Listen!

“Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32

Years ago I used to  love the times of solitude while riding my chestnut mare, Cindy, through the nearby desert. They were wonderful times to enjoy silence and sunshine, to relax and think.

Most times, the rides were uneventful. But there was one day as I slowed Cindy’s spirited gallop to descend the sandy slope of a dune, that she suddenly stopped.

She stood perfectly still, her ears poised to catch every sound. No amount of coaxing encouraged her to move.

I was impatient with Cindy’s apparent stubbornness.

I didn’t hear the sound she was hearing.

I didn’t sense the rock-hardness of her tensed muscles beneath me.

Leaning forward, I was ready to scold her. But the sight before me took my breath instead. I finally understood.

There before us, coiled and ready to strike, was the reason Cindy was not moving. I finally heard the distinctive, dry warning sounds of a desert rattlesnake.

My ears were opened and my senses set on fire with understanding. Prayers of thankfulness flooded my heart.

I felt God’s protective presence that day as we remained quiet and the danger left its undulating pattern across the sandy dune and out of sight.

I was reminded then as I am today of how vitally important it is to be aware of how God chooses to speak to us.

He speaks to us in countless ways, but sometimes to hear His warnings or guidance we must be still and listen, and we’re wise to listen with patience.

The choices we make, our well-being, and occasionally our safety can depend upon how well we listen.

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’” Luke 9:35 NIV

I am a whisper in time. Down through the corridor of the ages my whisper echoes with feathery sweeps into the age to come.  An excerpt from my journal.

Has there been a time when you’ve listened and avoided danger?

Love,

Sally

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Feeling Invisible?

“Am I invisible? Am I inaudible? Do I merely festoon the room with my presence?” as Christopher Fry was to ask in The Lady’s Not for Burning.

I love that quote! It flat out made me giggle when I first read it with its reminder of how invisible I feel sometimes. You know—those days when you just want to wave your arms and yell, “I’m right here and I have a name!”

Life holds such a clamor of people and things. We’re pulled in a dozen directions at once. We feel both invisible and inaudible and we wonder . . .

Who sees who I really am? Who truly listens to what I have to say?

Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom. Has your other half ever sauntered into the house much later than he’d said he’d be, and before you can say a word, he says “Man what a day! What’s to eat?” [After the day you’ve had, you barely hold back a slightly snarky “Um, it’s all curled up in the oven waiting for you, sweetie!”]

Or maybe you’ve been bolted to your desk, jammed up against deadlines when your boss pokes his head into your office to deliver a veiled sing-song request, “Copier”s out of paper!” [You grit your teeth against blurting out something a notch less than ladylike!]

Even a doting grandmother, without receiving so much as a welcoming hug, might sometimes hear “Did you bring me a present?” [Ouch! Just maybe I shouldn’t have?]

Ever think, What! Am I a nonentity?

No matter what your circumstances, do you seem to fade into invisibility and feel taken for granted when you live out scenes like those?

And as if all that isn’t enough stress, what about the things that constantly beckon us wherever we are, like ticking timers, buzzers, bells, phones, and chimes, all demanding us to race to them for attention?

Of course, we don’t “merely festoon” our homes or where we work,with our presence. ☺ We’re loved by our family, appreciated by our bosses, colleagues, and co-workers, (no, not all the time) but we catch glimpses.

But when the only warmth and welcome seems to come from a pot full of fresh-perked coffee or the brisk scent of brewing tea or the comforting aroma of hot chocolate, just maybe it’s time to take a break.

So what do you do when you feel invisible?

You can stop, pull in a breath, and turn things around. You can lift something more than a cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate.

Lift up your eyes: Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens” (Psalm 123:1).

Lift up a friend: “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Lift up your voice: “Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together . . .” (Isaiah 52:8a)

Lift up your soul: “Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (Psalm 86:4).

Lift up your hands: “Lift up your hands in His Name: Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name” (Psalm 63:4).

 ♥

“They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of the LORD they shall cry aloud from the sea” (Isaiah 24:14).

And there’s One to whom you are never invisible or inaudible.

Dance! Your heavenly Father adores you!

Allow God to lift you up:
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

“. . . I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

I like this breath prayer too: “More of you, Lord. Less of me.”

And I’m sure you have your own stress relievers. I’d love for you to share some.

Love,

Sally

 All scripture is from New King James Version of the Holy Bible

Silent Encounter

The glass door of Rhonda’s Travel Agency closes behind me. I squeeze the handle of my briefcase, feeling satisfied that I’d done a good job of explaining her new business owner’s insurance policy. I’m focused on getting back to the office, and my steps are staccato as I cross the sun-heated tarmac of the parking lot toward my car.

A tiny ripple of apprehension comes and goes as a young man approaches me. He’s probably in his late teens, has a beautiful smile, bushy hair, sparkling dark skin, and clear, sincere eyes. He looks harmless, but something hangs around his neck.

I look closer. A little sign reads: “I am deaf,” and something nearly illegible about contributing a dollar.

I smile at him and he stops, still looking at me with his beautiful smile as I move to pass him by—an encounter that could have been—ignored.

