Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday in the Sky

Lately I feel that I've been very self-absorbed. This next week is finals week for me, and I've had a lot on my mind. But there are so many people who are suffering deeply right now, especially with the tornadoes that left so much destruction behind in the South. I think what I need today--and every day--is time spent alone with God, in reflection and prayer for others, as well as a right heart attitude for myself.

Today let us turn our gazes upward. I read a very special devotional this morning that I wish to share with you. May it remind us to have a proper perspective today and in the days to come:

(Picture taken in Arlington National Cemetery last summer; click to enlarge.)

The Face of God

"During the Battle of Britain hundreds of Americans went to Canada to enlist with the Royal Candian Air Force (RCAF) and to join the fight against Nazi Germany. Eighteen year-old John Magee was one of these daring young men. After training he was sent to England where he joined No. 412 Fighter Squadron, RCAF. Flying his Spitfire in fighter sweeps over France and England he achieved the rank of pilot officer.

One day while flying at the extremely high altitude of 30,000 feet, he was struck with inspiration for a poem. On the ground he finished his poem and put it on the back of a letter to his parents. The words of the young airman continue to paint a vivid picture:

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew--
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Unfortunately John Magee was killed three months after writing this poem. His majestic words have been quoted often, most notably by Ronald Regan, eulogizing the Challenger 7 crew after their tragic loss in 1986: 'They waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.'

To say that you have 'touched the face of God' may sound presumptuous. However, I believe that we all desire to come closer to God, and that there are moments when we feel his presence. The beauty of a sunset, a storm, many natural vistas, all evoke thoughts of God and his majesty. In quiet moments of prayer we often sense his presence and tender mercy. These moments are real and open to us daily as a sure way for each to 'touch the face of God.'

'The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of his hands.' ~Psalm 19:1"

~ Larkin Spivey, from the devotional book Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from World War II ~

*Note from Amber: I was deeply touched when I saw a quote from this poem on a grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery (pictured above). And I was so blessed to find a reference to it today in my devotional reading! May you be blessed by these words, as well.

Also, I received a copy of Battlefields & Blessings from the author for review, and while I'm not very far into it, I might do a partial review soon. It's a powerful book!*

5 comments:

Julia M. Reffner said...

Amber,

Thanks so much for sharing this today. I've been having difficulty keeping up with the blogs, but when I hit them I find its exactly what God needs me to hear.

This is something God confirmed for my husband and I, having a servant mindset and wanting to develop this in my children. Sometimes I'm so full of self, it frustrates me deeply. I need that time in intercession too.

Amber S. said...

Julia,

You're very welcome! God always knows what we need to hear. :) This was such a beautiful devotional and so relevant that I had to share it. I've been inspired by Laura's posts when she shares devotional pieces, as well. :)

That's admirable that you're teaching your children about having a servant heart/mindset! :) It's something I know I definitely need to work on, as I'm often rather consumed with thoughts about myself...

~Amber

Amanda said...

Amber, this is beautiful and just what I needed right now! Thank you, my friend :) The words of that poem were alive with God’s wonder and majesty. Definitely saving it in my journal!

Boy, do I know what you mean about feeling self-absorbed, because I, too, have been feeling that exact same way lately. My mind has been so focused on “me” that I’ve not only neglected others, but God also. I think I’ve been focusing more on some trials I’m facing right now, and instead of fixing my eyes on Christ, I’ve kept them on the waves… what good I am to God or others if I’m sinking in a sea of self?

I need to start doing what you said, truly spending time each day in prayer for others, for when I’ve done this in the past it is incredible how the Lord meets you in that prayer closet and moves through you. You will also find that whatever you were fretting over for yourself has been taken care by the grace and love of your Saviour. My dad often share a testimony that once when he was sitting in church his back was hurting him so much he could barely sit (he has a very bad back). During the prayer requests another man lifted his hand to ask for prayer for his back because it was causing him a lot of problems and extreme pain, too. My dad completely took his mind off his own pain and started to fervently pray for the other man. About half way through the service my dad realized his back pain was gone and had been for some time. He’s like here I was focused on my pain when my brother was experiencing it also and I could have helped him – that added an extra shot of zeal to his prayer! He has always taught me to never keep my eyes on myself but see how you can help others and intercede on their behalf. I think it’s about time this prodigal comes home, what do ya think? ;)

Another time my dad’s shoulder was hurting him something fierce. It was during worship that he wanted to lift his hands and praise but didn’t know how his arm could handle being lifted like that without going into a spasm. He decided he didn’t care about the pain and wanted to raise his hands to the Lord regardless. The Lord healed him during that song – though again he didn’t realize it until halfway through the service, LOL! He should really be expecting these things by now, right? Right ;) All this is to say that I’ve seen what the Lord will do when we take our eyes off of and not worry about self. The Lord honors it and will meet the need.

A verse kept coming to mind as I read this – “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” (Psalm 27:8). That’s what my goal is this week, setting my heart to seek the Lord and fixing my eyes on Him. Thank you for this inspiring post! I read it Sunday but haven’t found a moment to comment until now. The Lord always uses you, my friend :)

Blessings,
Amanda

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

First of all, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond to this beautiful comment! As always, my friend, your words are uplifting and encouraging. :)

Isn't that poem just gorgeous? And so touching! I love it, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, as well!

Thank you for taking the time to share your heart and those amazing testimonies from you dad! You are a great example to me, and I really need to take to heart these ideas, too--of focusing on God and others and praying more. It truly is awe-inspiring to think that God hears us and works through us. :) And He knows what is best for us, which is something I need to remember in deed and not just in my mind, if that makes sense. He hears our heart's cries and He loves us enough to work for our best and not always give us what we want. And yet how often He blesses us with our wants, as well!

Anyway, thank you again for your beautiful comment! :) I'm so glad this post inspired you! I hope it was OK to share that devotional piece--I just thought it was a great one to post! Hopefully I can write a partial review soon for this powerful devotional!

~Amber

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