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Archive for July, 2012

Challenge

Did you ever face a task that seems too large for you?  Something that must be done and you feel at a loss, totally inadequate?  I have, and in fact, I am facing something currently that I feel called to, and yet feel totally inadequate to accomplish.  Thankfully, I do not go alone.  Last Sunday in his message our pastor made a comment that has strengthened me and stayed with me.  It was this:  “God is going to do His work with or without us.  The question is, ‘Do I want to be a part?’”

In my quiet time I have been studying the book of Joshua.  As He always does, God brought me to the right section of scripture at the time I needed it most.  As I face the task that is before me, I have been reading God’s words to Joshua…and I claim them for my own also.  I read these words:  “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you…Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

As I read all this I realize a couple of things.  First of all, God’s laws are not given to us to limit us, but to open all possibilities for success to us!  We often think those commandments are the restrictions that are set before us to help us earn our salvation.  But this passage says that if we are careful to obey everything written in the Book of the Law, we will be prosperous and successful!  Obedience is not to restrict us, but to free us!  And even more, it blesses us with prosperity and success.

And so, I look at the task that is before me and I realize that I have a choice.  God is willing to include me in the success of His plan, but it’s my choice!  Do I want to participate?  If so, then He has given me guidelines to follow to be successful.  Not to be restricted by, but to show me the way to success.  But walking in that way, or trying to find my own way, is my choice.  It will not be easy.  That is why God says:  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

As I face the challenge before me, I am greatly comforted with those words, and I cling to that first part:  “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  I think back over my life and remember so very many times of challenge and choices and every single time I see God’s hand leading me.  Sometimes I went His way, sometimes I tried it on my own.  But the times that I was successful were the times I was completely obedient to Him.  And I know He does not lie.  He WILL be with me.  He WILL go before me.  And He WILL grant success.  He doesn’t need me, He only allows me along for the blessing it will give to me.  And so I go with joy.

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The Pitcher

I love pitchers.  I don’t know why particularly.  I have a whole collection of water pitchers and tea pitchers that I use to serve cold drinks.  Some are glass.  Some are pottery.  Some are ceramic and some are delicate china.  But all of them have beautiful curves and sit regally waiting to be of service.

There are pitchers all over our house.  I also love using them for vases of flowers and just for decoration on a shelf.  They make lovely bookends and even trinket jars on an end table that seems to accumulate annoying little bits of clutter.

Through the years when we travel, I find myself lured into buying a pitcher as a memento of a fun place or because it is particularly lovely.  Not long ago when Rick and I were in Maine we happened into a pottery shop.  (‘Happened’ may be a misnomer there, but it will do for now.)  We found a lovely pitcher with a beautiful oak leaf design and, well, soon it was in our possession, being shipped home for us and I could hardly wait to open the box when it arrived.

I was dusting today and as I lovingly caressed and dusted pitcher after pitcher my mind began its usual habit of using the item as an illustration.  As I pondered the aspects of a good pitcher I realized that I want my life to be a pitcher.

As I think about that, I realize that we are all vessels of one kind or another being filled throughout our lifetime with the abilities and talents we acquire.  Many are good sturdy jars with sealed lids, accumulating more and more and more throughout their lifetime.  Some are vases that hold a considerable amount, but some evaporation occurs.  Some are broken or cracked vessels that leak their goodness out and it never does a whole lot of good for anyone.  And some of us are pitchers.

How is a pitcher different?  Well, it seems to me a pitcher is a service item.  It is made to pour its contents out, not keep them inside.  It must be constantly refilled, but it refreshes as it pours itself out.  It nourishes, it gives, it blesses.  In the end, a good pitcher will have been poured out over and over, again and again, but every time it is it blesses someone.

When I think of my life I realize that I’d much rather die dry and empty, completely poured out for those around me and know that my life was worthwhile than to be filled to the brim with riches that are left behind anyway.  Folks may shake their heads and feel sorry for me at that time, but the joke’s on them because it’s the job of a pitcher to continually be emptied.  If I go to my grave full to the brim, I will not have done my job.

