Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Week Eight - The Truth about Scarecrows


Last week, we looked at a quote on prayer by Hannah Hurnard from her book, The Hearing Heart. Today, we will look at one more quote. Her discussion is on having a listening heart that can discern.

She writes, "As with the virgins in the parable, so with the birds in the field, there are two kinds, the wise and the foolish. A wise bird knows that a scarecrow is simply an advertisement. It announces in the most forceful and picturesque way that in the garden which it does its best to adorn some very juicy and delicious fruit is to be had for the picking. There are scarecrows in all the best gardens. Every thoughtful bird learns in time to regard a scarecrow as an invitation to a banquet. He feels as a hungry man feels when he hears a dinner bell ring and swoops down upon the delicacies to which the scarecrow calls him. If I am wise, I too shall treat the scarecrow as though it were a dinner bell. Every giant in the way which makes me feel like a grasshopper is only a scarecrow beckoning me to God's highest blessings. Faith is a bird which loves to perch on scarecrows. She knows there are scarecrows wherever thee are strawberries. All our fears are groundless."

I'd never thought about scarecrows this way. Had you? I do remember my grandparents putting them up in their garden. Eventually, though, they used aluminum plates because they would blow in the wind and make noise. But Ms. Hurnard is not bothered by the intention of a scarecrow. Instead, she is trying to get us to see a more profound truth.

The scarecrow - the trial - the test of faith - is but an indicator that God is there. Instead of running away in fear, we should run into His arms. That's where the blessing is, where we will find safety, and where our faith should perch.

There are some awfully scary things in front of us right now, and there are more ahead, but we need to remember the truth about scarecrows; they wouldn't be there if God's blessing wasn't there as well.

I think this is similar to what Paul was saying when he wrote, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)  He wasn't about to let a scarecrow keep him from finishing his calling. He knew the blessing was on the other side, and all his fears were groundless.

What about you? Do you run away when things get scary? Do you fear going out into the field of service? Or, like Paul, are you looking past the scarecrows and setting your face toward the Lord and the fulfillment of your calling? Are you a wise bird or a foolish one?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Week Seven - The Hearing Heart

Today I'm reflecting on a couple of quotes I copied out of an old book by Hannah Hurnard entitled The Heart Heart. I thought you might enjoy them, too. So let's look at one today and another one next week.

Hannah Hurnard is best known for her book, Hinds Feet in High Places, but she also wrote many other books. I really enjoyed reading The Hearing Heart as she reminds her readers of the importance of taking time with God. You know, and so do I, that praying and listening are vital parts of a healthy, growing relationship not only with the Lord but also with those around us. That's why it is so important to have a praying heart that is ready to listen to the Lord.

In her discussion on prayer, she writes, "It is not, of course, that prayer changes God, or awakens in Him purposes of love and compassion which He has not already felt. No, it changes us, and therein lies its glory and purpose. It helps us to outer dependence upon God and gives Him the opportunity to confirm our trust in Him and experience His grace in a way which would be absolutely impossible otherwise."

Have you ever been in the place of prayer when God moves uniquely to change your mind? I have. I've known times when a simple whisper of His word to my listening heart brought resolution and comfort. Prayer can do that! And with every close encounter, God does more work on my heart. With my mind, heart, and ears focused on hearing from Him, prayer becomes more than a token; it becomes a source.

She continues, "God has got everything ready and planned in order to meet our needs before we ever realize what they are. But in order to teach us this joy of utter dependence and trust, He waits for us to ask. Prayer doesn't change God, but not to make our requests known in joyful trust does deprive Him of the joy of granting our requests, and it does deprive us of the joy of experiencing His loving, intimate interest in every detail of our lives. It was the Lord Jesus Himself who said, "Ye have not because ye ask not. Ask and ye shall receive."

Just today, I have been faced with three urgent prayer requests that brought me to remember God has everything planned and will meet the need. But, as Hannah says, for me to fail to ask would "deprive Him of the joy of granting the request," and it would deprive me of the "joy of experiencing His loving, intimate interest in every detail."

