Tuesday, August 14, 2012

smiley faces

1 Sam 2:1-2 "And Hannah prayed and said: 'My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.'"

This last month has been hard, really hard on many levels, and most of the "behind the scenes" stuff that made it so hard are unknown to all but God.  The month has been good too, overflowing with things to give thanks to God for. Both of those can be true at the same time without contradiction.  We are complex creatures, able, for example, to mourn the loss of a loved one while simultaneously rejoicing that they are home with Jesus, their race having been run with endurance to the end.

In Philippians 4:8, God instructs us to meditate on the pure, the lovely, and so forth...looking for the praiseworthy daily is a God honoring discipline.  And those of us who take up that discipline can say with Hannah, "My heart rejoices in the LORD...I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation."  We have enemies. We face all kinds of things that challenge us emotionally, physically and spiritually...things outside of our control, but they are NOT OUTSIDE of GOD's control.  BECAUSE He is on the throne bringing about all His holy will; BECAUSE He loves us with passion and is working all things together for our good and His glory; BECAUSE He saves and redeems and restores and delivers and strengthens us, we can face our enemies in their various forms and smile.

We don't always feel like smiling though do we? Sometimes our feelings get out of sync with what we know to be true.  And God is so gracious, bringing encouragements in all kinds of unexpected ways. On Saturday, while out walking our dog, God gave me one of His big encouraging kisses.  I had a lot on my mind to sort so I went without the kids, and as I walked I prayed, pleaded really, for God to help me wholly rejoice in Him.  My "feelings" were out of sync and I knew it.  We tend to walk the dog on what we call "the loop", which is basically one mile's worth of a strangely cut city block.  Soon into my journey, I noticed someone had drawn a big smiley face with chalk on the road.  I didn't think anything of it.  I kept walking, sorting my thoughts and praying...then I saw another smiley face, and a little farther along there was another, then another.  After about a half mile, I started to chuckle.  I don't know who drew these smiles along the whole loop, the last one being just across the street from our house, but I think God used them to remind me that He has it all sorted (everything that is weighing on me), and that I can rest in Him, and smile at my enemies because of His salvation. By the time my foot crossed our threshold, I too was smiling again.

Someone had drawn those smiley faces intentionally spreading some cheer...I share this little story with you in hopes that it will do the same.  The Lord bless and keep you, and make His face shine upon you, and give you peace.

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