It was a warm summer day.
I love this time of year, when I can sit on the deck and drink in God’s beauty.
The smell of the flowers.
The sound of the birds with their morning chatter.
The explosion of greenery in front of me.
All of my senses lead me to one question.
Are we already there, in heaven, and simply do not take the time to notice?
I sit with my thoughts and my coffee, when suddenly the groundhog who has set up residence under the deck pops his head up.
He is as startled as I am.
He quickly retreats, and my heart rate returns to its normal rhythm.
Then the cutest chipmunk scampers by the steps.
He sees me, but continues to go about his morning business.
This tiny creature does not appear concerned about me, as I am at a distance.
I settle back into my devotion, when suddenly a large bee comes flying directly into my chest.
I am not as startled by him as the groundhog, as I see him coming.
I gently flick him off my chest .
And then it happens.
He circles back and comes at me again!
Grounded and prepared, I push him away in the opposite direction.
This time maybe not so gently.
He must have gotten the message because he kept going.
Our lessons can come from anywhere, even nature, if we pay attention.
All of my creature experiences made me think about the problems we face in this world.
Sometimes, like the groundhog, a situation arises that is so unexpected that it startles us.
Like the violent attacks in our schools, places of work and worship.
Places filled with teaching, community and music one minute can be filled with devastation the next when evil pops up.
It leaves us shaken, startled because we don’t see it coming.
Then there are situations that arise like seeing the chipmunk.
We are aware of what is happening, but we aren’t as concerned because it is at a distance.
It doesn’t affect us.
Maybe a natural disaster or an injustice that is happening to someone else that we stay silent about.
We do not always react to things that do not directly impact us.
Finally, like the bee, sometimes problems come right at us.
We recognize it quickly and take action to push it away.
But like the bee, Satan will come at us time and time again.
We need to be grounded and prepared to push him away.
His attacks will come at us directly on one day, and in more subtle ways the next.
We need to be prepared for any situation to protect ourselves from his attacks.
Spending time with our heavenly Father helps us prepare for the battles we face here on earth.
“The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thess. 3:3
Our heavenly Father is ever present in our times of trouble.
“By this I know that You delight in me: my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.” Psalm 41:11
Friends, we can be confident in any circumstances because we know who stands with us always.
“Don’t fear sudden danger or the ruin of the wicked when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare.” Prov 3:25-26
It is 7:15 am.
The nurse who is doing the ultrasound on my thyroid tells me I will not be able to talk while she performs the procedure.
No problem, I think to myself.
I have not had any coffee yet.
Then she reminds me I will need to remain still.
This presents more of a challenge for me.
As I lie back and stare at the ceiling tiles, I try to find one point to focus on.
Taking a deep breath, I shift my gaze up.
I am only aware of one round spot I have chosen.
Not the darkness in the room, or the clicking sound the machine makes as it takes the images.
I am focused only on one thing.
So before my morning coffee has penetrated the fog that hovers over my thoughts, God whispers into my heart.
It is easier to focus on Me when you are quiet and still.
An interesting concept on any given day, but especially after New Years.
The beginning of the new year is always accompanied by resolutions.
Ones that typically have us moving more.
Oh I know.
I have set goals to exercise and transform my now 50 year old body.
And these resolutions fizzle quickly, like fireworks in the sky.
Just like my focus on Him some days.
Unless I shift my gaze up, quiet myself and focus, my life can quickly become chaotic.
But when I allow Him to set my path, it truly is transforming.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plan.”
There is nothing wrong with goals of eating healthy and exercising more, but we also need to consider a daily diet of His word and walking with Him in our resolutions for 2020.
And if you miss a day, you can start again.
Even though we are inconsistent, our Heavenly Father remains constant.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23
Friends, as we begin the new year, remember to shift your gaze up, quiet yourself and focus on the One who created you.
You will be transformed.