Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Heights of Love, What Depths of Peace

I've been feeling a little small lately. I wish that was a reference to a drop in weight, but alas I seem to be gaining mass more than losing it. Which makes me think of my favorite T-Shirt in the gift shop at the Museum of Science and Industry that reads "Do these protons make my mass look big?" Makes me giggle every time. But I digress...

I think the first image I saw that brought home the truth of Isaiah 40:7 and Genesis 18:27 (which remind me I'm like the withering grass, mere dust and ashes) was about a month ago when I was flying over the mountains on the way out to California.

I've been at the bottom of the foothills in Boulder, Colorado and looked up at the majestic objects that fill the sky and force you to crane your neck all the way back to see their peaks. I've stood at the top of the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park and been awestruck by the sheer vastness of the ridge of mountains elevated over 7,500 feet. I know how big they are. I've been among them. But they look pretty small from 30,000 feet.

Interesting how a change in perspective can actually give you some.

Last weekend we were at a party at a friends house and there was an inchworm crawling along a card table outside. It literally was no bigger than an inch, contracting and expanding it's little body to make the long, slow journey across the three foot surface.

And I started marveling at the imagination and creativity of God. The creator of the universe is looking down from a place far higher than the window seat of my airplane at the matchbox size world below and somehow has cared enough about wonder and details to make both mountains and inchworms. And people. Billions of them. In His own image. With pores and fingernails and hair strands which He has numbered! (Matthew 10:30 and Luke 12:7)

I'm just one person in a crowded region with a busy schedule. One person who was becoming increasingly drained by the pace of the activities. One person hoping for some rest.

And God provided.

First it was California. Five days in the sun with my sister along Highway 1 and the picturesque drive that is the Pacific Ocean on one side and rolling hills on the other (they call them mountains there, but after Colorado I can't bring myself to agree). Stops in Sonoma Valley, San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Carmel and Big Sur where the most pressing decision was where to eat and watch the sunset. It was heavenly.

Then two weeks later, He provided again. That most beloved retreat anyone who has known me twenty minutes has likely heard about, Camp Arcadia in northern Michigan. We didn't think we would get to go this year, a combination of a lack of finances and not registering in time for a very popular destination. Then the generosity of a good friend landed us in a cottage fifty feet from Camp property and about 150 feet from the beach on Lake Michigan. Five more days of sunset bliss along the water. Very few decisions, very much rest.

Spending time along those big bodies of water that go on and on to the horizon which you sometimes can't even see through the haze and the fog. Watching the sky transform into God's canvas with streaks of pink and purple and orange and yellow brushed onto the clouds while the waves crash up against the shore. Laughing and hanging with friends and family, reading books and playing cards. My vision was enlarged so my self importance could decrease.

For someone who is tempted to think too frequently of herself and far higher of herself than she ought, it was nothing short of grace to be humbly reminded "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." (Ephesians 3:18)

So now I'm back to the routine (as much as there is one in summer) and the pace is still quick and the work is still plenty, but the rest is still near. Because it isn't confined to the coasts of my retreats. It comes from the One whose presence is always with me. And I'm reminded of this song.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt of life, no fear of death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

Lyrics by Stuart Townend, Keith Getty