I hear God better in the early morning hours so I usually get up whenever I awaken. The other morning found me in the kitchen at 4:30—early even by my own standards—brewing a latte. It feeds my spirit and soul to hold the warmth of the coffee and breathe in the word of God before anything else from the coming day distracts me.
Criss-cross is one of my favorite concepts; and God uses it like a yellow highlighter showing me important stuff. By 6:30 that particular morning, I’d completed a number of things: read my Bible; wrote notes to God; emailed, blogged and posted my daily Scripture on the Go; scanned through my Facebook feed and read a devotional; read an email devotional; and read the prior day’s entry in “Streams in the Desert”.
The first criss of the morning told me that Jeremiah 29:11 doesn’t mean what most people think: that suffering will soon end and then be replaced by flourishing. Instead, it told me that the heart of the verse isn’t about escaping my situation, but rather about learning to thrive in the middle of it.
Just to know—there’s no way to suspect anything’s going to be highlighted until you receive the second criss—and it crosses with the first—and forms the criss-cross.
That particular morning had a second criss; and it said that God has a purpose for all the seasons of my life—the lonely ones, the sad ones, the successful ones, the waiting ones and the grieving one. It told me that he’s working for my good in all those times; and then it said a hard, but very good immovable thing—that nothing comes into my life that hasn’t been filtered through him first. He’s never been surprised—so don’t even ever think you’ve done anything bad enough to accomplish that.
It’s uncommon for me to receive a third criss—which practically forms an asterisk—and particularly uncommon before 6:30 am, but I did.
This one said that I’m to honor the Lord in the trial; and then said the really hard part: that I’m to believe that God will raise something out of the fire that’s more worthy of praise than had I never experienced it.
To be perfectly honest, there’ve been things in my life that I never would have chosen—regardless, I suppose, of the growth and maturity that have come from them. But that’s different from being angry with God for what has come; and it’s possible to be triumphant in what I’ve not chosen.
The Lord had my attention—three crisses before 6:30 am will accomplish that; but later that same morning I actually started laughing and talking aloud to myself when he sent a fourth one at 11:00 am. (I looked at the clock to note the time)
I was driving alone in my car, and listening to an audio sermon, when I heard words saying God’s character always forms a knowing and loving wall around me; and nothing can reach me—nothing can get through that wisdom or love that he hasn’t first filtered through his omniscience.
And the asterisk just exploded into a star.
For I know the plans I have for you,”
says the LORD.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.
And we know that God
causes everything to work together
for the good of those who love God
and are called according to his purpose for them.
(plain old brown leaf floating down a muddy stream,
BUT it caught the light just right)