30 July 2008

Because He Loves Us

"We should not present our petitions to God to prove whether He will fulfill His word, but because He will fulfill it; not to prove that He loves us, but because He loves us." Desire of Ages, 125 or 126

18 July 2008

timmanah in africa

Nearly two weeks ago, as I was away from home, my family, some friends, and visited a park. After visiting the salmon, walking past a creek, and kicking around the soccer ball, we were ready to leave. But for some reason, we still stood visiting for a few minutes outside our vehicles in the parking lot.

One in our midst noticed the park ranger as he checked the garbage...empty.

I forget just how the conversation started, but it soon turned from trivia about the park to God's amazing grace and the way He provides for His children--even when they have size 13 feet.

Tim and his wife Hannah are coming closer and closer to the day when they will head for Texas and begin their training to join Africa Mercy, where they will spend two years as medical missionaries. I recommend visiting their blog,
"timannah in africa", to read more of their stories.

As God would have it, almost every person in our circle of friends had foreign mission experience, either short-term or long-term, and Tim's story touched a deep chord with us. One suggested that before we all leave, we pray for him and for Hannah, which we did as we circled around him on that quiet summer evening.

What a blessing and encouragement it was to hear Tim's story of faith! Our prayers and thoughts will continue as they embark on this adventure with God.

09 July 2008

Lavender Sacrifice

On my morning walks, I've been memorizing. A large project, I manage a few new verses every day, and a little review. Now I'm in chapter four, the hardest yet.

It's also the shortest yet, and I therefore expected it to be easy. But then there were the last bits:

And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."

My mind filled with questions: How does that work? Do they ever eat, or even drink water? Does a life of endless praise and self-sacrificing service get dull, or does every moment of praise heighten the awareness and sharpen the vision of God in all His array of beauty?

My human doubts battled hard, telling me not to trust in the One to whom I owe my all. But as I sat at my desk, counting a rediculous number of coins, the door opened.

A greeting from a local plumber, a shimmery bag full of lavender buds tossed from a workman's hands into mine, a thank-you.

"I harvested my forty plants this year," he said. "I enjoy their beauty, but I enjoy other people's happiness more."

I knew he told the truth, and that it worked--that living to serve others and praise God brings the highest fulfillment, the deepest joy. I see him live that truth.

One of the happiest people I know, he spends his days looking for and expecting appointments made by God, handing out loaves of bread or books or even lavender sachets for the ladies and candy bars for the men, praying with people after he fixes their toilets, spreading the gospel with his words and smile.

Even for him, he told me, the beginning of that lavendar harvest was a struggle. But he chose to do it, and as he began giving away his fragrant bounty, he reaped a greater harvest of joy.

Another Scripture comes to mind, then, giving the best recipe for life there is: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God."

07 July 2008

Children of the Waves

We've been visiting beaches together for twenty-five years, he and I--my whole life and most of his, a quarter century.

Our mother and father, the originators of this beach visiting, had loaded us up in their car, driving us to the water's edge. To this day we sit on the same sides of the car as we did when we were small.

Most of "our" beaches have been rocky or coarse; this was one of our first sandy, smooth, barefoot-friendly ones. The grains of sand squealed as they massaged our running feet. We played frisbee, he played guitar, I drew (or attempted to do so), we pieced together crab corpses hollowed out by the waves and the sand.

Hours later, hungry, we drove to another beach just down the road, for we cannot seem to get enough of the good sea air, and head for home reluctantly only when we are cold.

02 July 2008

Wondrous Thought

"It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin." (Desire of Ages, p 48)

01 July 2008

Working through Writers' Block

This familiar chair holds me this morning as it does every morning, patiently bearing my burden, knowing not that today inspiration comes slowly. It merely does its job consistently, knowing no haste nor delay.

This morning, I am to write a letter, as I often do, weaving words into eye-catching pictures of gratefulness. I know just where I want to go--to God's kindness for all people--but today my route, my map, seems especially evasive. Which flowers, which trees, should I photograph along the way?

I stare out the window, watching a friend park an audaciously large and bright vehicle at his office across the way. Another friend drives past in a humble little white car. It's even smaller than my humble little white car.

I think how kind the mechanics were to me yesterday in my ignorance, my near tears at the effort of learning their foreign language. I think how kind my father is to patiently translate for me at every turn, how generous my boss is to consult with me, adding his translations to my father's.

They, little thinking how much it means to me, offer a grace from God Himself.