Bitter in the midst of sweet

I wrote this post in early October, but was not ready to post it at that time. Not sure even now, but I think it’s a topic that we need to consider, not just for my own family’s example, but for many families. There are a lot of families affected in similar ways. As we approach Veterans’ Day, maybe our veterans face a lot of issues that we are unaware of. It’s to bring attention to them, our veterans and their families, that I’m writing this.

The summer of 2021 was a summer of highs and lows for my husband and I, a summer of beauty and peace in contrast with times of deep emotional upheaval. Unusual and thought provoking. Through it all, I felt the Lord’s presence very much and despite the difficult days, I knew that the Lord was letting me know in unique ways that everything would be okay. One of my daughters got married in May in Europe (on Zoom!). Due to Covid restrictions, we had not met her husband except on video calls. They (and my other daughter) arrived in July for a visit just about the time my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer even though he has never smoked in his life. So, on some days, the sweetness of getting to know a new son-in-law, being able to spend some time again with our daughters, and visiting my 100 year old dad swept dark and worrying thoughts far from us until finally we realized that God does not want us to worry about this. Simply trust Him. It was actually an awesome experience to see (and feel) how God sprinkled beauty and sweetness throughout the summer all the while we were experiencing something that we all dread to hear. Because of His kindness, we can say truly that we are not wallowing in self pity, but are simply praying for healing and trusting the way He is leading us. Pray and trust. The title of this post is “Bitter in the midst of sweet,” because the sweet truly does override the bitter. God’s kindness really does make that possible.

My dear husband is a veteran and has always loved our country. He was proud to serve in the army during the Vietnam war even though he came to the realization while in Vietnam that he didn’t agree with that war. Through the years, he has unceasingly continued to love our country, display the flag and attend patriotic events.

He still feels this way in spite of the fact that his doctors who are treating him at the VA are blaming his condition on Agent Orange. He always told me that he was in a very safe place while in Vietnam and was not exposed to anything bad. So, after one of his appointments, I looked it up. The modern miracle of google gives us a lot of information and it soon became clear that his base in Vietnam was definitely sprayed just before he arrived there. I saw old photos of his base online and not a blade of grass, nothing living could be seen. It looked like a desert, just sand colored buildings in the sand. This is in the midst of a jungle, where previously had stood a lush forest of rubber trees. I understand that his condition could also have been affected by breathing in other things in the years since his service, but the VA is placing the blame on Agent Orange.

When I think of this, I wonder why my government would spray its own soldiers. I found one quote from those days that said that it didn’t matter if we sprayed the Vietnamese because they were our enemies. Gosh, I hope our enemies don’t treat us with so little respect. What about being part of the human family? We should go even beyond respect since we know that Jesus told us to love our enemies. However, our government sprayed this toxin in South Vietnam and they also sprayed our own bases because it was convenient. The vegetation was in the way, an inconvenience, a nuisance. They knew even then that the dioxin in Agent Orange was poisonous.

As I discovered these facts, I also discovered other travesties that have happened over the years. The soldiers in Vietnam were not the only ones to be exposed to toxins while serving their country. In Camp Lejeune in North Carolina anyone on the base was exposed to toxins from the drinking water. This exposure lasted for over thirty years, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. The contamination came from a dry cleaning company through spills and improper disposal of chemicals. Obviously the dry cleaning facility was at fault, but wasn’t the water on the base ever tested during those thirty years? How can such a situation continue for over thirty years?

https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215286/

Has it ended? Have we learned to prevent our soldiers from being exposed to lethal toxins? No, it continues on. Our soldiers are not only dying at the hands of our enemies, but also from continued exposure to toxins. It happened both in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anyone is reading from another country, I don’t think this problem is unique to the United States. Modern armies depend on weapons loaded with toxic chemicals.

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article250370986.html

Yesterday, I found this song done by The Piano Guys. They have dedicated it to families who sacrifice to preserve freedom. Thinking of our soldiers and the potential harm that they have been exposed to beyond the combat, I am feeling a kind of grief for them and I pray that they will be all right. I have seen many of them at the VA hospital and so many are in really rough shape. I am also praying that our government in the future will not bring a double dose of hazardous exposure on our boys’ heads. To send them into harms’ way is one thing, but to expose them further to poisonous toxins that could harm them years after their service is quite another. Bring Him Home (from Les Miserables) by The Piano Guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mJ08-pyDLg&list=RDCHV6BjuQOZQ&index=4

Bring them home, but bring them home safely. Our earth is not our enemy. We live on it. We breathe in its air. It gives us so much. Let’s treat it kindly no matter where we live. Pray for our soldiers. Treat them with respect. We don’t know what they have been through or what they may yet go through because of their service. As Veterans’ Day (formerly Armistice Day) approaches (11/11), let’s be grateful for our Veterans and pray for both them and their families. We can pray too that one day God will usher in His Kingdom where there will be no more wars.

Perfect peace?

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.

Because I do not yet have grandchildren, I love to spend a little time with my grand nieces and nephew.  Taking them to their bus on Friday mornings is a great way to see them each week.  They go to two different magnet schools that are about a twenty minute drive away from our town (if traffic is good).  Last Friday, I did not have time to read a Scripture before leaving my house at 6:50 to get them to the bus stop on time, so my husband read one to me.  “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.”  One of my favorite ones!  Okay, Lord!  Yes! 

Several minutes later, after picking them up, we headed towards the high school parking lot where the busses would take them to their schools.  On the way up a hill, a large flatbed truck pulled up and began to back into a building with a very small door for such a large truck, blocking the road in both directions.  He backed up and pulled forward, backed up and pulled forward again.  On and on it went.  A worker in a yellow vest was making sure that all traffic was stopped.  Very quickly, I lost my cool.  I opened the window.  “I have to get these children to the bus stop!  They can’t be late for their bus!”  I knew that if they were late for their bus, I was in for a long drive and a big inconvenience to my busy day.  Inside, I was frantic.  Help!  Such a roadblock was not in my plans.  One driver somewhere in line behind me pulled around me and zoomed past both the traffic guy and the truck.  In order to do so, he even had to drive over the sidewalk.  He was clearly angry.  I tried to calm down and told the children that we would pray, but actually, I had already lost it.  In the end, after what seemed like an eternity, the truck finally pulled to the side of the road and let us go by.  Shortly afterwards, we arrived at the parking lot and …. the bus was late.

After the children got on their busses, I had plenty of time to reflect about my attitude and actions.  Wow, it had not taken me long at all to throw everything out the window and basically freak out.  God was clearly showing me something that I need to work on.  It’s really true that I hate to be late, but keeping my mind stayed on God means that I trust Him whether it turns out positive or negative.  If I have to drive them to their schools, isn’t God big enough to arrange my day so that it works out?  There have been other times when I was somehow able to keep my mind on him and, as a result, felt that rare kind of peace that passes understanding.  That special variety of peace doesn’t make sense to our natural minds because it is in such complete opposition to the situation in which we find ourselves.  We cannot find that kind of peace in difficult circumstances on our own unless we truly are connected to Him.

When we dedicate our day to the Lord and tell Him that we love him, we can’t know ahead of time if a big truck (or some other obstacle) is going to interfere with our plans during that day, but we CAN pray for patience, wisdom and insight into what is happening to us.  We can make an effort to recognize the kinds of situations that give us the most trouble.  We can learn to count to ten, recite a Scripture, or do whatever it takes to maintain our calm and keep our mind on Him.  That’s how we know that we trust in Him.  We can make that connection with Him each morning and strive to maintain it so that He’s with us throughout the day.   That’s where such peace comes from – Him.

There really is a peace that passes understanding.  It doesn’t make sense to our natural mind because of the crazy situation that we may be in.  It’s a peace that comes from God our Father.  It’s His peace, and He will give it to us if we show that, no matter what the outcome of the situation, we trust in Him.

 

Isaiah 26:3  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 66:12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream

Why, Lord?

Recently, some difficult things have come into my life, as they do in all of our lives. The most recent event was the sudden death yesterday of my cousin’s 13 year old granddaughter in a mountain bike accident. The whole family is devastated as she was dearly beloved and had such a promising life ahead of her. Those closest to her immediate family are completely distraught.

With this tragic news and with so much difficult news all around the globe these days, I find myself feeling the questions of so many. “Why, God?” Why is this happening to us? Some may be angry at God for allowing hardship, but others may sincerely and deeply want to know why. When I ask God why He has allowed things in my own life, He often gives me an answer if I am sincere in my question. When we consider the difficulties of others, we cannot know the reason for each specific situation. It’s not ours to know, but overall there are some basic answers for all of us.

Since the days of Adam, we have all been placed in situations where we have to choose – good or evil? Adam and Eve chose and so it has gone on down through the generations. It is part of our free will. We often find ourselves in the middle, in a valley of decision. Sometimes we literally choose a good or evil object or situation, but other times the choice is in our attitude towards the situations we find ourselves in or towards the events that happen to us. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and they seed may live:” God always wants us to choose the good and high road. Even in our grief, we can choose to love God, to continue on in faith and to know that somehow the things that He allows will draw us closer to Him.

Jeremiah 30:3 says, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” To me, those are some of the most beautiful words in the Bible. Everything God is allowing to happen in our lives, as difficult as it is, is drawing us closer to Him in some way. We may never be able to see those ways, but thankfully God has a higher perspective than we do.

I cannot begin to fathom the grief of my cousin’s son and his wife at the loss of their daughter. However, my faith says that somehow their daughter is okay. She is in God’s hands. Their grief will lead them on a long road and they will always miss her, but hopefully, in their grief, they will find God and when they do, they will also find His comfort and love. I don’t know why we as humans so often need tragedy to drive us into God’s arms. We often just live life and enjoy the pleasures of this earth and forget who gave them to us. Difficult circumstances and tragedy jolt us out of our everyday living and open our eyes to the greater purpose of life.

It sounds selfish of God to want us to love Him above all else, but that’s just our earthly point of view. I believe that His love is entirely selfless. He knows that when we love Him, He can lead us and draw us ever closer to Him and then one day, when we have continued to overcome up to our last breath here on earth, we can join Him in His heavens and be eternally useful to Him.

Today, I’m praying for my cousin’s family and for others who face unimaginable circumstances. Lord, let them find you through their tears and lead them to a higher place, Lord. Send them comfort and love and most of all, let them eventually find a greater love for you. And God, take care of Lily and keep her until someday (not too soon please) her family can join her.

A 2,000 year old extinct tree resurrected!

https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p09m0v4x/extinct-tree-from-the-time-of-jesus-rises-from-the-dead

The link above is for a very interesting video about the Judean date palm tree. I really recommend it. It’s about 8 minutes long, but if you don’t have the time to sit for a few minutes to watch it, here is a very brief summary of it.

When archeologists were excavating Masada (a hilltop in Israel, a whole story in itself), they discovered a stash of seeds from that time (about 2,000 years ago).  Among the seeds were seeds of the Judean date palm tree which had gone extinct during the time of the Crusades.  It had been very valuable and famous in its day and represented prosperity and health to the people.  The dates were given as gifts to emperors etc.  They also had medicinal qualities.  A few years ago a woman in modern day Israel asked for some of those seeds and she worked with another woman who managed to rehydrate the seeds and one of them grew.  They called that tree Methuselah.  However, to get dates, you need both male and female trees, and so they tried growing more and they ended up with “Hannah” and “Judith.”  They also got “Adam,” “Jeremiah,” and “Jonah.”  Methuselah and Hannah ended up having baby dates which have been kept for research for the moment.

