Tag Archives: God

The Promise of the Present

Carl was clearly upset. Even though he wanted the spot in front of the fire, he didn’t want his sister Bee to occupy his place on the sofa. She looked too comfortable and he didn’t like it. He should be occupying the space that she now claimed as her own.img_4878

Carl is no stranger to jealousy. Many times in the years that he has lived in our home, he has displayed a streak of envy towards Bee. It has been very difficult for him to see the benefit of the space he currently occupies. Too many times, Carl would rather be somewhere else.

How often do we want to be somewhere else in our lives? When I was young, I wanted to be older. When I was single, I wanted to be married. When I didn’t have a child, I wanted one. And the list goes on and on.

God only promises us the present. It is His gift to us. Whatever our present situation is, is what He wants us to be grateful for. 2 Peter 3:8 states, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

God is not bound in time. He knows our future and our past. He understands our desires and needs. Most importantly, He wants us to cherish the moments and situations that we are presently experiencing. Too often, we spend too much time focused on being out of a situation that we are in.  This mindset can only rob us of the gift of the present.

Carl will probably never understand the value of being content in his present situation. He will continue to desire what he doesn’t have, particularly when it involves his sister Bee. But hopefully over time, he will see the blessings that he has been given, no matter where he is lying.img_4879

Outside Looking In

Carl’s nose was pressed against the French door as he watched the people inside mingling around. He wanted to come in but the electronic door wasn’t working and he seemed to be stuck on the outside. IMG_4601

How many times have you ever felt like you were on the outside of a group or situation and just didn’t know how to get in? I know I have felt this way many times in the course of my life.  I have wanted something that others had and felt the insecurity that comes when I didn’t feel like I measured up.

Hagar definitely struggled with being on the outside. She was an Egyptian maidservant living in the home of Abraham and Sarah. Looking in on this couple, I am sure Hagar longed for her own husband and a man to love only her.

To make matters worse, Sarah told her husband to take Hagar as his second wife and bear a child. Instead of being happy about conceiving Abraham’s child, Hagar began to detest Sarah for the situation she was now in. Genesis 16:4

It is easy to understand Hagar’s feelings. We have all felt the nagging anger that comes when our lives don’t turn out like we expect them to. And to make it even more difficult we seem to draw others around us that appear to have just what we want.

So what do we do when we are stuck on the outside looking in? How can we be content in all situations?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

So the next time you start looking through the glass from the outside, take your focus off of the people inside and look towards Christ. Paul was so right, only when we focus on our savior can we be content with any and every situation.

Carl doesn’t have the ability to see beyond the glass and the humans that are mingling within the confines of the room. He only has the capability of focusing on what he sees. But thank goodness God created us with an eternal perspective that can help us see beyond the confines of this world.IMG_4427

The Truth About Angels

Carl is no angel.  He is far from it. If I get too close to him while he is dozing on the couch, I have learned that if he is irritated by my proximity, he will let out a quiet but effective growl. This is his way of letting me know that I need to back off.IMG_4061

Just recently, I have been doing some research on angels and their spiritual purposes. It is amazing how many myths have been written about them and how we humans have a very shallow understanding of these invisible but real beings.

I don’t want to be a myth buster but I do believe that angels are real and have a specific purpose. First of all, angels are only male. There is not one single female angel mentioned in the Bible. Given that God created them before He created man and that they don’t die, there is no reason to have female angels flying around.

Another perception of angels that many believe is that they are like cuddling little beings that would only give us a warm feeling inside if we saw one. In every incident that an angel appeared in the Bible, the person practically freaked out with fear.

Angels are noted by the messages they send from God and the protection they provide to believers. Michael, the archangel is known for the battles that he has fought against demons while Gabriel is known for bringing messages to Mary, the mother of Jesus and to others.

The cool thing about angels is that they are invisible but can be transformed into the likeness of a human. And on rare occasions, a human can be given the ability to see them in their spiritual form.

Have you ever had a situation where you saw someone at an accident scene or in a hospital room that was there one minute but gone the next?  It could have been an angel. Or have you ever been on the highway and you were sure that you should have been hit by a car but didn’t? It could have been an angel interceding for you.

Carl has at times provided the inspiration for my blog as well as tried in his little bulldog way to protect me from harm.  Other than this, as much as I would like to believe that he is my little angel, he is far from it. But he does seem a little angelic with his wings. InkedIMG_0916_LI



 

Staying Put

Carl stayed put. He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in moving from his bed. He was cold and didn’t want to take a chance at losing the little warmth that his body had generated throughout the night. Little did he know that even though the heat wasn’t working, there was a little fireplace in the bathroom that was blasting out heat.IMG_4342

How often do we stay put because of the fear of losing what we so desperately are trying to hold on to? Just like Carl who didn’t want to lose the warmth of his bed, we can hold on to things in our lives that can keep us from the real blessings that God has in store for us.

