Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Saints Abound

In the middle of this week which holds All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on those who have gone on before us, as well as on the here and now. Whenever I come to this season of the year, in my mind’s eye, for just a moment or two, I think of Hebrews 11 and Revelation 7:9-17. As I browse through Hebrews 11’s “Saint’s Hall of Fame”, some are quite famous, known by their bold following after God and their gloriously huge failings in the midst of that struggle. Conversely, there are the unnamed ones often tortured, stoned, and persecuted. All are commended for their faith.

Down through the ages, I think of other saints: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, David Livingstone, the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, Florence Nightingale, Dag Hammarskjold, C. S. Lewis, Mother Teresa, Amy Carmichael. Such a myriad of saints of all shapes and sizes have walked across the stage of history.

Right this minute, some other names, more personal ones, come to mind. Who do you remember who has crossed over to heaven? Who do you think of who followed long and joyously after Jesus, who is right now in His presence?

Indeed it is this gallery of saints, a spiritual pep rally of sorts, this “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12:1-2, who are cheering us on as we run the race towards Jesus and with Him. And we are running, aren’t we? We are here and there, sometimes in circles, sometimes backwards, sometimes right up the steepest path available just to tumble straight down again in avalanche-style! Yet, even with all our antics, the saints of the past, the cloud of witnesses, are continually urging us ever upwards towards the Kingdom.

Most of the time, we tend to stop here and say “those” were the saints. But 1 Corinthians 1: 2 says it differently: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (NASB) Other verses such as Acts 9:13, Ephesians 1:1, and Philippians 1:1 also call people SAINTS, all those who follow Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Today, pause and ponder this: you sit, walk, work, play, exercise, laugh among saints: Saint Janis, Saint Wally, Saint Loretta along with Saint Moses, Saint Paul, and Saint Peter, all who are Christ’s own through intimate relationship with Him as our heart’s lover.

As we approach this week full of All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day, let’s reflect not only on the saints that have gone before us who are cheering us on, but turn and look at those we walk beside today, greeting these our faithful saint-friends, just as Paul did in the start of his letter to the church at Ephesus and Philippi. Let’s sing and rejoice for we are the ones who have stood at the foot of the cross and at the empty tomb, we who have chosen Christ-following as our way of life, we are indeed the saints of God.

Lane M. Arnold

 

 

 

 

Legal literacy

Copyright © 2009 Lane M. Arnold. The content on these pages, both words and images, are the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent. All Rights Reserved.

What would you grab in a fire?

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear. Walking early with a friend, we inhaled Colorado’s beauty as the sun rose, glowed on western ridges, and illuminated Pikes Peak.  Usually snow-capped in June, how bare it looked now due to winter’s snow drought. Another outlandishly hot, dry day loomed here in Colorado Springs. We walked among a tinderbox. Trees and bushes, shriveled and brittle, drooped beside wildflowers, wilted and weary-looking, all wavering in the early morning heat. We gulped water as we wandered. Parched landscape looked longingly at us, wishing for rain. At walk’s end, we returned to our own welcoming air-conditioned abodes.

After lunch, my husband, headed out for a haircut. Moments later he called, wondering if I too could see the angry black plume of smoke billowing off to the west. From our back deck, I saw it and shivered, despite rising temperatures. Fires, part of living in the arid high desert out west, are never a welcome sight.

Within the hour, our local television station reported a wildfire in Waldo Canyon. Just up Ute Valley Pass, an easy twenty-minute drive west of town from us, this popular hiking trail lingers along a ridge, after gaining quick altitude above the city. Firefighters hiked up as hikers scurried down as the fire increased.

Gathered here at an overlook above Garden of the Gods’ famous Kissing Camels rock formation, an erratic and aggressive fire grabs our attention with its aggressive regime. Like the square dancers’ do-si-do, winds swirl on remote ridges. We gasp with other gawkers, as flames flare, darting nearer and nearer the subdivision closest to Waldo Canyon. As we gaze mesmerized, the fire grows exponentially, spreading south and west, then sprints suddenly northwest. On one hand, I count the ridges between the fire and our home. Suddenly, I don’t want to be among the gawkers. Our eyes meet. We nod to one another, hop in the car, as my husband steers us home.

The television in the den billows information as dark and scary as those fiery plumes.  Meteorologists warn of wind, temperature and lack of humidity conditions. US Forest agents talk terrain from topographical maps. Fire department personnel pose possible plans of attack. Officials talk of evacuations.

