Who Counsels Me

Counselor. What do you think of when you hear that word spoken? Do your picture a high school employee who was hired to help you plan your academic schedule? Do you think of someone with a college degree, specializing in restoring marriages? Perhaps you think of a doctor who ministers to people who are depressed or troubled.  A good friend that seems to always give you sound advice; maybe that’s who you think of when you hear the word.

All of the above are certainly identified as counselors—but what about God? Is He your counselor? Your guide?  He wants to be.

I think God allows us the freedom to choose whether or not we listen to His counsel or seek it out.  Bibles are in stores everywhere, but do we buy them?  Churches are built in almost every community, but do we attend the services held there? God is listening to our every word, yet do we ask Him for instruction when choices are before us?

God is our sovereign counselor. His truth is the only truth. His wisdom, the only true wisdom.

What help do you need from a counselor today?

 

 

 

Shout

I know God hears me every time I pray. Often, I pray silently and the communication is between my mind and God. Lately, I have been pondering the importance of praying out loud.

When we pray silently, only God hears. When we voice our prayers audibly, the enemy and all his forces hear our proclamation of faith. We openly give witness to our belief in God and His great power.

Psalm 66:1 says, "Shout with joy to God, all the earth!" 

 

 

 

You Make Me Glad

When I was a child, I enjoyed watching a particular television game show. Contestants would participate in various types of activities throughout each program.  As an added plus from the generosity of those producing the game show, they  would occasionally pay for someone in the military to return home for a visit with their family. This became part of the show, as they would surprise the non-duty spouse with an on-the-air reunion. Often, the deployed spouse would be secretly placed in one of the games so at just the right moment, their wife would recognize them and be completely thrilled and overwhelmed. The audience and television viewers would have been informed of  the special event beforehand. It was so exciting to know at any minute the couple would be reunited.  It brought JOY to everyone to witness such a good deed. That was many years ago, and I still remember it.

I wonder if this is similar to one of the ways God blesses us at times. When we are yearning for something–to be restored to a loved one, to be healed of a sickness, to be married, to have a child, to see someone accept God’s gift of salvation—He may be planning to give us the desire of our heart.  His timing is perfect. Is there excitement in Heaven as the moment of surprise grows near? Does the joy in Heaven connect with the joy we experience when God lovingly gives us a "surprise?"

Somehow, I think it does.

 

 

 

He Who Walks

Through the years, people have come to me hoping they could take piano lessons. I have taught more students than I can remember. I have spent so much time in my life helping students to learn to play the piano. What’s more, they PAY money for the privilege of spending time with me. Somehow, if we’re together long enough, it seems likely that any ability I have in piano playing would eventually begin to trickle over to them. 

No one questions this type of logic. If you want to learn to play the piano, of course your would find a piano teacher. If you want to learn to decorate cakes, you join a cake decorating class. If you want to be a diesel mechanic, you attend a diesel mechanics school. If you want to be wise, you….well, you…..hmmm. That’s a little tougher to think about.

We can all ask God for wisdom. That’s the best thing to start with. Secondly, if we spend a significant amount of time around those who consistently model wise choices, we are bound to learn from that experience.

Proverbs 13:20a says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise…" 

Why not ask God to bring friends into your life who possess the wisdom that you seek? Once they’re with you, learn from their actions—their everyday choices. You just might find yourself growing, right alongside them.

 

 

 

A New Command

When do we love? When it’s easy? When it’s convenient? When it doesn’t require too much commitment? I’d have to say "yes" to that, if I were talking about me. Who wouldn’t love when it was easy to love? When it was convenient?

The difficult part comes next. Do we love when it’s hard? When it’s inconvenient? When it requires the greatest commitment we’ve ever given? Many people love this way.

Is it hard to love when a person is unlovely? I will certainly never forget a time several years ago when I was suddenly quite ill.  After struggling through a night in pain, my husband and son helped me into our van. Moments later, I was in the care of total strangers in a hospital I had never visited. The first diagnosis was appendicitis. I was vomiting and in great pain. Lovely? Not a chance. God showed me many things throughout that hospital stay.