Jesus was constantly confronting people to let go and move forward. In the book of John, chapter five, He addresses a man that had been afflicted with an infirmity for over thirty-eight years. This man had spent most of his time with others that had afflictions at a pool called Bethesda. It was believed that an angel would stir up the pool and the first person to go down into the water would be healed.

When Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, the man told Jesus that he didn’t have anyone to help him into the pool. This could have been true but I wonder if the man really didn’t want to let go of what he had come to know and become comfortable with.

We can all become comfortable and complacent in our present situation, even if it involves emotional or physical abuse. We can become paralyzed by the thoughts of a change in our lives. Too many times, we stay put when just around the corner is a blessing that God has created just for us.

Carl finally got up and walked into the bathroom to see his Frenchie sister curled up in front of the fireplace. Given the warmth of the room, he made his way to another bath mat and laid down and fell into a deep sleep. It was clear that he was glad that he had left the cold spot in the bedroom.IMG_4343

I couldn’t help but think about the many times, that I have forfeited the blessings for staying put in the cold spots of my life. Thank you God for the reminders of your presence that come through my little dog.

Loneliness

Loneliness swept over my little dog like a hurricane swirling onto shore.  Carl starred at me as I left the back porch with a look of sure terror. It was clear that he wondered if I would ever come home and if he would be left stranded in the solitude of his existence.IMG_4232

So many of us experience loneliness on a regular basis. My husband is a courier that travels to remote places where people are literally stranded without human contact. He has shared with me how some people will do anything to extend a conversation so that they don’t have to walk back into isolation.

The other day I was listening to a talk show and the topic of loneliness was being discussed by a psychiatrist. The doctor mentioned that being alone can be just as bad for your health as obesity and addictions. Given our society’s push for independence and how needing people is seen as a weakness, it isn’t difficult to understand why loneliness has become such a problem.

Psalm 68:6 states that God puts the lonely into families. If this is the case why are there so many lonely people out there? In the same verse it states that the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. In other words, when we act independently or prideful and give the air that we don’t need others, we will probably end up alone.

Carl is hardly ever left alone for more than a couple of hours. And when he is left, his sister Bee is always with him. IMG_4037But it is clear that he has an intense need for human contact. Even though it can be a pain at times, we have come to appreciate feeling so needed.

 

Created Storms

Carl was exhausted the day the children left. For eight days he had been totally engaged with the young children and the three small dogs that had come to live with us during Hurricane Florence. Several times, his patience ran out and he had let out a growl to let everyone know that he had had enough.IMG_4212

Thankfully, our grandchildren’s house regained power after a week of being plummeted with strong winds and rain. Several large trees had fallen and there was debris everywhere.  But with minor damage to the house, the children were able to go back to some sort of normalcy.

In times of great storms like Florence, we all come to wonder why God allows these catastrophes to occur. We will never completely understand why but we can get a glimpse of his reasoning through the scriptures, particularly in the story of Jesus walking on the water.

Mark 6:45-51 states: “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.  After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.  He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”

Note that Jesus made his disciples get in the boat. He knew what was going to occur but instead of preventing the storm, he created it. How often do we think God is working when our lives are without troubles? So often when the storms come in our lives, we ask where God is. From this story, it is clear where Jesus was. He was praying for his disciples in the mountains. When our lives are rocked by storms, instead of wondering where Jesus is, we need to remember that he is interceding for us before the Father.

Carl couldn’t understand why he was being faced with his own particular storm. Days of having his own personal space stripped from him made him irritable and out of sorts. But once the storm passed, he returned to being content once more.

“Dear Lord, please help me to have comfort knowing that you are praying for me when I am in the midst of my storms.”

The Power of Love

As Carl made his way down the sidewalk and through the neighborhood, I absentmindedly followed. I was clearly not paying attention as my foot caught the lip of the concrete slab, which instantly caused a stabbing pain to rush through my foot.

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Carl was oblivious to the pain that I was experiencing. He was absorbed by his inner world and what I felt didn’t even come up on his radar. The fact that he didn’t seem to care about my welfare didn’t bother me too much. I know that I can be as insensitive to the needs of others when I get too wrapped up in my own affairs.

As I write this, I am sitting in an airport with a wide assortment of different kinds of people packed all around me. But with the closeness of all the people, I have no idea who they are and what their needs are.

Matthew 22: 36-40 gives us a clear picture of how God wants us to become.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

As we go through this life, we need to discover the love of God that can only come from Him. Once we understand His love for us, we can begin to love ourselves. And lastly, once we have the love living in us that only He can create, then and only then we can love our neighbor.

So often, we don’t love ourselves enough to give to others. If we can understand how much God loves us it can transform us into confident people that can go beyond ourselves to meet the needs of others.

As for Carl, I know he will never comprehend this concept and thus will never be able to love others. It will always be about him and never about the people in his life. But that is okay. He is only a dog.IMG_4071