“Do not love the world or the things in the world.”
Hungry for a snack, I padded into the kitchen and took a beautiful red apple from the refrigerator. I washed it and sliced it into bite-size pieces and placed them in a small bowl. I sat down and ate them, one by one. Each piece was a burst of sweetness—the flesh gave way to little rivers of juice under the crushing of my teeth. I tuned out everything else but the experience of the apple. For a few minutes, I was conscious of God’s amazing creation, aware of what was really important in life—the sweetness of an apple. I was awake.
I returned to work and it didn’t take long until I had pulled the world back over my eyes. I lost the connection to the most important things in life and became hypnotized by the rat race; the hustle and bustle to get ahead, social media, the news. etc. I fell back asleep into a world of make-believe that man has created. Maybe you too, are asleep most of the day. If you are, I hope that you will wake up to God’s great world, if only for a few minutes.
“And we know that all things work together for good…”
Ghost, the feral cat I feed, brought her three kittens to my barn, where they now seem content to reside. Yesterday I set out traps to catch them all so that they can be spayed and neutered. The kittens weren’t too reactive, but when I trapped Ghost, I saw the full fury of a wild animal.
Ghost had no way of knowing I was looking out for her ultimate health and well-being and that the outcome of her being trapped will be a better life. It’s the same for me, sometimes. When I feel trapped in a situation that makes me fearful, I can’t see how it will end well. I can’t see that it is simply a step towards a better life. I forget that God has the big picture in mind as my life unfolds.
The circumstance you feel trapped in right now isn’t necessarily a bad thing. God’s working for your good, and soon you’ll go on to better things. Ghost will come home and have a better life because she doesn’t have to give birth anymore. I’ll continue to feed her and love her from the distance that she demands. Her kittens may be young enough to be socialized and placed for adoption into loving homes. Good outcomes for having had to go through an uncomfortable experience in a trap for a little while. Don’t despair if you are feeling trapped right now by circumstances that make you sad or fearful. Your outcome will be good, too.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Do you know who you are? Do you have a sense of your authentic self, the one God created you to be? Do you do your best to live from that core place of authenticity? When we veer off the track of who we are on a soul level, we lose touch with God. We become nothing more than an actor on a stage, pretending.
It takes courage to be our authentic selves. We have to practice vulnerability, and that can be very uncomfortable. What if people don’t like us, or accept us? What if people judge us? Sometimes it feels safer to go along with the crowd than to show our true colors. But God wants us to be authentic. His eyes saw our unformed substance. He knows who He created. He gave us gifts and a particular purpose.
It’s amazing how many people go through life without exploring their gifts and purpose. When we don’t know them, we don’t live the abundant life God has planned for us. We fall short of His glory. If we want to know the abundance Christ claimed He came to give us, we must be courageous enough to know and to be whom God created.
“He must become greater; I must become less.”
“You’ve got to let go,” God whispered to me as I sat pondering a situation that felt overwhelming. “Don’t rely on your understanding. Lean on me. You have my Spirit inside of you. Nothing can harm that. All things are going to work out for the good,” God explained.
“It’s hard to trust that. You seem out of touch sometimes,” I confessed.
“It’s your ego that gets in the way of Me, in the way of love,” He reminded me. That’s why it’s important to have faith. Let Me become greater, while you become less and less. You’ll arrive at peace and serenity when you do that,” God promised
I thought of the emotional hooks the situation I was pondering contained. I was being pulled into negative thoughts and judgment, and away from God’s Spirit, away from His love. I was seeing the world through my eyes, not through God’s eyes.
“I’ll do my best to become less and for you to become more,” I promised.
“Good! You’ll find that life is much easier when you hand the reins over to me,” God said. I knew He meant it.
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior…”
“What are you going to do with it?” God asked me yesterday morning as I was drying my hair.
“What?” I turned off the hair dryer (as if that help me hear Him!). “Do what with what?” I shook my head. Why does God always want to ask me a question when I’m doing something? I thought to myself. I turned the hair dryer back on.
“What are you going to do with the new year I’ve given you?” He asked.
“Oh, that,” I said. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, hoping that maybe it knew the answer. I thought about God’s question while I dried my hair and put on my makeup. I thought about it as I tugged on my jeans and sweater and headed out the door. I thought about it as I pruned the passion vine that had gone rogue and taken the milkweed tree hostage. I thought about it all day. When I crawled into bed and laid my head upon my pillow I finally answered God.
I’m going to live this year that you have so generously given me by discovering and living the answers to these two questions: “What’s true for me?” and “What do I really want?” I whispered a thank you for the glorious first day of the new year and then closed my eyes. I knew sleep would find me fast, and take me to the land of dreams. I smiled with my eyes closed as I nestled my head deeper into my pillow, satisfied that I will be a good steward of the coming year, with God’s help, of course!
“To every thing there is a season…”
Winter’s bony fingers reach down and hold everything in their icy grip. I shiver as I walk out the door to greet the day. My visible breath leaves tiny puffs of moisture hanging in the yard. I gaze at my garden; it looks forlorn. I’ve not seen a bee or a butterfly in weeks. The usual crowd at the birdfeeder has thinned to a single bird.
I love the winter in all of her unhurried quiet. It’s a time to let go and surrender to God, just as the trees let go of their leaves. They stand naked in their truth in the glare of the cold. We too can stand naked in front of God, stripped of all our adornments. This is the season for the naked truth. This is the season for deepening our relationship with God.