Sunday, September 11, 2022
Love and Joy from Fear and Terror
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
An Expected End
From the very beginning I had a plan in my mind how I wanted these flower beds to look. It was only a matter of time, money and sweat to make it a reality. The first things we planted were five hydrangea bushes and five miniature gardenia bushes. Then came the flax lilies and little by little our flower beds grew.
But the flower beds are not perfect yet. Each Spring brings additions and deletions. Plants get moved from one part of the flower bed to another. Some plants just don't do well in that location and are replaced with something else. The two flower beds also need two completely different types of plants. I can't put plants that need full sun in the bed that gets only full shade. Plants that thrive in full shade wilt quickly in the bed which receives full sun. Yet, I want a cohesive look to both beds. Thank the Lord the flax lilies do well in both beds and are the uniting feature.
Each Spring Glen and I have a discussion about the flower beds. I try to explain what my goal is for that year and he will end up saying "I just can't see it." While I know what he says is true, this sentence is so odd to me because in my mind I can clearly see the completed beds in all their detail. Year by year I make changes to conform those flower beds to that image in my head.
This reminds me of our Lord. He has a plan for His children's lives, a specific plan for each one of His children. No two people have exactly the same plan. His plan for us is ongoing, specific and detailed. He knows exactly what it will look like because His thoughts are of an "expected end."
His plan, prepared just for us, is also perfect. Unlike my plans --like planning to buy additional impatiens this Spring then forgetting to buy them --there are no flaws in His plan. He knows just how much sun, just how much rain we each need to make us grow and flourish in His garden and then He provides the sunshine and the rain.
He is a buckler to all them that trust in Him.." (2 Samuel 22:31)
Even though we are not complete yet, His plans for us are. In His mind what He has planned, He will perform. It is a done deal to Him. There is not any possibility that His plans will not be completed. Not a one.
"I have purposed it, I will also do it." (Isaiah 46:11)
In any moment when we are perplexed about things in our lives, confused by what is happening to and around us, let us remember we are in the midst of God's plan for our lives. God's perfect, personal plan for us will absolutely be perfected one day. Let us remember that, to hold it dear to our hearts. Let us think on the thought that every second of every day the Lord is working out His plan in our lives and it will be accomplished.
that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
His perfect plan for us is to conform us to the image of His dear Son. I work each Spring to bring our flower beds closer to the image in my head. The Lord works every moment to bring us closer to the image of His Son. He not only has the plan, but He provides the power as well.
both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)
We can be sure of one thing, what He has planned, it will be done.
Thursday, July 21, 2022
"God Isn't Doing Anything"
I heard of someone saying once, "God isn't doing anything in my life."
I wondered how this person could feel that way. I knew he meant that the Lord wasn't doing anything spectacular in his life, but I pondered on how many quiet, almost secret, things the Lord does in all our lives each day.
I had several questions I wanted to ask him.
"Is your heart beating? Did you do anything to make it beat?"
"Are you breathing without even having to think about it?"
"Are the 7 octillion (a 7 followed by 27 zeroes) atoms in your body doing whatever it is that they do without you having to lift a finger?"
"Have you eaten this week? Did you plant the food? Did you cause it to grow? Did you provide the sunshine it needed?"
"Are you clothed? Did you weave the fabric? Did you cause the cotton to grow from which the fabric was woven?"
If God never does another thing noticeable in our lives (which will not happen because He is continually working out His purpose in us) we could still not say He is doing nothing because He is maintaining our lives, from our own heartbeat and breath to what we eat and wear and so much more.
"Consider the ravens; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?" (Luke 12:24,25.)
Whenever we are tempted to believe "God is not doing anything" let us begin to count and be thankful for the many things we can't see and yet He does over and over again for us each day. As we begin to choose thankfulness instead of despair, I am quite sure He will open our eyes to see more and more of what He is doing in and through and for us each day.
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Thirty-six days from today I will have a major change in my life.
For the first time in 44 years, I will not be working full time. When discussing this change with my coworkers, inevitably the question will arise, "What will you do with all your time?" This is closely followed by "Won't you be bored?"
|Backpacking in Virginia|
I think when some people speculate about our lives in heaven, they have the same feelings as my coworkers. They are afraid they will be bored. I don't know where the notion of Christians floating on clouds playing harps originated, but I believe it is so false.
Our Lord is an active God, doing so many things at the same time. . .
He maintains all the vastness of creation "upholding all things by the word of His power," (Hebrews 1:3).
He is with every creature who passes, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father," (Matthew 10:29.)
He is calling all men to Himself.
He is listening and responding to the prayers of all simultaneously.
He is working out His "eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus," (Ephesians 3:11.)
I believe the activity seen in an atom only mimics the activity which occurs in the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together to maintain all things and to draw all people to Himself.
Why would such an active God lead His children to inactivity? Pictures from satellite telescopes hurling through space reveal a universe so much greater than we ever imagined. Each galaxy contains planets waiting to be inhabited, waiting for new expressions of His glory and majesty. I like to think those planets are waiting for the redeemed to inhabit them. I like to think, too, animals will live on those planets, for as I heard recently, "they are going to need critters."
The Lord will have so much for us to do, but because we will live in redeemed, perfected bodies, we will never tire, never feel weary. Our work will be done in a sense of perfect peace and rest because our God within us is the Prince of Peace and rest.
Just as I have so many things I want to be doing in 36 days, the Lord has an eternity of things for us to do. Mostly, we will be learning more and more of Him, His love, His character, His way. We will never come to an end of that learning, for He is infinite, there is no shore to the ocean of who He is. He will forever have wonderful things for us to do with Him and through Him in our eternal life, things we cannot even imagine in this life.
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
A Still Small...Beep
|Picture of Ellie just for cuteness|
Our refrigerator has an alarm if the door is left open for more than a minute or so. Thankfully, this is not an obnoxious type of alarm, such as the one in car when you forget to fasten your seat belt. This alarm is very soft, just a barely perceptible "beep, beep, beep".
I realized just how soft this alarm was when I walked away to set Ellie's food down. I didn't hear the beeping, but as I walked back closer to the refrigerator I heard it again. I realized that I had to be close to the refrigerator to hear the alarm.
Immediately, I thought of the story of Elijah:
"And He (the Lord) said, 'Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.' And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord as not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still, small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave." (1 Kings 19: 11-13).
Monday, February 14, 2022
|Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Dalcanton, |
Friday, January 14, 2022
Ashlee needs no reminder to treat people with kindness because she does that everyday. We work together, so I have the opportunity to observe her in the best of times and the most stressful of times and she is always kind and respectful to others.
But the picture of her tattoo made me think about what it represented. My first thought was the many references to kindness in the Scriptures:
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." 1 Corinthians 13:4.
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32.
"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering." Colossians 3:12.
"And to godliness [add] brotherly kindness: and to brotherly kindness charity." 2 Peter 1:7
The most striking of the verses in Scripture regarding kindness however, are those that speak of the Lord's kindness toward us:
"For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord." Psalm 117:2.
"...turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness," Joel 2:13.
"...for I knew that Thou are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness." Jonah 4:2.
None of us need to look to the dictionary for the definition of the word kindness, we know it when we see it. When someone is kind to us, doesn't that make us feel good?
The verb in Ashlee's tattoo really stands out to me..."treat." Now let us look to the dictionary. One of the definitions of the word treat is "to provide with enjoyment or gratification." When someone is kind to us, especially if we didn't expect it, isn't it like receiving a treat? Isn't it something that brings enjoyment?
