Most mornings find me walking down a side street until I reach the entrance of a local park. The paved path gives me the option of traversing the perimeter of the park or taking one of the many branches that veer off at different spots along the way.
In winter conditions, I tend to stick to the same route. Even so, I encounter different challenges in various places. Within minutes one day I went from a clear dry path to a section where I had to pick my way carefully around icy patches, before a coming to some small snow drifts to wade through.
Not only does this keep the walk interesting, I know these kinds of changing conditions also apply to my walk of life. A brisk pace can quickly change to one where I have to watch my step. If I’m careful, I can get through it unscathed.
A few days ago, I had another challenge on my walk. A skimming of snow appeared to give me solid footing. I quickened my pace and was caught unaware by the ice beneath. My foot slipped and my arms instinctively rose to a ninety-degree angle with my body. I felt like a tightrope walker, attempting to maintain my balance. Somehow, I managed to stay upright.
My focus now was entirely on the next safe step to take. Although this sounds like a good thing, it did cause another issue. With my eyes downcast, I wasn’t fully aware of my surroundings. Before I realized it, I emerged at the side of a busy street. The diversion I normally took to my quiet route home had been passed by unawares.
Lately, these winter walks have shown me not only to watch my step but also to look up and appreciate what’s around me so I don’t miss something important.
I paused to lean on the weather worn railing of a small wooden bridge fording a stream. Slightly upstream was a beaver dam. The intricate structure of twigs and branches was fascinating.
I scanned the area, hoping for a glimpse of the industrious builder. Since beavers work at night, I had to be content with the stump nearby, bark stripped and teeth marks silently explaining the scattering of wood chips.
I marveled at the hard work that went into creating this structure. The reward would be protection against predators and easier access to food during the winter.
Unfortunately, these dams can also cause flooding and other problems. A few days later a sign close to the stream warned us not to leave established pathways as beaver control was currently underway. From what I understand, this consisted of trapping and relocating the beavers.
When I first saw the dam, my thought was to write about how hard work now can provide the food and shelter I will need when the cold, dark days of winter set in. This was going to be a metaphor for the tough times we all face at some point in our lives.
My mindset altered slightly when I learned of the need to control these industrious creatures.
Yes, it is good to ensure my loved ones are taken care of. It is also important to do so in such a way that I don’t cause problems for others. When I remain aware of conditions around me, I can work to build a secure home without endangering yours.
The high winds we had been experiencing were unusual. It’s often breezy where I live, but gusts up to 100 kilometres per hour were definitely out of the ordinary.
One day a north wind blew in cold arctic air. Another, a Chinook wind blew in mild temperatures. Either way, it caused problems and was the topic of many conversations. The roar as it buffeted the house was enough to make me wonder if we’d be blown away.
The wind warnings had finally subsided when I heard someone on the radio talking about an experience from his childhood. I’m not sure where he grew up but he told of wind so powerful that it picked up the trampoline from the backyard and sent it over the top of the house where it came crashing down in the front yard. Needless to say, the trampoline was totally destroyed. From then on, his dad always made sure everything was well anchored.
Although the picture of a trampoline being tossed over a house was vivid, the term well anchored was what stuck in my mind. The storms of life have a way of tossing me around and then causing serious damage when I come crashing down. To stay safe I need to be well anchored in the Lord. Prayer and reading the Bible are the lifelines that keep me firmly connected to God.
There is no need to doubt I will be protected because I fully believe in His promise to care for me.
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 1:6 NIV)
I was drawn to the lighthouses we saw on our travels. From the shores of the Great Lakes in Ontario to the coastline of the Maritime Provinces, every lighthouse was photo worthy.
There was something about these structures that captured my imagination. Most were operational but I also wanted to stop and admire ones that were purely for decoration.
The distinct tower shape, topped by a lantern area at the top is easily recognized as something to help ships navigate safely through treacherous waters.