This story is not only an interesting experiment in plant science, but it is also a parable for the times we are living in. Imagine that! Something that lived in the time of Jesus is being resurrected in our days! I believe that God is resurrecting the truths that Jesus taught in His people all around the world today, and they are living them and bearing good fruit! When you look at it that way, it is so encouraging. Just like these women have persevered through the setbacks of their efforts, we have to do the same. We can be encouraged by all of the little things that God brings to us throughout the day to uplift our spirits. One day, we will be rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Psalm 126:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

This next Scripture is very interesting in this context. This seed has been lying dormant for 2,000 years. It was extinct and now it is coming back and will bear MUCH fruit.

John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Extreme heat

Summer started just a little more than a week ago, but already it is scorching many parts of our world.  Let’s keep people in British Columbia in our prayers.  They normally do not have such extreme heat and so many up there do not even own an air conditioner.  It was 49.6 C (121.3 F!) there on Sunday.  That is simply unheard of.  Dozens of people have died from the extreme heat there.

When God created this world, it was spectacularly beautiful.  He put man (and woman) in charge of taking care of it.  So, to what can we attribute our current situation?  He did not create the situation we now find ourselves in.  We did it.  So, when we’re passing around the blame, it has to stop with us.  However, we can stop the blame and start the change.  Personally, I believe that returning to living godly principles, adopting a simpler lifestyle, and using simple agricultural methods such as described in the wonderful documentary (available on Netflix) called “Kiss the Ground” can turn this world back into the paradise it once was.

Concerning the godly principles, think of it: Would you rather have ten laws to obey in your life or thousands?  The Ten Commandments encompass all aspects of a person’s life here on earth and they can be summed up in a few sentences taught by Jesus.  Love God first and then love your fellow man as much as you love yourself.  Most people have heard of the Golden Rule and cultures all over the world have some form of it.  Treat others the way you would want to be treated.  Living these principles would bring God’s blessings back.  We can’t expect to be blessed by Him when we’ve kicked him out of everything.  Living the ten commandments is not beyond any of us.  We can do it.  Once you get started with it, it just gets easier.

Considering our natural world, there are many farmers who have proven that regenerative agriculture works and when it is implemented, it doesn’t take the earth too long to respond and improve.  Just by using leaves, grass clippings, and compost, I have seen a dramatic change in my own little home garden.  It doesn’t mean that I have no challenges out there, but the improvement is amazing.  As the end of “Kiss the Ground” shows, there is much hope for the future of our world, but we must make a change.  It’s up to each one of us.

“Male and female created He them”

Millions upon millions of people know that the Bible begins like this: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  The first chapter of the book of Genesis goes on from there to describe how God created our world.  At the end of nearly every phase of His creation, God said, “and it was good.”  Therefore, we know that everything He created was good.  Then verse 26 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”  Next, verse 27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

It is clear that men and women were created in God’s image.  Why did He create them in His image?  The next chapter tells us that God breathed the breath of life into the man and man became a living soul.  The end of the same chapter says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”  God’s thoughts are so much higher than ours.  Isn’t that a good thing?  We have messed things up so badly, but it’s comforting to know that He is way smarter than us and knows what He is doing.  So, what are we to get from these verses?  Why are they included in the Bible?

I am (and  you are) a descendant of Adam and after God created my many times multiple great grandfather, He said, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  God is again making it clear that He created me perfectly for the life that I need to live while I am in this world.  He gave me everything I need, the personality that will be best, and the family (with all of its positives and negatives) that will be best for what He needs to get out of me.  “And God saw that it was good.”  Therefore, shouldn’t I embrace what He has given me?  It’s perfect!  Philippians 4:11 says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  In this life, I am a woman.  Should I not embrace that?  In my little neck of the woods, that is the life that will be most useful for others and yet will also make me the happiest when I find the direction and the meaning for my life.

We are losing so much of our humanity in this world today.  Many young people are not content with how God created them.  They are listening to voices that are telling them they would be happier if they were something else.  We no longer have two genders that God created, but gender seems to be a fluid continuum and people seem to move from one thing to another with just the flick of a finger.  I would like to present the idea that these new ideas cannot truly make people happy.  True happiness comes from finding your true God life inside of yourself and being content with that.

