Archive | January 2013

a time of rest


Now, in the dead of winter, it’s not difficult to find folks dreaming of living in Hawaii, Tahiti, or some other tropical paradise where the sun always shines and everyday is beach day. It’s understandable, I suppose, to be in a funk and pining for sunshine when it seems we see so little of it and thoughts of happy, warm, sunny days seem so much more attractive to us but that’s a little like wishing it could be Christmas everyday – not very realistic for most of us. I have my moments too but I have come to appreciate the beauty in all the seasons and see the parallels to our lives.
In Springtime the whole world teems with new life. Even after watching it for over half a century, I’m amazed each year when the world seems to turn green before my very eyes, blooms burst forth everywhere, and nature cranks up the soundtrack of life as birds, frogs, and all sorts of creatures sing their love songs as loudly as possible. The show is beautiful but ever changing and each day sees some beauties fading as others burst forth. It’s much like when a baby is born. There’s beauty and amazement each day as they grow and learn both for them as they experience it and us as we watch them.
In Summer the pace of change slows down and the world gets serious about growing, maturing, and producing. These are the days of endless sunshine, warm summer rains, lazy vacations, and fresh vegetables. I think it corresponds to young and middle adulthood when we raise our families, build our careers, and try to build nest eggs for our old age.
Fall is glorious! Fruit trees bend under the weight of their summer’s work, ripe crops turn golden under crystal clear blue skies, and God outdoes himself painting leaves from a wondrous palette as the trees prepare to sleep for the winter. I see this as comparable to upper-middle and old age when we wrap up our working lives and hopefully enjoy grandchildren and leisure activities we haven’t had time for earlier.
Winter is the time when, exhausted from the frenetic activity of the year, the earth goes to sleep to rest for the next year. This is according to God’s plan. He set the pattern himself at the end of his week of creation and makes it clear through his scriptures that it is his intention for all things that they have times of rest. Yet, even as it slumbers, there is beauty in the world that can’t be seen any other time. The quiet, pure beauty of a fresh snowfall that covers so much ugliness; the delicate beauty of a single snowflake; the matchless sculpture of an icicle; the elegant beauty of a tree’s structure that is hidden by leaves much of the year. And for us, old age brings the wisdom of a life lived, relief from the pressures of careers, mortgages, and childrearing, freedom to speak our minds, and time to reflect on the happy memories of a life well-lived. And, if we’ve made our peace with Jesus Christ and allowed him to be our Lord and Savior, it’s an opportunity to look forward to spending eternity in heaven with him. The Teacher says in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything – even death. And, at the end of a life well-lived, surrounded by loving family and friends there can be beauty even in that.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Revelations 14:13 NIV

Devotional and photo by Bob McCoy

out of order


And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray…
Matthew 14 : 22

Every Friday morning on my way to work I stop off at my favorite gas station and buy a cappuccino. It’s a little ritual I started a few years ago, a little treat I allow myself for having made it to the last day of my work week.
While I pass no less than a half dozen mini marts on my way, I chose this particular gas station because every week they feature a different kind of cappuccino. Decadent flavors like Cookies and Cream, Mom’s Apple Pie, Cinnamon Bun and Eggnog. I never know when I pull into the parking lot each week what wonderful flavor awaits me.
You can imagine my disappointment, last Friday, when I stepped up to the cappuccino machine and saw the sign: Out of Order. It was a small and silly thing, but somehow, as I poured a cup of regular coffee into the Styrofoam mug, my day felt oddly diminished.
There was a long line ahead of me, and as I waited, I heard another of the station’s ‘regulars’ ask about the cappuccino machine. “Oh, it’s not really broken,” said the frazzled girl behind the counter. “It’s out of powder flavoring. I just stuck that sign on there until I get a chance to refill it.”
I thought about that little machine, chugging and whirring its heart out each morning, providing not only beverages, but a few moments of enjoyment to the gas station’s many customers who have come to rely on it.
Then I thought of Jesus, who in his earthly ministry gave selflessly to the multitudes; healing the sick, feeding the hungry, teaching the endless crowds of people who came to him seeking wisdom and guidance. Though my contributions to society are absolutely nothing in comparison, I think of the many demands on my time and energy. If even Jesus needed time to step back, go off alone, and pray, how much more do you and I need to get away with God and find refreshment and new strength for the demands of life?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for my life and for the work You have given me to do on earth. Thank You that what sometimes feel like burdens are really opportunities to serve You. Help me to make spending quiet time with You each day a priority, so that when these opportunities for service arise, I may not be found Out Of Order. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Devotional by Jean Pike
Photo by Cheryl Cook