The Frost of Heaven

freedigitalphotos,com
freedigitalphotos,com/”Beautiful Branch of an Apple Tree With White Blossums” by Serge Bertasius Photography

“Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?” (Job 38: 28-29 NASB)

In the final chapters of Job, the Lord gives the suffering servant somewhat of a dressing down. At least that’s how I interpret the exchange. Job reminds me of a sassy, rebellious school-age boy receiving a lecture by his father. The answer to all of God’s questions would have to be a basic no. No, I cannot do anything. You, dear Lord, are able to do it all.

In my part of the world, the change of seasons is unpredictable from year to year. All the data confirms spring comes after the last frost, which should occur by a late day in April. But, I’ve learned to hold back before planting. I wait and see. I may purchase my seeds and transplants and keep them in my little greenhouse till I know it is safe. I avoid rushing into my garden because I’ve been sorry in the past—frosted out of fertility.

The grip of blue sky atop a ripe plot of soil, accompanied by a delicious warm breeze, is intoxicating to the point of coercion. The yearn to plant can overwhelm even the most conscientious like a drug sneaked into iced tea. However, my education in planting with the seasons allows me some control in that I have my safe place, the greenhouse, to use as shelter. For fruit trees, I’m out of luck.

Commercial growers have elaborate coverings and spray systems to protect tender blossoms and buds from pending, expected frost. As a humble backyard hobby gardener, I possess no such resources. My poor little orchard has to stand and take it, unprotected and vulnerable to the loss of fertility. Each spring I watch and pray over the timing of the frost, knowing the outcome is entirely in Nature’s hands. The Lord is in control and I am not.

Those years I’ve awakened to the dismal reality of frost on the budding trees, I’ve learned to sigh and accept with humility and great disappointment there will be no pies that year. If the pattern repeats again the following year, I may moan and complain but there will still be no pies. Like Job, I have to submit and accept I was no where to be seen when the Creator of the universe laid the foundations of the earth.

The past few years for me have been afflicted with many untimely frosts. Just as projects have been ready to launch, next steps planned to be taken, and expectations of fruition of great effort, a brutal frost descended with vigor and nipped it all right in the bud. There will be no fruit from my efforts, no delicious aroma of baking pies of success, and no stock pile of baked goods stored for future enjoyment. Just as I’ve learned to do with my orchard, I must wait out another season of loss.

The frost of heaven may have been the manna to nourish and sustain the wanderers. For me, the frost from Heaven has been an opportunity to place myself on a diet from the world and learn that the Lord is my sustenance and His word is my nourishment.

Eventually the frost restrains its painful, untimely occurrence and the Lord will once again allow fruit. There will be pies once more. I remain in my safe house, the shelter of his Hands, as I watch and wait for another run of warm inviting days. Like Habakkuk, I realize that even if there are no buds on the vine and no cattle in the stalls I will rejoice in God, my Savior. He is Sovereign and my strength.

 

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Of Daffodils and Doughnuts Along the Red Sea

Like a leaf disappearing in a wind storm, days pass without significance. At one time special days rose with a new sun each year, causing a flurry of activity—a wind storm—of preparations, celebrations, and acknowledgements.

A birthday, a milestone, a remembrance, an anniversary… These occasions of cherished celebrations etched into the pillars of my life. Folks around me shared a deep appreciation of these particular days because they were integral to the celebration. The uncomfortable stillness after the storm passes produces a strange, still unfamiliar reading on my emotional barometer as I pass through a day without a mention of those no longer here.

When my mother died all her days blew away with her departure. The birthday our entire family once colluded to acknowledge has passed unnoticed. The marking of the years beyond completion of her education used to be commemorated by her colleagues and I looked forward to hearing the news obtained from her cronies. Many of those individuals have passed away as well and the leaves of their lives have settled off in a foggy, unknown but very real destination.

On my parent’s anniversary, especially in the late years of life, I made the cake, bought the flowers, sent cards and invitations, and listened to the re-telling of the old, old stories. How they were so young and poor they couldn’t afford a honeymoon thus visiting a local doughnut shop for coffee and a shared treat before returning to their jobs. How they worked for years refurbishing the house my father was born in. Or how many times they threatened to divorce each other but finished out sixty five years of marriage, a decreasing accomplishment in modern society.

