DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY: HOPE AND PRAY

  • January 31, 1985, was unforgettable for me. A precious bundle of beautiful baby was delivered via C-section where a record winter snow had just covered the world outside.

She weighed “about 9 pounds,” according to an experienced doctor, who proved accurate (exactly nine pounds) according to the scales. A length of twenty-two and a half inches meant she was half an inch longer than her older brother had been four and a half years earlier.

She really was a beautiful baby, and every possible moment was spent just holding her and being awed by such a miraculous gift. Sincere promises were made to love her and to do my best to take care of her and to be there for her… always. From my heart came prayers for her physical, mental, and spiritual growth, and with hope for her future.

Today I wonder how 35 years have gone by so quickly. If I am alive another 35 years then I’ll be 100! It seems strange to ponder these thoughts of time passing and of aging, but… “c‘est la vie” (“that’s life”).

These past 35 years have been full of continuing love, joy, prayers, and special memories. I’m still thankful for the awesome gift she is and appreciative of her tender heart and gentle spirit. She’s still my “little dear” even though she now stands about four inches taller than I do (there’s a funny story about where she gets her “tall genes”).

We laugh when her actions sometimes show she is “a chip off the block.” We’ve (partially) merged my realism-leaning art appreciation with her abstract-leaning artistic talents. Together we share a meaningful special song…. She constantly broadens my horizons in many ways, and best of all she has caused my heart to grow exponentially in ways she cannot imagine.

I pray the best for her, which means God’s best. He’ll do His part; she must do hers. May she… “Trust in the Lord with all” her “heart, and…” “not lean on” her “own understanding. In all… ways acknowledge Him, and He will make” her “paths straight.”

I still pray for her, and as long as I have breath and consciousness I will still hope for her future.

Happy birthday, Little Dear!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3: 3, 4)

BIBLICAL WISDOM: HOPE & PEACE

You’ll probably agree that we earthlings live on a troubled planet and may be on the verge of even bigger trouble. Terrorists and tyrants share this planet with those of us who are peaceful law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately they don’t want to share with anyone who differs in political views, religion, or race. Therein lies the problem — with potential for worsening problems.

Are there lessons from history to prevent the most deadly and destructive effects of power-crazed tyrannical political leaders? Can we learn how to avoid repeats of history’s greatest atrocities? Shall we be hopeful regarding the state of the planet or just give in to utter hopelessness?

The attack of Pearl Harbor and WW2 was a very difficult time for America. Some have thought we can learn valuable lessons from that time and have urged us to remember its lessons.

Gordon Prang, author of Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History, said, “Humanity cannot afford to forget the lessons of Pearl Harbor. The world is much too small, the risk is much too great, the time is much too late.”

President Franklin Roosevelt, to whom Americans looked for hope, said, “It is our obligation to the dead — it is our sacred obligation to their children and to our children — that we must never forget what we learned. And what we have  learned is this.

There is no such thing as security for any nation — or any individual in a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism.

There is no such thing as impregnable defense against powerful aggressors who sneak up in the dark and strike without warning.

We have learned that our ocean-girt hemisphere is not immune from severe attack — that we cannot measure our safety in terms of miles on any map anymore.”

I think history should be studied during times of peace and of uncertainty. Wise students are less likely to repeat the negative and more likely to follow the positive. Wisdom is a needed component while journeying through life. Believing this and knowing the Source of wisdom and accessing it are different matters.

If we all followed wisdom from above, then it would be easier to live with hearts full of hope. Even when all do not, we can still experience hope when we trust God as the Source of wisdom. Wise choices lead to righteous living, and sowing peace yields blessings to the  peacemakers. The Bible teaches wisdom to make wise choices and offers hope.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

This wisdom is not that which comes down from above but is earthly, natural, demonic.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

(James 3: 13 – 18)

I HAVE A DREAM: DREAM & HOPE

Today is Martin Luther King Day. There is nothing I can say that is more important or more hopeful regarding this day than the words of the man himself for whom this day is designated.

Following is only a portion of his most famous and most beloved speech from August 1963. I was too young then to fully appreciate the words of this great man. Here I will let his words share hope for today.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”

(Martin Luther King, Jr)

 

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

(Galatians 5: 13, 14)

MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON: HOPE, PRAY, SURVIVE

It’s been ten years since an incident involving US Airways Flight 1549 was called “Miracle on the Hudson.”

“On January 15, 2009, US Airways Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger became an overnight hero when he and his crew safely ditched a commercial airliner in the freezing waters of the Hudson River after an unlucky encounter with a flock of geese. All 155 passengers and crew aboard survived….” (Conde’ Naste Traveler)

It’s been the subject of countless news stories, books, and a Clint Eastwood movie, “Sully,” starring Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart, and is still remembered by many of us. True stories with life-and-death drama and real-life heroes usually are memorable.

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey Skiles had precious few seconds to plan and execute a safe landing of the plane. A portion of the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey was quickly deemed the best choice for an emergency landing. Miraculously all on board survived (with only five serious injuries).

“What’s remarkable is how quickly everything happened, especially given the outcome. Two minutes after taking off from LaGuardia airport, the plane ran into the flock of Canada geese. The birds hit both engines, creating the near total loss of thrust…. The plane was just 2,800 feet up and nowhere near its cruising speed — meaning the pilots had, maximum, a few minutes to find a safe path to the ground.

That left the river below them, which was in fact a rather fine choice. That part of the Hudson is about 4,000 feet wide, so the pilots didn’t have to come down perfectly parallel to the waterway like they would on a 150-foot-wide runway. It’s a whole lot longer, too, so they wouldn’t have to worry about overrunning it if they came down too late. And while water’s not as smooth as a paved runway, it’s an acceptable place to touch down in a pinch.”
(Alex Davies, “Wired”)

“The NTSB concludes that the captain’s decision to ditch on the Hudson River rather than attempting to land at an airport provided the highest probability that the accident would be survivable.”

I have hope when heroes like “Sully” Sullenberger and Skiles are identified. They did their best that could be done, and lives were saved. It’s been called a miracle, and I agree. I think it was a beautiful and providential pairing: divine assistance with two people ready to participate in the miraculous during a fleeting moment in time.

Surely survivors were thankful, and they may live with more hope than before they experienced the miracle up close and personal. Considering how a seemingly ordinary event on an ordinary day with ordinary people can in seconds turn into an extraordinary need for a miracle, I’ll try to live in hope and will continue to pray.

I’ll place my hope in Sovereign God as my pilot and pray for a miracle. Then if I survive may I be faithful to abide in the Creator and Sustainer of life. If I don’t survive, then He’ll take me home, and either way it’s a win for me.

 

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”
(Psalm 103:19)

The Spirit of God has made me, and the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33: 4)

“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from Whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
(I Corinthians 8: 6)

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
(Colossians 1: 17)

EAGLES’ WINGS: HOPE TO SOAR

It gives comfort and hope to trust promises from Creator God. One such comforting and hopeful promise was proclaimed by the Prophet Isaiah of Old Testament times. I especially like Isaiah 40: 31, the verse that provides a visual for my mind’s eye.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired,
they will walk and not become weary.”

(Isaiah 40: 28 – 31)

Our Great God helps the helpless, gives hope to the hopeless, and strengthens the weak. His promises give comfort as well as hope. They are true for all believers whether young, adult, or even mature Christians. His promises give hope even when we are weary. Notice I said when not if.

Eagles are majestic creatures especially in flight. I remember the first time I saw an eagle in nature. I watched in awe as it flew directly overhead. The experience was memorable, and the word that came to my mind at the time was “majestic.”

Since then my family has visited viewing sites where eagles nest during the winter. We’ve observed them in their nests on rocky cliffs, sweeping down to catch fish from a lake, and soaring majestically on air currents.

Have you considered that eagles are designed with characteristics that allow them to do what they do? They are known for their exceptional vision and keen ability to focus long distances. In fact an eagle may have the sharpest vision of any bird. Also eagles alone have the distinction of flying at the highest altitudes.

Eagles are designed with very long and large wings. Their wings are long and wide to bear their own body weight and additionally the weight of fish they catch and carry with their sharp and powerful talons.

According to scientists who studied eagles, Jon Gerrard and Gary Bortolotti, “Eagles are capable of sustained flapping flight, but they usually spend little time doing it.”

One eagle observed intensively in flight averaged less than 2 minutes per hour flapping. It’s understandable considering the large expenditure of energy required by the pectoral and supracoracoid muscles to power their huge wings. The energy needed to maintain a bird in soaring or gliding flight is much less (perhaps a 20th or even less) than the power needed for flapping. Eagles always choose to soar or glide when possible.

“That is why when eagles are flying long distances, especially on migration, they often soar on thermals until they reach a great altitude, and then use the gliding/soaring method of flying to cover the longest distance using the smallest amount of energy.”

(Journey North, University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Just like the air currents provided for eagles that allow them to soar high and majestically, our God provides that which is needed for us to soar above the mundane and negative constraints of life. We may soar into abundant living when we appropriate the gifts and provisions that God wants to give us. How much we miss when we depend on our own power and fly (or fall) in our own strength (or weakness)!

I believe God designed us to soar high like eagles. He is like the thermals on which we soar highest as we rest in Him and depend on Him. He is the power to gain new strength and not become weary. Let’s trust Him, rely on  His promises, find hope, then get ready to soar like eagles!

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired,
they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40: 31)

JACK WILSON: HERO & HOPE

This past Sunday a 71-year-old Texan, responsible, capable, well-trained, security-conscious church member, was presented an opportunity to save lives and was willing to do what needed to be done. Crucial to his description is the fact that He was armed.

Heroes give me hope, and in my viewpoint Jack Wilson is a real hero. It wasn’t a title he sought, but it was a position for which he was ready. Thankfully for many innocent lives, Wilson was in church Sunday. He was alert, ready for the circumstance he was presented, and armed!

That circumstance was unthinkable and sadly resulted in two innocent lives taken. A gunman who has been described as crazy, violent, evil… with deadly intent entered a church full of worshippers. Because of Jack Wilson’s heroic actions the gunman, who was hellbent on murder, was stopped before additional innocent lives were taken.

It is commendable that other church security team members were ready like Wilson. It is heartbreaking that even one innocent life was taken, and the victims’ grieving families and loved ones have my sympathy. It is unfortunate that the need for security exists in churches, but it does in our fallen world. It is beyond comprehension that a mind can become twisted enough to follow a depraved heart to commit callous murder.

It is clear to me that an evil was stopped Sunday in Texas. I am thankful that evil was stopped in this case within 6 seconds. I have no doubt that Sunday’s hero was Jack Wilson. He and those like him — ready to protect others even to sacrifice if necessary — give me hope.

I’m praying… God’s Comfort for the heartbroken… and in thanks to God for Jack Wilson.

 

“The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.

For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.

My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.

Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

Teach me Your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes….

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

(Psalm 27: 1 – 14)