Searching for Beautiful

Looking for Beautiful

I painted this from a photo I took while in Bisbee, Arizona about five years ago. What a charming little mining town it is! We were walking down the old streets near the Copper Queen Hotel and I saw the most beautiful garden. It just screamed Paint Me! You can’t tell anything about the location by looking at this painting. My camera captured a tiny sliver of a moment in time. I found the beautiful because I was looking for it and I chose to ignore everything else around it when I painted it.

This is a reminder to me to focus on what is positive and good. The Apostle Paul, brilliant man that he was, said, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.Phil. 4:8

There is a lot of opportunity to be frustrated or anxious by events happening in our world. We have to sift through a lot of noise and despairing views to find beautiful lately. The not so beautiful seems to get way more attention. But we have been called to think about what we think about. Maybe we have the opportunity to bring joy with acts of kindness and compassion. We can also seek to acknowledge kindness in the actions of someone else by speaking a blessing over them.

There is opportunity in every direction to be in opposition. Sometimes we must take a stand. But it is more important to be loving and grace-filled than to be “right.” We can be right and be hateful. But Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 We are to love. It is hard in these days where right is now considered wrong, truth is now hidden, and dark calls itself light. But Truth will win out. And shining the light of Christ’s love is our primary mission statement.

Heavenly Father, help us to watch for Your hand at work in our world. Please help us to reflect Your love in our lives as a beacon of hope to others. And help us to spend more time searching for beauty and truth than despairing about ashes and chaos. “…provide for those who grieve a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3

Help us to love one another as You first loved us, Lord, and help us to focus on the beautiful.

Bisbee, Arizona
Cheryl

Tired? Worn Out? Burned Out?

This morning our pastor spoke on God’s model for mankind to take a day of rest as He rested on the 7th day. I have to confess something. . . I haven’t been very good at that~ I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly, I must admit. I flit from one event or project to another desperately trying to keep track of what day it is and what it is I am supposed to be doing on whatever day it is.

We are all VERY different. Not everyone lives in hyperdrive. But this morning I considered something I had forgotten. God modeled a day to cease from our striving and to rest. We don’t have to push every day! We can celebrate life, celebrate God’s creation – or take a nap! I loved reading Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message translation.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 MSG

Being burned out on religion is VERY common. It is all-pervasive in our world. Religion is striving and doing and effort. Faith is trust, believing, and resting – resting in what Jesus has done for us – in His “unforced rhythms of grace.” We are unable to do what Christ has done with all our “religious effort.” God came to earth and took on humanity forsaking His deity. And He willingly endured the agonizing penalty of all our sin on our behalf. All He asks is that we trust and walk with Him.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16. 17

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

The translation I am most familiar with of the above verse is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

You may find rest listening to the pounding of ocean waves, watching the changing colors of a sunset, or watching the movement of shadows as the sun moves across the sky. You may find it in a treasured book. The desert, the mountains or the oceans may be your happy place. But even when we can’t be there, God has asked us to take a break, to rest. I invite you to give yourself permission to practice the discipline of rest. It may not be a Sunday for you. But devote a day to abstaining from the turmoils of busyness and walk humbly with your God, and you will find rest for your soul.

Cheryl