Return to Radnor Lake

“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature” (Henry David Thoreau).

Of all the choices and decisions I’ve made of late, precious few were any better than returning to Radnor Lake for a hike.

It’s been way too long since I last had a good long hike into nature and away from the things of man. I relish the quiet calm of nature, listening to my own thoughts, but more often listening to the still small voices of nature.

It almost seems like to speak would be to profane the sacred silence around me, so I often keep quiet and try to pay attention. Those two qualities work well not just on a hike but in any suitable occasion.

I counted 11 deer, plus countless squirrels, some turkeys, a swimming muskrat, and a busy little woodpecker. On the whole, the hike lived up to my expectations.

I often wonder if this current culture isn’t allergic to silence. You never hear dead air in any media format. People will fill any kind of silence with inane talk and chatter. It’s like we’re (me included) addicted to noise.

But there’s something curative and refreshing about peace, silence, quiet, and nature. I’m sure Thoreau was onto something with Walden Pond.

More Good Music

I recently rediscovered the early solo recordings of one Rod Stewart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of just about everything he’s ever done, starting way back with the Jeff Beck Group and The Small Faces all the way to the present.

But there’s something about the Mercury recordings he did that are magical. I think most people will agree that Maggie May is a classic. There are plenty of other gems from this era, including Reason to Believe, You Wear it Well, and Mandolin Wind, among others.

I listen to these recordings and most of them sound fresh. Maybe it’s because they sound a lot like the Americana/Roots music coming out these days. Maybe ol’ Rod was ahead of his time.

It’s just good driving during rush hour/laying in bed with your headphone on/road trip/anywhere music.

Here’s the link if you’re interested:

Do Thou for Me

“Do Thou for me, O God the Lord,
Do Thou for me.
I need not toil to find the word
That carefully
Unfolds my prayer and offers it,
My God, to Thee.

It is enough that Thou wilt do,
And wilt not tire,
Wilt lead by cloud, all the night through
By light of fire,
Till Thou has perfected in me
Thy heart’s desire.

For my beloved I will not fear,
Love knows to do
For him, for her, from year to year,
As hitherto.
Whom my heart cherishes are dear
To Thy heart too.

O blessèd be the love that bears
The burden now,
The love that frames our very prayers,
Well knowing how
To coin our gold.  O God the Lord,
Do Thou, Do Thou” (Amy Carmichael).

There are times when we simply don’t know how to pray for a circumstance or a loved one. Try as we may, the words will not come.

I think even then God hears the groans and sighs of our petitions and knows what they mean. He hears the deepest desires of our hearts and knows best how to grant them.

Even when we have words, they aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes, we ask without such a limited point of view. Sometimes we ask selfishly. Sometimes we have too small a view of God and ask too little.

In Jan Karon’s Mitford series, Father Tim Kavanaugh always has his go-to prayer, or “the prayer that never fails,” as he calls it. The prayer goes “Thy will be done.”

You can never go wrong with leaving the matter in God’s hands.

Another Gratitude Reminder

I keep posting things like this, not because I like repetition or beating that proverbial dead horse, but because I need all the reminders.

I need to remember that gratitude unlocks the miracles and opens my eyes to see God in the world. It’s what keeps me celebrating instead of cynical.

So forgive me if I post these from time to time. I’m forgetful and prone to worry a lot of the time (especially in this crazy year). You might see this post again at some point in the future. It will still be as true then as it is now, just as the God who is faithful now will still be faithful then, just as all His promises that are true now will be true then.

The Crown Season 4 — My Take

I have to give a big kudos to Netflix for shows like The Crown. They definitely got it right in my opinion as far as the look of the series. From the actors to the locations to the production, everything is top notch. You might even say it’s right champion.

It’s uncanny how much Emma Corrin captures the look and mannerisms of Princess Diana. I was able to catch a small glimpse into the life of the People’s Princess, with all the tremendous pressure and stress that was on her from day one.

All I can say is that I’m thankful that I’m not royalty. I also can add that it’s wise never to judge someone until you’ve been able to walk in their shoes (proverbially). Then it’s still a good idea not to judge.

I can’t imagine how I would have acted in some of the same circumstances. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’d have done as well as these people did. I probably would have folded like a cheap card table.

It’s easy to say but not as easy to practice, but you can never presume to know anyone based on their actions. You need to get to know the person and where they came from and what they went through. You wouldn’t want people to inform their opinion of you based on one or two isolated incidents.

I’m thankful that the same God who knows me best is the one who loves me most. I can’t begin to fathom such boundless grace, mercy, and love. Perhaps if we want people to know that same love of God, it starts with us showing much more grace and mercy to them and a lot less lecturing about what they’re doing wrong. After all, it’s kindness that leads to repentance and life.

A Thanksgiving Kind of Full

My belly is fully and my heart is content.

I didn’t quite eat my weight in turkey and dressing as I thought I might. I did get in all my prerequisite Thanksgiving meal sides. It was a good meal.

