Gray or Glory?

Em and cousin Grace enjoying each other's company last week in Philly

“There’s one! See the purple!”

I followed Em’s pointng finger. Flowers sprouted straight from winter-dark branches, like they’d split the bark and sprung out full-blossomed. The tree literally erupted with spring.

It was yet another drive to-from school, and we needed some magic. “Let’s look for beauty,” I’d told Em, and spotting brilliant yellows, pinks, and lavenders transformed the trip.

Yesterday morning, as I drove home from work, I didn’t have beauty on the mind. I was weighed down with decisions, the busyness of the day ahead, and struggles I knew others were experiencing. Suddenly purple caught my eye.

Here I am.

Holy Spirit whisper.

I resisted, focused on the gray of the leafless trees, the asphalt, the cloud-scudded sky.

But more, more, more, one spot of color after another.

How long will you resist me? And why? What good will your focus on the gray accomplish? Look at ME.

“Your Father in heaven gives good gifts to those who ask him.” Matt. 7:11

I wasn’t asking for any gifts (how ungrateful, since it’s ALL, honestly, gifts)—and I was trying to stay in my funk, in my “gray,” despite His offers and gifts of beauty, of delight—of Himself!

As I looked at a spring-budding world, a world being transformed from gray to color, wakened magically to new life, I realized how strange, silly even, it was to assume that the God creative and powerful enough to do THAT would be unable to fix me! To fix all the problems I saw.

The focal point of my gaze was magnifying the gray, overwhelming all the God-color.

Today PJ and I walked at the dog park.

Though most owners do pretty well at cleaning up after their pets, it’s still a poop minefield. Above was a blue sky and fluffy clouds, pines standing straight like guards, flowering trees spreading branches wide like they were trying to hold hands.

Lots and lots of beauty. But me…well, I was too busy looking down, watching out for poop, to notice it much.

In Isaiah 6:3 the seraphim above the throne of God say, over and over, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

The WHOLE earth is full of His glory.

So the problem, again, isn’t His absence, it’s my focus.

Am I going to focus on the gray? The poop?

Or am I going to walk ahead with confidence, trusting that God will “lead me in the path of righteousness,” that He will “make all paths straight,” not just mine.

In her book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp writes, “…I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early June… The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.”

Two years ago, on a trip to Kenya, we had the amazing opportunity to go INTO the Kibera slum, the second largest slum in the world. A giant man who grew up in it and who still lives and ministers there, took us in, leading the way through the maze of shacks. I watched out for more than poop as I placed each foot, but at one corner my eyes were drawn up to a barred window that had a bright, cheerful curtain. A small jar of wildflowers sat on its sill. Tears came to my eyes and I thought, “You’re here, Lord, even here!”

If I focus on the gray, the poop, I will be overwhelmed, but if I focus on His beauty, the glory of God pinpointing its way through the gray, I have hope: I can pull the gray TO the glory. It’s there; it’s available.

George Washington Carver, who certainly had plenty of gray in his against-the-odds life, said, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”

If we will only tune in.

Look for the Glory!

Extra quote (just ’cause I love it): “God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” Martin Luther

Maddie, thoroughly enjoying some of the glory in Philly last week

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