Psalm 46:1: [For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.] “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

Finding out that we are handcrafted by God is a huge light-bulb moment. One way or another, every person on this planet is on a quest to discover this innate truth. We tend to approach life differently after our light-bulb went off.

We all need God. His absence promotes dysfunction while His presence completes us. God is our refuge and strength. He helps us through life’s darkest hours. Moments like this impact us perhaps more than happy times ever will. As a happy side-effect, our personal trials will eventually yield a precious crop: humility.

Humility is a crown best worn on a mountain top. We shouldn’t forget how we got there. All mountain tops will pass. Around the corner new experiences and unknown challenges are waiting for us; and armed with humility we will do better negotiating the rough territory of life’s crazy surprises.

People weathered by various storms on the road of experience will sense when someone else is down. They are “rainy day people” who can relate because they’ve seen a rain storm or two (I am using Gordon Lightfoot’s endearing terminology here). Personally, I don’t know of anything more gratifying and satisfying than connecting with other people on a deeper level.

God profoundly delights in us when we care, because He cares. That’s who He is – our ever-present help in trouble – and He loves it when we start to resemble Him.

“Rainy day lovers don’t lie when they tell you they’ve been down like you. Rainy day people don’t mind if you’re crying a tear or two.” – Gordon Lightfoot

Luke 12:6-7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

The Lord has a knack for details, and He has a knack for remembering things we deem unimportant. We hire accountants to count our money. We certainly don’t hire anybody to keep track of the numbers of hair on our heads. Why would that be even remotely interesting?

Here’s the kicker: Our dead hair falling off our scalps is more alive than the dead coins representing our money. And God is more interested in life than in death.

Every being that breathes is a creation of God and as such of utmost interest to our Creator. If we share in His interest, then we are close to the Almighty, if not even dead center to the movements of His heart.

I’ve always felt that the Lord shows up through our compassion. A CNN reporter recently spoke of a man who for the past 23 years made it his habit to visit with mourners in the aftermath of a catastrophe. Here is an excerpt of his report about a man by the name of Zanis:

Since 1996, when he found his father-in-law murdered, Zanis has built 26,680 crosses, he said on the drive. He would add nine names to his orange notebook after Dayton, he said.

He estimates 21,000 are shooting victims. He’s also taken his white crosses to the aftermath of tornadoes and wildfires, bus and boat crashes, and to Martha’s Vineyard after JFK Jr. and his relatives died in a plane crash. He took five in February to the Henry Pratt Company after a shooting unfolded in his hometown.

Asked how he staves off sadness, he said he doesn’t.

“I break down. You’re going to see me cry. I don’t mind,” he said. “I hug victims all the time, and I try to be strong, but I’m really not. I’m OK with that. I feel so good afterwards because I’ve done something.”

We all feel small sometimes. If you happen to feel like an inconsequential little Sparrow at this very moment, know that you are not forgotten. God remembers you. And people moved by His Spirit remember you too. You are not alone!

We all matter. Nonetheless, our ability to share in each other’s sorrows is putting this thought into action. Helping each other out is both the most human and divine thing happening here on planet Earth.

Psalm 96:1: “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!”

The Lord is the author of newness and freshness. He especially does not copy and paste when it comes to relationships. Neither should we – or our relationships will be merely ritual and void of any meaning. “Sing to the Lord a new song!” is challenging us to come up with a new tune for the Almighty, and I think abandoning rituals is part of it.

We all understand this is an all-inclusive invitation (i.e. let the whole earth sing a new song to the Lord), which is not meant to turn us all into music composers and songwriters – although wouldn’t that be a fun experiment? We’d come up with some innovative compositions, for sure! Note that all the earth is included, animals, plants, humanity, everything that makes Earth our home planet, and that begs the question what exactly does singing a new song entail?

Everybody who knows me has to put up with my sunset and sunrise shots I publish on social media every time we run into a beautiful sky display. I’m a die-hard fan of sunrises and sunsets because they are never the same. The skies above literally sing a new song to the Lord every single day. Well, here is our challenge: Can we be just as varied in our response to God’s faithfulness?

We can thank God in so many ways. As much as the sky is the limit, our creativity can know no bounds. We can sing to the Lord a new song simply by being real and personal in how we interact with the Lord. God knows our heart’s language and understands exactly how we feel, even if we run out of words. Who knows? In the eyes of the Lord our prayers may very well look like the colors of dawn or the colors of a fiery sunset.

In the words of James Taylor:

“Well the sun is surely sinking down, but the moon is slowly rising.
So this old world must still be spinning round and I still love you.

So close your eyes, you can close your eyes, it’s all right.
I don’t know no love songs and I can’t sing the blues anymore.
But I can sing this song and you can sing this song when I’m gone.”

Psalm 119:130: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

Snuffing out the light leaves us in the dark. Darkness is great for sleeping purposes. However, if we want to get somewhere, we need to be able to recognize our surroundings.

Sailing the seven seas, sailors traditionally have relied on Starlight, as well as Nomads in the Sahara Desert have depended on it. The North Star or Pole Star – aka Polaris – is famous for holding nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around it. Essential for our orientation when the sameness of the endless sea or desert wasteland won’t give us any hint as to which direction we’re going!

Life can be compared to sailing – with winds of opportunity arising, a storm brewing or a nice easy breeze coming our way. Light is fluid and varies in degrees. In light of certain events we might see things differently. Light can be blinding, light can be harsh, and light can be beautiful. We certainly can’t do without it – light is essential to us. We will get lost at sea if we allow us to drift anywhere the wind blows. Sailing through life, we all need direction.

There is one light source nobody can snuff out: it’s the eternal flame, the Holy One – Creator of the universe. Everything evolves around Him. Depending on how close we get to the source of all light we’ll see more and more what life is all about.

The depth of God’s communication is astounding; however, we need His light to fully appreciate what He has to say. The texture of His Word is intricate. It’s like studying a well-crafted piece of art from every possible angle. There is always something new to discover that we haven’t noticed before. The meaning of God’s communication unfolds over a lifetime and takes on more and more meaning as we sail through life.

King David prayed (Psalm 119:130):“The unfolding of your word gives light.” This goes to show that God unveils His secrets as we grow closer to Him.

The closer we grow to the Almighty, the more His Word speaks to us. The potency of God’s Word comes to full fruition when we understand what it says. It’s a phenomenon that takes on a life of its own. Giving us hope, God’s communication will quickly become our lifeline. Drawing closer to God we’re able to see things clearer than ever before.

Jeremiah 33:2-3: “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”

New discoveries are exciting. Nonetheless, there are things no scientific effort will be able to reveal. God, who by the way invented science, has no intentions to take His mystery out of the equation. I think that’s beautiful. While the universe runs like well-crafted machinery, life is no machinery. Life is a mystery. So is love. It behooves us to stay curious!

All life comes from God. The closer we get to God, the more alive we become. Approaching Him is life. Separating from Him means death. Death is no mystery. There is nothing to explore in death. Death is absolute nothingness while life is absolute everythingness. And God is in everything, which is why He relates to everything and can reveal in depth and at a capacity foreign to us.

God can relate to you and me like no other. Our minds and hearts are like fingerprints – unique. We all think differently simply because we sense the world around us with our very own five senses. God chimes in from the inside. No one else can get into our head and see what moves us openly displayed. Similar to us watching a drama unfold on a big screen of a movie theater, our thoughts and feelings are openly accessible to Him. This just comes with the territory of being the Creator of the universe.

While this may be frightening to realize the potency of such proximity, we do not need to be afraid of God. God has no bad intentions. He has the potential to manipulate us, however, mind control is so very much opposed to what He stands for. What He loves to do though is using His connectivity to our benefit. Knowing what excites us, He’ll keep revealing things we are curious about. Personally, I think that a good portion of our discoveries actually stem from this innate relationship God has with each of His creatures. The driving force of our curiosity is like a river God leads into areas where we’ve never been.

