Saturday, November 19, 2016

Embrace the Pace



This summer I spend a few days in Shipshewana, Indiana, which is Amish country. The group I was with stopped for  lunch one day  in a local restaurant and we chatted with the friendly waitress.  We commented on how an unusual an experience it was for us to share the road with the Amish horse and buggies.
The waitress laughed and said... "We have a saying ...'Embrace the Pace' ".

It was a catchy phrase and echoed in my mind.  Since then it has taken on very personal meaning for me. When life takes a sudden unexpected turn,  you suddenly find your life-path blocked and you can no longer travel at your usual speed. Your focus has narrowed to the one thing that has 'slowed you down'.
Our initial reaction when we are suddenly encountered by a road block - be it on the street or in life - is to groan with impatience at the inconvenience and having to deal with the stress of  necessary adjustments in our plans. Road blocks in life come to all of us at one time or another.

I have neglected my blog because in September my mom had a serious stroke and has been in hospice.  Caring for her has demanded my daily focus and  time, putting most everything else 'on hold'.
When we were told that our mother would not recover, we willingly took on the responsibility of her care 24/7.  At first we were given the diagnosis that she did not have long to live, but the reality is that her condition plateaued and, though needing full care, is still with us after two months.  Our own lives have been indefinitely  'put on hold' to make her our first and only priority.

That was my initial perspective - my own life 'put on hold' and the question was, how long could I put it on hold before I could of necessity pick it up again?
But then, I began to feel convicted that this was not how I should be looking at the change in my life  - expecting and waiting for life to be 'normal' again so I could be in control of  my own 'pace'.

"Embrace the Pace" took on deep spiritual application. I realized that if I truly believed that God was in control of my life, this too was something He had allowed and something that I needed to accept - yes, even embrace - in the same way I would willingly accept anything else from His hand.
Just as the motorists have to accommodate and slow down for the horses and buggies who share the road, so to I had to slow down and 'embrace the pace' set before me.   The things that were important in my life were overshadowed by something more important.  For this time in my life, I am as called to serve as in any other time,that I would more gladly choose.

In Shipshewana, I was privileged  to have a ride in an Amish man's horse and buggy. I so enjoyed the experience - the hypnotic clip/clop of the horse's hooves on the pavement was stress-releasing and the unhurried pace allowed me to notice things the speeding motorists missed.
So also in life - embracing the pace -  reveals and teaches us things we would otherwise  never notice in the fast paced lanes of  'normal' life.

I do not think  I am unique in struggling with impatience - and then feeling guilt for being impatient - for a difficult time to be over.  But  II Thess. 3:5 gives me the directive God leads me to --  Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.
First, knowing my heart is secure in the love of God and then, in that love allow the 'patience of Christ' to rule my emotions, is key to finding the peace that passes understanding. The peace that does not deny the difficult situation or circumstances or emotional pain,  but calms the heart in the midst of it.

And then I need to remind myself  that it is never in my own strength that I do the things before me ... but that the Lord's words to Paul are directed to me as well...  "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."  II Cor. 12:9

God makes no mistakes and when I am called to Embrace the Pace , I know that God walks it with me.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Our God Cares


Flying is not on my 'Fear' list, but for many people it is. 
My friend's daughter is one of those people, and flying is a time of high stress and anxiety for her. 
She was recently booked on a flight for a vacation destination with her husband. 
My friend called me and asked me to pray for her daughter, 
In my prayer I asked that God show them in some visible way that He was in control 
and that He would melt her anxiety. 

The young couple finally boarded their plane, the wife barely holding it together. 
The plane's engines roared to life and the plane taxied down the run away, gaining speed for take off. 
When it reached the end on the runway, the plane slowed 
and the pilot's voice sounded over the intercom. 
"We will not be taking off.  Our engine just failed. We will attempt to repair the engine. 
You may remain on the plane, but it will be about a seven hour wait." 
Now completely frantic, the wife decided no way was she going to fly on this plane. 
They needed to find another flight.  
There was only one, leaving in about five hours.  
She managed to book on that flight, securing the last two seats on the plane. 
Finally, they boarded, their seats being among the least desirable, in the back of the plane. 
They safely took off and had just unbuckled their seat belts, 
when a stewardess stopped in the aisle beside them. 
Leaning toward them she asked, 
"We happen to have two vacant seats in 1st class.  Would you like to move up?" 
Yes! 
Not only did God stop the defective plane before it took off 
but upgraded their seats to the luxury of 1st class. 
Was God's care 'visible' ??
Yes, indeed.

"Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you."
I Peter 5:7

Friday, August 12, 2016

Of Mice and Men and Science

mouse-portrait

Did you see this  article in the news some time ago ?

I always love when science 'catches up' with the bible. After multiples tries and many discarded, amended, adjusted attempts at understanding  the world we live in and defining how things work, science does sometimes confirm the truth.

In Gen. 9:2 God says this .. "and the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air , on all that move on the earth.... "   

I used to wonder how this could be since God originally created animals to be Adam's 'friends', yet something changed when God told Noah after the flood that, from then on, animals would fear man So how is it that today animals still  fear man, unless with patient retraining they are 'tamed'?
What happened that permanently changed the animals' instinctive trust of man to an instinctive fear of man?

Seems science has found the answer.

Using foot shocks lab mice were trained to fear a fragrance resembling orange blossoms.  To the surprise of the scientists somehow there was a transfer of information regarding the 'danger' of this fragrance into the sperm of the trained mice.
This ensured that the 'fear'  response to that particular scent  was passed on to their young.   The other surprising result was that the successive generations had an even greater fear response to the 'smell' and needed a smaller amount of fragrance to trigger the response.

Interesting to note, isn't it, that  next time a wild animal flees from you in fear you can know that it is still displaying something learned by its ancestors that lived in Noah's time. It  is literally the 'smell' of man that triggers the fear of man in animals, just as the mice in the quoted experiment were trained by a 'smell'.

God's word is true, and it is always true, no matter how long it takes science to figure something out!!

I was wondering ....
God says in Duet. 5:9 that the iniquity of the fathers is passed down to the children, to the third and fourth generations.  BUT those who love God and keep His commandments experience God's mercy.
We have indication in our language usage  that people are aware of this 'passing down' - from parent to child - of characteristics , behavior patterns, addictions etc.
Familiar phrases are .. "Like father, like son..."  or "he's a chip off the old block" , or "that's a family trait".

From the initial brainstorming work of two scientists, Moshe Szyf, a moecular biologist and geneticist at McGill University in Montreal, and Michael Meaney, a McGill neurobiologist,  there spawned a whole new field, behavioral epigenetics.   This study has shown that our DNA is permanently changed by what we experience in our childhoods - negative or positive -  be it abuse or deprivation or loving affirmation.  

While God meant it for our good -- that our DNA would carry in it the pattern of the good example our parents modeled before us, so that it would be easier for us to 'do and live right' -- it also works against us if less than a good example is lived out by our childhood caregivers. Then our DNA is changed to follow a negative pattern, and we follow our parents'  tendency toward depression, or violence or anxiety. 
   
But isn't it reassuring, and comforting to know that all negative patterns that affected us in our growing up years  can be overturned by God's grace? 
 If we look to Him as our Savior, we are given a new start, we are a new creation, and are given a new example to follow.   Jesus  showed us the way,  He expressed God's love toward us, and when we come to Him in our brokenness,  He heals our hearts minds and spirits.
He gives us a new identity and  writes HIS DNA on our hearts.  


"I will give you a new name..."
 Isa_62:2 
 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
 I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." 
Eze_36:26 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Sunday Moth


My husband and I were driving to church on Sunday, a beautiful blue-sky kind of day.
Suddenly, I caught movement in my left eye's  peripheral vision,  and before I could think to see what it was, something landed with a small thump on my glasses, and all I could see was a big smudge. Yes, it was a moth and my husband happened to have his camera beside him to quickly snap a photo. I'm sorry the photo is blurred but it does prove the event!

Knowing me well,  my husband voiced my thoughts ... "You'll have to write a post about this."
I smiled and replied, "I'm already thinking."
I had my 'application lesson' in mind before we drove onto the church parking lot.

Moths in the bible are always spoken of as something that is destructive, destroying what is good or valued.
 Some  passage references  are ...
Job 4:19 - "How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed before a moth?"
Matt. 6:19 - "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy..."
James 5:2 - "your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten."

But my inspiration  passage is found in Isaiah 51:7,8

"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, 
you people in whose heart is my law,
Do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings, 
for the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool, 
but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation."

In this passage the Lord is encouraging His people and contrasting them to the people who would reproach and revile them. 
It is the 'moth' that symbolizes the destruction coming upon those who reject the Lord and despise His law and His people.  

In this passage there is something the Lord wants us to know. 
 When the Lord says, "Listen to Me!", do we listen? or do we have selective hearing ....  

What does He want us to know that is important enough that He snaps us to attention -
"Listen to me!".
If you are a mother you understand perfectly how you need to make sure your child is focused and attentive if you  want him to remember what you are about to say.   

When the moth landed on my glasses, I was very happy I was wearing glasses that prevented the moth from flying into my eye.  
So also in the Isaiah passage the Lord is saying that we have protection from the 'moths' that would threaten us with intended harm.  

What is this protection over us?   Righteousness.

Our righteousness is two-fold. 
First it is the righteousness of Christ, a gift that covers us when we accept Him as our Savior.
Secondly, we must walk in that righteousness by doing the things that please the Lord, obeying the things He has commanded us to do. It is not enough to just be hearers of the Word , we must also be doers.  His laws are not a list of 'dos and don'ts' to make our days difficult , but rather God in His wisdom wrote a manual that instructs us on how we should live to be safe and happy and holy - a delight to our heavenly Father in the same way an obedient child is a delight to his parents. 

I am not aware of my glasses as I go through my day, but it is through them that I view everything around me.
In the same way,  we are to view the world around us through the 'glasses' of our righteousness.
If we "know righteousness and have God's law in our hearts" we will see clearly with wisdom and discernment. The 'moths' of this world will not be able to get past the protection that keeps us in peace, thankfulness and joy.

If we do not have our 'glasses' of righteousness on, our vision is blurred - we do not see clearly and we are vulnerable to all the enemy would bring against us. We are easily fooled by his lies, his deception, his temptations - all of which sound so good and reasonable to an 'unprotected' mind.

We know bad things happen even to good people, and pain or difficulties can cause a distracting 'smudge' to hinder our vision, but we can be assured of the faithfulness of God's promise  that as long as we 'wear' our righteousness the 'moths' of destruction will not be able to hurt us. They may touch our physical body, but not our soul or our spirit.

When we find ourselves in trouble, maybe the first question we need to ask ourselves is ... Were we protected by  'righteousness' to keep the 'moths' from harming us, or did we think we could get away with compromising godly righteousness and exchanging it for the counterfeit of the world's wisdom, so-called?

"My righteousness will be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation."
Herein we are safe, both in this earthly life and the eternal life to come!
.