Let There Be Light

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.

And God said “Let there be light! (Genesis 1:1,2)

What a difference light can make.  We all know what dark or darkness means but to get a full understanding I pulled out my faithful dictionary to see the various aspects of this word.

It can mean entirely or partly without light and it also can mean gloomy, hidden or secret, hopeless or dismal.  Wow – some of what I read about this word surprised me.

The other word that interested me in this passage was void.  This word can mean, total emptiness, holding or containing nothing, a vacuum, a feeling of emptiness or deprivations.

Sitting at the computer and staring at the screen I let the meaning of these words be absorbed in my brain. The more I thought about this the comparison to times and events in my life somehow amazingly became clear.

Every one of us at times walks through those dark moments of despair and hopelessness.  For some there comes are times of deep depression and we just want to curl into a ball, hide in the darkness of a room and pull ourselves into a black hole.  We pray and hope that this condition will pass while we wish for the light to penetrate.

Others will just experience the gloomies.  Has anyone ever said to you to “stop being gloomy?  You just can’t seem to get out of the doldrums and feel there is a black cloud hanging over you.

Perhaps you have experienced some or all of these things.  Dealing with this is not easy.  I can tell you that into these situations God can step into the situation and with authority says “let there be light.”  Sometimes that light comes in the form of a professional counselor trained to help us work through our deep depression and find the light we need to shine in our lives.  In His love God sends to us those that care and love us to bring a ray of light and sunshine into the gloom.  When we call on Him He pours his love and healing balm into our hurting hearts and his forgiveness allows us to let go of our secret sins and the hopelessness we experience at times.

It is God that knows just what we need and He leads us into our path of discovery when He says with loving authority;  LET THERE BE LIGHT.

 

The other interesting word was void.  “The earth was without form or void.”  Many today experience this.  There is a vacuum or a feeling of emptiness and the nothingness within screams to be filled.  We try to fill this void with things, jobs, money, success – you name it – yet in trying all of this we remain empty and containing nothing.

 

On the horizon of our emptiness and void stands a loving savior waiting to be invited into our lives.  He will not push his way in or demand to be a part of our lives.  It is our choice.  He created us with a “God shaped space” that can only be filled by him.  Nothing else can satisfy. When He comes he brings the ray of sunshine that creeps through the window of our souls and sets us on a path of goodness. The first light of His presence found in forgiveness soon expands and fills the emptiness and the loneliness.  That small ray of light gives us the courage to have faith and faith grows as we walk in his light.

 

Today God says to our individual lives once filled with darkness and void, “LET THERE BE LIGHT.”

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It’s Quiet Now

The excitement and anticipation of Christmas is a fading memory and the house is quiet. For some people their house has been quiet for a long time. For others the thought of no noise and commotion brings a smile of contentment and a wish for this to happen.

This very special season always seems to be filled with hurry. There are presents to be bought, gifts to be wrapped and so many things to do. Social calendars are filled with appointments, events and parties to attend. The closer Christmas day is the more frenetic the pace and we rush, rush to accomplish a seemingly impossible to do list.

At last Christmas Day arrives and we settle into the traditions and things that make this day special to us. Tables laden with goodies, brightly colored wrapping paper is found crumpled into piles. Well for most homes that is, but there are some that neatly fold the paper, save the bows or Christmas bags for another time. Must confess, this is not me.

All too soon the day is ended and there settles a blessed quietness. I love the quiet but I do admit I miss the noise and chaos of little kids, extended family and all the things associated with Christmas. During this time memories flood into my mind of the hectic and then I am glad for the quiet.

For many the quiet brings sadness. Christmas is so lonely for them as they remember Christmas’ past and loved ones that are no longer present.

In the quietness I find myself listening to the still voice of my savior, the one that loves me so. Jesus the one the season is about brings assurance that I am so loved and not forgotten. In the solitude of my surroundings there I count my blessings and give thanks. There is no interruption to intrude on my quiet. A peace comes and wraps me in a blanket of serenity where I find comfort.

There are no deadlines for me to accomplish. No frantic rush to decorate and make things perfect. No pressure to cook huge meals with every favorite dish that each child or family member must have at Christmas dinner. Sometimes it is just grandpa and me (grandma) sitting across the table or at TV trays watching television. This year my son came and brought our grand dog. Even with him here things were quiet. All adults, no kids – just quiet.

This season whether you were surrounded with all the chaos Christmas and the holidays bring, or you were alone in the quiet I hope you found time to experience God’s presence and the wonder that God gave to you the greatest gift of all.

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Christmas – Just Another Day

I have heard other people say “Christmas, for me is just another day” and I confess to saying this myself. It shocked me that I heard these words come from my mouth. After speaking this I sat in my chair and wondered just what did I mean by this and what would ever cause these words to come tumbling out of my mouth.

It is just another because the hustle and bustle of the season passes me by at this time in my life. Gone is the frantic rush to buy gifts, hide them from prying little eyes, and the late midnight wrapping marathon no longer is needed.

Living far away from grandkids, which are now mostly adults, the urgent need to supply their wishes no longer floods my mind with anxious thoughts.

I know that on Christmas morning there will be no 5a.m. wake time to the delighted squeals of wake up mom it’s Christmas. The house is really quiet and the only one who really wants to get up is the dog that needs walking. Grandpa and grandma (that’s me) roll over hoping to sleep another 30 or so minutes.

No rush to turn on Christmas lights and put on music. It is not because we are old – it’s just because. We have long given up the tradition of gifts – we have everything we need. If we really want something we just go get it and do not wait for Christmas to have it under the tree.

So is Christmas just another day? To some and maybe too many the answer is yes. For those Christmas brings only unhappy memories of loved ones gone, thoughts of not being able to provide or maybe illness that consume us with just living another day. Many just wish the hype and all the celebration will pass quickly and they won’t have to deal with it until another year.

The more I thought about this phrase the more I realized that Christmas truly IS NOT just another day. I know the day we celebrate was not the actual day the baby was born in Bethlehem but it is the time we set aside to remember the reason He came. If it were not for “Christmas” there would be no savior to redeem mankind. Only the babe born of the virgin is able to forgive our sins and take away our guilt.

He truly is the gift all mankind needs to receive at this special season. Years ago I wrote this quote and it is still true today. “God wrapped divinity in humanity, placed Him in a lowly manger as a gift for all man.”

It is because of this that no matter our circumstance Christmas is not just another day. It is not about brightly wrapped gifts, special dinners and celebrations. Christmas is the day the world received that greatest gift given.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders and His name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, prince of peace. Isa. 9:6 KJV Immanuel – God with us.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Tis The Season

You can look around everywhere and know “it is the season.”  The stores are full of merchandise ready to go home with you.  The music you only hear once a year is again heard everywhere.   Children are trying so hard to be extra good because they heard somewhere Santa is checking his naughty and nice list.

We get caught up in the preparation for that one day, that one special day.  Lists of things to do are made, gift lists, special grocery shopping lists are written and those special decorations are once again pulled from their storage places.

In all of the hustle and madness of this time perhaps we have forgotten the real reason for this season.  This time, this special time is not about the tree, the gifts and the frenetic pace we find ourselves in.

This time and season should cause us to think about the real gifts to give.  Those gifts that are not tangible but are so important in the world we live in.

Love – What a special gift.  We can’t put it in a box wrapped in beautiful paper tied up with a bow.  It is, or should be what we give every day.  Love, it is the intangible gift that makes all the difference in some ones world when given.

Trust – In some cases this gift trust is earned, when it is received it is priceless.  A gift that is sometimes fragile and can be broken but trust is and should be treasured always.

Time – Maybe we don’t think of this as a gift but to some in our lives this gift of time is more valuable than money or things.  Time spent with those we love leaves an imprint on hearts and lives that will keep giving in the memories we hold precious.

Friendship – The bond between people that makes our lives special.  It is a gift of rare quality and one that should not be easily dismissed.

During this Christmas holiday and celebration I hope we take the opportunity to share the intangible gifts that only we can give.  There are those during this season who are hurting and at this time not all is “merry and bright.”  They need to receive the intangible especially during this Christmas time.

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Reflections of Thanksgiving

The kitchen is finally clean again and all the leftovers are neatly stowed away in the fridge.  We will have another thanksgiving meal from the leftovers again and still have enough for sandwiches and snacking.  Our sweet tooth will again be satisfied from the pies and cake that still take up space on the counter or fridge.

It is the day after and I am still thinking about family, friends and what causes me to be thankful.

On the TV the usual litany of murders, accidents, fires and events that happen to normal everyday people are chronicled.  I am thankful that those I love are safe and have another day to live.  I am truly blessed.  While I wished that all the kids could have put their feet under my food laden table it was not to be.  Separated by miles we were still able to connect by skype, instant message, and phone.  Those far away brought joy just with the sound of their voices and this gives me another reason for thankfulness – technology.

Sitting on the lanai the weather is warm and the blue sky clear and the sun shines brightly.  Ok, so I live in Florida – not the colder climates.  Thankful – oh yes.  These old bones are glad we are not shoveling snow, no ice on the roads and I can see flowers and green grass.  I am grateful that my skies are not filled with smoke from bombs and the roar of planes carrying their payloads of destruction.  I live in the United States and even for me; America with all of her faults still is a blessing to live here.

Reflecting on the past few days and the election (and no I am not going to comment about the results) I am thankful that I can cast a ballot without fear of reprisal.  I have the freedom to worship or not to worship and no one can dictate my beliefs.  Watching the protests pro and con reminds me that I have the freedom to do this without fear of reprisal – especially if I do it in the proper manner without violence and the use of destruction.  America with all of her faults, with all of her failures is still the greatest country and I am thankful. I can come and go as I please; the choices of various things are abundant.

For every opportunity presented to me and for all the freedoms I have I am thankful.

The scripture says “whom the son sets free is free indeed.”  My freedom, not in just in the country and in the state I reside is good but better than all of this I am free from the sins of my past, my guilt is erased by Jesus Christ and there is an assurance of my eternal future.

Sitting at the kitchen table and reflecting on all my blessings, those earthly and those heavenly, this lady’s heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness.

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The Uninvited Guests

She heard the knock at the door.  Who would be calling at this time?  Standing there was the last person she expected.  Miss Pity breezed in and past her.  Her presence filled the space and her essence permeated everything.  Right behind her trouped, doubt, fear, mistrust and few more of her close friends.

I didn’t invite you she told the guest.  I came anyway because I just knew you needed me.  She was right.  Feeling sorry for myself I allowed Miss Pity to set the agenda for my morning.  There was the gentle reminder of who had offended me then she laid out a long list of things from my past. We sat down as the delectable morsels of faded memories and accusations we spread before me.

She was right.  I needed her.  I needed to feel that poor little oh me syndrome.  It wasn’t long before doubt and fear unpacked their basket of goodies and I was overcome with what they said  was  true.  It wasn’t but then they were really convincing.  Mistrust was the last to bring her enticing delights.  I should only trust Pity and her friends she reminded me.

Yes, yes, they were right.  I shouldn’t be treated like this I thought to myself.  The ladies, my so called friends, spoke cruel and punishing words. I didn’t need friends who would whisper behind my back and share things I had said in confidence.

Fear was dancing for glee.  This pity party was going exactly as planned.  It wouldn’t be long before their hostess would be filled with fear and mistrust.  They would have her captive then. They could control her and she would never breakthrough to victory.

They twisted God’s word to fit their agenda saying, “If God  really cares – then why is everyone else blessed and not you.”  God is punishing you was another tidbit they placed on my plate. He really doesn’t care about you.

These uninvited guests were winning.  They could feel it and they settled down for what they thought would be a long extended visit.

The phone rang and the hostess rose to answer.  Her guests said let it go, they will call back later.  After all these uninvited guests had so much more to share.

