Friday, October 12, 2012

Enjoying the Journey

My husband and I recently had the opportunity to visit Venice and it was a dream come true. We had a ball exploring the winding streets and along the canals. We always started out with a destination in mind, but soon got lost in the maze. We felt like mice looking for cheese at the other end. But what fun to be lost! Shops along the way were full of lovely jewelry made of Italian glass, fashionable clothes, leather shoes and purses, and of course, Venetian masks. Plus there was pizza, gelato, and pastries galore to be sampled. Our favorite treat was their hazelnut brittle – one inch thick and cut into pie shaped wedges.

Although there are dozens of fabulously ornate cathedrals, you can’t see them until you reach an open piazza. Once spotted after a few turns in the narrow walkways, you’re lost again. The signs are helpful though, especially for St. Mark’s Square. It seems like no matter which way you turn there is a sign pointing the way to the most famous church on the island. We had to laugh when we saw a t-shirt with two arrows pointing in opposite directions, each declaring “Per San Marco.”

However, with no schedule to keep, we were able to meander up streets and down, wander the small side canals, and eventually find our way to each destination relaxed and happy. Each surprise we met with on the way just added to the sense of discovery and delight. I think that’s an attitude I need more in my walk with Christ.

Too often I have an idea in my head where I want to go and when I want to arrive, and so often miss the delightful people and experiences He intends for me to enjoy along the way. Instead of poking around in His Word for delectable morsels and treasures, I’m desperately craning my neck to get a glimpse of the future. Where is that cheese anyway?! Instead of putting my hand in His and strolling along beautiful waterways and crossing bridges from here to there, too often I badger my Savior about where He’s leading me and when we might arrive.

How much better it is when I trust Him to lead me through the maze of life. Then I can relax, get to know others on the road, and let Him accomplish His purpose for me each day. So many of us love the promise He gave the Israelites in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He also reminds us in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Yes, there is work to be done, and we should make plans and set goals, yet not forget to enjoy the journey on the way. I hope these photos from our trip help you pause for a moment breathe in the beauty of that city and imagine yourself walking the streets of life with Jesus in trust and joy.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Holding Hands With God

My dad has big hands. As a little girl, my hand was swallowed by size of his hand, yet he never crushed me. Even though they were the same hands that gave me an occasional swat when I was disobedient (well, okay, maybe more than occasional), I didn’t fear his hands. I knew without a doubt that my daddy loved me. When he held my hand I felt secure and safe.

Recently I’ve been intrigued by all the times the Bible refers to God’s right hand. The more times I noticed it, the more I wondered about God’s intended symbolism, so I did a little study. And I was not disappointed.

The NIV Archeological Study Bible says: “The hand was symbolic in the ancient world. It was believed that from it one either bestowed grace or pronounced punishment. In addition, the hand represented the authority of an individual, the instrument of carrying out a person’s intentions. The…left hand was universally acknowledged to be the one used for sanitation purposes and, therefore, was less respected than its counterpart. Secondly, since most people were right-handed, the right hand was considered to have innately superior strength and capability.

“Because of its special physical status, the right hand was assigned important metaphorical significance, frequently expressing blessing, fellowship or comfort…it was believed to represent the character, will and actions of the individual taking the vow…the right hand represented God’s ultimate strength and provision for his people.” (“The ‘Right Hand’ in Ancient Thinking”)

Not only does our Father-God rescue and protect us with His mighty right hand, but He holds our hand, to reassure us of His intimate care. These verses are some of my favorites:

I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8

I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Psalm 73:23-24

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:10, 13
And here’s the best part. If God is holding us by the right hand that means that our dominant hand is unavailable for use. We cannot, in our own strength, take care of ourselves; we must depend on God. Since He holds our right hand in His left, God has His right arm free to wield unlimited strength, power, comfort, salvation, and provision. Our weakness enables His strength to freely express itself on our behalf.

To that I say, “Here’s my hand, Father. I trust you, because I know you love me and will take care of me.”