Tag: spiritual growth

Does it feel like you are missing some blessings?

Sometimes water is let go from a nearby lake and the water level drops. When that happens, the most noticeable thing is there are fewer birds on the water and rocks lay exposed. At first glance the water looks shallow and scummy and the banks muddy and messy. As if the water was the blessing and it had been taken away.

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Do you feel like some of the blessings you enjoy have been removed? For a time during Covid, many of us are missing comforts we had before.

When we have the blessing of good friends and family close around us, meeting together, celebrating together, we revel in it. We immerse ourselves in God’s blessing of good times when we have them. And so often, take them for granted. It seems to lose even a little of it would not be a good thing. Like the water level dropping in the lake. This was my brief conclusion.

Ducks_'n_trashWhere the trail comes near the water’s edge, I stepped off to have a closer look. From there I could see things… the ducks and geese had gathered in this inlet to feast on algae that had grown on the underwater rocks, now exposed because of the lowered water level.  What a blessing they were enjoying!

Many bottles and cans that had stuck in the muddy bottom were also now exposed, and a couple of kids had made their way down to the rocky edge to pull them out.  So, this “clean up” effort was made possible by the lowered water level.

If these benefits were occurring when water was withdrawn from the lake, could there be benefits in our lives when we feel blessings have been withheld for a time?

Would our examined lives reveal hidden blessings we take for granted, or that we usually don’t even notice?

If we take the time to look, the answer is probably yes.

Like the algae covered rocks, can we feast on the growth of our faith in God that has grown in the depth of His blessings but is not fully exposed until the level drops?  Yes.

Trusting God in the good times is building our faith and strengthening it so that when challenges arise, our faith can handle them. It’s encouraging to learn that the trust we have in the steadfastness and faithfulness of God in the good times will carry us through the harder times.

Have we allowed things into our lives under the covering of God’s blessing, that we need to remove when we see their trashy presence in full view.  Undoubtedly, yes.

Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time to every purpose under heaven.”  And if you are feeling like God’s blessing has been somewhat withdrawn in your life, don’t be discouraged.  You have a wonderful opportunity for discovery, feasting and clean up before you.

Kneeling-in-awe

Take a moment of quiet, and ask God to reveal a new blessing to you in the here and now.

Ask Him to reveal any attitude, behavior or relationship adjustment that needs to be “cleaned up.”

Appreciate that there is blessing in even this time.

And before long, the depths will return. my-lake

Are your Blessings running low?

When I got to the lake to take my walk today, the most noticeable thing was the water level. It had dropped to an extremely low point. Very few birds could be seen on the water. Rocks lay exposed. At first glance, the water looked shallow and scummy, the banks muddy and messy. It was as if the blessing of the beauty of the water had been taken away.

rock-328783_640            Could this be like our lives? What would they look like with God’s blessing withdrawn like the water in the lake? We immerse ourselves in God’s blessing when we have it. We revel in it! It surrounds us and holds us up as we float on it. My first thought was that to lose even a little of it would not be a good thing.

But where the trail came near the water, I stepped off to have a closer look. I saw hundreds, perhaps a thousand tiny fish! Fish not usually see because the regular depth of the water obscures them from view. This blessing of these fish had been there all along but had gone unnoticed.

Ducks_'n_trash

From there I could also see that the ducks and geese had gathered in a small inlet to feast on the algae that had grown on the underwater rocks which now lay uncovered. What a blessing they were enjoying!

Many bottles and cans stuck in the sandy lake bottom were also now exposed, and a couple of kids had made their way down to the rocks’ edge to pull them out. So, this ‘clean up’ effort was made possible by the lowered water level.

If these benefits were occurring when water was withdrawn from the lake, could there be benefits in our lives when God seems to withhold His bounty for a time? Would our examined lives reveal hidden blessings?

If we take the time to look, the answer is probably “Yes”.

