Friday, May 7, 2010

Everlasting Joy

The ransomed of the Lord will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
Everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Isaiah 51:11 (NIV)

How do we respond to hardships? Do we wear long faces or look woeful when people ask how we are? Do we feel we would be less than honest if we tell them what we feel they want to hear?

I have fibromyalgia and other forms of arthritis. I always felt somewhat dishonest when I would say,” Fine.” At church during the time of our greeting one another, I found myself alternating between, “Fine.” And “Not so good.” But, this past Sunday I found myself greeting people with a positive look and voice

I recently found myself overcome with the thought of Joy, Grace, and Peace. This could become the name of my character in Drama Ministry. I started searching the scriptures for verses that dealt with these three terms.

The passage from Isaiah caught my eye. In it, the prophet predicts the return of those who the Lord has redeemed from exile. They will enter their homeland joyously. They will not be plagued with worries or doubts or the slightest concerns.

One of my Spiritual gifts is encouragement. I find great hope in this passage. It tells me that we can see our woes be put in their proper place and have joy and gladness fill our souls no matter what we are enduring at present

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What God Shows Us

( This is a departure from my usual essays. I wanted to let you  readers know that I do have struggles and hard days, just like anyone else.)

When we have stressful times, how do we react? Do we gripe and complain? How about we tell others to look at feel sorry for us? Or what if we spend time talking to the Lord about our need?

This week has been one of those times when nothing went right. Car trouble on a trip with Hubby seemed to bring us very low. When we reached our destination, a friend called someone he knew at a car dealership and got our car in for repair. That didn’t fix the issue. We found out on the way home that the car still had the original problem.

When we got home late Tuesday evening, we both were exhausted. Wednesday, I tried to get caught up on the lack of sleep/rest from our stay in a motel.

Hubby wasn’t crazy about me driving the car in case it started acting crazy-overheating, engine running too fast, not slowing down when foot removed from the accelerator, motor not going to idle speed. Honestly, I didn’t want to drive it with it subject to all these unusual symptoms. Wednesday, I stayed home and had stress symptoms(IBS).

Thursday, I had plans to pick up items for a bake sale. The other part of my plans was to help price the items. Hubby had an appointment to get the car seen by our mechanic. He was going to drop me off at the church where the ministry has its headquarters. All that changed for us-he got sick. I went on my own and returned safely.

Later that evening, hubby decided to have me call our nephew and his wife who live in Oklahoma. We talked to her. Then Hubby and Nephew talked. Hubby told him about our trip to his boyhood home and what we had seen that reminded Hubby of a time the two of them were together. He told Nephew of having car trouble while we were gone.

Friday, an hour before the Bake Sale, the woman I was working on it with called me. The director strongly suggested we cancel the day’s fundraiser due to predicted storms-the event was to be held for two days, Friday and Saturday.

Later in the day, I decide to e-mail the ministry director with a thought I had about another part of our work. I accessed my account to see a message from the mother of one of our teens who participates in our church’s Drama Ministry. The gist of the message was the daughter was out of state with her school choir and wouldn’t be back until Sunday night. This young girl had a scene in our drama for the next Sunday-two days from now.

Hubby needed some clothes washed. I went to the basement to retrieve the basket, came upstairs, got his clothes, took them to the washer, started the drier with my clothes.

As I came up the stairs, I heard the phone ring. I hurried as best I could. It was Nephew. He had some information his son had shared with him that might have bearing on our car’s problem. And it did.

Our car came with what is called an air dam. It goes across the bottom of the car just below the radiator. As the car moves forward this apparatus catches air and forces it upward into the radiator to cool the engine. A few years ago, I kept hitting it against the concrete things parking places have on the end of parking spaces. The reason I kept doing this is because I can’t judge the distance between the end of my car and the end of the space. Hubby checked under our vehicle. The plastic scoop is completely gone.

Now, God is dealing with me in all of this. We feel we wouldn’t have known about the car overheating if we hadn’t gone out of town. Had the Bake Sale went as planned, I wouldn’t have known until tomorrow about the teen girl going on a school trip. Hubby wouldn’t have heard the phone ring and we wouldn’t have found out about the seemingly simply solution to our car problem.

At this time, I am not angry about the change in my plans for today. I am disappointed in this teen-aged girl, but I know I will forgive her for this. I am sorry that I couldn’t stop this habit of striking concrete parking curbs. We might not have this car issue.

God has been with us through this entire time. What he showed us, I find painful but this is a point of growth.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Seeing Our World Through His Eyes

What would we think if we saw the world we live in with the eyes of God? Would we like what we see? Would we be able to do anything about it?

I see a city that died a slow and painful death. Two divisions of an automotive company closed their doors here. Several of the buildings used by this company have been torn down and the land has set idle.

One parcel of land is used as a soccer field for children. My husband thinks this is not a good thing because of the former abuse of the land. Chemicals were disposed of into the soil.

On another large area of land, the grass grows, a miracle in itself.

When these places closed, the automotive company ‘sold’ the real estate to the city. One major issue here is the loss of tax revenue.

Because of the closing of the plants, certain businesses have closed. When I drive through town I see all these empty buildings and feel sorry for those who lost jobs because they didn’t have the traffic into their businesses. During the last mayoral election, one of the parties sent a mailing to voters, showing the closed businesses in our city. This enlarged postcard was in full color. Some of the businesses housed in these buildings had folded, others just moved down the street and built new facilities.

The schools are going through an upheaval. The enrollment keeps falling-people moving away, families choosing to send children to private schools or to home school. And the tax base of the state has decreased because of the tinkering of the property tax rate. Our governor issued a mandatory cut of the state educational budget across the board of $300 million dollars. These two facts combined led to the decision of our school board to restructure the system. There will be one high school, the closed high school shall be the junior high school. The present junior highs will become intermediate(upper grade) elementary buildings. The school corporation will close several grade schools, leaving five buildings for the lower grades. This is the second year in a row that our city has endured this process.

Let’s not forget the crimes occurring in this city. Domestic violence, Drugs, Impaired Driving, Murders, Thefts, Scams against the elderly, Stalking, Abuse of Children.

What will it take for these pictures to change for the positive? Can these trends be reversed? Do people want to change them? Or are the people taking the attitude of Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be?

We have nonprofit ministries and organizations whose goals are to help people get through their circumstances and advance in their lives. We have foundations that offer grants to groups who focus upon the needs of our citizens.

What Christians desire is to see those who don’t know God to have a relationship with Him and learn of His ways and help His Kingdom grow. We pray for revival a return to Him.

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...