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Posts Tagged ‘comfort’

Sometimes I just need a little extra reassurance to strengthen my trust in God.  Call it a return to “Lessons in Trust 101.” Maybe that’s why the fate of this little bird seemed so important to me.

After being  shaken out of its nest during last week’s gusty thunder storms, I found this little guy perched on a fallen limb right outside my front door late Friday afternoon. He  looked so sad,, cold and alone that I  couldn’t help but worry about him. Being so close to the ground and away from the safety of the nest, I feared my dog, a cat or some other rural predator might be able to get him. I didn’t think he would survive the night.

Suddenly it became urgent to me that he survive – maybe because his forlorn appearance triggered a kinship with the way I felt inside. I don’t know, exactly, but   I felt helpless and unsure what to do for him. If I moved the branch, he might fall off onto the ground and lose the meager safety and camouflage of the branch. I didn’t want to pick him up. because I was afraid his mother bird would abandon him and I  didn’t know where his nest was to put him back. Yet I knew he wouldn’t survive without help.

As I pondered his situation, I remembered this verse:

Aren’t two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground. Even the hairs on your head are counted. Matthew 10:29-30 (CEV)

Though it might seem a little silly to some, I began to pray for this little guy.  I already knew God cared for him, but at the core of my being,  I needed to see my big, strong God prove his care for such  a small, defenseless bird – especially  right at that moment because of things going on in my life and in the lives of those closest to me. I sensed God saying, “Watch and see what I will do” as this  precious object lesson about his protection unfolded right before my eyes.

Friday night turned into Saturday morning and  when I looked out the window to check on him, the little bird  was still there. I also saw a second bird perched on the branch with him.  Through the day when I glanced out at the branch, he was still there, sometimes alone, but often with his guardian-angel bird, even after the Saturday afternoon downpours.

When night fell again, I prayed the same prayer for him, encouraged that God had protected him for one night, and believing he could protect him again. He did. I looked out early Sunday morning and the little bird still huddled on his perch, his guardian-angel bird close by.

But 2 hours later when I went out the front door to walk to the church, he was gone. I walked closer to the branch, looking for feathers or signs of an attack (oh faithless me!) but saw nothing to show that something “got” him. Apparently he had finally flown away on his own to a safer perch.

I may never know whether he had been dazed by the fall and finally recovered  or if he had finally developed enough strength  to fly away on his own, but the lesson af the sparrow will stay with me for a long time. God cares for the sparrow and he  will take care of me too because I matter to him.

Thank you Father for  sharing such an important lesson in trust at a time when I  needed it the most. Amen.

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“LORD God, you stretched out your mighty arm and made the sky and the earth. You can do anything.”        Jeremiah 32:17 CEV

Here in Clearfield County, the outdoors is one of our major assets, from the West Branch of the Susquehanna River to the two state parks, the area draws many tourists each year through every season.

The area is so blessed with outdoor beauty and adventure that in March this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation designated an 80 mile loop of highways associated with the river and Pennsylvania history as the 19th scenic byway in the state!  Many thanks to all who had a part in the planning and work to obtain that designation. It will help protect the scenic beauty of the West Branch and aid in promoting tourism in its many surrounding communities.

But apart from all the commerce and marketing potential of that designation, what I appreciate most is the beauty of this area that God created.  Each time I travel cross-county to my daughters’ homes in neighboring counties, I am privileged to commute through some of the most lovely scenery the state has to offer. Though I dislike driving, this trip always has a calming effect on my soul because so much of the trip borders the West Branch. At my favorite point, about halfway through the trip, the road almost touches the river’s edge in Mahaffey.

That glimpse of the river winding through the trees never fails to build a swell of worship in my heart at the beauty of God’s creation. No matter what cares I carry, the view prompts me to let go of those burdens and watch them float away down the slow-moving current like a person tubing on the river. For a few brief moments I am reminded that my God can do anything and my heart is at peace.

Lord thank you for bringing us down those byways in life where we can see your beauty and experience your peace. Amen!

 

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“In heaven and on earth. There are no secret places where you can hide from me.”        Jeremiah 23:24 CEV

“Peek-a-boo!”

The infant giggle of my eight-month-old granddaughter, Lily, melts my heart and I play the hiding game again. Popping just out of sight behind a newspaper, then popping back into her line of vision, her giggle erupts again and again.

To some it’s just a cute baby game, but in reality, it’s an important developmental milestone for an infant  called object permanence – the idea that even though they can’t see an object, it’s still there. It’s a basic building block of memory and trust for a child to learn that even if mommy goes out of the room, she’ll be back.

New Christians (and even some of us older ones!) go through a similar stage in our spiritual development as we learn to trust our heavenly Father. It’s that feeling we get when  we pray and our prayers don’t seem to be reaching him. Or when we’re going through a difficult experience and we lose sight of him in the crisis. We feel like God’s just not there, even though his word assures us of his constant vigilant presence.

But it also works another way – when we try to hide secret thoughts, actions or attitudes from our heavenly Father. We seem to think that  because we don’t voice those thoughts, burying them in the depths of our hearts,  that God can’t see them and he’ll forget they’re present in our lives.

Silly us! Not only is God always watching, his light illuminates the darkest parts of our hidden hearts, exposing the very things we seek to hide from him because of shame or fear of retribution.

Father, help  me to live secure in the knowledge that you are always there and strengthen my trust muscles so that I can live openly and honestly before you, without covering up. Amen.

 

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“ADONAI will guard you against all harm; he will guard your life.  ADONAI will guard your coming and going from now on and forever.”        Psalm 121:7-8 CJB

If you had to evacuate your home quickly because of an impending disaster, what would you take with you?

