Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain

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I met some firefighters at the grocery store this evening. They were in town picking up snacks and toiletries and enjoying the luxury of cell service. Everyone smiled at them.

The men and women who fight forest fires are heroes around here. They leave behind a cloud of ashes and the smell of smoke wherever they go, but they take with them the sincere thanks of people who live in British Columbia. This time they also received free advice from a kind soul who warned them to be careful.

“You need to keep your noses open because if you smell smoke there will be a fire somewhere,” he grinned, proud of remembering an important lesson. He told them if he had money he would take them all out for a drink. They thanked him graciously. They knew he meant it.

I asked which fire they were working. It was the big one that threatened the city of Kimberley and the beautiful valley of St. Mary’s Lake. “But we had lots of rain this week, so we should be finishing up soon,” one guy said.

One of my friends has been working at the perimeter of the same fire. He guards fire-fighting equipment all night because, believe it or not, thieves like to steal tools and machinery that men and women use to save lives and property – perhaps even the thieves’ own. Some people are givers and some are takers. Lord, help us all.

Yesterday I followed dramatic skies up to a little lake in the hills. I had to tuck my camera under my jacket and run back to the car when it began to rain. In a few minutes it began to pour.

After a while a gap in the clouds allowed the sun to pour through at the same time.

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We prayed so long for rain. And it came.

Rain feels beautifully cleansing and refreshing after a season of choking on smoke and watching for evacuation alerts. I felt thankful — thankful for the fire crews, thankful for the rain, and thankful for the green forests I love so much.

There is something about almost losing something that increases its value.

For those of you who have lost homes and beautiful wooded views, I am so sorry. May the change of seasons bring you hope of new beginnings.

We all need hope. Hope teaches us to dance in the rain by faith before the day comes when our clothes get soaked and we dash for the car.

So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain…

(Hosea 6:3 NASB)

To Walk in Wisdom and Discover Discernment

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Today I have been asking, “What’s really going on here?” Spiritual discernment involves far more than sensing something is off and coming up with an argument to beat someone at I-know-more-Bible-quotes-than-you. Spiritual discernment is also far more than sensing something is on, because I agree, and coming up with endorsements.

Spiritual discernment means gaining a sense of that which is not obvious — the forces and mindsets that influence us without our being aware of them unless we learn to pay attention. Discernment means stepping back out of the current of flooding emotion or the apparent logic of smoke and statistics. It’s not suspicion. It’s not cynicism. It’s a matter of seeing the bigger picture and understanding the times.

I have also been asking for wisdom. It is one thing to see things as they are and another to understand what to do to bring about change. May I admit the phrase, “It is what it is,” feels like defeat to me? I react with irritation, particularly when it’s delivered with a sigh of hopelessness.

There must be more than this. Which voice is telling me there is no hope? Which voice is telling me he will never leave me and his grace is the empowering force to transform me into what he sees when he looks at me? Which voice am I actually paying attention to?

I didn’t feel very powerful today. I was tired of dealing with another life test. I needed to get away and go for a walk with the Lover of my soul. No talking. No doing. Just being. Just listening.

When I got home I read this:

My child, never drift off course from these two goals for your life:
to walk in wisdom and to discover discernment.
Don’t ever forget how they empower you.
 
For they strengthen you inside and out
and inspire you to do what’s right;
you will be energized and refreshed by the healing they bring.
 
They give you living hope to guide you,
and not one of life’s tests will cause you to stumble.

(Proverbs 3:21-23 TPT)

Lord, thank your for your never-failing love. Reveal to us the way that leads to wisdom and discernment. We thank you for provision for empowerment, strength, inspiration, energy, refreshment and healing. Show us how not to drift into distraction but keep our eyes fixed on You, our living hope.

 

Superabundant Hope

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Last year the mountain ash tree outside my window bore no fruit. This year the branches bend low under the weight of thousands of berries. In the winter, when nothing grows here in the Canadian Rockies, birds will feast on them. Abundant provision now for sustenance later.

My prayer for you today:

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope,

fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy

and perfect peace

as you trust in him.

 

And may the power of the Holy Spirit

continually surround your life

with his super-abundance

until you radiate with hope!

(Romans 15:13 TPT)

Please, Won’t You Be My Neighbor

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My heart is breaking. I see the rancour and the division and the excuses for symbolic acts of violence amongst my own friends on social media. Hatred damages the hearts of both the hater and the hated. We have thousands of years of recorded history to prove that.

It doesn’t matter which side of the political divide you stand on. When you start to see your neighbor as an enemy and dishonour them, or slander them, or dismiss them because of their political or philosophical or racial/ethnic alignments, you have already lost influence for good. Conversation over.

Jesus lived in times of uncivil unrest. He understood. He grew up in the middle of unjust circumstances worse than ours. And yet…

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

~ The Bible NIV

A cheesy old pop song has been stuck in my head for some time. “Love Will Keep Us Together.” I am learning to pay attention to thoughts and songs that repeat incessantly. Maybe there is a reason.

This line: “Look in my heart and let love keep us together.”

We can’t do it on our own. The best our own efforts can produce is a cruel kindness that offers little hope. Perhaps the real problem is not determining who is right and who is wrong. Perhaps there is a need for more goodness in the world. Instead of taking up verbal weapons look in Jesus’ heart and let his love fill your heart and overflow through you to your neighbor.

There is more.