One very important lesson was given through Fred. Fred? Yes. A complete stranger to me who had gone to work that day prepared to give his very best to whatever needy person came through the door of the emergency room. i remember his name, because even through my trauma, I could see his identification tag as he and others ministered to my needs as they endured my symptoms with me. The lesson? They cared for me as if I were a member of their family; gently picking me up, comforting me, cleaning me–doing what I could not do for myself. Is this how I should love?

Is it convenient for a mother to sit up all night and rock a crying baby back and forth? Is is convenient to take the time to write a note of encouragment to a friend who is grieving? What about the grandfather that never misses his granddaughter’s recitals or his grandson’s ballgames? Convenient? No way. Does it require commitment?

Absolutely.

In John 13:34 Jesus says, " A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

 

 

 

 

Finds Them Watching

The crowd is cheering. You want to do your best. It’s the big game and you have your instructions from the coach. Football isn’t easy, but you’re commited to the challenge.

The players are in position. The action starts and you do just exactly what the coach wanted you to do. There’s one problem—the people in the stands aren’t understanding your instructions and to them, you’ve just made a big mistake.  Boos and hisses stream out from the bleachers over the playing field as the discouragement begins to set in. The coach knows what he’s doing and so do you–but the crowd hasn’t figured it out yet. Taking a quick glance behind your shoulder, you see him on the sidelines, a clipboard in one hand and a "thumbs up" on the other directed right at you.  With added strength, you refocus on the task at hand. You know you must trust your mentor and guide, especially now, when the going is rough. 

In reality, you may not play football, but I’ll bet this has happened to you. God has given you direction in life. You’ve prepared—you’ve endured the practices and the exercises.  You’ve grown, you’ve learned. Just as you’re on the field, ready for action, the crowd becomes unloving, discouraging and distracting. They just don’t understand your orders–or your commitment.

What is there to do? If we look over our shoulder, we may find that God is nearby, giving us the signal of approval. Do we follow the whims of the crowd or do we obey the instructions of our Savior? When we look to see what God thinks about our performance on the "field," His is the only opinion that matters. He knows just how the game is going to be won and what part we are to play. We must trust our Mentor and Guide, especially then, when the going is rough.

 

 

Rejoices

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Was I patient today? Was I kind? Did I envy? Did I boast? Was I proud or rude?

Was I self-seeking or easily angered?  Did I keep a record of wrongs?

Did I delight in evil or did I rejoice with the truth?

Did I protect?

Did I trust?

Did I hope?

Did I persevere?

 

 

 

The Years the Locusts Have Eaten

Perhaps you’ve known someone like this—as they look back on their life, it is filled with regrets.  They may have come to understand the saving grace of Jesus later in life, and finding such new peace and wholeness, they mourn for the time they wasted in the past. Life events that should have grown into healthy crops of fufillment may have been devoured by the deceitfulness of sin. There may be great emotional pain in looking back.

I once heard a pastor on a radio program several years ago say that, "God is a God of second chances." Starting your life over –relinquishing control to God–is the most important decision that can be made. In His great power, though we may not understand it, He can restore what has been broken; He can create the new to replace the old.

Joel 2:25a says, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…"  Could God fashion a whole and abundant future emerging from the mistakes of the past? Bundle up the memories of what the "locusts" have ruined in your life and ask Him to reclaim the years that cause you great pain. God is a God of second chances—-and compassion for a regretful heart.

 

 

 

How Can They Preach

Maybe this has happened to you before. After selecting a restaurant to dine in, you walk past an entry area and someone seats you at your table. As you peruse the menu, you mentally compare the cost of each meal with the amount of cash you know is in your pocket.  After you  have made your final selection, the menu is whisked away.

After having finished your meal, you step to the register to pay. As you do, you notice a small chalk board near the counter. It reads, "Today’s Special."  You find that for less money than you paid, you could have had a lot more food. In fact, the small entree that you ordered doesn’t even compare to the amount you would’ve had if you had only chosen the special meal of the day.

"Why didn’t someone tell me about this deal?" you ask.

