All artists know if they’ve been painting or sculpting for a while, errors happen. They also know sometimes what they first thought was a devastating mistake added something special to their work, something they hadn’t originally imagined. Think about that when awful failures from your past come to haunt you, and remember who the greatest artist is.
Ducks Are Back
Our neighborhood mallard duck couple is back! After our latest rainstorm there they were, floating along in the flooded bar ditch next to the road. Those two are one of the signs of spring for me, like daffodils and tulips. The seasons here in Texas aren’t as clearly defined as in other areas. Many years it’s one or two weeks of spring dividing a frigid winter cold spell from scorching hot summer temps. It seems that way, anyway. In a world of continuous change, it’s comforting to see some of nature’s familiar patterns. I’m sure God planned it that way.
He Raised Me Up
After singing worship songs, I’m left with the music still going through my head. I like that. It’s like background music to my life. Now I wouldn’t like it if what was in my head was some commercial ditty or elevator music. I would hate that, but words of praise to God, that’s great. It helps me focus on what’s truly important. Right now, the words that come: “He raised me up to sit upon his shoulders. He raised me up to be what I could be.” I love that, because I know it’s so true. How about you? What a disaster we can make of our lives until he raises us up out of the holes we dig for ourselves.
While growing up I would hear my dad complain about sparrows eating his maize crop, so to me sparrows were bad. Even now when I see sparrows feeding on birdseed meant for cardinals, chickadees and bluebirds, my first thought is to shoo them away. But, when the Scriptures tell us God knows every time one tiny sparrow falls, it tells me he cares about sparrows too. They may be dull colored little beggars, but he created them and he calls his creation good. When we consider how blessed we are in this country, dressed like Joseph in his splendid, many-colored coat, I hope we don’t believe God cares for us more than for those covered in rags in other countries, suffering famine and disease.
Don’t you love to sing worship music! I especially love the hymn, “Great Is His Faithfulness.” Tears always come when I sing that song because I so appreciate God’s faithfulness to me. He was faithful to me, provided for me, loved me, even when I was going my own way, wanting what I wanted above all, instead of looking to him. Great is his faithfulness! Hymns are prayers to God set to music. When I was part of a choir, our director would remind us to think about the words we were singing. It made such a difference when we were not so focused on getting everything just right and were truly singing praises to our God.
A Trivial Request
I got off late to meet friends for dinner, so on the drive to the town some miles away I prayed for no holdups. I pride myself on not being late to anything. Along the way I sailed through half a dozen or more stoplights, amazingly all green, and with no other slowdowns, I arrived right on the dot. Running late was my fault. If I had been late, the sky wouldn’t have fallen, yet God acknowledged my prayer. How embarrassing! What a trivial request when there’s so much suffering in the world! Sometimes God reminds us he is always right there, hearing all our prayers, even the most insignificant.
Rain, Blessed Rain!
Before and after the snow and ice came rain, blessed rain, falling like silver dollars dropping on our dry pastures and fields. Those raindrops are much more valuable than silver dollars because rain is worth more than any amount silver or gold can buy. Ask any farmer or rancher here in Texas. Okay, they might complain about the slush and muck they must deal with working outside, but they have to smile when they see their stock ponds filling up.
Thankfulness Is Forever
When I think of all our loving, merciful God has done for me, my attempts to thank and praise him seem so insufficient. Every good I have comes from him, be it physical or spiritual. Even when times aren’t so good, I know he is right there with me. He knows what I’m going through and he cares. How can all the thanks in the world be enough! Then I remember it’s okay, I may be limited now, but I’ll have all eternity to thank and to praise and to worship him!
The Perfect Human
Speaking of our perfect human, Jesus also kept all the Ten Commandments, perfectly, fulfilling them for us. He called them good. But, when God gave the Ten to Israel, to help them navigate through life as his chosen people, the devil saw his chance. He used the commandments not as a bridge to righteous living but as a block to the grace of God. Remember the Pharisees who kept all the commandments, plus a lot of addons, yet were described by Christ in very uncomplimentary terms as abject sinners. The devil is still using them in the same way today. He sets the Commandments up as the ideal standard for Christian life. You can keep all Ten and feel pretty good about yourself, not realizing your absolute dependence on Christ. Our Ten Commandment righteousness is not enough. To fulfill Christ’s standard of righteousness we need his marvelous gift of grace.
Our Perfect Human
He was perfect and he was God, and yet he made himself flesh. He now knew in the most personal way what it felt like to be a man. When the Scriptures point out he was tempted in every way, they mean every way a person could be tempted. To name a few, check out Colossians 3 (NIV): “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry…anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language…Do not lie to each other.” Then add the seven deadly sins (some overlap): pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Read those again. Any look familiar to you, maybe a little too familiar? They do to me. Aren’t we thankful every time even one of these temptations entered his mind, he thought of you and me and turned away from sin.