When the Lord established the feasts of Israel, He instructed to continue celebrating through every successive generation. New Hebrew children must never forget the bricks and captivity, the grand deliverance before exodus, or the departure through a great sea as their ancestors crossed into a wilderness that led into their promised land.

My family’s stories can’t compare to Israel’sID-100135268 but I can learn from their tradition. To pause from the windstorms of life and remember important events, stilling the rushing tempests momentarily, provide focus, appreciation, and comfort to me.

On this wedding anniversary of my parent’s marriage sixty six years ago, I rest and honor the memories. Doughnuts are no longer on my menu so I’ll select a few emerging buds of daffodils and reflect.

Like the Hebrew children I celebrate, remember, and thank a great God who goes before me and leads to a promised land where His family will once again gather. The flowers sit on a windowsill seen by no one but me, yet testify to a very real and sure destination. I am reminded that my leaf will soon disappear but today enjoy the sun, the flowers, and the God who created all.

photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Flowers_g74-Daffodils_In_Spring_p135268.html

The Pull-Up That Went Down

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Romans 15:5
5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
King James Version
Public Domain

Other translations of this verse speak of endurance, encouragement, or perseverance in place of patience and consolation. All of these qualities are necessary to live the Christian life. At my CrossFit gym, I’ve learned they’re essential as well for the WOD.

The work-out of the day, or WOD, is revealed to the participants at the beginning of each session. I never have any knowledge about the level of challenge I’ll have to engage until I walk through the door of the facility. Very much like life, huh?

On that day when a toes-to-bar maneuver was listed in the WOD, I felt strong and assured. This activity helps train to perform a pull-up from an overhead bar. I practiced several before our time began and felt my completion would be probable. But, about halfway through the WOD my left wrist gave way and I found myself eight feet lower, flat on the mat. It happened so quickly. I felt stunned that I did not have time to brace myself from falling on my hip with the titanium joint. Yikes. I could hear my surgeon’s voice as I processed the damage.

The coach arrived in an instant, along with every athlete around my station, to assess the level of damage. I felt like a very old turtle on its back, surrounded by all the young faces. As the oldest athlete in the group and forty years older than my coach, I’m sure they all anticipated seeing me shattered like an antique vase. When I assured them I sustained no injury, they returned to their activities. The coach benched me till everyone finished.

The following weekend I reflected on the incident as I nursed a bruised behind. I thought about how we can fall so quickly even when we think we’re prepared and are up to the challenge. Our confidence can blind us to the ever-present possibility of slipping off the bar. We plan and God laughs.

I don’t credit my fall to the devil because it probably had more to do with the Carpal-Tunnel syndrome in my wrist. But the shock of the fall reminds me of how quickly life can change. The cause may be through the signature kill-steal-destroy tactics of the devil or it may be allowed by our Sovereign Lord. Change may happen just because…

When we fall, our Christian community is to rally around us, checking for damage and offering support just as my fellow athletes did. Sometimes they can help us up and ease the suffering until we find our bench. The Lord may allow us to sit there. And sit there. For a long while.

As I sat on the bench and watched everyone continue on, I sure wished to be out there with them. Yet, prudence prevailed and I hung there until our time completed. I feel very much benched in my life at this time, not from a fall or slip in my Christian walk, but because of life events. My Christian community continues on without me as I attend to life’s responsibilities from my bench.

It is the Lord, my Coach, who has benched me. I feel like it’s been a long fall from when I worked in my profession and actively engaged in the ministries of my church. Now, I have increased family responsibilities and strive to keep myself in the best shape physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As the family caretaker, my time is not my own. I’ve learned I must take care of myself or I will be ineffective in caring for others.

I would love to be back out there with my fellow workers. For now, I’ll work from my bench until He tells me it’s time to go back in. The pull-up that went down reminded me of the value of supportive people and the wisdom of sitting it out when you can’t go on. If you’re on the bench, wait it out till healing comes. And if you’re a faithful hard-working servant rushing by the bench, give encouragement and offer to lighten the load. The next seat on the bench may be yours.

Photo credit: Cartoon Businessman Exercise Set, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Unfettered

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…and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil.
Luke 8:29 KJV (Public Domain)

I’ve longed for this type of deliverance. The demoniac was cut loose and fancy free. Sort of. When his possession ceased, his hope for a brighter future must have blossomed.

Not demon possessed myself; there are still many burdens and obsessions that afflict my mind. Sometimes I can get so sick of myself I want to pack up and leave me behind.

Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes? Why do I allow myself to be beset by plaguing thoughts? Why do I focus on my worst characteristics and never rejoice in my gifts? Why can’t I trust completely? Why do I…? Anybody identify with this?

It happens every year. As soon as the warm breezes blow, I rush into my closet and fold up the down vest and heavy sweaters and switch to the cotton pastel tops and breezy skirts. Spring, I tell myself, is just around the corner. Then, it snows.

Each year during closet re-organization I am faced with the reality that I plainly have too much stuff. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I create my own prisons by burdening my life with too many possessions and commitments? Why?

I Googled how many clothes one person should own, hoping there would actually be a guideline. That’s how I found Debbie Roes from the Recovering Shopaholic (www.recoveringshopalic.com). I can’t testify to her spiritual condition because she blogs mainly about how to shop and organize your wardrobe. However, her theme of trading a full closet for a full life definitely could preach a spiritual message.

Not only does she offer helpful tips and insights on wardrobe management, her guests delve into concepts revealing underlying maladaptive behaviors and thinking. She advises to own clothing for a life actually lived versus a fantasy life that may never happen.

By facing reality, I can not only save myself a lot of money and time but I can take those saved funds and time and invest them in something meaningful. My latest mantra is not to fear failure but to fear success at something meaningless. (Tweet this! I have…)

Fetters rarely find their way into most of our lives. A few old hymns mention these chains that bind and modern prisons have replaced shackles with GPS embedded bracelets or anklets. But after some time of meditation on the idea of being shackled to non-productive actions and thoughts, I realized I am bound by wrong perceptions, ignorance, fears, and painful memories that keep me confined to my own personal dungeon. Cleaning out my closet proved to be tangible evidence of what anxiety, false impressions, and insecurities can do my otherwise all-together appearing life. As Debbie says, a full closet does not equate a full life.

It is easy for many of us to replace deep, intimate connections in life with the frivolous. Social media keeps us at keyboard’s length from real communication. The pressure to appear successful is intense for many women as they diligently work to be everything to everyone and end up with not much more than a trunk load of cast-offs bound for the local charity.

And the snow came. I adopted an eight-week-old puppy in the midst of this last breath of winter. Potty training became a hellish endeavor. One below-zero trip to Pottyland found me chasing my precious pup after she wrestled off her leash. In order to catch her, I had to free myself from the clunky clogs on my feet. Bare feet in icy snow at two a.m. can jolt amazing realities.

The free demoniac. Debbie’s version of the perfect wardrobe. The distant singing of Jesus Glorious Emancipator filled my mind as I struggled to replace the fetters/clogs that nearly cost me a puppy in the dark. Puppy in arms, I returned to the warmth of my home and realized in order to reach the prize of great worth, I must sometimes be quick to shed the things that bind.

Try it. Give Debbie’s site a read through and sift through those things you haven’t used in a very long time. Face the reality your body will never be like it was at eighteen. Analyze where your life is today and pray for wisdom to do the meaningful things the Lord has designed you to do for such a time as this. Identify your fetters and under the Lord’s watchful eye send them into the swine that deserve them.

 

Photo credit: Image by artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bling Somebody

ID-100227003And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.
(Acts 15: 31 NASB)

Death takes a bite out of the survivor’s spirit. In between the logistics of taking care of belongings, policies, paperwork, and memories, I’ve spent some time meditating on loss and grief. Mom’s hospice took care to distribute caring pamphlets for the bereaved but the one which I remember most is “Life after Loss” by Tim Jackson from RBC ministries. Almost anything associated with Discovery Series is a good resource and this little pamphlet was no exception. Mr. Jackson shared from his own losses of his parents and I easily identified with his emotions.

