Category Archives: Giving Thanks

Backside of Nowhere

reaching hand

Just as I stopped at the traffic light, the Cathedral Quartet sang the following words: “On the back side of a place called nowhere, forgotten by humanity…” How appropriate, I thought with a chuckle, because that’s pretty much how it feels to be stopped at a red light in this city.

As I waited and waited ……..and waited, for the light to turn green, I joyfully sang along with the guys. I’m just glad they were on tape and couldn’t hear me. Truth is, I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I do love to sing right along with any southern gospel music.

The words to the song were meaningful to me. “When they talked about potential, they did not refer to me…” Yes that was the story of my life before I accepted Jesus Christ as my Messiah. But everything changed “When He reached His hand to where I was….”

Can anyone relate? Have you, dear reader, despite your faith, ever felt that you were on the back side of nowhere, forgotten by humanity? I know you already know this, but today I just want to remind you that Jesus promised He would never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5).  He will reach his hands down to where you are, whether you are stuck at a red light – or stuck in one of life’s ruts.

That should make you want to sing with the Cathedrals and me, “So now you know the reason I lift my hands so willingly…..”

And we would all be in good company, for King David, when he was stuck in the wilderness, did just that, while singing the following Psalm:

Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands  thy name. (63:4)

A Lesson from the Dollar Store

solar flower

My dear friend, Barbara, often blesses me with some small gift just to let me know she is thinking of me. Some time ago, she gave me a small, solar-powered flower; this little gal waves her two arm-like leaves, as though she were praising the Lord, every time the sun is shining brightly.

Yesterday, we were both waiving our arms. After all, life has been pretty good lately; my family has  a great deal to be thankful for. As I was meditating on God’s goodness and His faithfulness, the following song lyrics came to mind:

I’ve been on the mountain when the sun was shining bright, and I’ve been in the valley when the clouds were black as night…

In that moment, I heard that still small voice (see I Kings 19:11-13) gently convicting, “What about the dark times, do you praise me then?” To which I had to confess that lately I hadn’t –at least not as much, or as often, as I should.

I find it so easy to lift my hands, and heart, in praise when life is good, and all is well. To praise Him in the darkest hours is never quite as easy. But we can learn a lesson from King David. Though he was often distraught over many issues, and struggled with them, he always came back to praise. Unlike that little Dollar Store flower that only lifts its arms when the sun is shining brightly, David proclaimed:

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:1-4

Then I recalled another part of the aforementioned song and remembered how many times these very words were true in my own life:

You know I’ve heard the battle raging, then I prayed till victory came. There have been times I really thought, Lord, you don’t even know my name. But I’ve been blessed and I’ve been down to where I didn’t know what to do, But in the times of joy or sorrow, Lord, I’ve learned to lean on you…..When I don’t know what to do, I have the faith you’re gonna see me through, to supply my every need; I lean on you!

What about you dear reader, are you currently walking through a dark valley? Your Heavenly Father, is right there beside you, waiting for you to lean on Him and find rest from all your burdens. Moreover, while you are waiting for the sun to shine brightly again, why not raise your hands and praise Him, with full assurance that He is going to see you through!

Wilted and Exhausted?

hot

Today, it is hot enough outside to melt a lizard! Even so, my husband had to work outside in this scorching heat all day, while I finished up the week’s errands, driving place to place in a van with a malfunctioning air conditioner. By the time we came home, we were both wilted and exhausted from the sweltering attack on our bodies.

Thankfully, the air conditioning does work in our home. This is one of the blessings that I try not to take for granted and thank God for often. Do we NEED the air conditioning? No, but it sure is a comfort during seasons of great heat.

Speaking of seasons, I am often amused at how fickle we humans can be. Once we are hit with the sultry days of summer, we wish for winter. Then, when winter days become a little too frigid, we long for summer. And so it goes for many areas of our lives: When we are young we wish to be older; when we are old, we long for youth. When we have little, we wish for much; when we have much, we long for simplicity, and etc.

The apostle Paul was surely no different than you and I in the beginning of his life. Towards the end, however, having matured spiritually, he began to see things from a whole new perspective, knowing that this life –with all its intricacies- is only temporal. Thus, through time and experience, he

“…learned to be content whatever the circumstances. [saying] I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11-13

Dear reader, no matter which of life’s challenges has caused you to feel wilted and exhausted;  I pray that you find comfort in Paul’s words. We truly can learn to be content in all circumstances, knowing with full confidence that the Lord Jesus will help us and give us the strength to make it through. He is a always our greatest comfort during seasons of great heat.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  –John 14:18

“Do Not Touch!”

boundaries

My most favorite moment of the day is the one in which my husband returns home from work –or anywhere, for that matter. Although, yesterday was one of those rare occasions when, instead of being greeted with a hug and kiss, my beloved greeted me with the words, “Don’t touch me!” And I am certainly glad he did!

Allow me to explain. In his line of work, my husband is occasionally exposed to the one thing that I am deathly allergic to, and he is not willing to risk my well-being, should any of the nasty stuff be lingering on him or his clothes. Of course, he enjoys my hugs as well, but he loves me way too much to allow a simple moment of pleasure to put me in harm’s way.

When my beloved says, “Don’t touch me!” I am always thankful; not only for the caution he has given, but also for the additional steps he takes to keep me safe. After his warning, he immediately showers and washes the clothing he was wearing so I do not have to touch them. Afterwards, when I finally get my hug, I feel all the more loved.

And that makes me think about our loving Heavenly Father. He too has established some boundaries for mankind, which are all designed to keep us safe from harm. And He loves us enough that He takes care of even the minutest details as we trust Him, and obey Him.

What about you dear reader, have you ever been frustrated by any of those ‘Thou Shall Not’ instructions in the Bible? If so, I would like you to encourage you that any time our precious LORD says no, He is not doing so to hinder us –quite the opposite in fact; they are simply boundaries meant to keep us safe and enjoy a more abundant, healthy and happy life, as it is written:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Having said that, the next time that you hear that soft voice of conviction warn you, “Do Not Touch,” even for something as simple as a book, or a television show, I hope you will walk away, rejoicing in the overwhelming love of your Heavenly Father -a love that cares too much to allow you to put yourself in harm’s way.

Paradise Dreaming

hammock

Here it is, the end of January, and I have fresh-washed laundry hanging outside to dry. While the clothes dance in a warmish breeze, I daydream of lounging with my beloved on a Hawaiian island; our hammock swaying lazily in the tropical sun. Oh, how I long to hear my husband speak the same words to me that Jesus spoke to the repentant thief on the cross: “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” speaking of some exotic hideaway, of course.

Even if we could manage such a vacation, however, we wouldn’t really be interested in any of the popular tourist packages; both of us have always been the type to wander off the beaten path and enjoy the solitude and raw beauty of nature. Sometimes, getting to those places takes a little work, but it is always worth it!

Speaking of the road less travelled, I am thankful that the LORD is walking with me on my life’s journey. You will recall His instruction to enter through the narrow gate…. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to [eternal] life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13,14). Had it not been for the LORD’s infinite mercy, I would never have found the narrow road, let alone been able to navigate it.

As you probbly know, dear reader, traversing the narrow path is not always easy. In fact, the path often seems insurmountable with its many obstacles and dangers. But praise be to the LORD, He has promised: To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God Revelation 2:7).

This is the paradise I dream about most. How about you, have you been dreaming of Paradise? Perhaps you will be able, in the near future,  to slip off for a relaxing getaway at some tropical island, perhaps not. But know this for certain, there awaits a reward for those who follow Jesus; and it is far more splendid than any exotic paradise this world has to offer. I leave you now to dream about this for a few moments:

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (I Corinthians 2:9).

The Arbitrary Song of the Wind Chime

photo: windandweather.com

Although quite windy, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. I had several errands to run that day, but they would just have to wait a little longer. Nothing seemed as important, at that moment, than stopping to enjoy the arbitrary song of the wind chime.

The tune varied from gust to gust, but each was distinctly beautiful. I couldn’t help but think: Sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.¹ My heart swelled with joy as I breathed-in the fresh spring air and watched the trees dance to the song of the wind chime.

Then another pearl from God’s word came to mind: For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.²

It is true; we are living in very disturbing times. However, Scripture says: let all those that put their trust in thee [O LORD] rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. ³

I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to sing for joy. My voice may not beautiful, and sometimes my songs are nothing more than spontaneous words of praise, but that which is not perfect can be beautiful too, like the arbitrary song of a wind chime.

¹Psalm 96:1
²Isaiah 55:12
³Psalm 5:11,12

Count It All Joy

I thank you for the bitter things
They’ve been a friend to grace,
They’ve driven me from the paths
    of ease
To storm the secret place
                 ~Florence White Willett

You’ve heard it said ‘You can’t have a test-imony without a test.’  Scripture has much to say on suffering and persecution; it is inevitable for the believer.  In fact, Paul  stated that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 17:11).

Nevertheless, scripture instructs us In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (I Thessalonians 5:18).  Let’s be honest, how many of us instinctively thank the Lord when we get knocked off our feet by some unexpected life storm?

There is so much I could say to you, dear reader, about the trials you are enduring right now, but I would much rather let scripture speak to your heart.

But now thus says the LORD that created you… and he that formed you … Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.  For  I am the LORD your God.    (Isaiah  43:1-3)        

Our God  is the same yesterday, today and forever my friend  –He will never leave you nor forsake you! (Hebrews 13:5).  I don’t know what you are going through, but God does.  May you find blessed assurance, as did Ms. Willett, that in every bitter thing we can taste the sweetness of God’s grace.