Wednesday, December 26, 2012

All About Bears

One of my Christmas gifts from my three girls (daughter and granddaughters) were these absolutely adorable Bearington Bears.
They came with the message that they are my prayer bears and when I am suffering from an RA (rheumatoid arthritis) flare these bears are to remind me that my girls  are praying for me.  
A very touching gift!  Who wouldn't feel better with such cuddly reminders.

Sometimes I find English a strange language where the same word can be used to refer to completely opposite things.   Like 'bear' and 'bear' -  one is an animal and the other means 'to carry'.

So why does 'bear' have  two such extreme contrasts in meaning?    It actually was how the English words evolved over time.   The Old English words  started off being bera for the animal and the Latin verb for 'to carry' was baran while the adjective for 'made of bear-skin' was beren. In Middle English both words became 'bere' with different pronunciations   From there it was a short step to our usage of the word 'bear' as both animal and the verb 'to carry'.

Rather than a literal physical carrying of some object  we tend  to associate 'to bear' with the figurative meaning of  bearing one another's burdens.

When Moses was overwhelmed with his workload he was given good advice by his father-in-law. His father-in-law advised him to choose men qualified to help him in judging the people's conflicts, problems and complaints. He said..."So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you."  Ex. 18:22
We have a New Testament parallel ..
  "Bear one another burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ." Gal. 6:2.
 What is the law of Christ ?   The law of love!

But abstract understanding must be validated in my life by corresponding actions.
Can my bears teach me something about bearing burdens ?
I think so .....
1.  My bears feel sooo cuddly as they snuggle comfortably into my arms.   To bear someone's burden I too must fit comfortably into someone's need.  They must feel that I understand, that they do not have to be stiff or 'unreal' with me... they can be vulnerable and trust me.
2. My bears are soo soft.   To carry someone's burden I must be 'soft', not harsh or condemning or judgemental.
3. My bears do not offer pat answers, they make no demands.  To bear someone's burden listening is more important than offering advice -  offering my strength, my shoulder, my tears of compassion are more important than 'professional' formulas or prescriptions.
4. My bears are 'present'.   To bear someone's burden I have to be available, I must be where I can be reached when needed!
5. Just looking at my bears warms my heart and puts a smile on my face.   To bear someone's burden I desire to be someone that brings a wave of warmth to someone's chilled heart and let gentleness cause a smile to override tears on someone's face.
6. My bears are beautiful.  To walk alongside someone in compassion, carrying a burden together is indeed a beautiful thing to share -- both in giving and receiving.

I wish for all of us in the new year that we will be both 'burden bearers'  as well as never having to bear our burdens alone!  May we share both our joys to multiply them and our sorrows to divide them!

Wishing you , my dear friend, a very blessed 2013 where God is your center and your Source and His Presence and Love your dwelling place.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stress Points

My most prized 'possession' is my embroidery/sewing machine.  I love what it can do .
I have been making some lace projects for Christmas gifts and I noticed that most designs have a stress point. That is, a weak spot in the design that the needle struggles to move over smoothly.  The needle will  bunch the thread under the presser foot, or tear away the backing or get stuck in one spot.   It is here that the project can be destroyed.
The stress points only show up in the process of working the design and are different in every design.  If I am watching I can prevent my work from being marred or spoiled.  I can stop and restart the needle,  I can add another layer of stabalizer , I can add some finger pressure to help guide the needle over the stress point.   If I have walked away or do not act quickly my project will be ruined.

I was sitting watching the machine work a design, anticipating the stress point coming up and my mind wandered to thinking about how we all have stress points in our life.
Each of us has a unique design of life pattern and in this 'pattern' we also have individual stress points.
For some a stress point may be a character weakness -  a quick temper or impatience.
For others it is a sudden change of plans in a day, or an unexpected delay.
It may be a season of grief or pain or suffering sickness or an accident.
It may be a difficult relationship.
It may be the stress of a holiday, like Christmas, where we can become overwhelmed with the list of things to do and the extra expenses of gifts and celebrations.

