School is officially out for the summer. The graduation ceremonies have come to an end for this year. Ceremonies are an important way to honour the achievements of those moving on to new areas in their lives.
What used to be exclusive to those leaving high school and university has now been extended to many other levels as well. My husband and I recently attended ceremonies for grandchildren leaving both pre-school and kindergarten. One of them invited us to come to her “Congratulation Day”.
This seemed to me to be a very appropriate term. The purpose behind the ceremony is to present certificates, awards and offer congratulations to those that have reached this milestone in their lives.
Thinking about congratulations, I realize how important it is to recognize and celebrate achievements. What may seem insignificant to one person may be a milestone to another. The milestones in my life will not look the same as they do in the life of someone else. I have learned that each small step forward enables me to take another one. As these steps accumulate, I am able to reach goals and dreams that wouldn’t be possible if I stood still. Therefore, each step is one to be celebrated.
Jesus is the one who celebrates each step with me. He gives me the confidence to move forward. With his guidance I will achieve greater things for him that I ever thought possible.
Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord. The Lord will be his confidence. Jeremiah 17:7 GWT
A person’s steps are directed by the Lord, and the Lord delights in his way. Psalm 37:23 GWT
My husband and I enjoy classic cars. We’ve spent many hours going to previews and auctions of these vehicles. When my son was young, he and I attended an auction, got caught up in the excitement and started bidding. My husband was very surprised when I called him at work to say we’d just bought a 1957 Cadillac!
The car was very large compared to the more modern ones we owned. Enormous chrome bumpers made it even more so. Our carport was not quite deep enough for a vehicle of this size and the back bumper was exposed to the elements. The chrome started to rust. Our plans to restore it to its former glory didn’t materialize and we hated to see it deteriorate. Eventually we sold the car to someone who wanted to do the restoration.
Thinking of that car has brought back many memories. It also has reminded me that although things many start out shiny and new, they don’t stay that way. When chrome is not maintained, it needs to be stripped down and re-chromed.
The same is true in my life. When I don’t treat my life with the care and attention it deserves, rust spots start to appear. If not dealt with, they will spread and take over what was once shiny and bright. Restoration can happen, but the process may not be easy or pleasant.
Jesus can take this blemished life and restore it. He will not just paint over my rough spots, but will do what is necessary to remove them so there’s a better chance of the restoration being permanent. He cares enough to want the very best for me. When I pray and stay in close contact with Jesus, my life will be bright enough to reflect him to others.
Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20 NLT
I have frequently looked at the makeover stories in magazines and wondered what it would be like to experience one of these makeovers. Before and after pictures capture a remarkable transformation. The first picture usually shows a woman in drab clothing with no makeup and unkempt hair. The follow-up pictures show a beautiful woman who not only looks younger and thinner, but also has a fabulous wardrobe.
It all looks wonderful, but I wonder if it is something that can be maintained when all of the stylists are not there to help.
Thinking about this, I realize that I have undergone a complete makeover that had nothing to do with a magazine contest. When I gave my life to Jesus, he transformed me from the inside out. He took my drab, boring life and turned it into something far more beautiful than anything I could ever have imagined.
This was not a temporary change, but a permanent one. I don’t need a team of stylists to maintain this makeover. Jesus is my constant companion and when I walk with him; my life is anything but drab.
Looking back, I see just how big a transformation has occurred. The most exciting part of this is that I know he’s not finished with me yet.
. . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3 NIV
My husband and I were driving along the highway that is the main corridor between Calgary and Edmonton. The traffic ahead started to slow and looked like it was coming to a standstill.
It didn’t take long for us to find out the problem. Two calves were running down the middle of the highway. A couple of vehicles drove along the median to get in front of the calves. They then attempted to block their way, forcing them to move to the grassy verge and safety. The calves were obviously frightened and got around the truck that had parked sideways along the lanes. They kept running as other vehicles came alongside. The rescuers persisted and soon got the calves safely off of the highway.
This rescue was not only interesting to watch, it also illustrated life lesson for me. Like these calves, I have occasionally found myself in a foreign and unsafe environment. God relentlessly pursued me to bring me to safety. There were times that, frightened, I keep running straight ahead, unaware of the rescue attempt. It was only by submitting to God that my peace and security were found. He is the one that sees what dangers may lie in my future. By staying close to God, there is less chance of straying. If I do take a wrong turn and end up where I shouldn’t be, I know that I only need call out and He will rescue me.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; Isaiah 53:6 NIV
The seat belt warning light in our car has started to come on at intermittent times while we are driving. At first it was difficult to know which seat belt was causing the problem, as it always seemed to happen when there were two of us in the car. As the problem became more frequent, we determined that it was the driver’s side that was the issue. There are days when the dinging sound that accompanies the light doesn’t seem to stop and then we have many days without a problem at all. Unfortunately the non problematic days are always the ones that are scheduled for the dealership to fix the problem!
For some reason, the mechanism does not recognize that the seat belt is plugged in. All it takes is light pressure on the buckle and everything is fine until the next time. It’s almost as if it is unsure that the proper protection is in place and a light touch is all that is needed to reassure it that all is well!
This sounds like my life. Left to my own devices, I set off warning lights and signals when I am uncertain of things. By making sure I am plugged into Jesus, I have the confidence needed to carry on. His touch always comforts and reassures.
I’m leaving you my peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly. John 14:27 GWT
Spring takes a long time to arrive in Southern Alberta. When it finally arrives, it makes up for lost time. In the span of a week, the trees were full of leaves and brightly coloured blossoms. The lawn was lush and green and we could practically watch it grow. The other sure sign of spring is the profusion of dandelions.
The bright yellow flowers are a favourite for young children to pick. They look so pretty that it’s hard to remember that they are weeds. When the flower dies, the plant produces seeds. Dandelions can produce up to 20,000 seeds which are blown by the wind, landing somewhere they can germinate and grow. Left unchecked, a few dandelions can quickly spread. I may follow all measures to rid my lawn of dandelions, but if my neighbours do not do the same, I will be faced with many more of these weeds in the future.
The same is true in my life. I know the things I need to do to keep my life running smoothly. Slowly I have let little weeds enter, feeling that they are small enough to not cause problems. Once I allow them to take hold, they put down roots, spread their seeds and multiply. Soon my life is overrun and I’m left wondering what happened.
Jesus plants only good, fruitful seeds in my life. My responsibility is to nurture these seeds and not to allow the weeds to choke them out. By walking closely with Jesus, I can eliminate the weeds and live the fruitful life that he has planned for me.
“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:23 NKJV
We decided to have a monitored alarm system installed in our home. There had been no security issues for us, we were being proactive. After choosing a code that would be easy for us to remember, our family were informed, in case they came in when we weren’t home. At first my husband was much better at remembering to set it than I was, but soon it became part of my routine.
One morning when my husband was out of town, I was awakened earlier than I had planned, by the sound of the alarm going off. Everything looked fine to me so I punched in the code to turn it off. As I was doing this, the phone was ringing. It was the alarm monitoring company, checking to be sure everything was OK. They told me which door had triggered the alarm and stayed on the phone with me while I checked it out. A faulty sensor on the door had triggered the alarm and a technician was dispatched to do the repair.
As I was thinking about this later, I related the incident back to my life. Many times I have set off a personal alarm. I have panicked, not knowing what to do next. If my sensors were working properly, I would have realized that God had everything under control. He is always monitoring my life and is available to keep me safe. All I need to do is to call out to him.
The Lord will answer you in times of trouble The name of the God of Jacob will protect you Psalm 20:1 GWT
My husband and I were on vacation and found ourselves in a busy city on a holiday weekend. The city was teeming with people and it was difficult to maneuver around the crowds on the sidewalks. Several times we came to sets of door to go through. It was interesting to watch as people lined up to go through the one set of open doors when there were two more sets available. All they had to do was open the door and walk through. We chose to open the doors and by doing so bypassed many line ups.
As I thought about this, I realized how this is a reflection of life for me. I can line up and blindly follow others or I can consciously look for the door that the Lord has provided for me to walk through. He has given me many opportunities to move ahead into the life prepared for me. These are not forced on me, but are options that are mine for the choosing. I can blindly go through life, following the crowd, or I can choose to follow Jesus. He has promised to be the door to the life prepared for me.
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 NKJV
We had done a lot of walking on our vacation but still felt we needed more exercise. One morning we got up a little earlier and headed out to walk in the lazy river. Our plan was to walk against the current. When we arrived, we found that, during this time set aside for exercise, everyone was going with the flow.
The water was four feet deep and the current was strong. This made it difficult, but not impossible, to go against it. We did two laps against the current, then two laps with the current and repeated this several times. This resulted in a good workout for us. I saw a younger couple observing us before deciding to try this, too. Surprised by the difficulty, they quickly changed their minds and went back to the easier route.
So it is with life. I have often been faced with the option of going with the flow, taking the easier, more popular route. Many times I have taken this route as I wanted to be part of the crowd and not the one going the other way. Unfortunately I have done this when I knew that the more difficult route was the one more beneficial.
What I have learned is that when I let Jesus guide me, he chooses my route. Though it may look like the current is too strong for me, I must remember that I am not navigating this on my own. There is nothing I will face that Jesus can’t get me through. Later, I’m sure he will grant me times of rest and refreshment when I can coast down the lazy river of life for a time.
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 GWT