Monday, 5 November 2012

The View from the Top

Have you ever felt stuck--in a tight spot, a boring job, a traffic jam, a noisy crowd or a sticky situation--that your eyes couldn't help but wander far beyond the walls...onto the world outside your windows...up to the sky...far, far away from it all?

With a heavy heart, I heaved a sigh of resignation as I looked up to the vastness of the bright sky above.  I was asking God to rescue me from my pit when suddenly, the world before me dimmed as I looked back down.  No, nobody shut the lights out.  But you know how you temporarily lose your vision after staring at something bright for a while?  Well, that's not all that happened to me.  Jesus' light happened to me.

Jesus' light happened to Saul too on his way to Damascus.  It blinded a man whose views and actions reflected the darkness in his soul.  Yet after seeing Jesus, his heart was changed and so did his name and the way he saw the world.

Not that I have been "breathing out murderous threats against God's disciples."  But perhaps I have been short-sighted of the greatness of God in my own life.  The comforting truth however, was that He will always be greater than my griefs.  And His grace will always be greater than all my sin.  Neither the tightness of my spot nor the stickiness of my situation will ever change the character, power and love of God.  And whether my faith was as big as a football field or as tiny as a mustard seed, God remains to be the Mover of my mountains.

There simply was no question about what God can do, but on what I was willing to do.  My mountain had grown so big that it blocked my way and obstructed my view.  Yet the Lord chose not to move it.  While I've been struggling to find a way around it, all He wanted was to grow my faith bigger that I may gain a higher perspective.  I was stuck, yes...because I refused to grow.  I couldn't see because I refused to open up my eyes to the things that mattered most like love, forgiveness and compassion.

 The breathtaking view at the top of the Dorset Lookout 
Tower in Haliburton, Ontario.

 I called this picture "Big World, Little Jane"
with my friend posing for me beside this gigantic binoculars.

Beautiful rainbow on top of the Haliburton Highlands.

God's greatness had brought me to my knees as it brought to light the shadows that were slowly creeping in the crevices of my heart.  He showed me that I didn't really need to go very far to find His grace.  It was sufficient right where I was.

I know that every now and then I will still be pleading with the Lord to take away my thorn.  Yet when He won't, I pray that like the apostle Paul, He may help me fix my eyes not on what is seen which is temporary, but on what is unseen which is eternal.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."  (Helen H. Lemmel, 1922)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Walking the Turtle

      "Shouldn't we put a leash on him," I asked my son while grabbing the Red-eared Slider out of his tank.  Little Kurt's eyes grew bigger.  He's seen folks walking their dogs around on a leash...but turtles?  He must be wondering how a leash would even fit such a tiny neck that's just about the size of his stubby, big toe.  Well, wouldn't this reptile try to run away after having been confined inside a small four-walled house, where he had nothing better to do--that he just decided to sleep for about four long months?

I couldn't help but mull over such ideas.  After a very quiet winter, I finally hear him moving, splashing and scratching his over-grown claws against his tank.  For a generally shy creature, Todd is suddenly making quite some noise.  Though not at all related to bears, these turtles also go through some sort of hibernation.  They actually "brumate" or become sluggish and less active during the cold season.  In fact, Todd has hardly eaten anything at all since November.  One morning I even thought he was dead.  I had to shake his tank a bit to get him out of his shell.

Todd in his tank, slowly stretching his neck up to the surface to take a peek.

Yet now that it's spring, he's alive again!  After what seemed like the longest sleep, he's now up and about--hungry, tossing to and fro, reaching up for a way out.  He must have heard the birds singing their happy song.  He must have felt the sunlight on his face.  He must have seen the budding leaves and the blooming flowers from his glass walls.  The world outside is coming back to life and so must he!  

Spring must be the breath of God, waking a sleeping world to life.

Oh, I can only marvel at the energy this season brings; the colors it paints in nature; and the hope it gives mankind!  It brings to mind how God can raise even the dead back to life.  For just as He is the Giver of life, He is also it's Blesser, Sustainer, and Keeper!    

It is such a thrill just seeing people out on the streets again.  My neighbors are back in their gardens too.  Even my kids have been roused from their own dormant state of "sitting-on-the-couch-playing-video-games-for-as long-as-they-can".  And Todd, he yearns for the outdoors too.

Free at last!

"Please, hurry up, Todd!  ...Aw, Mom!  Todd is taking forever!"

"Go, Todd!  Oh wait, not there...over here, Todd.
This way.  The Park's this way!"

So yes, we decided to take him for a walk.  Well, of course we didn't get very far.  The poor animal just had to stop after every two or three baby steps to hide back inside his shell.  Nevertheless, it's been great just to be out for a while; to be blessed with a new season; to be alive! 

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.'"                                                                

--John 11:25, NIV  

"Sigh... It'll be morning by the time we get to the park.
Let's just go back home.  My feet are achy now."

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Cloudy with a Promise of a Better Day

"Peace is not found in the absence of trouble but in the presence of God."
I guess almost everyone frowns at the daunting sight of dark clouds.  Like most five-year olds, the sound of thunder used to send me scurrying under the sheets too.  To my mind, Rain and anything that signaled its coming were the villains in what's supposed to be a nice day to play outside.  So with nose pressed hard against our old glass jalousie windows, I had grown up chanting "Rain, rain, go away!" at each ominous rain cloud that hid my hero, Mister Sun away.  

little me under my favorite umbrella

In this life, we too are faced with some kind of rain every now and then.  Sometimes it drizzles, some days it storms.  But what do we do when the inevitable comes?  Should we just let it dampen our spirits and flood our souls with sadness?  Should we run and hide?  Or should we keep on chanting that rainy day rhyme until the storms have passed? 

There is a song I heard once about little flowers which comforted me in a time of grief.  Here are some of the verses I can still remember...

"Little flowers never worry when the wind begins to blow
And they never, never cry when the rain begins to fall
...Oh I guess they've learned the secret; They don't fret because they know
If it never, never rained, then they'll never, never grow"   

Once we understand the promise of Romans 8:28--that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose, we can better appreciate even the most trying circumstances.  And with the God who created the mystery of the seasons by our side, we can trust each out-pour to bring with it new strength, growth and blessing.  For how can we know the warmth of sunshine, if we had not been acquainted with the dampness of rain?  Indeed, the soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears. 

Today, I still shudder at the thought of rain, though am no longer as afraid.  Just as troubles and difficulties are bound to happen, so do better days.  And whether or not the rain is here to stay, the sunshine of God's love shall be enough to paint a smile across my face.  So the next time dark clouds hover, I would like to see that little girl in me coming out from beneath those sheets; putting her rain boots on and running towards the rain.  She would be opening her umbrella upside-down to catch heaven's mercies; and with her head lifted high, she would be spreading her arms as wide as she can to embrace everything else the rain has to offer.  

There is beauty to be found in the midst of every storm when you have God in the center of it.  Over the years, He has been a friend who has walked with me through the grays and gloom of it all.  With His faithfulness, He has led me again and again to that rainbow behind every cloud.   Thus, in the days to come, when the storms rage on and the skies shower down its endless rhythm of spitter-spatter and drippitty-drop-drops, I will trust Him once more to take my hand, jump with me in the puddles, and gracefully dance with me in the rain.