He’d held up his sign. Had that been a flicker of hope I’d seen in his eyes?

I didn’t turn back. The moment of choice was gone. I’d chosen to pass by.

My office chair creaks. I stare down at my interview notes seeing a blur, and my heart is pinched with guilt and regret. Why had I walked by? He looked perfectly healthy . . . but I can’t know that.

My actions and justifying them play tennis in my head.

Why does this bug me so much? I could have given him some money, and I had the time. Do two seconds matter?

Other people must sometimes ignore someone asking for money like that young man did—don’t they?

You can’t give everyone everything!

I sit and think and replay and pray, but there is no do-over. I’d given him nothing but a smile and a prayer. Maybe that was enough. Maybe I did as I was supposed to do. Maybe not.

My thoughts aren’t quieted. The scene with Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John, walking toward the Temple to pray drops into my mind. They could have passed the lame man by. They didn’t, and because they didn’t just pass by, many people became believers in Jesus.

A busy day over, the house is finally silent. In my cozy chair beside the open window, a soft night-breeze delivers the scent of gardenias and ruffles the pages of the magazine I’m reading:

“When we are caught off guard with the least preparation, some of the greatest things can happen. It’s important at all times that we be ready to act in the name of Jesus. That is why we have been given the name of Jesus to use.

“. . . Interruptions don’t have to be annoyances that hinder, but can be opportunities that bring glory to Christ and miracles to man.”

I lay Daily Blessing with its profound message, on my lap. I shouldn’t be amazed by happening to read this devotion after the “event” this morning—but I am.

There will be more of God’s children with needs. I’ll have more choices to make.

Learning sign language

I pray there’s a difference in my awareness of people and their needs—and through the power of the Holy Spirit—in the precious name of Jesus, I won’t pass by again without reaching out and loving them in the way you show me, Lord. Everything I have is yours, to use to your glory. Help me always to be aware and ready, to be prepared to share with your children. Pour your love through me.

Sally working late

Have you ever passed by someone in need and regretted your choice not to stop?

Love,

Sally

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 4:10-12)

Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom (Proverbs 2:3-6)

Read about Peter and John in Acts 3:1-10, 4:4

All scripture is from The New King James Version of the Holy Bible

Into the Deep

“When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’”

Sunrise

Has God called you to move away from your safe harbor, from the security and comfort of the known? Are you hanging back, fearful of what might lie ahead? Is your trust in safety, or in God?

 

So many times I’ve moved away from my safe harbor–and dog paddled like crazy, nearly drowning until I finally learned to trust in God.

But it didn’t feel crazy when I said “Yes” to my high school sweetheart when I was seventeen or when I said “I do” a year later or when I said “Hello, Baby Girl” a year later than that. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing, but in between then and now, I’ve passed judgment on myself many times with “You must have been out of your mind!” But honestly, I don’t believe I was wise enough to have hung back or to have been fearful of the future  back then. Not to say I’m any different now. Do we really ever change much? I wonder.

“But Simon answered and said to Him, ’Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.’”

Simon was hesitant, but he went with what faith he had in what he knew of the man, Jesus. Our Lord is so patient, loves us with all our faults, and walks with us even when we don’t know He’s there.

My mother insisted that if I married at that age, I must have more than high school, and business college had an important impact on my future. After our July wedding, I sneezed my way through our honeymoon at Niagara Falls with allergies that wouldn’t quit.

And a year later, along came baby number one, but not without the side effects of high blood pressure, labor with complications, and an emergency C-section. All that made a man and a woman out of a boy and a girl, strengthened my faith, and scared the stuffing out of my husband. The net was full. Yet it didn’t break.

Those were the rough beginnings of “on my own.”

As God holds his hand out for you to grasp, he promises not to leave or forsake you, but to always be with you as you launch out into the deeper, unknown waters. They are well known to God. God asks us to trust him, not the waters.

Leaving harbor at sunset

In the hills of Bethlehem in Judea, a young man was called by God to leave the safe haven of shepherding and walk into the unknowns of kingship.

Generations later in Nazareth of Galilee, a young woman was called by God to leave the safe haven of her girlhood and walk into the unknowns of motherhood.

Because King David, and Mary, mother of Jesus, were willing to walk into uncharted waters when God called them, the Son of God came into the world to bring us forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Through them God gave us priceless gifts.

What will you do when God calls you out of your secure environment to do something for him? What will God do with your obedience if you trust him?

Choice? You have one to make. You are called, not commanded. Will you trust and go? Or will you remain in your safe harbor?

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid . . . ” What have you to fear with your hand in God’s?

From the Book of Luke, here’s the whole story of what happened that day on the shores of Lake Gennesaret.

“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’
But Simon answered and said to Him, ’Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.’ And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’
For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him” (Luke 5:1-11 NKJV).

No, our stories may never be anywhere near as wondrous and dramatic as this true story, but they are God’s gift to us as we journey through this life. Treasure yours.

I’d love for you to share part of your story in the Comments.

Father, in the name of Jesus please grant us the patience, flexibility, and perseverance to accept all the changes you place before us with graciousness and with courage. Amen

Love,

~Sally~

Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain