God doesn’t waste a drop

After a big snow, I noticed a drain spout exiting a building about a foot above a concrete curb. Water was flowing out in a steady trickle and splattering on the hard surface. Sunlight danced in the glistening, sprinkling water droplets and a rivulet formed carrying the water away and down the pavement. It was mesmerizing – watching the light play off the sprays of water – like watching dancing flames in a fireplace.

Entertaining, yes, but what a waste! In times of drought, like we often experience, that water could have been redirected to a flowerbed or grassy area. In fact, that building had areas with costly irrigation systems in place.

How many people are like that concrete: hard, resistant, refusing to budge, with the blessing of Living Water being poured out on them daily? And yet God doesn’t waste a drop.

flower in concreteWe all know which wins out in the encounter between concrete and water. Eventually, albeit slowly over time, the erosive power of water can change the face of solid concrete. Sometimes a crack will appear and grow. Then dust can accumulate, and a seed blown in will take root. Weeds, plants, even trees have appeared in the unlikeliest of places, like the middle of a concrete sidewalk.

Change can occur in people too. We may see on the exterior a person who seems tough, presenting a hard, unyielding face to the world. But God looks on the inside, to the heart, and sees what we cannot. He loves, when we do not. And drop by precious drop, He pours out His Living Water.

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His plan is perfect. His patience is endless. His power is supreme.

If you are living with, working with, or praying for a concrete curb, don’t give up. The possibility is there.

God doesn’t waste a drop.

I’m a horse!

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Psalm 32:8-9 says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”

As I spent some time meditating on this verse and its meaning, a whole scene began to play out in my mind. At first, God simply begins leading me beside still waters and into green pastures. In a quiet voice He says “Rest, eat, drink”. Although I enjoy this, it is hard for me to rest. I know it is my God in the saddle, and I am chomping at the bit (literally) to take Him wherever He would let me.

I turn my head around to face Him, as if to say “I’m ready! Where do You want to go?” I fully expect Him to say “To the mountains!” or “To the sea!” Or perhaps He will show me a map of where our journey together will take us.

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And that’s when it hits me: I’m a horse! A horse can’t understand a map a human has drawn. I remember riding horses as a girl when we lived in Arizona. I knew the direction I wanted to go on my rides and what I wanted to see, but never once did I make a map and show it to the horse!

I wouldn’t expect a horse to have that level of understanding. I didn’t even tell the horse what my itinerary was. And yet I would not expect the horse to be frustrated or angry if it didn’t know the length and direction of our journey in advance. As we’d leave the stable, I would gently guide it where I wanted it to go.

God is like that with us. Even though we are created in His image, He is so far above us in wisdom and power that we could not possibly understand from His perspective, the plans He has for us. If He were to show us a map as He maps out lives, we would not be able to discern its meaning in human terms. But we can be assured that He has a good plan for each of us. We can know without a doubt that from His perspective on high, He knows what is in our best interest, and we can trust Him.

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Jeremiah 29:11-13 assures us that He has a plan for us: a prosperous and protective plan, full of hope and with our best future at its heart. These verses also assure that He hears us when we call on Him in prayer and that He is accessible when we seek Him with all of our hearts.

 

So when God tells me to rest, eat and drink, I had better do that. He knows what is ahead and knows what I need to be doing. I can trust that He has planned our journey and is preparing me for it now.

morocco-555348_640He doesn’t promise to tell each of us what the plan is or spell it out in terms we can understand in advance, but like our horse, He will guide us in the right direction. And we will reach the destinations along our way if we will but attend to and yield to His hands on our reins.

Read the verse again, out loud, and ask God to speak to you through it. Imagine that you are that fast horse, or a stubborn mule like in the Psalm, and picture the LORD gently and lovingly putting the bit in your mouth and the bridle over your head. Feel the reins in His hands and be responsive to them.

The Weeds are back!

Just when I think the lawn is greening up and looking alive, I realize the green I see is mostly weeds! They probably never left but just lay dormant until Spring’s rain and sun coaxed them out of hiding.

One way to deal with weeds is to poison them. But if the weeds are in or near areas of desired vegetation, the poison will kill the good plants too. So the solution is to pull the undesirable weeds out of the places where desirable plants are growing.

I’ve learned two good steps in getting rid of weeds like this: prepare the ground, prepare yourself.

1 – Prepare the ground. In order for the ground to be willing to give up the weeds, it must be prepared in advance. If you go out and mow or just start pulling, you’re liable to only get the weed tops. When the roots remain, all you’ve done is stimulate the plant to grow more vigorously! It will come back again and again, each time more hardy than the last.

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So a day or so before the uprooting, the ground needs to be thoroughly soaked and maybe tilled a little. Then loosen with a pitchfork of sorts to break the hold the cemented soil has on the roots. When this is done pulling up weeds and getting the roots is more successful.

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2 – Prepare yourself. This step is intended to protect you during your weed-pulling excursion. Sunscreen or protective clothing may be desired to limit the sun’s burning ultraviolet rays. There may be strategically located places on your body that are exposed during the squatting and bending hours of pulling weeds that burn very quickly and can leave you hurting when the work is done. Also, a mat or pad to kneel on or lean down on can save your lower back from the discomfort of bending at the waist.

Use a hand tool to break up the earth when it seeks to hold the roots tighter than your own arm strength. The final protection: appropriately thick or leather gloves to give you the firm grip you need to get leverage on the weeds as well as protect your hands from thorns and stickers.

Prepared in this way, you can enjoy a wonderful experience of clearing an area of ground to allow grass or new plants to take root. And they can grow unencumbered by the choking demands of unsightly weeds.

And so it is with life.

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Weeds of bitterness, jealousy, shame, anger, and fear can ruin your enjoyment of life. They can get a stranglehold on your sense of peace and destroy your attitude of Christian love. They show up as ugly and undesirable feelings, as cross, unkind words, as unloving attitudes. But you can tackle them!

Following the same guidelines as for gardening, you can have a beautiful, healthy, enjoyable life, growing in peace and joy.

1 – Prepare the ground. Spend time in prayer asking God to go before you and to be at work in the situation causing you pain. He may choose to change the circumstances, but He may also choose to change something in you. Be willing to accept what God tells you is needed. Ask Him to work in the circumstances and in the lives of any people involved.

If you need to go to someone and talk to them, ask God to safeguard the time set aside for the meeting and prepare their hearts to help you remove the weed between you. Also ask God to send the Holy Spirit to be in control and guide both your words and their responses.

2 – Prepare yourself. Go forward in the full armor and protection of God. To be cleansed in His perfect forgiveness, confess any sin in your life. Be especially specific involving the “weed” situation you are working on. Ask for and accept His forgiveness, cleansing you from your sin, guilt and shame.

Then prayerfully ask for God to give you His perspective on the problem. He may want to teach you something through this difficulty. Ask for His will to be done in the situation. Ask God for wisdom to show you how to get a grip on and remove the root of the issue. And put on the armor of God found in Ephesians 6 to protect you from anything that might keep the “weed” alive in your life to defeat you.

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You may discover that the biggest, meanest looking weeds give way easily when God has prepared both you and the ground.

Don’t be afraid to tackle the weeds!

 

Keep pulling on them and working the ground till they give way and are gone! In this way, you can be a victorious Christian, enjoying the fruits of the Spirit taking root and growing unencumbered in your new, weed-free life!

The Master Gardener

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I was looking at some packets of seeds today, preparing to start them growing inside to transplant into my garden when the danger of frost has passed. The instructions said some do best in full sun, some in partial and some only thrive in shade.

Also, some germinate in 6-10 days while some take 20-30 days before peeking their tiny green shoots above ground. Some can be planted a half inch apart, and some need more room to grow.

It started me thinking how caring for children is like taking care of plants. They are not all alike. In order for them to grow, we have to take care to recognize what the best conditions are for each of them to thrive.

Instructionsplant            1 – they grow at different rates. So what a 3 year-old is doing in one family may be totally different from what another 3 year-old is capable of. And they are both normal.

2 – they need room to grow. Some are very social and can play closely with other children. Others do best with parallel play, rather than so much interacting. They seem to need their space.

3 – amount of sunlight. Some wake up raring to go and can’t wait to get outside and run all day. Others need a more sheltered, protected, slower pace to their day.

The challenge is children don’t come in convenient packets, with labels that help you get all the conditions just right. It’s a matter of getting to know your child, and noting what circumstances and people seem to help them grow, and those that don’t. You can’t make a sunflower grow tall in the dark – or a begonia do well in bright sunlight. So parenting skills need to be developed and refined for each child.

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And what about that picture on the front of the packet that shows what the fully-grown flowers are supposed to look like? Wouldn’t that be nice to have for each of our children? If we knew what they would grow up to be like, we would have an easier time of preparing them along the way.

Our saving grace is that God knows. He has a special plan for each child, a plan to prosper them and not to harm them (Jeremiah 29:11). He loves them even more than we love them. And to provide them with a hope and a future, God has given them the very parents He wants them to have. When we don’t have the wisdom to parent them, He is willing to share His wisdom with us.

So be encouraged that if your child doesn’t look like another child, that’s okay. If they don’t grow at the same rate as another child, or have the same skills or interests, that’s okay too. Just like flowers are different, children are different. They’re supposed to be. Imagine if all the gardens only had one kind of blossom!

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So we water and weed, fertilize and feed, provide shade and sunlight as best we can. But not being sure of what we’ve planted can be hard. Yet, there is hope. Know that even when you’re at your wit’s end, God will help you and give you what you need to parent your child.

Ask Him now. He is the Master Gardener.

 

The beauty of the mountain

Cloud_over_Gaggio,_a_mountain_in_Ticino,_Switzerland

 

 

After a brisk walk around the lake, I found a shaded spot to sit where a view of the whole lake spread out before me. The water was calm, and reflected the wide, blue sky and majestic mountains. My attention was drawn to the one large mountain peak in the center of this tranquil scene. It was the highest, but had a wide, darkening cloud overshadowing it.

My first thoughts were sad. What a pity that darkness covered the mountain’s strength and beauty. I wished the cloud would blow over; move away to shadow another place. But looking more closely, I saw that it brought out depth and definition in the mountain that wasn’t perceivable in the bright sunlight. These distinctions added grandeur to the mountain’s appearance.

We are often like this mountain. If given a choice, we would prefer to live our lives in the sunlight, rather than under a cloud. We delight in sunshine, with no problems on the horizon. But often, the beauty of our Christian nature is brought out by the trials that overshadow our lives. God’s gift of peace can be most evident in times of turmoil. Our patience, or lack of, is most evident when it is being tested. Our spirit of joy often shows best in times of hardship.

The clouds also bring rain. The water that nourishes the lush blanket of grass and flowers that grow and add beauty to our appearance, comes from these dark overshadowing clouds. Even the water that runs off clears away debris and creates furrows and ridges that add depth to our character.

Sometimes, the clouds bring violent storms. Lightening may strike, and split the ground; leaving an open wound, an ugly gash of devastation in our lives. Even this is a gift. For the wound creates a new, clear, fertile place where nothing had an opportunity to grow before.

Many times, the sweetest, most beautiful flowers are seen in the shadowy depths of a chasm created by a trauma to the mountain. And, many times, the sweetest, most beautiful blessings in our lives, grow from the deepest hurts.

Appreciate the clouds.

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