Seeking God has many layers to it. The primal quest is reaching out for Love with a capital “L”, Love that embraces us completely as a person. Yet another layer of seeking God is exploring our fields of interest with Him. If you are a gifted scientist you’ll discover things you have never dreamed of. If you are a gifted musician you’ll bring a fresh new musical wind into the arena. Whatever talent God has put in you, He is excited to develop you further.

God is excited about life, and He is excited about you. Discovering God is the mother of all discoveries!

James 1:22: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

Listening to someone may change your perspective. You might learn something entirely new!

A brief encounter of the show “Big Bang Theory” comes to mind. “What’s the gist, physicist?” Jokingly responding to a forceful knocking, Penny opens her door to listen to the answer, only to slam the door shut in the face of said physicist a brief moment later. Somebody asks a question but doesn’t really care for the answer.

Have you ever encountered a person who asks the same question in ten different ways just to get the answer that he or she desires to hear? That’s not listening for an answer, that’s suggesting one.

Preconceived notions can get in our way. Depending on how big those preconceived notions are, we need a hearing aid of sorts. The audio from other people is slightly altered because we filter the information to our liking. It’s hard to be impartial that way.

When we’re born, the first thing we do is cry. Hearing that first cry, the mother is happy that her baby is alive and healthy. Crying out comes natural to us. We all want to be heard. Listening on the other hand, not so much! Listening takes skill and expertise. We have to get out of our own way to do so. If we don’t, we’re just big babies, so-to-speak. Part of growing up is to actually become curious in what other people have to say. The more we take in, the more intricately we’re shaped, and all the more well-rounded our world view becomes.

When God addresses us personally and we get quiet enough to listen (which we’ve practiced before by learning how to impartially listen to the people around us), this has a tremendous effect on our psyche. Why? I’ve always wondered. I believe in part it has to do with the fact that God Himself is a great listener. He listens to our heart all day long. So, when He addresses us in person, the Word He has for us is something we need to hear. It will help us grow and move on. It will help us work through issues. Not to mention solace! Brokenhearted, His Word soothes our soul.

Well-received, God’s input will initiate growth, healing, and will change our outlook on things. In other words, God’s input, while invisible, visibly shapes us. We act upon it. It’s fuel in our tanks. It builds our life, our relationships.

Listening requires breaks. The United States is internationally famous for her short vacation time – which I think is really detrimental to human productivity. Appropriate breaks help us stay grounded. It’s insane to fly blind, and it’s unhealthy to live on autopilot. If day to day stuff and stressful situations engulf us and we haven’t had much time to take a break, let’s take the time! To the benefit of our heart and soul, breathe! Let the noise filter out of our heads so we become blissfully aware what our best Friend has to say to us.

God is for you, not against you, and He is the best Friend you’ll ever have. Lend Him your ear – you’ll never regret it!

John 1:12-13: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

If your name was “Carter” and I stepped up to you saying: “I believe in your name, Carter”, then it would sound a little odd to you, wouldn’t it? In order to show you my support I would probably rather say: “I believe in you, Carter!”

The name of God is simply of a different caliber. As a general observation, we don’t use our names the way God is using His. While our human names won’t necessarily reveal our character, God’s name reflects exactly who He is. The fun part about God’s name, however, is His vagueness. In the Old Testament God introduced His name to Moses saying (Exodus 3:14):

“And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be;”

God’s name is an open invitation to get to know Him. Receiving Him seals the deal that we believe in His name. And believing in His name means we believe in Him. We believe that He indeed is who He is, has been and will be.

God is always on the move. To get to know Him we need to follow Him. What we’ve learned about Him yesterday is not enough. All of eternity is dedicated to find out more about our Creator. His name is so big, and it grows bigger every day because God is great.

His name will start to grow on us as we begin to have our personal experiences with the Almighty. “I Am” will become a very meaningful name to us, and we are going to love this Name like no other. The very name we love ends up being our family name as we are adopted into His family and become children of God.

God is who He is, and children of God are who they are: a secret and a mystery to behold – visibly rooted on Earth and invisibly connected forever to the Kingdom Heaven.