Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Day for Dying and The Day After

My dog died the other day. We got a call from the vet that she’d been hit by a car. She was still alive when we got there and we had to decide whether or not to try and keep her that way. She was an old dog – somewhere around eighteen, we think, and she was in pain, so we did what was merciful.

Then I got home to find an email from an editor saying he was rejecting a manuscript I’d sent him. The words took a while to sink in. I was expecting my dog to die soon. She was very old. I was pretty sure that manuscript would be rejected by that editor. It isn’t ready to be published. But it was still a bad day. A day when things die always is.

But now that the day is over and I look back on it, I see there were some good things in that space of twenty-four hours. I was able to put my hand over my dog’s beating heart one more time and cry a little before having to go on with a day full of things that needed to be done. I was able to be thankful for the fifteen years that little ball of fur and bone was underfoot. I was able to be thankful for friends that make you feel better just by sitting across a table sipping tea; for days full of mundane things that are so beautiful in their rhythm that you hardly notice. And for that word, ‘hardly,’ because I did notice, just a bit; for the hope that gives me. And for editors whose rejections leave you still believing in the dreams you have for words strung across a page.

There are always things to be thankful for, even on a day when death becomes a reality. There is always hope for a new day, hope that the darkness won’t always seem impenetrable. There is always hope because our Redeemer lives. It was a dark day when He died - literally, according to the scriptures - but Jesus didn’t stay wrapped in death. He rose and walked among his friends again, spoke to them, encouraged them, ate with them. He not only gave them hope for a new day, he gave them life forever after, life lived in the presence of God.

The Apostle John wrote that “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30,31). We no longer live within the day on which death seemed victorious. We live in the day that came three days after. We call it Easter. And Jesus said – “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29b).

Monday, March 14, 2005

Just returned from speaking at a women's retreat in Saskatchewan. Great time. It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks when we open our mouths in obedience.

As usual, I'm sure I learned much more than the ladies there. Preparing the four sessions wasn't easy. I found the theme, A Circle of Friends, a bit hard to write to. But then God started opening things up to me - like the passages in Thessalonians from which my husband has been preaching for the past month or more. He was quite surprised when I told him I was using some of the same passages to talk about friendship. "Friendship?" he frowned. It's there - the whole book shows us how to treat friends, when you look at it that way.
And there were all kinds of other little things God brought my way - a verse that I read in the course of my devotions, a book sitting in a discount bin, even a joke or two.

It was obvious He was involved during the weekend, by the reaction of some of the people there. And one of the delights was meeting people who had connections to people and places I mentioned. The greatest delight was hearing people say - "I thought you were talking just to me. I needed that so much!"

I'm hoping to download some audio here if the recording turned out okay - I haven't had the chance to check yet. That's if I can figure out how to do it! :)

Blessings on your day. M

A Bite of Poisoned Apple

If you've ever been aware of a monster inside you, read this (Start with March 2)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Pictures of Greatness

I picked up a copy of a national newspaper last week, as I do now and then, to fill in the gaps in the news that television coverage leaves. As I read through the articles I thought of the Sunday School class I was about to teach. The class was all about greatness – how our culture sees it, and how God sees it.

The articles were about people who were being lauded as great – a man who conducts seminars on how to become a millionaire overnight, another whose company makes "the Porsche of snowboards," and movie stars who, when they decide it’s time for a vacation, buy themselves a tropical island.

I pulled all of these articles out and handed them around to my junior high class on Sunday. The boys liked the one about the snowboards. We talked about why these people were considered worthy of having their names, and faces, in the paper. What had they done that was so great? It didn’t take the kids long to conclude that making snowboards wasn’t exactly worthy of the Nobel Prize.

Then I showed them the article on the front page of the newspaper. It pictured four young men in RCMP uniform. There were other articles about them, articles that talked about their short careers, their families. The front page mostly talked about how they died.

I asked the kids why these men where considered worthy of being in the paper. The answer was obvious. They had died in service to their community and to their country. It added a whole other dimension to the discussion about greatness.

It’s sad that it took the tragedy of their deaths for those young men to be recognized. It’s sad that we forget about all the other men and women in our communities who are doing their jobs every day, serving us in police forces, hospitals, ambulance services, fire departments, town councils and a myriad of other jobs. Why do we only call them heroes when they die?

It seems our culture loves to mock what is good, loves to ridicule what is right, moral and ethical. And when it does, it condemns itself. The apostle John wrote about this when he said – "Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." (John 3:17-20)

There is only one way to love the light – become part of it. When we allow God’s Spirit to enter into our hearts and minds, He will convict and guide us into that light. Only then will we recognize and truly honour what is truly great.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Nest Yourself

My daughter called the other day. She's living in the city, about an hour north of us and is in a state of inbetween. Not a fun place to be. Been there. Didn't like it.
She has begun the process of applying to go to Bangladesh with a mission group. But meantime she has to decide if she should stay in the city, at a job she doesn't really enjoy, or maybe move home, save some money and take any kind of work she can find here.
I was praying for her this morning and turned to Psalm 84 - it was mentioned on Sunday, so I was following up.
It's a beautiful Psalm, full of the longing in the heart of a believer. I especially like the lines - "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God." (v3)
So I wrote a note to Laura - nest yourself near the Lord and it won't matter where you live, you'll always be able to fly.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Supplying the Need

When I lived in the Yukon, it was necessary to do a lot of canning and preserving at the end of the summer. Food was expensive and fresh vegetables were often in short supply. So I did a lot of canning and so did my friends. Canning jars were always a very desirable commodity.
We were coming close to the end of the growing season when I visited my friend Brenda one day and she mentioned that she was concerned that she might not have enough jars to put up all of her garden. I wanted to help her out so I made a mental note to bring her some the next time I went to town. A few days later my husband had to take some things to the community dump.
Now, at the risk of putting myself in an unfavourable light, I must confess I have been a dump shopper. In Dawson, everyone was. In a place were everything was through-the-roof expensive, you learned how to scrounge. Well, we arrived at the dump that afternoon and lo and behold there was a box of jars sitting right on the edge, sparkling in the sunshine. They looked like they’d been freshly washed. Some of them even had lids.
I immediately scooped them up and told Spence we had to make a stop at Brenda’s house. She wasn’t home when we arrived so I left the box of jars on her doorstep, intending to call her later. I got distracted and didn’t get around to making that phone call so it wasn’t until many weeks later that I remembered them. I was having tea with Brenda again and asked if those few jars had been enough to make up her shortfall.
Brenda started to laugh. In fact, she just about fell off her chair, she was laughing so hard. All she could manage to say was – it was you! It was you!
You see, it was Brenda who had taken the jars to the dump. She had told everyone that she was running short and had received so many contributions from friends that she had too many and decided to share her wealth. But no-one else seemed to need them. Knowing how people shopped at the dump, she made sure they were nice and clean and left them there. She was quite shocked to find them sitting on her doorstep when she got home that day!
We still laugh about those jars!
Unlike my failed attempts to supply my friend’s needs, Jesus never fails to do just that. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Phil 4:19 says – "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Sometimes, He even gives you a good laugh while He's doing it.