God Unchanging

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Today the unbroken snow field sparkles with brilliant sunlight. It looks like the angels were making Christmas cards and accidently spilled the white glitter. Along the tree line, the sun casts long steel-blue shadows across the white field. I sit for a while, sipping my hot chocolate and admiring the view from our patio doors. As the sun climbs higher, the shadows slink slowly and quietly away. I can’t sit here all day, but I know they will only venture out again when the sun begins to sink. The changing shadows have a certain beauty. Though they are fleeting, they add depth and character to the monochromatic landscape.

Usually, my life ticks along uneventfully, my hours filled with the mundane duties of daily living. We aren’t world travelers. Our children aren’t prodigies. We have done nothing to merit notoriety. In short, we’re sort of monochromatic (some might even say “boring”). But fleeting circumstances do, from time to time, cast shadows over our lives. This year has had its share of shadows.

Some of those shadows were intriguing; for instance, trying to unfold the mysteries in my family tree. A few were a little scary — our teenage daughters (19 and 17 years old) road-tripping from Wisconsin alone to meet us in Nashville. Others were beautiful — making some new friends and being reunited with some old ones. And a handful were dark and ominous — discovering the enemy we’re supposed to love isn’t always outside the four walls of the church. God has used all these shifting shadows, good and bad, to add depth and character to my soul.

There were days the shadows nearly overwhelmed me. Things looked bleak and distorted, like a moonlit cemetery in an old black and white horror flick. One truth kept me grounded. The shadows would change, but God would not. James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:6).

As the shifting shadows come and go, God remains constant. I know He is good, even when my circumstances are not. I know He is with me, even when I do not sense His nearness. I know He is faithful, even when I am unfaithful. I know He will never fail me, even when people do. I know He is always truthful, even when the world is full of lies. I know He is gracious, even when I fail. I know He is just, even when life seems unfair. I know He is eternal, when all else is passing swiftly by. I know He is all-sufficient, when the stuff of life fails to satisfy.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”                  -Thomas Obadiah Chisholm

A Time to Mourn

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Today’s dismal sky mirrors my mood. The cold clouds seem to notice my demeanor. A crystalline winter shower sifts down as they try to shake off their indifference – the closest thing to empathetic tears they can muster this time of year.

One of our former pastors died earlier this week. The funeral was today. He didn’t die of illness. Or old age. Or an accident. He died of depression. Of desperation. Of irrepressible despair.

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Crushed to God’s Glory

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Today I hunt for wild grapes. The vines are everywhere, climbing fences and trees and boulders along the wild country roads. Many of the vines are bare. But some have clusters of tiny purple grapes, miniatures of their cultivated cousins. A couple of light frosts have made them as sweet as they’re going to get… which is not very sweet. They’re far too tart to eat plain. But they make excellent jelly. I fill several ice cream pails and head home.

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Special Edition: Traveling Together

Today I watch spent leaves fall and flit away on the breeze. No longer anchored to their respective trees, they whirl wistfully below a steel blue sky threatening to pour out its soggy contents. Eventually they land. Chances are, however, they haven’t found their final resting places yet. Unless their footing is firm, they’ll tumble along with passing winds until a strong rain pins them down.

As I walk along, enjoying the leaf shower, God brings Ephesians 4:14-15 to mind. Paul is explaining that Christ equips His followers so we corporately bring glory to God and spur one another on to maturity when we exercise our spiritual gifts. Then he says, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ”

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The Birds Return

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Today I spot my first robin, rather my first robins.  A flock of them searches out worms in a patch of sad-looking grass exposed by the receding snow.    Just across the road, in the wetlands preserve, a red-winged blackbird perches on a well-weathered cattail.  I roll down the window to listen for its trilled tune but it seems momentarily preoccupied with the finer points of survival.

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