Showers of Blessing

One of the things I find amazing about prayer is hearing about and seeing God work globally through the prayers of His people. God is Sovereign–He can choose to work however, whenever, and wherever He chooses. But He gives us the awesome privilege of participating in His work.

I use a prayer journal. In it, I keep names of people, ongoing and urgent prayer requests, and a list of places. Each day, I pray for those who are celebrating their birthdays or anniversaries (if I know them). I also pray for ongoing and urgent requests as I receive them. I pray for world leaders, local officials, and even those who wish me ill (if I know of them). Lastly, I pray for a particular place each day–as I write this, I am on the day reserved for Uganda. I don’t know anyone in Uganda; I’ve never visited, and I know very little about the nation. But God knows. God knows the people, He knows the weather, the land, the economy, and the spiritual needs of Uganda. I don’t have to know any of that. I just need to be faithful to call out to God on behalf of this land that is precious to Him. Some days, I pray for a nation; sometimes a city or a region; sometimes an ocean or desert.

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My prayers rise to God like a mist, but God gathers prayers to form clouds and send a shower of blessing wherever He wills it. I may never see the answer to my prayer for Uganda today. But I trust that God will send blessings like rain– maybe today, maybe next week– to someone in Uganda. Someone I’ve never met. Someone I hope to meet and love in Eternity–my long-lost, never-before-met brother or sister! And as I pray for those with birthdays or urgent needs, I trust that others are doing the same. God may not choose to answer those prayers in the way we expect. But He WILL send out showers of blessing. The rain will fall on the just and the unjust https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+5%3A44-45&version=NIV and it will fall where and when God decides.

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God doesn’t need me to pray for Uganda or any particular person or place. His work will progress with or without me. And if I pray for Moldova or Tokyo or the Arctic Ocean tomorrow, it won’t change God’s plans. But it might change MY outlook. And I will know the joy and glory of joining in God’s work as I watch it unfold. Amazingly, I know that some of those showers will fall on me and my family as other believers– perhaps strangers I have never met– pray today. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+113%3A3&version=NIV

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Pray without ceasing..

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Summer and Winter, Springtime and Harvest..

We’ve been enjoying (or not) several days of Summer for the last week or so. It was really HOT for the Great Lakes region, where the lakes and northern latitudes generally have a tempering effect, especially this early in the season. Finally, the rains came to break the spell, bring much-needed moisture, and lower the temperatures a bit.

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God has created a world of seasons– some areas of the world see two seasons– rainy and dry; others have four–winter, spring, summer, and fall; some have a dozen–deep winter, early thaw, false spring, winter’s last surprise, mud and flood, bug season, summer, autumn, scorching return to summer, “fall,” mud and flood (round 2), and endless snow. But God is faithful through all the seasons in every region. The sun rises and sets; the seasons come and go (mostly) in orderly fashion. We may joke or complain about summer in Michigan coming on a Tuesday this year, or grouse about the hot days or “endless snow,” but God doesn’t give us three years of winter followed by 20 years of drought. We don’t have six weeks of unrelieved darkness in the middle of summer, or a day when the sun “rises” in the west.

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We tend to take the days, months, and seasons for granted. God has set them in place for our benefit and His glory. Let’s enjoy them.

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A Wasted Day

It rained all day. It was gloomy and wet. All my plans were ruined. I got nothing done. What a wasted day.

Instead of working in my garden, I stayed inside. My daughter was restless and whiny. I was distracted and had a headache. I ended up making hot dogs for dinner, instead of a roast. I snapped at the dog. I didn’t finish my “quiet time,” and I blew off my Bible study. I made a couple of phone calls and “liked” about a dozen Facebook posts. I wasted the entire day.

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Yesterday was different. I worked in the garden, bought a brand new outfit at half price, did Bible study, and two loads of laundry before noon. I baked a pie and made a new casserole for dinner, walked the dog and got in 4000 steps, took my daughter to dance class, and got all my “fall” decorations up in the family room and the porch.

Today was my favorite day! Even though it was rainy, Mommy and I got to spend the whole day together! Yesterday, she was so busy, she barely noticed I was here. She didn’t even smile back when I got out of dance class. I tried to tell her about our new dance, but she was on the phone the whole ride home. She was busy, busy, busy! Today, she was grumpy about the rain, but she made hot dogs! My favorite. She read me a story, too. I know she wasn’t feeling too well, because she made me take a nap, even though it was to early for nap time. She even yelled at Daisy about the noises she made– she made the same noises yesterday, and Mom didn’t even notice! It was so silly, but it was still my favorite day!

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Pamela called me today. I haven’t spoken with her in ages. It was so nice to get caught up. It really made my day. I haven’t been at church lately, and I didn’t even realize how much I miss the people there. When my kids grew up and left, I felt the loss, but now that Bud is gone, it’s so much worse. I spend so many of my days alone. They seem like wasted days, sometimes. But today was different. After talking with Pamela, I thought maybe I should call Jason– not to ask for anything, just to tell him I love him. Turns out he was having a rough day at work, but didn’t want to “bother” his mom. We didn’t talk long, but it left us both feeling better. It rained most of the day, but the sun came out for a little bit…it was a good day.

Colossians 3:17 English Standard Version (ESV)

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Some days bring rain, and gloom, and loneliness, headaches, and heartaches. But no day is wasted in which we can touch another’s heart, share the love of Christ, and set our minds on all the Good that God has in store for us!

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1 Thessalonians 5:18 English Standard Version (ESV)

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Of Flotsam and Jetsam

We’ve had a lot of rain lately– torrential bursts that turn our street into a river for a few minutes, before running into the sewer drains.  In that time, many small objects come floating by our apartment– fallen leaves, pebbles, cigarette butts, discarded plastic spoons, candy wrappers, etc.  The swift waters propel them from wherever they had been– someone’s drive, the alley, the parking lot–past houses and stores and toward the drains.  Some of them end up clogging a drain, forming a small pile of trash where there was none before.

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The opposite scenario is happening along several coastal areas, where debris is washing up from the ocean and landing on beaches, clogging up deltas and salt marches and having a terrible impact on the environment.

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Flotsam and jetsam–the terms come up occasionally in literature or movies.  There are characters in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” with those names.  There is a chapter in Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy (the ninth chapter of the first book of The Two Towers, for purists)  titled “Flotsam and Jetsam”.  There is even a band by that name.  They are almost always used in tandem, and most people use them interchangeably.

But there is a difference.  Flotsam is considered debris that ends up in the water by accident, as in the case of a shipwreck.  Jetsam is something deliberately thrown overboard or “jettisoned”.  Legally, flotsam can be reclaimed by its original owner, while jetsam can by claimed by anyone who finds it.  more about flotsam and jetsam from NOAA.

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Most of what I’ve seen floating by this week is neither flotsam nor jetsam– it’s merely garbage.  And that is what is causing so many problems along the coastlines, as well.  Our lands and oceans (and our lives, too) can easily get overrun by waste and packaging and excess.  We fill our lives with things that do not have any good purpose, and even if we dispose of them, they can come back to haunt us or hurt others down the road (or on another coast).

Today, I want to pray that God would continue to teach me to find my satisfaction in Him, and to watch out for spiritual flotsam and jetsam:

  • Flotsam– those things, people, habits, beliefs, promises, warnings, etc.  that get washed overboard or lost along the way.  May God reclaim relationships, help me relearn good habits, and restore joy in my salvation (Psalm 51:12)
  • Jetsam– those things I need to jettison–bad relationships, bad habits, faulty thinking, pride, clutter, etc.  In His power, and with His help, I need to cast such things aside, or better yet, put them to death and bury them, never again to be reclaimed.

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Praying for Rain

Spring has arrived.  In my part of the world, that means many people are hoping for milder temperatures, gentle spring rains, and new growth after the cold and colorless winter.  Most of us love the idea of spring, and the promise it brings.  Those soft days of baby birds chirping outside our window as the gentle raindrops roll down; of newly budded trees and flowers opening to the warmth of the sun; the smell of freshly turned earth in gardens and fields; the bleating of lambs and the down of chicks and ducklings; children squealing in delight as they leap from puddle to puddle in their colorful boots; the world slowly waking up in a thousand shades of green..

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Of course, it never seems to go exactly like that– sometimes the weather this time of year can be volatile– tornadoes, freak ice storms, sudden heat waves, flooding, or a mix of all of the above in a matter of hours!  Chirping birds can’t be heard over the roar of traffic and blaring car radios.  The smell of exhaust chokes out the aroma of rich dirt or fresh flowers.  The same rain that brings puddles also brings mud and run-off and potholes in the road.  And, possibly because we have such expectations of spring, it seems to fly by and disappear almost before it comes.  There is a joke that sort of summarizes the unpredictable nature of spring around here– “I love spring in Michigan (or insert another Midwest state)– last year it was on a Wednesday!”

Like the season of spring, prayer holds promise and expectation.  God promises to hear our prayers, but sometimes our expectations are not in line with God’s answers.  Farmers pray for dry days to plow and plant, and rain to come before and after to soften the earth and water the seeds.  Little League players want the rain to come on Monday, and the diamond to be dry by Saturday.  School children want the rain to come overnight, so the playground will be dry for recess.  Commuters want the rain to fall after they drive to work and before they have to drive home.  All may pray for rain, but not in the same way, for the same reasons, or at the same time.

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We all want the promise of easy growth, gentle weather, and comfortable routine.  But God’s plan may involve blustery days and muddy driveways.  God will bring rain, and sunshine, in his time.  He will calm the storms and blow away the clouds.  He will send us flowers and rainbows, and perfect days for flying kites and playing baseball.  And maybe, this year, it will be on Wednesday!  But the stormy days remind us of three things:

  • God is with us through the storm.  He is with us when the rains come; and when the clouds roll back to reveal the rainbow.  He knows the pain you feel when you view the storm damage and assess the loss.  Even as the seasons change, he has promised to be with us always
  • God is stronger than our storms.  His ways are wiser than ours, and his plans are better.  We may be drenched and covered in mud when we expected to be dry and comfortable, but the race isn’t finished yet.  We may fall down, but we’re not out!  He can give us the resources and the power to rebuild, renew, and start over.  No matter how short (or long) our season of storms, it is only a season– it will pass.  Just as winter gave way to spring, spring leads to summer–sometimes overnight; sometimes in fits and starts.
  • God is eternal.  Storms and seasons are local and temporary.  I may be experiencing spring in Michigan, but others are experiencing rainy season in India, or “fall” in New Zealand.  It can be sunny here, and snowing in Minnesota, and raining at my cousin’s house in Alabama.  And when I am praying for rain, someone close by is praying for sunshine.  But someday, and for all eternity, God will be our source of light– there will be no need for storms and seasons, no need to pray for rain.

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