“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
Gray blankets the day. The rain is steady. I sit and look out on my garden and ponder what I will do on this wet day. My thoughts turn to the future. What will I do to continue my work of sharing God’s love? I have more questions than I do answers. But deep inside I know that whatever I do, I want to follow Jesus’ wounded feet. I want to volunteer to serve Him.
As the rain tumbles from the sodden clouds, I hear myself say the words that the prophet Isaiah said: “Send me.” I don’t know where I will be going, but I know it will be the journey of a lifetime. Won’t you come along? Volunteer. Follow the wounded feet of Jesus. See where they take you.
He is my refuge and my fortress.
The headlights cut a swath of light as I maneuvered the car through the moonless night. I drove in silence, filled with a peace I haven’t felt in years—the peace of knowing I’ve finally found home. I peered out of the window at the countless stars twinkling above, marveling at the beauty of the dark country sky,
“It’s a blessing to live here,” God, I whispered. “To be out in nature—to see your handiwork at every turn—it’s such a gift.
“I’m glad you enjoy it here,” God answered.
“And the new friends I’ve made. They are a blessing, too. My life is so sweet. I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me.” I said, tears brimming in my eyes.
“Keep emptying yourself of all that blocks your heart from love and you’ll find that your life becomes sweeter still,” God answered.
“I can only imagine how wonderful you will make the years ahead,” I said. “It will be a joy to find out.”
I arrived home and parked. As I got out of the car I caught the streak of a shooting star racing across the sky. “You’re amazing, God,” I said as I walked to the cottage. I stopped at the door and took one more look at the night sky before going in. “Good night, God,” I said. I pushed open the door and walked into the sweetest home I’ve ever known.
“Yours is the day, Yours also is the night…”
I put my blowup mattress on the back porch last night, eager to sleep out under the stars. As the moon came into view, I settled down to enjoy a restful slumber. I was just about to drift off when the low growl of a cat startled me. I turned on my flashlight to see if it was one of the feral cats I feed, (instead of a bobcat or mountain lion) but I couldn’t see it hiding in the berry bushes. I settled back down again. A minute later a noise on the nearby tree caught my attention. My flashlight revealed a rather large raccoon climbing down, just a mere few feet away from my face. Again, I settled down. The cat continued to growl, its anger audible. Foxes out in the ravine began calling to one another, their sharp raspy barks punctuating the dark. Bullfrogs joined the cacophony, and an unknown animal rustled through the undergrowth, cracking twigs and branches as it made it’s way unseen. I got my pillow and went back inside; the noise too distracting for sleep.
I curled up in my bed and thought about how the night animals are unknown to us; for we are fast asleep as they live out their lives. It is like a whole new universe opens up in the cover of darkness. Life goes on around us twenty-four hours a day, all set to God’s time clock; all set to His purpose. We truly are blessed to be a part of it.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
I sat at the edge of the ocean, clearing my mind after an unsettling day.”Breathe it in,” God said.
“The smell of the salt air?” I asked.
“The beauty,” He answered.
I took a slow, deep breath.
“Now, breathe in your beauty,” He said.
“Breathe in your beauty,” He said again.
I laughed, “I’m fifty-eight, remember. Not much of that left.”
“Not that beauty,” He explained. “Your soul’s beauty.”
“I don’t know how to do that.”
“Sure you do. You did it the moment you were born and took your first breath,” He said. “Close your eyes and remember.” I closed my eyes. I took a slow, deep breath. Suddenly every cell in my body was filled with love.
I opened my eyes and saw the ocean stretching out endlessly to the horizon. Like the beauty God breathed into me the moment I was born, it seemed to go on forever and ever.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms.”
There is a particular smell in the garden at night when it rains. Pungent. Woodsy. Like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. Every time I encounter it, I’m filled with a nameless longing—homesick for a place I can’t remember. Tonight I stood in a soft rain just to breathe it in; to feel that sweet longing.
“Dear God, my heart longs for something I can’t name. Something I can’t remember,” I said as the rain peppered my hair. I stayed out in the dark for a few minutes more, then went back inside.
I don’t know why I’m telling you about it, other than I think you know that longing too. It’s a haunting reminder that what we have in this life is of no comparison to what God is preparing for us when we return home.
I toweled off my hair and crawled into bed and settled down to sleep, perhaps to dream. “Good night, God,” I said and turned off the light, knowing that all throughout the night, He would be there with me, just as He is with you, until the end of time.
“The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you…”
The sun waved farewell to the day and dipped below the horizon. I buttoned my coat and walked to Main Street as the last of the day’s light faded into the cold dark. The corner restaurant was roasting chickens over an oak wood fire. The aroma made my mouth water. Down the street, people sat outside the cafe, huddled under the orange glow of electric heaters; steam rising from their coffee cups. The sound of laughter and happy voices filled the night. Farther down the street, storefronts twinkled with Christmas lights.
As I walked past the ice cream parlor, the clerk waved at me from behind the counter. The store was empty, too cold for a cone on a night like this. As I stood at the corner, deciding which way to turn, a man shoved his wheelchair into the crosswalk. Car lights illuminated his disability; his legs amputated below his knees. When he got to my side of the street, he looked up at me and smiled so brightly that I couldn’t help but smile back. His eyes danced with a sweet sparkle. “Wonderful evening,” he said as he tipped his hat at me.
I stood and watched him propel himself down the sidewalk until he was out of sight. I’m not sure why, but I turned back and retraced my steps. The bell on the door of the ice cream parlor jingled as I pushed open the door. The clerk’s face lit up, happy to see a customer.
I enjoyed my ice cream as I walked home, all the while pondering the man’s smile. It felt oddly familiar. Did I know him? I wondered. Of course not. I had never seen him before. When I arrived home I turned the key in the door. I stepped into the dark and snapped on the light. The brightness chased away my confusion. Suddenly I knew why the man’s smile was so familiar! God had smiled at me through him! I pressed the memory of his smile to my heart, all the while marveling at God’s goodness. It is a wonderful night! I thought.