The little airplanes of the heart
with their brave little propellers
What can they do
against the winds of darkness
even as butterflies are beaten back
yet do not die
They lie in wait wherever
they can hide and hang
their fine wings folded
and when the killer-wind dies
they flutter forth again
into the new-blown light
live as leaves
These are difficult days that we are experiencing. Sometimes, it feels as if we are buffeted by the winds of the hurricanes that have recently traversed our world or by the flames that scorch our west coast. We need to take heart in the Scriptures that uphold the righteousness that God has planted in us. We need to surely know that righteous lives soften the paths that others must follow in the future.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
** Although this title seems negative to me because of the reference to Sandinistas, I have chosen to leave it in so that the poem can be properly identified. The poem itself is very sweet.
I have a relative that lives on an island in the Caribbean. He has often said that he lives in paradise. During the night on Tuesday, his paradise was demolished. He lost everything but his dog and his life. We are extremely grateful that his life was spared.
Many stories emerged this week that make it abundantly clear that the earthly places that we equate with paradise can be destroyed. However, the true paradise, the Kingdom of Heaven, will never be destroyed. If it dwells within you, it is your life and can never be taken from you no matter the circumstances.
It will be like the house built upon the rock. When wind and storm and rain beat against it, nothing, no storm and no attack from hell, can tear it down.
My garden is my place of quiet and peacefulness. Yesterday I brought in the top of a lettuce plant that had gone to seed and this morning I was taking off the tiny flowers and opening them up. The tiny seeds inside fell into the paper bag. Soon there were enough seeds in the little bag to plant plenty of lettuce in next summer’s garden.
One lettuce plant produces enough seeds to create ten future gardens. Imagine how many gardens could be created with all of the seeds from all of the plants in the garden! God is amazing. He put enough seeds in one plant to create an abundance of new plants. It’s a miracle.
Think of a maple tree. Each maple has thousands of tiny helicopters on it that will float down to earth and potentially become more maple trees. He gave us enough seed to make up for all the possibilities. Seeds falling on rocks. Seeds being eaten by squirrels. Seeds being washed away by rain. Even with all of the destruction that can happen to each maple seed, in the spring we find our yard filled with tiny maple seedlings after a few spring rains. And no matter how I clean up my garden, in the spring I find random lettuce plants growing here or there, tiny tomato seedlings sprouting where I don’t want them any more. About fifteen years ago, I planted some mustard green seeds. Every year those mustard greens still show up. They never sprout in exactly the same place, but they faithfully make an appearance wherever the wind has blown them.
As I open each miniature seed pod and scrape out the seeds, it is impossible not to realize that these seeds represent hope. They are the hope of a successful garden, not this year, but next. They are the hope of the return of spring even before winter has arrived. They are the hope of new life, of all things good, of things even bigger and better than this year. Thank God for hope. Thank God for the tiny seeds that anchor us in the faith and knowledge that life will go on. Winter does not last forever. Hardships will cease. Spring will come.
Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature – his eternal power and divine character – have been clearly perceptible through what he has made. (Romans 1:19)
On September 9, 1776, the congress representing the group of colonies that made up this country at that time decided to call it the United States. However, ever since its inception, this country has been tested as to the meaning of its name. Although the founders held deep convictions and high ideals for this country, there were already deep divisions in our unity, specifically over what to do about slavery. That crack widened until we fought a bitter civil war over the issue. Even since the end of that war, the divisions have persisted.
Over time, those divisions have branched out from the issue of slavery and new divisions have been created. Nowadays, our congress cannot even agree on the simplest of issues. I read in this morning’s paper a comment by a young man of 27. He said, “My generation can’t talk to each other. They don’t want to hear another perspective. If you label yourself a conservative or a libertarian, they don’t want to talk to you.” (“What of Civil War Re-Enactments,?” Hartford Courant, 9-5-2-17) What is wrong with us and why can’t we even have a civil conversation to discuss the issues?! The crack is widening and there seems to be no way to bridge the gap.
However, God is giving us a chance. Unfortunately, the times that we come together end up being the worst of times and yet the best of times. Disasters somehow make us forget politics and opposing opinions and bring us together in a common goal of survival. The experience of Houston, Rockport, Wharton and Port Arthur has both horrified and softened the hearts of Americans across the nation.
I believe that everyday Americans would welcome a change from the divisive rhetoric streaming off the airwaves. Another huge storm is heading our way. Hurricane Irma. Hopefully, we will rise to the occasion once again and pitch in to pick up the pieces that are left in its wake if indeed it ends up taking direct aim at us, but why do we need a monster storm to force us to do that?
