It takes time

Recently, it seems that I’ve been reminded of so many life lessons and spiritual principles as I’ve taken my daily walks. I think it is because I have been consciously looking at the things around me, hunting for the perfect picture.

You know, the Bible tells us that we can learn many important lessons from nature. Romans 1:19-20 tells us, “what can be known about God is evident among them [people who live on the earth, including unbelievers], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” I’d like to tell you about one lesson I have been reminded of as I walked a few days ago.

As I came upon the tree in the picture above, I was immediately struck by the size of it, and remarked in my mind, “How long it must have taken for that tree to reach its present size!” Then, I began to think about how the natural world teaches us that things must grow. Seeds grow into trees, animals begin as babies that grow into matured adults, etc. Even a tornado begins as a small twister and gains in size. Now, I will confess to you that I am not good at waiting, and perhaps this is why this tree has spoken to me so strongly. I love flowers, but I have never been good at planting seeds and waiting for them to grow. I don’t know how to cultivate and nourish them so that they will grow, nor the patience to learn. (Not proud of this!) Rather, I just go and buy small plants that have already sprouted and transplant them into my garden and/or pots. Or very often, I purchase an already mature, blooming plant.

However, the Bible does not teach this principle. Physically, mentally, and spiritually we begin as “babies” and over time, we will mature into adults. We are to train our children up in the instruction of the Lord. ( Eph. 6:4), in godliness (1 Tim. 4:8), in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16), and for spiritual battle (Psalm 144:1). Of course, the Lord is present and provides the wisdom and power for all of this. In Hebrews 5, Paul speaks about how all of us should be maturing in our spiritual walk, using the analogy of babies moving from drinking milk into adults eating meat . Over and over again, the Bible speaks of and illustrates growth. And we can see this principle in nature, as the tree shows.

It’s not that God couldn’t create things fully matured or grown. He could, but He does not. God does not create us as computerized robots. God grows trees, people, circumstances. We are told many, many times to wait on the Lord. Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:7, Prov. 20:22, Isa. 25:9, Isa. 40:31, and Isa. 60:9 for starters.

Wait patiently, trusting the Lord is a principle that we can clearly learn from nature. In order to remind myself to be patient with some of the people and circumstances in my life, I have printed and framed this photo and hung it where I will see it every day. I need to remember to be patient and allow God to work things out in His perfect timing.

How about you? Are you ‘in the same boat’ as I am?

Why, Lord?

Have you ever been in a place or time that you’ve asked that question? I think there’s a good chance that I’m not alone in having at least thought that when facing trouble or difficulty. I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about the answer to that question. In my life, I have seen five answers to that question. They are not always so clearly obvious as they will be listed below, and I think sometimes what is happening may be a combination of more than one of these reasons, but this is what I’ve learned:

  1. What is happening may be the natural result of your own sin. For example, when I had a mini-stroke in March, 2017, that was the result of my own bad choices and sinful pride. I knew my blood pressure was dangerously high, but I ignored it and chose not to follow my doctor’s advice for medication. I have no one to blame except myself for the stroke. A Biblical example of this would be when Samson was overpowered by the Philistines, and he lost his eyesight. (Judges 16) He sinned by his behavior with Delilah and also in telling the secret of his strength, and when he was betrayed and overpowered, it was a natural result of his own sin.
  2. What is happening may be God’s discipline in our lives. Hebrews 12: 5, 6 says, “My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or lose heart when you are reproved by him, for the Lord disciplines the one he love and punishes every son he receives.” Sometimes this discipline may indeed be punishment such as the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years because of their sin, or when the Israelites were conquered and taken captive because of their sin. However, there are other times that God’s discipline is so that we may learn. The Lord did not lead the Israelites directly out of Egypt to the Promised Land because He knew that they were not ready yet for what would lie ahead. (Exodus 13: 17-18) Another example is when Jesus led his disciples directly into the storm on the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4) They learned a great deal about who Jesus was and what He could do in that storm!
  3. Another reason that we may be having times that our testing our faith is because that is what is meant to happen-it’s a test of our faith! The trials of Job are a good Biblical example of that. In this case, we just need to hang on and prove that our trust is in the Lord. I like to remind myself of a quote from Dr. Tony Evans in these times, “Faith is acting like it is so even when it is not so in order that it might be so simply because God said so.”
  4. Finally, sometimes the difficulty is meant to turn out for God’s glory. Remember when Jesus was asked why the man was born blind? (John 9:1-12) His response was that this would be for God’s glory. Jesus also delayed his arrival in Bethany until after Lazarus had already died so that in bringing him back to life, God would be glorified. (John 11)

