God’s love for those that trust in Him never fails. A couple of days ago, the electrical power went out at the school where I teach. It was time to open the blinds and make other adjustments in order to continue working with the students. The next morning, I heard on the radio that THREE MILLION people had been without power due to the problem that day. Although I know it could happen at any moment, I never quite expect to be without the means to carry on life as I am accustomed to with the aid of electricity.
There will never be a time that God’s love for me develops a problem. There is no need for "Plan B" if His love should fail; it’s simply not necessary. I can trust fully in His love and His availability to me every moment of every hour, every day.
It’s only 9:44 p.m. That’s not too late. However, my body somehow got the message that it was actually 2:00 a.m. At least, that’s about what it feels like—almost. You’ve probably had this kind of day before. I’m not just tired, I’m weary. Nothing that an 8 hour nap couldn’t help.
Why am I so fatigued? Teaching school all day, cooking dinner, walking dogs and reading to our son has a way of withdrawing energy. I’m glad I could do each one of the things I accomplished. Each activity was important.
The Bible tells us not to become weary in doing good. As I live each day, I must remember to "do good" and not give up, even though I may become tired in the process. When we show good attitudes and acts of kindness to others, we are sowing seeds of hope and faith into their lives. Each investment is eternally important.
How much do you love your children? I know the love I have for mine is so deep and strong that it can hardly be described. Years ago, I started a saying in our household. I would tell my boys, "I love you with the great biggest old love and God loves you more than I do because He made you and He sent you to us and He sent Jesus to die for you on the cross." That’s quite a lot to say, I’ll agree. However, my sons could probably recite that long sentence on command. That was the idea. I wanted them to be reminded of God’s great love for them.
God knows what is best for us. Sometimes we ask for things that He must deny. It’s still okay to ask for a fish, trusting in His infinite affection for us, His children.
I was early for the Saturday morning class I was scheduled to attend. Realizing my opportunity to take a short drive to a nearby lake before the session started, I left without hesitation. It was so peaceful. The sun had not been up for long, yet a lone jogger passed me as I stood looking at the scenery. I soon noticed a small boat headed for a nearby island. Spanish moss hung gracefully from the trees. As I took in each discovery I felt a certain joy. This often happens to me. It’s as if the world is a great museum, filled with the artwork of God. I have a lifetime entrance pass and I can hardly wait to see what wonderful creations are down the next corridor.
The grace of the Lord. I was curious about the word, "grace." The dictionary says that grace is, "The freely given, unmerited favor and love of God." It also gave this definition: "The influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them." I would agree with both entries. Do we need regeneration and strength? How about unmerited favor and love? His gift of grace is offered freely to all.
Last night I experienced a rare moment in nature–a total lunar eclipse. It will happen again, I know–in 2010. I didn’t want to miss this one, though. As I spent about 3 hours standing, sitting and walking while gazing at the sky, I had the opportunity to think. Almost all that time I was alone. I would spend time focusing my camera on the ever changing view above me. Sometimes peering into the heavens makes me feel really small.
As millions of people looked into the darkness from several points around the globe, none could change the shadow’s course set in place by the Creator. We simply watched as God’s tremendous power and might was explained to us once again. Silent and wordless was the message that spoke to each witness, transcending all language. God was in control of this spectacular event, from the beginning to the end. He was, and is, in complete command.
Our God is an awesome God!
I got up this morning with the song, "Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know" on my mind. The day was going to be a challenge and I knew it. I began to think about the words.
Later, as I was in the hospital bed awaiting a common (yet foreboding) outpatient procedure, I prayed. The uneasiness that I had felt walking into the ward was subsiding. I knew that only my heavenly Father could calm my fears. Thank You, God, for carrying me through this day.
As I drove home, I took the route that passed by Silver Lake. The water is always so peaceful. The houses surrounding it are quiet and calm. As I drove down the hill, I was drawn to the scenery. Of course, I wanted to capture the beauty with my camera.
Much later, while viewing my photos, I saw it; I hadn’t noticed it before. There in the center of my image was a radiant cross of sunlight, formed for perhaps only moments—another reminder of God’s love and the sacrifice of HIs Son, Jesus.
On the way home, I took the route that passes Silver Lake. As I drove down the hill I was drawn to the beautiful scenery. The water is always so peaceful–the houses surrounding it so quiet and calm. Of course, I wanted to capture this beauty with my camera.
Later, as I was viewing the photos I took, I was surprised by what I saw; I hadn’t noticed it before. There, in the center of my image was a radiant cross of sunlight, formed for perhaps only moments—another reminder of God’s love and the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.
My pastor sometimes speaks of great works of God. Then, he will say something like this: "If God can handle all that, then He can surely take care of the things in YOUR life." A good reminder of God’s awesome power.
Yesterday afternoon I pulled my car over to the edge of the road. I got out with my camera and began taking pictures in the glistening sunshine. Graceful palm trees? No. A rare bird perched on a limb? No. A dandelion. I hope you’re smiling, because I certainly was. A complete patch of ground was filled with dandelions, all stretching up to the sky, reflecting the sun’s rays, posing for a late afternoon portrait. I really was smiling. God was allowing me to see one of His creations speaking glory to His Name by their very existance. No one stopped to ask me why I was on my knee, photographing weeds with a grin on my face. I was so exited to get home and see the shots. The light was so bright outside that I couldn’t get a clear look at any of the photos.
As you can see, something new was awaiting me. I had never seen the intricate plan of order and beauty in this common plant. But really, are any of God’s creations common? If God can plan the universe and give the greatest detail to even a small flower, could He not handle all the problems that I encounter? I believe He can. Now, aren’t you smiling?
As I stepped outside, the symphony of sound and sight was almost startling. I wanted to investigate more. The fog had transformed the visage of all that was ordinary into imploring objects of interest. The trees stood just out of focus while cranes echoed their signature call through the mist. Sunlight sparkled from the dew as it gently clung to each blade of grass. As I walked I searched for any sign of springtime life emerging on this serene morning. Among a blanket of dry leaves, I saw it. A solitary Lantana bloom. A thought began to form in my mind. "The new is replacing the old." Taken a little further, "What is alive is replacing that which was dead."
Joy is a difficult feeling to explain. Not quite happiness, not exactly excitement. Yet, " the ‘joy’ of the Lord is our strength." Today I am reflecting on the fact that God is at work replacing and renewing that which is dead. Those things in our lives that do not glorify Him are in need of replacement. Faith that has fought the battle of discouragement is joyously rejuvenated by the loving power of God.
It was only a foggy morning. Or was it? For me, it was a misty canvas of beauty conveying a message of joy and hope from my Heavenly Father.
I noticed something today. A certain, "connection." I was in a store purchasing some balloons as gifts for Valentine’s Day. Many other people were there, choosing various items for those that they loved. One man stood at the checkout with at least three bouquets of flowers. "Daughters," I thought pleasantly to myself. Standing in line, I noticed how cheery even the employees were. Smiles were the order of the day. How could you NOT smile at someone who was obviously planning a surprise of affection for a very special person in their lives? Total strangers connected today with unspoken, yet knowing, comraderie. Those with gifts in hand were invisibly bonded in a mission of giving.
When Christ was born, the angels proclaimed, "Peace on Earth, good will toward men." They knew the plan. Jesus would give His life on the cross so that all those who believed in Him would be saved from an eternity away from God. Rejoicing was the order of the day. How could they not appear to mortal men, praising God? Mankind was estranged from Him in their sin, yet the promise of forgivenes would be offered through the sacrifice of the Lamb. All of heaven was surely united in the joy of God’s redemption of His people. We are the children of God, the body of Christ in this world. We are connected to each other by God’s Spirit, invisably bonded in a mission of love.
Only a ten minute drive from my home lies a quiet, somewhat concealed area of calm water, lush green trees and a hint of solitude. On one occasion, I stopped and got out of my car. Capturing the stillness in a photograph, I traveled on. God has blessed us in so many ways.
It is quiet in the house as I sit here alone with my thoughts. I am reflective and still. Somehow, anything more would seem out of place. Just this evening, I found out that a family member of a friend was killed in Iraq. He was scheduled to come home in days. Scheduled to come home. He was a Christian. As I ponder the unknowns and the injustices of life, grief and it’s bitter friend–despair—I am aware of the small view I have of reality as it truly is. This young man, with a bright future on earth, had an even brighter eternity to hope in. As the bomb exploded, his spirit was transported in an instant to the presence of our heavenly Father. If I were there awaiting his arrival, would I fear the moment he appeared? Surely those that he loved who have gone on before are welcoming him into their arms, thrilled to have him at their side.
I have no human answer as to why. Why now? Why so young? Scheduled to come home? Home to his earthly family or home to the Heavenly Father? When our own son was killed in a car accident, on the way to tell his little brother what had happened, we received a cell phone call. It was a message from our son, who had just died. He had recorded it the night before. He said, "I’ll be home tomorrow." Indeed, he was home. God is sovereign. It is He that created our souls. His love never fails. It may seem that we are alone in death; yet He is with us, even then. A time to be born and a time to die. God holds them both in His hands.
The light of God’s face. How can we, as mere humans, describe God’s glory? I don’t think we can. We may only grasp a part of the characteristics of God revealed to us while we are yet on this Earth. The light of His love. The light of His mercy. The light of His forgiveness. The light of His faithfulness. The light of His enduring compassion.
Do you remember being afraid as a child? I do. Many challenges were wrought with the unknown and the possibility of failure. The first ride without training wheels, the first day at the new school or the first swimming lesson. It didn’t go away, did it? That nagging feeling that we don’t have what it takes when the going gets rough. At any age, lack of confidence can rear its ugly head–the first ride on the motorcycle, the first day at the new job or the first lesson on the company’s new software package.
How do you feel when it is God that is speaking to you about attempting an unfamiliar task or developing a skill that is unlike anything you have previously done?
