Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Sun Also Rises

The sun also rises, and the sun goes down…Eccl. 1:5
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die…Eccl. 3:1-2a

It’s Tuesday night and just a little while ago, a mourning dove was in our green feeder. There were several reasons why this was a problem. You may be wondering what was wrong with a bird being in a feeder when, after all, that’s the reason we have bird feeders—to attract birds. Well, first of all, it had been dark for a couple of hours and as anyone knows who runs a feeding station, restaurant hours are between sunrise and sunset. Our patrons show up at the crack of dawn and they begin to leave at dusk, with the cardinals usually being the only latecomers before night actually falls. After that, no birds. So the fact that he was there at that hour was the first problem.

The second problem was that he was not eating, but seemed to be just resting, and he was resting there in the pouring rain. Since I was letting my cocker spaniel dog out (this breed is intense about chasing birds and squirrels), and I didn’t want the poor feathered fellow to have to contend with that, I went out first (in the rain) to encourage the soaking creature to fly off. That was the last problem: He let me get right there next to him and he either didn’t care or was too weak to leave. I gently tapped the edge and he reluctantly fluttered away, barely making it over our fence.

So, what did this all mean? It tells me that another of God’s creatures is about to die. Something is wrong with him and he’s dying. And if he manages to make it back to our feeder during the night, he’ll die there. We’ve had this happen several times before and it always makes me so very sad. I wish I wouldn’t react that way about the death of lowly animals—especially wildlife—but I always do. And it’s always a reminder of that verse I just posted: there is a time to die. It’s a given. Just as the setting of the sun is. And it’s another of the all things that are determined by our Creator.

I won’t post this until the morning and I’ll comment on whether I find him in the place he’d chosen as his final resting place. I really hope not.

Well, after the sunset, the sun always rises. I hope that makes sense. That mourning dove broke into my world of thinking almost nonstop about the other part of the verse. As of today, our grandchild has officially been 37 weeks and three days in her sanctuary. It is getting closer and closer to the time when she is due for her sunrise. Again, need I say that the “when” is another of the all things determined by her Creator? Pray with me please for her safe arrival. Pray for her mommy too. Pray that God might be merciful to us and this new life might bring joy to us all. That mourning dove has no soul, but this baby does. Pray for the reality of another verse in Ecclesiastes that she will remember her Creator in the days of her youth, before the difficult days come. I am surely praying that the Lord will give us this blessing and that He’ll give all of us the blessing of helping her!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Everything Nice

But the fruit of the Spirit is…kindness. Galatians 5:22

A sweet pea in the pod, who is my expected granddaughter, has held off long enough to have had another shower. A few weeks ago, I talked about her first shower when she got so many clothes. This time, her parents got all of the “practical” gifts that they needed and now they’re really ready for her to come! Today, though, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the shower theme. It was a well thought out and appropriate theme: “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice—That’s What Little Girls are Made Of.” What a thought! How true I hope this will be of this little girl one day. Everything nice!

When she first gets here, though, she may not be all that nice to those around her. No doubt, she’ll be like all of the rest of us when first making our entrance into this not so wonderful world. After all, she is a daughter of Adam, and you know what that means. It means that she’ll be totally bent on getting her own needs met with no regard whatsoever for anyone else’s. At times, she’ll probably be mean enough to wake her parents out of a blissful sleep just because she wants something to eat. Other times, she’ll probably regurgitate yucky stuff all over whoever may happen to be holding her in a loving embrace and she’ll have no concern at all about what laundry headaches (or cleaning bills) this might cause them. There may even be a time when she’ll scrunch up her face and wail at Aunt So and So who has traveled miles just to meet her. Now how rude is that? She’ll do whatever suits her fancy at any given time and won’t give a hoot who doesn’t like it.

Okay, of course I’m just joking. And all of you know that Nanna can’t wait for it all to start. And then after all, she’ll only be a new infant who doesn’t know any better. But unfortunately, it could stay that way and stick if she doesn’t get help. But I know her parents. And I know they’ll want to see a little girl emerge who by and by will bring reality to that familiar little phrase that once was her shower theme. Everything nice. Some day, with their guidance and God’s help, maybe that will become true of our Selena. “Nice” can mean other things, but I’m thinking about kindness. I’m praying that someday we’ll see a little girl, and after that a young lady, who will grow the fruit of kindness. To grow this sweet fruit she’ll need the Spirit of God, won’t she? She’ll need Jesus. We who love her will keep praying for that. And we’ll keep on praying that one day we’ll see a little girl who is everything nice!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Poor Little Garden

"...The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever."
1 Peter 1:24b-25

Yesterday, I went outside to weed and hoe my little plot of marigolds after weeks of neglect. It was a rather sad event. Well, I haven’t been totally negligent, as I have managed to give it water on a daily basis, but that’s about all that’s been done in quite a while. Now this garden is nothing to brag about as far as gardens go. It measures roughly 5 feet by 5 feet and contains 12 plants. And that’s it. I have never been accused of having anything remotely resembling a green thumb, but each year I get this determination to try to have something pretty growing around our house.

My hubby has taken over the hanging flowers and the impatiens across the front, all of which were once my territory also, Okay, I admit it. They are faring better than they ever have in any other year.

