Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
My dog is obsessed with the chipmunks living under the deck. He whines and barks at them through the window as they run and play, stopping to munch on a nut or vegetation right in front of the glass door. Just two or three feet and a glass pane separate him from his nemesis. Once I let him out for his relief breaks he runs from burrow to burrow, sometimes forgetting why he was let out. Then he comes inside and realizes he needs to go out. All day he paces, whines and cries and nothing I do distracts him from those chipmunks. He is obsessed and cannot focus on anything else.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that we too can become obsessed with things. In fact, like those chipmunks in the window, we are also distracted. Everywhere you turn there are commercials, radio advertising, billboards, emails, news reports and the topic of every conversation you take part in. The Covid-19 situation is on the forefront of every communication. Stirring up fear, worry and questions. We spend a lot of time pacing and trying to figure out what will happen next.
I have begun limiting my exposure to Covid-19 reports, articles and news. Some would say this is not prudent. However, I disagree. I am not sticking my head in the sand, instead I am controlling what I expose myself to. It is true we need to know what is going on in our communities, governments and the world, but there is a limit. Instead of subsisting on a continual buffet of Covid reports, information and speculation, we should limit how much time we spend reading and submerging ourselves in the ongoing situation. I know that is not easy, you cannot listen to the radio or watch TV without every commercial being about the Covid 19 virus, but you have the power to choose what and how much you digest. Do not allow yourself to be distracted to the point of neglecting yourself. This constant exposure can intensify fear, loneliness, depression and aggression. Enjoy time with family, make time for study and prayer, enjoy a good meal or take a walk. You have the power to limit your exposure and protect yourself.
I put curtains up on the door and Bryan is much calmer. He still knows the chipmunks are there and checks out the burrows every time we go out, but he is not obsessed anymore because the constant stimuli has been curtailed.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 ESV
I stopped by my friend’s place of business one afternoon to drop off a package. I went into the lobby and met her. We talked and giggled as is our usual custom. I got the car keys from her and headed to the parking lot. I pressed the fob to open her car and pulled at the door. However, the car door remained locked. I pressed the fob again and tried the door. Still, it was unyielding. Over and over I pressed the fob and pulled on the door. The front door opened and my friend yelled out, “Fob doesn’t work, you’ll have to use the key.”
Boy, was my face red. I was standing in the gray and misting rain pressing a button. It never occurred to me to use the key.
We are not much different when it comes to our spiritual lives. We carry around the spiritual keys, yet we fail to use them.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Throughout the Bible, keys refer to power and authority. To be given keys is to be given authority and power to open and close. Jesus gave His disciples and in following all Christians spiritual authority.
Often we feel that we are without authority in this life but that is what the enemy wants you to believe. Jesus left you the keys. He left you with power and authority. You have been given a great privilege. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, he gained access to God for us through his blood. Therefore there are no more barriers between us and God, we have the keys to open every spiritual door.
Remember, you have the key, all you have to do is use it.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 ESV
The lush green moss provided a comfortable bed for me to stretch out. I bit into the firm white flesh of the pear, juice sweet and sticky escaped, trickling down my chin. Through the limbs of the walnut tree, I watched whisp of white float on an unseen current across the summer sky. Only the sound of an occasional car broke the steady hum of the insects busy at work. My grandmother sat on her milking stool, peeling pears, and apples for a pie. The sun had risen high glaring down on us and chased us out of the garden and into the cool shade of the ancient walnut, who’s limbs grazed the ground, bent by the clusters of nuts. She spoke as she made long curls of peel that hit the aluminum pan with a thud, telling us stories of her time in California during the Second World War. Tales of the tenants in their boarding house. Stories of lemon and orange trees at the back steps of the house. Nights filled with laughter and dancing as they clung to that moment, never knowing if the next would come. My eyes grew big as she told us about sitting around the radio and listening to the war reports, the fear, the wonder, will the enemy touch our shores. As the clouds lazily floated past her stories formed on the stage of my mind.
I loved those afternoons under the walnut tree, barefoot, wearing tank tops and shorts. The cool of the moss, the sweet fruit, and the smell of clean air. That hour or two that we escaped the heat and hid in the hazy shadows.
Life is fleeting, busy, stressful, meaningful, and at times seems meaningless, and we have a way of getting caught in that spiral. We all have schedules and deadlines; however, do not forget to take pleasure in what God has given you. As Solomon tells us, we were created to enjoy food, drink, each other and our jobs. God has provided many things for us to enjoy, do not allow yourself to get caught up in the spiral of deadlines, schedules, and worries. Take the time to enjoy the summer fruit.
your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6 NIV
Though still morning, the humidity swaddled us in damp that
clung to my body and salty beads of sweat stung my eyes. The breeze I had
enjoyed earlier had ceased, and the air hung stagnant. Sunlight filtered through the trees, making a
kaleidoscope of green and yellow. The
pine needle littered path absorbed the sound of our footfalls and the cicadas
buzzed in the trees filling our ears with their drone. My fellow travelers and
I had fallen silent, the three of us seemingly lost in our thoughts plodded in
single file through the woods. I pulled
my tube from my camel pack and drank deeply of the cooling water that I carried
on my back. A cacophony of bird song
seemed to precede us, no doubt warning the wood’s inhabitants of our
presence. Ahead the trail divided, we
stopped to consult the map. It was a divide that came back together further
down the trail. One side was for bikes
the other hikers, we took a right, continuing our trek. However, in the back of my mind, the thought
lingered. Did we read the map
correctly? Will this trail merge again
on the path back to the parking lot?
Life is often the same when we come
to a crossroad. How do we know we have
made the right decision or chosen the correct path? Throughout life, we face
choices. Some are life-altering, not
just to us but those in our lives. Other
decisions transcend this physical world and extends into the next. Each of us has a path to follow, and along
this pathway, we have decisions and choices that influence the journey. This path refers to how we choose to live and
what we do with our limited time. The Bible has several scriptures that address
pathways, decisions, and crossroads. My
personal favorite is Proverbs 3:6. If we
are obedient, and involve God on our choices, consult him on decisions, he has
promised to lead us onto straight paths.
The path will not always be easy.
There will be hills, rocks, and dangers, but you will not travel alone.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
Hurrying down the hallway, the girl pushed her way into the lunchroom. She found her friends and with a smile as wide and as bright as dawn, she blurted out, “Someone asked me to the dance!”
The table erupted with giggles and chatter and of course the question burning on everyone’s mind. “Well, who is it?”
She leaned back grinning, allowing the tension to build, and when she could no longer contain herself, she whispered his name. Her friends looked from one another and then laughed.
“What?” she asked, her furrowed brow burned with embarrassed heat.
“You mean, you don’t know? He used to eat paste.”
“So all little kids do.” Her voice raised above the din of the midday diners.
“No, I mean like in the sixth and seventh grade. It was weird.”
All the girls begin to laugh. The excitement that just moments ago brimmed drained away replaced by hot tears. She wanted to run back down the hallway and hide. How could she go to the dance with him now? What would all her friends think?
We all care about what people think. We worry about fitting in with people, being accepted. We want everyone to like us, but at what cost? Not everyone will like you. Not everyone will approve of you, and that is OK. If Jesus had cared about fitting in or making everyone like him, he indeed would have never chosen to die on the cross with common criminals so that you could have eternal life. He would have hung around the Pharisees, but instead, he chose the tax collectors, fishers, prostitutes, a crowd of women, a doctor and a guy that ran around in camel skins and ate bugs (Matt. 3:4).
Proverbs 29:25 reads, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” What does that verse mean? It has nothing to do with being afraid in the sense that we think of the word “fear,” but rather, it means “to fear the disapproval of man.” This verse deals with our insecurities. Worrying about what others think is a snare. The word snare refers to the traps a hunter sets to catch small animals and birds. Allowing ourselves to worry what people think entraps us in fear, doubt, and gags us. Do not focus on what people think. Instead, put your trust in the Lord.