Panguitch what?

We were driving along the road from Richfield, Utah to Bryce Canyon when we saw Panguitch.  What is Panguitch, you might ask?  It is a lovely, small town just 24 miles from Bryce Canyon, and we felt like we were driving through the old west a century ago (as long as you didn’t notice the traffic lights, paved road and modern cars!).

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The Panguitch Mercantile

The town is small, but it has a rich history.  According to the town’s website, “Panguitch” is a Native American Paiute word meaning “Big Fish”, a reference to the many lakes in teh area which are teeming with award-sized rainbow trout.

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Every town needs a Thrift Store

The site further describes the town by saying: “This historically rich town is unassuming, quaint, and full of its own charm. Sprinkled with wild-west history, the city boasts small museums, original architecture, stunning wilderness, and plenty of pioneer spirit.” (Emphasis mine.)

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Cowboy’s Smoke House Cafe on Main Street.

Have you ever stepped back in time?  I know we can’t do it for real, but have you ever thought about a time different than our own?  Perhaps it was a time in your life when things were wonderful, even though you didn’t realize it then.  Or, perhaps you were reading an historical novel and found yourself lost in the time period of the characters in the book.  Or, perhaps you were watching a television series like Downton Abby, and you found yourself thinking how you would have reacted if you had been living at that time.

No matter, the point of that I want us to think about is that God created time, and God is outside of time.  What was yesterday, today and tomorrow for us are all the eternal present for God. 

I certainly cannot explain it, because my mind is limited to time references of a temporal human being.  But, the eternal Creator of time is certainly able to be outside of time.  He has existed forever and He will continue to exist forever. 

In Deuteronomy we read:

There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’”

Deuteronomy 33:26-27 ESV  (see the endnote for more information about Jeshurun)

This verse tells us that none of the gods of the nations around Israel were capable of doing for their worshippers that which Jehovah did for His people.   Matthew Henry says this about this passage:

Riding on the heavens denotes his greatness and glory, in which he manifests himself to the upper world, and the use he makes of the influences of heaven, and the productions of the clouds, in bringing to pass his own counsels in this lower world: he manages and directs them as a man does the horse he rides on. When he has any thing to do for his people he rides upon the heavens to do it; for he does it swiftly and strongly: no enemy can either anticipate or obstruct the progress of him that rides on the heavens.

His boundless eternity; he is the eternal God, and his arms are everlasting.  The gods of the heathen were but lately invented, and would shortly perish; but the God of Jeshurun is eternal: he was before all worlds, and will be when time and days shall be no more.

God’s eternality is one of His attributes that is fundamental to our understanding of His nature.  He existed before the Creation of all things and He will continue to exist long after this world has gone.  He doesn’t need to “step back in time” because all of time is in Him at the same time. 

But for us, we time-bound people, while we can think back and recall other times,  we have no ability to think forward to the future.  That belongs to God.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

Jesus put it this way:

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:34 ESV

Beloved, no matter what faces you today, be aware that God knows of your situation and He has it in His control.  There is simply nothing that comes your way that either surprises God or that is too difficult for Him to deal with – He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.  In other words, God knows all things, God is all powerful, and God is present everywhere. 

All the idols that mankind has created share at least one fundamental characcteristic – they are all manmade.  God, however, is not manmade: rather, He created man.  Trust Him.  Believe in Him.  Look to His Son who paid the price for mankind’s sin and believe in Him for your salvation and eternal life. 

Moses was right – “There is none like God”.

Father, I thank You for your word and I thank You for loving your people with an everlasting love.  You are God.  Forgive me when I have looked to other gods for help when only You can give me life abundant now and eternal hereafter.  You are God, and there is none other.

[By the way, Jeshurun is a poetical name for the people of Israel that is used as a token of affection.  Its meaning is “the dear upright people” and it is used in only four places: Deuteronomy 32:15, Deuteronomy 22:5, Deuteronomy 33:26, and Isaiah 44:2.]

TRYING TO UNDERSTAND

Cuddles, one of our two Miniature Pincher dogs, always seems to want to understand what is going on.  She will watch what we are doing and cock her head to the side, with her eyes piercing ours, as if she was trying all her best to know what is going on.  Perhaps she is thinking that her people are really goofy, I don’t know, but it seems as if her mental wheels are spinning when she focuses and looks at us like that, at least my humanizing of the canine would think like that!

Recently my husband was going to fix a leaking kitchen faucet.  He got all the materials together to do the job and then opened the cabinet under the sink.  In Cuddles’ mind, this was a perfect opportunity to help Daddy!

Cuddles helping daddy 1

You are not aware of the step of faith this is for her.  This cabinet houses the dreaded garbage disposal, and each time I turn it on, she will come running from wherever she is in the house and bark at it. When it stops, she walks off as if she had killed the monster that was threatening Mommy.  This time, though, she had Daddy with her, and she was proud to stand side by side with him.

Cuddles helping daddy 2

Getting into the nitty-gritty of the issue under sink, Daddy was leaning far forward, and Cuddles was standing close to him, with eyes forward as if she were inspecting or monitoring his actions.  Even a flash bulb would not divert her attention from Daddy and the cabinet.

Cuddles helping daddy 3

At this point, she really was trying to assist him because now her front paws were on the floor of the cabinet.  She was absorbed in trying to understand what he was doing.  But, she couldn’t help, and she did not know what was going on.  Her inquisitiveness had to yield because it was just beyond her ability to comprehend.

These pictures present a sort of image of me and God.  There have been times that I felt just like Cuddles.  I want to help, to do something, but I just can’t understand what needs to be done.  God is working in my life, but I don’t comprehend what I am supposed to do; I don’t know where He is leading, I don’t know why something painful happened. 

Can you relate?  Perhaps all is well, and you are not peering under the cabinet for answers now, but you have done so at some point in the past.  Or, perhaps you are now seeking answers as you are under the protection and guidance of your Heavenly Father, but you are wondering where He is leading you, or why your circumstances have changed.

Perhaps you are trying to understand why a dreaded disease has attacked your child or spouse, or yourself.  Perhaps you are trying to understand why a beloved family member was taken from you too soon, or why your dream job came crashing down when the company closed. 

There are too many scenarios to list, and each of us has to deal with situations and problems that come our way, seemingly with virtual regularity. 

But, Beloved, know that our Heavenly Father has written us a love letter, the Holy Bible.  It details what God’s plan is and how we are to live. 

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Deuteronomy 6:5

It tells of His provision of a Savior to atone for our sins so that we can have an abundant life now and eternal life with Him after death envelops our body. 

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

And, God has given us His Holy Spirit to quicken our hearts which are dead in sin, Who then speaks to us and opens our eyes so that we can understand the Bible as we read it, and Who guides us in prayer.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26

Beloved, you don’t need to peer into the cabinet of the future in fear.  You don’t need to cock your head to the side and wonder what God has planned for you.  You don’t need to be in panic when something comes at you out of that cabinet, God has you in His hand and He is omniscient and omnipotent. 

There is one reality and God knows it in its entirety, as it exists by, through, and for Him.  This omnipotent God has said that if you seek Him, He will be found.

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”

Proverbs 8:17

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

Just as Cuddles tried to understand but could not, some things are simply beyond our capacity to understand; but even those difficult things are not outside God’s control or knowledge.  As a child of God, as a Christian, you are secure, and you are the child of the Omniscient, Omnipotent God of all creation.  Trust Him and obey His Word.  Him and He shall be found.

Father, thank You for giving us little animals who can remind us of eternal principles.  Thank You for Your Word, for Your Son, and for Your Holy Spirit.  Thank You for salvation and for the promise of life eternal through Jesus Christ my Lord.  May these words be encouraging and of comfort to those who read them.

REPURPOSED

Do you ever feel like you prepared for one thing in your life but that didn’t work out and you are lost now.  What do you do?  Is your training worthless?  Did you follow where you thought God was leading, only to find that your path was blocked?  Did God make a mistake?

Well, the answer to the last question is an unequivocal NO.  God did not, indeed He cannot, make a mistake. 

I suggest that when your life path takes an unexpected twist that you find disconcerting or even disappointing, God is preparing you for His purpose. 

