the least of these

I watched him worshiping from my seat in a pew further back in the sanctuary.  We were all singing the closing song but he was joyous, I could tell that even from my considerable distance from where he was and despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing my glasses.  I didn’t need them to see clearly what was taking place before my eyes.

It was more than just his outstretched arms and uplifted face that gave him away.  He moved about singing, clapping, offering his hand and hugs and his very heart to those fellow worshipers seated near him.  I watched him freely bestowing his hugs of encouragement, of affirmation, of acceptance, of love to any and all that he could reach.  Aren’t we all looking for those very things?  And this man was freely giving these things and so much more with each and every hug.

Some would say he’s a simple man, limited in this life.  I can’t understand his speech but I can hear his heart.  He is not influential nor important by our cultural standards. I know him to be a faithful and loving father in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances.  A lesser man could not have stayed the course as he has done.  He is faithful in his Sunday worship as well, blessing the rest of us by his presence.  His joy in knowing Jesus is overflowing and contagious.

We are told in God’s word that to whom much is given, much is required. Now it doesn’t seem to me that this man was given much of anything in this life.  But he gives all of himself freely and fully to God in worship every Sunday.  He holds nothing back from God nor from others.  What a joyful servant he is.

Watching him worship today, I had to ask myself; considering the abundance I’ve been given by my Creator, am I giving freely for God all that He’s entrusted me with?  Am I using every gift and ability He’s given me for His glory and to lift others up?  God has given me so much, but for a reason.  Why would I hold anything back?  “To whom much is given much is required”,  continues to echo in my mind as I write this.  This gentleman taught me something today without speaking a single word.  No words were required, his actions said it all.

Give it all for God, hold nothing back for yourself.  (after all,  what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his own soul?  Mark 8:36)  My fellow worshiper hasn’t been given much but he offers all that he is up to God and then some.  He will hear “well done, good and faithful servant”.   He is last but he will be first, he is the least of these,  he is who Christ came to seek and to save.  He has been found and is showing others the way.  He has found his highest calling in Christ alone.  Oh that I would not grow weary in living out my calling as he does, holding nothing back.

Complete trust, complete obedience, resulting in complete joy now and in the age to come.  Thank you dear brother in Christ,  for fulfilling your God-given purpose here on earth and blessing those of us who know you in the process.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before Him.”  (I Corinthians 1:27-29)

sincerely,                              Grace Day


Indomitable continued

I hadn’t seen her for awhile, but I don’t get to our exercise class that regularly myself, so that didn’t really tell me anything.  She was probably traveling, hiking in Montana most likely.  But when I looked over later, she was there in her usual spot.  She had slipped in unnoticed.  Something was different today, though. It wasn’t her demeanor, which was as engaged and as vibrant as usual. No, it was the portable oxygen she carried with her and was hooked up to that was new.  Still, she barely missed a beat as we went through our various routines to the music.   No mountain for this woman, merely a molehill.  No match for this indomitable spirit, no way, no how.  And I was inspired once again, on an ordinary day, going about my ordinary routine, by an extraordinary woman I am privileged to know.  Yes, yet another indomitable spirit showing the way for those of us who would live our lives with purpose and courage every day, not just now and then.

I never know when and where inspiration will strike,  how and how often it will find me.  But I am always grateful when it does.  I am grateful for every encounter that inspiration and I share, its what keeps me going.  Inspiration shows up when I least expect her,  when I’m not looking for her and when I need her most.  She takes many forms, wears many disguises. May I never fail to recognize her.

I have written about these people before in an earlier post.  There are so many stories I could not recount them all.  A younger woman with MS comes faithfully and you would never suspect this (disease) is her battle unless you got to know her.  One woman with Parkinsons came consistently for years.  She was such an inspiration, with such a sweet, strong spirit about her.  One gentleman has returned to class after heart surgery, another returned after serious injury from a bicycle accident.  This is the Indomitable spirit in action for all to see.

It is this Indomitable spirit that younger (more entitled) generations would do well to take note of and begin to emulate.  This attitude towards life pervades their thinking, is perfected in their persistence and ultimately prevails in these inspiring, indomitable lives.   They just keep on showing up, even when it is hard.  And there in lies the victory.

I’m glad they keep on showing up because I am inspired by their mere presence. I’m sure each of you, dear readers, have those people you cross paths with daily, in the course of your everyday schedule that are so much more than meets the eye.  If only you knew their stories.  (and we’ve all got one)  May you be inspired by the “Indomitables” that you are fortunate enough to encounter every day in your own lives.  God created us as so much more than just these physical bodies,  it is our spirits that shine through and connect with others.  Thank you, all you Indomitables; keep on lighting up our world and showing us how to live with patience and persistence, until God’s good purposes ultimately prevail in our lives.

“For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-control.”   II Timothy 1:7

sincerely,                  Grace Day





Points less pondered

There are those things in our everyday lives that make no sense but we accept them anyway because, well why do we?   Take for instance a small size drink at Starbucks. If that’s what you want, you need to order a “tall” in order to get the smallest size. In what world does that make sense? If you want a medium sized beverage you must request a “grande”.  Sounds like you are getting a giant-sized, top of the line whatever it might be, but no you are just asking for a middle of the road, average sized something when you request a “grande”. What terminology could be left for you to order something bigger than the “grande”?

Remember when butter was bad?   Well, it’s back, has been for awhile.  Now margarine has the bad reputation.  Eggs were out, but no longer.  They are not only back, they are practically a super food in their own right.  And coffee has made a comeback, coffee  has crossed over from the “out”to the “in again” list and is now supposed to be associated with good brain health, memory, cognitive function etc.  Who can keep up?

State fair foods are fun.  You can get deep fried Twinkies (or just about anything deep fried) and specialty items like the doughnut burger, three doughnuts with two bacon burgers in between, topped off with mac and cheese.  Who thinks these things up?  I think the same people who create and market all the different diet plans available to us for the choosing.  Or maybe they’re in cahoots with those who invent, make and market every kind of exercise machine imaginable.  As our food choices continue to expand, so the barrage of diet plans and exercise programs grows also, keeping pace.

Remember the fear we were entering another ice age?  I guess we got over that one or did we just replace it with fear of global warming?  And those wind turbines the ecologists love so much?  What about all the birds they are killing? Aren’t you supposed to be protecting them?

And let me just say, its tough being a consumer (of anything).  In fact, it’s downright exhausting, not to mention time consuming.(pun intended) The magazine, “Consumer Reports” proves my point, we need a magazine to help us shop for stuff.  Personal Shopper is actually a job title, maybe even a career choice.  Just try picking out toothpaste when your basic brand doesn’t exist anymore, because every thing is an additional choice; from extra whitening to enamel protection to tartar control to help for sensitive teeth to a flavor and don’t forget fighting plaque or killing germs.  (I personally look for the one that doesn’t kill germs or fight gingivitis). I mean, why not just put all the desirable qualities into one product?   We’d still have to choose gel or paste, mint or whatever flavor, brand-Colgate, Crest or whatever and size etc.  Who has time to sort through it all?  Don’t get me started on mouthwash.  (This makes shopping for shoes look relatively simple by comparison.  You don’t have to read minuscule labels, just find a size that fits and a look you like.)

And food?  How do we make a choice?  There are so many things to consider.  For instance,  salt/low sodium/reduced sodium/no sodium,  sugar/sugar free/no sugar added/ 1/3 less sugar (less than what?),  gluten or no gluten, fat free/ half the fat/low fat/no fat, milk/whole/low fat/skim/soy milk/almond milk/coconut milk etc. Whole grain/multi-grain or what?  unwhole grain?  Organic/all natural/no preservatives or artificial additives etc.  Do you know how many different kinds of apples there are?  I remember when Cheerios were just that, Cheerios, period.  Now there’s Honey Nut, Multi-grain, Apple-cinnamon, Protein, even Chocolate Cheerios. (is this last one a breakfast food or dessert?)  And Oreos?  How many different kinds of Oreos do we need? I counted FIFTEEN different kinds of Oreos in just one store.  That’s not all the varieties of Oreos available, only those available at that particular store. There is now a “thin” version of many Oreo flavors and for those not content with the “double stuf” varieties there is now a “mega stuf” Oreo also available. I kid you not, I could not make this up.  How much is enough?

V-8 juice was just that, a red vegetable juice drink.  Now there are too many varieties to count, compounded by the fact that each flavor has its own low sodium and/or “lite” version with less sugar. Usually the original of anything is by far the best, just like the first movie is better than all its subsequent sequels. But marketing dictates we keep trying to reinvent the wheel. Its a wonder anyone ever gets out of the grocery store in a reasonable amount of time and with any amount of sanity left.   And to complicate matters further, when we have found a product we like, that works for us, meaning we don’t have to read the label every time to see what we are getting, they change the packaging so we don’t recognize it as the product we’ve been buying all these years.   Why did it need a new look anyway if it was selling well?

The only constant is change.  My favorite restaurant is long gone.  Places I love undergo renovations and remodeling,  when I liked them just as they were.  Sometimes the new is not better.  Why do we “fix” things that aren’t broken?  And in the process of “upgrading” so many things, we completely ignore things that are broken and need our attention.  These are all points to ponder, but who has the time?

Phones and computers and such are practically out dated by the time they’re available for purchase.  We are a consumer driven culture and we are put in the role of consumer whether we like it or not. If we’re not careful, being a consumer will consume us and it often does.  Well, this started as a “ponder” but is sounding more like a “rant” by this point.  I apologize, but I am a weary and a wary consumer wanting not to be consumed by this culture of consumption.  (how appropriate with the holidays almost here)

In this season of giving thanks,  I am most grateful for the eternal, abiding, constant presence in my life, of my Creator, Heavenly Father, God.  He does not change like shifting shadow, He is from age to age the same.  He is faithful even when I am unfaithful.  I can count on Him and I do.  God is my constant in this ever changing world.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8) I can count on that.

Here’s hoping our consuming doesn’t consume us,

sincerely,                 Grace Day









Manna — the missing “M”

I think manna is my missing “m”  in mtothe5th,  its the sixth “m”, if you will.  But it definitely belongs there, a symbol of God’s mercy, one of His miracles provided daily for the Israelites as they wandered in the desert.  Maybe the Israelites considered the manna too mundane to be a miracle. ( a mundane miracle would certainly be a contradiction in terms, can a miracle even be mundane? something predictable, something ordinary?) After all, it wasn’t cheesecake, or philly steak, or dark chocolate.  And it was a daily occurrence, (except for the Sabbath) so maybe they ceased to see the manna as the miracle that it was.

The manna represented God’s care and provision for the Israelites, it was His mercy towards them, demonstrated new every morning.  It was literally their daily bread.  This miracle of the manna reminds me of what it says in Lamentations 3:22-23  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”   The manna was new every morning while they were in the desert, they could count on its appearance without fail, because the God who provided it is faithful.

So why didn’t the Israelites recognize the manna for the miracle it was?  A gift from God every morning to sustain them, they did nothing to contribute to its appearing every day, they didn’t plant it or grow it, they simply had to gather it every morning after it fell from heaven.  All they had to do was to receive it, preferably with a grateful heart.  But they were grumbling rather than grateful.  They didn’t earn it or deserve it, yet still it was there day after day, evidence of God’s faithfulness to them even in the midst of their unfaithfulness.

Granted, forty years is a long time to be living on manna, but it beats the alternative. They were in the desert forty years because of their rebellion to begin with, yet the manna was the miracle of God’s mercy manifested new every day,  day after day. Do I miss God’s miracles in my life because I’m looking for something “other” than what He’s graciously giving me each day?  Do I consider what He bestows too mundane to be a miracle?

