A Place Prepared

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SWIM. This is cheating, but in response I’m going to post a devotional article I wrote some years ago, back when I was keeping a betta fish.

Image by Rebecca Lehman — Pixabay

A Place Prepared

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Alphie was a millet-brained betta fish. What did he know? His one-gallon fish bowl was the only world he’d ever experienced and he was content there. He had no clue that there could be a better environment, or that I was preparing one for him.

I’d learned that betta fish deserve a better environment than a fish bowl, so I was setting up a proper ten-gallon aquarium where he could enjoy life to the full. He’d have a heater and filter to keep his water fresh and pure. Bliss, betta style.

But this preparation couldn’t happen overnight. An aquarium needs to go through a nitrogen cycle to develop the right kind of bacteria in the filter so it will purify the water passing through. Alphie’s new home sat on the counter for over a month as it went through this cycle; during this time I added driftwood and various ornaments that would make his new world so much more interesting. Meanwhile he circled round and round in his little fish bowl, relaxed in the world he knew.

Then one day his new home was ready for him. I set his bowl beside the tank, then scooped him out in a small ladle. Now he was really confined! And scared, too; he squirmed and fought this new situation. Just a little fish; he couldn’t comprehend the big picture, or imagine a place where he could swim to his heart’s content.

Though the transfer was uncomfortable and confusing for him, it was accomplished quickly. I placed him in his new tank and his delight was obvious. So much room! So many interesting things to explore. Constant warmth and pure water. For a little fish this was paradise!

Most of us are fairly happy in this world. Some content, some not so content in our little lives, but it’s the only space we’ve ever known. Like my betta, we’re not very willing to leave it. For sure we’re not enthused about being carried out in a small box! Our comprehension of what waits on the other side is so limited.

Unlike my little fish, however, we can know God’s plans for us. Jesus has revealed them to His followers; by faith we can believe His words. He has prepared a place for a people who have prepared themselves: those who have placed their faith in his promises and their lives in his will.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14: 2-3

And we can rejoice like the Psalmist:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23:6

Inspiring Verse

I wonder if this verse was Mr Guest’s answer to Rudyard Kipling’s famous verse, IF? Read IF here.

DUTY

by Edgar Guest

To do your little bit of toil,
to play life’s game with head erect;
to stoop to nothing that would soil
your honor or your self-respect;
to win what gold and fame you can,
but first of all to be a man.

To know the bitter and the sweet,
the sunshine and the days of rain;
to meet both victory and defeat,
nor boast too loudly nor complain;
to face whatever fates befall
and be a man throughout it all.

To seek success in honest strife
but not to value it so much
that, winning it, you go through life
stained by dishonor’s scarlet touch.
What goal or dream you choose, pursue,
but be a man whatever you do!

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

Faith is a Choice

Musings on Easter Morning

This time we call EASTER, or PASQUE (Peace) in Latin countries, and in particular this day, is the main event Christianity hinges on: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Most anyone will say Jesus was a wonderful example by the way He lived, by the things He taught. Philosophers and holy men of all kinds, even atheists quote his words and cite his examples. His death was cruel and needless, the outcome of putrid jealousy. But it’s his rising from the grave that has become the cornerstone of Christianity. This belief/fact has changed the course of our world. Two thousand years later people are still talking about God’s plan and believing it.

I just listened to a church group singing the song,
“Have you found rest and peace within, rolled far away your load of sin?
Stepped from the old life to the new? Tell what the Lord has done for you.”

(From a poem by Lizzie DiArmond)
This is not ancient history. New life through Jesus is a constantly current thing. Today the Lord gives peace and rest within, or so believers claim.

I ponder the questions: Why did God enact such an odd plan to redeem man? Why does man need to be “saved”? Why did Jesus have to die as a sacrifice? Why must a price be paid? Why doesn’t God just take everyone to heaven – or at least the basically good people? “Grading on the curve,” some wise soul has called it. As a human being I’m okay with a few faults.

