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
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.