CLIMBING, HIDING AND SECURITY!

Do you ever feel like climbing the walls?  We saw a literal example of this several years ago when our grandsons would climb the wall – or rather door frame.

Climbing the walls
Climbing the wall, or the door frame, literally.

 

There certainly is no way I could do that, when I was his age or now (at a significantly older age!).   But, the fact that I cannot literally climb the wall is not an indication that I have never wanted to do so!  Tension, anxiety, questions, financial problems, health issues, decisions, worries, … you fill in the blank for your situation … all pile up and I would want to climb the wall, mentally if not physically.

 

Another response to tension or difficulty is the head in the sand attitude.  In our house, it more precisely should be called the MinPin in the blanket response because each of our canine daughters will go to the blankets on the floor, lap or chair and, literally, wrap themselves up, sometimes with a nose sticking out, but most often they will be totally covered.  [It is rather humorous when they begin walking out of the blanket, it looks like a blanket-ghost going along the floor!]

 

Snickers in blanket
Snickers wrapped in blanket with her nose sticking out, curious about what is going on outside the blanket.

 

I have felt like that too.  “Couldn’t I just stay in bed and not face the day?  It’s too hard, and there are too many problems to deal with, I just don’t want to face it … I can’t!”

 

Ralph Ransom is an American painter from Saint Joseph, Missouri who died in 1908, likely from tuberculosis, certainly struggled with problems.  He said:

“All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.”

 

I would take Mr. Ransom’s statement one step farther.  For the Christian, “the very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid may be a major building block in our conformation to the image of Jesus Christ.

 

In the Christian life, we often find that the time we struggled and had to work hard through a situation or problem was, in fact, the time when we grew the most in our understanding of the love, mercy, and all-sufficient grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Romans 8:29 says:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

 

We are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and sometimes it takes difficulties to bring us into that image.  The April 6, 2016, Presidential Prayer Team devotional, Vantage Point, was entitled the “Master Sculptor” and spoke to the connection between suffering and growth in our Christian life.  In part it read:

A little boy watched a sculptor begin chiseling a large block of marble. The sculptor worked meticulously until the slab looked like the face of Abraham Lincoln. “How did you do that?” the little boy asked. The sculptor said with a smile, “All I have to do is chip away everything that doesn’t look like Lincoln.”

Pain, persecution, stress and accusations are some of the struggles that believers in Christ often endure.  At the time, it may not be known exactly why the Lord has allowed them.  However, the loving Father uses trial to chip away at flaws in character.  He uses great care and thoughtfulness so that the end result will look like His Son.

Thank God, the Master Sculptor of your soul, for His work in your life and His dedication to your future. Whatever difficulties are happening with you personally (and in the nation), practice patience and trust that He will do His work carefully and creatively. Pray also that America’s leaders who are Christians will allow their trials to draw them to a closer relationship with the Lord and conform their lives to His purposes.  [Emphasis mine]

 

When we want to climb the wall, when we want to hide under the blanket, when we just don’t want to face the difficulty any more – turn your eyes to the Father and thank Him for the problem.  Take your eyes off the condition that confronts you and see the One who is in control of that condition.  See the Father working in your life to conform you to the image of His Son.

 

As unbelievable as it sounds to the unregenerate person, thank God for the difficulty and rest in Him to carry you through it. 

 

The reason we can thank God for whatever comes our way is the security that we have in Jesus Christ.

Picture hanging in our office
Picture depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd holding His lamb in His nail-pierced hand.

 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Romans 8:35.

 

Paul himself answers these questions in the following verses:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   

Romans 8:38-39

 

Life in this world is difficult … but we can be confident that the love of Christ will carry us from this world to an eternity with Him.  This world is short-lived and temporary; eternity is forever, which by the way is a very long time!

 

During difficult times we tend to focus on ourselves and our dastardly plight!  But, pull your eyes off yourself and look to the cross … look to the Savior … look to the Father who has you in His hands … look to the Son of God who secures you in Him.

 

Christian, be confident in the knowledge that nothing can separate you from the love of God through Jesus Christ.

 

Nothing.

 

Father, help me to remember that You are sovereign and in control of my life and all that happens to me.  Help me to recall, during difficult trials, that I am secure in Your love because of my Savior Jesus Christ.  Give me strength to face difficult times as I praise Your holy name for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT!

Most of us have heard the question “Where’s Waldo?”  The subject of the inquiry is the location of a fictitious character named Waldo who hides in the midst of chaos – hides in plain sight.

For many years, we had a canine son named Skippy.  The humorous stories associated with Skippy are legion, especially since he was over 18 years old when he died.  One Christmas, after the family had torn open the presents, we took the following picture and named it “Where’s Skippy?”

Where's Skippy?
Where’s Skippy?

Now, we have “Where’s Waldo” when Cuddles bundles herself under a blanket and it is only after calling her name that her head comes out from her hiding place.  Here she is in her “you can’t see me now” pose.

“Where’s Waldo” is not the only hiding in plain sight phenomenon, however.  There is also the condition we call “Refrigerator Blindness” and it appears that the majority of the men in my family are afflicted with it.  No doctor will diagnose it and no eyeglasses will correct it.  It is a condition where the man will be asked to obtain something from the refrigerator, closet, pantry, well almost anywhere.  He will look for it and come back without it, usually saying “It isn’t there.”  [It seems that this condition does not affect vision for the retrieval of anything related to the car, garage, Pep Boys or the automotive section of Walmart.]

Our grandsons are afflicted with this condition.  When the family comes to visit, I will ask them to get their pajamas, and, uniformly, they will return still in their street clothes.

Me:  “Where are your jammies?”

Them:  “I can’t find them.”

Me:  “They are in your suitcase.”

Them:  “Oh.”

They go upstairs and return in their street clothes.

Me:  “You aren’t in your jammies.”

Them:  “I can’t find them.”

Me:  “They are in your suitcase.”

Them:  “No they aren’t.”

Me:  “Yes they are – I put them in there myself.  Go look in the suitcase for your jammies.”

They go upstairs and come back in their jammies.

Me:  “Where were they?”

Them:  “In the suitcase.”

Our most recent incident of Refrigerator Blindness occurred this morning when the calendar reminded us that Cuddles and Snickers were due to take their flea and heartworm monthly medicine.

Cuddles and Snickers at the window, on guard?
Cuddles and Snickers at the window, on guard?

This medicine is stored in its box, with the name splayed across the top, in a closet that has shelves on both sides for storage of a wide variety of things, such as sheets, office materials, etc.

After perusing the supply closet in pursuit of the canine tablets, my Beloved asked where I had put them.   I responded that the two boxes (one box for each dog) were on the shelf in the closet.  As I turned to look in the closet where he was standing, I noticed that he had apparently exhausted looking at the shelf with most of the little things on it and had moved his gaze to the shelf with the sheets and towels.  Knowing that dog medicine would not be mixed in with the linen, I went into the closet.

Refrigerator Blindness had struck with a vengeance. The box, with the labeled side facing him, was on the second shelf at eye level for my Beloved.  If there had been a hand sticking out of the box, it likely would have hit him in the face.  I said something like “You’re kidding me, right?”, and pointed directly to the box.  His face revealed that he was not, in fact, kidding but that he actually had missed seeing the box altogether.

While this is a glimpse into our family life that you may or may not want to have, it has application to our spiritual life. We all can have spiritual Refrigerator Blindness, and not just the men/boys/children either.

  • How often has our Beloved Lord Jesus Christ given us blessings which we did not see and for which we did not give thanks.  Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God said:

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Jeremiah 5:21

In Matthew 13:13-14 Jesus said:

This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.’

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul says:

 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

  • How often have we relied on His grace that He has given to us so richly, and we don’t even praise His name in gratitude for His mercy and love.  Proverbs 3:34 says:

“He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

The Apostle John says:

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”  John 1:16.

 

In Romans 3:21-24 we read:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

  • How often have we seen a person in need but we have moved right on ahead with our own agenda because his/her need did not register on our own personal spiritual Richter scale?
  • How often have we been approached by sinners who are hiding in plain sight.  They mix in with everyone and it is hard to find them in the crush of people, schedules and day-to-day requirements that we have.

Lord,  forgive me; give me the grace

  • to see those in need around me;
  • to see the brother or sister who desires to know the Lord but does not have the right vocabulary to express the need;
  • to see people as you see them, Lord.  Take the scales off my eyes so that I see people as you see them, and then give me the grace to witness freely to anyone You put in my path.

Then thank Him with a heart full of gratitude for His mercy, compassion and love.