I’ve found that when we are in the midst of difficulties, it is not always easy to discern the meaning behind them. However, I’ve also found that if it involves my own sin or something that I need to learn, when I humble myself and seek God’s will, He will always show me what I need to learn or confess and change. But in the other times, it is not always so immediately clear. It is those times that we need to make Proverbs 3:5 our guiding light: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I’m going to leave you with a link to a song that has blessed and helped me greatly through some of my recent trials:

God bless you! Have a blessed Sunday!!

Patience, Trust, & Waiting

The Lord has led me into several situations during this time in my life where I have had/am having to wait with no clear indication of what the future may hold, and in some cases, the outlook does not look very hopeful from a human’s point of view. I suspect that I am not alone. Considering the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic, we all have had uncertainty and delay in our lives over and over again this past 12-14 months. And all of us have had the normal load of life events on top of the pandemic. So I am sure that some of you can relate to what I’m feeling.

The Bible is full of verses that instruct us to have patience, and to wait and trust our Lord. I will not try to share all of them here, but some that have spoken to me are:

  • Psalm 37: 5,7 ” Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act…be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him.”
  • Proverb 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord will all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding, in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.”
  • Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.”
  • Isaiah 40:31 “Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.”
  • Psalm 40:1 ” I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry for help.”
  • Romans 8:12 “Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.”
  • Romans 12:12 ” Rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction, be persistent in prayer.”

And there are many more. We need to patiently trust and wait for God to work out His perfect plan in His perfect timing.

Easier said than done in my case. Recently, I’ve seen two things posted on social media that were helpful and challenging:

Yet, it was something that happened in my own life that has helped me get some victory. I’ve started working on jigsaw puzzles again in an effort to keep my mind used to being active. I have started small, but each puzzle that I’m doing is a little more difficult than the previous one. Anyway, I just finished a puzzle of two puppies this week (picture below). As I finished it, it occurred to me that doing puzzles takes patience. You don’t expect to do the larger, harder ones in one sitting. You work at it, a few pieces at a time, a hour here, an hour there, until you get it finished. It takes patience and waiting to reach the end and see the finished result. It also takes some trust—that the package contains all of the right pieces to complete the puzzle.

Then it hit me! IF I can trust a puzzle-making company to include all of the pieces needed, and IF I can be patient in finishing something as inconsequential as a jigsaw puzzle, why can I not trust Almighty God who has proven over and over again that He loves me and will take care of me, to work out these things in my life that require patience, trust, and waiting?

OF COURSE, I can trust Him! I pray that this simple illustration will be helpful to you, as well. God will take care of us, will answer our prayers, will bring people to Himself, but He will do it in His own timing. He will never be late; His timing is perfect. We just need to trust Him, and wait patiently.

And that’s Track in the Sand that we all can follow.

All in it Together

When I first looked at these flowers, the first thing that popped into my mind after being awed by how beautiful they were was, ” We are all the same, just at different stages of development, so let’s just be kind to each other!”

I intended to share the photo along with a few thoughts last night, but I confess that I got kind of ‘comfie’ on my patio at dusk last evening, and then was too tired to do something as complicated as thinking & typing. Haha!!

However, this morning, I was glad that I waited because as I read my devotional material, twice Scriptures and writings spoke directly to this topic. So, now I have a little more ‘meat & bread’ to share with you.

The Bible speaks in numerous places about how we are “one”. In John 15:5, Jesus tells us that He is the “Vine” and we are the “branches”. The picture above is a good illustration of that. There is a stem,(vine) and off of that are the buds & blossoms (branches). One of us may still be in the bud stage while another has already bloomed, but neither of us has any room for pride or arrogance. We are the same, just in different stages of development.

The book of Ephesians is full of teachings about how we are all one in Christ, (Chapters 2 & 4, especially), and that we should act like it. Chapter 4:1-3 tells us to “live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity.” (CSB)

Romans 12:3 tells us that “everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think.” A few verses later, the author tells us that, ” in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-22 speaks again about how we are all members of one body. Following that, we are told that we should give honor to the weaker/less honorable parts, an that there should be no divisions, but that we should “have the same concern for each other.”(v. 25.)

And, in John 13:34-35, Jesus tells us, ” I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I remember once when I was in Taiwan back in 1974 or 1975, that a non-Christian visitor to our church was asked at the end of the service, “Well, what do you think?” Her response was, “Wow! You all really love each other!” And just in the last few days, I have read a testimony of a Muslim who visited a church and was moved by the love that they saw expressed by the Christians.

So, my thoughts today are that we are like that branch that I saw on the rhododendron bush last night. We may be in different stages of development, but our life source comes from one vine. We are all the same, and all in need of and dependent upon our Lord, Jesus Christ. So, let’s put away the fighting and criticizing and division, and be loving and kind to one another! There are many watching us!! What do they see? Does what they see cause them to want to know more or less about Christ?

Outtakes from a cold morning service

This morning, I joined with other brothers and sisters in Christ to worship outdoors at a former ranch. It was sunny, not a cloud in the sky, BUT it was also just barely above 40 degrees, and the wind was about 15mph; the feels-like temperature was below 40 degrees. It was not a comfortable morning, but I had several “ah-ha” moments, and I’d like to share those with you.

  1. When the wind would die down for a few seconds and you could only feel the sun, it would be quite warm. I was reminded of the Son of God (Jesus) who is the Light of the world, and will give us peace even in the midst of our storms.
  2. I noticed that when we were singing worship & praise songs and hymns, that the wind did not feel so cold. In the same way, giving worship and praise to our Lord will give us joy in the midst of our trials. I am reminded of the familiar song, “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.” Worship and praise turns our eyes to look upon Jesus rather than the winds in our life..
  3. During the service, I shifted my chair a bit so my back was towards the wind. That caused me to be facing the mountains in the distance. I was reminded of the verse that says, “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 It was another reminder that when the winds of life get strong and cold, I am to look to the Lord for my help, and not to guns, security systems, money, beauty, popularity, sex, drugs, or the many other “aids” that the world offers us.

4. I also could not help but think that while I was very uncomfortable, this was the first time in over 65 years of attending worship services that I have been physically uncomfortable. I was reminded of what the early Christians faced when they were persecuted for their faith, and many thousands since who have suffered much in order to serve and worship the Lord. I truly had little to complain about this morning!

I am reminded that the author of Hebrews tells us to offer an sacrifice of praise.

“Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

I’m not sure if what we did this morning qualifies as that, or not. I do know that I (and I’m guessing some others) thought about giving it up and heading home because it was so cold. However, I stayed so that I might offer a testimony of my love for my Lord in this open public place. And at the end, the vast majority of us raised our hands when our pastor asked if we wanted to meet there again next Sunday.

To God be the glory!!

P.S. Long-range forecast for next Sunday is mid-upper 50s and 8mph winds. Thank you, Lord, for Your mercy!

Cloudy, dark days

Happy Easter, Everyone! I hope that you have had a blessed and meaningful day! I have, and I’d like to share with you an insight that I had this morning. It was something that I already knew, but needed to be reminded of. Actually, the lesson began Friday night.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that each Easter, I learn a new ‘thing’ about what happened on that first Easter. This year because I, like so many of you, have been going through some difficult and discouraging times, it has caused me to think about how Jesus’s disciples and the women who followed him must all have felt on Friday night after Jesus died and was buried, and the next day Saturday. They must have felt so helpless and hopeless on top of their grief over losing their close loved one. Matthew might have thought, “What do I do now? I left my job for this? I’ll never be able to get it back now that I’ve been with Jesus!” Peter might have thought, ” I loved him and then I DENIED him, and now I’ll never be able to make things right!” They all must have felt so terribly awful because they didn’t understand what Jesus had said about being resurrected. They didn’t know that SUNDAY WAS COMING!

Thinking about that has given me hope that we are going to see light at the end of our tunnels one of these days, and we will begin to emerge out into better times soon. Maybe very soon.

