Sixty miles west of Seattle the Olympic Mountains get soaked with almost 17 feet of precipitation a year. About 10 miles from there at sea level the sun-drenched village of Sequim logs a mere 16 inches. After massive weather systems from the Pacific dump their dampness in the higher elevations, there’s little left for those who live in the “rain shadow.” But they can choose to travel from arid to fluid in no time.
Two thousand years ago God walked the dusty roads of today’s Israel. He told a woman who’d come to a well for water, “Those who drink this water (from the well) will get thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life.”
If your soul is parched and nothing seems to slake your spiritual thirst, it’s time to step out of the shadows of doubt and, by faith, tap into the Water of Life that never runs dry.
Two of our grandchildren and I just spent an afternoon with one of the world’s top composers of music for TV and film. After thirty-seven years in Los Angeles he and his wife are back in the Northwest. His state-of-the-art recording studios sit amidst twenty-three, densely treed acres of old growth timber.
Having worked with the best in the business, he’s traded Burbank for the backwoods, yet the world still beats a rhythmic path to his door.
Not talent, but putting in endless hours of practice and performance is his recipe for renown. Paul the apostle adds this important perspective: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Like sand sifting through your fingers, summer is too quickly making its annual migration to the southern hemisphere. Our planet is streaking through space at 67,000 mph, yet it seems we’re standing still.
Each of us, tortoises and hares alike, wants to make the most of life’s journey. Some do so in the spotlight while others play valuable roles backstage. Our Creator plays no favorites. He loves all of us equally.
The clearest evidence of that is the cross on which He sacrificed His life to pay sin’s penalty for every person of every station in life. A no-strings gift that’s ours for the taking. He’s bigger than the trackless universe, yet intimate enough to know your name.
“God the Father made God the Son, Jesus Christ, who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Christ we might become right with God.”
Sometimes the most curious object captures your fancy for seemingly no good reason. Tugboats do that for me! Plodding up and down the pacific waters of Puget Sound, they silently maneuver vessels outrageously disproportional to their size. Their captains expertly navigate crowded harbors and narrow canals, steering clumsy barges and skyscraping container ships safely in and out of harbor.
Describing the power of the human tongue, Jesus’ brother James writes, “(Although ships) are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.”
Will the words from our tongues today bring refreshment and hope to others? Who’s piloting your ship? Is He the one whose “Be still!” calmed the storm?
Do you have a “cousin Vivian?” Mine has tamed the English language to do her bidding. Words muscle their way to cut in line, vying to be chosen by her. She recently relayed this pithy premise:
“Things are not falling apart. They are falling into place!”
That’s actually the title of a book I have not read. But it makes perfect sense to those whose faith is in a loving and just God. When your emotional footing crumbles, let these words from Paul replenish your hope deficit:
“If God is for us, who can be against us? … nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.”
Don’t you wish you had a cousin Vivian to toss you a lifeline when you need it most?
Ever heard of someone being “hard of walking?” Or “hard of thinking?” “Hard of ______” has for five centuries been used to mean “having difficulty doing something.” Aging can make us “hard of hearing.” An estimated 37.5 million Americans are experiencing hearing loss. Very few use devices to mitigate their loss.
Stephen Covey writes, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Ernest Hemingway adds, “Most people never listen.”
The Good Shepherd tells us, “"I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me….” As a result, we read, “They follow Him because they know His voice.” One wonders if sheep experience hearing loss. Or if they heed an impostor.
Truth is … “They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice." Many voices are cued up to distract us from hearing our Good Shepherd. Their distraction, if surrendered to, can be our destruction.
Your sails are billowing, inflated by a steady breeze gliding you along effortlessly. Like you’re being propelled by an unseen hand. Your health is good, relationships are on an even keel, and there’s cash in your ATM. As your $140 t-shirt says, “Life is good.”
Then, out of the blue, there’s a pink slip. Or your doctor calls --- something about your last blood draw. Or the one whose love you were so sure of leaves. Pick a crisis, any crisis. All you know is “Why me? Why now? Get me out of this @#$% mess, God. And I mean NOW! I can’t take any more!”
As the infomercials shout, “BUT WAIT! If your problem is solved NOW, you’ll miss our special bonus.” Really? What’s that? New Testament writers Paul and James say there’s value in life’s valleys. That’s where we learn to stay the course. That builds character. And that produces hope.
God has a nugget of blessing buried under every pile of manure for those who trust in His Son, Jesus. So, don’t waste your struggles. If you learn to not waste your struggles, you may have a future in waste management. Whaddya think?
Silhouetted against a robin’s egg-blue sky, a majestic bald eagle is carving sweeping figure-8’s. Another eagle, perhaps its mate, glides toward the first. Nearly touching wingtips, they catch an updraft and race out over Puget Sound before returning side-by-side, their white crowns gleaming. Now and then they wave their wings to piggyback a passing zephyr and float along the next leg of their magic carpet ride.
The One who created this aerial ballet provisions them daily with food and feathers. Not one dies until He gives the okay. He also knows your name and the number of your days. That’s why He says …
“Don’t sweat what you’ll eat, where you’ll sleep and what you’ll wear. I’ve got the backs of each flying, crawling and swimming critter, and I’m able to care for you.”
Have you tucked your trust under His wings so that one day He’ll scoop you up in His grandest updraft yet?
While you have a few seconds before your next crisis, you check your smartphone’s news app to see what’s shakin.’ Is it wise to travel overseas now? Does the “mass” in mass transit portend mass destruction? Are our children safe at school?
Has civilization unspooled to the point of no return, regardless of who we vote in to lead and protect us?
“Fear not.” This phrase appears more than 365 times in the Bible. It is God’s Son’s counsel for every situation where His followers feel out of control.
Today Jesus’ words still ring true. “Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into My presence so that you will be where I am."
Do you believe that? Enough to stake your very life on it?
“An optimist,” it’s said, “is a fellow who believes that a housefly is looking for a way to get outside.” How many eternally positive people do you know? Folks whose glasses are forever half-full.
Schroeder, swimming in his oversized catcher’s mitt and chest protector, trudges to the mound, plops the ball in Charlie Brown’s glove and sighs. “Charlie, it’s 3-and-0 again, bases loaded. Still nobody out.”
Charlie shrugs, “What’s gone wrong?”
Schroeder ponders, then replies, “We live in troubled times.”
Indeed we do. But the One who made and loves you offers this counsel in the Manufacturer’s Handbook: “Don’t be anxious about anything. Instead, talk to the Lord about it, and He’ll guard your heart and mind and will be your Peace.”
With Christ, you are an eternity optimist. Isn’t that a game-changer?