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“The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship. Day and night they keep on telling about God” (Psalm 19:1-2).

Tender grass bursts from the earth. Glimmering beetles scurry up to lily pinnacles and raise their antennae. My favorite gnarled oak ascends from a velvety ring of petunias. Its branches wield leafy poufs as live, rain-guzzling, sun-swallowing pom-poms.

Meanwhile, a masterpiece rolls overhead.

Coral rays claim the heavens, staking dawn’s entry. Glorious brilliance floods the earth with awesome energy, both life-sustaining  and requiring the respect rather than scrutiny of mortal eyes. The light reigns undaunted, despite the morphing hues of its backdrop and fleeting clouds to veil its position. Ten thousand bird species laud the majesty in song and aerial dance. Crimson explodes across the skies as the sun descends to meet the edge of our perspective. The world blackens against a fabulous gleam of twilight. Predators crawl out into the shadows, anticipating easy prey in the sun’s absence. The light never abandons us. A silver orb rises against the darkness to reflect the sun’s continued presence. Crickets and cicadas praise its faithfulness. It continues to guide and shine upon us in this new form as we hope for the new dawn.

Before a single word of Scripture inked the ancient papyrus, God authored creation as a living testament. The Bible anoints modern Christians with immeasurable benefits and deepens our understanding of God, but He foresaw those without access to the written word. The Father did not leave anyone bereft of His message. Creation’s magnificent design proves His sovereignty. He reveals Himself and His attention to us in the artistic, majestic, and whimsical elements of nature. The progress of each day reflects the gospel, a Son who remains with us and bestows His life upon us that we might represent Him to the world.

As we continue to cherish Scripture, let us also remain aware of its earliest writing–God’s love letter crafted upon the world around us. The story nature has read aloud since the dawn of creation.

Children’s sleighbell dreams dissolved from their slumber last night. Sugarplum visions faded before bedtime. A cacophony of wishes  from young lips and old circled the globe this season. The fortunate celebrated their satisfaction, while others clutched the pangs of unfulfillment on their way to bed. Seasonal anticipation shrivels with a turn of the calendar page. Other longings persist with little regard for date.

Wants and needs often construct dream content, the connection increasing during seasons insisting we expect happiness. Good dreams offer us the gifts and sustenance we desire or the restoration for which we thirst. Nightmares exchange hope for the peril we most fear.

The heart’s desire knits patterns for a common REM cycle, but wilder dreams exist. Not every notion grows from within. A dream beyond common notions strikes new vision into the sleeper. An unforeseen epiphany dawns upon the chosen one. Such a dream does not fade at a new calendar page. The refreshed dreamer rises with a passionate desire to obey the Lord’s call.

Before we tuck away the early chapters of Matthew and Luke with our Christmas decor, notice the divine messages offered in dreams. Scripture does not bother to mention ordinary notions entertained in slumber. Ancient folks longed for satisfaction, perhaps more than the average modern sleeper. Though we might relate to their dreams of want and need, the Bible omits the common content and cites the extraordinary dreams instead.

Beyond imagination, the Lord pressed His lips into minds and spoke through dreams. The Old Testament visions appeared centuries apart, but a heavy concentration of divine dreams occur as Jesus sets foot on the earth. God encouraged Joseph to wed Mary in a dream. The Magi received warning of Herod’s plot in a dream. The Lord spoke to Joseph again, urging him to rise from bed and flee to Egypt during the night. Unlike the visionaries of the Old Testament, the Lord inhabited the dreams of ordinary Gentiles and an impoverished tradesman. With the advent of Christ’s birth, the Lord established His plan to draw all of us near to His Word.

As Christmas Day settles behind us, the time of dreaming about a new year approaches. Common notions of resolution and wishes will fill the air until a strong wind gusts them away with the calendar pages. We can choose to dream of our own desires, as is customary, or listen for God’s voice. We can seek His purpose in waking hours, whether He visits our slumbering thoughts or not. Christ offers His presence within us at all times of day and night, every day of the year. He constructs a new way of thinking. Regardless of our material circumstances–whether fortunate or unfortunate by the world’s standards–He configures us with an identity of hope that revitalizes and exceeds life.

Will you choose to dream beyond common notions this year?

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” — Romans 12:2

“He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made…In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:2-4

The LifeKindler breathes into my heart’s tinder, stirring embers into a contagious breeze. Sparks touch a vast array of hearts within range. Those open and readied catch His light. As I lean nearer to His face, my glow brightens. Warmth and light intensifies. The whirling airflow of firestarter specks extends in a continuous rush. The melody of his breathing thrills my soul with life.

A velvety shadow lures me aside. Distraction grasps my chin, filling my senses with half truths. I drift away for what seems a moment. My lifelight flickers, dimming at an immeasurable but steady gradient. Bitter glances still the air between others and me. I wrap into a chilling ooze of selfish perspectives.

Messages written by the LifeKindler snag my attention. His words shimmer like silver and meld into a spiritual mirror. I am beginning to resemble the shadow more than my Father.

I turn to face Him and lean into that delicious breath. He renews my lifelight and emblazons His nature into and through my soul.

Thank You, Jesus. May all your tinder hearts praise You forever.

“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” — Isaiah 55:10-11

A craving for significance rumbles from the pit of every soul born to this earth. Humanity scrambles across time and space to accomplish a life that matters. It seems an understatement to say we’re desperate for purpose.

If I had the product to assure our lives would resonate with purpose, I’d have no marketing challenges. Packaged in plastic, canned, or bottled, the key to significance would sell itself. Millions would clamor to purchase such an invention.

Most advertising suggests a promise of esteem, tugging at the inner human thirst for significance. I’ve chased mirages of beauty, performance, and acceptance for much of my life. Spiritual disciplines and acts of service fall short of fulfilling my yearning for purpose. My prayers have oozed with pleas for fruitfulness, but I continue to feel stuck in an existential wasteland.

Though I’ve searched for years, I still don’t have that clever product to ensure a life of meaning.

Today, the Lord encouraged me to study Isaiah 55, where I noticed a simple truth for the first time–I cannot accomplish purpose, yet God’s purpose cannot fail. I knew striving defeats the blessing of obedient surrender. I knew God’s ultimate will would be done. I didn’t see myself at the center of God’s victorious word. Becoming a vessel of God’s Word assures accomplishment according to His desire. I might never know the results, but the Lord assures success when He originates the message.

I’ve been distracted by lack of visible productivity from establishing faith in the unseen fruit. If God speaks and wills something through an obedient vessel, He will see it through to accomplish His purpose. It might not match my definition of significance. I might never see the result. If God desires it, that’s more than sufficient.

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