Friday, December 21, 2007

Waiting on the Lord

Memories flooded back in an instant. The receptionist told me the doctor wanted to see me because my mammogram concerned the radiologist. I had been so happy passing my ten-year anniversary since having breast cancer. Now I remembered many events from those days. After the operation I had desperately hoped to avoid chemotherapy, but I could not get out of it. I remembered how emotionally spent I felt after the radiation. The combination of radiation and chemotherapy was too much for me to handle.

Four days after the doctor ordered the MRI, I had the test at the hospital. Then followed the wait. Over three weeks later, I finally heard the good news. I am fine. Waiting is so difficult. To be God-honouring, a person must be patient and trust in the Lord’s perfect timing and will.

While I was waiting, I thought of Simeon, Anna, and the other saints who waited patiently for the arrival of their Saviour, the promised Seed. Simeon and Anna were in the temple when Mary and Joseph arrived with the baby Jesus. Simeon praised God for keeping his promise. He said, “For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:30, NIV). Likewise, Anna thanked God for Jesus, her Redeemer.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Accepting Change

This morning I sat shivering in my unheated living room. We were without heat and water most of the day, the result of the first snowstorm of the season. Apparently a fallen tree knocked out the electricity to my community. Yesterday the grass was green. Today a blanket of snow covers the road and yard. It weighs down the boughs of the evergreen bush by the driveway. Circumstances can change in a split second.

I have been thinking about the necessity of accepting change a lot lately. It started when we closed the cottage in late October. A few weeks later I attended a ladies’ conference. There the lady in charge pondered the changing seasons of life, particularly for women. Our bodies change as we age. When we are pregnant, more changes occur. Menopause brings more changes.

In contrast, God never changes. He is eternal and unchanging. We can count on him to always keep his promises and to be with us in the changing circumstances of life. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb. 13:8, NIV).

I knew God was with me this morning. Thankfully, by the end of the afternoon, my husband and I had heat and water once more. God surely is my protector, no matter what happens in my life. Not all change is difficult, however. Sometimes it is quite exciting. For example, I am book signing at Mitchell Family Books in Oshawa on Dec. 12, 2007 from 1 to 4 pm. This will be the third time I will have been book signing in a Mitchell’s bookstore this fall.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Autumn Colours

Every season is beautiful in its own way, but autumn is particularly spectacular. What a kaleidoscope of colour! God truly is the master artist. Driving along the highway, I look for bright red maples and yellow poplars. Beside them dark green pines reach up to the clear blue sky. Lower to the ground, I spy red sumacs. Later in the season burnt red oaks dominate the landscape.

People travel from Europe to view the fall colours in Ontario. I wonder at this. May I never take for granted the beauty of this season. May I never take for granted any of God’s good gifts. At Thanksgiving may each of us stop a while and thank the Lord for this beautiful world he has given us.

Let us thank him for sight to see it, for smell to enjoy the fragrance of flowers, for ears to hear the winsome call of the loon, for hands sensitive to a gentle touch, and for mouths with which to praise his glorious name. In this country we have so much to be thankful for. Let us never take it for granted or act as if it is our right. Most of all, I thank God for sending his Son to earth. I thank Jesus for being willing to pay the penalty for my sins.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Power of the Wind

Years ago I noticed a canoe peacefully gliding upstream with a makeshift sail, a sheet attached to two poles. Since then, I have dreamed of sailing on the lake where my cottage is situated. About half a kilometer upstream from the cottage the lake widens to a good size. Where we are located, the lake is so narrow my husband and I swim to the opposite shore.

This summer my dream came true. We bought a used dinghy, the smallest boat we could find. Being second hand, it did not come with any instructions. As soon as my husband hoisted the sail, we eagerly glided with the wind to the large part of the lake. Soon we were near the narrows leading to another lake.

We had a serious problem, however. We had no idea the proper way to rig the sail. Before setting out, my husband had said, “I think they gave us the wrong sail.” Nevertheless we sailed anyway.

As we glided, I held the tiller with one hand and kept part of the sail out of the water with the other hand. An amusing sight! It was not quite so funny as we frantically paddled back against the wind for two and one half hours.

During the desperate paddle back to the cottage, I thought about Jesus and his disciples caught in a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee. Fearing for their lives, the disciples woke Jesus and cried, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Jesus ordered the wind and the waves to be quiet and still. Then he asked his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:35—41).

It is so easy to become burdened by the storms of life surrounding us. When you feel overwhelmed by hurts and troubles, remember Jesus. He is in control. He may not remove you from the storm, but he will give you peace, if you trust him. “Safe am I. Safe am I in the hollow of his hand.” My God is more powerful than the storms of life.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Running Water

When we bought our cottage twenty years ago, I thought carrying water up the hill would be a good job for the children. That is, until I did it. I soon discovered that water is very heavy. Therefore through the years my husband has shouldered this responsibility most of the time. Now, in this our twenty-first summer, we are finally enjoying the modern convenience of running water.

