For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ
2 Corinthians 4:6
Photo by Marge McCoy
Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 1:17
The sweater was gorgeous; a soft, creamy wool with vibrant fall colors woven in. It was outrageously expensive, but I knew it would look beautiful on my friend, so I put it on lay-away for her one long-ago Christmas.
I remember setting aside money from my paycheck each week, the satisfaction of making the final payment, and carrying my treasure home – a warm, stylish sweater for a person I loved. A gift from my heart.
When Christmas day arrived, I could hardly stand it as I watched her remove the sweater from its box. As she fingered the fabric, though, the expression on her face was somewhat less than the appreciation I had expected.
“Did you save the receipt?”s he asked.
My heart sank. “You don’t like it?”
“Sure, it’s just… the color’s a little off. Was it a second?”
“No, it was not a second,” I said, joy leaking out of me like air from a punctured tire. “Why don’t you at least try it on?”
It fit like a dream, as I knew it would.
“It’s a little snug,” she said. She took it off and hung it in the back of the closet, where it stayed until we drifted apart, a few years later. For all I know, it still hangs there today.
All these years later, I can still remember what I felt on that Christmas day. Hurt. Anger. Disappointment. And shame, too. Because the sweater makes me think about all of the wonderful gifts God has lavished on me that I took for granted. Gifts intended for my good and for his glory that sat, unused and unappreciated, in the closets of my life. Still, I’m glad for the memory of that day. It reminds me to examine the corners of my life and see if there are things hidden there that need my attention.
Lord, help me not to take even a single one of Your gifts for granted. Help me to use them as You intended, for Your glory and the edification of others. Amen
Devotional by Jean Pike
Photo by Elizabeth Pike
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.
Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Hymn lyrics: Joachim Neander 1863
Photo by Cheryl Cook
Wither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or wither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea
Even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Psalms 139: 7-9
When I was growing up, my family spent a few years living in a big farmhouse out in the country. I don’t know how many acres we owned, but the space seemed vast and endless to me at the time. Beyond our back yard there was a farmer’s field, and beyond the field there was a small patch of paradise with trees and a pond.
Sometimes on Saturday mornings my mother would take my sisters and me to play beside the pond. Once in awhile, she would let us go alone. We were probably seven, eight and nine years old at the time. How grown up we felt, setting off on our own.
If I thought about it at all, I suppose I thought that while we were joyfully climbing trees, skipping stones, and collecting pretty rocks, our mother was back at the house doing, well, doing mother stuff. I didn’t know until years later that the whole time we were gone, our mother stood at the big picture window in the kitchen, watching us through a pair of binoculars. She told me how her stomach would be in knots. How she wanted to give us our independence, but stood sentinel, ready at a moment’s notice to come and rescue us, if need be.
What a wonderful portrait of a mother’s tender, protective love.
And what a wonderful portrait of God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your ever watchful, omnipresent love. Thank You that You are watching over me even in those times when I am not aware of Your presence. Thank You for giving me the freedom to express myself and to make my own choices. Thank You for the supreme privilege of being Your beloved child through the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus. Amen
Devotional by Jean Pike
Photo by Cheryl Cook