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.

He Will Hold Me Fast

I recently learned of a new/old hymn that really spoke to me as few songs have. Apparently, the original hymn was penned by Ada Habershon in 1906 with music by Robert Harkness. In 2013, Matt Merker wrote new music for the hymn and modernized it a bit. Still, the lyrics speak powerfully to anyone walking through a valley or a dark night:

“When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When he comes at last

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fastHe will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast” (Ada Habershon/Matt Merker)

God Will Work It for Good

“Hey Soul? okay, really — it’s *really* gonna be okay today. Because in Him, whatever goes bad, He’ll work it for good. It’s what God does. 
He turned water into wine; He will turn the broken into beautiful. 
God’s *line of work* is *transformations* — so hold on to Him as your *lifeline.*
*You can’t be undone.* 
No matter what went down yesterday, today’s your very own fresh canvas and there really is hope: *The future is as bright as the faithfulness of God.* 
He says to you Himself: “…don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new… There it is! I’m making a road through the desert.” (Isa. 43:18 MSG) Right now through your most unlikely desert places, God is making unbelieveable roads… you better believe it! 
Yeah, you can go face the day with brave joy — God’s. got. your. back.

#PreachingGospeltoMyself (Ann Voskamp)”

How timely is that. After all, so many of us are under-rested and overstressed, under pressure and overwhelmed. So many of us are doing good to make it through one day at a time.

Yet even in the middle of the worst of bad days, God is turning even that into good. He’s still working ALL things together for good– even the moments and hours and day that you’d rather forget.

God is faithful. He is with you. He hasn’t left you. And He never will.

God in the Valley

“Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me” (Psalm 23:4, Amplified Bible).

I read something interesting about Psalm 23. In the first 3 verses, David refers to God in the send person, i.e. “He lets me lie down . . .”, “He leads me . . .” “He makes me lie down . . .”

But starting in verse 4, the pronoun changes to You. What gives?

Verse 4 is where the Valley of the Shadow of Death lies.

In other words, Yahweh God became personal to David in the midst of walking through the valley. That’s where David’s faith deepened in the middle of his depression and discouragement.

If it were up to me, I’d rather skip all the valleys and go from mountaintop to mountaintop. But the valley is where I grow and learn. The valley is where my faith goes from theoretical to experiential. The valley is where God truly becomes personal to me.

Everyone goes through a valley at some point. It’s part of the journey. But God is with us there. He has already gone before us through the valley and also goes with us.

The good news is that every valley comes to an end. Every night turns into day at some point. Every bad day still only lasts 24 hours. But better still, God is with us though every valley, night, and bad day. Every single one of them.

When anxiety and despair seem overwhelming, it can be hard to feel God’s presence, but that’s when you trust what you know to be true about God over what you may or may not feel. After all, feelings lie, but God never does.

“Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord” (Psalm 23:6, Amplified Bible).

Patience and Wisdom

Patience and wisdom. Two of the least popular attributes in this fast-paced culture we live in. For sure patience has little regard in a society where everyone seems to be in a hurry all the time. No one has time for anything.

But the Bible speaks to both patience and wisdom as valued qualities. I can speak from personal experience that the times I exercised patience have often brought a greater reward than when I acted rashly or impatiently.

I also have noticed that wisdom comes through patience. You learn wisdom through enduring and longsuffering. True God said that if you ask Him, He’d give it unsparingly, but often the methods through which God grants the patience do not happen overnight.

True wisdom takes time– and patience– to unfold. Sometimes, it takes hardship and suffering. Sometimes you learn from not quite getting what you thought you wanted at the time.

So patience and wisdom are good things. If you seek and pray after both, you will never be sorry.

The Friends of the Library Sale

I’m a fan of the Friends of the Library book sale. I even go so far as to put it as a reminder on my phone so that I won’t forget to stop by the library on the Fridays of the sales.

It’s a bit like thrift shopping. You never quite know what you’ll find. You might not get much, but every so often– on that rare blue moon– you will come up with a treasure for a bargain price.

I found an old Doctor Who book that covered the classic years up to 1984. It seemed most appropriate as I’m revisiting the old series currently.

I believe the same goes with people. When you open yourself up to seeing the world with God’s eyes, you end up befriending people that you normally would never talk to in a million years. Some people, once you get past the rough exterior, have diamond at their core. Sometimes, the ones who are most unloveable are the ones who need our (and God’s) love the most.

Some of the friends that I have that I’ve cherished the most are ones that I honestly didn’t like all that much on first impression. But once I got past the initial dislike, I kept an open mind and found that these people were nothing like my assumptions. It was me that needed to change my perspective.

I also love the fact that these Friends of the Library book sales support my local library. That’s a good enough reason for me.

On Writing

I’d hardly qualify myself as an expert when it comes to the art of writing, but I can say that it’s something that I’ve grown to love over the years. I really do appreciate words well spoken and written.

If I had any advice for those wanting to get better at writing, I’d be tempted to say that you go find one of the myriad of books and videos and other media that discuss writing in detail.

But it’s one thing to talk and read about writing and quite another to write. So my advice is this– read as much as you can and write as much as you can. That’s how you get better.

My goal is to write something every single day. Hence these blog posts. I can tell you from experience that you truly get better at writing by writing in the same way that you improve in speaking a foreign language not so much by studying verb tenses and pronouns but by immersing yourself in that culture and actually speaking the language in conversation.

It doesn’t matter if you think you’re a good writer or not. It doesn’t matter that you’re especially good with matching subject and verbs or using correct grammar. Just write. You will find the more you write the better you get.

Also, don’t try to copy someone else. You find your own voice and stay true to it. That goes for any kind of artistic medium, whether it be acting or singing or writing or painting or anything else. You can be a second-rate copy of someone else or you can be a first-rate you.

Now go write something.

Healing in His Wings

Apparently, you do learn something new every day. Today, I learned about a fascinating connection between the story of the woman with the blood issue in Mark 5 and a prophetic verse in Malachi 4:2.

It all hinges on the literal meaning of a Hebrew word.

In the story, the woman is desperate to get to Jesus, even if only to touch the hem of His garment. No one and nothing will keep her from the Rabbi.

When she does get to Him and reaches for the fringes of his robe, she finds immediate healing. Jesus notices that power has gone out of Him and finds the woman. He tells her that her faith has saved her.

The part that I never knew until now is that the Hebrew word for the corner of the robe where the tassels hang can literally be translated as “wings.”

I believe that the unnamed woman of great faith knew exactly who Jesus was– He was the “Son of Righteousness with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2).

The amazing thing about the Bible is that you can read it with little to no knowledge of the culture and history and original language and still understand the essential meaning. You can also spend a lifetime of study on all the background context and never get to the depths of all the nuances of meaning in each verse.

Also, you’re never too old to learn something new as long as you retain that childlike sense of wonder and curiosity. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking, and you will most definitely find great treasure.