I had done a good job of ignoring it – or so I thought. The need to do some decluttering could be pushed to the back recesses of my mind. The problem was it kept resurfacing.
The longer I waited, the more monumental the task became. As much as I hated to admit it, something had to be done.
With my husband’s help, I started with a few boxes in the basement. Much to my amazement most of the contents were no longer needed. We started piles for recycling, donating and keeping.
It felt good to start eliminating and I moved on to more challenging areas. At the end of the day we loaded the donations in the car and took them away. This process was repeated over the next several days.
For the first time in months, the area around my desk was clutter free. Unnecessary papers went to the recycle bin and others were filed away where I could easily access them.
I expected the area to look better, and it did. What surprised me was my mental state. Peace and happiness flooded over me as I entered my work space.
I hadn’t realized the clutter was holding me back. Once it was cleared I became more focused and productive.
The same thing happens in my spiritual life. When my mind is cluttered with unimportant things, there is less room to focus on God. I don’t intend to crowd him out, but that is exactly what I am doing. The only treasures worth pursuing are found in the word of God and my relationship with Jesus. These are the ones guaranteed to last for eternity.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21
Do you have a penny collection? My husband and I discovered we are part of the multitude that seemed to collect these coins. For us this wasn’t intentional, it just happened.
Recently we brought our collection out of storage with the plan to roll and exchange them for paper currency. We were surprised to see how many pennies we had tucked away over the years.
The last Canadian penny was minted in 2012. They were discontinued because the cost of producing these coins was more than they were worth. Although not in circulation for several years, we still had an abundance of pennies.
We had begun to count and stack the coins when a grandchild came to visit. She was fascinated by the pennies and we stopped our counting to search for dates representing the birth years of her parents and siblings. Our granddaughter rejoiced each time one was found.
When we searched through the coins we discovered not all shiny pennies were newer ones. Each year came in a variety of conditions. None of this made a difference to their value. Each coin was worth the same amount.
I had plenty of time to consider this as we continued to sort, count and roll thousands of coins over the next few days. Some similarities between life and these pennies came to mind.
My worth is determined by God. He doesn’t just keep those of us who are shiny and attractive but has a purpose for everyone, even those well worn. This was a good reminder that no matter my age or condition I can still bring value to the world.
God is not going to remove us from circulation because it costs more to keep us than we are worth. In His currency, we are each collector editions.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28 NIV)
Nature has many lessons to teach us. I heard an interesting story about fear and survival in the wild.
When a zebra is grazing and hears the roar of a lion, it runs away from the dangerous sound. This decision often proves to be fatal.
You see, the male lion roars from behind the prey while the lioness, who is the hunter, waits ahead. In its fear reaction, the zebra runs directly into the path of the lioness and is caught.
Fear can also cause us to run into danger instead of away from it. No matter how hard we try, it isn’t possible to outrun our fear. The best option may be to face the fear head-on. We may find that it is nothing more dangerous than the roar in our mind.
God knew we would face many fears in our lives. That could be why the most repeated command in the Bible is Fear Not. Over one hundred times the words Fear Not or Do not be afraid are repeated.
We are also told the enemy prowls like a roaring lion. He wants to frighten us so we run into his trap. If we remember to trust in God rather than giving in to our fear we will remain safe.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
As we end one year and embark upon another I’d like to share with you a poem my mother passed along 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 2018.
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.
A couple of months ago a friend celebrated the birth of a new baby. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before she drew her first breath. The baby is not the first child in the family but this doesn’t diminish the devotion lavished on her.
She is loved unconditionally even though she can give nothing in return. She is loved for her very existence in this moment and not for what she may become in the future. Her family is committed to nurture and guide her as she grows.
This is the way God loves each one of us. I know he loves me just as I am. Even when I have nothing to give back, he still cares.
He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I cry out to him in prayer, he takes care of my needs.
I can have this relationship with God because he sent Jesus to demonstrate his great love for me. Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth as a helpless baby. He knew the sacrifice he was making. It was for you and for me. This is the greatest gift known to mankind.
Let us think of that sacrificial love as we celebrate the gift of the baby Jesus this Christmas.
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)
I was in Mexico in late November and enjoyed seeing the festive decorations. While in a large store I turned to head up another aisle and saw a display that took my breath away. The poinsettias for sale were three feet tall! How I wished I could bring one home with me.
