Sometimes God answers a question you didn’t even know to ask.
I no longer bound out of bed these days. I pray my way out of bed these days. I slowly sit up and throw my legs over the side of the bed. I sit there for a few moments to meditate on whether I should even try to get up. I must daily choose not be defeated by any geriatric state of mind so I slowly rise to stand even as cranky joints grudgingly respond to the call of the brain, “Get up, get up, GET UP!!! Slowly, inch by inch, I will myself up to my full height, whatever that looks like these days because as we age, we shrink, I think. I wobble into the bathroom for my thousandth visit since I lay down to sleep the evening before (I blame the blood pressure meds). I stare in the mirror and note the bedhead state of my hair. I can see clearly now since cataract surgery and I stare into a face that will greet me every morning from this day forward. I really did not understand just how diminished my vision was until the day after the surgery on the first eye and my face came into all its glorious focus. It took me more than a minute to recover. All I could think was a line the character Aunt Bee had in an Andy Griffith Show episode about aging, “You’re no spring chicken any more!” No spring chicken anymore. Nope, not anymore. My snapback has lost all of its snap and refuses to come back. It just limply lies there waiting for someone, or something, to push it back into place. My hair grows in gray and rallies agains any hair dye that tries to encroach on its territory. Crows peck at the outer corner of my eyes and chin whiskers grow at the speed of light as they defy tweezers. People tell me I don’t look my age, whatever they think my age may be, but my hands will not lie to save face. Birthdays insist on adding up and they refuse to stop showing up every year with another reminder that time marches on. My 18 year old mind is confused about my physical state of affairs and keeps sending out orders with which my obstinate body refuses to comply.
Still, grace continues to somewhat ameliorate the effects of growing older. I am still here, present enough to laugh with daughters, love on grandchildren and celebrate small victories. Ice cream is still a treat (always in moderation as is everything these days) and the hint of Autumn in the air wraps me with warm memories of yesterday. I move forward in the assurance of my faith which reminds me God still cares for me and He will take good care of me. I celebrate today because everyone, young or old, knows for sure (especially these days), that tomorrow is not promised to anyone of any generation.
“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
~excerpt from “Rabbi Ben Ezra” by Robert Browning
The fact of the matter is that everyone is aging no matter their age. We may not always be able to grow old gracefully every moment of every day but grow old we shall so come grow old with me — it’s all about mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. I’m good with that.
The world is in chaos. The world is in turmoil. The world is full of Chicken Littles who run here, there and everywhere, crying out to all, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Conked on the head by an acorn of truth, that moment has been turned into a mountain of distress and each believes it is now their obligation to warn everyone of the coming apocalypse.
So many Chicken Littles today, each with a personal perspective that has morphed into a worldview panic. Unfortunately, even those who proclaim to be followers of Christ now scurry around to praise those that receive their message of woe and to condemn those who refuse to buy in to their rhetoric.
“The sky is falling; the sky is falling!” The truth of a pandemic has become fodder for conspiracy theories and doom day revelations. In light of all that is being said and done, conservative versus liberal, right wing versus left wing, red versus blue, how does one find the energy to sift through all the minutia to discover the acorn of truth that is buried under red herrings by straw men?
Fear can stalk each of us but those of us who are believers can find comfort in the promises of Jesus found in Matthew 11:28-30. When our souls are burdened with the cares of the world, we can find solace in Him.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely
dim in the light of His glory and grace.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I closed my prayer with the silent request, “Speak to me, Father.”
As I waited in stillness, as my selected music video from my favorite YouTube pianist played, I was distracted by an intermittent chirp. I listened closely; was it the smoke detector calling my attention to a dying battery? The chirp was not that distinct so, no, not the smoke detector.
The chirp continued and I could not ignore it. I got up from my chair and followed its call. I walked over to the front window to stand and listen.
“Chirp, chirp, chirp.” Is it a cricket in the house and if so, how did it get in? I’m in California where crickets in this neck of the woods are rare. I shuddered at the thought of having to chase down a cricket.
I pulled back the curtains to look out the window and there it was, a small bird on the walkway that leads to the front steps of the house. It pecked away at kernels of something and in between pecks it chirped. I stood there, watched it and mused that a bird which could fly chose to walk on the ground to forage for food.
My bird thoughts were interrupted by part of a scripture I had not thought of in years, “…if I take care of a two cent bird…” I could not remember all of the scripture but in that moment God reminded me of His care for me. He used a small bird that has no means other than to trust that when it looks for food, food will be found, even if it means taking a walk on concrete rather than soaring in the air.
The bird eventually walked away from the front of the house to cross the street. As I watched it, I realized that once I walked to the window to discover God’s feathered messenger, the chirps stopped though the bird remained in place for a few minutes. God got me to where He wanted me to be, to “hear” his message in the form of that tiny bird.
I returned back to my chair. As I sat, I glanced at the computer and the bible text from Mark 11:24 was on the screen. I had paid no attention to the screen during my prayer time so I was not expecting a scripture. I laughed as I read the text and thanked God for the period on His word to me through a little bird.
Mark 11:24 — “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.“
Luke 12:6, 7 — “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.“
I have a Clubhouse Room – Reflect and Refresh – It is.a 15 minute room, a short devotional and prayer. For the last two weeks I have been praying through the names of God. One of the names of God is El Shadday/El Shaddai. I thought I knew the meaning of this name of God, The Lord is sufficient. However, when I did the research, I did discover that meaning but I also discovered two other meanings attached to this name.
Though it is not entirely clear the true meaning of El Shaddai, it can be defined as God Almighty with a reference to the time Moses was in the mountain and received the 10 commandments. El Shaddai is God of the Mountain. As I mulled over that meaning, I discovered another meaning for El Shaddai, the Lord the overpowerer. Though I have a hard time pronouncing the word, I understood the implication as in Luke 1:37 and Matthew 19:26, “With God nothing is impossible.” Though God will not violate His word, He will keep His word (Psalm 115:3) and His word is “I Am enough.”
As I put these meanings together, here is what I “hear:” God Almighty, God of the mountain, is enough. I no longer need to be concerned about whether I am enough or if I have enough. God Almighty is more than enough and when I call on His name, El Shaddai,, He can overpower every challenge, every obstacle, every challenge in my life and when I live out that knowledge in my life, when I activate my faith, frustration and fear take a back seat to faith. It is easy enough to mourn over what isn’t but God’s call is to celebrate and trust that He is and He is enough for every concern and need. The next time you face a need, change, challenge, remember this: God Almighty is enough.
What do you want? What do you need? God Almighty is Enough.
Some years ago, I was listening to Israel Houghton’s song, “Alpha and Omega.” I have loved the song since I woke up late one night to the video of the song playing on the television. The song took me in then; it still ushers me into the presence of the Most High God. In my research, I learned that alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. But, as I listened to the song back then, I asked this question, “Please, Jesus, tell me what it means that you are Alpha and Omega.”
This is He ‘said” to me:
I Am the beginning and the end.
I Am the first and the last.
I Am the author and the finisher of your faith.
I am your definition.
I am your defining moment.
I am the definitive in your life.
I am the song in your heart, the smile on your face, the joy in your soul.
I Am the lifter of your head.
I Am the path beneath your feet.
I was with you in the beginning of your life; I will be with you at the end of your life.
I Am with you in everything in between.
I Am the beginning of your journey.
I Am your companion on your journey.
I Am the detour on your journey.
I Am your journey.
I know what has happened in your life; I know what is happening in your life; I know what will happen in your life.
I Am present always.
I Am the beginning of the matter.
I Am the conclusion of the matter.
I Am Alpha and Omega.
Just give my due in that you do!
What else do you need to know?
Well, when you ask Jesus a question, I guess He will give you the complete answer you need … from A to Z.
The prince was rich, which is usually the norm for princes. The pauper was, well, poor, which is, actually kind of the definition for pauper. Each envied the other, and in time they wind up trading places with each other. Do you know what they discovered? They realized that whether rich or poor, it is not so easy to live another person’s life, that each place has its own challenges.
Most people, at some time or another, have probably wished they were someone else, but envy and jealousy are liars. They tell us our lives would be so much better if we were just in the other person’s shoes. We see the outside of someone’s life and believe it to be reality so we spend much of our time watching them, wishing to be someone else, so much so that we do not embrace our own lives.
What might we accomplish in our lives if we weren’t so busy envying the other person’s grass?
“I know my plans for you; plans of good, not of evil, to bring you to an expected end” is God’s word for his people.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14) Just remember that it would be 70 years before Israel would see the fulfillment of God’s promise. Make yourself at home where you are and move forward in God’s already ordained purpose for you. (Ephesians 2:10)
Take heed, take hope, take hold and move forward on the path God has lain out before you. Besides, that grass on the other side of the fence may be greener, but it still has to be mowed.
A friend said to me that people seldom believe they are where God wants them to be. Her point was well taken. As I think about her statement, I see the issue as not whether or not we believe we are where God wants us to be, but rather the real issue is acceptance, can we calmly accept being where God has allowed us to be, especially when the state of our affairs conflict with our expectations.Such a conundrum almost always makes us think we are out of God’s will.
While it may be true that we too often make choices that can delay God’s plan for our lives, those choices do nothing to negate God’s power to intervene and reconfigure our very often dumb decisions. Good, bad or indifferent, God is still in control, therefore however we get to a place, it is not out of the purview of God.
The Apostle Paul said, “Whatever the state in which I find myself, I have learned to be content.”
This is what I get out of this statement: “Contentment is not the absence of aggravation; it is the decision not to be aggravated (donnaproverb).” It’s a big learning curve, but I believe it can be learned.
Here is the life lesson, as I see it. I accept that I am who I am, and, that I am where I am by God’s Divine Providence. I believe it is only when I come to this conclusion that the question is no longer “Why?” but rather “Now what? Now that I am in this place and this space, Lord, what would you have me to do?”
It had been a tough week. Emotionally drained, I dragged myself through each day! I felt disconnected, standing on the outside of myself going through the motions. It was a struggle to maintain any kind of momentum! I was caught up in the doldrums and I had no energy to stir anything up! Each morning I crawled out of bed in weary anticipation of the same kind of day.
But Sunday, Oh Sunday invited me into the new week with a full blown praise party in my car on my way to church. It was triggered by one nonsensical word spoken by a pastor in a service that was live streamed. That one word, “whoop,” sent me into a paroxysm of praise! I needed that moment. It was my moment of recovery but I still was not where I needed to be spiritually.
I had allowed my emotions to trump my faith. I was in fact dragging my faith behind me as I allowed my emotions to take the lead which led to the inevitable result, malaise and doldrums. I looked forward to nothing. I was excited about nothing. I wanted nothing. I embraced nothing. I expected nothing.
Then I picked up a flash drive onto which I had loaded some writings years ago. I inserted the drive into my computer, clicked and opened it. I immediately went to the folder labeled, “Gern,” my code word for Journal in case someone got into my computer and happened to come across it (as if their curiosity wouldn’t be piqued by this weird word). “I thought I knew what the journal contained and to some extent I did but I was not prepared for the rawness of the text, the pain and passion between each line. As I read those thirteen year old words, I had to ask myself, “Have you ever felt this way about the Lord?”
It was a revelation that my heart best so strongly for a person while those same kind of heartbeats for God were often moment based and momentary rather than lifestyle laced.
From time to time, when I am in my car, I listen to a Christian radio station that plays hymns in different slots of time. In the week following my week of the doldrums, I was driving and I tuned in to that station. A hymn played that I had not heard in years,‘I’d rather have Jesus.” At first I was locked in to the beauty of the arrangement and the singers. Then the question came to me, when was the last time I put Jesus first in everything rather than giving Him first place in a few things? How often have I intentionally surrendered the reins of my life to Him in all things?
I read the book, “in His Steps,” some years ago. I like the premise of what would Jesus do and tried to emulate the concept but as with all trends, that soon passed as a habit. The hymn challenged me to institute a “I’d rather have Jesus” mindset in all things, as best I could in this fragile frame of dust.
My journey begins now. When I reach out to try and hold on to people and stuff; when I try to control circumstances, when I put It or Them before Him, I will give it my all to remember, “I’d rather have Jesus.”
63 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
“I’d Rather Have Jesus”
George Beverly Shea
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today
I’d rather have Jesus than vain applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy name
Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords