Inscribed in the Palms of His Hands

Image by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

Have you ever been tempted to carve initials or names in the trunk of a tree?

Perhaps linking yours with those of someone you love, like “M + F” or “Josh loves Amanda”? The inscriptions could last for centuries, emblems immortalizing your love for generations to come.

(Of course, as a nature lover, I’d rather people not make carvings in the bark of a living tree. But I can understand the impulse to do so.)

In fact, people have been engraving things on tree trunks for millennia.

Birch trees are a natural choice due to their white bark. The smooth silver-grey bark of beech trees is also a magnet for trunk-carvers. Indo-European peoples have used it for writing-related purposes since antiquity. In some modern European languages, the words for “book” and “beech” are either very close or identical. No wonder the beech has been called the “patron tree” (sort of like a patron saint) of writers.

Did you know that God sometimes inscribes things in usual places, too?

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Don’t Look For The Living Among The Dead

Image of cicada exoskeleton by Franck Barske from Pixabay

When I was a little girl, I loved to explore in the woods.

One day I came across a cicada clinging to a tree trunk. Except this insect didn’t look alive: its body was transparent, and it never moved.

What was wrong with the cicada, I wondered?

I finally realized that I wasn’t looking at a live bug, but rather at its discarded exoskeleton.

When it’s time for a nymph cicada to turn into an adult, it clings to a tree and sheds its outer body. The abandoned shell remains, still clinging to the bark of the tree, while the “reborn” cicada flies off.

My mistake that day?

I was looking for the living among the dead.

Some of the Jesus’ followers made the same error.

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Ultimate Victory Is Coming

Pont de la Concorde, Paris. Image by David Mark from Pixabay

If you’ve ever been to Paris, you’ll know that many of its bridges have a story to tell.

The Pont de la Concorde is no exception.

This stone-arch bridge across the River Seine connects the Place de la Concorde with the National Assembly.

Construction of the bridge started during the late 1700s and continued even during the turmoil of the French Revolution. It was completed in 1791.

Interestingly, some of the stones used for the Pont de la Concorde were sourced from the rubble of the demolished Bastille prison. The bridge’s architect, Rudolph Perronet, said this was “so that the people could forever trample the old fortress.”

Today you can traverse this bridge and trample under your own feet the stones from the once-feared stronghold which imprisoned so many.

It’s a satisfying feeling to show your contempt for something vile by actually stomping on it, isn’t it?

Scripture tells us that Jesus will do something similar:

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Everyone Loves a Winner

Image by 7721622 from Pixabay

A funny thing happens in a city when one of its sports teams reaches the playoffs or finals.

Suddenly, everyone becomes a fan.

This is especially true if that team has suffered a trophy or title drought for a considerable length of time, perhaps decades.

The team’s fortunes become a topic of conversation everywhere in town. People talk about their team’s success while at work, in stores, or on transit. They speak with authority about the merits of certain players, or even about specific shots in particular games.

On any given day, people in town know exactly where their team stands, and how many games they need to win to achieve the championship title for that year.

My hometown of Toronto experienced this in 2019 when the Raptors won their first NBA title in the franchise’s history. Their victory was celebrated with a massive parade downtown, attended by millions.

I had friends who gushed about the Raptors’ success, then grinned sheepishly and admitted, “And I don’t even like basketball!”

Everyone loves a winner, don’t they?

But what happens when your team doesn’t produce the victory everyone is hoping for?

Jesus could tell us a thing or two about that.

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There’s No Place Like Home

Image by burtamus from Pixabay

There’s no place like home, is there?

A lot of animals would agree with that statement, if they could speak.

Many birds and animals have an uncanny “homing instinct” that allows them to travel thousands of miles to return to the very same location each year.

Monarch butterflies from eastern North America return to the same wintering grounds in central Mexico each year, even to the very same forest.

Sea-dwelling Pacific salmon return to the same river they were born in to spawn.

Pregnant sea turtles migrate thousands of miles across the ocean to lay their eggs on the same beach on which they were born decades earlier.

And then there are homing pigeons, the champions of long-distance way-finding. Their homing instincts are so reliable that they’ve been used in wartime to deliver crucial messages over enemy lines.

But how do they do it?

One theory suggests that homing pigeons may have a mineral called magnetite in their beaks, which acts as a tiny GPS unit. This would allow them to sense the earth’s magnetic fields and their own position in relation to it. If true, it would mean that these birds are essentially flying compasses, with their beaks pointing them in the direction they should go.

It makes me wonder: do humans have a “homing instinct”?

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Behind Enemy Lines

Image by Defence-Imagery from Pixabay

We all love stories of rescues from behind enemy lines, don’t we?

There’s something thrilling about the courage of soldiers who risk their lives penetrating hostile territory for the sole aim of retrieving a fellow soldier who is trapped there.

Perhaps you’ve seen movies like “Behind Enemy Lines” or “Saving Private Ryan,” both of which feature storylines of military units launching search and rescue missions into enemy territory to retrieve one of their own soldiers.

We admire the willingness of soldiers to potentially sacrifice their own lives to save another’s. They deserve our utmost respect.

But did you know that God goes “behind enemy lines” to save people, too?

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Have Faith, And Bring Your Umbrella!

Image by Lorri Lang from Pixabay

If you’re a gardener, you know that when you plant seeds in the ground, you can expect results.

Not every seed will germinate, but a great many will. So you need to make preparations beforehand.

For instance, if you’ve planted seeds of climbing plants, you’ll need to provide something for them to cling to as they grow upward. Even if your pea or bean seeds haven’t germinated yet, you still might prepare some trellises or stakes for their eventual growth.

You wouldn’t think of not getting ready for the emergence of your seedlings and adult plants, would you? You have faith that they’re on the way.

Isn’t it funny, then, that when we pray and ask God for things, we often don’t really expect we’ll see any results?

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Your “Spring” Is On Its Way!

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A beautiful red cardinal has been singing heartily outside my window the past week, as though it’s already spring.

My hibiscus houseplant has broken its winter dormancy and is putting forth flower buds.

But there’s still snow on the ground, and there’s bound to be more snow coming. This is Canada, after all, and it’s only March. It’s still cold enough outside to need a winter coat.

Doesn’t seem like spring to me.

Do the cardinal and the hibiscus know something I don’t?

In fact, they do. They sense the lengthening of the day and the increased hours of sunlight, things that have escaped my notice.

They know that spring is on its way, even if I can’t see it coming just yet.

In the same way, God knows a thing or two that we don’t.

He knows when a turnaround in our situation on its way, even if we can’t see any evidence of a change in the offing.

He knows that our “spring” is coming.

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Angels Are Fighting For You

Image of the Northern Lights by Noel Bauza from Pixabay

If you’re lucky enough to have seen the Northern or Southern Lights, what do you think you’re seeing?

This spectacular light display, called the aurora borealis or australis, is usually confined to the high latitudes at the Earth’s poles.

Many people view these shifting ribbons of light as a sort of otherworldly dance in the sky. Others see the swirling colours as a mystical painting come to life. Some indigenous peoples believed the eerie, glowing streamers were ancestral spirits.

But when you look at the auroras, what you’re really seeing is a battle.

The entrancing, ghostly lights result from charged particles from the Sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. These particles, borne on the solar wind, are constantly bombarding our planet. At times they’re more intense, as during periods of high sunspot activity.

The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from this barrage of particles, like a “deflector shield” in a science fiction movie. Without this protection, the solar wind would eventually kill us.

Our magnetic field is always there, an invisible but highly effective shield. It deflects 98% of the particles spewed out by the Sun in our direction, but is slightly weaker near the poles. During the ethereal display known as the Northern and Southern Lights, our magnetic blanket becomes visible as it works to protect us.

What we see as an intriguing and beautiful phenomenon is actually visible evidence of a fierce battle going on for our lives.

Likewise, in life, sometimes we don’t fully understand the battles that are raging behind the scenes.

Unknowingly, as we go about our daily lives, believers are being protected by heavenly forces from harm. We usually can’t see these protective beings, but they’re there nonetheless, working on our behalf.

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Sounds Like Paradise

Image of New Zealand by Lars_Nissen from Pixabay

Right now, living in countries like New Zealand sounds like a sort of paradise to the rest of the world.

Some island nations have been able to beat back the novel coronavirus to the point where life is almost back to normal.

People in those countries can once again attend concerts, go out to restaurants or to church, return to their workplaces, and hug their friends and family.

They can pretty much go about their pre-pandemic lives.

For those of us living in countries still battling second or third waves of COVID-19, life in places like New Zealand seems like a dream.

We hope that one day maybe life will be like that for us, too: we long for a world where there are no more restrictions, suffering or death due to COVID-19.

In essence, we all yearn for a release from “bondage,” don’t we?

But even when we’ve been able to put the novel coronavirus in the rear-view mirror, this ache for freedom won’t quite go away.

Why?

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