a miracle amid the mundane

I don’t deserve it, I could never earn it – but at the end of each day I am given the gift of a spectacular light show in the western sky. This display is always beautiful beyond belief and it’s free! All I have to do is to look up. My breath is taken away and for a few moments I forget whatever trouble and pain the day has brought my way. Disappointments disappear as I am treated to a display of vibrant colors, clouds etched in light, all on an everchanging canvas of bright light and brilliant colors, which fade into softer hues, brought forth as the light lessens and dusk approaches.

Every sunset truly is a miracle amid the mundane of the day. Every sunset is a gift from God, one of His many good gifts that He bestows every day on the unbelieving and the believing alike. I always think I will never see a sunset as beautiful as the one I am currently viewing, until tomorrow’s sunset appears and I am awed all over again. Sunsets are inspiration, they are reminders of God’s infinite glory and creativity. Sunsets are my reward at the end of a long day.

And what of those days that end in rain or with clouds covering the sun, or both? Well, the sun is still setting in all its glorious splendor, I just can’t see it with my eyes. But just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I believe by faith that there is a sunset taking place above the clouds, hidden from my eyes. Because of past sunsets, I have hope that I will witness future sunsets. I simply have to remember to look up and witness them.

I especially love sunsets over water, and sunrises, too, for that matter. The water mirrors and reflects the constantly changing light and streaks of color that are brushed across the sky for my enjoyment at day’s end. An old post – “the lake” – reminisces about this very thing as does the post “masterpieces amid the mundane.” I guess I have been writing about sunsets (and sunrises) long before today. Every day is full of God given miracles, if only I have eyes to see them. Sunsets are one of those almost daily miracles, that I can enjoy simply by taking the time to look up, be still and behold the magic and the majesty unfolding right before my eyes.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:1-6)

sincerely, Grace Day

the pearl’s secret

I recently learned something interesting – something I had never pondered before but now find intriguing -the secret of pearls. Oh, I don’t mean where they are found or in what sea creature. It is how pearls come to be, that is the mystery so recently revealed to me. Now for those of you who already know, perhaps you are thinking to yourselves, “how could anyone not know this?” Well, I have no excuse, I just never knew the whole story or secret of pearls until now.

I knew that pearls are found in oysters and clams and in other mollusks, but I was unaware of the process that brings pearls into being. I thought they just occurred naturally in nature. As it turns out, as Tom Hughes says in his book, “Down to Earth”, “A pearl . . . is the only precious stone that is created through pain.” He is referring to the pain of the oyster or clam when a grain of sand gets in and acts as an irritant, causing the organism pain. So the oyster or clam responds to their pain by secreting a fluid which hardens around the grain of sand. Under pressure inside the organism, a pearl is eventually formed.

Hughes says, “When we see a pearl, we see something that has been made lovely through the process of pain.” Who knew? Pain as a beauty treatment. But truth is stranger than fiction. And pain does perfect us if we let it. In Isaiah I read that God intends to –

“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,” (Isaiah 61:3) Job knew his pain was perfecting him. He said this –

“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Paul says this about pain and suffering in Corinthians –

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Seems counterintuitive, but pain and pressure, trials and trouble, produce beauty and strength – not ugliness and weakness. James even says to count it all joy when pain enters into my life and I suffer. He says –

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

Imagine that – testing, painful trials, will leave me “complete, not lacking anything.” I just have to stay the course and endure the pain, allowing the process to do its work. Producing a pearl of great price takes time. God’s timing is always perfect. These words in Ecclesiastes reassure me there is a purpose in my pain. God is at work producing a pearl from a grain of sand, using the process of pressure and pain.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

This gives me hope. I won’t be in the oyster forever. So many I know are dealing with very painful things everyday. But we can be assured God is perfecting us in our pain and making us more and more like His Son Jesus. Hebrews tells me this –

