This Vapor Called Life

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.

James 4:14

God has seen fit to allow us to live by a calendar while we dwell here on earth, and while the old gospel song boasts “no sin in heaven,” we may add to that, with great joy, that there are no clocks or calendars as well! As I sit here on this last day of the year (at 4:19 AM) thinking about another year’s end, I thank God for the opportunity to do so. And even though this year’s end included some difficult struggles, which I will explain further down the road, life is still good and precious in God’s sight.

So, how did you do in 2015? Was it a successful year?  Did you satisfy those goals or fulfill last January’s New Year resolutions?  And how do we measure success anyway?  What exactly are we doing here? That’s a LOT of questions!

Someone once said:

Success is finding the will of God and doing it.

That’s a very simplified statement, but it holds a lot of truth.  As born-again believers, we don’t just wander through this life, or get through another day. Each day has a purpose.  Sometimes, that purpose may seem small and insignificant to the rest of the world, like holding your temper, or helping a child discover something new.  Last night, while reading to my grandson and looking at a picture of a dinosaur skeleton, he discovered that he has bones in his body.  What a joy to see that amazing discovery dawn in his eyes, and then watch him run to tell his mommy! A lot happened yesterday, but that precious moment rises to the top.

I recently finished listening to “A Christmas Home” by Greg Kinkaid, and he makes the statement that a good goal in life is to leave this earth a better place than how you found it. The creators of Precious Moments artwork set forth its mission statement “to make the world a better place by helping others share the gift of love.” Both are great mantras, but as believers we have an even stronger mandate straight from our Creator:

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Revelation 4:11

Living to bring glory to God—what does that look like, and are we able to be successful in doing so? Always remember that God never commands us to do anything which is impossible to do without His help!  But how? I believe the WILDS Christian Camp helps its campers to accomplish that goal by quoting this verse before every meal:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

When we THINK about our Heavenly Father before our feet hit the floor, and then continue to THINK about Him, realizing He is a “very present help” (Psalm 46:1), soon we will not be THINKING about Him at all—we will be LIVING under “under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1) He is there, receiving glory through the life that honors Him in word and deed, action and reaction, motive and purpose. Instead of spiraling out of control, our lives slowly follow the path upward, becoming more like the Master! Sound too simplistic in a world whose catch-phrase is “It’s complicated?” Taking the “upward path” is a great way to uncomplicate life!

1138_10208704178708829_5698406446686963647_nTomorrow starts a new year.  Tomorrow also starts the second week of our newest grandson’s life: our Christmas baby! He has already given those he loves many precious moments of joy and laughter, delight and thrill.  But I’m sure there have also been pain, trying moments, difficult situations, and general frustration.  And so goes the tapestry of life! Weave well, my friend, in 2016—no matter the shade of the threads handed to you from God!

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Psalm 90: 12

 

My Miracle Clock

 

IMG_6921I use the term loosely – miracle.  There’s really nothing supernatural about my cuckoo clock, but I KNOW that God keeps it running.

We inherited the cuckoo clock from my husband’s great-uncle back in the early nineties.  (Is that really over twenty years ago? Inconceivable!!)  It had hung on his wall for years, hanging there silently for part of that time.  When we broke up the house, we were glad to take the clock.  I remember bringing it home and calling the local clock shop for prices on getting it cleaned and oiled.  We had just taken our first pastorate, and the price was out of the question. So…I took off the back, blew out the dust, and sprayed it with WD-40 (which I’ve since learned is a NO NO!).  It started running like a charm.

Over the years, it would stop running and it seemed like we never had the money to fix it, so Mrs. Fix-it would once again remove the back cover and try to get it going.  One main ingredient always took priority into the mix: prayer.  I can’t tell you how many times it would stop, and I would pray over my clock, always praising God for getting it to run again.