Perhaps you don’t think of using the word “freedom” in connection with water, but I do. We are now free to turn on the tap whenever we need water. What a wonderful luxury! Although this method of receiving water is a luxury, water itself is a necessity.

In John chapter four, the woman at the well walked in the heat of the day for physical water. Jesus met her there and offered her something much more precious—spiritual water. At first the woman thought Jesus was offering her an unending supply of physical water. Understanding dawned as soon as Jesus pointed out her sinful life. He knew everything about her. Who is he?

She accepted his spiritual water and received eternal life. Immediately, she ran back to the village and spread the news of the Saviour to others. What is your response?

Do you remember this chorus? "Running over. Running over. My cup is full and running over. Since the Lord saved me, I'm as happy as can be. My cup is full and running over."

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Chipmunk

Shovel in hand, I walked to the back garden to dig up my canna bulbs. To my surprise a layer of sand coated some of the topsoil in the canna bed. I peered down a large hole placed strategically close to the garden and wondered what animal had decided to make a home there. After filling up the hole with dirt, I dug up the canna bulbs. Since my gardening was done, I had no reason to go back there for the rest of the season. I forgot about the hole until this spring.

Returning to plant the canna bulbs, I remembered the hole. My relief in not seeing one was short-lived, because the animal had dug a new hole a few feet away. I filled this hole with dirt. I hoped the animal would be discouraged and find a new place to live. It didn’t work. The next day the hole was back. A few days later I spied a chipmunk with its head sticking out of the hole. As I ran to the backyard, the chipmunk scurried into the forest behind my yard. Knowing the chipmunk was gone, my husband tried to fill the hole with water. It didn’t work. The chipmunk had built an extensive underground house and was determined to lay stake to his territory.

For the last two months the chipmunk and I have been battling for control of the backyard. He digs a hole. I fill it up. He digs a new hole. I fill it up. Gradually my backyard is becoming speckled with random patches of dirt, old holes, which I have filled. The forest is so close. Why doesn’t the chipmunk accept defeat and move his house there?

I can relate to the chipmunk. He has taught me a few spiritual lessons. Sometimes I am so short-sighted as far as God is concerned. I make plans and settle in my own little community without regard to the big picture. This is proper. The godly person “is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalms 1:3). The problem arises when the Lord wants to use me in another community or in another area of ministry. Do I dig in my heels and stubbornly refuse to change, or do I yield to God’s will for my life? I pray I will always be putty in the master’s hand.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Water Snake

As my husband carefully steered the boat toward the loading dock, he remarked, “Heather, we have a little problem.” I peered into the boat in time to see a very long water snake slither under the front deck. I looked in dismay at the luggage I had carried to the loading dock. Without a word my husband began to pile the boxes and suitcases into the back of the boat. Then he shoved bags of food under the deck.

It was Thursday, the day before the long weekend. Tomorrow I was scheduled to leave my husband at the cottage and drive further north to a ladies’ retreat where I would be the speaker. I had to squash my fear of the snake and get into the boat. My husband drove the three and one-half miles to our cottage with his legs tucked up under his body. Meanwhile I tried to keep my feet as close to the seat and as far from the deck as possible.

The next morning I asked my husband if the snake would have crawled out of the boat during the night. He was noncommittal. Very cautiously he pulled the boat cover out from under the deck. If the snake was there, we did not want it to attack him. Water snakes can be quite vicious when cornered.

That afternoon I peered into the boat before jumping in. Then I lifted a corner of the boat cover and screamed. Leaping onto the dock, I cried, “Throw the cover overboard! The snake is inside.” Of course, by the time my husband lifted up the cover, the snake had disappeared back under the deck.

Driving the boat was supposed to be my adventure. My husband always drives. I never bargained for a snake. Nevertheless a water snake would not prevent me from going to the retreat. During that trip several Bible verses drifted through my mind. Finally one gave me the most comfort. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee” (Isa. 26:3).

At the marina I hoped Mr. snake would discover he was back home. Please be gone when I get back!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


My joy last month that spring had arrived was short-lived. I need a new definition of the word “spring.” Seeing a robin on the lawn is not accurate enough. Even a temperature of 10°C (50°F) does not guarantee that spring is here to stay. Soon afterwards the temperature fell, and snow covered the ground at Easter. Two weeks later we experienced our first heat wave and summer storm of the year.

