I was standing in the grass on a highway median, doing my best to keep three little girls occupied while a tire on their vehicle was being changed. They were starting to get restless when I spotted movement in the tall grass. Showing them the grasshopper was a wonderful distraction. Soon we were on the hunt for more of these insects.
Two of the girls excitedly spotted several more and delighted in watching the hopping action. The other one complained that she couldn’t see grasshoppers; all that she could see were bugs! Explaining that these were the grasshoppers didn’t help. She wanted nothing to do with them.
Reflecting on this later, I wondered how often I have missed the wonder of something new because I couldn’t see past my perception of what I thought it should be. Life is full of exciting adventures but only if I open my heart and mind to accept and receive them. Immediately deciding that I don’t want or like something means I will miss these discoveries. It is when I forget my routine life and enter into the adventure that I can truly experience what God has in store for me.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV
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Clouds had been gathering and now obscured the sun. The few remaining patches of blue sky were slowly disappearing. Then I saw it. Through one patch of clouds, the sun was beaming down in clearly defined shafts of light. It was these sunbeams, bursting through the clouds that captured my attention.
Without the clouds to block it, the sun’s light is often taken for granted. Looking at the sunbeams, forcing their way through the clouds I was reminded that, although I may not always see it, the sun is still there. It may be temporarily blocked by circumstances in my life. Above the clouds the sun is still shining. If I consciously search for it, I may be rewarded with shafts of light that are like rays of hope shining through the dark sky.
One thing I have learned is that I tend to find whatever it is I focus on. Life is gloomy when I only focus on the clouds that block the light and warmth of the sun. By shifting my focus to the glimmers of light, soon I don’t notice the clouds, only the positive effects of sun reaching out to embrace me. God’s son, Jesus, is always willing to pour out His light upon me. All that I have to do is consciously seek Him. When filled with His light and love I can, in turn, reflect this to others, so they may also feel the warmth of His love.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father. Matthew 5:16 NKJV
A phone call came inviting us to go boating. It had been several years since I had been on a boat so was quite excited. We had to leave in just over an hour so quickly packed lunches, sunscreen and towels to prepare for our adventure.
Once on the lake we spent a little time exploring the area before the motor was cut and we drifted, relaxing in the warmth of the sun. The boat was not being steered and there was no anchor dropped to keep us in one spot. Since we were not close to any other boats it was calm and peaceful. When the wind changed and started tossing us about it became necessary to have someone take control again to keep us from being blown off course.
As usual, this made me think about life. While it may be pleasant to drift along for short periods of time, this is not going to get me to where I want or need to be. Every wave will toss me to and fro and I will have no direction. Even in the harbor I need to have an anchor to keep me steady. Jesus is that anchor. He guides me safely and keeps me secure. All that I need to do is pray and have faith. He will provide me with the wisdom that I need.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6 NIV
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19 NIV
I work in a lovely little gift store. It has a wide variety of items for almost any occasion which makes it a favorite place to shop in our area. We have just finished taking our year end inventory. Everything in the store had to be counted and its value recorded. This was a time consuming, labor intensive task in a store filled with so many treasures.
As the items were counted and recorded, I started thinking about taking inventory in my own life. Imagine taking the time to sort through everything tucked away in my conscious and subconscious mind. There are so many memories and experiences to think about. Just as was discovered in the store inventory, there are probably things that are no longer useful and those that had been buried under something else and forgotten over time. There are also others that are more plentiful than I first realized. In my personal inventory, anything negative needs to be discarded. Old hurts and anger have no place in my life now. What I choose to focus on is the abundance of blessings that I have experienced over the course of my life. There are wonderful memories of love and laughter with friends and family. Times I have been able to bring a smile or encouraging words to someone have added meaning and purpose to my life. Yes, when I take my inventory I see that what holds the greatest value for me are not the things that I have but the people that God has put in my life. I am so thankful to count my blessings.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. Ephesians 1:3 God’s Word
Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord. Be happy in confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually. Romans 12:10-12 God’s Word
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The river was flowing steadily as I headed upstream. It was lovely walking beside it with the sun peeking out from the clouds, warming my face. As I walked along further I noticed that the pace of the river had changed. The previously rushing water had now slowed and was much gentler. This slower pace was very calming. I wondered what had happened to cause this change in the flow so started watching it more carefully. Continuing on I came to a place where trees had fallen into the water, partially obstructing the flow. This was what had slowed its pace – a log jam.
Looking at this, I was reminded of the obstacles that have suddenly appeared in my path, slowing me down. What I perceived as a log jam could have been something put there to serve a purpose in my life. Maybe I need to slow down, reflect and re-evaluate where I am going instead of being caught up in the current of life. The blockage does not stop the river. It keeps flowing, just changes course. This is another part of the lesson. Obstacles do not have to stop me. They enable me to change my course, often to a better one I would not have taken otherwise. When I take the time to listen and observe, I realize that God has placed many lessons in the beauty of nature that surrounds me.
