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Eden's Mirror

Looking into the mirror of God's story

The Holy Scriptures

As I have sifted through my social media accounts recently, I’ve been pleasantly encouraged by the reminders to be faithfully reading the Bible this year. Many different reading plans exist and even The Gospel Coalition is urging its readers towards reading through the Bible in its entirety together as the scattered group of followers that we are.

I cannot speak highly enough of the significance of reading the Bible regularly and in community. If you haven’t already, pick a plan and find someone or many someones to read it with. Don’t neglect the Scriptures this year. There is so much more I could say.

But that is not the main reason I write to you tonight.

REFLECTING ON THE SACRED SCRIPTURES

This last year, our church read through the narrative books of the Old Testament. It was possibly one of the most formative seasons I’ve had in Scripture. I am still piecing together all that I learned and observed.

One of the things that stood out to me is how much Israel strayed from the Lord. The entire Old Testament narrative ends with Nehemiah bemoaning the people’s faithlessness yet again. It just seems like they can never hold up their own side of the covenant. And this isn’t just one person’s life. It’s thousands of years of living.

Well, I dove into the Psalms for this year, to accompany our church’s reading plan, and I stumbled across a footnote on an untranslatable word: “Selah”. Interpreters don’t know what it means. They can only guess it’s a musical or liturgical direction.

THE HUMAN SIDE

As I reflected on that simple reality — that even now, our Bible literally has words that have been lost in translation — I don’t feel threatened by it. Unlike many in our world who question the integrity and authority of Scripture, I understand now that much — oh so very much — HAS been lost to us. By the people who have gone before us who were often half-hazard in their faith in following God and at times, half-hazard in what they passed on to us. No one thought that anyone beyond their generation would ever read the Psalms and not be able to understand the word Selah. And can we blame them? I am equally half-hazard in my attempts to pass on truth and values to my own children! It is part of our fallen state that we leave things out in the process of “passing on” to the next generation. (Does this idea make you nervous about my faith in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture? Hang tight, we will get back to this).

More than that, having read the Old Testament story, I see now that there is SO much of Gods story with His people that we don’t get to see. Generations go by without a word from God about them other than the names scattered among the genealogies.

No, the Old Testament story is not a pretty one with a bow on top. It is not a “complete season of episodes” like our favorite TV dramas. It is full of “holes” in the plot line, and words we simply do not know the meaning for. Their culture and way of life, while assumed in the writing of Scripture, is in so many ways lost to us. This is the human side of Scripture.

THE DIVINE SIDE

But the human side in all its weaknesses betrays more clearly the divine side: that Gods Word is sufficient. Just as the Old Testament shows God’s infinite mercy for His people, sovereignly guiding the affairs of His people, so too we can trust that in the Bible’s humanness, it is protected and guarded by its True Author. In this way, the Bible is sufficient. Nothing is really left out that is necessary for our continued faith and obedience. And so Peter assures us that God has given us “everything we need for life and godliness…in His divine promises…” (2 Peter 1:3-4). That means we don’t really need to know the translation of the word “Selah”.

It is equally endlessly meaningful. You can never quite plunge the depths of each chapter. Each of those genealogies and broken-up narratives hold together in an incredible uniformity of thought, despite the “holes” in the story, the untranslatable words, and the historical cultures guiding certain characteristics of its writings. No other book has stood the test of time with such integrity in its diversity. What HAS been faithfully passed on to us is incredibly consistent in its content. There was no iCloud backing up the files. It was intentionally preserved for us today through the painstaking work of God’s fallen people, guarded and protected by God Himself. No. Clearly the Scriptures are guided and driven by the Divine Hand of a Faithful, Merciful God.

WORSHIP HIM

So, as you dive into whatever reading plan you have for yourself this year, lean into the idiosyncrasies of Scripture. Allow those odd confusing parts to reveal the humanness of our heritage so that we may more clearly perceive and thus worship the Divine and Faithful, Gracious God leading us onward into His Beautiful Truth.

“Open the eyes of my heart that I might behold the wonders of your law.” Psalm 119:18

2020: A New Beginning

Where were you last night when the clock struck midnight?

I heard the climactic fireworks outside my husbands study window while nursing my two month old back to sleep. I didn’t plan to welcome the New Year in, it just so happened that was when she woke up for her first feed.

For some reason, our family just can’t seem to climb into celebrating the New Year. Maybe it’s because we are “celebrated out” from multiple Christmas events. Maybe it’s because I am secretly averse towards popular trends like setting New Years Resolutions. Or maybe it’s because we all know hardly anyone actually keeps their New Years Resolutions, so why even bother?

But I got to thinking today that God instituted many annual festivities for His people, including the Year of Jubilee where everyone in debt gets a fresh beginning. And maybe, just maybe, there is something to that longing in each of us for a reset on life. A New Year hints at that possibility.

