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The Best-Laid Plans
This year, thus far, has been one of surprises - and maybe some disappointments. Look at what all we've missed (thus far):
- Some birthday celebrations
- Graduation celebrations
- Doctors' appointments and surgeries
- Play dates
- Church services
- Easter celebrations and Easter egg hunts
- Sleep overs
- School and in-person classes
And that's just a short list. Add to that limited shopping, no toilet paper in stock, no hand sanitizer and no swimming pools in boxes to buy. The world has gone haywire, and we're all a part of it!
Did you know that the line, "the best-laid plans of mice and men" came from a poem written by Robert Burns? Robert was plowing his field at the end of the season, and he accidentally ran over a mouse's nest in the ground. The wind blew all the nesting materials around and then they were gone. The poor mouse had no more house. The poet went on and on about how sorry he was for destroying the mouse's dwelling place and for causing the mouse to be homeless - and at such a cold time of year (this was in Scotland). Finally, 37 lines later, we find (in the language of Robert Burns) the lines:
"But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
in proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men
Gang aft agley,
An'ea'e us nought but grief an'pain
for promis'd joy!"
Which, loosely translated, says,
"But Mouse, you are not alone
in proving that planning may be all in vain:
the best-laid plans of mice and men
often go awry
and bring us grief and pain
and not the promised joy."
Proverbs 19:21 says something along the same lines.
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
We have the ability to make plans all we want, but as we have just seen, up close and personal, not all things come to pass as we intended, did they? What happens when we get shut down, when we have to cancel plans and disappoint our kids or even ourselves? Fortunately for us, it's not the end of the world! God is in control, and it is through God's will that we see what He wants for us to plan and do.
There's another passage in Proverbs that says (Proverbs 16:1-4):
"The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.(He sees into your heart and knows your intentions)
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble."
Since we're all still semi-isolated, although in some places, the tension is becoming less, we still have been given time to read God's Word and see what He wants us to do, what He wants us to become, and how He wants us to live and conduct ourselves, not just during this pandemic, but for all of our time on earth. The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom - short verses that say a lot - most of the verses that will make you go, "A-ha!", or "Really?" or "I never thought of that before." There is laughter in some of the verses, too, so if you've never delved into that book of the Bible, go check it out! And maybe next time, we'll figure out where "I never promised you a rose garden" came from.
God bless you!
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The Command to Love
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Love. It’s such a multitasking word. It causes us to see stars, fireworks, cupids, hearts, chocolates and flowers. It gives us breaking hearts, hurt feelings, fearfulness and pain.
Her heart was broken; the tears wouldn’t stop. What had been such an unimaginably beautiful beginning so many years ago had turned into a nightmare, involving not just her, but her children. Where was the love that was supposed to last a lifetime? Where was the faithfulness that was supposed to remain until death did them part? It was all gone. Everything was broken.
“Love one another. . .” so Jesus told His disciples after washing their feet on the very same night He was betrayed by one of His own disciples. Did His heart break, too? Did all the time He had spent with Judas mean so little to Judas that he could throw away the promises of Christ for 30 pieces of silver?
“As I have loved you.” Jesus’ love was more than a physical kind of love that men and women have for each other. It was more than the love of a mother or father for their children. It was more than the type of love one has for his friend or neighbor down the street. Jesus’ love was – and is – the kind that goes deeper and never ends. His love is the kind that forgives even those who break His heart, who break their covenant with Him, who walk away, who think they can do whatever on their own. His love is enduring, stronger than anything we can throw at Him, patient to the end. His love went to the cross where He laid down His life for His loved ones. His love was to the souls of us.
Our love may be able to break us and leave us devastated and cynical. Maybe our definition of love is not the same as God’s definition. Maybe it’s because we make love all about us instead of the other person. We think we’re thinking about the other person, but only so far as that person treats us well and we can love them without much effort.
When love becomes so corroded that hate replaces the emotion, what do we do? How do we even manage to love as Jesus loves us with all the pain and hurt in our hearts, in our lives?
Love is so much more than hearts and flowers, so much more than our feelings, so much more than us.
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life -
I know that it is finished.
Words of Song by Stuart Towend and Composition by Larry Shackley "How Deep the Father's Love for Us"
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Is It Over, Yet?
Well, has it ever been a crazy ride, no?
Since April 5, at least, we've been in isolation with a new term to learn - social distancing. And new fashion accessories - face masks. And gloves. If we think this is strange and an infringement on our "rights" to do and be what we want to do and be, we've had it easy compared to some other states. Now those have been strange and possibly infringing on the rights of those people. And who's to say that with the restrictions we've had to consider, our state has probably had one of the lowest number of Covid cases and deaths in the Great 48 (States), so there is that.
I am not one to spend much time worrying about what's going on, especially since there's not much I can do about changing whatever is going on. However, I can do my part to try to keep my family and me safe, no matter what the opinion is of anyone around me. I have spent more time wiping down door knobs, light switches, computers and their peripheral parts, and washing my hands and those of my kids, over and over and over, again. Have our feeble attempts to beat the current bug been successful? I'm not sure, but since no one in my house or family has been stricken with any symptoms, I'd say God has been merciful and kept us from the virus, thus far. Again, I really have nothing to do with the outcome, but I trust God and that's good enough for me (and my household).
