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.
Now that spring has arrived, the birds are starting to build their nests.
It’s delightful to watch them collect items to fashion into a new home.
They’ll mostly gather twigs and leaves as their construction materials. They might also add moss, plant fluff, dried grass, or feathers to make the nest soft for their chicks.
But sometimes birds use unexpected things when constructing a home.
They’ve been known to use mud, pet fur, discarded snake skins, and spider silk for their nests. They’ll even use man-made items, such as plastic, tinsel, dryer lint, or even purloined underwear from a clothesline!
Birds don’t seem to count anything out: they’ll use the most unlikely things to achieve their goal.
And so does God.
God also uses unexpected things and unlikely people to fulfill His purposes. The Bible is chock-full of examples of this:
Weeding the garden, like forgiving, is a task that’s never-ending.
We can’t simply say, “I weeded last week, so I’m done now. I won’t need to weed for the rest of the season.”
Every gardener know that the weeds will keep cropping up. The job of weeding is one that lasts for as long as you have a garden.
So it is with forgiving those who have offended or hurt us. Forgiving is not optional for believers: we are to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
But sometimes we think that it’s a “one-and-done” effort. We grudgingly forgive someone once, and assume we’re done with it.
Inevitably, though, we learn that it doesn’t work that way. The next week, we might ruminate about what they did to us and get mad all over again. We find there’s still a root of bitterness in our heart, and we have to forgive them once more.
Like weeding, the duty to forgive is ongoing. It may require more “rinse and repeat” cycles than you might imagine.
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?
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.
It’s an awesome feeling to realize that you’ve got a second chance, isn’t it?
A friend of mine discovered this after moving into a house with a large garden this summer. A beginner gardener, she was delighted to finally have enough space for an extensive vegetable garden. She immediately planted some tomato and cucumber seedlings, which grew vigorously and are now producing ripe veggies.
Because she’d moved in mid-summer, however, she lamented that she’d missed the chance to start growing vegetables like beets, spinach, peas, and carrots from seed in spring. She knew that cool-weather-loving veggies like peas wouldn’t thrive in the summer heat. She figured that if you didn’t plant those seeds in the spring, you’d missed your chance for the whole year.
But the garden, like God, often gives us second chances.
I told my friend that she could actually plant those seeds now for a fall harvest. There was still time to grow a second crop before the frosts of November hit. She hadn’t missed out after all: she could still grow the cool-weather veggies she’d hoped for.
What a wonderful metaphor for how God deals with us!