Many of us have had the experience of giving a treat to a child. Or, in our house these days its giving a treat to our dog. This clearly brings enjoyment to them. We have the ability, the capability to give a "treat" to everyone with whom we come in contact and it takes so little to do so. Kindness is something everyone can give. A smile, a nice word, opening a door, saying "please" and "thank you" are all simple acts of kindness. The opportunities for kindness abound all around us if we will open our eyes to see them.
Let us look for ways to "treat" others with the joy of kindness. It will brighten their day, lighten our own heart and will show the kindness of the Lord to others as we do so.
|Me and Ashlee on Nurses' Day.|
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Shimmering Trail of Unseen Origins
I was walking Ellie the other day and noticed something shimmering on the sidewalk. A snail had left trails on the sidewalk that sparkled in the sunlight. As Ellie and I continued down the street, I thought about that snail.
I never saw the snail. I didn't know if the snail was young or old, or the purpose of his journey. What I did know was that he crossed the sidewalk and in doing so, left a trail of his travels. The trail itself was not pretty, but when the sunlight caught it, it became a glistening strand.
The snail caused me to think about myself. I encounter or pass many people in my daily life, most of whom I do not know. I don't know their names and they don't know mine. I know nothing of their lives, their families or what they do with their days. But I didn't know the snail either and his trip across the sidewalk impressed me enough to sit and write about it. Why?
Because what he did reflected the sun. The beauty of the snail's trail came not in the trail itself, but in the sunlight it reflected. The shimmer, the glistening, the sparkle was not of the snail, but of the sun, and that sparkle made me smile.
Oh, may I be more like the unseen snail on the sidewalk. May I live my life in such a way as to leave a trail that glistens in the light of the One true Son. May His light so shine upon my path that others are led to Him by the shimmer they see. May my passing someone's way lead them to see His Light and their faces turn up in smile because of the sparkle it imparts. And most of all, like the snail, let me forgotten in the process.
Let Me Be Forgotten
Words by Glen Davis
Monday, January 10, 2022
That's how I felt when my patient tested positive for Covid-19 the other night! Only my cape was a gortex gown and my N95 mask was covered with an additional medical mask and face shield. But I didn't feel invincible because of what was on me, but rather because of what was in me.
I have had two Covid vaccination shots plus the booster, I have now had Covid and I have also had the monoclonal antibodies. Grace, a friend of mine at work who also had Covid when I did, remarked that we were probably the best people to take care of Covid patients that night.
I am not a stranger to caring for Covid patients, in fact, I was the nurse for the first delivery of a Covid patient in our hospital. (You can read about that here.) I have never felt undue fear in the role, but I have always been very careful to take all the necessary precautions.
But this time I felt different. Although I still used all the personal protection equipment, I didn't feel that my protection came primarily from what I wore, but from what was circulating through my body. I knew there was something inside of me giving me a strength, a protection I didn't normally have.
How true this is of the Christian. We aren't strong because we have puffed ourselves up to be. In fact, the Apostle Paul stated this about himself:
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10.)
He could make that statement because of the verse that came before it. Paul was speaking of the "thorn in the flesh" the Lord had given him, and how he had asked for it to be removed. This is what Paul said God's response to him was:
"And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' "
Paul then affirms, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2Corinthians 12:9.)
As we walk the Christian life, we are not strong, loving, peaceful, kind -- any attribute you want to include -- because of ourselves. No, it is entirely because of Christ who lives in us, as the Scriptures tell us, "Christ in you, the Hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27.) We are strong because He is strong in and through us as we trust Him by faith. We are loving because He is love in and through us. It is Him, it is all about Him, as we by faith trust Him to "will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13.)
Taking care of my Covid patient, I felt strong, powerful, almost invincible not because I am those things, but because of the natural and injected antibodies flowing in my body. In the same vein, we have the attributes of the Holy Spirit because He lives in us. Just as I trust those antibodies are helping me against Covid, we trust by faith the Holy Spirit works in us.
One of my favorite passage which speaks to this is found in Galatians:
and the life which I no live in the flesh
who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2: 20