Has your head been spinning with all the changes the world has undergone in the past several years?
We stumble through one crisis, only to find another totally unexpected one emerge. We wonder if life will ever truly be the same again.
It’s at times like these that we need something that never changes, much like conifers.
During the winter, when deciduous trees are bare, I’m thankful for coniferous trees. These loyal friends, like the spruces, pines and firs, still have their mantle of green, which they’ll keep year-round. These silent sentinels might not be flashy, but we can count on them not to change.
God’s character is like that, too.
When the world seems to be in turmoil, and life is changing in ways that are distressing and unpredictable, we need something unchanging to hold on to. That something is our eternal Heavenly Father.
Do you have a collection of old family recipes or cookbooks?
Many of us are fortunate enough to have such treasures, lovingly passed down to us. They’re worth hanging on to.
The recipes might be contained in a cookbook, or written down on index cards and filed in a plastic or wooden box. They may be handwritten and neatly organized in a binder, or simply clipped from the newspaper and stuffed haphazardly into the pages of an old cookbook.
But no matter how the recipes are filed, there’s an easy way to tell which ones are the best:
The pages they’re on are a bit of a mess.
The best recipes probably have food stains on them, from when a cook referred to the recipe and absentmindedly pressed a finger, still wet with sauce or melted chocolate, on the page. Or the page got splattered when the cook was stirring the batter with a bit too much gusto.
Before musicians play a piece of music, they get their instruments in tune.
But how do they know which is the true pitch to align with?
The piano might think it’s got the correct “A” note, but the violin begs to differ. Or maybe the clarinet insists that it’s the only one who truly has the right note; a mere trumpet certainly wouldn’t know.
To settle the arguments of squabbling instruments, there’s only one solution:
Use a tuning fork (or its electronic equivalent).
When struck, a traditional tuning fork vibrates at 440 Hz to produce a pure “concert A” note. Once this correct pitch has been established and sounded, all the instruments can tune to it instead of to each other.
This guarantees that the whole orchestra will be perfectly in tune.
I think there’s a little lesson that we believers can glean from this…
Too often, we want other believers to get in alignment with our viewpoint, our “pitch,” as it were. We insist that only we have the correct revelation from the Word of God about this or that matter, and everyone else needs to get on board with us.
When you read a cake or muffin recipe, it will usually instruct you to preheat your oven and get your baking pans prepared before describing how to make the dessert itself.
But why do it in this order? Why not make the batter first, and let it sit there in the bowl while you leisurely grease or line the baking pans and let the oven slowly heat up?
There’s a very good reason to have everything prepared before you start the actual baking, and it has to do with how leaveners behave.
As soon as a raising agent like baking soda comes into contact with the liquids in your cake batter, a chemical reaction starts to take place. Gases are generated, and bubbles begin forming. You want those bubbles to stay trapped inside the cake to give it loft and airiness.
If you let the batter sit there on the counter for too long, the gases would escape into the air. This would prevent your finished cake from being as light and fluffy as it could be. So as soon as the leavening agent is added and mixed in, put the batter into the prepared pan and get it into the heated oven as quickly as you can.
It’s the same way in life, isn’t it?
When God adds the circumstance or person that will be a catalyst to change your situation, things often begin moving very fast. If you’re not ready, it might catch you off guard. You may end up stumbling instead of stepping confidently into the new level God has in mind for you. You might not rise as high as you could have.
In a match between a ground squirrel and a deadly rattlesnake, whom would you bet on?
Remember, this is a ground squirrel: it can’t run up a tree to escape.
And if the squirrel needs to defend its burrow with its babies inside, it doesn’t have much choice: it has to stand its ground.
What chance does it have against a venomous rattlesnake?
More than you’d expect.
California ground squirrels have an ace up their sleeve.
When confronted by a rattlesnake, this squirrel is able to engorge its tail with extra blood. It then waves its tail back and forth vigorously, super-heating the blood.
The snake, while lethal, has relatively poor vision, so it can’t clearly see what it’s facing. It instead uses its built-in infrared sensor to detect heat.
The squirrel’s hot, blood-filled tail swishing to and fro mimics the heat signature of a much larger animal. The snake thinks twice about taking on such a formidable creature, and more often than not it slinks away, defeated.
The squirrel has been saved from its enemy by the blood.
And so are we.
On our own, we are no match for that serpent of old, Satan.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if a circumstance is a blessing or a curse.
You’d think it would be easy to know if something was good or bad, wouldn’t you?
But you might not be correct.
I used to complain to anyone who would listen about how much work it was taking care of my parent’s yard. The huge corner lot involved endless mowing of the lawn in summer and raking of leaves in fall. Not to mention shovelling all the snow off the driveway and extra-long sidewalk in winter.
I’d gripe that caring for their yard would be the death of me.
Then one day I happened to look at my biceps.
Not bad at all. Sort of impressive, really, for a woman my age. I don’t go to the gym, so what was keeping me toned and fit?
Taking care of the dang yard, that’s what.
What I had cursed as a burden was actually the very thing that was keeping my muscles and bones strong. I repented for my grumbling and ingratitude as I realized that the big yard had been a blessing in disguise.
Sometimes God uses what appears to be something negative to bring about something positive. We shouldn’t be too hasty to assume that we know whether something is good or bad.
They have numerous ways of dispersing their seeds to grow new plants, methods that go far beyond simply dropping a seed to the ground from the mother plant above.
Some plants sport wings on their seeds (called samaras) to enable the wind to carry them farther away from the mother tree than regular seeds could go. The maple tree uses this method of seed dispersal: once released from the tree, its seeds spin through the air like helicopters to find a new home.
Other seeds, like that of the milkweed, drift on the wind using their own downy parachutes. Dandelions do the same (much to the chagrin of those trying to maintain a dandelion-free lawn!).
Some seeds come wrapped in tasty packages, like that of the raspberry. Animals or birds eat the berry, then excrete the seed later on (along with some “fertilizer”).
The burdock plant takes another tack: its seeds have sticky hooks that attach to an animal’s fur as it passes by. The seed essentially “hitchhikes” to begin life in another location.
Another intriguing method of seed dispersal is used by the jewelweed plant. Its seed pod “explodes” when touched, flinging the seeds far and wide. It’s no coincidence that jewelweed also goes by the name “touch-me-not.”
I guess we can’t put nature in a box when it comes to seed dispersal. It uses a variety of creative ways to achieve its goal of propagating new plants.
We can’t put limits on God either.
He uses many different ways to plant the seed of the Word of God in people’s hearts.