The symbolism in this runs deep. To many, lighthouses are seen as showing us how to navigate through the rough waters of life. They speak of safety and security in the face of adversity and challenge.
Maybe that is why I was drawn to them. Even the well-weathered structures with peeling paint held an attraction.
They reminded me that, no matter my age, I have the ability to make a positive impact. A lighthouse doesn’t rush around, attempting to save people. It stands still and shines a beacon of light to illuminate the darkness. That is its great power.
Jesus is my personal lighthouse. He keeps me safe and secure no matter what storms challenge my life. I never have to walk in darkness when I can look to Him to guide me. His light fills me and equips me to reflect that to those around me. In that way, I can be a beacon that points people to Him.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)
On a recent trip through the mountains, we were slowed down several times for road construction. In one area we came to a complete stop.
Lines of vehicles snaked in both directions and no one was getting through. Up ahead and around a bend, huge clouds of dust billowed into the sky. This was no ordinary roadwork.
Once traffic resumed we were able to see the cause of the delay. Boulders scattered along one lane of the road were being loaded into massive dump trucks.
The area we were driving through is known for rockslides. Blasting had been done to remove loose rock and reduce hazards for motorists.
Our delay may have been an inconvenience to us, but it was caused in order to keep us safe. For that, I was grateful.
I thought of the times I’ve been racing along to reach a destination and have come to a sudden stop. My self-imposed timeline could no longer be met. Not able to see what was ahead, I was frustrated and wondered what had caused this road block.
Looking back, I’ve been able to see I’d been heading into a potentially harmful situation. The Lord stopped me in my tracks to keep me safe. While I was impatiently waiting to move forward, he was blasting away the danger ahead. I’m sure truckloads of problems have been taken away and dumped where I need never concern myself with them again.
The next time my plans come to an unexpected halt, I need to remember the rockslide prevention and stop to thank the Lord for keeping me from harm.
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. (Psalm 121:7-8 NLT)
“Look at all the new houses,” I said to my husband. “Our city is growing so quickly it’s pushing its boundaries to the limit.”
Our conversation quickly moved in a direction other than the rapid expansion of our city. In our lives, we push boundaries on a regular basis.
I need to constantly push the boundaries of my comfort zone. New experiences can be intimidating. The more I force myself to stretch and try new things, the less uncomfortable they become. This type of expanding my boundaries is healthy.
There are other types of boundary pushing that are not so good. They fall into what is referred to as a grey area. Little white lies would fit into this category. They may seem harmless but I am pushing the boundaries of my conscience. Before long the grey area becomes commonplace and I no longer have a problem with it.
Gradually I push even further and one day realize I’ve moved from harmless to unacceptable. My thoughts and actions have become mired as if in quicksand. How do I get to a safe, healthy place again?
When I call out to Jesus, he reaches his hand to rescue me. He pulls me from the muck and mire and gives me a firm place to stand. By keeping my eyes on him rather than the distractions of the world I will ensure my boundaries are safe.
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. (Psalm 40:2 NIV)
I have an opportunity that excites and terrifies me at the same time. It’s something I’ve been interested in for several years and keep saying, “Someday.” Recently an invitation was given for a specific date.
Talking brave is one thing; being brave is an entirely different matter. The time has come to make a decision. Either I go ahead or completely give up on this adventure. It’s like someone has called my bluff!
Conflicting thoughts compete for space in my mind. There is a possibility of harm. I’ve always erred on the side of caution. This has ensured safety but I wonder what the cost has been.
A song that I heard many years ago springs to mind. The words, “Everything in moderation, that’s the way it’s always been” are a good representation of my life. The lyrics go on to express a longing for more.
I wonder if I’ve played it safe for long enough. Maybe I need this adventure to take me farther out of my comfort zone than I’ve ever been.
Another song that comes to mind is Live Like You Were Dying. Currently I have my health. A physical examination with all the required tests was recently completed and no problems were found. At this point in time I have loved ones who are facing severe health issues. They are limited in activities I take for granted and wouldn’t be able to do what I’m considering even if they wanted to. I don’t want to look back with regret that I let fear rob me of an adventure I was capable of.
