The Beauty of Redeemed Brokenness

Image of parrot tulip by Coanri/Rita via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

What’s your favourite flower?

Even though I certainly love roses, the tulip holds a special place in my heart. It’s not as showy or fragrant as a rose, but it brings such joy in spring after a long winter.

Among the many types of tulips, I especially like the variegated ones (with multicoloured petals).

But did you know that the dramatic colour combinations of variegated tulips are caused by a virus?

Gardeners had long noticed that tulip petals occasionally “broke” into unusual patterns. But it wasn’t until the late 1500s that botanists realized that the beautiful mixed colouring arising spontaneously in some tulips was actually the result of a disease.

While the tulip-breaking virus causes lovely variegated colouring, it also weakens the tulip bulb, eventually leading to the death of its genetic line.

So how is it that we can still enjoy variegated tulips today? Why haven’t they all died out?

Fortunately, botanists centuries ago learned to graft healthy tulip bulbs onto the diseased or “broken” ones, preserving their lineage. Today, we can enjoy countless cultivars in a dizzying array of colours and patterns.

Doesn’t this remind you of what God does for us?

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God Has You Surrounded!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“We’ve got you surrounded!”

This is always a thrilling moment in an action movie: when the authorities announce to the bad guy that he has no way of escape.

Officers are blocking every exit. Will he surrender, or try to fight his way out? (You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!)

Did you know that God has you surrounded, too?

But in a good way!

Our loving Heavenly Father assures us that He has us covered. He is always with us and surrounds us with His love and care.

As we enter a new year, let’s keep in our minds the ways God has promised to be with us. That way, we can take on the challenges ahead of us knowing that God’s got our back, so to speak.

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The Wrong Yardstick

Image by Ariel from Pixabay

Do you have a friend who’s a bit of a screw-up?

No? You’ve got to get one!

Friends who make a shambles of things are amazing, because they make you feel so competent by comparison.

Your friend Sue might misplace one of her children, regularly set off the smoke detector when cooking, or accidentally rear-end a police car.

You roll your eyes smugly and think, “At least I’m not as bad as she is!”

In the same way, we like to justify ourselves before God by comparing our sins to those of others.

We think, “At least I’m not a bank robber or a serial killer. I’m not as bad as others. On the whole, I figure I’m a pretty decent person. I don’t think I really qualify as a ‘sinner.’ ”

The problem with this is that we’re using the wrong yardstick.

Instead of measuring ourselves against other people, we should be seeing whether we pass muster according to God’s standards.

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You Were Meant to Soar

Image of European swift by Kev from Pixabay

What is the ultimate flying machine?

The Concorde? A high-tech fighter jet?

I’d suggest to you that the holder of this title belongs to the common swift.

The swift holds the record for the fastest confirmed level flight of any bird: 111.5 km/h (69.3 mph). (Birds like falcons can fly faster, but only when diving down through the air to catch prey.)

Swifts also spend most of their lives on the wing, landing only to nest. Some individuals can spend up to ten months in continuous flight. In a single year a common swift can cover at least 200,000 km. No other bird spends as much of its life in the sky.

They are truly astonishing creatures.

A funny thing about swifts, though: they don’t do very well on the ground.

Their small, weak legs, which are placed far back on their bodies, are really only good for clinging to vertical surfaces like cliffs. They never voluntarily settle on the ground, where they’d be vulnerable to predation. Although swifts are capable of taking flight from level ground, they prefer to “fall” into the air from a high point.

Simply put, swifts were meant to soar.

And so were you.

But oftentimes there are things inhibiting our flight…

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Straight Out of Left Field

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Have you ever had a time in your life when God did a work for you that came straight out of left field?

The blessing, provision or miracle he bestowed on you caught you off guard and astonished you. It was completely unexpected and surprising.

You never saw it coming.

God seems to like to work that way, doesn’t he?

Think of Moses in the Old Testament, when he was leading the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.

They found themselves in a jam: cornered at the Red Sea with the Egyptian army snapping at their heels.

Moses had faith that God would save them, but I wonder if he was racking his brains trying to figure out just how it would happen.

Maybe God would send a flotilla of boats from the other side to rescue them, Dunkirk-style? But no one knew they were coming, and at any rate, the only people on the other side were either enemies or strangers.

Maybe God would send an affable and reasonable Egyptian captain to negotiate with Moses? Not likely, since all of Egypt’s firstborn had just been killed. The Egyptians were in no mood to parley with their escaped slaves.

No matter what Moses came up with as a potential solution, he never could have expected the curveball that God threw:

God miraculously parted the waters of the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to cross over on dry ground, then closed up the waters to drown their enemies. Moses surely didn’t see that one coming!

And that’s not the only curveball that God threw…

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God Always Leaves a Light On For You

Image of Border Collie by Jacqueline Galand from Pixabay

When you come home late at night, isn’t it nice when a family member has left a light on for you?

It shows they care about you, and want you to be guided safely back inside.

I was reminded of this recently when I came across a fun fact about border collies, a highly intelligent breed of dog often used to herd sheep.

The border collie usually sports a prominent white tip on its tail. This characteristic colouration is known as the “Shepherd’s Lantern.”

The white tip of the collie’s tail stands out in the dim light of dusk, allowing the shepherd to be guided home from the pasture after a long day’s work.

That got me thinking:

Our Heavenly Father gives us a “lantern,” too.

God loves us and wants to make sure we’re guided home to him.

He does this in two ways:

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Don’t Get Used To It

How would you feel if you won the lottery?

Pretty amazing, I’d imagine!

And the feelings of joy and gratitude at your good fortune would last for a long time, wouldn’t they?

Um, maybe not.

Researchers have discovered that positive feelings following a stroke of good luck soon subside and return to baseline. By the same token, people eventually adjust back to their baseline after some misfortune has befallen them.

This phenomenon is called “hedonic adaptation.” Whether your situation is good or bad, you get used to it.

I wonder if something like this happened to the children of Israel after being freed from slavery in Egypt.

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God Sees You In Infrared

Photo by Veronica H. on Pixabay

Did you know that some birds and bees can see things that are completely invisible to us? They’re able to see in infrared, just beyond the wavelengths of the visible light spectrum that human eyes can detect.

What looks to us like a regular pink flower might resemble a helicopter landing pad to a bee. Where we see only the uniform expanse of one colour, the bee may see a target-shaped design involving different colours. The bee’s infrared vision allows it to home in on the most nectar-rich part of the flower.

The world looks completely different when you can see in infrared.

I sometimes think that God sees us in “infrared.” He can see things in us that are invisible to others, and even to ourselves.

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Some Things Never Change

Image by mabi2000 on Flickr. by CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

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My Lifeguard Walks On Water

Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

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.

His rules are there to protect us.

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