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Phone booth and postal box in Watchfield, England

When we were in England, we saw the quintessential examples of English life – the postal box and the telephone booth.  The postal box was still used for its originally intended purpose.

However, just as in the U.S., the telephone booth was a thing of the past.  As we noticed throughout the country, England has a history of preserving things rather than demolishing them. There were houses that were well over 500 years old, still in use and still as they were centuries ago, at least on the outside.  Given that culture of preserving things, in the village of Watchfield, England, the telephone booth was not removed, it was simply put to another use.

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Sign showing new purpose for outdated phone booth — a book swap location!

While the phone connections were removed, shelves were installed and the antiquated phone booth became a Book Swap location.   In fact, the booth probably had more business with people depositing, taking and returning books than it had before its “repurposing”.

When it appears that God fits you for one task and then that assignment changes, from a human perspective, we become discouraged and sometimes we even question whether we misunderstood what God wanted us to do in the first place.

I know because it is exactly what I experienced.  I believed that God wanted me to be a teacher, specifically an elementary school teacher, when I went to college.  After two years in ElemEd, I had less than a stellar grade in “Games and Rhythms”, a course that all the students took to get “an easy A”.  I was active in music, both instrumentally and vocal, but for some reason I was almost flunking this course. 

I spoke with my guidance counselor and he suggested that, perhaps, God was telling me to change my major.  After considering that Math, Science and History were not realistic options for me, I changed my college major to English secondary education.  In this drastically harder curriculum I had a grade level of 3.8 (out of 4, not 10). 

I believed that God had a purpose for this curriculum change but that conviction was challenged when I could not find any teaching position upon graduation.  Instead, I found myself working as a secretary/administrative assistant in banking and the law for the next 11 years. 

Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.

1 Chronicles 16:23

Did I misunderstand what God wanted me to do?  Was that wasted time?  It certainly did not help me as a secretary but that doesn’t mean that they were wasted years.

I suggest that God used all of that training in various ways through the years.  In working with children in youth clubs at church, in leading vacation Bible school events with young children, in teaching older children in Sunday School, in developing youth programs at various churches I have attended. 

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!

Psalm 105:2

The digression from education into an office environment proved providential also – in each position that I held, my employer noted my abilities and suggested that I attend law school, even where there was no law school in the immediate area.  Eleven years post-college, I did attend law school and a 30 year career as an attorney followed.

When the phone booth no longer is relevant, it is time to repurpose and it becomes a well-worn book swap.  If we leave our spiritual eyes open, He will lead us.  He will not leave you stranded … He loves you and He desires for you to be useful in His kingdom.  He uses every event, every experience, every class … He uses everything in your past to pour into your future service for Him.

Why?  Because He know exactly what His plan is for you. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

He not only has a plan, He wants us to tell others about what He has done in our life through His plan: we are to be witnesses to others about His grace and love.

saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in Him.”

Hebrews 2:12-13

God knows exactly who He is going to put in your way so that

  • you can recount your similar experience to support and encourage that person in their walk with the Lord. “Tell of all His wondrous works.”  
  • you can recount how He worked in your life when problems seemed insurmountable so that you can counsel the other person with the knowledge that God does not change, He will work on their behalf just as he did for you. “Tell of his salvation from day to day”
  • you can recount the blessings that He has brought to your life. “I will tell of your name to my brothers”

Repurposing is not bad – it is one way that God equips us for the walk that He has predestined for us.  In your “waiting time”, don’t give up.  He is teaching you something even as you are waiting for “the” assignment.  In fact, that waiting period may well be just the assignment that He has for you.  Thank Him for it and see how your attitude and appreciation for the work and for your Lord grows day by day.

Here Damaris presents the song “I know the plans I have for you” from her album The Heart of God.

 

Lord, I pray that I would be patient and confident in Your guidance and love for me, even in the waiting periods of life.  I pray that even when I would do the work that You would have me to do, it would be all for Your glory through the power of the Holy Spirit and for the praise of God, the Father Almighty.

JAN AND JILL AND THE FUTURE!

We cleaned out a storage unit recently and, in so doing, we came across a number of boxes that contained – who knows what!  We couldn’t tell from the outside of the boxes and we had no recollection of what we had stowed in them.  So we had a type of retro-vintage-Christmas when we opened the boxes to see what they had sheltered for so long.

After going through several boxes, I re-discovered Jan and Jill.

Jan and Jill, vintage friends for a young girl
Jan and Jill, vintage friends for a young girl

These two dolls are, today, lovingly called “vintage” rather than simply “old”.  They came into my possession in the late 1950s and I recall playing with them often.  As an only child, they could be my friends on rainy days and I could tell them my thoughts without fear that they would blab!  The box also contained their four-poster bed and closet, complete with drawers and hangers.

Doll bed
Doll bed

A separate box contained quite an assortment of clothes for the duo.  Of course the box also contained the accoutrements of the dolls’ haute couture such as earrings, shoes, leggings, a swimsuit, etc.

Doll wardrobe and clothes
Doll wardrobe and clothes

These dolls reminded me of a different time and place – when I was young and living with my parents.  The future was ahead of me and I could tell the dolls all the things that might happen, of course in my anticipation there was only good and no pain or sorrow.   Neither the dolls nor I had any ability to affect the course of history, I was just dreaming about what would happen down the road.

The dolls didn’t know they would wind up in boxes that were enclosed in other cartons which moved from house to house, city to city, and ultimately to an off-site storage unit, along with old magazines, records, tax returns, and junk.

I didn’t know that I would move several times before and after college; that my mother would die when I was 21 years of age; that I would go to graduate school long after college; that I would have children and grandchildren; or that I would retire after a 30-year long career in one place.  I didn’t know that I would have numerous health issues, many related to the effects of the polio I had as an infant, or that there would be times in my life that I believed I would not be able to handle another day.

No, I had no idea of any of that – but I do know Who did!

My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, came to me when I was a young girl, speaking of His love and sacrifice for me.  I did as Paul described in Romans 10:9-11:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Salvation is through faith in Christ alone.  Nothing that I could do would merit my adoption by God and none of my “good works” will accomplish, affect or influence my salvation; because I am a sinner, and the Holy God cannot look upon sin.  Isaiah 6.  Rather, because of the righteousness that Christ has provided for me, I have forgiveness and I can now call God my Father.  Galatians 4:6.  I still sin, but I have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I can confess my sin, repent from it and turn to Jesus.  Ephesians 2:8.

Jesus said:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

John 8:33-36.

While I am still a sinner, I am no longer controlled by sin.  God’s Son has set me free from the control of sin.  Praise the Lord.

So, I don’t need to know the future.  God has it in His hands and He loves me because of His Son’s sacrifice for me.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God says:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

The Lord God Who said these words regarding His people in the Old Testament is the same God Who cares for His New Testament/New Covenant people.  That would be you and me, Beloved, if you are a believer in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   Indeed, Jesus said:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

John 10:27-29.  [The emphasis is mine.]

Jan and Jill
Jan and Jill

I know that the Jan and Jill dolls cannot remember what I confided in them when I was a young girl.  And, if they had the ability to do so, they would likely wonder what their next phase in life will be.  That, of course, is in my hands.  Unless I find some young girl who would like to have them, they may find themselves on a shelf as a reminder of days long gone.

For me, now that I have retired, I know that my future is not in my hands.  It is in the Hands of my Savior.  My job now is to pray for guidance from the Lord Jesus Christ, and then to reconfigure my days to follow the course that He has laid out for me.

While I don’t know the future, I do know Who holds my hand.  And, I have absolute trust that He will continue to hold my hand through whatever else this life has in store for me and on into the next, where I will join my Savior and the great cloud of witnesses who have gone on before me.  Hebrews 12:1.

Praise His Holy Name.

Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus Christ Who paid the debt created by my sin.  Thank You that the righteousness You require is not my own but that my Savior has covered me in His righteousness.  Thank You that, because of Jesus, I can come before You, not only in Heaven after death but also now in prayer and in worship, and I can call You Father.  I praise Your Glorious Name, through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.