IMG_5313_2By Judy Villanueva

I stand at the door and knock. Whoever hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to him and will dine with Him and he with me. (Rev. 3:20)

A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” (John 5:5-8)

I hate surprises. I read the end of books first and fast forward movies to relieve the pressure of not knowing what will happen next.  I have a picture of me standing at the threshold of a patio full of friends who had gathered to surprise me on my 30th birthday.  As I approached the doorway I could hear excited whispers and immediately clued in to what was coming. If I’d had time to think about it I might have turned around but momentum pushed me forward and through the threshold!   There, I was welcomed by the joy of people who loved me. I remember lots of doorways over the years, some happy and some sad, — some I ran through and others I felt dragged through.  Each one invited me to enter, even though I never knew quite what would happen next. “Come live life with Me!” Jesus keeps saying. “I am knocking. Open the door. Let’s eat!”

Thresholds.  They are doorways of invitation or at least, that is the way I have come to view them.  We relate most readily to the ones that physically, emotionally or relationally initiate change in our lives like getting married, having a baby, starting a new job, losing a loved one, or becoming ill.  But, are you also aware of the spiritual thresholds that exist all throughout our lives?

These relate to the work of the Spirit in us and, if we learn to listen to the inner urgings of our souls, we discover brilliant and beautiful invitations to be formed by the hand of God.

Really! Jesus stands at these entrances and knocks. We become aware of the knocking when and as we clue in to our own internal life. Curiosities, yearnings, distinct observations while reading the Word or worshipping — a lack of peace, a sense of being awakened to a Voice that says, “Come!”  Listen and follow His voice.  It’s not necessary that we know what will happen next, only that we will find Jesus waiting for us with a table prepared, mud for our eyes, and fish for our tummies!

Something in me identifies this morning with the man by the pool who feels helpless to get into the healing water. Tears burn in my eyes as I read that “Jesus saw him lying there” and knew “his condition”.  My heart aches as I listen to the man tell Jesus that no one will help him get into the pool and suddenly, I hear knocking!  I become aware of my own soul wound that relates to feeling invisible sometimes and find myself standing at a threshold.  I have a sense of what’s beyond because I have read the end of this story!  So, I lean forward to peer in and see Jesus seeing me and asking, “Do you wish to get well?”

It is an invitation to wholeness that is irresistible and while I cannot know what exactly will happen next, I know by now that Jesus always calls me toward life!

“Get up!” There is power in His voice and healing in His eyes and before I know it, I am upright, embraced and walking — welcomed with joy by Jesus who is ever faithful to form holiness in me and heal my life with love .

“What a gift it is that you always see me and know me, Jesus. It revives my soul and makes me happy! Thank you for the thresholds in life that invite me to Your heart, heal my wounds, and form my soul. Please help me to hear you knocking. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you aware when you are standing at a threshold, a doorway of invitation to healing and new life?

Can you hear when Jesus knocks? Can you sense your inner life? Your desires curiosities and angst?

Do you want to be well?

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DSC_0506By Judy Villanueva

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft. (Deuteronomy 32:10-11)

A live video feed was recently posted online with a bird’s eye view, so to speak, of an eagle hovering over her egg.  She shifted back and forth in the nest, never taking her eyes off the oval incubator that held her little eaglet.  From time to time she poked the egg with her beak as if to entice her offspring to break the shell that confined her.  “Knock, knock, knock” she pecked, “A life of flight awaits you! Break through!”  Birth, or in this case, shell-shedding happens in its own time but until then, anyone who tuned in, observed this majestic creature shielding the new life hidden within her egg and keeping a careful watch.

Life often forms in hiddenness.

It can appear and feel as though nothing is happening, but God is always hovering over our depths and dreaming into us!

