More & More

By Jenny

It’s one of my favorite scenes: steaming coffee in my pink-rose mug, whispering breeze and splashing sun dancing across the old wood of the porch, my favorite pens, books, and journal waiting in a quiet little stack. You might well imagine I enter the scene with a happy countenance. But imagine the opposite. I’m tired and grouchy and huff-puff-puffing. I fall into the chair with a heavy sigh, regretting the quick, impatient words that just slipped off my lips and complaining about my sprawling To Do list.

I open the Scriptures hastily, perhaps roughly. Like a soft answer turning away wrath, the page falls to I Thessalonians 4. Paul is urging God’s people to walk according to their calling, to walk in purity, to follow the Holy Spirit, to love deeply. “Do so more and more,” Paul writes. He says it a couple times: more and more. You’re already doing it – and you’re doing it well, he says. Keep going. Don’t stop. Aim and work for more.

At first, I am troubled by these words. “I’m already exhausted,” I mutter to myself. “Is that what this Christian life is all about – just striving, never being enough, always having to do more?”

“Really, I’m doing fine in my Christian life”—that’s what I think, there in the middle of my grouchy morning, in the middle of my unkind words and complaining spirit and anxious thoughts.

God is good by His Spirit to help us on these sorts of days.

For suddenly, like a torch ignited to light the way, I see that “more and more” is not burdensome—but beautiful. My grouchy, tired soul realizes that “more and more” is exactly what I need and crave. Holiness—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, being like God Himself—is deeply desirable.

A simple metaphor springs to my mind. Can there be a garden too big, with too many flowers blooming? Can there be too many sweet friends who support you, and cheer you? Can there be too much whipped cream on the ice-cream sundae? Tailor the story to your own loves. When you love something or someone, you don’t complain about having “more and more” of that thing or that person. You don’t tire of the good and the beautiful.

And that’s what Paul is saying. Walking with God is your good and beautiful calling.

“More and more” is troubling—and good and beautiful—on two levels, the first of internal concern and the second of external angst.

Internally, there’s my immediate reaction: I’m already trying so hard, I’m already tired. Can’t you just give me a break? Must I really work more? To this, I say to my soul: “Yes, yes—take a break, and work more!” Take a break from your sin—that sin that is wearing you down and making you frown this sunny morning. Let go of your pride and release your anxieties. Stop trying so hard to win the argument and approval of your competitors. Instead, drink of the fountain that is Christ. The holiness we are called to is not an isolating list of rules or thankless To Do list. It’s about a way of living—the way where self-sacrifice and perseverance and pouring out is the breathing in and out of Christ Himself. You’re not on your own. You work by the Holy Spirit in you and you work by the body of Christ upholding you. The hard work of holiness is the labor of a relationship, a work that is covered in joy, like the exploration of a beautiful and wondrous secret garden, where more lilies lie just around the bend, where we would not think to stop short or turn away from the blooming rose arbor. And this work, this task of holiness, is not unending! There is an end: when we will be together with the Lover of our Souls, and all His people, forever. Seeing Him, we will be like Him. We will never be separated from Him. This is our comfort.

But the second reaction to “more and more” is this: I just don’t want to be weird. This is my external concern: I don’t want to be so different or radical from the rest of the world. Sheldon Vanauken, in his book A Severe Mercy, describes his struggle with this as a new believer, desirous to follow Christ but fearful of being “too much.” He confesses, “I wanted Him approving from a considerable distance. I didn’t want to be thinking of Him. I wanted to be free—like Gypsy [the carefree pup].” But he describes his wife this way: “She simply wanted God—almost totally. Her service was her freedom, her joy” (p. 136). Ultimately, it is her death, the severe mercy, which unveils the immeasurable beauty of a life “swallowed up in God.”

“More and more,” then, attacks this part of all of us that wants to avoid utter transformation—avoid the disguised but ultimate glory. Jesus asks us not to settle with a sort of friendship remaining at an arm’s length, at a “considerable distance.” He asks us to marry Him, to forsake all others, to look nowhere beyond Him. He asks us to trust Him with our whole lives, to trust Him to show us a love beyond imagination. We’re called to take another step closer and press in, and let the world say, “Why is everything about Jesus for her?”

Nobody would have asked such a question of me that morning on the porch. But now I’m convicted, and relieved, and inspired, all at once. (That’s God’s Word for you.) And I whisper to my soul, and whisper now to you: do everything you can to get more and more of God—because He’s done everything—in fact, He died—for you, to know you and love you and give you all the fullness of life. He’s worthy of “more and more.”

We Are Not Finished Yet

By Becky

We are building a bench.

The world may be in chaos around us, but we are building something.

My husband and I treat the wood like a precious stone. This piece of discarded lumber, salvaged from an old barn that breathed its last. “Reclaimed” they call it. And we are breathing new life into its fibers as we sand it smooth, rub oil into its grain until it shines.

It feels good to nurture life. Maybe this is why we have been filling our house with living things lately. It seems that every couple days a new green growing thing finds it’s way on our windowsill, our bookshelf, our tables. We stop by garden stores to run our fingers over waxy or delicate leaves and we nearly always leave with a new friend tucked under an arm.

Every day I see these reminders that life needs tending. Each life is unique with special care instructions, but everyone needs light, breath, and nourishment. While they seem so fragile, I am sometimes amazed at their resiliency.

It becomes a kind of ritual, me with my plants. As I water the prolific prayer plant, the sturdy aloe, the wispy spider plant, I whisper close into their secret-keeping greenery, “We are going to make it, aren’t we guys?”

Creating. We can’t help ourselves. We do it because it is in our nature.

Something out of nothing, life out of non-life. These are themes driven deep into our humanity. The work of creating is ingrained in us because it is what is being done in us.

I felt an inkling of this three years ago when I chose the anthem that would carry me on the  most important walk of my life.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change, at all

The strings of an acoustic guitar sent the prayer — the plea — into the May breeze.

Could all that is lost ever be found? Could a garden come out from this ground, at all?

I was walking, leaning on the strong arm of my daddy. I was looking, steadily and eagerly, into the eyes of the man-becoming-mine, standing there so surely under a arch of wood he built with his own two confident hands.

I take a deep breath. The air swells with new beginnings.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us.

Did I even understand the meaning of these words that beautiful May afternoon? At the time, they sang to me of the brokenness we each were leaving behind as we joined together to make a start of something new, together.

But I don’t think I fully grasped the brokenness.  I didn’t realize the pain that was yet to come. Three years later, we still have so much dust to shake off as we push our faces out of the earth and reach for the sun.

Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You.

God is always about the work of building, creating. Behind the scenes, he is always on the move. I am not the same girl who stepped into billows of bridal white and for that, I praise Jesus. It is remembrance of past growth that gives meaning to my present and makes me cling tighter to faith in the Creator. Oh, afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires.

So we, because we (however dimly) reflect the image of the One who made us, can’t sit idle.

It’s a fight some days to find the good. Sometimes we arrive through hot tears and conversations that leave us breathless — because we’ve used every word we have but there just aren’t words enough.

And hear me, this isn’t a depressing place to be. If anything, we’ve seen that in the fight we find deeper and truer joy, even in the darkness we fear. We are reaching deeper depths of love that those big dreaming kids on their wedding day even knew were possible. But that doesn’t make it easy.

We are learning to find peace with our broken beginnings and pick up our imperfect tools and begin to build. We are learning to open our bruised hearts, to let the pan spill out. To reach out and touch the pain in each other. To listen, really listen, beyond the words. Even if we are not sure what we are building — or if we will ever get to see the finished project — still we build. And we are in this together and it will take every ounce of who we are to do this well.  We are learning that the passive don’t survive. Or rather, they don’t experience life and love in all it’s fullness.

We want the fullness.

Because when things start crumbling down, space is made for new, better things to grow.

It’s the cellist carrying his instrument — his tool of hope — to the rubble remains of Iraqi bomb sites. In places of destruction, he picked up his bow and sent promises of new beginnings.

When we create, we are taking part in the beautification work of Christ. We participate in His redemption that touches everything from the tiny seeds in dark soil to the deepest wounds of a human soul.

When we create, we are actively hoping in the future.

