Archives for the month of: September, 2013

When I woke up this morning, outside my window was black.  The longer I sit here, the brighter it gets.  I find comfort in things I can predict.  Every morning the sun comes up.  The sunrise may provide different colors or even be hidden behind the clouds, but light always comes after the darkness of night.  The boundaries of light and dark that God set in place at creation have not changed.  My good days, bad days, busy days may be filled with fears or tedium or celebration, but they are all set within natural laws that do not change.  I find great security and peace in this God that does not change.  Evil and the weakness of man may change my attitude and emotions, but they do not change God.  He created a rhythm and a cycle in nature that I can depend on, that gives me security in an insecure world.

 But God is far more than just predictable security and expectation.  He is into delight.  While the sun has come up every morning this week, God has also sent delight outside that same window:  a bluebird came to feed, a nosy squirrel came and just stared in the window at me, a hummingbird hovered and fed on brightly colored blooms, sunbeams shined through our American flag.  None of those are necessary.  We could easily survive in a black and white world.  We don’t need taste for nutrition.  His creativity is manifested in the shapes and textures and variety of colors and sounds.  Consider the shape of an earthworm and a baboon.  The softness of a patch of moss and the sharp point of a cactus needle.  The brilliant colors of tropical birds and the camouflage of mountain snakes.  The chirp of a cicada, the song of a bird, and the roar of a water fall.  The smell of salt water and the smell of flowers.  Variety and delight are just as much part of God’s character as his faithfulness.  We worship a God who puts surprise and delight into our days, not because it’s part of the cycle of nature, but because he loves us abundantly.

 May I always trust the faithfulness of this holy God, and may I never miss the surprise and delight that he lavishes on me.

 Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love

Have you ever been really excited about something that you just couldn’t tell everybody?  Earlier this summer, I was told by the publisher that the book would go “live” early in the week.  I went on line to check and it wasn’t there.  I was busy and let two days go by without even thinking about it again.  Then came that Wednesday morning.  During my quiet time God prompted me to check again.  And there it was.  Months of frustration when the words wouldn’t come and yearning to know the next step and whether I was doing the right thing, and there it was on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.  It was so exciting and such an “Ebenezer” moment…and I had to get ready to go to work.  Celebration that morning was short lived.

I’ve found that doing something like writing a book, while it is a huge accomplishment, is truly a labor of love.  God gave me every word during quiet morning hours while the rest of my house was asleep.  I “published” it, but, in every sense of the word, God gave it to me.  So that made me hesitant to talk about it.  I didn’t want people to think I was bragging, but seeing it on line for the first time was so exciting!

Meanwhile, at work, the tedium and endless interruptions of a preschool office took over my morning.  In the midst of paper work and answering the phone, the Fire Inspector came to do the annual inspection.  I signed all the proper paper work, and he began talking.  I learned he was a Christian and attends a Baptist church here in the Richmond area.  I could tell that he was defined by his relationship with God, and I needed to tell somebody about my joy and Christians are supposed to be kind….so I told him that I’d written a book and that it had gone “live” that morning.  He asked me all about it and wrote down the title, promising to look it up when he got home.  We finished the business of the day and then he said, “May I ask you a favor?”  I said, “Sure.”  He said, “Would you allow a fireman to pray for you and this book and all the people who will read it?”

And in that moment, I saw God’s hand.  God knew I wanted someone to celebrate with, and he sent a fireman to do it. How awesome, how thorough is my God.  He not only equipped me with every word I needed to accomplish what he called me to do, he blessed and affirmed me through the tender prayer of a faithful fireman. 

When Mary and Joseph couldn’t contain their joy and the birth of Jesus, God sent them shepherds to join the celebration.  When Peter was so full of the Spirit at Pentecost he just had to preach, God sent him thousands.  God is into celebration, and he helps us do it well.  I am awed by God’s ability to not only equip me to be obedient, but to celebrate with me.  It is my prayer that my obedience will give him reason to delight over me more often.

