Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jack-O'-Lantern {A Poem}

When adversity carves you open,
Empties out the flesh and fruitfulness
Of life before the knife;
Gouges gaping, jagged wounds
Too severe to scar--

That emptiness carves room for grace
And otherworldly light
To shine salvation into the wounds
Of this dark, frightful night world.

Life beyond the knife
Is not extinguished
But aflame
With glory.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7, NIV1984

Monday, October 29, 2012

Revisiting "Revisiting Delight"

Today the bonnie wee lass next door was leaving for school as Ebony and I returned from our walk. Not wanting to interrupt her departure routine, as she was already being buckled into her seat, we crept past unnoticed, or so we thought.

"Kissteena! Kissteena!" I heard over my shoulder, and there she was running down her driveway to give us a hug. Last week was not my favorite week ever, so that was a welcome Monday morning surprise.

(In case you were wondering, she will be dressed as a Disney princess Wednesday evening and ought to be flying her magic carpet to our house for candy as she makes her rounds.)

Her vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds since the following post from a year and a half ago, but the sentiment still holds true. Even if it didn't, she's studying martial arts now, so it behooves me to stay on her good side.

One evening last week, Allen and I returned from a brief outing at the same time as our neighbor returned from work. We exchanged greetings and let him know we'd referred a family member to his business. Then he asked if we wanted to see his toddler, "Olivia," who was in the truck, too. Of course, we did.

We stepped across to their driveway while he lifted her out and set her down. As she found her balance, he said, "Livvy, do you want to say hi to Allen and Christina?"

She sized us up and then focused on me, down on one knee, and began trotting toward us. Given the slope of the driveway, she picked up speed along the way until finally throwing herself into my arms.

"What a good hug, Livvy. Did you have a good day at school today?"


"Actually, she went to her grandma's today," her dad amended.

I relaxed my arms, but she was still holding fast, so I relaxed into the moment instead, stroking her back and memorizing the vaguely fruity scent of her tousled curls. What's that feeling tugging at the corners of my mouth? Oh, yes, I remember. It's delight.

"What did you do at grandma's? Did you dance? I know what a good dancer you are."


"What else...did you take a nap for grandma?"

"Nap," she nodded.

"Did outside? Kind of hot for that, though."

"Pay outside."

"Are you really answering my questions, or are you parroting everything I say?"

"Pehting ehveeting you say." (Somebody give that girl a rim shot.)

She kept hugging my neck a few minutes longer, then sat on the drive and on my lap while her dad talked with us about the city's basketball celebration. After high fives all around, she decided to swing, and her dad decided it was time to go inside where her mother was waiting. The spell was broken.

This small person gave me the gift of a few minutes of concentrated, spontaneous affection, and with it came joy. I had no candy or presents to offer her; she was not, as far as I know, trying to escape an unpleasant chore; she wasn't even sad and seeking comfort. She simply wanted to give and receive love.

How did I respond? I didn't push her away, saying, "Livvy, this is not the time. Can't you see those weeds around the live oak? Get to work." Her affection pleased me to receive as much as it pleased her, evidently, to give.

In my mind's ear afterward, I heard the word of the Lord saying, "If you, then, being evil... how much more your Father in heaven...?"

Can it be that my heavenly Father, just like my earthly one, doesn't care as much about my lists of duties and reading and prayer requests and getting stuff done as I do? as He does my spending time with Him, in His Word, prayer, and worship, without an agenda, but just for the pleasure of each other's company? Can it be that the God of the universe even takes pleasure in my company? Can it be that the commands to learn and keep His Word and to pray are not only good for me in an eat-your-vegetables kind of way but as a means of being close to each other?

Apparently so:
The LORD your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will bring [you] quietness with His love.
He will delight in you with shouts of joy (Zeph. 3:17, HCSB).
He brought me out to a wide-open place; He rescued me because He delighted in me (Ps. 18:19, HCSB).
You will be a glorious crown in the LORD's hand,and a royal diadem in the palm of your God.You will no longer be called Deserted,and your land will not be called Desolate;instead,you will be called My Delight is in Her,and your land Married;for the LORD delights in you,and your land will be married (Isaiah 62:3-5, HCSB).
Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23, HCSB). 
If you are a child of God through Christ, beloved, your Father delights in you; He delights in me. Let me say that again, in case you missed it the first time:

Your Father delights in you.

This week I personally need to revisit the practice of delight and celebration and reorient my practice of spiritual disciplines (which are primary means of experiencing His love and delight) around the starting principle that He loves me and wants me more than my agenda, even if it's an agenda I thought I'd received from Him.

May the Lord grant us grace this week to rest, even if only for minutes stolen from pressing responsibilities, in His loving embrace. May His delight in us strengthen and sustain all our obedience by adorning it with joy.

Reviewing the last week, I'm giving thanks to our Father for
His trustworthiness no matter what ~ a lovely lunch fellowship to conclude the fall Bible study time ~
sharing a friend's sorrows ~ disappointing news that the pink spot on my scalp is basal cell carcinoma ~
caring for sick husband ~ Ebony's sleepy smell (like Frito's) ~ helping Eb with his new puzzle toy ~
beautiful sunset on rare evening walk ~ burger place that delivers ~
perfectly timed prayer words in a blog postCraftLit starting Jane Eyre ~
learning to praise and thank even when that doesn't yield peaceful feelings ~
kind, funny medical staff at dermatological surgery clinic ~ a week with no away-from-home appointments ~
getting back on track learning new Scripture by heart, Eph. 2:1-2 this week
(Joy Dare, # 7790-7804)

We're praying for y'all who are in Hurricane Sandy's path. May God protect you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Concert of Prayer

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
Psalm 150:6

Shutting the door on the distracting, the unfinished,
I take my prayers outdoors.
The liturgy has begun without me
Yet bids me enter in.

A mockingbird carols its medleyed melody of borrowed psalms.
Fritillaries and queens glide and flutter, drinking deeply the goodness of the Lord.
Bees buzz the possible impossible, flying because nothing is too hard for Him.
Grasshoppers leap for joy in the autumn-dull grass.
Lavender, rosemary, basil, and thyme proclaim the sweet savor of His grace.
The poplar claps its leaves with a sound like falling rain.
Moonflower lifts its tight bud, biding time to waft its incense in the watches of the night.
Cloudless blue arches over all in Aaronic benediction.

Everything that has breath--
And some things that haven't--
Praise the Lord.
(Will I?)

Today I'm saying yes to praise, thanking God for His good gifts this past week:
lunch with Mom and a friend
next-day appointment to have suspicious skin change biopsied
Bible study ladies praying together
employment prayer for a friend's husband answered right away
favorable settlement for Mezzo to replace her car
kind words from new friend
preaching gospel of grace to myself
blog friend working a cue into her day to remind her to pray for me
hour in the shade, delighting in the Creator's presence in the garden
correspondence exchanged with friends
girls' night with Mezzo
guys' night for husband
quiet Sunday nursing colds
watching local sports team win this week
long nap to make up for bad night
starting the week slowly
(counting gifts #7707-7721)

sharing with Ann and Laura's communities:

Monday, October 15, 2012

On This Day in October

For October 15, 2012

Outside my window...
The street is quiet, the sunlight filtered by clouds and the strong branches of our live oak (#7615).

I am thinking...
what a gracious blessing praying friends are! (7616)

I am thankful...
My sister resumed driving after her accident, returned to classes but not singing yet, and learned she can receive free legal assistance through the university where she's enrolled (7617-18).

In the kitchen...
Dishes need to be stowed in cabinets, salmon sits defrosting in the refrigerator for tonight, and my list is not shrinking very fast (yet here I sit...). (7619)

I am wearing...
a royal purple tunic, jeans, and sheepskin clogs (7620-21, plentiful clothing and warm shoes)

I am creating...
well, this blog post for one. Also, the second sock of the pair I started early in the year is on my knitting needles, now that the ergonomic issues with yarncrafting seem to have resolved (7622-7623).

I am going...
to lunch with my mom and our breast-cancer survivor friend (7624).

I am wondering...
whether I should be wearing pink for her instead, especially since it's October. Oh, wait, is that not what the question intended? :)

I am reading...
Beth Moore's study When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (fall Bible study); 1 Kings, Psalms, Daniel, and 1 Thessalonians; and an Italian-American novel from the library (youngest sister's recommendation because of our heritage).
(I'm also in the middle of five other books, which is excessive even for me, but none of them are actually getting read at present. There's probably a 12-step group for that.) (7625)

I am hoping...
a pink spot on my scalp is nothing serious (7626, chance to grow in trust).

I am looking forward to...
our last Bible study discussion Wednesday (7627).

I am learning...
to trust God with my loved ones. Again. (7628)

Around the house...
Ebony is asleep in the wing chair next to the computer and all is quiet today. (7629)

I am pondering...
whether I really need more faith or just need to realize all over again how big and mighty God is. Elijah's faith in 1 Kings 18 really challenged me this morning. Am I so confident (1) that God hears prayer and (2) that He can burn up an animal sacrifice, wet wood, dust, stones, and a trench full of water that I'd stake my life and His reputation on it? (7630)

A favorite quote for today...
this whole prayer by Scotty Smith, but here's my favorite bit:
Expel the fears that set up residence in our hearts with a fresh influx of Jesus’ perfect love.... You’ve numbered our hairs and our days. You’ve got the hearts of every king in your hand. Nothing catches you off guard or by surprise. There are no wrinkles in your brow and there’s no second-guessing in your courts. You don’t always do what we want, but you always do what we we’d ask, if we only knew better. You give and you take away—blessed be your name, O Lord. (7631)

One of my favorite things...
time at the piano with a hymnal and no one around to hear. Except Ebony. He's an easy critic. (7632)

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Doctor Tuesday, Bible study and cleaning lady Wednesday, visit with Mezzo Friday (7633)

I am memorizing...
Ephesians 1:22-23, NIV84:
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (7634).

A peek into my day...
7635. Splendor of the King

sharing with Ann, Laura, and for the first time with Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, October 12, 2012

I Exalt You, O God {Book Review}

I Exalt You, O God


In I Exalt You, O God: Encountering His Greatness in Your Private Worship, Jerry Bridges applies his gift for clear communication of Biblical theology to a 31-day devotional reflecting on four attributes of God: His greatness, His holiness, His wisdom, and His love. Each chapter or day examines some facet of the attribute under consideration for the given section of the book. For example, titles in the wisdom section include "The Wonders of His Providence," "A Mystery Too High," "Everything Orchestrated for Good," and my favorite, "Wanting My Trust--Not My Advice." Each day's reading concludes with a prayer quilted together out of Scripture passages applicable to the day's topic. The well-written introduction lays the groundwork for the ideas of "private worship" and "worship as a way of life," and these prayers contribute to the stated goal that the book would move readers to worship God.


As already mentioned, the introduction alone is adequate reason to pick up this book, especially if the concept of worship outside of Sunday morning is a new one. I appreciate the way Bridges brings truth about God's character, which some regard as intellectual and academic only, into an expression of personal devotion to Him. He always brings his accessible explanations back to (or derives them from) the Scriptures.

The wisdom section applies most powerfully to some perplexing difficulties in my life right now. Here are two of the passages I highlighted, just to give you a taste:
…we continually want to be God’s adviser in His providential workings. We continually want to tell Him how certain circumstances should be changed. Or worse, we question God’s wisdom when we can’t understand what He’s doing. 
God’s ways are mysterious. But with Paul we can learn to exult in this with praise:
How fathomless the depths of God’s resources, wisdom, and knowledge! How unsearchable His decisions, and how mysterious His methods! For who has ever understood the thoughts of the Lord, or has ever been His adviser?...Glory to Him forever! (Romans 11:33-36, Charles B. Williams translation)
To this end may the following words from J.L. Dagg encourage us:
It should fill us with joy that infinite wisdom guides the affairs of the world. Many of its events are shrouded in darkness and mystery, and inextricable confusion sometimes seems to reign. Often wickedness prevails, and God seems to have forgotten the creatures that he has made. Our own path through life is dark and devious, and beset with difficulties and danger. How full of consolation is the doctrine that infinite wisdom directs every event, brings … light out of darkness, and, to those who love God, causes all things, whatever be their present aspect and apparent tendency, to work together for good.
So with joy and consolation let us stand in awe of the infinite wisdom of God manifested in creation, providence, and redemption. But let’s do more. One of the marks of a God-fearing person is trust in the Lord: “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11). To hope in His unfailing love is to trust Him. As we stand in awe, let us trust Him, even when we don’t understand what His is doing (Kindle location 1427). 
O infinite God! Who has understood Your mind or instructed You as Your counselor? Before the universe was created it existed in all its intricate complexity in Your vast mind. Even the tiny cells in our bodies testify to the sheer brilliance of Your creative genius.
But while we marvel at Your creation, we confess that we often wonder at Your providence. Help us to learn that Your ways truly are higher than our ways, and that You are always working for our good despite the many things we don’t understand. May we fear You by trusting You. 
And may we ever praise You through Jesus our Lord and Savior. 
Amen. (1458)
The day discussing God's wrath (28) also merits notice. It strikes me as rare in this season of the American church for an author to write on God's wrath at all, let alone in the context of a discussion of His love. Bridges does this, and he does it well:
It is not enough, however, to appreciate God’s love only in terms of our initial salvation. We should be growing each year in our awareness of the depth of His love for us in Christ—as we become more aware of the reality of our own sin even as believers. An increasing understanding of God’s holiness, of one’s own sin, and the value of Christ’s death will always mark a person who’s growing as a Christian (1643). 
It's not that I'd been thinking, "Hmm, wouldn't it be great if someone would just write a devotional about God's wrath?" Rather, the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, does include many references to it, and I find Bridges' perspective here helpful in assimilating those passages into the rest of God's self-revelation.

Recommended Audience

This book provides a clear introduction to four of God's attributes for the young Christian or one new to thinking theologically. I would also commend it to the attention of someone curious about a life of worship, as opposed to an hour of worship, or to someone who has heard of praying Scripture or praying God's words back to Him and doesn't understand how that looks.

This book tends toward the thinking rather than feeling end of the mind-emotions continuum, which appeals to some temperaments more than others. Perhaps because of this, I find for myself it's more a morning or midday read than a bedtime reflection. Despite the lucid prose, the reader must invest some attention and concentration to glean the considerable benefits offered here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The product link in the first paragraph is an affiliate link.

Monday, October 8, 2012

If You're Feeling Vulnerable

Crumbles, thank you for your prayers for my sister Mezzo. Last week's tests ruled out fractures and serious internal injuries. She hopes to return to work and school tomorrow but needs more strength in her sprained wrist before she can drive herself again (a daunting step in her recovery). We appreciate your continued prayers as the Lord leads.

Cold enough for a blanket of mist to rise from the pond this morning, more mysterious than the phone's camera picked up :)

The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net,
from the destructive plague.
He will cover you with His feathers;
you will take refuge under His wings.
His faithfulness will be a protective shield.
Psalm 91:1-4, HCSB

If you're feeling like a sitting duck in hunting season,
May you know the Most High's bulletproof wings about you;

If the trials pile on, one after another--
No, one atop another--
May you experience the Lord's shoulder pressed into yours,
Making the impossible burden easy, the yoke light;

If your arms quiver and grow weak from holding up that shield of faith,
But the fiery darts keep coming,
May His faithfulness be the shield about you,
And may He send sisters and brothers to add their shields to yours;

If you're feeling exposed, vulnerable,
A china cup with a bull charging in,
Cry to the Lord,
"My refuge! My fortress! My God, in whom I trust!"
Abide in Him;
Cling to Him in love;
And watch for Jesus your Savior to show up.

May He gloriously and tenderly display His love and power to you in your every need,
Not because of anything in you or me to earn such favor,
But because of Jesus, Savior, Emmanuel,
In whose name I offer these requests.

[If you're reading this via email or feed reader, you may need to visit the actual crumbs blog to view the video.]

Gratefully acknowledging once again God's goodness in this last week and trusting, asking for grace for the week now begun:
sister's good progress and prognosis in her recovery from car accident
first real cold front of autumn
husband who vacuums and empties canister and takes vacuum apart for cleaning
neighbor at the door with plants to pass along
spicy Indian food on chilly night
church with my husband and parents
making leaf rubbing "art" for my nephews on a Sunday afternoon
skin and senses slowly healing from virus
finally finishing a sock begun months ago
listening to the wisdom of others
passing on a box of office and craft supplies to my other sister, the homeschooling mom
free drink coupon from Starbucks
meeting my husband's new co-workers, faces to go with the names
reminders that my body is not my own but God's...
...and I can't protect myself or my loved ones from all harm...
...but it's not my job anyway
mist on the pond at dawn

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Elisabeth Elliot on What to Do with Suffering

First of all, what is suffering exactly? In Elisabeth Elliot Gren's excellent book A Path Through Suffering, which I've read enough that I'm now on my second copy, and in many of her radio programs and talks in years past, she defined it this way:
The word suffering is much too grand to apply to most of our troubles, but if we don't learn to refer the little things to God, how shall we learn to refer the big ones? A definition which covers all sorts of trouble, great or small, is this: having what you don't want, or wanting what you don't have (56).
Mrs. Gren knows something of trouble, great and small. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was one of the Ecuadorian martyrs in the 1950s. He and his colleagues were killed by the very tribe they were trying to reach with the gospel. He and Elisabeth had a young daughter at the time.

Other trials, great ministry and relational losses, followed during the remainder of her missionary service. She eventually married again, and her second husband developed cancer, which in time left her a widow once again. Her third and current husband, Lars Gren, is alive and well at this writing, but he suffered serious injuries this spring in a car accident while they were traveling.

In other words, Elisabeth Elliot Gren has tasted suffering. She does not write about it from easy-chair comfort. Here is her advice, from the same book, on what to do with affliction:
How to deal with suffering of any kind:
1. recognize it
2. accept it
3. offer it to God as a sacrifice
4. offer yourself with it (141)
I appreciate the realism of the first part of her advice and the call to worship of the second. Worship is the end (telos, goal) of all our experiences, is it not? Another phrase from her talks which comes to mind is this: "See in it material for sacrifice." Everything God gives, the mournful and the rejoicing, is material for sacrifice. Following King David's thought, let us not offer God a sacrifice which cost us nothing. Suffering is costly indeed, but when we offer it to God He makes it as glorious as the risen Christ.

A more contemporary writer, Beth Moore, said in a video I recently viewed that whatever problem we may face today, it's not bigger than raising the dead. That thought helps me offer my suffering to God and offer myself with it. Our God is in the resurrection business, after all. That silent Saturday may last the rest of an earthly life, but Sunday is coming, friends.

I am praying with the apostle Paul this week "that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (that's us!), and His incomparably great power for us who believe" (Eph. 1:18-19a). Paul continues, "That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion,and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come" (1:19b-21).

May you know His incomparably great resurrection power for you in whatever suffering you face today, whatever you "have and don't want or want and don't have." May you know His face shining upon you as you recognize it, accept it, offer it to Him, and offer yourself with it, in the name of Jesus our Savior. Amen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Behind a Frowning Providence

These words by William Cowper, especially the third and fourth verses, are on my heart today. My sister Mezzo is at the doctor now for another post-collision examination and additional tests. If you could join our family in lifting her to the throne of grace, I'd be so grateful.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head. 
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. 
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower. 
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Monday, October 1, 2012


The preacher closed the service yesterday with a brief second sermon. His words focused on the obligation and privilege of a congregation to participate in the church through giving, but he also reminded us that we don't know what the future holds, and there may be hard times, very hard times, ahead for our nation and the church. The way we spend our time, energy, and material goods in this present moment reflects our priorities, and this present moment is all we know we have. If we delay to do the good within our reach today, we have no assurance the opportunity will still be available tomorrow.

As he spoke, I reflected on the week just past, how I had expected a quiet week for recovering and catching up on things left undone in the bulging calendar of the prior month or so. Instead, a shingles outbreak, the first in 8 years, took the wind out of my sails for half the week and required half a day at the doctor and pharmacy (and gifted me half a day with my parents). Thursday, a beloved international Christian worker friend emailed that her family was evacuating their home in response to threats from a criminal organization active in their area. They returned home Friday afternoon, and all seems well now, but who could have predicted such a turn of events?

Mere hours after the worship service, my phone rang unexpectedly. My mother called to tell me my sister Mezzo had been in a serious car accident on her way home from church and an errand. My sister was banged up but fine, but the other vehicle had flipped, and emergency personnel were still at work extracting its occupants. By God's grace, all involved walked away from the scene, and the other driver acknowledged his fault. Nonetheless, that turn of events meant a week in a wrist splint, missed work and classes, and arranging alternate transportation for my sister and unexpected pain and labor for the other party as well. Who saw that coming?

Later in the afternoon, Allen and I watched a TED talk by a man who nearly died at the hands of gang candidates looking for their first kill on the streets of Manhattan. He told his story with gratitude to the surgeon whose skill saved his life and to "luck." Voice trembling, he teared up describing how he had to learn to live again on the other side of trauma he never anticipated.

Only this morning, an email arrived from another missionary friend to say that one of the most stable countries in the Middle East, one where Christian workers and institutions are better than generally tolerated, is now facing the threat of uprising by an extremist religious organization hostile to Christ and Christians. The dark side of democracy appears when the majority hates the gospel. This was not wholly unexpected, but still. . .

Who could have foreseen such turbulence?

God, "who is the blessed controller of all things" (1 Tim. 6:15, Phillips), could and did.

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all. Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them
(Ps. 139:1-4, 14b, NASB, emphasis mine).
Today, poised as we are at the beginning of a new work week and a new month, my heart has been listening to the thoughts and events of the last several days. What would You have me learn from this, Lord? How should I apply these reminders to my plans today? Not in fear, I know. Enough with that already!

In these reminders of the frangibility of our plans and expectations, I find encouragement toward these responses:

  • Humility. Proverbs 16:9 says, "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." James, the Lord's brother, admonishes, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.... Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that'" (James 4:13-15, NASB). Chronic illness has a way of teaching one to make plans in pencil, "if the Lord wills," but in reality that contingent quality of human plans holds true for us all.
  • Trust. The Lord does direct our steps. He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. The "blessed and only Sovereign" is also our Papa, if we are in Christ through belief in His name. Solomon advised in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Paul asserts in Romans 8:28 that the same God who is "for us" (v.31) and "did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (v.32) "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." The Christian's particular relationship to God through Christ allows him or her to face an uncertain future with trust and not fear.
  • Prompt Obedience. Abraham "rose early in the morning" to obey God's summons to sacrifice his son, his only son, whom he loved (Gen. 22:3). The young shepherd David "ran quickly to the battle line to meet the Philistine" Goliath (1 Sam. 17:48). If there is some action required of me where God's will is clear--some sin to confess and forsake, some forgiveness to grant or receive, some word of encouragement or act of kindness to bestow, some unpleasant duty to perform, or even some precious time in God's Word and prayer which requires leaving some other task undone--let me obey today, without delay. Elisabeth Elliot, I think it was, used to say that delayed obedience is disobedience. If I know what God asks of me, let me attend to it without delay.
  • Gratitude. Paul wrote to the Colossian church, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (Col. 3:17, NASB). He later wrote to Timothy of hope not in riches but in God, "who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy" (1 Tim. 6:17). Earlier in the same letter, Paul warned Timothy against those who "advocate abstaining [for religious reasons] from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer" (1 Tim. 4:3-5, NASB).

    Awareness of how temporary and unpredictable life is can deepen our gratitude for this present moment. To have known in early 2010 how suddenly and drastically life would soon change would have rendered duties like vacuuming, building muscles and bones with strength training, and carrying heavy groceries less irksome. Delights like curling up cross-legged in an overstuffed chair with a book would have been that much sweeter, though perhaps bittersweet, for the knowledge that they would soon vanish indefinitely.
I don't know what tomorrow or even the rest of today holds, but for now I pause to thank God for what is and has been this past week:
a breather before the turbulence hit last week
thoughtful husband purchasing quiches from the fancy market for Bible study refreshments
his glee in completing and refining his Nerf dart blow gun (for work!)
women ministering to each other's needs at Bible study
one appointment open on the day I needed it
medicine to help symptoms
rash and swollen glands slowly mending
parents' transportation and company
freedom to slow even more than usual
back pain no worse for skipping a day or two of therapy regimen
safety of my friend's home and family
my sister kept safe from real harm in car accident
pleasures made sweeter by the context of a week's challenges
beautiful sunrises
a butterfly undaunted by my camera lens mere inches away
new fence and gates for our back garden
completion of baby blanket for a friend's son
slow, steady, welcome rain
hoodie temperatures this morning
God's faithfulness through it all

sharing in community with Multitudes on Monday and Playdates with God