Preparation

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I lifted my nose appreciatively as the scent of apples wafted through the house, creating images of years gone by. It was the season for apples, one I always looked forward to. In the town where I grew up, we had one large old apple tree and several smaller ones in our backyard. They were the best red apples anywhere! I still remember their sweet crisp taste, although the trees are now long gone.

Gathering and preparing those apples was a family affair. We separated the older apples that the bees, birds, and other insects were enjoying and brought the others in to wash and pare, setting some aside for eating as they were. A lot of preparation went into canning the applesauce, sliced apples, apple butter, and apple jelly, not to mention apple pie, cake, or other goodies. Preparing ahead of time made the work go easier and the results were appreciated during the months ahead.

Preparation is a part of life. Sometimes we are called to prepare things in advance of events, like setting the table for a meal or arranging items for a program. I remember the story of John the Baptist, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” * John’s words got the people who heard them ready to receive the words of Jesus.

While I have learned to “go with the flow” when needed and have enjoyed occasional spontaneous activities, preparation is important for daily routines as well as long-term future needs, goals, or hopes. It reminds me of the movie trailers released as previews to upcoming shows. Haven’t we all at some time, upon seeing a preview or hearing of the anticipated release date, said, “Oh, I’d like to see that!” The movie previews put the word out that something good is coming that we just don’t want to miss!

How can we prepare ourselves to receive the words God has for us? It has been easy in times past to let my good intentions slide away or my quiet time with God to be relegated to a quick, sometimes desperate, “Oh God, please help me today” as I rush out the door. I don’t want to miss the good things coming or the encouragement offered in a mad rush to the next thing.

Like those apple gathering seasons, to receive the full benefit and goodness God has in store for me I have to prepare to receive Him. Times for quiet, for worship, for study, for listening, for fellowship, for obedience, or for action must be intentional. Discovering what these are for us and making them a priority is part of the preparation.

I hope that we can pause to ask ourselves regularly, “How am I preparing to receive God and the blessings, love, guidance, and support He has for me each day?”

*Mark 1:2

Message of Light

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Please leave a message… Message me… Our phone rings or lights up; our computer chimes. Flash, blink, music, or buzz.

In our world today, messages have never been easier to send, or to receive. Text messages, emails, and audio-video chats and messages are now the norm for communication. The word “message” itself has become a common verb.

Many of us battle overflowing emails addresses or have given up to overwhelm… either watching them pile up or deleting all indiscriminately. The deluge of information, requests, and offers may lead to “brain freeze” when it comes to discerning what is needed, important, or positive.

So, when we come to those times when our world slows or stills, that spinning churning chaos which has become such a part of our daily lives may need time to slow as well! It’s like stepping into a brightly lit room from a darkened hallway. We blink, breath, and refocus. Our brains gain time and space for deeper reflection.

Whether a slow down time or a shift in normal routine is a result of conscious decision or thrust upon us unexpectedly, it presents a good opportunity. I am thankful for moments where I am able to better see and to receive the positive. Despite the stresses around me, it is like a pocket of calm in the tumble of activity.

I am reminded of Paul in the book of Acts as he stood before King Agrippa. He shared his story of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus and reminded Agrippa of the words of the prophets and Moses, that the Messiah would suffer, would rise from the dead, and would bring the message of light to all people. * What a gift that message of light is! Just as we enter into a brightly lit room and pause to blink and refocus in order to better see what that light reveals around us… so do our times of reflection and thought allow us to settle closer to God, to receive His reassurance, presence, and peace… and to think of the great price He paid for it and the great love He has for us.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light! **

My prayer for us this week is that we would draw close to God, take notice of that incoming message of light, and be strengthened and comforted to meet the days ahead.

 

*Acts 26:22-23, **Matthew 4:15-16, Isaiah 9:2