Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ugly Duckling

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Most of us know the story “The Ugly Duckling” written by Hans Christian Anderson. It’s a story of an egg that some how gets in the nest of a duck. The egg was unusual looking but the motherly instincts of the duck caused her to nurture it along with her duck eggs. The same was true when it hatched, the “duckling” that came out of the strange egg looked very different from the other ducklings. The mother duck continued to love and nurture this “ugly duckling” until one day she had to send him away out of the barnyard because of all the torment, taunting and rejection that he was suffering at the hands of the other barnyard animals.

To make a very long story short (or a little short, you know how I get carried away sometimes), the “duckling” suffered much rejection even in the outside world. Time past and it wasn’t until he was beginning to give up all hope when he stumbled onto the scene of a lake where beautiful Swans were swimming. As he got closer and the Swans noticed him, instead of receiving the taunts and rejection that he had become accustomed to, the Swans instead welcomed him into their midst. While swimming with these beautiful birds the “Ugly duckling” got a glimpse of his reflection in the lake and saw to his surprise that he himself had grown into a beautiful swan!

A literary critic once asked Hans Christian Anderson would he ever write his autobiography and he is reported as replying, “I did, it’s called “The Ugly duckling.”

So much of this fairy tale rings true of the way people may see us and the way God sees us. I know that in my own life most times I feel so inadequate. I have come a long way but there are still times that I question my importance and worth. We all have felt rejection and ridicule. We’ve been hurt and betrayed.
And I speak only for myself; I know I’m not an attractive person when compared to others. (Especially my feet, I have the strangest looking toes) If you think about it long enough, you can get depressed!
But that’s the key you don’t meditate on the negative things, you began to see yourself as God sees us. He sees us as a completed work. He sees us as His finished product. We just have to walk it out. We’ll go through the things mentioned above but if we stay strong, we’ll come out “looking” like what He has ordained for us to be, a victorious woman or man of God!
I Corinthians 13:11-13 says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Hold on, be strong, God is still working in our lives, we may not be yet what we will be, but we are no longer what we were! God is not finished with us! Be encouraged!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bird Watchin'

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

To quote my sister, “Birds love your backyard.” She said this on a recent visit as she looked out my second story window. I take that very seriously coming from her. After all her years of bird watching she has a “trained eye” in spotting all kinds of birds. Her backyard in Virginia is a Bird and butterfly sanctuary. She has birdfeeders all among the trees and beautiful flowers planted through out. Gorgeous!

I on the other hand have a few trees and no flowers in my backyard. But I do see some kind of berry bush out there that a cardinal visits faithfully every winter. Don’t get me wrong, I like birds but I’m not an avid bird fan (especially since those “Cat birds” chased and attacked my then small son, dog and anyone that came into our backyard that summer!) My late husband had to resort to shooting a BB gun out the window in an attempt to scare them away…it didn’t work. Those birds ruled the backyard that year!
However yesterday I was looking out back and saw the most beautiful Blue Jay sitting out there on a tree limb. He was regal looking! I did not know how large and Blue these birds are!

After seeing that spectacular sight I have decided what will be my summer project. I plan to get a couple of bird feeders for the back yard. I will forgive those ol’ mean Cat birds and think of the beautiful Blue jay and all the other birds my sister saw out of my upstairs window. I think that I will enjoy doing some bird watching. They may not be as valuable to God as I am, but He sure did put a lot of detail in their making. And if He took the time to make them beautiful, I can take the time to watch!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Breaking up the fallow ground

Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness. Break up your (fallow) uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him, and to require His favor, till He comes and teaches you righteousness and rains His righteous gift of salvation upon you.
Hosea 10:12 (Amplified Bible)

On my way to work a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the farmland on either side of the road that I was traveling. The fields that were flat and void of any kind of crops all winter were now freshly plowed. The black rich soil had been turn upside down and it seemed every which way. The soil of these fields that had “rested” all winter, were now lumps and bumps of earth facing the rising sun…waiting.

About 2 weeks have gone by and I am on my way to work again and this time as I notice, the fields are now covered with rows of rich, green plants. And the scriptures above came to mind. Breaking up “fallow” ground as one-translation calls uncultivated ground is not an easy task. The days of the horse and plow are mostly over and in place are new machines that plow up the fields. But it is still a hard task. The ground that has been sitting dormant for several months is very hard to till.

Some of us have been through a season of spiritual “winter”, a wilderness if you will, of aloneness. Maybe you have questioned what is the meaning of your life, what is the purpose of it. Why are you here? Wondering if maybe God has forgotten about you or that maybe you’ve missed it somewhere along the way. You had such grand plans of the way things were supposed to be and somehow…it didn’t happen. We may not have understood it, but it is what it was. At times it may have felt that no one understood you or your pain, but you learned to live with it and here you are… you made it! Some of us made it by withdrawing, maybe not noticeable to others, but in your heart you withdrew from life, from hope. You covered it with a smile, put on a brave front. You went about your daily life status quo but a heart that was once full of hope became fallow ground.