Why did the divine Creator and Father come up with a scheme human minds can barely grasp, a story people are constantly stumbling over? He could have chosen a simpler way than faith in Jesus? He could just appear to each one of us and set us straight. “Here I am; believe me or else.” As a human being I respect force. A little jolt from above when we say or do the wrong thing might make it easier to know and obey his wishes.

Yet the Eternal, all-wise God says people shall have a free choice; He won’t force us to believe him. He allows that, as we go through life, we’ll get enough prompts that we can each decide to believe or reject his plan. Jesus says, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find.” The choice is ours to seek, to ask, to believe, to reject.

I came across the following old poem by Dora Greenwell (1821-1882) that expresses my musings quite well:

I AM NOT SKILLED TO UNDERSTAND

I am not skilled to understand
what God hath willed, what God hath planned;
I only know at His right hand
stands One who is my Saviour.

I take Him at his word indeed:
“Christ died for sinners,” this I read
and in my heart I find a need
of Him to be my Saviour.

And was there then no other way
for God to take? I cannot say;
I only bless Him, day by day,
who saved me through my Saviour.

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
my strength, my solace from this spring:
that He who lives to be my King
once died to be my Saviour.

Who’s Calling?

It was one of those intriguing calls. Do you ever get them?

One morning when we were living in Ontario the phone rang and I answered. “Hello?”

Hello. Guess who-o-o.”

The voice sounded familiar, though my friends don’t usually play guessing games. “Is this Dee?”

“No…”

“Anne?”

“No…”

I was stumped.

“This is the girl that gave your that terrific hairdo.”

I racked my brain. I wear my hair simple; it had been many a year– if ever – since anyone gave me a terrific hairdo. She must have known me in my teens. Was this one of my sisters calling me from the prairies? “Donna? Rose?”

“No.” Frustrated now, the caller abandoned her game. “This is Pat.”

“Pat who?”

My caller paused, then asked, “Isn’t this Sherrie?”

“No, I’m Christine.”

“Oh, I guess I must have the wrong number. Sorry.” She hung up.

Whoever she was, she gave me a surprise and later a story to tell. 🙂 I’m not sure if the same thing happens in these days of answering machines and Call Display, but I dialed wrong numbers myself.

A few years back, after an hour of shopping, I called my husband from the store. When he answered, sounding a bit gruff, I said, “I’m done. You can come and pick me up now.”

There was a pause at the end of the line and a man answered, “Okay. Uh… Who is this?”

BLUSH!

This morning I read the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. Many church-going children know this story well, and sing about how “Zacchaeus was a wee little man…who climbed up into a sycamore tree, for he wanted the Lord to see.”

He’d heard that Jesus was coming to his town and wanted to see him. Being a short man behind a large crowd, he did the sensible thing and climbed a tree. When Jesus came past that tree, he stopped, looked up and called to him.“Zacchaeus, come down. Today I must stay at your house.”

No wrong number. No “Who are you?” Jesus knew exactly who Zacchaeus was – and what he was: a rich tax collector, despised by his fellow citizens. In fact, when they heard what Jesus was saying to Zacchaeus, people who would have welcomed Jesus into their own homes grumbled that he’d chosen to be the guest of “a man that is a sinner.”

But Jesus explains that, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” It’s evident from this account he knows exactly who they are and where to look for them.

Aspirations

While I sip on my chicken noodle soup and hope to BE well again, I’ll dig into my DropBox and find a snippet. I found this clipping among my mother-in-law’s saved scraps when we brought her to live with us and I think these are worthwhile goals to strive for. No name attached, so if you know the origin, please let me know.

BE…

Be understanding to your enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.
Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those who need your help.
Be frugal with what you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.
Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.
Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.
Be the first to congratulate and opponent who succeeds.
Be the last to criticize a colleague who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not stumble.
Be sure of your final destination and turn around if you are going the wrong way.
Be loving to those who love you.
Be loving to those who don’t love you, and they may change.
Be an honest, patient friend to yourself.
Above all, be yourself.