Christmas Lights and Jonah’s Gourd

 

 “So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” Jonah 4:6

24852525_10215477430155882_3326722355540250083_nChristmas lights—a source of great delight and fierce frustration! I’m sure you’ve all experienced the irritation of placing LIT lights on your tree or around the highest point of your house, only to descend the ladder, look up, and see a section that is not working!  So was the case at the MacAvoy household this year.  After pitching three half-lit strands of lights, I finally got the tree completely illuminated; however, the following week while serenely sipping coffee and reading my Bible beside the tree (what ambiance!), I noticed a flicker of light in my peripheral vision. When I looked over at the tree, I saw the lights go on and off once again in a section of the tree!

They stayed unlit for a few days until I had a chance to check it out. When I did, I felt like someone working for their salvation.  Surely, if I pull out each darkened bulb and replaced it, checking to make sure that all the wires were intact, God would reward my efforts.  As in Naaman’s situation, God waited until that last bulb before intervening, but when I pulled out that bulb the rest of the lights came to life! I looked at the empty socket, and then at the bulb in my hand! A miracle!

The following morning I was talking to God, praising Him and thanking Him for the blessing of the previous day, when I remembered the lights. With “exceeding gladness,” I thanked Him for lighting my tree!

Isn’t that just like Jonah? He was so glad that God took pity on him and make a vine to shield him from the hot rays of the sun. He did not thank Him for having pity on the eternal souls of men, including himself, but rather was overwhelmed with joy because of physical comfort.

The Lord’s challenge for me this Christmas season is this:

 Can I look past the pressing things, the daily trials, and the difficult circumstances, and focus on the blessings and needs of those around me?

To do so takes extra time which is already limited at this time of year, but so many of our friends and families desperately need to see Jesus in a tangible way! So, do the extraordinary for Christmas. Think out of the box.  After all, Jesus left the dazzling perfection of heaven to be entombed in Mary’s womb, to undergo the pangs of labor, and to surround His deity with the scent of barn animals and smelly shepherds. Can’t I do something extraordinary for Him for His birthday?

And, by the way… “Doest thou well to be angry [with the Christmas lights] (Jonah 4:9)?”  🙂

Advertisements

God’s Pet

128-2848_IMGWe have a pet—actually, it’s our son’s pet.  Pepper is a ten-year-old black Cocker Spaniel.  She is a cutie and a wonderful pet.  She never messes in the house.  She doesn’t get up on the furniture (unless we’re not watching!).  She LOVES to takes walks.  She’s never had any health problems, doesn’t eat much, loves people . . . she’s a great dog.

But she begs.  We don’t feed her scraps from the table . . . or I should say rarely do we feed her scraps—just an occasional pizza crust.  Her worst begging habits happen in the living room.  Now we do have one snack that we share: popcorn.  She would eat as much as I do!  She’s really good at catching it!

The problem is that she must not be able to discern between popcorn and anything else we’re eating, because if we are eating ANYTHING, she sits there looking at you with those big brown eyes and that cute little face, staring at you or the food!  It drives me crazy!!!  Rarely do I give in because I’d really like to break her of that habit.  If I tell her to go away—sharply—she will, and I feel like a big meanie!  If she only understood English!

Is this how I appear to God?  Am I always begging for this or that? Does He ever wish that I understood His language?

Prayer – we all understand what prayer is.  Perhaps we even use the acronym to help our prayers:

P—praise

R—repent

A—ask

Y—yield

But do we rush through the praising, like some ritual to a statue, so we can appease God and get to our requests?  Do we really understand God’s language?  Have we studied His Book enough to get a grasp of what it means to pray?

One of the best habits I have come across is to occasionally spend my whole prayer time praising and thanking God: praising Him for Who He is and thanking Him for what He does.  It takes great effort.  So many requests come crashing in, desires that I wish to beg Him for, but I push them aside and just praise Him.  The request can wait for another day!

Now for the positive picture that Pepper gives us: She is Miss Happy-Ending.  She is ALWAYS glad to see us.  (Well, maybe not at bath time!  She can slink slower than any dog I know!) It doesn’t matter if we’ve been away for five minutes or five days—the greeting is always the same!  “So glad to see you!”

She is a faithful friend.  When we were choosing her, the owner said that she would never be more than five feet away from us.  Boy, has that proven to be true!  As I am typing this, she is just on the other side of the coffee table, snoring away!

So faithful.  Always happy to see us. Am I like that to God?  Arg!  My heart shames me!  I want it to be so!

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?

hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance…

Psalm 42:1,2,5

A Bowl Full of Cherries

“If life is a bowl full of cherries, then why am I in the pits?”  I’m sure you’ve all heard that statement before!  Well, for me, today has been a day loaded with cherries!

It started in the cherry orchard at 7:30 am.  My dear husband went with me to pick them, and what a beautiful sight!  It was worth it just to stand on the side of that hill and gaze across the valley at the gorgeous mountain range beyond.  The place didn’t open until 8:00, and I’d say there were at least 50 people ahead of us and another 50 behind us by the time they opened the starting gate; then off we went as though there could never be enough cherries for all of us!

However, I must say that the early bird gets the worm and the early cherry picker gets the biggest cherries!  If you have never picked cherries, you’ve really missed something!  There they hang, in glorious red clusters just begging to be picked!  It’s a beautiful sight!

So, after about an hour, we had our 35 pounds of cherries (and at $2.25 a pound – well, you do the math! I’m broke!)  Then we stopped to visit our son and daughter-by-choice (doesn’t that sound so much better than daughter-in-law?  She truly is a daughter to us and if our son hadn’t picked her, we would have!)  AND two of our grandsons. Anyway, what a wonderful visit we had – she even fed us our second breakfast of the day AND I got to feed our youngest grandson a bottle.  Does life get any better than this?

My next stop was our daughter’s home, where I watched our middle grandson.  After quite a show of smiles and faces while Mommy fed him cereal, he headed to the swing and fell asleep to the lovely, “chink-a-chink” sound of the cherries making their way through the cherry pitter, while Mommy had a photo shoot (She’s awsome!  Check her out!! Jennifer Mark’s Photography) My daughter has  a 1903 cherry pitter that looks a lot like the one in the photo, and let me tell you – it works like a charm!  There’s something about using an antique like that that makes you feel homey and close to your roots.

Seven years ago, the Lord moved us back to my home town.   After twenty-six years of living in NJ, PA, SC, and VA, I never would have thought that I’d be back in this area.  Coming “home” has been such a blessing; and now two of our three children are also here ministering with us in our church!  Does it get any better than that?

I’m not sure if there’s any great spiritual lesson in this blog, except this:

 “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness,                                            and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8

At times, like today (my birthday, by the way!), life is a bowl full of cherries.  Those are the times that we need to “tank up” on our blessings side of life’s score sheet; so that when the pits come – and they will – we have an arsenal of reasons to tell Old Scratch to beat a path home.  (That’s the polite way of telling him to go you know where!)  It’s so easy to see only puddles after and during the thunderstorm – but do remember that often God puts a rainbow in our storms too.  Learn to tuck away the memories of “cherry days,” so that when the “pit days” come, we can say with Job: “

“…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away;                                                blessed be the name of the LORD.                                           

Job 1:20