How to attain the good things in life? Keep focused and stay pointed in the right direction.
The Bible is full of examples where God saved people from evil intensions, rescued people, conquered armies, etc. My problem is that I often don’t recognize my personal battles as modern day versions of the same thing The book of Psalms is full of scriptures about how the Lord will vindicate, rescue, deliver, help to conquer . . . but do I realize that applies to me? He can rescue me from the evil person who is battling me on the job, at the office, in the market place and community, just like he rescued David from the evil people that wanted to take his life.
This doesn’t mean that bad things will never happen to me in life. But I do think that the principles of victory in the Bible apply to me just like they did for David or Samson or Paul. My adversary may be called George instead of Goliath but my God is the same yesterday today and forever.
I stopped by the Dunkin Donuts on the way to work this morning and bought a dozen donuts. I left with 12 of my favorites, but no blueberry donuts. I like blueberry donuts. But Dunkin doesn’t make one. They make something called a blueberry donut, but if you look at the ingredients, you may notice one ingredient conspicuously missing. You guessed it. No blueberries. In my opinion, you can’t make a blueberry donut without blueberries.
I guess Dunkin makes a donut with some blue food colored specs and a bit of artificial flavoring and they call it a blueberry donut. They can call it whatever they want. It’s not a blueberry donut. Maybe this bugs me because it seems like false advertising. It feels untruthful, and a little arogant. As if you can make something true just by declaring it so. It reminds me of one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
There is an amazing truth in that statement. A realization that it doesn’t matter what you call a thing or what you may pretend it is or isn’t. The truth of what it really is still remains. It’s true of donuts, roses, and people.
It seems like it’s been raining in Atlanta for a month. Truthfully, it’s only been about a week of rainy days. But when sky’s are grey and the rain won’t stop, sunshine seems like afar away memory.
A week of daily downpours has our yard a muddy mess. The ground can’t soak up any more water. The grass is being washed away and we almost have a swamp in our back yard. We’ve had a lot of rain. But what we haven’t had, is a wet basement. I am very thankful for the dry basement.
In times past, this much rain would have surely caused a small lake to form in my den. This year, at least so far, we have avoided it. For sure God’s grace and mercy is involved, but I think He has also helped me avoid it by other means. Namely, hardship, experience, and preparation.
The hardship of drying out a basement multiple times over the years has taught me several things. The first is that drying out a basement is a real pain in the butt, so I don’t want to do it if I don’t have to. The second is that I have to be diligent about preparation. I can’t procrastinate. If the gutters are full of leaves and overflowing, and if downspouts and landscaping don’t send the water away from the house, I’m in trouble.
This year, I’ve been on the roof cleaning gutters several times, even once or twice in the rain. It beats dealing with a flooded basement any day. But it’s really hard to make myself do it sometimes. Especially if there is no rain in the forecast. Here’s a word of advice: Sooner or later, there is always rain in the forecast. Do yourself a favor. Fix the gutters while the sun is shining.
This morning I woke up with a different perspective on life. I have often heard people say that life is a gift. But this morning, for the first time, it really seemed that way. God has created us as eternal beings, then he gave us this existence on earth as a temporary gift to see what we will do with it. It’s a little bit like we just got married, and God gave us a trip to Fiji as a wedding present. Someday He will ask us “How was the trip?” and we will all answer to Him. Perhaps when we meet others in Heaven, our story of how we used the gift of this earthly existence will be the conversation starter… just before we move on to the real discussion of the wonder of all that God has in store for us.
Sometimes on pretty days I like to take my lunch and go to the park. Yesterday was such a day. I sat in my car with the windows down, munching on lunch and enjoying the view out the front windshield. My peaceful gaze at nature was suddenly interrupted by an intruding wasp that flew in the open driver’ side window, then insisted on trying to escape out the front windshield. In the past, such an intrusion by a potentially painful perpetrator would have caused panick and urgent desire to escape from the vehicle. Now that I am more “experienced,” I tried to remain calm and figure a plan of action.
My first reaction was to look around for something to swat it with. Then I thought that might just make it mad, so I looked for somehting to smoosh it with. But I needed sometthing thick enough that the stinger couldn’t exact dying revenge for the doomed wasp. As the wasp kept bumping his head against the windshield, trying what it perceived was the most obviousd route of escape, I spied a small blanket within reach in the back seat. I could smoosh it dead with that but. . .
Then a thought occured to me. I got out of the car, and threw the blanket over the outside of the windshield, blocking the view for the wasp. He promptly flew out the side window. I snatched the blanket off the windshield and got back in the car with a grin on my face. I had outsmarted a wasp, and saved him from destruction in the process.
Now I have no special love for wasps. Best I can tell, they have caused me more pain in life than blessing. But I confess that I don’t know all the waspy ways of God’s creation. What I do know is that in this specific instance, I felt some small tinge of joy in the act of setting a wasp rightly on his way. And if I can do that for a simple minded wasp, perhaps I should trust that God can do that for me.
There are times in my life when, just like that wasp, I am doing my best to go in what appears to be the right direction but I keep bumping my head against an invisible wall. As the difficulties mount, I redouble my efforts and keep trying to do what is right, even while wondering, is this really the right direction? Is the devil trying to discourage me? Or does God want me to go another way? Only recently am I starting to rest in the truth that God really is in control and He loves me too much to let a humble submissive heart go in the wrong direction. He is way smarter than me. And if I can figure out how to redirect a poor little wasp who is desperately trying to go the right direction, surely the God of all creation, knowing my heart, can and will get me redirected and moving in the way I should go.
They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this, so they passed through Mysia and went down to Troas.
Acts 16:6-8 NET
There is a saying about how the early bird catches the worm. But if that is true, what does the early worm catch? His last meal before the early bird shows up? I was thinking about this today while driving in to work after a cold night. Winter decided to show its frosty head one more time this year. And it caught some “early birds” by surprise.
It’s been a pretty mild winter in Georgia. By the end of February we were getting warm days and comfortable nights. Spring seemed to be coming early. Some of the trees were getting a head start. Flowering pear trees, red buds, wisteria and azalias were popping out their beautiful flowers, beconing the sun and pollinators to give them full attention. They were the “early birds” of the plant world, and this year, they were thoroughly trounced by old man Winter. Last night’s 25 degree frost shrivaled leaves and flowers like a styrofoam cup in a camp fire.
All this demonstrates one thing to me. Being the early bird is not always a good thing. While there can be benifit in being the early bird, there is also risk. We may think we will get ahead by being the first, but it’s not always the case. Sometimes, we wind up being the worm.
I was reading some news headlines the other day and saw a clip from the Washington Post. It said:
“For the first time, scientists have grown an embryo that is part-pig, part-human. The experiment, described Thursday in the journal Cell, involves injecting human stem cells into the embryo of a pig, then implanting the embryo in the uterus of a sow …”
Is it just me, or does that sound ominous to anybody else?
I have been thinking about worship lately. If you lump it all together and define it as love / devotion / adoration, then it just might be the only thing we can give to God that he cannot take or get without us. Everything else is under God’s sovereign control. He owns everything. He even ultimately owns me. He can take my life whenever he pleases. But one thing he can not take is my worship of him. Because he gave us free will, my love, devotion, and adoration are the only real thing I can bring to the relationship. Everything else, he can get himself.
All of this reminds me a little bit of the new puppy we have at home. Gracie is a 12 week old German Shepherd and she has firmly established a relationship with our family. She depends on us to provide for her needs. She causes trouble, pees on the floor, doesn’t buy her own food, chews things she shouldn’t, tracks mud on the floor. . . She really doesn’t bring much at all to the relationship except trouble . . . and love, devotion, and adoration.
When I come home from work, she greets me at the door like I am some long lost friend. She jumps, licks, nips, whines, and generally makes a big scene until I reach down and give her some love. When we are home together, she is happy. When we are apart, she is sad. When I praise her, she wags her tail. When I rebuke her sternly, she grovels, licking my hand and begging for forgiveness, which I can’t help but willingly give.
I won’t say she worships me, but it does remind me a whole lot of what worship might be. So, I decided to look up worship in the Bible. I was reminded of the scripture where Jesus said we must worship God in spirit and in truth. I read the scripture then looked up the definition of the Greek word for worship that was used there. Wouldn’t you know, it’s probably derived from another word which means “. . . to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand.”
So, maybe there is a little bit of a picture of worship in a puppy’s relationship to his master. If so, then I suppose I’m the puppy and God is the master. But that’s OK with me, because I know how much this master loves his puppy.
Dear Father, help us to love completely, give freely, and rejoice abundantly.