 

Zeph 3:17  …He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

 

               

Sometimes God interrupts my day with a life lesson I’m not looking for.  I always begin my day with coffee and the dog looking out the window where we have a bird feeder hanging.  It is usually a busy spot with all kinds and colors of small birds coming and going.  They seem to instinctively know how to wait their turn and fly a short ways off before returning for some more. 

Not today.  This morning there was a sparrow who didn’t want to share.  Keep in mind this is a big feeder that we only have to fill every couple of weeks or so.  This particular sparrow would not allow any other birds, even his own kind, to perch on the feeder, much less actually get any seed.  He (she?) would puff up his wings and give a warning hop and head snap to any bird that dared come to close.  His threatening stance actually worked.  The other birds perched close enough to watch him, but far enough away that he would leave them alone. 

And then I saw it.  That little sparrow’s effort to keep all the others away from his “stuff” prevented him from eating any.  He was so busy making sure no one else got any seed, that he couldn’t eat any either.  There he patrolled, all alone, unable to enjoy what he needed. 

Sometimes our need to pretend to be in control of what we have or want prevents us from enjoying it, or even benefitting from it.  Sometimes our need to hoard what we do not own alienates us from the others with whom we could share it. 

God’s provision for us is like that.  He’s not a stingy God who gives us barely enough; he is a lavish, abundant God who gives us more than we can ask or imagine.  If we spend our lives desperately trying to keep others away from what God has generously given us, we are unable to enjoy or share those gifts.   We cheat ourselves out of relationship with others who just might be another blessing God has sent to us when we are so busy “guarding” that we don’t recognize God’s image in the one who wants to share a moment of our day. 

May I never be so consumed with my stuff or my security that I refuse to enjoy each moment and treasure each person that God puts in my path….or on my perch.

Matthew 6:26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Be still and know that I am God. Ps 46:10

 I love the fact that God’s word is new and fresh each morning for whatever circumstances we face.   Yesterday I needed to be reminded that despite the fact that I don’t have control or power, God does.  Today my problem is remembering to be still.  Being still is not easy for me.  My need for resolution and order does not determine God’s timing.  My “good” plans do not trump God’s master plan.  I don’t know what circumstances tomorrow will bring, but I do know that He is God and that he reveals himself in my “stillness” so that I can know him.   May I consistently choose the quiet trust that comes with knowing God, and may I always find the peace of God when I do.  Many thanks to those who have been praying for our family this week.  How grateful I am for each of you.

 My husband buys special seed that he has to intentionally plant in the right proportion in just the right places.  He fertilizes it and waters it and chases the neighborhood kids off of it while it germinates.  Weeds on the other hand require no seed, no fertilizer and seem to thrive and spread, especially where they are not wanted.  Ignoring them just encourages them.  Conditions that kill the grass cause the weeds to proliferate.  He is intentional about planting the best stuff, fertilizing, killing pests, and pulling weeds, but the battle to keep a green healthy lawn continues.

Pretty lawns are very similar to gardens.  Neither happens by accident.  They are the result of consistent, intentional care.  The success of the garden is completely dependent on the knowledge and attention of the gardener.  The gardener is often judged by the quality of the “fruit” produced in his garden, whether that is consistent green grass, beautiful blooms, or vegetables and herbs.  He has to encourage and provide for good growth, uproot weeds, and destroy pests in order to achieve the desired result.  Gardeners don’t invest time and money and effort just for the sheer joy of wasting them; they expect that lawn or garden to produce, whether that harvest is beauty, food, or consistently weed-free green grass.

Each year at the beginning of this process, my husband has a vision of what he wants the yard to look like, and at end of this process, he wants me to walk down to the street and look back at our house and see how his planning and hard work have made our yard beautiful.  His consistently green, weed-free yard is a source of joy for him.

The Bible compares God to a gardener (John 15:1) and his people are identified as his “garden”.  (Is 51:1-5). Planting good things in our lives must be intentional.  Ignoring the bad influences in our lives will give them more power over us.  God understands us as we are, but he sees us for who we can be.  People who know us to be Christians will judge our God by the quality and abundance of “fruit” produced in our lives.  God is patient with us as we grow in understanding, and he delights in us, but he expects us to bear fruit and bring him glory.  When God looks at my life, let it bring him joy.