I missed it

IMG_6042I missed the sunset yesterday. It was beautiful. I wasn’t at one of my favorite spots. I didn’t see the vivid blue, orange, purple, and red hues bounce off the water and clouds as the sun quickly descended behind the hills.

I was at home, taking the dogs out.

I knew it was a good one. Even without seeing the source, I knew it was beautiful. Just look at those clouds, quickly captured with a smartphone while chasing dogs.

We don’t always need to see the source to see the beauty, do we? There are other signs, if we pay attention. It reminds me of the C.S. Lewis quote: “I believe in Christ as I believe that the sun has risen. Not because I see it, but because I see everything else.” IMG_6032

When it comes to God, we easily fall into the trap of demanding answers from Him. We demand that He show Himself and answer all our questions. To give us the reason for all of our hurts. When He doesn’t, we grit our teeth and let our anger boil.

Take a deep breath. Look around. There are signs everywhere. He’s speaking to us all the time, but on His terms and in His way, not ours. Even when we can’t see His face, we can see the reflection of His love and promises all around us if we take the time to pause and look for it. Our circumstances don’t reveal His nature to us, but His nature can be discovered from within our circumstances. Exhale. Inhale again.

Then back to chasing those ornery dogs.

Oh, shoot! It’s Over! (#31days)

Tonight, I returned to That Place I like to Watch the Sun Set. It was beautiful. As the sun disappeared behind the hills on the other side of the river, the majestic colors bounced off the clouds.

And then… it was over.

The sun was gone. The last of the fading sunbeams glanced off the clouds, ending the day with a delicate kiss. I stood in awe as the orange faded to pink and then toward blackness.

But October 9th had one surprise left.

Thirty minutes after the sun disappeared, even more beams of light exploded over the horizon. An eternity after the beauty had faded, one last burst appeared. It was as if Thursday was telegraphing a reminder. Never give up. Even after the light has faded. Light can be persistent. Even after we think it’s too late. The light breaks through.

Oh, shoot! It’s dark! (#31days)

IMG_9522I woke up around 4:30 this morning. It was dark.

I drove to one of my favorite spots. It’s commonly referred to as “the place I like to watch the sun set.” Many hours have been spent there, along the bank of the Arkansas River, pointing my camera at the fleeing sun. I thought it’d be a great spot to catch the setting of the blood moon.

I shut off my lights as I pulled up at my spot. When I threw the CRV into park, my door unlocked automatically. I shut the car off and looked around. It was dark. I was alone. Everything was still. Great conditions for trying to get some shots of the blood moon over the river. Click. I locked the door.

Great conditions for getting murdered by a deranged lunatic.

Maybe I watched too many horror movies in junior high. Maybe there wasn’t a crazy man with a chainsaw hanging around the banks of the Arkansas River at 5AM on a Wednesday morning. I evaluated my surroundings for a good 15 seconds and decided to try somewhere else. I started up the CRV, threw it into gear, and high-tailed it home. I was a mile away before I realized I had the car in “2” instead of “D.”IMG_9521

Once I arrived at the well-lit and comfortable safety of my house, I grabbed a ladder and climbed onto the roof. For the next hour, I watched the lunar eclipse and tried to snap a few pictures. The stars were beautiful and so was the lightning flashing in the west.

So what’s the moral of the story? There will be times of darkness. Times when you’ll feel alone. Times when you think a deranged lunatic is going to kill you. When you’re in that spot–no matter how irrational it may really be–it will be impossible to move forward. It’s okay to retreat. It’s okay to seek out a safe and familiar place. It’s okay to go home.

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And it’s always okay to sit on the roof.

 

 

 

Oh, shoot! I need a sign! (#31days)

IMG_9486I’ve been a seeker all my life. When the thought of God would cross my mind when I was younger, I’d frequently think: “God, if you are really there, show me a sign. If you show me a sign, I’ll believe.”

For years I didn’t see a single one. From the mountains of Colorado while hiking the continental divide to glaciers cleaving in Glacier Bay National park, God was silent. Eventually, I stopped asking.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (‭Psalm‬ ‭19‬:‭1‬ ESV)

Now I look at the sky and wonder how I missed it for so long. Creation is simply too exquisite, complex, and magnificent to be an accident. There are too many subtle touches, too many fascinating oddities. So much fragile beauty.IMG_9485

Now I look at a breathtaking sunrise and wonder “what does it say about the Creator that He shows us this?”

When I see sights like these pictured here, it reminds me of the nature of God. He is good. He is a source of hope and wonder. He is more grand, majestic, creative, and powerful than I can comprehend. And yet He loves us enough to keep sending us signs.

What signs have you seen?

Oh, Shoot! Gazing west at sunrise. (#31Days)

Today is day two of the October writing challenge. I had a plan. I thought I had the early days of this challenge licked. The sun comes up every morning, right? That means I can kick off the beginning of the challenge with an easy sunrise pic and a few words of inspiration. I’d get an easy win under my belt and be good to go.

Boom!

I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder. I’ve lived in Oklahoma a long time. I really love a good, ground-shaking thunderstorm. Catching a good sunrise during a thunderstorm in impossible, though. In fact, it’s hard to catch much of anything.

The storm was on its way out of town when I rolled in to work. Although there was a faint fiery glow along the horizon, it was impossible to catch without a lot more time and equipment than I have.

But the clouds broke. Although it didn’t reveal the incredible oranges, reds, yellows, and blues we often see on autumn mornings in Oklahoma, I still couldn’t help but pause. Nature’s deep greys and purple contrasted with the dirty, faded white concrete of the old Union Station. Beauty was there. Even without the gorgeous sunrise, there was hope and inspiration to be found as the storm left us behind.

Stormy Sky

 

So what’s the lesson for today? Is it that you don’t always find beauty in the way you expect to? Maybe. Is it that life can still be breathtaking in the midst of darkness and storms? Possibly. But there’s more.

I turned around.

Away from the sunrise.

I found a few of the colors I had been longing for. The sun was casting its light over the clouds and reflecting back from the other side. I was gazing west at sunrise. It was incredible

The light behind me

 

So maybe if you find yourself stuck, seeking light or beauty or the comfort of something familiar… Maybe it’s not so far away, but in a different presentation than you expected. Maybe hope is breaking through a simple crack between the clouds. Or maybe you just need to turn around.

Where have you found hope and light today?