When You Pull Me Closer, I Come to Life

The words from one of TobyMac’s songs floated through her mind… “When you pull me closer, I come to life…”

“That is so true,” she thought.  “Spiritually, I’m easily lulled to sleep. But when God calls me, my spirit jumps and I do come alive.” Even though she could sometimes get into His presence through her own efforts, she knew ultimately she was totally dependent on God. Especially when she was as tired as she was now.

 

Later that day, as she gazed at her newborn granddaughter sleeping in her nursery bed, those words returned.  Turning to look at her daughter sitting in the chair next to her, she said, “It’s just like Ryn.”

“What is?” her daughter answered distractedly.

“That song… ‘when you pull me closer, I come to life’… that we heard earlier today. It’s just like Ryn. She lays sleeping in her bed but when you call her, she wakes up. And she’s totally dependent on you going to her because she can’t come to you. It’s the same with God. We are totally dependent on Him to come to us because we aren’t capable of going to Him. And when He calls us, we wake up. We come alive.”

“Yeah, OK,” mumbled her daughter, obviously impressed with her insight.

But that didn’t bother her. She had already turned back to the sleeping infant, enjoying her smallest moves and sounds – while God lovingly enjoyed all three of them.

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Being Born

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OK, what just happened here?

You got born.

Why?

Because being born was healthier for you than not being born.

Why?

Because your environment was becoming unstable and would have eventually hurt you. Being born took you out of that environment into a safer one.

Why?

Because now there are lots of people around you, loving you and taking care of you.

Why?

Because you’re not capable of taking care of yourself right now.

Why?

Because you are new to this life.

Why?

Because you were just born.

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Did you think I was writing the above conversation with Baby AJ in mind? If so, you were right. And wrong. I was also talking about a brand new baby Christian. And we are the staff that is responsible for caring for them; welcoming them into their new life, and making sure they are fed and loved.

Are we doing as good a job with the new Christians God places in our lives as the hospital staff is doing with AJ and the other newborns?

Now that’s a good question.

Life is Like a Beach, section 8: Out of Place

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

Out of Place

Imagine your surprise to look up and see this washed up on shore! Imagine the captain’s surprise!  Well, I imagine that wasn’t his main emotion. Makes me wonder what went wrong for him to end up where he was. Captain error? Broken part? A storm? Good thing for other captains and other boats who can get him out of this mess.

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Or imagine the surprise on people’s faces as this bird tried to take off with someone’s flip flops! I wonder what the bird thought it was. Did she think it was a new kind of food? Or something to add to her nest? I know she worked hard for quite some time to take off with one then the other flip flop. Eventually she gave up and flew away, but not before she managed to get the flip flops about ten yards from where they originated.

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Sometimes in life we end up in a place we don’t want to be. Something went wrong somewhere. A wrong choice on our part such as a captain’s error, someone else’s choice such as the bird’s choice to move the flip flops. Maybe it was because something in us broke and we were powerless to change our circumstances.  Or maybe it was  a catastrophe in our finances, marriage, health, children, home – the list is endless. The result is the same. We end up in a place we never thought we would. And we don’t like it.  However, the good news is – we don’t have to stay there.  God knows how we got there, and He knows how to get us out. He won’t let us stay there if we turn to Him for help. He can deliver us miraculously like only He can do. But more often He puts people in our lives to help us when we get in difficult places. And in return we can help other people when they get grounded or are pulled from where they should be. We don’t have to do life alone.

 

Continue to have faith and do what you know is right. Some people have rejected this, and their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Tim 1:19

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. Ps 91:15

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Section 3: Water

Section 4: Waves

Section 5: Sky

Section 6: Surprises

Section 7: Puffer Fish

Life is Like a Beach, section 7: Puffer Fish

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

Puffer Fish

A common washed up fish on my favorite beach is the puffer fish. Puffer fish are called that because of their ability to puff themselves up to make themselves look bigger and meaner than whatever they feel threatened by. Yet with all those spikes you would think they had enough defense without the need to puff up too.

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I can’t help but think of how we do the same thing in life. When threatened we puff ourselves up with heated words and try to make ourselves look bigger and meaner than we are, relying on our own strength to protect ourselves. And all along, we are outfitted with the armor of God which can protect us just as its spikes can protect the puffer fish.  And, even better than the armor, God has give us His promise to defend us Himself! Who needs to puff up when the King of Kings, the Almighty One, has our back!

