Tag Archives: Sunshine

Blooming Out Of Season

Two months after the rest of my shasta daisies had ceased blooming, almost overnight a lone daisy poked up its cheerful head. What led it to bloom as the days got colder and shorter? The blooming season for flowers in this part of Southern Ontario is ending. The hostas are wilting. Even the petunias look the worse for wear. The fall mums have lost their sunny sparkle. We’ve had a frost and a week of rain without much sun. And still my solitary daisy blooms!

This single daisy reminds me of people who bloom in difficult circumstances.??????????????????????????????? Most of us can rise to our potential when we have a good job, reasonable health, supportive friends, and regular sleep. When everything is sunshine and roses we can smile and whistle a happy tune. But that’s not so easy when cancer strikes, or gossip destroys our reputation, or the Taliban besiege our town, or we face an impossible task.

There’s the cheerful woman in her late 90’s who still comes to prayer meeting, cracks jokes and loves to spread a ray of sunshine around her retirement home.

There’s Diana, beaten, molested and told she was stupid and worthless who after kicking her addiction to drugs cajoled government to help her develop successful businesses for ex-psychiatric patients.

I’m reminded of Thomas Edison who kept on experimenting through hundreds of failures until he perfected a light bulb.

I think of children who remain hopeful even while going through chemo-therapy and worse.

Consider the survivors of the Muslim attack on the Northern Nigerian town of Yelwa that killed 75 in their burning church building. Despite threats the surviving Christians boldly rebuild their church.

What about the young woman fighting against the tide of despair to rescue Ebola orphans in West Africa?

Then there is Malala, shot and almost killed by a Taliban a sympathizer just because she stood up for the right of girls to be educated. Undeterred she continues to agitate world-wide for universal education. A worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

I think of the retired pastor who earns enough during the year to travel half-way around the world so he can encourage persecuted Christians and train pastors.

What of the scores of Chinese, Ethiopians, Koreans, and westerners who ignoring warnings about Muslim terrorism go to spend and be spent in dangerous parts of the world. Against all rational odds, SIM has more missionaries from more countries now in the challenging mission field of Pakistan than it did when things were much easier.

Second Timothy 4:2 exhorts preachers and teachers to, “Prea???????????????????????????????ch the Word; be prepared in season and out of season.” Clearly, we need teaching about God’s grace in Christ when things are going well lest we become complacent; and when we plunge into difficulties lest we be discouraged.

Whether we are preachers or not, we should all aspire to bloom in every season by displaying the godly characteristics of love, patience, kindness, joy, peace, gentleness, faith, and goodness. Indeed, Lord, help me to bloom like that daisy even during dark and cold days.

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Why Talk About The Weather?

Winterloghm, cropped“Can you believe it? Last Monday it was fifty degrees; today it’s minus fifteen.” Or, “Did you get much snow?” Or, “It was raining cats and dogs at our place!”

Weather is one of the first things people talk about after asking how we are. Why? Well, it’s one of the few things we all share in common. If it rains, it usually rains all over town. If the thermometer goes down to minus twenty, we all feel the chill. Weather affects all of us—even in our climate-controlled homes. Comments about the weather enable us to meet others on common ground. They show we share a common humanity.

And since we all share weather, stories about torrents of rain in Vancouver, tornadoes in the Mid-west, or minus 40 degrees in Whitehorse arouse empathy. After all it could have been us whose roof blew off. We feel compassion for those who suffer the ill effects of extreme weather.

Why talk about weather? It’s a safe topic. A discussion of religion or politics might raise our blood pressure. But who’s going to disagree when we comment on the seesaw nature of our winter weather. Of course, if we get into global warming, the discussion may heat up. If we start with weather in our conversations, we can ease into more serious matters later.

Why weather? We can usually complain about it without being thought of as a OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnegative person. Of course, there are always those perennially cheerful people who would have found a silver lining in the forty days rain in Noah’s time. No, really, don’t we all need a little harmless outlet for our frustrations? The weather just is. It doesn’t have a voice. It can’t fight back or complain to our therapist. Now, if we start moaning about bunions, aching backs, creaking knees, acid reflux or any of the myriad ailments most of us struggle with, we’ll be branded with a scarlet ‘H’. He or she is a hypochondriac. Horrors! Save me from wearing the scarlet letter.

Charles Warner, not Mark Twain, said, “Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it.” Well, isn’t that good? Weather is substantially beyond the reach of human manipulation.

Now that is controversial. We are told that global warming has been caused by human irresponsibility which in turn has unleashed extreme weather. I agree that we ought to stop deforestation and commit our industries to ecological responsibility. But on a micro-level, where we live, there is very little we can do but plant trees and buy more environmentally friendly cars.

SunsetA little grumbling about the weather probably doesn’t hurt us as long as we maintain an overview like that of John Ruskin. “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of weather.” And above all, let’s remember, God sends the rain. (See Matthew 5:45.)

Spreading Sunshine not Gloom

These November mornings I find myself taking longer to wake up and shake off the aches and pains of arthritic joints. I hobble down the hall into the kitchen, fumble with the coffee maker then collapse on my overstuffed armchair content to ease into the day slowly—very slowly. It’s downright annoying and quite humiliating. Where did the vigor and energy go that had me jumping out of bed to embrace a new day while I sang the hallelujah chorus? Okay, maybe my memory is a bit cloudy here, especially when it comes to singing anything.

If I let myself, I could easily feel as gloomy as the yard outside the window looks. Leaves litter the grass. The flowers are shriveled husks. The deciduous trees are bare, except for some beech and oak whose leaves hang on longer. I face another day of November rain or early snow with four or five months of winter ahead. And I haven’t serviced the snow blower yet.

Everything reminds me of the verse, “outwardly we are wasting away”. Now, that’s the way I feel! And as I look out the window, that caption could be written beneath all the broad leaved trees. In late fall and winter, it takes a very discerning eye to separate the living trees from those that are dead. Sometimes a canker on the trunk of a tree betrays the inner rot. Among others woodpecker holes signal the presence of carpenter ants eating their way through the heartwood.

But inside, most of those trees are very much alive, just waiting for the spring. And what about us? Isn’t there more to that verse than a lament about our aging bodies? Ah, here it is. “We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Daily, the Holy Spirit refreshes our spirits by reminding us that not only does God love us now, but He is preparing a bright future for us. “In my Father’s house are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

Lord of heavenly glory and earthly help, enable me to see beyond the seen; beyond the temporary pains and problems into a future bright with glory; a future that is eternal. And help me to be a cheerful glory-spreader instead of a gloom dispenser. But, and this is a big but, help me to be real and not just plaster a smile on my face. For shiny, artificially happy Christians are insufferable.

Clouds Do Not Extinguish The Sun

I commented to a friend the other day how welcome the sun was after so many cloudy and stormy days. An inveterate optimist who seems to always discover a silver lining in otherwise gloomy circumstances, she pointed out that the sun was always there, even when hidden from view. To ensure that I didn’t miss the spiritual application, she also reminded me that the Lord is always with us even when things look dark.

I don’t often appreciate people turning an innocent comment about the weather into a soapbox. But this particular friend is such a sunny Christian who faces challenging circumstances with laudable faith, that one can’t be annoyed with her. Don’t you wish there were more positive, hopeful Christians committed to spreading sunshine wherever they go? In my case, her comment has inspired me often to revel in the promised presence of our triune God—and led to this devotional.

The Bible is replete with reminders of this truth.

                The Lord is my shepherd…He leads me…He restores my soul.

                He guides me…I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23)

 It ‘s hard to imagine someone facing more challenges and difficulties than David. And yet he was able to pen not only the twenty-third psalm but many other gems. The following verse from his pen, I often claimed during our missionary years:

                I have set the Lord always before me.

                Because he is at my right hand,

                I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

 Jesus warned his disciples three times about his coming death, an event that could have totally shaken their faith. To prepare them he explained; I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.…He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. (John 14: 16-18)

 Then just before his ascension from their sight, gave them the Great Commission Embedded in that command was his promise:

                And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:20)

 Knowing that our Lord is present beyond the veil of sight, will not deliver us from troubles. Economic challenges will sometimes stymie us. We must continue to remain vigilant in traffic. Illness may lay us low. Sorrow could dog our footsteps. Relationships may falter. Persecution might come. But we will never be alone.

 Angels will be attending our pathway. Jesus Christ will be praying that our faith fail not. The Holy Spirit will be within us empowering us to resist the enticements of our own fallen nature. The Father will be operating behind the scenes so that all things in our lives will work out for our good and His glory. The Holy Spirit will be interceding for us with groans that words cannot express. All the resources of heaven will be bent on carrying us triumphantly to heaven.

 We live in a fallen, chaotic world prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and wars. But as the hymn writer reminds us: Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

 Although sometimes hidden, the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. (Psalm 84:11)