Then, to follow up on that, this morning my church met outdoors in a field at a ranch. As the pastor was preaching, I heard a plane flying overhead. I looked up but could not see it because it was very cloudy at the time. However, I am sure it was there as I heard it clearly. It reminded me again that there are times in our lives that the clouds may be very thick in our lives. We may feel like God has abandoned us because we are not seeing Him doing good (what we consider good) things in our lives. We read His Word, the Bible, and ‘hear’ him speak to us, but we still may cry out, “God, where are you?” But, like the airplane above the clouds this morning, we can be assured that God has not left us. We may not feel or see Him, but He is with us. David told his son, Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (1 Chronicles 28:20) Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Another thing happened this morning that also spoke to me. It was a partly cloudy morning, but when our praise team stood up to sing, the sun broke through the clouds. When the pastor stood up to preach, the sun was covered by clouds again, until…the praise team stood up again to sing after the sermon. Now, I do not want to take this too far because our pastor happened to preach a very good message, and it was from the Lord! However, the Lord did use the situation to remind me that when I am feeling discouraged, one of the best ways to dispel my fears and worries and gloom is to praise Him. That being said, I’d like to share a song with you that I heard just awhile ago as I was listening to the playlist that I’ve created on my phone. It is entitled “Way Maker”, and God truly is a Way Maker. Nothing is impossible for Him, and we need to remember that when we are “under the dark clouds” in our lives.

He can make a way for us when it seems impossible! And that is a track amongst the many in the sand that we should follow.

Waiting for help from above

This morning I read a short article about the 33 miners in Chile who were trapped underground by a mine collapse in 2010. They waited in the dark for 17 days for any kind of contact, and then for over two months until they were finally rescued. There was no way they could save themselves; they had to wait in the dark for help to come from those up on the surface who would be seeking to find them and save them. Being anxious or worried would not cause them to be rescued any faster. They had to put their trust in those above and wait patiently.

I could not help but think about how many times in life we find ourselves in circumstances where we cannot save ourselves. We simply must wait on help to come from above, from our Heavenly Father. Unlike the rescuers of the miners, our Heavenly Father does not have to first search for us, He knows exactly where each of us is. We are told over and over again in the Bible to trust the Lord and to wait for Him to act. Psalm 21:14, Psalm 37:7,34, Proverbs 20:22 for starters.

The story of the miners and the picture it placed in my mind helped me to understand better that just because at times it may feel like I am sitting and waiting in the dark (i.e., not understanding what is going on) and nothing is happening, it is not so. The miners could not see the work and efforts of their rescuers, but there was a lot of work going on. The miners simply had to trust and wait. Even more so, as I ‘sit and wait’, I can trust that my Heavenly Father is at work arranging things in His perfect timing. I do not have to see or understand for it to be so.

Some verses from Psalm 37 that have been of encouragement to me: (from the CSB version)

v. 3 “Trust in the Lord…”

v. 5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

v. 7 “Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him.”

v. 34 ” Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land.”

v. 39-40 “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord, their refuge in a time of distress. The Lord helps and delivers them; he will deliver them from the wicked and will save them because they take refuge in him.”

Trust in the Lord and wait for Him…that’s a track in the sand that we can follow confidently!

Standing Firm & Not Losing Hope

I’d just like to share a little of the outtake from my devotional time this morning; writing it down for you here will help cement it in my own mind & heart.

How do we not lose hope during discouraging times? How do we stand firm in our faith when it appears that all hope is lost? I see 6 keys to remaining firm in our faith in the passage in Philippians 4:1-9 that begins in verse 1 by telling us to “stand firm in the Lord.”

