Sep 162014

Yesterday afternoon, as I drove west on the interstate, the setting sun glared in my eyes.  There were a few clouds just below on the horizon, but the sun was still too high for them to provide any protection for my tired, squinting eyes.  It was hard to focus on the road.

I thought about how we sometimes use the expression  “clouds on the horizon” to mean trouble ahead, and wondered if maybe we were being a bit too harsh to the clouds.  A few minutes later, the sun dropped a little lower and the clouds did their work.  Instead of tired eyes squinting into a harsh, bright sun, my eyes were now feasting on the beauty of a glorious sunset.  The clouds diffused the overpowering sun and erupted in a colorful chorus of praise to the Creator.  I praised Him too.  A few clouds made the view of my westward journey an intimate treasure.

I woke this morning thinking about what I might learn from the clouds.  The simple lesson came through.  And so I pray this morning, that God will send just enough clouds in my life to keep me focused on the road.  And that He will use those clouds to make my life a thing of beauty, for His glory.

Oct 272011

Fire ants are a part of life in Georgia.  If you have never experienced them, then all you are missing is a dirt mound full of the meanest, biten’est, hurten’est, most aggressive little insects that ever lived!  And unfortunately, they are all over Georgia.  You find them just about anywhere there is dirt.  They build huge mounds for their nest, which they defend ferociously, as anybody who has ever stepped on one can confirm.

A fire ant hill in our yard

Sam and I were walking down the sidewalk this past Sunday and just as we got to the end, spotted a fire ant hill.  “Can I step on it?” Sam asked.  “Sure.”  I said.  It was not my usual response.  I usually prefer not to stir them up.  Keeping them all happy and content in the mound makes it much easier to poison them all later.  But these ants at the end of the trail were in “no man’s land,” so we both stirred them up and watched them come pouring out of the mound looking for something to attack.

As we walked away from the havoc we had created, I wondered why it was so fun to stir up an ant nest.  Step on them.  Kick the nest.  Poke a stick in the mound.  Watch them pour out to defend the nest.  Why stir up trouble?  Was it malice?  Was it revenge for all the past ant bites?  Did it stem from a twisted desire to make life more difficult for another living creature?  Or perhaps it was a desire to show myself superior to the poor little ants?  It could be some of all of these reasons, but I think for me, it’s mostly just curiosity.  One of the first questions that pops in my mind when I see the ant mound is, “Is anybody home?”  Give the mound a little kick; see the inhabitants come swarming out.  “Yep.  They’re in there.”

If you think about it, the whole ant mound incident is a little like the story of Job.  Job was all happy in his big wealthy ant hill when along comes Satan asking God if he can kick the mound.  God gives him the OK, so he kicks it.  Stirs it up.  Pokes a big stick right in the middle of Job’s mound of comfort zone.  Now Satan and God stand back to watch what comes pouring out.

Satan expects a swarm of resentment and hate to spill out all over everything.  “Curse God and die” is the stinging bite he assumes to elicit. What he gets instead is “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  Not at all what Satan expected to be in the Job mound.  But God wasn’t surprised.  He knew exactly what lived inside the center of that Job mound, and precisely what would happen when Satan stirred it.

God knows what’s in every mound.  Satan, on the other hand, does not.  And unfortunately, he is still in the business of stirring up trouble wherever he can.  We build our little “me” mounds and ready ourselves to defend them ferociously.  Satan comes along and kicks the dirt around so he can watch what happens.  He wants to know what’s inside.  The real question is, if Satan comes messing with the “me” mound, what comes pouring out?  Stinging, biting hurt?  Or the Holy Spirit of God?  When he kicks the nest, checking to see if anybody is home, what will he find?  Will he cackle with delight at the chaos his hardship caused?  Or will God smile while a defeated Satan backs away mumbling,  “Yep, HE’s in there.”


And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, “thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.   “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
    – Mark 7:20-23

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.   Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.   For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
       – Romans 8:11-14