"The advertisement was in plain view, sir," comes the reply.

If only you had known about the better food, you would have selected it.

Do you know someone that just seems to be wrecking their life? One poor decision after another. Why would they continue to live that way?

I have a theory; people everywhere are just trying to do the best with their life situation. Perhaps from fear of rejection or low self-esteem, they consistently choose what is far less than best for themselves.

"How could they keep doing this?" you ask yourself. The answer lies in the restaurant. People from every race and color are trying to do the very best they can with what they think is available. Would you really order the Shrimp Sampler for $5.99 instead of the Pork Roast Supreme dinner, complete with two side orders and unlimited bread sticks if you knew that both meals were the same price?

That person you’re acquainted with–you know, the one that drinks herself sick on the weekends–she’s just like you. The difference is, she’s doing the best she can with what she knows. She simply didn’t notice the wall board at the entrance to the restaurant. She chose the only option she thought she had available. What would she have changed if she knew she had the choice to be forgiven and made new through Jesus Christ?

What about that boss of yours? Would he be the way he is, day in and day out, if he understood that he had the authority to call out to God? He might just act differently if he realized his impact on friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Romans 10:14 says, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?"

The next time you witness someone about to make a foolish decision in their lives, you might want to direct their attention to the chalkboard at the front.

Who wouldn’t choose the very best for themselves if they really understood that it was a REAL choice?

 Stop a few customers along the way and ask them this question:

"Excuse me, but would you care to hear about Today’s Special?"

 

 

 

 

 

The Peace

I like to know the answers. I want to be well informed. I want to judge for myself if things are truly in order as they should be. If a doctor told me I was going to be "fine," I would want to know just exactly how fine that was going to be and in what ways I would be fine. If I can’t see the facts for myself, all I really have is someone else’s opinion. Is that really good enough?

In most instances, I can choose to be as knowledgeable about something as I want to. But what about those times when I can’t?  What about all the many things I must trust God about through faith?

If I have a concern, I should pray; I may not see the answer right away. I may not be well informed of just how God might work in a matter. His ways are higher than mine. I must trust that things are in the order that He is allowing. If God tells me that things are going to be fine, through faith, I must believe that they are without asking just exactly how fine will God allow things to be. He wants me to trust His judgment as to what is best.

That should be easy, but my human nature brings the element of concern back into my focus over and over, distracting my thoughts from those of peace and trust to thoughts of worry and doubt. I must choose again and again to realign my thinking to trust in God in all aspects of my life, whether I understand them, or not.

By faith, it is God’s opinion and assessment of my circumstances that matters the most.

 

 

 

A Sincere Heart

 

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:19-23

 

 

 

The Word of Our God

 Comfort, comfort my people,
       says your God.

  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
       and proclaim to her
       that her hard service has been completed,
       that her sin has been paid for,
       that she has received from the LORD’s hand
       double for all her sins.

  A voice of one calling:
       "In the desert prepare
       the way for the LORD ;
       make straight in the wilderness
       a highway for our God. 

  Every valley shall be raised up,
       every mountain and hill made low;
       the rough ground shall become level,
       the rugged places a plain.

  And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
       and all mankind together will see it.
       For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

  A voice says, "Cry out."
       And I said, "What shall I cry?"
       "All men are like grass,
       and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.

  The grass withers and the flowers fall,
       because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
       Surely the people are grass.

  The grass withers and the flowers fall,
       but the word of our God stands forever."

Isaiah 40:1-8

 

 

 

With Their Father

 

My family enjoys watching episodes from the old Star Trek television series in the 1960’s. In one particular story, a military pilot from the 20th century had traveled in time and was aboard the Enterprise. In considering whether or not they should try to send him back in time or allow him to stay in the technologically advanced future, research had to be done. This man could not be allowed to stay on the star ship and miss the rest of his life on earth if he was destined to do something important. If he weren’t there to do it, all of time would be affected. The question had to be answered—were there any records of outstanding accomplishments by this officer? By all that could be found, this young  man never made any worthy contribution to society that would warrant the need to send him back. But wait….