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus endured the pain of the cross for you and for me. His pain paid my sin price, so that I could be reconciled to God, my Creator. He paid your price, too, dear readers. Something so good, eternal life, came from something so unspeakably painful, Jesus’s death on the cross. A lovely pearl is the result of a painful process. God will bring beauty out of my pain and suffering and out of yours, too. This is the hope that sustains during darkest times.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever.” (Psalm 30:11-12)

sincerely, Grace Day

procrastination – perks and pitfalls

I could consider myself a professional procrastinator (if procrastination were a profession) – something I never aspired to be – something I never trained for, something I was never taught. I didn’t need to be taught this particular skill. It just came naturally to me and I continually sharpen this skill by practicing procrastination on a daily basis, which only increases my proficiency. Perhaps this makes me an expert. However, I am not sure “professional, currently practicing procrastinator” is something I can or should put on my resume. Are procrastinators in demand? Are procrastinators an asset or a liability? In this fast paced world, I would assume the latter. Maybe procrastination is not a marketable skill at all.

Still I continue to practice my profession daily. Why only yesterday (and the day before if truth be told) I passed the gas station thinking I should stop and get gas – BUT – I just wanted to get home, I didn’t want to take the time and it was cold and snowy, I didn’t want to get out of the car. Besides prices are high. The result of my procrastination? Well, my gas gauge is getting dangerously lower with each day that I put off (a simpler word for procrastinate) stopping to get gas. However, the other variables could change for the better or for the worse. Gas prices could go down and gas might be cheaper when I finally stop to fill up. Also the temperature could rise, wind die down, snow stop etc. so weather conditions could be better when I finally get gas. And I could be less pressed for time on that future day when I finally fill up. These would all be perks of putting it off till later.

OR – gas could go up in price, the weather could get even colder, and I could be on the way to an appointment or whatever with no time to spare, but have to stop for gas or risk running out and becoming stranded somewhere and never arriving at my destination at all. These would all be pitfalls, if I might be allowed to point out the obvious.

So procrastination can have pluses or penalties. It just depends. Ever buy something and later it goes on sale and you wish you’d procrastinated on your purchase? However you can’t use an expired coupon or eat “expired” food. There are penalties for paying bills late -they add a late fee on, and in school, penalties for turning in late papers – they take points off. Life seems to be full of deadlines and expiration dates. It’s exhausting trying to keep track of them all. I am surrounded by “sell by”, “use by”, RSVP by, “return by”, “must be received by”, “offer good until”, – if I snooze, I lose.

Even as I write this, I confess, the oil light is on in my car, telling me it’s time for me to take my car in for an oil change. And the “change furnace filter” message is showing on my home’s thermostat and has been for awhile. (I won’t say for how long for either of these things) Both of these things will lead to severe pitfalls if I continue to procrastinate. Procrastination paralyzes. I need to remember the anti-procrastinator mantra – “never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

But just how much can I really do today? There are only twenty-four hours to fill and I have to sleep sometime, right? However, these words call me to action today – “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Those are convicting words for a procrastinator. They are convicting words for me. Today is all I have. I want to make the most of it in every way. Is there someone I can help? someone I can show kindness to now in this present moment? Procrastination produces a life of good but unrealized intentions, which means a life of things that never were. Time will run out eventually but in the meantime I will live by these anti-procrastination words –

“This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

I will rejoice today! I will be glad today! I will be kind today! Not tomorrow, which never comes, because when it arrives it is today, but today I will do what is in my power to do to make this world a better place. Instead of dreaming about the things I will do someday, I will actually do things that I can do today. This will require getting off the proverbial couch, it will require leaving my comfort zone, it will require getting off the fence and taking action, instead of agonizing over options and possibilities until I am permanently paralyzed by my procrastination. Joshua told the Israelites this,

“then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Make my choice today. Joshua told the people they needed to decide today. Don’t put it off. Jesus said this in John 9:4 –

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

I have to say, I have this battle going on within me between procrastination and persistence, between putting off and pushing forward. It’s when I bring a third player, priority, into this battle that things get interesting. The laundry can wait, but my friend who needs a listening ear, needs it now. I may be a procrastinator of chores, but I want to be a prioritizer of people. May the perk of procrastinating everyday tasks be that I have more time to spend with the people who come across my path today and may need something I can give. I won’t get this day back, better spend it wisely.

In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara says “After all, tomorrow is another day.” I have to admit, as the classic procrastinator, that is often my mantra too. But today I will go with “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I will be glad now, not tomorrow.

I didn’t take Scarlett’s advice today – I didn’t procrastinate in writing this post – good thing because tomorrow the topic will be something totally different and this opportunity will have passed –

“I will not pass this way again, therefore if there be any good thing I can do . . . let me do it now!”

sincerely, Grace Day (professional procrastinator)

Christmas, Communion and a golden calf

Three unrelated yet intrinsically connected things – Christmas, Communion and a golden calf. The connection, however, may not be readily apparent. A closer look is needed to discover what connects Christmas, Communion and a golden calf. As it turns out, the answer is “memory” or the lack thereof, that is the connection among the three. Now Christmas and Communion are both rituals of remembrance. The first remembers and celebrates Jesus’s birth, the latter remembers and celebrates Jesus’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection three days later. Celebrating Christmas and observing Communion help me to remember Jesus’s birth, life and death every time I participate in said celebrations.

But why is this important? Why is it so important for me and for you to remember what God has done? Because if I don’t remember, I will forget. Now this seems all too obvious and begs the question “what’s so bad about forgetting?” After all, we all forget things from time to time, don’t we? Well, I submit to you, dear readers that the danger in forgetting what God has done is that when I forget, bad things happen. When I forget, I am in danger of ending up dancing in the desert while worshiping a golden calf.

Sound impossible? It’s not that far-fetched. This is exactly what happened to the Israelites shortly after God rescued them from the Egyptians by parting the Red Sea, allowing them to cross on dry ground as they fled from the Egyptian army. And then for good measure, God released the sea and it flowed back together, drowning the Egyptians caught in its waters as they pursued the Israelites. God saved the Israelites from their enemies and certain death with this miracle of momentous proportions – something never before seen or experienced. Yet just a short time later, these same people seem to have forgotten God altogether, turned away from Him and were now worshiping a golden calf that they had made from the very gold that God had moved the Egyptians to give to them. They had turned God’s gift to them into an idol.

They were worshiping the gift instead of the Giver of the gift. They gave their God given inheritance up to be made into an idol, rather than used for God’s glory. Just as Esau sold his birthright for mere food, the Israelites forfeited their inheritance in order to make a golden calf. They had forgotten all God had done for them in such a short time, with disastrous results.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ ‘ ” (Exodus 32:7-8)

Wow! They were receiving manna every morning, being led by a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night to give light in the darkness of the desert, and water from a rock – all gifts of sustaining provision from Almighty God – and they would rather bow down to an inanimate golden calf statue?

Am I any different than the Israelites in the desert? How soon do I forget God’s goodness to me, His faithfulness, His never ending mercy, His constant watch care and provision? And when I forget all God has done, when I forget all His good gifts to me – then I forget to be grateful. I no longer count my blessings and give God the thanks due to Him alone. When I am no longer grateful, I become discontent, dissatisfied, doubting God’s goodness and desiring (like Eve) something other than what He has given me. When I forget God’s goodness, I forget to be grateful – I become envious, resentful, bitter. I complain to God instead of thanking Him.

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.” (Psalm 107:21-22)

If I forget all God has done in the past, my faith falters, doubt enters in and takes root where once faith flourished. With doubt, comes its companion, fear. Fear and doubt separate me from my Creator, whereas the memories of all He has done for me in the past bind me closer to Him. But when I forget God’s goodness to me, I become disconnected, adrift, directionless, searching for something or someone to take His place. It proves to be a fruitless pursuit, because no one can fill God’s place in my life, not even a golden calf. Idols are poor substitutes for the Living God. I think the Israelites found that out the hard way.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” (Psalm 107:13-16)

Yes, they cried out and God delivered the Israelites from their enemies time and time again. But each time, they forgot. They forgot what God had done – how He had rescued and restored them. Then they forgot to be grateful. Then they became dissatisfied with God and ended up worshiping inanimate idols. That’s what happens when we forget. That’s why it’s so important to remember.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” (Psalm 103:2-6)

