What do we do when death seems to win the day?
The empty, whose heart is world-weary, tired of seeing what he never thought he’d see and hearing with ears he wishes deaf . . .
The young, embracing new sights and sounds, whose each new road cannot come soon enough and the new, whether good or evil, is a thrill . . .
The wealthy to whom abundance offers nothing new; to whom need is an unknown acquaintance and sour is made sweet with a request . . .
The impassioned, imprisoned, important paralyzed by hate, jealousy, and unforgiveness or energized by love, generosity, and mercy . . .
Owe thanks to their Creator who daily gives them breath, who does more for them than they recognize and overlooks more than they admit.
At this time set apart for Thanksgiving, regardless of where you find yourself in life, give thanks. We do not think of owing thanks, but we do; and though it is owed, it is incumbent upon us to offer it freely. You have a Creator who loves you beyond measure and live in a world that, despite its troubles, offers beauty and wonder.
We have blueberry and raspberry bushes in our yard. Our blueberries appear right on schedule, but our raspberries have always been late bloomers; which means that we enjoy raspberries in the fall.
I have a soft spot for late bloomers. Grandma Moses or even Moses, himself, blossomed on the downhill side of the proverbial hill. They both did the most important work of their lives after they’d passed what most would consider their prime years. But back to my berries. No matter when they appear – like the gifts God sprinkles into our own lives – early or late, I love them. I love them not just because they’re pretty, which they are; or because they taste good, which they do; but because of the way they present themselves.
It’s like a little game of hide and seek. Look under a leaf and ah! there’s a little rounded red berry. It’s a prize for your (very little) trouble. It’s kinda fun! I smile every time I pick berries. It amuses me.
Don’t you think it’s worth taking another look along your life’s pathway? You wouldn’t want to overlook something that could refresh you or bring a smile to yourself or others, would you? I suspect there are plenty of berries for the picking if we just look.
I’ve been trying to eradicate Creeping Charlie from my yard. I started far too late after several years of ignoring it altogether due to reasonable excuses. Years ago I used Borax or some type of weed killer with minimal results, which tells you why I am pulling it out by the roots.
Creeping Charlie’s proper name is Glechoma hederacea. It belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. I, however, prefer to call it “augh!”. It hides its roots and vine along the dirt or completely underneath the soil. It’s kind of pretty and smells a little refreshing if you like that sort of thing. The thing is, if you let it go, it takes over. And it doesn’t just take over, it kills anything it grows with – including plants like my thriving rhubarb used to be and grass. It’s very much like anything else in life that starts out rather innocuous- looking, and leaves us with reassurance that everything is just fine, and ends up making all sorts of trouble for us down the road. What we should have pulled up by the roots at first sight, eventually becomes death by a thousand cuts.
It took me five hours to clear a narrow strip by one fence. I’ve been out on afternoons since my initial attack and can now see some green grass. Much of it was killed by my nemesis, but some remains to hold the victory flag.
Today, I heard thunder at my back. I kept digging my fingernails under the tiny vines and roots and pulling – sometimes small bits, sometimes long vines. The long vines are the best. They help me feel like something is actually being accomplished. But they both count.
The thunder continued and a few raindrops fell. I ignored it and kept working, thinking all the while of a time in the future when Jesus will return with a suddenness that will knock us all to our knees and start our hearts beating like a stampede of wild horses with gratefulness or fear. Maybe both.
Then the rain began in earnest and I ran inside. And that, my friends, is my reminder to myself and you – if you want it – that there’s work to be done that needs to be done with all our strength because one of these days our work will be over.
Superbowl LI was the one to watch, wasn’t it? I’m not a sports fan, but I had an opinion this year. I really wanted the Patriots to win. I watched it on my little kitchen T.V. When all was despair, I left the room. It was too disheartening. But I kept going back. I’d watch, then I’d feel bad and pray to the Lord of heaven to help them, and leave the room again. Why go back? A hopeless situation is just that: without hope. Maybe I thought it could at least become not embarrassing. Not that it should’ve mattered to me.
And then . . . you know that feeling you get when what you thought could never happen happens? I got that feeling. Fist pumps and shouts of woo hoo were actually involved! I can’t imagine the ecstasy true Patriot’s fans were feeling! And I stayed to watch until the very end and watched everything after the end and I was still celebrating in my heart along with everyone else the next day. Not that I deserved to celebrate. After all, a fair weather fan of anything is just an observer, on the sidelines of the sidelines.
On this weekend the world knows as Easter weekend, new life is welcomed. But for true followers so much more is celebrated! Jesus – the one we saw die on the cross, the one who was buried and whose tomb was sealed with a stone, the one who his enemies thought they’d gotten rid of for good and whose death friends wept over bitterly – became alive again! He rose! From death! To life! And that event – His resurrection – brings with it hope that we will not only resurrect after death, but that our sin is forgiven. Forever. Gone.
And more good news. You’re only on the sidelines if you want to be. C’mon now. Celebrate!
Image: creative commons lic 2.0 www.flickr.comphotoscoconutphotos17041243732 https://www.google.com/search?site=imghp&tbm=isch&q=empty%20tomb&tbs=sur:fmc#imgrc=0VJn5XPu51kjAM:
Who do you listen to? What are your reasons for trusting them? If your life was on the line in a very real and immediate way, would it change who you trusted? It’s a challenge to separate things – wheat from chaff, for instance. Or truth from half-truth. Spin is a word we use to describe the presenting of an incident in such a way that it leads the listener in a certain direction. Sometimes it misleads them entirely. Consider the following:
Immigrants come to the United States to escape difficulties or danger in their homeland or for a fresh start in a land of promise. Terrorists use the mantel of immigration to quietly invade a nation.
President Trump’s administration wants to pause immigration for people from 7 countries that have the most terrorist ties in order to more exhaustively vet them. President Trump’s administration wants to ban Muslim immigrants from the U.S.
Privacy of citizens takes a back seat to gathering intelligence for national security. Privacy of citizens is an important part of living a free life.
The church has lost its influence in the nation (and the world) because it hasn’t kept up with changes in the culture. The church has lost its influence in the nation (and the world) because it has succumbed to the influences of the culture.
What will tomorrow’s news declare? What will be the passionate cry of journalists and actors and preachers and commentators and the guy next door? The news cycle has become the spin cycle and just as dizzying. And while the public becomes faint and nauseated from the spin, the earth spins, too: day and night, week in and week out, season to season, and then . . . then it stops. And the spin: of news, of excuse, of gossip, of the education of all topics, and of what we, individually, say to the God who created us when we pray stops. All of the spin comes to one breathtaking halt. And only Truth remains.
Wheat/chaff reference: Matthew 3:12; Image: Earth_from_space,_hurricaneBy NASAGSFCReto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
“Past experience should be a guidepost, not a hitching post.” Do you have something you’d be better off letting go? Is there something holding you back from the person you really, really want to be? Okay. You have everyone’s permission to change. Learn from your experiences, and move on. If you need to change, do the hard work of changing one day at a time. Those ropes tying you to a place or time or memory can dissolve more easily than you might think. Go for it! Stand tall. Believe God made you to be a strong part of His creation. Believe He loves you. He loves you. He really does. Be who you should be or could be or want to be. Run! Run free!
Quote: Jo Petty in Apples of Gold, Image: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain