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Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

“When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous (Psalm 124:4).”

Today is an absolutely gorgeous late autumn here in Virginia where I live. My schedule this morning allowed me to take my walk through the pastures of the local university–a walk I treasure.

It occurred to me as I closed in on the well-known pond on campus,”What a difference a year makes.” Last year at this time I was living in a Nordic country where the daylight comes late and goes away early

As I walked I recalled the emotions of that late November. I was definitely depressed. I was apart from my family (I hadn’t seen them in almost three months), and the sun was a thing of the past.  Not only did its light only appear a few hour a day, but there was some much overcast that I rarely saw the object itself.

Yet, today there was a bright sun ball in the blue sky. I was surrounded by greenery and water. It was like I had gone from hell to heaven in the space of 12 months.

A passage from the devotional Streams in the Desert describes well my emotional state one year ago:

“All-loving Father, sometimes we have walked under starless skies that dripped darkness like drenching rain. We despaired of starshine or moonlight or sunrise. The sullen blackness gloomed above us as if it would last forever. And out of the dark there spoke no soothing voice to mend our broken hearts. We would gladly have welcomed some wild thunder peal to break the torturing stillness of that overbrooding night.

Yet, something came out of that period. It drove me to my knees.

When I wasn’t working, I had time to spend with the Lord. And I did a lot of that, especially on Sundays.

Streams in the Desert, in the same passage, goes on to portray  what happened to me as well as this author:

“But Thy winsome whisper of eternal love spoke more sweetly to our bruised and bleeding souls than any winds that breathe across Aeolian harps. It was Thy ‘still small voice’ that spoke to us. We were listening and we heard. We looked and saw Thy face radiant with the light of love. And when we heard Thy voice and saw Thy face, new life came back to us as life comes back to withered blooms that drink the summer rain.”

Somehow in my loneliness and darkness my relationship with God grew to be the best it had ever been. It was just me, the Lord and the black.

One of my friends recently told me that he thought of me as Job’s second cousin. I have been thinking of that comment ever since.

In one way I think of it as an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as a man like Job. On the other hand, I have thought that my life and that of Job differ in one respect.

His plight eventually came to an end.  God restored his  fortunes. My difficulties go on and on, with no end in sight.

My pastor told me a couple of months ago,”You’re just in a season of life right now.” The inference was that “this too shall pass”. I looked at him with an expression of,”I don’t know about that.”

Sometimes I see light at the end of the tunnel. For example, I am so boxed in that I pretty much have to use my one talent to get by.

As a result, I think that perhaps God has enclosed me so as to force me into using my gifts. Otherwise, my attitude would be,”I can’t do that. I must do this.”

Now, it appears He has placed me in such a condition that He is telling me,”No. You must do this. You must listen to me (finally!) and do what I called you to do  a long time ago. You just need to trust Me and the promises I have given you.”

That is astounding to me, that God would think that much of me to actually set me on a path to my dreams being fulfilled, especially this late in the game. The jury is still out on whether or not that is what is happening, but I’m listening–and watching for the light to reappear!

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“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy (Psalm 33:3).”

I have to admit that I am a glass-half-empty kind of guy. This was quite evident to me when I awoke this morning.

I felt like a truck had smacked me in the jaw. I had big bags under my eyes, and I had a hard time getting out the door to take the kids to school.

Suffice it to say, I am not a morning person.

Even the cup of Joe I had drunk didn’t work. Neither did the slap of cold air as I walked to the car.

I really have a difficulty getting motivated at times.

I had a little fun  this recent Halloween, sticking a picture of the quite dead Mike Myers character from the movie that goes by this day’s name on Facebook as my profile picture.  The photo actually was meant as kind of a visual double entendre.

While my intent seemed to be to poke a little fun at those Christians who are adamantly opposed to any form of enjoyment of Halloween, my more subtle meaning was that I myself was a dead man.

I have recently been diagnosed with a disease which, left untreated, could be fatal. Thankfully, it is treatable with a pill.

However, my encounter with this diagnosis has led me to think about the nature and shortness of my life.  It has evoked what my wife called the “musings of a dead man”.

This actually is a glass-half-full kind of thinking. The  thoughts which I have conjured up from my brain have to do with how to best spend the rest of my days. My picture on Facebook was probably interpreted otherwise though.

One old friend rebuked me in a message. He asked,”What is all this stuff about you being a dead man? You are very much alive!”

His admonition, while misguided, was actually quite helpful. He is absolutely right. I am definitely very much alive, and I have to start living that way, starting with a better attitude.

My wife is my biggest motivator and she knows my penchant for procrastination and a “woe-is-me” mentality. She has lived with my pity parties for a quarter of a century.

This morning she exhorted me to get going on a dream project. In fact, she insisted on giving me dates for completion.

In my morning stupor, she knew she had to repeat the dates and get a response.  I agreed to her deadlines.

I need people like my wife and my friend from Facebook to motivate me. I wish it wasn’t that way. I wish I was always a self starter.

My wife knows my gifts and I am sure is frustrated I am not using them. Perhaps God is, too.

He used the wise man of Proverbs to warn against procrastination. Solomon wrote,” Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor,’Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’— when you already have it with you (Proverbs 3:27,28).”

As I wandered through the public library this morning, I stumbled on a recent biography of a social entrepreneur, a man I had never heard of. This man has personally tackled some of society’s problems, doing something about the issues he sees before him/

Somehow, as I waited in the car for the library to open, I believe God was preparing my mind to be attracted to this book. I had had a thought in the car that at times one person has taken it on his shoulders to change some aspect of life, not just sitting around and thinking about it, but doing something. It occurred to me that one person can definitely make a difference.

I am going to read that book I found.

Surely, the world is  a tough place. But there is a lot that is right about it, too. Mainly, the good stuff comes from God.

He cares about love and justice. He has given humans a beautiful creation to enjoy (Psalm 33:5-7).

God takes care of the bad stuff, too. Don’t like the recent election results or the government?  It’s not hard for God to create gridlock, obstructing the bogus plans of politicians (Psalm 33:10).

If I don’t like how things are, and my glass is half empty, I should stop whining and do something about it. God doesn’t complain, He acts.

He has His eye on the details of  this planet. He moves in men’s hearts to do His bidding (Psalm 33:13-15).

Indeed, I think He is moving in mine. I don’t think I have the time, strength or motivation to take on great projects, but God knows differently.

What I lack He provides. He will provide the  moments and power I need to carry out what He wants me to do. God will give me life so I can give Him something back (Psalm 33:16-19).

Now all I have to do is figure out what that is. Or not. He even has  that under on His agenda (Proverbs 3:5,6).

All I need to do is trust, and DO.  God has given me gifts and He wants me to use them. Why later?  I’ll be happier, and so will others.

It’s time I put away my bad habit of putting things off and get rolling.  “Mañana” just got expelled from my corpus. //

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