It’s as if God structured time and culture in such a way that we would be annually reminded of our need for a clean slate. And that clean slate actually comes in the person of Jesus. He gives us a fresh start — and He doesn’t wait until a New Year to offer it. His mercies are new every morning!

So here I sit, rocking my newborn, and thinking maybe, just maybe, I can capitalize on the momentum of a New Year and pick up where I left off here on this blog. Get back into the rhythm of writing again. Not to secure an audience but to release the words that build up inside me. Maybe my words won’t peek your interest too much and that’s okay. I forgive you. I hardly read anyone else’s blogs anymore either. But maybe just maybe I’ll capture your attention and be given the great gift of redirecting you back to your Father in Heaven who loves you and gave up His only Son for you. For HE – not me — is worthy of all of our attention.

Cheers to a New Year and fresh mercies every day from our Father. Happy New Year!

A Poem

When is the last time you visited the ocean? Have you ever tried to put into words the sound of its waves crashing on the sand? This poem uses a particular description that might catch you off guard if you’ve never really paid attention to the sound of the ocean. See if it helps you recollect your experience of the seaside:

Immensity.

The cacophony of a thousand human voices cannot overpower its song.

Shhhhhh, it thunders, a beckon to all

To Be Still and Know that He Is.

A thousand people submerge beneath its waves

And rise again above the shifting foam.

The straightest line composed of perplexing ripples of motion.

Its power, man cannot tame.

Yet it bestows pleasure and happiness upon us.

And so we return to its immensity again and again, and to those with ears to hear, we find peace in the safety of its might.

Baby Bird

When I first started this blog, it was in part because I was negotiating with my longing to be surrounded by nature and being bound to a city life, at times against my natural desires. It is a longing with which I still sometimes wrestle. I chose to be here in this ugly concrete jungle with my family because I live for the priorities of Gods Kingdom not my own. Those priorities mean living where we have found life-giving community that we regularly give back to; those priorities mean God continuing to open doors to serve Him here in this church community; those priorities mean this is for now, where God sees is best for our family, our spiritual growth, and our serving to grow His kingdom. “Seek first His kingdom,” He says. So we do. But that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t long for my Sabbath resting place in the countryside.

However, for as long as I have been here, I continue to be amazed at how He gently reminds me that He knows my longings.

Today that was through a little baby bird.

I was sitting outside with my breakfast soaking up the cool of the morning before the summer heat baked our city, and I noticed a mocking bird swoop down to the grass with a bug in its mouth.

That’s odd, I thought.

I kept watching.

After a few moments, I noticed a tiny feathery head and beak pointing up to the sky, with two black beady eyes blinking in the hot sun. A baby bird, stranded on the ground.

I got up to take a closer look. Yes, it’s still alive, I observed as it’s tiny eyes blinked up again at me.

I immediately jetted inside to get my girls. One of its parents squawked a warning from on the roof of our apartment as I walked by.

The girls were in awe. We watched the bird from a distance for a while. It hardly moved, it’s little head still raised upward.

Eventually, at my bidding, our neighbor came out, glove fisted, to rescue the bird and place it back in the safe shade of the tree, in hopes that at least there, mostly hidden from sight, it would reconnect with its parents and stay cool enough to survive.

As I reflect on this little incident, small and insignificant as it may be in the grand scheme of things, I realize the fragility of life. That baby bird is still sitting in the tree even as I write, it’s beak and head pointed upward, waiting patiently for its parent to come care for its needs. It’s almost as if it’s head is permanently fixed upward, as it waits.

Oh that my own heart would be postured in such a way of dependence on God: trusting; waiting; expecting the help I so desperately need.

That bird is not afraid, even as it finds itself outside of the safety of its nest, and stranded in an unexpected situation of danger. It just rests in the knowledge of its vulnerability and the reliability of its parents to provide for it.

For me, I am humbled by the realization that my lack of dependence on God stems not from His unreliability but from my pride which lies about my vulnerability. If only I could see myself the way the baby bird does: helpless in the best of ways and ultimately dependent upon my Father for all my needs.

And this is why I am grateful for these moments of nature. They are simple illustrations to me of my relationship with God, and point me ever upwards to His loving care for me.

Every time God allows a little nature to breakthrough into our city-clogged day, I am humbled with gratitude by these little tastes of “home”, because it tells me He cares about me, and my heart’s longings matter to Him. It tells me He hasn’t forgotten me. And that reminds me that some day, my Sabbath place of rest will come in full abundance and never be taken from me again.

So in the meantime, I enjoy my tastes of Eden – not the Eden in the past but the better Eden yet to come.

Pardon My Silence

Oh, hi there! Pardon me while I finish sweeping off the cobwebs that have inched over my blog in these last six months. Its been a soul-searching season.