Perhaps spring is like a yo-yo. Because it is the transition from winter to summer, the temperature bounces from one extreme to another. Unlike the fall, where the temperature gradually gets colder, in spring it slowly climbs higher. If this is the case, I must apologize to those newscasters who rejoiced when the snow began to melt. Like spring, many transitions in life are difficult to perceive. For example, the change from childhood to adulthood is gradual. Nobody wakes up one day and says, “Yesterday I was a child, but today I am grown up.” To do so is fallacy.

In contrast, Easter reminds me of a very clear transition from the old to the new covenant. The evening before his crucifixion, Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with his disciples. Almost 1500 years earlier, the Israelite slaves in Egypt had sprinkled the blood of a lamb on their doorframes. That night the angel of death had killed the firstborn of every family not protected by the blood on the door. After finishing the Passover meal, Jesus instituted a new remembrance service. Under the new covenant we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection. At his death the veil in the temple split into two pieces. From that moment on, sacrificing animals became an insult to the effectiveness of Jesus’ blood on our behalf.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Promises of God

Spring. This word gladdens the heart. It means the end of long dark nights and short dull days. I feel like bouncing for joy when I walk down the street to pick up my mail. How appropriate it is to jump forward one hour in time! Daylight savings time also signals new beginnings.

Winter came late this year. Once it arrived, we received plenty of snow and frigid temperatures. After experiencing -35°C, -2°C seemed quite warm. Yet I laughed skeptically when the weather newscasters reported that spring was in the air. Shortly afterwards, winter returned. To me, spring only arrives when the temperature is at least 10°C for a few days. I know for sure it is here as soon as I see the first robin of the season.

Long ago God promised Noah that, as long as the earth existed, there would always be four seasons—seedtime, harvest, summer, and winter. Although we all have our favourite season, most people welcome signs of spring, especially after a particularly harsh winter. It is exciting to see the crocuses and tulips sprout up and bloom. Buds appear on the trees and bushes; grass turns green; many birds fly back to this region; other animals awake from a long winter’s nap; black soil beckons the gardener to start digging and planting. I look out my window and spy a robin.

God is good. He always keeps his promises and always tells the truth. Some people may despair during those cold winter days and act as if winter is going to last forever. It doesn’t. Others suffer from severe sunlight deprivation caused by short days. Relief is imminent. God always keeps his promise to Noah and to us. Spring has arrived in southern Ontario, and summer will soon be here. That is my favourite season!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Love of Jesus

Years ago my husband and I were alone at our cottage one hot summer day. I was busy dusting the furniture in the living room when I heard the screen door slam shut. Looking up, I was amazed to see two of my children standing there with huge grins on their faces.

My son had driven a couple of hours to deliver some papers to an office nearby. Since my daughter had the day off, she had accompanied him. As soon as he had completed his errand, he drove down the highway and parked the truck. Then they hiked about six miles through the woods to the cottage. They intended to walk briskly, but swarms of black flies encouraged them to run instead.

As he sat on the chesterfield, my son calmly peeled off his sunburned skin. They enthusiastically told me about their adventures. How they wanted to surprise their Dad and me! It was a surprise. It occurred to me that I was witnessing love in action. Our children were willing to walk a long way and brave the black flies in order to see us. At first they followed a well marked trail until they came to a narrow path that wound through tall grass. Then they ran through the woods and down a hill to the cottage.

In a far greater way, Jesus left heaven and came to earth because he loves us so much. His love is wider than the ocean, higher than the heaven above, and deeper than the deepest sea. As a child I sang the chorus, “Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the heaven above; deep, deep as the deepest sea, is my Savior’s love.” Paul prayed that the Ephesian Christians would grasp “how wide and how long and high and deep is the love of Christ’ (Eph. 3:18).

My children showed their love for their parents when they hiked a long distance. By his actions Jesus demonstrates that his love cannot be measured. The human mind cannot comprehend why God would become a man and die on a cross for sinners. May you know this love that surpasses knowledge.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Hope of Eternal Life

How many of us make New Year’s resolutions every January? Do you have the same wish list as last year or the year before? Underlying this desire to change and improve is the hope for a new beginning. Perhaps we are anxious to correct past mistakes or to get rid of bad habits. The start of a new year seems like an ideal time to set out on a new course of action. Sadly, most of us soon lose our determination and slip back into old habits.

I am very thankful that God is not like us. When he promises to do something, he does it. Paul explains that his faith and knowledge of the truth rest on the hope of eternal life. In other words, his faith depends on the expectation of receiving eternal life. If Paul cannot count on it, his faith is in vain. Thankfully, God does not lie. Before the beginning of time, the Lord promised to provide this eternal life (Titus 1:1,2).

As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, God determined to send Jesus into the world to save sinners. During all the intervening years in the Old Testament, God the Father was preparing for the arrival of his Son. He never changed his mind or gave up on his plan. Because God is so trustworthy, believers have a sure hope of eternal life. What a precious hope!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).