Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

God and Time

The Bible is a fascinating book. It gives us glimpses of God, if only from the limited human understanding of its authors, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. So I’m going to take it as a given that the Bible does not lie, but again, the Holy Spirit worked through human instruments in the writing.

If we agree that God: knows all, never changes, has no beginning nor end, and has no deceit in Him, can we attempt to have any inkling of how God relates to time?

I’m including here some ideas that my husband gave me, as we had a good discussion on this theme.

So, God created time; however, He is outside of time. We as humans don’t have a clue how that works, but there it is! Here are some Bible quotes relating to time:

Luke 18:7-8: ‘and will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”’ Comment: What does “quickly” mean for God? So often, don’t we ask God, “How long, O Lord?”

2 Peter 3:8-9: “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one dayThe Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” Comment: Ah, here is a clue, perhaps obvious; God has a different concept of time than we do.

Revelation 22:7: ‘“See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”’ Revelation 22:20: ‘The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Comment: What is “soon” for God? Bible verses can have many layers of meaning. Certain scholars say that Revelation was written before the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.; the verse could refer to God’s judgment coming that year. Or it may refer to Jesus Second Coming, or to both.

But I gained a powerful insight in discussing all this with my husband. So often I have felt desolate, even somewhat abandoned by God, because “nothing seems to be happening,” or the changes I would desire (often in myself) don’t seem to be coming to fruition. But, hopefully looking at things more from God’s point of view, HE REALLY DOES CARE; He is just doing things in His own timing. What a comfort to know God’s care. Let me always remember that He has a good plan, with the best timing.

Thank You, Everyone!

Ohio Report: January 26, 2022

It was 7 degrees Fahrenheit this morning at 7:20 a.m.  No wind to speak of, clear skies, and no ice on the roads, so it could be a lot worse.  No snow today, except little piles left over from January 17th.

I’m sure people from Siberia, Alaska, Canada, the northernmost states of the U.S., and other places will be laughing at me for thinking 7 degrees is unusual, but it is for this coastal California girl!  Maybe a few times at Lake Tahoe, I’ve experienced 7 degrees.

If you have cold weather, never take for granted (if you have them) a home, a furnace, electricity, warm clothes, and food to sustain you.  I once watched a documentary in which they did an experiment with three couples or families, perhaps around the 1990s or later.  The challenge was to see if they could survive a winter without all the modern conveniences.  I think they had a cabin already; not sure.  At any rate, they had to grow and preserve enough food, and collect enough firewood to survive winter.  All three families failed.  They didn’t preserve enough food nor collect enough firewood.  They had to go back to their regular life before finishing the challenge.

The goats at my son’s in-laws are doing well in their indoor winter pen. They have a milk house heater for when it’s freezing or below.  These are African pygmy goats, so they aren’t as hardy as, say, Scottish goats.  They eat grain, leaves, and hay, and seem to really enjoy having people visit and pet them, not to mention the food provided.

We are fine here because of hundreds, if not thousands, of people:  those who made our warm clothes; those who grow, deliver, and sell food; those who make and sell and maintain furnaces and refrigerators; those who build facilities for and maintain and deliver gas and electricity; those who collect our garbage once a week; those who deliver mail and packages to us; those who sustain us spiritually and/or in friendship and love, those who helped us have health and the ability to work to pay for bills – the list could go on and on.  Thank you, everyone!

Faults

Do not be too discouraged about your faults, even those that come up repeatedly. Of course, strive to overcome them, but don’t be depressed by them. Instead, let them lead you to humility and dependence on God’s grace.

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Renewing Our Mind

As a girl, I often heard the song, “Accentuate the Positive.” You can listen to many versions of it on YouTube, including those by Bing Crosby with the Andrew Sisters, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Paul McCartney.

While there can be a danger of being too Pollyannaish (unrealistically optimistic), there is a lot to be said for focusing on positive things. St. Paul wrote, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about theses things” (Philippians 4:8). He also wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). “Renewing our minds” can be seen as turning our thoughts to what is good, holy, and productive, and if you’re a believer, focusing on God.

There are many articles to be read on “negativity bias,” the tendency of humans to give more attention to negative than to positive things. How else would news outlets survive? We can be almost ghoulish in our fascination with the negative.

An illustration in my own life would be my lifelong tendency to take offense, to take things personally, or to assume the negative intent of someone. I’ve had to battle this my whole life. It’s a serious internal battle, requiring much prayer and refocusing.

Just the other day, a person in my life did not react in a way I had been hoping. An insidious little devil in me started ruminating on why the person “didn’t like me,” “didn’t trust me,” and on and on. Then, thankfully, another thought came to me, “Hey, wait a minute — earlier in the conversation, they smiled and said something positive. Why don’t I remember that, instead of the other stuff?” From training my mind over the years to reframe incidents and refocus my thinking, I was, by the grace of God, able to get over this incident relatively quickly. The “training” has included Bible study and help from a therapist.

In Isaiah 42:3, it says “a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” This was fulfilled by Jesus (see Matthew 12:9-21). We are all broken in many respects; perhaps some are more broken than others. Thankfully, Jesus is willing to work with us.

What’s in a Name?

This is long, but if it will save anyone some trouble, it will be worth it…

For people who may be applying for a driver’s license in the future, especially “real id,” a.k.a. “compliant,” be sure your identification documents are in sync, that is, the first and last names match EXACTLY. Also, if you’ll use your passport as an identifying document, obviously it must be up to date. Passport renewal can take weeks.