No, no she couldn’t do that.  “Hello,” she said.  It was her friend and she had called to remind her that she would be there in a few minutes to pick her up.  She had forgotten – a girls lunch out.  She didn’t feel like going but – she was one to not disappoint.  She dismissed her guests and Miss Pity and her pals were ushered out.

Lunch was delightful.  Her three friends brought her gifts.  They shared love, joy and peace with her.  Prayer time and reading from the Father’s love letter (the Bible) encouraged her heart.  Sharing together they told her everyone goes through those times of having a “pity party.”

It was time to go home.  She left encouraged and lifted by their friendship and love.  She determined the next time Miss Pity came to call she would refuse to entertain her and would close the door.  She just didn’t have time for them anymore.

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Learning Lessons

Sometimes I am a little hard headed and often I have to repeat the lessons God is trying to teach me. Finally I get tired of being in 1st grade and learn the lessons and moved to the next level.

Years ago I became aware of a need in a family’s life. It wasn’t life threatening but it was a concern they had. God spoke to me and said, “the money you have tucked away, I want you to give it to that family.” After arguing with God, (but Lord it took me a long time to save that much – I have plans for that money) I finally surrendered and folded the money in an envelope and gave it to the mother. I knew the pressing need they had and really expected them to apply that money to the need. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that they took “my private stash” and spent it on something frivolous. You can believe I let God know how upset I was. “God what were you thinking?” Don’t question God because He will answer and I was truly put in my place. His words to me were, “It is not about how they used the money it is about whether you are willing to do what I ask of you and leave the rest to me.” I never forgot that lesson. I bowed my head and asked forgiveness and promised not to question His requests.
I learned it was not about them and what they did it was about me and my obedience.

At other times I find it easy to do what He asks. It just seems natural to obey. When I surrender to His plan my life is much richer. Again, there are the other times when ruling and guiding my own life seems better. “Will I ever learn?” My Heavenly watches from heavens gates and in patience lets me have my way.

It never fails when I take control and place self on the throne of my heart things never go right. Oh, for a while things are good. Thinking to myself “see, I can do this, things are going just the way I wanted.” It never fails, sooner and sometimes later, smack dab in the middle of my “little world” a problem arises, an insurmountable obstacle I can’t handle. Like the prodigal son in scripture who returns to his father, I find myself running to my Heavenly Father and asking for help with my insurmountable obstacle.

Sometimes in my rush to Him I forget to say I am sorry Lord. You rule my life I tell him. In His love He folds me in His arms and draws me back into a right relationship with Him. As His grace and mercy surround me I find myself weeping for His acceptance and forgiveness.

Sin always has consequences and my own selfishness has caused me to bear those circumstances but there comes a realization in knowing God understands and He will make a way through the mess I have caused. I am learning to lean on Him and trust Him in all things.

I just keep learning lessons.

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Declutter

In my early years I dreamed of a home with sleek shiny black lacquer furniture, and a color scheme of teal and salmon colors. Only the bare essentials would be allowed to sit on tables or other surfaces. Somehow that never happened.

As years progressed and three children entered the picture I found more and more stuff added to the space we called home. As young pastors just out of seminary theology books became an obsession and soon books began taking over. At one time we had close to three to four hundred books and more, it seemed, were added daily.

My “love” was kitchen items. Since I loved to bake various sized and shaped cake pans were stuffed into the cupboards.

Sometime during our marriage I decided to declutter some of the areas and get rid of any duplicates or obsolete items around the house. This is not an easy task. I could tell you who gave the item, or when and what occasion the item was added to the collection. Some things given away seemed like I was parting with a family member.

Now, at this age, I have begun to purge things again and I do this is short spans of time, not all at once. It is easier that way. I still have things to give away. Empty nesters simply do not need 3 casserole dishes of every size. Cooking for large groups is very rare these days so extra-large serving bowls have been delete. Ok, I kept a few but not as many as I had before.

Every time I begin a decluttering task my mind begins to think of some of the intangible things in my life that need to go.

I ask myself, have I held on to prejudice or bitterness. I certainly don’t what this to be packed in my spiritual baggage.

What about disagreeableness. Do I allow this to keep popping up. When it does I want to discard it.

Anger is something else I don’t want hanging around. If allowed, it can control your life and you can become just an angry bitter person.

I don’t know about you but I have a list of things I don’t want cluttering up my life and soul. It is a constant vigil to keep these things out of my life and surrendered to God.

This decluttering task is never ending and if I am not vigilant I find myself adding back some of the things I have let go. When this happen I call out the powerful lines from a song written years ago “Search Me O God and know my heart today.” (James Edwin More)

He answers – “I will.”

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Silence

The silence in the room was so loud every other sound disappeared. The long fingers of quiet gripped her heart and soul. She could hear inner thoughts coursing through her mind. She didn’t want to think about the thoughts.

The beat of her heart vibrated in her ears in the vacuum that was in the room. She was conscious of everything inside her yet outside there was only silence.

She wanted to break the silence and talk, or scream or even sing but she was compelled to wait. Why? She didn’t know.

In the midst of her overwhelming confusion a still small voice echoed in her soul. She recognized that voice. It was the voice of the one that loved her so. He spoke and His words were like a sweet perfume that filled her being. They were words that bathed her turmoil and brought peace to her heart.

Her whole being rejoiced in praise as Jesus communicated with her. The voice was not auditable but she heard it. She heard deep within her soul. That voice flooded her mind with the promise that He would always be there. He would not leave or forsake her. Sitting in His presence, listening to Him speak, she knew that life was worth living.

He calmed her troubled mind as she asked Him to help her lean on Him and relax in His presence. Picking up the Bible from her lap she read His words of comfort. These words enveloped her like a warm blanket. The more she read the more she understood about this one that loved her so.

The quiet silence she once feared now became a joyous place. No longer afraid she left the silence to enter the world filled with noise and various voices that called to her.

Stillness and quiet became friends that allowed the still small voice of God’s son calling her. In this silent time spent with Jesus peace invaded her life. What was once frightening now was time longed for. The holy hush of silence allowed her to hear that still small voice of the one who loved her and gave his life for her and brought comfort.

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Getting Ready to Travel

When I know that I am going to travel there are several things I do.  Since I am getting older…, ok who am I kidding, now that I am old there are things I need to accomplish before I put the suitcase in the car.

As a young person I rarely planned ahead.  About two hours before I needed to leave I would pull out the suitcase and begin throwing things in.  Somehow everything I needed was always there.  Now, it takes a longer time to plan and even then there are things I forget.

Lists are made, both mental and actual, and checked off so I am sure I have everything.  About two days or maybe three before I leave the suitcase is put on the bed in the spare room.  It is a matter of accumulating the stuff I am taking and putting it on the bed.  The night before leaving, all the things are arranged just so in the suitcase ready for the trip.  The last minute items like tooth brush, deodorant and makeup are packed after use the morning I am leaving.

At my destination upon opening my suitcase and looking at what I have packed I know I have brought way too many clothes and shoes and something I need is always missing.  Hmmm so much for planning.

There is one trip I know I will make and I have been planning this for many years.  When I leave this earthly home headed to my heavenly home, I will need to take nothing of this earth’s tangible things.

Everything is already provided.  I have need of nothing.  Did I plan for this trip?  Yes. The planning for this trip takes a life time.

My ticket was purchased by Jesus on Calvary.  It is a free gift for me and you also.  For this trip here are the requirements:

Faith in Jesus Christ
A life surrendered to Him completely
Faithfulness to what He requires
Obedience to His commands
Love in great measure
Trust in knowing Jesus is in control and knows what is best for me.
A daily walking in His promises

There are so many things I could list here but you get the idea.  For more requirements read the Life Manual God gave to us.  – The Bible tells us what is required.

I don’t know when I am leaving for this trip but I know this, no suitcases needed, no packing required because I have spent my life getting ready.

I am ready, are you?

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