This is a book outline and a work in progress. The hope is to describe a way to grow closer to God through establishing a sacred space. One description of a sacred spot is my back porch.
Everyone needs a back porch. This is any place of solitude where you can think God sized thoughts. Mine is actually my back porch. Yours might be anywhere. The ultimate goal of this exercise is to recognize God wherever we are. You are invited to apply these principles and watch your awareness of God grow. Read and comment but respect the copyright, “Thou shall not steal”.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy
instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor
– Isaiah 61:1-3
It is a beautiful day in East Texas but not necessarily a pretty day. It is 38 degrees and has rained and blown cold for the last 3 days or so. I have had a wonderful Thanksgiving day off and caught up some things that feed my soul. Out of this weather that is only “fit for Crows and Methodist preachers”, I have enjoyed a quiet moment with God on the Back porch. The rain has lent the day to beauty and stillness amid the holiday “Black Friday-ness.
This text is one of my favorites. It is a word from God to a weary people who were trapped in many levels of ugly. Oppressed by a captor government, losing their identity as a people and as a faith. They were clinging to this promise as their “oil of Joy” . It was all they had. From this captivity the Jews would rise as a way of faith and not just a racial group or a collection of aging traditions. These ashes and hardship would forge them into the truth of what God had called them to be. When they looked back at these treacherous times, they would remember only the fulfillment of God’s promise, the beauty of the outcome which was a true and tested faith.
This is a day that could be defined as ugly due to the weather but the outcome, from the back porch, is a fresh look at the beauty that is all around. I could focus on the many things that I can’t do today or how cold my toes are but I will choose to hear God’s still small voice in the pats of rain and the forced stillness that breaks all of the noise.
We are cruel to the things we call ugly and subjective in how that is defined. In the social media today I see two images that reach into me and illuminate these scriptures.
The first was a sunrise in a particularly barren piece of desert. In the non-descript nothing is a pallet of color that can only be from God’s own hand. In the light of day, this is an ugly path of dirt with no value. However, in the twilight we see indescribable beauty.
The second photo was a line up of women of varying height who are all of the same numerical weight-each of them particularly beautiful. Each of them probably knows the many labels of being “too something”, be it short, tall, round, top heavy, bottom heavy, dark or light. Each had their own light that transcends the fashions of the moment. Beauty is beauty.
Today on the back porch, I will choose beauty in the cold and blowing of wet leaves. I will see gladness. Be that in the weather, circumstances, body weight, popularity, or some notion of the moment. God chose captivity to give His people deliverance, the cross to give resurrection and the Holy Spirit to help us see the truth rather than just the thin veneer of appearances.
Where will your back porch moment come and where will it be. Carve out your own space and fill it with time. God will meet you there.