Flowers of your faithfulness are blooming on the earth. Righteousness shines down from the sky.
Psalms 85:11 TPT
And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith?
Matthew 6:28-30 TPT
I’d threatened many times to join the circus or go live on a raft on the Mississippi like Tom and Huck. But that wasn’t the case this time. It was some since-forgotten atrocity—homework? weekend chores? (I still hate vacuuming)—that led to my decision to run away forever.
I was surprised at the coolness of Mom’s reaction:
“Are you sure?”
That was it. Just “OK.” And then she proceeded to pack my lunch. She was obviously anxious to get rid of me.
I stomped about in my bedroom, slamming necessities—my sacred texts (Huckleberry Finn, Call of the Wild, The Three Musketeers), leftover Valentine’s Day candy—into a makeshift rucksack (my pillowcase), then headed for the front door, shouting, “I’m going now!”
It was nearly two miles to the end of the flower field, the last vestige of rural life in our booming Orange County suburb. I’d…
Driving to work this morning the first part of a bumper sticker caught my eye. I don’t remember the 2nd part, but the first part was, Love People. It’s simple enough to say, but not always as easy to do, or at least as it should be. And why is that? It’s complex. It can be hard to give love or be loving because we’ve been hurt, we’ve lost, been abandoned, trust has been broken, we are afraid, or even because “religion” has made us self-righteous and judgmental. Ouch, right?
So, how can I change? How can I better Love People? Here’s what I’ve been meditating on. Whether at work, in a store, in traffic,… wherever, I will love people more effectively if I remember:
Why Jesus came. It was because God so loved/loves the world. He hates sin, and that it separated us from Him. So he sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin -for ALL the sins of every single person. Not just for me, but for every person I will ever see or interact with.
Why Jesus died. See every person through His eyes -as loved by Him. No ones sin is too large or too small – he paid the price for it all! While we were yet sinners — imperfect, deserving of judgement, full of faults and failures — Christ died for us! He did it for me and every other person because He wants ALL to be reconciled to God through Him, by receiving the salvation he offers.
His love. That His love has been shed abroad in my heart, making me able to love others. It compels me to want share His love, so others will know how wide, deep, and unfailing is His great love for all of us.
To act like Jesus, follow his example. You can read in the gospels that He: Forgave. Touched the sick. Took children in his lap and blessed them. Fed people – provided for them. Rescued them. Not only healed people but made them whole. Loved people right where they were at – imperfect people like Zaccheus. Did not condemn the woman who was to be stoned or the woman at the well. Ate with sinners and publicans – was not ashamed to be with them. And demonstrated the love of God to all and for all.
Putting it into practice. Sometimes loving is just giving a smile or a hug, a kind word, cooking a meal, or my giving time. Sometimes it’s praying for that person who cut me off, asking God to pour out his love and grace on them. At other times, it is preferring someone else over me by doing what pleases them, or “their way.” Sometimes it might be giving a gift or finances that they need.
I will always have opportunities to practice and improve. But, I will be most successful in loving others when I follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. After all, that is what Jesus did. He said, He only said what He heard the Father say, and did what He saw the Father do. And, He gave the Holy Spirit to be my teacher and guide – so I can know what to say and do too. I am so grateful!
Here are some of the scriptures referred to above: John 3:16, John 14:26 (see chapters 14-17 — so good!) , II Corinthians 5:19-21, and Romans 5:5-10.
Back in mid-October I challenged both me and you to be more mindful of the things we have to be grateful for every day. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t always remembered to do this. However, on the days I do the result is that I am more conscious of my many blessings, and I tend to be more content – perhaps even more patient and kind.
Anyway, I want to share an update on some of the things that I have been considering, which may seem random, but are all worth being grateful for. Things as simple as warm blankets, soft pillows, socks without holes, working vehicles, good weather for raking leaves, front row parking spots, bills paid, and extra to give to others. Playing games/doing puzzles with my mom, any time spent with my husband, children and grandchildren, a good job, time to relax, Sunday and Wednesday services, insightful Bible teaching, faithful friends, yarn & knitting, and music (both peaceful and victory filled).
Of course I could keep going, but I really hope in some way that you are encouraged as you consider your blessings. I pray that you will also find joy in living a gratefulness-mindful life, and that you both know and experience the love that God has for you.
As the hymn by Johnson Oatman, Jr. in 1897 says:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done! Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
It was a whirlwind trip over the Labor Day weekend, but it was also a breath of fresh air that left me wanting more.
Time alone with my daughter, Mary, now that alone is something to treasure! But I also enjoyed a glimpse of a slower pace of life even during our 1 1/2 days on Mackinac Island.
Beautiful blue skies, a slight warm breeze, and the quiet created by the absence of motorized vehicles. The clip clop of horses hooves, a carriage ride in the beautiful woods, and small waves rolling toward the shoreline. Top that off with a large veranda with rocking chairs and a view of gorgeous gardens as well as the Mighty Mac. A harpist playing in the main room, an ice cream shop, lots of small shops to visit, a delightful dining experience… and an 8 mile bike ride around the island. Our time was short, but it was sweet and an unforgettable memory. I hope to get a chance to go again!
Some of the old hymns are so rich, and this is one of my favorites; according to wikipedia it may have originated in Ireland as early as the 6th century. This is an English version by Eleanor Hull from 1912.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight; Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight; Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.