When there came trials, or hardships, we just added it to the pile of hopelessness and sighed. But I believe that God uses these things to break up the fallow ground of our lives. It is not easy to go through these things, but God has a purpose. In order to “plant” a new harvest, the fallow ground must be broken and turned upside down and in and out (does that sound like what’s been happening to you?)

As the ground yielded to the farmer’s plowing and then the planting, the result was new growth. Do we want “new growth” in our lives? Do we want something fresh in God? Do we want all that He has to offer us in this lifetime? Then we too must yield to His breaking up the soil of our hearts that may have become hardened over time. We must ask Him to nurture and cultivate our hearts afresh so that He can bless us with His plans for our lives…lives with hope and yes joy!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Forgiveness of God

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

Years ago, a delightful couple began to attend the church at which I was a member at that time. They were from one of the Islands and both had dynamic, bubbly personalities. He was gifted as a musician and could play several instruments. His wife was very intelligent and did quite well in the business world. They were a real blessing to the church, not only to the areas of music and administration, but just for being wonderful people.

This couple was in their early to mid thirties and up until that time had been unsuccessful in having a child of their own. They had gone the whole medical route and had almost settled in their hearts that maybe God wanted them to adopt, when she got pregnant!
We were all so happy for them and rejoiced when their beautiful, healthy baby girl was born. What a testimony it was to God’s timing and faithfulness!

About a year or so later this couple informed us that the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Needless to say we were all devastated. She however was the example of strength and faith. The church was a wonderful support for them during this time and after surgery and treatments she seemed to be getting better.

Then one day she shared that she was once again pregnant. The doctors did not seem concerned about whether the baby that she carried would be affected by the treatments that she had, but were more concerned for her. She was told that the hormones that increase during a woman’s pregnancy actually act as a stimulant to cancer growth. The doctors said in order to save her, she must terminate the pregnancy.

This couple had become our friends. My late husband and I along with many other people in the church prayed for them in earnest. They were in a major predicament. We all know that it is wrong to abort the life of a child or anyone for that matter, but at the same time she wanted to live and be a mother to her daughter. Even now as I think of that time my heart flows with compassion for anyone that may be in that place.

Whenever I would talk to her, I did not “preach” to her about what is sin or not. I was not in her shoes and she knew herself what was right and wrong. But I would just let her talk of her heartbreak of this situation.

To this day I do not know what decision they made. Several months later while they were visiting at my house, I felt compelled to take her into the dining room away from the other people and talk to her. I shared the scripture above, and about how Christ does not condemn us. I felt in my heart to tell her that Christ loves her and that when we ask Him for forgiveness, He does. Tears were flowing and so were the words from my heart as I told her “The decisions that we make are not always the correct ones, but God is big enough to forgive us and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”

I never asked her what decision she made about the baby and she never told me. They moved away from the area a short time later. Several months later I got in contact with her and a relative answered the phone and said that she was unable to take the call. A short time later she passed away.

I am so thankful for the faithfulness of God. You see it was none of my business what decision she made, that was between her, her husband and God. My only obligation was to be there and share with her God’s forgiveness. I know that she is in heaven right now.

God’s forgiveness is more than big enough to cover and cleanse us from ANY bad decisions that we have made. He willingly went to the cross and paid the price knowing (as He’s able to see ALL things) that we would make some bad mistakes, but He loved us anyway.

I am so thankful for His forgiveness, because I know that I would be so lost if He had not forgiven and continues to forgive me. His mercy does endure forever and are new every morning. All you have to do is ask and He will be there…He loves us so…

Please read the words of one of my favorite songs: “When God ran”

Almighty God, the great I am Immovable rock, omnipotent, powerful, awesome Lord Victorious warrior, commanding King of Kings Mighty conqueror, and the only timethe only time I ever saw Him run

CHORUS: Was when He ran to me, He took me in His arms Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again” Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes With forgiveness in His voice He said,“Son do you know I still love you?” He caught me by surprise when God ran

The day I left home I knew I’d broken His heart And I wondered then if things could ever be the same Then one night I remembered His love for me And down that dusty road ahead I could see It was the only time – it was the only time I ever saw Him run

And then He ran to me, He took me in His arms Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again” Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes With forgiveness in His voice He said,“Son do you know I still love you?” He caught me by surprise as He brought me to my knees
When God ran – I saw Him run to me

BRIDGE: I was so ashamed, all alone and so far away but now I know He’s been waiting for this day
I saw Him run to me, He took me in His arms Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again” Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes With forgiveness in His voice I felt His love for me again
He ran to me, He took me in His arms Held my head to His chest, said “My son’s come home again” Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes With forgiveness in His voice He said, “Son”, He called me Son He said, “Son do you know I still love you?” He ran to me and then I ran to Him When God ran