Calling in the Big Boys

One of the first lessons I needed to learn after moving to Alaska was how to plow snow.  Last year, we had over 14 feet of snow fall in our yard and driveway over the course of five or so months.  Nearly every day there was a reason to plow or at least shovel off the porches and decks.  Some days I plowed four times as the snow kept falling. But this year, our first “real” snowfall with accumulations that actually needed to be shoveled, came on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Then they melted away and we had an “ice” winter with the ground freezing and all surfaces slippery.  Just last week the snow started again.

Spring where I live doesn’t usually come until May, so despite the ups and downs in weather, I have learned not to get my hopes up for dry ground until then.  March and April could greet us with loads of snow–and then there is the melting season we call breakup, but that’s another story altogether.

Snow.  Where I live it is inevitable.  It might fall heavy, it might come as a dusting, and it might have long intervals in between, but nevertheless, it is coming.

The first lesson of snow removal for me was:  1.  Have a plan for where you are going to put the snow that you are removing.  Once snow has been removed from one place and piled in another, it is very difficult to move again.  It will re-freeze, settle and become more dense than it was when you first scooped it.

The second lesson was this: 2.  Always push snow berms back further than you actually need them.  This is especially important in driveways and parking lots.  The reason being, if I merely scoop out a path wide enough to get my car out of the driveway, the berms that I have just created that now line my driveway will settle and become harder as the days wear on.  When the next snowfall comes, those berms increase in size and begin encroaching on my path.   Snow must be pushed back farther than you anticipate it needing to be, and piled in places that can grow all winter without causing trouble to the flow of your life for at least six months.

Last winter, no matter how far back I pushed the berms, I could not keep up with the snow.  My driveway became narrower and narrower.  My plow on the four-wheeler was not big enough to move the tremendous amounts of snow that kept accumulating.  I had to call in some excavators and bulldozers to push the berms back, and start new piles of snow.

While you might say, “Thanks for the lesson in snow removal, Cate,”  here is the practical application:  Your life and mine is no different than an Alaskan winter.  We should expect “snow”  –difficult times, things that slow us down, weigh us down, discourage us and trouble us.  In fact, we have an entire lifetime to deal with these affects of living in a broken world.  What we need is a lifetime plan of where we will put the snow when it falls.  Maybe one winter will be just a light dusting of trouble, but the next winter could dump on us more than we can handle.  Every season is different.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I have  promises from God Himself that I can pile my “snow” in his yard.  He will take the weight of it for me at any time of day or night in every season of life.  I have made it the plan of my life to pile my “snow” on God.  I do this through prayer, worship, and a relationship with Him.  This will be my plan until I die.

God has also provided extra shovels, bulldozers, and plows for me in the form of friends and counselors.  When the berms are too high and I can’t push them any further, when I have prayed but can’t seem to rest, I call on the “big boys”, the people with the equipment to move heavy loads.  Maybe someone who has experienced what I have experienced before, or someone with knowledge of my situation can help provide solutions or remedies.

Above all, you and I always need someone to pray for us and lift us before the Father.  We need people who will also take our “snow” to God’s yard and leave it there.  From God comes wisdom, knowledge, comfort, peace, answers, creativity, strength, and power to carry on. God alone has the shoulders strong enough to hold our heavy hearts.

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My Testament

I know you have said that you don’t need church or religion–it’s full of hypocrites anyways.  I agree.  In fact, I have found hypocrites in the most unlikely places.  I found some at the bank, the post office, Starbucks, the grocery store, and even employed with Apple.  Amazing!   I’ve seen hypocritical husbands, wives, parents, and employers.  I see the dual lifestyles of so many people and wonder “what the heck?”  Hypocrites are definitely a problem.  But are they really your problem?

What do you do with the guilt for the bad things you have done that eats at you when you are alone?  What do you do about the wild and sometimes evil thoughts that pass through your head on a daily basis?  What do you do with the shame from the actions you have committed that have wounded or maybe even destroyed another person?  What do you do with your insatiable desire to numb your feelings, or gratify your desires?  By what standard will you filter your thoughts and actions?

When crimes and atrocities happen in the world, everyone asks the question “why?”  or “what were they thinking?”, or “what would drive him/her to……”  Everyone wants there to be boundaries on the behavior of humanity.  All of us want others to behave in ways that treat others with kindness, decency, and love.  Who gets to set those boundaries?  Have you ever thought about that?

Shame, guilt, hypocrisy, and selfish self-gratification are realities at work in all of us.  All of us.  They are existential consequences to lifestyles that are lived contrary to the prescribed design.  You can’t escape it, you can only temporarily numb it– unless you have a Savior.  Unless someone or something takes on the full weight of all that you carry in guilt, sin, shame, and selfishness and destroys its power by bearing the full consequence, you and I will continue to carry this weight and spend the rest of our lives trying to shake it–with no success.

As much as I want to, I cannot rescue you.  Even if I could take chemotherapy in your stead, I cannot remove your “cancer”.  I just can’t.  I am powerless.  I cannot be your moral compass, your peace, your eternal future, or the reason for your existence. I can possibly relieve some of your suffering by offering comfort and friendship, but I myself had to be rescued from my own cancer of sin.  I found out quickly that there was nothing within me that could eliminate my disease of selfishness, shame, guilt, and hypocrisy.  Looking within myself I could not find a morality good enough or a reason high enough to justify my life.

I need– you need,–we need a Savior.  I have found Jesus to be just that.  To have never told you would be my cruelest act. To watch you suffer when I have found the remedy would be incomprehensible.

I can’t speak for those who call Him Lord and live as frauds.  You will find them everywhere.  I can, however, speak of the Savior Jesus, who holds the power to change you, the remedy to heal you, and the grace to see you through from this moment into eternity.  That is who I have put all of my hope in, and I have found Him more than able.

Romans 3:23-26

The Message (MSG)

21-24 But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

25-26 God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.

To Give

giftIf you are anything like me, the thoughts of giving gifts or things to others is both a joy and a frustration.  I love it when I find the perfect gift for someone and they are so excited to receive it.  I love finding things of value to me that I own and giving them to others who will love it like I loved it.  In fact, most of the time when I give up my own possessions  I think about how the gift makes me feel and I have this anticipation of hope that the one who receives it will be as elated to own it as I was.  I get frustrated when I put a lot of thought into a gift and it isn’t received, or appreciated.  Especially when the gift was precious to me.  I read the words from Isaiah 9:6   “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…. and I see once again that God does not give the way that I do.  John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

 If I were God, I would not give my son to the whole world.  I would choose a particular group of people to receive my son.  A hand-selected group who would love and cherish Him.  A group of people who would hang on His every word, and certainly defend His life and reputation in the face of any danger, misjudgment, peril, or strife.

I wouldn’t give my favorite possession up easily to someone who would not care for it.  If I thought there was any possibility of it being discarded, trashed, or forgotten, I would withhold the gift from that recipient, and if anything at all, I would give them something less valuable.

I want praise to come to me for the gifts I give.  I want the joy of receiving the gift to reflect on me the giver.  As much as I want to say the gifts I give are all about the recipients, I have to admit my selfish humanity likes the praise to go back to me.

Again, I am not like God.

John 1:9-14

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

To give without being praised for the gift– to have your gift mistreated, discarded, outright rejected, and destroyed, to give your best knowing you could have given something lesser, or never given at all is to give as God gives.  To lavish on others the greatness of all You are–to bring orphans and strangers into your family and give them an inheritance–to rescue the lost and dying by losing and dying yourself is to give as God gives.  To offer up that same gift and the benefits of it every second of every minute of every day of every year in every generation for as long as man has breath is to give as God gives.

Hebrews 12:2

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

John 3:17

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God gave lavishly, sacrificially, without selfishness, with all of who He is to a world that made its own choices whether or not to receive it.  To this day, His gift–Jesus,  is praised by some and scorned by others.  Neither response adds to His worth or diminishes it.  He is God’s perfect gift.  He is God come in the flesh.  He is the greatest gift this world has ever been given, and is still the greatest gift anyone can receive.

This is God.  This is how He gives.  I want to be more like Him…..

If Jesus Had not Been Born…in Me

If Jesus Had Not Been Born in Me

By Cate Morris  (c) November 2012

 

Forged entirely by my pain,

All things loss, and nothing gained,

Grasping in a world insane,

That’s where I would be.

 

Becoming foolish as I grew,

Spurning grace I saw in You.

Painting life  in colors cruel

If my life was left to me.

 

Scripting through a guilty rage,

Living life on Anger’s stage,

Unforgiving, living caged,

Excused hypocrisy.

 

Spewing bitter’s venom still,

Forcing “my way”, exalting My will.

Choosing to take the fatal pill

My would-be destiny.

 

But my life is not my design.

I was fashioned in the mind

Of One who always takes His time

But still is never late.

 

Who forms my beauty from the ash,

Exchanges value for my trash,

And never tires of the task

Of making something great.

 

He whisked me off of Anger’s stage,

Forgiving, breaking every cage.

His Mercy re-wrote every page

Of my new-born life.

 

“Little Baby in the hay

Did you know that You someday

Would rescue me with blood-red pay?

You’d heal me with Your stripes?

 

You would own my guilty soul,

Pay it’s debts to see me whole,

While never leaving the Father’s role,

You’d give me heaven’s worth?”

 

I see You in Nativity

But more,  I see You born in me!

And my heart will forever be

Rejoicing for your birth.

 

O Come Let us adore Him…Christ the Lord!

Reflections

The untimely, and unforeseen death of a friend this past week has given my heart time to reflect, and somehow writing it out puts some purpose to the sadness.  God uses moments like these in my life to cause me to step back and take stock of my life and the lives of those around me.

He was 51 when the heart-attack came and in just moments he was gone.  A strong healthy man, husband and father with an ache in his arm sat down to rest in front of the fire.  As his wife massaged his arm and shoulder, he collapsed and never got up again.  “This is the only time in Neil’s life that I ever saw him go down when he didn’t get up again.  He never stayed down,” his wife Nancy recalled through tears.

This past week I entered into the story of grief  and goodbye with my friend Nancy and her son Blake who lost the love of their lives.  Memories—they had made so many.  Photographs from Neil and Nancy’s wedding day, candid moments as they took their vows, and the sheer joy and bliss of having signed that wedding certificate were stories that leaped off of the photos she showed me.  Then there was the birth of their blond-headed joy-filled son Blake, and the tender moments of Father and Son snuggling together, then adventuring together as Blake journeyed from baby boy to man.  Adventure, joy, struggle, happiness, and friendship filled the memories marking this man’s life.

It has been said that the only legacy a man or woman leaves behind is how they treated the people God placed in their lives.  I believe this to be true.    In the case of my friend Neil, every picture brought a smile to the faces of his family and friends.  His son shared at his Memorial Service that his dad gave him everything he needed to be a man.  Neil left nothing undone.  He made sure his family and friends knew he loved them, and left no one guessing.  He died with no regrets, and his family had no regrets of him, only sweet memories.

The road ahead for Neil’s family will be rough, with much sorrow, but not because Neil was a man who left them with pain and misery.  Instead, the sorrow will be of the loss of such a grace-filled spouse, father, and friend.

Proverbs 20:6 says:

Many claim to have unfailing love,
but a faithful person who can find?

Neil was this kind of man–faithful.  His family, friends, and neighbors attested to this fact with such admiration.  Neil passed away having “filled the tanks” of his loved ones with his love demonstrated in his actions.  Fifty-one years is what he was given.

Reflecting on Neil’s passing leaves me asking:  How many years will I have?  I have no way of knowing.  One thing I do know, however, is that when I leave this world for the next, I want to have filled the tanks of my family, neighbors and friends.  Like Neil, I want to live without regrets  so that those who know me can say,  “She was a faithful woman who gave us all of who she was.  She left us full.”

These are my thoughts this November evening….

Beauty for Ashes

This morning my youngest daughter and I were memorizing some scriptures before school.   A few days ago, she had confided in me that she has a real strong fear of the dark, and gets scared whenever she has to walk somewhere by herself.  I was just like her as a girl–all the way into my teen years.  What made the difference for me was to memorize what God says about fear and recite it when I was feeling afraid.  Passages like II Timothy 1:7 which says “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and a sound mind.”  and Isaiah 41:10, which says, “Fear not for I am with you.  Be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, and I will help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  We talked about what those scriptures mean, and my daughter wanted to memorize them, so we practiced them this morning until she could say them confidently.  We sang a song about not being afraid from Isaiah 45, and ended our morning together with prayer before she boarded the bus for school.

Several hours later, I was singing at the Senior Center here in town for a small group of senior citizens who live in the facility there.  Every month I come and sing for an hour to them and with them.  Sometimes my audience is lively, other times they are asleep. 🙂  Today was a mix of those states of consciousness, but one lady in particular struck up a conversation with me when I first arrived.  She had just turned 82, and had been moved up here to Homer a month ago by her son who brought her here after her daughter, with whom she was living in Sacramento, passed away.

Three or four songs into my repertoire, the woman got up to leave and she was crying.  I continued on and later saw that she had moved to the back of the room where an employee was consoling her.  When the hour was concluded, I went to the back of the room to give her a hug and talk with her.  I suspected that she was still feeling emotional over the death of her daughter and the sudden life change of moving to Alaska, but what I found out instead is that she was hurting over an 82 year old ache.  “My mama never loved me.” she said.  “She always told me I was fat.  I don’t know why she never could love me.  It still hurts so bad.  She is dead now, but I will always wonder if she ever changed her mind about me.  She never said so.”

I looked at this petite-framed, little lady.  Her hair was very thin, and her body fragile.  Her eyes were still bright and full of life although now puddled with tears.  I turned to her and said, “Do you know what God thinks about you?  He thinks you are beautiful!!  You were made in His image you know?  He has your name engraved in the palm of His hand and he calls you his beloved.  There isn’t a moment of the day that He isn’t thinking about you and His thoughts outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore.  He even rejoices over you with singing and dancing!”

Tears ran down her cheeks and she said, “It sure is great to hear something like that.”

We talked for a few moments about how the enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy” and sometimes he uses the mouths of the people closest to us to do it.  Her mama must have been a hurting woman who let her anger and bitter words run out of her mouth to her daughter.  Maybe she didn’t mean to behave that way, but even so, what the enemy meant for evil, God could make into something good.

I looked at this beautiful lady and said, “Eighty-two years is too long to let the devil talk to you and tell you that you are ugly.  Do you know what you need to do?  Every time you start hearing that voice tell you that you are fat and unlovable, you need to stop and think about  and say what God says about you instead.  You need to ask God to sing over you and then listen for His songs.  You don’t need to hurt anymore over lies the enemy spread.”

“I guess I need to start training myself not to listen to the devil anymore”, she said with hope.  We cried and prayed together for a while, and I thanked her for allowing me to talk with her, she thanked me for listening to her.  We hugged, and I headed home.

As much as God changes us from the inside out as we come to know Him more, and read His Words in the Bible, there are those times when the changes in our hearts and minds are a deliberate decision on our part to think His thoughts even when they don’t match ours.  That’s how our minds are transformed.  His words and ideas are the Truth, and our thoughts and words need to learn to match His.  We all have areas of our life that need His transformation, and wounds in our hearts that need to be healed and put to rest.  The only remedy is a conscious effort to put our mind on Him and learn His thoughts and His ways.

From an eight-year old to an eighty-two year old, we are all in need of transformation.  We need God’s Words to be the loudest voice we hear, and be the comfort and strength that sees us through our todays and tomorrows.  I am reminded once again that God is still trading beauty for ashes and strength for fear.

The Songwriter

I am an artist and I am a collector.  I am not a collector of trinkets, or cars, or antiques; but I am a word collector.  I collect phrases, words, and expressions.  I collect tones and tenses of things spoken or sung.  I collect pictures created by words I have read, and I keep them in books, journals, and in my heart.  Whenever I experience, hear, or read something that strikes me or stirs me, I collect it and muse on it– Sometimes for hours, sometimes for years.  I let it have a place in my heart and I let the Holy Spirit in me analyze it, evaluate it and speak to me about it. Then the creating begins…

I can’t speak for every songwriter, and I’m not even sure how many I represent, but I guess that isn’t why I am writing.  I write because I have a need to express what I am learning, and a desire to work out the ideas and thoughts out in the open where I can see them best and analyze their impact.   You see, my life is impacted on a daily basis by things I see, read, feel, touch, hear, and experience and many of those experiences shape me—change me.  I can’t stay still, I can’t remain the same.  I must work through life’s processes—rejecting some and embracing others.  My songwriting begins with my vulnerable heart.

Out of the storehouse of my collections, I begin to build and assemble.  Using the threads of my emotions, and the glue of my convictions, I see myself as a creator of collages.  I take the Words of Scripture,  let them live in me, let them shape and change me, and then put them on paper or set them to music with the heart and passion they stirred in me as they rebuilt my mind.  I love to take a picture from my window—of the sea and sky and weave them into the collage.  I desire to securely hang each thought using the convictions that direct my life and the authenticity of the Author of my life—the One who holds all things together by the Word of His Power. (Colossians 3:17).  This is how I live; not just the way I write.

Somewhere in my art you will discover it if you look closely—my flaws.  You’ll detect my weak phrasing, or my halted beginnings.  You will discover my wrong notes, and my raw emotions.  Sometimes I will tell you outright my fumbling and foibles.  This is true of my life as well.  Sometimes I stammer and stall, sometimes I hide and retreat.  Many of you I call for prayer.  All of this becomes part of my collections.  Each fear and failure is recreated into an experience or expression that, woven with the grace of God, becomes another piece of art.

I think what makes the difference in me between a vulnerable, flawed mess and an artist is the courage to trust that God will make something out of my life.  I have to “let go” of my experiences and stories and allow them to walk ahead of me sometimes into places I would never have reached if I kept them stored in my mind.  I put it on paper, or set it to music, and let it go.  Then I bring my heart before the Lord again and ask Him to evaluate it, shape it, change it, and fill it, and you know what?  He always does.

The Moments That Matter

“When I surrender to the reality that what I get here on earth is moments– moments of understanding in the midst of craziness and suffering; moments of community in the midst of loneliness and isolation; moments of forgiveness in the midst of shame and struggle; and moments of hope in the midst of hard (sometimes mundane) work–then I can rest.” (Sharon A. Hersh MA, LPC  from her bookThe Last Addiction”)

I am learning that life does not wait for your perfect plan, your pay raise, your successful diet, your New Year’s Resolution, or your cure.  Life ticks away as moments…little gifts wrapped in a thousand ways.  Memories are made in moments–not the moments you are planning for or talk about in the futuristic sense; but the moments you just lived while you were dreaming of another life.

While you are putting off getting family photos until you lose that 15 pounds, your children are growing up, or maybe moving out and starting their own families.  That perfect job that somehow alludes you also potentially blinds you to the grace-filled life you currently possess.  That house that you never wanted but are stuck with is creating hundreds of memories your children will carry on into their adult-hood.  Every moment is accounting for something.

We don’t always get our perfect world with ideal circumstances linked together in a row.  We get moments.  We get opportunities to be thankful; choices to be joyful; open doors to give and receive forgiveness; and one life to live it in.  We have “this moment” with an ever-present God.  Don’t forget to celebrate “this moment” while you are dreaming of your future.   The moments that matter most are the ones you are “present” in.  Make more of your moments “presents”.

Taking the Plunge

My Biggest Halibut Ever!

This summer, while my husband was gone commercial fishing, the kids and I decided to go halibut fishing with our Pastor, and his neice.  We motored out well into the Cook Inlet to some designated halibut “hot-spots” and prepared to bait our hooks.  Some of the best bait for halibut happens to be herring and Rick, our Pastor, had a bucket of herring on the deck that was soaking in some sort of special brine he had made to make it more smelly and therefore more halibut attracting.  I looked at the liquid the bait was floating in and suddenly didn’t want to touch it.  It was brown, greasy, slimy, and smelled pretty funky.  The thought ran through my head, “I don’t want that stuff all over my hands.”

Well, we had seven fishermen, and five poles to bait, so I “bucked up”and plunged my hand into the greasy brine, pulled out a herring, cut it in half and attached him to the circle hook at the end of a fishing pole.  Then I took the other half and attached it to the hook of another, and repeated this process until all of the fishing poles were ready to fish.

I thought about what changed my mind from being grossed-out by the herring to becoming brave and diligent with the assignment, and here is what I came up with:

#1  The task needed to be done.  Sure I could let Rick, bait everyone’s hooks, and run from pole to pole making sure everyone was set up and ready, but that would make the burden greater for him, and he may not get a chance to fish because his time is taken up in baiting other people’s poles.  I was capable, I was knowledgeable, I was an adult.  It was a responsibility that I needed to answer to and so I did.

Secondly, and probably more profound to me, was this thought that occurred to me:  “My hands will only be dirty until I wash them.”  The grease and grime was a temporary state of being, because I had opportunity to make them clean again.  As I looked over the railing of the fishing boat we were on, there was a vast supply of water we were bobbing upon.  The Pacific Ocean was within my reach, with water that would clean my hands.

So with herring on my hands, God began to talk to my heart.  I began to think about the assignments or opportunities God had placed in my path on a daily basis, and I thought about how I picked or rejected each one.  I didn’t like the ones that inconvenienced me.  I didn’t want the jobs that got my hands dirty, or messed too much with my free time.  I often skipped some assignments thinking that someone more qualified would eventually come along and do them in my place.  I saw many assignments as undesirable while I bobbed and floated in life on the ocean of God’s love and mercy.  I began to see my selfishness and near-sightedness.

My mom used to have a plaque that hung up in our home that said these words: “The Will of God will never lead you where the Grace of God cannot keep you.”  And in the words of John Mark McMillan’s song “How He Loves”, there is that brilliant line that says “if grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.”

The fact remains that I live in an infinite supply of the love and grace of God.  Like the fishing boat on the Pacific Ocean, my life is surrounded.  I need only to dip my hands over the railing and find that there is grace enough to help me accomplish my tasks, refresh my soul, and prepare me for the next moment.  So what am I waiting for?   It’s time to take the plunge!

Pack Your Yellow Lenses

I was driving last weekend through a blizzard.  I hate blizzards.

I don’t like not being able to see clearly where I am going.  I panic when the boundaries are obscured and I cannot ascertain if it is a 60 foot drop to my right, or a wide shoulder where I can pull over.  I freak out at the thought that I cannot see the car just a few feet in front of me, and wonder how long it will be until I am hit from behind.

There is no stopping in a blizzard.  To stop in my tracks would make me an object to be smashed by the traffic behind me that is in the same situation I am in.  Somehow I have to continue on.

This happened to me a few years ago, as I recall in early spring.  I was driving a van full of students from the local Bible school from Homer to Anchorage.  Jamin was also driving a van of students and was leading the way in front of me.  We were in the mountain pass, making our descent back to sea level and the snow was flying.  It was so thick, falling so fast, and swirling in the wind.  It didn’t take long for the tail lights on Jamin’s van to disappear and the road begin to look like one never-ending piece of whiteness. The lighting was diffused by the amount of snow flakes in the sky and I could no longer differentiate between the edges of the road or the lanes they represented.

I called Jamin on his cell phone to see if he really was ahead of me.  He assured me he was and encouraged me to keep going forward.  I couldn’t find his tail lights.  I couldn’t even see his tracks in the snow.  I was scared.

Then I remembered something…..a conversation from years ago when I asked Jamin about his snowboarding goggles.  Why were they tinted yellow?  His response to me was that the yellow tint helps to clarify the light and shadows in a low-light situation.  With them on, Jamin would be able to see more clearly, the path to travel in the snow on his board.

Immediately I began to ask the people in my van if any of them had a pair of sunglasses with them with a yellow tint.  And amazingly enough, Sarah, sitting beside me said that she did and pulled a pair of glasses out of her bag for me to wear.

I can’t explain what happened next in words, but something settled over me as I placed those glasses on my face.  It was like snow melting to spring, or like my cold hands warmed by a fire.  My eyes were suddenly able to see what they couldn’t discern moments earlier.  I could see shadow and light.  I could discern tracks in the snow ahead of me.  I could find my way.

Sometimes life isn’t any different from the blinded frenzy of a blizzard.  The way is obscure, the things I thought I knew become clouded, and the One I trusted to lead me is hidden from view.  So what do I do then?

I don’t know all the answers.  I’m still asking several myself, so I’ll just tell you a few that I have learned.

Pray.  The Holy Spirit has a way of settling over a frenzied heart in a way that removes the haze and distinguishes light from shadow.  His peace becomes a guard for my mind as well as my emotions.

Philippians 4:6-7

New International Version (NIV)

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The second and third lessons are these:

Colossians 3:15

 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Italics mine)

I must allow the peace of Christ to rule my heart.  I have to dethrone worry and fear and give the throne back to Christ.  This is an act of my will that God meets with His promise.

Thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation, awe and wonder of God’s goodness, all become lenses, and if I put them on, they will remind me that my Shepherd is leading me, and creating my path through the storm.  I must remember what He has done in my past to trust Him with my future.

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

 -Ralph Waldo Emerson – 

So, this past weekend as I wound my way through blurred and hazy roads, it was with a pair of sunglasses on my face.  I try to never leave home without them.  And as I travel this crazy road of life full of storms and fog, I endeavor to navigate my way through prayer and thankfulness, trusting that He will make my path straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart 

   and lean not on your own understanding; 
6 in all your ways submit to him, 
   and he will make your paths straight.

If you have lost your yellow lenses, I will loan you some of mine.