Starting from Good

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A song is ringing in my head this morning: “When I think about the Lord – how He saved me, how He raised me, how He filled me with the Holy Ghost, how He healed me to the uttermost…how He picked me up and turned me around, how He placed my feet on solid ground – it makes me want to shout ‘Hallelujah, thank You Jesus!'”

When I think about God, it’s easy for me to be thankful. When I think about my life, and then try to find God in the middle of the mess it often is, it’s a little bit harder to sing that song. Not because He isn’t still good, but because His goodness toward me is clouded by all the other stuff that gets in the way of me living from there. By there I mean the revelational foundation of His goodness.

Life, in all of its hardness, tends to breed a limited perspective – one that doesn’t start from good. Too often, we start instead from the mess we see and try to work our way toward the good. I think we have gotten it dangerously backward, my friends.

As I sat with the Lord this morning, He challenged me to see beauty (His perspective) where I see only mess. It’s not that the mess isn’t real, or even that I should deny its reality. It is, rather, that it matters which order I choose to see things in. It matters where I start from.

If I begin with the mess I see and strive toward fixing that problem, my focus will be consumed by the hard work of it all, and the reality of the beauty God intended my journey to be filled with will only be a distant shadow on the horizon. Most days, I will be too tired to journey far enough to reach it.

If, however, I begin with the beauty He sees and work from there, the landscape of my life looks much different. The beauty becomes the ground I stand upon, and the light I live in. And the mess becomes an invitation to partner with Him in a purpose that brings my heart alive. I can own this work, instead of dread it. I can embrace it, instead of avoid it or hide from it.

Where I start from each day really does make a difference. Starting with mess means I neglect the gift of beauty that was restored through the cross of Christ, where He absorbed my curse into Himself, and gave me instead the promised of a blessed life. This was meant to be more than theory.

Starting with beauty, with God’s original design for me and for us, means I go back to the way things were before the deception of choosing my own understanding left its mark. It means regaining access to the promise that is hidden within the mess. This shouldn’t be so hard because, afterall, He started with a perfect garden. He started with beauty. All we have to do is take what’s been offered to us through Jesus – life that thrives in connection with Him. Beauty that’s built into and flows out of that connection, until everything and everyone around us is touched by it.

I have a special cup I use for coffee only on special occasions. Every time I do, it reminds me of this reality – that there is beauty in the ground of the life God has given me. It is built into the foundation of everything, tucked beneath the mess I tend to see. And He is always inviting me to drink the cup I’ve been given (Scripturally this is a metaphor for embracing what God has given us to do). At the bottom of the cup, after the last drink has been taken, I always see the heart that’s painted there. A reminder of His love. His goodness. His beauty.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have been given everything I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures, which means He leads me to a place where I can rest in abundance. This is not a retreat after a harrowing day or season, but a daily provision.

He leads me beside still waters, where my soul can find peace and quiet rest. He lets me pause and reflect, enjoy the scenery and the ponder on the wonder of it all. When I start from good, I let myself do this, too.

He restores and revives my weary heart there, in the still and quiet places, reminding me of the goodness He has built into every part of my life, because He’s a good Father, and I am His child. He reminds me that I don’t have to strive to know His goodness. It’s my inheritance, freely given because of His great love for me. When I start from good, I can believe this and become motivated by it.

He leads me gently in His ways, opening paths to His heart, where I discover His pleasure, so that I can bring honor to His name in all I have been entrusted to do. When I start from good, this is how life looks at the end of the day. I don’t look back with regret, but with rejoicing, even when things didn’t go the way I had planned or hoped they would.

Although sometimes it grows dark in the paths I take – sometimes the work is hard, painful and messy – the light of His presence and the hope of His promise remind me that the territory of my life is marked by beauty more than brokenness. As I press into His presence, I discover all that He is and has promised to be for me. I discover the beauty He has built into my story, and I learn to rest in His tender mercies toward me. I learn to see differently, and therefore think differently, especially when I’m confronted by the mess.

This is not without effort, of course, if you’re wondering how to live this way. I don’t wake up like this. I tend to wake up crying for help, before my feet ever touch the floor,  because I know what’s ahead of me is bigger than me, and I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to miss the purpose He has planned for my life. I want to engage, and do well what I’ve been given to do.

But what He wants is for me to start from good. To see beauty instead of difficulty. To rest and trust, and engage from there. To breathe Him in, and to remember that He is leading and I am resting in His wise leadership. To believe that He has already prepared everything I need for the day in front of me, and that He walks with me through it. To be reminded that everything He does is restorative and filled with the promise of His goodness.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, where are you starting from today? Is the mountain before you large and in charge, dominating the landscape of your life? Or is the banner of beauty waving over you, reminding you to partner with God and His amazing grace as you embrace His purpose in the work before you today?

I challenge you to dig into the messes of your life today, insistent on getting to the bottom and discovering the beauty tucked within them. You can do this by simply starting your day in conversation with God. Sit with Him, and let Him speak to you. There is no magic formula to this. Just be still. He is already there.

As you look at your day and the work assigned to you, set your expectation on His goodness and determine to live from there, instead of trying so hard to get there. Align your perspective with God and His Word, and your life will look and feel much different! This is not merely a matter of positive thinking. It is a matter of stepping into the life God gave us to live, instead of trading it in for the one He came to wipe away. There is freedom in starting from good, and He came to set us free so that we could worship Him without limitations, without fear, without deception. Be free to know Him, and let yourself explore the revelation of the beauty He has built into the ground of your life.

Run into the beautiful place He has reserved for you today!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

 


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