Week Six Reading Assignments– Pages 171-190 | Perspective Shifts • Unfinished • Epilogue: This is My Song
My first encounter with God didn’t take place at church, but rather on a hiking trail in the hills of West Virginia when I was twelve; at one of the places my heart feels most at home, church camp. The unofficial tag line of the camp says it is a place where loving God comes naturally, and I felt it there. His love.
Every Thursday evening, the entire camp comes together for a campfire to worship God through song, fun skits, scripture and sharing communion. And over the years, I fell more in love with God at each Thursday night campfire, until the night that I left the campfire and made the teary-eyed journey to the end of the meadow with my counselor Deb, where I sat at the foot of the cross and gave my heart to Jesus, at the age of sixteen.
Through the years, returning campers and staff came to love the traditions of our camp-wide campfires, including Rev. Keller encouraging us all to shout out “praise the Lord” for each line of Psalm 150. Even now, I cannot read the six verses without hearing the echos of my camp family around me, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
Last fall my friend Sarah shared a video with my small group of Louis Giglio sharing the astounding praise that creation gives to God, from the heights of the heavens to the depth of the seas. If you haven’t seen it, set aside some time to watch this 14 minute video. It’ll knock your socks off!
As I read the final chapters of Looking for Lovely these two encounters with God came to mind, campfire worship and singing stars. Both take place in the darkness. Both lovely.
A star is born under the circumstance of extreme pressure, resulting in the form of light.
And sometimes the same can be said of us, under circumstances of extreme pressure, when we walk through the valley of darkness, it is there that we find we are stronger, more refined, and more capable of finding lovely and shining God’s light for others to see.
It is often under that extreme pressure that the refining process takes place. It is a process that isn’t once and done. We’ll continue to be refined, but our story will still reflect flaws. And that is okay.
I want to echo what Annie says of her friends,
“I’m quick to remind them that no one is asking them to be done, no one expects perfection, and they shouldn’t either. It’s enough if they will just not give up and keep working out what God is doing on the inside. Trust the process…”
—Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
This is the challenge I leave you with: to trust the process, to continue seeking the lovely even in the unexpected places, and not be afraid to sing your song of praise to God for the work He has done, even if it is while you walk through the darkness.
Share with us in the comments, won’t you? Or on your own blog if you have one, on social media—and be sure to include #intentionalfilling and #livingoutlovely so we can be a part of your own journey into looking for lovely.
To help keep you on track, we’ve developed a suggested schedule.
Of course, this is your study, so please feel free to approach it at a pace that works with your schedule.
Download the Weekly in the Know PDF below…
Let’s chat! We’d love to hear from you once you’ve had some time to read through this week’s reading assignments. Come back to this space & share your thoughts in the comments below about:
Identify – In this week’s reading Annie shares about the unfinished places in her life. What areas of your life feel unfinished or in need of refining? Take some time this week to talk to God about them.
In the Word – This week’s Scripture focus comes from Philippians 2:12. Take a few minutes to read through these verses in your favorite translation. How does this verse speak to you in the present moment?
• Download our weekly Scripture card. Print it and hang it in a place where you’ll come across it often this week, to aid in memorization and the reminder of the lovely God brings to our lives.
Application – Annie discovered the lovely in being “unfinished” and in being a constant work in progress. In what ways are you celebrating the lovely about yourself and what God is doing to shift your perspective? This week’s theme is This is My Song. In the pursuit of collecting moments that matter, we’d like to invite you to join us on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) to share how you’re living out your song of praise to God this week. In the caption of your post, include the hashtag, #livingoutlovely.