Were your parents there to help you when the training wheels came off? Did you have someone to come home to after the first day of school to encourage you about your adventure? Was the swimming instructor in the water beside you to guide your every stroke? There are those who could not answer, "yes" to these questions. It is a fallen world with less than perfect situations. However, God’s way is perfect, and He is ready to equip us with whatever is necessary to accomplish a goal that He sets before you. First time to try to share your faith with someone? He’s there. First time to teach a class on Sunday? He’s there. First time to welcome storm refugees into your home? He’s there, too. He will never leave us or forsake us. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
Have you ever looked at the underside of a rose?
My husband sometimes brings home a rose for me, just to say, "I love you." Roses are so pretty and so delicately and intricately made. For all their beauty, one thing is often overlooked. Before it blooms, the bud is present, developing rapidly while encased in the protection of the green outer covering. Once the covering is opened and the fragile petals begin to unfold, the attention is drawn to the magnificent color and fragranse it displays. No thought is given to the service of the stem in the creation of the bloom or of the protecting leaves that now suspend the flower gracefully above the ground.
Others may look at our accomplishments in life, heralding the skill, talent and fortitude they detect in us. Yet, with a grateful heart we must realize that it is God who gives us our strength. It is God who forms us in these budding years of earthly existance to one day emerge in the fullness of life eternal in Heaven with Him.
Recently, someone told me that they felt so alone. Only yesterday, I was reading a book about a character who lived all alone. They had come to decide that solitude was good, because they could make all their decisions apart from the influence or preference of someone else. In the end, through another’s encouragement, they realized they were truly lonely and in need of friendship, even though relationships would take work to maintain.
Sometimes, it might feel as though God has left us alone. At those moments, He still knows us. He understands the disappointments. He feels the sluggishness that overtakes us, and the heaviness of our hearts. God wants us to come to Him when we are brokenhearted. In the end, it is only He who can mend our afflictions.
This often happens to me. I get up in the morning and I realize that a song is playing in my mind. It’s as though a radio is on when I am first becoming awake and I come to realize that the music is there. Almost always, the song being proclaimed is one of praise. This is intriguing to me. Today, when I awoke, a hymn was playing; All That Thrills My Soul Is Jesus. I suddenly became aware of the melody and lyrics. Then, the tune changed to the new adaptation of Amazing Grace, which is My Chains Are Gone, I’ve Been Set Free. The final selection to occur in this way was a song by Lincoln Brewster–Lord, I’m Amazed By You And How You Love Me.
The song "Amazed" by Lincoln Brewster actually begins with, "You dance over me, when I am unaware." It’s as if songs of praise are in my heart communicating with God even when I am asleep. I also feel that they are placed there by God at times to remind me that He is there. It makes me happy to think that God rejoices over me, because He loves me.
Have you ever felt lonely or left out? Perhaps you have felt the sting of rejection–that sinking feeling of being all alone in a matter. I know I have. Rejection is real. So is loneliness. Jesus felt these things. He also looked to the Father in prayer. God is able to comfort us. He is able to restore and renew. There is no place , solitary or crowded, that He is not aware of you and your need. There is hope.
A few nights ago, I woke up at 2:00 a.m. I got out of bed to turn on the light, and in so doing, I knocked over a few items on our dresser. It had been so dark in our our room that I couldn’t find my way. Would it always be dark? No. Within 4 hours it would be daytime and all would be illuminated with the beams of the morning sun. I fully expected the change. I had every reason to see the glow coming up from the horizon. The fact that it happened to be dark at the time did not worry me.
I’ve been praying recently about some things that are very dear to my heart. Some of my concerns seem so far from being resolved. As I was experiencing a moment of discouragement this evening, my thoughts were drawn to the fact that a very important aspect of my prayers were being answered. I could readily see the hand of God working in a certain situation that has been on my heart for years. Instead of thanking God for what He had been doing, I had been distracted by the weight of the moment. He is at work in the lives of His children. Although I cannot predict how He will work in any given issue, I know that the darkness of discouragement will be replaced by the dawn of His plan for my life.
A man named Phillips Brooks once said, "Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of God’s willingness." I have had this quote written in the front of my Bible for some time now. When I pray about a matter, I know that my understanding is limited; I see only the solutions of a mere human. God isn’t reluctant to answer my petitions; He desires what is best for me. Suppose that, when my own children were toddlers, one of them spotted a bottle of children’s aspirin at the top of the refrigerator. Thinking the pale orange tablets were candy, they asked to have them. Upon finding the answer to be, "no," they kicked, screamed and cried. I would have been very sorry that they were suffering so from their inability to see the danger, yet nothing in the world would have made me "give in" to their pleas and hand them the opened bottle. Why? Because I would have known what they did not–that what appeared to be a treat would actually bring death. The love I had for my child would have exceeded any need I might have had for their approval. I must trust that God’s ways are higher than my own. His love for me is beyond my comprehension.
I almost didn’t go. I had plans to be there, but I wasn’t feeling well. At the last opportunity to back out, I decided to forge ahead and attend. We never know what God has in store for us or for someone else, for that matter. On the way home, I thought of how God had granted me, only hours before, an opportunity to share about His presence in my life to another person. I was so glad that I hadn’t stayed home. I want to be encouraging to others whenever God brings them into my path, reflecting the light of His love for all to see.