Does He Notice Me?

Have you ever wondered if God notices you?

As I wrote in my post, No Other, I simply don’t remember ever questioning the existence of God or His role as Ruler over all creation. Yet as true as that is for me, I remember wondering if God ever noticed me down here.

Privileged to get to travel by air as a youngster, I often searched the high altitude cloud banks and sunny blue heavens hoping to catch a glimpse of God. Maybe I could wave and He would see me. Perhaps an angel would fly by, see me in the window, and mention to God that He saw me.

I know, right? The tender wonderings of a child! These imaginary conversations often played through my thoughts…

{Angel speaking to God} “You know that kid who is always dreaming outlandish dreams, and lives in her own little world of fanciful imagination? Her name is Lisa. She lives in Miami. I looked her up. She’s always hoping You will notice her.”

I think subconsciously my opening question, Does He notice me?, lay at the root of my desire to go back to California.  Specifically, Victorville, California. 

It’s my birthplace recorded on my birth certificate and passport, but not a home I can remember. That beginning place is a mystery to me. So like searching for the missing puzzle piece, I thought surely a visit to the land of my physical roots would bring resolution.

Resolution to a question buried deep. A question I had not given much thought, yet apparently still bubbled under the surface like molten earth under the San Andreas fault.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

Would the Lord meet me there in the desert? Had He known me as a baby girl? Was God pleased to notice me? And had He already determined then to call me by name until I bent my heart and my knee to His Sovereign love and grace?

As I stood on the edge of the mountain in the Mojave Desert overlooking the valley where I first entered the world, I sensed the Lord’s presence. In the exhausting heat gazing upon a drab brown landscape, I was reminded of the story of Hagar in Genesis 16.

Hagar had become pregnant by Abram as the result of Sarai’s scheme to provide her husband with an heir. God had promised, but Sarai was tired of waiting. Unfortunately, her impatience and Abram’s compliance created division and dysfunction in their family.

Manipulation never turns out well. Yet most of us attempt this form of helping God at some time in our lives. It’s our fleshly desire to control. We tend to look for shortcuts. However, it’s so often the time in the process which completes the good work of God in us.

Oppressed and unguarded, Hagar ran into the wilderness. It was there in the barren land, feeling completely alone and forsaken, the Lord encountered Hagar. He asked her what she was doing? Her answer was honest and God’s response was tender.

God showed kindness to Hagar as He revealed to her His plan to bless her child for generations to come. Though she had sinned against Sarai and was hiding, God made sure to notice her with mercy.

From that day forward, Hagar called the name of the Lord, El Roi – the God who sees me.

The funny lesson I brought home as a souvenir is the acknowledgement of how often I have hidden from God because of my sin.  Like a child wanting the attention of her parent for being good, but then hiding in her closet because of shame. I see it now completely uncovered as my heart lays bare before it’s maker.

God wants me to know, and you too; He notices us ALL the time. When we’re not hiding He’s delighted with our desire to be seen.  And when we’re hiding from God, He stands with arms of mercy open wide and ready for us to draw near in repentance.

That’s how I see it. What do you think?

What’s the childlike question you have for God today? Do you think he notices you? Are you willing to ask Him?

I look forward to reading, hearing your answers.

Eyes on Jesus and SHINE,

Lisa

Listening Up Close and Personal

Did you listen?

The video. Did you listen? If you didn’t take time to listen to the video, will you? Please?

What did you hear?

The surf. As you listen to the surf, what are your impressions bubbled to the surface?

Did you listen for the full 28 seconds? Or did you quickly move on because you’ve heard the ocean surf before?

Did you hear me say, “Yet will the rocks cry out!”?

If you were able to hear it, you might wonder why that was my very first comment as I stood for the first time on the California coastline.

Here… Listen again. Let me zoom in close.

The distinction in the sounds of the waves crashing on the shoreline versus the soothing, even tinkling sound of the water running through the rocks was immediate for me. I grew up on the east coast of the US, and my beach experience involves shells rather than rocks piled along the sandy shore.