I place a newly transplanted cactus on our finished homemade bench. “Be brave,I whisper, “Life is worth the growing pains.”

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

 

Quotes in order of appearance:  “Beautiful Things” by Gungor, Isaiah 54:11 (ESV), 1 Corinthians 15:42-43 (The Message). Bringing beauty to chaos is happening all around us and one of my favorite examples is the Iraqi National Symphony Director, Karim Wasfi, who played his hauntingly lovely “Baghdad Mourning Melancholy” at sites of car bombings. For inspiration, watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc7lfPFTqh4&t=117s 

Loving Fragile

By Jenny

“I can’t do this!”

Those were the words I repeated over and over in that labor and delivery room. Days ago I had prepared for this moment, practicing with my husband all the positive mantras I would repeat when the labor pains would come upon me, but they were lost to my memory now. Sweating, panting, groaning, shaking, now all I could say was: “I can’t!”

“Yes, you can!” my husband assured me softly. “You already are doing this!” the midwife added gently.

Fast forward a couple hours and my tiny, wrinkly baby is lying in my arms. Forget my aching, bleeding body—my heart is surging more alive than ever with a new love, protectiveness and eagerness and tenderness and hopefulness all meshed together, a force strong enough to knock the breath out of me. I pull him close and gaze fixedly on his face. I feel his warm, soft skin. This is the one I carried inside me for months on end. The one I had dreamed about for so long. The extension of my very self, here in my arms, so small and helpless and fragile.

I feel suddenly afraid. Looking at him, I realize I am fragile, too.

Can I do this?

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell…

The hymn is playing softly from our little portable speaker. Now I turn it up.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

I hit the Repeat button. And I lay there, a long time, holding my newborn baby, listening to this song over and over.

Can I do this? I ask myself. Is my heart strong enough to love such a fragile bundle? Can I handle the worry, the hurting, the aching my heart would do for this boy, not just today but for the rest of my life?

The reality is—I can’t do this.

I can never shield this boy from all the sharp edges of this broken world. I can’t close his ears to mean things people will say, I can’t give him a life free of disappointment, I can’t keep him from pain. And walking with this boy, helping him grow up, my heart will break, little cracks certainly and big pieces perhaps, as I feel with and for him all of life.

Like Mary, I ponder these things in my heart.

And I listen to this song again and again, meditating and worshiping the God of love. I’m comforted to realize that what I can’t do, He has already done. I can’t provide for my son’s every need or satisfy his every desire, but God can. I can’t heal his heart from pain, but God can. I can’t always be there and I will fail him—but God’s love endures forever.

What a God! He is vigorously and relentlessly pursuing the good of His people in all power and for all eternity. And it is because I am covered head to toe in this divine love that I can love others, and pour myself out unreseveredly, and risk all heartbreak. If for love’s sake my heart breaks, it will fall a thousand pieces into His hands, those hands that were pierced for me, broken to make me whole. If for love’s sake my heart breaks, then I am only brought closer to the heart of God, only plunging deeper the depths of His love ocean. We, fragile beings, can love other fragile beings, because we are upheld by this greater, stronger, beyond-comprehension love.

I kiss my little son’s forehead. I gaze at my husband sprawled exhausted on the little hospital room couch. Faces of all those friends and family members so loved flood my mind and the kind lady coming in to take our trash smiles at me.

You can love.

For though we are fragile, He is strong. Sing of His love, His measureless love, again and again. And carry on.

story

By Becky

I remember the day I met my husband’s chronic disease.

It was our first date. I was smitten with those sky blue eyes and hoping he didn’t notice the coffee drip on my white sweater.

He told me about the diagnosis at five years old, the lost high school years, the never-ending pursuit of a cure, and the struggle to understand the purposes of it all. He, eyes ocean deep of suffering and pain. Voice matter-of-fact, words without complaint or anger. Me, brown eyes attentive, heart softening every minute, and yet so naive.

We slow walked back to his truck and the question came: “If I asked you out again, would you say yes?” Deep breath, heart full, surprised at the peace flooding my being, I heard myself say, “Yes, yes I think I would like that.”

