Redeeming the Time

 

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“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray………” Luke 5:16

“Our conditioning as members of a consumer society prevents us from abandoning hope that, with sufficient planning, we might yet be able to see and do everything. To move slowly and deliberately through the world, attending to one thing at a time, strikes us as radically subversive, even un-American. We cringe from the idea of relinquishing, in any moment, all but one of the infinite possibilities offered us by our culture. Plagued by a highly diffused attention, we give ourselves to everything lightly. That is our poverty. In saying yes to everything, we attend to nothing. One only can love what one stops to observe. “Nothing is more essential to prayer,” said Evagrius, “than attentiveness.”
― Belden C. Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert

I read this wonderful book years ago and it has remained with me ever since. I believe it holds a very important message for our times as the world and the people in it seem to be moving at a faster and noisier pace than ever before. What does it mean to be fully in the moment of our lives? Do we skim over our days not fully touching down until we collapse in bed and wonder where the time went?

Do I treat people like things to check off my to-do list or do I give them my undivided attention?  I don’t know much but there are certain things I am absolutely sure of. I know that one day, I will give absolutely anything to hear a story I have heard a million times before and the voice I love telling it. I will hear the silence where they used to be and maybe my heart won’t be able to take it.

Listen to the stories, look into their eyes. Hear what they are saying, the desperation and earnestness behind it. Slow down long enough to honor them as individuals the way we would like someone to do for us. We don’t get to decide who’s worthy, God says we all are. That’s what real love looks like.

What makes a good day for you? For me it means that I was able to keep my finger firmly on the pulse of the day most of the time. I felt it from the time the sun came up until it went down. It made for a happy day, a fulfilled day. I rode my bike over ground I covered in childhood. I felt the bumps in the streets, I saw things, beautiful things. I took pictures so I wouldn’t forget.

I took care of Elaine who is recovering from carpal tunnel surgery. It was a joy to return a gift she has given to me many times. I got to go to the store with Mom and Dad both, one to the grocery and one to the pharmacy. I went to Lowe’s to look at flowers with my Aunt.

I was in the moment most of the day. I  wish I  could say I have this  down, but too many times I  fail miserably.  But that’s why God knew we needed  days.  They are strung out like pearls until this life ends and eternity begins. The thing is, we can  never be sure when one ends and the other starts.

I like how the King James Bible puts it here:

Walk  in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming  the time.  Colossians 4:5

And this one:

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is within your power to do it. Proverbs 3:27

And just maybe I can try to repeat today what I did yesterday.

 

When God seems distant

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There are times in every believers life when God feels distant. I have described this feeling in some previous posts on this blog. It’s a season I am going through, nothing more, but it’s disconcerting to me. My thoughts run something like this:

I used to talk to you God, and tell you everything. I used to enjoy the glow of Your Presence in prayer and while sitting in silence. I used to feel your Spirit leap for joy within me while out running and listening to music, or even doing simple chores like vacuuming. What’s different now? Is it me? Am I doing something wrong? I feel as if a scoop of something has been taken from my soul and I want it back.

For some reason, words seemed to come much easier when I was in Arizona, but then I had more time to reflect as well. I worked long hours when I worked but I was off 3 and 4 days at a time. Circumstances aside,  this lack of flow has been disturbing. I used to talk to God with the familiar and easy relationship of a father to his daughter, but now there is a blockage and I am navigating through it the best I can. Maybe it’s simply this:

When God seems distant, maybe He is asking you me stretch my faith. Maybe it’s just that easy. He wants me to ride it out, knowing that the Bible assures me that others have gone through these times as well. I can rest in my assurance that God hasn’t gone anywhere.

In times such as these I draw strength from King David. Listen to his lament in Psalm 13 verse 1:

How long Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

But David knew His God. Though His feelings were valid; people were searching him out to take his life after all, He knew in His heart he was not forgotten. Listen to what he says in verse 5.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

He had the key to success. He drew from the well of experience and memory and remembered all the times God had been there and he knew that God hadn’t changed. Can it be that it’s as simple as continuing to draw on all those answered prayers, all those times of closeness? More importantly, that God is who He says He is and will never leave His children behind.

This morning as I stepped down my little road to the prayer shack, I heard not one but two owls calling back and forth. Thank you God, that’s a gift.  Another gift He presented me with was the honor of having my photos shared on another blog today. I never expected that and it was a very good day to start my day. You can see them and also have the pleasure of some wonderful works shared by the talented Glynn Young here.

