Because It Is Beautiful.

Years ago in Colorado, I meandered through an iron foundry with a friend. Out of the rubble, he grabbed an old iron wheel. The spokes radiated from the hub in a most unusual way, curvy and intricate like S’s rather than L’s. It clearly took the blacksmith much longer to build it that way than with straight spokes.

“Do you know why it’s like that,” my friend, an engineer and blacksmith, asked.

“No.”

“Because it’s beautiful,” he said. “There is no other reason.”IMG_8494

Enjoying a little jet lag tonight, I’m sitting in our apartment in Nice, France with the gallerie windows open to the Port du Nice. Sailboats bob gently in their slips next to three-story yachts with navy blue hulls and tan, young men swabbing their already spotless decks.

Although it is dark, I can see all this because the port is ringed by street lights shaped like lanterns. But evidently, that’s not lovely enough, because they lamps don’t just shimmer on the water, every now and again they flicker, flash and change color. At the moment, they are green. Soon they will turn purple.

Do you know why they do that?

Because it is beautiful. There is no other reason.

Consider French architecture, art, fashion and food. The French cultivate beauty and finery for the sake of itself, which is perhaps the reason France is the most visited nation on earth. The United States is second and we have the Grand Canyon.

IMG_8496In addition, Nice Port and the Old Town are separated by a large tree covered hill, rising 300 feet above the Mediterranean. Until 1705 there was a castle there, but now it is a city park, a picnic spot with Roman ruins and long views over the turquoise and cobalt sea.

The park closes at night but all along the hillside the trees are awash with careful, deliberate landscape lighting, which also shimmers off the water in the Port below.

How delightfully unnecessary all this is, but at nearly 2am on a jet lag night, I’m reminded we are all capable of magic, and creating something that makes people linger and sigh requires no explanation.

Because it’s beautiful, is reason enough.

So, what magic are you creating?

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Can You Name Five Life Goals?

St. Andre - French Alps

St. Andre – French Alps.

I’m reading a fantastic book on prayer called The Circle Maker. Wendy Lawton of Books and Such Literary Agency recommended it, saying when she finished it, she bought 35 copies.

Praying to an unseen God can be really hard – especially if nobody’s ever taught you how or why it matters. This book does both.

Written by Mark Batterson who pastors National Community Church in Washington DC, this book is an anthology of miracles. Batterson tells every story backward, starting with a successful $3 million bid the church made on a rare piece of Capitol Hill real estate. Then he backs up a few years and explains the prayer that started it, which grew into many prayers, relentless prayers, boring daily prayers and an army of on-foot prayers circling the property until the deal closed.

It’s a book of evidence, but one that’s smart enough to tackle “unanswered” prayers or those where God says no. You should pick it up. It’s good.

Reading Batterson’s thoughts on goal setting, I noticed how neglected and mushy my own goals had become. How can you pray circles around things when you don’t even know what you want? He talked about a guy named John Goddard who at age 15 wrote down 127 life goals, ranging from milking a poisonous snake to learning Arabic. By the time he turned 50, he’d accomplished 108 of them.

Batterson writes:

The brain is a goal-seeking organism. Setting a goal creates structural tension…which will seek to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, who you are and who you want to become…Goal setting is good stewardship of your right-brain imagination. It’s also great for your prayer life.

So, I began writing 100 life goals today – so I can circle them in prayer. Here are five:

  • Learn to fly a plane.
  • Live in France.
  • Build a Dream Center in Santa Cruz, California – (Whoa. Did I just said that out loud?)
  • Learn to play guitar well enough to play around a campfire.
  • Write bestselling books.
IMG_0573

Nice would be nice.

At least two of those goals are impossible without God, it’s just a fact. The trick, Batterson says, is to work like it’s on me, but pray like it’s on God.

And so my friends, today is audience participation day at Going to the Sea.

  • Who are you?
  • What are you dreaming up?

In the comment section please inspire us:

Link up your blog if you like and post five of your own life goals. Be bold.

Roll your works upon the Lord (commit and trust them to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will and) so shall your plans be established and succeed. Proverbs 16:3