A WARP IN TIME

Time Warp, what’s that?  Well, aside from all the science fiction stuff, it can mean “An illusion in which time appears to stand still—a hypothetical discontinuity in the flow of time.  Timewarp can also mean a time of total isolation, having no interaction with or connection to other people, or places—separated from outside events—in a sense, cut off from the rest of the world.  Does any of that sound familiar to you? It certainly seems to describe the world, in which I am now living.

Last week I talked about how our world seemed to be spinning out of control.  This week I am suddenly wondering if our planet hasn’t come to a dead stop on its axis.  Oh, I’m not thinking that it is the end of the world, not yet, but I am thinking that I feel kind of weird—like I’m in Limbo.  

I’ve always been such a purposeful and disciplined person.  Like many of you, I follow the same routine every morning. When I crawl out of bed, I already have a plan for the day, including prayer and Bible reading, but I especially look forward to those rare days when I don’t have to leave the house for any reason—those days when I can stay in my robe if I want to, and completely forget about makeup.

Now that I am told to “shelter in place,” and expected to stay home, it’s not nearly as pleasurable as it may have seemed, and the work that I planned for today doesn’t really have to be done.  Does it? And—why not stop what I am doing and watch a TV program instead? Actually, I usually write this blog on Monday, but I have succeeded in putting it off until today because I have had no definite direction.  By now, you have probably figured that out.

I am continually trying to lose weight.  Ordinarily, I stay away from chocolate and all the other goodies.  Now, all of a sudden those delicious little caloric demons don’t seem quite so offensive. Surely, living in this vacuum, with almost no interaction with other people—cut off from the rest of the world, I can indulge without doing irreparable harm to myself.  Don’t you think?  

AND—I find myself thinking about the strangest things.  I’m wondering if I can get the same number of wipes from a roll of two-ply toilet paper as I can get from a single-ply roll.  I’m also thinking about that beautiful blue, Calvin Klein, a blouse that I didn’t buy at Dillard’s, and a lovely riverboat cruise down the Danube.

One routine I have clung to, during this strange warp in time, is my twice-weekly visits to my sister.  I know that assisted living places are closed to visitors, but until yesterday, I have been allowed to come.  However, yesterday, the caregivers were unhappy with me. They took my temperature, checked me over and allowed me to stay, but I can’t go back.  That breaks my heart. June will never understand why I don’t show up. She isn’t always sure who I am, but she knows I belong there. I guess what I am trying to say is, “So much has changed in such a short period of time.”  Seems like the rules are no longer the same. That leaves me confused and uncertain.

Bad things happen to everyone, but they almost never happen to everyone at the same time.  However, even those who have not fallen victim to the virus, who have not lost their job, who are not wondering where the next dollar will come from, are still victim to the circumstances.  Everyone is anxious, perhaps fearful, and painfully careful hoping against hope that this thing will soon run its course and all will be well again.

We are all asking, when, when—when will the world begin to spin again, and when will life return to normal?  The authorities tell us that it will end when the curve begins to flatten and we are on our way down the far side of it.  We thought, maybe, two weeks would be enough time, but we know better than that now, and life may never get back to the normal we knew a few weeks ago.  We have lost loved ones, jobs, income, and our sense of security. Our government has promised to fix some of this if they can just quit quarreling long enough to get it done.

I can’t fix it.  Truth is, our Government with all its best effort cannot fix it, but I know one, who can.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

For some time I have prayed that God will heal the breach in our beloved country.  I do not believe that God caused this deadly virus, but I am thinking that, perhaps, He is allowing it   in order to get our attention.  

Not to be preachy, but our country needs healing, and God has promised to do just that, but there are some contingencies.  We must humble ourselves and call upon God and turn from our sin. If we meet those terms, God will forgive us and heal our land.  That is His sure promise.

TRY IT!  YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

UNCERTAIN TIMES

UNCERTAIN TIMES

I am bereft on this Sunday morning.  For, one of a very few times in eighty-four years, I am not going to church.  Our church has, temporarily, closed its doors, not because of fear, we are told, but because we want to be wise in protecting our own people and others in our community.

We did have our worship service streamed live on the internet this morning.  I sang along, listened to announcements, and zeroed in on the pastor’s sermon from James 1:13-15 until—something happened, and the stream went offline. 

I was disappointed.  Technology, no matter how sophisticated and up to date it is, sometimes fails, and we are left “high and dry.” When the screen went black, I was reminded again of just how wonderful it is to worship with a congregation of fellow believers—to be there in person.  Usually, my Sunday morning starts in our café with a cup of coffee and a group of gals, where for thirty minutes we catch up. Then off to church.

I love sitting on the center aisle, in the third row, where I can look the preacher in the eye as, heart to heart, he delivers the message.  Being a singer, I thoroughly enjoy blending my voice with hundreds of others, as we reach up and out to God. And, yes, I missed fellowship time this morning, a time when you get to hug necks and shake hands and look into a friend’s laughing eyes. 

In my eighty-four years, up to the present, I have had 4,381 opportunities to participate in a Sunday morning worship service.  I can’t tell you how many of those services I missed, but I can assure you they were very few and far between. I know I missed church the first two weeks of my life, but during my childhood and growing up years, I just went to church.  It was never a matter of discussion. We went every time the doors were open—the whole family. By the time I was grown and on my own, church was my life. I was hooked. There was never a thought of walking away.

Occasionally, I wake up on a Sunday morning tired and aching, and for a fleeting moment, I think of the effort it sometimes takes to get myself ready, and I am tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, but I don’t.  Truth is, my whole week directs me toward Sunday and the worship service. I can’t survive in any positive way without it. Sunday worship is my “lodestar”—a star that inspires me and guides me through the coming week.  It is my ‘linchpin” totally vital to my spiritual and physical well being holding me firmly to Christ. What I receive on Sunday morning combined with time spent in the Word and in prayer throughout the week controls my inner compass.  It is my “true north” guiding me successfully through life. It is my “fixed point,” in a spinning world.

A spinning world—a world spinning out of control!  That’s the only way to describe this planet upon which we live.  If you are watching the news, as I am, you know that COVID-19 has mushroomed into a worldwide PANDEMIC, and people are running scared.

In the beginning, I sort of ignored the whole thing thinking it was probably blown way out of proportion—something else for politics to sink its teeth into.  However, when you hear day after day that the elderly, that’s me, (I should say, “That is I.”) who are compromised physically, that’s me again,” are the most vulnerable to this disease, you can’t help but become concerned.

People do wild and crazy things when they are afraid.  I never imagined that toilet paper would be at a premium and then find that it is selling for twice the price on E-Bay.  I never imagined that people would assault each other physically in order to snatch the last bottle of hand sanitizer.

I want to resist the urge to run to the grocers at 6:00 a.m. in order to snatch some paper towels and hamburger, but I am no different than you are.  My hands are becoming wrinkled from all the twenty-second washes, and how do you keep from touching your face or putting your finger in your mouth? Sometimes, when I am in deep thought, I find my forefinger knuckle clenched between my teeth.  Oh Me! Then I remember, though it may not seem so, God is still in control in this poor, tired, hurting world.  

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

I have just encouraged myself by reading Psalm 91 several times, and have decided to include that passage in my Bible reading each morning.  Look at some excerpts from this psalm.

Psalm 91, “…Surely He will deliver you from the perilous pestilence (COVID-19)…He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge…A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you…No evil shall befall you…for He will give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.  (God says, ‘He shall call upon me and I will answer him…’”

  My counsel:  Hide psalm 91 in your heart.  Trade your fear for God’s power and love and a right mind.  Find a group of believers with whom you can fellowship, and remember, GOD, IS IN CONTROL! 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

A STAMP OF APPROVAL

There are certain core needs shared by every person on this planet.  Some are physical, such as food, water, and air, but we also have emotional needs.  Whether we realize it or not, the desire for approval is one of the strongest motivating forces known to man.

From time to time, everyone needs a pat on the back.  Everyone needs to hear the words, “That’s was great!” “I knew you could do it!”  “I’m proud of you!”  

We all have an inherent desire to feel safe and secure, and approval makes us feel that way about ourselves.  Approval brings a huge degree of inner peace and a feeling of personal worth.

There came a time when I sorely needed some kind of affirmation.  After much prayer and soul searching, without any clear answer, I left what I believed to be my, God-ordained, work in Europe, and came home to care for my mother.

My siblings, altogether, couldn’t seem to come up with an answer to our Mama’s needs.  So I, having no husband, no family, and no home, was elected. There was no meeting, no votes, and everyone said, “I don’t think you ought to have to do this.” Still, I knew, that I was the one who must do “this.”

Leaving beautiful Brussels, an apartment that I loved, friends of many years, a ministry   I cherished, and an opportunity to travel the world, I came home to take care of my precious Mom.  I was confused because I was not sure what God’s will was, and I was disappointed, lonely, and a bit scared for the future.

Let it be understood, that never did I resent the time I spent or the things I did for Mama.  She was my best friend, but there were days when I DID resent my brothers and sisters. Nothing had changed for them.  I noticed that they still had their homes, their families, and their work. Their life went on as usual, while mine was turned upside down.

I don’t want to leave the impression that my siblings were heartless and uncaring.  They helped when they could, and they never knew how I felt. I loved them, so I didn’t hang on to my resentment.

During that time, it was necessary for me to return to Brussels to finish projects that were already started, so I put my Mom on a plane and sent her to Phoenix to stay with my sister.  The night before I was scheduled to return, I received a call telling me that Mama was in the hospital. She might have suffered a small stroke.  

I flew to Phoenix the next morning.  I was sitting by her bed holding her hand, when the doctor arrived.

“Doctor,” my Mother said, “This is MY GOOD FAYE!”

I don’t think I can make you understand the enormity of those three little words.  This whole blog hangs upon those three words, “MY GOOD FAYE!”  

Those three little words flowed down like a sweet, warm balm into the cracks in my confusion and disappointment.  With three words, my mother delivered healing, hope, encouragement, and understanding.

Somehow, though I had never voiced it, she knew what I had suffered.  She knew what I had left behind, and she was offering her approval and her gratefulness.  My mother loved me. I knew that, but I never knew she thought of me in just that way.

A couple of weeks later Mama died, and went home to be with The Lord.

Some days, even now, when I am disappointed with myself having failed in some way, I can hear Mama say, “This is MY GOOD FAYE!”  And I imagine her as one of that “Great Cloud of Witnesses” we read about in Hebrews 12:1 looking down from heaven cheering me on.  Those words and that thought give me comfort and courage to get up and try again.

Like everyone else, I still need approval.  I laugh when I think of all the time and effort I spent in earlier years seeking attention, acceptance, and affirmation from others. When the wonderful people, who attend my Bible study, tell me what a good teacher I am, I still love it.

However, the closer I get to the other side the less concerned I am with the approval of men.  I am hungry—I am anxious, instead, for God’s approval on my life.

Romans 14:18 (The Message) tells us, “Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ.  Do that and you will kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.”

I’m longing for that glorious day when I step inside the pearly gates and see Jesus face to face and hear Him say, “…Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”  Matthew 25:23

WOW!  NOW, THAT’S APPOVAL!  THE VERY ULTIMATE!

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

INFATUATION WITH ANGELS

INFATUATION WITH ANGELS

Last week I stopped at the grocer’s to pick up a few things.  Because I walk with a cane, I decided to leave my purse in the car and take only my credit card and keys with me.  I quickly realized that having no pockets, I would have to hang tightly to my card and keys while I shopped.

When I opened the car trunk to deposit my purchases, I laid the card, keys, and some stamps in the truck just long enough to heft the heavy carton of sodas out of the cart.  That being done, I closed the trunk, and just as it clicked, I remembered that my keys were inside.

“No, no, no!” I cried slapping the truck with my hand.  The trunk was locked, the doors were locked, the windows safely closed, and I was in a “pickle.”

The man, parked next to me, came around to see what the commotion was about.

“Do you have road service,” he asked.

Yes, of course, I have road service, but the information along with my phone was safely locked in the car.

This kind, young man, called my insurance company.  The company looked up the information and assured us that someone was on the way, but it would take a while.

In the meantime, my rescuer’s wife returned to their car with groceries and was ready to go home.

“Go ahead,” I said, “I’ll be all right.”  But he wouldn’t leave.

“My wife will go, and I will stay until help comes if you can take me home.”

As we waited, we talked.  Steven, this sweet African man from Kenya, has been in the States twelve years.  He is a care giver, and he is a “born again” believer. Of course, I was stewing about wasted time.  I had planned to be home by 3:30. Now it was almost 5:00.

“You know,” he said, “Everything happens for a purpose.  You don’t know what danger you may have missed by being stuck in this parking lot.”

“You are an angel!” I told him.

We use those expressions, don’t we?  What an angel!  You sing like and angel! You look like an angel!  

Do I really think he was angel?  No! 

In spite of what Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”

No!  I do not think he was an angel, but I know he was a caring Christian who wanted to help a foolish older (I refuse to say old) woman.  

I certainly do believe in angels, but I am troubled by the preoccupation, the obsession or infatuation many people have with them today.

There are images, statues, pictures and knickknacks, coffee cups, plates and lamps in the form of angels.  Some people are so wrapped up in angels they seem almost to worship them. Books, magazines and internet sites are filled with stories of encounters with angels, and have proliferated over recent years.

These sources encourage their readers to communicate with angels and they teach them how to do it.  There are even angel chat rooms where you can have a guardian angel assigned to you based on your birth date.  They offer all kinds of goodies featuring angels. Of course the opportunity to make a profit is not lost.

There is a commercial on television today promoting one of the charitable organizations, which builds homes for the families of fallen soldiers.  The mother of three beautiful little girls says, “When I told the girls that their father had become an angel…” A friend of mine told her granddaughter, “Your Daddy is now an angel.  You can talk with him whenever you want.”

When someone dies, we often hear, “Heaven gained another angel,” or “God must have needed another angel.” That’s a nice, but false, idea while dealing with grief, but the current fascination with angels is totally misguided.

Angels are real.  They do exist, but they are not former human beings.  “Angel” means messenger or representative—one who is sent.  God created angels with a purpose, not to be revered or idolized or the center of attention.  He created them as His helpers. There are numerous instances in scripture where angels spoke to men with a direct message from God.  Gabriel brought the message of Jesus’ impending birth to Mary. Many years before, an angel visited Daniel in the Lions’ den and shut the mouths of the lions…and the events go on and on.

Psalm 34:7 (Living Bible) says, “For the angel of the Lord guards and rescues all who reverence Him.”

Psalm 91:11-12, (The Message) “He ordered His angels to guard you wherever you go.  If you stumble, they will catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.”

While the Bible does not tell us that we each have a special guardian angel, we can be sure that angels are always watching over us.  It doesn’t matter if we see them. They are there. They are real.  

One day, soon perhaps, I’m going to heaven, either by death or in the rapture when Jesus comes.  I will not become an angel. I’ll still be a human, but I will join with the angels, and together we will worship God and do His bidding through all eternity.

 

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!