It is at these stress points that our day or our life can be disrupted or destroyed.
If we are anticipating and watching, we can prevent any serious damage.
Sometimes we need to add a layer of prayer, sometimes we need to stop and 'listen' and restart with God's Word,  sometimes we need the helping nudge of the Holy Spirit, or His enabling  to get us through the test or difficulty.

As I helped my machine slip over the stress point without a mar in my work, I was so thankful that I have Someone who sits and watches over me , to be ready to help at a time of need, always watching that His work in me will not be spoiled !

  "Now may the God of Peace...  make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."  Heb 13:20a,21

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I listened to the governor of New Jersey on the news one morning addressing the then coming storm called Sandy.
 He  recognized that with all schools being closed, children would be listening to the TV.  So he addressed them directly.   He told them that they didn't need to be afraid, that their parents were with them or their caregivers.  The adults were in control of what needed to be done  to take care of things and the children would be safe and protected.

I thought about the children, that they would be calmed with the assurance that they could trust in the fact that the people who loved them would make sure they were safe.   They could rely on the wisdom and resources of adults making necessary provisions for their well being and protection.

But, much as I wanted the children to feel safe, I thought about how limited the care of the adults really was.  They too were  very vulnerable in the face of a terrible storm that was flooding streets, felling trees and breaking heavy branches, causing  traffic to come to a standstill , closing schools, airports, bridges and shutting off  electrical power, leaving millions of people to cope without it.  

Was the children's trust in parents misplaced ?  No, not in the sense that parents would do all that was in their power to protect and care for their families.    But, the problem is that their power is limited.  They can protect only so far ...  cope with the storm only as far as their resources and ability allowed.  They too are vulnerable - the only difference lies in the degree.

We as the children of our heavenly Father are also told not to worry, not to be afraid, that He will take care of us, keep us from all alarm.    Is the power of our Father limited ?  No.  His resources? No. His willingness or ability?   No.
So, I sometimes wonder...  why is it , that children so naturally and easily trust their 'imperfect' parents implicitly,  while we hold back and tremble even though our 'perfect' heavenly Father promises that all will be well.  

I love Psalm 121 .... I recently memorized it, it is such a wonderful Psalm of promise when storms of nature or life threaten us and unleash their power against our 'nest'.
                I will lift up my eyes unto the hills.  From whence comes MY help ??  
MY help comes from the Lord that made heaven and earth.    
He will not suffer your foot to be moved , he that keeps you will not slumber.  
He that keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  
The Lord is your keeper.  
He is the shade on your right hand.  
The sun shall not smite you by day nor the moon by night. 
The Lord will preserve you from all evil. 
He will preserve your soul.  
The Lord will preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, 
even forever more !     

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Think on THAT!

From Psalm 87  - Think on THAT!

Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God…….
And of Zion it will be said, This one and that one were born in her.
And the Most High Himself shall establish her,
The Lord will record,
When He registers the people …  “This one was born there!”

I dread turning on the morning news  knowing I will only hear more ‘bad’ news.   Another disaster, another accident, another crime, rising gas prices, political unrest, fighting, war ….. 
 It is all so quickly depressing. 

But then I read passages like Psalm 87 where God speaks through the psalmist of something that gives Him great joy!  
The word ending the Psalm is ‘Selah’ , meaning “THINK on THAT!” 

The Psalm is talking about “the City of God”,   which Hebrews 12:22 identifies for us as the heavenly city that is home to those that have been ‘born again’ , becoming citizens of the Eternal City and sons/daughters of God. 
But God’s expressed joy in this Psalm is not focused on the whole city. 
Note the words… “This one”   
God looked down the corridors of time from creation, His eyes sweeping over the multitudes, looking for that ONE and God’s finger joyfully pointed to YOU when He recorded your name and proclaimed to all … “This one was born in her !   
This one belongs to Me, this one is safe!”  
In God’s City there is no bad news… only promises that God will keep! 
Selah !  Think on that !