Clouds

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Clouds are amazing! So many tiny droplets of water moving across the sky powered by the wind!  Clouds continually change shape and will eventually disappear as the droplets fall back to earth. But before they do, the people who watch them are filled with fascination and wonder.

 

 

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Just like life.

 

So many moments moving across time powered by the breath of God! Our lives continually change shape and eventually disappear as we return to the dust from which we were made. But while we are here, if we take the time to really look, our lives are just as fascinating.

 

What is life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

Life in a Swimming Pool

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The pool was filling up. Maybe she should leave now, before it got too crowded.  But not really wanting to leave the cool water, she decided to watch the people around her instead. Everyone was enjoying the water in different ways.

“Marco.” The voice caught her attention and she looked to her left and saw a young girl standing in water up to her chin, eyes closed, calling out, “Marco” every few seconds. Each time she called, several other children moving around her called back, “Polo.”  As she heard their responses, she would turn in their direction and, without opening her eyes, reach out to try to tag one of them. But she never moved from where she was. It reminded her of something she had read in Proverbs. “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” That’s so much like us, she thought. There is wisdom all around us, and if we call out, we can hear it. But we won’t ever find it if we just stay put in one place and make half-hearted attempts to touch it.

Laughter caught her attention. She turned to look and saw some mothers and daughters playing keep away. They were laughing as they tossed a water ball back and forth, no one having very good aim, and teams changing places in the middle frequently.

“Keep away,” she muttered. “I hate that game. Either the players on the ends are too good at tossing the ball high over the middle person’s head, or no one really cares about the game and end up half-heartedly tossing the ball. There’s no good challenge either way.”

So why are they laughing?

She had to think about that for awhile. Maybe the kids are laughing because they’re so little and don’t really know anything about the game. They just enjoy being in the water and throwing a ball around. And maybe the moms are laughing because their daughters are laughing. Is that how God sees us? He takes delight in watching us enjoy His creation?

She watched another group play a game she wasn’t familiar with. Evidently, one person is a shark and calls out “Swim”, then tries to catch the other people (minnows) as they swim from one side of the pool to the other. Most of the time, the minnows would just start swimming as fast as they could hoping to out swim the shark but the shark was able to catch whichever minnow it was after. However there was one minnow who stood out. She would watch the shark intently , wait for the shark to go after a minnow, then move quietly in a different direction, staying as far away from the shark as she could. If the shark happened to see her, she would sink into the water, causing the shark to have more difficulty seeing her. Underwater, she could swim faster and when she emerged, she’d be ten feet away. Time and time again she got away from the shark using this strategy.

Now, that’s a whole like us and temptation, she thought. Most of the time when temptation arises, we either fall easy prey to it, or we try to use out own power to avoid it. It might work now and then, but eventually that shark is going to get us. We should be more like that wise girl. Stay as far away as we can, and, when that doesn’t work, dive deep into Jesus, allowing Him to cover us as we make our escape.

A loud cry from the other side of the pool brought her attention to a man holding a very little girl, trying to talk her into letting him toss her up and catching her. She cried each time he mentioned it. The mom called from the side to quit talking about it and just do it. So he did and the little girl laughed. He repeated it several times, delighting in her laughter. Then he tried to talk her into going underwater with him so he could toss her higher. She refused and began crying again.

So much like us and God, she thought. It’s probably why He won’t tell us all His plans for us. We’d be as terrified as that little girl and refuse every invitation He gives us. Yet, He knows how much we would enjoy it once we got past the fear.

She was intrigued watching a young girl chatting with her friend, totally ignoring a younger girl who kept hitting her with a water ball. How could she do that? She knew if anyone kept hitting her with something, she’d get irritated and angry. But then she thought, isn’t that what Satan does? Constantly hitting us with something to mess with our peace and cause us to get irritated and angry? “God,” she prayed silently, “help me be able to ignore the arrows Satan throws at me as well as this little girl is ignoring the ball being slammed on her.”

There was a man floating in the midst of all this, eyes closed, ignoring everything around him as he relaxed.

Now that’s the right idea, she thought. To be able to rest on Jesus and ignore all the problems around us would be amazing!

She was dismayed to see another group of people enter the pool. OK, now it was just getting too crowded. Regretfully she climbed out of the pool and prepared to go home. As she did, she had one final thought: “This is like how one day I will climb out of the swimming pool of life and head to my heavenly home!” She smiled.  “Only I’ll do so with way more excitement than I feel right now!”

The Swing

“I was so close,” she thought with disappointment as gravity pulled her away. “Why can’t I just stay here where things are so much clearer? Why am I always pulled away?”

Helplessly she watched the sky grow further away, then disappear as the angle of her IMG_20180719_144815604body changed. Her vision now was filled with overshadowing trees, prickly bushes, weed-invested grass, and dirt crawling with bugs – the everyday mixture of good and bad she was very familiar with. Although she could no longer feel as if she was part of the glorious sky, she could still get a glimpse of it if she looked up. But the land around her was interesting in its own way and thoughts of it slowly crowded out the sky from her mind.

She didn’t get to stay there very long. She was pulled back up, this time backwards where all she could see was the ground receding from her. The dark, flat view that filled her eyes replaced the memory of the wide open blue sky and began to make her question if that blue sky even existed. “Did I just imagine it?” she wondered. “I can’t see blue sky anywhere around here. It must have been just wishful thinking.” However, in spite of the sad feeling that accompanied that thought, she was surprised how the distance provided her a new perspective on what she thought she knew so well. Like how little those bugs really were, and how the weeds seem to disappear into the greenness of the grass.

Just when she accepted her new vision, it changed.

“Arhh!” she screamed as she fell facedown towards the ground. “Not again!” Visions of smashing into the ground filled her mind with anxiety. As the ground loomed larger and larger in her sight, she just knew this time there was no way she was going to come out of this unhurt. With hands clenching on tight, she closed her eyes and began to pray.

But when the impact didn’t happen, she took a peek through one eye and saw she was not going down anymore. She was moving sideways and missing every obstacle. “Whew”, she said to herself. “I don’t know how, but I made it again.” Relief flooded her and she drew in deep breath and relaxed as her familiar world surrounded her yet again. Then in her peripheral vision, she got a glimpse of blueness above her and something in her spirit stirred. Looking up she was reminded of the things she had seen before and a longing rose up in her. How could she make her way back up there? And if she did, could she get high enough to stay there? She strived to push herself upwards but that didn’t help, and neither did wildly kicking her feet. Eventually she gave up.

Before long, though, she noticed everything began to seem brighter and she got increasingly frequent glimpses of the blueness above her. Her angle continued to change until all she could see was the bright blue sky and awesome white clouds. And once again everything seemed so peaceful and clear to her and she wanted to stay there forever.

But of course she couldn’t, and gravity pulled her back down again and she started the cycle all over.

“Wow, that was amazing!” she said as the ride stopped and she got off.

“Swinging like this has its ups and downs,” she thought. “Just like my Christian life. Sometimes I get so close to God and seem to understand everything so much clearer, but then that feeling fades away as days go by and I find my vision limited to what I can see down here.”

Then she had another thought. “There is one big difference. This swing may always come back down, but one day, I’m going to make it up into that spiritual sky and never come down!”

Dear Hidden One (From Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear Hidden One,

Maybe most people can’t see you there, moving in the darkness that surrounds you, but I can. You are so beautiful! And I love you so much already!

You probably think that where you are is all there is in life. But you are so wrong. There is so much more to life than you can imagine, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Although most of the time you seem content in your small dark place, I wonder if you sense there is more.  I see you stretching out your arms and legs, testing the walls around you. Do you ever get frustrated with those boundaries?  Or do you know they are there to keep you safe until you’re ready to join me in the light?

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my granddaughter. But they are also letters God is writing to you. Reread them, replacing the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

 

 

Fitting the Pieces Together

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She studied the pieces on the table in front of her. So far she had matched several blues together, surely part of the sky. And the greens were probably the grass. She wasn’t sure about the yellows or reds yet, but they could wait.

She picked up another blue piece and compared its shape to the ones she’d already matched. It didn’t quite fit with them, but if she used a little force, she could get it to fit. If it was blue, it had to be part of the sky, right?

“That’s what you do with your life, too,” came a still small voice inside her. “You try to fit the pieces of your life together to figure out the big picture.”

She thought about that.

“You’re right,” she agreed. “I do tend to try to make things that happen in my life fit together to form a picture. Is that wrong?”

“No, not as long as you do it for fun. Just keep in mind that you may not be fitting them in the right places. Like that blue piece in your hand.”

“This sky piece?”

“If you think that’s what it is, fine. You can work with it as if it were. But what if it’s a water piece, like part of a lake?”

“Hmm… I think I get it. I can have fun trying to fit it where I think it goes, but be open to the possibility that I might be wrong.”

“Right. If you get stubborn thinking your way is the only way, you’ll miss the big picture. And if you try to force pieces together that don’t belong together, you’ll get something totally different than the amazing picture I’m making with your life.”

She took another look at the blue piece in her hand, then at the puzzle pieces on the table. Maybe she should put it to the side and wait to see where it really fit.

After all, she wanted to see the completed picture how it was meant to be seen. Right?

Run Over By Life

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“Wow,” she thought as she bent down to pick up the shiny penny. “This penny is so damaged. I wonder how many times it has been driven over.”

She looked at the scratches that covered it and thought how much she felt like that penny sometimes. So many times life seems to run over her – her plans, her finances, her relationships, her health – leaving her feeling a little more rough and scratched each time.

“But, just as valuable as before,” whispered a small voice in her heart. “Nothing life does to you can diminish the value you have in My eyes.”

A gentle feeling of peace filled her as she put the penny in her pocket. Her Savior loved her. And that’s all that mattered.

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 1: The Path

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.  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!

 

The Path

There are many kinds of paths to the beach. Some are straight and you can see where you are heading.

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Some are curved and you have to trust that it will actually take you where you want to go.

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Some require some climbing.

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Sometimes it seems the path goes on forever and the journey is just not worth it. And some even make you feel you’re heading in the wrong direction.

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Sometimes, in the sun, it can get hot and painful to walk on. And if I’m not careful, I might even get a splinter or two.

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But if I look carefully, I can see that I’m not the only one travelling this path.

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Knowing others have gone this way and made it to the end (I know because there are no skeletons along the way) reassures me that I can too. And keeping my thoughts on the goal – the water –  helps me stay motivated to keep walking.

The same is true in life. Sometimes our path in life is straightforward, other times it seems to curve in unexpected directions. Sometimes circumstances make our days seem long and hard and painful and we think they will never end. But remembering that we are not alone, that others have faced the same struggles we are facing and have gotten past them, can encourage us. Just like them, we can survive this and eventually get to a better place somewhere up  ahead if we just keep walking. And keeping our focus on the goal – the Living Water – makes all the difference in the world!

 

I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Squeezing God Out

She was busy. Amazingly, she was even busier now than she had been before she retired.  And she was tired.

Something has to go, she finally thought. But what? Everything she did served a purpose and much of it actually helped other people.

She decided to make a list. Only, being as creative as she was, she did so through a drawing. She began by writing God in the center because, she thought, He is the center of my life. Then she wrote out all the things that kept her busy around God. As she drew, more things came to mind and she added those until they all began squeezing together and ended up squeezing God right out of the center.

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“Is that what I’m doing in my life?” she asked herself. “All the things I’m involved in is squeezing God right out of my life? No wonder I’m so tired. I’m trying to do all this in my own power. It’s time to prioritize! And get rid of things, though good, are not what God has called me to do!”

So she began eliminating one thing at a time. It wasn’t easy, nor is she finished. But God is back where He belongs. And that’s what counts.

Sidewalks and Life

As she walked, she thought…

“My life is like these sidewalks.

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Sometimes my path is straight and clear.

Sometimes it’s not.

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Sometimes it suddenly changes directions.

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Sometimes my life gets derailed for a season.

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Sometimes my life can be messy.

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Sometimes the way is rough.

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Sometimes there are times of darkness as well as light.

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Sometimes things try to keep me from moving on.

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Sometimes I find amazing treasures along the way.

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But all times, just like the borders of a sidewalk, the boundaries God has placed in my life keep me safe.”

And her heart was filled with peace as she finished her walk.