Well, finally an easy matchstick suggestion, possibly the easiest. This week: “Indulge in a weekend nap.” It made me think about rest. God encourages us to rest from our labors and to rest spiritually as well. Sabbath rest one day a week is good for us, physically and spiritually (as long as we don’t go all legalistic and worship a day). Before I retired it wasn’t unusual for me to get sleep deprived. My days were long and my nights short. My work wasn’t 8 to 5, weekends free. When I look back now, I wonder why. Part of it was upholding the superwoman image I had of myself, I’m sure. But superwomen can sometimes forget life and the cosmos can get along quite well without them killing themselves. Another reason might have been to push out thoughts I didn’t want to think about. But I needed to have time to think. I needed time with my Lord so he could reassure me he’s in control. He has a plan. It’s going to be all right. Retreats are good. Silence and solitude with him is good. All you superwomen out there, they still are.
“Let someone go ahead of you in line,” is the matchbox suggestion this week. Not much of a sacrifice under normal circumstances. The problem comes when we’re in a big hurry. Or sometimes even when we’re not in a hurry, we might speed up while driving because we don’t like people cutting in front of us. One time a woman sped up, honking her horn, to get ahead of me to a gas pump. She got out of her car, shouting at me. I realized she thought I was trying to get there before her. I wasn’t, but she was so furious there was no explaining so I drove on. It made me think about how many people have gotten shot arguing over parking spots or in road-rage incidents. “Me first” seems to be our unspoken mantra. That’s just the opposite of what Christ would have us do, of course. So, I’m saying, “You first” instead of “Me first” and hoping that stays in my memory bank longer than just a week. (Yes, even while driving!)
Carol turned to me and whispered, “I’m doomed.” We were sitting up front in the choir at chapel services when the preacher said, “The Bible says worry is a sin.” I understood her remark because if worry is a sin, it’s a sin most if not all of us are guilty of. He went on to say if he had a basketball in his hand, it wouldn’t be the same as if Michael Jordan had one in his. If he had a tennis racket in his hand, it wouldn’t be the same as if Roger Federer had one in his. And If he had a slingshot in his hand it wouldn’t the same as if David had one in his. He asked who were we placing our trust in, ourselves, someone or something else or in God? In whose hands are we placing our concerns. He said whenever we start to worry, pray. Put prayer in place of worry. Put our worries in the hands of the One who has the power to do something about them. I’m trying, Lord! I’m trying!
While reading in the Gospel of Mark this morning I came across the account where Jesus was teaching in his home area and couldn’t do any powerful miracles because of the people’s unbelief. The scripture says he was “amazed” at their unbelief. I’m amazed too! This is Jesus we’re talking about, God on this earth. He healed thousands of people, but he could only heal a few in his hometown because they knew him and his family personally. It made me ask myself, is there a danger here? Jesus wants to be in relationship with us; he calls us his friends. But I think we should not ever take this special relationship for granted and forget who he is. He is our God and King. When we pray, let’s have no doubts, but believe and pray in absolute faith. Our Savior is always able and ready to hear from us.
She was always there and then she wasn’t. I loved her cheerful, positive nature and she had the best hugs. I didn’t notice at first. People do take vacations, but finally after several weeks, I became concerned. I asked someone if they knew why we hadn’t seen her at church lately. They didn’t know, so we asked our pastor. He sorrowfully said she had decided not to attend anymore. He said it wasn’t anything she disagreed with doctrinally, but she wouldn’t say what the problem was. I tried to call her but it didn’t go through. I emailed her, but no answer. “Recall a happy memory and share it with someone who was there.” I need that matchstick suggestion this week. I’m not through trying to reach her yet. We’ve both attended the same church for many years. Maybe I can help her remember the good times.
Last week we had freezing temperatures; this week it’s in the 70s. My flower gardens are a burst with daffodils and my yard covered by robins. Can spring be far behind? I enjoy the seasons. These signs of spring remind me that this Lenten season, a somber time to remind us of the sacrifice of our Savior, is followed by Easter Sunday, a time of celebration. It also reminds me that, when you put your trust in God, everything changes. The winters of your life turn into glorious spring. Thank you, Lord.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. The Methodist church in town is offering a drive-by opportunity to have a cross of ashes placed on your forehead. Some of my friends, both Catholic and Protestant, find this pretty funny. You can imagine some of the comments. (Do you just stick your head out of the window as you drive by?) I hadn’t thought much about observing Lent until a few years ago. I do eat fish on Fridays with my friends who observe the custom. Though Lent is known as a Catholic tradition, more Protestant/evangelical churches are observing it now. I’ve seen a lot of suggestions for what to give up on Lent on social media, many of which are what we shouldn’t be doing anyway. A pastor friend suggested giving up talking so much and spend that time listening to God. That sounds good to me. So I’m thinking I will observe Lent this year. But I need a physical reminder. I often eat a square of dark chocolate when I feel the urge for something sweet after dinner. So I think I’ll give up chocolate as both a reminder of the spiritual meaning of this season and to spend more time listening to God. Not so sure about the drive-by ashes though.