Reflections

“Autumn Light” © 2018 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

When I was a little girl, I feared heaven. Of course, I feared hell–that place of outer spiritual and physical darkness–more.

And so, even though I was terrified of a heaven where I would stand before a Holy God in all my imperfection, I desperately tried to be good lest I displease Him, and be relegated to that “other place.”

I knew nothing of God’s grace.

My parents loved me unconditionally. And they gave me grace. God, on the other hand, seemed far off. And His expectations high.

I can recall that as early as age 7, I resolved each morning to become acceptable to God. Then, I got out of bed. And it was all down hill from there.

“How much trouble can a 7-year-old get into?” you ask.

“Trouble a plenty,” is my reply. “Especially if that same 7-year-old grew up during the 1960s and early 1970s in the San Francisco Bay area.”

After all, rebellion reigned the day.

For this reason, I concluded my days with a healthy dose of guilt and self-condemnation; I promised myself I would do better the next day.

But, of course, the cycle began anew on the following morning.

I knew nothing of God’s grace.

I certainly could relate to the apostle Paul when he wrote, “…for I am not practicing what I would like to do but I am doing the very thing I hate,” (Romans 7:15).

I suspect my fear of heaven had its root in the fact that I knew I didn’t measure up. Like Adam and Eve, I hid… I shrunk back from God who loved me.

Indeed, that day in paradise, the enemy hijacked humanity. With lies, he persuaded Eve that rebellion was the path to self-enlightenment.

Thus, she and Adam disobeyed God and walked into darkness. Darkness… because after all, God is light. To step out of His presence is to wander, at the very least, in shadow.

There, in that twilight, life did not become more clear as the serpent promised. Instead, the first couple’s vision clouded.

They no longer trusted their gracious heavenly Father. They feared Him. Rebellion stood in the way.

There, in that twilight, life did not become more clear as the serpent promised.

Yeah, they saw through a glass darkly…

Yet, even in the midst of that terrible tragedy, even as Adam and his beloved Eve left the garden, they carried with them a glimmer of grace.

God promised One who would come and put things right: “He shall bruise you (the serpent) on the head, And you (the serpent) shall bruise him on the heel,” (Genesis 3:15b).

The way of suffering would lead back to Abba and the garden. Humanity wouldsuffer, but Christ would suffer more… for humanity’s sake.

Indeed, Christ’s suffering will bring glory. But in the meantime, the world, despite its cloak of darkness, continues to partially reflect Abba’s love and grace.

That cloudy reflection–the beauty in the midst of pain and suffering–drew me as a preteen, and it draws me now.

Yes, even though Abba could have just scrapped it all after the human debacle in Eden, love prevailed.

Hosea’s book actually illustrates the depths of God’s love for me and you. You may recall that God asked Hosea to marry in order to depict God’s love for His people.

The way of suffering would lead back to Abba and the garden.

Hosea obeyed and married God’s choice for him, a former prostitute. Yet, Scripture indicates that Hosea loved her.

They had three children. But then, she left. In the midst of daily struggles, her old life may have appeared easier or more glamorous.

Or perhaps, like Eve, she believed the lie and thought her life lacked something valuable.

Whatever the case, like Adam and Eve, she exchanged genuine love for a life of shallow substitutes.

When Hosea found her, he begged her come home. But she refused. I imagine the prophet’s heart broke. But he didn’t give up on his bride.

Life went from bad to worse: Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was sold into slavery.

And so, Hosea, deeply in love, went after her. He paid the slave trader and brought Gomer home.

Hosea forgave her, time and time again; he offered grace when he might have written her off. Such was his love for Gomer.

And like Gomer, you and I have wandered away from God. Yet, Abba’s heart has remained faithful. He lovingly pursues us. And Christ has paid our ransom on the cross in order to bring us home.

Like Gomer, you and I have wandered away from God.

Just as God promised Adam and Eve, Christ’s heel was bruised, but the serpent and his weapon, death, were crushed.

Without a doubt, God loves you and me more than Hosea loved Gomer. Indeed, His love is patient, kind… it never fails, (I Corinthians 13).

As a child, I feared heaven because I saw through the glass darkly. I didn’t understand Abba’s heart. I trembled before the perfect God I didn’t know. But God found me, and His perfect love eliminated fear.

John assures us, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us…By this love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment…there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (I John 4:15-18a).

I see now that heaven is so much more than simply a preferred alternative to hell. Heaven is illuminated by God’s grace.

And even as I journey through this dark world and back to the One who loves me more than I can fathom, I find the glimmers of the garden that yet remain.

Indeed, God’s love is patient, kind… it never fails, (I Corinthians 13).

That’s probably why when loved ones die, when friends face illness, when heartbreak hits, or when the day-to-day overwhelms us, you and I intuitively look for something better.

The human soul longs for Eden…our Paradise Lost as John Milton once wrote.

Paul writes, “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God,” (Romans 8:19).

Undoubtedly, we travel through an imperfect world. And while Abba could immediately take His children home, He delays. He knows that as we sojourn here that His grace will shine through us and draw others, too. Our reflection may be imperfect; yet, grace glimmers through us.

