When you don’t know what to do.

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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV

I drafted a different kind of post yesterday, thinking that God wanted me to take a break from writing these weekly blogs.  When I talked it over with Mike, he responded that this is one of those neutral issues, that I am free to cease or to continue. When we prayed before dinner, he asked the Lord to guide me in this decision.

After dinner, since I always check emails before settling down to read, I caught a text that gave me pause. Valerie had written me to say how much my last blog piece had helped her in the midst of some self-reproach. Wow!  I took that a guidance from Jesus to keep writing. And then this morning, Linda reenforced that encouragement with her kind words.

So, I will continue.  Below is what I THOUGHT I was going to post.  But, God!

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:a time to keep silence, and a time to speak….Ecclesiastes 3: -1, 7 ESV

I have been blogging regularly since 23 November 2009.  That is thirteen years.

I started writing publicly in order to capture those thoughts God generated in me based on Scripture. I had filled notebooks with them, but never went back to read my ‘nuggets’.  I ended up throwing my journals away. In shifting to blogging, my reasoning went like this:  ‘At least I’ll have a permanent record of this growing in understanding God.’

Sometimes something I heard on a Christian podcast or read in a book would prompt me to think more deeply and apply what the Lord was showing me.

No doubt you recognize my vanity in believing that my reflections can help others see something new and fresh about God.

But, even if these posts don’t connect with anyone, my life is proof of one of Mike’s favorite quotes, ‘Writing is thinking’.

But recently I have wondered if my self-generated weekly commitment to post something publicly hasn’t caused me to think too much and too often about myself and what I am feeling or going through.

This morning, the Holy Spirit focused that line of thinking, directing me to the suggestion that I ‘fast’ from writing these blogs.  I noted in my journal: “Is my blogging perpetuating this ongoing inward focus on Maria?”

You’ve heard the description of humility, no doubt: “Don’t think less of yourself, just think of yourself less.”

To that end, I am initiating an Advent fast. Will I still write?  Yes, but with a focus on magnifying God.  And privately. 

My goal is to grow into the kind of woman described in 1 Peter 3:4 and 6.  You remember that glimpse of Abraham’s wife Sarah whose inner beauty came from her faith in God during scary times?

And you are her (Sarah’s) children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening…..” Verse 6.   Peter has just written earlier in verse 4, You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

I want to cultivate that quiet spirit.

Thank you to all of you who have written kind comments and thoughtful responses. You have encouraged me in both what I have shared and my writing skills. 

So, faithful and kind readers, I bid you ‘au revoir’ or possibly ‘adieu’.  The Lord will direct me. In the meantime, keep mining the Word for the gold that is there.  Our God promises that if we seek him with a sincere and persistent heart, he will meet with us and reveal previously hidden things.

‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3

How God used a Daddy Longlegs

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Creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay, into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:21 Berean Study Bible

Each morning during the summer I like to sit out on the back patio to watch the birds, study the day’s Bible passages, pray, journal and read a bit in a theology book.  Right now, I’m savoring my way through John Piper’s Providence.

I love hearing and glancing up at the birds as I soak up early morning beauty. I don’t spend a lot of time watching their playful antics at our birdfeeder. I simply appreciate sharing the morning hour with them. But this morning at one point, not a bird, but an insect caught my attention and I became fixated.  A struggling Daddy Longlegs spider was nursing one of her eight legs which didn’t seem to working right.  She was trying to move closer to one of our plants, but kept falling over and resting.  Had she suffered a stroke, or broken a leg? Was she old? I couldn’t move my eyes off of her persevering move-and-rest struggle.

My eyes suddenly filled with tears.  Startled, I asked myself ‘What is going on?’ I’m not often moved to tears. But when something goes right to my heart, tears signal a deep feeling that I dare not ignore.

The Holy Spirit wordlessly whispered and I journaled: ‘Don’t you want to live in a world where no one and not a single living thing dies?  Where insects, birds, animals, flowers, trees, people flourish forever?’  Of course, I do.  I thought of the local pregnancy resource center where I volunteer.  Each of our appointments with gals who find themselves pregnant give us an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I feel nervous sometimes and pray for a way to gently lead a gal into a conversation.  But this morning, I thought: ‘Why am I afraid to ask people that very question prompted by observing a handicapped spider? Afterall, God has wired all of his image bearers to protest death.

Don’t we struggle to let go of our beloved, aging pets?  Why do we shrink back from the ravages of disease or even old age in those whom we love?  Because it’s not supposed to be this way. We know that.  Even secularists feel this. 

Think about what drives the ‘health space’ here in America, where one can find fitness training programs, multitudes of supplements to buy and eating plans promoted with religious fervor. Engineers playing with artificial intelligence also come to mind. I don’t know a lot, but I hear enough about well-financed research projects to extend human life span, or clone versions of one self. None of this is new.  Weren’t we taught in our history classes that Ponce de Leon explored the new world, partly motivated to locate a fountain of youth?

Back to Mr. or Mrs. Daddy Longlegs who by the way, per Wikipedia live longer than I would have imagined such a fragile being could endure, 1 year for males and up to 3 years for females.  What brought me to tears is what the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:11 penned, He has planted eternity in the human heart’ (NLT)

I pray that the next time someone brings up an aging and infirm person or beloved pet or even if someone laments the harm done to trees and baby seals, I pray that I gently ask them my Holy Spirit-inspired question:

  • Don’t you want to live in a world where no one nor any living thing dies? Yes? Then let me tell you how. That kind of world depends on one person, whose name is Jesus.

Friends, we have good news of a coming new and forever creation, where all will be made beautiful and meant to last. It’ll be better than Eden because we won’t be able to harm anyone or anything.  Finally freed from our sin because of Jesus, we will joyfully enjoy God, one another and the rest of the created world.

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