CHOSEN

 

I had polio when I was an infant. The resulting disability was severe scoliosis – a twisting of the spine in both the thoracic and lumbar regions. The evidence of this twist is that one shoulder blade sticks out and the opposing hip is raised.

 

As a child, I was terribly self‐conscious of my condition and the attendant ramifications. Because of medical treatments attempting to stem the potentially fatal twisting, I was prohibited from participating in the elementary school’s physical education program. As a result, if there were teams for anything, whether a game or any competition, I was never chosen.   I was always the last one standing along the wall waiting for some compassionate leader to place me on a team, even though the team members were looking at me with eyes that were pleading “No, not here, not on this team!”

 

While I am certain that my experience is not typical, I suspect that there is a universal understanding of the feeling of not being chosen – of being left at the wall, waiting – of rejection.

 

But, praise the Lord, He has looked on me with favor.   In John 15:13‐17, Jesus says:

 

Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

 

John 15:13-17

 

God has chosen His people, from the foundation of the world. Indeed, in Deuteronomy 7 we read:

 

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

 

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 [ESV]

 

In the New Testament, Paul reiterates the concept of God’s intentional selection of those who would be His people:

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

 

Ephesians 1:3-4 [ESV]

 

Being chosen by God includes recognizing His intimate knowledge of us, not merely as one of millions of creatures that inhabit this planet called Earth. Centuries before Jesus lived, David wrote that God knew him even before he was born.  Specifically, in Psalm 139:16 we read:

 

“…in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

 

This tells me that God’s knowledge of us is personal and intimate. Such intimacy is further described in Psalm 139 when we are told that God knows my thoughts, my words, and my ways.

 

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

 

Ps 139:2‐4.

 

Who else knows us like this? Not even my husband, who knows me very well, can predict what I am going to say before I say it. Indeed, this is often evident by the look on his face after I say something that catches him by surprise!

 

Yet Scripture says that, despite knowing all about me, God loves me and that He chose me to be a child of His even before time began, before the foundation of the world.

 

Just think of it – the God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, knows us as specific individuals on this minute planet in just one of the galaxies of the massive universe. And, in His sovereign majesty He has chosen us! He loves us, guides us, counsels us, and is present with us moment by moment. Indeed, His Spirit indwells those who claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior … that means intimate communication with Him, now and forever more.

 

Shouldn’t this personal God receive our honor and worship? Shouldn’t His love to us cause us to follow Jesus’ example in love and service to each other, and to all those we come in contact with as we live our life for the Lord? I pray that we would respond to His wondrous grace and mercy with gratitude, love, reverence, obedience, and overwhelming joy!

 

Father, forgive me when I have accepted your love and grace without recognizing the incredible cost of my salvation; without remembering the magnitude of my sin that has been atoned for by Jesus’ death and resurrection; and forgive me when I fail to give others grace, mercy, love and encouragement. Father, thank you for your mercy in not giving me what I deserve, and thank you for your grace in giving me that which I could never acquire on my own, adoption into your family through Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord.

 

PALACES, DOMINION, AND ME?

I watch the BBC drama Downton Abbey when it is being aired, and I will record it if I am not able to see an episode when it first comes on television. We have DVDs of the earlier seasons and will watch those episodes on occasion “just because.”

 

One of the main characters, in my humble opinion, is the castle itself.  Rather than being called Downton Abbey, the castle’s real name is Highclere Castle. It is located in Hampshire, England and is the home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon. It is an imposing, but beautiful, castle which is decorated with exquisite furniture, massive portraits and paintings, ornate staircases … well, suffice it to say that it is what little girls dream of when thinking of the princess in the palace!

 

I recognize that Downton Abbey is a drama and that it is a fictional representation of how titled English landowners lived in earlier days. But for me as an American, who has never lived in that type society, it is a fascinating look at how the Dukes, Duchesses, Ladies and Lords lived while the servants were living and working behind the scenes.

 

When we were in England several years ago, we did not see Highclere Castle but we did have occasion to see a number of other castles and palaces.

 

I had always heard of the White Cliffs of Dover, so we went to Dover, England and discovered an incredible castle, thriving busy port, and beautiful chalk cliffs.

Dover cliffs
The white cliffs at Dover, England.

 

According to information obtained about Dover Castle,  William the Conqueror strengthened the defenses at Dover with an earthwork and timber stockade in 1066, and from that point on, Dover Castle was garrisoned uninterruptedly until 1958. The stone castle was built by King Henry II in the 1180s and it sits above the white cliffs where there is the shortest sea crossing distance between England and the continent.

Dover castle 2
Dover Castle sitting high above the cliffs and defending the narrowest waterway between England and the continent.

 

Dover Castle was an incredible example of a medieval castle. In short, the trip to Dover, England was great!

 

Of course, we also visited Buckingham Palace in London. The crowds made it difficult to get a picture of the palace in its entirety, but suffice it to say, it was huge, and beautiful.

Buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace, London, England.

This is Buckingham Palace from the gardens between the commercial area and the palace. The palace is protected by a huge gate as well as uniformed officers.

Buckingham palace guiard
Buckingham Palace guard.

 

We also had the privilege of going to see Blenheim Palace, the place where Winston Churchill was born. Today, it is the residence of the 12th Duke of Marlborough.

 

It, too, was immense and ornately furnished. We were not able to take pictures inside and the outside was undergoing some renovation, but the scope of the palace is clear.

 

This picture is of the gate that you go through before you get to the palace building itself.

Blenheim palace Gate
Blenheim Palace Gate.

 

After you go through the gate, you come into a courtyard with the palace surrounding you on three sides.   This is one of the sides of the palace.  On the right edge of the you can see the main section of the palace.  There was a great deal of renovation work going on so we were not able to get good pictures of the front of the palace itself.

Blenheim palace buildings
One part of Blenheim Palace. Incredible beauty on a gigantic scale.

 

The palace grounds were beautiful.  This is just a small portion of the grounds surrounding the palace.

Blenheim palace grounds
Just some of the palace grounds surrounding Blenheim Palace.

 

The size of the palace was mind-numbing for me. A picture of one of the statues that surrounded the walkway outside the palace with a man standing nearby is, for me, a real perspective setter.

Blenheim palace statuary
Statue at Blenheim Palace.

 

Obviously, I cannot imagine living in this type of opulent surroundings, complete with the incredibly large staff that would be required to run the place.

 

But, watching Downton Abbey brings into sharp relief one clear fact.

 

The lord was the absolute ruler of the house and realm associated with the palace. Indeed, the serving staff referred to the Lord of the house as “M’lord” and his wife was “M’lady”. No first names … no pet names … no familiarity expressed, even though they may have known many secrets about the family members. The immutable fact of sovereignty over-rode anything else.

 

Simple as that. The will of the master was controlling and it was carried out by those under his authority. In short, the lord of the house had dominion over all his realm. Even the people in the village attached to the castle would bow or give homage to the lord of the estate when he rode past. This was the person who had control of their destiny; this was the person whose will would prevail and to whom they were subject.

 

The Old Testament prophet named Daniel had a vision of the son of man who was given dominion over all things:

 

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

Daniel 7:27 ESV

 

Here, the word “dominion” was taken from the Aramaic, and the transliterated word used is sholtan. The meaning for this term is “sovereignty” or “realm”.

 

Imagine living in a realm where the One in charge has full dominion and authority. Imagine a Sovereign who is loving and Who puts the interests of those in His realm over His own. Imagine a realm where the Sovereign is not questioned and His edicts are not reversed.

 

Imagine living in a realm where the Sovereign loves us so much that He died in our place so that we become His redeemed people. Imagine being under the sovereign rule of the Child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, Who was, is and always will be the One who bears the name: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, … Jesus.

 

If you have not watched Downton Abbey, check it out. I think you will find the setting beautiful and the interaction between characters intriguing.

 

But, on a matter of eternal significance, if you have not met the Lord of all Creation Who will have a kingdom where all dominions will serve and obey Him, open your Bible and meet Jesus.

