Forest Path

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“When I trust deeply that today God is truly with me and holds me safe in a divine embrace, guiding every one of my steps I can let go of my anxious need to know how tomorrow will look, or what will happen next month or next year. I can be fully where I am and pay attention to the many signs of God’s love within me and around me.”

~Henri Nouwen

 

Great and Mighty Things

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I waited for the perfect day to follow a trail down to one of my favourite places. That day came this week. I love this spot by the Kootenay River on a cool still autumn morning. I didn’t want to leave.

It doesn’t always look like this. Some days low grey clouds hide the mountains and barren trees bend in cold wind. Some days deep snow can block the roads or combined heavy rain and churning dirty meltwater can flood the river valley. On those days we enjoy the warmth of a fireplace and the benefits of clean hot water in the bathtub and computer networks that allow us to get our work done.

Sometimes leaving the comfort of home feels scary, especially in the autumn when bears are desperate to put on weight before hibernation. We don’t see them every day, but simply knowing that they are out there is often enough to keep people at home.

Leaving the confines of the familiar requires courage.

I’m doing something I haven’t done before. I am aware circumstances can change suddenly and that there are territorial threats out there. What if I make a mistake? What if I’m wrong? What if I wander into something I can’t handle? Maybe I should just go back to doing what I have always done in the confines of structures that tell me what to think and how to feel. Maybe I should be content with listening to experts tell me who God is to them and what they require of me to fit in.

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But what if I miss seeing his majesty for myself? What if playing it safe means missing moments like this moment down by the river? What if staying behind locked steel doors means I miss the spiritual equivalent of this view, this peace, this sense of his presence?

Faith, like a seed, ventures to grow. And today conditions are perfect.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

(Jeremiah 33:3)

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Imperfect

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Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.

~ Francis de Sales

It’s frustrating the way imperfections, like bugs on flowers, don’t show up until I blow up a photo on the big screen.

It’s frustrating when I don’t see imperfections in my own life until circumstances blow them up and project them on a screen where I can’t miss them.

Seeing our own flaws can suck the courage right out of us, but God in his kindness points out problems that could mess things up later. His grace is the empowerment to change. When he points out a fly on the flower in the way we relate to others, it’s not to convince us to hide in shame. It’s to infuse us with the courage to make changes that will improve our ability to love as he loves.

It’s his patient kindness that leads to repentance. He has invested everything in seeing us become who he knows we really are. Have patience. He knows what he’s doing.

 

 

Finders Keepers

 

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I lost my finder.

My talent for losing keys, wallet, and phone is the butt of jokes in my family. All of them hear me say, “I just had it in my hand!” regularly – like every time I am late for something. My adult kid and her spouse bought me several of those little electronic dollar coin-sized devices that are supposed to keep track of important stuff, like keys wallet and phone. I call them my finders. I appreciate the help. They have rescued me more than once.

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One evening this week I drove out to favourite spots about half an hour away, hoping to catch golden hour light. Frankly, I forgot to account for the advancing season and early mountain shadow on that side of the valley. The window of opportunity shrunk rapidly. I took a few photos, then came home.

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I know I had a finder on my car keys at Munro Lake because I noticed it coming out of its stretchy pouch that hangs on my keychain. I put it back in. When I pulled them out of the ignition at the next stop, the finder was missing.

I searched the car, including under and around the seats. I checked every pocket in my clothes and in my camera bag. Then I checked again. And again.

I must have dropped it somewhere in my meanderings. Losing an item whose only purpose in life is to help me not lose things was just too embarrassing. I had to find it before the jokes started. My phone should help me track it down, right?

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The next morning, I went back to the same area –with my camera, of course. The morning light was wonderful. The birds gathered in the meadow preparing for their flight south. The breeze blew sweetly and the sun glistened on the grass. Heavenly.

I checked my phone. It located my key finder… last known location …28 km away… two weeks ago.

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That was no help. I walked up and down the Peavine road looking for a shiny object. I went back to Munro Lake and Mineral Lake and Moyie Lake – eventually. The morning felt like that time my friends kidnapped me when I turned down an opportunity to go on a picnic one perfect spring day because I thought I should study.

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I felt like God kidnapped me this time. I felt his love and his presence as we walked and talked. I was in no rush. I didn’t want to leave.

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Four hours later, after I couldn’t think of anywhere else to look, I said, “When I first got to know you, Lord, you showed me you were with me by finding things for me. Could you do that again? I know it’s a just a little tracker, but I can’t find it myself. I’ve looked everywhere. I need you.”

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I saw people carrying kayaks toward the beach and took a few more photos. Then I went back to the car. I opened the door. There was my finder! On my car seat!

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Today a friend was talking about sensing God’s presence. We don’t call him down to be in our midst. He’s here already. He promised he wouldn’t leave. He seeks our presence. He delights in us. He wants us, our attention. Our awareness of him increases by focusing on him through whatever means he invites us to worship. For me that often means being out in nature.

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Spending time with the Lord is not an escape from reality. He wants us to bring that awareness of his presence into everything we do.

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I wonder if God feels like I do sometimes when I’ve gone to a lot of work to prepare a meal for my loved ones and they can’t hear me call them for diner because they have ear phones on, or are engaged in heated discussion with someone, or think they can’t take time away from work. I’m there. I’m just not on their radar at the moment.

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It wasn’t my finder that needed finding. It was me. I’m glad God kidnapped me.

Thank you, Lord. That was a delicious meal. You are beautiful.
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