Of course, it would depend on the amount of time you had to get out, but for most people it’s a no-brainer. they would take those who mean the most to them – their family members. Then if there were time, they might try to take important papers or things like photos with great sentimental value which couldn’t be replaced.

Everyone would probably have a different list of priorities, but one thing would be the same – the things they would try to take with them would be the things they value most because of their relationship, their cost, their usefulness or the memories they hold.

God (Adonai – interpreted as master, owner, or father) guards those things which he values highly as well. Whether we accept it or not, we are of great value to God. He paid an extremely expensive price to redeem our  souls. It just makes sense to trust him to guard our hearts, our lives and our daily walk.

AMEN!

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Living in the Most High’s shelter,     camping in the Almighty’s shade, I say to the Lord, “You are my refuge, my stronghold!     You are my God—the one I trust!”  Psalm 91:1-2 CEB

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. 

When my children were small, that word meant work – and becoming a nomad of sorts for a week.  A family campout was a no-brainer since it was much less expensive to sleep on the ground in a tent and cook our own meals than to stay in a hotel and eat out for every meal. So we packed up the car with the tent, outdoor cooking equipment, sleeping bags and all the paraphernalia needed and headed down the road to adventure.

But all that extra work and planning was worth it! Looking back,  I can smile at the time we  visited the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and spent the first half of our trip in the laundromat drying out from the rain. Or the trip when our five-year-old middle daughter wanted to know what language they spoke in NY as we crossed the border from Pennsylvania to a state she had never before visited.

So many happy snapshot memories flood my mind of trips to theme parks, castles and campgrounds. I can still smell the aroma of bacon frying in a pan on an outdoor grill, feel the cooling shaded of tall pines, and the warmth of an evening campfire.

As I remembered our family times this morning, I began to wonder what it was like for the Israelites as they camped in the wilderness. I’m sure they didn’t have lovely shaded campsites with electrical and water hookups. LOL!

But they did have a campfire by night and a cooling shade by day as their God travelled with them. They literally got to camp under God’s shade cloud, protecting them from the heat of the wilderness sun.  The huge nightly bonfire  of his presence kept wild animals away as well as providing warmth and light. Awesome!

Much like our family trips cemented relationships between us as a family, their experiences on this epic journey taught them to trust their God and to take refuge in their growing relationship with him, On a personal level, I can see many similarities between their travels and my own life journey as I learn to camp under the shadow of God, learning to trust him and rely on his protection.

Thank you Lord for cementing my family together in love through those camping trips. Thank you for cementing my relationship with you during those life experiences when I needed to camp out in your presence, learning to trust and rely on you! Amen.

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“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”        Psalm 56:4 CJB

Everyone was in bed. The doors were shut and locked for the night when rain began pelting the house from a bad storm system. A sudden bolt of lightning struck the house, igniting a fire.

One small child, awakened by the sound of the lightning striking the house and the sounds of the fierce storm, became afraid. He started down the hall to the parents’ room on the other end of the house, but was unable to get there because of a wall of flames. The child panicked, not sure how to escape the burning house. He sat down in the middle of the hallway and cried because he was so afraid.

But in the midst of the darkness and smoke, he felt a man’s hand grasping his. Believing it was his father, the boy followed him to safety out the front door.  Immediately the man vanished,  as soon as the child was safe.

Bewildered, the child began to look around for his father, who came around from the back of the house calling for his son. “How did you get out?” asked his father.

“I  was too scared to move and sat there crying. But then I felt your hand holding mine, leading me out here,” said the boy.

“That wasn’t me, Son. I couldn’t get to you  because of the fire.” The father began to weep, thanking God for saving his son.

In the midst of the danger, God was there to relieve a small boy’s fears and to lead the child to safety.

Lord, help me to remember you are there with me when life’s troubles threaten to engulf me and I feel like that frightened child. Help me to trust you enough to hold onto your hand and follow you to safety. Amen.

 

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“For you fashioned my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I thank you because I am awesomely made, wonderfully; your works are wonders — I know this very well.”Psalm 139:13-14 CJB

God is a phenomenal knitter. Not only is he able to knit us together in utero, creating an awesome, colorful strand  with each individual life –  he is able to take each of those individual human strands and knit them together  into an incredible living design that grows and changes with each passing day.

I’ve seen it happen several times. The first time I really noticed his artistic knitting talent was during the ice storm that hit my northern New York community of Gouverneur in 1998.  I woke up to a loud crackling sound as one of the transformers on our street burned out, leaving the neighborhood in darkness.

When the sun came up we realized that ice had formed on all of the power lines causing poles to snap off and wires to fall. Not only was our street powerless, but the whole North Country region was out! We had no power for a week in town and outside of town things were much worse with some areas powerless for up to three weeks. Believe me, you don’t want to be without power in northern New York in January when temps can plummet to 20 degrees below zero!

But through that storm, God knit together a whole community as people opened their homes to their neighbors, churches, nursing homes and even prisons opened up as shelters, and those from outside the area sent in food and other supplies to help until power could be restored.

Recently, I’ve seen it happening again as God began with a single strand – a little girl named Emily who is battling leukemia here in my community.When she began her fight, God began knitting our whole town together. People started praying together, across denominational lines for this feisty little girl with the fighting spirit.  They scheduled candlelight vigils, bake sales to raise money and  to show support for her family. Businesses even placed messages of support on their marquis around town. Through sites like Twitter, Facebook and Caring Bridge, her life is being knit together with people from all over.

We never know who our lives will touch. But it is inevitable that our lives will become knit into the great fabric of God’s plan – looped together, intertwined with others to  bring life, color and continuity to his pattern.

Lord, use my life to touch others in a good way today!

 

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