Small Town America

Proverbs 30  tells us, “There are four things on earth that are small,  but they are very wise.  Ants are not very strong, but they store up food in the summer.  Rock badgers are not very powerful, but they can live among the rock.  Locusts have no king, but they all go forward in formation.  Lizards can be caught in the hand, but they are also found even in the king’s palace.”

We may not be the strongest Christian in our church, or the most talented singer.  We may not be the wealthiest person or in the best physical condition.  We may not live in a palace or a 20 million dollar house or have eight fancy cars, but we can be wise.  Our wisdom comes from God.  Of course, we learn from our parents, teachers, and life experiences, but ultimately it all comes through our relationship with God.

When we get into a diffucult situation, we tend to seek out the opinions of other people.  That’s not all bad because the Bible says there is safety in a multitude of counsel.  But, often I believe we can work things out by ourselves if we will ask God for the answer and wait for Him to respond.

Much of our wisdom comes from our daily living.  Our problem solving skills become greater with each new challenge we face.  That’s why a teenager doesn’t see problems the same as adults do.  They simply lack the experiences to draw from.  The wisest person who ever lived was Jesus. Solomon was pretty smart too.  We don’t need to be the best at it, to make sound decisions.  We all know right from wrong.  We should all know what pleases God.

One good way I have learned to make many difficult decesions is to ask myself, “What would Jesus do?”  If we can imagine what His response would be, we will usually be right on target.  Our earthly wisdom will fail us because sometimes we get our own opinions entangled with God’s word;  sometimes we make decesions for selfish reasons, and sometimes we don’t have all the facts needed to make the  right choice.

Jesus never fails!!  He is always right.  He is always just on time.  His motives are always pure and unselfish.  He is the beginning and the ending of all wisdom.  Let’s try to be more like the ant or badger.  Better yet, let’s strive to be more like Jesus.

As I look outside at the trees with their leaves turning red,orange, and yellow; I just want to cry.  I am so NOT ready for winter.  I want the flowers to keep blooming and the sun to keep warming my face.  I want to go swimming and play with the children in the sand.  I want to go to the zoo and sleep outside in a tent.  I want to run barefoot through the grass and catch lightening bugs.

I could go on and on about the joys of summer, but it is now fall.  The air is chilly.  The flowers are going to bed for the winter and my bare feet are getting cold.  We will have our first frost soon and then the temperatures will really drop.  I think I want to move to Florida.

The Bible speaks in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, about their being a time for all things.  All things on earth has a special season.  That is also true of our Christian walk.  Sometimes we are in a ” summer season” and all is well.  We are happy and content; moving on with Jesus.  We have found our place in the big scheme of things and life is good.

Then comes a cold breeze of confusion or criticism.  Now we aren’t quite so happy and sure of ourselves.  We feel like all our labors are in vain.  We keep going because we don’t know what else to do, but our heart is not in it.  Our prayer life begins to suffer and the Bible becomes just another chore to give attention too.  But, even this isn’t the worst season for us.

When winter comes to our walk with Jesus, things really can get discouraging.  Our ministry seems to be going  no where.  We stop praying or feel like our prayers are bouncing off the walls.  Our hearts grow colder by the day and we feel like we are dead inside.

Winter doesn’t have to be so bad.  The flowers and trees use winter to rest and strengthen themselves.  I think that might work for us also.  We can learn to depend more on Jesus and less on ourselves.  We can use this down time to build up our reserves and deepen our relationship with God and others.  All seasons have their good attributes.  We just have to look for them.

When spring comes along, we are so ready to move forward.  All things become fresh and new.  We birth new ideas and ministries.  The SONSHINE warms our hearts and gives us direction for the new day.  Our hearts are full of joy with the coming of spring and we are full of anticipation for the new season.

The best part of spring is that it leads to summer.  Warm weather, warm hearts, warm testimonies.  Life is good in all seasons, because God is good in all seasons.

You hear many Christians complaining about paying their tithe to the church.  They also hesitate to give offerings and alms, for fear of not having enough to pay their bills.  My husband and I have been tithing for over 25 years and have found the rewards to be great.  We don’t tithe with the idea of what will God give us if we do this.  God loves a cheerful giver; not one who gives begrudgingly or out of duty. (2 Cor. 9:7)

When we sold our farm and moved into town 3 years ago, we had an awesome experience regarding giving an offering.  When we moved into our little ranch style house we had to downsize dramatically.  We decided to have a huge garage sale.

About that time we loan some friends $1000. so they could go to Oklahoma to visit their daughter who had just been diagnosed with cancer.  They promised to pay us back from their income tax return.  When their check came, to their shock and dismay, the government had taken most of it to pay back something else they owed.  They brought us $300. and were almost in tears because they couldn’t pay us the rest.

We told them not to worry about it.  The Bible says to lend without expecting to get it back.  Our society tells us to charge interest and bug them until they pay back every penny.  My husband and I believed that God would somehow give us back the money.

One day that week we received a check back from over paid farm taxes for $706.  That weekend we made nearly $900. from our garage sale.  God paid us back more than double.  That is awesome!!

One Sunday I felt we should put an extra offering of $25. in the plate.  Monday I found $50. in my purse.  I have no idea how it got there.  God doesn’t always repay in money.  One time I made a special offering and received over $100. in clothing from a friend.  Once we thought our car repairs were going to be $1200. and found that the actual bill was only $150.  God always settles His accounts.

God’s way of doing things are so much better than ours.  His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours.  So the next time you see a need, don’t be afraid to give in the name of Jesus.  He might just surprise you with a special blessing.

Depending on where you live the weather can changed drastically during the changing of the seasons.  If you live in Hawaii or Florida the changes will not be so dramatic.  Since I live in northern Ohio, I get to enjoy the beauty of each season.  I must confess that summer is the best for me.  I don’t mind the heat and I love to swim and do other outside activities.  We had several days that were over 100 degrees this year, but I didn’t mind.

Now the air is turning cooler and the temperature is dipping into the low forties.  My roses are giving their last blooms for the summer and the swimming pools are all closed. The first frost is just around the corner. That makes me sad.  Although fall has many beautiful attributes, I already long for spring.  The trees all change from green to yellow, orange, red and brown.  The smell of burning leaves fills the country air and the jackets come out of our closets.

Winter has it’s own special attraction; Christmas!!  I love Christmas and snow, for maybe a week or two.  Then we can get back to warmer weather.  Unfortunately there are things that need to happen during the winter, that I find distasteful, like tons of snow and ice, below zero temperatures, cold winds, and slippery ice patches.  However, the farmers welcome the snow cover to help their winter wheat crop.  We need several below zero temps to kill off the bug population for next year.  This year we had a mild winter and the mosquito and flea populations were crazy.

Spring is a time for new life and resurrection, not just in regards to Jesus, but in nature as well.  It’s so exciting when the first little crocus push through the snow.  It brings hope for many more flowers and warmer days ahead.  But, alas, we must first get through the fall and winter before we can look forward to summer again.  Such is life in Ohio.  Maybe I should move to someplace that is always warm.  Unfortunately, I have lived in this little town my whole life and I know that I would miss the changing of the seasons.