When You Can’t See God’s Face

Image by Sumanley xulx from Pixabay

I don’t know about you, but I still have trouble recognizing acquaintances when they’re wearing a mask.

One of the unusual things this pandemic has taught us is just how much we rely on a person’s whole face to clue us in to who they are.

When someone wears a mask, we’re missing half the visual information we normally get from their features. It takes us longer to cotton on to who it is.

We waltz past someone, glance at the top half of their face above their mask, and think they look vaguely familiar.

“That’s not so-and-so, is it?” we wonder, as we keep walking.

Too late, we realize it was so-and-so. We can only hope they weren’t offended that we sped past them without a hello.

This pandemic has been unnerving in many ways. Mask-wearing has robbed us of some of the crucial information we need to identify people quickly. Not only that, masks also deprive us of the ability to see people smile.

Do you ever feel like you’re only seeing half of God’s “face,” as it were?

Has hardship obscured His features from your sight? Do you long to see Him smile upon you again?

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Fill Up Your Storehouse

This is a busy (and nutty) time of year for squirrels.

The little critters are hard at work storing up nuts and seeds for the hard winter ahead.

Depending on the species, they may either store their nuts in one spot (a stash), or hide them by burying them in multiple locations (known as “scatter-hoarding”). They’ve even been known to shamelessly steal nuts from the stashes of other squirrels.

The jury is out on whether squirrels actually remember where they’ve hidden all those nuts. Some studies suggest they can recall the location of thousands of buried nuts. Other research implies that squirrels fail to recover a good number of their treasures, which allows the nuts and acorns to grow into trees.

One thing is for certain: these little guys are single-minded about gathering up nuts before winter, often using unconventional places to store them.

Like cars.

Just ask Bill Fischer of Fargo, North Dakota. For the past eight years, a red squirrel has been using Bill’s pickup truck to store walnuts. Each year, the poor man has to remove thousands of walnuts from every crevice of his truck, including the engine compartment and bumpers.

This month, the critter set a new record, stashing 348 pounds of nuts in Bill’s vehicle. And this was all the work of one tiny squirrel.

These crafty little animals might exasperate us, but we can learn something from them:

They make sure they’ve “squirrelled away” provision for hard times to come.

I think we should do something similar:

Store up the Word of God in your heart, because you never know when you might need a certain verse to sustain you in a tough situation.

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Easier to Destroy Than Create

It’s a truism that it’s easier to destroy than to create.

I saw this in action recently in my own neighbourhood.

A two-storey house had been damaged internally by fire, although it looked salvageable from the outside. Nonetheless, the owners and insurers agreed that it should be demolished and a new house built in its stead.

I imagine the original house had taken months to build. It probably involved scores of people in its construction: contractors, carpenters, bricklayers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and the like.

But it only took one man with one large backhoe a few hours to raze that building to the ground.

It was shocking how quickly the structure was destroyed. What could have lasted for decades was levelled in the space of a morning.

A cautionary tale, don’t you think?

If we’re not careful, we can see the same thing happen in our own lives.

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Amplify The Signal

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Does your dog or cat come running when it hears the can opener?

Does your husband?

I guess we all tune in to sounds that are important to us, don’t we?

Parents are able to zero in on the specific cry of their child at a playground. They’re able to filter out the sounds of other children to focus on their own.

If you drop some coins on the floor, everyone’s head swivels toward the sound. Our ears strain out the other ambient noises in the environment and prick up at the sound of money tinkling.

Obviously, our family and money are things that are important to us.

But what about the messages that God is trying to send us?

Do we tune in to those with as much attention?

Or are there so many distractions in our lives that we’re unable to focus on the character of God and His love for us?

Maybe we need to adjust the signal-to-noise ratio in our lives.

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Precedented Times Are Coming

Aren’t you a bit tired of living in “unprecedented times”?

You’re not alone. I saw a slogan on a T-shirt the other day which read, “I miss precedented times.”

We’re all longing to go back to our normal, predictable lives, the way they used to be.

But even when we’re able to return to a semblance of our pre-pandemic existence, we still aren’t guaranteed a life without injustices, sorrows and unwelcome surprises.

Jesus told us that “in this world, you will have trouble.” And ain’t that the truth!

Even so, we can have hope that with God, we can still live in “precedented times.” How so?

When you read the Bible, you find there are precedents to receiving healing, restoration, wholeness and joy, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem.

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Marinate Yourself in God’s Word

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

When you marinate food before cooking it, more is going on than meets the eye (or the taste buds).

You’re doing more than simply soaking the food in a seasoned liquid to add extra flavour to it.

You’re actually changing its structure and making it yield.

Marinating tenderizes meat, breaking down tough connective tissues to make it more palatable. It also helps meat retain moisture, ensuring that the cooked meat will be juicy and not dry.

Marinades usually have a sharp, acidic ingredient, like wine, vinegar or lemon juice, or an enzymatic one, like yogurt of papaya. Herbs, spices and oils are added as well.

Whether you use a red-wine-based marinade for beef dishes, or a tangy yogurt-lemon one for chicken, your meat is guaranteed to turn out tender and better-tasting.

Likewise, when we meditate on God’s Word, or “marinate” in it, we’re doing more than simply adding Biblical quotations to our knowledge base.

As we absorb and internalize Scripture, it changes us and leaves us better off than before.

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Leave Satan Speechless

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Have you ever been at a complete loss for words?

Like if your little boy comes in the house, covered in purple paint, and proudly announces, “Guess what, Dad! I’ve painted your car!”

Or when your daughter announces that she’s dropping out of med school to become an itinerant street juggler?

Maybe you’ve been left speechless after you’ve searched the house for the vintage fishing tackle box in which you hid thousands of dollars, and your spouse says, “That old thing? I donated it to the thrift shop months ago.”

How would you like to leave Satan speechless?

Jesus showed us that it’s possible, as long as you have the key.

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Does The Bible Really Say That?

Darth Vader photo by Steven Miller on Flickr CC BY-2.0

Sometimes we can get a bit fuzzy about what the Scriptures say, can’t we? We hear a commonly used phrase and think it sounds a bit “Bible-ish,” so we assume it’s in God’s Word. But we may be mistaken.

Let’s try a little quiz. Which of these sayings is in the Bible?

  1. “God helps those who help themselves.”
  2. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
  3. “Just follow your heart and believe, and you can do anything.”

Actually, NONE of them can be found in the Scriptures. The first was popularized by Ben Franklin, the second by John Wesley, and the third is from a Disney song!

Let’s try again. How about this one:

  1. “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Who said that? It must have been Jesus, right? That totally sounds like something He would say, probably to His disciples.

Actually, that immortal phrase was uttered by Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movie!

We can really get thrown off track when we don’t know Scripture for ourselves. When we mistakenly think certain phrases are in the Bible, we can even believe things that are contrary to what God says.

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Jam The Signal!

The tiger moth Bertholdia trigona is the only animal in nature known to jam
the echolocation of its predator
Photo on Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Bats are crafty creatures.

Being nocturnal, bats search for food at night, but their night vision is fairly poor. So instead they use echolocation, or reflected sound, to home in on insects such as moths. Their built-in sonar directs them to the precise location of the tasty morsels; then it’s just a matter of swooping in and gobbling them up.

So the bats’ prey have to be crafty as well.

Certain species of tiger moth have the ability to emit sonar of their own. As a bat is closing in, the moth emits a fusillade of ultrasonic clicks. This barrage blurs and disrupts the bat’s echolocation: the signal is essentially jammed. The baffled hunter can no longer “see” the moth, and is tricked into thinking its target has vanished. Thwarted, the hungry predator flies away, and the prey is safe.

Our little tiger moth beats its enemy at its own game.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could “jam the signal” of the enemy of our soul? If we could disrupt and counter the lies the world tells us about ourselves?

In fact, there’s a way that we can.

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Fill in the Blanks

Photo by Michael Gaida on Pixabay

Did you know that some people make a hobby out of “reading” the forest in winter? By that I mean identifying trees despite their being bare of leaves this time of year.

This can be quite challenging, because frankly, many species of trees look almost identical to each other without their leaves. How do these nature lovers do it? How do they “fill in the blanks” and distinguish one species of tree from another in winter?

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