perfect vision

“I see things so much more clearly now than I did years ago,” she stated matter of factly to the rest of us in the group. What a bold claim coming from someone who is – well – advanced in years, shall we say? Everyone knows our eyesight weakens with age, becoming less sharp, less clear. That’s why glasses were invented. So her claim to be seeing more clearly now, would appear preposterous if taken literally.

However, she was referring more metaphorically to the lens through which she viewed life and its events becoming more focused and less blurry as life experience informed her age. So her mind’s vision, or heart’s vision or her spiritual vision was improving with age. Some call that wisdom. Some call it the gift of experience. That’s probably why they say hindsight is 20/20 – we see clearly when we look back that which was not clear to us when we were in the midst of it.

It was Mark Twain who said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Now that I am no longer “the young”, I couldn’t agree more with his wise words. Perfect vision is one of those attributes of youth, that atrophies with age. But, as this wise woman observed, though our physical eyesight grows weaker over time, we nonetheless began to see things more clearly as time passes. In fact, the end result will be perfect vision one day. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to that day when my vision is restored, so that I can see perfectly.

“Now I see through a glass darkly; but then I shall see face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Or the NLT translation says it this way –

“Now we/I see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we/I will see everything with perfect clarity.”

Perfect vision – perhaps if I saw more clearly, I would make fewer mistakes. I wouldn’t misjudge, or misstep or misspeak so often. I want to ask God the same thing King David asked of Him in Psalm 119:18,

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”

It is my Heavenly Father who gives me vision in the first place.

“the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.” (Psalm 146:8)

Even as my physical eyesight grows dimmer, God is already at work improving the vision He wants to give me. And Jesus gives a really good tip for improving my eyesight in Matthew chapter seven. It has to do with how I view other people and Jesus has this to say,

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)

Good advice for improving my eyesight – get all the planks out. The world, including other people, will look quite different once I am seeing more clearly. When I am viewing the world and others with the vision God gives me, I doubt I will be concerned with any possible specks in the eyes of others. Seeing people as God sees them is a view full of compassion, empathy and care that my cloudy vision never shows me. I need to see things as God sees them, with the sight He gives me.

This happened to Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings 6:17, when Elisha wanted him to see what he couldn’t see on his own –

“Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are making my vision clearer, not dimmer, with age, because You continue to walk with me, teaching me, that I might gain knowledge and understanding from Your living Word, giving me an ever clearer perspective. And on that day when “my faith shall be sight,” I shall have that promised perfect vision at last! And then –

“I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:27)

sincerely, Grace Day

no news is good news?

Is that because the news is always bad? Therefore, the absence of news is a good thing? I have found lately, that I am not the only one who avoids watching the news these days. Filled with current catastrophes and dire predictions of calamities to come, the news leaves me feeling anxious, fearful, powerless, hopeless and alone. It portrays a world I do not recognize, one that I do not feel safe in. Do you, like me, long for some good news, some hopeful, encouraging news that makes today bearable and tomorrow look brighter?

The people in Jesus’s day had been waiting for centuries for some good news. And then it arrived in the person of Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph, just as predicted so long ago. But would they recognize the good news when it was taking place right before their eyes? John the Baptist was put in prison for proclaiming good news (perhaps like today, those in power preferred fear to keep people down rather than hope which lifts people up) and he began to doubt. So John sent some people to Jesus to ask Him if He was the One they had been waiting for. Jesus replied –

“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22)

That is a lot of good news! And it was taking place everywhere Jesus went. Jesus was healing people, feeding people, turning water into wine, dead people into living people and the good news was being preached to the poor! This was significant. God’s love, care and miracles were not just for rich, influential people in positions of power. The good news of God was being preached freely and for free to anyone who would listen, including the poor. Isaiah had predicted this very thing, saying –

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Isaiah’s words are full of good news and Jesus was fulfilling every one of those good news bearing predictions. The poor were receiving good news for a change, there was healing for the brokenhearted, freedom, release from darkness, God’s favor, comfort, provision, beauty where desolation had been, gladness replacing mourning, praise in place of despair – this is the kind of news that people long to hear. It is news that causes celebration and brings hope.

We could use some of that good news today for sure. And the good news is – that same good news is unchanged and readily available to you and to me today, for free, just as it was then. It is called the Gospel. Now “gospel” literally means “good news.” And mankind, being under sin’s curse, desperately needs some good news. Jesus came preaching repentance, redemption and forgiveness of sins, resulting in reconciliation with God. Definitely good news.

” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” (Isaiah 1:18)

That’s really good news. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) More really good news!

Paul said in Romans 1:16 –

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

In these days when I feel surrounded by bad news, I realize I can turn my thoughts to all the good news contained in the Gospel, God’s message of good news to all of us. The angel proclaimed as much on the night of Jesus’s birth saying to the shepherds,

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

This was good news, full of hope and promise and cause for rejoicing. It is still good news today – still full of hope and promise – still a reason to rejoice. Today, when bad news seems to be inescapable, I will remember Paul’s advice to the Philippians –

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. . . . And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

thank You, Heavenly Father, that the goodness of Your good news, which is eternal, is far greater than the badness of the bad news, which is temporal –

sincerely, Grace Day

in whose image?

I was surprised to realize that she had inched her desk closer to mine. Students don’t usually move toward the teacher’s desk. They usually move in the opposite direction, putting as much distance as possible between their desk and the teacher’s. (at least in high school, anyway) Which is why this move on her part was so unusual and why it caught my attention. Her classmates were engaged talking with each other or on their phones, many with ear pods in, oblivious to anything going on around them.

I could tell much was on her mind and that was not surprising in the least. The teenage years have notoriously been tumultuous in every era of history. Why should it be any different for today’s teenagers? These are traditionally the years of self exploration and self discovery. Teens are searching to find their place in society, to find where they fit in. Historically, the first and foremost desire of every teen is to fit in, to be accepted, to be “popular.” Actually, this could be true for any age group, but the desire for acceptance does seem more intense during the teen years.

So today’s teens are no different from the teens of generations past. Well, throw in a pandemic, fear, social chaos, forced isolation, the suspension of school along with its sports, clubs, activities and opportunities, no after school jobs as most places closed, churches, community centers and libraries closed (which are sources of support and social services) and no family gatherings – and it’s really not surprising that students’ burdens and behaviors are more challenging than ever before.

While I was debating whether I should engage her in conversation, she broke the silence and began talking to me. She needed a safe place to vent and I was happy to oblige. I listened, glad I didn’t have to say anything, fearful if I did, I would say the wrong words or use the wrong pronouns – there are so many rules these days and not being on any social media myself, I am always behind on what is current and what is already “so yesterday.”

She certainly did have the weight of the world on her shoulders. I assumed it would be the weighty decisions of deciding on college or no? and if so, which one? and what to pick as a major? or the weight of navigating the ever changing labyrinth of friends and boyfriends – in teenage world, today’s best friend is tomorrow’s arch enemy and today’s soulmate for life is tomorrow’s disdained discard in favor of a new forever love. The constant is constantly changing one’s mind about everything, clothes, music, friends, loves, careers, passions, – it is one continuous search for identity.

She was clearly miserable, experiencing heartache, rejection and uncertainty about finding her place in the future in this world. At this point she speculated that perhaps if she were a “he”, life would make more sense, she (now he) would be happier, life would be less painful and she (he) would finally fit in and her (his) problems would be behind her, (him). My heart went out to her as I continued to listen.

Then it hit me – no other generation has ever had this option before, when struggling, as we all do, to find our identity and our place in the world. Never before has changing our gender been a part of the process of growing up, of growing into an adult. Most of us changed our minds often during the childhood and teen years about food, fashion, friends, music, pastimes, people and what we wanted to be when we grew up. We didn’t have the added burden of righting some cosmic wrong and rectifying the mistake that the culture was telling us we might be if we are currently unhappy as we are.

No wonder she was conflicted and confused. Life is hard, life is painful – at any age and for both genders. There is simply no escape from this reality. She continued talking. I continued listening with growing empathy for this young girl in search of her identity. She indicated she was gender fluid or maybe nonbinary? It occurs to me this is one way to deal with this new burden of having to choose between being male or being female. Don’t choose. Keep all your options open. (that used to be called “playing the field”) This explains why students dress one way one day and a totally different way another day.