Weeks and blissful dates later, admiration and affection growing quickly for this hardworking farmer with the farmer with the rough hands and gentle heart, I remember the day I saw the disease’s ugly head unmasked. Mingled tears, crouching on the bathroom floor, clutching on to each other with no words adequate to heal the wounds….these are memories forever etched on the soul. And I remember, nearly breathless, realizing this chronic disease was an intricate piece of the identity and spiritual formation of this brave and kind man. If I was going to open my life to him, I would have to take in all of him. The struggle of his story would become my story if our lives joined forever together. Which, of course, they did one beautiful May afternoon a year and a half ago.

Of course the transfer of story wasn’t one sided…all of my dark threads, the history of paralyzing insecurities and patterns of self-destruction, were woven into his story too. Somehow the fairy tales and “happily ever afters” don’t tell you that in the intertwining of two lives is sorrow along with sweetness. No one goes untouched.

It may be chronic illness, loved ones lost, relationships severed or daily depression. And when the tragedy comes close, what can we do but wonder. Look up, like all those Old Testament prophets before us, and ask

What is this?
Where are my happy endings?
We wait. Sometimes the waiting is almost unbearable.

But…if we hold on…
The Great Author says,
Just Wait. It’s Coming.

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.

On that first date, as my future husband unraveled his story over a cup of peppermint tea, he came to a point where he paused and began to recite the entire chapter of Psalm 73. He went on to describe how in the darkest point of his life, when his flesh and heart were failing and he was despairing of life itself,  this hope-filled song, rhythmic cadences of another beaten-down and broken man boldly declaring God’s sufficiency were rays of light so needed. Whom have I heaven but you? The strength of my heart and my portion forever.  The truths of the gospel became a constant anchor when turbulent circumstances threatened to capsize his soul.

Beautiful, unexpected Providence, the Master Storyteller. At the same time my man-then-boy was wrestling for Hope, somewhere was an eighteen year old girl, at the end of herself. Her mind twisted by lie after lie that she no longer knew which way was Up; or who she was. Her heart so gripped by fear of and hatred of self that all of the dark inside began eating its way out — robbing life of joy, denying nourishment, punishing indulgences, exhausting all energy — fixated on the thought that by diminishing her size, she might just disappear.

One day, desperate and weary, she opened the Book that had once meant so much to her but in recent times had been neglected. There the pages fell open — Psalm 73. My flesh and my heart may fail. And the tears came freely. But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. And the prayers became louder than the fears. And the Light was fanned into Faith.

And then, four years later, these two battered-but-not-stricken-down souls find their stories woven together in a way only the sovereign Lord of the Universe can do. The pain they once could not explain, now a gift of compassion, of empathy, of encouragement to the other. I know you are weak, I am too. But look what God has done, see where he has rescued us from!

There is a resolution to the everyday tension between joy and tragedy, love and the fear of loss, pleasure and pain. And hope is not in vain.

Locust-eaten years restored. Manna in the wilderness. Beauty from the ashes. The only Perfect Man was put to a violent senseless death and from His tomb came a lifeforce so bright and so strong that mortal men, women, and children everywhere will experience eternity without sin.  This is the time-old melody of Redemption.

So child, come out to the garden. Look. See what He is doing to the earth?
Burrow your fingers deep into the warm dirt, pull weeds around fragile shoots of new life. Be still. Understand.

Your story has been spoken.

It often doesn’t go how you imagine it might. Some plants die. Some dreams die too. You may watch a loved one carry an immense burden of physical pain nearly every day, and all you can do is love hard and pray harder. But, but, with Jesus, after death always comes life — bigger, better, and brighter.

Because He is the Story Renewer. And we look to Him to find meaning.

After all, if we don’t know the Hope, if we can’t see the Sun even when it is still hidden by the clouds, then what is the point? We must believe our story has a beginning and an ending and it is a Who. The Alpha and the Omega encompasses the entirety of my story. No part of it escapes Him. Even when the tragedy comes so close, it leaves a sour taste on the tongue — let’s trust Him with our pain. Because If we knew the ending, we would understand the here and now.  But for now, we accept this is all bigger than us, grander than us, and predetermined before us. Believe the Author is able to craft happy endings from the messiest beginnings and He never leaves a story unfinished.

