Oct 30, 2011

Everyday life...

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.

So the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of Eternity.

So the little errors
Lead the soul away
From the paths of virtue
Far in sin to stray.

Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Help to make earth happy,
Like the Heaven above.

In 1845, Julia Fletcher Carney wrote this poem, titled "Little Things".  It ended up in the McGuffey Reader and probably was learned by millions of American school children in the early classrooms.  My mom wrote it out for me from her memory when I was about 11 or 12 years old, and I've never forgotten it either.

Sometimes this is how I feel about my own life.  I think just about everyone has a need to feel like they are part of a bigger picture and are a piece of a puzzle that comes together to be something beautiful and meaningful.  And just like we don't "see" an entire ocean when we look at a single raindrop, we understand the principle that eventually enough raindrops do form an ocean.

When one gets to the age where they realize they have already lived more years than they have yet to live, there is often some evaluating and reassessing that goes on.  Things that used to mean so much no longer drive or control us.  I can remember a time back in high school days that I kept on my calendar a record of every outfit I wore so I would not wear the same exact thing twice in a month's time.  Looking back, I have no idea how I pulled that off because as the oldest of 7 children, it's not like I had that many clothes.  I must have done a lot of "borrowing" from my three sisters!  Now I have what I call a couple of "uniforms" ~ a few outfits that pretty much work for me and I wear them over and over and I'm happy with that.

In looking over my calendar for the past week, it does seem like the essence of my life has been made up of a lot of "little" things.  I've had opportunity to reach out to a pregnant mom who has her plate more than full, and passed on some used baby equipment.  I did some cooking for a local inner city ministry that helps women come out of a life of drugs and prostitution, and I organized a small group of women at my church who did the same thing.  My daughter-in-law fractured and sprained her foot recently, and so I've been doing a little extra cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and taxiing for her.  Yesterday while at the grocery store, an 83 year old lady stopped me to ask my opinion about a product, and we ended up having a pleasant chat for five or six minutes.  I sorted and distributed bags of used baby clothing to 5 different young moms, three of whom were total strangers.  And I baked dozens of cookies for the funeral lunch of a local firefighter, also a stranger.

I'm not saying any of this because I keep track of my good deeds or because I am patting myself on the back. Because to be honest with you, I have often been told by well-meaning friends that I don't "have a life"! When people say that, I understand that they mean I'm doing so many things for other people that I don't have time to do whatever it is they think I should be doing with my time.  I prefer to say "this IS my life!"  

 I do take note of that third verse of the poem, however.  In spite of all my good intentions, I'm still a sinner saved by grace, and believe me, I have my share of little errors that seek to lead me away from the paths of virtue and Godly living.  Funny how she stuck that right into the rest of the poem, which is all about the humble little things we do with our lives that have positive eternal consequences.  Food for thought.

What about you? What are the little drops of water and little grains of sand in your life that make a mighty ocean and a pleasant land?  What little deeds of kindness or little words of love have you done or spoken lately to make someone else's life a little more pleasant?

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  Galatians 6:2

Oct 19, 2011

Help my unbelief!

Something has healed in me.   As I sat in church this past Sunday morning, it was just one of those times when God broke through and touched something deep inside.  

Being as old as I am and having been in the church my entire life, there are some things about being a Christian that I take for granted.  I know God is everywhere and is able to do anything.  I know Jesus paid an awful cost to seal my redemption.  I know there is an eternity beyond this life and though much of that is a mystery, I rest in knowing I will be there and it will be good.  

If I'm honest, I also know there is a lot about God that my heart just doesn't fully comprehend, claim, or appropriate.  In my mind, Christianity is a package deal, and I'm sold.  When I read the words of Scripture, I know every one is trustworthy and true.  But somehow there are still truths and promises that I block my soul from fully receiving.  Why, I do not know.  I have no trouble claiming them for others.  I have a sneaky suspicion I may not be alone in this.

But as I was worshipping last Sunday, the familiar 23rd Psalm came to my mind.  And this is how the words played:

"The Lord is MY Shepherd, I~SHALL~NOT~WANT" 
"He maketh ME to lie down in green pastures"
"He restoreth MY soul"
"He leadeth ME in the paths of righteousness..."

on and on and finally...

"Surely GOODNESS and MERCY shall follow ME... ALL~THE~DAYS~OF~MY~LIFE..."

Friends, I've been living in the valley for a while now.  It's so easy to become discouraged when I'm feeling weak, tired and worn out by the storms of life.  Circumstances these past months have taken me almost to the breaking point at times when I've allowed myself to indulge in self-pity and worry.  With my head I fully have known there are so many others in much dire life situations, yet my heart still cried out "how much longer, Lord?  How many more roller coaster rides before things normalize again?"

Don't get me wrong.  The temptation to look at circumstances and fall into a sea of despair is still there.  I don't see any hard evidence our economy is getting any better.  Every time I turn around it seems someone else I know has lost their job~and all too often it seems that older employees have a target on their backs.  It's easy to lose hope...


we turn our focus back to the One who is all about goodness and mercy, and take hold of the truth of His Word.  That's where hope is found.  Thank you God for reminding me again.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." ~Philippians 3:12