The Wrong Way on a One Way Street

Have you ever found yourself driving in the wrong direction on a one way street? It’s never happened to me that I can recall, but I can imagine that it would be somewhat of a distressing adventure! The hubby did it once on purpose. A few years back, we had stopped at the border for a quick snack before heading down to the U.S. when we noticed the traffic heading over the bridge was very backed up. We were hoping to fill up the gas tank south of the border expecting the prices would be cheaper. The fuel marker was almost on empty. We debated the gamble. Should we wait in traffic running the risk of stalling in the middle of the highway, or do we get gas in Canada and pay the price? News reports were saying the hold ups would take hours. Canadian gas it was…

Canadian Traffic jams are a definite thing.

As the family and I sipped our Timmies, the hubby went off to ask where the nearest gas station was. I should have known when he comes back a short time later with a “just stay here with the kids until I get back” statement and the look of “just don’t ask questions, okay?” glare in his eye. As it turns out, we were “past the point of no return” in the world of borders and duty free shopping … and there was no way of “going back” to the nearest gas station… unless… yup, you guessed it … a quick detour down the one way street against oncoming traffic to the next local turn off. I’m glad I was not witness to the acutely distressing (not to mention law breaking) act of going the wrong direction on a one way street! He didn’t tell me until some time later… after his survival and a full tank of gas.

So why do I bring up my husband’s misdemeanors for this post? I was reminded this week about the concept of repentance. I’m sure many of you have heard that true, biblical repentance means doing a “full turn around” from going in one direction to making the decision to go in exactly the opposite direction. Perhaps we think of this in much too simple terms… “oops, sorry God, I’ve sinned against you, gotta switch gears and ‘do better’ next time.” Yet, true repentance is really hard. It involves humbling yourself. It involves a broken heart and true sorrow. It’s scary and not always easy. It’s like going down that one way road that we’ve been sailing along on, only to turn in the opposite direction — and face the on coming obstacles heading straight for us! And you know there will be opposition when you are trying to do the right thing…

Many of the biblical time prophets spoke of this repentance. Their cries were for revival and change. They spoke of the doom and destruction that was to come if the people of the land refused to repent and turn back to God:

11 The Lord thunders
    at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
    and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
    it is dreadful.
    Who can endure it?

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

Joel 2:11-14 NIV

Many folks showed “outward signs” of repentance… the tearing of clothes, the sitting in ashes, the presentation of sacrifices… still, God reminded them (and us!) that true repentance takes place in the heart, not in the rendering of garments. When heart changes happen, God blesses and is merciful. It’s so true, even today, our world is in need of real revival and a return to God. Our societies have travelled so far from His teachings, that we are going to need some major construction to happen on those one way streets before we all get going the right direction!

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

Well. How you feelin’ my friend? Is there a heart change you need to make? Do you need to experience the thrill of changing direction on that one way street you’ve been stuck on? Will the gas tank go empty if you don’t? May you find the courage to take the risk… and make a change of heart! Be blessed!

The Best of the Harvest Season!

Welcome back to another week of mittonmusings! It was a lovely fall day, today, and I reflected as I walked the puppy in the sunshine. I also bought a couple of pots of beautiful fall mums for my front porch. * Sigh* Tis the season of sweaters, pumpkins and corn husks! In Canada, the seasonal change of autumn marks another opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors… the leaves begin to change colours and the crisp air reminds us it’s time to prepare for winter.

It sparked a little debate recently – this idea of “the fall season” – and all it’s goodies. What would you say is the true fall taste or flavour? Are you a die hard pumpkin spice latte fan? Or is apple fritter and warm cider your go-to? A few years ago there was pumpkin spice everything!! Maybe apples are passé and only come around in September when it is back to school and all that.

What gets you excited about in autumn?? Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

Either way, Covid has put a damper in all the farm visits and pick your own adventures. No fall fairs happening… at least not the traditional ones. I don’t know about you, but drive by visits simply can not be the same as getting down and dirty with some farm critters… am I right? No cider samples. No corn on a stick. No candy apples and fritters. Hmmmn. Smell all the smells. Taste all the tastes. Hug some chickens.

The Harvest Season has always been a time of rejoicing — even in Bible times. Jews celebrated the grain harvest and the Feast of the Tabernacles with abundant joy and thanksgiving for all God’s good gifts. He has provided, not only from the Earth, but through His teachings and blessings. It was a time to gather with friends, family and yes, even foreigners, to celebrate and share the blessings… both physical and spiritual. Covid restrictions aside. Here’s to hugs and good food!