Also, I was present. I was listening in person. The sounds were 3D and involved all of my senses. I could walk along the sand and distinguish the sounds of the waves from the sounds of the rocks and birds and the voices of people and the wind blowing.

In short, I was listening – up close & personal.

While there in California I wanted to capture the unique sounds of the surf in the rocks, which caused my first response to be…

“Yet will the rocks cry out!”

Fortunately, I listened to the first video before we left the beach, and realized the sound of the rocks was not distinguishable. Determined to bring the sound home with me, I decided I needed to hold my phone (on video) down close to the rocks and the surf. It was risky, but worth it to me to be able to play it back now and remember.

This morning I read the passage of Scripture in Matthew 17, which recounts the transfiguration of Jesus up on the high mountain. Interestingly, Jesus selected only three of His disciples to journey with Him that day. Jesus took them up close & personal to experience Him in communion with His Father.

The experience involved all the senses. They saw Jesus’ face shine like the sun and His clothes become as white as light. Suddenly, they realized their congregation had increased as they witnessed Moses and Elijah speaking to Jesus.

Could they even comprehend what was happening? It was a unique experience. I’m pretty sure if cell phones had been invented Peter would have attempted to take a selfie and possibly record the conversations to play for the others later. Instead, Peter began talking and tried to make a plan for how to preserve the moment the old fashioned way – by setting up tents.

However, Father God broke in with an up close & personal message for all present. A bright cloud enveloped the group and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”

The in person experience caused the three men to fall facedown to the ground. They were terrified as their senses took in this up close listening experience. But Jesus touched them and told them to get up. He assured them in His regular earthly skin that they did not need to be afraid. Moses and Elijah were gone. The cloud was no longer surrounding them.

Yet, would they ever forget the time Jesus took them up close & personal to listen? I doubt they needed a recording.

And, I doubt I will forget the lesson I learned about listening in real life with all my senses rather than through the distractions of media. I’m determined more and more to listen up close & personal, especially tuning in for the quieter voice of Holy Spirit.

That’s the way I see it. What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and SHINE,

Lisa

Problem? No Problem!

Ah, the exhilaration of taking a problem to someone only to hear them say, “No problem. I can take care of that for you.”

Maybe your issue was an immediate situation or perhaps you had something lingering. Possibly you have a problem right now and you just can’t see the solution. What would it do to your entire being – inside and out – to hear these two words?

No Problem!

As I type, I’m pondering not just one problem. A whole basket full of problems for my family and many friends play through my mind. We’ve got problems. There’s no doubt about it.

Before I loose you to resignation or hopelessness. Let’s ponder on the good news. Please. Stop. Sit back down. Relax for a moment. Take a deep breath. Your problem isn’t going anywhere while we take a look at the really good news.

In fact, let’s stop now and turn our eyes away from the problem to gaze into the eyes of the ONE who says…

NOTHING is too hard for Me!

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] John 16:33 AMP

More than thirty years ago when I was young, blinded by love for my man and naively oblivious to the types of problems we would encounter in marriage, I chose Ephesians 4:2 as the foundation for our relationship.

I’m still young in my heart and still blindly in love with my man; however, I am now fully aware of the depth of the problems we’ve faced thus far. Quite honestly I had no idea how much I would grit my teeth and cling to this scripture when I claimed it. Yet, God knew and He revealed it to me then. In fact, I believe Ephesians 4:2 (and 3 for good measure) was not only engraved on his wedding band, but upon my heart!

The picture above was taken for my parents. As they dropped us off at the Atlanta Hartsfield airport we teased with them that we would be sure to stay together on the same side of the San Andreas fault line in case we should experience an earthquake while out in California. So, when we found this huge crack in the desert on a morning walk, we just had to take a picture of our feet on the same side.

Knowing what we’ve faced, my dear man and I, and not knowing the full extent of what is yet ahead; this picture has come to mean more to us than just a silly jest. It’s a declaration of what we’ve chosen for our relationship. It’s a proclamation of our agreement with Jesus.

We absolutely agree, as we turn our eyes from our problems to gaze at His face. In this world we have had problems, and we will continue to have problems. Yet, we know experientially that His word is true.

Lord, we have problems that we can’t fix. Our family has problems we can’t fix. Our friends have problems we can’t fix. Our church has problems we can’t fix. Our city has problems we can’t fix. Our state and our nation and our world has problems we can’t fix.

Lord, we have problems.

Thank you for responding to us with the best news. I believe as a good Father, perfect in all your ways, you are saying to us,

“No problem. I can help you with that.”

Thank you for being delighted to help us. Thank you for having all the answers and solutions. Thank you, God, that this is true of you…

Nothing is too hard for you. Nothing!

That’s the way I see it. What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and SHINE,

Lisa

Community is a Gift

Recently, my dear man and I spent three days enjoying the fabulous Pacific Ocean via Dana Point, CA. Our Eastern time zone body clocks caused us to be awake at 4 AM initially, and so we waited with a cup of coffee watching for evidence of sunrise. We were startled the first morning at the number of surfers already congregated IN the surf as the sun slowly rose in the east.

Each day, moving toward Friday, it seemed the number of surfers increased in the light of dawn. We found them fascinating, and so we walked with bare feet in the sand observing behaviors. We wanted to see real Californians catch the waves.

Occasionally, a surfer paddled into the wave, moved to their feet and smoothly balanced atop. Some crashed. And others seemed most content to sit on their board.

By the third day, our beach observations had joined at an amusing connection. We looked out onto the water at the mass of surfers divided into several “small groups” with an occasional loner off to one side or the other. My man and I laughed as we identified ourselves according to social surfers and loners.

I’m not telling who is who…

Yet as our eyes moved away from the surfers and up along the retaining pond between our hotel and the beach, we saw a very similar portrait of congregated community. The only difference was in the species. These were birds.

We got the biggest kick out of observing the birds in similar formation. Some gathered in groupings. Some sat off to one side or another, preferring the quiet of solitude. And from time to time, one particularly energetic fellow would land right in the middle of a group. You could just tell that he expected everyone to scoot over and make room for him.

Our eyes scanned from surfers gathered on the ocean to birds gathered on the sand. Suddenly, together, we caught the message.

All of creation is meant for community!

Even those who chose to be a little more sequestered to the side of the groups, sought community. It was so obvious that we could not deny the lesson. Those who were in the group sometimes separated to go it alone for awhile. Interchangeably, the ones which seemed to prefer solitude intermittently joined a group.

All of these observations and pondering thoughts led me back to God. He is triune in nature, which means that He is community within Himself. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing three in one from eternity past to eternity future. Since God is the very definition and existence of community I have to conclude that He has placed His stamp of approval on the idea of living in community.

Additionally, God’s teaching places the greatest emphasis on relationship, love, encouraging one another, giving generously and taking care of others. A number of men asked Jesus to tell them the greatest commandment. Consistent was Jesus’ answer, and always inclusive of community. Jesus taught: first love God; then second, love your neighbor. Community!

One additional observation in our study of the bird congregation. In the center of the bird gathering was a dead bird. We watched the scenario play out as if we were peering through the ceiling of a funeral home during the visitation of a precious loved one.

A bird or two would walk over to the dead bird, look at it and walk back to the group gathered off to the side. Meanwhile, birds congregated squawking and cleaning feathers off to each side. Some ate tidbits from the sand.

They appeared to be supporting one another. Dare I venture to think? They were encouraging one another as much as birds comprehend death, community, encouragement and grief. We need one another.

On the best surfing days, we need each other. On the darkest days of suffering, we need each other.

Whether we see examples in nature or in various congregations of people in everyday life, it’s true that people seek relationship. Perhaps we simply choose to believe God as our greatest example of living in community. Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

We’re meant to live in community. And Community is a Gift.

What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and SHINE,

Lisa