Next weekend I'll travel a few miles up the South Carolina coastline to speak at a women's retreat. I was invited to create a presentation about the Holy Spirit. I am not a theologian. I felt some intimidation. I did not want to misrepresent the beauty and mystery of this third person of the trinity in any way. Yet there was a stronger internal knowledge that surfaced. I knew my relationship with the divine Paraclete encapsulated an intimate and organic connection. I sensed God may want to use me as a conduit to speak about my intimacy with Him, the relationship that holds me together, that stitches up the frayed threads of my life, that keeps me free. Comforted. Empowered.
I decided to use symbols the Holy Spirit has provided to me over the years. Metaphors in my life. If you walk into my house, you'll notice pictures of doors and gates. The Holy Spirit has used these images over and over to remind me that He makes a way through life's passages. The door is open. I can walk through. When my husband and I travel, he knows to wait for me while I capture photos of colorful portals. The Holy Spirit delights in revealing Jesus. Jesus refers to Himself as the door.
The Holy Spirit pursues, and He is relentless in making sure I am assured of my identity as the beloved. He helped me understand this through a broken plate. On one of my walks, I found a fragment of china. The piece was large enough for me to see that, at one point, it would have been considered fine china, sage-colored flourishes imprinted around its border, a white background. I was mesmerized by the broken china, and took the shard home to see if I could clean it up. As I was washing it, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, "You see yourself like this plate, broken, unusable, once beautiful, but no more. I want to transform your identity in me. I am delighted with you. I am entirely enthusiastic and invested in your life story. I provide you a Kingdom identity that is whole. I long for you to see yourself as I see you." Not long after that encounter, I was shopping for a bridal gift, and I discovered a piece of china that reminded me of what the ruined dish might have looked like in better days. I bought the intact plate. I use it to hold my jewelry. Daily the plate is a symbol of God's view of me, the gold and silver it holds like the riches of my Kingdom interitance.
A green and orange ceramic heart pierced through with an arrow hangs on the edge of a black and white picture of a castle in my study--those images reminiscent of a dream the Holy Spirit provided me, to comfort and to empower me to trust Him--to be infused with HIs energy to love another who oftentimes feels impossible to love. These images daily remind me of His desire to provide me with the strength and love that only He can manifest--that transcends my human weakness and tendency to withhold love when people don't treat me the way I'd like them to.
An image of a park bench with the Eiffel Tower blurred in the background hangs over my computer, a focal point in my study. God uses the "bench of contemplation" often to remind me to "stay." To make it a point to rest in His presence so that I can hear what He's saying. The Eiffel Tower acts as another metaphor for running up the steps to a safe refuge when the cares of the world become too difficult--when I'm tempted to despair. The Holy Spirit often uses this photograph to help me remember to avail myself of His grace and mercy, His love and wisdom, His favor and protection. A reminder to receive from Him.
This week my kind and talented artist web designer, Alex Radin, Further Design Group helped me tweak a few things on the website. If you go to the home page, you'll notice a new picture taken by another artisan in my life, Felicia Evans Felicia Evans Photography. There are hidden symbols and metaphors in this photograph. The red door respresents our compassionate Lord. Red in dream symbology represents anointing, power and wisdom. Some churches still paint their doors red to indicate there is refuge in that place, and a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Alex changed the number of the door to 15. Fifteen is the spiritual number for rest.
Before I sat down to write this post, my body erupted in hives, raised and inflamed welts. I ate nothing different for breakfast. I ingested no new medication. I sensed an enemy attack, the deceiver not wanting these attributes of God to be declared. But you will be pleased to know that as I pressed through, the welts vanished, and the redness subsideed. I encourage you, good reader, lean into this good God, move forward into the truth that He is invested in your pathway, His love for you is not sentimental and weak, but rather intimate and organic. He desires to comfort you when the cares of the world would take you down, to empower you and develop your gifting, to hone your ability to hear Him. Stay. Abide. Listen. Seek. Look. He is real.