Suddenly this is not a fire drill. This is not some question posed to get people thinking about their values. It’s a little too real. I feel as if I’ve had a gallon of caffeine, and I’m not a caffeine person. I’m revved up and a bouncing off the walls a bit. Evacuate? As in, leave because a fire is coming, and maybe come back to nothing? Really? Evacuate?

My mind runs as fast as a wildfire. What’ll I pack if we have to evacuate? What’s important to have with me as the fire potentially threatens to hop ridges, careen across canyons, and whirl on the winds?

I look across the room into those sparkling blue eyes of my husband and my son’s thoughtful brown ones. Here are my two greatest tangible values in this home. I can walk away with these two and I will have lost nothing of great value. It’s that simple. My beloveds, here and afar, are my greatest tangible value beyond God Himself.

The newscaster interrupts my thoughts. “Gather 72 hours worth of belongings to live off of, and be sure to take whatever you want to save.” I may come home to only ashes.  That fuels my thoughts further. A task is good to have when your mind is swirling.

I stash my favorite shirt, comfortable shoes, faded hiking shorts/pants, and toiletries into a canvas bag. My old black daypack, once carried on a Waldo Canyon hike, is gadget central: camera, computers, iPhone, and all companioning cords.  Memories, vital information, and writing projects reside there.  Looking through five boxes of photos, I choose one containing snapshots of my children growing up and some of my recent wedding day to this old/new sweetheart of mine. In my study, my hands linger over the worn leather Bible, its margins thick with faith responses to Jesus’ love notes. I toss it and a blank journal into a bag. That’s it. I’m done. If nothing else survives, I’ll be contented.

I circle back to the den, where the latest news shouts. Voluntary and mandatory evacuations creep closer and closer to our neighborhood. We scan the boundaries of the screen’s map. Where’s the squiggly line of our street? Are we pre-, voluntary, or mandatory evacuation? We decide we are none of the above, yet are just a few smoky miles north of one mandatory boundary. We could be ordered out next. That feels weighty and full of waiting.

“Be sure to gather important papers,” one newscaster says. I’ve not even considered that in my scavenging. “If there’s time,” he urges, “take pictures of each room in the house. That may make the insurance dealings somewhat manageable if all goes aflame.” Another task is good for my still swirling heart. My husband and son agree.

Time is one thing we seem to have. My iPhone in hand, I set off systematically, basement to top floor. Snapping photos, I notice so much stuff that matters so little at times like this.

What leap out are memories. My heart that’s been pounding full force grows calm, full of prayerful gratitude as I go. Smiles, laughter, even tears come. A snapshot on my desk of my three little ones, singing to me in their yellow slickers one long-ago rainy Georgia afternoon. Photographs my daughter gave me one Christmas from the travels we did together in Australia. The wooden cross in the kitchen from a women I’d mentored. A silly line drawing on the bookshelf, created thirty years ago, which one son found and recently framed for Mother’s Day. A woodcut and poem another son wrapped up for my birthday. The place my husband and I gather and pray each morning for our children and grandchildren. . A tiny angel ornament from a friend who’d been in Haiti. A watercolor from a prayer partner. The collage of childhood photos from my children’s life that greets me each morning upon my dresser. A bookcase full of journals, notes from almost sixty years worth of living. The photo of my husband and I at our high school prom and another one of our wedding in 2008. Love notes from our courtship. A few of these join the stash of things I’ll take with me.

If the fire leaps our way, today, tonight, tomorrow, no doubt I’ll miss some of this stuff that won’t fit into bags or boxes. But most of it has no hold on me. I finish taking photos of the last room then wander slowly back down to the den. My husband and son grin at my calmness. I smile back.

What will I take if my house is on fire or, in this case, in the line of a fire?  The ones here who are the fires of joy to my heart.

 

What about you? What would you grab if the fires come your way?

 

© Lane M. Arnold

June 23, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editing Process

 

 

Like runners headed for the finish line, my coauthor and I enter the final sprint of editing our book: The Life of the Body: Physical Well Being and Spiritual Formation. Six months from now, the words being typed on my computer will show up on a shelf in your local bookstore. The marketing and sales folks over at InterVarsity Press are moving up from behind the scenes now, getting ready to launch and celebrate the results of this adventure in words.

The reality of editing this book is about refining my jumble of words into something that actually says what I meant to say.  In the course of writing, writing, writing, I’ve read, read, read my own words, and those of my co-author. I’ve edited my words. I’ve rearranged paragraphs. Together my coauthor and I revised and revisited our document over and over and over again before we ever sent it on to the publishing house.

