Pushing Through the Storms Before Us

 Don’t you admire the tenacity of a flower? These blossoms have endured a late winter snowstorm, ice, hail and non-stop rain to bloom where they are planted.   [slideshow]

 As God’s children we also endure trials and storms, and sometimes I marvel at the tenacity of people who are standing in their time of trouble.

 In recent days I’ve admired the faith of a woman who left home with her husband one evening,   to discover when they returned only the front door remained. In their absence the house had burned to the ground. “It’s only stuff,” she said. No one she loved was harmed.

I’ve watched the courage of a woman who is walking beside friends whose young child is battling cancer. This week they learned the treatment is not working. She stood by and supported them while they cried.

I’ve felt the heartache of a set of parents who anxiously await the arrival of their soldier son from Afghanistan, the target of a sniper who pierced the boy’s lung with his bullet. He’s alive with an uncertain future, but he is home.

I’ve witnessed the resolve of a wife whose husband is facing another round of treatment for a tumor they thought was gone. She’s been here before, yet she’s willing to stand by her man.

God tells us in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble.” Those aren’t the words of a slick politician trying to garner votes; they come straight from the mouth of the Savior himself. But there’s more to the verse: “but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

In Jonah 2:2 the writer says “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me.”

God doesn’t say trials and storms won’t come to us.  They will. He promises to walk with us through them. Like the flowers above, we must follow through on the task set before us.

Psalm 103: 1-4 talks about God’s faithfulness.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits

Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction

Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies

Who satisfies your mouth with good things.”

That’s a promise that will keep  me pushing forward in spite of the disappointments, the storms, and the trials that would see me undone.

 I want the flower of my life to bloom.

 

A Warranty with No Expiration Date

Ready for the rink

            Warranties and I don’t co-exist well. The handle on my dishwasher broke three weeks after the contract expired. If my vacuum cleaner had clogged ten days sooner, I wouldn’t have had to pay for a repair. No matter what the item, if some part fails, I’m left with the responsibility of fixing it. 

            Which explains why I didn’t think much about it when the pair of rollerblades I bought for my son’s birthday last year came with a warranty book. He’s a grown man, skates in a rink, and the last pair of skates I’d purchased for him was in eighth grade. The only reason those skates were passed on to his sister was because his feet got too big. So a six-month warranty seemed a waste. 

            But five months and two weeks later, a bolt popped on the skate, loosening the shoe strap, leaving the skate unsafe. I dug out the warranty and the receipt and returned the skates to the store. Within ten minutes, I had another pair, no questions asked, and was on my way. This new pair also came with a warranty book, but considering past histories I doubted the skates would fail. The first pair’s demise probably suggested a fluke, not an everyday occurrence. 

            But another five months and two weeks later, the second pair blew a wheel. I retrieved the warranty book, handed it, along with the receipt, to my son, and sent him to the store. I told him I doubted they’d replace another pair of skates, but it was worth a try. To my surprise, he returned not long afterward, new skates in hand. But this pair didn’t come with a warranty book. 

            God offers us an even better warranty Book, his word, the Bible. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Not just for a day or for six months, but forever. 

            And if we fail? I John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”     

            We can’t be let go, even if we fail again and again, like a broken pair of skates.  In John 6:37 Jesus tells us “All (people) that the Father gives me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” 

John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hand.”

 That’s a warranty I intend to redeem.

I Think That I Shall Never See

[slideshow]

Only the stump remains.

The week before the official arrival of spring, I told you how excited I was to see winter make its exit for a new season of renewal and hope. I posted pictures of blloming daffodils and flowering plum trees.

To my surprise (and to everyone else’s where I live) , a heavy snowstorm struck the day after the spring solstice began. While it is rare for Oregon to have snow on the floor of the Willamette Valley, it is even rarer to have six inches fall in March. Everything slowed to a stop—except the tree pruners. Those companies were suddenly pressed into service, for the heavy wet blanket that fell left unsuspecting giants dropping their limbs like soldiers their rifles on a battlefield.

This week, nearly four weeks after the storm, the city crew came to clean up the trees broken on our street. The tree that had bloomed so prettily before the storm was reduced to a stump. The arborist apologized. The branches had split at the trunk leaving no hope for the faithful plum.

The Bible talks of the frailty of all life. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, 11 Solomon writes:

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, and a time to die;

A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill, And time to heal;

A time to break down, And a time to build up;

A time to weep, And a time to laugh,

A time to mourn, And a time to dance. . .

God has made everything beautiful in its time.”

So it is for all of us. We have been given this day, this hour, this minute to bloom for our heavenly Father. Let us use the time we have been given to share ourselves with those who need what we have to offer.

The plum tree knew why it was here. To bloom every spring and brighten my world. To shade me in the summer. To drop its plums on my car in the fall. It will be missed, but it had finished its task and so must I.

Life goes on, the camellias are blooming, their lovely pink blossoms captured by my camera this morning. Thanks for dropping by. See you next week.

Yellow Trumpets Herald Easter Joy

My husband loves daffodils.

 Last fall he told me he’d planted an entire 50-bulb sack around our yard, but he didn’t tell me where. So, when I returned from a writers conference earlier this week, I was surprised at the display of yellow that had happened in our yard while I was away.  Though we’d had a few daffodils bloom before the winter storm that hit us March 21, apparently the cold had discouraged the tender blossoms from opening until now.  I thought it fitting, since their shape could easily represent trumpets here to herald the season of Easter.

According to the account in Luke 24: 1-6: “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they,(Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Joanna, wife of Chuza, and Salome) and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices they had prepared.

But they found the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it happened  as they were greatly perplexed about this, that, behold, two men  stood by them in shining garments. Then, as the women were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, the strangers said to them. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

“He is not here, He is risen, just as He said.”

I can only imagine the reaction of the women. The account said they went to the tomb prepared to anoint His body for burial, but finding the tomb empty they needed reminders from the two angels about what Jesus had earlier told them of His death. After hearing the declaration and seeing the empty tomb, they raced back to the city to tell the disciples.

Can’t you hear them squealing? Babbling among themselves, as only women can, about the wonder of what they had discovered? Laughing with joy as they ran? Had they trumpets they would have blown them the entire distance to tell the world of the miracle they had just witnessed.

And so it is with the daffodils. Their trumpet faces a reminder of the joy that is ours at Easter.  God’s sacrifice of His Son on Calvary paved the way to heaven for any of us who believe.  Happy Easter.