Savoring the (Subtle) Seasons

My husband’s grandmother used to call Florida “samey,” and after a short stint here moved back to the vibrant seasons of North Carolina. But now that we are full time residents here, we marvel at the subtle changes that indicate the turn of seasons.

As a dry, clear winter turns through spring, clouds appear, making for dramatic dawn and sunset skies, and offer some shade, even if not yet rain, during the days.

Dawn over Tampa Bay, AprilDawn in springSunset April

Gardenias and hibiscus are in magnificent bloom, and certain palms and trees boast prolific fruit and flowers not seen nine months of the year. Sand dollars babies cover the bottom of the sea.“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I think of my new season of age, stage, and place. The weather of circumstances and location has brought subtle changes to routine and daily priorities. The ‘Potentate of Time,’ Master of all seasons, calls me to display His attributes, to bear fresh fruit in the present. (John 15:16)

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one…for behold the winter is past. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.” Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Lord, through every season may I savor the subtle ways You work, and bear much fruit and song and fragrance, to Your glory.

Whose to Choose?

Back in our home town of thirty years, spring is lush, abloom, and dinner with dear friends a feast. I read in Leviticus 18, “You shall not do as they do in Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. If a person does them, he shall live by them. I am the LORD your God.” 

I hear God say, “You are not to be identified by your place, where you lived, nor where you are now living, but by Me. You are not to be ‘like’ either people, but ‘like Me.’

This reminds me of Joshua, approaching Jericho and asking the man with drawn sword before him, “‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’ And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.'” (Joshua 5:13-15)

SIngapore church, open window

My identity, my call, is to be my Redeemer’s, and while He places me in a new community and culture, He is the One I am to be marked by, the One I am to reflect. O Lord, thank You for this!

Following Jesus requires inverted thinking, taking on a heavenly, eternal, other-worldly  perspective. When presented with different human viewpoints, we need to seek God’s.

Lord, when I am tangled in choosing this or that, cause me to look up and choose Thee.

Tassels, Frontlets, and Obedience

Numbers 15 commands, “Make tassels on the corners of their garments…and put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all of my commandments, and be holy to your God.”

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses also commands, “These words that I command you today shall be on your hearts. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them on your hand, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Patmos, John's cave of exile

Not only is the Lord clear in His instructions to us in His word, He is generous in His reminding us to recall them, absorb them, and obey. Tying a red string around our index finger was His idea! Where and how am I establishing these remembrances? How easy it is to read, then rise and ‘follow after my own heart and eyes.’ When I’m steeped in His word, I learn to think, love, and live differently. “Blessed in the man who…delights in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1,2).

Your Spirit reminds and teaches me (John 14:26; 16:13); Your word, dwelling in me richly, lights my path (Colossians 3:16; Psalm 119:105). Thank You for the tassels and frontlets you give that remind me what You say, and to heed.

On My Side

“This I know, that God is for me. In the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:9-11

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

By my side, Cohen and Presley

“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. The LORD is on my side as my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7

What comfort, what strength, what motivation and encouragement to know that God is for me! He is on my side! He has my back, He is cheering me on, abiding with me, constantly coaching, guiding, guarding me. We are on the same winning team. He Who is in me is greater than any enemy in the world (1 John 4:4).

May I live in this confidence by appropriating this truth that You, God Most High, are for me. You are on my side. Allelujah.

Wobbling, or balanced?

I rode my bicycle to the farmer’s market yesterday, and bought snow peas, okra, onions, bok choy,  peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, and a triple berry scone. My bag more than filled the basket on the front of my bicycle, and as soon as I put up the kickstand, I was swayed by the extra weight and had to adjust to keep balance. It affects everything to carry a burden.

What weight of anger, anxiety, resentment is throwing me off kilter? What burden of extraneous activity, or sloth, is wobbling my peace? For what heaviness of heart for others, compassion, love, and helping– do I need to make adjustment, so I can balance what God calls me to do? “Cast your burden on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. [Cast] all your anxieties on him, because the cares for you.” Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:19

 

Bethel

“God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there.'” (Genesis 35:1) What an invitation! God beckons me personally. God bids me up from everything else. God points me to the place “where he revealed himself” and God blesses there, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai] , be fruitful and multiply.”

Jacob's Ladder- Delft

The earlier Bethel was where, 20 years earlier, the LORD appeared on the ladder, the mediator between heaven and earth, where Jacob committed to follow, to trust. Since then, Jacob now describes, “God answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”

Bethel. House of God. God bids me come. I hear. I ‘put away foreign gods, purify myself, change my garments, arise, and go up’ to meet Him there.

Thank You, LORD, for making the way. Thank you for your voice and our meeting place. Thank You for daily pillars of remembrance and recommitment and the sweetness of knowing we have communed. Thank You for the call to go from Bethel and be fruitful, in the strength of my God Almighty.

Irrepressible Light

A thick grey flannel cloud hangs heavily where a fat moon rose last night, as though trying to suppress the red sun from rising. But as swarms of small black birds swoosh in ringlets and swirls, I see pink powder blushing that army blanket. You can’t hold back the light. It is strong, irrepressible, and changes everything.

Naples sunrise red, pink

Even fish are jumping in praise to their Creator, leaving circle songs reverberating in the wiggly water. Birds make a symphony, singing their various melodies, tweets, and chirps, and the now-broken clouds amble like sheep across the brightening east.

Dawn w clouds and light

“All creatures of our God and King,                                                                                                 Lift up your voice and with us sing,                                                                                        Allelujah! Allelujah!                                                                                                                        Thou burning sun with golden gleam,                                                                                         Thou silver moon with softer gleam,                                                                                                 O praise Him, O praise Him!                                                                                                  Allelujah, Allelujah! Allelujah!”                                                                 

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

O God, Light of light, rise in my heart, color my countenance, make my life distinctly different because of You.