Thursday, July 28, 2022

Who Knows - Ordinary Days of Summer

Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Isaiah 40:12 NLT

Vacations in the summer often take us to places we do not live, like the beach or the mountains. 
As we gaze at these majestic creations, they can evoke various emotions. Artists paint versions of these landscapes with man made hues of blues and grays and greens. Photographs never really capture their imposing beauty. Yet, without speaking a word, these magnificent creations challenge us to wonder and to hope, bring us peace and contentment, stir our souls with possibility. Despite our inability to grasp the vastness of these creations, the Creator offers us glimpses of himself, reveals his power and strength. God is never, however, limited by our abilities.

Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
not a single one is missing. Isaiah 40:26 NLT

One of my favorite memories is of looking up at the stars, studying the constellations with my daddy. In WWII he was a navigator and bombardier in the Air Force. Radar was not what it is today, and at night the stars provided direction. So he was well-studied in the night sky. On some summer nights we would lay on the hood of the car, leaning back on the windshield with a full sky of stars overhead. He would point out the Big Dipper, the North Star, and more. In the still of the night, I remember lying there in wordless wonder at the countless stars, the immense night sky, the vast unknown of the heavens. Scripture tells us God calls each star by name, even the billions of ones we cannot see.

Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
Isaiah 40:28 NLT

What comfort to know that the Creator of all is everlasting, never grows weary like we do. In Him, we are renewed and refreshed. Even if a trip to the ocean or the mountains is not part of your summer, you can still look up! Watch the stars (and a few planets) appear, with the stars finally shining in the dark, night sky. The vastness of the heavens only begins to define God’s love for us! - dho 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Extravagant Gifts - Ordinary Days of Summer

Loving God,   

The night sky is filled with luminaries that 
light the darkness. Angels whisper evening 
songs to my weary soul. I do not notice.

As sleep gently calls, I forget that I have 
breathed the morning air, listened to laughter, 
seen the evening sky appear. Another day!  

Something disturbs the rhythm of my sleep, 
summons my soul. In these sleepless moments, 
the Holy Spirit is waiting and listens for my
response. I whisper, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! 

Holy Father, when I fail to see the beauty of 
Your day, remind me with a glorious sunset 
to take my breath away, a soul-laugh that only 
a listening heart can find, and a night sky 
crowded with stars like diamonds that demand 
a lingering look. 

My heart bursts with unmeasured thankfulness!  
These are Your ordinary gifts! I simply miss them in my
hectic hours, my scheduled chaos, my saturated time.

Give my heart the desire to breathe, to
listen, and to see beauty with extraordinary 
intention. Grant my soul the desire to breathe, 
to listen, and to see Your generous gifts of 
Love, Grace, and Joy! Let me seek Your 
extravagant gifts in every day! 

Let me shout, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Refresh my spirit! Refine my faith!  
Restore my love! Renew my strength!  
Rebuild my trust! Reclaim my soul!  

To God be the glory! Amen.  ~dho   

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Joy in the Moments - Ordinary Days of Summer

Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts. 

Jeremiah 15:16 ESV

In Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, he writes that joy is a mark of the “authentic Christian… [one who is] on the way of salvation. Joy is characteristic of Christian pilgrimage.” Peterson continues, “Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship; it is a consequence… it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience.” Jeremiah’s words reflect the decision to live in God’s abundance. Despite circumstances, God is constant and certain. His word speaks to us today, just as it did to Jeremiah.

"The inevitable result of genuine salvation is joy! The joy found in Christ is like an inexhaustible well, satisfying the most desperate thirst." [Blackaby Study Bible Notes] Summer personifies the hot, thirsty spiritual places in our lives. We crave a long, cool drink of water. In the ordinary spaces of summer’s heat, we find resting spots under a shady tree or an umbrella at the beach, walking through a garden of new vegetables or blooming flowers, watching a baseball game or the backyard birds. Sometimes we just need to hit pause. Summer begs us to take a break, to relax and refresh. Enjoy the laughter of friends together, take the dance-in-the sprinkler chances, buy the sidewalk-lemonade, value the unpredicted, simple moments. Let the promises of God mark you with joy! Then, share the joy!

Lord, Your words have been recorded for me, gathered to encourage me, endured to restore me. Increase my faith so I can see Your abundant blessings in all times. Let Your Joy be my joy to share! - dho

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Where Power Meets Place - Ordinary Days of Summer

Who enclosed the sea with its doors when bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and door, and I said, "Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop" Job 38:8-11

Summer breezes call to us from the ocean, as waves whisper gently to our souls. While I confess to love sitting at the ocean's shore, I find even more awe at thinking about the Creator who spoke this into being. The latter chapters of Job always prick my imagination and carry it to the heights of the unpredictable. Chapters 38-41 give us more than a glimpse as God asks Job just where were you "when I laid the foundation of the earth".

Our ordinary routines can numb us, and the hectic 21st century living which applauds “being too busy” dulls the mind. Friendships falter, gathering is hurried, communications shrink to short texts. Sitting at the edge of the sea, I remember God created boundaries for a purpose. This shore line marks where power meets place, where responsibility meets rest. Moments when we can merge our desires with God’s design brings us to a place of restoration. Our souls find repose in our Creator. 

Hopefully you will have time to read these four chapters in Job and contemplate the immensity of creation! We often take for granted these miracles of creation. God designed us to be purposeful people who can also be present in these magnified moments. These seemingly ordinary moments are most extraordinary! - dho