January 25th, 2013, covering Walsall and Birmingham:
Leave your staid souls behind at the entrance to the Portal of Intrigue, and step into beauty with me!
One of my small and random hobbies (I tend to go to different ones as the fancy takes me) is photography. My father was a professional photographer, and his love of cameras and photos passed onto both his children.
We’re both amateurs, Joseph and I, but I have to say, some of his photographs are professional quality and have been used on Mom’s home-made cards. 🙂
I just want to share something from my heart with you, before we delve into the archway that borders the entrance to a land of dazzlement.
Beauty in nature means a lot to me.
From childhood, I’ve always liked the azure blue sky, the birch trees in pure white bedecked with autumnal reds and golds and browny-greens, the dark clouds of a storm with the sun striking them just before or after a storm, and white clouds that stand out clearly against them.
But these subjects and others have become far dearer to my heart in the past two years.
When I was 17, I made a choice, broke my heart and then subsequently left the door open and became prey to a host of other wrong things that I allowed myself to give in to – things that changed and damaged me. Things that ultimately meant from a strong witness and leader for Christ, I backslid. Badly. (And a hypocritical, long-time-unrecognising backslider, at that.)
I won’t choose to stay damaged forever. I choose an upward climb – a long and difficult struggle – against wounds and scars of my past – both those not of my making and those that were. I want to use them. To turn the pain from inwards to outwards – to serve others who are where I’ve been, so that they know that someone understands and really knows, someone loves them unconditionally and won’t reject them because of what they do or have done. (Note: I don’t recommend you go out and get involved in bad stuff just to get experience. Often I fail to know what to say to people in spite of the fact that they are where I’ve been or am; God teaches and speaks through you if you ask Him for wisdom and don’t give yourself credit for knowing – or NOT knowing – what to say.)
It took a long time to make that choice. For the longest time, I chose darkness. I became worse and worse – masking the pain and fear, trying to hide behind walls, block people out because they kept leaving and hurting, making wrong choices in an attempt to be independent, strong, look tough, be in control.
God knew I needed a lesson. He also knew what a headstrong young person I am. Two people were in my life – two guys who are just as stubborn (or perhaps, to concede a tiny bit, even stubborner) than I am. The one guy stayed with me the whole way through. The other came in about halfway through, but grew to be one of the best friends I ever had.
They talked with me, argued with me, prayed incessantly for me, and persistently stayed with me in spite of multiple fear-and-anger-inspired blockings (which I kept undoing as something – or Someone – knew I needed them) and verbal attacks.
Finally, the second guy and one of his female friends asked me to do something, in the middle of the blackness. They asked me to start writing down things I was thankful for.
Nothing extravagent. Just simple small things. A hairbrush. The smell of the earth after rain. Hugs.
So I grudgingly wrote down a few things.
Then something else happened.
Another old friend came back into my life. He tried to help me for a month, but couldn’t figure out why I was like I was and couldn’t change. Then one day, God struck his heart – he came home alight – and saw into me.
http://jjwatc1290.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/love.html <— That’s what he said to me.
That together changed me – I started to pray that God would show me how to love.
And I remember, as clear as I do the day I was born again and the day I realised I was in love, the day I first looked outside the window and clearly studied the autumn leaves on the trees.
I messed up since, and I will make many more mistakes as I walk through life. But those mistakes don’t have to stay mistakes. If I give them to Him, He can create beautiful things out of them.
I’m watching Him now as I walk through the pain my past has and is causing me, and the shadow of hope that keeps me going is that I have a glimpse of where He’ll use it in the future.
Often the pain darkens my sight. The present causes the future to slide out of sight behind the darkness of the clouds. Then He reminds me through the beauty of His creation, the freshness of His wind and the warmth of His sunshine, the sheer blue skies that remind me of America, the glorious colouring of the setting sun and the rising dawn, the delicate buds and shades of flowers and shimmers of jewelled, dewed grasses, the oddity of angles, of just how much He cares for the small things.
And how much more He cares for a small, dirty, broken thing like me. That He is going to make and is making brand new.
If He cares for the tiny ants. If He created the microscopic cell in such intricate detail. If He stretches out the Heavens and looses the bands of Orion.
How much more does my God, Who took on my form and my bodily weaknesses and suffered my temptations, love me?
Oh God, that I had a fragment of Your love to love You back with!
So swirl into beauty with me. And see the love of God and the promise of the future.
For I promise you, as He has promised – it is there.
See His handiwork.
In His love,