  1. In order to stand firm and not lose hope, we must put our hope & faith “in the Lord.” If we put our faith in other people, organizations, governments, guns, riches, or any other earthly thing, we will find ourselves lacking and losing hope. However, we can put our hope in the God who made the heavens and the earth and for whom nothing is too hard.(Jeremiah 32:17). We can stand firm in our faith in our God who is love and who loves us. (1 John 4:8, John 3:16) If God loves us so much that He gave His Son to die to pay the penalty for our sins, you know that He is not going to leave us helpless in the midst of a storm or troubles. Isaiah 59:1 reminds us that He is not too weak to save nor too deaf to hear us when we need Him.
  2. The second key to standing firm in our faith is to agree with one another in the Lord. (v. 2) While it is true that we are created with different abilities and personalities, and we will disagree on some things just as the early disciples did, we must remember that we are taught over and over again in the New Testament that we are to love one another (John 13:34-35) and that we are to be of one spirit with each other. (Ephesians 4:4, Phil 1:27, Phil 2:2, 2 Corinthians 12) This is not an easy thing to do, I know. But if we would take time to listen and converse with each other, I think we will come closer to achieving victory in this area. When one member of the body is suffering or weak, it/we need to know that we are not alone, that our brothers and sisters are with us. If we are fighting about some matter, then the strength that we have as a whole is weakened.
  3. Verse 4 gives us the third key to standing firm: “rejoice in the Lord!” This is closely tied to the first key, that we are to be firm “in the Lord”, but I see a slight difference here. Not only are we to be firm in what we believe about who God is, we also need to rejoice about it! Put it into words! Put it into writing! It has been my experience as a teacher that if a student not only reads the content that they need to learn, but also speaks it out loud, uses it in multiple ways, then they will learn it more surely, and the new content will move into their permanent memory. As a language teacher, I learned early that it was not enough for my students to be able to pass a test about verb tenses, for example. When I saw them using them correctly in their speech, then I knew that they really had learned the concept! AND, I learned that they wouldn’t learn the concept until they did use it in speech. As I speak out in worship what I believe in my heart about the Lord, it becomes even more solid as a part of my permanent memory that cannot be shaken. I remember that as I was learning Chinese in Taiwan, I would hear or read new vocabulary. I thought/believed that I knew the new word, but there was always a lack of confidence until I had actually spoken and used the word and saw that I was correct. And the more times that I used the word correctly, the more confidence that I gained! When I verbally give the Lord praise, I am cementing my confidence in the belief I have of who He is! Rejoice in the Lord!
  4. The fourth key can be found in verse 5. “Let your graciousness be known to everyone.” Some versions also use the word, “gentleness.” You may think as I did when I read this, “What does being gracious and gentle have to do with keeping my faith strong?” As I have thought about this, I think it comes from what is in our hearts that produces the gentleness, or not. If my heart is full of myself and thus pride and selfishness, I will be more apt to not be very kind or gentle or gracious when things don’t go my way. And if my eyes are on myself and what I can do or think I need, then they are not on the Lord. I may be able to stand firm for a time in my own strength, but if I want to stand firm in the Lord in all circumstances, then I must have my eyes on the Lord’s power & provision, not my own. If I am not practicing gentleness, then that is a sign that there is an issue in my heart that needs to be dealt with. When I am gentle and gracious, it indicates that my heart is right with my Lord and His people.
  5. The fifth key can be found in verse 6. We are to pray and make our requests to God with thanksgiving. When we find ourselves beginning to feel anxious, Paul tells us to take our worries to God, and talk with Him about these things. AND be thankful! And no matter how dire a situation may seem, there is always something we can be thankful for. I can hear you thinking as I did, “Oh, but there might be a time when there really is nothing to be thankful for!” Yes, about the situation, that might be true. But I can ALWAYS be thankful that I can take my impossible, hopeless situation to my all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God who is ready and willing to hear my prayer! (Isa. 59: 1, Jer. 33:3) I do not have to wait until I can enter a temple, and I do not have to wait until I can prepare an offering. As a loving Father, God will take care of me, no matter the need or situation! I can stand firm in that!
  6. Finally, verse 8 of Philippians 4 tells us to think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. The devil loves to attack our minds and fill them with doubts, negativity, and wild imaginings. I’ve just been through a time in my own life where I have struggled with all three of those as never before. And I could not stand firm in my faith if I was thinking about all of the possible things that could go wrong. In order to get out of that pit, I’ve had to consciously focus my thoughts onto what is right. To help me do that, I have literally posted Scriptures all over my apartment, on the walls of every room. As I have thus begun to focus on what God’s Word says, I am able to stand more firmly in my faith in the Lord, and that has also helped me to be able to see the good in situations & people that I previously could not see. The apostle Paul also taught about this concept in 2 Corinthians 10: 3-6 and tells us that me must “take every thought captive to obey Christ.” And only when we are obeying Christ will we be able to stand confidently firm in the Lord.

Now those are tracks in the sand that I can follow….