I’m thankful that I got to spend this holiday with my family– my parents, my sister and her family.

I’m thankful for my health in 2020, a year that is constantly teaching me not to take anything good for granted.

I’m thankful for one little tortie that still likes to curl up in my lap and hang out with me for a while. She’s good people.

Above all, I’m thankful for the steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases, His mercies that are new every morning, and His faithfulness that is as unending as it is great.

Worth Repeating

I know I’ve posted this before, but it seems so very appropriate right now for so many of us.

How many of you feel

deep,

down

and under?

Trust me. You are not alone.

Remember that pearls come from deep dark places. Remember also that it takes a bit of irritation inside an oyster to produce a pearl.

So maybe those difficult people, that stressful job, that neverending commute, those social media posters, and everything else that gets on your nerves are just God’s way of refining you and transforming you into that pearl of great price.

A Little C. S. Lewis

“He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God—though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain).

Thanksgiving 2020

God really does know how to give good gifts to His children.

I truly believe that if we could see the entire big picture from beginning to end, we’d know that every single event in our lives has been not just for a purpose, but for the very purpose of God’s ultimate glory and our ultimate good.

I know in my head that Thanksgiving is three days away, but I just can’t bring myself to grasp that it’s so close.

In a year when it’s been a challenge to find any reason to give thanks, may our eyes be open to all God’s blessings and our hearts be filled to overflowing with gratitude.

Fixed Point

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB).

Something my pastor said today has stuck with me all day.

He made an illustration about being seasick during a boating excursion. He said the captain of the boat told him to scan the horizon and focus on a fixed point to alleviate the sickness.

I think a lot of us are sick of a lot of things in 2020. It seems that nothing is certain anymore and no one knows what to expect from one day to the next.

The author of Hebrews tells us to take our eyes off of all the uncertainty and to fix our eyes on Jesus, the originator and finisher of our faith. He was the one there at the start of your faith journey, He’s the one at the end, and He’s the one with you in all the steps between.

My pastor talked about how Jesus commanded Peter to walk on water with Him. He noted that Peter was the only disciple to get out of the boat. It’s actually pretty remarkable that Peter got as far as he did. He only got into trouble when he took his eyes off Jesus and paid more attention to the wind and waves. Then he was sunk, figuratively and literally.

The problem with a lot of us — me included — is that we’ve focused on the storms and chaos and taken our eyes off of Jesus. That’s where fear comes in.

Fear is only false evidence appearing real. Fear is giving too much credit to the wrong things and not enough to the right ones. Fear forgets the faithfulness of God in the past and imagines a future without Him in it.

The only way to fight fear is to change our focus. That requires a deliberate act of the will to look away from the circumstances and to Christ. It’s a bit like swimming against the current since our natural inclination is to give in to fear and anxiety.

My prayer is that you and I will always look to Jesus, and at every moment we feel fear to focus on the Originator and Completer of our faith who will not fail us.

Even You

You may be reading this right now, feeling like God’s love is for every one in the world except you. You might feel like God’s forgiveness is for anyone who asks but you.

You’d say, “You don’t know what I’ve done in the past. You don’t know who I really am when I’m alone in the dark with no one else around.”

I don’t. No one else probably knows. But God knows.

Nothing you’ve ever done will shock God. Nothing you’ve ever thought in your deepest secret thoughts will take Him by surprise.

God says to you, “I love you just as you are right now, with all your flaws and scars and sins and fears. I love you as you are but I refuse to leave you that way. My love for you is a consuming fire, burning away all that is not worthy of Me so that what remains is your truest self, who I made you to be.”

Jesus saw you at your worst, in your weakest moment, and chose you. He looked at you in the moment you wish could go way, in the very worst choices you made, and said, “This one is worth dying for. This one is worth all my life’s blood to redeem.”

That’s the gospel. Salvation and grace are for everyone. Even me. Even you.

Why Can’t Thursday Be Friday?

At this point, I’m ready to turn off the alarm and sleep in tomorrow. Who’s with me?

Well, unless tomorrow suddenly becomes a national holiday, the chances of me getting to sleep in and still keep my job are slim to none.

So, I’ll dutifully set my alarm for 5 am (and that’s not a typo, even for me). I will finish out the week strong even though what I want more than anything is a nap. And maybe some chocolate. But mostly a nap.

Also, as much as I drone on about trying to be positive with 2020, I’m ready for the year to be over as well. But at least there’s Thanksgiving and Christmas to close out the year.

I learned a long time ago not to post any thoughts on social media when I’m tired. Usually, tired posts lead to retractions later. Also, passive-aggressive posts on social media are pointless and very non-productive (even though that statement was kinda passive- aggressive in its own way).

I’m learning that faith holds true to what is promised, even when I don’t feel like it and can’t see it. Courage doesn’t always roar, as I read once. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

But at least I get to sleep in the day after tomorrow.