of those whose hands are dipped in blood, in lies, in adultery and prostitution. HIS hands are clean, untainted by any kind of evil whatsoever…

Some would say it’s the greatest scandal, that this King would give up His reputation in exchange for one like mine.

I say it is The Most Beautiful Scandal Of All.

Just Do It.

I’m getting it over and over: do something with your writing. For the last several months, I’ve been getting this message but like a shy 1st grader getting a compliment on her dress, I just smile and nod. In my head I think, “What could I possibly do with my writing? I don’t feel driven to write a book—I barely feel driven to blog!” But the message came yet again today; every time it comes, I’ve felt that little nudge that comes from the Holy Spirit but honestly? I’m waiting for Him to push me. Nudges are so easily mis-perceived, you know? I mean it IS a nudge, it’s slight and barely there, so later I wonder if maybe I was making it up after all…but of course, God gets through all that by nudging me over and over so many times that I start to realize, I am NOT making this up.

Or, like today, He nudges me and then He follows up with another one, a little stronger but not quite a push.

One more person to add to the list of People God Has Nudged Me With. And I had the same response: “Hm. But what? I don’t know what to do…” and then I let myself get distracted with something else. Funny thing was, God didn’t. And since I was expecting Him to let me get away with distracting myself (like He has been the last several nudges), I totally didn’t see it coming:

“Have you walked this path? Deep within the recesses of your soul you know the Lord is leading you to do something in particular. Though the impression is unrelenting, you’re at a significant crossroads in your life.  Should you or shouldn’t you?

I’ve stood in this threshold as well, transfixed by the possibility of what could be yet mired in the fear of being wrong. How will I know this is what I am to do, I wonder. I don’t want to get it wrong.

The thriving Believer encounters this on a regular basis.  But even the Israelites who had the benefit of messages given directly from God, from God’s anointed and from God’s angels still wondered if indeed they had understood correctly.

Zechariah’s response in Luke 1 doesn’t surprise me. The angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, appeared to Zechariah explaining he and Elizabeth would have their long time prayer answered. A child.

What were his first words? “How shall I know this?” I see a lot of me in that answer. It’s rife with doubt and hesitation. And it cost him. He couldn’t speak until the baby was born and named John.

Yet we are called to trust, to a life buoyed by ardent belief. Ebullient faith.” (from http://wp.me/p24pA6-aM)

Okay, so God wasn’t letting me table it again this time. Phooey.

Earlier in the post I just quoted, she talks about how her husband prayed and asked God to confirm it for them four different ways. It was on the tip of my tongue to do the same thing, but I could almost hear God audibly say, “Uh-uh-uh…” and I sheepishly realized I was STILL just trying to find a way to table it; because God had already confirmed it and I knew it.

“Okay God…what am I supposed to do, really?”
Just start writing.
Really? That’s all?
But of course that’s all; I keep forgetting that doing what God nudges me to do is not about pulling off some amazing fireworks display of whatever He tells me to do. It’s not my job to wow anyone or get published or anything. He hasn’t been nudging me to put off fireworks, He’s been nudging me to “do something with my writing” and if I’m honest, I haven’t been doing anything. I put words in my blog when I think I have something worthy of telling the world—and yes, that’s doing something with my writing but that wasn’t what He wanted because it was manufactured and polished. He wants all of my writing, the unpolished, the heartfelt, the what-seems-to-me-to-be-meaningless writing, all of it.

Because it’s not my job to put on a show; that’s His job and His alone because He’s the only One who should ever be ooh’d and aah’d at in the first place.

So I have absolutely no idea where this road is going to take me but I’ve finally made my choice; I’m going to write and I’m going to wait and see what God does with it. And I know that, whatever it is, it’ll be exhilarating cos that’s the really interesting thing about God: when He uses you to bring glory to Himself, He makes it exhilarating and always, always in the end, worth it. Almost always painful, too, but still exhilarating—and the joy makes up for the pain, kind of like giving birth…

So here we go.

Better Blogging: Things I’ve Learned

1. Preach at yourself. Change those inspirational exhortations from “you” to “I”. Example: “God is present in the little things; you just have to open your eyes” — that sentence is more relatable and impactful when written this way, instead: “God is present in the little things; I just have to open my eyes.”

This is a phenomenal little tip; I don’t understand how it works, but it *does*! Shannon Popkin over at Tiny Paragraphs taught me this, when I submitted to her Yellow Ball feature. It totally goes against the way I write naturally but she is so right—it really does have a more powerful and personal effect when you write in the first person.

2. Keep it short. I actually learned this back when I tried vlogging—videos under two minutes got a lot more views than the longer ones, and as a viewer of vlogs myself, I rarely watched more than the first two minutes. It had to be reeeally engaging to keep me past that point.

Blog posts are the same: if they’re not engaging enough and/or if my readers are short on time, the majority of my writing gets lost. When I write, I assume all readers will be short on time, so I try to write for two minutes of reading or less. Of course, sometimes the subject doesn’t allow for that, but usually, it’s *also* engaging enough to compensate.

3. Don’t try to write if there’s a poopy diaper within smelling distance. That is to say, don’t try to write during distractions! If I can smell a dirty diaper while I’m writing—and worse, if the smell wafts in and out, my thoughts will likely be fragmented, hurried, and inarticulate. I do better if I confront various distractions first and then sit down to write. (Although, as a stay-at-home mom, there are rarely NO distractions; but I can usually minimize them. i.e. “Honey, can you change Bubby’s diaper?” ;))

Have you discovered techniques that make for better blogging? Please share them here or, better yet, write your own post and link me to it—we can hold a potluck of sorts, tips galore! :)

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These tips are from Kina at Human In Recovery. I thought they were quite excellent.

1) Add visual interest: Using photographs you’ve taken yourself or make sure you are using “borrowed” pics according to legal fair use and copyright laws, If you have several pics, utilize the embedded slide show feature, or link to a YouTube relevant video, preferably a song that connects to the content in some way. Use spacing and formatting to break up text and give the readers’ eyes a break.

2) If you can’t keep it short (800-1,000 words max) try to break it up into a series of posts. Then you can add visual interest and keep the reader engaged and wanting to come back.

3) Get interactive and involved with your readers. When you notice a comment, like, or follow try to respond in a timely manner. Go visit their site and leave a comment or like of your own (as long as it’s sincere and authentic). If you read something on someone else’s blog that gives you insight, makes you think, or inspires you to write a post of your own, include that information with a link back to their content, don’t just re-blog. Ask questions on your posts that invite your readers to comment. If you receive an award or invitation to participate in a game of blog tag and you aren’t able to play or you feel it isn’t in alignment with what your blog is about, give the one who tagged you the courtesy of a reply. By tagging and linking to you, they just sent their readers to your site.