“Forget not all His benefits” – meaning God’s good gifts. That’s good advice considering God’s gifts are priceless. The prophet Micah said this about God –

“Who is a God like You who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)

When I remember God’s faithfulness and all His promises to me, I am filled with hope, a hope that sustains me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult, no matter how desperate.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11)

When I forget God’s promises and His faithfulness, I lose hope and gain despair. (not really a good trade)

When I forget who God is – I forget who I am. I forget I am His child, created in His image. I lose my identity.

When I forget God’s truth – I believe satan’s lies.

When I forget God’s character and my history with Him – I lose my trust, my direction, my purpose, my courage –

When I forget that God loves me, forgives me and accepts me – I fail to love, forgive and accept others

Christmas and Communion remind me of the extraordinary lengths to which God went to redeem me and to redeem you. Just how far did God go? He left heaven and came to earth, taking on our human form, even being born as a helpless baby. Philippians describes it this way saying that Jesus –

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:6-7)

To what lengths did Jesus go for you and for me?

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient in death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

Jesus traveled through eternity to step into our world. He went to the manger and He went to the cross. I need to remember both His miraculous birth and His sacrificial death. Because when I forget, I become separated from God and nothing good happens then. I might even end up dancing in the desert worshiping a golden calf. God has a much better plan for me than that. I just have to remember – remember what He’s already done. That’s what Christmas and Communion do – they help me remember to what extraordinary lengths He went in order to save me.

“be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:12)

God set me free, too. And that is not something I want to forget. He came to set the captives free and He did just that.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

sincerely, Grace Day

there’s no place like home

Dorothy may have been right – that may be true, but this statement begs the question – “Where is home?” Oh sure we have the bumper sticker/cross-stitch answers such as “home is where the heart is” or “home is where you hang your hat” or “home is a shelter from the storm” or “home is where you are” or even “you can’t go home again.” All this speculation calls me to consider the question – is home a place or a person? or perhaps both?

Jesus said this – “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 14:2-3)

Seems to me, according to those words, home is both a place and a person. Jesus is preparing a place for me, but not just any old place – it is a place where He is, a place where I can be with Him. There are a lot of homeless people in the world today, not just in the U.S. but around the globe. This is true literally, but I think the number of homeless people figuratively is much higher. Many of us spend our lives searching for a place to call home or trying to find our way home. Whether it’s where our heart is, or our hat is, or a loved one is – we long to find that place where we belong, that place where we are accepted just as we are, for who we are – that place where we don’t have to pretend in order to fit in – that place where we are valued – that place where we are loved unconditionally without measure – that place where we are sheltered from life’s storms.

Doesn’t that sound like heaven? I meant that as a rhetorical question figuratively, but it is actually true literally. All those things will be true in our heavenly home. Maybe that’s why it is so hard to feel at home here – because this world is not my home. God’s own word confirms this.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

So, I have the promise of a new, permanent, eternal home and of a new, improved and glorious body to go with it? This is really good news! To all the homeless of the earth, whether our search for a home is literal or figurative, we have hope. We have God’s promise to all who believe on His Son, Jesus, that He is preparing a place for us. Then Peter writes these words –

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)

No wonder I never feel completely at home in this world – I am actually an alien and a stranger – my forever home and my forever family are waiting for me in heaven. This is the hope that sustains during darkest days and toughest times – there is a place being prepared for me – a place that I will call home forever. My search will be over and I will be home! It is an unshakeable inheritance, kept secure, as Peter explains –

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

Abraham understood this whole homeless/searching for a home thing – he lived it. In Hebrews eleven I read his story –

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. . . . All these people were still living by faith when they died. . . . And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:8-16)

Imagine it – a city whose architect and builder is God! Remember it was Jesus who said -“I am going to prepare a place for you.” This is the home I have been searching for – a shelter from life’s storms, built on a firm foundation of faith. I realize now that –

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Now I live as an alien in a foreign land. But my forever home is being prepared for me even now. I will not be homeless in eternity. I am headed for my forever home. In this home there will be room for my hat, my heart and everyone I love. I will have a large family of brothers and sisters dwelling with me. We will have no need of shelter, for there will be no more storms. Nevertheless, we will have a home in which to live together with great joy in the presence of Almighty God, the builder of our eternal home.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:2-3)

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:4-5)

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

sincerely, Grace Day ps. (related post – “headed home” at “mtothe5th”)

the view from the valley

“Do you see what I see? Said the night wind to the little lamb” in the song usually sung at Christmas time. I’m guessing the wind had an advantage over the lamb in that the wind had a better, wider, higher, larger view of things than did the little lamb who couldn’t leave the ground and could only see what was near him. His view was probably blocked by any trees or boulders or even small hills that surrounded him. And if he were in a cave or a thicket for shelter, the little lamb’s view wouldn’t take in very much at all. The wind on the other hand, being untethered from the ground, was free to soar far and wide, rising to great heights from which to survey many things.

I envy the wind’s wider, higher view of things. Reminds me of those rare mountain top moments, those fleeting, glorious glimpses from the summit, full of clarity and wonder, visions of things not seen from lesser heights and darker pathways. Memories of the mountain top view fade as I walk the valley, hemmed in on all sides, limiting my view and my vision of my true circumstances. I can’t see what’s around the next bend or over the next hill. I don’t have the big picture, I only see what’s right in front of me. I trust that the One I am following knows the way and sees those things that I cannot see. My Heavenly Father says this,

“I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

That should reassure me. God sees what I don’t see with my limited earthly vision. Situations often look pretty desperate to me. I don’t see a way out. I don’t see any hope for resolution or restoration, any hope that good will win out over evil. I feel overwhelmed by circumstances based on what I can see. But I need to remember that my vision is limited. My view is only a partial view of the total picture. There are things I can’t or don’t see. I am reminded of the story of Elisha’s servant in 2 Kings.

“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ The the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15-17)

God’s protection and provision had been there surrounding them all along, the servant just hadn’t been able to see it. And because he couldn’t see it with his eyes (prior to Elisha’s prayer) he didn’t realize or trust that it was there. The battle was won, but based on what the servant saw with his natural eyes, he would not have believed this to be true. I am like the servant in this story. Based on my limited vision, I become filled with fear and I forget that I am to walk by faith and not by sight.

“We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

That’s good advice, since my view from life’s valleys is so limited. But my Heavenly Father’s sight is unlimited and perfect. I can trust Him to lead me safely through dark times and over treacherous terrain.

“Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell? It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air. . . . God understands the way to it and He alone knows where it dwells, for He views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” (Job 28:20-24)

“The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth -” (Psalm 33:13-14)

My Heavenly Father sees it all, the pitfalls and the perils that surround me or lie ahead – but He sees beyond all that to the place that He is leading me – that place of promise, just like He asked Abraham to follow Him to “the land I will show you.” Abraham didn’t know the way, but God did. God knows the end from the beginning. I am stuck in the middle, so I will trust His vision rather than my own to lead me out of the valley and onto the mountain top. I will remember His promises.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:4-5)

Protection and provision in the presence of my enemies! That’s quite a promise! David experienced this and you and I can, too. God sees me. He has not lost track of me, even if I am lost in the valley or fallen into a pit. I can say like Job did about God –

“But He (God) knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

My view from the valley is so limited that if I rely solely on what I can see, I will be filled with fear and lose hope. I will give up. But like the servant of Elisha, I want to remember that “those who are with me are more than those who are with the enemy of my soul.” I want to remember –

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ ” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

There are things I do not see, but God sees all and I follow Him by faith, relying on His perfect vision for my life and for the world He created. God never misses a beat. Not even the falling of a sparrow. Nothing gets by Him because He’s on watch twenty-four/seven. And sometimes, if I look up from my valley, I am granted that mountain top vista of God’s glory and the protection and provision He is providing daily for me – for those who are with me are more than those who are against me. I see that the tribulations of these times will not prevail, when God grants a glimpse of all He is doing in the heavenly realms. I just have to look up.

