Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Posts tagged ‘God’

God’s Dwelling

I saw the lofty clouds,
Like mountains piled high.
I wondered if the angels,
Or God, were dancing there.
And then the thunder rolled,
A wave of sound; God speaking there.

I saw the real mountains,
The jagged cliffs, with snow adrift,
Their fearsome heights created
By a holy God — And who can tell
If He does not there dwell?

But He’s not bound by earth or sky;
Perhaps He’s in a lullaby,
Or in a spouse’s kiss; He’s ne’er amiss.
To know His love is awe and bliss.

The Snare of Riches

‘And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”‘ (Luke 19:23)

We are sorely mistaken if we think that riches will bring us happiness. Material goods, to a point, are certainly a blessing. It is good to have nutritious food, clothes to keep you comfortable in any weather, and shelter from that same weather. Beyond that, I’m proposing here that unearned and/or unshared wealth can be a real hindrance to happiness, if it takes the place of our relationship to God.

Certainly a high position in society does not guarantee healthy or moral behavior, not to mention that all your foibles and flaws will be mercilessly criticized by the public. There are some crazy stories, going back some generations, from my own family background, that cause one to ponder.

Here are a few, half heard, half remembered (and thus probably half accurate), from my background: One relative with a high position in the (non-U.S.) government, contracted syphilis and went mad. He was in the military and presumably, while married, contracted the illness from someone other than his wife. Another VERY wealthy relative gambled away 26 houses. Still another, to impress a woman he was wooing, bought out an entire theater performance so that the two could be the only people in the theater. They did get married, but later divorced, partly due to his infidelity. The same man ran for government and promised the voters that he would provide a copious feast if he won. He won.

We have all seen unhappy rich people in the news, with broken marriages and families, and disordered lives.

If you happen to be blessed with wealth, however you obtained it, remember that all your riches, and anything you possess, ultimately comes from God. (Of course, dishonest wealth is not in God’s plan.)

There were several rich men in the Bible who were righteous. Being rich doesn’t have to be evil in itself. For example, Abraham was quite wealthy and a person of great faith. Again, recall the story of Job, who lost all his riches and most of his relatives, but did not curse God. Ultimately, God restored everything to him, and more. There were rich Christians in the New Testament who shared their wealth. The point being, that their wealth was not where they derived their value, but they derived it from Christ.

A Year Since We Moved On!

About one year ago (June 27, 2021), my husband and I set out on our journey to move to Ohio from California. We chose to take nine days to do the drive, with our cat.

The trip here, and life afterwards have been an adventure, to say the least. For me, it’s been a bigger deal than for my husband. He grew up in Ohio, whereas I had lived in California my entire life, not even going away to college, not even a college within California (except as a commuter student, three or four times). Possibly, making a big change like this when you’re 67 might be slightly difficult!

We ended up in what I might call a semi-suburb. We are outside the limits, and on the east side of a large city. Our zip code is the same as a nearby small town, but we don’t live inside that town’s city limits. Although we have a sewer system rather than septic tanks, and other suburban amenities, it’s a very quiet neighborhood (development), which happens to have a small woodsy section in the center permanently preserved for wildlife. We often see deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, and many, many birds. On the other hand, my son and his family, who live within the west side of the same big city mentioned above, also see deer, plus have woodchucks nesting in their big yard, and other wildlife makes its presence known to them.

The people in Ohio have been wonderful. The biggest adjustments for me are climate (humidity and cold), bugs (chiggers are the most difficult so far), and poison ivy (rooting it out can take a lot of work, and you practically have to where a hazmat suit to work on it). Getting a new driver’s license (because of my unconventional birth certificate) and setting up new doctors were also challenging.

And the many good things: Abundance of natural life, plenty of water, dramatic clouds and thunderstorms, friendly neighbors who almost always wave, family helping each other, fireflies, a beautiful river just a few miles away and the riverside trail along it, etc.!

Thanks be to God and to all who prayed for us and made this journey possible.

God Is Like …

God is like the wind —
You can’t see it but you see and feel its effects.

God is like a wild cat —
Impossible to catch: it comes to you on its own terms.

God is like a faint star —
You get a glimpse of it only if you look at it sideways.