Upon further investigation, it was found that this man’s son was the first man to fly a spacecraft mission to Mars. When the pilot was told of his son’s accomplishment, he replied that he had no son.

He was made to understand that he would have to go back in time, for in his future, he would be the father of the first man to visit Mars—a very worthy contribution to society.

What about us? What if our greatest accomplishment in life is simply to usher our children toward their God-given destiny?

In the fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew we read that Jesus saw two brothers, James and John, in a boat with their father, Zebedee, preparing their nets. We read very little about the life of Zebedee. Did he make any important contributions? He’d likely spent half of his own life nurturing two boys who were to walk the earth with the Son of God. Had he taught them reverence before that day? Had he taught them of God’s power? I believe he had.

 We make the greatest investment into the hearts of our children as we teach them of God and His great love for us.

A fisherman taught his sons many things—-what am I teaching mine?

 

 

The Lord is Near

 

Tonight was an important one for me. This past spring I had decided to participate in a Bible study in the summer and early fall that would run about 12 weeks. Tonight was the last gathering for the study.

Months ago, I had been hopeful; expectant for what I might learn during the upcoming months. I could not possibly have known the depth of calling, the comfort, or the very presence of God that was to become my experience through this concerted time of seeking and believing. Many lives were touched through the faithfulness of those who tirelessly prepared for each week’s lesson to be presented and the obedience and annointing of the one who authored the materials. With His great power, God revealed many things to a wide variety of hearts, all gathered in His Name to understand Him more.

Philippians 4:5b says, "The Lord is near."   If I could only grasp that fact more fully! He is near to us, night and day, never leaving us alone.

His great love is magnificent.

 

 

 

 

Keep Me Safe

 

One thing I ask of the LORD,

this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD

and to seek Him in His temple.

For in the day of trouble

He will keep me safe in His dwelling;

He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle

and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:4,5

 

 

The Birds

It was a peaceful time to be taking a walk around the lake. Blooming flowers along the path added brilliant colors to the variety of plant life that thrived there.  As I walked, I came upon a very tall post with a bird house poised on top. No trees were near it; it was placed very near the water’s edge.

It looked like a house for Purple Martins. In doing some research on this specific bird, I found some very interesting facts.

Many years ago, Native Americans used to create habitats for Purple Martins by hanging gourds up for them to nest in. As time has passed to the present day, Purple Martins living east of the Rocky Mountains rely solely upon man-made dwellings to protect them. They are totally dependent on these dwellings. A quote from an article I was reading states, "Since the fate of these beautiful birds is now in our hands, it is extremely important that we provide adequate housing in which they can raise their young…"  It went on to explain that once a dwelling was provided, it had to be reinforced with safeguards against other predator birds who would seek to steal their food or overtake their nest.

I’ve never compared my life or any one else’s to that of a Purple Martin–that is, until now. As each day unfolds, I know that I need to stay close to God. My everyday dwelling needs to be firmly planted by His life giving waters. There, I may receive continual nurturing derived from reading His Word and interaction with other Christians who are part of a nearby church family. The friends that surround me in this dwelling are there to encourage me through each of life’s challenges and victories. In turn, I am there to encourage them. But what about the people who do not yet know of God’s love and provision for their lives? Each year brings a more futile outlook as they search for a safe dwelling place among the predators of this world who seek their demise. Will they find a safe haven if we do not provide it? Jesus told His disciples, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (from Matthew 16:15)

What if my earlier quote from the Purple Martin article were changed to read this way: "Since the fate of those who do not know Christ is now in our hands, it is extrememly important that we provide adequate understanding of what God has done for them through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross; we should further provide continual nuturing of those who come to believe in Him by encouraging them in their daily walk of faith and offering a loving spiritual environment in which to raise their children to follow Him as well." I could go on to say that once this "dwelling" is provided, its existance must be reinforced with safeguards against Satan’s predators who would seek to steal their spiritual "food" and overtake their new found spiritual nest.

Of course, the "fate" of all those who do not know Jesus as their Savior is not really in our hands. We cannot save another from an existance without God for eternity. Jesus provided the payment and the way of forgiveness.  He has instructed us, however, to "preach the good news to all creation." As we tell of what He has done, we begin to build the house. As we continue to show love and concern, we fortify the dwelling. As we urge others toward God’s provision, we invite them to take up residence in His unfailing love and mercy.

This reminds me of a well known saying:

"BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME."

 

 

 

Those Who Shrink Back

 

It was quite a football game. For a long, long time neither team scored. Strength was met with strength, skill was matched with skill.  One thing was certain: the timid do not find their place on a football team. It would appear that there was no shrinking back from the mission at hand–winning the competition and emerging the victor.

So who am I? I’ve never been on a football team.  Do I have a mission? Is it to win, to become the victor? Not exactly. You see, my competition has already been won. Jesus was the victor over sin and death.  It was not my own strength that brought me salvation. It was His gift to me, freely given. I had only to recognize my need, ask forgiveness and believe. I couldn’t shrink back from deliverance and still accept the love that Jesus showed.

Hebrews 10:39 says, "But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."

 

 

 

Find the Knowledge of God

They’re just about my favorite type of bird.  Sand cranes.  Is it the fact that they are almost as tall as I am? Maybe it’s the red area on the tops of their heads or the wonderful call they make when they are flying away.

There’s also something else they do; they take their time, slowly walking and looking on the ground for food. They never seem to be in a hurry then.

For a long time I have been wanting to be more effective in a certain area of my life. I have read books to gain insight. I’ve listened to speakers on the subject. Still, as much as I’ve searched, many times I have failed to find just exactly what I seemed to be looking for.  One of the problems has been that I’ve not been quite sure of what I was seeking.  An answer could look like, well, most anything.

This evening I attended a meeting. There were only five of us in atttendance. I wasn’t expecting to walk away with major insight, however, I think that I did. It was as though I had been a sand crane searching for food and suddenly, without anticipation, finding just the sustenance I needed right there on the grass. I thought about how God had intended for me to at that meeting, just so I could apply this new found wisdom to my life.

Thank You, Lord, for leading me into a path of greater understanding.

 

 

 

Devote Yourselves

This is a special day for both me and my youngest son. Let me tell you why.

A few weeks ago, we were visiting a friend of mine. Perhaps a little bored with the conversation, my son asked if he could take my camera and go outside. Many of his photos that day were impressive. After viewing them, he asked me if I would use one on Picture My Thoughts. This is the one I chose.

Looking at the photo of the two crimson chairs in my friend’s yard, my son and I talked about a suggestion that I had heard some time ago– when praying, think of Jesus as just sitting right beside you. His picture of a peaceful summer afternoon in a calm and shady lawn made me think of that.

Colossians 4:2 says, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." What do you think of when you hear the word devote? I thought of using it in a secular setting: "The well known professor had devoted his life to archaeology."  If you read that sentence somewhere, you’d know exactly what it meant. My personal definition would be that someone had filled his life with:  the study–the constant involvement with—being interested in—archaeology.  When I think of devote in that context in the scripture, it would seem that we should be constantly involved with– and interested in– prayer, communicating with God.   As we are, we should be watchful and thankful.  Does this describe my life? Hmmmm. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Can I blame the "no" times on distraction? Forgetfulness? Unbelief? Fear? Confusion? Are any of these real reasons not to pray? I know I am growing closer in fellowship with God. As I begin to recognize these stumbling blocks along the way,  I will have further opportunities to make a better choice. I can begin again, and perhaps at that time, I may think of Jesus…..

as sitting right beside me.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Tracing Out

It was late in the day. The sun was setting and the sky was transforming into a myriad of glorious scenes, one after the other. My son and I were outside playing ball. I kept stopping the game to look at the vivid colors unfolding before us. The deepest tourquoise–the peachiest peach. I would be so engaged in one mix of colors and shapes, only to find more beauty in the ones that overtook them.

