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

House Hunt

I took this picture in N. Carolina at my family's Thanksgiving gathering. This beautiful sunset was a gift, as was the entire trip.

We’re in full house hunt mode right now—and I’m becoming consumed by it in my own particular “weird” way. I get obsessed with the “spiritual” aspect of these kinds of decisions. “Which house does God want us to have?” “Is this house a better action of our stewardship?” “What if He doesn’t want us to spend that much money?” “What if we pick the wrong house?” “What if He doesn’t want us to buy at all?”

I slip back into seeing God as someone other than what my studies and experience have shown me He actually is.
I worry over the house hunt as if it is a test with poor directions and He is some vague, distant teacher who will slash red all over it if I mess up.

I pray over our choice nervously, like he is a game show host presenting me with three doors that all look the same. “Which one are you going to pick? Only ONE is the right choice. The others are all wrong, wrong, WRONG!”

This morning I was doing more obsessive praying/answer-seeking when He turned the tables on me—and asked ME a question.

It was right out of the catechism I memorized in my childhood.

“What is the chief end of man?”

Answer: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”


In my quest to learn the seemingly illusive “will of God” regarding a house, I’ve lost sight of God Himself.

So it’s back to the basics I have to learn again and again. The question “How are You guiding us in regards to housing?” is not best answered by continually praying about THAT, but by spending time focusing on HIM, praising Him, ENJOYING Him. When my view of HIM becomes clearer, so do the answers to other questions.

Or, maybe, I can stop seeing the questions and see Him, my guide; I can stop seeking little answers and be satisfied with the biggest answer of all.

*Oh, Lord, help me to see YOU more clearly, may THAT be my aim—so that I may love You more dearly and, as a natural progression, follow You more nearly in all I do—including—ha!—decisions about housing that are not nearly as big as I make them out to be. Help me to make the Big decision each day, over and over: to seek You.

*St. Richard Chichester, a saint from the 13th century, wrote the original form of this prayer; it was also used in “Day by Day,” a song in the 70s musical Godspell. This is the original form:
Dearest Lord Jesus,
Savior and Friend,
Three things I pray: to
See thee more clearly, to
Love thee more dearly, to
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by Day.