Leave The Gate Open

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

As I was doing some yard clean-up in my front garden the other day, I accidentally startled a wild rabbit who had been nibbling on the grass nearby.

Alarmed, he made a dash for the backyard, where I knew the rabbits had made a home in the dense shrubbery in the corner.

The only problem was that I’d closed the gate to the backyard. The rabbit couldn’t get to safety.

The rabbit looked at me nervously, then ran all the way around the perimeter of the fence to where there was another access point the bunnies could use to get into the backyard.

I felt bad that I’d closed off the direct route to his home, and vowed to always leave the back gate slightly ajar for my wild rabbit friends.

It struck me that there was a lesson here for believers.

When it comes to unbelievers, do we “leave the gate open,” so to speak, at our churches?

Or do we put so many obstructions in their way that they find it hard to reach the safety of God’s arms?

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Trust In Your Sentinel

Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

It’s nice to have a bodyguard, isn’t it?

Someone who watches over you, keeps tabs on what’s happening to you, and is ready to step in if it looks like you’re headed for trouble.

Even flocks of geese have a bodyguard of sorts. The individual bird which fills this role is called a sentinel.

While the other geese are feeding, individual geese will take turns acting as protectors for the rest of the gaggle. These sentinels will stand guard, necks erect, alert to any threat from predators. They have keen eyesight and hearing, and will honk loudly to warn the others if they sense any danger.

Geese make such effective guards that we humans have often taken advantage of their services. We’ve employed geese at farms and warehouses as living alarm systems, and have even used them to guard U.S. Air Defense Command installations in Germany!

We could all use a sentinel like that in our lives, couldn’t we?

Did you know that if you’re a believer, you already have a “bodyguard”?

It’s God Himself.

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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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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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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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Follow The Cat

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

If you have ever owned a cat (or have been owned by one), you’ll know that if you want to find the warmest, most comfortable place in your home, just follow the cat.

Cats unerringly zero in on the most comfortable spot in your house. They’re not above stealing your favourite chair or displacing you from your own bed in their quest for comfort.

Our feline friends consistently find the sunniest windowsill on which to perch or a warm heating vent in the floor over which to drape themselves. They’ll snuggle into the coziest, most protected part of the sofa, or stake out a claim on the most comfy lap.

Cats are masters at pinpointing zones of highest comfort.

But if you’re in need of comfort, reassurance, love and protection, where do you find it?

Follow the people who know the Source of all comfort.

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What Birds Can Teach Us About Prayer

Image by GeorgeB2 from Pixabay

It’s good to keep in touch with those you love, isn’t it?

Even birds know this.

Birds will engage in what are called “contact calls” with their mate or others in their flock. Unlike a bird’s song, a call is usually shorter and quieter. The purpose of contact calls is to maintain a continuous connection and to keep track of where each bird is located.

The Northern Cardinal, for instance, makes a brief metallic “chip” sound to keep tabs on its mate’s location when they’re both foraging for food. The mate will respond with the same call as reassurance that they’re nearby and that all is well.

We humans engage in the same type of behaviour. We’ll often make a short phone call or send a quick text to a loved one to keep track of how they’re doing and to reassure them that we’re all right.

I think our Creator would appreciate getting a “contact call” from us on a regular basis, too.

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God Will Go Ahead of You

Cow eyeing something suspiciously. Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Do you ever get a bit anxious when faced with something completely new?

Like how to find a new job in an economy that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before? Or how to navigate a world that’s turned upside-down?

Many of us shrink from the prospect of entering uncharted territory.

And we’re not the only ones: even some animals balk when confronted with something unfamiliar.

Cows are notorious for disliking disruptions to their routines and environments. They’re particularly averse to new gates. Cows are made so nervous by new entrances and openings that they’ll stubbornly resist going through them.

This trait is so well known that it’s given rise to the phrase, “like a cow looking at a new gate.” It means to view something with bewilderment and confusion, as though to say, “Are you serious? I’m not going through that.

Do you feel this way when faced with the uncertainties that the new year may bring? Is fear of the unknown keeping you from stepping forward in faith to realize your dreams?

Fear has a way of paralyzing us, so that we stay stuck where we are instead of trying something new.

But we needn’t be afraid.

God will go through the gate ahead of us.

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How Are You Sleeping?

Photo by Danny Chang on Pixabay

How have you been sleeping recently? Do you find yourself waking at night, worried about the future?

Wish you could sleep as soundly as your pet?

Cats and dogs have an advantage when it comes to sleeping deeply. They’re predator animals: in the wild, canines and felines are hunters. Large predator mammals generally spend more time in deep non-REM sleep than their prey.

Prey animals such as rabbits or deer, the hunted, spend more time in lighter non-REM sleep. They also experience very little REM sleep at all. Their survival is dependent on being permanently alert, and the paralysis of REM sleep would make them too vulnerable to their predators.

I wonder if the poor sleep we humans often experience relates to our feeling “hunted,” relentlessly chased by worries, deadlines, and obligations?

Is there a way we can calm our anxious minds and get a good night’s rest?

Yes! I believe the Bible offers some tips to help us sleep better.

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You’re Not As Alone As You Think

Photo by Lorie Shauli on Flickr CC BY-SA-2.0

Winter can be a lonely time, can’t it?

The joyful symphony of birdsong that graced the spring and summer months has diminished. In these parts, most birds have already flown south for the winter by now. The backyards and parks seem unnaturally quiet, with nary a chirp to be heard.

It can leave us feeling bereft, like we’re all alone.

But we’re never as alone as we might think, as we’ll see from some encouraging accounts in the Bible.

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