Week Two Reading Assignments– Pages 40-76 | Looking for Lovely • Sunrise • Ryman Auditorium • Tragedy
Anyone else here so not a morning person? If you’re like me in this—perhaps you also prefer sunsets over sunrises. Like Annie Downs’ love of sunrises—sunsets speak to me and inspire me.
Last spring I had a lot on my mind after a big doctor’s appointment and so I went to a nearby lake around dusk. I walked a bit, then sat down, turned on a worship song on my iPod and got lost in the glittering ripples on the water that changed colors every few minutes with the sunset. God had given me this beauty and so many other moments of lovely for a purpose—but when a huge upset of life and more pain came knocking months later, I forgot. I knew the verses below almost by heart—but to glory in my suffering? Impossible. And in my own strength, or lack thereof, it was.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5, NIV
There’s always some kind of broken crazy that weighs down and hurts our hearts. For me it was bad news on x-rays that set my life spinning and heart tumbling downward, blinded by pain from seeing the lovely and sacred.
Whatever your broken crazy may be—it is not bigger than God’s love poured into our hearts via the Holy Spirit. All we need has been given to us—we just need to plug in our hearts to the Source. The Source that is always near, ready with the lovely and sacred, in spite of the pain, to fuel our journey so we keep going. This does not mean, however, that we are not allowed to feel. It is a matter of how long we fixate on how we feel until we look up to the holder of our hearts and hurts.
“God gives us permission to feel. There’s no demand on your life to bite the bullet and be stronger than the hurt and pain. Yet the directive is the same: rejoice in your sufferings, persevere in them, let your character grow, and watch as hope blooms. But the only way to truly see beauty, for my heart to grow in capacity and in ability to love and cherish, is through pain and heartache.”
—Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely (Pg. 72)
Hope and beauty are never out of reach for us in Christ Jesus, amen? I love how Annie equates our journey to a rope climb as she shares how she had to choose to get to a place of healing and transformation:
“It was going to take a lot of looking for lovely. I needed to find a reason to show up and not give up on this critical step in my journey. As I thought back over my own life, the beautiful things, though few and far between, were the knots on the rope that helped me keep climbing.”
—Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely (Pg. 49)
What are some “knots” for you that helped you keep climbing? Are they a person, a place? Revisit them, perhaps literally, like Annie wrote about when she went to the Ryman Auditorium.
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.
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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 we’re beginning to see breakthrough, like the sun breaking through the darkness on the beach in Hawaii. What events in your life lead to breakthroughs for you?
In the Word – This week’s Scripture focus comes from Matthew 7:7-8. Take a few minutes to read through these verses in your favorite translation. How do these verses 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 – This week’s theme is Looking for Lovely. As promised in the book of John, we will face many trials, but in the midst of these difficulties God is still there. What makes you feel alive and full of peace, where you can see beauty from the ashes? 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 “looking for lovely” this week. In the caption of your post, include the hashtag, #lookingforlovely, #livingoutlovely & #intentionalfilling.