What would cause you to walk away from your greatest success?
It would have to be something pretty compelling, wouldn’t it?
Because people don’t normally throw in the towel when they’ve just achieved something unimaginable, when their wildest dreams have just come true.
If your business has finally had a banner year, you’d want to build on that and grow the company even bigger, not turn your back on it.
If you’ve just won several awards for achievements in your field, that’s probably not the time you’d suddenly want to quit.
So why would someone abandon it all right after a sensational triumph?
If they’d discovered something infinitely more valuable and worthwhile.
That’s how it was for three fishermen named Peter, James, and John.
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.
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.
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:
If you’re a gardener, you might sometimes look at your plants and decide that they’re missing something.
They need more “oomph.”
That’s where fertilizer comes in.
It can supercharge your flowers and vegetable plants by providing them with nutrients, such as nitrogen, that might be lacking in the soil.
With the addition of fertilizer, your plants can grow to their full potential and become as fruitful as they were meant to be.
Similarly, our prayers sometimes need more oomph, too.
But how do we give them that? How do we go about supercharging our prayers?
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.
Around this time of year, an unwanted visitor makes its way into many a gardener’s life.
I’m not talking about weeds or pests, although we certainly have to contend with those.
Rather, I’m referring to garden envy.
It starts out when we’re visiting the gardens of friends or neighbours. At first, we admire their lush plantings and attractive landscaping.
If we’re not careful, however, this appreciation can morph into envy. We think, I wish I had roses as beautiful as hers. Or, if only I had room in my yard for a gazebo like he does.
This envy can then develop into disenchantment with what we have. Why am I stuck with so much shade in my yard? Why can’t we afford an inground pool?
We can even become resentful of our comparatively meagre gardens, when we should be grateful to have a garden at all: many people don’t.
Envy is something we need to nip in the bud, whether it relates to our gardens or our lives.
We get into trouble when we start comparing ourselves to others. This is true even in spiritual matters.
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?
If you’ve ever invested in stocks or mutual funds, you’ll probably have come across a disclaimer like this:
“Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.”
This phrase is meant to warn us and give us pause before we press the “Buy” button. We shouldn’t assume that an investment will continue to succeed in the future just because it’s done so in the past.
But there’s a secondary meaning that can be read into that disclaimer, too.
We shouldn’t discount or overlook an investment opportunity simply because it has performed poorly recently. It could well turn around and gain ground.
It’s this last meaning of the disclaimer that we see exemplified in several characters in the Bible. It applies to our own lives as well:
Past failures in our lives don’t mean that God can’t still use us.
They’re not a reliable indicator of our future results or success.
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.