I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Great Exchange

Delores E. Topliff

In recent days, my family has experienced major changes and ends of life. Even when loved ones live full years and their passing is expected, it’s not easy. Lifelong relationships provide more riches than untested beginnings, but whether it’s calendars, or entire worlds, Jesus makes all things new.

In The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis presents plants and animals we know as super-sized, larger than life, with greater glory and beauty than anything  on earth.
 
Near the end of her life, unsure if she were dreaming or awake, my mother described seeing dazzling tulips the size of umbrellas. “Keep watching,” I said. “Those are the beginnings of God’s garden. He’ll show you much more.”

I hadn’t experienced anything close until two years ago after a night-long trans-Atlantic flight to visit friends in Denmark, my plane angled down to skim into Iceland. After the blue-green sea met black volcanic basalt, fields around the airport were vivid purple carpets. As the plane slowed to drop lower still, millions of brilliant purple Lupine spikes glowed like fire as intense Nordic sunlight blazing through them. Unaware I would see anything so magnificent, they were gone before I could grab my camera, and then our wheels hit the runways. But they glowed so vividly, so brighter-than-life, they burned into my consciousness. All other sensations stopped as I marveled--almost worshipped. Their beauty overloaded my circuits, literally taking my breath away. I dream of flying there again to recapture that experience.

That must be what it's like entering heaven. The Lord’s presence is so wondrous and real, it takes our earthly breath away, giving us His. His breath, new life, in eternal exchange. So that we willingly let go of all we know to enter heaven where He makes all things new.

Last week I spent good days with my 93-year-old dying father. Our best times were laughter, conveying more than conversation. Others had prayed with him. I did, too, asking God his state, and became overwhelmed by strong assurances that God is so much more merciful than I understood. Glimpses of His indescribable beauty built my faith. And took my breath away. Giving me something better.

What about you? What takes your breath away? What does He replace it with?

 

13 comments:

  1. I am so thankful you shared such sweet days with your father before his passing.

    I'll have to ponder what takes my breath away.

    This morning, I had precious moments on the sofa with my little boy, who usually greets his father at five to six a.m., even on weekends. But today he slumbered on past seven as his brothers ate breakfast and packed lunches in the nearby kitchen. While deciding how late I could let him sleep before he'd be late for school, his eyes popped open. Soon, he was ready for school and out the door. But for those moments as he slept, he was still my baby. It didn't steal my breath, but it made me thankful for another day with those I love.

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    1. I love it. Thank you. I can't wait to read your books, full of wisdom and fun.

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  2. I love your depiction of the lupines. That must have been so incredible to see, even for just a glimpse. What takes my breath away? Hmmm... that is a great question. Stepping off the plane in Hawaii and breathing in the air. The divine smell of fresh flowers. That was pretty breathtaking. OR flying through clouds that looked like cotton candy. OR getting the phone call that my mother just met Jesus. It was a feeling I will not ever forget. That very moment, while I stared out the bedroom window, she was meeting Him. Her mental anguish on this earth was finished. God was helping me to see that she was now healed. That was a take my breath away moment. On a lighter note, I am now on my way out to shovel the driveway. I have a feeling the snow and air is going to take my breath away! Blessings Delores. I am full of joy that you are present in my life. I have learned so much from you already. You have been in my prayers.

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    1. You describe those events perfectly and I fully understand. I'm thankful you're in my life, too--like bright warm sunshine--and thanks for your prayers.

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    2. Dee, what a beautiful post. Hmmm, I have had a few take-my-breath-away moments. One of the biggest was holding each of our boys for the first time. Counting fingers and toes, studying their wide-awake eyes. Feeling their little grips on my finger as it touched their palms. For a woman who questioned if she would ever have the gift of motherhood, these were big moments.

      Most recently, I think it was watching the high, powerful waves as they crashed into the shores in Hawaii. The high surf warnings made for no swimming but amazing beauty as God showed of His colors, pure and brilliant and His power with the waves. They absolutely left me in awe.

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    3. Beautiful priceless cameo moments shared exquisitely, Jeanne. Thanks for both.

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  3. I love thinking about what takes my breath away. Sometimes it came be a simple giggle from a baby. Or the unfailing affection of my doggie. It can be the joy of opening the door and seeing my daughter standing there. Or a call from one of my sons. But I thing the moment that will truly take my breath away will be to stand face to face with Christ my Saviour. Whatever it is, thanks for reminding me of the moments of awe that our God lavishes upon us.

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  4. Beautiful, Teri, as are you--inside and out.

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  5. Dee, you really should write a book about your travels. Your words literally take me to where you've been. What takes my breath? God's favor. Every time. I don't deserve it, but He bestows it anyway. Oh, and His beautiful rainbows. I never see one without marveling at His grace.

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  6. So sorry about your father's passing. What a wonderful visual your mother had of the tulips! And those lupines...I would LOVE to visit Iceland someday (for research as well as breathtaking beauty!). I love how heaven is going to be more than we could EVER in our wildest dreams imagine. Praying God will comfort you.

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  7. Thanks, Pat. Maybe I will write that--or do a series blog.
    Heather, thank you, too. Yes, even glimpses and dreams here tell us heaven will exceed our wildest expectations.

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  8. I've been by the bedside of 4 people as they have passed and only 1 was truly conscience. My grandmother was brain-dead before she passed into Glory. I felt an overwhelming sense of joy knowing she was no longer trapped in a useless body.
    My friends father who had the same thing happen to him and felt the same way when he passed.
    My father who was conscience, but ceased to speak ten minutes before he left. His last words: "I love you too, Ma" to my mother.
    My Mother-in-law, who just a week before I asked God the same question over. "God I've done everything You've given me to do and unless you tell me where she is, I don't know what more I can do." Then the sweet and overwhelming presence of God came into that room and I felt his mercy as well, knowing she would meet Him when she departed.
    Thank you, Dee, for the most beautiful post I've read in recent months. God bless you during this time and may His peace continue to dwell with you.

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  9. Thank you so much, Gingah, and for suggesting the post to others :)

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