It’s a valley most of us will walk through. The silence without a loved one is at times deafening. But, the Lord has gifted me with His presence and grace to move forward. Mom is gone and I’ve got to get back to work!

Recently I had the joy of hearing from Donna Mynatt. Follow the link to her interview and book review of book one in my Cotton Springs series, Erased with Grace. (There’s a giveaway!) Find it at: www.donnasbookshelf.com. Donna and her daughter, Rachel Miller, are both authors and reviewers and belong to my AFCW group that meets in Middle Tennessee. Being around fellow writers inspires but fellowship with fellow Christians heals and soothes.

Blogging and writing have suffered in the past few weeks and Donna’s sweet words of encouragement have been like a balm to this weary traveler. My thoughts turned to good ol’ Barnabas, Paul’s companion during a missionary journey. During one Bible study I attended, the leader pointed out how initially the two were listed as Barnabas and Paul. Later, as Paul became bolder and stronger in his witness and presentation, the two became Paul and Barnabas. The presence of this son of encouragement prompted Paul to continue on without him and become a prolific author and church planter.

We all need a lift every now and then. More than an atta-girl, real encouragement works its healing through the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m convinced many times I’ve missed an opportunity to infuse a helping hand into someone’s dark day. I know I can’t solve someone else’s problems but I can help bear the burden by sticking just a little joy under their cart. The Holman Bible version says in Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken at the right time is like gold apples on a silver tray.” Is there someone close by who could use just a little bling at the right time today?

As you’re thinking of the person you will encourage, don’t miss a visit to Donna’s site and enjoy the scenery.(Read this.) She seems to be a positive, inspiring gal and I believe you’ll find an apple or two to snack on. Go ahead. Bling somebody!

 

Photo by mapichai. Published on 14 January 2014
Stock Photo – Image ID: 100227003, http://www.freedigitalphotos.com

BelieversPress Gets My Vote

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Philippians 1:6
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

King James Version (Public Domain KJV)

 

Opening the box of my proof to my new book, I exhaled a prayer of thanksgiving that I made it this far. I need reviewers! If you are interested in reviewing this title, contact me through the blog or my website: www.aynnecynar.com. I have a few paperback copies to send out and, if I can figure out how to send the e-file for Kindle, I’d loved to send out a few of those as well. My plan is to load both to Amazon in 2015. I’m editing book two now and hope to Nanowrite book three next month! There will be a fourth…

I solicited a slew of quotes for printing the advanced review/galley copies from several printers. I narrowed down to three and selected Believers Press as the winner. Meeting Andrew MacKay at the Writing for the Soul conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee greatly influenced me but in the end it is strictly business. I mean finances. Mr. MacKay is a budding author as well as a publishing contact. His affable nature allowed me to quiz him personally and get all the information a starving author needs. For an Indie author to have had access to a professional resource like Andrew was invaluable.

BookMasters in Ohio was fairly priced, but the minimal quantity is one hundred books. At five dollars a book plus shipping, I would be living among books stacked to my ceiling for (probably) infinity. This POD company comes highly recommended by Peter Bowerman (The Well-Fed Self-Publisher). If you are Indie, buy his book. BookMasters’ response was timely and professional.

BookBaby also seemed like a viable choice and has favorable reviews by Joel Friedlander, the go-to know-it-all for self pubs. They will print a short run,  under twenty five books, but the cost per book with shipping is about eleven to twelve dollars. Not too bad if you are in a pinch.

I also communicated with a local Nashville printer that also prints short runs. Pollack printing was the highest of the quotes but being able to pick it up on site had advantages for me. Besides, the contact person, Harvey Hearn, was professional and enjoyable to correspond with. I’m keeping them on file in case…

At Believers Press, www.BelieversPress.com, you will be linked to www.bookprintondemand.com to set up an account. Be careful. There is a similar web address for a POD printer in the Netherlands and you will know it immediately if you don’t speak Dutch.

I think SnowFall Press actually does the printing. The finished product is as professional looking as any other paperback book on my shelf from a number of big name publishers. I chose a cream paper, which I prefer, and hope it pleases my readers. The drum roll is for a two hundred eighty page finished book with a full color cover, shipped and printed, for just under five dollars. I ordered a single copy as a proof and was very pleased with the results. My little order of thirty books should arrive in less than a week and I will have enough money left over to buy dinner and feed the animals.

I chose to use a professional editor, typesetter, and cover designer. Lynnette Bonner at IndieCoverDesigns was a dream to work with. She is also an accomplished author and her advice along the way was outstanding. My editor, Betty Whitworth, belongs to the Kentucky Christian Writers. All mistakes are mine. Lynette and Betty gave me the confidence to complete my first book, Erased with Grace.

My goal is to reach women through entertaining inspirational fiction and introduce them to my Lord. My protagonist lives under the same trials most mature woman face and learns to trust the One who never fails. By keeping my financial investment low, I can afford to gift my book as the Lord leads and let Him do His work through the words He inspired me to write.

Indies: check out Believers Press! Readers, drop me a note if you wish to review. I hope you will be blessed to learn you are never invisible to God. Your relationships may change but can be erased with grace.

 

 

 

You’re All I Need

 

 

2 Corinthians 9:8 King James Version (KJV)
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work

By Public Domain

 

My first discipline in higher education was in fashion design. Unfortunately for my inner diva, I was an average student. My counselors wisely guided me into chemistry and biology, subjects in which I excelled and made a living with for the next forty years.

But, there remains one afternoon from my pre-teen years that is brilliantly recalled. The event is responsible for a life long fascination with style and fashion. I’m guilty. I love make-up.

On that fateful afternoon, I was mesmerized by a Yardley of London cosmetic representative who was doing makeovers in a local Detroit suburban department store. She was glorious. British to boot, she favored Twiggy with her mini bleach blond hair cut and “fab” sixties make-up. At nearly six-feet tall, I was unable to hide myself within the crowd that surrounded her. She made eye contact. I was picked for a re-do.

My thirteen-year-old face was as clean as a whistle so there was no ‘re’ to ‘do’.  I left there in a delirious cloud anxious to share my painted lower eyelashes with Mom who I was sure would appreciate my wonderful gift. Not so. She chased me around the house with a washcloth, which only reinforced my fervor to do it again.

When I dress each day, I search through my collection of products to complete the application of cherished face paint. I really don’t wear a lot of product but I like to have some if I choose to. Even when I get ready to go to the gym, I have a routine that works for sweat.

I grab one small zippered pouch with stuff I use only for the gym. Everything I need is in that small bag. When I return home I shower and repeat the process, assembling my paint from several bags containing a variety of colors and choices. (Color is another addiction. I express it in my quilting and I have the fabric to prove it.)

I looked at all the stuff I had strewn over my countertop and asked myself a question. Why is it I can get ready for the gym with one small bag and think I need all this other stuff to get ready for the rest of the day?  What was the chorus from that new praise song at church? You’re all I need? Christ is enough for me, we sang. I have to seriously evaluate that statement. I sing it but am I living it?

A thought occurred to me.  Like the overabundance of cosmetics I play with each day, there is so much in my life that is just color and extra. Duplicate and double. It may be fun and pretty but could I do the task with less? Is there some way I can arrange only what I need into one basic bag and serve God unencumbered and free? Will I have the wisdom to de-clutter my life and just focus on the absolute essentials?

Peter tells us in his second epistle that Christ has given all things that pertain to life and godliness. Christ embodies all that we need in this life. I make life more complicated by multiplying resources until I am buried with confusion and burden unable to sort out a clear path to what’s really important in life.

Maybe I should toss everything and pare down to one small bag. More importantly, I need to look to Him for all things and follow Him as He guides me into only those things giving us the knowledge of Him and calling us to glory and virtue.

Is there a lipstick shade called “Enough”? I’m in!

 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/By keakguru, published on 07 April 2014
Stock Photo – image ID: 100253882

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eunique Relationships

1 Corinthians 7:8-9 King James Version (KJV)
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

Recently I searched the internet for information on the male perspective of infertility. Since my ministry is with women, I have little exposure to hear from men when they find themselves infertile.

I found some interesting information about the Rabbinic perspective on infertility that gave me some insight to teach my lessons on the book of Daniel. Unlike my contemporary barren girlfriends, the barren ancient Jewish wife was perceived not only as the afflicted, diseased, deficient spouse but as a woman whose husband was not fulfilling his role as pro-creator.

According to Judith R. Baskin in the article “Infertile Wife in Rabbinic Judaism” (http://jwa.org/http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/infertile-wife-in-rabbinic),  childlessness was perceived as a “grave misfortune” for both spouses. However, a male’s failure to generate offspring “violated a legal obligation, since men alone were obligated to have children.” The article further explains how a couple could be together for ten years, and if no offspring resulted, they were permitted to divorce and try again. A woman could marry after a second failed union for a third time only if the new husband already had children.

Wow. This perspective is shocking; to think women were shown so much compassion in the ancient world. The matriarchs who suffered a closed womb were driven to deep, gut- wrenching prayer and Baskin explains the Lord yearned for their prayers and supplications. It’s amazing to meditate on the deep, serious responsibility Jewish men had for creating life as well.

This tremendous burden on Jewish men makes me see Daniel and his three friends in a new light. Their submission to the Babylonian king to become eunuchs and continue their blazing devotion to the one true God is breathtaking. Of course they understood their lives would be devoid of marriage and its benefits but they must have suffered deep anguish at not being able to fulfill their legal obligation to produce offspring.

Jeremiah also was forbidden to marry. Poor Jeremiah was asked to perform so many unusual tasks as he wept along carrying the same burden of being unable to fulfill his call to procreate. Even a brief, light study of his book exposes his loneliness in faithfulness and his obedience in isolation.

The Apostle Paul is debated to have had a wife, but it is clear at the height of his ministry he was alone. He ended his life alone, asking for books and a warm coat from a jail cell.

The women I minister with live in every form of marital relation. Widowed, betrayed or abandoned, single again, divorced, and never married women sit around my Sunday school class each week. We look to the scriptures each week for instruction and comfort to live our lives. We relish the stories of our ancient mothers who lived through betrayal and abuse, childlessness, poverty, and loss.

Thinking about the men who lived the single life in the bible as inspiration to find comfort, instruction, and guidance is unique for a group of gals. Yet, after looking at the sacrifice of these men I can see they are great examples of people who missed an intimate relationship and still served God mightily and boldly.

My ladies inspire each other with their faithfulness and boldness to serve the Lord. Women have been our main examples, but after this study I think I can offer a new insight about these unique “eunuchs” who sacrificed marriage and family to serve the Sovereign Lord. Of course, our Lord is the ultimate example as our High Priest who sympathizes with all of our weaknesses, male or female.

The bottom line is this: our call to serve the Lord is not dependent upon our satisfaction within marriage. Men and woman are called individually to be faithful first to Him. The outcome of our service can be great even if our state of motherhood or marriage is not.

My friend is pictured above on a recent medical mission to a severely impoverished African country. This friend has applied what we have learned in our Sunday school huddle about being a great servant under not-so-great circumstances. She has experienced the gamut of human pain and disappointment in life, yet she serves and loves greatly. Like Daniel, Jeremiah, and Paul, she has wept and been faithful. I include her photo as a testimony to the power of a great God who makes all things work together for the good of those who are called.

Know that my ladies will look at a bunch of single guys in a new light, as examples of sacrifice and strength to be obtained from a compassionate, loving God who loves to see our faces turned up in prayer.

God Moves in Mysterious Ways

Deuteronomy 26:8
And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:

Jeremiah 21:5
And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

William Cowper is reported to have suffered from deep intermittent depression. A brief look into his life reveals the common temptations of man: loss of love, failed efforts, and unreached goals. Yet he is credited as one of the most beloved poets of his age. It has been several hundreds of years since he penned his hymns and poems but they speak to me today in fresh whispers and wisdom.