And what about you, friend? Can you see the thread of grace so intricately woven into your story? Perhaps, as I listen, I will be able to see the redemptive patterns where you are not yet able to see. I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

My story, your story, is in progress. We are being made new, day after day.Even this day, maybe especially this day, you are being renewed. The mercies keep on coming, they never come to an end…the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

And on the last page, it will say
Christ before all things, in all things. And in Him all things hold together.

*Scripture in order of appearance: Joel 2, Psalm 73,  Phil 1, Lamentations 3,  Colossians 1

Time Unfolding

By Jenny

Last night, we drove to the nursing home to pick up a new crib.

“We’re not able-bodied,” the crackly, slow voice told me over the phone earlier in the day. “But you can come get it.”

“Would around five o’clock be okay?”

“Well, that’s our supper hour. Let’s say seven.”

So seven o’clock, we show up. White-haired folks out for an evening stroll on the sidewalks point us in the direction of the building we are looking for. In the front doors we wander, signing in as visitors with little badges. “You’ll want to go just past the dining hall, to the right,” we are directed. Passing the ladies eating neat little bowls of pudding around a table bedecked in autumn colors, my husband wonders aloud, “Do you think we could get dinner here?” We hadn’t eaten for hours. Suddenly, surrounded by the aged who eat dinner at the same time every day, I feel very young.

We knock on the door, and a little old man with a delightfully gray beard answers. He shows us the cherry-wood crib, and we chat for a bit. His grandchildren live in England. He is moving into a smaller apartment and needs to downsize. So here we are.

The crib is loaded on to a rolling cart and the Grandpa points us down the hall, slowing standing and reaching for his walker. He is going to walk out with us.

We walk slowly. Small steps, one foot carefully placed before the next. I take the opportunity to see this Grandpa’s eyes, to slow down my own self, to ponder life. This is a man at the end of things. A man who had lived full and is now near the finish line. My heart melts as I consider my own grandfather, whose memorial service I attended just days earlier. That morning I’d listened to Pavarotti as I drove to work—not my usual choice of listening, but my Grandpa adored that Italian musician. Tears had filled my eyes. Death is hard.

I have a hard time imagining myself old, I realize as I pace down this nursing home hallway. I don’t think I really believe that I will grow old–that I might live in a place like this, that I might have grandchildren who live far away and a home to downsize and a walker to lean heavy on.

Inside me my baby boy somersaults. I smile as I instinctively touch my growing belly. “Is it your first?” a passerby, in a wheelchair, asks.

It is my first. We’re just starting life. We’re setting up our home, anticipating and dreaming for our future, hopeful, anxious, wondering. So here we are, getting a crib at a nursing home, wide-eyed with awe as new and old intersect.

“What is your life?” James writes. “It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Once upon a time this old man hobbling next to me was a little baby kicking in his mother’s womb. Then he had a little boy of his own. Then he had grandkids. Then, he came to the end. And we took his crib.

We live as a vapor.

“Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away…” the hymnist penned.

James reminds us not to boast—not to assume our own sovereignty over our days (4:15). We’re to live humble, leaning on the Lord’s will like this old man leans on his walker. And here—here—to establish our hearts, for “the coming of the Lord is at hand” (5:8). We can hope for the future, the real future, the eternal life.

“Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.”

He will bring us all, little baby and young, clueless parents and old wise Grandpas, home to a Glory where time will never end, where we will share the ultimate victory, where death will never dismay, where joy will be unhindered. All together, united with our Father.

Forever.

Nurturing a Spiritual Life

By Jenny

The life of faith is a life that needs nurturing. A life of faith doesn’t happen by natural means (John 6:44), and it cannot be maintained by natural means either.

But sometimes I treat my spiritual life like I treat the potted herbs on my window sill. I sort of assume they’ll stay alive on their own. I think they get enough sun, give or take, and I watered them oh, yesterday wasn’t it? I might forget about them for days except to occasionally admire how green they look or to glow when a friend walks in my kitchen and says, “How do you keep those beautiful plants alive?” The truth is they’ve only been there a few short weeks. Time proves that I don’t consider those plants as living things and I don’t take seriously the care they require. Now, they sit brown and dried up—dead.

