Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

The night.  It is dark.  Little noises seem to be amplified throughout the house. For those who find themselves alone, it is the worst time.  Daytime can be difficult, but there is something different about the night.  It seems to make them more aware that they are alone.  The loneliness is so real, you can almost touch it.  They cry out to God.

She sits at the kitchen table with her calculator and the stack of bills.  Her paycheck just came in, and it is already gone.  The trouble is, which bills to pay?  She has 3 final notices in front of her, and children asking her, "What's for dinner, Mama?"  She lays her pen down and puts her head in her hands.  She silently weeps a prayer to the Lord.

They sit in different rooms in their home.  Both of them forsee the same thing, but they have stopped talking to each other.  What is the point?  It's the same old arguments, over and over.  When they married 15 years ago, they believed that God had brought them together.  They must have been mistaken.  They just don't 'feel' it anymore.  They simultaneously put down their remote and their book.  They bow their heads and pray.

They all wonder, "Does God hear them? "  "Why would a God who was so loving, allow them to go through this agony?"  "Doesn't He care?"  They thought He loved them.  They wonder what they did to make Him so mad at them, that He would not be there when they needed Him the most.  Perhaps, they wonder if it is their fault.  Maybe, they just aren't good enough.

They are mistaken.  God IS there.  It's just hard to see Him through their tears.

For an example, let's peek into the life of a young girl in trouble.  In her early teen's and pregnant.  She's afraid to tell her parents.  They are very religious, and the news would break their hearts.  In fact, her whole community is very devoted...there's no one she can share her secret with.  She, herself tried to be faithful, following Yahweh's decrees as best she could.  This pregnancy was not in her plans.  Now what?  The reality had begun to set in.  What was she thinking when she agreed to the angel's declaration? She, young Mary, was to be the mother of the Son of the Most High.  It's been three months since the angel's visit...people would begin to notice soon.  She had heard nothing else from the angel.  She looked for signs of him every day.  She feared for her life when Joseph, her fiancee' found out.  He could order her to be killed, for adultery.  Late at night, Mary laid in her bed and wondered.  What was He thinking?  Where was God when she needed Him?  She felt so alone.  The tears silently fell.

Fast forward thirty four years.  Mary is now sitting in the rain with more tears flowing down her cheeks.  In her arms lay her son, Jesus.  She had watched them hang him as if he were a criminal.  They crucified Him next to two thieves.  Yet, He didn't look like the other two men.  They had beaten Him so badly, you couldn't even recognize Him.  But she knew who He was.  She would know Him anywhere.  He was part of her.  He was now laying in her lap, like he did when he was a baby...but now He was dead.  How could God let this happen?  Why?  What was He thinking?  Jesus didn't do anything at all to deserve this...He had never even sinned once in His life.  He got that from His Father.  But what good plan could Yahweh POSSIBLY have to justify THIS?  Where was God when she needed Him?  She held her dead child close and wailed.

Was God there?  Yes, He was.  Did He know what He was doing?  Yes, He did.  Did He hear Mary's cries?  Yes, He did.  God was getting ready to reveal His Plan.

Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, opening up the doors of heaven to all who repent and accept Him.  Through Him, God's Plan was revealed.  When Mary saw Him again, she finally understood. There was an explanation for the dark and lonely nights.  There was a reason for the tears.  There was a purpose for the pain. 

Although we cannot always feel the presence of God, He is there.  He hears our cries.  He listens to our prayers.  He has a plan.  Meanwhile, while we wait for the time for Him to reveal it,  He is there.  He is waiting in the dark of the night for us to lean on Him as He dries our tears.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder



Beautiful.  Who determines what is beautiful?  Is it society...who show us through films, advertisements, and television what is considered lovely?  Maybe it is the judges who chose the woman that's wearing the crown in a beauty pageant.  Maybe it is the proud parent who KNOWS that their child is the most gorgeous child that ever lived.  Or the newly smitten boy/girl who is sure that their new sweetheart is the most heavenly thing on the face of the earth.  People can make us feel beautiful.

There is another side to that coin.  What if you don't have anyone around to remind you how beautiful you are?  What if no one ever told you that you were pretty...or handsome?  What if no one has ever noticed what a radiant smile you had...because they had never seen you smile?  There are individuals who have only been criticised and ridiculed their entire life.  They believe they are anything but beautiul. People can also make us feel ugly.

Humans judge the beauty or worth of someone based upon their outward appearance.  But let's look at it a little deeper.  How does God see us?  What does He think when He looks at us?

The Bible says that Samuel was looking for God's anointed one that was to be king.  He was looking at all of these rugged, strong men.  Surely God's man was among them!  God told him, " "The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)  God led Samuel not to the rugged warriors...but to the lowly shepherd boy, David.  He was to be the leader of God's people.  God knew David's heart.  He knew that although he didn't look strong and wise on the outside, he was a man after God's own Heart.  The Lord knew what Samuel...or even David, didn't.  He judged what man could not see. 

Don't judge a book by it's cover.  The veneer could fool you.  It could be a gorgeous leather bound edition with gold trim, and the inside of the volume could be filthy and unreadable.  Then, you could have an old, tattered cover that houses within it's binding, a valuable treasure. I don't know if I agree with the phrase, "Beauty is only skin deep."  I believe it's much deeper than that.  Beauty radiates from within.  Many people may outwardly look lovely, but have ugliness at their core. Their hateful heart makes them offensive to everyone.  Then, there are others who might not seem becoming in other's eyes, who have the most gorgeous hearts that beat within their chest. 

We are like that tattered book.  To God, we are the treasure.  He sees us as magnificent masterpieces that He created in His own Image.  He knows everything about us, and doesn't judge us as others do.  He knows every fascinating cell in our body.  He loves us as we are.  Even when we think we aren't worth anything...He proves us wrong.  When we believe what others told us, that we do not matter...He proves them wrong.  For God thought we were beautiful enough...worthy enough to send His Son to die for our sins, because He wanted us to be able to live with Him forever.  Nothing ugly could ever enter Heaven.  No matter what color my eyes are...or how my nose is shaped...He loves me and you because He sees what no one else can.  He sees the real us.  Purify your heart today.  Give your life over to the God who made you and loves you like no one else can.  He's knocking at the door of your heart.  Let Him in.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thanks For The Memories


I have noticed that there are a lot of social web site pages that deal with memories. If You Grew Up In....., Growing Up In.....; If You Lived In.....  There are countless groups that you can join to reminisce and share similar memories and experiences.  Scrapbooks are so popular, too.  We enjoy looking back at events frozen in time.  People love to reminisce about the 'good ole' days'. 

Why is that?  Why do people enjoy thinking about the past?  There are many reasons, one being we long for the times when life seemed more simple and carefree.  Although we may like having all of the modern conveniences and technology...there is something about the simplicity of the past, that we miss. And it's not just people my age...there are older individuals that long for the time when they were a child, or in their teens and 20's...and those that are a decade younger than I am, who yearn for the same thing.

Why?  That was the time in our lives before mortages, meetings and money markets.  Before children, change and charge cards.  Our responsibilites were small...our dreams were enormous.  The good old days...

The Bible even speaks of remembering.  Ecclesiastes 12:1  "Remember your Creator when you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years catch up with you. They will make you say, 'I have found no pleasure in them.' " God's Word Translation
Why did Solomon (the proposed author of Ecclesiastes) write this?  Why would he say this to a young person?  My guess is that in his wisdom, he knew that young people didn't always think of the future.  They knew that today was fun and carefree, but tomorrow would show them different.  When they were older, they would see 'days of trouble'.  Then what?  If they had been remembering their Creator, they would have Someone to lean on.  They would remember how He was wth them and also their ancestors when bad situations came up.  They would know that they were not alone.
While it is fun looking back...a person could get lost looking only in the rear view mirror.  We have to keep our eyes looking forward.  It is beneficial to look back from time to time, and see where we have been.  We can use our past experiences and decisions as stepping stones to our future decisions.  But we look ahead and press onward as we wait for the day when He not only is with us...but we will see Him face to face.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Avocado Tree


You never know what kind of a crop you will have.
Our avocado tree was so full of produce this year, it broke two huge branches long before the fruit could ripen.  We lost over 200 of them.  It wasn't the tree's fault...it simply did what it was made to do...it just made avocados!!  Although the fruit was beautiful to look at...it didn't last, because some of the branches were too weak to sustain it.

I'm sure Jesus was aware of weak branches.  In the Gospel of John, He told the disciples that He was the vine, and we are the branches.  He said that if we remained in Him, we would bear much fruit...for without Him we can do nothing. He said that our fruit will not only be good...but that it will abide...it will last.  The fruit will not be gone tomorrow.  It will leave a lasting legacy.  That is IF we are rooted in Him.

 If we are not, if we are superficial and self indulgent, our results will show this.   It will be like the weak branch that held the avocados...it couldn't hold up under the weight of the fruit. How often do we begin to bear fruit and then buckle under the pressure of the committment? Does our fruit look good on the outside, but is unable to be used because we weren't grounded enough to give it sustenance?

It's time to cultivate your faith.  Prune it from self.  Weed it of the thorns of laziness and apathy. Feed it with the Word of God and water it with prayer.  Then watch the fruit blossom and give nourishment to others and yourself...for now and for years to come.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Precious Than Silver

Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths.
No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.
                                       Mark Twain

October 4, 1986...the day my life and name changed forever.  The day I went from Peggy Just to Peggy Pyles...the day I became Steve's wife.

Twenty five years, a quarter of a century...today is our silver wedding anniversary.    Did you ever wonder why they call it a 'silver' anniversary?  I'm not sure where it came from, but I have a few ideas!

Silver is an ancient metal.  Pure silver is mixed with other metals like copper and gold, and then processed. It has to be heated and smelted to remove it's impurities.  After a time, the result is beautiful and precious.

In Chemistry, the periodic table symbol for silver is Ag.  Here are a few 'Ag' words that may describe the events in a 25 year old marriage.

Agreement.  When two people decide to marry, they 'agree' to live their lives together forever.  They don't know what is in store for them, in the future.  They set out together, looking ahead. Their love is as fresh as pure silver.

Agitating.  The little things that get to them.  He won't pick up his dirty socks.  She wants him to go to the mall right before the big game.  Little things...that could become big things, if they aren't careful.  It is combining of two different metals...mixing and molding them into one.

Aggressive.  The arguements that are bound to come.  They each wonder if they have made the right decision.  What were they thinking?  They didn't bargin for this...this wasn't part of the marital vows, was it?  Are you supposed to put up with someone who is so bullheaded?  Their marriage is in the fire. 

Agonize.  It's 2 a m and the baby has a high fever.  They wish they could trade places.  They pray. The silver is being extracted.

Many people have wondered over the years how Steve and I could possibly get along...we are complete opposites. I'll answer that question.  From the time I met Steve, I saw someone who was kind, loving and true.  We have very different personalites and interests.  Yet, when it came to difficult times, I always saw the real Steve. I knew he loved me from the bottom of his heart.  I believe that God gave me the ability to see him as He sees him.

Real, endearing love doesn't happen when a ring goes on a finger.  It develops over time, through blending, fire and extraction.  It is cultivated with the tools of respect, thoughtfulness and compromise.  Marriage is hard work.  You never get a day off.  But the benefits are wonderful.

For those of my friends who have lost as spouse through separation or divorce, my heart truly aches for you.  For reasons that may not have been under your control, your world was crushed. Know that God sees your pain, and loves you with an Everlasting Love.  For those of you who have lost a dear spouse through death..you know what I am talking about.  No words can truly comfort you.  You long for the day when you will be reunited with your sweetheart.  God sees your broken heart and waits for you to lean on Him.

Oh...I have one last Ag word:  Ageless  The result of the refining process, repeated countless times over the years.  That result is an everlasting love that stands the test of time.

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