It was a beautiful summer day and many boaters were out enjoying the lake. Some were towing water skiers or wake boarders. Others were more relaxed as they slowly explored the lake.
There were also a few empty boats bobbing close to shore, patiently waiting for their next adventure. These were anchored to keep them from drifting away. There is slack in the line so some movement is possible, just not enough to cause danger for the boats.
Watching the boats, I see a fitting metaphor for my life. It is easy for me to drift along with the current of life, content with where it takes me. I may not see the dangers or a sticker in my way until it is too late. If I don’t have anything secure to hold onto there is no telling where I may end up.
My relationship with Jesus is the anchor that keeps me secure. Without him I am tossed to and fro like a wave on the sea. He has promised never to leave or forsake me. I know that I will be safe and secure in his loving care.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19
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
While on vacation, the sign on a door near the elevator caught my attention. There were only two words on it – Trash Room. I’m sure that most people wouldn’t give this a second thought. My thoughts, however, seem to go in different directions from most!
I immediately thought of all the trash that I collect in my mind. There are things that I hold onto that would be much better thrown out with the trash. Negative thoughts, self doubts and hurt feelings don’t serve a useful purpose in my life. Regrets from the past are not helping me to move forward. Perhaps a trash room where I could dispose of them would be a good idea.
Upon thinking about this, I realized that I don’t need a whole room dedicated to trash removal. What I have is so much better. I can take my sorrows, regrets and sins and lay them at the feet of Jesus. When I do, he promises to remove them as far as the east is from the west. Not only are they taken away, they are also forgiven and then forgotten so I need never deal with them again.
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 NIV
In the changing area of most fitness facilities there are lockers. One locker is not better than another and yet I have my favourite. For over eight years now I have been using the same locker. One day last month I arrived to get ready for my class, only to see someone else putting her belongings in the locker I use. I froze, wondering what to do. There were lots of other lockers available that had the capability of holding my belongings. The fact that it was so difficult for me to choose another one came as quite a surprise.
This wasn’t a onetime occurrence. It seems this other person has laid claim to what I considered my locker. She often arrives earlier than I do so that has given me plenty of opportunity to be flexible when it comes to choosing another locker. I must admit though, that I will go back to my old one when I find it available.
Looking back on this, I see how it could relate to my life. I become so comfortable with “my stuff” and where it is stored that I don’t think about until I am forced to. Maybe what I am most uncomfortable with is change. Changes in my life are inevitable. Jesus is the one part of my life that is constant. He sees the secrets that are in my emotional locker and loves me anyway. It is only through his unchanging love for me that I can be truly set free.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 God’s Word Translation
We had just finished an enjoyable time with friends as we met for lunch after church. My husband was at the counter paying and I was standing slightly to the side. Realizing there were a few others in line to pay, I decided to move a little so I wouldn’t be in the way. Smiling, I said to one of my friends, “I think I’ll just get out of line here.” Hearing the words come out of my mouth I laughed and repeat them. Then I said “Normally when I get out of line it means I’m in trouble!”
I don’t think I get out of line often, but in reality it’s probably more frequent than I realize. The real question is: what does it mean to get out of line? When I don’t do what others think I should, does that mean I’m out of line? If I voice an opinion that doesn’t match with those around me, am I out of line? By being true to myself instead of following the crowd do others see me as out of line? My sense of humor can be a little off beat so maybe those who don’t know me well think I’m out of line. In my mind it is when my words or actions are hurtful that I truly step out of line. This is not something that I do intentionally. Sometimes I react without taking the time to think things through. I may not even realize that I’ve offended someone.
Others may misinterpret my words or actions but God never does. He sees into my heart and knows me better than I know myself. He knows my thoughts before I am aware of them and my words before they are spoken. When I am in relationship with him, I can’t get too far out of line.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:1-4 NIV
The morning sky was overcast as we set out for our walk. We had become accustomed to the brightness of the sunshine, but right now, it was nowhere to be seen. Looking up to the sky I could see a slight break in the clouds. It looked like the sun was fighting to break through.
This was a reminder for me that even though clouds may temporarily block my view of the sun, it is still there. At the moment it may be hidden by clouds but sooner or later it will be shining on me once again.
The Son of God, Jesus, is also known as the Light of the world. His light is always available to shine on me. Any obstacles blocking this light are of my own making. When I focus on him, and not the clouds blocking my vision, he will always break through to light my way.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 NIV
While I was helping out at a seminar I gave a marker to someone who needed to write on a flip chart. It worked for a few minutes and then faded out, so was quickly exchanged for another one. Since I don’t like to waste things, the first marker was tested again to see if it needed to be discarded. This testing was done on a piece of paper sitting on a table. Since it worked this time, we determined that the problem had been the angle at which it was held earlier.
Thinking about this, I wondered how often in life I have been ready to discard something when all I really needed to do was hold it at a different angle. Viewing things from another perspective can drastically change my perception. Sometimes I need to look at things from a different angle to realize that what I was looking for has been right there within my grasp all along. All I needed to do was to take the time to stop and see.
This also works in reverse. Things are not always as they seem at first glance. This is something I need to remember with people. The person who seemed abrupt may be someone who is experiencing a deep level of pain and is in need of some understanding.
What this tells me is that the way I see things is not always an accurate picture of the situation. What I need to do is to pray to the one who sees everything and ask Him for guidance. God will always show you the right angle to look at things from.
If you need wisdom ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. James 1:5 (NLT)
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. Psalm 86:11 (NLT)
I willing allowed 2 young women to bleach sections of my hair and then dye it purple! Why would a conservative person such as me do such a thing? The answer is simple, because I care about building a relationship with these young women. You see, they are my granddaughters and trusting them to do this spoke volumes about my feelings for them.
When first asked, my thoughts were conflicting. Part of me thought it would be fun. The other part argued that it might look ridiculous and someone like me just didn’t do this sort of thing. Deciding to be spontaneous, I went for it. Although it didn’t turn out exactly as I had imagined, I am enjoying the comments I receive!
When one person asked me about the colour in my hair, I jokingly said that our children may have made us grey but our grandchildren make us much more colourful. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized how true that was. In the business of life we tend to let the colourful, spontaneous part of ourselves fade away. By the time our grandchildren come along, we don’t have the same pressures so can relax and allow ourselves more time to have fun with them. This is when we rediscover the joy to be found by stopping to explore everything around us.
For someone who normally likes to ‘play it safe’ my impulse to try something different has been a big eye opener for me. Wanting to be sure that I make the right choice has often been paralyzing for me. Not long ago, when I was putting off a decision, I confessed to a friend that if I didn’t decide, then I couldn’t fail. As soon as I said it, I knew that was wrong. By not making a decision, I am failing. If things turn out in my favor, it was a good choice. If not, it’s a learning experience. In either case I am moving forward.
God did not give us a spirit of fear but of trust. I trust him to guide me. He can take any mistakes that I make and turn them into something he can use.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)
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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
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