Friday, October 13, 2006

Devotional book on sale now

In honour of our Canadian Thanksgiving, I'm offering my seasonal devotional book, Focused Reflections for the low price of 13.00 to anyone who e-mails to say they have read my last two posts.
Blessings to you all.
Marcia

A Dance of Falling Leaves

I drove my daughter to school early this morning in the glow of that special light that comes only during the Fall season. The vehicle ahead of us stirred up a dance of yellow leaves and many more were falling from the trees as we passed under them. I marveled at the contrast of what bears the ugliness of death yet is so beautiful.

And I stand in awe as I think of one of the primary laws of science – matter cannot be created nor destroyed but only transformed. Those falling leaves will add to the nourishment of the land and allow new growth in the spring. No-one in the modern world would dispute that scientific fact. This is, as all others are, not just a law of science but it is God’s law – our bodies will shrivel and die just as the leaves of fall do, but we will not die. Our spirit will live on, either in glory with our Father in heaven, or in torment with his nemesis in hell.

Unlike the universal willingness to believe the physical scientific laws of matter and energy, there are a lot of people who refuse to believe God’s law. They don’t want to think about hell and they can’t seem to grasp the idea of heaven. Perhaps the reason for their doubt is the fact that both heaven and hell are unseen. We can watch the leaves fall and rake them into a pile that we know will turn to compost. That compost will feed the vegetables in our gardens which in turn nourishes us. We see evidence of the scientific laws around us all the time. But the laws of heaven require faith.

Many who spoke with Jesus and listened to His teaching refused to believe He was the Son of God. Indeed, even some of his disciples had a hard time believing, even when He rose from the dead and stood before them. Thomas has become infamous for his doubt. He was a tactile learner. So Jesus said, “touch me.” When Thomas did, his response was, “My Lord and My God.” Jesus replied – “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:26-29).

In that last verse, Jesus is talking about the many men and women of his day who would only hear about his resurrection, yet would believe. He is also talking about us. None of us have seen Jesus in physical form on this earth. Yet, like those laws of matter and energy, we have seen the evidence of His existence.

Life without faith is like watching leaves fall and seeing only death. When we recognize the beauty, our lives are enriched, our hearts encouraged. We see there is pattern and purpose and it gives us hope. Faith, the gift of God, is indeed a blessing. God calls many of us to it every day. All we have to do is yield to His calling, open our eyes and see.

Then we will understand that the dance of death is also a beautiful dance of falling leaves.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thanksgiving and a Good Motto

As our Canadian Thanksgiving approaches, I was thinking of something that happened to me years ago when I lived in the north. The story below is from The Spur, my e-mailed devotional column.

A number of years ago I was asked to speak at a women's retreat in Alaska. The church I was attending at the time was tiny - the congregation consisted of about thirty people on a good day. I expected that would be about the size of the group in Alaska. So when I walked into the school where the retreat was being held, I was shocked to find well over two hundred women there. My knees started shaking immediately.

I was scheduled to speak in front of this whole group on the first evening. It was an experience I have never forgotten for many reasons, chief among them the amazing stories I heard from other women that night. A large number of them were native women from small villages scattered throughout the State and into the Yukon Territory. One woman's story has
stayed with me over the years.

I don't remember her name, though I can still see her face. It was round and full of life. Her large dark eyes were earnest, but her smile was broad. She was from a large family, she explained, and she was the sole survivor. Everyone else - her parents, her brothers, her sisters, even a few aunts and uncles, had died of Tuberculosis. When she began showing signs of the disease, she was sent to the sanitarium. She was terrified because in her mind, if you
went there, you did not come out alive.

As her disease progressed, she became too weak to get out of bed alone. The doctors told her she had a severely damaged lung and needed surgery. Everything was scheduled. The night before the operation, she decided to pray. She had been told that God loved her and that He healed the sick. Her prayer was short and to the point. She said she was staring out the window
at big fluffy clouds when God told her, "Give thanks before you receive."

It seemed a strange request. She was bitter about the loss of her family and other things that had happened in her life, but she knew she needed to do what God had said. She began thanking him for everything she could think of - the family she had known so briefly, the people who had taken her in, the doctors and nurses who cared for her now. She fell asleep thanking God.

The next morning she got out of bed to use the washroom. She didn't realize what she had done until the nurse came and chided her for doing it. She realized she was not short of breath. She had no pain. In fact, she felt better than she ever had in her life. She told the nurse she didn't want the surgery. The nurse got the doctor. The doctor took x-rays. Then he took them again. Then he told her the surgery had been cancelled. Her lungs were perfectly healthy.

Give thanks before you receive. A good motto for us all, no matter whether we are healthy or ill; it's a good motto to live by. ===================================================
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