Morning prayer…

Birds chirping high in the maple trees
Corn tassels rustling across the road
Hummingbirds clicking at my window feeder
Blue Jays calling in the distance…
Gentle sounds of a country morning and
the sweet assurance that I am where I belong.
For how long, I wonder,
before He plucks me from this place I love
and I begin again, yet continue on,
willingly living for Jesus,
doing all that I know to do?
I will listen for Him throughout my day…
His Voice, my True North, ever pointing the way
even through my tomorrows beyond this day.

And so, in the waning silence,
I breathe to Him my morning prayer…
Holy Spirit, fill me
Holy Spirit, guide me
Holy Spirit, use me.

Mourning thoughts…

Has anything changed in the last four years, I wonder, as I see the ‘Your Memories from Facebook’ post on my page. Yes, and no. It’s another beautiful morning, much like the one I wrote about some 1460 mornings ago…

I could not ask for a more lovely morning. Cool breezes, birds singing, stillness broken only by the distant strains of a train, the revving engine of a crop duster several farms over, and the gentle buzzing of the baby hummer filling up on sugar water. The current People’s Exchange and The Paper lay untouched beside me, but I restrain myself from planning my day, spurning pen and list for just a little longer.

I hear the mournful call of the dove and am reminded that half a world away, children are in peril because of the irrationality of men who think nothing of using the innocent as shields and for what? I want to be sick as I think of the children laid out in death for all the world to see like some insane punctuation mark on the unspeakable actions that put them in harm’s way.

A sudden silence outside, most likely the result of a hawk hunting for its breakfast, reminds me that the predictable whirring of a flight ended Wednesday in a terrible silence because of the political ambitions of a single man, stripped of restraint and drunk on power. I think of soldiers nonchalantly walking through the smoldering evidence of 298 lives, and I am grieved that those who regard life so callously can push a button and destroy, with no remorse, so much potential, so many dreams.

Somehow I know that I am to take these morning thoughts with me throughout my day, not to dwell on but to use as the basis of my prayers. A bright flash of red draws my eyes to the dogwood tree, whose symbolic blossoms in spring remind us of the Cross Jesus died on, and I am struck by the addition of the blood-red to the foliage as the cardinal alights and takes off as suddenly as he came. It is a Word picture of the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, who became the sacrifice, willingly shedding his blood for ALL of humanity.

Yet, unlike any other god, our Redeemer lives. With His ascension to the Father, we who believe in Jesus–who live and move and have our being in Him–have now become His hands, His feet, His voice. He didn’t leave us purposeless but gave us our mission for life. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations,” He said, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” And being the loving Savior He is, Jesus doesn’t end there but gives us a promise, and a really remarkable promise at that. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The cacophony of the blue jays bossing everyone around at the feeders fills the air, cars pass on the once quiet road, and I go about my day, thankful for thoughts of family and friends, for views of tasseled corn and grazing horses, for work that calls me to the garden, and for the still small Voice within.

Freely, I have received…

Cool breezes, refreshment to my soul–
at the beginning of this day, I take the Hand
so freely offered and begin my day in speechless thankfulness
for those who spoke Your Truth to me
all those years ago…
All those years ago when I had no one near to speak
of You to me, Your Holy Spirit made sure
someone would and did.
I look out on this perfectly clear day and thank You
that the refuse of my life is under the Blood of Jesus Christ,
barely acknowledged that once it was but is no more.
My gratefulness shall be shown this day in the encouragement
I give to others because once those who loved You saw me
through Your eyes and brought me to Your Side.
Freely I have received, freely I shall give.

Unseen…

I saw it in her eyes, the storm inside,
carefully concealed behind her smile,
so easily put on from years of putting on.
I heard it in her voice, the deluge held at bay
by words, carefully chosen lest they reveal
the real story, hidden from view but there.
I felt it in her hand as I met it with my own;
cold, almost lifeless it was as if she was
barely holding on to what little she had left.
I saw it across the room in her lowered eyes
that simply stared, their gaze held
by the awfulness of her reality.
She was there but not there, her voice of despair
silenced amidst the incessant chatter
of those she came to meet.
Unseen, unheard, she remained unmoved by the very ones
who might have seen and heard her silent pleas,
not unlike their own and not that long ago.

