One thing that can’t be disputed about relationship with God in the Old Testament times—it was messy. A lot of blood was involved: bulls, goats, pigeons,…prophets.
In one of the most historically and spiritually significant Old Testament sacrifices, Abram (not yet having his name changed to Abraham) slices in half several specimens of the animal kingdom in preparation for a special covenant with this Most High God whom very few people are even aware of any more, much less worship. This is going to be unlike any other offering Abram has participated in, and I suspect Continue reading “Beware of fly-by’s”
I don’t have a home and hearth “lifestyle” site like my bloggin’ buddy, Lindsey. Case in point: I grew up calling all eating utensils “silverware, yet I somehow doubt that we ate off of silver. I have since learned the differentiations between silverware, stainless, and simply flatware. Now, Lindsey might be able to tell you more precisely what those are are (and how to use them correctly!) One thing I have learned, however, (Lindsey, dear, please correct me if I’m wrong), is that the more you use silver, the less you have to keep it polished. Otherwise, just stuffing it away for special occasions means you had better budget a fair amount of time in the preparation of the event for the wearisome task of polishing, cleaning, and wiping.
For someone who rarely gets around to dusting my furniture, no thanks.
Not that I would allow my granddaughter to dig in the dirt with the silver serving spoon I got as a wedding gift lo, these many years ago, but why stuff that little treasure away just for dipping out the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving?
So I wonder how much I fall prey to that attitude in other areas of my life; that is, putting something away for “safe keeping”, afraid it might get broken, stolen, or at the very least misused or disregarded, instead of using it for Continue reading “Silverware, or flatware?”
Best dating story: Bob and I were coming home from an evening out. As I was still in college, I lived with my parents in the summer, and my dad, as a stickler for protecting his family, always had the door locked if I got home late enough and they had gone to bed. Naturally, I also always had a key to get in when my soon-to-be finance would deposit me at the front step.
The key, however, only fit the main entrance, not the outer screen door…
What happened next was almost something out of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Bob, being the practical science-guy he is, couldn’t understand why I didn’t just ring the door bell, (which, to this day, seems like the most sagacious option), but in deference to my objections, he pulled his little Pinto (remember those?) around to the driveway and helped me go from the big wooden storage box, to the top of his car, and onto the garage roof which led to my own second story window. Thankfully, I had left the window open, but DRAT! There was that locked screen window (what is it with screens??) that I had to poke my fingers through to raise, hoping that the family dog wasn’t currently my room ready to sound the intruder alarm.
Having successfully deposited his future bride safely, albeit not conveniently, within her home, Bob took off and I went to bed, thinking I would relate the incident to my folks…someday. Until I got up that morning and they asked me how I had gotten in last night, as Dad noticed he had locked the screen door, and Mom was wondering what my shoes were doing in the garage.
At what point in a young person’s life does she realize that her parents are not stupid?
Now, Dad is a fixer; property is something that must be improved and/or maintained, so my screen window didn’t stay impaled for long, allowing for mosquitoes, bees, and other pests equal access to my room, (geewhiz, hadn’t thought of that one). And thankfully, I didn’t dent Bob’s car, pull off the guttering or slip and break my neck scampering up the shingles. In retrospect (sigh) I should have just rung the doorbell!
Which is kinda the point the writer of Hebrews is making when he says:
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
I wonder how much wasted time, energy, and (gulp!) destruction I have caused by not first coming boldly to my Father’s presence. What fears have stolen my peace, what anxieties have poked holes in my power, and what kind of hellacious peril I have put myself (and others) in due to my lack of faith in God’s most holy acceptance of me because of His Son!
After all, I’m one of the family. If I’m feeling locked out, I just have to ring the bell.
I’m not a true musician, but I dabble around in a few things. I sort of remember a some notes and symbols from the treble cleft, thanks to my parents’ marvelous attempts to musically educate their young daughter. So when it came time for our oldest child to enter 5th grade, I informed her that it wasn’t a matter of whether or not she would be in the band, but simply which instrument would she like to play.
Did you know that our upper atmosphere is totally littered with cosmic debris, some of which could break through and wreck havoc at anytime, unannounced by our sophisticated technology? (Remember Russia a few years ago?)
Or how about the “definitely-not-Kansas-Toto” freak tornado in China that terrified a schoolyard of children and teachers?
A little closer to home is the New Madrid fault line, where I live here in the Midwest of the USA. I read this little tidbit this morning: “…earthquakes in this region shake and damage an area approximately 20 times larger than earthquakes in California…”, and that we are about thirty years overdue for a major jiggle. (Bobtried to soothe me when we moved here saying that we would be living on the side of our town a little further away from the crack…)
Making it more personal, I was sitting out on the patio this morning right before sunrise, enjoying the relative cool, the quiet of crickets and waking birds, the serenity of my big black dog and my pot of very black tea. Deep breath. Nice.
Then the sun came up, I turned off the outdoor lights (Bob likes it when I do that) and continued my morning on the porch. After a bit I noticed a big spider web built on the side of my table with (guess what) a big spider in the middle RIGHT NEXT TO MY ELBOW–all morning!
I relocated quickly.
