It was one of the last official days of summer. My husband and I both had many things to do that day. Instead, we decided to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather while we could.
Our trailer is only an hour away so we made our escape and headed to it. After a quick lunch we went for a long walk along the shore of the lake and through the trees. The sun warmed our backs as we enjoyed the stillness and the variety of bird songs. It was very peaceful and I stopped several times to capture the beautiful surroundings with my camera.
Other commitments called, not allowing us to spend the night in our little piece of paradise. However, the few hours we enjoyed away renewed us. We headed home better equipped to step back into our busy lives.
Taking the time to rest with God is biblical. This is the example we followed as we walked and talked with God in the late summer sunshine. I understand what the psalmist meant when he said:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalms 23:1-3 NLT
A friend and I were making the long drive from Calgary to Vancouver. We enjoyed the majestic mountain scenery and lively conversation. We also encountered several areas of road construction which slowed us down. In one of these areas we idled for 30 minutes, waiting for the backlog of traffic on the one open lane to clear, so we could take our turn. We had been moving again for mere minutes when I spotted a sign that struck me as very amusing. It said “BC is Idle Free”.
The sign was there prior to the road construction but its placement now in the middle of this work zone, where we had no choice but to idle, struck me as very ironic. It also made me think of times in my life when my schedule was so full that I longed to be idle for a while.
When I stopped to think about it, I realized that what I needed was rest, not idleness. Rest recharges and rejuvenated. Idleness wastes time.
The Bible promotes rest. Jesus often withdrew to a quiet place to rest. In Proverbs, we are also told us that idleness and a productive life don’t go hand in hand. If I want the life God has planned for me, there will be no idling allowed.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NLT
No matter how hard I try, I always seem to write on an angle. It has also been pointed out to me that I don’t hold a camera straight when I take a picture. More than once I wrote in the sand, dotted the i’s with shells and took a picture. The glare of the sun made it difficult to see what the picture would be like before I took it.
This picture was important to me as it was something I wanted to share. My efforts were not what I’d hoped for and I was disappointed. Wondering if there would be another opportunity, I sensed God telling me not to worry. He is not looking for perfection from me.
The two words I was writing were inspire and inspiration. For reasons I will never understand, God has chosen to inspire me and has given me the task of passing this inspiration on to others. This is nothing I earned or deserved. Many times I have been uncertain about sharing my thoughts. The words often don’t seem polished enough to pass on.
What I have learned, is that God wants me to share what he has put on my heart. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just authentic. I have heard that God does not call the qualified; he calls the willing and then qualifies them. I am living proof of this. When I allow him to use my imperfections, it inspires others that he will do the same for them.
But he said to me, “My grace is made sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
As a friend and I were walking along a path in the woods, we noticed a few mushrooms growing nearby. Once we started looking for them, many more of varying sizes and shapes were seen.
My friend leaned closer to take a picture of one of the larger mushrooms. Wanting an unobstructed shot, she carefully moved a few blades of grass that were resting along the top of it. I was surprised to see the marks that the grass left in the surface of the mushroom. The light contact with the grass had left an impression which had changed the mushroom’s appearance.
This made me think about things that I come in contact with in my life. Everything has the power to leave a permanent impression. It doesn’t have to be something large to alter the way others view me.
Knowing this, I need to be aware of the influences in my life. Is it the positive or negative that will leave the impression? The more time I spend with God, the more His impression will be seen in me. His impression is what will make my life attractive to others.
Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants – what is good, pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 GWT
Three of us were walking along a pathway. One, a visitor to the area, pointed to a large white flower that resembled a lily. “That’s a pretty flower,” she said, “what is it?” The other friend, a native of the area, quickly answered, “That’s not a flower, it’s a terrible weed.” She then went on to explain that the vine producing this lovely bloom was deadly to other plants around it. As the vine grew, it wrapped itself around other vegetation nearby, eventually choking the life out of any other plants. My first friend replied, “Well, I think it’s pretty anyway.”
This conversation made me think of my life. There have been things I allowed into my life because they looked good on the surface. How could it be bad when it looked so attractive? Once allowed to take root, the blossom distracted me from the fact that it was slowly choking the good and positive things in my life. This happened so gradually that I was completely unaware. One day I realized that I was ensnared in a way I had never thought possible.
Fighting to be free was not easy, nor was it a onetime fix. Temptation is always there and is usually clothed in something attractive so I won’t recognize it. The safest thing for me to do is to pray about every situation. Jesus sees the whole picture and can guide me safely through the dangers.
Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Luke 7:7 NIV
Recently I purchased my first pair of cowboy boots. My husband and I had talked many times about getting some of these western boots. The push needed to actually shop for them came when we were invited to a Western theme wedding.
One thing I quickly learned was to disregard everything I knew about the size I would need. These boots didn’t fit the same as any other footwear I had ever had. Both my husband and I purchased boots one full size smaller than our regular sizes. Without guidance from a knowledgable person, neither of us would have thought to try on something so different from our usual size.
We talked about this and wondered if there was a life lesson here. Opportunities sometimes come that I automatically disregard because I don’t think they’re the right fit for me. Sometimes it seems like things are too big for me to handle. Other times it doesn’t seem that they are big enough. If something looks too limiting I don’t want to even try it.
What I need to remember is that with God’s guidance any circumstance can be made the right fit for me. He may stretch me in ways I never thought possible. He may also ask me to become smaller in order to serve Him. He is the one that sees the entire picture and will mold me to fit the plan He has for me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares The Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Stained glass shades adorn a couple of lamps in my home. When the light hits them from the outside, the colours are refracted onto the wall or ceiling. When the lamp is on, the light from the inside casts a warm inviting glow. In both cases they are quite lovely.
To create stained glass, small coloured pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures. These are held together by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame.
If the glass was one solid piece, the effect would not be the same. It’s when smaller broken pieces are joined together with other broken pieces, that the true beauty is shown.
It is the same in my life. The trials of life have caused me to become broken. By keeping to myself, I remain that way. When I bring the broken pieces to Jesus, he is able to join them with those of other lives to create something beautiful. He arranges them to form intricate patterns, and he himself is the frame that holds the pieces together. The vulnerability that I show by allowing my brokenness to be used is also an encouragement to others facing trials.
As the light of Jesus shines through me, my brokenness becomes part of the masterpiece that draws people to him.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6 NIV
As a self-published author, the majority of my book sales have been ones I have generated. Recently my first royalty cheque arrived from the publisher. Receiving royalties meant that some people had found my book and purchased it through traditional sources. Although the cheque was not large, it was very exciting for me to receive it and I couldn’t help but share the news.
A few friends joked about the word royalty, insinuating that I was referring to myself as royalty. Responding to one, I said, “The crown is too uncomfortable. I’m happier being a commoner.”
Although this was all done in a light-hearted manner, it did give me something to think about. If I value my own thoughts, opinions and needs more highly than those of others, I am putting myself above them. Life is much more enjoyable when I treat everyone as equals. Doing what I can to help others is what makes my life most meaningful.
This was demonstrated clearly by Jesus. As the Son of God, Jesus could have expected to be served. Instead, he came to serve. If I want to follow his example, I need to do the same.
Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27 NLT
One of the major roads in our city was undergoing road works. This caused a portion of the road to be closed. Instead of traveling their normal routes, drivers were faced with a detour that took them through residential neighbourhoods. This caused an unwelcome delay for countless motorists.
I looked at the large flashing arrow pointing to the detour. The road beyond was torn up and there was heavy equipment working. Several ‘Road Closed’ signs had been set up. All of the warnings were there to tell me that I couldn’t take this route.
There have been times in my life when I thought I knew where I was going, only to be met by an unexpected detour. The route I intended to travel was closed to me. This led to confusion. The detour would take me through unfamiliar territory which would slow me down. Not only was this inconvenient, it was also disorienting.
The direction my life was to go had been planned. Now everything changed. My initial response was to worry. What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way? Then I learned to trust in Jesus. I soon found that His direction for my life was far better than any route I had planned. Sometimes the detour would show me new things I needed to know. Other times it would lead me in an entirely new direction. Instead of focusing on what I thought I needed, I learned to pray to Jesus for guidance. If I was on the right route, I would ask that the way be clear. I would also ask him to close the road ahead if it wasn’t where He wanted me to be going. He is the one that knows my final destination and know the best way to get me there.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV