FROM VARIETY COMES UNITY

There are times when I look out the window into our backyard and I am amazed at the creativity of our God.  The variety of birds that come to the bird feeder and to the birdbath is wonderful, and it just comprises a miniscule sampling of the birds that He created for His world.

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Backyard bird looking for worms!

 

Some are so graceful and fast that our eyes cannot take in their flight unless it is captured in slow motion.

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Precious hummingbird approaching the feeder.

 

Others blend in with the surroundings, but they always seem to appreciate the shelter from the snow!

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Little bird taking cover from snow under the bird feeder “awning”!

The cardinal is young and is not yet fully colored, but he will be a brilliant eye-catcher when he is older!

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Young cardinal looking around the side of the feeder.

 

Some are dusty colored and demure in their plumage, but they create such beautiful music with their cooing and rustling feathers when they take wing!

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Mourning dove at the bird bath.

 

Some are bright in their coloration, and they shine in the sunlight.

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Yellow goldfinch standing brightly on a stem.

 

Each kind of bird brings his own beauty, sound, and sight to the yard.  The variety of colors and of sounds from the numerous birds, both visible and hidden in the trees, brings to my mind the description that God gives of His people and His church.

 

By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Isaiah 45:23

 

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:10-11

 

In the book of Revelation, John records the vision that he had of the end times, of the church and of the activities in heaven.  In chapter 5 at verses 9 and 10 we read:

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”  [Emphasis mine]

 

Then, to top it off, that same chapter states in verse 13:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”  [Emphasis mine]

 

Imagine the sound as millions of voices join in the same song of praise.

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The choir and symphony ready for the music to begin at the Schermerhorn concert hall in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Even now, I get chills when a choir powerfully sings of God’s grace and His love.   I cannot imagine the glorious euphony that will be raised when all of us are praising God through song, even those whose voices on earth sounded more like a “caw” than a “chirp”!

 

Scripture clearly states that through Christ’s blood and his sacrifice, He ransomed us as a people for God, and this group of people is comprised of Christians from around the world, encompassing “every tribe and language and people and nation”.    This means that we will worship in different ways and we will sound different in our language, but the meaning will be the same – our God and our Savior will be praised, adored and glorified.

 

Some may worship in grand and glorious cathedrals.

 

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Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

 

Others may worship in a wood frame church in the mountains.

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Wooden church in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.

 

Just as the creatures in nature are not clones of each other, we are not going to look alike.  Just as each creature has its own unique sound/language, we do not all have the same language.  But if the God who is worshiped in each of these places is the God of the Scripture, the God who sent His Son to save His people from their sins, all of these folks will join together in one glorious song of praise to the King of Kings, now and for all eternity.

So, why wait until heaven? 

Start now – praising the Lord for His glorious creation.  Praising the Lord for His wondrous works to the children of men.  Praising the Lord for His sovereignty and providence.  Praising the Lord for His grace and mercy towards his people through salvation from their sins.  Praising the Lord in song or by making a joyful noise.  Praising the Lord in your heart and in your soul, as you remember all His kindnesses and mercies showered upon you each moment of every day.

 

David put it quite succinctly, repeating the imperative throughout the Book of Psalms:

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 106:1

 

Father, I thank You for your grace, mercy and love as is evident in your creation that is all around us.  i thank You for your Spirit that dwells in each believer in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I praise your holy name for all the gifts and benefits bestowed upon me through no merit of my own, especially salvation through Jesus Christ.  I thank You and praise You now, and forever more.

 

PERSEVERANT PUZZLING

I love puzzles – word puzzles like Word Search, Word Brain, crossword puzzles, even Sudoku and Mahjong.  I practiced law for 30 years so I had any number of legal puzzles to unravel and “solve” on behalf of my clients.  I love the challenge of a puzzle and I love the feeling that you get when you successfully solve it.  But I don’t do jigsaw puzzles.

 

One Christmas I gave each of the grandchildren a 30+ piece jigsaw puzzle that was made from a picture of them.  My granddaughter started it and then walked away, so I thought I would finish it.  As I was trying to figure out where the pieces went, my second eldest grandson (then about 8 years old) walked past … walked past mind you, not studied it or pondered, just walked past!  Almost without a stop he said:

“What are you doing, Grammy?”

“Trying to put this puzzle together.”

“Oh, here you go.”

And with that, he twisted and turned the remaining pieces into the picture and off he went.

 

Long before I realized I was seriously jigsaw puzzle challenged, I purchased a 3D Jigsaw Puzzle of Notre Dame Cathedral.   I think it was on sale for 95% off or something ridiculous – you know, a bargain you can’t refuse!  But, when I got home and looked at the box, I realized that it was a puzzle with 950+ pieces and I had no idea how to make it 3D.  So, I did what any puzzle challenged person would do, I put it on a closet shelf and forgot about it.

