“Yaaay!!!” I joined the mob of other kids streaming from the school. Faces were excited and energy was high. The beginning of summer vacation was a long-awaited event! Thoughts of free time, lazy mornings, and summer events filled our minds. Visits to relatives, camping trips, fresh garden food, and (for me) frequent travel to the local libraries to keep my summer reading stack replenished were welcome plans. I still look forward to the warm weather and the change of pace that this season brings. Each season in life is a time of new beginnings.
The Bible is full of stories of beginnings. Some of them were very hard and others were most welcome. What do I do with my beginnings? Times change and events impact our lives, with my family (births, farewells, deaths) … in my work (saying good-bye to a child I have worked with and their family) … my church (as I move from one area of service or commitment to another) … and in the changing responsibilities and seasons throughout the year. Endings mark beginnings.
What thoughts do you have about your own beginnings? As in the excitement of summer, resolve to enter with a positive attitude and assurance of God’s presence and guidance for whatever may come. Whether our beginnings are marked with anticipation or with anxiety, we can take courage.
Ecclesiastes chapter three begins with acknowledgement that “for everything there is a season,” times for beginnings and endings… and new beginnings, and so life goes on. The writer continues with,
“What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time. Moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds… I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. Moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” *
As we move with intent in our work and in our rest, I hope that we can look with anticipation and interest. My prayers are that we will take comfort, even excitement, and be strengthened as we face new beginning through our more challenging times. May we remember and know afresh God’s presence with us. As we come to Him in prayer and give thanks for His gifts each day, may we be blessed through our beginnings.
“Wow! Look at that! … and there’s another one!” We smiled as we checked out the growing produce from our summer garden. Careful planting, tending, and watering was producing bountiful crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, squash, and much more. A lot of work had gone into the garden and there was much satisfaction and hope for plentiful provision, both for us and to share with others.
Whether tending a garden, caring for others, or looking after our pets or other animals, nurturing is a part of our daily life. When offered in love and compassion, it is an expression and reflection of our Creator, God. A helping hand or an encouraging word can gladden a heart and bring a smile when exhaustion or stress threatens to overwhelm and reaping benefits of hard work and dedication is rewarding.
God nurtures us, both physically and spiritually. I like this passage from the book of Psalms which expresses thanks to God. Think about it in terms of God’s care in our life as well:
You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it. The river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty. Your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy. The meadows clothe themselves with flocks. The valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13
Comforting an upset child. Cuddling a pet. Feeding a hungry family. Sitting with a loved one. Protecting those in our care. Being present to support or to share in sorrow. The many small or large acts that we encounter daily offer opportunities.
As we nurture and are nurtured, we can… Pray for those in our care. Rejoice in provision and growth. Rest in God in times of sorrow and drought. Offer thanks and gratitude for His sustaining presence through all things. Acknowledge God’s provision and thank those He brings to us, as we care for each other.
God bless and sustain you through each day. Be encouraged.
Delete. Delete. Delete… How in the world had I managed to let so many emails pile up and fill my account?! Sure, I deleted many as a read them, but as they slipped out of sight I soon forgot or was too busy to go back and clear them out. It was so satisfying to finally have them gone and to dump out the trash and spam folders.
Looking through my email, I was reminded of many good things – friends, family, work, church – service given, information and encouragement exchanged. Some things I saved to files on my computer or printed out before deleting them, like family stories or other important events or information. It was good to keep the memories.
There were other things that I’d rather not think about though, like illness or death, finances, missed opportunities, and bad news. Can’t I just delete them and forget them?! … What about those painful time periods in life? It would be great if they had never even occurred! There are other things that I’d like to delete too – like bad habits, thoughtless or poorly timed words or actions, things left undone or forgotten. I don’t like to let others down or cause hurt.
Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming at times, can’t it? Uncertain times can keep us unsettled and trauma and loss bring grief. I am so glad that we can turn everything over to God and to know that He will strengthen and support us. He cares about us and our messes are cleaned and washed through faith in Him. God is our delete button for anxiety and worry (*Psalm 55:22a; 1 Peter 5:7).
It is my hope and prayer that we turn to God for our needed “deletes,” whatever they may be, …making space for peace, forgiveness, or comfort. May we look forward with anticipation!
Majesty.” That’s not a word that we use often is it? When we do, it is usually associated with some chosen leader or self-imposed ruler and the power they represent. We may use this word too, when describing spectacular scenes and acts of nature.
I am thinking today of the majesty of life itself, the awesome and most wonderful spark which cannot be duplicated by humankind and which is expressed in living things. “And it was good… And it was very good!” the book of Genesis proclaims.
We celebrate new life in the birth of children to family and friends… We treasure the life of our animal companions… And we depend on the life which rises from the soil and provides us with our daily food. There is majesty in the love of God. There is freedom in the discovery of God’s power and presence.
The writer of Chronicles expresses God’s majesty so well in David’s prayer: 10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours… You are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. *1 Chronicles 29:10-13
How often do I set aside my anxieties to simply sit in God’s presence? When do I release all my expectations and desires to His care? Do I offer up thanksgiving when things seem to be falling apart, when illness or economic stressors loom large? What about those times when I just feel so alone or abandoned? … These are all things which grow large in our eyes, hearts, and mind!
Yet, there’s God. Just God. He sits in His holiness and draws us to shelter on His lap, as a parent holds their child. He comforts us, protects us, and loves us anyway. He is this and more. I am so thankful for Him! This is my prayer. That we will allow God to draw us to His majesty each day. May we experience his mighty power, be comforted, and raise our heart in thanksgiving. May we take that spirit of God’s majesty with us, reminders to be thankful and to fill ourselves with His wonder.
When my daughter was very young, she would sometimes awaken at night, afraid and crying. I would go to her and hold her, pray with her, and just be with her until she had relaxed and was able to go back to sleep.
There is something about the physical presence of a loved one that brings comfort and joy. Whether a parent with a child, friends, or family, their nearness fills a deep craving and brings satisfaction through that companionship.
How many of us after long separation have spent hours talking and “catching up” or enjoyed activities together? In the case of illness or injury, the presence of someone sitting quietly close by can bring a sense of security or well-being. Words are not always necessary. What a gift one’s positive presence can be!
In the same way, God’s presence with us is a great gift. In all of life’s challenges, sorrows, and celebrations God is with us. His presence is strong, steady, and eternal even when our pain or busy thoughts and activities are unable to perceive Him.
The psalmist praised God and thanked Him for being with him.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. *
As David fled enemies and faced impossible odds, he was fearful, angry, and sometimes depressed. Where was God during all of this?! Later, there was guilt too, as he faced his own failures and wrong doings. When the prophet Nathan came to David after David wrongly took Bathsheba, David expressed his great need and desire for God’s presence. He pled with God, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” *
While I so greatly need my personal time alone to process and rest, the presence of others is greatly appreciated too. Throughout my life, I have welcomed the comfort, companionship, and support of my family and friends. What a gift it is to know that there are others praying for me and to have good positive relationships with people who accept me for who I am and with whom we can join in our journey to grow closer to God.
How humbling and awesome that God’s presence came to be with us, giving us the ultimate example and filling that need. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). *
I pray that we may take comfort and strength from Him and faithfully reach out to others, even as they offer their own presence in times of need and times of celebration.