Therefore pout on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

The LORD is with me, he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. Psalm 118:7

This is what the Sovereign LORD says, your God, who defends His people… Is 51:22

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name.” Psalm 91:14

 

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Section 3: Water

Section 4: Waves

Section 5: Sky

Section 6: Surprises

Life is Like a Beach, section 6: Surprises

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

Surprises

As wonderful as the beach is just as it is, random surprises, which I think of as treasures, keep me from taking it for granted.  A large sculpture left by someone for others to enjoy, a thought-provoking crucifix fish skeleton,  or a beautiful feather are a few I’ve found.  The only thing about these surprises is I had to be walking down the beach to find them. If I had just plopped myself down in the nearest spot and stayed there the entire time, I would have missed them. And it’s very  possible that even if I had been walking, if I was doing so with a bad attitude like when I’m angry and fussing at God about something, eyes focused on my feet and refusing to look around, I still would have missed them regardless of their size.

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Life is full of surprises also. Unexpected money in the mail, the announcement of my first grandchild, or a trunk load of plants given to me by my brother were especially fun. These surprises help keep me from taking my life for granted and provide a welcome diversion from the less fun aspects of my life. I bet you could think of examples in your own life. God loves to scatter these surprises as evidence of His love but we need to be walking the path He’s asked us to walk in order to find them. If we keep to ourselves and refuse to leave our comfort zones, we might just miss something amazing He left for us to enjoy. And we need to keep our eyes open as we walk. Some of the surprises will be hard to miss, but others are a lot smaller and can be easily overlooked. How fun would it be if we viewed every day as an opportunity to go on a treasure hunt!

They will enjoy the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the shores. Deuteronomy 33:19

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Section 3: Water

Section 4: Waves

Section 5: Sky

Life is Like a Beach, section 5: Sky

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

Sky

I love looking at the sky when I’m at the beach. It seems no two days are the same. From bright blue with ever changing clouds…

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to gray overcast…

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to stormy with a chance of a rainbow,

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each day’s sky has its own fascination. Even distant storms! And those sunrises and sunsets are too beautiful for words!

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Life is the same way. No two days are exactly the same, even if they are similar. And no matter how our day is going, we can find beauty in it if we try. Though I have to say that it’s much easier on some days than others. In any case, to see the beauty, it helps to look up, up to the God who made it all.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Section 3: Water

Section 4: Waves

Life is Like a Beach, section 4: Waves

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

 

Waves

Sometimes the waves are large and powerful. The thunderous sound of them crashing can be scary, yet there is something awe-inspiring in them.

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Other times the  waves are smaller and quieter. Watching them fills me with peace that I rarely find anywhere else. Both kinds of waves make white foam that adds beauty to the beach.

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Life is a lot like the waves. Sometimes it’s loud and rough and scary. Our days are filled with one thing after another, oftentimes crashing into each other.  The sound of the uncontrollable events we see coming may scare us  and cause us to doubt God’s sovereignty in our lives.  Or they may be awe-inspiring as we experience God’s power in our circumstances.

Other times life is calmer and quieter and peaceful. Everything seems to be working well and we wonder that we ever doubted God and His promises.

No matter what it’s like, God is in control and can make something beautiful out of it.

He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:29

 

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Section 3: Water

Life is Like a Beach, section 3: Water

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

 

Water

One of the fascinating aspects of the beach is the ever changing colors of the water. From light blues and greens to dark gray and everything in between. Sometimes the water is so clear I can see clear down to the sand under my feet. I can see the shells, tiny sand dunes, fish, crabs, and even a ray or two. It’s so beautiful that no matter how long I gaze at it, it’s never enough.

 

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Other times the water is darker and I have to strain to see anything in it.  It’s not as much fun to swim in this water, wondering what may be lurking under or around me. It may not be as beautiful, but it’s still cool and refreshing.

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And sometimes the water is filled with ugly, slimy green seaweed. Not pleasant to look at, and I have to be especially hot to venture out in it.

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Our lives are ever changing also. Sometimes things happen that are so beautiful we never want them to end.  Everything seems so clear and bright we think we can see all the way into tomorrow. But other times life is not so clear. Mundane events can get us to miss the beauty of day to day living. And then there are times when our lives are filled with ugly slimy junk because of choices we make or are made by other people affecting us.  But regardless of how bad our lives might look at the moment, it’s good to know that it’s not permanent and that the water of our lives will become clear and blue again eventually.

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more. Psalm 71:20-21

 

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Bella, part 6 –  A Little Rain Won’t Hurt

Bella woke earlier than normal the next morning, excited to find out more about that church and the two men who lived in it. But before she could get out of bed, a loud crash of thunder shook her room.

“Where did that come from?” she asked, startled. Had she been sleeping through this storm? Is that what woke her so early?

She usually loved thunderstorms, but this one only brought disappointment with it.  How was she supposed to walk to the church now? A little rain wouldn’t hurt, but lightning? No way could she walk outside with lightning flashing around her. She’d be walking in puddles holding her own personal lightning rod! Maybe this storm wouldn’t last long and she could still go later today. She picked up her cell phone from the small table by her bed and touched the weather icon. As she waited for the web page to come up, she imagined what it might be like to go to the church on a rainy day. They wouldn’t be able to go into the back yard so there would be no sitting on the pier soaking in the beauty. They’d have to stay inside. She frowned. Having to maintain a conversation in an ordinary environment might be awkward. Would they just sit and look at each other? She found carrying a conversation hard, even with all her questions, and Jude hadn’t been exactly the chatterbox the last time she was there. If Pastor Toby was there, it might be OK, though. He seemed comfortable with carrying any conversation.

She looked down at her phone. The weather forecast said the thunderstorm should be gone by mid-day but rain would hang around until the following day. Great. She wouldn’t be able to enjoy the garden or lake, and she’d have to chance an awkward afternoon. Or she could put off the visit for another week.

Shaking her head, she got up to get dressed. She HAD to go today. She didn’t think she IMG_20180608_110929626could make it through the following week if she didn’t.  Her mind was so full of questions that she could barely think of anything else. And her heart was tugging for her to return as soon as possible.  It was almost like she could feel their love for her filling her and drawing her to them. She would get ready now, and leave as soon as the storm was gone.

While waiting for the storm to move on, she kept herself busy doing the chores she tended to put off for when she had more time. Well, she had time now so she swept and mopped the floor, washed the baseboards in the bathroom and hallway, dusted – this time moving objects instead of just dusting around them, sorted and put away a couple piles of clean laundry, and cleaned the microwave.  By then, it was lunch time so she ate lunch while checking on the updated weather map. All the yellow and red of intense activity was gone. There was still a blanket of green covering her area, but that was just rain.  Without lightning, rain was safe enough. It was time to go!

She got her large umbrella and headed for the church. The rain was not hard, and there was no wind, so the walk was actually pleasant. The best part was the empty sidewalk. No one else was crazy enough to be out walking in the rain. Or dodging the splashes made by passing cars, she thought, as she jumped just out of reach of another splash.

When she got to the church, she shook out her umbrella and stood it just inside the door to drain. Then she walked across the foyer straight to Pastor Toby’s living room door. The door opened just as she was about to knock on it.

“Bella!” Jude said, his face breaking into a smile so big it lit up his whole face. “I’m so glad you came! Come on in!”

He held the door open as she came in. She looked around tentatively, not sure where to go.

“Have a seat,” Jude said. “I’ll go get dad.”

Bella looked around and chose the big green comfy armchair that was near the door. That way, if things got too awkward, or she felt the need to escape, she’d be right there by the door. She still didn’t know how much she could trust this man or his father.

While she waited, she looked around the room. The wall behind her held several paintings of a garden and a lake. To her left was  a reading nook with several bookshelves filled with an amazing assortment of books, including one extremely large book that almost filled a shelf all by itself, and an armchair with a small table and lamp. The wall on her right had an incredible fire place and several chairs facing it.  Across the room, next to the door that led to the rest of the house, was a desk with a computer. And in the center of the room was a large couch and matching love seat with a coffee table between them.  Everything in the room spoke of comfort and there was such a feeling of peace that she found herself relaxing.

After a few minutes, Jude returned.

“Dad will be right here. He’s finishing something in the kitchen. Do you want anything? Something to eat or drink?”

“No thanks, I just had lunch.” Then she added as she realized she was thirsty, “but some water would be nice.”

“Water coming right up!” Jude left again, turning left in the hall, towards the kitchen.  Bella sighed. At this rate, she wouldn’t have to worry about who carried the conversation. She almost got up to follow him into the kitchen but a sound stopped her. Singing. Someone was singing and it wasn’t coming from the kitchen. It was coming from the other side of the hallway, where she imagined the bedrooms would be. And it didn’t sound like either Pastor Toby or Jude. Was someone else here?

Life is Like a Beach, section 2: Red Flags

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

 

Red Flags

Sometimes after that long walk towards the beach, my plan to dive into the cool water is crushed when I see that red flag.

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Red flags mean danger, and that’s exactly what this flag is telling me. The water is dangerous right now. Wait for a better day. Sometimes the danger is evident, such as a group of large sharks swimming just off shore. But other times the danger is hidden, like an undertow. I could ignore the flag and go in “just enough to cool off” which may or may not end in disaster. However, to keep safe, I can respect that the flag is there for a reason and choose to obey it. Especially when there is a double red flag!

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There are dangers in life too. God is good at putting up red flags in our lives, sending us warnings of dangers we may or may not see.  A check in our spirit, advice/comments from friends or family, scripture, and dreams are the most familiar. But God can and does use even unexpected methods to get our attention such as traffic delays giving us time to think, lost keys keeping us from going somewhere, words that pop out at us on billboards, a quote in a totally nonspiritual, unrelated book we’re reading, and random emails with titles that go right to the heart. The only questions are if we are paying attention, and if we choose to listen.

But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. Proverbs 1:33

So, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews 3:7-8

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path