A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 God’s Word Translation
We had been driving through the mountains and were nearing a town called Hope. When I looked at the distance before we reached Hope, I wondered why my hope is often a distance away instead being where I am now. As we made our descent we saw a “chain off” area where vehicles can pull over and remove the chains that are needed to get them safely through the steep mountain roads in winter conditions.
The significance of this combination of chains off before I reach Hope was not lost on me. When I am in situations in which I do not feel safe, I have been known to wrap chains around my heart for protection. At these times, hope seems so far away. It doesn’t appear to get any closer as I journey along.
When I lay my concerns at the feet of Jesus, he releases the chains that have held me in bondage. I am free and realize that hope is now within me. I have found the true hope that will never leave me and that is the one found in Jesus.
We were saved with this hope in mind. If we hope for something we already see, it’s not really hope. Who hopes for what can be seen? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Romans 8:24,25 God’s Word Translation
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NIV
We were making the long drive from Calgary to Vancouver to visit friends and family. At one point I turned to Brian and said “Are we there yet”? He smiled and said “Sure”, knowing that we still had several hours ahead of us. We then joked about the fact that although we may not be “there” we were “here”.
Despite the joking, this was a good reminder to me that I need to make the most of where I am right now. Sometimes I get so focused on getting to where I think I should be, that I do not see what is surrounding me right now. There may be scenic routes that I miss by not paying attention. Not only do I miss out for myself, but opportunities to do things for others are surely lost as well.
Before I wake up in the morning, God has many wonderful things planned for my day. I need to start my day by praying and then trust God to lead me. When I do this, I remember that although I may not be where I thought I would be, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 NIV
O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 NKJV
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If you are looking for shells, I have discovered that a great place to search is in the shallow waters of a fishing area. There are an abundance of them. Some are scattered and easy to spot as they sit on their own. Most, however, are in large deposits, sometimes in a few close groupings and other times in trails that stretch across the sand. The more I pay attention and look for them, the more I find.
They remind me of the blessings in my life. I am aware of a few scattered here and there, but when I stop and really look, I can see them everywhere. There are clusters of them and trails that stretch throughout my life. The sheer abundance of them is staggering. So much so, that it is easy to take them for granted.
Every day I want to take the time to stop and appreciate my blessings and to thank God for the gifts that he has given to me.
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. Ephesians 1:3 God’s Word Translation
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As we drove through the mountains we passed several lakes. One was a bit choppy from the breeze coming through the valley. The wind had stirred up some waves and the occasional white cap. Most of the lakes were calm and a few were so smooth that everything on the shoreline was reflected in them, like a giant mirror.
Gazing at these lakes, I realized that they had some good lessons for me. One of the things they teach is that it is best to stay calm. I am not nearly as inviting when I let things stir me up. When calm, I have the opportunity to make positive ripples.
Some of the lakes are crystal clear and I can see to the bottom. This reminds me to look below the surface. Things are not always what they seem at first glance.
The smooth, glass-like water has more than one message for me. The first one is that I need to take time to reflect. Sometimes in my busy life, I forget to do this. Even more important is to remember that it is God who calms my choppy waters. The more I come to him in prayer, the smoother my life becomes. He alone can calm the wind and the waves that stir up my discontent. The more I come to him, the more peaceful I become. This is what will enable me to reflect him to others.
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39 NIV
His Son is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact likeness of God’s being. He holds everything together through his powerful words. After he had cleansed people from their sins, he received the highest position, the one next to the Father in heaven. Hebrews 1:3 God’s Word Translation
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corinthians 13:12 New Living Translation
There are many disasters that we hear of in the news. Most of these take place far from our homes and those of our loved ones. This week it hit close to home for us. Heavy rains caused massive flooding in Southern Alberta. Streets were turned into raging rivers. The downtown core of a major city was evacuated as the water rose. Bridges and highways were washed out. The number of people evacuated from their homes in many cities and towns was staggering. Most people could not prepare for the flooding as it hit so fast that there was little or no notice.
As I think about the little time we have to escape the raging storms that come our way, I wonder if I am doing enough to shore up my life. Have I taken the time, put in the work, to ensure I will make it through the storms? When the waves of adversity hit, as they do to all of us at some point, will I be swept away?
The assurance that I count on comes from my faith in Jesus. He hasn’t promised that there will be no more storms in my life, but he has promised to walk with me as I go through them. He is my refuge and my strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. This is the assurance that I need.
When you go through the sea, I am with you. When you go through rivers, they will not sweep you away. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not harm you. Isaiah 43:2
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1