The God who Nourishes Us

“…no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

-Ephesians 5:29-30

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My grandma injured her leg in a fall yesterday, and I am recovering from a few overuse injuries, which happen more frequently due to EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome).  I was complaining about my condition this morning, and praying for my grandma.  I voiced my fears and frustrations to God, as I opened my Bible to Ephesians 5 this morning.

 

I was surprised at the way verses 29 and 30 confronted me.  I nearly cried.  I normally think about Ephesians 5 as talking about marriage relationships.  Being that marriage is a representation of Christ’s relationship with the church, it makes sense that there would be beautiful truths, like the ones in these verses, that, while sandwiched between passages explaining how husbands and wives ought to interact, reveal pearls of truth about the way God interacts with his people.

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I care about my body.  I went into a career in health and fitness because I love the way my body enables me to enjoy the world around me to the fullest.  I love hiking and biking and running.  I love having the ability to help those in need, to cuddle, to kiss, to see, smell, taste, hear, talk, touch, and sing.  I can’t imagine life without these abilities, and yet my body tends to tear and fight me pushing it to do more.

 

I know that God COULD heal me if he wanted to, but he hasn’t yet.  Instead, he leaves me to daily wrestle and writhe, as I balance the desire and need to be active, with the uncertainty of how much is TOO much before my body starts breaking down.  These realities makes me feel like God must just not care or value the abilities of my body as much as I do.

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Then I read passages like Ephesians 5:29-30.  I am told that God nourishes and cares for me, a part of his Church, THE WAY HE DOES FOR HIS OWN BODY?!?!  Wow!

 

I don’t know why God doesn’t heal me, but if the truth is that he nourishes and cares for my body as though it were his own, I can know that my pain is not because of a lack of care or concern.   Surely God cares about himself!  And his word tells me that his care for me is like his care for his own self!!!

 

I may may not always feel loved; the truth is that I am.  The truth is that “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  I choose to believe the truth.  I choose to pray that truth for my grandma today, as she goes into surgery for her broken leg.

 

In honor of grandma, and the God who nourishes us, all the pictures in this post are from grandma’s garden ❤️.

 

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Simply Shadows

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

-1 Corinthians 13:12

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Peering out an airplane window, as we started our half hour descent, I entertained myself  by admiring the landscape below.  Based on what I could see, I created narratives in my mind of what the lives of the people living there must be like.

Before long, my thoughts were interrupted by the realization that what I had mistaken for lakes, while at a higher altitude, were in fact, upon closer inspection, merely shadows of clouds!  The clouds passed beneath me: billowing, beautiful, and full of light. Nonetheless, they created very real looking puddles of darkness on the ground below.

There was even a shadow of our airplane!

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Immediately, a quote from Tara Leigh Cobble’s book “Kiss the Wave” came to mind. She talks about the way a trip to the places Jesus lived and walked in Israel changed her perspective:

“Prior to Israel, I would pray for His return when my heart was broken or life was hard and I despaired. I only wanted Him because he was better than the bad things. But after Israel, I found myself praying for His return simply because I like Him so much. I realized: He’s not just better than the bad things. He is better than the best things. Whenever I saw a beautiful sunset or tasted a great steak, or laughed so hard my face hurt, I thought, and these are just shadows! Just fractions of the fullness of joy, given to us to point us toward Him! What will it be like to feel the form, not just the shadow” (86, Kiss the Wave).

Shadow is but a taste of the truth, or, as 1 Corinthians 13 puts it, merely a “mirror” image of reality. Be it clouds or airplanes or laughter or kisses, as Tara Leigh says “these are just shadows!”

As Plato says in “The a republic”:

“What about someone who believes in beautiful things but doesn’t believe in the beautiful itself and isn’t able to follow anyone who could lead him to the knowledge of it? Don’t you think he is living in a dream rather than a wakened state? Isn’t this dreaming: whether asleep or awake, to think that a likeness is not a likeness but rather the thing itself that it is like?”

Everything we see points to a reality beyond it. I want to see past the “shadows.” I want to “use the things of this world as if not engrossed in them,” because “this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). I want to be storing up for the world and the one who IS eternal (Matthew 6:19-21, Revelation 22:13) In him, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). He is the light, the source and the true “form” that every “good and perfect” thing is simply a shadow of (James 1:17)

 

Swans and Sleep

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lordmake me dwell in safety.”

-Psalm 4:8

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Yesterday, I joined these beautiful swans, sitting beside the pond on the Common (Boston Common), watching their namesake boats pass by.  Ducks, geese, and birds begged and dodged onlookers all around. Couples cuddled, nappers napped, studiers studied, and I simply sat there, taking it all in.

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In spite of the commotion all around, and the personal paparazzi they attracted, these swans slept on, paused to preen their feathers, stretched, and sunbathed, seemingly without a care in the world.

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I thought about how the Psalmist says that it is only because of the Lord’s watchcare over us that we are able to sleep “in peace” and “dwell in safety.”  Isaiah 46 tells us that this is true, even in the midst of catastrophy, and events that would seem to warrant sleepless nights and concern for our safety:

“God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Oh to trust the invisible “fortress” that is the arms of the Almighty God.  To have eyes to see the unseen armies of angels, ambassadors at God’s bidding, who guard his own (II Kings 6:17, Psalm 103Hebrews 1:14).  To rest, in the midst of all the chaos life concocts, fully assured that:

no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.”

-Isaiah 54:17