Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Safe Place with Ruth Graham

Skipping Spring!

posted by Ruth Graham

We had 5″ of snow last Sunday and this Sunday it was 60+ degrees. It’s like having whiplash! Last year we had a very early Spring…this year it is very late. Soon it will be 85 degrees – it seems we go from winter to summer, skipping Spring.

And it amazes me that while there is thick snow covering the ground the next day the trees are turning green and flower buds open. How do they know when to show up and open? Is it related to the amount daylight hours? Does it have to do with temperatures? I am sure there is a scientific reason. I love to take my walk and observe the progress of the tiny buds…the weeping willow is usually the first to show signs of green. (Can we observe that “weeping” can bring new growth?) Crocuses come up in the ice and snow…so it must not be temperature related.

This year the winter was particularly harsh – brutal cold and feet of snow – loss of power. Very unusual for us here in the South – it made the news on a national level! (I’d just as soon not make the national news, thank you!) It was easy to get discouraged and wonder if God had decided to skip spring this year. However, in February when the snow was deep and the temperatures dropping I began to notice the days were perceptively getting longer – just by minutes – but still longer. In late February I heard a mockingbird sing – a sure sign that Spring is somewhere in the neighborhood.  Others may not notice but I do because I am looking for it. Hope! We all need hope to survive.

There is a time for Spring to come…nothing can stop it. It comes when winter has done it’s worst. It comes in spite of the circumstances. And isn’t that true in our lives? When we have weathered all we can endure; when we think God has forsaken us; when we are ready to give up, God sends a small encouragement: a timely message from a friend, a smile from a stranger, an unexpected invitation to lunch… You might miss it unless you are looking for it. When it comes, and it will, it gives you the courage and strength to carry on. To keep going. It is a gift from God.

Keeping looking. Keep expecting. “There is surely a hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18)

Isn’t that what Jesus’ Resurrection tells us?

 

When You Can’t Sleep

posted by Ruth Graham

I woke up early this morning. Too early. Too early to get up but too late to go back to sleep. So I just lay in bed thinking….then I began to fret – worry – about what all I needed to do and the fact I didn’t think I had gotten enough sleep. I am sure you know the feeling! Frustrating. Maddening.

I prayed for those that came to mind. I recited all the Bible verses I could think of – which is sadly, too few.

I began to recite Isaiah 26:3. As I did, I thought I will just stay on this verse a while – use it for meditation. “Thou wilt keep him (me) in perfect peace whose (me) mind is stayed on Thee.” I took it piece by piece, word by word.

Thou:  God. The Almighty. The One who loves and knows me best. My redeemer and friend.

Wilt: not “may”, not “hope and wish” – but will.

Keep: He holds it. Things don’t slip through HIs fingers. Secure.

Him (me):

In: Not on the outside looking in – but inside the circle, close.

Perfect: Whole, complete.  Not halfway or partial.

Peace: Quiet confidence, calm.

Whose: Me again. But it is my choice.

Mind: That part of me that feels, thinks, wills and reasons.

Is: Present tense. In the now.

Stayed: Focused. Remain.

On: Position

Thee:  God. My redeemer and refuge. My stronghold and defender. My deliverer.

Therefore:

The one who knows and loves me best will hold me securely inside a place of quiet confidence when my emotions, thoughts, choices, reason remains focused and positioned in/on my Redeemer, Refuge, Stronghold, Deliverer, Defender…

Be anxious for nothing. Be still and know that He is God.

A Worship-worthy God

posted by Ruth Graham

I am reading a marvelous book – it is slow going because it is so rich and needs my full attention: The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard (HarperSanFrancisco, 1998).

In it he quotes Adam Clarke’s statement about God: “the eternal, independent, and self-existent Being; the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence; he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, the most spiritual of all essences; infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only by himself, because an infinite mind can only be fully comprehended by itself. In a word, a Being, who from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived, and from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, and right, and kind.”

And that Being loves you and me; wants a personal, intimate relationship with us so much so that He sent his Son to die for us so that we might enter into such a wonderful, daily relationship with him.

Take a moment today to worship him.

Living Backwards

posted by Ruth Graham

I am a fan of Frederick Buechner. He has a way with words. He often says the most profound things in a simple way – or has a turn of a phrase that catches my mind off guard and causes me to think deeply.

I read from my Mother’s copy of Listening to Your Heart each night before I go to bed. It was a gift from a friend of hers and I am not sure Mother read beyond the first several pages. I doubt Buechner was her “cup of tea”. But it would be a boring world if we were all alike!

Some quotes form Listening to Your Heart (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992):

“We cannot afford to live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned into pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music.”

“To grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst – is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from. You can survive on your own. You can grow strong on your own. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human on your own….the one thing a clenched fist cannot do is accept, even from le bon Dieu himself, a helping hand.”

Let’s quit looking backward to regret and open our ears, hands and hearts to the God of love.

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