Rejoicing in the Small Things

The Bible has a lot to say about child-like faith, but I think we would all do well, too, to have a child-like appreciation for the little things in life.-2.png

I don’t know about you, but I tend to save my celebrations for the significant moments in life. The big promotion. The new baby. The summer vacation. The sizable financial donation. Big things. Good things. Things that make me want to praise the Lord, sing a song, and maybe even dance the jig (though I’ll admit it’s not pretty).

But this morning, the Lord reminded me that every moment on this earth is precious. Every person is a blessing. Every event is momentous. This revelation occurred on my morning prayer walk.

As I typically do, I passed by the Swamp Rabbit Cafe, which has a small play area for children. Except in harsh weather, the area is filled with parents and small children, climbing on the various equipment, riding small tricycles, or playing with their toys. Today was no different, but as I walk by, I noticed a little girl playing alone in the corner of the fenced area. At first, I felt bad for the young girl, fearing she was being shunned by the other children and even that she may be crying about her loneliness. But as I drew closer, I realized nothing could be farther from the truth.

This sweet child was jumping. Not jumping rope or jumping over obstacles. She wasn’t aiming for a target as far as I could tell. No, she was jumping for the sheer joy of it. Arms pumping as her little legs propelled her into the air. And with every landing, she giggled and shook her blonde curls. Then, she jumped again and again and again—each jump eliciting a joyous response.

As I walked, I marveled. This dear child was content.  Truly content. She didn’t need toys or equipment or fancy games to bring her happiness. Instead, she found joy in the simple act of jumping.

The more I walked, the more I realized how much I long to be like that little girl. I want to find joy in the little things. I want to make a big deal about all the good things in my life. The scale this morning said I'd lost a pound. Let’s celebrate! I received a $20 check in the mail yesterday for a survey I completed. Let the songs break forth. After several days of a very rough detox, I finally feel almost human again. Let’s do the Hokey Pokey (because honestly, that’s the only “dance” I know how to do.) But I think you get my meaning.

Why should we wait for the “big things” in life before we praise God or celebrate? Why don’t we recognize the many blessings we’ve been given, both big and small? Yes, as I thought about that precious child this morning, I wondered how much more I would enjoy life if I’d genuinely take time to appreciate it. Every minute. The sun on my face. The breeze through my hair. The colors of the sunset. The loving embrace of my husband. The nuzzles from my precious pooch. The ability to be, walk, and yes, even jump (though it may not be graceful).  

I’m reminded of the song, “Count Your Blessings,” but even more than that, I’m reminded that it’s more than just a song. It’s an essential ingredient for a joy-filled life. Sure, we can look around and find problems everywhere, but if we’d stop and count our blessings, we’d see they far outnumber the problems. The trouble is, we don’t notice all our blessings—only the “significant” ones. But, friend, that little girl reminded me this morning that every blessing is significant, and none of them should be taken for granted.

The Bible has a lot to say about child-like faith, but I think we would all do well, too, to have a child-like appreciation for the little things. We would all be much happier and much more content if we did.

 For who hath despised the day of small things?
— Zechariah 4:10a

Looking Unto the Maker

Under the cherry blossoms.png
And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate. And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest. Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool. And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall. Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.
— Isaiah 22:7-11

In this passage, we see Jerusalem preparing for an upcoming battle. Knowing the enemy would soon be upon them, they did everything they could think of to build up their defenses. They sealed up the breaches. They gathered together water so they could have nourishment within the walls of safety. They even broke down their houses so they could use the materials to build up and repair the city walls. Yes, it seems like they had everything in hand, like they were doing a good work. But they left out the most important thing, and truthfully, the only thing that mattered at this point—they forgot to look to their Maker.

The reason they were under attack in the first place was that they had turned their backs on God. God was using tribulation to draw them back to Him, but instead, they turned to their own plans and remedies. Unfortunately, I can relate to that part.  

Often, when faced with difficulty, I set about “fixing” the problem myself. I create a plan, draw out the steps, assess the issue from various angles, and prepare for battle. But through it all, I, too, forget the most important thing of all—looking to my Maker. He is the ultimate Craftsman. He knows all things, so who better to seek counsel from? But, no, in my pride, I go it alone. . .and I fail!