 

And, if you have met Jesus, and He is your Lord and Savior, then bend the knee, humble yourself, and thank Him for the salvation that has been given to you, for His grace and mercy and love, and seek to know Him more and more each day in this new year.

 

Father, help me to love you more, help me to serve you, and help me to learn more of your holiness, love, mercy and grace so that I can reflect that to those I come in contact with at home, work, school, church. Thank you for your Spirit and for your grace.

 

OUR PLANS AND PRAYER.

 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”  Proverbs 19:21 [ESV]

I am a self-admitted planner. It is difficult for me to just “go with the flow”. Even when I am “going with the flow,” I am planning what I will do whenever the “flow” gets to wherever we are going.  Digression from the task ahead is difficult for me to allow … but praise the Lord that my planning confronted  divine guidance through prayer today.

praying hands
Praying Hands.

I was scheduled for surgery and a number of beloved friends and family members said they would be praying that all would go well, that I would be protected from complications, and that healing would be sweet. As usual, there is a great deal of preparation for surgery and we did all that stuff, as directed, including packing the overnight bag, taking the book and Bible along with the Ipad, etc.

 “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 [ESV]

 

The hospital directions were that I could have nothing to eat or drink after midnight, but a note stated that I should take my morning medications before coming to the hospital with a sip of water. I drink milk with the medicine due to the taste if I use water: so, I took the meds with 2 sips of milk, much less than ¼ cup, and we were off to the hospital.

At the hospital, we were conducted into the surgical wing and I received the beautiful gag-green hospital gown to replace my clothing. Then I was placed under a warming blanket and was getting ready for the IV and monitors, etc.  That’s when my plans went awry but God intervened in His providence and answered prayer.

The anesthesiologist came in and asked what meds I had taken. I told him, and he said, “ok”.

Then the nurse came in and went over most of the same questions again and confirmed I had taken the morning meds at home.  She then asked when I took them. I responded “my husband poured the milk about 7 and I took them right after that.”

The nurse’s head popped up from her clipboard and she said “Milk?” and that was the beginning of the end of the surgery as planned.

She left the prep room saying that she needed to talk with the anesthesiologist about the milk. I was stunned – all this havoc over 2 sips of milk?

The answer to the prayers for protection and no complications became apparent when the anesthesiologist came in and told me that even a small amount of milk causes acid in the stomach. When you go under the anesthesia, all muscles are relaxed and that includes the muscle that keeps stomach acid in the stomach.  So, if you have acid there (like from milk) when laying on the flat surgical table under the anesthesia, you can have reflux of the acid into your lungs without anyone knowing it is happening. [Without getting into the science of it, even I know that this is not something that would be considered a good thing!]

I don’t know if God directed me to take the meds with milk so that surgery could not be done on the day that was planned, but I am confident that He answered prayers in prompting me to mention the milk so that I would be protected from adverse consequences otherwise.

The surgery is now rescheduled and I will not be using milk for my meds.

Praise the Lord that He answered prayer by bringing to mind the milk that I had consumed at just the right time so that unwanted complications could be avoided. God has been in the business of hearing and answering our prayers since the beginning.

Back in Genesis, Isaac prayed for his wife:

“And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” Genesis 25:21 [ESV]

Many years later, David said:

“O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.” Psalm 54:2 [ESV]

“But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” Psalm 66:19 [ESV]

 

Then, in the New Testament, 2,000 years ago, we have the church praying for Peter.

“So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”  Acts 12:5 [ESV]

As a result of those prayers, God sent angels to the prison and released Peter at night. He went to the house where the church was praying for him and almost did not get in because no one believed that their prayers had been so miraculously answered!

Prayer at Westminster Cathedral (C)
Prayer at Westminster Cathedral, London, England

 

In speaking of prayer to God the Father, the writer of Hebrews 4:16 tells us:

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” [ESV]

Beloved, the same God who answered Isaac, and who answered Job, and who answered David, and who heard and answered the church’s prayers for Peter, hears and answers the prayers of His children today when we come boldly to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Think praying is only for old people?

Think praying doesn’t do anything?

 Think praying is a boring waste of time?

 THINK AGAIN!

 

Father, forgive me when I take lightly the gracious gift of prayer. Forgive me when I fail to recognize the awesome privilege of coming in prayer to the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Forgive me when I forget that I can only come to you because of Jesus Christ, my Savior, who covers me with His righteousness and has forgiven me of my sins. Thank you Father for hearing the prayers of your children, even those raised on my behalf. Praise your Holy Name!

DIFFICULTIES CAN PRODUCE BEAUTIFUL FRUIT

I was in prayer this morning asking the Lord for comfort, strength, peace, healing and His presence for several of the people in our church who are going through very difficult times. I truly believe that prayer is the “best thing” that we can do for others, and as I was considering the various situations facing these brothers and sisters in the Lord, I was reminded of a video‐essay I saw about Yosemite National Park. This program captured my attention because my husband and I had been to Yosemite several years ago and we found it to be an awesome manifestation of our Lord’s creativity and beauty.

What really captured my attention was the discussion of the Park’s Giant Sequoias and the role that fire plays in their sustainability. The Narrator discussed fire in the Park as being a necessity for the forest, and I recognize this as a correct generalized proposition that is true of any forest woodland. Without fire, the underbrush would become so dense that seedlings would not be able to take root, etc.

Fire scar completely through the base of Giant Sequoia Tree

This is a picture that we took on our visit to the Park which shows a fire scar that is so severe that the inside of the tree has been burned out and the tree resembles an old‐time wooden clothespin, perhaps for Paul Bunyan’s laundry! The Narrator of the video-essay stated that the Giant Sequoia tree’s bark was extraordinarily thick and the cambium layer, just beneath the bark, has fire resistant properties to enable the trees to survive severe forest fires.  This statement is consistent with one of the plaques in the Park.

Giant Sequoia Tree plaque for the tree Tennessee Tree, with explanation about cambium layer beneath bark that enables trees to survive forest fires.
Giant Sequoia Tree plaque for the tree Tennessee Tree, with explanation about cambium layer beneath bark that enables trees to survive forest fires.

The Narrator continued to describe how the Giant Sequoias cannot survive without periodic fires. I thought I misunderstood what he said – why would these majestic trees require fire for their survival – they might successfully endure the wildfire, but to say that they require it is an entirely different proposition, and one which surely must be incorrect!

I was intrigued by this statement and, after doing some research, I found that one of the primary requirements for Giant Sequoia seedlings to grow is full sun. A glance at the forests in which these trees thrive reveals that, while the mature trees have full sun due to their towering height, there are multitudes of trees around them which, although dwarfed by the Giant Sequoias, are tall trees in their own right. The result of this, of course, is that the Giant Sequoia seedling is beneath the neighboring pines, oaks, and whatever – without the benefit of full sun.

In short, the Giant Sequoia Trees require periodic wildfires so that the underbrush and smaller tree vegetation can be cleared so as to provide the correct environment for successful germination of the sequoia seeds in full sun.

Giant Sequoia fire scar with seedlings nearby.
Giant Sequoia fire scar with seedlings nearby.

But, as the television marketer says, “Wait, there’s more!”  Not only does the wildfire provide the open nursery for the seedlings, the fire actually is required to release the seeds from the cone in the first place. It is no secret that extremely hot air accompanies a forest fire; for me, the surprise was that the hot air in the canopy of the massive trees dries and opens the trees’ seed cones causing the release of large numbers of seeds to the forest floor, which, because of the clearing accomplished by the fire, has been transformed into the optimal seedbed for the seeds to take root and grow into images of their ancestors.

Seedlings in Yosemite National Park
Seedlings in Yosemite National Park

Also, the Lord provided even more help for these seeds to grow to maturity. The post‐fire loose ground ash operates as a blanket to protect the seeds from ultraviolet radiation damage. [See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequoiadendron_giganteum accessed 8/28/2013]

Besides being an interesting aspect of the Lord’s natural world and besides showing the care that He took to insure the sustainability of His creation, the soul‐searching began when I considered the illustration provided by the Giant Sequoia Trees in the connection between the fire and the resultant beauty.

It made me consider how I respond to the fire circumstances in my own life? Am I able to look past the immediate pain and difficulty so as to see the beauty ahead? Do I endure the difficulty with anticipation for the good that our Lord will accomplish through it? Or, do I, like Jonah, run in the opposite direction so that I avoid the problem and pain? Do I even recognize that there is a cost for avoiding the trial … lost lessons learned and more agonizing trials ahead for which I could have been prepared, or perhaps which could have even been avoided, if I had paid attention to the initial difficulty?

Do I say what Joseph said to his brothers?

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “… And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.… But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”

Genesis 45:4-7. Or, as my own paraphrase would render this passage, you may have meant to hurt me, but actually you were fulfilling God’s plan to provide a way to protect you and your families from the death that would surely have come during this severe famine.

When we are in the midst of the maelstrom, when we can’t see where things are going, through faith we can have confidence that God is sovereign and that He is working things out for His purposes and the Christian’s ultimate good. Even if scars remain, there will be beauty that will come.  The nail piercings in our Lord’s Hands reflect just some of the excruciating suffering He endured for us on the cross, but they are beautiful for those who believe in His Name for salvation.  But for what those scars represent, we would not have His righteousness to cover our sins and we could not call God “Abba Father”.  Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6.

God is sovereign in all things. He provided for the Giant Sequoia Trees, and He will provide for His children. See Luke 12:22-31.  Praise His Name as we trust in Him and in His unfailing grace, even as we go through the flames of trial that confronts us, by whatever name it is called.

As the Psalmist said: “Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 106:1.

THE CHALLENGE OF ROADSIDE SIGNS!

Driving down the highway can, at times, provide thought-provoking images.   Going along the interstate, we passed a one‐story building, concrete block, with doors and a few windows. It apparently was the “backside” of the building that was along the interstate because there was no identification of the business or type of activity that went on in the building other than two signs, one on each side of one window.

The sign on the left of the window read “JESUS LOVES YOU” and the sign on the right read “WE BUY GUNS”. At first it tickled me and I laughed out loud  … then I began thinking about the signs and what they were saying.

We live in the so‐called “Bible Belt” of our country, and sometimes the expression of Christianity is more cultural than faithful. Of course the use of the phrase “Jesus Loves You” could well be an attempt to witness to those driving down the highway and to perhaps cause the observer to think about his/her response to Jesus’ love.

Burma Shave sign of yesteryear
Burma Shave sign of yesteryear

After all, God is sovereign and He can use even the static, silent sign along the highway for His purposes. Remember the Burma Shave signs along the highway  and their jingles and thoughts spread across a mile or more?  (I found this picture of the Burma Shave sign on eBay, June 15, 2015)  Certainly, if advertisers could use the power of roadway signs, the Sovereign God certainly could also!

But, there are many other possible reasons that the signs were in such place. Was the business in the building using the camouflage of Christianity to bring in customers for their firearm business? Or, conversely, was the use of Jesus’ name in connection with the purchase of guns a laudable attempt to rid firearms from the community and thereby secure peace?   Or were two businesses sharing the same building with the single entrance at the back along the interstate?

While we cannot, and must not, judge the motive of the owner of those signs, we can use them to consider our own behavior. How do WE use the name of Jesus?

The free, almost flippant and mindless, use of Jesus’ name in conversation in our society has trivialized it so that it seldom actually refers to the God/Man who is the Son of the Sovereign Living God. When it is said in our modern world, it is almost never in homage to the name of the King of Kings.

In contrast, consider how the Scripture refers to Jesus’ name.   The Apostle John says:

“But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31 (ESV)

Paul, when writing to the Philippians said:

 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 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 2:5-11 (ESV)

Clearly, the Biblical writers did not think Jesus’ name was something to be treated casually or in angry outbursts or cursing.

It is the name at which every knee will ultimately bow.  Indeed, Jesus is the Name of our Savior! As one who claims His name as our own, as a Christian, we should be cut to the core when others misuse His name. This is the Person who died for us, who took our place on the cross, who redeemed us from our own sin. This is the Person who voluntarily came from Heaven to live in this sinful world and bear the hatred of those He had created, all for the sole purpose of saving His people from their sins.

Perhaps the signs we saw along the highway:

  • Are a reminder that we should be careful when we use Jesus’ name.
  • Are a reminder that we should use His Name in such a way that our speech would bring honor and glory to Him.
  • Are a reminder that we should use the Name of our Lord in a manner that shows our love for our Savior.
  • Are a reminder that we should use His Name in a way that identifies us as Christians to those who who hear our conversation.

If someone were to follow me down life’s highway, would my conversation and life signs point them to Jesus?

May it be so, my Lord!

MORNING AND NIGHT – TOGETHER!

Have you ever noticed how people are different? Of course I know there are gazillions of differences between people. But, consider a very mundane, but personally relevant, distinction – Morning People and Night People. I have conducted a non‐scientific survey of many couples who are paired together in marriage even though they fall on the opposite ends of what I will call the “clock spectrum”. In other words, it seems that often Morning People are married to Night People and that these marriages are successful despite this fundamental difference between the partners.

Sunlight coming through trees
Sunlight coming through trees

Case in point: My Beloved Husband (a Morning Person) and Me (a Night Person). My Husband will arise no later than 6:30 a.m. whether he needs to do so just because it is the morning and that is when you should get up! He LOVES the sunrise – He loves to stand on the porch, listen to the birds awaken and then hear them serenade the sun as it comes up over the trees while he drinks his cup of coffee that he brewed before the sun lit the way to the coffee pot!   I don’t know what all he does between when he gets up and when he wakes me up just before he leaves the house … I’m asleep! By the time I am aware of anything, he has been up for hours.

Getting up that early is simply foreign to me. I can get up early if I have a meeting in the morning; in fact  I am more than capable of getting up at 6:30 a.m., washing, dressing, getting papers together, doing the breakfast thing, and getting out the door to get to the meeting, even with time to spare. I certainly won’t like it, but I can do it. But, if there is no deadline staring at me, I would be content to continue resting until …. Well, we really don’t need to state an actual time; suffice it to say that it would be past 6:30 a.m., that’s for sure.

Moon rising over still lake.
Moon rising over still lake.

At the other end of the “clock spectrum”, I love looking at the moon and the night sky. When we are camping, I can sit outside with a cup of decaf and look to the heavens watching the stars for hours … Night, now that’s my time of day.

How that plays out on a day‐to‐day basis in our home, for example, is something like this. We will be watching television and my husband will have fallen asleep in the recliner about 10:00 p.m. I, on the other hand will be knitting or reading recipes while watching the 11:00 p.m. news. When the news is over, I will get him to bed and then do some work on the computer, or read, or continue knitting, or do whatever else is beckoning, but it will be at least midnight and more likely 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. before I am ready to sleep.

We have tried to “normalize” our time schedules by my awaking at 7:30 and his “sleeping in” to 7:30 but it doesn’t change anything at the end of the day. He is still asleep in the recliner at 10:00 p.m. and I am still awake at 12:00 a.m.

Clock face
Clock face

Simply put, he is a Morning Person and I am a Night Person – there is no way around it. He explains that he had a paper route when he was a child so he had to get up early. I don’t have any other explanation, but his paper route was over 50 years ago … I don’t buy it!

Interestingly, we are not the only ones. I have spoken to many others and more people than not tell me that they, too, are involved in “mixed marriages” – night and morning people are united in the holy bonds of matrimony! We are like this for some other reason.

Is this an example of God’s sense of humor?  Perhaps.

In fact, I have made that comment in the past. But upon reflection and leadership of the Spirit, I expect God is doing something much more important here.