Out of the great depths of disappointment, he was able to garner tremendous strength and understanding. For many of us, this is the path to knowledge. Our trials teach us so much more about life, the Lord, and ourselves than prosperity and success.

The Lord’s mighty arm to save is always above us not only for eternal salvation but for the daily ongoing help needed to make it through each day. The same God who demonstrated His power to the Israelites in their ancient trials stands by to intercede for those who call upon Him for help.

Sometimes I forget this. I think I have to drum up solutions and resources from my own feeble reservoir and feel I am somehow outside the camp of God’s mighty army. Fatigue and despair can lead us to feel distant and outside of God’s outstretched arms. Failure and confusion keeps us from watching the battle plan unfold, and as I huddle in a bush for a moment of respite, I am tempted to doze off hoping it will all go away.

But, it doesn’t. I need a reminder to focus on a mighty God during the intensity of battle. Cowper says: “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.” His hymn, God Moves in Mysterious Ways, penned in 1744, also encourages us to look behind a frowning providence to see His smiling face. The smoke of our troubles can hide the Lord who is reaching toward us for our deliverance.
My trials rage. Sometimes I think I can hear the blast of the cannon just before I am hit with another round of pain. I have to hold fast to the fact that He ever liveth to make intercession for me. I have to believe He is my advocate and will deliver. The hymn reminds me that “God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain.” I am alone in my confusion but only because I relinquish my standing as His cherished child.

In our day of great technology, the temptation exists to forget the majesty and strength of our great Creator. He walks on the oceans and rides along the storms. As fascinating as it is to be able to read an electronic submission from any where in our world, our abilty to call upon the One who created all is much more magnificent. And, He hears. Cowper encourages us with this:
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Enjoy this link and meditate on your position in the hands of a mighty God with strong out stretched arms:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtnapVDuPfg

 

Photo Credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot, published on 21 December 2010
Stock Image – image ID: 10024983

A New Neighborhood

And he answered them, “You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37 ASV).

The mass feeding is recorded in all four gospels. Each gospel writer records the need for food as well as the perceived impossibility of provision by the hands of the disciples. They believed the only solution would be an exodus of the crowd to a local restaurant.

Jesus said, “You feed them.” Incredulously they exclaimed: “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”(Mark 6:37 MSG) Eight months wages would be unattainable even if they pooled their resources.

I’ve fallen into this same pattern of thinking; I see solutions based on what someone else has done, or if all else fails, an action I’ve taken in the past. Solutions have to be based on what I can do.

But Jesus said to his disciples: stay put, watch me work, then get involved. How can I watch the Lord’s hand if I am rushing ahead? How can I see what He will do right where I am if I have decided to move on to another place? Often “somethings” end up as “nothings” because the power came from my own efforts and not from the Lord.

Isaiah 32: 17 tells us that “the work of righteousness will be peace and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever” (NASB). How often in my efforts do I discover the worry, anxiety, and fears explicitly dismissed in scripture? In the absence of peace, is it possible to be righteous?

Peace is a litmus test for believers. In the same passage,  the Message says we will live in a peaceful neighborhood with quiet lives and endless trust. What comes to your mind when you envision such a lifestyle? Does it come close to where you are living spiritually now?

It doesn’t mirror where I usually live. I long for a rock-steady unwavering faith able to withstand all of life’s trials. I am far from my goal and I need to be reminded that He is God and I am not.

Is your feeding station an unruly hungry crowd, a failing relationship, empty pockets, or a situation requiring solution beyond your grasp? The black hole you find yourself sailing through into uncertainty may be road to the peaceful neighborhood where you will fall into the Lord’s strong arms.

Each morning I have to decide to trust, watch Him work, and participate… because the hope of peace and endless trust waits.

 

(Photo credit: Residential House Stockhttp://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Residential_g296-Residential_House_p95636.html ImageBy samarttiw, published on 08 August 2012Stock Image – image ID: 10095636 )