Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Week Fifty-Two - Eyes Up!

It’s Christmas morning!  Our home used to be knee-deep in large swathes of wrapping paper with kids happily playing as we watched in love and thankfulness.  Today, we look at our little tree while warming our hands around steaming cups of coffee and revel in the quiet and togetherness as we rest contentedly in God’s loving arms.
    This morning, my thoughts focus on looking up.  The shepherds looked up, the wise men looked up, and we should be looking up for His return.  But then, my pondering took another direction.
    At Christmas, family relationships sometimes bring all sorts of looks.  Some are looks of love, others of envy.  Some look down in superiority, while others look for an escape route.  So, when I look down on others, I fail to see God looking down on me. 
    How often am I guilty of looking down on others?  Oh, I might not say anything, but in my mind’s eye, I see them beneath me. Maybe I consider myself wiser than them, more prosperous, or more important.  Perhaps I see their hardships and take strange comfort because I’m not dealing with that sort of problem.  Or, maybe I see myself as living on some kind of moral high ground that feeds my false sense of superiority.
    Truly, none of these are valid.  They are sourced in pride, which causes me to look down on others and forget God is looking down on me.  He sees my pride.  It stinks!  He knows I am sinfully mortal, but for some reason, I have forgotten it. 
    Knowing God looks down on me, I best adjust my attitude.  I am flesh.  I am dust.  But I am also His child, and I am looking in the wrong direction.  If I fail to look up and seek His forgiveness, I will continue in my pride.  How much better for me to correct my vision!
   However, when I lift others up in prayer and by my words and actions, I am looking up at God. In humble, loving supplication, my eyes meet His, and together, by the companionship of His Spirit, prayer enters into Heaven.  My pride is changed into a humble, sweet-smelling savour bringing blessing to everyone.
    This Christmas morning, I pray you are surrounded by looks of love, thankfulness, and peace.  But most of all, I pray you keep your eyes looking up.  God is watching!

We leave Friday for two weeks in Spain with our son and his family.  I will not be blogging.  Instead, I’ll be playing grandma with my two girls.  Meet you back here after the holidays on the 15th of January! 

Meanwhile, can I ask you to do something for me?  Would you recommend my blog to others?  If you would, please either send this link to ten friends asking them to check it out and subscribe. https://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=BesideTheWell&loc=en_US

Or have them email me, at gail.gritts@me.com and I will add them to my email list.
My goal next year is to increase my readers, and your help will play a great part!  
Thank you!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Keep looking up!


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Week Fifty-One - Riding the Camel Train

Sometimes life takes a turn without your permission, and there’s no going back. Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem was one of those times. It didn’t matter she was near to delivery; the enrolment and taxation were required. It didn’t matter she had to ride a donkey; it was their only means of transport. No one cared about no room in the inn; the stable would have to suffice. Their camel train began at the announcement of the angels. Now, Mary and Joseph must keep moving forward in obedient faith.
    When life takes this type of course, we are best to do the same. Elizabeth Elliot wrote, “A quiet heart is content with what God gives. It is enough. Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Saviour and Helper delights in quieting us.” I don’t know if Mary’s heart was quiet. I trust it was. I trust she had not only surrendered her will but her emotions, also. And the same with Joseph. He needed a quiet and surrendered heart to fulfil God’s directive. Throwing up his arms in disgust and running away would not do. They were on the proverbial camel train, and they had to ride it to the end.
    “A close and fretful inquiry into how spiritual things work is an exercise in futility,” Elizabeth Elliot also wrote. As for Mary and Joseph, their time of inquiry was behind them. They had already committed to obeying and knew they were a part of the salvation of the Lord. We, too, are best to realise God knows every detail of our future. We need not worry or look for things to worry about. That is pointless.  That is not faith.
    A few years ago, I received a diagnosis of cancer. As I approached surgery and treatments, a friend of mine said, “Don’t fuss, you gotta ride the camel train to the end.” She was so right. No amount of fretting or trying to figure things out changed anything. No amount of soul-searching or spiritualizing made any difference.
    I set my heart steadfastly to the journey and knew my good, good Father was by my side. I sang, and I prayed. He didn’t leave me without comfort and assurance. He gave me His word—one particular word—notwithstanding. (Not matter what) 2 Timothy 4:17, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” I claimed His promise as I rode my camel train all the way to the end with a positive outcome.
    No doubt, Mary, as she pondered in her heart, was graced with the Father’s comfort and assurance. Each event, the arrival of the shepherds, the songs of the angels, and the spirit of God, reaffirmed her faith. The baby was born, but for her, the journey had not yet ended. 

Dear friend, if you are facing a difficult time, I pray you draw from Mary’s example. She submitted her will and quieted her heart to the Lord’s sovereignty. She looked for the activity of the hand of God around her and rested in His comfort and word. She set her eyes on the promises given especially to her and rode her camel train with dignity and faith—notwithstanding. 
    And what did she get for her trouble? God highly favored her, and her example still shines each Christmas as she rides that camel train again through our retelling of the nativity.
    I pray Christmas finds you with a quiet heart, a peaceful mind, and a promise of comfort and assurance—no matter what trek your camel train takes!

Elizabeth Elliot, Keeping a Quiet Heart, pgs 19,20.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Week Fifty - Marjorie and Eleanor

Marjorie and Eleanor have been my companions throughout 2019. They have often spoken to me, sharing their spiritual journeys along with the hardships and trials of everyday life. Little glimpses into their stories reveal a beautiful Christian culture of faith and hope. These two girls aren’t complicated, nor do they live in a world of constant drama. Oh, their lives were acquainted with grief and sorrow, but they continued walking with their eyes on the Lord. I may have mentioned them before, but today I wanted to share a couple of jewels that put a bit of a Christmas challenge before us.
   Let’s let Marjorie go first.  She said, “One hour spent in writing really interesting cheerful letters to those you know to be unhappy and separated from family and friends, these are things almost anyone could do, and how worth while they would be. And yet, by careful planning to set aside a short period daily for the unnecessary but worthy task of spreading a little happiness and a knowledge of the truth about life as we know it is to refresh ourselves and to bring us to the experience of pure joy.”     
   How often do we reach out in this manner? I’d say we rarely do. We are moving too quickly for our own good and the good of others. While we may have a communication boom, it is having a scattergun effect. More and more people feel lonely and disconnected. I think it may have to do with the fact that very few of us take time to communicate with any real sense of purpose. We text and tweet with short, impersonal taps, all the while feeling the loneliness ourselves. Marjorie challenges us to send letters; to send more than a text, emoji, or a gif. 
   I know my mother-in-law looks forward to the postman. She cherishes handwritten messages she can read over and over and share with others. It doesn’t take long to compose a newsy note, and it can bring great cheer and encouragement to the reader. And, a bit of joy to your heart, making you feel just that bit more connected with loved ones.
   What if we took time just once a week to write a note, purchase a nice little card, and lick a stamp? We would probably touch more hearts this way! And, I’m sure it would have more eternal value.
   Eleanor also challenges us about giving, but with a bit of a different twist. While admonishing young women to give of their lives, she retorts, “Why should I give? Surely while I am young I should get all I can from life. Later on, perhaps, I will give.”
   Then, she moves quickly to explain using a list of people who chose giving above getting, and who didn’t wait but took every opportunity for the benefit of others.
   Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give thee” Acts 3:6. 
   Dorcas gave of her talents of sewing.  Acts 9:36 
   Lydia, the businesswoman housed the disciples and the church.  Acts 16:14, 15   
   Mary sacrificially gave her precious spikenard. Mark 14:3
   And, the widow gave it all. Mark 12:44.
   In none of these instances would we look back and say they were wasteful.  While at the moment they gave, they might not have thought about the eternal usage of their gifts; we know the benefit of their example as it affords more treasure with each passing year.
  So, with all our so-called giving, what are we really doing?  Are we giving by written and spoken words of encouragement with thought and content to the lonely and separated?  Are we giving our gifts out a pure heart of love without pretense or show? Are we honestly sacrificing a portion of our time and ourselves? Are we as much or more about giving than receiving?   

Marjorie Wilkinson, Smiling at Life, p 40
Eleanor V. Woods, From Sunday Morning to Saturday Night, p 22