Jesus taught His disciples to pray “give us this day our daily bread”.  He also told them
“I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry ,” .  At the last supper Jesus broke bread and gave it to them saying, “this is my body given for you;”.  Jesus was in the miracle of the manna as surely as He is the bread of life, our daily bread and our once for all time sacrifice broken on the cross.  The Israelites  were awaiting their Deliverer, their promised Messiah; they just didn’t recognize His presence in the daily delivery from heaven of the mysterious manna, which sustained them until they reached the promised land.

The manna became common place to them,  always the same, predictable, like the rising of the sun or the spinning of the earth through space.  I don’t want to take my every day miracles for granted.  The miracle of another day, of forgiven sin, of a relationship with my Creator that I did nothing to earn.  The miracle of mercy experienced new every day.  The miracle of second chances and reconciliation. (even the miracle of a parking space and well behaved students ).  Every new day is a miracle in itself and Jesus is our daily bread, our manna, our miracle from heaven to sustain us for another day.  We just have to receive Him.

Lord, even though I’m walking by faith, help me to walk with my eyes open to the manna of Your daily miracles and to gather them in, give You thanks for them and to remember them.  Your miracles may be in one time dramatic events like the parting of the Red Sea but they are more often in the repetitive, ordinary events of our daily lives, hidden amidst the mundane, there for us to recognize and rejoice over.  May I be found grateful, not grumbling.

sincerely,                   Grace Day





Pursuing Peace

These don’t seem like very peaceful times, nationally or globally.  All we have to do is to turn on the news and we are reminded of this fact, if indeed we had been able to forget it for a moment.  Of course, throughout history people have been convinced that they were living in the most turbulent of times.  And they would have been right.  Peace has always eluded mankind, ever since our fall from grace chosen by Eve and Adam in the garden so long ago. At that point, when they chose disobedience to their Creator, they were no longer at peace with themselves, with each other or with God.  Everything had changed in that instant.  Sin had entered God’s perfect world, and peace was no longer a part of it.  Peace was no longer the norm.

Peace eludes us on an individual level, we don’t experience peace personally. We are often at war with ourselves, we are our own worst enemy. (if I can’t get along with myself, no wonder I have trouble getting along with others.) Then peace eludes us in our personal relationships.Peace escapes us in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our schools.  We don’t experience peace in our communities, in our states, in our nation or in our relationships with other nations. Because we don’t seek peace and pursue it on an individual level, we don’t experience peace on any level, from the personal to the global.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”  (Matt. 5:9)   We are called to be peacemakers but how many of us seek peace and pursue it on a daily basis?  We are given some good advice in Romans 12:17-21, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,  …  do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As far as it depends on me, live at peace?  Can anything I do really make a difference? That’s where it has to start, with me.  Not only with my actions but with my words.  In my earlier post, “Walking Wounded” I addressed the incredible power words have in our world.  We need to watch our words carefully.  With the election just days away, I pray for peace no matter the outcome.  We may not see our preferred candidates win but peace prevailing in every state, in our cities, in our streets would be a victory for each and every one of us.  To know that we can leave our homes for work, school, church etc. in safety and without fear of violence is the gift that peace bestows.

I long for peace in the world but it has to start on an individual level, it has to start with me. While the media may be focused on those things that divide us, I want to be reminded of those things that would unite us.  We all need to unite in pursuing peace instead of attacking those hired to protect us and keep the peace.  I am hopeful for a more peaceful world as the gospel of peace is translated into more languages and shared with more people around the world.  There will come a time when, “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”   (Is. 2:4)

The world has not known a time free from conflict,  but we can continue to pursue peace in our personal lives and in every sphere of influence that is ours.  We can and must make a difference.  A little kindness goes a long way toward this end.

sincerely,                         Grace Day