No one escapes injury in the course of growing up!  Even the best parents are human and even the most resilient child lives in a fallen world.  Places of confinement develop right alongside places of freedom.  Are you aware of when and where you are “shelled-in”?  It is often revealed in those times when we feel trapped and subject to worry, anger, fear or sadness.  These strong emotions can surround us and become a kind of confinement that hinders our freedom to love, experience joy, or soar as God intended.  What do we do with these tight places and how do we break through to flight?

“Ruach Elohim” is the Hebrew phrase in these verses that refers to the Wind Breath of God! Just as He did when he hovered over the surface of the deep and called forth light and a world brimming with life, God watches over our lives with care and sees our unformed potential.

He knows what’s in the egg!

What has touched me this week as I have watched a mother eagle hover over her babe is the reality of God’s careful attention over my life. That the God of the universe hovers over me is not only astounding, it fills me with shell-shedding hope!  It makes me grateful and gives me courage to breakthrough and fly in freedom — on the wind breath of God!

“Ruach Elohim, breathe on me!  Create new life and give me wings to fly!  Thank you that you see my places of confinement and know just how to set me free.  Help me notice your voice that  invites me to new life.  Amen.”

What about you? 

Where are your places of confinement?  Where do you lack freedom to love, forgive, or trust?

Do you know that God watches over your life with care?  That He dreams into you?

What do you need from God today?  Where do you need a breakthrough?

The Wind Breath of God called forth light from darkness and a world brimming with life!  This is the One who watches over you!

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Come Forth!

waterfallBy Judy Villanueva

John 11:38-44
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Can you see Jesus standing before the tomb that holds His dear friend? It has been four days. Go there with me and, imagine being with Jesus in front of the cave and watch the story unfold! Mary and Martha are there along with others who loved this man and his family. It’s dusty and I can hear the shuffling of feet on the sandy ground. “What did Jesus say? He wants to take the stone away? Why?” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” I hear these words as if they have traveled over 2000 years and found me typing in my little office. God is speaking to me! I want to believe! I want to see the glory of God! I suddenly realize that some of my stuff is in that tomb! Hopes that have died — prayers that have grown tired, dreams that have been dragged there by long years of waiting.

I look at the tomb that holds the dead…and then, I look at Jesus! He knows. There are tears of love in His eyes and in mine as I feel intimately known and loved. Then, He turns and faces the mouth of the cave and shouts, “Lazarus, come forth!”  There is a hush that sweeps across the site and a pressured pause as we all wait with wide-eyed anticipation. Then, we hear it…can it be?  Footsteps!  All eyes are on the mouth of the cave.  Now, watch…don’t miss it!  There!  A shadow!  And now, a dead man raised and walking out of his tomb!  Standing at the cave next to the One for whom nothing is impossible, we witness the beauty and wonder of life called forth from death!  I fall to the ground in sheer awe and utter amazement! The glory of God is spectacular! I want to dance! I want to cry! My God can do anything!

Almost unwittingly, I find myself peeking around Jesus as He hugs His friend to see if I can catch a glimpse of my stuff.  Where is it???  It’s not in the tomb!  How can I go from awe to panic in a mili-second?  Where’s my dead stuff?  Befuddled, I turn scanning for my shattered hopes, my disappointments, fatigued prayers and lifeless dreams. Then Jesus says, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  What on earth? There in front of me is Jesus asking me to believe and inviting me to witness the glory of God! And, to my surprise, held safely in His arms, is all my dead stuff! Jesus holds my pages of prayers, my worries, loved ones, hopes and dreams!  He looks at me and says, “Come forth!” — and I feel a surge of faith, dreams awakening, worries resting, and hopes breathing again.

“Lord God almighty! You are faithful! You are all powerful, all good, all knowing…and You love me! You know me! All the time, in every thing, You know me. Thank you that You care about my hopes and dreams. Call forth the things that have died in me and let the reality that Jesus stands with me help me to believe and watch for Your glory! Amen.”

How about you?

Do you have hopes, dreams, prayers, and weathered faith left for dead in a tomb?

How might you pray if Jesus were standing next to you? How might you ask Him to pray for you?

Do you want to see the glory of God? Do you need help to believe?

Pray. Ask God to call forth life!

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Catching Beauty!

tetonsdawnBy Judy Villanueva

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)

A gentle breeze blew quietly through our room gracing us with relief from the heat that had kept us up most of the night. I’m sure I had a smile on my face as I enjoyed the goodness of REM sleep only to be nudged awake at 5:00am by my husband. “I really want to watch the sun rise on the Grand Tetons and maybe see a moose and hear the Elk bugle! Let’s get up!” It was as though he cared nothing about sleep and could only imagine the wonder that awaited us. I replied groggily, “I think we are two hours away from sunrise, honey…won’t the sun come up again tomorrow?”

Dozens of tri-pods, Nikons and iphones showed up in the dark to watch and wait for light and an opportunity to catch beauty! The beholding of beauty never seems to suffice and I always find myself wanting just one more shooting star, lightning bolt or minute in the presence of majesty.

There is something about beauty that lets us touch the glory of God and the feel of it makes us want to catch it and make it our own!

It’s hard to put into words but it’s one thing to read about the glory of God and quite another to feel pulled into the middle of it by a sunrise, moose or mountain face!

I can’t tell you how many fellow “beauty catchers” stood with us in the cold predawn hours or how many pictures I took of one mountain! I didn’t want to leave and couldn’t get enough of what felt like God’s manifest presence, breathtaking and beautiful!

Is it the glory we were made for that compels us to linger before beauty and try to take it home in our pockets?

As the light finally lifted up over the horizon and ran across the water to celebrate against the mountain face, I found that I did, too! I could feel the declaration of Divine splendor and realized that there in the middle of it all was my God loving me…just waiting to be caught.

“Father, your creation is magnificent! I know when I’m trying to catch beauty I’m really trying to catch you! Thank you for making me for your glory and helping me find it. Amen.”

What about you?

How does the experience of beauty make you feel?

Do you recognize that feeling of not wanting an experience of beauty to end?

Where did you last experience the glory of God?

We were made for His glory….linger in it and let God love you there. Registered & Protected

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Come To Me!

dsc_0969By Judy Villanueva

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I couldn’t have been more than seven years old when I first noticed these words inscribed across the altar at church.  They seemed to jump out at me every Sunday as if teasing me to unwrap their meaning.  As a child, I imagined that coming to God and taking His “easy” yoke meant that my life would be carefree and full of laughter and love.  Indeed, it has been this but, not only this.  Life tends to pulse with both joys and sorrows and unwrapping Truth happens in layers, doesn’t it?

We plumb for its richness as we trust and agree to come, even when can’t see where we are going.

As this year comes to a close I find myself weary and particularly grateful for Jesus’ invitation to “Come”.  He knows that carrying heavy burdens weighs us down and bids us trade our wearisome loads for His yoke that is easy and light.  To be yoked is to be bound to a burden that must then be dragged around, much like oxen tied to an iron plow. But, think of it!

To be bound to Jesus is to be tethered to God!

It is to agree to submit to and learn from the One who is gentle and humble in heart.  At first glance, this passage appeals to our need of rest, but a second look reveals a layer of love that invites us to soul-shaping surrender!

The One who came… calls us to come!

Come to the One who came for you!  Come rest in His love.  Come learn from His humble heart. Come lean on Him every day and in everything! Let Him help you hold your life and unwrap the power of His Word for each day.  He knows how to carry heavy loads and can help us find rest for our weary souls.  I want to trade my yoke of worry for His yoke of peace.  I want to learn how to live well by being tethered to the One who loves me, who knows what it is to be weary and who paid a dear price for my rest.

“Jesus, thank you for reaching out to me when I was young and for helping me find my way to You. Help me to come to you today with all that burdens me and trust You. Thank you for being my place of rest. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you weary from carrying heavy burdens?  What are you dragging around?

Have you heard Jesus call you to come?  Are you in need of His rest?

Are you ready to trade your burdens for His yoke of love?

Listen for His voice that calls you to come.  God cares that you are weary and in need of rest.

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God is Light

20161211_173616By Judy Villanueva

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1John 1:5) 

Even the darkness is not dark to You,                                                                                                And the night is as bright as the day. (Psalm 139:12)

Bang!  The sound thundered in the night and woke me from a deep sleep.  I could hear snow pelting against the window and thought I’d imagined flashes of light through the curtains.  The wind seemed to hurl itself against the wall as though determined to break into our bedroom.  It was 4:00 am and shaken awake, I was now curious to see what exactly was going on outside, so I got up! My sense of hearing told me a stormy story but I could see nothing in the darkness outside my window.  Absolutely nothing! In a way, this is how parts of life feel right now.  I can’t see what’s in front of me and much as I press my nose against the window of tomorrow and strain to know the “what”, “where”, and “how” of it, it remains hidden.

My choice is to bang around in the dark and try to see what I cannot or trust that God, who is Light, sees everything, everywhere, all the time.

That God is light is a blessed reality!  NOTHING can hide from Him and NO THING is unknown to Him!  We, being human, experience darkness when the sun goes down, when we don’t understand a thing, or when something is hidden from us.  Most of our fears hide in the dark of unknowing.  What frightens you?  What threatens your peace?  AW Tozer once said that “What we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Knowing that God IS light chases our fears into the middle of a holy radiance that shatters the darkness!  

Life might sound like a stormy story and we may not be able to see through the night, but we can keep trusting that even the darkness is not dark to God…it is as bright as day!  We can keep receiving His gifts of light and let each ray shine on our doubts and fears.  On that stormy morning I sat by the glow of a warm fire and watched the sun defeat darkness yet again!  It became God’s literal Word of light to me!  Can you hear it?


God is Light.  He can see in the dark!  He knows what’s in front of us and will always be faithful to defeat the darkness and be our daily Light!

“Father, I am deeply comforted that You are light. It quiets my fears and gives me strength in the dark places. Thank you that you keep seeing what’s in front of me. It’s all lit up! Help me to notice your gifts of light today. Amen.”

How about you? 

What frightens you? What threatens your peace?

Have you ever noticed that light brings hope?

How does the sun coming up make you feel? What about candlelight, twinkling stars, or moonlight?

How might knowing that God is light be important in your life?

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Throwing Stones

dsc_0714By Judy Villanueva

John 8:1-11

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

What is it about human nature that wants to stand over others and cry out for justice? Even children seem to have an internal sense of fairness and tattle loudly when someone breaks the rules.  What is glaring in this story is the complete lack of love with which this woman is thrown down before Jesus.

I wonder what Jesus was thinking as he wrote in the sand?  Did he kneel down and write as a way of helping the crowd slow down and really see the woman?

Did he want it to sink in that they were not so different than she?  I wonder what the woman was thinking. She was caught in the act!  She knows how this works.  I imagine her looking down in shame unable to meet the eyes of her accusers and bracing for the first stone.  Instead, crouched in Jesus’ shadow, she hears him invite the one without sin to throw first but, rather than receiving blows of judgment, she hears rocks fall to the ground and feet shuffle away!

Can you imagine her first taste of grace as she looks up at Jesus and hears him say, “Where are your accusers?  Does no one condemn you?  Neither do I condemn you.”  We are people in need of mercy, and yet, are terribly prone to judge one another with harshness. It’s not that discerning right from wrong is a bad thing.  On the contrary, it is a necessary thing if we are to grow in godliness.

We do harm when we stop seeing people and just see their acts, when we forget that we are not so different from those we condemn, and when we mistakenly believe we are in any position to throw stones.

The only One in that position did not pick up a rock.  Nor did Jesus set the woman free without exhorting her to leave her life of sin.  We tend to do one or the other — we either forgive and condone sin or,  judge and condemn it.  The truth is, we need  mercy AND justice and it is only crouched in the shadow of the cross that — remarkably, undeservedly, and thankfully — we find both!   Amazing and beautiful grace!

