With camera in hand, I walked through the gate to my neighbor's garden. "I doubt you’ll find anything to photograph here,” she said apologetically.
I smiled, having already spotted several things that I wanted to photograph.
She enjoys her garden most when it’s at its peak--when it’s filled with soft pastels on her hydrangeas and vibrant colors on her geraniums and roses. Indeed, it is a delight at that time; but…I also love her garden in the fall when the blooms and leaves are aging and turning beautiful shades of brown before drifting down to the ground.
Just as I can find unique beauty in the garden every season, I also find beauty in whatever season of life I’m in. Even in late fall and mid-winter, there’s beauty to be found in the garden and in life. Although I sometimes have to look more closely to find it, it’s there!
Dear Reader, will you take a close look at your life in order to see the beauty that surrounds you? If you don’t see much that delights you in your current season or situation, will you ask God to open your eyes so you can see the blessings that surround you? The beauty and the blessings are there! Look for them! Thank Him for every one you find.
I enjoy reading about how God uses seemingly small acts of
obedience to accomplish far more than we ever dreamed would happen. The “back
story” to the hymn, I’m a Child of the King, proves that.
Harriet Buell wrote the words one Sunday while she was
walking home from church. She submitted the song for publication. It was
printed in the February 1, 1877, issue of the Northern Christian Advocate.
Six years later, when Peter Bilhorn was doing evangelistic
work among the cowboys in the West, he and his traveling companions were traveling
up the Missouri River on their way to Bismarck. When they stopped at Blunt one
Sunday morning to unload freight, a crowd of men and boys came down to the
wharf. Mr. Bilhorn took his little organ and went on the wharf-boat to sing a
few songs, including I’m a Child of the King.
He thought nothing more of it, but that was not the end of
the story, as Mr. Bilhorn discovered the day he sang that same song in Rev.
Moody’s church in Chicago. Afterward, a man in the back of the house stood up
and talked about having heard that same song in Blunt, Dakota, two years ago. Although
he was then an unsaved man, the song set him to thinking. He decided to accept
Christ and was studying for the ministry.
As I reflected on that back story, I felt amazed at the wonderful
ways God had used each person’s obedience. The woman, whose heart was filled
with gratitude over being a “child of the King,” felt compelled to express her
thoughts and to submit them to an editor who chose to publish them. Mr. Bilhorn
somehow discovered the song and chose to sing it to the crowd of men and boys.
At least one of them chose to believe the Good News that was shared in the
simple, yet profound, words penned by Ms. Buell, words that had finally reached him after having been passed
along from person to person.
Dear Reader, since we never know how God will use us to help
spread the Good News to those who do not yet know there is a God who loves them
and wants to forgive them of their sins and to bring them into His family, may
we eagerly do everything, even the seemingly small things, that the Holy Spirit
of God prompts us to do. God will take our little and make it much!
After reading the
text of the online obituary for a 66-year-old woman I'd never met, I watched
the video tribute created from photos provided by her family. I noticed how her
face radiated joy in each of the photos, even in those I assumed were taken
during her two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Whether at the beach
or other vacation spot or at home or attending the birth of a grandchild or
interacting with her six grandchildren…, she seemed to radiate joy and love for
others and for life itself. That made me wish I had had the pleasure of knowing
Along about the
time I read her obituary, my daily Bible readings brought me to several
passages about joy. For example, Galatians 5:22 says that joy is produced by
the Holy Spirit within those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Joy,
along with eight other “fruit” (love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,
fidelity (faithfulness), tolerance, and self-control), will be as evident in the
life of a believer as apples on a tree.
that prompted me to ask myself these questions, which you, Dear Reader, may
want to ask yourself:
As others look at
my life, what “fruit” (evidence, proof) is there that the Holy Spirit of Christ
lives within me?
Is His “fruit” so
evident that even those who don’t know me personally can see it and sense His
Can they/Do they see
there is a distinct (and desirable!) difference in my life than in unbelievers whose lives are controlled
by their “lower nature,” which leads them to “sexual immorality, impurity,
sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger,
rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like
these” (Galatians 5: 20-21)?
As always when I read
books by Elisabeth Elliot, I learn so much about what it means to be a
Christian and how to live like one. Currently, I'm reading her book, God's
Guidance: A Slow and Certain Light, published by Revel in 1997.
While writing about the
importance of obeying God, she summarizes how God's chosen people (the
Israelites) failed to trust Him and how they disobeyed Him time and time again.
Even so, "In countless ways he bore with them, corrected them, punished them,
goaded them, and brought them to the promised land. His love for them was
Note: I had to look
up the pronunciation and definition of the word “inexorable,” whereupon I
discovered that in’ eks(uh)r(uh)b(uh)l is an adjective that means “impossible to stop or prevent.”
Synonyms are: relentless, unstoppable, inescapable, inevitable, unavoidable,
That brought tears to my eyes,
since I know His love for me (and for you, Dear Reader) is inexorable. As I
reflected on that mind-boggling truth, I recalled the passage of Scripture our
minister read and explained the Sunday morning many years ago when I
re-committed my life to Christ.
In that passage, the Apostle Paul
is praying that the Christians at Ephesus (and you and I) would know (experience;
be fully convinced of) the great love God through Christ has for us. In a
portion of that powerful prayer, we find these words: "may [you] have the
strength to comprehend...what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled
with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:18-19, ESV).
He loves us far more than we can imagine (or hope!) and responding gladly to
that love makes ALL the difference. Because He loves us completely and
constantly, we want to serve Him, to obey Him, to please Him...
That's a far cry from keeping His commandments because we have to!