Monthly Archives: May 2013

Too Busy to Stop and Listen?

Gulls on the shoreEvery day I make a list of what I hope to do. And spring is a busy time, so I have long lists. Lawn to fertilize. Perennial beds to cultivate. Trash to burn. Seeds to plant. And on it goes.

For my office I also have lists. I’m so list-conscious, I find it difficult some mornings to sit quietly and meditate on God’s Word, draw out an application and listen for the voice of the Spirit. It takes discipline to quietly count my blessings and lift my heart in worship. My list makes me itchy to get going. My mind is going off in a dozen different directions. Those flowers that need planting. The article to write. The repair job. The chapter to revise. The bill that needs paying. The letter to be written.

A-a-gh, mind stop AppleBlossChurchwandering. Relax. Be quiet. Be open. Let God whisper to your soul.

I’m way too action-oriented. Too bound by to-do-lists. Do you have that problem? Now, I wouldn’t want to slouch through each day doing nothing constructive, but I wonder sometimes if I’m too addicted to crossing off completed tasks on my list. As if my sense of worth is dependent on how many tasks I can complete, not the quality of the tasks: quantity not quality.

In order to be wise about what we do, we need to have a sense of God’s priorities. For that we need to learn to listen in quietness to His voice. Does not the Psalmist write, “He leads me beside the quiet waters.” And it is beside those quiet waters that “He restores my soul” and gives direction. Does God not say, “Be still and know that I am God,” and “When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent”. (See Psalm 23, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 4:4).

The Lord Jesus had a much more crucial to-do-list than anyone could ever have, LilacLogHousebut he left his disciples and the crowds and went up on a mountain to be quiet and pray. (See Matt. 14:23.) From earliest times, God established the sabbath principle, that we should set aside one day in the week to come apart, to worship, to rest, to be quiet and listen to his voice. That doesn’t mean we should fill the whole day with church activities.

We desperately need to program times of quietness, periods free from activity, seasons when we lift our hearts heavenward. Times to be still; to listen. Workaholism is not valued in heaven.


Giving Thanks for Green

For months the landscape lay grey and brown, ochre and dun. Prison grey. Dirt brown. Grey trees lifted imploring fingers toward the wane sun. Tattered brown blankets wrapped the fields in slumber. Even the evergreens—the spruce and pine and cedar—straggled into spring in tarnished dresses of dingy oliAngus on a farm near usve-drab.

Then spring came, and green burst out all over. Grey days quickly become magical green days. Every morning became an Amen of praise to the Divine Artist, a gentle symphony of awakening life heralded by the blush of spreading green. Gentle green. Subtle. Fresh. Vibrant. In a myriad of soothing shades.

Ponder the miracle. Almost overnight grey was banished from the fields of winter wheat. The ditches come alive with shoots of green. The crocuses flowered. Tulips and daffodils brightened the brown border. Wildflowers rose from the litter. The twigs of all the forest trees, according to a timetable choreographed by the Creator, began to swell and stretch. Slowly, the leaves unfurled and stretched toward the warming sun.

???????????????????????????????Spring is like a smile, suddenly transforming a face tight with sadness. Or a subtle blush spreading on the face of a young woman at the sight of her beloved.

Every spring I’m bursting with thankfulness for . . . green, yes, green, as a pigment, green as a symbol of life and hope. What would our world be without its soothing shades? And yet in the few short weeks since this resurrection has occurred, I tend to forget—take it for granted, like so much else that comes from the Creator’s Hand.

Forgive me Father for everything I take for granted! And now that I think of it, what about blue, the colour of sky and water, red that announces cardinal and rose, orange the hue of pumpkin and tangerine, and violet the colour of lilac and amethyst?

If I take colour for granted, what about apples and zebras, bread and butter, coffee and x-rays, dandelions and water? Paul wrote, “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”(Eph.5:20). Clearly, I’ve got a long way to go before I reach the borders of thanksgiving country.

From Philippians we learn that a dearth of prayer laced with thanksgiving Sugar Maplepromotes anxiety.(Phil. 4:6) Colossians teaches us that “overflowing in thanksgiving” acts as a catalyst to encourage our growth in Christ.(Col. 2:7) Colossians also links vigilance to thankfulness.(Col. 4:2) Failing to count our blessings, to name them one by one, makes us careless, spiritually lazy, and dangerously naïve—the dark territory into which I stray too often.

And so, Lord, help me to be thankful for the simple things—all the things I take for granted—including all the colours of the rainbow, but especially green. (Check out Psalm 136) For further inspiration thoughts drawn from nature see Through A Country Window or Down a Country Road at:

A World of Explosive Potential

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScant weeks ago, the deciduous hillsides stood lifeless, clothed in their brown and grey winter cloak. As the sun rose higher, it sparked a resurrection. In the buds at the ends of maple and poplar and oak branches, sap tickled forth life. The buds began to swell. And in scant days tiny new leaves split open their winter cocoons and peeked forth.???????????????????????????????

We’re so used to this happening every spring, we think nothing of it. But when we look closer it seems miraculous. How could those dry, scaly buds—each bud distinctive, by the way—have the potential within them for such delicate new leaves to form? How did the Creator craft such a thing? A package so tiny and yet so resistant to winter’s frigid breath that it could contain the embryos of the miraculous food factories that leaves become????????????????????????????????

Now as I look out my window, a myriad subtle shades of green clothe the hillsides in a cloak much fancier than Joseph’s coat of many colours.

Actually, the miraculous mantle of green we now see all around us is but one example of a world full of explosive potential. And most of that latency has been packaged by the Creator in miniscule capsules. A piece of fluff that becomes a giant cottonwood ???????????????????????????????tree. An acorn that grows into a mighty oak. A tiny seed that morphs into a plant yielding mouth-watering tomatoes. A drop of water that becomes a snowflake.

And what of an embryo that develops into a baby? Each baby is born with astonishing potential. Will he or ???????????????????????????????she grow into another Einstein, a Michelangelo, an Alexander Graham Bell, or a Florence Nightingale? More important, will that child become a person full of love and compassion who adopts orphans, or stands up for the downtrodden, or reaches out to a tribe living in superstitious fear. Often those with the least promising start in life and the most disabilities surprise us with their potent talents.

What about the potential for good in a kind and encouraging wor???????????????????????????????d? The possibility that dawns with each new day? The potency of a prayer uttered in desperation and faith? Even the possibility contained in a 140 character tweet—for good or ill? The power of an idea? The uplifting effect of love, the soothing power of forgiveness, or the encouragement found in a hug?

None of these top the potential in a simple message, the good news of the gospel. It’s about the Son of God came and dwelt among us, died in our place for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day. He is now seated at the Father’s right hand from ???????????????????????????????where he will return. It’s good news because, the moment we really believe Jesus and his mission, we are transformed—born again. Our slide into the mire and muck of our own potent selfishness is halted and rise up to begin our ascension of a mountain of new possibilities.

All over the world from Ethiopia to India to Indiana, people a???????????????????????????????re being turned right side up by its simple but dynamic power. That happened to me when I was 19. I hope and pray it is your experience. If not ask Jesus right now to come into your heart and become your Savior and Lord.

To read more country inspiration read Down A Country Road at or ebook, Through A Country Window at or