Not choosing, also postpones the need to decide on body altering surgery. It buys more time while children continue their search to find out who they are and where they fit in. I don’t think I’d fully realized how much social pressure there is currently on children and teens to make a life-long choice at such a young age. Must be overwhelming to have the responsibility of being your own creator, instead of leaving that to the God of the universe and finding your identity, purpose and place in the One who is your Creator – and not only your Creator, but the Creator of everyone and everything.

Giving that responsibility back to Creator God, would take quite a load off of anyone’s shoulders. Then they would know that they already have a place, a purpose and an identity as a completely loved, perfectly created child of God. This is what I wished that the student at my desk could know – she doesn’t have to recreate herself – she has already been created – perfectly created in the image of God – a God who knows her, loves her and values her just as she is. King David acknowledged this truth when he said,

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16) Further confirmation is found in Ephesians 2:10 –

“For we are (Iam/you are) God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (me/you) to do.”

Some translations say we are God’s “masterpieces” – if only we realized how “wonderfully and fearfully made” each of us is, perhaps we would be more accepting of ourselves and of each other. I feel sure that when I can accept myself, faults, weaknesses and all, then I am more willing to accept others with their shortcomings. Acceptance paves the way for more acceptance. Because my Creator, Heavenly Father, completely accepts me, I can show that same inclusive acceptance to other people.

The bell rang, cutting our conversation short. Still, I felt the weight of her burden sticking with me, unshakable and unnecessary at the same time. Unnecessary because God never meant for us to bear the burden of creating or designing ourselves. He took care of that for us.

“Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He that has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)

God made us! And He did it perfectly. We don’t have to remake ourselves. We belong! We belong to the Creator of the universe – we are His! How wonderful to belong to Someone! In His “flock” I find my place. I also find my purpose as His “workmanship/masterpiece/handiwork” because I am clearly told I was created for a purpose, a purpose which God prepared beforehand in anticipation of my existence!

I realize that the students I see every day, just like the rest of us, are sheep without a shepherd, lost and searching, until they find the Good Shepherd, Jesus. When I did, I found my place, my purpose and my identity. They too, will find all that they seek when they find Jesus, who said –

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. . . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:11 &10)

my place, my purpose, my identity, a fulfilled life – I found them all in the One who created me in the first place, and you will, too, dear readers – as I pray this confused generation will as well – find their identity in the One who created them and loves them without reservation and beyond measure – because we are created in His image (which is our eternal identity) – because we are the work of His hands –

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,’ . . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

“The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

sincerely, Grace Day

roots and remnants

I am currently in a Bible study called “Rooted” which has led me to ponder the concept of being rooted in something or someone or some belief or some substance that can anchor my roots, thereby keeping me grounded, so I don’t lose my sense of direction and subsequently lose my way. I hear people talk about putting down roots or returning to their roots or even searching for their roots. I guess in order to understand who we are, we want to first know where we came from.

This could be a physical place or it could refer to our parents, who may have moved from the place of our birth, but they are our true roots, even if they have not put down any themselves. This “parents as roots” viewpoint explains the words in Isaiah 11:1-

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him -”

These words are talking about Jesus, whose human roots traced back to Jesse, who was the father of King David, from whose descendants Joseph came, who was Jesus’s earthly father. Most of David’s descendants had been killed in wars with Israel’s enemies and the rest had been carried off to Babylon, exiled from their homeland. But God preserved a remnant. A root remained. And from the root, a shoot – and from the shoot a branch to bear fruit in God’s appointed time.

God preserves a remnant. God preserves a root. Actually, I’m thinking that the “fruit” of that branch, Jesus, became the Vine – the one and only, life giving Vine that I read about in John chapter 15, where Jesus told His disciples –

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. . . . No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. . . . If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Roots are underground. Because they are not visible, I may think there is no life here, all is dead. I may think there is no hope. I wonder if that’s how God’s people felt during the four hundred years of God’s silence before Jesus was born? No more prophets sent from God. They had rejected them all. And now they waited for the promised Messiah in silence. There was no sign of life. But there was a root and there was a remnant, both waiting to be revealed when the time was right.

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4)

Jesus, the Root, was revealed and the remnant rejoiced. Remnants, by definition are small. And so it was that only the shepherds in the fields and a few wise men and a few others, like Simeon and Anna, the prophetess, and later, John the Baptist and those who became disciples, worshiped and celebrated, while the world at large was oblivious to the appearing of the long awaited Savior, who sprang forth from the long forgotten root of Jesse.

Today, in this time of upheaval and uncertainty, many are looking for a place to put down roots but wondering where is a place or a person in whom I trust enough to do this. I know enough not to plant in sand. Sand cannot hold roots, mine or anyone else’s. (probably where we get the expression “like shifting sands”) I need something more stable than sand. Colossians 2:6-7 answers my question –

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I need to be rooted in Jesus. Jeremiah 17:7-8 paints a beautiful picture of what happens when my roots are in Christ –

“But blessed is the man/woman who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He/she will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Wow! Pandemic, post-pandemic – we are definitely in difficult seasons with predictions of disaster surrounding us on every side. And yet, where my roots are will make all the difference in my life. I will “have no worries in a year of drought.” I may be cut down, but my root will remain underground – alive and waiting to be called again to appear above the surface. Makes me think of the underground church in places like China. A remnant not currently visible, that will be revealed one day, alive and thriving as they await Christ’s return.

Roots are underground. Remnants are small. But both are ready to be revealed when Jesus returns. In Luke 18:8, Jesus asks this question –

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Matthew 7:13-14 gives me a clue as to the remnant saying –

“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Then I read in Romans 9:27 –

“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.”

It occurs to me that the remnant are those whose roots are in Christ Jesus. To be rooted in the Rock may be an oxymoron, may seem an impossibility, but my faith is anchored and rooted in Jesus, who is the Rock of my salvation.

“He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:2)

I find in Jesus, a place to put down roots – a place where they will have room to grow down deep. This was the apostle Paul’s prayer for us, dear readers, – a prayer as relevant today as it was centuries ago when Paul first prayed it.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, (the remnant) to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

God’s love is infinitely wide and long and high and deep, – plenty of room for me and for you to put down our roots, plenty of room for our roots to grow ever deeper – holding us fast in our place as His faithful remnant – anchored and rooted in Him –

sincerely, Grace Day

in closing, an ode to open

the open road, the open mind, the open heart is always kind –

an open door, an open book – one bids enter, the other says look! –

open curtains let in the light, open eyes give us our sight –

God opened the waters of the Red Sea, making a way for His people to flee –

Then He opened Heaven and rained down bread, every morning His people were fed.

“Yet He gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; He rained down manna for the people to eat, He gave them the grain of heaven.” (Psalm 78:23)

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

“And He (Jesus) opened His mouth, and taught them, saying,” (Matthew 5:2)

“Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.” (Psalm 119:18)

God opened His mouth – a universe of infinite beauty was born. But when sin closed the Garden’s gate, a new way opened up, through a holy curtain from top to bottom torn.

God has opened up a way for me to come home to Him. I am no longer held captive by this broken world. He has set me free!

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” (Isaiah 45:2)

“Open wide, you gates. Open up, you age-old doors. Then the King of glory will come in.” (Psalm 24:7)

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

My Heavenly Father has thrown the doors of my prison wide open. Now it is to me to open my heart and let Him in. He has promised to abide with me if I will but open the door. This, then, is my ode to open.

sincerely, Grace Day

shopping, shortages and empty shelves

I stared at the empty shelves in disbelief. Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a shopper quite as effectively as the sight of empty store shelves. Immediately, I began experiencing flashbacks. (maybe it was PTSS – post traumatic shopping syndrome) Afterall, it wasn’t that long ago that we all went through the infamous toilet paper shortage of 2020. We have currently been experiencing a baby formula shortage among others, which is attributed to the closing of a production facility and to problems with the supply chain. And now this, shelves that are usually full of peanut butter, are at present, empty.

This one caught me by surprise, but maybe I just hadn’t been paying attention? Made me wonder, what’s next? What should I be stocking up on? How long will it be before I can again purchase peanut butter? Is there an underground market for peanut butter? This is probably how people become hoarders – they are driven to it by fear and panic.

I was feeling a little bit of both those emotions myself, actually, as I stood in front of the now empty shelves, not knowing when they would again be full. It’s the not knowing, the uncertainty that produces the fear, I think. As I contemplate a change in my shopping habits (when I realize I am out of or almost out of something, is when I think to put it on the list to buy) I can’t get the story of the rich man with a good crop out of my mind. You know the one, he had such a good crop that he had no place to store his excess grain. So he tore down his barns and built bigger ones in order to store all his accumulated wealth. He had enough laid up for many years. But,

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)

Other words also come to mind as I fight the fear that an empty shelf produces in me. Jesus’s words to His disciples turn my focus from empty shelves to a future full of God’s goodness.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

This reminds me of the daily manna the Israelites received in the desert each morning – it could not be stored up. If they attempted to do this, the manna became rotten real fast, foul smelling with maggots. God gave them fresh manna every morning. They had no need to store it up and they were expressly told not to, but those who did found out quickly what happens to stored up, excess manna.

“However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.” (Exodus 16:20)

The manna is kind of like our earthly treasures, “where moth and rust (or maggots) destroy, and thieves break in and steal.” Nothing is really all that secure here, but Jesus told His disciples not to worry. Jesus pointed out how God clothes the flowers so beautifully and feeds the birds, who don’t “sow or reap or store away in barns.” Then Jesus tells them,

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

Good advice, but can I do it? Panic is worry on steroids and that’s what I experience with the empty shelves and the shortages and the rumors of shortages to come. Our news is full of dire predictions every day and Jesus says not to worry? How can I not worry? Well, turns out there is something I can do. I find the very clear instructions in Philippians 4:6-7, which says –

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.”

Peace is definitely preferable to panic and fear. And God’s peace is a unique gift that doesn’t depend on my earthly circumstances. The store shelves don’t have to be full for me to receive God’s peace. Jesus said to His followers,

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Even though my circumstances in this world are constantly changing and uncertain, I do not need to live in fear and panic mode, or even in a state of constant worry every time there is a new shortage of yet another item. Shortages and empty shelves may become more common in the days ahead. However, I will determine to say along with Habakkuk –

“Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

It is God, from whom all blessings flow, as the doxology says. Psalm 145 reminds me of this, I need not fear shortages and empty shelves.

“The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:14-16)

thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your infinite supply of everything good – mercy, grace, forgiveness, peace, hope, joy, comfort, healing, streams of living water in the desert, manna new every morning – great is Your faithfulness –

sincerely, Grace Day

openly opining about “open” continues

Seems like just yesterday I was opining about all things open. And actually, I believe it was yesterday literally. So today as I wrestle with the cap on my green tea bottle, trying to get my drink open, my thoughts turn again to all things open – not the least in importance being my Lipton green tea, which I want to see successfully opened. This is a battle I engage in often – fighting stuck and stubborn lids on jars and bottles as I attempt to open them.

There are other things that need opening also, like my front door, which often sticks, so I can’t get the key to turn, making it impossible to open my own front door. I like things that are “open.” I love the open road, open enrollment, an open forum, open dialogue, when the radio person says, “the phone lines are open, be the ? caller and win ?” – when an employer says, “we have an opening” or a moderator says, “let’s open up the floor for questions” or it’s “open mic night” or “open auditions for whatever it might be.” Something about an opening implies possibility, implies promise, implies hope. We all prefer an open door, as opposed to one slammed in our face.

Yesterday I opined over open hearts and open minds while leaving out open eyes. Seems like a gross oversight on my part. (pun intended) I don’t want to turn a blind eye to what God would have me to see clearly. King David asked this of God,

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.” (Psalm 119:18)

Isaiah talks about what God will do in Isaiah 35:5-6 when he says,

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

That’s a lot of opening! – the opening of eyes, ears and mouths formerly mute – plus streams opening up in the desert. All miraculous openings. And in Isaiah 42:7 he says,

“to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

God opens eyes and dungeon doors – He opens heaven to all who believe on His name. God opened Hagar’s eyes when she and her son were alone in the desert facing certain death. But “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:19)

Like Hagar, I may often miss what is right in front of me, if I don’t allow God to open my eyes to see as He sees. This is important because – “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

My Heavenly Father is the One who opens my eyes so that I can see Him at work in this world, He opens my ears so that I can hear His voice, He opens my heart so that I can receive His Holy Spirit, He opens the doors of any and all prisons that attempt to hold me captive. My Heavenly Father says,

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” (Isaiah 45:2)

Truly, He opens the way before me, moving my mountains and making a way for me where there was no way. Thank You, Heavenly Father, – You opened Your mouth and spoke this universe into existence. Thank You that You welcome this prodigal with open arms. I am on my way home!

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

Our Creator waits to welcome you and me, dear readers, with open arms –

sincerely, Grace Day

opining on all things open

I am always glad to see an “open” sign. Doesn’t matter where or on what – if it is open, I am happy. This applies to my favorite restaurants and shops – I like to see that “open for business” sign in the window. I am disappointed when they are closed. This is especially true for the roads I travel. Nothing is more dreaded than the “road closed” sign. Nothing is more welcome than the “road open” sign on a road that had been closed. With all the road repair going on right now, there are a lot of roads closed at the moment, forcing me to find alternate routes to the places I need to be.

Anticipating “open” is something fun which brings my hope for the future into the present. There are “grand openings” of new businesses or buildings in a community, signaling the beginning of something perhaps long awaited. There’s the opening of a new movie or opening night at the theater, both usually highly anticipated and met with much fanfare. Openings are beginnings filled with hope, so much better than the closings which inevitably follow openings at some point.

Flowers open to the sun in the morning, welcoming the warmth and the new day. On special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas, we open presents. Opening is part of the fun, revealing the mystery of what lies inside of the package. When topics or subjects are open to discussion, whether interpersonally or in the public arena, it is much more likely that understanding and resolution might take place. We are often told to “keep an open mind.” Could that be because nothing penetrates a closed mind? – new information, new ideas, different perspectives, new ways of viewing things, understanding, empathy, new ways of doing things – an open mind is necessary to allow any of these things to be experienced.

Just as important, is an open heart. A closed heart lets no one in and feels nothing. That’s a sad way to go through life. An open heart will experience heartache but also joy along the way. An open heart will not be empty, because an open heart lets other people in.

We say of ourselves (or someone else) “my life is an open book.” This is meant to say that there is no deceit in us or in someone else, that we are not hiding anything, all is out in the open. I think I prefer an open book to a closed one full of subterfuge and secrets. Most of us prefer “getting it all out in the open” to the alternative of things being discussed and decided “behind closed doors.” We want the doors wide open, providing access for all.

I think I simply prefer open in general. Perhaps in the past I have taken open too much for granted. But after two plus years of “closed” – I now realize the true value of open – open schools, churches, businesses, gyms, restaurants, stores, salons, theaters, community centers, sporting events, homes – yes, even our homes were closed. Homes that had previously been open for barbeques, book club, backgammon, bridge, Bible study, anything and everything, were closed – leaving us isolated, alone and online – a substitute that did not suffice when all was said and done.

I definitely prefer an open invitation – no limits, no one is excluded, the door is always open, it never closes, the venue is never too full, the host never runs out of food or changes His mind about inviting me in the first place, His open invitation stands, He is ready to receive me, – all I have to do is to accept this open invitation and be willing to open a closed door – a door that I closed and only I can open – and I will be admitted to the party. Jesus has issued just such an invitation – an open invitation to one and all – an invitation that includes me and you, dear readers.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Gor My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“Yet to all who received Him,” (accepted His open invitation) “to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God -” (John 1:12)

It is this open invitation from my Heavenly Father which leads me to an open life, lived out in the open, with freedom to come and go through an open door. Jesus said,

“I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your gracious open invitation to me. Give me the courage to open my heart and to open the door and invite You in.

sincerely, Grace Day

stop, look and listen

Sound familiar? I heard those words often as a child. I was forever being told to stop, look and listen when I came to an intersection before I crossed the street. This, of course, is actually good advice for anyone walking or riding a bike, as it could help them to avoid getting hit by a car that they didn’t see or hear coming, all because they didn’t take the time to stop, look and listen.

I feel like these words are still relevant advice for me today. I often find myself at an intersection, a crossroads in my life’s journey, which I need to safely cross while also needing direction about which way to proceed. Coincidentally, my Heavenly Father’s advice is the same three words, stop, look and listen. (ok, technically four words) If only I would heed His call to stop, look and listen before I rush into the intersection oblivious to any impending danger. He implores me to “stop” –

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

“Wait for the Lord and keep His way.” (Psalm 37:34)

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;” (Psalm 37:7)

When I am still and waiting on God, next I am instructed to “look” –

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2)

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” (1 Chronicles 16:11)

and I am instructed to “listen” – Jesus said,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8) – I just have to listen.

I come to intersections every day in my faith walk. It is at these crossroads in life that I need to heed the admonition to stop, look and listen before attempting to cross on my own, putting myself in danger if I haven’t looked to be sure the way is clear. Seems as though I too often run full speed ahead into the crossroads, oblivious to oncoming traffic, because I haven’t stopped so as to give myself time to look to my Heavenly Father for His direction and to listen well to His words of wisdom before continuing on my journey. I want to remember to stop, look and listen every time I come to a crossroads. I will –

“Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct my paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

stopping to wait on Him, looking to Him, listening to Him,

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ ” (Jeremiah 6:16)

sincerely, Grace Day

wrong turn reflections/a way of escape

As I reflect on my recent “one wrong turn” experience, these words from 1 Corinthians 10:13 keep coming to my mind,

“And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

He did provide a way out of the race traffic I encountered, traffic which had successfully ensnared and entangled me, bringing me to a complete standstill. I wasn’t going anywhere soon – until a way out came in the form of an exit, which I chose to take. I could have stayed in the traffic and waited for another exit further down the road to give me another opportunity to extricate myself from this jam of cars which surrounded me, or I could exit now. The choice was mine.

As I look back, I realize that my Heavenly Father always offers me a way out of situations and circumstances that are holding me hostage. I just have to be brave enough and trust Him enough to take the way of escape that He is offering to me. The choice is always mine. Take the way of escape He provides or continue in captivity with my own plan.

Seems like the escape option would be a no brainer, but that isn’t always the case. When I was stuck in traffic, at least I knew the exit I wanted was just over the bridge. But if I took the earlier exit, I would leave what I knew for what I didn’t know. I didn’t know what kind of traffic I would encounter if I took the first exit. Sometimes what I know, even if not good, seems better to me than what I don’t know. There’s comfort in what I already know and risk in what I don’t.

God will always offer me a way out, a way of escape, that’s His promise. But when He does, when He holds out His hand to me – am I brave enough to take it? Do I trust Him or do I trust my own human wisdom? At those moments of decision, like when I turned toward the race traffic rather than away from it, then later when I decided to take that first opportunity to exit the traffic rather than gamble that a better opportunity would present itself later – at those moments of decision, which are many each day, I want to remember these words –

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-8)

On my own, I make so many wrong turns. It really makes more sense to let my Heavenly Father direct my paths. So why don’t I do that all the time? Will I never learn from experience? I have His promises like this one,

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, (not into traffic jams – my words) He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3)

He stands ready to lead me, He wants to guide me – I can choose to follow or not. The choice is always mine to make. But when I go my own way, it never seems to lead me anywhere satisfying or good. I end up at the dead end of living for myself. Jesus said to Peter and his brother Andrew,

“Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” They were brave enough to accept His invitation. “At once they left their nets and followed Him (Jesus).” (Matthew 4:19-20)

Their decision reflected in their action, took courage and it cost them something. But they trusted Jesus and they took the way of escape from their current life of living for themselves that Jesus offered them. Every time I make a wrong turn and end up somewhere I don’t want to be and never intended to go, Jesus offers me a way out, a way back to Him, a way to the abundant life He came to give me and you. In fact, Jesus Himself is the way of escape, the way to reconciliation with God, the way to eternal life.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You make a way for Me when I need one and there is none. When life’s circumstances and my wrong turns lead me into places of captivity, You show me the way out, the way of escape. You provide the way of escape.

“I will go before you and will level the mountains, I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:2–3)

Oh, Lord, when You call me by name and show me the way of escape You are making for me, may I be brave enough to take it, rather than choose to remain where my wrong turn has taken me. Give me the faith and the courage to follow where You lead, to allow You to direct my paths each day.

sincerely, Grace Day