Trials, Big or Little, Turn Our Faces to God

Not exactly beige, is it?

I’m sending you a flower this week. The bloom is new to my garden and a surprise to me. This one is called Wanda Capella. When I ordered the tubers online, the picture of Wanda showed a beige dinnerplate dahlia, but as you can plainly see Wanda Capella is Yella.

It’s not that I don’t like yellow dahlias, I do. But I have shades of yellow throughout the garden. I have some as yellow as a lemon and some as pale as an unripe tomato. So Wanda Capella’s appearance is a twist I didn’t expect.

Life is like that. Just when we think we’ve got the future figured out, a twist comes along that changes our plans. Some are inconvenient, some are tragic.

This week I dropped off a work order at a print shop I frequent and the owner tearfully told me she may have to close. Print orders have dwindled so much that she’s barely made the rent the past two years.  A twist in her life she didn’t expect.

I learned the doctors of a young boy for whom I have been praying are stopping his treatment because the therapy isn’t doing him any good.  His father says the cancer may claim him before Christmas.  He’s eleven.  His parents never expected to outlive their child.

A woman in our church whom I respect and admire left for a Bible study one evening and when she returned to her front door, that’s all she and her husband had left.  The house had burned in their absence.  Imagine yourself in her place.

Her reaction inspired me. She called her loss “stuff”, her experience the kind of trial that comes to each one of us, a season of inconvenience, a time to trust. I’m not certain I could have said the same.

 God’s word tells us He is with us through every trial. Romans 8:35 (NKJV) says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

He is there to walk with us through the trouble, to steady us to the other side of whatever we face. Romans 8:38,39 (NKJV): “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God bless you in whatever trial you face this week. Whether it is as simple as a Wanda Capella flower the wrong color or a life changing crisis. He is there waiting for your hand.

Entertaining Angels–Accounts by others

Last week I received my contributor copies of a new book Heavenly Company edited by Cecil Murphy and Twila Belk and published by Guideposts. The book is filled with accounts of people who believe they have “entertained angels” as the Scriptures teach. 

I haven’t read all the entries, but it is amazing how differently each author viewed what they believed to be their encounter with heavenly creatures.

One author writes how her daughter—left alone for hours in a park while her parents drove off unaware they’d left the child—described being pushed on a swing by a nice man in sparkly clothing. 

My account relives the time I visited New York City and got lost trying to access the subway. A black woman and her son appeared out of nowhere at an isolated station and rescued my companions and me from a dark and foreboding environment. Though most of the details of my trip to New York City have faded with time, I’ve never forgotten her.

 The Bible speaks of encounters with angels.  In Matthew 18:10 (NKJV) Jesus tells us to watch out for children and not treat them with disdain. “Take heed that you do not despise of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

 In Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV) we are told to entertain strangers. “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”

 Hebrews 1:13,14 (NKJV) tells us (vs.13) angels are not equal with Jesus—who sits at the right hand of God—but are instead ambassadors sent.“Are they not ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those will inherit salvation?”

 Pick up a copy for yourself and see what you think of these encounters. The book is available in bookstores everywhere.  

 

Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam

Pictures were allowed only before and after the performance.

Shall we dance?

Today my family and I attended a local production of the King and I, that wonderful story of the king of Siam who hired the schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, a widow, to teach his children.

 The teacher soon discovers that the king’s stubborn nature will be the most challenging obstacle to her success.  What develops is a deep and respectful friendship between the two.  This performance featured all the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs I’ve come to know and love—Getting to Know You, I Whistle a Happy Tune, and Shall We Dance—to name a few.

Since the story is based on truth, I marvel at the courage of Mrs. Leonowens as she left her home in Wales to bring the culture she understood to a land considered barbaric. She wouldn’t surrender to the king’s manipulation, keeping him to his promise to give her a house outside the palace.  She stood up to the king when his punishments assaulted her conscience, pointing him to a different way of life. She demanded respect in a country where women were treated like chattel and the king rewarded her audacity. I’m certain she faced many uncertain moments, her life often on the line.

Where do you find your courage? Mrs. Leonowens sings about whistling when she’s afraid.  God’s word tells us to trust Him when we face fearful times in our lives.

Psalm 56:3 “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear.”

May each of us find courage to fulfill the tasks God sets before us.

New Windows Clear Old View

Appreciate the picture–it was 99 degrees outside today.

 This past week we replaced the picture windows in the front of our home. Though they had been weatherized before we purchased the property, the procedure of the time consisted of adding an additional frame to the outside window. This doubled the glass and created an extra pocket of protection between the inner and outer glass.  

But no one told the bugs. Or the cobwebs. Or anything else thin enough to travel between the panes. Which left me to the tedium of removing the outer windows periodically to break up the party all those uninvited guests staged in the vacant space.  Ousted tenants can get ugly, trust me.

Cleaning meant finding a screwdriver, a ladder and a helper because I couldn’t take the windows apart by myself. They are eight feet long and five feet high.  As you might imagine, I only tackled the task once a year.  In the interim I was able to clean the inner and outer surfaces and the glass stayed relatively clean. Still, the windows grew cloudy and gazing out the double pane became a pain.

When the windows began to leak cold air and moisture, my husband and I decided to replace them.  After twenty years the old windows distorted the view outside, sweat in cold weather, and had gained twenty pounds.  At least they felt that way when we would lift them down. Time for a change.

The new windows are unbelievable.  The weatherization is still between the glass but there’s nothing to open and clean.  The checkerboard pattern we chose is also inside the glass so all cleaning requires is to squeegee the smooth surface on either side. No more aching shoulders.

And we can see! The amount of sunlight pouring through the glass is phenomenal. Something about the double panes of the old windows clouded the picture outside, but the new ones make it seem as if I’m gazing through open space.

God’s word talks about seeing things dimly this side of heaven. Like a cloudy glass we only know in part of what waits beyond this life. But one day we will see clearly and the truth we hold in our hearts now will be manifested in all its glory later. Jesus Christ will make Himself known to all, believer and skeptic alike. Which version of the glass do you look through?

I Corinthians 13:12 (KJV) 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.

Praise God for His unfailing promises.