Sunday, January 27, 2013

Were You Calling Me?

Cooper has an obsession...squirrels. His days are spent gazing out the window, watching the squirrels scrounge for seed underneath the bird feeders. When he finally is released to go out, he sprints towards them. As well feed and portly as they are, they are  still faster than he is and quickly scamper up the huge maple nearby.  

There they sit, chattering away. Cooper responds by barking and I often wonder if they understand each other or am I witnessing two creatures shouting at each other in two different languages. Eventually the barking ceases and is replaced by his steely gaze.

Virtually nothing can break his concentration and focus on the squirrels in the tree. In vain I call him.  It is as if he is deaf. He seems unaffected by the coldness of the snow that surround his feet. My only recourse is to go out after him with a leash in hand. Once he sees me (and the leash) he realizes the gig is up and reluctantly comes. It as if he knows that I will clip the leash to his collar and make him come with me. I swear I see him hang his head when sees I am serious about his obedience.

What captures our attention at the cost of everything else? What keeps us from hearing the still, small voice of God in our own lives? What do we long for and gaze after at the cost of hearing the master call our name? What stops us from being obedient?

John 10:3-5

The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”

grace and peace....

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Guardians

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. (Psalm 56:3)

It's cold here! In fact it is downright cold, dark, and snowy. It's winter... Most days this week the forecast was calling for snow, heavy at times, predicted to start later and persist throughout the day. During my morning commute, driving towards the on ramp of the toll road I saw it...the gi-normus, orange truck with a huge plow on the front, with amber lights flashing. They were waiting...waiting for the snow to begin. Most of us breathe a sigh of relief as we know he (or perhaps she!) is there to help, to protect, and to keep safe, all of us that travel on that road.

Somehow those trucks always make us feel better.

Indeed we are blessed when we have such guardians in our own lives....those who show up when we are afraid, in trouble, or hurting. The ones who protect us and keep us safe. Our friends and family stand as guardians, intervening as needed.

But there are guardians who not only protect and help us, but also call out warnings of impending danger. They are brave enough to tell us of the need to change direction, or perhaps most importantly tell us that our behavior is sinful. These guardians are fearless risk takers who love us too much to allow us to continue down a wrong path. These guardians are truth tellers who persist in their message despite our unwillingness to listen. These guardians rarely need to shout (but sometimes they do!) but rather are gentle and kind, yet unapologetic for their devotion to our well being.

These are the guardians we would do well to cultivate in our lives.

grace and peace...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Hidden Spring

It's a common question..."Aren't you glad that this year is over?" To be honest, yes and no. I will be glad to see Glenn's physical suffering diminish. I am grateful that his radiation treatments have concluded. Loss, grief, disappointment, sorrow and suffering marked many of our days. But just as many days were marked with joy, peace, contentment, understanding, gratefulness, and blessing. There have been many good things embedded in the midst of the hard days of 2012.

We know the deep, abiding, comforting presence of God as never before. I long for that to continue.

A book that I often return to is Midnight Harmonies by Octavius Winslow, a 19th century pastor. In it he writes of enduring the dark times of our lives, often called a "night season". He speaks of the "Midnight Harmonies" that are found in the dark night. Early in his book he shares a thought that is unusual...

"A saint of God is then a happy man. He is most often so when others deem him miserable...even then there is a hidden spring of joy, an undercurrent of peace lying in the depths of the soul which renders him, chastened and afflicted though he is, a happy and enviable man."

Imagine envying someone who is going through difficult circumstances because of the joy and peace that is evident within them...

Imagine being most happy when others think you have every right to be most miserable.

That is what comes to mind when I reflect on 2012 and eagerly anticipate in the year ahead.

My prayer is that each of us will have the "spring of joy" and "undercurrent of peace" running deep within us in 2013.

grace and peace...