Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If we had Known... part 2

      The story...From the rural Illinois countryside, to the woods and streams of the Upper Peninsula. From corn stalks, to tree trunks. From an establishing farm, to establishing another farm. From a mission field of sorts, to another mission field of sorts. This was...so we thought, God’s plan. We were going to move: to uproot ourselves after over seven years of living in Illinois, and replant ourselves in Michigan. 

      Well...as far as we could discern, that door closed just as firmly as it had opened. Why? It had been so spine-shiveringly clear, down to the very house we were to live in, and the very church we were to attend. Why? In addition to God’s direction, we genuinely liked the UP. My family and I had been “much taken” by its natural beauty. It fit our desires to the “T”...or did it? We had seen God direct our steps, pointedly guiding us to a new home and a new work for Him. Why?

      God knows our desires. His infinite understanding of the souls of men allows Him to lead us to plain paths when the paths are not plain to mortal eyes. His providence is not troubled by human difficulties. His mind is not limited to our hemisphere. To say that I know entirely why the Lord lead our family to the UP, but not to actually move there; why we spent months searching for His will and ended up in... Montana of all places; to say I  know entirely why God led us in the way that He did would be ridiculous. His ways are passed finding out. As Isaiah says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

      While we don’t know entirely why, God has been revealing to our family part of the why  behind His leadings, a why that we really could not have dreamed up. We are not always given the reasons behind God’s leadings. Sometimes we can see them only in retrospect. Sometimes we will not know until eternity. Right now, it is delightful to trace the providences of God, and His very special leadings over the passed few years. In His all-knowing wisdom, God knew why He was leading us to north-west Montana. As I review the way the Lord has led, I can say as a wise woman said, “Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” - {LDE 72.1}

Friday, February 24, 2012

If we had Known... part 1

      If we had only known...Could we, an ordinary family with mortal human eyes, have seen as God sees—the end from the beginning; could we have known what God knows—the outcome and fulfillment of His will; could we have thought as God thinks—higher than our highest thought; we would not have had it any other way. The same God who in infinite wisdom permitted Joseph to be sent to a strange country, who allowed Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to be carried away to Babylon, who ordered the footsteps of Abraham—though he knew not where he went, still works in the affairs of His children. That same God cares for the fulfillment of the deepest desires and inmost longings of the heart of His children. That same God ordains that we should first find in Him the satisfaction of our hopes, the quenching of our thirst, the desire of our hearts, and then He will give above, beyond our wildest imaginations. 

      My heart is full. How can God be so good? He has led. He has chastened. He has guided. He has shown Himself in ways we heretofore had not known. Just as He cares for each sparrow chirping in the bushes, He cares even for us. Through darkness, God walks with us, showing us where to step. Through testing, He is there beside us to strengthen our hand. Through bewilderment at His goodness, He blesses us even more, even more than we can know. How can God be so good?

      The plan of the all-knowing God encompasses more than where we are to move next, what we are to do next, what our next work for Him is to be. He sees beyond the immediate, beyond the affairs of this life, even to the life to come. At the same time our loving Heavenly Father cares for the desires of our hearts. His plan makes no mistakes. His hand does not let go. Even when we know it not, God is working out the best possible way for us. It is beyond our human insight to comprehend the love and unfailing care that God has toward us. Again I say, had we only known...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Monument of Time

On the holy Sabbath day,
These ones the fourth command obey
Six days' time is past and gone,
But these, the remnant, won't work on
For at setting of the sun,
The blessed Sabbath has begun
This, a monument of time,
Reveals a higher paradigm
Through its hours the remnant spend,
Each moment with their God, their Friend
Time with God means more than life,
To these, Christ's faithful bride, His wife

Finite minds don't comprehend,
The days before this world will end
But there is a people pure,
Who through that final test endure
Death and torment they will face,
But God's commands they won't disgrace!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Speak Lord

Oh may I hear the whisper,
Each faintest, softest call
And quickly send an answer,
To heaven's waiting hall
Speak Lord, for Your servant hears,
Enlighten now my mind
Open now my deafened ears,
That You my soul may find

The Spirit speaks with power,
Convicting me of sin
Unpleasant though the hour,
Again I say within
Speak Lord for Your servant hears,
Please quiet not Your voice
Though it's message comes in tears,
Conviction is my choice

The voice of God brings healing,
To those who are in need
He knows with what we're dealing,
His word restores indeed
Speak Lord for your servants hear,
What are our woes to You?
You beckon to "Be of good cheer",
For You will see us through

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Contrast of Shadows

      Shadow A: What could be as welcome on a blazing summer day than a cool spot of shade? Work is more pleasant when the heat is moderated by a shadow. As Job says, “A servant earnestly desireth the shadow.” Job 2:7 The sunlit colors of summer seem brighter when contrasted with the outline of a cloud. Under a large deciduous shade tree, the air feels more invigorating and refreshing. Shadows from its’ leaves make the sunlight dance across the lawn. Even a dog will find itself a shady cove from which to watch the world.

      Shadow B: Dreary, long, shadows make their way closer to the already shaded forrest. The world has the appearance of gray, lacking in...sunbeams. It is bereft of the definition that the bright sunlight makes with, yes, the shadows. As evening draws nearer, there isn’t even a reflection from the sun. For the moon and starry host are hidden above a clouded sky. The earth really lacks definition now. These shadows stand in stark contrast to the shadows on a summer day. Even “...the light is darkness.” Job 10:22

      With God, who is “our light and salvation,” shadows have a very different effect than when we dwell in darkness. Shadows in the sunlight create definition that is beautiful to behold. Shadows in the darkness? Is it any wonder that the Psalmist says, “..the valley of the shadow of death”? But with God, life is different. “If I say, Surely the darkness” of some deep trial “shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me” for God is with me. “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” – Ps 139:11-12

      God’s promise is, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16. He will make darkness light. Even the night is something bright because of Christ’s presence. The shadow of God is a place of comfort to His children, a place of safety. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1 God’s shadows are bright, brighter than the brightest light without the sun.

      Shadows will surely come. They are a part of life on this earth. In the natural world, the contrast that shadows give often can create something beautiful that would not be if it weren’t for the shadows. In the spiritual world, shadows can have a beautifying effect on our characters. Shadows aren’t always beautiful however, even on a sunny, summer day. They have no doubt ruined many a photographers’ efforts. How do we respond to the shadows in our lives? Do they beautify us because we are in the presence of Jesus? Or do they embitter us, ruining the portrait of Christ’s character? Do we share the sunbeams of the Savior’s presence with those with whom we associate? Or do we cast shadows on the pathway of others? Let us be sunbeams in the shadows, for the contrast is beautiful. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gather the Roses

      The promises of God: what a precious blessing they are! They encourage, strengthen, uplift, ennoble. God has given them already, it is up to us what we will do with them. Will we cherish them? Will we search for them? Will we share them with those in need? Will we value them? The promise of God are like flowers: Very beautiful when you stop to look at them, but they will not stop the busy passer-by. We must take time to pick the roses. The Heavenly Gardener has many flowers suited to each need. He knows exactly which flower to give, which promise to put before our eyes at the time of greatest need. Here are a few of God's flowers. 
      "Your life is precious in the sight of God. He has a work for you to do. It is not unfolded to you now, but just walk on trustingly without a single word, because this would grieve the dear Jesus and show that you were afraid to trust Him. Lay your hand in His; He is reaching over the battlements of heaven [for it] to be laid confidingly in His. Oh, what love, what tender love has Jesus manifested in our behalf. The Bible promises are the pinks and the roses and the lilies in the garden of the Lord... Do not listen to Satan’s lies, but recount God’s promises. Gather the roses and the lilies and the pinks. Talk of the promises of God. Talk faith. Trust in God, for He is your only hope. He is my only hope." – {DG 146}

Gather the roses, the lilies, and pinks,
Destiny rests upon that which one thinks
Promises brighten the heart and the mind,
But contemplate doubts and thorns you will find

There may be briers that poke and that prick,
But cherish the blooms that near them are thick
Dwell upon trials and thorns multiply,
Though promises blossom in heaven's supply

When thistles increase, and hardships abound,
Look for the blossoms that there will be found
Flowers like promises sent from above,
Bloom bright in trials of patience and love

Contemplate blessings, and more will be seen,
Splashing their colors across fields of green
Dwell in the pastures where God's word is found,
Eating each morning from heavenly ground

Gather the roses, the lilies, each one,
Pick them ahead of the fast rising sun
Think and consider upon heaven's word,
Faith will then strengthen and hope be assured

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another Kind of Painting

      Oil painting is rather forgiving. The paint does not dry quickly, so you can continue to move it around until it is satisfactory. If that does not suit, the paint can be lifted off by pressing a paper towel onto the canvass, or by simply wiping it off. The latter option generally leaves smudges of color, but it works. If the oil paint happens to be water mixable oil, the situation is even better. The paint can basically be washed away. If all of that is of no avail, the paint can be left to dry, and painted over with a new layer. 

      Painting is time consuming. A picture is not made in an instant, or a moment, but with persevering care, over a longer period of time. Sometimes the canvass must be laid aside until it is ready for the next step. It is not forgotten, progress is still being made. The apparent delay is in truth the next step toward completing the picture. 

      At other times the artist must work persistently until a certain portion of the picture is complete so that it will dry at the same time. It cannot be left aside for another day without risking defects in the final product. It must be done now, it cannot be delayed.

      There is another kind of painting. “Christ is sitting for His portrait in every disciple. Every one God has predestined to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Romans 8:29. In every one Christ’s long-suffering love, His holiness, meekness, mercy, and truth are to be manifested to the world.” - {DA 826.3} Our blessed Savior is waiting for His “character to be perfectly reproduced” on the canvass of His people, then “He will come to claim them as His own.” - {COL 69.1} This work takes time. “Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ.” - {AA 560.3}

      To those who in sincerity ask of God, as did the psalmist, that He would “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7, the Lord answers, “I will; be thou clean.” Mark 1:41 God knows how to clean the canvass of your life. He knows what kind of paint has been used; He knows how to wash away the smudges; He knows how to use the colors that have shaped your life, and the circumstances that have formed your personality to express a fuller portrait of Himself. The picture that I have been painting is not perfectly reproduced. There is work yet to be done. It will take time. Even so, God has work to do in my heart and yours. It will take time, but faithful is He which began a portrait of Himself in our lives, to complete it.