Being "stuck" at home has not been a hardship for me, either. It's very seldom that I've been able to take off days at work since I've been in the work field, so this "down time" has been a blessing. Not that I've cleaned my house in the interim any more than usual, but I wasn't having to get everyone up at 5:45 AM, dressed, fed, loaded into either a 5-skinny-passenger Kia Soul or move three car seats into a 12-passenger van, take care of two dogs, a fish, grab my purse, camera, extra pull-ups, find my keys, glasses, and get into one of the above vehicles in order to drop one kid off at the bottom of the hill so he could catch a bus, and then head into town before school started - but wait! Where are my shoes?????? Nope, I haven't missed those mornings one bit!
As the restrictions gradually lift in our city, I find myself hesitant to jump right into the fray, again. I'm taking a "wait and see what happens" stance as others test the waters - will our numbers increase? Are we still at risk? Does it matter?
I'm okay with the slow-down effect this has had on us as a nation. We haven't "gone under," and our economy is still perking. The end of the world may be coming, but it has been coming since it began, and God's still in charge. Did you hear that? GOD is still in charge and it's HIS world. Why all the craziness that's going on? Because we messed up so long ago, and that so-long-ago mess up is still with us, today, so we see the effects of our sin in the Covids that come through our world. We feel the effects of illnesses that take away our loved ones. We deal daily with ugliness and hatred and violence - and we will, because that's our world due to the effects of sin.
When this pandemic locked us down, it was on Palm Sunday, April 5, a week before Easter. Does that seem coincidental? I don't think so. That last week before Jesus was nailed to the cross - for us - He spent a lot of time with His disciples. He spent a lot of time praying to His Father in Heaven. He was preparing Himself and His friends for what was to come. He dealt with all the ugliness and sin of the entire world, and He died on the cross - for us. He knew what we would be dealing with in our lives, what our children and families would have to deal with as they lived and grew up in this world. So He died on the cross.
But what changed? The world is still here. There are still evil people in the world. Viruses still exist. We still deal with our own highs and lows every day. What difference did Christ's death have on us?
Well, the fact that He didn't stay dead is a big clue. Other than the few people that Jesus brought back to life after they died during His ministry, how many people do you know that have come back from the grave in your lifetime? I'm not talking about medical disasters where someone is accidentally pronounced dead and then they sit up, scary as that might be. Jesus rose after three days in the tomb, some of those hours spent walking in Hell and showing Himself to be conqueror over evil and Satan. He demonstrated His power over death, over evil, over viruses, over everything that causes us to fear whatever it is we fear. He gave us the promise of life with Him when we die. He gave us unconditional love. He gave us the opportunity to share this message with the rest of the world. He gave us hope. He gave us faith to believe Him.
The change was for our spiritual nature - that part of us that ties us to the eternal realm. He is giving us time to get right with Him - which He has been doing since the world began. If you have made it through this time without succumbing to any disaster, you still have time to get it right. His love is alive and He's offering you the chance to live with Him in eternity. Get into His Word (the Bible) and find the truth. Your opportunity to get to know Him isn't over, yet.
"For God so loved us - and everyone He created in the world - that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus (who lived, died and rose again), so that if you believe in Him, you will not perish - suffer complete ruin and destruction - but have life everlasting." (John 3:16)
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The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."
(1 Kings 19:11-12)
Good morning, Lord!
It's been a while since I've just sat and talked with you, taking time to just listen to Your gentle whisper. I was talking to my daughter the other day and she said, "What should I do when I grow up?" and I said, being the pro-woman that I am, "Whatever God tells you to do." Well, with any adult, that probably would have been a conversation stopper, but not with my daughter! "How do you hear God talking to you?" At 7:30 AM while driving to the CDC, that was a good question.
Fortunately, I'd had my half cup of hot caramel mocha with non-fat milk, and I said, "Well, you have to listen - like I'm listening to you." And when she started talking again, I interrupted her and said, "This is a good example of why we don't hear God answer us, because we always interrupt what He might have been trying to tell us and we start talking again. Sometimes, God takes a while to answer us, so we always need to keep God close in our hearts and minds and maybe remind ourselves that we're still listening to Him throughout the day."
As she looked at me and I looked back at her (we were at a LONG stoplight intersection), I said, "I pray for you all the time, that you'll be kind to others and help any of the kids in Summer Kamp who need a friend - even if that person has not really been nice to you. It's hard to be nice to mean kids (especially if they don't want to play with you), but you just listen and see if God doesn't give some words to your heart that will help and not hurt that person back. Maybe all that person needs is a friend and a little bit of love. And this I know for sure - God gave you a heart full of love - so you share that love with your smile and your kind words, and you'll grow up doing just what God wants you to do."
Thank You for the good morning, Lord!
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