Historic? Yes. Triumphant? Certainly. Memorable? Of course. Even auspicious. Joshua and Caleb leading the Israelites across the Jordan River was an event worthy of all of these descriptive words. It was an occasion of immense proportions. They were pilgrims who had endured forty years in the wilderness, suffering incredible hardship, as well as blessings beyond description. The lessons garnered from their experiences would fortify them for the years ahead, but what of future generations? Would they be doomed to suffer through similar circumstances? Undoubtedly, except for the foresight of an all-knowing and all-wise God who understood the nature of His children. So a memorial was built, right there at the site. It was meant to be a testimony to the provision and enablement of God. In years to come, youngsters would see it and wonder, then learn of the faithfulness and power and mercy of their God. They would learn of many historic events that would bring them to one conclusion-their survival, their existence, their every blessing all came from the hand of their great God. Such foundational lessons would become the basis for future decisions, personal or otherwise. Many centuries later, the settlement and establishment of another nation would prove to be an auspicious, triumphant occasion of immense proportions. Pilgrims had come to a wilderness and endured years of hardship, as well as incredible blessings. The years ahead would, no doubt, hold innumerable obstacles to be conquered, and impose unrelenting challenges. From where would future generations receive guidance, wisdom or hope? What would provide the foundational lessons that would be the basis for decisions, personal or otherwise? Like the Israelites, our forefathers went to considerable lengths to acknowledge and preserve the memory of the blessings and empowerment they received from the hand of God. Monuments were established, inscribed with God’s Word. Documents were created, interspersed with references to the Creator and His law. Public prayer was common, and in times of struggle even more so. Legal proceedings included an oath to God. For decade upon decade, these customs continued, and this fledgling nation thrived and prospered. Following the Lord and believing His Word is not something that can be mandated. As in ancient times, a choice must be made on a personal level whether to heed the lessons and testimonies of those who have gone before. As in ancient times, there will always be those who cannot abide such devotion and reliance on a righteous God. Some would claim all of these things are just outmoded symbols and beliefs and have no place in today’s world. It is an old argument, but the climate has changed for conservatives of all ilk, especially Christians. More and more, our country has begun to resemble the wilderness. We can dwell on that, complaining and fearful, or we can see it for what it is, while remembering that the battle belongs to the Lord. That’s what Joshua and Caleb chose. What will you choose to do? His Word still stands, regardless of the opposition, and our charge still holds. Within the heart of devoted followers of God, His vital truths reign. Regardless of the route we take to accomplish it, our mission is to be faithful, to trust, and to demonstrate God’s love, peace and joy to all those around us. That’s a big order, but it comes straight from His Word. Instead of being offended and intimidated by the escalating opposition, live out your faith. Be the Bible others refuse to read. Phots courtesy of Carrie Devorah
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Sometimes it is surprising how the simple things can be such a blessing. It was just a bit of color, but it caught my eye. The blinds on the window of my lower level apartment were usually tightly closed, but it was spring, after all. I was craving some sunshine. So for a little while every day, I opened my blinds to the world. I’m sure it wasn’t there at first. Having a window at ground level, my view wasn’t very impressive, so I’m sure I would have noticed. When I finally did, it made me smile. I checked on it daily, cheering it on as it grew and developed. It wasn’t too long before it was covered with tiny florets of bright yellow, and I was thrilled. I had to have a picture of it, and now, a year later, that photo still gives me a happy feeling inside when I see it. Maybe none of you have ever harbored fond thoughts for a weed, but it was a little bit of sunshine during a difficult time for me. It could have sprouted up anywhere, but, instead,it was firmly rooted right in my window-well. I started thinking of it as Sunny. Sure, it was only a weed, but I recall someone saying a weed is just a wildflower nobody intentionally planted, sort of a rogue wildflower. Others have referred to them as “volunteers”. I believe my little Sunny was a volunteer with incredible timing. When you’re working afternoons, you are entitled to sleep later into the day, unless, of course, the grounds crew decides they are going to do the trimming under your window at 8 A.M. with an extremely loud, gas-powered weed-eater. Every single time they showed up, they used the dreaded trimmer, whisking away anything that dared to rear its dainty little head in the wrong place. Sunny must have been watching for them to leave before he allowed himself to sprout from the ground. He had to be cautious and wise, because he had a job to do. Once sprouted, he grew like a… well… like a weed. He must have practiced some form of stealth for I’m sure he escaped the trimmer once. He kept me company for a good 3 weeks, waving at me through the window. Rain or shine, there he was waiting for me and putting a smile on my face at one of the darkest times of my life. Then came a day when I looked out my window, expecting to see my little buddy, only to find…nothing. The grounds crew had finally gotten him. At first, I mourned his passing, but then I thought better of it. He may have been the only weed on the property to have survived past infancy. He lived a good long life, and he accomplished the job I’m sure God put him on this earth to do. I hope when my life comes to an end, others will speak as well of me.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Just now, did you hear that cry? That’s my precious Little Guy. He’s been blessed with good, strong lungs For a baby still so young. Quiet days have disappeared. Babbling gurgles now I hear. Shrieking, too, seems quite a joy, To this bouncing baby boy. Listen harder, then you’ll hear, He said “Mama,” nice and clear. It’s the first time that I’ve heard. Baby uttered his first word! Ni’ni, gawggie, ball and bye, Baby words, soon set aside. Constant chatter fills the air Echoes of the words I’ve shared. Everything expressed by me Becomes his reality. What he’ll be in days to come Starts with words from my own tongue. Kind, humble, respectful, wise, Playful, funny—all advised. Such words convey character, Noble virtues, to be shared. Harsh or bitter, both destroy. Ridicule will steal his joy. I’ll show him through loving speech Qualities that can’t be breached. Give him strength, empower, too! Time is short, the days are few! Soon he’ll greet a trying world That would see his spirit quelled. Words are vital factors, yes; Proper attitudes, no less. Side by side, they’ll do him fine. Little Guy will surely shine. I once witnessed a rather heart-breaking event. I was in the grocery store, standing next to a cart with a one year old boy occupying the child seat. I smiled and said something meant to extract a smile, but his response just about curled my ears. I was extremely glad he was too young to actually speak, for he began vehemently spouting off the must vulgar stream of babbling, complete with facial expressions and hand gestures,that you can imagine. Even sadder, 10 minutes later when I passed by him a second time, he started up again, and I continued to hear his little voice until I left the store. Sadder still, his Daddy didn't seem to have a problem with it. In fact, he hardly seemed to notice. I can only pray that someone takes the time to show this little one the love he deserves, and to shower him with words that will nurture his hungry heart.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
You must have figured it out by now. Depending on where you live, it may be old news, but if your area is like mine, you’re still waiting anxiously for it. Regardless of the frigid temps and the late season snow, it is a fact. Spring is on its way. I do believe that, and I look forward to the warmer temperatures. I eagerly anticipate not having to dress in layers, and the end of weeks without a hint of sunshine. I’m ready to open my windows and let the fresh air in—but am I excited? No. Not me. I’ve already seen people wearing summer clothes while I stood there in a hat and coat. They’re tired of winter, and they want spring to come, but wearing fewer clothes won’t bring spring on any sooner. I can’t be taken in that easily. I know that even though the calendar says spring is only days away, winter has a way of hanging on. I’ve been disappointed too many times in the past. Just when I relent and put the screens in the storm doors, the temperature drops like a rock. No, thank you. My heavy sweaters aren’t going into storage yet. My flannel sheets are staying right were they are until I see robins courting and flowers blooming. It’s not that I’m in denial. I will be ready when the seasons change. There’s plenty to do while I wait. My capris are easily accessible, but I may just go shopping for a new spring outfit or two. My to-do list grows every day. The yard work is already calling my name, and I’ll enjoy doing that—when the weather breaks. God is the only one that truly knows when we can expect the end of the harsh winter weather. He’s the one that created the seasons, and He’s the one that controls the weather. There’s another event in the offing that I am eagerly anticipating. Someday soon, Jesus will return to take his children home. There will be no more hardships or disappointments. Every tear will be wiped away. We’ll be in His glorious presence, praising and worshipping Him. What a day that will be! Surely, that is something to be excited about. Wishing for it, waiting to be swept up into the air, might seem like the thing to do, but it’s not the best idea. We can’t know when that day will come. God is the only one who knows. Until it happens, though, our duty is to prepare by following His to-do list: confessing and forsaking our sins daily; living sacrificial and responsible lives that draw others to Him; and reaching out to the lost so that they, too, can make that trip. How foolish it would be to delay preparations for such an eternal event. How awful to think that some are missing because we were dwelling solely on the event, with no thought of that to-do list.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
I went down a couple of trails today. One was the highway as I drove to an appointment in an unfamiliar city. I had the GPS on, so I was sure I would find the place without getting lost. The other was a rabbit trail that developed when I read something. It was just one little phrase--two ordinary words. I read them and the rest of the verse, but those two words stuck in my mind. “Stepping stones” is from a verse of the hymn, “Until Then” by Stuart Hamblin. Like many people, I like rocks. I collected rocks as a kid. You might have, too. Years later, I created a rock garden in our backyard, going to all kinds of ridiculous lengths in my quest to accumulate the number I needed. Given a choice of brick or stone, I wouldn’t even hesitate. My choice would always be stone. So the mention of a stepping stone caught my attention. A picture was instantly composed in my mind-a tree-lined path with wild flowers on each side, leading down a gentle slope and across a softly babbling brook. Can you see it? What a pleasant vision it could be, but taken in context with the rest of the verse, the picture became quite different. The stepping stones are actually heartaches and my gentle slope is actually a never-ending upward climb. I can picture that easily enough, though. Whose life hasn’t been buffeted with trials? Who hasn’t been in a place they’d rather not be? You keep going from one crisis to the next because there is no alternative, and find that each step is harder than the last. My GPS must have been on. Those two words took me to exactly the place I needed to be in order for the rest of the verse to minister to me, when it declares, “This troubled world is not my final home!” Encouragement for the day, discovered by way of a rabbit trail.