What about you? Is your prayer life a close encounter or a passing comment? Does your relationship with God through prayer change you, or are you not listening?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Week Six - Disgruntled

Do you ever get fed up with the routine of life? The constant dishes, laundry, housework, and meal prep? I do. It all seems so pointless and feels like obstacles to my path. I catch myself grumbling and resentful as I slap another meal on the table. But then, I remember what the Lord has often taught me about serving as unto Him and giving with cheerfulness of heart. 

I even recall my blog from months ago about Angels in the Kitchen. I went back and reread it. Here's a link for you - https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/preview/7763906062119542948/8823386911993999160 

And, though I know these things, God must constantly remind me because I still get disgruntled.

When I compare these routine jobs to the purpose of my life, they seem too trivial. Well, of course, the Lord was not going to let me pout and stomp my foot without speaking directly to my heart. "Gail," He said, "This is a part of your purpose. A part of the plan I have for your life. This is where you are, and you will be happier to serve on purpose with a willing heart."

"I hear you, Lord, but..."

I then turned to read Loving God with All Your Heart by Elizabeth George. I have been reading a chapter each day, but I hadn't picked it up since I have been poorly for the past week or so. As I began reading, I remembered she was writing about Romans 8:28 - "all things work together for good." But I wasn't prepared for the Lord to speak directly to my disgruntled state. 

She writes, "I exist to serve Him and His people according to the gifts He has given me and in the situations where He places me. The constant awareness that God has a purpose for us gives us great hope when the day-to-day practicalities and challenges discourage and bewilder us."

Okay, Lord...

Who am I to complain? Eating, laundry, and dishes are a part of the practicalities of life. No one can escape them. How silly and wasteful for me to get so annoyed. A portion of my purpose is to survive and help those in my household do the same. I am not a gifted cook, but I can serve you and my family by faithfully putting food on the table. I can keep the kitchen clean for health and safety. And the laundry does smell good once it is all said and done. These jobs bring joy when performed with a less disgruntled spirit. This is the situation where I am placed. I am better to be thankful and serve with gladness in this portion of my purpose.

Dear friend, it is easy for any of us to get disgruntled with the routine of life or find ourselves in a rut. But that does not deter or cancel the plan of God. Whatever we do, whatever our job, whatever responsibility, we can do it graciously as unto the Lord. As we serve others, we are fulfilling His purpose for our lives. So, join me in laying aside a disgruntled spirit and look to the blessing of health to do the trivial. Let's choose to be thankful for food on the table and clothes for our backs and that we have loved ones who need  our service.

Disgruntled or gracious - which do you want to be?

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Week Five - Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time...what a phrase! 

Once - we have only one go at life.
Upon - an action of influence.
Time - a set portion.

And that's what we have - one life/one time to make a difference. The Bible assures us of this truth.

Our lives are like a tale that is told, leaving one story behind. (Psalm 90:9)

Our lives are like a vapor. James tells us, "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14).

And our lives have a specific fragrance - a sweet-smelling savor to the Lord, or they stink.

These thoughts bring me back to my phrase for 2022 - Living with a purpose to make a difference.

If I have only one life, I want to make it the best I can. I want to use it wisely and spend my energy on things of eternal value because I know I have eternal life!

If my life is to have influence, if my tale is to be told, I want it to be of Christ, to point others to Him, and make a difference influencing others to faithfully follow the Lord.

If I have only one time - one set portion in this vast eternity to leave a short fragrant story. No matter how brief it is, I want to make it count. I certainly don't want it to stink!

All of this brings me back to looking at life from a different vantage point. Oh, I could wish for all sorts of things, places to see, or something to do, and all of that will probably come along the way. But if those things become my focus, I am not looking up to all life could be. Instead, I'm looking down at the temporary and forgetting there is more to life than humdrum existence. There is eternity, and while we use our little vapor life in frivolous pursuits, we are letting it go up in smoke.

I want to live larger. God gives me joys along the way, the desires of my heart, and blesses my life abundantly. I can attest to that! But if I am going to use 2022 to live with purpose to make a difference, I can't focus on stuff. I must focus on Him. I must keep in mind the shortness of my life, the fleeting time I have here on this earth, and use it wisely.

Once upon a time is today. What will I do with it? What will you do with yours?