As I looked into the clear night sky my attention was drawn to the full moon. There were no clouds to block it and I was filled with awe at its mesmerizing brilliance. The twinkling stars faded into the background and the moon was the focal point in the sky. The light it provided was so bright that it was hard to believe it was only a reflection.
The moon on its own does not emit a light that we can see so clearly this far away. It actually reflects the light of the sun, and that is what was illuminating the night sky.
Gazing at its beauty, I am reminded that the only way my light can shine brightly enough to attract others is when I reflect the light of the Son, Jesus.
Just as clouds can block my view of the moon and obscure its light, I can easily let difficulties become my focus, making it impossible for the light to reach me. This impacts my ability to reflect that light to others. When I consciously seek the Son, and focus on him, his light can shine in and through me. This enables me to reflect the light of Jesus into the dark corners of my world, thus fulfilling his plan for my life.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 NIV
Due to the ongoing snowy weather, it has been a challenge to navigate some of our side roads. There are some deep ruts made by the vehicles that continually travel these roads.
The interesting thing about these ruts is that if you attempt to drive outside of them, they pull you back in. Blazing your own trail is difficult when you are constantly pulled back into the ruts.
This is a mirror of my life. I tend to do the same things day after day. They become so comfortable that I don’t even realize that I am in a rut. It is only when I want to strike out on a new path that I find this familiar rut pulling me back in. It may not be all that comfortable any more, but my rut is familiar and feels safe. The challenge for me is to keep pulling myself out of the rut so I can embark on a new path.
Over the years I have learned that an effective way to do this is through prayer. When I feel that Jesus wants me to head in a new direction, all I need to do is keep praying to him for guidance. He is the one that will enable me to continue in the way he has chosen for me.
But he told me: “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So I will brag even more about my weaknesses in order that Christ’s power will live in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 God’s Word Translation
Sitting in the hospital parking lot, I thanked God for the peace that I felt on this morning. What could have been a stressful day, instead felt calm and filled with promise.
The sun was rising as I drove out of the city. Heading west to visit a friend, I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw vibrant shades of pink, purple and orange lighting up the eastern skyline. Another prayer of thanks was spoken. It wasn’t long before the mountains in front of me were glowing as the morning sun reflected off of the snow-capped peaks.
I was tempted to pull over and take a picture, but knew that the beauty I was experiencing was to be captured in my memory alone. It was as if God was embracing me as he surrounded me with the glory of his creation. I knew in that moment that I had nothing to be concerned about. Not only did he have everything under control, he also gave a visual gift to show me how much he cares. My prayers were no longer spoken, now I was singing his praise.
I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1,2 (NIV)
The snow keeps falling and as it blankets outdoor lights and decorations, it truly looks like a winter wonderland outside. While the adults are not enjoying all the shoveling, children are having fun building snowmen and having snowball fights.
Thinking about playing in the snow, I am reminded that a large snowman starts with a single snowball. As the snowball rolls along the ground it picks up more and more snow and keeps growing larger. The size the snowman becomes is determined by how much time is put into rolling that snowball.
This is something that I can relate to my life. When I stay in one place, my life remains static, not growing. If, on the other hand, I am willing to open myself up to new experiences, my life expands as it rolls along. The more I do this, the larger my life becomes.
Jesus has so many plans for my life. It is only by spending time with Him and following his plan that my life will expand to include so much more than I could ever imagine on my own.
May the Lord direct your lives as you show God’s love and Christ’s endurance. 2 Thessalonians 3-5 God’s Word Translation
It has been a winter for the record books. The temperatures have been colder and we’ve received more than double the usual snowfall. This combination can make driving a little more challenging.
As my husband and I were traveling along a major highway, we saw several vehicles that had gone off of the road. One was a pickup truck that was perfectly balanced on the roof of its cab, wheels in the air; reminding me of a turtle placed on its back. A little further on a jackknifed semi caused some major traffic delays as lanes were closed while crews worked to rescue it.
Once we passed this scene and were back to 2 lanes of traffic, it surprised us how fast people were driving. Yes, they lost some time with the backup, but did they learn nothing from the vehicles stranded in deep snow?
This, in my eyes, was a good metaphor for life. How often do I hurry along at my own pace, despite the conditions because I am determined to get where I want to be when I want to be there? Do I tend to call on God, like my personal tow truck, relying on him to come and rescue me when I get stuck? Once he sets me back on the proper road, do I reevaluate my speed and direction or just rush off on my own again? The road of life I travel will have less slippery spots if I slow down and allow God to direct my pace.
A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 God’s Word Translation
My husband and I had a unique experience on New Year’s Eve. We stood outside in a park watching a fireworks display while snow was falling all around us. The snowfall didn’t deter the large crowd gathered to enjoy the fireworks display. Somehow, it added an almost magical quality to the experience.
The exploding bursts of colour in the sky were lovely to watch. Just as much fun for me, was observing and listening to the children around us. There were many “oohs” and “awes” and a few “oh wows”.
Not everyone was standing outside. Some had arrived early enough to get a good parking place so they could remain in their vehicles and still watch the spectacle. Nearby I heard children excitedly commenting. Turning to see them, I realized that they were not looking at the sky at all, but were leaning out of an open car window, eating snow they were scooping off of the side of the car!
This made me think of the wonders and blessings that God has provided for me. Often they are right before me; all I need to do is turn and look. Instead I busy myself with little pleasures of my own making. I settle for crumbs when God has prepared a feast for me. This year I am going to consciously seek the good things that the Lord longs to provide for me.
Make your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me because you are God, my savior. I wait all day long for you. Psalm 25:4-5 God’s Word Translation
As we end one year and embark upon another I’d like to share with you a poem that was given to me many years ago. Every year I read it and appreciate what it has to say. Unfortunately I don’t know who the author is. My prayer is that each of you will be blessed this way in 2014.
NEW YEAR PRAYER
May God make your year a happy one,
Not by shielding you from sorrow and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, if it comes.
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy enough to travel any path.
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking all cowardice and fear from your heart.
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows.
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you where man and his cause need you most,
And by making you anxious to be there, and to help.
The city we live in boasts one of the largest free outdoor lights displays in Western Canada. Travel experts at where.ca have rated it as one of Canada’s Top 10 holiday light shows. This display takes place every night in the month of December.
A few nights ago, my husband and I took advantage of a mild evening and joined the crowds of people strolling through the display. Many others, like us, were walking the paths, enjoying the lights and taking pictures.
As I admired the lights, the display that captured my attention was the nativity scene. It was on the top of a small hill so sat slightly higher than everything else. It seemed very appropriate to me that Jesus, the light of the word, was in lights and above all else.
I have felt the light of Jesus shining into my life many times this past year. Among other things, His light has given me strength when I was weak, hope when I felt hopeless and encouragement when I felt defeated. Unlike the light display that only shines for a few hours each evening during a one month period of the year, the Jesus I know is always available to shine his light on me.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:4 NIV
You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 NLT
Christmas is the season of giving. The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant to be appreciated. It is the spirit in which it is given that is the most important thing.
A couple of days before Christmas someone was telling me that he had cut his budget for gifts in half this year. This person was upset that the gifts he received last year didn’t cost as much as gifts he had given. For this reason, he would not spend as much on his friends this year. Somewhere in all of this the spirit of giving had been lost.
There was a time when I felt the same way. I couldn’t wait to see what people had purchased for me. I still appreciate receiving gifts, but my focus is no longer only on myself. Now, the true pleasure for me is picking out something special for someone and seeing their excitement when they receive the gift.
Sometimes the value of a gift cannot be measured in dollars. Acts of service may cost me nothing but my time, yet may be priceless to someone else. When I cheerfully give my time or attention to another, I am honoring not only them, but God. My life has been blessed by God so that I may pass some of these blessings along to others. This is a gift that is not just for Christmas, but can be shared on a daily basis throughout the year.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
A few days ago a good friend celebrated the birth of a new baby into their family. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before he drew his first breath. He is loved unconditionally even though he can give nothing in return. He is loved for his very existence in this moment and not for what he may become in the future. His family is committed to provide for his needs and to guide him as he grows.
This is the way that God loves each one of us. I know that he loves me just as I am. He loves me even when I have nothing to give back. He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I fall down he is there to lift me back up. All I need to do is to call out to him in prayer.
I can have this relationship with God because he sent his son Jesus to earth to demonstrate His great love for me. The birth of Jesus had been foretold and written about in the scriptures hundreds of years before that historic night in Bethlehem when he arrived as a helpless baby. The baby Jesus is the greatest gift known to mankind and is the reason I celebrate Christmas this week.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NIV