The other factor is money. There are far more practical uses for it. I remember a quote from Jim Rohn that says, “If you want something badly enough you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
The pros and cons have now been weighed. It seems I’ve made my decision.
I’ll tell you all about it in my September newsletter! Watch for it on September 12th.
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I love the times when something starts out as an ordinary experience and then turns into an extraordinary blessing.
My friend and I were enjoying time together in a local nature park. We explored the paths and took multiple pictures of the creek, small waterfalls and towering trees. Next I suggested we climb a small rock face to see what was on the other side. It wasn’t much of a climb and we were soon at the crest. A few steps later I noticed a large cleft in the rock.
According to the dictionary a cleft is a crack, crevice or split. The split is only partial, usually no more than to the mid-point.
A cleft such as the one I was looking at would be a safe, sheltering space with the rock around it providing protection. I was in awe as I studied the cleft and thought about the story in the Bible where God placed Moses in the cleft of a rock and covered him with his hand to protect him.
Gazing upon this crevice was an example of God’s love for me. He is always willing and able to shelter and protect me when I call out to him.
When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. (Exodus 33:22 NIV)
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7 NIV)
My husband and I were driving and the warmth of the sun shining through the windows soon lulled me to sleep. As we travelled down a rural road Brian purposely drove across the rumble strips to see if the noise and vibration would wake me.
Rumble strips are grooves or rows of indents in the pavement designed to alert distracted or drowsy drivers that they are leaving their lane.
There are center-line rumble strips which are used on undivided highways to reduce cross-over incidents that could result in head-on collisions. Another type are shoulder rumble strips which are used to reduce run-off-road collisions. On a long stretch of rural highway I have also encountered rumble strips across the traffic lane to alert me to the fact an intersection is coming up.
Brian and I talked about how useful rumble strips would be as we travel the road of life. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something to alert us when we are straying of-course? How about a warning for when we are approaching a potentially dangerous situation? I could use something that tells me when to be alert and proceed with caution.
Actually, I have all of this and more. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with me to teach me all things. When I feel my conscience warning me about something, I know that this is the Holy Spirit working to keep me from harm.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26 NIV)
Be alert. Be firm in the Christian faith. Be courageous and strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13 GWT)
I had heard of squalls before but generally thought of them as sudden winds coming up on the water. They were something boaters had to be wary of.
Our weather report called for a snowsquall. Since this was something I was unfamiliar with, I decided to do a little research.
According to Wikipedia, “A snowsquall is a sudden moderately heavy snow fall with blowing snow and strong gusty surface winds. It is often referred to as a whiteout and is similar to a blizzard but is localized in time in space and snow accumulations may or may not be significant.”
Essentially, what this told me is that we will be hit with sudden winds and blowing snow producing conditions that make it difficult, if not impossible to see what’s in front of us. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we have no idea if it will leave significant accumulations to clean up after.
When I examine this, I can see parallels to my life. There have been times I’ve had the emotional equivalent of a snowsquall. Suddenly I’ve been hit with unexpected gusts that make it difficult to focus on taking the next step forward. I have no idea what the fallout may be. Will I have a huge mess to clean up or will the storm temporarily throw me off-balance but leave me unscathed?
I have learned that the way I handle these squalls has a direct result in how well I come through them. Left to my own devices, I tend to panic. It’s easy to get turned around, confused and end up creating bigger fallout for myself.
When I walk with Jesus, the results are much different. He doesn’t keep me from the storms. Some of them are necessary for my personal growth. By calling out to him, I know that he will calm me and guide me safely through. I will come out not only intact but stronger due to what I’ve gone through. I don’t need to see the outcome, just Jesus by my side to have the reassurance that everything will be alright,
“Your strength will come by settling down in complete dependence on me – the very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.” Isaiah 30:15B The Message