ARCHIVES: April 2016


04.29.2016

Wisdom from the Garden

It’s Historic Garden Week in Virginia, an annual event billed as “America’s Largest Open House.” I got to wander through a few of the gardens and tour some of the homes, which were stunning. Exquisite chandeliers, open-air breezeways, lively artwork, and scores of breathtaking floral designs gave light to the eyes and joy to the soul.

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Pretty much everything was perfection.

But it didn’t just happen; getting these homes and gardens ready took more woman-hours (and quite a few man-hours) than anyone would care to count. Which is kind of ironic, given how the flowers themselves got dressed for the big event: See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

That’s from Matthew 6, a passage that’s all about not trying too hard, and not worrying. Instead, Jesus says, we are supposed to seek God before everything else and, like the flowers in the fields, trust him to take care of our needs.

Of course, that’s a whole lot easier said than done (particularly if you’re like me, with a life that seems set on the “spin” cycle). Let’s start by asking God to adjust our perspective and help us focus on what really matters. Let’s turn Matthew 6:34 into our Friday prayer:

Heavenly Father,

Help me give my entire attention to what you are doing right now, without getting worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Thank you for your promise to help me deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6:34, MSG)

Amen.

 


ARCHIVES: April 2016


04.22.2016

People Vary

I have a friend whose grandmother, upon being told that one of her grandsons was going to take his honeymoon before he got married, summed up her analysis with this:  “People vary.”

Over the years, I’ve used that phrase to account for any number of differences in taste and style. I was reminded of the maxim this week when a pal who raises chickens graced me with a sample of her harvest. Chicken-cooping does not appeal to me, but…people vary. And for that, I am grateful.

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The Apostle Paul certainly knew that we’d vary – and he encouraged us to recognize and affirm those differences. “The body,” he wrote, “is not made up of one part but of many.” Paul said that the foot shouldn’t feel inferior or excluded because it is not a hand, and that the ear shouldn’t be bummed because it isn’t an eye. “God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18)

As you consider the way God has made you today, don’t be jealous of someone else’s attributes or abilities. Instead, stop and think about the unique gifts he has given to you, and how you might use those things to strengthen, equip, and encourage other people. Not everyone has what it takes to raise chickens, but for those who do, it’s gotta make God happy when they share their eggs.

Which brings us to our Friday prayer (which you can pray for yourself, or for someone you love):

Heavenly Father,

Help me to use whatever gift I have received to serve others. Let me be a faithful steward of your grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

Amen.


ARCHIVES: April 2016


04.15.2016

Rest Secure

I’ve been living out of my car for the past two weeks, driving all over the southeast. When I finally pulled into our driveway yesterday, I saw Khaki the lab, looking like this:

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My first thought was that she was (to borrow a line from The Princess Bride) “mostly dead.” Khaki looked how I felt: Exhausted. Worn out. Done.

But then God redirected my gaze. I realized that Khaki wasn’t tired. She wasn’t stressed (she’s a dog). And, while she might actually be mostly dead (she’s 13), she wasn’t worried about it. She was just resting. She was secure.

Which is exactly how God wants us to feel, no matter how chaotic or exhausting life gets.

Deuteronomy 33:12 is a great reminder of three powerful truths:  We are loved. We are secure. We can rest in God. Let’s make this verse our Friday prayer today – for ourselves, or for someone we love:

Heavenly Father,

Let _____ know he is beloved in your sight. May _____ rest secure in you, knowing that you shield him all day long. (Deuteronomy 33:12)

Amen.


ARCHIVES: April 2016


04.08.2016

Directing the Heart

So my boy, Robbie, tells me he’s majoring in “Natural Resources.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but he seems to be learning a lot about stuff like trees and caves and rocks.

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And waterfalls. I’m visiting Robbie at Sewanee this week, and he took me to a place called Bridal Veil Falls:

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He said that the geologists wanted to know where the water from this particular fall would wind up, since it disappears into a cave in the ground. To figure it out, they put cotton balls in all sorts of places where water tends to pool on The Mountain, and then added dye to the top of the waterfall. Et voila! All of the cotton balls in all of the little pools stayed white…except for one colored bunch. I guess, for scientific people, that’s a good day.

Anyhow, standing there in the spray (and looking down into the dark cave below, where the water disappeared), I was reminded of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” I went home and looked it up in my Bible. There, in the margin, I had written all sorts of dates and prayer requests about everything from college admissions to job promotions to anything where somebody I love was dependent on some “king” to make a decision in their favor.

Are you needing that sort of favor today – maybe from a boss, a teacher, a coach, or even a friend? If so, turn Proverbs 21:1 into your own Friday prayer:

Heavenly Father,

You hold ______’s heart in your hand. Please direct it in a way that will bring blessing and favor to ______. (Proverbs 21:1)

Amen.

 


ARCHIVES: April 2016


04.01.2016

Joy in the Morning

Whelp, my beloved Wahoos lost to Syracuse last Sunday night. Every U.Va. fan I know has been in mourning this week, except for maybe our dogs, who are high-fiving (pawing?) themselves over the fact that I won’t make them dress up to play Carolina tomorrow.

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The loss was a blow, but it was Easter Sunday, and I can’t think of a more fitting day for Coach Tony Bennett to make the comment that he did, after the game. When reporters asked what he’d told the team, Bennett said:

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Bennett said the words came from an old church hymn. They’re also in the title of a book by one of my favorite authors, P.G. Wodehouse:photo-1

But, really, the promise of joy after sorrow is older than both the hymn and the book. It comes from Psalm 30:5.

Like so many of God’s promises, this one might be hard to believe, particularly when you are in the midst of suffering and you can’t see any way out. But, to quote Coach Bennett, “Joy is coming…I know it doesn’t feel that way, but I know it will be true.”

If you find yourself suffering today, or if someone you love is walking through a season of sorrow, take hold of this promise. Make it your prayer. We don’t know what the future will bring, but we know that God is faithful.
Heavenly Father,
 
When _____ feels overwhelmed with pain or sadness, may she/he find hope in and strength in your promise: “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
 
Amen.



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