Philippians 2:1

Don’t let this moment go by…

        Fathers Day has always been a difficult day for me. I only had my dad for 24 years, but during those years, I knew what it was to be loved unconditionally, and I’ve never forgotten what that was like. There are no arms now that hold me close but there is a Love that will not let me go.

      My dad went to church his entire life but didn’t accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior until two months before he met Him face to face. He was 70 years old. No one would ever have thought that my dad was not on his way to heaven. He never gossiped or said unkind things about anyone. Dad never talked much–except about farming–but when he did it was always worth listening to. He loved life and the land, his family and being at home. He was respected in the community because he was a good man and a good farmer.

      On one of his frequent visits, our pastor, Kenneth Pickering, who knew that Dad didn’t have long to live, asked him if he was ready to meet Jesus.  Dad admitted he wasn’t totally sure but said he’d always tried to do what was right and had gone to church all of his life so he supposed he would go to heaven. As Kenneth shared Romans 10:9-10 with him, Dad realized that, even though he believed in Jesus, he never had asked Him to be the Lord of his life.

      That afternoon I got a call from Kenneth, who told me I should go see my dad, so I drove the mile to Mom & Dad’s house. When I went in the bedroom, I saw the huge smile Dad had on his face, and I sat on the edge of the bed while he told me how he had asked Jesus to come into his life and knew he would be in heaven when he died. Even though Dad was bedfast and in constant pain, there was a new peace in his voice and in his expression too—a peace that had never been there before.

      During the next two months, as the cancer claimed more of my dad’s once-healthy body, he didn’t complain about the increasing pain but always tried his best to manage a smile. One night when I was spending the night so Mother could sleep, my dad cried out, “Sara, Sara, come here!” I was just a few steps away in the den and was by his side in a few seconds. Grabbing my arms with his trembling hands, he looked into my eyes and said, “Make sure they go to heaven. Make sure they all go to heaven—all of you and the children—make sure they all accept Jesus. I want to see all of you again. Will you promise me you’ll do that?” he cried. As I comforted him, I assured him I would tell everyone in our family what he wanted, and through the years I have. Two weeks later, my dad met the Jesus he had heard about all his life but had only really known for two months.

      It dawned on me just today that I am the same age Dad was when he went to his heavenly home; and although I have no life-threatening illness, who knows except God how much time I have left on this earth? I’ve shared my dad’s story with many people, and the bottom line is, someday, and it may be today, we will go from this place we call home to the place we will spend eternity—either with God or without Him. Don’t let the opportunity go by to say ‘I love you’ or ‘Forgive me’ or ‘Do you know Jesus?’ This moment–right now–might be your last chance.

     
 

Get on your mark, get set, go!

Questions and answers this morning, as I listen…

Are you so focused on running the race of your own life that His Life is passing you by? Then, take your eyes off your own personal patch of pavement and lift them instead to the One who calls the only Race that really matters, the only one with eternal consequences. Winning that race isn’t about being the first one to cross the finish line, it’s about focusing and finishing—focusing on what you know to do and finishing with the knowledge that you have run the race well.

Are you giving all by doing the work God has called you to with your whole heart; or are you impatient, bored, dissatisfied with your life? Then, get close to Him, take your eyes off of yourself, and look into the Life of the One who has called you. Resist the urge to just do something, but stand there—before Him—exposed in confession and repentance. Purposefully put things right with the One who redeemed you, who bought you with a price—His own life, hung on a cross for the entire world to see. Redirect your gaze from self to Savior. All that you have is because of Him. Live your thankfulness today by being His Hands, His Voice, His Feet, as you ‘go into all your world.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)

What is it you have for me?

What is it that you have for me? I cannot help but wonder.
I do not want drama, jealousy, offense, and a hundred other negative emotions bombarding my happiness, and so I surrender to whatever it is you want for me,
knowing my will and yours will be one.

Where will I be?
In a tiny cottage where the blue
Of living waters beckons me each morning,
Thoughts of you captured in print for others to see?

You know, Lord, and somehow that is enough to stop my wondering
Short of conjecture that serves no purpose.
And so I put my trust in you
Who knows my True North
And the path that leads me there.

Give mercy this day, I hear you say,
The same unmerited favor given to you.
Slip into her shoes and walk with her—
In thought, pray
In word, build her up
In deed, be His hands, His feet.
Just be Jesus.
Quietly, confidently, just be Jesus!

And be not weary in well doing—let us not get tired of doing the right thing, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9