A house divided against itself cannot stand. We know this to be a truth. We have to come together. We have to be willing to listen to one another. We have to work together if we want to ensure the survival of our country for the future. We can do it without another storm. Teach young people to discuss. Be an example of civil discussion. Listen first. Listening doesn’t cost a thing.
This morning I heard a song on the radio. “I’m waiting for the world to change.” Really? Is that like waiting for the cows to come home of their own accord? And what if the world does change? Where would that leave me? Unchanged? Left out? There is no assurance that the world will change. The only thing we can do in this world is change ourselves. Jesus left us the template. We need to change whatever doesn’t fit into that template. God will not give us too much to do at once. As we walk along life’s path, He brings just the right thing along that can be changed today. We can change that one thing today. Tomorrow there will be another thing, but that can wait for tomorrow.
Two days ago God gave me one thing to change. I was getting onto a flight to return home from a trip. As I walked down the aisle, I realised my assigned seat was next to an enormous man. Yes, I was in the middle seat, sandwiched between the rap man (music playing into his earphones so loudly that I could hear the words) and the fat man (who was actually using up a quarter of the space that I had paid for). I was irritated and feeling nearly nauseous and definitely claustrophobic. God was very merciful because it was less than a two hour flight. However, I didn’t start thinking until well into the flight that instead of being annoyed at him and wondering whether I could be allowed to request a refund of 1/4 of my ticket price, I should be praying for both him and the rapper fellow. In my heart, I was hating him because he was overweight and yet that was the only thing that I even knew about his life. That was one thing that I could change that day. I could stop the anger and irritation and just pray and it didn’t cost me anything. I feel bad that it didn’t occur to me at once, but that’s the way life is. Something comes our way out of the blue. We have a reaction and our reaction points us towards what we can change.
Let’s not wait for the world to change. Let’s change the one thing that God brings into our lives today.
Contentment does not depend on outward circumstances. Contentment is my choice no matter the circumstances. If I’m not content, am I not finding fault with whatever it is that God has allowed to come my way today?
The promise is not that my circumstances will be easy. The promise is that those circumstances, whether they be easy or difficult, will all somehow lead me to Him. What more could I want?
Philippians 4:11. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Memorial Day. In memory of those soldiers who died in the service of their country. There is a boulevard in my small town called Memorial Boulevard. Along this boulevard are several memorial statues dedicated to city soldiers who lost their lives in various American wars. There are also oak trees planted along this boulevard and next to each oak there is a marker with the name of a city soldier lost in World War I. There are about thirty such markers, a huge toll for such a small town at the time. It has been nearly a hundred years since they died on foreign soil fighting for freedom.
So, what freedom did they fight for? One hundred years ago, the average citizen had less freedom than modern young people in regards to his or her family. It seems as if young people had certain obligations towards their families that young people today don’t have. To a large degree, today’s youth can choose the career of their dreams, move to the location they desire and marry whom they choose. They can make a life for themselves, but is that freedom? At the same time, we have lost other kinds of freedom that people one hundred years ago took for granted. Today, we owe much to our government. More and more, our government decides what is appropriate. We have lost the right to pray in our schools, to put the Ten Commandments in public places and even to display a creche at Christmas time on the town green. The people of one hundred years ago would be surprised at what we can no longer do. Are we now “free?”
What makes a person free? We would all agree that a person who is addicted to alcohol, smoking or to internet porn is not free. He/she is a prisoner to that habit. Just as an addict is not free from his addiction, I am not free if I freeze in fear each time I face a large crowd in a public speaking situation. I am a prisoner of that fear. Or perhaps each time I open a package of cookies, I eat the entire thing. I am a prisoner to that craving. Both situations create a negative result for me.
So, on this Memorial Day, as we honor those who died to preserve our freedom, what makes us free? Freedom in regards to our family or our government increases or decreases and yet still we find ourselves not one hundred percent free. The only real freedom we can enjoy is freedom inside of ourselves, in our souls. Only the truth can make us truly free. If we live that truth and free ourselves from those things that hold us prisoner, then we are free indeed with a freedom that no one can take away.
We are truly grateful for those soldiers who nobly fought and died to preserve our natural freedom. It gave us the opportunity to find and live our spiritual freedom. Thank you to those thirty young men who died one hundred years ago. Thank you to the men and women who have died before then and since that time. The most deeply felt thank you must be reserved for Jesus who most nobly fought and most lovingly died that we each might find our true freedom. Thank you Jesus. We remember you this Memorial Day weekend.