- Written by: Don Goulding
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:27) (NIV)
Grandmother Sky awoke before the sun, dusted rouge on her eastern cheeks, and readied herself for the daily entertainment. She loved to watch the courtship between the sun and the flowers below.
The sunflowers had pined through the night over the absence of their beloved. Now they faced the place where he would rise again. As the sun’s first rays streamed over the hills, the sunflowers rose up. Their yellow heads followed every inch of his movement until by evening they faced west. Then they turned back to the east and awaited his return.
What Grandmother Sky witnessed was a living analogy. The mature believer is not measured by the attainment of perfection, but by the stretch of their reach.
Young sunflowers are heliotropic. That is, they track the sun. Daylight causes a chemical reaction that pumps more water into the cells on the shadow side of the stem. This pushes the head toward the sun.
I need to be heliotropic. I must pump truth into my darkest side until my head turns to urgently face Christ.
Jesus deserves passionate followers, not apathetic sleepers. That’s why his Spirit speaks in whispers and by varied means. If I always knew how he was going to communicate, only that one area of my life would be attentive. As it is, I must draw out my intellect in Bible study, extend my spirit in prayer, and exert my heart to hear God’s wisdom through others. Every area of my life must strain after the Son.
I hope Grandmother Sky will one day look down, see me reaching, and say, “There he is, another sonflower.”
Prayer: Shining Messiah, I will reach for you with all that I am.
- Written by: Don Goulding
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16) (NIV)
For our twentieth wedding anniversary, Dani and I sailed through the San Juan Islands, between the US and Canada. One night, after a bonfire on the beach, we motored the dinghy back toward the sailboat. Behind us, the prop created glowing bubbles because we slipped through billions of invisible bioluminescent algae called dinoflagellates.
A school of fingerlings leaped before the bow, tracing blue-green arcs of light over the black ocean. Then I bent low to the water and watched reflections of the overlarge stars dance on the surface. Put together with the phosphorescence, and leaping fish, I wondered if these were more than our normal stars.
Children of God are celestial gems shining splendor across the supernatural universe. Like the natural stars, the believer’s light is set against countless miles of darkness. Simply helping one another without complaining, or extending grace when the other person is wrong, beams radiance out of the endless tracks of blackness that is our culture.
Who in today’s world allows their rights to be trampled? Only the one anchored in the love and recompense of Jesus Christ, and that is indeed a rare and beautiful sight. Lightyears of empty space stretch between such luminous creatures.
To the human perspective, an act of grateful subordination appears weak and dull. The reason we avoid these opportunities of sacrifice is that we don’t bend to see them reflected off the waters of God’s eternal kingdom. If we did, we’d realize they’re not boring at all, but would drop our jaw at their singular radiance.
Prayer: God of eternal beauty, lead me this day into acts of generosity with gratitude.
- Written by: Don Goulding
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great - but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31, 32)
“We are gathered today to join these two in holy matrimony,” I said to the Russian congregation.
Ivan emigrated to the United States where he met beautiful Vera. She had been abandoned by a husband back in the Soviet Union. Ivan would mend Vera’s heart, and Vera would enrapture Ivan with her aurora borealis eyes. But there was a deeper reason why they were getting married. Before I pronounced them man and wife, they asked me to explain to friends and family the true purpose for their union.
Marriage was instituted in the Garden of Eden as a mirror for the relationship within the Trinity. Throughout eternity, there has been/is/will be perfect love shared between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They fulfill each other in absolute bliss. By creating us in their image, they let us taste their relational joy.
If there is acceptance in marriage, it’s because there is infinite acceptance inside the Trinity. Why does God insist on lifelong monogamy? Because he wants for us the absolute faithfulness enjoyed between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Children spring from our marriages because creation births from the blessed union within the Holy Trinity, and we mirror them. Security, companionship, and passion belong to us because they belong to them.
Ivan and Vera’s marriage was doomed if they thought their purpose was to satisfy each other’s deepest longings. No spouse can give what only comes from God. Vera and Ivan knew that. So they wanted me to tell the witnesses they were only mirrors. Their ambition was to reflect the union forever celebrated inside the Godhead. That’s why they came together, and it’s why their marriage is a success.
Prayer: Heavenly groom, use my life to reflect your unity and love.