“Lord, I confess that I, too, judge others harshly. I ask for grace to fill my heart and your help to love people and forgive acts. Thank you for daily graces and your heart that keeps setting me free. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you a grace giver or a stone thrower?

Do you tend to forgive and condone or, judge and condemn?

Have you had an encounter with amazing grace?

Have you received God’s gift of forgiveness and love?

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Look at Me!

dsc_1148By Judy Villanueva

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1Samuel 3:10)

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words; Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them 
and health to one’s whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

I was ready for the challenge!  I was twenty-three years old.  She was a baby.  I had a college education.  She had determination!  Suddenly, she made her move and crawled as fast as she could for the electrical outlet!  She looked over at me and reached out her dimpled hand in defiance!   I sternly said, “Look at mommy!  Don’t you dare touch that outlet!” We had been here before — many times — and each time I’d watch her teeter between wanting what she wanted and yielding to my voice.  To her credit, she looked at me and stalled for about ten seconds before she touched it!

“Look at Me!”  It’s a directive that parents use to get their child’s attention.  It is meant to entice the young one away from one focal point and onto the parent in order to give needed correction or guidance.  Babies, of course, cannot appreciate the good intentions of the parent and simply want what they want!  Sadly, even grown up, we tend to get focused on things that don’t bring life or worse, are harmful to us. Submitting our desires to God and turning to Him for direction is essential to maintaining a balanced and healthy spiritual life.

The problem is not so much that we want this or that, but rather that our hearts get so filled up with good things (and not so good things) that there is little room left to want God.

Can you hear God when He calls you to look at Him?  It might be a still, small voice, an internal nudge or a louder invitation, like an ulcer, or a life that is falling apart.  If we are not in the habit of “listening”, His might sound like one voice among many.

There is a fine-tuning that happens each time we hear and obey God. The sound of Him becomes clearer!

Likewise, we can deaden our sense of Him by ignoring His prompts and turning away from His face.

Looking for God, listening as we make decisions or walk out the front door is necessary if we are to be helped to want what is most worthy of wanting!  Do you want God?  I do, in theory!  But, too often, I really just want what I want and depend on His kind, steady voice to help me turn away from things that distract me and look at Him.  I want to be aware of God in the middle of my day, especially when He says, “Judy, look at Me!”

I need to feel the sound of Him correcting, directing and helping me find my way to His will.

I need to hear His voice say “I love you” in my every moment and learn to want Him most of all.

“Father, I thank you that you are a wise and watchful parent.  Help me to hear you call when I am in heading away from your will and in need of redirecting!  Keep finding me!  Amen.”

What about you?

Can you hear God when He calls to you?

How do you look at God?

What sorts of things help you hear His voice?

Are you learning to want God, most of all?

There is nothing more orienting than looking at God!  It finds us!

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Blind Spots

dsc_0729By Judy Villanueva

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2Corinthians 4:7-11)

Chopping vegetables at the kitchen counter, family togetherness percolated throughout the house.  The football game in the living room, little ones running up and down the stairs, and my daughter and I in the kitchen talking over the cutting board.  She said, “I was thinking about family traits lately and in particular, about the stubbornness that runs on both sides of our family.”  “What?” I thought, “MY family? Stubborn?”  I heard very little else she said after that and while I watched her lips move, it dawned on me that God was asking if I’d like a little help to see one of my blind spots. Sheesh! Not really.  But if I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that saying yes to God always changes me for the better, even if it hurts a little — so I opened my eyes and said, ” I want to see.”

Blind-spots.  These “spots”, so to speak, are behaviors, plain to our family and friends but opaque to us.  They are often deeply rooted in our early development with origins that vary from birth order to trauma to temperament and a host of other things that make us, us — both beautiful and broken.  You can be quite certain that these are the areas in need of healing and love along with the skilled pressure of the Potter’s hands.  The problem with being shaped is that often what is needed to soften our rough edges is heat and following God into the fire, even if it is a refining one, burns.  Who wants to know that they are stubborn or lazy, self-absorbed, negative, blunt or prickly?

No doubt, being willing to know our blind-spots takes courage but it also powerfully positions us to be changed!

That is my great hope when I hear the knock that invites me to open my heart to a Light that will reveal my spots, blind and otherwise.  The image of a cracked pot with all-surpassing power bursting from its brokenness gives me a picture of what goes on when I bring all of myself to God — and make peace with who I am today.  Christ in me, spilling through the cracks and beaming from my broken places gives me courage to yield to the Potter who keeps pouring out His life and shaping His image in me.

What a realization that it’s not perfection that I must pursue but a life given and open, attentive, listening, and willing to follow my Savior into the fire that makes me His — broken and beautiful clay pot.


“Thank you, Father, for holy nudges that alert me to things you want to change in me. Give me courage to know, confess and trust that you are always a good and excellent Potter.  I am  grateful that you know all of me, all the time and are faithful to hold me in the fire while you make me more like Jesus.  Amen.”

What about you?

Can you sense when God is speaking to you?

How do you feel when you become aware of a blind spot?  How do you respond?

What do you think and feel when you see the image of the broken pot filled with light?

(*Thank you Robert S. Mack for helping get this image out of my head and onto paper.  It is my daily prayer.)

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Buttered to the Edges

img_5710By Judy Villanueva

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,  nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season.  And its leaf does not wither;  And in whatever he does, he prospers.         (Psalm 1:1-3)                                                                                                     

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The smell of bacon crisping filled the kitchen and snuck up the stairs with enticements to wake up and get moving!  My husband and I were staying at the home of dear friends and had dutifully followed the call of pork to the kitchen. “Pop!” The toast had risen and the buttering began!  That’s when she said it!  “Did you butter to the edges?”  I looked up just in time to catch the nodding smile of my friend’s husband as he slathered butter all the way to the crust!  The idea made sense on so many levels and seemed to sizzle alongside the bacon with a question for me to ponder. “Is my life buttered to the edges?  Is Christ being formed in me all the way through to my crust, saturating every bite with the taste of His buttery goodness?”

The Potter and clay, the Vine and branches, and the tree firmly planted by streams of water tell a story of spiritual growth.  They describe ways of being in life that are soul forming and God-shaping.

Revealed in each metaphor is an invitation to flourish alongside a picture of a mind blowing collaboration with the Creator!

Our part involves staying in His hands, abiding in the Vine, and sinking our roots into
the waters of Life.  His part is faithfully molding, filling and nourishing us to our edges.  Far from a magic wand, we work with God in the growth of strong branches and forming of fruit.  But, it is His beautiful heart that cleanses, heals, and imparts the power that transforms us from the inside out.

A seed sprouted that day at the breakfast table, a desire to be buttery!  And, right alongside was an invitation to consider my crustiness.  I sighed as I recognized the dry burnt edges of worry and fear, impatience and pride…unbelief and self-will.

Can I know what God already knows with my arms raised and heart secured by His love?

Do I trust that His invitations are designed to shape my soul as they stir up desires to be more like Him?  In those precarious moments that seem to teeter between pain and promise, I felt the Potter’s hand gently tilt my face toward His and say, “Abide with Me.” Staying in His hands, delighting in His word, paying attention to His voice help me touch His love and cooperate in making me buttery, but the feel of His face seeing me in all my crustiness floods my heart with gratitude and lionhearted hope!  His love makes a way.

“Thank you, Father, for your love. It’s what drew me to you so many years ago and what keeps drawing me every day since. Teach me how to abide better. Call me into your presence. Make me more like Jesus. Amen.”

What about you?

Is your life buttery to the edges?  Is Christ being formed in you?

Can you name your crusty edges?

Most of us know how to visit God but what is it to abide with Him? Registered & Protected

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