When Shadows Come

It was sunny all day which made a long ride on the Interstate enjoyable.  The views were beautiful as the landscape changed from flat lands and swamps, to mountains and rivers.  From morning to evening we observed the works of nature giving hints of location and changing seasons.

Noon held the sun at its highest point but the afternoon hours sent the sun’s warmest rays.  Then, almost without noticing, long shadows from tall trees lining the highways, stretched long, dark shards of darkness across the roads.  Like icy fingers, the shadows choked out warmth and sent shivers across my skin.

For no apparent reason, an uneasiness crept over me.  It was momentary but I didn’t like it.  Questions I didn’t want in my mind sprang forward; questions like, are we going the right way?  Is the traffic getting too much to handle?  The GPS was operating.  Nothing had gone wrong all day.  There was no logical reason to suddenly doubt our direction.  Traffic had been thick along every turn but nothing had gone amiss there either.  I concluded that all was well in spite of dark shadows smothering out the sun’s warmth and trucks filling the lanes as far as one could see.  Our journey took us to our intended destination and all is well.  I drove through the shadows, enjoying the touches of sun that still peeked through branches before evening would send it away for the night.

Thoughts came to me that dark shadows and warm sunlight are pictures of what happens in our spiritual world.  There we are basking in the light of God’s love, truth, peace, and joy.  Then, with no warning, dark shadows of doubt casts depressing thoughts into our minds.  Troubling questions may tumble about, upsetting peace and fading away joy.  Lies that we are not really loved, that we are not as good as others around us, that our dreams are too far to reach, shatters happiness.  Hope is choked away.

It can happen ever so quickly, because in an instant, the lies of the enemy Satan can be shot from darkness, casting ugly shadows across what we know to be truth, sending us into a swirl of confusion.  The warmth of peace fades.

Satan works hard to steal our peace.  He is a thief.  He lies to us.  He is the father of lies.  He will always lie.  He will forever seek to cast shadows of fear.  This behaviour of his will never change, but there is good news.  Something else will never change either: the truth of The Son will always shine its light, dissipating the dark shadows of Satan’s lies.

When shadows appear, look for the Light.  Call for the Light.  Walk in the Light.  When Light comes, darkness must flee.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

Training Jack

Our dog, Jack, has a morning routine. I let him outside after sweet wake up cuddles. After about half an hour he comes back inside and eagerly looks up to the shelf where we keep his peanut butter sticks. (It’s a healthy alternative to rawhide; much better for your pets.) He gets his beloved peanut butter snack, throws it in the air a few times, rolls on it in his happiness, and then devours the tasty morsel. After that, Jack and I head outside for a rousing game of frisbee. It’s a vigorous start to the day for both of us. We love it.

Once in a while as the day progresses, Jack comes inside and glances up hopefully at his bag of peanut butter sticks. “No, Jack,” I tell him, “Only one peanut butter stick a day.” What does he do? He immediately finds another toy, contenting himself with his other playful selections.

There are times, too, when I go outside to discover that Jack has, once again, been digging trenches along the fence. “Jack?” I look at him as he drops his head in a dip of shame. I patiently explain, yet again, why this behavior is unacceptable. He sits with sad eyes and head drooping. When the instructions are over I go inside. A bit later I return and ask, “Jack, where’s your ball?” Oh, happiness again! He finds his ball, trustingly brings it to me, and runs far to receive the pass.

This dog’s trust in my love for him warmly touches me. He knows I love him when I tell him yes, and he knows I love him when I tell him no. It never seems to occur to him that I could easily give up on him, give him away, or simply ignore him, doing nothing more than tossing food and water his way. No matter his naughty trench digging or ripping up his blanket — again! Jack knows all is well and that play time is just around the corner.

If only we humans could be a little more like a dog when it comes to the One who watches over us and keeps us in His watch care. Our heavenly Father knows what’s best for us, not some of the time, but all of the time. He knows when it’s in our best interest to say, yes, and equally when it’s in our best interest to say, no.

When we’ve dug trenches of bad behavior He will never turn His back on us. There may be a time of discipline, but never because He’s getting fed up with us. It’s always because He seeks to train us into His own beautiful likeness.

I know Jack is a good dog. He’s still learning and one day he will no longer be digging unruly holes or tearing up another brand new bed, leaving white foam all over the place. You and I get stronger, too, in our walk with God — as long as we listen to His instructions and continue trying.  Above all, we must hold on to the truth that He loves us unconditionally. We may be tempted to give up on ourselves, but He will always continue to fill us with His own peace and hope.

Instead of despairing when our Father tells us no, I do wish we could be a little more like a faithful dog, knowing without a doubt, He has our best interests in His heart every moment of every day.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; so not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all your do and He will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3”5-6

Another New Year’s Resolution

Have you made a resolution for the coming new year?  What could it be?  Lose weight?  Exercise more?  Eat more healthy?  Quit biting your fingernails?  Be kinder to your neighbor?  The list could go on.

Every new year there are countless people who make a declaration of some resolution that they are going to keep.  Every new year those same countless people will most likely break their resolutions within the first week.  Some will forget what the resolution was in the first place.  Are you one of those people?  You mean well; you want to make a good resolution that will put you on a path to becoming a better person, but somehow success alludes you.  You tell yourself there’s always next year.

There’s good news for the Christian where resolutions are concerned.  There is a goal to aim for that doesn’t have to be forgotten until next year.  There’s a target in our sites that is a joy to hope for everyday, not just once a year.  It’s found in Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.”

Choosing to trust God and choosing to seek Him is a high goal to set for ourselves every morning.  Will we make mistakes?  Oh yes.  Will we greedily choose our own way on occasion?  Again, yes.  So, if we know our attempts will not prove successful on every day of our attempts, then why even try?

The joy is in the pursuit.  The joy is in knowing that our mistakes are forgiven when we ask our Father to forgive.  The joy is in knowing that our Father has a perfect plan for each of us and that He never tires of our attempts to stay on the path of His design.  The joy is in knowing that as we continue to try, we will continue to grow stronger.  As the days pass by, we will discover that we’re walking a bit farther each day without falling.  As the days pass by, we discover that our understanding of God and His ways and of his love for us, deepens.

Choosing to trust and choosing to seek Him is a daily resolution that never grows old.  It is a goal that always brings joy and peace in the midst of any of life’s storms.  Trusting and seeking God is a resolution that will never fail us.