What if this is God’s way of providing each marriage partner some “sacred time” – a time when they can focus on being with God while not taking away time from their partner?   Wouldn’t it be just like God to, in His sovereign grace, give us a partner who checks out physically at a time when we are still awake, or who remains asleep when we awaken, so that we can have time to meditate and “be still and know” that He is God, even while we hear the steady, comforting breathing of the one God has given to us as our mate?

Antique clock face
Antique clock face

Whether it is in the morning or at night, if your spouse is asleep and you are awake, why not spend that “alone” time with your Lord? After all, He is the Bridegroom Who has given His Life for you and Who has an everlasting Love for you. Perhaps His plan in uniting you with your opposite Morning/Night Person was to create some free time in your schedule so you could spend quality time with the Creator of the Universe. If He created the opportunity for this appointment with you, don’t waste it!

Cherish it and let Him fill your Soul, Beloved.

[If you want to “take part” in my non-scientific survey, let me know in a comment whether you are a Night or Morning person … and, if you are married, whether your spouse is the same or different!  If you just agree with the thoughts, hit the Like button and there is no need for further comment!  Remember, it really makes no difference because we are all loved by our Savior and He created us to be as we are! Thanks.]

PERSPECTIVE: FROM MICRO TO MACRO

We happened to be in England when rapeseed was in full bloom. As we left the airport we were told to watch for the “yellow fields” because they were so pretty. We saw the yellow plants as we sped (literally) down the motorway.

Rapeseed field from highway
Rapeseed field from highway

Pretty? Sure, but not necessarily spectacular as we were led to expect.

But then – Oh, but then, we went up a hill and saw the countryside splayed below us, and the “yellow fields” were gorgeous! Only by looking at the overall broad picture could we appreciate the beauty of these fields in full bloom. The patchwork of yellow blossoms, trees bordering the various parcels of land, fields plowed with crops just starting to grow, and homesteads with trees providing shade all melded together to form a mural that made a lasting impression on my mind and heart.

Yellow fields and hillside
Yellow fields and hillside

 

As we were looking at this vista, I could not help but think of the perspective that we usually have. We get lost in the detail of every-day life – bills to pay, work deadlines to meet, housecleaning, laundry, children’s activities to watch, etc.

mirror and child (C)

To quote an old adage, sometimes “we can’t see the forest because of the trees!”

We live moment-to-moment because we were created, in time ‐‐ without the ability to transcend that which is immediately upon us. God, however, has a far different perspective.

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes 7:14 says:

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”

As the creator of time, God is not controlled by it. He sees the end from the beginning, and He sees all that is in between with perfect clarity. While we do not know the future, we can rest in the confidence that He does! In Psalm 139:16 we read:

 “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

God had our days numbered and the events in them mapped out for our growth in faith and trust in His unfailing love – for the fulfillment of His purposes and for His glory – even before we were born!

We cannot live above the daily grind. As long as we are capable of movement and activity, we will be cleaning homes, watching after the children, doing the laundry, working at our jobs, cooking meals (and even yummy desserts), etc.

Yummy Dessert
Yummy Dessert

We can, however, live above the circumstances by knowing that God is in control and that He knows what we need for our own spiritual benefit. God sees the pattern of our life and how it interacts with the lives of thousands of others – a pattern that we cannot see because we don’t have His perspective.

Next time you are down because of the demands of all the activities pressing upon you, change your perspective.

Stop and visualize the yellow fields from above.

English fields of Rapeseed
English fields of Rapeseed

Or picture your town sparkling in the evening light as you stand on a mountain top.

City in evening with lights illuminated
City in evening with lights illuminated

Or visualize standing on a sand dune, gazing out over the vast ocean.

Standing on sand dune looking at ocean waves
Standing on sand dune looking at ocean waves

Or visualize the power and majesty of our Creator God, at least as we can see and understand it in our finite minds.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

May I always take time to praise our Sovereign God for His provision of a perspective that is slightly altered from what I can usually see, a perspective that enables me to remember that the big picture belongs to Him.  May my perspective be changed from the micro of every day to the macro of His divine majesty.

He is the Divine Artist Who creates the pattern of each of our lives, all for His glory and honor.  Praise His holy name for His promises and perspective!