It's getting busy now; all the Christmas things. Tomorrow we've got people coming to visit and I am a blur as I seek to get all the housework done that I put off on a day to day basis. A fairly grumpy blur, if the truth be known, as I don't like dusting, cleaning, vacuuming, tidying. It wouldn't be half such an onerous job if I did a little bit more a little more often but hey. There's always something better to do.
In amid the list making, rushing about and planning of the last few days you have sent me some little gems, Lord. A few things recently that have made me smile; even brought tears to my eye. Things that have comforted, encouraged, inspired. Gifts from you.
I have so much to be thankful for.
On Friday I went to a wedding. I love weddings at the best of times but this was special. It didn't matter one bit that outside the weather was freezing and sleet was pelting down sideways. Our lovely church was full, the flowers were so pretty, it was beautifully organised, the music lovely, the singing raised the roof. The bride looked gorgeous, the vows were heartfelt and emotional and the pride and love on the groom's face as he walked down the aisle with his new wife on his arm made my eyes fill up all over again. All those things were lovely but the most overwhelming thing was that you were there. You, who enjoyed a good wedding enough to turn water into wine, of course you'd be there. The two young people getting married know you and love you and made sure that you were invited. Not that you wouldn't have turned up anyway, because you love them - but you filled the place. The wedding was an offering to you and it felt to me as if you were smiling with pleasure and raining down blessings.
Relatives and friends and many of our church were there and it felt as if the bride and groom were held tightly in the love of their family. It was just lovely. Lovely is too boring a word.
And something else happened for me. The final hymn was a song I'd never heard before and it blew me away. You really spoke to me through it. It has a wonderful melody line which has been in my mind constantly since then, and the words are so powerful.
You're Beautiful: Phil Wickham (2007)
I see your face in every sunrise
The colours of the morning are inside your eyes
The world awakens to the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
Lord God, this year I have learned so much. So much about myself, so much about you. I have learned that you are all around me and I just need eyes to see. This song reminded me straight away about the times I saw the sun rise on holiday this year on the east coast and the way that the light changed moment by moment, from glory to glory. (Finding a spacious place).
I saw you in the sunrise just as the writer of this song did. I look at the majesty and subtlety and wonder of the sun emerging over the sea and I am looking into the eyes of the Lord. My God, you're beautiful.
I see your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed at the light of the stars
It's all proclaiming who you are
I saw that too.
I lay on my back with Bryan on the same holiday and we saw the Milky Way in a clear and unpolluted night sky and I was amazed indeed. (The skies proclaim your handiwork.) There were more stars than I've ever seen. You put every one of them there and it was breathtaking. Awe-inspiringly beautiful. This song was meant for me, wasn't it?
I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on your heavenly throne
And soon we will be coming home
Lord at Easter I was struck in a new way with the enormity of what you did for me. It was very powerful and it knocked me for six. (The weight of the world) and (How marvellous, how wonderful). I was amazed at what I saw for the first time about what you did. For me. For me. You didn't have to but you did, because you loved me. I sat here at my computer and I tried desperately to make words describe what you were doing in my heart pretty much as I am now, and failed, I suppose, pretty much as I am now, because it's too big a thing. It's too hard to express it adequately when God says something to you. When the Lord of creation tells you that he died for you because he loves you so much there aren't words for it.
And then came the last verse of Phil Wickham's beautiful song and I choked up again.
When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we'll sing
I think this is the song of my year, Lord. It sums up so much of what I've thought and felt. It's been a special time for me. You've given me the odd glimpse of the hope I have in the last few months and although I'm just a small child with such an incredible long way to go you've been gracious enough to encourage me with tiny glimpses of the promise that I have in you. (The place where beauty comes from). Lord God, I've said it before; I give you so little and you give me so much back.
I find this last verse spine tingling. You have grown in my heart this year a real longing to know you. To notice you and to see you and hear you and experience you and reflect you and tell people about you. This little thing that's growing - it's small and incomplete and faulty and quite often gets drowned out by much less lofty desires but you've planted a seed and I am stooped over it, protectively, trying to give it water and light and help it to grow into something. I want it to, honestly.
A little devotional reading on my iPhone the other night told me of an alpine plant that has a tiny, tiny flower, yet three feet of root to anchor it into shallow soil and reach between rocks to make it safe from strong winds and erosion and yet supply it with the nutrients it needs to survive and bloom. Lord, make me like that plant. Sometimes I can find rich, hearty soil but sometimes I find myself without any depth to reach into. Sometimes I find that I'm blowing in the wind and in danger of becoming uprooted but I'm hanging on. Give me three feet of root, Father God, even when beneath me is just rock. Even if my flower is minuscule, help me to blossom and show the beauty you've given me even if no-one is around to see.
My devotional goes on to say that meditating on your word, and learning to appreciate your presence in the world around us is how we can put down longer and firmer roots. To anchor ourselves in you.
I have such a long way to go, Lord, but you've been showing me all this, this year, haven't you? (The sacred that surrounds us). I hear songs like 'You're beautiful' and I read about meditation and opening my eyes to see you and hear you around me and I have come to recognise that I can see you. I so often shut you out because my vision is narrow and selfish but I can, when you help me, take a long look at the wonder of you.
Lord what a loving God you are. You made me how I am and you know how much I like symmetry; how much I like things to be complete and orderly. You know how bad I am at listening to you and yet you've placed in my heart a little spark of something that delights me and leads me closer to you. You've sent me so many little gems this year; so many new ideas and glimpses and you've been patient enough to reinforce each one and send me reminders in so many ways. In books, in devotionals, through friends, sermons and the things I find around me. You've made connections where there were none and have fed and watered the little seed that you planted.
It is just wonderful, Father. 'You're Beautiful' doesn't begin to cover it, but I offer you what I can. What I have. Thankyou.
Just as the young couple on Friday left the church to start their life together, I feel I've set out on a journey with you this year. I've taken some steps and it feels as if this trip could last a lifetime. I have no idea how long that might be, but I'm limbering up for the next leg of the journey.
I love it.