“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. He will not let my foot slip – He who watches over me will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:3-8)

“Now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

in the meantime, I walk by faith –

sincerely, Grace Day

climbing my family tree

On second thought that’s the wrong title. The title should be “getting to the root of it” because the question asked is “how far back can you go in your family tree?” So I am looking for my roots, which will take some digging, so to speak. The branches of my family tree are in plain sight, but its roots are hidden from view and from memory as well. Finding my family tree’s roots will require uncovering what is hidden. Or will it?

It occurs to me I have known the answer to this question all along. I’m going to go out on a limb (pun intended) and say my family tree goes back to Adam and Eve. Then I realize this branch is long gone and I’m going to need to find another limb upon which to stand. You see, there was this flood and everyone died – except for this man named Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. Noah had believed God and been brave enough and obedient enough to build a huge boat on dry land with no water in sight and no memory of it ever having rained upon the earth previously. That’s either foolishness or faithfulness. Turns out it was the latter.

At this point I want to claim victory and say I’ve won the tree climbing or root digging or tree tracing contest. I can trace my family tree all the way back to Noah! Then I realize, so can everyone else alive today. There is one race – the human race. Saying we are all brothers and sisters is more than just a metaphor or sappy song lyrics. It’s actually true! Time and geographical distance have produced many languages, customs of dress and food, nationalities as countries came into being and differences in physical characteristics – but we are all fruit of the same tree.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 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)

Wow! My roots are right there in plain sight. I am created in God’s image. He is my Heavenly Father. Today, many are engaged in a search for their roots, hoping that when they learn where they came from, this knowledge will guide them to where they are going and give them a sense of meaning and purpose along the way. Knowing whose I am, does provide me that sense of belonging and identity that we all seek. It is important for each of us to know that we were created on purpose, for a purpose. These words from Psalm 139 remind me that this is true.

“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)

As a child of God, I am part of a living, growing family tree that reaches into eternity. I belong to this eternal family – I have a place in it. Psalm 68:4-6 tells me,

“His name is the Lord – and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families,”

Is it surprising or even shocking to discover that we are all related? If we have been focusing solely on our differences to the exclusion of all our similarities, we might be surprised to discover we share the same roots and are created in the same image – God’s. Each one of us is God’s “handiwork” or “masterpiece” as Ephesians 2:10 says. Seems ironic, that many today are searching, hoping to discover through genetics, family members they might be missing – while our family tree is all around us. Culture wants us to focus on our differences. Christ came to call us together as His dearly beloved children, whom He gave His life to redeem.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

In tracing our what we think are individual trees, we discover we share our roots with everyone. They are roots common to us all – we are human beings created in God’s image from the dust of the earth. If only we could see each other the way our Creator God sees us.

“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)

And our hearts are all the same – all created by God, for God.

“He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Searches for one’s roots are at their root searches for connection and belonging. Writing this has reminded me once again that we are all inextricably connected, whether we want to be or not. I am surrounded by brothers and sisters who are more like me than I will ever know if I never look beyond the outward appearance of the people I come in contact with every day. Other countries, other cultures, those that speak a different language? We all have the same Heavenly Father whose image we bear. If only we could recognize that image in each other. We are related for eternity! Might as well get to know each other now.

Surprisingly, it turns out there is only one family tree – the family of humankind. Lots of different branches – but all fed from the same root – the Root of Jesse – who is the Messiah – who is Jesus. Jesus, is also called the True Vine – we are the branches on this Vine – producing fruit as we live connected to the eternal, living Vine. But that’s a post for another day. Whether a tree or a vine, we are all connected to each other in more ways than we could ever imagine. Guess I’ll spend what time I have left looking for those commonalities and connections rather than the divisions forced upon us by culture or convention.

“You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26)

sincerely, Grace Day

rain

torrents of tears, pellets of pain pounding the pavement, pouring forth as God weeps over the world –

God’s tears – raining down over earth’s barren brownness -turning to green, bringing back to life all once believed to be beyond hope

“the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17)

rain – teardrops of the Creator falling fearlessly, faithfully to the ground washing away dead debris, letting new life grow up in once forsaken spaces

rain – filling our rivers and our streams, our lakes and our ponds, our oceans and our inlets, our marshes and our bayous to overflowing with life giving liquid

rain – gentle, torrential, refreshing, terrifying, comforting, cleansing teardrops from heaven

rain – falls silently with deafening drumbeat – followed by mysterious mists rising, revealing sparkling jewels in droplets of water adorning everything in sight – earth bathed and renewed, rejoicing under the rainbow revealed when raindrops ceased to fall

the rainbow – exquisite beauty designed to make glad the heart after the storm – a reward, a reminder – a reminder of the promise of a faithful Creator God to me and to you – the rainbow, the sign of God’s covenant with all mankind stretching across the sky – inescapable, unexpected, unexplainable – the promise of life everlasting

“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.’ ” (Genesis 9:12-16)

the rainbow – a promise kept, hope – life after the storm, the rain will not destroy – the rain will bring life, renewal, cleansing, refreshing

“”Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

rain – rain is water, water sustains all life – God’s own tears falling from the sky, bring life to me and to you!

Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38)

“I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor Me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to My people, My chosen, the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise.” (Isaiah 43:19-21)

rain – without it we perish. I grieve God a thousand times a day and yet as He weeps over me, out of His grief He sustains my life with His tears

my Heavenly Father rains down His mercy, forgiveness, compassion, protection, provision, His manna, unceasingly from heaven

“for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

the Lord weeps and the earth is brought back to life again and again – food grows, thirsty people are refreshed

rain – water used to baptize – a symbol of the old being washed away and of new life in Christ

the Lord weeps and the earth is washed clean for a new beginning

Lord, when it rains, when Your tears fall on me, may they be tears of Your mercy, compassion, forgiveness – tears that will wash away my sin and heal my soul – let Your rain restore and redeem me – reign in my life, Lord – rain on me!

“The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; You are from all eternity.” (Psalm 93:1-2)

“The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.” (Psalm 97:1)

the Lord reigns! the Lord in His mercy sends the rain and the rainbow – a reminder of His everlasting covenant with all mankind

sincerely, Grace Day

today’s query

The question posed to me – “Why do you write?” My response? Because I can’t paint or draw. It’s as simple as that. After all, isn’t a picture worth one thousand words? If I could paint a picture to express what I desire to communicate, I certainly would. Unfortunately, I can’t. So I am forced to take the longer, more laborious route of searching for the words that will say eventually what a painting says in an instant, in the blink of an eye, in that moment when the beholder first lays eyes on it. In that moment, the painting puts its entire message forth to be received by the viewer. The reader, however, will need time to read and time to process the one thousand words written on the page.

My grandmother was a painter. She painted landscapes and still-lifes in oils mostly. I loved her landscapes because most were of sand dunes, lakes and boats and such, reminding me of time spent as a child on a lake I loved. Paintings can do that – bring memories and feelings to life, making you feel you are right there once again. But since I can’t paint, putting my heart on canvas, I write, pouring my heart into words. Often words don’t seem enough or don’t seem adequate – but that’s all I’ve got, so I persist in pursuing meaning through writing, which can be shared with others.

Which is another reason why I write, actually – to connect with other people. Words are the building blocks of language. Language allows us to share information and experiences with others. Words are the bridge that binds us together. Unfortunately, words are also the bombs that blow those carefully crafted bridges up and tear us apart.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue (words) of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

That’s why I write – to encourage and inspire whoever might be reading at the moment, to bring healing and hope to someone who might be having an especially tough day. I write to point others to the source of my comfort, peace, purpose, identity, joy and hope – the Living God, Creator of the universe, who coincidentally is also known as the Living Word!

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Moses said this to the Israelites, reminding them just how vital God’s words are –

“They are not just idle words for you – they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” (Deuteronomy 32:47)

Words are important – that’s why I write. Some might even say words are life itself.

