The Shadow!

 “For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. 1Ch 29:15

A fond memory I have as a child, is of making shadow images on the wall.  I was never very good at it, but it always amazed me how different my hands looked from the shadow they made.

One of my favorite shadows is of myself near dusk – I look tall and thin! 🙂 No matter the shadow, the reality is that a form must be there to make a shadow; if not…that would be VERY scary!!!  Actually, the definition for shadow says,  “an area of darkness, caused by light being blocked by something, which usually has a similar shape to the object that is blocking the light and which appears to be joined to it.”

The Bible says that our days on the earth are a shadow.  We usually quote the verse that says our life is a vapor: (Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Jas 4:14)  I suppose it’s the same idea, but there is a bit of a difference: a shadow needs something solid to make it appear.  What is that solid substance that makes your shadow, or life appear to the world?  Is it eternity?

Somehow we have this all backwards!  We are so focused on the shadow!  It would make sense, if we were “of the world” (John 15:19); but as  born-again believers, we are to walk by faith and not by sight!  It becomes all too obvious when we are walking by sight – we focus too hard on the shadow!  The cares of this life overshadow the reality of eternity.  We lose our burden for the lost.  We question the validity of a holy walk.  We start chasing the world’s pleasures instead of laying up treasures in heaven, and we get lost in the shadow!

Think with me for a moment – fast-forward your life.  It’s the year 2112.  If there is still a world, you are certainly not in it!  You are somewhere, or at least the spirit within you is somewhere.  Depending on God’s timetable, your body may still be “moldering in the grave,” like John Brown’s!  What do you see?  Is it a shadow?  NO!!! It is reality: heaven, the streets of gold, the angels and seraphim and cherubim.  Jesus is there with you!  You see Him, walk and talk with Him!  The splendor of this reality is beyond description.  No wonder Paul said, “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”  2 Cor. 12:4  There are no words this side of heaven to describe it, but don’t ever let that fool you into thinking that it is not read!  It is our confident expectation, our promise, our joy, our strength!  Without it, life isn’t even a shadow!

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Does Jesus Care?

We’re just minutes away from taking Nathan to the airport, which signals the close of another chapter.  Where has the summer gone?  Where is life going in such a hurry!!!

Good-byes are never easy, but it helps me to think of all those dear mothers in the Old Country who put their sons and daughters on ships sailing to the New World, knowing that they would NEVER see them again!  Perspective!  To quote my mother, “We are wimps!”

Have you ever realized that you will NEVER have to say good-bye to Jesus?  What a wonderful thought!  In Hebrews 13:5 Jesus says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  I will most likely need to say good-bye often; but somehow, knowing Jesus is with me through it all really is quite a comfort, and makes me think of the hymn Does Jesus Care. The following is a quote from http://nethymnal.org concerning the writer of that hymn:

“Frank Graeff went through some ve­ry dif­fi­cult tri­als. The per­i­od be­fore writ­ing this song was one of great de­spond­en­cy, doubt and phys­ic­al pain. When he turned to God’s Word, 1 Peter 5:7 gave won­der­ful com­fort: “He cares for you.” Af­ter med­i­ta­ting on that truth, Graeff wrote these lyri­cs, with the re­sound­ing af­firm­a­tion in the cho­rus, “O yes, He cares…”

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches
Till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long night dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

Right now, I know someone who is having to say good-bye to a dear father for the last time.  I really believe that when we cast all our cares on him, one of the ways that he cares for us is to numb our hearts so that we can make it through.  Have you ever felt like you should be feeling a certain way, but you don’t?  Those are the moments that our dear Heavenly Father is “carrying” us, as we see portrayed in the poem and picture called “Footprints.”

So, Nathan is gone; his room is empty.  We are staying busy trying not to think about it!  🙂  Life will go on!  And yes, Jesus DOES care!  Praise the Lord!

 

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

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Lessons From the Frozen Fruit Trees

With our unseasonably warm weather in March and then four to eight inches of snow on April 23rd, the fruit farmers are not going to have a bumper crop this year.  As I look across my yard to the neighbor’s apple trees I see very little fruit!

Can the same scenario play over in our lives?  Have you had a season of fruitlessness in your Christian walk, or are you in one right now?  To answer the latter question, ask yourself this question: has there been a previous time in my life when I was walking closer to the Lord and my life was more fruitful? If so, it might be a good time to look at the facts surrounding the situation.

Fact for 2012 fruit trees:

  1. The warm weather came too soon forcing the blossoms to bloom early.
  2. The cold weather came after the buds were forming and killed them
  3. No fruit

Fact for the Christian “fruit tree”:

  1. There can be wonderful seasons of hot preaching and warm hearts that produce the early signs of possible fruit.
  2. Satan has a real knack of freezing out the buds when our hearts turn cold
  3. The same result: no fruit

However, there are some major differences between the tree and the Christian.  For the farmer, he has no control over the weather; for the Christian, a cold heart can be stopped by an act of the will.  Satan whispers in our ears that the preaching doesn’t really apply to our lives or that the preacher is meddling :), and we turn our backs to God’s gentle prodding.  What do you think happens when the sheep are gently prodded but choose to stay on the wrong path?  The shepherd prods harder – the same is true of our Great Shepherd.  Sometimes Satan’s whispers cause the fierce arctic winds of bitterness to blow in and freeze our hearts.  I’ve heard it said that “idle hands are the devil’s playground.”  The same is true of a bitter spirit.  No wonder  Heb 12:15 says “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”  There is nothing more deadly to the possible fruit bearing Christian than a bitter spirit.  Sad to say, it often becomes our blind spot. 

Another major difference is timing: the farmer must wait a full twelve months for another harvest; the Christian can stop the season of bitter cold whenever he or she chooses.  (I must add that there are times when the fight takes longer.  It may be because of our history of “coldness” and God needs to keep us in the trial longer to teach us.  However, there will be “sweet release” in God’s time if we stay on His path. See 2 Sam 24.)

The only solution for the fruit farmer is to plead with God over his crops.  As a Christian, we have two weapons in our defense against the deadly freeze: prayer and surrender.

  1. We must stay close to the heart of God in prayer.   “And He walks with me and He talks with me…” and I talk to Him.  Stay in touch with the Good Shepherd.  Talk to Him often and allow Him to speak to you through His Word.  No one likes a one-way conversation, including our Heavenly Father!
  2. Yield to His way.  This is the most difficult part of the Christian walk, but do know that a genuine walk with the Lord IS a walk of constant yielding.  When is it hardest to yield – ALWAYS!  We must yield because there is a difference of opinion between ourselves and God:  His path is not the path we want to take.  Unfortunately, we like our sins.  Notice I said WE!!  I see it all too clearly among my own branches!  Yielding requires us to be dead to self.  That’s tough, but if we could only see the blessed fruit hanging abundantly upon our branches because we HAVE yielded, we would never hesitate.  The other unfortunate factor is that we do walk by faith – the yielding of our heart’s will must come before the yield of abundant fruit!  Don’t take my word for it – look in the Book.  Just take a look at Psalm 119 and see all the blessings that are promised to the one who yields and follows.

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Duty or Delight

I’m heading to a Dodge Ball Teen activity.  I’ve made the taco fixins’ and am just about ready to roll.  I keep telling the Lord that at age fifty-three, it’s time for someone else to do teens!  Aren’t I too old, tired and grumpy?!!

For any of you ladies that are in the Sunday School class, this weeks lesson has me thinking about “A Heart of Love.”  What is love?  How do we show love?  Who or what do we love and why?

Do I love these teens – yes.  Do I want to play Dodge Ball – no!  Sitting and reading a book (actually, sitting and WRITING a book) sounds good to me; but duty calls.  And here’s the lesson, folks.  When I get over to that gym, duty turns into delight.  I will probably play ball (and my body will rebel tomorrow morning!), but I will love it!

Why do it?  Because somewhere down the road, I pray that a life will be touched, a heart drawn closer to God because we took the time to spend some time together, having fun and living out our faith!  Our kids and our churches are DYING for a lack of love!  Only the love of Christ will send us beyond our limits, beyond our comfort zone and to the work!  So, get out there!  Push a broom, feed a family, house a missionary, join the choir, change a diaper – your duty will turn into delight, and our wonderful Savior will shower you with blessings!

 “And I will make them and the places round about my hill (Steam Valley – which happens to be on a mountain for those of you who haven’t come to see us yet!  Ya’ll come!!) a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” Eze 34:26

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