So much of life is an invitation to see God and ponder on who He is. Each star says, "I have a Maker," and each budding leaf whispers, "Through the majesty of His power, I am unfolding."  As the night begins its gradient approach over the earth, the awesome force of His control over all that is speaks a language that cannot go unheard.

 

 

 

 

With All Power

I’ll admit I was in a hurry. Often, getting ready in the mornings for work is a rush-rush kind of thing. There are clothes to be ironed for the family, dogs to be walked, lunch money acquired and keys to be found.

On this particular morning, I was hoping to put some curl into my newly dried hair. I have a hot air curling wand that often does just what I want. With my head bent down, I placed the wand into my hair and turned on the switch. What? It’s not working? Oh….it would help if I would plug in the electrical cord first.

I expected, rather unfairly I might add, for my curling wand to work. It looked like it always had. It felt the same in my hand. The trouble being, of course, that it wasn’t made to function without it’s power source.

What about me? What power do I have, really? All that I have comes from God. Any strength, any courage–it’s from Him. Do I sometimes become disconnected? I’m afraid so. Oh, I may look the same, but if I’m not connected to God, receiving His strength to handle the challenges I’m faced with, then I become powerless to function outside of doubt, worry and ineffectiveness.

Sometimes I find myself in a spiritual hurry–I fail to notice that I am not "plugged in" and I try to face things on my own. The problem being, or course, is that I wasn’t made to function without my power source; and that would be….God.

 

 

 

Surely

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He resotres my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  Psalm 23

 

 

 

The Flood

It’s rained so much in recent weeks in the central part of the state where I live. Today, I heard that a major road was closed because of flooding.

It doesn’t seem to take long; in a matter of hours a flood can occur. Should we worry about that possibility? I know God wants us to trust Him in every situation.

There’s a new song out that I’ve heard many times on the radio. The lyrics to the refrain are:

"Even when the rain falls, even when the flood starts rising, even when the storm comes, I am washed by the water."  I think the writer’s intended message was, even when troubles come, we are secure in God’s forgiving love for us.

God is in control. Even when the rain falls….

 

 

 

The Image of the Invisable God

Jesus knows just how I feel. He knows what I’m concerned about, He knows my joys and He knows my heartaches. As I was praying about something so very important to me, these words came suddenly to my mind:

"Trust Me."

Those two words are precious to me now as I refer to them often. I don’t know how this matter will resolve, but I feel that I must trust Jesus in it. Why should I trust Him?

Colossians 1:15-20 says, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;  all things were created by Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross."

That’s why.

 

 

There Is No One

My husband had moved most of our potted plants and baskets from our fountain area up to our front porch to shield them from the last tropical storm. Several of the plants were placed under a bench that sits right by the door. Even though another storm is poised to visit in a few days, I decided to move all the plants back out to the yard today.

As I picked up a plantless basket, something caught my eye. The basket seemed to be alive with several hopping baby toads–each the size of a dime or less, with rusty orange skin. After notifying our young son of my latest find, I got my camera out…

This little clan of newly footed toads had been living in the basket, complete with a few dead leaves convenient for camouflage purposes. I’m not sure if my tiny friend got into the state he was in while he was in the basket or after he was free on the ground, but he was picking up quite a bit of dirt and sand.

In one of the books of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, a human character is overtaken by sin and turned into a dragon. The dragon has scales all over his body. Sad and broken, the creature tries to scrape the scales away, but he cannot. The point is made that one can never remove their own sin. Only God can forgive us and cast our sin away.  The image of sin and poor choices turning this young man into a scale scraping dragon has stayed with me for years. My young toad resembled the dragon, sitting there covered in debris.

We have all been there. I was once a dragon. I’m sure you were, too–changed into something we’d never imagined being by the consequences of our sin, constantly reminded of our failures by the scales that we could never completely scrape off.

Our story–yours and mine–doesn’t end there, of course. As we struggled in our existance apart from God, He came to us–pitiful dragons covered in sin–and forgave us. With His mighty hand, He removed each and every scale. But that wasn’t all. He did not leave us as smooth skined dragons. He restored us back to humanity, redeemed to serve Him, our Savior and Lord.