thankful for the thorns

Paul had thorns, I have them too.  Thorns by definition are painful.  I would avoid them if I could, but I can’t.  And so, like Paul, I must learn to live life with the thorns ever present.  Thorns are something I must endure but surely not something for which I am thankful.  Or am I?

Paul was.  He was thankful for his “thorn in the flesh” as he called it in 2 Corinthians 12.  Paul even said, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul found that when he had no power of his own to rely on, he relied instead on God’s power and God’s power was made perfect in his weakness.  (2 Cor. 12:9)

My thorns are painful and they are not all thorns in the flesh, like Paul’s was.  If truth be told, my thorns are thorns in the heart.  Physical pain is challenging for sure, but emotional pain cuts even deeper, lasts far longer, and is far more debilitating than physical pain.  Thorns that cause emotional pain cripple and paralyze me far longer than any physical injury ever could.

Yet in James I am told to “Consider it pure joy,  . . .  whenever you (I) face trials of many kinds, because (I can) know that the testing of (my) faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that (I) may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:2-4)

Well, I’m guessing perseverance has not finished its work in me because I seem to be lacking many things and am keenly aware of my lack when the thorns rise up to remind me of their presence with me on my journey.  (as if I could forget)  The thorns will not be ignored, overlooked, nor forgotten.  But I get to choose my reaction to my thorns.

Peter talks about the thorns in life saying, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  (1 Peter 1:6-7)  My thorns are testing, refining and strengthening my faith, making it what it should be ultimately.  And so that I might be “lacking nothing, but be mature and complete” as James stated, my thorns are meant to produce in me goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  (2 Peter 1:5-7)  It is up to me to allow my thorns to do their work.

I would rather avoid the thorns than face them.  However, it is the thorns that make me desperate for my Heavenly Father’s face, it is the thorns that drive me to my knees, it is the thorns that send me running into my Creator’s presence seeking His solace, wisdom, guidance, grace and power to continue to walk in this broken world in a way that honors Him.

It is the pain of the thorns that teaches me compassion for others.  It is the pain of my thorns that calls me to care for others in their painful times.  It is the thorns that test and strengthen my faith.  It is the thorns that keep me close to God.  It is the thorns that help me realize my dependence upon my Heavenly Father and it is the thorns that keep me from going my own selfish, sinful way.

I don’t feel thankful for the thorns in this life, but I trust that my thorns are accomplishing in my life things far better than what a thornless life would give to me.  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  (2 Corinthians 4:17)

So perhaps I will change my prayer from “please take away the thorns and the pain they bring” to “thank you Lord, for the thorns.”  And just maybe in the stillness as I listen, I will hear,  “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

And I will know, like Paul, the thorns that are making me weak with pain, are actually making me stronger.  Then I will say along with Paul, “when I am weak, then I am strong.”   and I will be thankful for the thorns.

sincerely,              Grace Day




He is truly blest who has a friend, for the joys of friendship never end –

but rather grow as on time goes, unfolding slowly as the rose,

until full bloom at last attained, each from the other strength does gain.

and even though may come the rain, it only sees the friendship grow, just as it also helps the rose.

But unlike the rose, whose beauty realized then fades away – our friendship as our lives will stay,

refined by time along the way, its’ beauty never fully realized.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  (Proverbs (17:17)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

sincerely,         Grace Day

to fear or not to fear?

that is the question, but the answer is both – fear and don’t fear.  Now if that seems to you to be impossible (you can’t be fearing and not fearing at the same time, they are mutually exclusive) then you would be correct, except for this paradox:  when I fear God I don’t need to fear anything or anyone else!

God’s word tells me that, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”  (Proverbs 29:25)  Conversely I am told, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:27)  So fearing God leads me to life, fearing man leads to my downfall or death. Seems an easy choice to me.

Luke 12:4-5 is advice I take to heart, Jesus says, “I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  (Proverbs 9:10)  “The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”  (Proverbs 19:23)  “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Everything good seems to start with fearing God; wisdom, knowledge, resting content,  being kept safe, being lead from the snare of death to the fountain of life. When I fear God I have no need to fear men.  “in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  (Psalm 56:11)

I also don’t need to fear my circumstances.  “But now, this is what the Lord says – . . . ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  . . .  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through  the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”  (Isaiah 43:1-2)

Those last words bring to my mind Daniel’s three friends walking around in the fiery furnace that king Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into all because they did not fear him but feared God instead.  (so they obeyed God and not the king, which made the king angry)  Those are pretty scary circumstances but God tells me to fear not even when my circumstances would seem to warrant my fearing. Daniel’s three friends had their fear in the right place and it worked out pretty well for them.  They didn’t even smell like smoke, nor was a hair of their heads singed, when they came out of the furnace!  My misplaced fear often has me filled with needless worry and anxiety as I face life’s difficult circumstances.  But I am told not to fear my circumstances.

The angels told the shepherds to fear not, the night they came to them to announce Jesus’ birth.  Isaiah 41:10 tells me, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Jesus told His disciples, ” . . .  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:27)  Seems as often as I am told to fear God, I am told not to fear my circumstances or other people.

1 Peter 2:17 sums it up this way, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”  I am never instructed to fear anything or anyone BUT God Himself.  And that fear, I am told, leads to eternal life.  I don’t have to live a fear filled life if my only fear is that reverential, over-riding, inexpressible awe that only God can command, that is due only to God because He alone is worthy to be feared and to be worshiped.

In Revelation 1:17-18 Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13 tells me that my whole duty is to fear God and to keep His commandments.  John 14:21 says that “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me.”  And as I live loving God and experiencing His love, these words are proved true, “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

But God’s perfect love frees me to live life without fear, as more than a conqueror, all because when I fear God and only God, His perfect love drives out all other, lesser fears.  Indeed, “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

One well placed fear of God allows me to live life free of all the other fears that would plague and paralyze me, preventing me from living the abundant life that Jesus calls me and all who love Him to live.  So I will fear  . . .  and because I do,  I will fear not!

sincerely,         Grace Day





the gift

it was gaudy, it was flashy, it was flamboyant, it was showy, it was shiny, it was green, it was bright green, it was practically glowing green – it was St. Patrick’s Day and it was a gift – a gift of kindness, a gift of generosity, a gift of inclusion, a gift of good will, a gift of friendship bestowed freely upon me in the moment (seeing as how I was dressed in just jeans with browns and tans the only colors on me) she obviously saw that I was in need of some sprucing up on this St. Patrick’s Day Sunday morning at church.

and so I wore this precious gift around my neck and hanging down for the entire service, even when I went up front to sing; my pleasure at being the recipient of her kindness far outweighing any imagined embarrassment I might feel at sporting such an eye-catching accessory.  It was itchy and it was cumbersome but I fought against every urge to remove it prematurely; such a small sacrifice on my part compared to the joy with which she bestowed the gift and the grateful surprise with which I received it.

and so, dear readers, that’s the whole of the story – the small act of kindness that impacted my day for the better today.  the pebble has been thrown upon the still water, now let the ripples roll, let me reach out to those around me – with gifts of kindness, inclusion and generosity.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  (James 1:17)

sincerely,        Grace Day




It was You

” . . . ‘Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”  (Daniel 3:25)

It was You in the furnace, You were there all along –  it was You by my side, when everything went wrong.

It was You called Abraham, to follow You and believe – You led him to the Promised Land, Your blessings he received.

It was You rescued Joseph from the pit of his brothers’ evil plan – it was You put him in Egypt, to rule over Pharaoh’s land.

It was You in the bush, burning so bright – it was You in my darkness, You are the Light.

It was You at the Red Sea, You are the Way – it was You in the desert, leading them each day.

You were the manna, You were water from the rock – You were their Shepherd, Israel, Your flock.

It was You called out to Samuel, it was You in Daniel’s den – it was You at the walls of Jericho, assuring they would win.

It was You with shepherd David, when he faced the giant tall – with only stones and a slingshot, he saw that giant fall.

It was You on the road, making Paul’s eyes blind – helping him to see, Your identity to find.

It was You at creation, when the earth was born – it was You in the manger, when salvation took form.

It was You before beginnings, it is You in this moment now – it will be You in the ending, when before Your throne I bow.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8)

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

sincerely,      Grace Day


a cup of soup . . .

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”  (Matthew 10:42)   I have a cup of soup friend (well, actually she is a full service friend, a friend for all seasons, if you will – but lately she has been my cup of soup friend.)

And let me tell you, a cup of hot soup in winter, IS the proverbial cup of cold water in summer that Jesus was talking about in Matthew.  It renews and refreshes the soul just like water in the desert does.  This is what my friend has been doing for me, one cup of kindness at a time.  It may seem a small thing, this sharing of a cup of soup, but it is the small things that often have the biggest impact.  One of life’s many paradoxes to be sure.  (besides, this is homemade soup, so it is really good!)

Her gift of a cup of soup is her thoughtfulness, caring, and generosity put into practice, a tangible expression of my friend’s caring for me and for others as God would have each of us to do.  Now I don’t have my friend’s culinary skills, not even close.  So I have to figure out what my cup of soup is that I can share generously with others to show them God’s love and care.

How do I show kindness to others?  Then I thought of Proverbs 16:24 which tells me, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” My cup of soup could be a cup of kind words spoken/given to others throughout the day, especially to those who are otherwise invisible, overlooked and unappreciated as they go quietly about their day.  I may not be aware of who it is that I come in contact with each day, who is literally starving for a cup of kind words.

So I need to share as many cups of kindness as I can, no need to be stingy with words of affirmation and encouragement.  Because Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death,”   I want to help with my words, not harm.

My cup of soup friend has reminded me that kindness can be best served a cup at a time, to one person at a time, one day at a time.  This is how she is changing, this is how I can change, this is how we change our world for the better – one cup of soup at a time.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  (Proverbs 25:11)

sincerely,       Grace Day


mysteries and other mundane musings

as I cheered and cried my way through my favorite old basketball movie (no, surprisingly, not Hoosiers) for what must be the millionth time, (like I don’t know how it’s going to turn out) I noticed something.  Something not important to the true story that this movie portrays, something random and irrelevant, but something interesting if not curious, nonetheless.  And that something is this; the cheerleaders’ skirts were so long while the players’ shorts were so short.  Just the opposite of what we see today.

So what happened?  Is there a connection between these two things?  I googled some pictures of cheerleaders in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s etc. and sure enough there was a gradual but unmistakable shortening and tightening of the skirts over time, with the dramatic end result that we see today. During this very same time period men’s basketball shorts were becoming longer and looser.  The cheerleaders were showing more leg, the basketball players less.

What could this mean?  Was there only so much material to go around?  only  so much money in the budget?  So that what was taken from the cheerleaders was given to the players?  Was this a right-wing conspiracy?  a left-wing conspiracy?  a conspiracy with no wings that never got off the ground?  There was definitely a correlation.  As cheerleaders skirts got shorter each decade, men’s basketball shorts got longer in equal proportions.

But correlation, as any good researcher knows, does not mean cause and effect are at work in the equation necessarily.  It could be just totally random coincidence.  or could it?  hence the mystery of this mundane musing.  No need for all the conspiracy theories and speculation.  Other variables could be at work here.  Maybe spectators just prefer seeing more of the cheerleaders’ legs and less of the players’ legs.  That seems reason enough right there.

Cheerleading has become more and more athletic over the years, requiring uniforms that allow more flexibility of movement.  Makes sense, but does that mean that the basketball players are becoming less athletic in their movements as their shorts get longer?  this is one mundane musing destined to remain a mystery because the answer doesn’t really matter.  it’s just that inquiring minds sometimes want to know the why, the unseen answer to the seen reality.

Because some mysteries do matter.  such as, what happens to us when we leave this earthly life?  “Listen, I tell you a mystery:  We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”  (1 Corinthians 15:5153)

or where will I spend eternity?  Jesus answered that one saying,  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”  (John 14:1-3)

when I am looking for answers to the mysteries that surround me, I recall these words in Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it – the Lord is His name:  Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

that’s more than good enough for me!

sincerely,     Grace Day



creation’s melody

The butterflies are happy because Christ is on His throne.  Birds fly by without a care, they know God supplies their home.

Fish swim oh so merrily, while woodland creatures sing.  Trees make music in the wind, they know that Christ is King!

The flowers bloom so freely, the squirrels are always at play.  God’s creations have no worries, for He provides each day.

Yes, all nature knows the secret that man has failed to see.  They know who their Creator  is, and they live for His glory!

They live to sing His praises, Hosanna to His name – Jesus the eternal King, from age to age the same.

They know their Maker’s plan for them, they know of His infinite love – they know all’s well in the universe while Jesus reigns above.

All nature sings of His greatness, He meets their deepest needs – His miracles are daily, fine forests spring from seeds.

Oh, that we would join the chorus!  That is the Master’s plan, for all His works shall praise Him, and His mightiest work is man!

“You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  (Psalm 145:16)

“All the earth bows down to You; they sing praise to You, they sing praise to Your name.”  (Psalm 66:4)

sincerely,        Grace Day