Walk.

“You strive, o man, and you strive again, your heart too proud to rest.

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Hiking break | Marsh restoration project, RR.

Christmas day.
Alas, no snow. But we were blessed with a sunny and warm afternoon, so the family decided to go on a short hike at Rouge River.

I had many good memories here – high school biology trip looking at natural ecosystems: marshes, rivers, forests, and plains (catching a crayfish for the first time).

Thanksgiving hikes with friends in our college days.
And recent hikes with family and friends.

On these walks, I’ve often felt captivated by the beauty of nature.

For one, there is not a season that outshines the other, but each season brings its unique characteristics:
The vibrant colors of autumn, the chilly barrenness of winter, the softness of spring, the lively creatures and sounds of summer…
Each fulfills its purpose gracefully in growth, living, dying, and death. There is a quiet humility in this.

And on our hikes, there would be moments and scenes that fill you with awe – the lookout, the peaks, somewhere along the ascent or descent…

And the funny thing is that unless you take the time to stop and look, you miss it. And you wish all those in company can see the same.
You can show them in your photos, but you can’t quite show them what you felt.

Our bond with nature. How can anyone not be in awe?

God’s design and gift to teach, to awe, to soothe, to heal.
And how much that rest was needed.

So, on this unexpectedly warm day, I’m thankful for rest, for family, and for the reminder that all is marvelously under His care.

Merry Christmas.

ABIDE
“You strive, o man, and you strive again, your heart too proud to rest.
You labor on, singing those songs, to cover your weakness.
Do you fail to recall who you really are and Who caused you to be?
Return o man; return and rest, to a burden light and yoke easy.

Abide in your Savior Abide in His love.
The labor of God is to trust in the Son.
All you possess…do you forget, as if by your own strength you earned it? No. He gave you all, everything you have.
Your righteousness, your life, your breath, your daily bread and wine, His blood, His flesh, His love, His death, Your faith and endless life.

 

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Beyond.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind… – Hebrews 6:19

“When my heart is torn asunder” (P.W.)

When my heart is torn asunder
And my world just falls apart
Lord You put me back together
And lift me up to where You are.

Chorus:
There is hope beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption in the blood of Christ
My body might be dying but I’ll always be alive

You have turned
Mourning to dancing
You have covered me with grace
The struggle here may last a moment
But life with You will last always

[Chorus]

When the age of death is over
And this world has been reborn
I’ll be there beside my Savior
This is our grace and rich reward

[Chorus]

Vision

For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert… – Isaiah 35:5

“I had my sight. She was blind. There was a world of beautiful vision which I enjoyed into which she could not enter. But there was a world of melodious sounds into which I could not enter with… as deep a pleasure as could she.

…I could not help seeing then that God had not forgotten to be gracious, and that even amid the desert of that blindness compensating streams were rolling forth…

And what is true of that blind girl is more or less exactly true of all. There is rarely a desert in which some compensating waters do not flow; all the brighter and more refreshing, because of the sands out of which they spring.” – Streams

The Three Smiles

“A pious old man was dying… and, with closed eyes, he smiled three times… One of his sons asked him why he smiled.

“The first time, all the pleasures of my life passed before me, and I smiled to think that people can regard such bubbles as important…”

“The second time, I remembered the sufferings of my life, and rejoiced that they have lost their thorns…”

“The third time, I thought of death, and smiled when I meditated upon the fear men have of this good angel, who frees them from all evil and leads them to dwellings of eternal joy.”

Through the Winter

“If I make much of anything appointed, magnify it secretly to myself or insidiously to others, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” – A. C.

Reading: Facing the Death of Someone you Love by Elisabeth Elliot
(A gospel tract.)

On Self-Pity: Then I try to refuse self-pity. I know of nothing more paralyzing, more deadly, than self-pity. It is a death that has no resurrection, a sink-hole from which no rescuing hand can drag you because you have chosen to sink. But it must be refused.

[Refuse to make]  much of the “appointed,” magnifying it, dwelling on one’s own losses, looking with envy on those who appear to be more fortunate than oneself, asking “Why me, Lord?”  – E.E.

On Loneliness: The next thing to do is to accept my loneliness. When God takes a loved person from my life it is in order to call me, in a new way, to Himself. It is therefore a vocation. Every stage on the pilgrimage is a chance to know Him, to be brought to Him.

Loneliness is a stage (and, thank God, only a stage) when we are terribly aware of our own helplessness.
We may accept this, thankful that it brings us to the Very Present Help.
– E.E.

Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the LORD!
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!

—Psalm 134:1-3

“Strange time for adoration, you say, to stand in God’s house by night, to worship in the depth of sorrow —it is indeed an arduous thing. Yes, and therein lies the blessing; it is the test of perfect faith.
If I would know the love of my friend I must see what it can do in the winter. So with the Divine love. It is easy for me to worship in the summer sunshine when the melodies of life are in the air and the fruits of life are on the tree.
But let the song of the bird cease and the fruit of the tree fall, and will my heart still go on to sing? Will I stand in God’s house by night? Will I love Him in His own night? Will I watch with Him even one hour in His Gethsemane?” – Streams

Map of the World

 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4

I’ve been trying to paint a map of the world on canvas for the past year as an exercise to better remember the countries of the world. As I was sketching out continent by continent, island by island, it was tempting to leave some portions out. [Wait, was I sketching Fiji or Vanuatu again? Maybe they won’t notice…]

But I realized every one of those dots, every curve, every shape — is a land, a home, a people, many lives. And I was amazed at the meaning of this. I know so little about the world! I know so little of what is happening in the world.

In the comforts of North America where I’m blessed with comfort and food, I am unaware droughts, famine, and war in many other parts of our world. The photos I see from travels are beautiful, but I see beaches, forests, wildlife, feasts, entertainment, historical architecture…

What does it mean to be ‘well-traveled’?

Through tailor-made vacations, I see the world through lenses of comfort and wealth,  the colorful fabric of culture in food and entertainment. But what of the day to day lives of the people, the fabric of society? Did we choose not to see these?

How much of the world remains unknown, unreached?
Every dot, every shape…
There are so many people, so many lives, who need help – financially, physically… spiritually.

The sheer immensity of this daunting task can stop us in our tracks, mutter under our breath ‘it’s not feasible,’ and turn away.

But I think about Psalm 8:4 “What is man…?” What is man to God? What does the world look like from up high, with all its strange shapes, and islands that can be easily missed and forgotten… What what is man, compared to all this?

And yet He chose to save us and love us.
And asked that we would show this same love to others. To bring the lost Home… to reach the unreached.

These are thoughts that go through my mind as I continue with my map of the world.

And I pray that one day, this will be more than map on my wall, but a ‘well-traveled’ map of memories in my mind with faces and stories of praise.

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:9