You are “Here”

Welcome back to another week of the weird way I think. Can I start by saying I appreciate you reading my quirky little posts? It helps to know that someone, somewhere, thought about the same things I think about and took time to comment. It gets noted in my heart. Today is a rainy, chilly day in the depths of October. The weekend, though, was beautiful — and we reveled in the warmth of a delightful fall Saturday and Sunday! Guess life is about balances, eh? We met friends (yeah for meeting friends again!!) and found a new walking trail to explore with the dog. Which is where I start my muse for this week. Have you ever been to a new location and about to start out on a journey and you consult the official map board posted at the entrance? They have them in the mall, provincial parks, large buildings, amusement parks… those signs that say this trail is 45 minutes long and loops around the pond, or your favourite shoe store is next to the donut shop on floor 2, or the five public washrooms are located here, here, here and here and here, but there is only one that is family friendly, and it’s back at the entrance….

One thing that all those map signs have in common is the “you are HERE” spot. That red dot or arrow indicating the location you are standing at right now. The central location you currently understand — and the spot in which you navigate the rest of your journey from. That little dot is your orientation. It’s your point of beginning. It’s also sometimes your final destination! The goal you want to get back to after the day of exploring. And so I began to muse… where is “here” in life? Where are you “at” right now, compared to the big map board of your journey? Big questions. Perhaps big answers.

My searching didn’t help much in answering the big questions of life. I did find a little tidbit of random information, though, about the “@” symbol…. commonly called “at” in modern day computer language… originally penned by medieval monks, the symbol became standard in commerce in the 1800’s to mean “at the rate of”. It wasn’t until 1971 that a computer scientist named Ray Tomlinson needed a way to connect his computer programmers to one another…and “randomly” chose the obscure symbol on his typewriter. The rest is email history, as they say! Bloggers will tell you it’s where they are “@”. Okay. Moving on.

Let’s go back to where we are at. The “we are here” dot. Are you happy where you are? I think about this a lot. I like to set goals, but I find I rarely meet them. Am I content? There’s a big theological discussion waiting to happen.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Philippians 4:11

What did Paul mean when he says that he has learned to be content? Was he financially secure with investments to keep him happy well into retirement? Or was he simply sharing thanks for the gifts the Philippians sent him? Does it mean we can’t ask for more? Should we be striving for more? The verses before remind us to “present your requests to God” and “think on things that are noble and true”. I don’t know. I am HERE. On this dot. Yes, I can be content here, with God’s help and blessing. Perhaps this is where He wants me to be for now, in order to serve a greater purpose in His plan that I don’t know about. I’ve been thinking about Hannah — who wanted a son so bad it ached. Was it wrong for her to pour her heart out to God in prayer? Was it her faith that God would answer her prayers that led to Samuel’s birth? Should she have been content to be greatly loved by her husband and not need more? Her husband thought so.

As usual, I don’t have all the answers to such questions. I struggle with them too. Yet, I think it is important to take note of the “you are here” dot in life. To look at the big board and figure out if you can go around the pond and still make it back to the “you are here” dot in time for lunch. Or should you wait here and not go to the donut store on floor 2? Are you looking at the map, my friend? Are you staring at the possibilities with excitement? Or are you learning to be content “@” home base? Where people know where to reach you. It’s all part of the journey, and worth the muse.

Light in the Darkness

Alright my friends, I need you to help settle a little debate I’m having with the hubby. I think it is perfectly okay to say “it was pitch black dark” outside. He says that saying “pitch black” is redundant… black is black, no need to describe it. What do you think? Is my description an over zealous attempt to embellish an already described adjective? I don’t know, I think you can have varying degrees of “darkness”… shades of grey if you must. And “pitch black dark” is dark. Scary dark.

I suppose as we approach the end of October, it is the appropriate time to talk about all things scary… and dark. Have you ever been lost in the dark? We have often travelled along country roads unfamiliar to us “after dark”. And let me tell you, with no city street lights and only distant farm houses to light your way, the back roads can be frightening at night. I’ve sent up more than a few quick prayers on such occasions, hoping we don’t meet a large animal or sudden dip in the road! Can I get an amen? Tell me this “city girl” is not the only one who notices these things?

Ever been down one of those dark, country roads?! (Photo credit: Pierre PRESTAT)

Let’s muse about dark and light for a little bit. I think it is a pretty well known assumption that “darkness” versus “light” is often symbolic of evil and good, respectively. All things “bad” hide out in the shadows. Light shines as a beacon of hope and goodness in an otherwise evil or dark world. Statistically speaking, the actual word “darkness” appears 175 times through out the Bible. Physical darkness (like the eclipse that happened at the cross or during the plagues) usually indicates a presence of evil or a removal of the Divine. No wonder we naturally fear it. Separation from God and the goodness He brings is a frightening thing to think about. Most of the 175 verses back up our thoughts thus far. I challenge you to look them up, the verses are quite powerful and will make you so much more aware of the character of God and His ultimate power and presence. Consequently, the very real presence of evil are also quite evident in these verses as well.

And yet, during this time of year, we seem to be celebrating it. I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of Halloween or Trick or Treating. I love a great costume. And who doesn’t like candy? I love a good spooky movie, too. Still, I am discovering that the next generation has no idea how scary the “dark side” can really be. And I am not talking about Darth Vader either. Wizards, witches and oils, potions and piercings have weaseled their way into our everyday lives with very little attention to their origins. It’s worth some digging.

“Black as Pitch” ( Photcredit: elizaIO)

As with any hot topic of the day, I think it is important to do your research. Have open and honest conversations. Debate and challenge off the cuff remarks and blind followings. Ya’ll know I am an advocate for the “never stop learning” approach to life… and this includes the mystical stuff too. Learn and understand — but be discerning.

Do we have to fear the darkness? Should we shy away and not discuss it? No! God has overcome it. His light blinds out the dark like the headlights of the oncoming cars on the deserted country road. We must be wise, but confident, that Satan and all His evil ways have been defeated. The debate on that topic is no longer up for discussion. Whether the night can be described as “pitch black dark”? The verdict on that is still up in the air. Feel free to add your vote to that thought in the comments!

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!