Posted in Family, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, wisdom

All That Glitters…

I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content.” Philippians 4:12a

I woke up to find my neighbor’s yard covered with gold.  I am an early riser.  Well, actually, I am a crazy, early riser.  Normally, my bladder and I decide it is about time to get up at around 4:30…am.  If you want to see what a quiet world looks like…try it at 4:30 in the morning.  These days the sun isn’t even up yet.  He won’t make his appearance for another couple of hours.  I usually get up, make some coffee in my magic Keurig machine, watch the weather, and have some God time. Predictable…just the way I like it.

Part of that routine is to take a peek out one of the windows to see if the sun is peeking above the horizon.  Naturally that means looking to the East.  Saturday morning I did exactly that.  As I looked out the window, I noticed that my neighbor’s yard was covered with gold.  I couldn’t believe it.  What made this even more unusual was the fact that my neighbor at the end of our alley had struck it rich too.  This was incredible.  And, if that wasn’t enough, when I was walking a few days earlier, one of my friend’s hit the jackpot.  Gold was everywhere.  Now you might think that I was jealous…but I wasn’t—not this time. You see, their yards had been “papered” as in with toilet paper. It wasn’t pretty.

Now you are wondering, “I’m just a bit confused.” You said their yards were covered with gold. That doesn’t sound like gold to me.”  Well, you’ve got a point there.  But let’s step back just a few months ago.  COVID was all the rage.  People were doing all kinds of strange things.  When you went to the grocery store there were certain things, things that you would expect, out of stock.   Hand sanitizer was a pipe dream.  Bleach wipes were the things of legend.  Certain food items were long gone from the shelves.  It was a shoppers nightmare.  But there was one thing that topped them all.  Toilet paper.

For whatever reason, and it still remains a mystery, people began to hoard toilet paper.  It was like gold.  People were selling it on e-bay for unbelievable prices.  There were even people on the side of the road hawking their rolls of gold for ten, even fifteen times the ordinary price.  The nightly news would show people coming out of stores with rolls of the stuff.  It. Was. Crazy. Then as people realized that this probably wasn’t Armageddon, two things happened.  The rolled gold was back in stock and the price plummeted.  People that had bought tons of this stuff as an investment of sorts were stuck holding the bag. Haha…the joke…or rolls…was on them.

Now here is what is amazing.  I wake up only to discover my neighbor’s yard is covered in the very same thing that six months ago was gold.  And listen, it wasn’t the cheap stuff.  Since they weren’t home, Judy and I went over and picked up the mess…I know neighbor of the year right?  But when we did, I realized this was “Charmin Plus” or something. If toilet paper was gold this would be 24 karat and yet there it was, lying out in the yard.  Well, I guess all that glitters isn’t gold after all.

If there is one thing to take home from all of this it is the fact that if you look around you will discover pockets of hope—pockets of normalcy.  Maybe, just maybe, all this will calm down and life will be somewhat like it was back in January.  A few bumps, a few hiccups but basically a world where things are in stock and you don’t have to mask up to go out. But until then, what should we do?

That’s a great question and here are a couple of answers.  First, don’t lose hope.  If I watch too much of the evening bad news, I find myself being convinced that life as we know it is over.  I just don’t believe that is the case.  One day, one way or the other, Mr. COVID is going to pack up and leave town.  One day it will be old news.  Until then, just keep trusting…in God. One of the writers of Psalms in the Bible…someone just like you and me…wrote, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” What that means is if we are willing to delight in Him, suddenly the things we desire look a whole lot like His.  And when that happens—hope explodes!

The second thing is learn, or maybe relearn, the magic of contentment.  While our old way of doing life has taken a vacation somewhere, a chunk of it will be back.  Just like toilet paper made a comeback—so will normalcy.  Now, until that time, just sit back and be content. I like what Paul, a guy in the Bible, said, “I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content.”  What makes that incredibly valuable is that he wrote that sitting in a stinking Roman prison.  Amazing.

Well, all that glitters is indeed not gold, but all around us are golden nuggets from our Dearest Daddy.  He whispers to us that He’s still around and still in control.  Each sunrise and sunset, each new baby that bursts on the scene, each tree covered in color and glory shouts to us that we can rest in Him. Each new day is indeed a gift from Him and that is golden. Remember this…each day committed to trusting Him is a step in the right direction.  Go ahead…trust Him…He’s got this.

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, travel

Mustang Sally

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4

It was a dream come true.  Several years ago, I was invited to speak at a conference way up north in Illinois.  How far north?  Well just about as far as you can go.  It seems you could see the Artic circle from where we were going.  For some reason, it might have been the car was due an oil change or just because, I decided to rent a car for the trip. I checked the local Enterprise car rental and they had a great rate, so I booked one online.  About 4:00 pm I went to the car rental place to pick up my plain Jane little car and that’s when I found that God had sent a love note.

I went into the office and waited just a moment for the agent to help me.  She shuffled some papers around and said, “You know I don’t have a compact car to give you.  I’m going to have to give you a Mustang convertible instead.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I had wanted to drive a Mustang since I was 12. While I didn’t get to own it permanently, for three whole days it was mine. I felt like I had just won the lottery!

We finished up the paperwork and she handed me the keys.  I walked outside and there she sat.  A new Mustang convertible with all the bells and whistles!  I felt cool just holding the keys.  I mashed the button on the remote and lights came on and the doors unlocked.  I opened the door and slid into the seat and was pretty certain I had died and gone to heaven. One of the first things I noticed was the quality of this American made car. Things had certainly changed since the 70’s.

The Mustang had more incredibly cool gadgets than I had ever seen in one car.  Gadgets like an incredible audio system, totally cool wheels, auto/manual shift, backup camera, keyless entry and start and on and on.  It seemed that everything you could possibly want on a car was there. This thing was “tricked out”.  For those who don’t know what that term means, it is something like it was customized–loaded with options and believe me it was! Not only had God given me the car of my dreams for three whole days but He had sent one that was loaded!

Well, we made the trip and I played Mr. Cool the entire time.  Sunglasses, my best smile and the coy look that said, “Oh yeah, it’s mine.”  I just didn’t share that it was only mine for three days.  Just as all good things have to come to an end, on Monday my Cinderella Mustang had to go back to Enterprise. However, I will never forget the time that God sent me a Mustang to drive.  It gave new meaning to that place in the Bible where it says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.”

Now imagine my surprise when I went to the Ford website and discovered that my Mustang wasn’t “tricked out” at all.  In fact, all those cool features were “standard.”  In other words, every Mustang had those features included with no extra charge.  How about that–buy the car and get the options–not some plain Jane, “let’s crawl to the next light Mustang”, but one that caused people to look…”a head turner.” Buy the car and get the cool throw in with the deal.  I can remember when the base price got you four wheels and engine. Not so anymore. Ford did a great job in the quality and what you got for the money–but not to the point I’m ready to go out and buy one.

Here’s the deal:  God trumps Ford hands down–not even in the ball park.   I sometimes wonder if we understand all that we get when we receive God’s amazing grace through His Son Jesus: unconditional love, peace beyond understanding, unlimited acceptance, an incredible purpose and reason to live, the opportunity to make a difference–to be a part of something so big that we can’t even understand it all.  And that is not just for the Billy Grahams of the world but rather for every believer, every follower of Christ.  Amazingly, that’s not even the tip of the iceberg!

Some people love to drop names—you know, they are talking and they will say how they know so and so.  Well, check this out.  If you know Jesus, you know the creator of it all.  And you just don’t know Him…you know Him up front and personal.  And His Father is your Father and He is your Dearest Father.  He just waits for you to talk with Him every day.  And He enjoys blessing you. Be sure and thank Him for the fact that the life He gives us is not barebones but loaded to the max.  You know, when God does something, He always does it well and does it big–how about that?

As you journey this week, how about spending some time celebrating and thanking God for His incredible, unbelievable salvation? And if you get just a tad overwhelmed—and honestly who doesn’t—just remember who you know and Who knows you.  You can rest in Him.  He’s got this.