 

Fast forward to 10 days ago.  The puzzle genius that solved the puzzle years ago found the 3D puzzle on the closet shelf.

“Look what I found.  Can I put this together, Grammy?”

 

I almost said “No” since his family would be moving in a couple of weeks and I certainly did not want this thing to be partially finished when they left the house.  But, being rather indulgent when it comes to the grandchildren (sometimes), I gave him permission, figuring that I could vacuum up the pieces that fell and chuck the whole thing later.

 

The next morning, after he had opened the box, he came to us and said:

“It appears that I seriously underestimated how much space 950 puzzle pieces would take!”

 

All the tables, TV tables, boxes and any flat surface in the room had puzzle pieces on them. Not to mention the floor, until I pointed out that the dogs in the house might enjoy nibbling on a stray piece!

 

I checked on the status of Notre Dame’s construction a couple of times and was very impressed with how he was doing.

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3D puzzle in its infancy.

The number of tables had been reduced, but there were still quite a number of pieces in differing levels of completeness, and there were a host of single pieces strewn around, but overall, I was surprised at how far he had come.

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Puzzle pieces in various states of completion.

But with school, band, homework, etc., I still didn’t think he would finish it even though he was exerting a good effort in the cause.

 

The day after these pictures were taken, and just 4 days before they were going to move, this is what he brought downstairs.

 

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The completed 3D Puzzle of Notre Dam Cathedral, on a board in the living room.

 

The completed 3-dimensional Notre Dame Cathedral!  I was stunned!

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Needless to say, the entire family joined in the celebration of a job well done.  (Even Snickers was looking at it in admiration – or perhaps wondering what the cathedral would look like if she had eaten a couple of pieces, not really sure about her expression!)

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It was as if we could not get enough pictures of the work.  Phones, ipods, kindles … all were emitting binding flashes as the cameras were working overtime to record this epic achievement.

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In less than 10 days he had finished the 950+ piece 3D puzzle.  Granted, each member of the family had put their fingers in it, you know the kind of assistance that is almost irrelevant in the grand scheme … “Here’s a piece that looks like that one!” and then you walk away glad that you could “help” him accomplish his goal. But, it was his work that sat before us on the table!

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The puzzle’s Cathedral view from the top!

 

The look of accomplishment and achievement that radiated from his face was palpable, as the family congratulated him on achieving a goal that Grammy had dismissed as impossible and had put on a closet shelf.

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The puzzle genius who persevered and constructed the Notre Dame Cathedral 3D puzzle.

 

Perseverant puzzling.  Facing a task that is big and tricky, and sticking with it until it is conquered; being unwilling to call it quits even if the job is huge.

 

Now I don’t intend this post to be arrogant bragging about my grandson, nor does it reflect my brilliance in purchasing this 3D puzzle in the first place.  No, I think this is a sort of illustration of what Jesus was talking about relating to the perseverance that we need in our life as we walk with the Lord.

 

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23

 

Jesus is saying that there is a cost to discipleship.   We must consider what the cost is and then determine whether we are willing to pay that cost and then we are to persevere through the fight that will ultimately come.  See Luke 14:27-28, 33.

 

Jesus reminds us to be perseverant when He said:

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 24:16

 

Each puzzle piece was specifically designed to go in a specific place, and if any piece was missing the puzzle would not be as sturdy or complete.  In like manner, each of us, as Christians, has a job to do in Christ’s kingdom, and it will require us to persevere as we do it.   No one else has our exact job – we are called to do it and the Body of Christ will not function quite as well if we ignore our job and think someone else will handle it.  And, the one who ignores her job misses out on the tremendous blessing that comes from being a faithful servant fulfilling the mission given to her by her Master.

 

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

 

Living the Christian life is difficult because it requires us to be holy, to be separated to God, to be obedient to our Lord.  It requires us to be counter-cultural as we march to a very different drummer than the world follows.  It requires that we persevere despite the challenges and difficulties.

 

My grandson illustrated perseverance in his completion of the 3D puzzle.  I realize that he enjoys a challenge and that it was fun for him, but it was also hard work and took time that he could otherwise have used in different endeavors.

 

That is similar to our walk with the Lord.  It is enjoyable because we are with the King of Kings and Lord of Lord who also happens to be our Heavenly Father.  But it also is hard work to reach out to others, to spend time preparing their meals or to create the children’s studies.  It is hard work to love those who dislike us, to reject the way of anger and to embrace the attitude of love in difficult situations.

 

The way of perseverance is difficult, but the rewards are worth the effort.

 

Father, may I persevere in my Christian walk.  May I do that which you have called me to do.   I ask that You would bless those with whom I come in contact, so that You will be glorified.