Sunday, June 24, 2012


Ubiquitous.  I like that word.  Yoo-bik-wi-tuhs.  Strange word.  It means “something that is present or seems to be present everywhere at the same time.”  Once I first heard the word I noticed it more and more often.  Listen and you will hear it too, “ubiquitous.”  The word itself has almost become ubiquitous.

What has truly become ubiquitous in our society is the cell phone.  Everywhere, it seems, there are cell phones.  Their ringing interrupts meetings, movies, and plays.  Rings tones sing out everywhere.  In the middle of a quiet dinner, the person nearby is loudly talking to a friend, telling details of her life I don’t want to hear.  Everyone knows how ubiquitous, ever present, and annoying the cell phone can sometimes be.

I have decided not to let the sounds of all these cell phones and cell phone users annoy me.  Sound like an impossible task?  In order not to be annoyed, I let the cell phone serve as a reminder.  Whenever I hear or see the phone, I remember that God is ubiquitous, present everywhere at the same time, omnipresent.  No matter how often I hear a cell phone or see or hear someone talking on the phone, I know God is more ubiquitous than the phone.  Every second of every day, He is here beside me.  When I am in the grocery store, driving in my car, attending a play, or hard at work, He is beside me, loving me, seeking me, wanting me to seek Him.  I can talk with God more easily and more often than anyone can talk on a cell phone and it doesn’t cost a cent!  He is ubiquitous.  So when the phone rings?  Annoyance is replaced by the confident assurance that God is with me and, instead of irritation about phone interruptions, I express a prayer of thanksgiving to my all-powerful, all wise, all loving, ever present, ubiquitous God. 

Omnipotent, ubiquitous God, whenever the phone rings, let that remind me of Your holy presence.  

Psalm 139:7-9 “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

At the Beach (Reprise)

 One summer Scott and I flew to San Diego to visit our cousin Zelda.  While there, we spent some time at the Pacific Ocean’s shore.  Just standing at a very small edge of this huge body of water was awe-inspiring.  Looking outward from my vantage point on the sand, I could not imagine the immensity of this vast body of water, stretching for thousands of miles in every direction.  I spent some time wandering along the shore, always looking out to the water.  The waves never ceased.  Constantly they rushed the beach, always the same, yet always different.  They followed one another, curling and rolling, white spray flying high.  White gulls skimmed the water’s surface, diving into the tops of the waves to capture fish for breakfast.  Each wave must have contained thousands of gallons of moving, roiling, rushing water.  Their strength amazed me.  Even when I stood ankle deep at the very edge of this ocean, the waves, running to the shore and then back home, pulled at me, nearly knocking me off my feet.  “Come out into the deep,” they seemed to say. The locals said, “Always face the waves.”  I learned to keep my eyes on the waves and never underestimate their power. 
I tried to discern a pattern in the way the waves ran at the beach, but the variety was endless.  They came in intervals—for a time many smaller waves hit the beach, then bigger waves—wave after wave—pounded the shore, rolling, breaking, rushing to the sands, and then retreating.

The sound of the waves was astounding. Right at my feet was always the soft, sibilant sound of waves running at the beach, scrubbing the sand, then running back home, pulled by the ocean as a small child runs back to her mother and father.  But farther out, where the waves curled on themselves and broke, the waters boomed and roared, boomed and roared.  Even from a half mile away their crashing noise echoed.   I closed my eyes and soaked in the sounds of this majestic ocean.  The early morning air was cool, and I basked in the amazing experience, wishing I could stay longer.  I stood, I looked, I listened, trying to absorb it all.

It occurred to me that the incredible beauty, immensity, and power of the ocean are, on a small scale, a reflection of our miraculous God.  When I stood on the beach and gazed at the ocean, it seemed so enormous, yet I viewed only an infinitesimal portion of this massive body of water. So it is with God.  We are privileged at times to catch glimpses of God’s immensity, but we see only a small portion.  We glimpse His power, yet we experience just a tiny glimpse of His majesty.  In Isaiah 45:15, we read, “Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.”    Paul reminds us how little we know of our awesome God in I Corinthians 13:12.  “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

God, thank you for the tangible reminders of Your greatness.

Psalms 93:3-4 “The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.  Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the LORD on high is mighty.”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

On Father’s Day, we remember and honor our Fathers.  Each of us has different memories of our fathers; some have memories of warm, loving fathers; some have memories that are not so pleasant.  Some of our fathers are with us; some are no longer living on this earth. 

Even though we all have different earthly fathers, we all have in common our heavenly Father.  This Father loves us more than we can imagine.  He longs to have a relationship with His children and shower them with good gifts.  We each have a unique, special relationship with our heavenly Father, and in His wisdom He gives each of us different gifts.  But there is one gift He has given to each and every one of us—the gift of His only begotten Son, Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

He sent His Son to earth to live as a man, like us.  Jesus experienced the same trials, pains, disappointments, frustrations and temptations that we experience.  Our Savior lived the way we live.  But the way He died sets Him apart.  This is the special gift that our heavenly Father has sent to us.  He allowed the blood of His only begotten son to be shed, for us.  He allowed the body of His only begotten son to be broken for us.  Jesus commands us to remember His sacrifice:  “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19b). Father and Son together gave this gift so we could sit at the throne of God, become His children and have the privilege of calling Him “Abba, Father.”

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the sacrifice of your only son. Thank you for adopting us into your heavenly family and allowing us to call you “Father.

John 3:16-17 (NIV) “For god so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Woodland Sanctuary

As I walked on the nature trails, I wandered off the beaten path.  Large toadstools nestled under a grove of blue spruce trees attracted my attention.

Pushing aside branches, I walked fifteen feet, entering a small clearing.  The ground, carpeted with years of accumulated needles, felt soft beneath my feet.  A chorus of crickets broke the silence.  In the distance a woodpecker drilled, searching for insects.  Inside my clearing, all was shadow, quiet and still; it became a sanctuary that soothed my soul. A smattering of bright red sumac leaves provided stained-glass windows.  I sat on this carpet, gazing at the beauty all around me, and I felt the presence of God.  Strains of “This Is Holy Ground” ran through my head. 

Looking out an opening between the horizontal branches, I observed the golden radiance of the late afternoon sun. Outside my sanctuary, the seed heads of the natural prairie grasses glowed transparently in the sun’s light, creating a stunning contrast to the shadowy grove.  The scene was breath-taking: I had to capture it on film.  When I put the camera to my eye, it was focused on the branches in the foreground.  They seemed large and dark, like horizontal prison bars, and the golden glow of the grasses in the background were barely noticeable. I refocused the camera, and the grasses, shot through with light, became the focus of my picture; the branches in the foreground almost disappeared.

I took my picture, and I thought:  how many times in my life do I focus on the tree branches right in front of me that impede my spiritual way, and thus fail to see God’s light just beyond?  How many times do I allow myself to become discouraged over minor problems instead of focusing my thoughts on the brilliance of God’s majesty or the comforting glow of his love? It’s all a matter of focus.

Remembering the lesson of the camera’s focus enables me to thank God in all situations and focus on His spiritual light shining beyond my earthly troubles.

Father let my eyes see beyond the earthly; let me steadfastly watch your spiritual light.  May I always focus on the wonders You have created, on the wonder of You.
Hebrews 12:2-3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

Buoy Me Up

The ocean is relatively flat in this sheltered harbor. Gentle swells buoy my husband and me up and down as we tread water 50 yards from the shore. We’re more accustomed to clear, flat, chlorinated swimming pools. Swimming in the ocean is a rare treat. Quickly we notice the buoyancy of the salt water is quite different from pool water.

Soon I realize that I can keep myself afloat with just gentle kicks or quiet sweeps of my hands. Before long I discover another surprise. Between the salt water and my additional pounds, I can afloat upright, breathing easily, without kicking or stroking. I cross my legs and place my arms down at my sides. Still upright, my head stays above water.  Keeping very still, I find my body gradually tipping; the waves have gently pushed, and I find myself on my back, still afloat. When I face the shore, my body gently tips forward, and I now float on my stomach.  Being able to stay upright in the water with my head above the water without working to stay afloat amazes me! Very quickly Scott also adapts to this new buoyancy, and we enjoy our time in the waves, staying above water effortlessly. All we need is a few gentle hand strokes or kicks to keep our balance.

If only it were so easy to adjust to God’s buoyancy! After many years and many trials I’ve learned that God keeps me afloat even in the darkest of times. He keeps my head up even in the biggest waves of life. Yet still, how often I vigorously kick and press my hands against the waves, working desperately to keep my head above the water, forgetting that God buoys me up. If only I could learn to relax and allow him to buoy me up and keep my head above the waters that threaten to suffocate me. How often I kick and struggle, wearing myself out instead of giving in and allowing God to take control and buoy me up.

Father God, help me to trust in You and allow Your buoyancy to keep my head above the waves. Buoy me up Lord, buoy me up.

Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV) “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Child's Walk with His Father (Reprise)

“Let’s go,” the father called to his four-year-old son.

Jimmy scampered over and reached his small hand up for his dad’s firm grasp.  Eagerly he tugged on the strong arm, “Let’s go, let’s go,” he sang.
Small hand wrapped firmly in the larger hand, out the door they walked, down the sidewalk.  Jimmy hopped and skipped and gleefully noticed everything.  “Wow!  Look at that bird.  Look, look, an airplane.”  He paused momentarily to point and stare skyward.

Soon a large German shepherd barked noisily at them.  Jimmy jumped, edging closer to his dad.  “Daddy, I’m scared, carry me,” he pleaded.
“Don’t worry; I won’t let that dog hurt you.” Dad scooped Jimmy up and swung him onto his broad shoulders.
Soon they came to an intersection.  “Stop!” called Jimmy.  “Look left.  Look right.  Any cars?  No?  Okay, go,” just as his father had taught him.  Together they safely crossed the street.

“Daddy, I want down.”  Once again, strong arms lifted Jimmy off his dad’s shoulders and set him safely on the sidewalk.
Jimmy, like most young children, loves to spend time with his dad.  With childlike faith, he puts his hand in the strong hand of his father, trusting him completely.  Together, they walk wherever the father chooses, knowing their time together is more important than the path they choose.  Even though they utter few words, they communicate.  In times of difficulties or danger, the son instinctively draws closer to his father, who carries him.

In the same way the small child trusts his father on his walk, so we trust our heavenly Father on our life’s walk.  Trustingly, we place our hand in His.  We talk to Him, expressing our delight in what we encounter, and our fears of what lies ahead. No matter what, we confidently walk with Him on whatever path He chooses.  If we listen to His words and follow His advice, we know we will avoid danger, just like the child who learned to look both ways before crossing the street.  Will our walk always be pleasant?  No.  Will we ever become fatigued or frightened?  Yes.  Will there be times of great difficulties?  Of course.  But like a small child, we confidently look up and say, “Daddy, I need help, carry me.”  Whatever difficulties we face, our Father, who listens to our pleas, picks us up with his strong hands, swings us up on His broad shoulders, and carries us safely though life’s journey.

Father God, teach me to have child-like trust in You.

Psalm 16:11 (NIV) “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalm 37:3-6 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”