It’s quite tricky to discuss this idea these days because everyone assumes that you are a hater if you say something that does not fit the “new norm.”  I would state the opposite.  I love people and it is profoundly sad that so many do not know who they are and think that if they could just change their outward appearance from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man, that then they would find happiness.  I understand that some people truly don’t know if they are male or female because this world has become very confused.  There are so many synthetic hormones in our environment and those hormones do affect people.  We can never know truly why people choose to change their gender identity, but I firmly believe that many today have simply not tried or have not been able to find the God life within themselves.  They are looking for happiness in all the wrong places and that is truly a tragedy, but that does not mean that we should embrace all of the new gender identities and turn our backs on God instituted marriages between a man and a woman.

It’s also a tragedy that Christians are afraid to say anything to oppose the tsunami of opinions and political correctness that paint Biblical Christian ideas as being “hate speech.”  That is simply not true.  I would also add that if we continue to keep silent about this issue, it will quickly become outmoded or even illegal to believe in the Bible and in the holiness of living the truth of the Bible.  So many anti-Christian ideas are already being taught to little children, our children and our grandchildren.

We need to pray for the next generations and we also need to be able to at least maintain our beliefs without fear of governmental or societal reprisals.  What would you say that Christians can do or need to do in order to help our world turn back to God?  Can we turn back to Biblical principles and show the world that it is love, not hate, that motivates us?

You are enough

My students plagiarize. I teach ESL to adults at a local community college. Plagiarism has been an ongoing problem, but since the onset of Covid, it has become a major plague. Spring semester 2020 began in late January and was humming along normally (albeit with some worrying news from Asia) until suddenly Covid made a grand entrance into our lives in the U.S. You know the rest. Immediately after our spring break, all classes went completely online. Up to that moment, we had already been using computer programs and sometimes did assignments online, but in the blink of an eye everything changed and ESL students, especially adult immigrants with families who are frequently already stretched to the limit, found themselves struggling just to keep their heads above water. During the following fall semester and into spring semester of 2021, class sizes diminished dramatically. This semester especially, classes seem to be at an all time low. My current class started with just nine students (versus 24 a year ago). Three of those nine have since withdrawn from the class, two of them because they were going to fail anyway. There are yet two more of the remaining six who are still failing.

So, why are those two continuing to fail? Because they plagiarized. Why did they plagiarize? Because it’s convenient when students are already working online and because they are insecure about their abilities to know the right answers to questions on an online test and because they are not confident enough to think that they can express themselves. How many other students have either plagiarized by copying phrases from the Internet without me catching it or by asking their fluent relatives to write their online homework for them? I don’t know that, but again, why do they plagiarize? Because they don’t believe that they are enough.

It’s easy to catch them most of the time. Suddenly there is a word that I know they don’t know or maybe just a way of phrasing something that an ESL student wouldn’t do. I can copy and paste too. I just google it and presto, there it is. It’s easy to find fault with them, but many of us do the same sort of thing in our lives. It’s easy for God, or even someone we know, to catch us at copying someone else’s inspiration or life. Suddenly, they see us do something that doesn’t fit in with our character or we’re talking about a topic without being genuine since it’s not our life. Do we also think that we are not enough? I think that we could all ask ourselves that question. What happens in our daily lives that we feel is too much for us? Are we accusing God our Father of requiring too much of us? I have to ask myself that question. Is God not able to strengthen us? Do I trust his life in me? Honestly speaking, it’s often easier to look at what others are doing and copy their inspiration or their way of doing things instead of praying for my own inspiration and listening for God’s answer. Isn’t that the same as plagiarism? Plagiarizing is copying what others have said or done. Am I plagiarizing the lives of others? To rely on God in my own life to give me inspiration and guidance can seem daunting. It’s so much easier to follow the leader or to simply do what my neighbor is doing.

However, God is not asking me to be like anyone else. If he wanted me to be like my neighbor, why didn’t he just make a whole bunch of clones? But no, he didn’t do that. Not only did he give us unique personalities and gifts, but he also let us be born into different cultures and circumstances. We all have different life experiences and outlooks on life. He made each one of us unique and gave us gifts and talents that can be useful in the situations that we find ourselves in. Because I don’t have to live your life and you don’t have to live mine, I shouldn’t try to be like you or do things the way you do them. What is God inspiring in my life?

Some personalities in the Bible never appeared to lack confidence. They seemed to know innately that God’s life in them was enough. Joshua and Caleb declared to the children of Israel: We are well able to defeat the giants in the Promised Land. David knew beyond the shadow of doubt that God in his life would slay Goliath. He demanded, “who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sa 17:26) In Philippians 4:13, Paul writes: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

In the end, we are all well able to take on God’s plan for our lives if we believe that he has given each one of us, his children, the right gifts and talents to do the things that he wants us to accomplish in our lives. He didn’t give me the talents to accomplish what someone else needs to do. He gave me the talents to accomplish events and plans along the road in my life, and what he is asking of me is not so far off that I need to plagiarize someone else’s life or reach into the sky or into google or ask Alexa for the answer. No, his answer is very quiet and close at hand. It’s right in my mouth and in my heart. It fits right in with the personality and interests that he gave to me. Truly, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14

A milestone birthday

Today is my dad’s one hundredth birthday! Yes, he’s one hundred years old! That’s hard for me to believe or perhaps it’s hard to register that in my brain. He has lived a long, amazing and productive life.

Sometimes we don’t know why God allows someone to live such a long life. Some people live long in spite of being life long smokers. Others live long and nasty lives. However, the Scriptures do tell us, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land that the Lord your God gives you.” That’s one thing that my dad did quite well, honor his mother and father. Even as a young child, his mother made him responsible for his younger brother who had developmental challenges. As a young man, he was responsible to work and help his parents with expenses. As an American citizen, he was responsible to his country and joined the army before Pearl Harbor to serve. Then came marriage and his responsibility to his wife and children. As his mother and brother aged, he became responsible for their well-being and took care of them until they each passed on.

Last year I was talking to Dad on the phone. He told me that he was looking forward to seeing my mother again. She had passed away two years before that and he was missing her terribly. Immediately after telling me that, he added, “But I have to think about my children.” I nearly burst out saying, “But Dad, we are all mature adults now with our own houses and families! We are doing fine!” I didn’t say that though, maybe because he was so innocent in the expression of his thought. It’s just the way he is, very responsible.

So, I believe that God has allowed him to live this long and beautiful life because of that fifth commandment spoken so long ago. It is a testimony to us that the Ten Commandments are still very current and important in our lives. They never expire. The keeping of them gives us life and hope. You can be sure that life was not always easy for him. He married Mom just a few short weeks before he shipped out to England. They were separated for two long years. Troubles and heartaches came and went over the years. When my mother broke her hip and they could no longer live in the same house they had lived in for more than fifty years, he just gave it all up in a day and moved with her into my brother’s house up north. He left everything he was used to and moved to a colder climate. Everything changed in an instant, but he never looked back. He didn’t want to go out and do things by himself because he wanted to be there for her.

So, I am wishing my dear dad a very happy birthday today and am looking forward to as many more birthdays as the Lord will give him until he leaves us to rejoin Mom.

Dad at Meadowbrook Hall on 70th anniversary

God will rescue us (if we let Him).

This morning’s Bible reading was from Deuteronomy 4. In that chapter, God is pleading, even begging, His people to keep his commandments and remember how he took them out of Egypt with mighty miracles. He asks them a few questions:

  • Is there any other nation that God is so close to?  No!
  • Is there any other nation that has such righteous statutes and judgments as have been given to this nation?  No!

His questions got me thinking.  Is there any other nation that God absolutely went in and dragged them out (even if kicking and screaming) with such incredible miracles?  Not to my knowledge.  He even reminds His people that the mountain burned with smoke and was covered with thick darkness as they heard His booming voice giving them the Ten Commandments.

He implores them not to make a graven image of anything that He created. This one has been a trial for mankind since the dawn of time.  Our Father’s creation is so beautiful that men/women fall in love with the creation rather than with the one who created it.  He continues on by explaining what will happen to them if they do such things.

However, even though it sounds grim, He doesn’t leave them hopeless. He reminds them that if they end up in tribulation, even in “the latter days,” if they turn back to Him, He will remember them and rescue them.  Are we in those “latter days” at this time?  The love of many is growing so cold.  It is becoming hard to hang onto our faith, hard to maintain a constant connection and prayer life with our Father.  In a fulfillment of the story of the frog who jumped into a pot which slowly heated up until he died, much of Christian belief is being slowly turned into “hate speech.”  It’s no longer politically correct to speak your mind and no one will even listen to a differing opinion, especially if it’s a Christian point of view.  In their eyes you are a “hater.”  How can God’s love for humankind, His best hopes and love for them have turned into something that people call hatred?

We must be in those latter days.  And yet, even so, God is reaching out.  If we turn to Him, humble our hearts, and ask His forgiveness, He will always rescue us from the pit that we have dug for ourselves.  Is there any pit so deep, or perhaps dark, that He can’t find us and drag us out of it?  NO!  We all find ourselves in all sorts of pits from time to time.  The pit of depression, of despair, of self pity or of pride, insecurity or anger.  No matter what it is, all we need to do is turn back to Him.

As I was driving along later this morning, God, the best DJ in the universe, inspired someone to play this song on the radio.  I hope you enjoy it.  (Sorry, I could only paste the link here.  It’s a Lauren Daigle video.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYR0xP1j4PY

Working things out in life takes time

Time is such a blessing. Recently, I was trying to help a friend who was in distress about some difficulties in her life. I consulted two other friends who love God and care dearly for this friend. What could we do to help our friend improve her situation? I was completely blown away by the helpful ideas they had. They were inspired and uplifting with no selfish motives at all in the mix. One focused on spiritual help and the other focused on practical ideas to improve the situation. I was thinking about it all afternoon and it gave me a sense of awe at the gifts of God and how specific and kind He is. He only wants to help and uplift. However, when I approached the friend in trouble with some of the ideas, there were mixed reviews. Obviously, the person in trouble was still reeling from the repercussions of the situation and was still immersed in the difficulty. Her situation was in fact quite complex. For the rest of that day, I found myself a little flummoxed. The suggestions seemed so inspired and practical and I had felt so inspired by them. Then suddenly it all seemed to fall flat. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t instantly make sense to the person involved, that is, until I thought of Daniel and the angel’s answer to his prayer about Israel. The angel said (Da 10:12, 13),

Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

It’s true that my friend’s situation didn’t improve instantly, but over the last few weeks, it has slowly been working itself out. Some of the ideas that were discussed don’t really fit for her, but others do and are starting to take shape. We continue to pray for her, and bit by bit, positive things are happening. It reminds me of a situation my dad was in for many years. He had a brother who was a pill for nearly his entire life. My dad always took care of his younger brother and prayed for him throughout his brother’s life. When his brother was about 75 years old, his doctors discovered a new drug that helped alleviate his behavioral issues. For the first time in my dad’s life, he was able to sit down and have a normal meal with his brother. His brother died a few years later, but how kind of God to work things out for the two of them before the brother died.

My lesson learned is that God inspires us either through our own gifts or the gifts of others around us, but it often takes time to work things out in this natural world. So many times this natural world puts up barriers, both natural and spiritual, to impede our progress. However, as my mother often used to say, “Patience is a virtue.” I never really liked that saying when I was young, but our experience teaches us that time to work things out is really one of God’s greatest blessings.

Our God is eternally kind and works overtime to bring everything into a better state. Let’s try not to get weary when things don’t work out immediately, but let’s maintain our love and our prayers and be grateful for the gift of time to work things out.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.