Would we discover blessings we often don’t notice, or take for granted? Probably yes. God blesses us with every new day, each breath we take, every friend, every sunset. There is even blessing in times of hardship. We just need to take the time to look and notice, like the tiny fish in the lake.

Could we feast on the growth of our faith that has grown in the depth of God’s blessings? Yes. Perhaps it is not fully exposed and realized until the level drops, like the algae covered rocks.

Have we allowed things to creep into our lives that we need to remove? Undoubtedly, yes. But like the garbage on the lake, we may ignore them until we see their trashy presence in full view. Then it’s an opportunity to clean things up.

Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time to every purpose under heaven.” And if you’re feeling like God’s blessing is somewhat lower than usual in your life, don’t be discouraged. You have a wonderful opportunity for discovery, feasting, and clean up before you.

And before long, the depths will return.

my-lake

Spring

Today is my first day of yard work. What a mess! Spring brings new life, and life is messy!

It must be Spring. The calendar says it. The occasional warm day bears it out.

Winter lays down a coat of snow and keeps things covered up until Spring’s warmth melts the frostiness into a nourishing drink of water that encourages and promotes new growth.

crocus-2072985_640When new shoots and tiny blossoms poke their heads up, we begin to see crocus, grape hyacinth and the green leaves of iris, tulips and daffodils. A gentle raking removes the dead tree leaves that have blown into the yard throughout the winter and reveals even more new growth underneath. But for the new growth to continue, the old, dead brown parts from each plant must be removed. During winter, they cover the plants to protect from extremes in temperature and frozen snow.

But if left now, they would block the needed moisture and sunlight. So, one at a time, they must be selected and gently but firmly pulled from the emerging plants to make room for healthy new growth. Once sunlight and water have access, we need to provide fertilizer to feed the newly reborn plants, since over time, the ground’s nutrients are depleted and need to be restored.

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Some of the newly exposed growth is weeds. They have sprung up in the dark and taken root, looking just as green and eager to grow as the flowers. But they too, must be removed, as they compete for moisture, sunlight and space and would crowd out the desired plants.

 

Spring brings work with its new life. And it’s time we roll up our sleeves and get to work in our spiritual lives as well!

In the winter, we often pull back, almost hibernate. With the cold weather, and fewer hours of sunlight, we take our activities indoors. Much of what we do is hidden. We layer activities like we layer our clothes, so people don’t see what’s underneath our busyness. Even though we are growing in our faith, in our relationship with God, it may not be evident. Are we growing? Are we making and taking time to study God’s Word, listen to His voice of direction?                          crocus-590738_640

In Spring we need to uncover and let in the sun, water and nutrients that help us grow again. Has a weed sprung up in a mistaken belief that we don’t need to study God’s Word? Has the lie entangled our roots that we don’t need a small group of Christians to fellowship with – made us think that we can sustain obedience to God and spiritual growth on our own? Has a past hurt or unmet need become a dead leaf that needs to be gently but firmly pulled loose? Have we wrapped ourselves in layers of busyness and old excuses for not serving with our time as well as our pocketbook? These ‘dead leaves’ and ‘weeds’ will kill our growth. They block the sunlight and absorb the moisture we need to have life. They insulate us from the revitalizing ‘fertilizer’ we need to live, and our faith can slowly die, rotting away in our dark, suffocating, isolated, spot.

Life takes work. When we strip away the dead leaves, what will be left? Our faith. Our trust in God. Our saving knowledge that He loves us, has a plan for us and desires to know us better. We need to feed that faith. For it to grow, we need to ‘renew our minds’ and so be transformed into a blossoming, thriving Christian. We renew our minds by reading God’s Word, speaking and listening to Him in prayer, fellowshipping with other believers, thinking on things that are godly. We grow by stretching our faith by giving our money, our talents, and our time in service to our church body and to those outside the body who are physically and spiritually in need.

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God shows us so much through His creation. Let’s be sure we are gleaning all He has to say in every season of life.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV