letting the light in

I’m not a photographer, not even close and not even pretend. But, I know a few and they love the light. And natural light is the best. If a photo can capture something illuminated by creation’s own lighting set-up, it will succeed in reaching outside its two dimensions.

I love the light, too, even though I probably don’t understand it like a photographer might. I love the way it scatters darkness. I love the way it makes things visible. I love the way it reveals paths and obstacles and backyard barbecues. I love the way light streams through our front windows and the way it warms the pavement.

I love the light.

But, light is impartial in its exposing, relentless in its illuminating. When light chases away the shadows from the corners of rooms, it reveals neglected spaces where dirt and clutter collect. Light stretches its bright fingers to reach those places you’re able to ignore in the dark.

And it’s harder to love light when you are staring at the dirt and clutter that has collected in the shadows. It makes pulling the shades back feel… risky. It makes sitting in the dark feel… safe. It’s harder to love light when you know it will reveal the bad with the good, when you know it will reveal your own failures and inconsistencies and fears.

It’s hard, but not impossible.

Because we serve a God who is sovereign over ever possibility.

Before the light reaches the darkest corners of our hearts, God knows what will be found. He knows the impossibility of human failures and inconsistencies and fears, and still He promises the light will show Him to be good (Psalm 34:8). And not good in the “I had a good day” sense, but good in the ultimate and eternally satisfying sense. The kind of good God meant when He looked at creation and said, “This is very good.”

Our exposure is our freedom. In the shadows, we are deceived into thinking that some things are too awful to see the light, too shameful. But, God promises that as children of light, we will revel in what is good and right and true and partner with him in His exposing work. In His light we see the light and reflect the light and delight in the light. See, reflect, delight.

It’s hard to let the light reach the corners, maybe sometimes it even feels impossible. But God is not constrained by possibilities. He delights in showing us all the ways He can write an unconventional story for His name’s sake.

By grace He exposes all the things we hide, grants us freedom from shame, and then invites us into a lovelit dance that exposes the neglected corners of our workplaces, coffeeshops, and city streets.

Are you going to let the light in today?

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitfulworks of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:6-21, ESV)

standing, living, moving, being

I wrote a few weeks ago about the firm foundation that woos us many times into love. That foundation, the truth of God’s word, is still doing it’s wooing work today on my soul – gently shaking and drawing and whispering sweetness into this overcast Sunday afternoon.

I love the smell after the rain. I love to watch the earth drink up the Lord’s provision and I love to breathe it in. Clouds can seem ominous, but they often accompany the rain and they did today while I was in church. I walked out to puddles and gray skies and … that smell.

Before I left for church this morning, I listened to John Piper’s last message as Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church and this little nugget wooed my little wandering heart back into love with a fragrance like the rain.

… stop thinking of God merely as the foundation of the building of their life, because foundations are hidden, forgotten things. Foundations are taken for granted while people love the food of the kitchen and sex in the bedroom and the family in the den — too often the real gods of our lives while we pay token tribute to the unseen, unloved, uncelebrated, unexalted cement block foundation in the basement called God Almighty.

And my point was: God does not like to be taken for granted. The heavens are not telling the glory of God because he likes to be taken for granted. From him and through him and to him are all things, to be conscious, hourly glory (Romans 11:36).

I had foundations on my brain as I sped through a deserted Des Moines downtown. God does not like to be taken for granted. Yes, the foundations are the most important part of the house. Without the foundation, we could not enjoy dinner in the dining room or hide-and-seek in the attic. It would not be a reality because it would not be a possibility – the joy within any room is made possible by the sound structure of the foundation. But, the foundations are not visible, not recognized, not cherished.

Hm.

We read from Ephesians 5:18-33 in the service this morning because the sermon series is called, “Marriage, Sex, and Singleness” and Ephesians is one of the obvious texts. I cringe at the way I think I know how a sermon is going to go before I open the Word, like I think I can’t be wooed again. How foolish I am!

This morning, with foundations on the brain, I read the passage with freshly wet eyes and with a soul newly tied up in knots.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The pastor said something about Christ empowering “staying in love” and it was like someone crushed fresh herbs in front of my nose. One moment you have sprigs of rosemary or lavendar and the next the smell explodes into the air and covers your fingers, waking up your senses. I scribbled in my journal, Christ is not just the foundation of the house called relationships, Christ is also the air in every room. He is both the structure that makes each room possible AND the air that makes the rooms delightful and full of life.

The One whose love has miraculously stayed on us empowers our staying in love – our standing on the foundations and our living on top of them.

The scent of crushed rosemary sticks around and I’ve been breathing these truths all day. I had a 80 minute round-trip drive to an appointment today and my heart was churning up all these things. Along the way (while getting gas), I saw Tim Challies posted a new “Hymn Stories” on his blog about the song Rock of Ages.

That got me to singing and thinking about the architecture involved in the “cleft of the rock.” There’s a reason Moses was able to be hidden inside it in Exodus 33 – it was more than a foundation. In fact, a cleft is a space you can only squeeze into, covered on all but one side by craggy rock. This illustration of being hidden and secure in the Rock of Ages who both gives us the refuge and maintains its structural soundness reminded me of Christ’s perfect maintenance of His love. Christ provides the escape and then in His power keeps it secure.

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4, ESV)

I hope I never roll my eyes at Colossians 1:17, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” All things hold together. Every room built on top of every foundation and every breath inside and outside the walls. Everything we see and everything we don’t see is held together with the staying power of a risen King.

We do not merely proclaim the glory of a solid foundation. No, we proclaim the excellent depths of His glory as we breathe in the rooms built upon the firm foundation. As we play and sing and shout and dance and question and study and laugh and mourn and… as we live, we proclaim with confidence that the foundation will hold.

God’s grace empowers us not just to stand on top of a firm foundation, but to live and move and have our being.

The rest of the Ephesians passage from morning church is still swimming around in my soul, asking me to push the limits of God’s empowering my “staying in love.” The way that He has woven everything in life to reach for Him is more mystery than my mind can entertain.

And it is beautiful.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her bythe washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33, ESV)

I’m breathing in deep the grace that empowers me to stand on solid ground… and the same grace that empowers me to live and to move and to have my being (Acts 17:28).

let LOVE fly like cRaZy