Who’s keeping track?

Recently my husband was suited with a heart monitor to track activity and stress levels.  He was instructed to write down hourly activities such as running, nap, and watered plants, in a journal. I guess this was to detect any signs of stressful interactions in his lifestyle. I teased him occasionally about his journal entries. “What are you writing now? Is it about me?” 

I was dusting in his den the next day when I came across his journal.  I had to look! Come on, you wouldn’t want to know what was on it? Of course the entries were simple (I should have known, we live a simple, bordering on mundane, life):

  1. 10:00 am Went for walk
  2. 11:30 am  Had lunch
  3. 12:45 pm Nap
  4. 2:30 pm Went to Home Depot
  5. 4:00 pm Worked on Bathroom Shower

Yes, pretty basic.  I thought, this is good cause there’s no “discussion with wife on my eating too much salt”.  Gotta tell ya, he does tend to add salt to everything.  Probably why the doctor is having him wear the monitor.  Although, I don’t think the doctor is going to catch that by his entry.  I can see the doctor’s note, “this guy, by the results recorded,  gets excited about this lunch”!

In the following days, he would occasionally tease me back by saying, “I’m writing that down in my journal!”  I would respond, “What?  That was nothing.  Are you keeping track of my wrongs?”  I had no idea if the entry would reflect a difference in heart activity, but just the same it was a nagging thought.  What if the results showed that I was the cause of harmful heart palpitations in my hubby?  I imagined myself being called into the doctor’s office to discuss my husband’s condition.   How mortifying! 

All kidding aside, do you ever feel like, no matter what you do, some people will just not let you forget your wrong doing?  It’s like they keep a tally or record somewhere that has your name on it in bold letters.  From time to time, they bring it out to remind you of your error.  Remember when you said  this?  You thought it was in the past, gone, erased and forgiven.  It’s frustrating to say the least. 

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged”. 1 Cor. 13: 4-5  They key words are it (love)  keeps no record of being wronged.  Now, I don’t expect everyone to remember that “in love” they are to keep no record of wrongs to me or I to them.  I can remember quite vividly sometimes what wrongs I have suffered, and the injustice of them all.  And, they did not come at the hand of someone who loved me (Ouch, that hurts to admit. How can anyone not like me?).  The thing is, maybe I did wrong someone, and if I have apologized or repented in my own way (and prayed for forgiveness from the Lord) shouldn’t they forgive and forget? 

I am glad God has written that verse in His word.  I remember it when I want to bring up a wrong with my hubby or someone else.  Even if they have never asked forgiveness, I must forgive them because true love commands it.  I have asked for forgiveness many, many times for wrong thoughts or actions and each time I know God has forgiven me.  Matthew 6:14 states, “if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (NLT)  It far more valuable to me that my sins be forgiven than to hold onto a record of a wrongs towards me.  I cannot stand to have anything barring me from His presence.  In His presence, I am complete and able to live life above this chaotic world in peace. 

I urge you to forgive others, even if they do not ask you for it.  Harboring wrongs or keeping track of them only eats away at your heart and peace of mind.  There’s so much more to life than to live in the past.  Like my old Virginian pastor used to say, “you can’t drive forward by looking in the rearview mirror”!  Pray about it and leave it with Christ.  He hears you and will help you through the pain until you are walking forward once again.

Walking through foggy places …

Faith is walking forward even though the view is foggy.

Growing up in Indiana you were guaranteed a certain number of school delays due to fog.  This was great for us kids.  We would go outside and run through the mist enjoying the soft wet cloud cover.  As you grew up the reality of foggy danger set in and suddenly, it was not such a welcome to your day.  Once I remember traveling back home with my family to visit my parents in Indiana and we hit fog about an hour from their home.  The further we traveled the darker and more dense the cloud cover became.   We were going forward at a rate of 5 miles per hour and praying for safety. The headlights were no help as they only caused a glare.  We hoped we would not run into someone ahead or worse …  that some careless driver would come from behind at a high-speed and hit us. 
Today we have fog here in Florida.  What a surprise.  I haven’t seen fog this thick in years but nevertheless, here it is.  It reminded me of the fear I experienced driving through fog back home.  I asked myself what was the real fear of not being able to see what’s ahead? 
I am a person who plans ahead.  I must have all my ducks in a row, all my files organized, my day planned or I will not be able to function properly.  Sometimes I drive my husband crazy with my planning. Before I drive any place new, I get on the internet and locate it on the map, print out the directions  and I take my GPS with me.  Am I too structured?  Maybe.  However, I’ve learned through the years the secret of overcoming “fear of the unknown”. 
I read in Hebrews 11, “by an act of faith, he turned his heel on Egypt, indifferent to the king’s blind rage. He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going.”  (MSG)  This was Moses, the great leader, making a decision to go forward even though he couldn’t see what was ahead.  He knew the one that called him was leading him to a better place.  A place of peace and abundance of life.  It wasn’t easy but he obeyed and followed.
In life our journey goes along curvy, bumpy, low and high places.  Most of the time we see clearly or at least can see what’s coming at us from a distance.  When the path becomes cloudy, we experience panic, frustration, fear and loneliness.  If we put our trust in “the One no eye can see” we will see beyond the fog.  He promises to guide us through to the other side where the sun shines brightly.  He knows what is beyond the fog and going through the fog builds our trust in Him. 
As I look outdoors, I can see the fog has lifted and a bright spot of blue appears in the distance.  I’ve had many foggy days, spiritually speaking, and some are more faith-filled than others but I’ve learned that He never leaves me in the fog. 

Shadows of strength …

Beneath the shadow of protection

I love sitting underneath a big shady tree.  From here I can see the world outside and hide from its view.  I consider it my sanctuary and shelter when things just don’t seem to make sense.  Here is where I can sort out and analyze life’s knotted picture and untangle the threads one by one.  My favorite tree as a child was the weeping willow.  My aunt had one in her front yard and to me that was the best hide-away a child could ever experience.  Underneath that big tree was space enough to pull in a table and chairs and have a private tea party.  Once my cousins, sisters and I  swung from the vines growing on the tree.  We all pretended we were swinging across some dangerous river when in reality it was only a mud puddle.  And when the wind blew, the noise of the branches and leaves swaying made a perfect whisper and it felt like God was walking in your midst. 

This day, I sat on the sculpture in the foreground of the picture above taking in the beauty of the pond, trees and plants just beyond my reach.  I listened to the birds singing and the water gurgling past me on its way to the lake.  I remembered the verse from Psalms 91:1, “You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, ..” (MSG)  It reminded me that beneath His shadow I was safe and shielded from potential harm.  I can watch things whirl around me but remain untouched.  His strong arm shields me from trouble and I am thankful for this serene reminder of the Master’s plan. 

I encourage you to find a shadowed placed that allows you to retreat into a sanctuary of protection.  We all need to feel the peace that comes from underneath that shadow.