I literally, with part desperation and part faith, peeled the blinds back, gazed out into the clouds and prayed, “Lord! Please! Just give me an answer! Just write it in the clouds! I know you can!”
I knew it was a silly prayer. But I prayed it none-the-less, knowing that the Lord could very well write a secret message into the clouds if he so desired. No words divinely appeared, as most would have assumed.
What message was I looking for? I was looking for how Jesus “fit in” to my Christmas brunch message. I know, it sounds terrible that I would even have a message at all without Jesus in it, but I’m still growing. After reading many books, typing thousands of words rambling about ideas and thoughts, I finally landed on a text. A simple text. One Bible verse in fact. 1 Timothy 4:4, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”
My whole premise would be trying to answer a cynodrome I’d been facing since moving into our cozy, little Minnesota cottage. What do I do when God gives me good things? How do I handle the good that God gives? What do I do with a season of comfort? How does God want us to receive good?
So I typed hundreds of drafts, and it was coming along….until I practiced it on Bobby. Which is always what happens. He thought a while, and then asked, “Well, where is Jesus?”
Like I said, I’m growing. Just recently I learned that the whole Bible is about Jesus. Every text, narrative, law, etc. points to Jesus. He is the fulfillment of it all. But I don’t always see it all. I know the waterfall of Jesus is there, but sometimes I only see the trickling stream.
So it was gruesome. I mean gruesome, people! I wanted to just rip my hair out. I literally spent hours, upon hours, upon hours, trying to discern where the gospel was in this one Bible verse. Ask Bobby. Ask my mother-in-law. They will tell you that I was psycho. Well, probably not my mother-in-law, she would be too nice to admit it in that way.
But finally, the Lord did show up! Two days before the Christmas brunch. Was he late? It sure felt like it! But, was he really late? No. Of course not. The Lord is never late.
And really truly, upon reflection, I really needed the pressure of the Chrstmas brunch to figure this out. The Lord knew I would never take it seriously enough to draw conclusions on my own. He knew I needed a deadline. He knew I needed a sweet mother-in-law to babysit my kids for 8 hours so I could go into the basement and think until my brain hurt in order to write a couple of paragraphs of truth. Oh, how the Lord knows what we need!
So, where is Jesus in 1 Timothy 4:4? What does Jesus have to do with creation being good, and us receiving it with thanksgiving? How does Jesus make it even possible to receive good from God?
My mother-in-law was very helpful in this. We were talking, back and forth, trying to figure it out. We asked, is creation really good like 1 Timothy says? But it’s cursed. How can something that’s cursed be good? God created thorns, but thorns aren’t really “good,” right? In Revelation it says there will be no more thorns in the new heaven and new Earth! BUT, creation reveals who God is. So creation is good? It was terribly confusing. Then, right as I was heading downstairs to start squeezing my brains with hundreds of questions, Bible verses, and so on, she said it!
“Well… think of Israel. They heard it from prophets, judges, kings, but they still didn’t get it.”
I should have ran over and given her one hundred million hugs, because that was it! That was where Jesus came in! Creation is good, and intended to be received with thanksgiving, because Jesus came to start all things new! To finish what God started!
It was like God saying, for hundreds and hundreds of years, “Look at me! Look at me in all the things that I have made! See me! Worship me! Enjoy me in this good world I have given you.” And instead, thousands and thousands of people said, “Nah. I think I’ll worship something else.”
So, since mankind wasn’t looking at God, and God loved his creation so much, he sent his very self — the Godman Jesus. When we look at Jesus, we are looking at God. #mindblown #MerryChristmas
For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (Colossians 1:19)
And what did Jesus do? He came to “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). And he didn’t start with the trees! He didn’t start with the grass, flowers, animals, iPhones, buildings, oceans, or thorns. He started with us!
So 1 Timothy 4:4 says creation is good, and Paul can rightfully say that because the plan of reconciliation has arrived! When God sent his son into the world, he was sending the signal that creation is being made new! His kingdom has come! There is hope for us death-bound creatures and hope for corruption-bound creation.
This truth, you guys, overwhelmed me. I think I cried the most I have ever cried in a 24 hour period BECAUSE of this truth. I was a wet, sappy, sloppy mess. It was beautiful. It was real. It was so, so, so pervasive. I could hardly look at anything without welling up with tears. I was free to enjoy every good thing because the king of the world tells me, “Don’t reject it. It’s good for you. Receive it with thanksgiving!”
So, after two days of letting this truth sink as deep as a truth can in 48 hours, I started driving to the church to give the message. Nervous but excited. And on the way, I beheld the most wonderful thing in the universe at that moment.
The answer. Right in front of my face. Where? In the clouds!
The entire drive my car was facing the most magnificent sunrise. It bursted with God! The sky beamed with bright blues, soft pinks, glimmering yellows, and streaming sunrays. It was moving, and transforming, like I was watching the artist himself stroking the sky with his brilliant brush. The color scheme was angelic. The texture of the clouds perfectly placed to elicit the best arrays of light and color. Some fluffy, some round, some streaked, stretched, and wispy. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it (partly because I had to keep my eyes on the road, and the other part because it was so breathtaking). And as I was soaking in the panorama, it dawned on me. Here Jesus was! And he was showing himself off, right here, in the clouds! Right where I was searching days before! Tears would have gushed out like a giant waterfall had I not been wearing mascara. He answered me. God literally gave me the answer, right there in the clouds. No answer of words, or a divine English message, but an answer from renewed eyes that had been bought by Jesus’s blood and taught by the brilliance of his Word. It was like God said right there, “Here I am!” And in Jesus’s name I replied, “Yes Lord! I see you! I see you with the eyes and heart that Jesus has created anew! Thank you!”