I think life is like selecting your coffee amount in a single serve coffee machine. You can select 6 ounces and play it safe, or you can go for 8 or 12 ounces and fill your cup to the brim. If you fill it to overflowing, you might spill some. It’s the price you pay for a cup full of blessings. It might be a little messy. You may even burn your fingers and get hurt. But the alternative means living with less potential, and less blessing, all because of a fear of losing some. Definitely, fill it to the brim.
Alexa has taken over my house. She now controls my lights, my security cameras, my thermostat . . . she even controls my grocery list. And I love it. It’s just so bloomin’ convenient.
Some people would think I am crazy, giving Alexa (really Amazon) such complete information about the workings of my life. I do admit it concerns me a little bit sometimes. So, I ask Alexa, “Are you spying on me?” She always responds emphatically, “No.” Good enough for me.
The thing is, it doesn’t really take a whole lot of assurance of privacy for me. I don’t assume I have much of it anyway. Whether I am home, or at work, or at the store, or at church, on a wilderness trail, or simply sitting on the deck in my back yard, I try to live my life as if someone is watching all the time. Because, Someone is.
John 18:40 of the Bible (NET version) says “Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.” Remember Barabbas? When Jesus was arrested, Pilot gave the people a choice to release one man. Barabbas was the guy the people chose to release rather than Jesus. I think it’s bizarre that the people demanded a REAL revolutionary be released so they could hold Jesus for crucifixion, accusing him of being . . . a revolutionary.
The Jews accused Jesus of declaring himself king and thus trying to overthrow Rome. It was an excuse. A ploy they used to trap Pilot in a corner where he had no choice but to hand Jesus over for punishment. Amazingly, their very actions brought about his crucifixion and set in motion the miraculous events that birthed the biggest “revolution” of human history.
It never ceases to amaze me how blind and confused sin and evil can be. Sometimes it even encourages me. It makes me realize that evil does not require my efforts to defeat it. If I maintain my integrity and, with a good attitude, continue to do right, evil will in time often bring about its own destruction. Perhaps it is true that all evil needs to prevail is for good men to do nothing. But maybe the “something” that good men should do does not require us to strive against every evil we find in the world. That’s exhausting. Perhaps the “something” good people should do is to faithfully work at doing, and being, good ourselves. Then as God’s lite shines through us, darkness disappears.
Romans 1:20 says that creation teaches us about God, that we can learn about God’s nature simply by looking at his creation. With the reality of that truth sinking in my head, I am beginning to wonder what I could learn about God simply by taking a few minutes today to examine his creation?
What do the Spring flowers teach me? What can I learn about God from the peonies by the mailbox? Does a yellow dandelion in my yard say something about God’s character? When I smell the wonderful aroma of a Magnolia blossom, why is my brain filled with a sense of awe? And what about the spider lilies, whose leaves are dying? They will be hiding in the ground, unseen until the fall, when they will explode out of the ground to paint their fiery red display across our yard, proving that life has been there all along.
What can I say? If a few Spring flowers are my teacher, then I must know that God loves beauty, and color, and intricate, surprising shapes, smells, and textures. He wants us to see it too, for he scatters it everywhere. But he doesn’t leave it too long. He doesn’t want us to get used to it and start ignoring it. Even though it may be gone for a while, it comes back, and we appreciate it all over again. There are different flowers for different seasons. And even in the Winter, there are icicles, frost, and an endless variety of snowflakes. And by my driveway, even if they have to peek from under the snow, will be the buds on the camellia bush, a beautiful promise of the coming Spring.
Sometimes God allows bad things to happen so that he can get glory. We see this clearly in John chapter 9, among other places in the Bible. Am I the only one? Or are there other people who don’t like that idea? God might let me or someone I love suffer because it’s better for him? That sounds a bit selfish and egotistical to me. Until I realize something . . .
God doesn’t need glory and honor to himself. He doesn’t need us to tell him how great he is. He has no ego or inferiority complex that needs to be fed by our praise like some Hollywood movie star, strutting about for the camera. No, God is complete in himself. God needs to get glory and praise because that is what we need, not because that is what he needs. So, when bad things happen so that God can be glorified, even that is really for us. Because he loves us. Because he wants what is best for us. And what is best for us, is to see him in all his glory.
Jesus’ death on the cross is a perfect example of all of this. Jesus suffered tremendous pain so that God could be glorified, right could win, and we could see him as savior and Lord. The pain and the suffering pointed a blinding bright spot light on the love of God as the “star of the show.” In the grand finale, when he bursts from the grave, we stand and cheer or bow and worship at the amazing acts of God. And as we give our accolades to him, he says, “The show was for you. I did it all for you.”
Two dogs are more trouble than one. They fight, they vie for attention, they eat twice the food and make double the mess. You must take two walks or take one walk with both hands holding tight to two leashes, which promptly get tangled and twisted. It’s weird. I now have two big dogs and double the trouble, but if you asked me if I was willing to give one away, I would say no.
Attachment is a strange thing. We can get attached to dogs, to people, to places and things. We can get attached to habits and ideas and perhaps, even our miseries. We get comfortable. We get used to life a certain way and we fear any changes because we prefer what we know to the unknown. Maybe I won’t like that new house. What if the new job is even more miserable than the one I have? It’s the opposite of the “grass is always greener” syndrome. It’s the “what if the other grass is even more weedy” syndrome.
There are some people that are always looking for a change because they think it will make life better. There are other people that are always trying to keep things the same, because they are afraid the change might make things worse. I doubt that either extreme is good. I probably lean toward the latter rather than the former. The right attitude is probably somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, moving to the middle requires either more, or less change, depending on which side you are on. And for either of the extremes, that’s a difficult move.
Well, after three months, we have one puppy left, and it’s getting harder and harder to let him go. Just this morning, I already had to clean up poop and pee, and there is still a mess in the garage to deal with, but the puppy is still here. I haven’t killed him yet. In fact, I want to keep him around more today than I did when he was first born. I’ve been thinking about why that is.
Love is the key to all this. When dealing with all the hardship caused by puppies, the poop, pee, chewing, waking in the middle of the night, etc. there are really only two emotional responses that can happen. Either you decide to love them anyway, using that force which is always patient, always kind, always bears all things and never fails, or you can decide to move in the other direction. You can let resentment build, let frustration grow, embrace anger, set your jaw and determine to get rid of the troublesome vermin as soon as possible.
Option B is what causes little puppies to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere to starve. Option A, an even stronger force, has the unfortunate side affect of puppies sticking around longer than they should on occasion. Sometimes it even causes a lifetime of hardship. But it’s a lifetime of hardship that is chosen because of a decision to love. For me, I’d rather have the troubles of option A than the heart of option B any day.
So, the puppy is still here. And if it turns out that he is still here a year from now, don’t judge me too harshly just because I chose option A. I learned it from my Father who, from the beginning of time, chose option A for me.
So there’s this lady who painted herself all white, and wears all white clothes. She stands real still and pretends to be a statue. She’s a real person, pretending to be a facsimile of a real person. That’s her job. People give her money to pretend to be a fake person. Shucks, I gave her money.
It’s funny. Instead of art imitating life, it’s life imitating art imitating life. The curious part to me is why is it so fascinating to look at? I guess it’s because it’s hard to believe a real person could stand so still and look so fake. But why should that be interesting? There are plenty of people in this world who are going nowhere and constantly faking it . . . and most of them even get paid for it.
Our dog Joy had puppies this week-end. Now she has nine squirmy, noisy, pooping, peeing, totally self-absorbed little fur balls causing her enormous amounts of grief and uncomfort. Even so, she lays still for hours on end, bearing their constant grunts and squeals as thy crawl all over her, biting, sucking, and pulling in places they should, and shouldn’t.
I guess it is instinct that makes her tolerate their torture. Somehow she knows that only she can provide what they really need. Somehow she knows she must patiently watch over and deal with them as only a mother can. Somehow she manages to deny her own needs so that she can tend to theirs. For dogs, we call it instinct. When people do it, we call it love. But you know, the Bible says God is love. So, should we really be surprised to find it reflected all throughout his creation?
We recently returned from a trip to see Niagara Falls. It’s hard to find the right words to describe what it was like. Standing in front of the falls, hearing the constant thunder of the falling water, feeling the mist in my face, and seeing the massive roiling liquid sheet spilling over the edge into a foamy tumult… It was emotionally overpowering. Even now, just thinking about it, I want to bow down in worship, clap my hands, and shout the praise of the glorious God who created such a majestic wonder.
We planned to spend three days in the area of the falls. I thought it was too much time. After all, what else was there to do but look at the falls. So we figured out a bunch of activities to keep us busy and went about doing them – Journey Behind the Falls, Voyage to the Falls, Cave of the Winds and more. We filled up three days of fun with no problem and now that I am home, I think I would like to spend more time there.
I know one thing for sure: If I ever do get the chance to go back to Niagara Falls for another three days, I won’t need a bunch of activities to fill the time. I could spend the entire time just looking at the falls and worshipping the God who created such a wondrous thing.