Our Wonder Room

Adventures in Finding God

One Without the Other

One Without The Other
“In this crazy world, there’s an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they’re never separated. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom.”
– Henri Nouwen

I read that quote about a week ago, and it has taken a while to sink in. I got to thinking about Nouwen’s words as I thought again about the movie Lori and I saw last week with our dear friends Nancy and Frank. The movie was ‘Showtimes for Same Kind of Different as Me’. Thought-provoking, and based on a true story of lives and attitudes changed. There was pain, mourning and poverty. But there was also tremendous healing, dancing and the kingdom of God. Hmm. Sounds like the Book of Psalms.

Maybe above all, as I think on those words from Nouwen, I need to remember how much I need to keep my eyes on God. If I lose sight of Him, if I do not meditate on His Word or walk in the counsel of His earthly saints, I will miss out on so much because I can easily be focused on the here and now. Amidst pain I will lose sight of the healing that can come from it. While mourning, I will have no hope of dancing. And where there is poverty I will not see His Kingdom.

I go back to when Denver Moore, one of the main characters in the film/story, says, “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home”. And that is perhaps the best news you and I can have.

Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Isaiah 42: 6-7 – “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”


The Radiance of God

Sunrise from Fort Casey State Park by Keith Turley
One afternoon last week I wanted to listen to some songs by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. And sprinkled in there came the classic by Paul Simon, ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’. Just about each morning since then that refrain plays in my head at some point. This morning I figured I’d better spend some time chewing on it, if for no other reason than to get a different song to play in my head.

When I started reading the lyrics I found myself going back to the beginning:

She’s a rich girl
She don’t try to hide it
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

I didn’t want my interpretation of the lyrics to be strictly literal…strictly about money or boasting. Is there something in my own life that I have so much of that I waste it? Maybe it’s not about even having a lot of something (thinking time, money or talent). Maybe its just about wasting something God-given.

Maybe it’s about me taking some time today to pray about areas of my life where I may not be a good steward. Areas where I may not be bearing the fruit God may have in mind.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
– Romans 12:5-8)

I found myself also reading the Beatitudes as part of my reflection this morning, and in particular v6:
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
And then, in that mysterious way God works, one of the footnotes for that verse took me to Isaiah 60:21 –
“Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.”

No diamonds on the soles, let us instead display the splendor of God in all that we do, such that His glory be radiant.


Give Me Understanding

“I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.”

Psalm 119:93

Unlike yesterday, this morning I didn’t wake up with a song to inspire some quiet reflection. What did come to me as I sat down was the verse above, as a “Verse of the Day.” So I found myself backing up to the beginning of Psalm 119.

As I read the Psalm, verse 34 is the one that stuck out this morning: “Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.” After all, who doesn’t want for understanding? What made me uncomfortable as I read that verse over multiple times was the “so that”.

Why is it that so much of my life seems to be structured in terms of conditions? Is operating through a system of conditions a bad thing? After all, from the beginning there were conditions. In the Garden, before the fall. When God told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:17) it was definitely an IF you do this, THEN this will happen. And there are so many more “If…then…” statements directly from God and Jesus. Maybe I shouldn’t get hung on the condition in the verse.

So, back to Psalm 119:34. If I have understanding, then I “may” keep God’s laws and be obedient? Aha! (I love how God works when I stop and just ponder His word.) When I first read verse 34 I was uncomfortable with the implication that I could only obey God’s word AFTER I had understanding. And in my apparently (so I thought) random pondering I went to the Garden. Where Adam and Eve broke the law because they did not have understanding of God’s word. That’s why we need understanding before obedience. We can not truly be obedient “with all our heart” until we understand.

Yet to think about “understanding” opens a whole new can of worms for another morning of thought:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6


What Comes Naturally

Kneeling before the cross
“Only by grace can we enter,
Only by grace can we stand.”

Perhaps it is because the topic yesterday as I sat in the pew was about grace. Whatever the reason, I woke up this morning with the words above circulating through my mind. Not the whole hymn, just those specific words by Gerrit Gustafson. And the more I dwelt on the words above, the more my thoughts went to the “stand” part.

If I were to enter into the presence of God, what would be my response? Of course, I want to try to over-analyze this and think about, well, is it God’s presence in my daily life? Or is it God’s presence after some life-saving, or life-changing event? Is it after a family member or loved one dies? Is it after I die? I need for more information, right, because my response might be different.

Then, as I contemplated more, it became a battle back and forth about what would be most honoring to God. Is standing more honoring? Or bowing before the King? Or kneeling? What to do? What would come naturally? Having these thoughts, maybe I’m simply over-complicating this.

And then part of another song came. Perhaps the song that was there all the time…

“Indescribable, uncontainable…
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we FALL TO OUR KNEES as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God.”

Thank you, Chris Tomlin, for putting into words my thoughts.

Surely your reaction will be unique to you. It may be unique to the circumstance. Whatever, it is, I think we need to be prepared to meet with God. Our Creator, our King, that desires to meet with us on a daily basis. Not just on the mountaintop, or in the valley, but along our daily path. Standing. Walking. Sitting. Bowing. Falling. Kneeling. That part might even be rubbish, after all, we’re talking about the very presence of God. I just want Him to wash over me…to simply BE in the moment!

Ephesians 2:6-7 – “And God raised us up with Christ and SEATED us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

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