Trickle Down Word

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“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.

It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

    You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”

(Isaiah 55:8-12 NLT)

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Winds of Change

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My grandson was showing me photos he had done for school when I saw the light change outside on the snowy lawn in my peripheral vision. I checked the sky.

“Grab your camera!” I said. “And your boots and jacket. Let’s go.”
A strong wind resisted our efforts to open the front door.

“Where is the closest open field?” I asked him when he got in the car.
He took me there. This is the result.

Chinook arch at sunset in Alberta.

I grew up in Calgary. I knew what an arch of clouds in the sky coming from the mountains in the west meant. It meant a break in the weather. It meant sudden unseasonably warm days right in the middle of winter.

To some weather-sensitive people chinook winds bring changes in barometric pressure that provoke migraines and achy knees, to some they create a mess of melting show and piles of slush on the road, but as a child I knew they brought streams in the gutter to sail our clothespin boats, the ability to run around outside without a hat or scarf or sometimes even a jacket and a sense of profound unexpected positive change.

I was able to visit Calgary this week. The purpose of the trip was not a thrilling one; I had to see a team of medical specialists at the hospital who debated the best next course of action in treating a resistant condition. That part wasn’t fun, although I was amazed and impressed by the efficiency of the system. My doctor referred me on Thursday, I was given an appointment on Friday and by Tuesday I was shlepping around from the exam room to the labs to the consultation room. I am so appreciative of good medical treatment. I thought of my grandmother and how much things have changed since she died at 42 because the family didn’t have money for an operation, and of my son who is still waiting for OR time for his surgery.

But the other part of the story is that the tests were not pleasant, every treatment offered comes with risks and side-effects and the prospect of more pain and recovery time on the couch, and there is no clear advantage of one over the other so the decision is up to me.

When my husband and I walked out to the parking lot I realized I didn’t need my hat, or mittens or my jacket. It was one of those southern Alberta miracle days after a chinook blew in and raised the temperature to sunny spring day levels. It was a break from the expectations of January weather in Canada.

I think the Lord breaks up the heaviness of praying for situations that weigh on our hearts with moments of unexpected fulfillment of promises ahead of time. It’s like the finger of God poking through. Moments of the manifestation of the Kingdom of heaven on earth. Yes. It exists. Here. Now. In this moment. But someday this warm sunlight will not be an occasional thing. It will be the norm.

We have hope, therefore we can sing, “To God be the glory for the things he has done.”

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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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Heart Change

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Politics deals with externals: borders, wealth, crimes. Authentic forgiveness deals with the evil in a persons heart, something for which politics has no cure. Virulent evil (racism, ethnic hatred) spreads through society like an airborne disease, one cough infects a whole busload. When moments of grace do occur, the world must pause, fall silent, and acknowledge that indeed forgiveness offers a kind of cure. There will be no escape from wars, from hunger, from misery, from rancid discrimination, from denial of human rights, if our hearts aren’t changed.

-Philip Yancey