Runoff

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It’s runoff season in the mountains. This time of year pretty little streams can turn into aggressive torrents churning up mud and rock as they rush down to the valley on their way to the sea. If heavy rains coincide with melting snow this season can be messy, and even destructive and dangerous. I am tempted to complain. Loudly.

I went for a walk along the creek that flows near our house. I could actually hear rocks tumbling in two giant culverts that directed rushing water under the bicycle path. The banks of the creek are unstable and some trees no longer grip enough soil with their tangled roots to stay upright. Even in places that looked dry, my feet sank ankle deep in the soft saturated lawn in the park.

We are reading reports of massive flooding all over the southern portion of the province of British Columbia well as many other places in Canada. In some areas, homes, and shops are inundated. Hillsides slip slide away and roads and bridges are washed out. Traffic is chaotic. Our own home is still drying out from the last messy melt and repairs may take months.

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Yesterday, as I walked beside the muddy pounding waters flowing from the high mountains, I heard the word “abundance.” I saw the creek overflowing its banks and spill out into the playing field where kids’ soccer lessons should be starting soon. They will be disappointed. How can this be abundance when it feels like loss?

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ft steele winter eve chI remembered that the first European settlers who came to this area followed the stories of the discovery of gold in Wildhorse Creek. It was the violent spring run-off currents that washed the precious metal down from the treacherous terrain above. After prospectors and entrepreneurs filled their pockets with gold dust and nuggets they sent for their wives and children. Along with families came the merchants and services that families need. Roads and train rails reached the area. Towns sprang up – then churches and schools and eventually arenas and shopping malls and an airport with a runway big enough to accommodate international flights.

 

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I thought about some of the large successful ranches in the interior of B.C. Arable land is a valuable and relatively sparse in this province of massive rocks reaching to the sky. Many rich valleys which produce abundant harvests and feed sheep and cattle were, at one time, flood plains. Like the people who live along the lower Nile River, we have come to depend on soil nutrients carried by occasional flood water and the rain and melted snow that refills lakes, aquifers, and reservoirs.

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The bigger picture I think the Lord is showing me is that we may pray for prosperity, but we don’t always recognize it when it comes because our concept of prosperity is all about current comfort. It seldom includes the well-being of generations we probably won’t meet let alone planning for decades ahead. Perhaps abundance includes more people than we think.

kin park flood IMG_7624I wonder if the same thing happens when we are tempted to complain loud and long about uncomfortable circumstances in our lives. We don’t always see them as gifts that can benefit our great- great- grandchildren. We tend to be short-sighted and don’t enjoy setting aside our convenience for a greater purpose – especially one that is not obvious. We don’t realize that traits like steadfast courage, resilience, diligence, unashamed hope and trust in God’s goodness developed in times of “just too much” can be the greatest inheritance we can pass on to future generations.

Yes, there are disasters orchestrated by the evil one who intends to harm us, but God can still turn plans meant for our harm into better plans meant for our benefit. It’s his specialty. He’s done it many times. He will do it again. Just watch.

Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!

– John Greenleaf Whittier

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Too Good To Not Be True

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With my whole heart, with my whole life
And with my innermost being,
I bow in wonder and love before you, the Holy God!
Yahweh, you are my soul’s celebration;
How could I ever forget the miracles of kindness you’ve done for me?
You kissed my heart with forgiveness, in spite of all I’ve done.
You healed me inside and out from every disease.
You’ve rescued me from hell and saved my life.
You’ve crowned me with love and mercy and made me a king.
You satisfy my every desire with good things.
You supercharged my life so that I soar again
Like a flying eagle in the sky.
You’re a God who makes things right,
Giving justice to the defenseless…

(Psalm 103:1-6 The Passion Translation)

There are passages of scripture some of us have learned are part of our inheritance. We keep running into them  at crucial moments in our lives. They show up when we most need them. Psalm 103 is one of those passages for me.

The irony is that the Lord brings it to my attention when I feel least likely to be able to declare it without engaging a considerable amount of faith. Circumstances would seem to point in another direction.

But we live by faith and not by sight.

So today I stand and declare: You supercharged my life so that I soar again like an eagle flying in the sky!

It’s about His faithfulness. Therefore I have hope, the evidence of things not seen.

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Coming in the Opposite Spirit

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I’m wrestling with an attitude problem. No, it’s not the attitude of a surly teenager at the breakfast table, or a disgruntled boss who seems impossible to please, or even the doom and gloomer media riding their own tidal wave of predicted disaster into my house. It’s my own surly attitude that wants to roll up in a ball under the duvet, shun expectations, and type nasty you-think-that’s-bad responses on my cell phone.

Ongoing health problems and extreme cold have kept me housebound for most of the past two months. I realize I need to do something to break the pattern of negativity and low expectations that I have been allowing to creep in like the cold of another frozen grey day.

I’ve heard people use the expression “coming in the opposite spirit” to describe an attitude that does not succumb to the prevailing spiritual atmosphere. This is an attitude that chooses to focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable and responds to evil with good.

An example of this is found in 1 Peter 3:9:
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

On a day when I woke up sensing an atmosphere of darkness, coldness of heart, and dismal forebodings, I choose to come in the opposite spirit. I’m going to do this metaphorically here.

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The opposite season of year from today is mid-July. I went back to a file of photos labeled July, and chose some of them to post. Then I found some music from a delightful British Gardening show that carries good memories for me. This is the atmosphere I am creating on my blog today. This afternoon I think I shall peruse some online seed catalogues and make plans for the future.

Lord, to my heart bring back the springtime.

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Glimpse

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When I’m walking on ice I keep my head down. A broken arm and a broken leg taught me the wisdom of minding my step. My legs and ankles tense up as I carefully find the least slippery route, often on the edge of the path where dead thorn bushes poke through the snow.

One day I was walking through a shadowy part of the forest on an ice-covered trail when I caught a glimpse of the sky in a tiny puddle. I had been concentrating so hard on not falling that I lost sight of the rest of my surroundings. The reflection reminded me to look up.

When Moses asked to see God he was permitted to see only a glimpse from inside a cleft of a rock. The aspect of himself God chose to show was his goodness, and only a fraction of that lest Moses be overwhelmed.

Sometimes seeing a glimpse of God’s goodness, or grasping a few words from the love song he sings over us in the night, or hearing his voice in nature or scripture or right out loud, causes us to feel amazed – and then frustrated that we can’t hear more.

Those who have had encounters with who God really is are often wrecked for trudging through a cold, grey, sinful, sorrowful world with an it-is-what-it-is attitude. Now they long for more – because they have had a glimpse of more.

Frustration is a sign that God is about to increase our capacity to receive more. We wonder why we feel so uncomfortable. We can walk away at that point, or we can look up, preparing for the enlarging aspect of himself he intends to show us next. It may not be the one people around us may seem to be experiencing though. He knows who we really are too.

Isaac Watts, who wrote Joy to the World, understood.

Let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing…

There is more.

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Keeping the Peace

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You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You,
for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. (Isaiah 26:3)

One of the most frustrating positions in the world to be in can be that of “middle management.” It’s that place where a person feels like they carry responsibility for other people’s actions without enough authority to fix things.

Here is what I am learning: If God has given you an area of responsibility you can trust him to give you authority and provision in that area. We have access in Christ to the very throne of heaven.

If he has not given you authority in this, it is probably not your job. You will lose your peace if you keep striving to do something you were not asked to do. Don’t steal another person’s joy of discovery of the goodness of God by standing in their place.

Commendation

Photo: On the road to Jasper

I will extol you, my God and King,

and bless your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless you

and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,

and his greatness is unsearchable.

 

One generation shall commend your works to another,

and shall declare your mighty acts.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,

and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,

and I will declare your greatness.

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness

and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

(Psalm 145)