That is not the case with that poor meager plot of marigolds in the back yard. And there is one pitiful small plant among the group that has had particular trials. It is hanging on, but barely. Once, about a month ago, I noticed a baby slug attached to it, sapping life from it. Thankfully, somehow I did get up enough nerve to remove the slimy thing and pitch it across the yard. The slug that is, not the marigold. The plant seems to have recovered somewhat from that ordeal. However, it has also had to endure the misfortune of being stepped on by a squirrel, maybe more than once. And then, another time, I was horrified to see one of the hind legs of my dog Frodo resting on that very same spot. I’m not sure how this has affected things, but there was also a time that I saw a few mourning doves walking around in that area. (One of the thanks I get for feeding them.) And then, of course, it hasn’t helped that the caretaker has not been more diligent.

While pulling weeds out from this one single piece of land that I have to care for, I felt a little ashamed of myself. It has been my job to cultivate it, and I have not done well. Then I thought of Selena. I thought about the job that is ahead for her parents, once she arrives. I thought about her need to be cultivated. Oh, I know that she’ll need to be fed and changed and sheltered and all that. But she’ll need much more. She’ll need to be nurtured in even more important ways than those. She’ll need to have God’s Word instilled in her heart so that she can survive all the misuses and misfortunes which will probably come her way.
There will likely come a time when someone will trample on her, or at least try to. At some other time someone may try to latch on and sap life out of her. Some people may even do their own brand of pecking away at her. All I hope is that her daddy and mommy will keep on watering and hoeing and weeding. Then, I pray, she’ll grow strong in the ways that matter most. By and by, it would be wonderful to see her hold up even better than my courageous little marigold plant.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What a world

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? Psalm 2:1

What is this world coming to. I didn’t put a question mark after that sentence because it’s not really a question. And then I didn’t put an exclamation point after it, because it is not said in surprise or excitement or even horror. It’s more that it’s said in resignation. Sometimes, I must admit, it is said (or thought) with a good bit of sadness.

The world that my first grandchild is coming into is not a very pretty picture, really. It’s one in which trying to board an airplane has become one of the most complicated events under the sun. Yes, it’s one where men are so bent on evil that even a tube of toothpaste cannot be considered safe. Or even shampoo. Or lipstick. They think that perhaps a jar of baby food is, but I’m not so sure of that either.

But I still stand by my last entry where I talked about the weather. We can’t for one minute think that our God is not in control. If it were not for believing that, I would despair at our little Selena coming into such a place as this. But we have the truths of the second Psalm and the first chapter of Romans, and all that good stuff. So we know what’s really going on. And we’ll make sure she knows as she grows.

Well, even though the world may not be such a great place, we live in a different realm, thanks be to Jesus. I know her daddy and mommy will do their best to protect her from the evils of this present age, and we’ll sure try to help.

That’s all I have to say today.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Whew! It's hot!

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6

We are in the throes of a horrible heat wave. Actually, it’s really not all that bad. Even though there are many people who are at particular risk, for most of us, our struggles are minimal. I’m writing from my air conditioned home and like a lot of other people, there are plenty of cool places that we can go for relief, even when we go out. But, in our area, it is the big news item for this week and it is really hot!

Actually, the forecasters have amused me. For the last three days they have predicted that the temperatures would go to 100 degrees and each day it has not made it. I can tell that they are a bit disappointed. I get the feeling while listening to them that they are pushing for the numbers to go “above the century mark”, as they put it. So far, by the time early evening comes, it has fallen short and then they come on and say, “We didn’t quite make it today, etc.” That’s because they really are not the ones who call the shots are they? The number of degrees we reach, the percentage of humidity, whether it rains, thunders, or freezes and snows is not up to them. They can try and determine what it will do, but they can’t do it. It is all at the bidding of One much higher. We all know Who that is, even if we don’t want to admit it. Yes, it is our God who controls “the numbers” along with everything else.

So, the heat index and chill factor and everything in between is governed by Him. It all goes as He commands. This past Sunday, a wonderful sermon was preached at our church. It was about God. You’re probably saying to yourself, “I thought all sermons were about God.” Well, yes, that’s true, or at least it should be. But sometimes good preachers talk more about people and what they should or should not do to please God. And it is important for them to do that. Or sometimes they talk about specific incidents that are recorded in the Bible. That’s good too. But this past Lord’s Day, Pastor Dale brought the greatness of God Himself before us in wonder and praise. One of the primary points that he made, and which I hope to remember, is that all that we can ever know proceeded from God and all things begin with Him and work down. An awesome, awesome thought. And that includes all that is related to nature, including our weather.

And that includes my grandchild in the womb. This coming Saturday, her mother will have completed 34 weeks of pregnancy. That means in reality Selena is almost 34 weeks in existence. But we’ll start counting her days after she arrives and, of course, we’ll be praying that God will bring her here safely. There is a sense in which she, like the heat of the sun, will be doing what He commands whenever she does come. And it will be His timing.

The fourth catechism question asks the child how he or she can glorify God. The answer to that one is both simple and profound: By loving Him and doing what He commands. Well, as I’ve been saying, she already is doing what He commands, isn’t she? Just the fact that every day she’s adding this and that to her being (as I talked about on a prior entry) is at His command. And as I said earlier here,
whenever He wills her arrival, that too is at His command.

But our hope and prayer is that after her arrival and after she begins to make the kind of decisions for right and wrong that only humans can, she will still try to do what he commands. And another thing, while all nature does what He directs and brings glory to Him by doing so, only we who are His children can love Him. So Selena can only glorify her Creator, as it says in the catechism, if and when she comes to love Him. Then the entire catechism answer would be true of her. She would glorify Him by loving Him and doing what He commands. Let’s just pray that it will be so.

I wonder what the temperature will go up to today. I’ll let you know.