Season to Season
Here we are, caught in-between my two favorite holidays. I like the tastes, smells, lights, the deeper meanings, the silliness and the calm. And yet I know in my heart of hearts, there are those struggling through sickness, loneliness, COVID, financial troubles, losses, worries, etc.
I silently lift those bearing burdens to the God of the Universe. He knows how to help all strugglers. But beyond circumstances, there is beauty and Jesus. Some of us can see it, even when there’s pain.
Because I’m in a time-bind, my offering this week comes from a few past blogs. (Surely my readers can handle the truth, right?) My hope is that you’ll open your heart and be blessed.
December 5, 2016
I’m a bit of a mess today.
Wilted from spending much energy to meet a deadline. Manuscript, submitted last night! I celebrated by ringing a bell. Hooray! Praise the Lord! I’ve been working on it for months, but the last three weeks have been intense. I love the writing process, I hate the deadlines. However, I need deadlines to push me to finish a manuscript. I guess it’s just how I’m put together.
Today I have options. Nothing on the calendar. It’s a pajama day for me, a day to do nothing. Maybe a load of laundry, but basically, I am resting and looking at the leaves on the ground, listening to the river meandering by, cozying up with a dog or my husband.
I’m a Christian, baptized and believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. I know I am loved and God’s daughter. I know it, and yet, there have been times in my life when I felt guilty about doing little or nothing on a nice day like today. Being called Lazybones or Daydreamer as a kid might have something to do with that. But now, I have gained a new perspective. That’s what I want to share with you. It’s a hanging-out day for me with God, maybe like a little girl having tea time with her mommy or a little boy sitting on the river bank with his daddy, saying little.
For this attitude and permission, I thank A.W. Tozer for his powerful book, In Pursuit of God. I have spent the last ten weeks studying this book with a group of women. The climax of the book, for me, came when I read, “sewing a tent (like Paul) or leading a soul to Christ...both are sacraments.” Sewing a tent could be washing dishes or swinging a hammer or digging a hole. Resting in God or working with God (with pure motive) is what makes the act for believers a sacrament. The goal is to be a sacrament in God’s holy temple, God’s holy creation (even in this bent-up world). Motive is everything. This means that residents in nursing homes who are in wheelchairs or bedfast can be sacraments. I love knowing this. It changes everything for me. Everything, for the Glory of God. I am grateful to get this settled inside myself.
Even while doing nothing and spending the day with God, I mess up. Not on purpose, but I say something or think something. Sometimes I think to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes I don’t. Meanwhile, I’m hanging out with my Father.
November 27, 2017
Never Seems Enough
C.S. Lewis said, “God is everywhere, everywhere incognito.” The toughness is seeing God in others, in circumstances. He’s there, but do I have the eyes and ears to see, to hear?
I pushed my cart into a check-out line, inching my way forward behind a mother and child, talking a little with the mother, playing a little with the child.
The cashier spoke like someone from Guatemala. I noticed how she used endearments with the child: “Bebé, Sweetie.” They left. The dark-skinned woman smiled at me. She talked as she worked, calling me “Honey” and “Bebé.”
Blessed is the one who perseveres and gets in her line. God is hanging on tight to those in her line. She lets her love flow like a river between banks.
I walk to the car, aware of a truth: Only with and because of God are we ever enough. We have God inside us, outside us, around us.
This is confirmed again on Saturday as I was leaving a hospital. I paused and sat in a chair outside the ER hallway to check a contact on my phone. While talking on the phone, I watched a woman bundled in a blanket across from me. (I couldn’t tell if she was bleeding or not. Definitely shaking and crying.)
When I’d hung up, I approached the stranger, knowing she might think me crazy, “Hi. I have been sitting on the other side of this wide hallway watching you. Are you okay?”
I learn her name is Sharon and that she has spent the last eight hours in ER. She has pneumonia and a pinched nerve in her shoulder. They gave her a prescription for an antibiotic, and she is to set up an appointment with her family doctor on Monday. Now she waits for her husband to come and pick her up.
My irrational side was touched. I said, “I don’t know what to do for you, but I see you need help. Would you let me pray for you?”
“Yes,” she said. “I’d like that.”
I prayed for Sharon. She finished the prayer by saying, “In Jesus name, Amen.”
God, please take care of all the Sharons out there. Hang on tight to them. You are enough.
November 26, 2018
Too Good Not to Share
The weekend includes target practice, falling leaves, throwing the ball to a dog, driving golf carts, blowing bubbles and popping them, watching You’ve Got Mail, walking the shoal of a low-water river. Fun happens side-to-side and face-to-face. The college student is finishing a school project and doing laundry. Catch-as-catch-can on naps.
I asked family members, even the little redheaded girl, four questions: If you could go visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? What’s your favorite movie? What would you say is your greatest accomplishment? One of your happiest memories? Fun and informative responses. (Because of people coming and going and tending needs, I asked the questions in small group settings. It worked well and was real.)
All answers, accepted without judgment.
I look over and see a content toddler in the arms of his mother. Pure goodness.
Two or three people have struggled with the sniffles, and who knows the ailments not showing, the worries or griefs unmentioned.
I thank each one for putting out the energy. Such things don’t happen by accident.
Grateful and blessed.
December 9, 2019
A Feast for the Eyes
Have you noticed that sunsets never last long enough? The sun sighs, changes, fades, then it’s gone.
It’s December 5th. I’m headed out the door to get a haircut at an odd time. My hairdresser added me to the end of her day. I step off the porch and note the sunset.
Driving away, I notice a major change in the sky. The sun, normally submissive to winter, grows more brilliant behind me.
A mile later, I stop the car. Just one photo and back inside the car, climbing out of the valley onto a county road. I stop and turn left on Push Mountain Road and maneuver around Matney Knob. The rear view mirror shows more sky—the sunset’s dye spreads and crosses mountain ranges.
I drive the wiggly road and come to the bridge crossing the White River. I slow. The sun is leaping the river and striking the monumental white cliffs. Sun-struck cliffs. A feast for the eyes.
Soon I turn west toward Mountain Home, Arkansas, and winter looks anything but indifferent. I drive into its brightness.
I become like Jacob in the Bible (Genesis 32:22-32, NIV). Determined. I do not turn the sunset loose. A fiery sky, painted by God Himself. I want His blessing.
Longing to hold on, I chase the sky streaked with a bold mixture of oranges and yellows, wearing a cloudy purple cap.
Bold colors, wings outspread. A tiger lily sunset. It’s God, the creator, at work.
Still, westward bound.
It’s as if the sun does not want to go down, turn loose. Light shoots through the crowns of trees. Highway 201 makes a turn north, but my hairdresser lives west. I veer off onto county roads, still moving toward the sun but now roller-coastering up and down hills, catching snatches of a fiery sky with my eyes.
I arrive at the beauty shop. My hairdresser greets me as she peeks out the screen door. I call to her, “Come outside! You need to see this sunset!” She hurries.
Both of us feel the pull of it. Feels like the enormity of God.
We stand together and watch. It begins to recede.
Then we turn and go inside where I sit in a chair, and she stands behind with a pair of scissors. It takes 25 minutes, then I’m out the door into the dark, meandering my way back home.
Her last words stay with me, “Watch out for the deer….”
I drive five minutes and notice twinkling Christmas lights in yards. They do not pull me.
They are nothing compared to that sunset. Nothing.
Later, back home, my husband shows me a photo he’d taken of the sunset, coming home from work. He’d found a place to pull over and take a photo!
After settling for the evening, I see other photos of the sunset on Facebook. I was not alone in my joy.
What is it about an explosive sunset before it dies away?
Maybe God’s way of reminding us to be still and know that He is God (Psalms 46:10).
No matter what’s happening that’s painful, mean, and ugly in our world, God is still God. He has a plan, and we are part of His plan. Something I cling to.
God bless you,
Sunset on December 5, 2019, photographed by Jimmy Durmon.
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