Recently, it seemed to have some real issues: instead of “cuckoo,” it sounded more like “cuck.”  One of the bellows had ripped, so I taped it.  As I was handling it, something happened and I broke off the hour-hand and the bell of the hunting horn that surrounds the face of the clock!  When I picked up the hand, it crumbled into four pieces!  As I sat there looking at the mess, I was ready to throw the thing in the trash – it looked impossible…but I fixed it, and once again it’s running like new! Each tick reminding me that God cares for every detail of my life!  He even cares about my cuckoo clock!

Since my childhood, I’ve loved cuckoo clocks and hearing the steady tick-tock is a great delight; the hour chime keeps my piano lessons on time, and in the night when I’m lying awake, it gently reminds me of the hour.

Tick-tock, and another moment in time has passed away.  I suppose to some it could be annoying – a constant reminder that time is fleeting, one tick at a time; but for me, it is a soothing sound. It reminds me that my days are in God’s hand. Each moment is important, not to be wasted but to be used for His glory.  Even if it is just a quiet moment, meditating on His Word or whispering a prayer of thanksgiving for His goodness, the tick-tock keeps my focus that life is a precious gift from God.

Tick-tock, God is still on His throne…tick-tock, all is well…tick-tock, rest in My Everlasting Arms, my dear child.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12

The Ugly Side of George Bailey, Part Two: Reality

WonderfulLifeGeorgeBaileyExtremeCloseUpIn 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life was created.  Perhaps it was the era of new camera lens, but this picture doesn’t really capture how the camera filmed George in this scene.  The photo certainly matched the music to create an “other-world” effect!  At this point, reality set in: What if he really had never been born as Clarence suggested?  Certainly his own mother didn’t know him!  Dear Mrs. Bailey, always sweet and good-natured in the film becomes a sour old dowager running a boarding house!

He then rushes to the cemetery where he discovers that his younger brother died in the sledding accident because George wasn’t there to save him.  His last thoughts are of Mary, his wife.  Clarence breaks the rules and tells George that she’s a spinster librarian.  When she also looks at him as a stranger, he rushes back to the bridge and now prays a prayer that comes from his heart!  “Lord, let me live again!”

Life is so precious!  It can be tedious as we overwhelm our schedules with activities, and at times we can lose our focus on what is truly important.  We end the year with hustle and bustle, all in the name of Christmas – the birth of our Lord; but perhaps it would be good for us to end the year and start the new year with George’s prayer:  “Lord, let me live again!”

“Let me regain my focus on You and Your will for my life.  Help me to realize that this life is not the real life but only a temporary stay.  Help me to live in light of eternity: seeing all that I do, all that I say, all those I meet through the lenses of eternal life and eternal death.  May I bring glory to Your precious name in every way possible; and may Your spirit live in me to truly make this life a wonderful life in Your eyes.  In Jesus’ Name, amen!”

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” 1 John 2:25

In a Fog

The past twenty-four hours has been as bazaar as this spring’s weather!  We picked up Nathan, our youngest, near Harrisburg at 5:00 AM.  (I will not miss that part of these college days!)  As I was driving into Williamsport, the fog was unbelievable.  Usually, you come to a scenic area as you head north on Route 15 and can see the entire valley spread out before you until the road turns and you head down the mountain.  Today, I could hardly see the lines on the road!  Anyone who was not familiar with the way would never know about the awesome view that they just missed!

Heaven – it’s there, we just can’t see it.  We’ve read about it, we know dear ones who are now there, we believe it by faith, but the fog of this life keeps it from our view.  Do you live in light of eternity?  Do you move about your daily tasks in the shadow of heaven?

Living in light of eternity puts the shine in our eyes and joy in our hearts as we walk and work in a sin-cursed world.  It puts all of life into perspective and helps us to keep focused on what is important.

So many that we rub shoulders with every day are clueless about the “heavenly” view that they are missing.  Their focus is this world only: get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can!  How sad!  Perhaps, you or I will have the thrill of lifting the fog for someone, today!

“There’s a land that is fairer than day, And by faith we can see it afar;

For the Father waits over the way To prepare us a dwelling place there.”

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:

 for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;

and there was no more sea.

 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,

coming down from God out of heaven,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Rev. 21: 1,2