Monthly Archives: September 2015

Prospering in Stoney Ground

One day we took a walk through a park along the shores of Lake Ontario. I wandered down to the pebbly beach. Wave action has broken off zillions of smooth pebbles from the exposed layers of shale—ideal skipping stones of boys like me.

Although the beach seemed sterile and inhospitable, I was amazed to find a flowering plant rooted in the pebbles along the shore. How, I wondered, could it survive in such a barren location? On the way home we saw another remarkable sight, a mossy stonecrop plant growing out of the top of an old highway post.

Windy day at Presqui'le ParkTenacious plants remind me of Christians like Grace Anderson, the 99 year old woman whose memorial I conducted several years ago. Grace radiated a youthful, exuberant spirit until the day she went to heaven. Her hopeful attitude toward life blossomed in spite of trials that would leave many reeling. She went as a single missionary to India as the flames of war engulfed Europe. She ministered during the Indian independence movement in an apparently barren town in the north. Her first term was nine years, in order to wait for her betrothed. Back in North America, she and her family struggled to find housing and jobs when their 23 year career as missionaries ended. Her secret? A desire to please God and do His will and a persevering faith in her Lord.

Flowering plants growing from stony soil also remind me of stories from around the world. People rising from the ashes of poverty and sickness in Mozambique to flourish for God. A Christian released from prison, choosing to return there to minister to other prisoners. The joy of a converted biker and drug dealer—transformation changing a ruined life. A Christian woman in Pakistan refusing to deny her faith in Christ in order to escape possible execution. The church multiplying in Iran in spite of virulent opposition. Children refusing to convert to Islam when threatened with death.

We don’t have to look far for examples of people flourishing in spite of grievous trials. I’m sure you’ve met many. The flowers of faith, hope, and love seem to blossom most prolifically in the lives of some of those suffering the most from job loss, ill health, disappointment, persecution or tragedy.

In yielded souls, nothing can keep God from bringing blessing out of barrenness,

beauty out of ugliness, godliness out of wickedness. “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). “Is anything too hard for the Lord” (Gen. 18:14)? Whatever is going on in your life right now, He can fix it. He is not only the Creator, He is also the Re-creator!

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

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Enjoying Simple Pleasures

Enjoyment comes in many forms. A holiday at the seashore. An affirming friendship. A wide-screen TV. A candlelit dinner at a high end restaurant. A Sunday afternoon nap. The smell of a new car. Reading a good story while sipping a cup of coffee.

But as I think back over my life, I’ve often been disappointed by experiences anticipated or things desired passionately. My first portable radio quickly lost its fascination. Our first new car turned out to be a lemon. Disappointment has not dogged my steps, but I’m gradually learning to appreciate the simple pleasures of life.

God has given us five senses to use in the enjoyment of his gifts. “God gives us richly all things to enjoy.” Many of these simple things flow around us unheeded as part of the natural world in which we live—unnoticed until we pause long enough to stop, look, and listen. And most of gifts are free!

Sight. The sun rising in the morning and the moon at night. Cumulous clouds drifting across the sky. The breeze ruffling the leaves on the trembling aspens. Swallows dipping and diving for insects. A squirrel eating a peanut. The unfurling of a flower. Words on paper telling a wonderful story. Snow covering everything in a white blanket. And letters in the mail.

Taste. The first asparagus of the season. Ripe, garden-grown tomatoes, cut thickOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and eaten juicy on a slice of freshly baked bread. The taste of one’s own home grown beans, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers. A freshly picked cob of corn smothered in butter. A bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. And, ah yes, a steak broiled on the BBQ.

Touch. A hug from a grandchild. The encouraging touch of a friend. A kiss from A Wright family dinnerone’s sweetheart. The feel of opening a new book.

Hearing. The enthusiastic harmony of a congregation singing, How Great Thou Art. The chatter of a c???????????????????????????????hild. A phone call from a friend living far away. The wind rustling leaves in a tall oak. The chatter of a goldfinch.

Smell. The scent of freshly plowed ground or cut grass. The fragrance of lavender or the earthy pungency OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAof a forest glade after rain.

How very kind of our Heavenly Father to have kept me from great wealth lest my appreciation for simple things become jaded. No costly caviar nor expensive wine for me: better a burger or a fresh-brewed cup of coffee, the sight of towering storm clouds or a rainbow after rain.

Lord, take envy far from me. Instead give me the good sense to enjoy the pleasures you have spread all around me—the simple pleasures of life.

Why Do the Shorelines of Lakes and Oceans Attract Us So Powerfully?

Cobourg harbour1A few months ago we moved to an apartment near the waterfront in a town on Lake Ontario. The pier that juts out into the lake, daily attracts scores of people coming in their trucks and cars for no other apparent reason than to gaze at the water. It’s a strange, but universal phenomenon. And one we share. Almost daily, we amble along the shoreline.

If we could, we would probably invest in a lakefront or ocean property. However, the premium charged for properties with water frontage makes such a dream unrealistic. What is there about oceans and lakes that inspires such adulation and competition for frontage?

KayakI’m sure part of the attraction concerns the fun to be had at a beach. Swimming and frolicking in the water. Kayaking and surfing. Boating and water skiing. Fishing.

Perhaps it is also the sight and sound of waves endlessly lapping on a beach. From as far as our eyes can see, the waves march toward us hypnotizing us into a pleasant state of reverie. Unless they crash on the beach in a wild storm, the sound of the waves mediates a sense of tranquility. Their regular rhyMary Helen on Myrtle Beachthm soothes our frazzled spirits in a hectic world, whispering, “All is well.”

Or perhaps we are attracted by how expanses of water reflect the infinitely varied moods of creation. One day calm and tranquility reigns. On another day gentle waves lap the shore. Then a violent storm lashes the shoreline with towering breakers. The rising sun paints the surface with astonishing colours. Evening comes and people OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgather at the shore for another free and unchoreographed light show from the Divine Artist. As darkness deepens the moon rises gilding the waves with silver.

Our oldest son credits the magnetism of shorelines with the views they give of distant horizons. Most of our lives are spent with the walls of buildings or trees limiting our view. But at a beach, we can gaze off to the horizon without anything impeding our vision. This somehow expands our spirits giving us a mysterious sense of wellbeing.

Perhaps it is that very mystery that intrigues us. Below the surface there is an unknown universe so we invent snorkels to see below the surface and diving suits to probe the depths of our oceans. And yet they resist all our attempts to uncover all their secrets.

Perhaps it is the human desire to conquer or at least to get to the othPicnic at the shoreer side. We can’t walk on water like we do on land. So we invent canoes and sailing ships to traverse this mysterious element. We teach ourselves to swim. But in spite of all our attempts to conquer expanses of water, we cannot parcel it out like we do the land. It refuses to be domesticated. We can pollute it but not conquer it.

Squalls change the temper of our lakes in a moment, sending boaters fleeing to harbour. On the ocean, tides rise and fall answering alone to the moon’s gravitational pull. Storms drive tidal surges that crush our puny attempts to limit the ocean’s reach. Cities like New York and New Orleans reel from their effect.

When we venture out of our controlled environments to visit a seashore, the distant horizon humbles us. There we come face to face with something vast and mysterious that resonates with the human heart. At the margin between land and water, we sense something almost incomprehensibly Ocean along Maine coastvast. Where did it come from, we muse? We slip back to Creation and feel the, often unacknowledged, presence of the infinite and all-powerful God.

The Lord God, “who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand” (Is. 40:1 NKJV) invites us to bring our joys and troubles to Him. He who spoke and 322,300,000 cubic miles of water came into existence has the capacity to understand our concerns and meet our deepest needs.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )