We’re not an “up” people. We should be, but all too often, we choose the lateral.
After all, lateral is easier. Less dizzy on the focus and less straining on the neck. However, a life lived at the lateral level never levels with the lavish of heaven. It may walk straight and in step with tradition, but rarely does it boast the bounty of an upward endowment. Whenever we refuse a rising glance, we risk missing our Father’s descending glory.
His bounty and his abundance, raining down upon us to bless us, relieve us, assure us, and to personally love us in a way that is tenderly bestowed upon us because of our upwards invitation.
How much of our Father’s grandeur have we missed because of our lazy and horizontal approach to “doing life” with him? I shudder to think upon such foolishness in my own heart and life because today, I personally witnessed the abundance of my Father’s raining blessing.
We’ve lived in our current home for almost five years. Two pecan trees border our back yard. Year after year, we dread the Fall raking because of the remnants they leave behind.
Inie, my friend down the road, also has a couple of pecan trees. Year after year, she collects them as her treasures rather than trash. She shells them, packages them, and then sells them for a profit. And while she’s always been quick to share her bounty with me, I’ve always been a bit envious of her budding trees while mine remain my annual hassle.
I’ve been thinking about them as of late. The weather hasn’t permitted a back yard’s raking. Consequently, the pecans have become gravel beneath my feet as I make my way through the back yard to my running path. I’ve nearly lost my religion on a few occasions. Pecans make for a slippery slope if one is not careful to notice their pebbled existence. Today was no different.
My foot caught a pecan, and my ankle entreated a familiar twist.
“Darn those pecans. It’s time to rake this carnage away.”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth when I noticed something different on the grassy surroundings. Intermingled with the rotten was a crop of seemingly new pecans. Their color and texture were different from the others. They looked like Inie’s. Not only did they resemble Inie’s pecans, they tasted like them too.
Falling unnoticed and unappreciated from the tree in my backyard. Hiding amidst the rotten, yet visible to the one intent on the find. On the looking up and on the noticing of God’s bounty clinging in submission to the vine and waiting on the Father’s holy nod of approval for the drop into my backyard.
For weeks now, I’ve refused the upward glance. Not because I didn’t desire the bounty of my trees, but simply because I no longer believed in the possibility of them bearing any fruit. I’ve grown accustomed to my under producing trees.
As it is with my pecan tree, so it goes with my faith. A faith that hinges on the fruit of a single tree.
A Calvary tree whose raining glory spawns an abundance that landscapes humanity with the color and texture of grace. With the taste of a ruby red wine that bleeds pure and drinks remembrance. With the health and vibrancy of a clinging submission that waited until his Father’s hold nod of approval allowed him his drop into my heart.
How often have I refused the possibility of that tree? How many times have I chosen the lateral over the upwards because, quite frankly, the rising glance has been too straining on my understanding and required a submission that I was unwilling to relinquish? What is the abundance that I have “settled” for rather than receiving the abundance that my Father has determined on my behalf out of his riches in glory? When have I believed less, received less, simply because I have reasoned his tree to mean less?
The fact is, Jesus Christ and his glory often remains the unnoticed and unappreciated raining abundance of heaven in my life. Instead of looking up to receive his descending glory, I’ve grown accustomed to a downward approach–to the rotten, worldly abundance that landscapes each day and that entreats my feeble feet to a most treacherous dance.
And therein lies the rub.
Looking down … living down … never yields the fullness of heaven. Heaven’s bounty can only be gained by looking up and by living with an upwards approach to doing life with Jesus. Can he be found amongst the rotten?
What do you think? Where have you seen him today? If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve seen him amongst the rotten and within the lateral. He came and lived among us—lives among us—for this exact purpose. To be seen and felt and tasted in a world that is experiencing a swift and final decay. God doesn’t mind descending into our lateral.
But he’s easier to find in the “up.” His glory is less cluttered, less trampled and more distinguishable when it rains … reigns … in solo.
I don’t know how long my pecan tree will continue to rain its treasure down upon me. Winter will soon walk her cold, and the limbs will stand empty for a season. Still and yet, my Father spurs my vigilance toward an upwards glance. He reminds me that Spring will soon follow. New buds will come and new fruit will begin to grow its abundance. And while I may never glean the harvest of healthy pecans from this tree again, I will never make the mistake of assuming its limbs no longer house the possibility.
God authors its possibility. He authors mine. His abundance has fallen into my life once again. My “up” and his “down” have been the sacred joining that has allowed my King’s glory a raining upon and within me that boasts the truth of heaven.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty—he is the King of glory.”
He is yours. He is mine. The glorious fruit of his Father’s Vine. Look up and receive your kingdom inheritance this day.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of his abiding and promised Holy Spirit, Amen.
Well, friends, not sure how much I’ll be around in the next week. I’ll be doing what most of us will be doing…being reindeers when necessary and just generally being filled up with all the stuff that makes Christmas, Christmas. I’ll be checking in with you and maybe even posting some further pictures and, perhaps, some more thoughts from my father, “Chuck”. Rest assured, that as I count my blessings of 2008, meeting many of you and furthering our friendships through blogland and otherwise has been one of the richest treasures of the past year. I love you each one and consider it my joy and privilege to be yoked alongside you in this season of our lives. Keep looking up. Our Father has some blessing he wants to rain down into your heart. Shalom!