Will I be remembered?  Probably not.  At least not for long.  But will I have made a difference?  Well, I hope so.  At least I’ll die trying!

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Yesterday was a memorably sad day for us in this country.  Andy Griffeth (of Mayberry fame) died.  It is the end of a legend; the last of an era.

What was it about those Mayberry shows that struck such a cord with us all?  Was it the simplicity of the life in ‘Mayberry’?  Was it the father/son relationship with Andy and Opie?  Was it the sincere friendship of Andy and Barney?  Was it the neighborhood of love and acceptance?  Was it the silliness of some of the characters?  Was it the wholesome story lines?  Was it a bit of all of this?

Whatever the reason we loved that show, it has played a large part in the history of this family.  Yes, there were no solid family units among any of the characters.  Yes, the acting was poor and somewhat crude.  Yes, there was an over-abundance of stupid, simple-minded characters.  But there was love.  There was loyalty.  There was simple humor.  There was honor.  And there was respect.  And those things are a rare commodity in this day and age.

The Andy of Mayberry show was one show we felt safe allowing our children to watch.  It was a show where we knew we would not need to feel embarrassed or ashamed to have our children watching or seeing us watch.  It was one of the three most-watched shows in the history of our country’s TV years.  And it will be watched for generations to come.

In spite of the fact that I am not a fan of television in general, I am grateful for the contribution Andy Griffith made to our country, and to society in general.  We all need a bit of entertainment now and again, and the wholesomeness of the Andy show was one of the all time best.  I am sad.  And I am grateful.

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Indepence Day

Today is July 4th—the day we, as a nation, celebrate our independence from our mother country.  It is the anniversary of the day we made the break and established ourselves as a recognized country of our own.  But are we ever truly independent?  Is there ever a time when we do not need the help of others?  Do we ever truly want to sever all ties?  I think not.

It makes me think of marriage also.  Our wedding day is an ‘Independence Day’ of sorts. It is a day when we establish new ties; new commitments, but we never really break the old ones.  We just sort of rearrange our commitment priorities—or at least we should.  We continue to be the child of our parents, and we should honor them all the days of their lives and ours, but our priority is changed to put our spouse first; to meet his/her needs first, but still to love and honor our parents.

Our family proudly traces our heritage back to the founding fathers.  My maiden name was Nelson, and we have traced our lineage directly to the Thomas Nelson, Jr. whose signature is on the Declaration of Independence.  In fact, I believe there are papers somewhere to link us to someone on the Mayflower—but I’m not a history buff and so I am simply repeating things I’ve been told.  At any rate, I come from a long line of independent thinkers and action-takers.

And I still struggle with independence.  I love to think for myself.  I love to do things my own way.  Yes, am happily married.  I have willingly agreed to submit to my wonderful husband; to obey his headship and to love him to my dying day.  Yes, I have also willingly committed to membership of our wonderful church; to obey the rules of discipline and to submit to the leadership of our ruling board.  And yes, I am a citizen of this wonderful country.  I am proud of belonging to this land.  I don’t always agree to all that this country stands for, but I have willingly agreed to submit to its rules and regulations in order to enjoy the freedoms it also provides.  But most of all, I am committed to the Lordship of my Heavenly Father.  I have agreed to follow the guidelines He has set forth.

Why?  Because I am NOT independent!  We all need one another.  We all need guidance. We all need help from time to time.  Not one of us can truly stand alone.  Our happiness and mental health is truly due to our inter-dependence.  We need to be needed, and we need the strength and help of others also.  But most of all, we need the mercy and love of our God.  And so, as the nation celebrates its independence today, I personally am celebrating my dependence!  And I’m thankful to all on whom I depend, and most of all, I pray I will never ever have to be totally independent!

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