I read that Canada is the world’s biggest canola exporter and the second largest wheat exporter. The flat Prairie Provinces produce the majority of these crops.
I drove across much of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the past week and looked upon the numerous fields as a sign of God’s provision.
As the crops grow, the evidence of this is visible. The golden fields of wheat and the bright yellow flowers of the canola crops have a beauty of their own. They also hold a promise that is not redeemed until maturity and harvest.
A little further along I see a field with several oil pumps drilling for treasure that can’t be seen on the surface.
I marvel that in the same fields God has supplied diverse resources, each with a different level of difficulty to harvest.
This is a good analogy of my life. God has provided me with a few skills and talents that are visible on the surface and easy to access. Then there are the buried treasures that have yet to see the light of day. These ones take far more effort to bring to the surface.
What a wonderful reminder that the seeds God plants deep within me can turn into dreams fulfilled if I allow him to work in my life to bring them to maturity. The process can be uncomfortable at times but I know the result will be a harvest greater than I can imagine.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)
While driving the long, flat roads of the Canadian Prairies I frequently saw tumbleweeds rolling across the road. Some would make it into a neighbouring field but many others got caught on the barbed wire fences that bordered the highway.
Wikipedia describes tumbleweeds as a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of a number of species of plants. Once the plant is mature and dry it detaches from its root or stem, and tumbles away in the wind.
This made me think of times in life I have detached from my roots and tumbled along aimlessly. With nothing to hold me down I was free to go where the wind might take me. It also meant I had no direction and could end up stuck in places I hadn’t wanted to be.
A better choice is to keep my roots firmly anchored in The Lord. When I mature in my relationship with him, I will not become dry and detached. He promises to guide me and satisfy my needs like a well-watered garden. No longer will I be like a tumbleweed.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11 NIV)
The tide was out and I was able to walk along the firm sand at the water’s edge, rather than the softer sand a little farther inland. I strolled along enjoying the morning sun and the clear water lapping beside me.
Without warning, the sand beneath my feet collapsed. Wet sand oozed through the fabric of my beach shoes and reached to my ankles.
When I looked around I realized that this area appeared the same as the one I had just walked along. Nothing was visible to warn me that my next step would be on shifting sand.
How is this a reflection of my life? One minute I’m carrying on, doing what is familiar and then without warning the landscape changes. It seems as if the ground under my feet has become unstable, no longer firm and secure. I look for a solid spot for my next step but am unsure where to find it.
People and things are fleeting. We may start out with the best intentions but can’t or don’t always follow through.
The only firm foundation I know is to put my trust in Jesus. He is the solid rock beneath my feet. I know that my steps are secure when Jesus is guiding them.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT)
Many years ago when we first bought a time share, there were owner education classes. These classes were scheduled for specific times in designated locations. In order to learn more about maximizing our investment we would have to travel to one of these classes.
Today we have the option of onsite workshops, online webinars at pre-designated times or pre-recorded webinars to view at our leisure.
The information keeps changing as the benefits of membership improve. There’s a lot to keep up with if we want to know about all of the options available. It can sometimes seem overwhelming.
I pause to think about how things that should be simple can easily become complicated.
The best information I can receive for getting the most out of life doesn’t come from a classroom or a podcast. It is available to me no matter the time or my physical location.
My instruction comes from the word of God. The Bible has not changed, yet is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. The benefits of being a member of God’s family have remained constant.
When I need help understanding a difficult concept I can turn to God. The author of this book of instructions is also the author of my life and he is always available to guide and teach me.
The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living. (Psalm 19:7-8 NLT)
Freedom can mean different things to people. It all depends on your perspective.
In this country we have freedom of speech. We have the right to speak our mind without fear of persecution. In many countries this freedom is denied.
To those imprisoned, freedom means not being locked up. The wrongs committed have been pardoned. The slate has been wiped clean and they can start anew.
I have met numerous people who are locked up in self imposed prisons. They look at mistakes they’ve made in the past and decide they can’t risk loving, believing in themselves or having dreams for the future. Due to this they live in despair, loneliness and isolation. It is ironic to think they hold the key to unlock this prison but fail to recognize it.
A mistake doesn’t have to mean a life-sentence. I read a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that said, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” The freedom to make and learn from mistakes can liberate us to move forward in life.
Jesus died in order that our sins may be forgiven. He wiped the slate clean for us. If I believe my mistakes or sins are unpardonable, then his sacrifice is meaningless. When I truly believe in Jesus I am set free and will embrace the life he’s given me – mistakes and all.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (.Ephesians 1:7 NLT)
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT)
Did you know that new vehicles no longer come equipped with a CD player? My husband found this out when renting a vehicle for a business trip. He’d taken some CD’s along to listen to when the radio reception was poor.
His disappointment was short-lived when he discovered the satellite radio. There were stations for every genre of music. What he enjoyed most were the stations dedicated to each decade.
As he listened to songs from the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s memories flooded his mind. Music is so much a part of our lives that favourite songs from each decade took him back to various moments in time.
Later he told me the good memories far outweighed the bad. We talked about our tendency to look back and dwell on things we wished we’d done differently. Those are minor compared to the positives we’ve experienced.
When going through trials we feel that they are insurmountable. When I look back on them I see the lessons learned and how far I’ve come. I heard a quote that said “We change for two reasons; either we learn enough that we want to or we hurt enough that we have to.” Either way, the experiences of the past are what has shaped us into who we are today. I’m happy to glance into the past and reminisce but have no desire to dwell there. I know my future lies before and not behind me.
It’s necessary to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and allow him to lead me into the bright future he has planned for me.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 NLT)
After attending an aquafit class for several years I know where to stand in the pool to get maximum benefit from the workout.
In the past few months the class has grown significantly and I’ve been arriving earlier to ensure I get my chosen spot in the crowded pool.
One of the new attendees has claimed a spot slightly in front of me. This would be fine if she didn’t splash so much while exercising. I don’t like water splashed in my face and this has now become a regular occurrence.
One day I was getting frustrated with the amount of water flying at me when I had a thought that forced me to re-evaluate my attitude. I was the one responsible for my own experience.
There was a clear choice to be made. I could move to another location which would then force others to adjust their position. This didn’t seem right. I could ask the splasher to be more careful. This would impact her experience and I didn’t want to do that. Or, I could stay where I was and do my best to disregard the splashing. I chose to adjust my attitude rather than my physical location. After all, the goal of exercise was not to keep me comfortable!
In the scheme of things, this was a small price to pay. I gave up a little of my comfort for the greater good of several others.
Jesus gave up not only his comfort but his very life for the benefit of all who would follow him. He knew what torture lay ahead of him, yet said he would do God’s will and not his own. His attitude was one of loving sacrifice.
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42 NLT)
While chatting with the mother of a toddler I mentioned what a good helper her little one was. She smiled as she agreed and then added that her daughter was becoming very independent. It seemed her favourite phrase was, “I do it myself.”
I said, “I still sometimes want to do things on my own when I should be asking for help.”
This isn’t something I readily admit, even to myself. When I compare my stubborn streak to that of a small child it’s time to take a closer look at my motives.
Children are seeking independence and a sense of accomplishment when they insist on doing something on their own. They also give in and accept help when they need it.
I can’t speak for others, but for me I know that pride gets in the way. If I admit to needing help does that mean I’m not smart enough or strong enough to handle this on my own? Will others judge me and see me as weak or incompetent?
In reality, I am the one judging myself. I need to stop and realize that I’m not meant to be a one woman show. God created each one of us with unique gifts. I may be good at one thing, while you excel at another. Together we are much stronger.
For this reason, I’m setting myself up for defeat and disappointment when I think I can do everything on my own. Instead I need to combine my strengths and abilities with those of others. When I pray for wisdom, God will lead me to those he wants me to partner with. The real strength comes from following his guidance and not thinking I need to do everything by myself.
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. (1 Corinthians 12:14,15 NIV)