I am grateful this moment as I type these words. The sun is partially shining today and that’s another blessing. We have waited all week for this. Maybe today I will go the used Bookstore and turn in my CDs and get a little credit. It’s a good day God.

I thank You for it. I rest today in Your sovereignty, Your love, Your gracious Presence. This daughter loves you.

 

Onto the green…..

In everything give thanks……..Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

As I walked outside this morning, I glimpsed one of those magic Arizona sunrises that I knew I had to capture. I got my camera and drove across the street to the golf course, where the golfer’s church, their form of Sunday service I suppose, was just about to commence. The announcer’s voice…..the morning lineup of who would tee off….

I thought, I could just about get used to this kind of service.

I don’t know if God was with them, but He was certainly with me.

Thank you precious Lord, for giving me the eyes to see You.

And this.

Amen

Always the Same

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7,8
 
God could have made every sunset and sunrise the same…..but He didn’t. I wanted to show these one after the other to show how beautiful and how miraculous each one is all on its own. They never happen just the same way…..
I’m not sure what these little birds are, but they were very entertaining. They raced to the retreating waves to dig for sand crabs, then they would race to escape the waves when they came back in. Sometimes they would get caught and have to fly out of the way. They didn’t like getting wet! A lazy seagull waited, watching them with interest. He tried to steal their spoil when he noticed they had something. Lazy guy.
This is the sunset I captured, racing breathless to the sea right before it sank beneath it’s depths on the other side of the world on our last night there. As my lungs burned and I tried to catch my breath, I watched as another work of art was displayed before my eyes. It was like watching a prayer…..
And I got a bunch of these pelicans flying right above the surf looking for their breakfast……
Since the beginning of time, when God set it all in motion, these events have played on. Sometimes we are so mired in the circumstances of life and the stress that surrounds us that we don’t notice, yet still they keep unfolding….just like God’s grace.
It is encouraging to me that whatever happens in my life, Jesus always stays the same.
All photos taken in Moss Landing, California by me

Wow, I missed blogging!

I am still on the road……veered off the path back to the desert to visit the Pacific Ocean for two days. It was a spontaneous idea but one that was necessary. Traveling with challenges sometimes makes one do things that are off the beaten path a bit, but it will only set us back one day.

The ocean has always been a mirror to me, a picture of God’s glory and power and magnificence. It always stops me in my tracks. I got some wonderful photos last night and froze…..but it was all worth it. I can brave the elements to stand next to the pounding surf….

I hope to blog again later……And thank you for all your prayers during this trip. They were much needed and appreciated. I am learning to count the miraculous moments, the gifts God has given us this trip. I hold them up to the light today, His light.

I am thankful we have kept our sanity thus far. It was touch and go many times. Elaine’s Mom had taken two falls by the time we pulled up into my folk’s driveway. She had also refused to stay with her brother, who lived 40 minutes away. She thought she was still in Arizona. In the end she did stay, and Elaine got a three day break before picking her up again.

The cross gets heavy at times, but we know His cross was heavier than anything we could begin to imagine. He will carry us through…..

The God Who Sees

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Genesis 16:13

El Roi…..The God who sees. One of the names of God. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a God who sees us? Who notices what we do?

We all want to be seen……be noticed. Even nature commands our attention……..

It invites us to look…..deeper. And it always points toward its Maker………the Grand Designer of us all.

Our God is the God who has searched us and known us……just as we want to be searched and known by others…..especially the ones we love.

Something in us wants to be remembered……..and we want others to remember the ones we have loved……even little cats spelled with a “K”

Few words this week folks…….one of those “treading water” weeks.

As timing would have it I came down with a killer cold the day before I got a new trainee at work. So I have been drugged up with Dayquil and fortified with Vitamin C during the day, and knocked out at night so I can sleep and get up by 4 am.

Two more days to go……God is good. He has kept me going. I can almost see the end of the week in sight.

Prayers please for my caregiving friend who just may head off to parts unknown really soon if she doesn’t get some relief……

all pics taken in and around Payson, Arizona by me

I see the moon,
The moon sees me
God bless the moon,
And God bless me…….old nursery rhyme
 
When Elaine first noticed the dome of this moon barely cresting the top of the Superstitions, she pointed and said, “See you later.” I grabbed the camera and went to the back gate, which was malfunctioning (again). I did a very fast three point turn and by the time I got across the street to the golf course, it was already this high in the sky………
 
I promptly forgot everything I learned in my photography seminar about ISO, Exposure modes and all the rest. In my haste to get the shot, I threw my camera back in auto mode. What can I say? It was just coming up too dang fast!
 
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. Psalm 8: 3-5