The air smelled fresh. A cool breeze brushed the damp desert sand. I was out running, and the ants were working hard underneath my feet. As I danced over the diligent ants, I realized as long as I was looking at the ants I was missing out on so much more. The golden storm clouds, the vibrant cactus blossoms, and everything else outside the feet square feet in front of me was lost as long as I focused on the ants.
How often do we do this in life and to God? We hone in on our personal situations. Our thoughts, our energy concern only our suffering, loss or even, our successes and loves. But it's "me", all the time.
If all we are looking at is our own pathways is it surprising that we grow bored or discouraged? Or hopeless? That we doubt God's love or presence or strength? Or that we drift away from our Savior? But when we look up, we see the glory of God -- His person and work. We experience the truth of God's working in the lives of those around us, and before us. Instead of trying to make ourselves a life, we grow closer to the Author of Life. That's worth looking for.
So, no more ants for a while -- let's look up.
I'm still stuck on toothpaste -- excuse my preoccupation (and the terrible pun). But even in the small things, thankfulness tells us the truth. First, about ourselves, we are reliant on God and we need others. Second, about God, He is good and enjoys blessing us and providing for us in creative and wonderful ways. Third, is the truth about reality, God is working in our lives, individually, speaking to us and loving us every day.
Ingratitude, which often looks like entitlement or indifference, tells us lies. It says it's not good enough, God's not good enough, there's nothing to be happy about. Ingratitude tells us that God doesn't care, isn't there, or can't intervene in our circumstances. Failure to pick out the blessings God inserts into our days strips us of one of the tangible ways we see the hand and purposes of God.
All that from toothpaste? God -- You are amazing!
Ever been traveling and forgotten your toothpaste? I have...this week in fact and I was inordinately grateful for the hotel's toothpaste stock. I was also reminded that God is the source of all good things in our lives (even when He uses someone else to provide the toothpaste) and I was challenged. I tell others thank you, a lot. I told the lady at the front desk thank for you the toothpaste. When someone opens a door for me or does something for me at work -- I automatically say thank you. If someone helps me over the phone or email, I tell them thank you. But the God of the Universe...how often do I tell Him thank you? For the sun? The air-conditioning? The fact that I got up this morning able to move, breathe, and serve Him?
So, thank you God. Every good thing that I have is from You and it reminds how wonderful You are. You even provide forgotten toothpaste.
Ps. Please forgive my tardiness with this post.
A sweet smell flew on the breeze and stirred a rustle among the aspen trees. I looked around the mountain path and thought, "A taste of heaven." Just a taste -- for it has not entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Yet later that same, long week, I began to wonder what good does it do to think about heaven surrounded by "earth" in all its sin and fallenness? How is thinking about heaven helpful? And I came up with three things (but I am sure you can come up with more :0):
1. Proper perspective. Heaven is eternal -- all our circumstances here are temporary, good, bad or indifferent. But people's souls and service to God will last forever.
2. Renewed hope. We have a sure hope in heaven. We who believe and follow Christ will be with Him in glory, in beauty, in perfection forever. Now that is hope!
3. Continued joy. Our fatigue, our pain, our sorrow, our illness, our struggles with sin will come to an end soon. And that end is not oblivion, it is in fellowship with our God and Savior who loves us and who we are blessed to love in return.
Those truths are just a taste of heaven!
Happy Friday All :0)
[E]ach one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. -- 1 Corinthians 3:13 (NKJV)
The bare, twisted metal frame told the story. A home once stood here. Fire had stripped away the walls, incinerated the roof, and left only skeletal remains of appliances and beds. This devastation wasn't from a mere house fire. It was a forest fire.
207 homes destroyed. Over 6,000 acres engulfed in flames. As it threatened schools and businesses with searing heat, the McBride Fire in Ruidoso, NM garnered national attention.
A month later, my disaster relief team sifted through the ash. Glass vases had melded to their flower beads. Canning jars were contorted lumps of glass and metal. Aluminum, liquefied in the inferno, formed shiny puddles. Up from the rumble, knife blades poked through without handles, just like the inlay in a steel ring was eaten by fire. After eight houses, it became obvious what survives fire and it's not much.
Between earth and heaven there is a fire. This fire will demonstrate clearly if we spent our lives on what was worthy of our Savior. On the Day we stand before Jesus Christ, He will sift through the ashes of our lives. What pleases Him will enter eternity with us. What does not honor God will evaporate.
If our character looks like Jesus, the fire will prove it. If we seek God in Bible study, fasting, and prayer -- those moments will remain. If we serve the Lord, love and disciple others, those works will survive. If our priorities reflect God's, we will invest our talents and resources as good stewards and this fire will vindicate us.
As we look forward to that Day, it is not with fear but rather with anticipation. We are building things that will survive fire.
What does a penguin know about flying? Or a rabbit know about climbing trees? What does a turtle know about being homeless? Or a blue whale about a mountain breeze?
Maybe you don't, but I always want to argue that I understand another person's situation. Perhaps it would be better to admit that, often by the grace of God, I haven't had those experiences and instead stick to what I do know. I may not fully appreciate their life circumstances, but I know my Savior has been faithful through my life and all of human history. I may not be able to feel the intensity of their sorrow, joy, or confusion, but I know Jesus does. And I may not have the right words or actions or attitude or skills to decrease their suffering, but I know my God loves and laid down His life to prove it. That I do know.
1. Don't use the snooze button.
2. Set time limits for social media, internet use, and TV (and follow them!).
3. Watching a TV show? Workout or fold laundry or sew.
4. Use a crockpot and freeze the leftovers for another time.
5. Or, along those same lines, mix two batches of cookie dough and freeze half.
6. Choose simple hairstyles, moderate makeup use, and take economical showers.
7. Only check your email (and/or social media) twice a day.
8. Plan all your errands for the same day and do them strategically.
9. When out of the house, take a notebook, book, or other way to constructively use any time spent waiting.
10. Only use your phone during daylight.
Stuck in a hotel thanks to a "delayed" flight, my eyes snagged on the mountain of pillows on the huge bed. Those pillows looked like a heavenly cream puff for my head. (Why yes, I was hungry...why do you ask?) I lay down -- eeeeck! Sure my head was nestled in a cloud of synthetic fiber fluff, but it was pushing my chin toward my chest. And on my side was worse, with my neck bent unnaturally toward the ceiling. It was just too much. I sighed and reluctantly relinquished my bulbous pillow.
Ever done that in life? I have. Sometimes we see something and think, "That looks great! I want it." Only God says, "That's not for you." So we pout for a while and then start rationalizing: Maybe God doesn't know about this circumstance or maybe He just meant I should...share it once I get it. We sneak closer little by little, until its within reach and we snag it. Victory!
But not really. It's just too much for us. Too much time or money for us to use wisely. Too many demands on our love. Too much responsibility. We just weren't ready for it...not yet anyway. But who knew? Well, God did. It turns out it was His kindness and wisdom that made Him say, "No." And then, often to our reluctant relief, we simply have to let go of our "pillow" that is just a bit too fluffy.
As I boarded the plane, neither the flight attendant with all his experience or I will all my common sense knew the truth: It was a flight to nowhere. Oh sure, we landed in LAX, but without a departing flight -- it wasn't a destination, it was a prison. There was no way home from there.
In life, even with all our skills, experience, intelligence, and common sense, apart from God, our wisdom will take far from the imagined destination and land us in a prison. The flaws in our reasoning will lead us places we never wanted to go. The lies our emotions tell us will pull us into pits that appear bottomless. Alone, at the end of the day, the best judgment of man is doomed to keep hitting dead ends.
And that is where we sometimes have to be before purposefully turn to the One Who Always Knows the Truth. The bank accounts either flood or run dry before we seek the Giver of All Good Things. Our relationships hit rock bottom before we seriously consider God's counsel. We fight and grab at everything we think has a chance to give us satisfaction and joy, and it's only when it has dissolved into ashes in our hands that we are willing to say, "God, everything I've tried has failed. Please, can you bring me home?"
Home. That's where we want to be. At peace in the submission to God. In joy, assured of our open relationship with God (ie salvation). Father, bring me home where I belong. I'm done with LAX.
I walked as quickly as I could my connecting flight. They were so close to boarding I didn't sit down but took the time to ask about a different flight. The agent smiled and said, "There is another flight, but it's later. This will give you something to do while you wait." Neither of us had any way of knowing the truth. So I ignorantly boarded.
We took off. We landed. I found my next gate and that's when things went awry. The flight was delayed once. Then delayed again. Then -- even though "they" still called it "delayed" -- canceled is a more apt term for an overnight delay. I stood in line for nearly three hours trying to get a hotel and some food. And then, got a text: my flight was delayed two more hours. Great.
Even on days where "everything" goes wrong, God never ceases being Who He is. He provides on good days, bad days, Mondays and every day in between. Now is a good time to pause and list at least three things God has blessed you with today. It's not that God has to give us those things, He does because He is good and He loves us.
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.