An Upwards Abundance

An Upwards Abundance

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 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. (Psalm 24:7-10).



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.

Literally.

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.

Rotten pecans.

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.

Healthy pecans.

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.

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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!

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23 Responses to An Upwards Abundance

  1. Amen!! Hallelujah! and so on!

    Seriously, that is one of my fav scriptures ever. You are so right about the looking down. I have done that recently so this really spoke to me. The entire entry is so awesome….THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! You totally rock!

    P.S. Where you said that “simply because I no logner believed in the possibility of them bearing fruit.”…i’m kinda re-stating what you already said but remember this out of John 15
    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…Thiis to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (This is what I like to call the Beth Moore verse!)

    But I digress. Thanks for this totally awesoem entry!
    :hugs:

  2. I really needed this one my friend! I am so looking down these days.I will not find my peace looking below. The hustle and bustle of this time always stresses me out and overwhelms me. I must look to him to supply my needs and make me whole. I can feel the brokiness trying to set in and I will NOT allow it. Blessings and Merry Christmas!

  3. Love the lesson in “Pecans for the Journey”.

    “As it is with my pecan tree, so it goes with my faith. A faith that hinges on the fruit of a single tree.” Oh, how I thank the Lord for that single tree and the saving fruit it bore.

    Looking up,
    Joy

  4. “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.” These two sentences speak volumes to me. Wow!

    Wonderful, thought-provoking post as usual.

    I, too, feel incredibly blessed our paths crossed this year. I pray you’ll have a joyful and peaceful week as you journey to Bethlehem.

    Merry Christmas, my friend,
    Kelli

  5. This past week I’ve been able to “spend” myself on another with my time and skills. It was a blessed time and brought much joy to my heart, releaving some stress. It causes me to think of the fruit that is in the midst of the rotten….are we willing to look for it? Lord, I pray so.

    Reaching for the HIGHER GROUNDS,
    Yolanda

  6. I loved this, especially in light of my week focused on trees (or the lack thereof). I have to laugh, as my own post today was focused on them again. The Lord has been speaking to me this week through the trees!

    Big Hugs friend, and the Merriest of Christmases to you and yours!
    Melinda

  7. wifeforthejourney:

    You well know how I too had “lost faith” in the ability of those two sturdy old trees to produce. This is the first year I can remember the nuts being healthy and worth eating.

    May we all find faith to believe that God has better things planned for us all. He is in the business of redeeming the rotten, and bringing abundance.

    Thanks for your encouragement and loving me through each day.
    ~ Billy

  8. Bill continues to recover from his surgery…Things are definitely “looking up” in our household…physically and spiritually!

    Praise God for his abundant love, his saving grace, and his generous provision during a very challenging year in our household.

    I’m lovin’ the reindeer pic!! :o)

    Merry, merry Christmas!

  9. I am already weepy today, so this post just did me in. His words thru you always ring straight through to my heart. And they linger there for a long time.

    Thank you for your ministry, Elaine. Merry Christmas!

    BTW, I saw Him in the post office today. I could hardly believe it. I prayed before I went in, thinking that I may need to be a light in the midst of a horrible wait. Instead, I walked into light. ALL of the postal workers were smiling and friendly, saying “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” to everyone as they left. Beautiful Christmas music was going on in the background…even the religious carols! There was not a sour face in the crowd…well except for one. I didn’t expect to see Jesus there, but I did, and I was amazed.

  10. Where have I seen Jesus today? In a Christmas card from my daughter all about rejoicing. I love the Christmas season when we just rejoice in His birth day after day. Should be an all-year long thing, shouldn’t it?

    So glad to have met you in blog-land this year, Elaine. Have a blessed Christmas with your family!!

  11. I’ve heard it said: We see what we’re looking for. Whenever I’m plagued with a disquieted soul I know it’s because both my upward and downward glances are filtered through ME, MINE, NUMERO UNO.

    Yours is a compelling attitude adjustment for today. Thank you.

    Now I’m off to look at the infertile orange tree to see if maybe, just maybe, there’s some fruit there!

    Kathleen

  12. Just awesome, and with words I absolutely need. Looking up is so foreign, and we so need the reminder.

    Blessings to you, dear friend. Merry Christmas.

  13. “Looking down…living down… never yields the fullness of heaven.” Can I just say AMEN! I wonder how many times I have totally missed it because I wouldn’t look any higher than my own perceived misery!

    Your words are like diamonds hidden in a font. Thank you once again for reminding me where my focus should be!

    Blessings to you and your this Christmas week!

  14. Looking and Living up w/ you sister!

    The words of this hymn came into my head when I read these verses!

    Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
    behold the King of glory waits!
    The King of kings is drawing near;
    the Savior of the world is here.

    O blest the land, the city blest,
    where Christ the ruler is confessed!
    O happy hearts and happy homes
    to whom this King of triumph comes!

    Fling wide the portals of your heart;
    make it a temple, set apart
    from earthly use for heaven’s employ,
    adorned with prayer and love and joy.

    Redeemer, come, with us abide;
    our hearts to thee we open wide;
    let us thy inner presence feel;
    thy grace and love in us reveal.

    Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
    until our glorious goal is won;
    eternal praise, eternal fame
    be offered, Savior, to thy Name!

    Words: Georg Weissel, 1642;
    trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1855

  15. What a blessing, Faith Elaine! Looking up…hmmm. Now there’s an idea! I’ve been crazed by the holiday this week, ready to collapse with exhaustion! but I can still praise…

    Thinking of you and sending you warm wishes for a God-filled Christmas!

  16. You do not know how much I needed these words. I was feeling discouraged yesterday…with thoughts similiar to what you penned here. Is it possible for Him to shine forth from the rotten? I was thinking about how rotten I have been and doubting I could possible ever again produce fruit. And then my comfort has come…
    “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”.
    He has shown His abundance so much this month-unexpected blessings and I have been humbled. I am more encouraged to re-produce, despite the rottennes that has come from my life.

    Have a blessed holiday with your family.

    In His Graces~Pamela

  17. That was awesome insight Elaine. Thank you for sharing with us. I can just feel the pain of twisting an ankle on those pesky pecans. In my case it is SWEET GUM BALLS. They are like spurs. But the very tree that taunts us, also provides a great amount of shade on our deck in the summer. :o)

    Look up to the hills from where our help comes from.

    Bless you and Merry Christmas!
    Beth

  18. My faith sometimes (often times) expects too little, even though God promises much.

    Yesterday, my faith for the promise we have been waiting on for so long was renewed by the innocent words spoke by a 3 year old girl…out of the mouths of babes, amen?;)

    And then today, Valerie shared the verse Luke 1:45 on her blog. “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

    Hope renewed once again!:)

    Meeting you here in Blog Land is one of the many things I count as a blessing in my life too!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    God Bless,
    Amy:)

  19. Thank you for those uplifting words. Needed to
    hear it. I get too stressed out and focused on the rotten fruit instead of the fruit joy.

  20. Ah, the beauty of God-centeredness! May we all do a better job of “looking unto Jesus” this season and forever!

    God bless you and yours.

  21. You just know that I love love love this post! God shows us so much of Himself in His creation. We have gotten to a point… well, some of us… where we stick inside a house with four walls or a car… ah, but to linger out in the air… and hear the Father speak! Glory!