You see, I had forgotten the why behind my writing for a spell, and grown discouraged by the relatively silent yet seemingly vocal public space to which I opened up my personal encounters with God’s Truth.

Until now.

Writing for Whom?

A dear friend invited me to be her plus-one to a church event featuring one of her favorite Christian artists and Bible teachers, Ruth Chou Simons, creator of Grace Laced.

As we parked in the last available space near the bottom of a steep hill, we ventured into the uncharted territory of an unfamiliar church property up to a room full of unfamiliar faces where we met with our most Familiar Father.

There, He whispered grace, love, forgiveness, and most importantly, truth into my soul. There, He gave me the gift of perspective: “We artists create for the audience of One,” she said. “We steward our gifts for Him, not for the popular responses we receive and the number of followers we gain.”

Yes. This is why I began Eden’s Mirror. To steward the gifts He endowed me with, if only for Him, my greatest and most significant Audience of One (well, one in three, but I still can’t quite wrap my mind around Him as the Trinity).

I write for you, yes, my readers. Don’t get me wrong. For even us introverted writers must have a relational direction for our work. And you are always in mind when I write. For I long for each person I encounter, whether on the evasive digital world, or in real time, to come closer to Jesus as a result of what I have to say. It is part of the gift I long to steward – to teach, to help others to see God more clearly, and as a result, to love Him and His ways more deeply.

But first and foremost, I needed that reminder to write for Him, not for the responses I receive from His people.

But there is even more to my writing than stewarding my gifts.

A Lost Art

In these last six months, I have asked the question: is blogging outdated? Does anyone, including myself, even read these anymore? In some sense, there is a growing trend toward the shorter Instagram and Twitter bites; for who has time for reading anything at length anymore? I must admit even I do more online perusing than reading with any measure of thought.

So is it worth it to blog? To take the time to pour out sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, heart-bearing reflection upon reflection?

Perhaps not. But perhaps so. Perhaps we need the continual reminder to slow down, to chew on ideas and to thoughtfully reflect. We need to be confronted with the opportunity to allow the process of reading to relax us, like the 1950’s father coming home from work to read his newspaper with his feet up on his recliner. Reading anything beyond one paragraph requires time and attention, and if we writers give up on providing material for that experience, we will not only have failed to steward our gifts to the glory of God, but we will have failed you, our readers, in encouraging and hopefully inspiring you to step out of the instant-gratification world we live in, and allow yourself the time and space necessary for good reading.

This is also why I don’t just share my personal thoughts and experiences all the time. Because I believe you, readers, deserve better than just one person’s opinions. In fact, I think perhaps we have all tired in some way of the millions of opinions floating around in our digital world.

No, I want to write what is worthy of you taking the time out of your already overcrowded days to actually read and reflect. And from all accounts, the only subject deserving of that is God Himself.

Hold Me Accountable

Finally, this is why I invite you to hold me accountable to accurately representing God’s Truth.

I have struggled with my blogging because of the incredible lack of accountability that accompanies digital self-publishing. For little to no money, I can literally present my words in a format that carries a similar but false suggestion as a published book: a book has been edited and published only upon the approval of severe critics and the hard-won affirmation of a large body of credentialed editors and publishers who spend a life-time building up their careers to be in such a position of authority. But visually, how does the printed word online in a blog really appear any different? If half the time, we are reading actual published books online, how is it any different to read a blog? If its online, and accessible by Google, it must carry some weight of truth, right?

That is the dangerous myth of blogging: if I have some followers, and my blog looks professional enough, what I say must be true, right?

How often am I guilty of that same assumption when I am googling medical symptoms or researching a product I want to purchase? For a good majority of us, it is easier to assume that the printed word in the digital world is as good as any published book on the market.

For this reason alone, I almost abandoned my blog all together. I tremble at the thought of the sheer lack of accountability for my words. As a result, I intend to have an accountability partner for my writing.

But even with that in mind, I invite, no I beg you, for those of you who read my words, please don’t let me get away with misrepresenting God and His Word and His people. I don’t trust myself not to make those mistakes and I acknowledge that I will inevitably do so. I am not perfect nor are my words, though I pray they nevertheless draw you to Him who is so incredibly gracious to us in our weakness.

To Be or Not To Be

So why should you keep reading here at Eden’s Mirror, you may be asking. Good question, I’m glad you asked.

Read my blog in order to slow your life down for ten minutes every once in a while. Read it to be reminded how to be and not just do.

Read my blog in order to get to know me personally for those times I share about myself. (I see you, Mom!)

But, please, if nothing else, read my blog in order to get to know God more. Because I trust that despite my failings and misrepresentations, He will inevitably meet you here in this quiet space if you invite Him. He excels at showing up through broken vessels, the way the sun shines through the cracks of a battered old pot. I trust His light will come through these pages, and when it does, He will reflect His goodness in and through you too. To God be the glory.

 

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