On 11/9/2021, I got approved for a driver’s license, after three tries. I don’t know if it would have been a problem if I had not moved to a new state. On my first attempt to change to my new state’s license after moving, I brought in a certified copy of my birth certificate, a certified copy of my marriage license, my Social Security card, my former state’s driver’s license, and two proofs of my new address, like utility bills.

My dear parents, may they rest in peace, gave me four middle names besides my first name (at the time, Clara). One of my middle names was Katalin, and over the years people started calling me Cathy, a derivation of Katalin. So, though my birth certificate and my marriage license have Clara as my first name, and four middle names, all my other documents, including my Social Security card and my former state’s driver’s license, had Cathy as my first name. So, because, of the difference in first names, my application for a D.L. was rejected. I cannot remember how I got a driver’s license and SS card with the name Cathy and not Clara (I’m 66.).

My husband thought and thought, then said, “Forget the birth certificate, use your passport, which has your name as Cathy.” That’s how he had gotten his new D.L.

I applied for renewal of my passport, which had expired. I paid extra for expediting the passport renewal. Some weeks later, I received a valid updated passport with the name Cathy.

Soon after, I returned to the licensing bureau, using my passport as an identifying document instead of my birth certificate. Things were going well until they checked my passport number. The clerk said, “It doesn’t match up.” Turns out that it takes three to six weeks, or more, for new passport numbers to be downloaded into the license bureau’s database. So, no go, again. The clerk recommended that I “come back in three weeks”.

I was tempted to give up, but I then emailed the state capital licensing bureau. They confirmed that it takes three to six weeks for new passport numbers to be downloaded.

After waiting four weeks, I tried and succeeded in having the D.L. application approved, using the passport! What a relief! I was so amazed, I left my checkbook at the bureau and had to return to get it, thanks to an honest person who turned it in.

During this ordeal, I briefly contacted two lawyers (no fees paid) who weren’t a big help. One option was to have my name changed in court. But you must reside in my state for a year before you can legally change your name.

Other cases I’ve heard of: 1) a woman whose only name differences were Catie versus Katie. 2) A person whose name difference was Julie versus Julianna. That lady got results by writing to her U. S. Senator. 3) A woman who had either “Grace Mary” or “Mary Grace” (I have changed her names) on different documents.

So, if you’re planning to get a D.L., you may want to work on getting all your identifying documents to agree on the version of your name, or use a passport that is synchronized, if your birth certificate is not.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had a passport!

If anyone has had a similar experience, or advice on hindsight, please share.

Real Heroes

So many people go about quietly doing their jobs and fulfilling their family and/or civic duties. Some of their work may be dangerous, or sometimes achingly boring or mundane. They may never be famous. They may never be rich. There is nothing glamorous about them. Yet they are real heroes.

Who Can Stand?

“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.” (Psalm 130:3-4)

Wow! Indeed, who can stand before a holy, pure God? If He were like humans, He would have destroyed us long ago. Humans constantly find fault with one another. But the Lord is patient and kind. Yes, we will suffer consequences for our sins, but unlike many people, once we have repented, God forgets our sins. (see Psalm 103:11-13)

A Worthless Slave?

“So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” (Luke 17:10).

In his book, “Jesus, the Master Psychologist,” Dr. Ray Guarendi comments on the above passage: “Jesus never questions the infinite value of a person … [Jesus’] counsel: When you do what is expected of you, do not expect approval.” Guarandi continues, “Don’t seek praise when acting praiseworthy. [A worthless slave] is not a worthless human being … Being a worthless servant is the path to being a worthy disciple.”

In other words, we are infinitely valuable, but it is God, not ourselves, Who provides the value. Whatever we do to serve Him is not to our credit, but is only what we would be expected to do, because He is worthy of all service.

Confession

Whether you confess to a priest, a minister, a trusted friend, and/or privately to God, repentance and confession are powerful things. The Bible references confession, including “When you realize your guilt in any of these, you shall confess the sin that you have committed.” (Leviticus 5:5), “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a), and ‘”[Jesus] … breathed on [his disciples] and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”’ (John 20:22-23). Stating our sins explicitly brings them out in the open, into the light. I believe Jesus knew that unconfessed sin was like an untreated wound; if not exposed and cleansed, it would fester.

Once, when I confessed resentment at being hurt or misunderstood, the priest advised, “Think of the hurt like a knife in your heart. You pull out the knife. Now you have a choice. You can keep dwelling on the hurt and/or stab the other person, or you can say to Jesus, “Jesus, I give you this knife and my hurt. You take it. I ask You to handle this because I cannot.”

I don’t always get such helpful advice when I confess, nor do I always have a dramatic experience as some do (for example, a radical experience of cleansing), but I trust that Jesus IS cleansing me and granting me the grace to grow in love for Him and for others.

[Perhaps I should add that wounds from others, or from our own sins, should not be ignored, but neither should we wallow in self-pity. Sometimes the wounds are so deep that we might need counseling from others, or serious therapy. But learning to let Jesus heal our wounds is a big step.]

Don’t be afraid to confess! Unlike with people at times, God will take you back, and all you confess and repent of will be forgotten in the ocean of His mercy.

What is Freedom?

Freedom is the grace to make good decisions, the power to do good. Freedom is being able to express your beliefs, while respecting others beliefs. Freedom is to receive forgiveness, to be released by the grace of God from the guilt of my wrongdoing, and to offer forgiveness to others. Freedom is receiving the grace to forgive my enemies, instead of living a life of resentment and blame. Freedom is letting go of the past, and having hope for the future. Freedom is appreciating those who have helped you have freedom. Gratitude increases freedom. Freedom is a great gift, and a great responsibility. Thank you, God, for the great gift of freedom.

Written July 3, 2021

Tag Cloud