Lessons from a Walk

This past weekend, as I was walking on the University of Oregon campus, it seemed that the Lord was speaking to me through so many things that I was seeing. I gained four reminders that encouraged me, and I’d like to share them with you.

The first one was that sometimes we will be planted into difficult unfriendly circumstances. But we are to “bloom where we are planted.” Like this little daffodil, our surroundings may be less that encouraging.

I think we’ve all heard that phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.” It is not from the Bible, but there is Biblical truth in it. The apostle Paul said that he had learned to be content in whatever circumstances that he was in. (Phil. 4:11) And, in fact, Paul plainly stated in 1 Corinthians 7:17 that each one of us should live our lives in the situation the Lord assigned to us. He repeated the teaching in verses 20 and 24 of the same chapter. In Mark 11, Jesus cursed a fig tree that had no fruit even though it was not the season for fruit. Later, when his disciples questioned him about that, Jesus responded that they were to have faith. I believe that he was saying to them that if they would have faith in what God can do, that they could bear fruit/blossom even when it seemed impossible to do so. The little daffodil pictured above was not planted in the most friendly or conducive of spots, but it was doing it’s best to show its beauty in that pot. It was a reminder to me to stop grumbling and complaining and saying, “I’ll do it later when things are better.” I need to do my best according to God’s grace in the situation that I am in.

The second lesson came from another little daffodil that was growing “all alone”. It looked that way, at least. And I felt sorry for it. However, when I looked around, I discovered that it really was not alone. Separated a bit, but not alone. (See the second picture.) It reminded me that although I’ve been ‘socially distanced’ from many of my friends for months and months, and separated by miles from others, I am not really alone. God, whom I cannot see is right beside me, and there are others nearby, if I will only look around and reach out from my little corner.

So, what so we do when we are feeling alone, overwhelmed by circumstances? We remind ourselves that we are never alone. I often walk around to the west side of Matthew Knight Arena, and if the sun is in the right spot in the evening sky, I will see the reflection that you will see in the picture below. It reminds me that God is always with me in every spot, even the reflection in a window! And I am reminded of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life.”

My fourth lesson this weekend came from a sign in a restaurant window. Here in Eugene as in most of your towns and cities, restaurants have been closed. Things are slowly beginning to open up here in Eugene, and this restaurant wanted folks to know that.

But, you know, the one thing that has brought much comfort to me throughout this whole pandemic, is that our Lord is never “closed”! Psalm 121:3 assures us that God, our Protector never sleeps! He is always “open for business”! Jeremiah 33:3 tells us that God says, “Call on me, and I will answer and tell you great and incomprehensible things that you do not know.”

So, my outtake from this weekend was that circumstances and situations may look less than ideal sometimes, and that although I may feel alone sometimes, in fact, I am never alone! My God and Savior loved me so much that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins so that I may have fellowship and eternal life with Him! He loved me THAT MUCH and He is not going to leave me nor be unavailable to me when I call out to Him.

Near Though We Cannot See Him

Yesterday morning, as I sat at my table by my front window and ate breakfast, I so much enjoyed watching the birds on the other side of the glass. We were only about 6′ apart, but they could not see me because of the glare of the morning sun against the glass. Yet, if I moved suddenly, they would see that movement and fly away in fright. I could not help but think that I had filled the feeder that was over this bird’s head, and I would surely scare away any larger bird or animal that would come to harm them. Yet, they did not know that, and even were afraid of me.

That led me to think how my Heavenly Father, though I cannot see Him, is even nearer than I was to that bird. He is spirit and we cannot see Him, but He is there.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.”

Hebrews 13:5 reminds us that He said, “I will never leave you nor abandon you.”

Psalm 16:8 says that He is at my right hand, and Psalm 73:23 tells me that He is holding my right hand.

Philippians 4:5 tells us that “the Lord is near.”

This past year has been one of incredible challenges for all of us. On top of the pandemic and social unrest, many of us have had to deal with illness, injuries, death, betrayals, and a multitude of other crises. The pandemic and social distancing have left many of us feeling very alone and isolated. So, it is good to remember that we are never alone. The same God who created the universe and gave us life is near to us; He is with us and will never, ever leave or abandon us. He is near, protecting us, and providing for us in the same way that I do for my little birds, except that His protection and provision are without fault or fail.

Now that is a track in the sand that I can follow without doubt!