Thus, when I experience pain and suffering in this world, I participate in God’s story of grace. I await Eden because love waits for those who have wandered.

And in the meantime,you and I do not journey without hope. We hang on because we know that Eden is worth it, (Romans 8:18).

The human soul longs for Eden.

As the Message puts it, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (I Corinthians 13:12).

This world’s glass reflects darkly.

But God’s promise shines: through Christ, we will rejoin the God in His garden.

His love for us is infinitely deeper, wider and more steadfast than any we have ever known, (Romans 8:38-39).

At present, we see through a glass darkly. But then, we will see Him face-to-face.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then, we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then, I shall know fully, even as I am fully known,”~I Corinthians 13:12

94 Replies to “Reflections”

  1. Amen, dear Lynn!! Thank you so much for speaking to my heart!!! The story of Hosea has definitely spoke to my heart. My battle with fear makes me feel like I am running from God’s promises. I want to run to Him despite my flaws. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww… you have encouraged me more than you can possibly imagine, dear TR! And yes… I was afraid… and at times, still have to remind myself that while God is the Holy Judge of all Creation, He is also my Abba Father. 🙂 So incredibly grateful for that! And grateful for a dear friend like you who totally “gets” it! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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  2. Thank you again for your gracious encouragement for the heart and soul. Praise the Lord that ejection from that little Garden was so that we may journey through this wilderness to a city prepared for those who love Him.
    We cannot even imagine what that will be like; all light and beauty from His own reflection.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. So beautifully, and truthfully, shared Lynn. I fail everyday and I’m so thankful for God’s grace that is beyond comprehension. We can never know the true depth of God’s love – and why He is ready to accept our confessions each and every time. It’s beyond my comprehension. I am so glad though.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My little smartphone cannot do it justice, but I like the painting. Excellent lesson too! Thanks!

    The story of Hosea and Gomer is so strange and unlikely. God loves us the way a good man would love a prostitute? Who would write such a story? Who would believe it?

    The story only begins to make sense when we finally admit to ourselves that the Bible shows us to ourselves as we actually are, not as we want to believe we are.

    Because we so vehemently reject our true state, the Bible tells a story only God would write, that only God could bring people to the point they would be ready to believe and accept it.

    The fact that only God could write it is one of the reasons I believe the Bible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen, Tom! So true. Only God would write such a book. As you so aptly point out, we humans would much rather think better of ourselves, and so would avoid such an unflattering comparison. Excellent point, my friend, as always! God bless you greatly!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “then I got out of bed and it was all downhill from there”…still the story of my life to this day.
    Your post reminds me of the Francine Rivers’ book Redeeming Love. A book I read years ago–I’ve never been one to read novels or fiction…but this one book really touched my heart.
    I’ve not read any of her other books…but that one book really put unconditional love into persepctive and how far we all fall from it…despite doing our best.
    We will always fall short…no matter how much we may love…becasue we are human…
    and thus enters God Grace…
    thank you for the timely lesson Lynn!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and me both, dearest Julie! I am absolutely grateful for God’s grace!! I haven’t read that Francine River’s book…but I probably will now because both you and Maxine have now recommended it! 🙂 Love you much, dear Julie! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll check it out. I tried to read one of her books once… it was a strange one…It was titled “The Last Sin Eater” or something like that. Couldn’t ever get “into” it. But this one sounds good. 🙂 Thanks, Julie!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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  6. Another beautiful post! I loved this part: “I can recall that as early as age 7, I resolved each morning to become acceptable to God. Then, I got out of bed. And it was all down hill from there.” The sad part is, I’ve had days like that and I’m far from the age of 7. But … they are rare now so there is light at the end of the tunnel. You’re a joy Lynn, thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Another fabulous painting sis! At first glance, I thought it was the Tree of Life – very powerful.

    Anyway, back to the point. So many of us live as if we prefer to ‘choose’ to believe the devil’s lies. Fear (not trust born of knowing Him) motivates our heart and prayers and Relationship with our Papà remains a distant wish …

    Holy Spirit, please forgive us our stupidity and help us to come ‘Home’. X

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww… thank you with all my heart, Warren! I meant for it to suggest the Tree of Life…I’m so glad that you caught that! And Amen to all that you wrote here! Yes, we allow the world and the enemy to cloud our vision… So thankful that we can call on His Spirit to reveal and lead us to all Truth regarding Himself! Huge blessings to you, my wise bro! 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved this. Well said. 🙂

    When I was a kid I feared heaven, too. I was afraid it would be boring and I’d be forced to be a cherub sitting on a cloud and playing harp music for all of eternity. I can laugh about such things today, but fears and misunderstandings about God and of heaven can really trip us up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew you’d get it, dear IB. You have such keen insight and discernment! I love that you had “kid thoughts” about God and heaven as well. 😀 And I am so thankful that God tenderly lead us both to a more complete understanding of Himself. But as you say, our human misunderstandings can really trip us up along the way. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment. It means so much to me! You’re the best, IB! ❤ and hugs!

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  9. Oh Lynn, this is beautifully written as always. What a picture of our hearts deepest desire to have more of our Father’s love, and His and protection. Thank you. Your writing and paintings are beautiful, anointed, and so peaceful. They are life giving. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What a refreshing reminder of the loveliness of God’s grace! It is a curious dichotomy that we truly can tremble before Him like the very young Lynn and still draw near to the Throne of Grace with confidence through Christ as you learned later on. To me, that is part of the mystery and wonder of our great God! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi Lynn……I too can relate to the trying to be a “good girl” and to not disappoint GOD. However I do think at a young age it is very hard for us to understand GOD’S grace…….I had some idea of what it “looked” like from watching my Daddy extend it to others for no reason. But I didn’t know you would call his actions grace back then. Have you ever read: Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. It is based on the book of Hosea. My favorite Christian read so far……finished it several times! Thanks for your words here! Blessings too!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Maxine! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging words! I haven’t read that Francine Rivers’ novel, but I think you are the second person to mention it. I suspect I’ll be reading it in the near future 😉 God bless you, my wonderful friend! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I was also afraid of heaven as a child and I used to wish I was never born. Learning to trust and hold onto Him despite my flaws took time. Thanks for this beautiful and encouraging post and may God continue to bless you to do His will. Also, I love the painting! It’s stunning! 💙💙

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  13. Isnt this amazing? Ive already been drawn to your beautiful work here before today, and our Bro Bruce talked of your site as one to read on. Thank you for inspiring me already. ” Heaven is more than just an alternative to hell..” and more. God bless your hands.

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  14. OMG! Up until last year I feared death like you have no idea the scripture in first 1 John 4 is the verse God gave me to overcome it, there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear! It was funny to see someone else use it for similar reasons! 💕

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  15. Very True Lynn, those who are in darkness without Hope will not know what we do, Jesus will come as a Thief in the night to them, they won’t be prepared but it will not be this way for us as confirmed in the Scriptures below, we will indeed know when He returns by The signs He told us us to watch for, nothing will be hidden from us as you shared Lynn, The Holy Spirit will lead us into all Truth, we are to Ask , Seek and Knock.

    1Thessalonians 5 :2 -6 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of The Lord so cometh as a Thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and Safety then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a Woman with Child and they shall not escape. But ye Brethren are not in darkness, that day should overtake you as a Thief. Ye are all the Children of Light and the Children of the day, we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others but let us watch and be sober.

    Luke 11:13 …….. how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

    John 16:13 -15. Howbeit when He The Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all Truth for He shall not speak of Himself but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak and He will shew you things to come. He shall Glorify Me for He shall receive of Mine and shall shew it unto you. All things that The Father hath are Mine therefore said I; that He shall take of Mine and shall shew it unto you.

    1John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the Anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you and ye need not that any Man teach you but as the same Anointing Teacheth you of all things and is Truth and is no lie and even as hath ye have been Taught ye shall abide in Him.

    Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and Teach you in the way you shall go, I will guide you with Mine eye.

    Matthew 10:26-28 Fear them not therefore for there is nothing Covered that shall not be Revealed and hid that shall not be known. (KJV)

    1John 5:20 And we know that The Son of God is come and hath given us an Understanding that we may know Him that is True and we are in Him that is True even in His Son Jesus Christ, this is The True God and Eternal life.

    Colossians 2:2 -3 That their hearts might be Comforted, being knit together in Love and unto all riches of the full assurance of Understanding to the acknowledgement of the Mystery of God and of The Father and of Christ in whom are hid all the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge.

    Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the Principal thing therefore get Wisdom and with all thy getting get Understanding.

    James 1:5-6 If any of you lack Wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him. But let him ask in Faith nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that Man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded Man is unstable in all his ways.

    Christian Love Lynn in our Unity in Christ Jesus – Anne.

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    1. What a beautiful response to my post, dear Anne!! Thank you for this wonderful collection of hope-inspiring Scripture! You are such an encourager, and truly a dear friend! God bless you greatly, my friend! ❤ and prayers for your healing!! ❤

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    1. Yes, it was an amazing journey…coming to fully understand Abba’s grace! Thank you for your compassionate, grace-filled and thoughtful perspective, Jennifer! It is such a delight to meet you here! I’m wondering if you might know my husband who did quite a bit of short term missionary work in Peru, and was often based in Iquitos. Wouldn’t that be amazing if you’d met one another? God bless you greatly and thank you so much for stopping by! You have made my day! ❤ ❤

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      1. Aw, I am so very glad you were blessed!! Thank You Daddy! And how cool, about your husband. Your last name does not ring a bell in relation to anyone I’ve met. Who has he worked with on those trips? Grace and peace over your heart and your week, my sister! ❤️😊

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      2. I asked him if he knew you and he said your name wasn’t familiar to him either. It has been some time since he has traveled there. Currently, he has been helping Messianic organizations in Israel. But I will ask him for specific names of organizations that he worked with in Peru. 🙂 Love and hugest of hugs, dear Jennifer!

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