Hand Held

Our country and our world are experiencing tumultuous times that are resulting in devastation and brokenness. As I lied in bed praying this morning before getting up, I envisioned two pictures in my mind that had spiritual implications for me

Within my spiritual mind I saw a little boy holding a small fishbowl in his hands while riding in the backseat of a car that was traveling along a curvy road at a rather high rate of speed. The little lad was trying his hardest to keep his pet goldfish inside the bowl while the water was violently sloshing around and spilling. I wondered if this was a picture of God holding our world in His hands. In reality, was the turmoil of the water in the fish bowl symbolizing the teeming downpours of the wind and rain of hurricanes this season? We have experienced tumultuous times with hurricanes Harvey plummeting Texas and Irma invading Florida long with Puerto Rico and other islands. Torrential downpours tormenting and taking lives and land! Whatever is happening around us, we must remember to reach out to the hand of God. Isaiah 59:19 NKJV tells us, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”

The other image I saw with my spiritual eyes was a little girl playing with play dough or modeling clay. In the beginning the clay appeared to be crumbling and breaking apart. However as her little hands continued to consistently roll the clay in the warmth of her hands, she was able to form it into a ball and then affectionately shape it into a heart. While God holds our world in His hands, isn’t He desiring to lovingly mold us and our country into His likeness? In recent months, there have been eruptions of volcanoes and earthquakes in Mexico,  just over a week ago gunfire erupted in Las Vegas, and now we hear of wildfires erupting in northern and southern California with the northern fires being some of the worst in history. Eruptions and disruptions! Through it all, our country has experienced brokenness. However, God still holds our country and the whole world in His hands. Psalm 147:3 promises that, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Now that I am awake and functioning for the day, I am singing Glen Campbell’s song, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands as a statement of faith and assurance. All of the negative and challenging things that have been happening around us, create in me a desire to remember that we and the world around us are held in the hands of God. When I think about God being able to hold our world in His hands, my perception of God and His size and power increases exponentially. I am reminded of Isaiah 40:12 that says, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, or with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Although things are not perfect within us or our world, I want to remember the words of Psalm 118:16 NLT, “The strong right arm of the LORD is raised in triumph. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things!” I cling to the words of Psalm 95:4-6, “In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” I also like the assurance God gives in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

So, in conclusion, I declare to the Lord the words of David in Psalm 31:14, “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.” I believe this because Psalm 89:13 says of the Lord, “Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.” According to Psalm 16:8, “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” My Reader, will you join me in keeping the perspective of our country and world being in the hands of God? Will you agree with me in prayer that “His will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” Let us “Sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.” Psalm 98:1

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Memorial Day – A Day of Honor

On Monday, May 29, as Americans, we will celebrate what has become known as Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Numerous cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day but rregardless of the exact date or location of its origins, we do know that Decoration Day, or Memorial Day, originated after the Civil War with a desire to honor our dead. May 30, 1868 was the first Decoration Day. General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery while 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington.

Over the years, this special day has come to embrace not only Civil War soldiers who lost their lives but to also remember and recognize all those who have sacrificed their lives, living and dead, to serve in our military forces. When we celebrate Memorial Day, we take time to recognize those who are willing to protect us. Today I want to suggest that we expand our perception of those who protect us to include our first responders. These are people who are actively involved in our everyday homeland security.

When I think of our military, I imagine men and woman dressed in uniforms representing the Army, Air Force and Navy. However, I also see our first responders in other types of uniforms. I see police, firefighters and ambulance crew workers in attire signifying their form of service. Our military forces are stationed in countries around the world where they are put in harm’s way. In a different yet similar way, the members of our police force are in harm’s way when they respond to certain calls. I am not diminishing the right for us to take time to honor our military forces. However, I do feel these people are also worthy of our recognition and thanks for their services.

First responders include many people in numerous capacities. Approximately two months ago, we became particularly aware of another specific group of first responders who helped our area. We had a wind storm with 81 MPH wind gusts that resulted in over 100,000 people losing electrical power in  homes. Utility crews were the first responders to this situation. Their uniforms were orange vests and hard hats, Not only were all the workers of our local utility companies working around the clock to restore power, but 290 other utility crews came to aid the restoration process.

I want to highlight three scriptures that remind me of our first responders. When I read I Corinthians 16:13, I think of our National Guard. The verse states,Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” However, all of our first responders definitely show courage and strength. John 14:27 records Jesus saying, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace Jesus offers has a spiritual depth not offered by anyone else. Only the peace of God can enable our hearts to not be troubled or afraid. However, keeping peace within a city is the goal of the police force. There are certain locations within many cities where it is hard to live free of trouble and fear, but our police strive to provide us a peaceful environment. Jesus concludes Matthew 10:8 by saying, “Freely you have received; freely give.” Especially in smaller communities, many firefighters are volunteers who freely give of their time to help others.

Romans 13:7 is a good scripture for us to be mindful of regarding all those who are or have been part of our military forces and civilian responders.Give to everyone what you owe them: … if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” These individuals deserve our respect and honor for their commitment to serve our nation and our citizens. Memorial Day is a good opportunity for us to set aside time to publicly recognize and thank those who protect us around the world and at home. However, they are also worthy of our support and gratitude every day of the year. Our freedom depends upon them.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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