Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 30!!

Wow! It’s Day 30 already—my 30-day challenge is up! What a good thing it has been, to get in the habit of consciously observing for beautiful things around me. Thank you to all who have joined me on this adventure—I hope that you have enjoyed it as much as I have (but I doubt you could have, because I got to actually experience all these things, and you only got to read about them. =)

Tonight I came across this interesting pair of verses, in Psalm 50. The Lord, after reminding His people that He is not a God Who needs to be fed or provided for by their ritual sacrifices, tells them what He really desires, in verses 14, 15, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” Verse 23 is a ringing confirmation, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me…”

I want to honor God with my whole life! How can I do so? Not by rituals or works done in a spirit of duty, but by a sacrifice of thanksgiving—just giving thanks! It’s so simple—or is it? Because sometimes even giving thanks feels like a sacrifice; it can mean relinquishing my own opinions about what is best, and accepting God’s choices for me with gratitude. At the same time, can the Source of all beauty fail to know and plan what is best for me? Do I really think that I could come up with something better?

And speaking of the Source of beauty, if all that He has made is so splendid, what must He be like? King Solomon spent his life surrounding himself with all the beautiful things that money could procure, and his verdict, ultimately, was “Vanity.” He would have done well to pay attention to the great aspiration of his father David, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4) That’s a vista that shall keep us occupied for all of eternity!

Sweet shades, and fields that glow with summer flowers,

How dear are ye to me!

Alone with Jesus, doth my heart adore Him,

That ye are fair to see.

Sweet shades, and fields that glow with summer flowers,

How dear are ye to me!

Nought seen in you but tender grace revealing,

How fair His thoughts must be.

Sweet shades, and fields that glow with summer flowers,

How dear are ye to me!

How soft the breathings of Thy love, Lord Jesus,

I rest my heart on Thee.

All, all that buds, and blossoms, and rejoices,

Hath my Beloved made;

His wisdom and His tenderness and gladness

Told forth in leaf and blade.

All, all that buds, and blossoms, and rejoices,

Hath my Beloved made;

All moves unto the music of His power

That fills the woodland glade.

All, all that buds, and blossoms, and rejoices,

Hath my Beloved made;

But heaven and earth, in all their radiant glory

To Him are midnight shade.

--Gerhardt ter Steegen

Day 29

I’m afraid that Day 29’s entry also has to be a bit of an addendum onto Day 28, because after I had already posted the entry for that day, all sorts of beautiful things happened! Far, FAR more beautiful than a flock of birds; in fact, they pretty much took the cake for the whole month I think! The absolute best part was that two elderly men at the assisted living facility which we visit, received the Lord Jesus as their Savior after my mom shared the gospel with them! They went from being “scared to death to die” (their words exactly), to having the assurance of spending eternity with the Lord Jesus!

And although it hardly seems that any day could get any better than that, the Lord also provided some wonderful answers to prayer on Day 28, which are too complicated to explain here, but which really thrilled my heart because of the Lord’s kindness and grace in answering those prayers!

Now Day 29 couldn’t help but be quite wonderful also, following on the tails of 28! Yet it had its own share of beauty too, and yet more evidences of the Lord at work in exciting ways! I wish I could share all the details with you, but perhaps it will be better to write about two little beautiful things which tie into what I am discovering about my wonderful Father in heaven!

One was the gentle, confiding grasp of a wee little girl on my hand, as we made friends. I had never met her before, but she instantly accepted me as her friend, and with a delighted smile, reached for my hand and led me into her house. She was so tiny I could have swung her off the floor with one arm, yet I could not resist that gentle little clasp. And that reminds me of the way that my Father, though infinitely stronger and bigger than I, consents to hear and respond to my prayers. Not only does He consent, but He loves to have me I draw Him into my life and my affairs by that simple, trusting grasp of prayer. What a God Who, in some mysterious way, causes His children to will His will, and then responds by doing the things that we ask in the Name of the Lord Jesus! He could leave us entirely out of the process, and just do whatever it is that He wills. But He chooses rather to act in response to our prayers, allowing us to influence His working out of His will. I know that’s not very clear. I’m still trying to understand it myself.

The other beautiful thing was a very tired little boy, sitting next to his dad at prayer meeting. With a sleepy look on his face, he nestled up under his father’s arm, then he drooped lower against his dad’s side, and finally, utterly worn out by the long, busy day, he just lay down with his head on his father’s knee and fell sound asleep. His dad, with an understanding smile, rested his big, strong hand on the little boy’s back, and made sure that even the fidgety little sister didn’t disturb his rest. And that reminds me of how, when I am too confused, or maybe just too tired, to know what to pray, my Father just makes a place for me to rest against Him, trusting everything entirely to His perfect knowledge and infinite strength.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 28

I was in my room this morning when suddenly I heard another installment of spring arrive, in the form of a treeful of chattering birds! I love it when this happens; one moment, everything is silent, and the next, the air is full of noisy avian conversation! I peered outside and sure enough, there were one or two trees whose bare branches were just covered with birds! Somehow they always stay in a tight flock, and they never seem to run out of things to say!

A little while later, I went outside, and noticed that the noise was a bit further away. It still wasn’t hard to locate though, because a little further down in the pasture I could see the flock encamped upon a different tree. I wonder why they move like this, and how they decide where and when to settle down? And what could they possibly have to talk about at such a rapid pace, for the entire duration of their migration?

Day 27

Yesterday, Day 27, we went to visit a local assisted living facility where my parents lead a Bible study every week. This week, for the first time, we took our dog Coqui, and he was quite a hit! As soon as we walked into the room with him, the elderly folks sitting in rows along the walls all seemed to lean forward at the same moment, their faces coming alive, as they exclaimed about the new visitor!

It was special to watch Dennis, an elderly gentleman who is not able to speak, as he interacted with the dog. His fingers twined into Coqui’s fur as he gently fondled him and gave him a cookie, and there was a gleam of a smile in his often sad face. Coqui seemed relax and enjoy his quiet, silent stroking, and I wonder if perhaps Dennis knew that here was a creature with whom he could communicate, words or no words.

The climax came when we were singing some hymns. One of the staff members pointed out joyfully that Dennis was singing—for the first time that she had ever seen him sing! I don’t know, of course, if the doggy therapy somehow flipped some switch in Dennis’s brain that allowed him to sing. But I thought it was beautiful how God has ways of communicating love and joy to people, even through a furry creature with a sloppy warm tongue. =)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 26

Well, it’s only mid-day, but I’m already fervently enjoying the beautiful thing for today—health! The last few days I was doing a sort of internal spring cleaning, a detox program which, although it no doubt flushed some toxins out of me, seemed to take most of energy too! I spent a couple days dragging myself around and marveling at how any good attitude I had cultivated evaporated when I felt the least bit nauseous. So it certainly gave me a much greater appreciation for what so many people suffer from chronic problems. And, from the perspective of a nurse, I now understand better why people with comparatively minor afflictions don’t really care that it could be a whole lot worse—any personal affliction feels like an emergency!

At any rate, after nearly fainting this morning, I decided that the health cleanse had stopped being healthy, and eased myself back into eating normal food. And wow! Do I feel great! It’s wonderful to have energy to wash the dishes, bake bread, and do the things of normal life! I might even get out of my pajamas sometime soon. =)

So this brief experience of minor suffering has certainly helped me to appreciate my normal abundance of health and vigor. I might add that it has also increased my already high esteem of my mom, who not only put up with my moaning and complaining, but is still on the cleanse herself! This generation clearly has a few things to learn from the previous one! =)