When I assume the same things of my spiritual life—that my faith will stay strong with a little Scripture now and then, like a drizzle of water on a bowl of dust—I neglect the power of the life God has breathed into me. Assuming my own human strength, I underestimate the glory He has shared with me, the rescue He has granted, the future He promises. I grow forgetful, dry and hard.

I’ve been wondering and meditating lately on the practical ways I can nurture my spiritual life—because I need help. I need to learn and know what my faith needs to grow and to flourish, like I need to know what basil needs to live on my window sill. I need to figure out how to seek (Matthew 6:33), and feed (John 6:27), and endure (Matthew 24:13). It’s a matter of life and of death.

Here are a few ideas that come to mind. I write this list not so much as recommendation to you, but as a reminder and challenge for myself, and one I welcome you to enter into with me, if you’d like.

– Hear the stories and hearts of Christian saints. To consider the stories of the children of God is to glean rich insights and inspiration. Joni Eareckson Tada, Corrie ten Boom, Augustine, Jim & Elisabeth Elliot, John Calvin, and so many more—there is a host of witnesses to cheer us on our way.

– Commune deeply with other believers. I need friends who can share Scripture with me, and I with them. Friends who will ask me how my devotional life is going. Friends who will ask me to pray for them and with them. Conversations with brothers and sisters are key to my own perseverance.

– Pray on your knees. An uncomfortable position helps me to concentrate and perhaps more importantly, remember my own humility before the King of Kings and the awesome truth that He invites us, His children, into His throne room.

– Journal through Scripture. If I don’t write it down, it’s much harder for me to remember and engage. When I write, I can visualize, and add notes, and highlight, and draw arrows and circles to build understanding. I can record my prayers and my goals and review what the Lord has done. I find this beneficial.

– Serve others intentionally and in humility. Entering into another’s sorrow, bearing their burdens, putting aside my own interests for their interests—this shows me more of Christ.

Well, it’s a short list, but it’s somewhere to start. If I can pursue even one of these points each day, I can pursue growth and change—I can lay hold of strength, and glory, and life.

“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well-built” (Luke 6:47-48).

Apple Seeds & Heavenly Love

By Jenny

Once upon a time, you were the size of an apple seed.

And your little heart—so tiny!—was already beating.

When my very-wide-eyes first saw those two lines on the pregnancy test, the baby in my womb, who I was just beginning to meet, was the size of an apple seed (five weeks after conception). An apple seed is so small you can barely grasp it in your fingertips—but already this little person’s heart was beating more than 100 times per minute, already the mouth and lips were beginning to form, already permanent kidneys were in place, already he or she was beginning to wiggle and squirm!

The Bible acknowledges God as the Creator, the One who designs and initiates and sustains every human life. Talking to God, the Psalmist says,

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”

As I’ve learned more about the development of human life—the progression in size from apple seed to blueberry to avocado, as all the details come together to make a human being—these verses have come to have new meaning for me, and not just as a mother, but as a neighbor and friend. As I walk down the busy street, I look anew at the passersby. That white-haired woman sitting on the bench, that businessman marching steadily on, that weary, arguing family pushing the heavy-laden stroller—these human beings are all wonderful works of God, known by Him while yet unknown to everyone else, knitted carefully, mercifully together in a mother’s womb.

The love of God, to the tiniest among us, breathes fire into my soul. I worship Him, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” and I pray that I might too, walk in His love, to smile and encourage and befriend the people He has put in my path.

Charles Spurgeon, of course, puts it well. In his April 30th devotion in Morning and Evening, he writes:

“Dear reader, is this precious to you? Then hold to it. Never be led astray by those philosophic fools who preach up an impersonal God, and talk of self-existent, selfgoverning matter. The Lord liveth and thinketh upon us, this is a truth far too precious for us to be lightly robbed of it. The notice of a nobleman is valued so highly that he who has it counts his fortune made; but what is it to be thought of by the King of kings! If the Lord thinketh upon us, all is well, and we may rejoice forevermore.”

The Lord thinks on you. He thought on you when were just the size of a little apple seed.

Be encouraged in His love today!