After all, if you or I stood outside naked for several months in sub-zero temperatures, we’d soon be turned into frosty statues.
Trees can’t burrow into the ground and hibernate like bears, and they can’t fly south like migratory birds. They’re fixed in place, at the mercy of the elements.
And yet they somehow survive through the cold depths of winter. Why don’t they turn to ice, since, like other living things, they’re made mostly of water?
Their trick is something called “hardening.”
In autumn, trees in cold climates undergo a change whereby water flows out of their cells. The concentrated sugars, proteins, and acids left behind act as a potent antifreeze. The water now in the spaces between the cells is so pure that ice crystals can’t form. This ultra-pure water can be cooled to -40 degrees F and still remain an ice-free liquid.
Pretty cool, isn’t it?
But what is it that triggers the hardening?
Ah, this is where we can learn a lesson from the trees.
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.
For those of you who live near a large body of water, or who might be visiting one during the summer, what are some important things to remember when spending a day at the beach?
Remembering to apply sunscreen is definitely important. So is bringing snacks, a blanket to lie on, and perhaps an umbrella to sit under. Maybe a toy bucket and shovel for the kids to play with in the sand.
But isn’t there something more important than all of those?
How about remembering to pay attention to the lifeguard?
If you’re visiting a public beach by an ocean or large lake, there will probably be a lifeguard station there. Lifeguards will be in place at intervals on raised platforms above the sandy shoreline. If the lifeguard tells you the undertow makes it unsafe to swim in the water, obey his or her instructions.
There will also be rules set forth on signs along the beach. To have an enjoyable and safe day at the beach, it’s important to obey those rules. Stay within the boundaries of the supervised areas. Pay close attention to the warning flags.
The rules are there to protect you.
It’s the same with God, isn’t it? He has set forth rules for us in His Word, the Bible. He wants us to stay within His boundaries in the way we behave. He wants us to obey His instructions, because they’re for our good.
You might guess mustard seeds. Close, but not quite.
How about poppy seeds?
They’re very tiny. You’ll find out how extremely tiny they are if you accidentally spill them on the floor. You’ll discover that you can’t pick them all up by hand: it’s hopeless. You have to bring out your vacuum. (Don’t ask me how I found this out!)
Actually, the tiniest seeds on earth are said to be those of certain orchids from the tropical rainforest. Each of these dust-like seeds weighs only one 35 millionth of an ounce. They’re smaller than a grain of salt.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the prize for the largest seed on earth probably goes to the Coco-de-Mer palm tree of the Seychelles Islands. One of its seeds can weigh up to 45 pounds.
Mustard seeds are a bit larger than poppy seeds, but they’re still exceptionally tiny compared to most seeds.
They’re so small that Jesus used them as an example in one of His teachings. Surprisingly, He said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we could see great things accomplished.
How is this possible?
Because when we have even a small amount of pure faith, God uses it as a force multiplier. Our tiny contribution somehow provides the spark for God’s power to show up in a big way.
A few weeks ago, I heard a lady say, “Happy In-Between!”
It took me a moment to figure out what she meant.
I finally realized that she was referring to the time after Christmas but before New Year’s. We don’t really have a term to describe the awkward period between these two holidays, so this lady settled on “In-Between,” and hoped we’d have a happy time during it.
It got me thinking about the other “in-between” times in our lives.
Many of us go through times when we’re in an awkward phase of waiting for something to happen.
Perhaps we believe God has given us a promise about something He will do in our lives, but it’s taking a long time to come to pass.
Maybe we’re trusting God for a healing, a new job, the restoration of a marriage, or the return of a prodigal child.
It can be hard to stay happy during a time of limbo, when nothing seems to be happening in our situation. As the months go by, our prayers don’t seem any closer to being answered.
So what do we do when we’re having trouble staying upbeat, faithful, and patient during the in-between times, when life just seems to be a hard slog?
Do they dream in pictures, or in sensations and sounds?
Researchers tell us that it depends on when they lost their sight.
The brains of those who went blind after ages five to eight will have received a lot of visual inputs during the years when they could still see. These individuals are able to form visual dreams using the images stored in their memory banks for a good while after they’ve lost their sight.
People who are blind from birth are different, researchers say. The brains of these individuals have no visual images to work with, so they don’t dream in pictures like the rest of us. Instead, their dreams are based on input from the other senses: sound, taste, smell, or touch.
The upshot is that the blind can only dream using the inputs they’ve received.
Isn’t this true for all of us, in a way?
We can only dream about achieving or receiving things based on the examples that have been “inputted” into our minds. If we have never seen a real-life example that something is possible, we’ll probably never dream about it for ourselves.
Just when you thought you could see a light at the end of the tunnel, the light bulb burns out.
This pandemic sort of feels like that, doesn’t it?
It almost looked like we were getting a handle on COVID-19, and then along comes the Omicron variant. At this juncture it still remains to be seen just how benign or destructive Omicron will be, and whether it will displace the Delta variant. But it’s not the news we wanted to hear, was it?
And there’s always the possibility that other variants may develop in the future. With each of them now being named after a letter of the Greek alphabet, I’m learning a bit more Greek these days than I cared to!
But really, there are only two letters of the Greek alphabet that believers need to focus on, and they’re not Delta and Omicron.
They’re Alpha and Omega.
These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In the Bible, this pair of letters represents both God the Father and Jesus Christ.
The term “colour blind” means just what it says: unable to perceive certain colours. The most common type of this vision disorder is red-green colour blindness. People with this visual deficiency may see these colours as yellowish or greyish.
While these individuals have never seen red or green, they do acknowledge that these colours exist.
Because they trust in the conviction of others who have seen red and green. They believe that those who have had real-life experience of these colours are telling the truth. So the colour blind take our word for it that these hues genuinely exist.
Basically, they believe in the existence of red and green by sheer faith.
As believers in Christ, there are fundamental things that we have to take by faith, too.
And the Bible says we will be blessed for what we haven’t seen.