Monday, October 28, 2013

Looking for Glow Worms

I am eight years old.
Night is falling.
And I am walking with my dad as I often do.

He holds my hand and makes up stories as I walk beside him along the country lane. We see a harvest moon overhead and he recites poetry as our feet step step through little puddles and splash the light.

This is England, and rain is a constant companion, even during the summer. We have at least two more miles to walk before we reach home. But the time will go fast because I am with my dad, and we are hunting, our eyes downward, our steps careful.

And if we keep looking, we see them hiding in the bushes, tiny magical lights that glow in the darkness, and will accompany us all the way home. We have found glow worms.

Almost four decades later I fly to the USA for the first time and I step outside the back door on a warm summer's evening and I cannot believe what I see. The entire back yard is filled with tiny twinkling lights, flying and flickering all around. I am amazed. I have never seen fireflies before. I feel like I am in a Disney movie. And my husband and our four sons watch them, utterly fascinated, for a long, long time.

Two years ago, I sit in a beautiful boat and I sail across water with my friends. The moon overhead is our guide and the stars our companions. We are night sailing, and it is breathtaking.

Just a few weeks ago I sit on the beach with more friends when the sun has gone down, and everyone else has left. And I think how sad it is that they have missed the best part. Because in the darkness I see the moon reflected and dancing on waves and stars appear from nowhere and lights from boats travel unaided as if suspended above water. 

And I think about all the beauty that is to be found when darkness fireworks, or constellations, or lightning, or fireflies, or tiny glow worms that accompany us all the way home...

And I want to be one of those lights that shine in the darkness for a child.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Monday, October 21, 2013

And Then Came The Fall...

It's that beautiful time of year again, when trees dress up and wear their finest costumes, and line up in the street like models on the catwalk. And I am out endlessly raking and stuffing pumpkin bags with my grandson when I am reminded of this post, that I wrote a year ago...
One of the reasons why my husband and I fell in love with our home was because of the trees. We bought our home in the spring and watched in delight as all the maples, oaks and lilacs in both our front and back yards sprouted different colored buds, blossoms and leaves. Our delight continued throughout the summer, as those same trees brought much needed shade to our deck, creating a haven for squirrels, chipmunks and woodpeckers. And then came the fall...
The trees are still beautiful, the colors still breathtaking, the sight of the golden carpet that adorns our driveway still brings a smile to my face, but the raking is endless. After another back breaking trip to the compost heap, hauling a tarp full of leaves that must have weighed almost as much as myself, I found myself could it possibly be that those single, tiny, insignificant leaves, with an individual weight of almost nothing, could combine together to weigh so much?

When I'm tempted to feel insignificant, and I find myself wondering if my efforts in children's ministry will ever amount to anything, I'm going to remember those tiny, weightless leaves and the tremendous weight of them when combined together. We are not in ministry alone. Together, you and I can make a huge difference.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Quotation Marks

I don't notice it at first. After all, I have read this scripture a hundred times. I know if off by heart. What new thing could there possibly be for me to learn here? But then I see the quotation marks...

This is the reason I have been attending Bible Study Fellowship for 12 years now- because of the new things I learn when I take the time to really meditate on the Word.

And so I am reading from the early chapters of Matthew when into the scene jumps John the Baptist- that wild, hairy, insect-eating guy whose loud message of repentance somehow drew crowds and crowds of people- people not only wanting to listen to his revolutionary words, but also ready and willing to be dunked under the cold waters of the River Jordan. (I know they are cold...I have been in them).

But the really interesting part is when Matthew quotes from Isaiah as he describes John's ministry:

A voice of one calling in the desert,
"Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him."
Matt 3:3
But listen to the way Isaiah says it, and where he places those quotation marks:
A voice of one calling:
"In the desert prepare
the way for the Lord,
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God."
Isaiah 40:3
John is not just one who calls in the desert, but is a clear voice to all who find themselves there. 
And I hear the prophetic words of both Isaiah and John the Baptist echo in my mind. I know children who live in the desert. I know those who are out there in the wilderness. But there is always, always hope. Because no matter how dry the desert, no matter how wild the wilderness, we just keep preparing the way...and God will come.

How are you preparing the way for God to come in the life of a child?