Sign up to receive Sandi's Blog - Behold the Beauty!

Hello! Thank you for taking this spiritual journey with me! Psalm 46:10 simply invites us to “Be still, and know that I am God". So let's quiet our hearts together and hear what God is saying to us.

Free Indeed

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love endures forever"- Psalm 136 

 


August 28th, 2018.  Jolted awake again. “Why so early Lord?” I gently sighed under my breath. As my eyes strained to look at the clock on my phone I rolled out of bed and shuffled past the bedroom window. As the morning grogginess began to lift I remembered that we weren’t in northern California anymore. My hand reached up to open the blinds from the third story window of our townhouse. I blinked a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The first rays of sunlight cascaded like a river over the red rocks and hills of our new home in Colorado Springs, CO. It was stunning. I breathed a prayer of thanks for the new day and looked at the bright, bold sun coming up above the horizon. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. “Shemesh”, I heard. I formed the word under my breath and repeated it several times. I prayed that the Lord would reveal this Hebrew word to me and looked it up in my concordance. “Shemesh” was the Hebrew word for the Sun. Within moments my fingers opened my Bible to Psalm 113:2-3. “Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Wow!  What a call to worship! I sat and basked in God’s goodness. I began to thank Him for how He had opened the door to this new ministry opportunity in Colorado. There was no denying how His hand had moved on our behalf the past several months. So many things had fallen perfectly into place. He had orchestrated it and I knew that the faithfulness of God was as sure the sun rising and setting every day. I said another prayer of thanks to Him. My heart was ready for this amazing adventure. “Shemesh”, I whispered to myself again. From now on the sun would remind me of how God’s goodness and glory shine everywhere. 

This brought back to mind something I had just read. And as so often happens the Lord was keeping me in sync with the Jewish calendar. As the Levite priests led Israel in ceremonial worship during the Fall Feast of Sukkot they ascended the fifteen steps of the temple, singing one Song of Ascents on each step. Psalm 130 would have been one of those: 

“I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” - Psalm 130:5-6 

I imagined the scene. The priests were singing Psalm 130 as they were coming up the temple stairs to the holy place where the Ark of the Covenant rested. But that’s not all. You see the temple was built with a wall facing towards the east. Many believe that at the dawn’s first light the rays of the sun would have come up over the Mount of Olives, over the wall, through the Eastern Gate and directly into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rested. What an amazing sight it must have been to see the Ark’s Mercy Seat covered with gold glisten in a blaze of sunlight! What a tangible picture! The sun’s appearance symbolized the coming of God and a new beginning. His covenant love, kindness and mercy had shone upon Israel. After seven nights of remembering how God had brought them out of darkness of slavery in Egypt, the Jewish people rejoiced that they had been rescued and protected by God under difficult conditions in the desert. Great feasting and rejoicing flowed throughout Jerusalem. 

In the New Testament (John 7:37) we read that Jesus attended the festival of Sukkot “on the last and greatest day of the feast.” The feast happened in the seventh month of Tishrei, and Jesus appeared to the crowd on the seventh day, which was also when the priests were offering seven bulls to God.  

Seven.  What was the significance?  Seven is the number of heavenly perfection. Completion. Divine fulfillment. 

Jesus stood up in the middle of a crowd who had been celebrating for seven days and possibly may have run out of water and maybe even food. Scripture says he cried out with a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, just as the Scripture has said: “Streams of living water” will flow from within him. 

Right in the middle of the Sukkoth celebration Jesus revealed Himself as the One who caused water to come from the rock so during the exodus the children of Israel would not die in the desert, but live! 

When the sun rose in the sky during that Sukkot the presence and power of God shone brilliantly upon His Son. In this crux moment God was speaking clearly. His son Jesus was the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Feast of Sukkot. You see right before this festival Jesus had made seven “I Am” statements to his disciples. Each of them corresponded to the redemption of Israel. Now it was being proclaimed to the entire world. It is also an invitation for you and I today. 

The “I Am” who appeared to Moses was Yeshua; Jesus - the Good Shepherd who guided them out of Egypt. He was the Bread of Life - the Manna from heaven who provided sustenance to the children of Israel in the desert. He was the Water from the rock - the well of salvation that prevented them from dying of thirst.  He was the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night – the Light of the World. Yeshua was the healer of all their diseases – the Resurrection and the Life. He was Emmanuel sent to tabernacle with mankind. Yeshua was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the only One who could miraculously part the Red Sea for them to reach the other side. He was the True Vine – the One who was crushed and poured out as an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sin of mankind. 

As the temple priests began pouring out the water during Sukkot Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, just as the Scripture has said: “Streams of living water” will flow from within him.”  Just like the prophet Isaiah had foretold, “The Lord will dawn upon you and his glory shall be seen on you.” (Isaiah 60:1) This must have been a significant "Ah-ha moment" for those within range of hearing this!

One of my “Ah-ha moments” happened in 2012...

I clasped hands with my husband as the airplane took off from Sacramento towards Las Vegas, Nevada. This wasn’t a planned vacation. It was an emergency visit to go see my birth father Bob. He was in the hospital listed in critical condition from a severe heart attack. Though I had met him several years earlier we hadn’t connected in person for quite some time. This might be the last chance to see him. Steve and I unpacked our things at the enormous pyramid shaped hotel. A bright shaft of light was coming from the capstone and illuminating the night sky. I was mesmerized. As I walked down the hallway of the hotel I noticed the Egyptian artwork and décor. Images of Moses being drawn out of the water flashed through my mind. “Daughter, you are free,” I heard the Lord whisper to me. At first I sort of brushed it off, but soon realized what the Lord was doing in my heart. He was freeing me from my own personal Egypt. I didn’t know that I had been enslaved by insecurity and fear. Though it had been locked away, buried deep in my subconscious it was real. I had felt like an illegitimate daughter and the core of my identity needed to be healed. During the night I could barely sleep. Bob didn’t know I was coming. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Was I even going to be able to see him? Steve and I strolled through the hotel and headed towards the hospital. Once again surrounded by the ancient Egyptian imagery, I heard the Lord’s voice speak even stronger. “My daughter, I have redeemed you out of Egypt. You are mine. I love you.” Tears welled up in my eyes. It felt as if I had been lifted out of a watery grave of despair. Looking back on that experience I’m grateful I was able to spend time with Bob because six months later he would pass through the gates of heaven. Who he was and the precious memories we shared will always remain with me. 

I’m so thankful that when I was hungering and thirsting for my core identity the Lord fulfilled my deepest needs. Time and time again God had used both my birth parents and adopted parents to demonstrate His incredible love for me. 

Healing streams can flow from the driest desert experiences in our lives. This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is the Living Word – and He invites us to drink in His presence and daily be renewed by Him. When we accept the invitation He speaks to us, convicts us and comforts us. It is then that we can receive the abundant blessings that deeply satisfy our minds, hearts and souls. John 8:36 sums it up this way, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

A Song In The Night 

A few years ago I really thought I was on target and knew God’s plan and purpose for my life. I had come into a new season and I had an idea! I would launch into “coaching” and equipping women. Every week I met with a group of Christian businesswomen and leaders who asked strategic questions and gave their input and insight into various topics. We also spent time praying for each other and really pressed in to the Holy Spirit as we asked for guidance and direction.One week we had a homework assignment. Each of us was to bring something to share the following meeting - like what we were working on. Honestly, I was stumped. A few days passed and then I prayed, “Lord, what should I share with all of these bright, amazing, talented women?” Without a pause He spoke to my heart and said, “Sing them one of your songs.” I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open – probably to the floor. I was stunned. I went to one of my journals and read through my “to do list”. All of the things that were on my mind as “top priority” were listed.As I glanced over it I realized that at the very, very bottom of my list was songwriting, and creating art. Sing a song…at a business meeting? For a few moments I began to protest. Lord, these are all businesswomen! How does this fit? Then I heard the Lord say, “I created you to sing and share music.” As I wrestled with my fears and insecurity I knew it was absolutely pointless to argue with God.

Okay, now I had to figure out what song I would sing.

Then I remembered someone saying that the last song you’ve written is more than likely your best one. A wave of vulnerability crashed over me and I burst into tears.You see, just a few days earlier I had written a song for our 22 year-old son, Paul who had just been released from the hospital after a near brush with death. After surviving an overdose of three tabs of Acid he was back under our roof sleeping on our sofa as he recovered. The Dr. said that the drugs had induced an episode of severe psychosis. Night after night we watched Paul struggle to sleep. Then when he did fall asleep he would jolt awake because his brain was trying to heal. It was rough. We had no one to really help us walk through this dark valley except the Lord. One night the Holy Spirit said, “Play all of the black keys on the piano and it will help him sleep.” So I did. Amazingly, he slept.

A few nights later I wrote the song, “Lord, Have Mercy” as a gut wrenching prayer and a signal of hope.God’s mercy had already been running deep and wide for our family. The lyrics in the chorus said, “For the weak, You give strength; For the weary, You give rest; For the lost, You lead them home; For the lonely – they’re never alone.” I knew deep down that this was the song I was to share with my women’s group. But there was a problem – I’d break down crying every time I would sing it. Solution? I video recorded the song and at the next meeting I shared it. As I played the video recording there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. In faith I told them that God was going to heal my son. I also told them how God had flipped all of my “priorities” around and that I was going to embrace my calling as a singer-songwriter in a whole new way. It was these women who reminded me that our gifts are inside of our calling, not separate from it.

