Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hand in Hand

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. Ps. 138:7

A couple of weeks ago, I held a sweet, chubby little hand. It was the hand of my grandson, who lives far away and who I don't see often. I had the special treat of visiting with him and his family for an entire week. It was hard for me to say goodbye and return to the cold north.

Last night I held another hand. It was an old hand, a cool hand with fragile skin that displayed many marks of aging, yet in many ways it reminded me of the little hand. Mom was worried about many things last night, about how the rest of her life will go and I suggested we pray together before she went to bed. Together we prayed and I asked the Lord to give her a restful sleep. Then, together we prayed the Lord's Prayer and she seemed to relax as she recited that prayer she's known so long.

One week after I came home from my vacation in Texas, my life changed dramatically. I now live with my mother in her rural log cabin home. No one prepared me for this, but each day I look to Him and He gives me strength. 

In Texas, my grandson and I walked up and down the streets in the neighborhood, in search of "treasures." In the same way, Mom and I walk slowly, her holding onto my arm whenever we go outside or on an errand. I hope she is learning to trust me, that I will look out for her in our new relationship of me caring for her.

She is weary and misses my Dad so much. It seems the only thing that really lights her eyes is to see my own grandchildren, her great-grandchildren. Two of them are close enough to come and visit, and the oldest of them was glad to snuggle with her on her recliner. Her great grandson whom I visited from far away said hello and that he loved her on Skype. How she loved to hear him tell her about his snail collection and watch him eat his lunch.

Little things charm my grandsons. Snails, acorn, dandelions, fish in a pond, chickens and tractors seem more important to them than fancy toys. It doesn't take much to keep them happy. 

Oh, if we"grown ups" could also be that way, satisfied with the little blessings God bestows on us daily. Even though my life is uprooted, I do have all that I need as I take on this new role. God has promised it to me in the 23rd Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Late Pastor R.B. Thieme translated this Psalm 23:1 like this:

The LORD is the one who keeps on shepherding me, I cannot and do not lack anything.*

It is quiet and the days can be long, but Mom and I are getting to know each other in a new way. Laughter seems to keep us going when we disagree. Caring for her is a privilege, not a duty, I remind myself.

Just as I treasure my grandsons, I will treasure this time with Mom. Help me Lord, to honor mother and take care of her just as she once took good care of me.

*From the booklet, Psalm Twenty-Three, R.B. Thieme, Jr., R.B. Thieme Jr., Bible Ministries, 2007.  (All material can be ordered from the ministry free of charge.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Choosing God's Thoughts

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD."For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.   Isa. 55:8-9

This was my view as I flew to Texas in early March for a trip to visit my beloved son and his family. Up there cruising  above the clouds, I happily remembered that the sun always shines, even when below it is gloomy and overcast.

I enjoyed having a window seat both coming and going, and couldn't help but to keep craning my neck to enjoy the view. "How great is my God!" I thought to myself when I gazed on these puffy clouds like a giant snowy castles below me while the horizon faded into pure azure blue.

Surely God knew each puffy cloud and the thunders and lightnings that might blow up inside them. And He knows little old me, and every thought of mine before I think it.

You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. Ps. 139: 2-4
God knows all.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there." Ps. 139:17-18

On the way home, as toddlers cried and newspapers were rattled I witnessed the sun slowly descending over the western horizon as we headed north to home. The sight took my breath away, even though my camera's batteries were dead. The violets, the reds in the atmosphere, and the huge lone star that sparkled brightly all served to again remind me that I serve a magnificent God, one above all gods.

I chatted with some of the fellow passengers both coming and going. Each of them had their own unique story and background and I couldn't help but think of the great love God has for each one of us, no matter where we are in life. He is just tapping His holy toes, so to speak, and waiting for us to acknowledge Him. 

One girl was completely immersed in a movie on her cell phone. I felt bad that she had missed God's work of artistry in the sky. How we are so bound to this earth and forget God's majesty.

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. Ps. 19: 1-2

Looking at the beauty I saw around me, how glad I was to remember that God's thoughts are not my thoughts. My biggest focus in life is not to stew and worry how things will turn out with all the details of my life, but instead to get God's thoughts constantly into my thoughts.

Today I celebrate double nickels of existence on this planet. (What a long, strange trip its been...) When I think about it, that is a long time. Many people don't make it that far. And then I realize there is only a limited amount of time left for me to get God's thinking into me.

 I realize that every minute I get to choose what to think. If I think a thought of self pity, there is no help for that thought but to tear myself and others down as well. If I think about preserving my own comforts and dignity before others, it will be but wood, hay and stubble at the Judgment Seat. 

But if I get so familiar with God's thinking through His Word that it abides in me, I will prove to be His disciple. To think with God in many ways reminds me of the picture of the clouds in the airplane. They soar high above this earthly sorrow and all the world's problems. Surely God has an answer for each one of the troubles left to me in my life.

But I need to find them. They are only in one place: His treasure trove, of course.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13