All arts are just shadows;
All words are inadequate.

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.

The Geese Fly South

Why do the geese fly south,
Through never-ending seasons,
Only to fly north again?

I cannot comprehend the rhythms of life,
Like making a bed,
Only to have it messed up again.

Perhaps the rhythms, like an endless tide,
Or waves that ebb and flow, go “left” and “right”,
Give glory to God, in every season —
We need a rhyme; we need a reason.

We need the heat, the cold — if I may be so bold.
We need the peace of winter freezing,
The new spring buds our nostrils teasing,
The summer heat, and frenzied days,
That turn to autumn — the harvest phase.

The work, the play, exhaustion, rest,
The climax, quiet, the tears, the jest,
The hardship, ease, the stress, the peace,
Success and failure; they never cease.

Up and down, pride and shame,
Through it all, our God’s the same,
And every breath we ever take,
He watches tirelessly, for our sake.

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)

Mood Disorder?

First, a disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, and have no psychological training except a few college classes and one five-day workshop. However, I have been in and out of counseling/therapy since age 12 or 13 (I’m now 66), sometimes with a break of many years. So, any psychological terms I use will be my understanding of what they mean, as a layperson.

My main diagnosis through all these years has been mild to moderate depression, or dysthymia. If I understand correctly, dysthymia comes under a broader category called “mood disorders”.

There are many opinions about depression, including “Just pull yourself together,” “It’s because of your sins,” “It’s a lack of faith,” “It’s from ‘stinkin’ thinking’ (irrational, untrue, or unrealistic thinking),” and “It’s a chemical imbalance in your brain.” Of course, all of these can be true, or overlapping.

I am often (not always) in a state of low-grade melancholy, for whatever reasons, as noted above. I could even add the excuse of my cultural background, which is Hungarian. My parents grew up there and then emigrated to the United States. From what I have read, melancholy is a common characteristic among Hungarians. Again, this could be for many reasons. One of my theories is that Hungary, for hundreds of years, has been overrun by foreign powers and has been constantly at their mercy (if there was any mercy). At any rate, melancholy does seem to be common among Hungarians, indeed, many eastern Europeans.

But, today I would like to share a surprising recent occurrence for me, perhaps a small miracle. The other day, I was in the typical, mildly low, mood. Sometime around 5:30 p.m., it was like someone turned on a switch. I was happy! I felt loved, and worthwhile, like God, and some people, loved me! It was inexplicable! I repeat, it was literally like a switch was turned on in my mood. No longer the negative thoughts like “Nobody likes me,” “I’m evil (or at best, worthless),” “Things are going to turn out badly,” etc. Lest this sounds frightening to anyone, let me be clear; I sometimes have these thoughts, but I don’t give in to them. They are like attacks that happen periodically. I have found ways to combat them. I am not miserable anymore, as I was in younger days. I have the hope of Jesus Christ, which is what keeps me alive and functioning and purposeful. Speculating on where they come from could be another blog post.

Like any mood change, I cannot explain what happened. I’ve even had the opposite happen. I will be in a mildly low mood and plunge into a more severe depression. Happily, this happens less and less in my life.

What can I learn from this? I believe God is trying to tell me, “Don’t rely on how you FEEL. I am with you despite any moods, feelings, or thoughts. I never leave you. Do not base your worth on how you feel, or how others treat you.” Whether I feel happy, sad, or in between, I mustn’t take that as my major reality. My major reality is that God is present and will not abandon me. THIS IS THE REALITY, not what I FEEL!

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.

There Is a God

There is a God, unfath’mable,
Whom many do not know.
Dark forces work continually 
So that our faith won’t grow.


They work on unsuspecting minds
And turn our thoughts away
From heavenly things, from angel’s wings;
Mankind’s their greatest prey.


There is a God Whose love is deep,
Who knows our ev’ry care.
He woos us with a perfect love;
His love is everywhere.


He never lies; nor does he cheat,
Nor practice any foul deceit.
He will not force His ways on us,
But waits in patience so discreet.


A love that’s forced can never be;
A real love must be free choice.
For freely chosen love’s the way
We’ll enter heaven and rejoice.

Tag Cloud