Yet even that’s not enough to move my written words from intention to publication. The manuscript itself, like a new baby at a family reunion, makes the rounds to be known and understood: author, co-author, editor, author, coauthor, copyeditor, proofreader, author, coauthor. Into the mix, possible endorsers and a few select friends and family greet the new book, catching a first glimpse of what is within the covers of this future publication. Affirmation and congratulations are coupled with suggestions and questions for additional corrections. Typos are pointed out, subject-verb agreements begin to line up, and sentence structures in need of some serious realignment are straightened up. Editing invites me to reexamine what in the world I was trying to say in the first place.

Editing a book, however, is about far more than rearranging words on a page. Editing a book edits me. I pace myself, here in the middle of the romp of writing to hone my voice so I can offer it forth. Do my words speak my life? Does my life speak my words? Are there places I stumble and need strengthening? Are old injuries of heart or body preventing me from running fully present and fully forward? Do these words align with God’s heart?

It’s easy to pontificate about the wonders of this body that God has created. It’s fun to experiment, dialogue, and research about how food, the earth’s care, and exercise matter to my growth as Christ’s follower. It’s a delight to invite readers to join in the conversation at the junction of body and heart living.

The hard part of editing a book, however, is to also allow God to edit my life. I write a book. God writes then edits my life’s story. Sometimes, I’d like to delete some of His chapters and verses or some I’ve written when I could have let Him be the Author. Sometimes, I wax eloquently when Jesus is inviting me to stillness and quiet. Sometimes, I push forward when, instead, I need to linger, waiting on the Spirit’s signals for when to sprint ahead. In the end, I hope the words of my life say what God wants me to be.

Always, the Author and Giver of life is giving me another opportunity to become like the greatest Gift and Story, Jesus. Always, that’s going to require more editing on His part and more willingness on mine to be refined and redesigned.

Where are you noticing you are being edited today? What story is God up to in and for you in the editing?

 

© Lane Arnold

June 19, 2012

 

Consider the birds…

At twilight last night, as we were riding down the street towards home, we noticed a mother and her daughter out walking, who were clearly concerned about an immature flicker sitting stunned in the middle of the road. Today, while mowing the grass, my husband came upon a dazed and confused young magpie, sitting awkwardly in the grass.

A bit later, two hummingbirds, acting rather territorial, zoomed back and forth, dive-bombing one another and anyone who carelessly stepped onto the deck in their line of frenetic flight. En route to the grocery store as the sun watercolored the clouds at dusk, a hawk, intense and at the ready, paused regally upon the upper limbs of a blue spruce, while on the nearby fence rails, a robin chirped cheerfully at another robin.

Jesus, You tell me to consider the birds of the air….and, surprisingly, I find I see myself in these feathered creatures of Yours. Sometimes, I am sitting stunned or dazed and confused. Sometimes I’m dive-bombing others with my all-about-me-ness. Sometimes I’m fully present, well-aligned with the fullness of my calling. Sometimes, I’m happily chatting with a nearby friend.

I wonder, Lord, what do you want me to consider, when I consider the birds? Am I to consider the beauty and wonder You bestowed? Am I to ponder the vastness of Your creativity? Am I to notice how more of my own heart as I look at how Your creatures act in nature?

I wonder, how has considering a bird today brought you to notice yourself and God today?

In Joy!

Sometimes, it’s just time for a change. Spring cleaning, remodeling, renovation, job or life changes. What do all these things have in common? Transitions.

This blog/website is a transition. Moving forward from Invitation Ministry to In Joy. Why, you wonder? Well, why not?

Call it a whim. Call it a wish. Call it Whitsunday.

Today is Whitsunday, also known as Pentecost. It’s a moment Jesus promised us in John 14. Traditionally, this is the Sunday that falls 50 days after Easter. It’s a birthday celebration of sorts, marking the Holy Spirit’s descent in Acts 2 as well as marking the end of the Easter season. For those who celebrate the church seasons, it’s a transition from Easter Season to Ordinary Time.

The Holy Spirit descends and we are companioned anew. Change happens and with change, comes the choice for joy. So today, In Joy starts. A fresh start. A new move of the Spirit. A new way with words for me…to share with you.

I’m celebrating and remembering Pentecost by moving forward In Joy.

What way will you celebrate the wonder of the Holy Spirit this day?