“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)

God’s words are life giving, life sustaining words. I write to share His words with others. The challenge as a writer is always to find the “right” words to write (pun intended) with my goal being to uplift the reader, to fill them with hope or comfort or peace or whatever they might be in need of at the time they would chance to read my words and more importantly, to read God’s living, eternal words. I write because words matter and words make a difference.

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

As a writer, I guess I’m always searching for the perfect words to express what I can’t paint, to say what my heart longs to make known. Words are the bridges I put out there, hoping someone will walk across one of them, making it possible to share in life’s journey together if even for the briefest of moments of connection.

my words may not long be remembered – however, not so with God’s words – they last and they have power –

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

“so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

I will continue to write, with this prayer my plea to God every day –

“May the words of my mouth (and of my pen) and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

sincerely, Grace Day

desires, dreams and aspirations

Today is typically a day dedicated to making resolutions, setting goals, looking forward – it’s a time of planning, of plotting a path that will take me to where I want to go. But what if I don’t know where I want to go? What if I don’t have an end goal or a particular destination in mind? Am I doomed to wander aimlessly, without a purpose to direct my days and give order to my steps? Somehow, this doesn’t seem like a very promising start to the new year.

I should be identifying goals, making graphs and charts – ok, well at least lists, I should be making lists, lists of all kinds – check lists, to do lists, lists of books to read, of home projects to start, home projects to finish, lists of new hobbies I’ve been meaning to take up, a new class at the gym, that story I never finished . . . the lists could be long and there could be many of them. If I could create enough of these lists, maybe they could guide me through this coming year. They could provide the direction and purpose I seek and a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment every time I could check a box or cross something off my list.

It’s good to have a plan going forward and lists can help me create that plan and make it concrete. Goal setting, planning, lists, resolutions – these will give me control over my future and what lies ahead in this new year. Well, if not actual control, at least I’ll have a sense or a feeling of control as I make my plans, set my goals and write my infinite lists – work lists, wish lists, wildest dreams lists . . . lists of endless possibilities. Isn’t that what I’m really looking for, some measure of control over my unknown future? Yet even as I’m making my plans, these words run through my head –

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Based on my experiences in years past, I assume this coming year will be full – full of the unexpected and the unforeseen, full of gain and loss, joy and sadness, peace and pain – there will be challenges I am probably not prepared to face, but who among us is until called to do so? I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of mountains to move or to climb in the days and months ahead. Maybe my resolution will be not to turn my molehills into mountains since there are already enough mountains to keep me challenged. Maybe this year I will resolve to pay more attention to the journey, which is my present, than to an elusive destination that may or may not be my future. Maybe I will give up control and see where life takes me. Maybe I will trust more and become a better follower. I don’t know what the future holds but I know the One who does know.

“I am God and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

This year 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)

Letting my Heavenly Father direct my path this year – that sounds like both a challenge and an adventure. Am I willing to do this? Abraham did just this very thing. God called him and Abraham answered. It went down like this –

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ . . . So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.” (Genesis 12:1-4)

That’s trust, that’s faith, because God didn’t tell Abraham where he would be going. Abraham didn’t know his final destination, he had to trust God to direct his steps every day of the journey. The journey would prepare him for what lay ahead. Abraham didn’t know what lay ahead of him, but God did. And that was enough. It was also enough for the brothers Peter and Andrew, who were busy fishing when Jesus called them.

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:18-20)

Like Abraham, Peter and Andrew didn’t know what lay ahead of them, but they trusted the One who did know, the One who called them to leave everything and follow Him. Jesus knew what the future held and that was enough. It’s enough for me, too. I will have to make this choice new every day if I am to follow well and let my Heavenly Father order my steps each day. So that is what I will do – every day a challenge, a joy, a sorrow, an adventure filled with a purpose not my own – following God’s path rather than my own plan.

“Then He (Jesus) called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’ ” (Mark 8:34-37)

faith is not for the faint of heart, may I have the courage to surrender and to follow where You lead every day, Lord –

sincerely, Grace Day