As I write this it seems like yesterday but all of this happened four and a half years ago. I am thrilled to say that our son rededicated his life to the Lord and was re-baptized on Father’s Day 2019. Because of God's perfect timing I had already bought airline tickets to CA and it was wonderful to be there in person to see Paul's baptism. That morning I sang the song I had written for him. As a quick update: he is still healing but doing very well. I am so grateful that God’s mercies are new every morning! 

Romans 12:15-16 reminds us… 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, 

Weep with those who weep. 

Live in harmony with one another. 

AND

Sing a song when it needs to be sung!

(SPV - Sandi Padilla Version!)

 

Fields of Glory 

"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, but I tell you not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you?"  Luke 12:27-28

Growing up I remember going on Sunday afternoon drives with my family in northern California. My dad liked to bring his camera and photograph the fields of poppy flowers blooming in the early Spring. From horizon to horizon the warm sun cascaded across the wide open landscape where the golden orange hue met azure blue. One particular day I remember being in awe at the seamless carpet of bright orange flowers and recall my mom humming a little tune and singing the words "Golden Poppies" which for me added magic to the moment. Looking back on these fond memories I realized that because the poppy was our state flower it really became one of my favorites.  As I studied more about this unique flower I learned how resilient it can be during times of drought. I believe that this flower's special quality reminds us that we can face and withstand the trials and difficulties we go through in our lives with resilience and grace.  

The Psalmist, David had this confidence because God revealed himself as "Jehovah Ra'ah", the Lord, my Shepherd.  As he tended the sheep David developed a deep, intimate trust between himself and God just as he nurtured the relationship between himself and his flock.  In Psalm 23 he expressed that relying on the Lord his Shepherd brought lush pastures, refreshment and restored strength. In fact David revealed that he lacked nothing.  Even when walking through a dark ravine, "I fear no danger for you are with me; your rod and staff keep me calm." 

What can bring us that same quiet, steady confidence? With the help of our Shepherd we can stand graceful and tall as we go through the turbulent storms in our lives.  Just as the poppy flower does we can maintain our beauty and brilliance as we go through parched, arid seasons of drought . You and I can bend and sway as the winds of change blow and we can remain hopeful, resilient and strong as we lie still and wait for God to provide for us. Like David, the shepherd boy, we do not need to worry.  Our Shepherd, Yeshua loves us and will always watch over us and take care of us. Then as the Holy Spirit carefully tends, waters and tills the soil of our hearts he will scatter us like seeds until they become like magnificent fields that show God's glory and redemptive work. 

Heart Talk:  Dear Jesus, help me see You and know You as my loving Shepherd.  Be the One who leads me and guides me onto the right path.  I need Your direction, strength and guidance every day.  Thank You for providing for me and giving me new green pastures to bring me nourishment in my life.  Continue to protect me and remove all worry and fear from my heart. Lord, I want to fully depend on You even when the things I am going through may be troublesome.  When I walk through the desert, remind me that You are with me to comfort and help me. Continue to tend the soil of my heart and transform me into a field of glory for the sake of Your kingdom.  Lord Jesus, thank You that I belong to You.  May Your goodness and mercy follow me all of the days of my life.  Amen.

One Thing 

My blog is called "Behold the Beauty" and I thought I'd take a moment to tell you why.  

A few years ago there was a verse that wrestled my wild heart to the ground:

"One thing I ask of the Lord, 
this is what I seek: 
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
all the days of my life, 
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord 
and to seek him in his temple."  - Psalm 27:4

One thing.  Wait a minute!  One thing?  As I thought about my life and the crazy, fast paced schedule that I so often kept, I was struck by a simple invitation in this moment. I wanted the whirlwind to stop. It was time to refocus. I realized that at the end of every day all that I was longing for was a connection with my Abba, God my Father. As I heard Him say to my heart, "be still and know that I am God" I responded with a humble "yes".  

We become what we behold! Real change comes from a heart encounter with Jesus. He is looking for friends. He is seeking hearts to inhabit. He wants me to know Him and trust Him enough to let Him speak His truth into my life. He desires to talk with me and let me in on His plans. When I desire the presence of Jesus and ask Him to inhabit my life I am giving Him permission to take over!

The more I look at Him, I behold who He really is. He is not a small God. He is BIG! He is not a far away God. He is near. He is present. When I ask, He will answer. When I seek, I will find. When I gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek Him I am changed. I become whole. I become beautiful.

We become what we behold. 

Heart Talk: Jesus, please continue to transform me into Your image. Who You are is so wonderful. I want to reflect Your character. I want to live the way You lived. Unselfish. Compassionate. Forgiving. Loving. Come and truly inhabit my heart. Take over. Change me. Help me behold You so that I can be an image bearer of You. For Your glory.