A Whale of a Lesson

Humpback whale fluke, Alaska

But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

To understand what “abounding in love and faithfulness” means, look at the prayer of Jonah.

The engulfing waters threatened me,

the deep surrounded me; 

seaweed was wrapped around my head. 

To the roots of the mountains I sank down; 

the earth beneath barred me in forever. 

But you brought my life up from the pit, 

O Lord my God. 

Jonah 2:5-6

Jonah learned the greatness of God’s compassion and grace through his desperate ordeal. So it is for us when we go through our own travails. When I wander like Jonah of old, God’s compassion seeks me out and swallows me. In His abounding love, He rescues me from the folly of my actions. Thankfully, God’s faithfulness and love are not negated by my unfaithfulness. Though I plunge into the darkest depths of the ocean, I know He will be there with me, and I can trust my Lord God to forgive me and bring me safely to shore.

Just Peeking

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The moon playing “hide and seek,” Alaska inland passage.

If you have ever played “hide and seek” then you probably said this and complained mightily if someone didn’t follow the rules. In fact, throughout life, we all want to be treated fairly… it is built into our humanity. Jesus speaks to this point in the Sermon on the Mount:

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. Matthew 5:6 NLT

Justice is something we have to hunger and thirst for… to work at diligently, and we are told we will be blessed by God if we do. Unfortunately, we have hungered for other things letting justice be put on the shelf. We hunger for power, wealth, pleasure and security. Justice gets twisted into “what I want.” We substitute what is good for me and my family, rather than what is right and good for our neighbor. Black Lives Matter is a cry for justice (don’t be sidetracked by certain people’s breaking and looting that’s wrong and evil and co-opts the call for justice). When Jesus returns He will bring truth, justice and judgement. On that day will Jesus find we have turned away from our neighbors cries for justice, or did we hunger and thirst for justice?

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. Matthew 23:23 NIV

If we have knowledge of justice as children playing “hide and seek,” how can we neglect working to act justly as Christ’s followers?

God’s Goodness for Me

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So beautiful and good

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

In Jesus I have good works prepared by God for me to do… how wonderful is that knowledge.

Obviously the good is determined by God not me. Which is reassuring because I have a tendency to choose temporary earthly pleasures over eternal goodness and true joy.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Yes, in Jesus my life will be good, pleasing and perfect, and He will never leave me to do otherwise.

Be Thou My Vision

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A break in the clouds

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible”
Jonathan Swift – Thoughts On Various Subjects

I often think the scenes, I try to capture and preserve in photos, are little bits of the great beauty that Jesus pours out upon His creation. Whether anyone notices is not relevant to beauties existence, it is there just because God is good. Scene upon scene in unending splendor speaks of the glory of God. This is also true in my life; I have ongoing grace lavished upon me by God. Sometimes I have the eyes to see it, and thank Him, but often I am too preoccupied and it goes unnoticed. Like the beauty in nature, grace is not given only where it will be appreciated, it is freely poured out in abundance because that is the nature of God.

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (Psalm 23 :5-6)

I continually have to remind myself to pray for eyes to see, ears to hear, and wisdom to comprehend all that Jesus is doing. Then with a heart of gratitude I can see, hear and give thanks.