What Will You Grow: Fear or Faith?

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

With the arrival of spring, gardeners are faced with some difficult decisions:

What should I grow in my garden?

You only have so much square footage and only so much soil.

You have to make hard choices about what plants will be given space, and which ones you’ll have to forgo this year.

Maybe you’d like to grow dozens of pink roses in your garden plot. That’s a great idea: it would look gorgeous and smell beautiful.

But then you’d have to give up on the idea of growing a vegetable garden in that spot. You simply don’t have the space to do both.

If you dream of having a wildflower meadow in your yard, you’ll have to skip your plan of creating a formal French garden. You have enough room for one or the other, but not both.

Similarly, you only have so much real estate in your mind.

You have to make decisions about what you’ll let take up space.

What will you grow there?

Faith or fear?

They both grow in the same soil, so to speak: uncertainty.

But only one of them produces a harvest that’s worthwhile.

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Of Lions And Lambs

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Do you have some weather sayings or proverbs in your area?

Maybe you’ve heard ones like “April showers bring May flowers,” or “Clear moon, frost soon.”

Perhaps you know this weather proverb: “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

Here in the northern hemisphere, we say “March comes in like a lion but goes out like a lamb.”

This saying might have started out referring to the stars. The beginning of March sees the constellation Leo (the lion) rising in the east. The end of the month features the constellation Aries (the ram or lamb) setting in the west.

Over time, the saying shifted to have more of a weather connotation. The start of March is often cold and stormy, fierce like a lion. By the end of the month, the weather has turned more calm and gentle, almost lamb-like.

This weather proverb doesn’t always hold true, of course; sometimes March starts out like a lamb but ends like a ferocious lion!

There is, however, a Biblical promise about these two animals that you can bank on:

Jesus came to earth first as a lamb, but will return as a lion.

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One Hundred Words for Snow (and for God)

Image by Maurizio Ceol, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0

They say that the Eskimo and Inuit peoples have over 100 words for snow.

Is this actually true, or is it just a cliché?

There has been heated debate on whether the Eskimos really do have that many distinct words for snow. I consulted Giles Whittell’s 2019 book “Snow: A Scientific and Cultural Exploration” for information.

Whittell refers to a recent contribution to the question by the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center. They determined that in Canada’s Nunavik region, the Inuit there have 53 distinct words for snow; in the Central Siberian Yupik dialect they counted 40.

Among the words listed in the Yupik dictionary are:

“kanevvluk” = fine snow
“navcaq” = snow formation about to collapse
“qanisqineq” = snow floating on water
“utvak” = snow carved in a block, as for an igloo

Clearly, those living in the extreme north do have far more words to describe snow than those who makes their homes farther south.

As Whittell says, “…people learn to describe in greatest detail what matters most to them.”

I suppose that the number of words a culture has to describe something tells us a great deal about the importance they place on it.

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Let the Son Outshine Your Problems

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

The moon did a disappearing act on me recently.

As I sat eating breakfast, I could see the moon shining brightly through the window. It handily outshone the streetlights, which were still on at that pre-dawn hour.

But slowly, the moon grew dimmer and fainter, although it was still high in the sky.

What had happened to its luminosity?

Had the moon changed in some way?

No, the sun had simply come up!

The sun’s growing brilliance filled the morning sky, causing the moon to appear paler than before. Eventually, I could barely see the moon at all, even though it hadn’t set behind the horizon yet.

This puts me in mind of how we sometimes view our problems.

In the darkness of our difficulties, we often focus on what’s causing us pain. The source of our problems gets our attention, out-competing other factors in our lives.

But if we let the light of Jesus shine on our situation, the truth of His unending love for us can outshine the temporary nature of our problems. Our challenges appear dimmer in the light of His forgiveness, His care for us, and His promise of eternal life.

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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Did you ever play games with flowers as a child?

Perhaps you squeezed the “mouth” of a snapdragon flower to make it “talk.”

Or maybe you held a buttercup underneath the chin of a friend. If it reflected back a yellow colour, it meant that they liked butter (apparently, everyone does!).

Probably one of the most famous flower games involves the daisy: it’s considered the oracle of affairs of the heart. The daisy supposedly has the ability to tell you if your sweetheart truly loves you or not.

It goes like this: you pluck off each petal of a daisy in turn, and as you do so, alternately say, “He loves me,” or “He loves me not.”

The final petal tells you which statement is true.

You’re left in suspense the whole time, and worry about what the last petal will reveal.

I know this is just a children’s game, but even as adults we sometimes worry if we’re truly loved, don’t we?

Human love can be a fickle thing, and we can often be unsure about the commitment and loyalty of those we love.

That’s why it’s so good to know that with Jesus, we’re never left wondering whether He loves us or not. He never leaves us in suspense as to whether He cares.

He always does.

And He always will.

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Following In His Footsteps

Image by Jennifer Beebe from Pixabay

In winter, it can be fun to decipher tracks left in the snow.

I sometimes make a little game of this as I’m going for a walk.

You can usually tell by the size and spacing of bootprints whether they were left by a man, woman, or child.

Tracks going to each house in turn clearly belong to the mail carrier.

Human footprints next to smaller, clawed ones indicate that a neighbour was walking the dog.

Dainty, single-file paw prints show that a cat was making its rounds, whereas a repeating W-shaped pattern of impressions indicate that a squirrel was hopping across the lawn.

And small bootprints that meander crazily like a butterfly are a sure sign that my four-year-old neighbour Noah passed this way!

What tracks are you leaving in life?

Will people want to follow in your footsteps?

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How To Pass The Baton

Image by Thomas Wolter from Pixabay

Have you ever run a relay race?

If you have, you’ll know that how well your team passes the baton matters just as much as how fast you all run.

I participated in a few relay races during high school when I was on the track team, and learned that there’s a knack to it.

When passing the baton to your teammate, you have to make sure that they’re up to speed first: at a sprint. You can’t hand off the baton at a standstill or even at a jog or your team will fall behind.

Therefore, we were taught a method to use at track meets when coming up behind the next runner on our team. We would shout out the name of our particular school, then say, “Go!”

Our next runner would immediately start sprinting with one hand behind them, ready to grab the baton in the passing zone. They wouldn’t look back at us, but simply keep running and power forward once we’d put the baton in their hand.

I think some these tips can apply to how we “pass the baton” to the next generation of believers in our spiritual race.

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Winter, the Great Leveller

Photo by Mark Evans on Flickr, CC BY-ND-2.0

If you live in a cold climate, as I do, you’ll have noticed that winter has a way levelling us out.

It shows us we’re all in the same boat.

Let me explain:

No matter how rich or poor you are, you’re going to have to deal with snow one way or another. If you live in a cold climate, there’s no escaping this fact.

Whether you drive a snazzy, expensive car or a modest runabout, winter has a way of making all vehicles look rather crappy. No matter how much you paid for your car, road salt and slush will cover it with an ugly grey-brown film.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

And despite searching high and low for the most fashionable winter parka, you’ll still end up looking like an Arctic explorer, indistinguishable from everyone else.

Winter has a way of humbling us.

I think sin has the same sort of levelling effect.

Whatever walk of life we come from, we’re all going to have to deal with our sins somehow. There’s no escaping it.

No matter how wealthy or poor we are, when sin sticks to us, it makes all of us look rather stained. Whether a pauper or a prince, the muck of sin covers us all.

And even if we try to gussy up our image and paper over our sins, it simply doesn’t work. We’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re any better or different than anyone else.

When it comes to sin, we’re all in the same boat.

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Happy In-Between

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

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?

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The Dreams of the Blind

What do blind people dream about?

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.

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