If you could see me, you might wonder about the reddish spots on my face. No, not acne at my age, I’ve made my annual visit to the dermatologist. The doctor asked if I cared if she used her freeze gun on me. I laughed and said, “Yes, I care!” It must have been a rhetorical question, because she zapped me anyway. I’m paying now for the years of sun damage done when I was young. It made me think of why God has all those warnings in Scripture against sin. Sin, like deep summer tans, may seem fun at the time, but sin has consequences. God hates sin because sin hurts his children! Though our loving, merciful God has forgiven us, we may still have to suffer the consequences of our sins.
In the rural community where I live our water comes from wells. This week, right in the middle of a Texas heat wave, one of the wells had to be shut down for repairs. My neighbors and I received a stern notice that lawn sprinklers had to be shut off immediately. No watering until the well was back in service. Most people will agree cutting back seems reasonable. But those who take pride in the well-kept lawns they invested a lot of money and time in will get nervous if the repair work takes too long. Knowing this, along with the notice came a warning of a stiff fine for those who don’t comply. As with all warnings, fines are necessary because often we humans are hard of hearing and don’t feel rules apply to us.
My neighbor had more tomato plants than he needed so he gave me a couple. I planted them in a large pot on my patio. Almost immediately something started chewing on the leaves so I kept a close eye on the two little plants. I had no idea what type of tomatoes they were but before long it was obvious they were going to be tall. Little blooms came next and then half a dozen green tomatoes. Even growing up on a farm I still marvel at how God designed nature to work. From tiny seeds, new life grows and blossoms. It’s like a miracle. I stuck two little tomato plants in the dirt, watered them and they produced food for me. Whether planted in a large vegetable garden or from a pot on my patio, the result is the same. God is the source of all life, constantly creating and sustaining his creation. And, aren’t we happy about that!
Back in 2018 I described how for years now, I’ve painted a Western scene to be auctioned off at our annual family reunion. These paintings always include horses or cows or both—no surprise there, considering where I live. The auction helps support the next year’s reunion. But the painting I ended up painting in 2018 didn’t go to the next year’s reunion. There was no next year’s reunion or the next or the next. You know why. This year, trying to get ahead of the next wave of COVID, the family gathered for the 2022 family reunion. My painting was finally auctioned to add to our next reunion fund. Sadly, we lost four family members since the last reunion. Let’s not ever lose sight of how important it is to stay close to our families. And, that goes for our friends too. Life is short, folks!
Have you ever been on a jury? Sometimes a jury’s decision can mean life or death for a person. I’ve not been on a jury that had to make such a decision, and I’m thankful. But juries are called to settle many other problems as well, which can involve money, property or personal injury. Not long ago, I sat in on such a trial and watched the jurors’ faces while the prosecution and defense attorneys presented their cases. The judge reminded the jurors several times what their responsibilities were. Stay alert, people, I thought. These are serious life-changing charges for both accuser and defendant. Scary stuff! Going to court reminds me that when I stand in my final judgment, I plan to point to my Savior and say I’m with him!
Several of my neighbors and I share little gifts every Christmas, anything from homemade banana bread, to cookies or jelly or whatever. My neighbor Sue brings her gifts on Christmas china. After noticing I had accumulated a couple of those plates, I tried to return them. But Sue wouldn’t take her plates back. She said they can’t be returned empty. They are for sharing goodies with others. This put me on the spot because I’m out of practice baking desserts. When I bake sweets, I’ve found I also eat them! But I love the idea of returning the plates not empty. It reminds me of Isaiah 55:11, where God’s word is compared to rain that causes crops to grow. When God’s words go out they do not come back to him empty.
When I finished checking out with the girl at the Atwoods register, she said, “Have a goodun’.” She was all business, a pretty girl in jeans and t-shirt, and as a store manager, obviously knew about horse feed, ammunition, veterinary supplies and all the other myriad items Atwoods Farm & Ranch sells. Was she raised on one of the many horse ranches in the area? A lot of young women here work at ranches to help train horses. Was she one of those? Are you ever curious about some of the people you come in contact with and wonder about their background? “Have a goodun’” sounded like something she had heard her dad say, so I’m thinking she grew up on a ranch or farm. I love living in Texas!
Why do people run away from God’s loving protective arms to dangerous, risky life choices, all in the name of personal freedom. It’s irrational but I’ve done it and maybe you have too. Often I made the choice and then asked God to bless it. That’s not how it works, folks. Jesus lived and died and was resurrected for all humanity to erase sin from our lives and give us life eternal. In light of God’s merciful grace, sin is irrational. We can blame hormones or circumstances or other people’s actions, but, when it comes right down to it, it is us who are to blame. (The devil made me do it might be an excuse in very rare cases, but most of the time it is us.) Thank you, Lord, for your merciful forgiveness and may the day come soon when we say and totally mean your will be done, and sin is no more.
As my daughter and I checked out at Atwood’s, a guy noticed the shirts we were buying. He was waiting in line behind us, an old cowboy, hat and boots with several large bags of horse feed. He asked how much we were paying for the shirts. He had bought a similar shirt, which he was wearing, off the clearance rack at Walmart for a lot less. He said, “You’re being ripped off,” as he continued to educate us on the folly of paying as much as we were for our shirts. This was in front of the by now stony-faced woman checking us out. We had just come from Home Depot where another guy had offered us unsolicited advice. It’s not unusual for perfect strangers to come up and talk to you here, although I have a feeling shopping with one of my pretty daughters was a factor too. This is Texas!
Two of my Mother Day plants shriveled up from the unseasonably high heat here in Texas. I’d watered them regularly but obviously not enough. They looked so sad that when I watered my other flowers I continued to water those two as well. Guess what? After a day or so one of them raised its little flower head a little. So I continued watering them both, although the other plant showed no sign of life. Even my daughter agreed it was a goner. Then several days later I noticed a tiny green leaf under the sad, dried up flower and shriveled leaves. It has revived too! Yes, there is a resurrection! No joke, I figure it’s just as easy for God to bring his followers back to life as it is for him to resuscitate that flower. He is the source of all life!