Interestingly, the Spring Harvest was the Israelite’s more “important” time in terms of crop gathering. The major crops of the land in that day (and maybe even now?) were wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey. Wheat and barley were the staple of the people in those days and constituted over fifty percent of the average person’s total caloric intake, followed by legumes (e.g. lentils), olive oil, and fruit, especially dried figs (Judaism: Practice and Belief, 63 BCE-66 CE, 1992, page 129). Grain harvest was in the spring, so technically, it was more vital to their survival than the fall Harvest. I think Canada only gets rain and worms in spring. Still, the fall festivals were the ones to enjoy! Be merry, the Bible tells us!

And yet, no matter when the crops are ready, the point of the celebration is the same. The Bible describes our heavenly father as the “Lord of the Harvest” (Matthew 9:38). You see, the blessings and provisions we enjoy don’t actually belong to us… they belong to the “Lord of the Harvest”. And His message is twofold: we are blessed, and we are blessed to bless others. Many of you will remember our “30 Days of Blessing” Challenge… we designed it to remind us of exactly that fact. It was a practical way to share a little kindness each day… not only to ourselves but to those around us.

And so, my friends, as you drive thru and savour your next pumpkin spice latte, or devour your next apple fritter, remember that God’s beauty is not only in the falling leaves, but in the choices we make each day. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. It’s difficult for me to see the needs of others easily. Some of you are truly gifted in this way and are constantly doing good works. I need reminders. Maybe that’s why God made so many markers out there: fall colours, sweet smells, delicious tastes, cool breezes. Maybe that was His was of saying, Look! I am the Lord of the Harvest, and I’ve made all this for you!

Be blessed, friends! Happy Fall!

The Waiting Game

Have you ever had to wait for something? Perhaps you’ve been waiting a little longer these past few years – wow – years of the global pandemic. Things have been at a standstill and we are “waiting” for things to grow, change, move forward… Everything seems to take longer. We voted today in Canada, and we were told the process would take longer as everyone kept their social distance, and polling stations were shuffled in order to control crowd sizes. Our little crew moved along quite quickly and we didn’t have too much trouble. But you get it, right? Line ups, cues, and the like, are a lesson in patience.

And then there is the unknown. Waiting for decisions to be made. Waiting for lab reports to run. Waiting for news to arrive. What will be the answer? How will that outcome change me? Will I be part of the change or simply part of the wait? Any expectant mama knows all about this waiting game. As the little one grows, we become totally attached… emotionally, physically and mentally. And then when the waiting is over… well that baby rocks your whole world. But first, you have to wait.

I’ve been waiting for something for a little while now. I know the timing is not right, but I’m still eagerly awaiting. I anticipate and plan and “prepare”… but I’m still stuck in the waiting stages. And to be honest, I hate it. I’m not one for quick decisions, but I do like to see progress once a decision is made. I like to see that there is some movement forward. I’d even take movement backward, as long as there is movement. I don’t like the “stuck” in the proverbial purgatory of neither here nor there. Perhaps I’m not a very patient person. I have some flaws… patience is a virtue. We’ve written about this before. It’s still a hang up of mine. If you care to find out the sweet truth about patience being a virtue, you can read about it here. Moving on…

Each one of us must be patient at some point. It’s just the way life is. We learn the coping skills at a very young age. Breathe, cry, scream, yell, throw things… fester and mumble and complain… leave guilt ridden hints about how slow other people are… I guess your reactions depend on the thing you are being patient about. I was going to say you “mature” in your waiting game… but realistically there are plenty of grown adults who behave a lot like impatient toddlers. Cue drama. Two years old, or twenty two… same drama. Or is it? I know some very patient people. Those even keeled, totally “zen” folks who rarely get their feathers ruffled by having to wait. Is it a skill? Is it the way we are wired? Lemme know if you have an answer to this one, because I struggle with the “wait”.

Our pastor touched on this waiting game on Sunday’s study of Acts 1. Jesus told the disciples to “wait” for the gift I am sending you (i.e. the Holy Spirit, see Acts 1:4). Perhaps many of the disciples were like me… and not so good at the waiting game. They had seen some radical things happen in the short period before these words, and I am sure they were “chomping at the bit” to see the early church’s movement gain momentum. But Jesus told them to wait. If they had chosen not to wait, then what power would they receive at the day of Pentecost? One definition of waiting I found was this:

noun: “the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens”

I like it because it indicates steps. I like steps. Wait until this, or this…then this. This helps me get through my waiting. I can do this and this until this. Then wait. Until this….

The waiting game is not an easy game to master. It’s a learned skill. It takes some guts. It takes self control and patience. For many of us, waiting is a struggle. They say good things come to those who wait. This was certainly the case in Acts 1. I’m hoping it will be for me at the end of my waiting game… and I trust that God gives you the patience to wait as well. Until next week, my friends! I’ll be waiting!!