Our rental can was equipped with a standard transmission. While both of us were familiar with driving standards, we were used to automatic transmissions on our vehicles at home. Driving in a busy foreign city where it seemed that speed limits were only a suggestion and signal lights were an option rarely used, was challenge enough. Doing this in stop and go traffic with a standard transmission sometimes posed a problem. Occasionally we stalled the car. Although recovery was swift and caused no issues for other motorists, it was still frustrating as a driver, to have that stall happen.
Sometimes in life, I also encounter stalls. In rushing around, it is quite easy to suddenly stall. My mind goes blank and I can’t think of what it was that was about to do or where I put those keys that were just in my hand. Perhaps I have been running on automatic for so long that I count on the gears shifting by themselves. This is not always the case. At times like this it’s tempting to be hard on myself. What I need to remember is that stalling is not the problem. Failure to start again is. I just need to get moving again and keep focused on the Lord. There is nothing standard about the mission that he has for my life.
But he knows the way that I take, when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10 NIV
Much of the world has spent countless hours, over a seventeen day period, in front of their televisions watching the events of the winter Olympics. Each of us cheers for the athletes of our own country. In Canada, many people traded sleep for a chance to watch our men’s team play hockey for the gold medal. Even though it meant being up by 4 or 5 am, it was something willingly done. The cheering could not be heard by the athletes, but the support that the nation showed was unmistakable.
This has made me think of the opportunities I have to cheer people on in life. I can do this in person rather than just in front of a television screen, where the people I’m cheering for don’t know that I am there. I can encourage and cheer on people I come in contact with on a daily basis. It may only take a smile or a kind word. Something this simple could be just what is needed to help someone get through their day. It may even have a ripple effect as they pass it on to others. Who knows the difference I may make by taking the time to cheer on those around me.
I smiled on them when they had lost confidence; my cheerful face encouraged them. Job 29:24 Good News Translation
The morning sky was overcast as we set out for our walk. We had become accustomed to the brightness of the sunshine, but right now, it was nowhere to be seen. Looking up to the sky I could see a slight break in the clouds. It looked like the sun was fighting to break through.
This was a reminder for me that even though clouds may temporarily block my view of the sun, it is still there. At the moment it may be hidden by clouds but sooner or later it will be shining on me once again.
The Son of God, Jesus, is also known as the Light of the world. His light is always available to shine on me. Any obstacles blocking this light are of my own making. When I focus on him, and not the clouds blocking my vision, he will always break through to light my way.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 NIV
I am an avid shell collector. Some of my shells have colours and markings that are well defined and the surface is perfect with no flaws or cracks. I have a few more shells that I believe are the same type as these and once also must have looked good on the surface. The difference is that this second group is ones that have been broken and the inner parts are now visible. Strange as it may seem, it is the ones that I can see inside of that I’m most drawn to.
Again, I relate this back to life. When I put up a good front, all you see is my surface. Unless I become vulnerable and let you see inside, you will never really know me. I may look quiet and reserved on the surface, but deep within lies a heart with a passion to make a difference. I want to encourage others to see their own beauty and worth, to know that they are valuable and have a life worth fighting for.
In order to do this, I need to be vulnerable and share my heart. Jesus has done amazing things in my life since I gave him control. He wants me to share this with others. By sharing his love with those I encounter, they too will be able to see themselves through his eyes. Jesus loves each of us as though there were only one of us. He loves us just as we are, but far too much to leave us that way. I am living proof of the change that can take place when someone was open enough to pour his love over me, and I can oly pass this along by doing the same.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may kjnow the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18, 19A NIV
We had been coming to this spot for several years and always enjoyed our beach walks. After all of this time, we were still on the lookout for things we hadn’t seen before. One day we were rewarded by the sight of a hermit crab. We stood fascinated as we watched this crab, underneath a large shell not its own, slowly walking along the beach. Approaching it to take a picture, it sensed out nearness and stopped, climbing right inside the shell. Now it looked like any other shell on the beach. There was no evidence of the crab. I poked at the shell a little, but got no response .Not wanting to disturb it; we turned and walked a few steps away. Feeling safe now, the crab went on its way as we watched from a distance.
Talking about this, I realized how similar my behaviour can be to that of this crab. There are times that I go along, acting like everything is fine. When others come near, I retreat into my shell and pretend I’m not there. If I blend into my surroundings and become invisible, no one will see me or be able to hurt me.
This is a lonely way to live. It is only by coming out of my shell and allowing others to know me that I can live the purposeful life that I was created for.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:10 NIV
After 2 weeks of wearing either sandals or aqua socks, my feet screamed in protest as I laced up my running shoes. Normally I wore aqua socks when we went for our morning beach walk, allowing for elastic stretch and flexibility. This day we had planned a more challenging walk so the support of running shoes was needed. My ankles felt as though they were being strangled! I understood why the firm support was needed, but it was an uncomfortable transition from the freedom and flexibility I’d quickly grown used to.
This was an accurate reflection of my life. When everything is going smoothly I enjoy the freedom and flexibility in my day-to-day life. Then, when things become more challenging I realize that it is firm support that is needed to carry me through. Even though deep down, I understand the need for this firmness, I still chafe at the loss of my freedom.
When my life is placed in the loving hands of the Lord, he will guide me with the support I need. It may feel uncomfortable at times but in reality gives me much more freedom than I have ever had on my own.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV
It was interesting to see the progression. On the shore were an abundance of shells. Some were whole, many were broken and then there were tiny fragments of others. In one very small area, I could see first-hand how the shell pieces got smaller and finer until they were one with the sand. I had never been consciously aware before that shells eventually became sand.
Looking at this, the thought came to mind that nothing is wasted. The same holds true for experiences in my life. Everything I go through is something that God can use for his glory. The times that I glimmer and reflect his light can definitely be used. So too, can the times I am broken and in pain. I may have no idea how to put the pieces together again, but God does. He does not waste a thing that happens in my life. Everything can be used to enrich my journey or to speak into someone else’s life.
My part in this is to trust him. I don’t need to understand why something is happening, just that my heavenly Father is constantly watching over me. His purpose is far greater than anything that I could imagine.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV
In an effort to control how many shells I was picking up to bring home, I set myself a daily limit. During our walk one morning my husband showed me a lovely shell that he knew I’d like. I quickly counted those in my hand and told him I’d already reached my limit. His response surprised me as he said, “So, change your limit.” To be fair, he also said that I could re-evaluate what I had and decide which one not to keep!
The thought that kept coming back to me was to change my limit. At times I’ve said that I’d almost reached my limit, meaning I was running out of patience or energy. What if, when I feel this way, I stop, take a deep breath and change my limit? How much more patient and understanding could I become?
This could also work in reverse. When I have 20 things to do in a day and only accomplish 18 of them, do I beat myself up over the 2 not completed or change my limit and be happy with what was done? When it comes right down to it, this is my limit and I’m the one with the control over adjusting it!
The main thing for me to remember is that the final control of my life is not with me, but with Jesus. He will guide me far beyond any limits I have set so that I can accomplish his will for my life.
I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 God’s Word Translation
I was sitting on the half wall that separated the pool deck from the beach. The north winds had subsided but the seaweed left on the shore was evidence they had been here recently. The sun warmed my body and the soft breeze was like a gentle caress. A cloudless blue sky blended seamlessly with the water stretched out before me.
A few minutes earlier I had been doing some work indoors when the song of the sea lapping the shoreline beckoned me closer. Now, I relaxed and gazed at the beauty before me. Time and all conscious thought faded into the background. An occasional boat appeared on the horizon and a few birds soared above. Other than that I had this spot all to myself.
As I enjoyed the solitude, peace and gratitude filled my heart. It was easy for me to believe that Jesus created this place and time just for me. Nothing I had done could have earned this favour. It was a gift freely offered. My part was simply to enjoy. In doing this I was renewed and refreshed. Savouring each moment, I thanked Jesus for the incomparably great gifts he bestows upon me.
Then because so many people were coming and going they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV
My husband and I were on our morning walk when we came upon a spot that was difficult to pass through. There were many sharp rocks blocking our path. Brian stepped up onto a ledge to get around the rubble. My legs are not as long as his and I realized that this step up was too high for me. I concentrated on which rocks I could safely climb on to get me to close enough to the ledge that I could join him. When I looked up I realized that Brian had his hand stretched out to help lift me. I said to him, “I was so busy concentrating on how to get through this that I didn’t see your hand reaching down for me.”
My ever understanding husband asked me if there was a story there! How right he was to point that out. We then discussed the times in life that we have encountered obstacles in our path. When we concentrate on how best to navigate them on our own, we often forget to look up and see the hand of Jesus, reaching out to guide us. He is always there for us. All we need to do is to look up and take the hand he is offering.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalms 40:2 NIV