I remembered that this showy plant is native to Mexico but that was the extent of my knowledge. I decided to do some research and found that, in its natural habitat, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that can grow ten to fifteen feet tall. And I thought the ones I saw were large!
How did they become associated with Christmas, I wondered? I turned to Wikipedia for my answer.
Legend tells of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. She was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from beside the road and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds, resulting in the flower we know as a poinsettia.
There were some other interesting facts, but it was the legend that captured my mind. I can relate to a gift of weeds being transformed into blossoms. No gift is too small for God to use. I learned this first hand when I gave my life to Jesus. He will take whatever we give Him and turn it into something unexpected and beautiful. That is why I honour Jesus, not only at Christmas but every day.
“And you’ve become a new person. The new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10 GWT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)
A change in weather during our tropical vacation forced us indoors.
The wind lashed the rain against our windows. It didn’t take long for the deluge to fill the tracks and overflow, forming pools on the tile floor. The water was noticed before it spread far enough to do damage. We mopped up and kept an eye on the offending area.
After the storm subsided, no evidence of the excess moisture remained. We were lucky this time.
It would have been easy to put this behind us and forget it ever happened. However, someone will need to take care of the necessary maintenance to the window track. If not, the problem will reoccur. Maybe not this week, or even this month, but the consequences could be worse next time.
Regular maintenance is also necessary for our lives. Storms lie ahead for each of us. We don’t know when, or how hard they may hit. The better I prepare myself in the good times, the less damage there will when the tempests of life strike.
The ability to survive the tough times is gained through my relationship with God. Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible enables me to build a shelter I can trust. God has promised to keep me safe in the trials of life. When I walk closely with Him, I know any storm damage will be lessened.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2 LT)
A light snowfall covered the ground during the night. The next morning we stepped out of the house and into a winter wonderland. Tree branches that had been bare sticks the night before were now covered on one side with a layer of white.
I turned to my eight-year-old granddaughter and said, “Isn’t it beautiful? I think I’ll take a picture.” Her reply took me by surprise. “It looks like an art project,” she said.
She was right. I thought about her words over the next few days and thought of the many projects the Master Artist has shown me. Everything was created by God. He designed the colours and then arranges them in spectacular fashion.
Today I’m going to share some of His art projects I’ve enjoyed over the past few months. All glory goes to the Creator of heaven and earth.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 NIV)
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4 NIV)
You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:6 NIV)
During a walk on a frosty day, an unusual sight was seen. The pond was almost frozen over. Ice started around the shoreline and was reaching towards the centre. There, huddled together in the small area of remaining water, swam a few geese.
“Why hadn’t they flown south yet?” I wondered. It was only a matter of days before the ice would completely cover the pond. They were certainly leaving things until the last moment.
The scene made me think of the number of times I’ve acted like a silly goose. Signs of an impending freeze in my life have been ignored. If I don’t acknowledge what’s happening around me, maybe the trouble won’t materialize. After all, there’s no immediate danger so I may not have to take action.
This type of attitude has not served me well. Often the reason I put off making a decision is that I’m not sure which direction to take. What if I make the wrong choice? I fail to realize that making no decision is still making a decision!
I don’t know what the future holds but I do have a personal relationship with the One who does. God has promised to teach us what to do. I just need to call out to him in prayer and listen carefully for his response.
With this kind of power available to me, not to seek his guidance would make me as silly as those geese.
The Lord says, “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8 GWT)
My chiropractor schedules regular progress exams with his patients. After a certain number of treatments, an assessment is done. I have completed three progress exams.
One part of checkup is having my photo taken while standing in front of a grid on the wall. This enables us to see if I am off centre. A thermal rolling scan was done as well as a questionnaire regarding my health
The purpose of all of this is to find out how my body is responding to treatment and if any changes are needed to make it more effective.
I think of other areas in life where it would be a good idea to get regular progress reports. I’ve been working on having more patience. How am I really doing with that? It seems to be going well until I’m in a stressful or frustrating situation. Those tests clearly show where I am off center. My calm, cool demeanour is shattered and my voice takes on a sharp edge. I’m not happy with the outcome of this testing but am now aware of changes that need to be made.
God allows us to be tested to teach us endurance. It is a way to train us to persist and not give up. The question I need to ask myself is how to make the necessary changes to improve my spiritual health.
I can start by spending more time in prayer and reading God’s instruction manual, the Bible. My time with Him will reveal the answers to my progress exams.
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.” (James 1:12 NLT)