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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Confined?

Small spaces can be quite confining.  I have learned much about caves, caverns, and the formation of stalagmites and stalactites over the past few years as I have explored several unique and totally amazing caverns and cave systems on recent vacations.  The magnificence and beauty of these spaces buried way underground is truly awe-inspiring.  In those moments of taking in those beautiful displays of crystalline-like beauty, I just wanted to break out in hymns of praise like "How Great Thou Art"!  My "tours" of these caves has been guided because I am not an experiences spelunker, so I restrained myself.  Yet, I did breathe in deeply and just sigh loudly at the amazing beauty of our heavenly Father's creative power - even when it is buried deep within the hidden spaces of this earth.  Being some 200-250 feet below ground didn't even concern me, but there are others who would absolutely freak out if I told them we'd be "going underground" today.  Why? They cannot stand the thought of being in confined spaces.  In those confined spaces of those caves, there was something I realized - we often feel very "confined" in our lives, but it is not the way God wants us to live.  As we returned to ground level again, the openness of what we experience when life is lived "above ground" is absolutely necessary!

I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!  (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 MSG)


"Below ground" we find confined spaces, often providing pressure we don't necessarily see, but it is there nonetheless.  Confined spaces are limited - there is a restriction in what "fits".  There is also a limit on what goes in and what comes out.  When we are feeling "confined", we feel as though we are unable to leave the place we are in - it is as though it has a hold on us.  Truth be told, we live much more "confined" lives than God would want us to live. We just don't bring into the "open" what he declares to be free!  "Above ground" we enjoy the freedom of open spaces and fresh air.  The pressure is different above ground, isn't it?  There is still pressure, but it is not as "confining" because the walls don't seem to hold it in.  Walls confine - remove the walls and what seems so limiting takes on a different light!


What do the caves all have in common?  A lack of light.  Until light is "brought into" the confining spaces of those caves, there is no light - the spaces are dark, dank, and overwhelmingly confining.  As soon as light begins to be brought into those spaces, some of the most confining "feeling" spaces begin to open up into the widest expanses you might discover - but they are still "below ground".  When the light is spent, the spaces return to darkness once again and the impression of impending confinement can return.  Maybe this is why it is so important to God that we allow his light to bring into the open what has been confined "under pressure" deep within each of us.


Wide-open, spacious life - what does that signify to you?  I have been in the city and the country, in the primitive lands and the developed, in the third-world and the modern world.  Having lived in Alaska, I have experienced the "wide-open" and seen the majesty of God's handiwork in the night storms. The landscape seemingly changing overnight.  I think God may just work this way in our lives once in a while - bringing a change of "landscape" into our lives in ways our minds cannot understand or fully take in at the speed it is happening.  We'd go to bed at night, awake seven hours later, and the entire land would just be glistening with the newness of freshly fallen snow. As dawn would break upon the new snow, the tiny crystals would begin to sparkle and gleam under the warmth of the breaking light.


Maybe this is what God does for us in bringing what is "under ground" in our lives out into the openness of his light.  In those caves, I appreciated the glimmer of sparkling crystalline-like formations, but when they were brought to the surface, exposed to the light of day - WOW!  The many facets of their beauty were able to be admired in a new way.  Confined, they had beauty - but exposed in the "above ground" view, they took on majesty and splendor not previously recognized!  Some of us have a tendency to life life in a "small way" - not really aware of God's intention for us to live in a "grand way" as he sets us free from all which confines us.  We need to allow lasting light to bring out the beauty of what he has been creating "under pressure" in the confines of our inner life.


It is only when what has been created "under pressure" is allowed to surface and be exposed to the brilliance of his light that it shines as it should!  Just sayin!