When we fail to seek God in our lives, not only is it a sure-fire way to trouble, it’s a show of disrespect.  In a sense, we’re saying we don’t need Him, that we can handle things on our own. We’re refusing His offer of help and belittling His ability to do what we can’t.  In short, it’s a slap in God’s face.

God longs to help His children.  Over and over again in the Bible, He urges us to call on Him. Will we do that, or will we insist—like the people of Jerusalem—to forsake our Maker and try to solve our problems on our own? I’ll tell you this:  it didn’t work out so well for Jerusalem, and it won’t work out well for us either. Let’s trust God with our problems and leave our security in His hands. He’s much better suited for the job than we are.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
— Proverbs 3:5-7

When My Soul Needs Water

I apologize for not posting any devotions last week. I assure you it was not my intention, but I found myself in need of some one-on-one time with the Lord to work through some of my disappointments and frustrations. To quote George Mueller, “I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord but how I might get my soul into a happy state and how the inner life might be nourished.” So, I sat with the Lord day after day, setting forth the business of nourishing my soul, which ironically ties in to today’s devotion.

Last week, Jason and I were taking Barnabas out to a nearby heritage preserve for an evening walk/hike. As we drove, the Xterra began acting strangely. At first, it hiccuped a few times, then the temperature sky-rocketed. Uh oh! Since we weren’t too far from the house, Jason decided it was best to turn back so we could assess the problem. Unfortunately, the vehicle had other ideas. It hopped down the road—a process known as “limp mode” according to Jason. We had no idea what the problem was, but one thing was sure—the Xterra was NOT happy. Suddenly, there was a loud pop and an explosion of liquid from under the hood. Jason pulled over into a small pull off as I did my best to calm Barnabas. . .and myself.

It turns out, somehow and somewhere, the Xterra had dumped all of its water. It was running dry. That’s why the temperature was so high, and that’s why it refused to move smoothly.  It was dehydrated. Empty. Lacking that which it needed to run properly. Fortunately, the excessive rain of late had formed puddles in the ditch nearby, and we were able to fill the radiator with enough rainwater to get us home. (Talk about showers of blessing!) As to why the vehicle is losing water, we still don’t know. It’s scheduled to go into the shop next week. (Yay! More car repairs!!!)

Oddly enough, the more I thought about the situation, the more I realized I could relate to the Xterra. It seems as if I’ve been operating in limp mode for some time now. I knew something wasn’t right, but I guess I kept hoping my sad thoughts and irritability would just go away.  Of course, that never happens. But I felt too busy to deal with the issue. I knew I needed some time to sort things out, but I rationalized there were too many other things to do. I told myself to buck up and do life. But I wasn’t doing life, and the Xterra’s breakdown helped me to see that I, too, was dehydrated. Spiritually dehydrated. Empty. Lacking that which I needed to run properly.

Sure, I did my daily Bible reading and prayer time, but honestly, I think I was just going through the motions. My heart wasn’t in it. I needed more. I needed to immerse myself in the water of the Word and keep drinking until my dry soul felt renewed and refreshed. So, I spent last week doing just that. I poured my heart (and a lot of tears) out to God. I read the Bible. I journaled. I sat still in God’s presence and savored just being with Him. And you know what? I feel like a different person. Am I all better? Probably not. Will I go into a funk again? If I’m not careful, yes. But that’s not the point. The point is, I recognized a need and did what had to be done to meet that need, and in doing so, I remembered how valuable and vital God’s Word is. I may not be running on all cylinders, but I’m out of limp mode, and for that, I praise the Lord. Limp mode is miserable, but nothing a little water from the Word can’t fix.

Is your soul dry today? Are you going along in limp mode? Do you find yourself too busy to care for your spiritual needs? If so, I urge you to take time to nourish your soul. Get away with God. Immerse yourself in His Word. Pour out your heart to Him and spend time basking in His presence. Take a day or two or however long it takes for your soul to be renewed and refreshed. I assure you, it’s worth it. You know what they say—sometimes you have to come apart and rest awhile, or you’ll just come apart. Don’t let that happen to you. Refreshing, living water is within reach.  

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
— Psalm 63:1-7