photo by Carol Round
Summer flowers have died. Leaves are changing colors. Life goes on.
Seasons change in our lives. We experience cycles of trials and calm. Life goes on.
Many affected by the destruction of nature’s wrath this year are still struggling. But life goes on. Even then, we sometimes forget to recognize the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary—and life goes on.
Sometimes we’re reminded of God’s extraordinary in the midst of our ordinary. A friend’s relative lost his home last spring in a Missouri tornado. Six months later, through the efforts of his small church family, he is almost ready to move into a newly constructed house. While funds for the construction have dwindled at times, leaving the crew wondering if they’d ever be able to complete the project, God has shown up in the midst of their uncertainty to reveal how much He cares for His children.
In a moment of divine intervention at an Arkansas baseball game, the leader of the construction crew met a stranger. During their conversation, he told her of the church’s efforts to finish the house. This woman was not just any stranger, but was from a neighboring Missouri town and was part of a church seeking to help tornado victims.
Walking outside is one of my favorite forms of daily exercise. For me, it’s also a time to get away from my writing commitments and rejoin the world. Writing is a solitary occupation.
Getting out in nature is a reminder of how blessed I am. Walking through the winding hills of my neighborhood and pausing to watch the geese living on our lake, I remember how much God loves us. His creation refreshes me. I thank Him for eyes that see and ears that hear. I thank Him for the gentle breeze that ruffles my hair and cools my skin.
How easily we can become complacent in our Christian walk if we don’t ask Him to renew us. In Psalm 51:12, the psalmist writes, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”
If we aren’t intentional about our faith walk, our spiritual energy wanes. If we don’t spend time meditating on scripture, praying, worshipping and fellowshipping with others, we lose the desire to please God. We forget the blessings He has poured out on us. We forsake His commands. We become enmeshed in a secular world that continually draws us away from His goodness.
Romans 12:2 reminds us about not conforming to the pattern of this world, but “to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Newspaper photos, social media posts and live TV coverage depicted the devastation. Those viewing the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey could only imagine what the Texas victims were experiencing. For those of us who have experienced the aftermath of a hurricane, the reality is familiar.
However, anyone who has either viewed or experienced a disaster like this is familiar with the sacrifices of those who respond to the call for help. As responders poured into the southeastern Texas areas hardest hit, I marveled once again, not only at the sight of trained rescue workers, but the volunteers who leave their jobs, homes and family to provide assistance to those affected by the flooding.
Stories continue to reveal those moments when all hope seemed lost. Then, someone who refused to give up, showed up and answered the call for help.
I listened to TV coverage as victims and rescuers were interviewed. One man, a volunteer rescuer, paraphrased 1 John 3:17, which states, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
Do you remember when we were arguing over who had the most frogs in their jar and accidentally let them loose in Mom’s car?”
I laughed as my sister and I recalled some of our childhood antics. The frog story was funny, even though our mother didn’t think so. The escaped frogs hopped across the floorboard and over her feet as she drove. And yes, we did get in trouble.
We all have memories. Some elicit laughter. Others bring tears. However, it’s nice to recall the past, especially with someone who was present when they occurred.
After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, the Lord told Joshua to choose 12 men, one from each tribe, to take 12 stones from the Jordan where the priests were standing. They were to place them in a pile as a memorial at their campsite that night. Gathering another 12 stones, Joshua piled them in the Jordan where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing.
Later, Joshua tells the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and He kept it dry until you were all across…” (Joshua 4:21-23).
As Christ followers, we must never forget what He has done for us, including His sacrifice on the cross. I enjoy sharing what I call my “God moments” with others. It’s my testimony to His faithfulness.
My youngest grandson recently spent two days with me. Like his father, Cash is mischievous, loving to tease and play practical jokes on his Nana. However, like my other grandchildren, he has a serious side, especially when it comes to praying before meals. I love listening to their heartfelt innocent prayers, filling my heart with joy.
Cash has many role models of the faith. His parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have made it their mission to pass on the “glorious deeds of the Lord.”
Cash will celebrate his eighth birthday this month. He never met my father who passed away two years before Cash was born. Like most of us whose loved ones are no longer present with us, we love to share our family history with the younger generation.
As I drove Cash home after his stay with me, we passed several semi-trucks. One of the many jobs my father held during his lifetime was as a truck driver. Anytime I pass a big rig on the highway, I am reminded of the stories my father shared. I had never mentioned my father’s occupation to Cash. As I began to share some of the stories my father had told me, it struck me how important it is for Christian parents and grandparents to share the wonderful stories found in scripture, to pass on to the next generation the importance of living out our faith in a world that has drifted away from those values.
The video of the speeding car slamming into a crowd of protesters left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Three died, including two police officers. More than 30 were injured in a Virginia riot on August 12.
Immediately after the event, people took to social media, pointing fingers. Too many, including Christians, began to assign blame for what happened. First, let me say as a former school teacher that pointing your finger doesn’t solve problems. A relevant adage reminds the pointer that three more fingers are pointing back at you. Jesus reminds us of the same.
Matthew 7:5 tells us, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We’re all to blame if we haven’t followed the teachings of Jesus. If we treat others with contempt, we’re mistreating a person created in God’s image. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination dishonor the work of Christ on the cross.
When a dear friend phoned me recently, she asked for prayer, specifically for her son-in-law and daughter who were preparing to travel out of the country for a family emergency. The sister of her son-in-law had been murdered. My friend was not only grieving this senseless crime, but she was concerned for the safety of her loved ones who would be entering a foreign country where the laws and customs are vastly different from our own.
The couple and their families have been in my daily prayers. My friend has also kept me updated on their situation.
We live in a fallen world where life sometimes makes no sense. We often question, “Why, God, why?” My heart aches when I read or hear of those who are battling diseases or when loved ones are taken from us too soon or when a tragedy takes the lives of an entire family, a group of people or a segment of the population.
We wonder why people make the choices they do. We question how a loving God could allow these things to happen, especially to those who have done no harm. We even question our faith sometimes.