Closer inspection confirmed the spider was deceased (evidently not his own web?) and after clearing the area of the offending wildlife, my skin stopped creeping as I sat back down.
My thought is that potential dangers (or at best, inconveniences) are all around me, and I’m not even aware of most of them. Yes, I wear my seatbelt. Yes, I eat properly, (and sometimes I even exercise.) Yes, I put on my bike helmet before riding to Walmart for groceries. (Yes, I wear spandex…TMI??)
But even with the best of all things, other things still happen. Unexpected things. Tragic things. Things that have nothing to do with terrorist attacks or misplaced passions and loyalties belonging only to humankind. (And we all know, especially these days, that many humans are not kind.)
When Bob’s dad died of a heart attack at a young age, my husband said,
“God is still on His throne.”
If anyone had reason to worry, it was the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk. He came to this conclusion:
I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
Meteorological interruptions or man-made intrusions, God is still in control.
Time for that Walmart run. (Helmet on, of course.)
Okay, so I’m old. I don’t actually remember this song except from the golden oldies’ stations, but admittedly, they were still “rockin’ ‘round the clock” when I made my humble appearance on the scene.
But that’s not the reference I’m aiming at. It’s that twister wind storm time of year here in the Midwest, Joplin being our near neighbor to the south, and Dorothy and Toto living a mere half hour away. Rumor has it that the National Weather Service out of Kansas City sports the moniker of “Keepers to the Gates of Hell”. And let’s not forget Oklahoma, (I’m sure Onetaknows what I’m talking about!), the place on the globe with the dubious honor of “most tornadoes”.
I tend to frequent my garden patio in the early morning. I appreciate the quiet of my rural, small town setting, and I love to hear the birds wake up and start singing. My husband and I are true bird-admirers. Not real bird-watchers, mind you; the true Audubons are the ones that can confidently identify, say, a loggerhead shrike from a Northern shrike…and enjoy it. But like my more learned comrades, I have fun actually seeing the birds I am hearing, and I’m learning them little by little,(with my color picture book close by), to recognize a few species, including by the music they make. I have also learned that, generally speaking, to attract birds you must have a bird-attracting environment. They are all around me, because I can hear them, even if I can’t immediately see them. But to seriously bring them into view I must entice them with something they want.
Many of my patio variety songsters are not particularly picky eaters, thankfully. A fifty-pound bag from the local feed store does nicely, especially for sparrows and junkos and an occasional cowbird or catbird. However, I have learned that certain species are encouraged to frequent my garden depending on what I choose to put out. Cardinals like their black-oil sunflower seeds. Finches love the seeds on my dry coneflowers. Hummingbirds go for red. Downey woodpeckers prefer the suet in the hanging cage. And grackles, well, I guess they eat anything, and a whole lot of it!
What I also find noteworthy is how these fabulous creatures find their way to the food. It is such a natural, unfeigned, unpretentious process. The more I set out, the more they come around. And even if I don’t get around to filling the feeders, and maybe there are only a few kernels just left lying around a pile of empty hulls, they still seem attracted to it, pushing through the junk to find the valuable seeds. But the converse is also true. No food, few birds. For them to stay around in abundance, and close enough for thorough enjoyment and study, they must be welcomed and wanted, andthey must be drawn.
With all respect, the Holy Spirit is a bit, just a bit mind you, the same way. As we provide the proper enticements (like faith), and make Him feel welcome (like humility), He comes more into view, becomes easier to see, and His ways are easier to identify. And why? Because what God is interested in most is the environment of my heart:
He looks deep within my human soul, the real me, the sometimes (oft times) hidden me, and invites me to come and take a good look with Him, since most of us are not even fully aware of what’s really going on in there anyway. And though He sees the “me” in my entire self, and though He recognizes so much beauty that could be, yet He patiently waits and constrains Himself, for even God must be invited, welcomed and wanted. One of the Old Testament songwriters put it this way, “I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word…” (1)
Although God is everywhere at once, yet He makes it clear that we get His attention by a humble heart, and a prayer of faith, even if it’s just a little faith mixed with a whole bunch of questions. It’s an easy and common deception to think that we are too far gone, too messed up, or have too little faith for God work His wonderful restorative power in our lives. However, a little faith is still faith, a powerful entity in God’s kingdom, even if it’s mixed with a bunch of empty husks known as doubt and the used up hulls we call fear. God is just powerful enough to dig through our questions and circumstances to find the little seeds of faith in our prayers and our lives, even when we ourselves aren’t aware of their existence. (2)
The proud heart, on the other hand, the one that says it does not need God, that refuses to agree with God’s assessment of the situation and His answer to the problem, (possibly because it refuses to acknowledge that there IS a problem), this heart the Holy Spirit grieves over, since there is nothing to bid Him welcome, nothing to make Him feel wanted. (3)
My early morning “patio compadres” make my garden more than just a quiet place to sip my tea while the rest of the town wakes up. Not only do I love having them around for their beauty and song, but they are part of the very livelihood of my garden! So does God’s Holy Spirit infuse His life into the garden of my life. Every day is another opportunity to invite Him into my world, my mind, and circumstances, and my heart.