Friday, October 17, 2008

Coming to a Complete Stop

Recently, I got a rather expensive traffic ticket. It had been nearly a decade since I’d last received a ticket of any kind, and on that occasion, it had come with such a clear word from the Lord, that I literally received it with rejoicing! So I was keen to discern whether or not God was again trying to get my attention through His servants of the law enforcement community.

The ticket was at an intersection I typically drive through 4-6 times a day, and I have never previously seen the police monitoring that intersection (and never since). But on that day they were watching, and I was nabbed for failing to come to a complete stop at a 4-way stop sign. I slowed down, but I was in such a hurry that I rolled through without bothering to stop.

It didn’t take much thought to connect this experience with what I had already been feeling rather convicted about lately. My desire is to spend devotional time with the Lord every day. But life is busy, and though the needs I deal with require the wisdom and grace of God, I must confess that I’ve neglected my devotional time with God amidst the many needs that come my way. This is the opposite of what Jesus did. Luke 5:15 tells us that as “news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses”, verse 16 says “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Jesus was in far greater demand than I am, and yet He still found time to spend with His Father. And if the Son of God needs time in prayer to cope with the pressing demands of life, I most certainly do! But this fall, in the midst of much busyness and much weariness, I had fallen well behind in my Bible-reading schedule and was praying on-the-fly more often than withdrawing to a lonely (or quiet) place to pray. In other words, rather than stopping to pray, I was rolling through my prayer times as I hurried on with my Many Important Activities. And though I knew God was trying to get my attention regarding all this, I busily carried on, planning to do something about it next week.

I’ve heard Barney Coombs say that if God really wants to get your attention, he’ll touch your pocketbook. And it’s extremely wise to pay attention the first time He does this, or it can get costly! It seems, God felt this was important enough to touch my pocketbook. So I’ve had some great times with God lately and hope to do so every day. While so many situations around me continue to seem urgent, I can’t afford (both financially and spiritually!) to get involved in them without the wisdom and grace that comes from spending quality time with God. Jesus thought so. I’m obviously still figuring that out!

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Power of Pie

Thanksgiving is a day of celebrating our gratitude by feasting on the blessings we're thankful for. Nothing wrong with that, so long as we remember to also make time in our lives for those who have very little, and share our blessings with them. But the fact that there are people in need in this world is certainly not a reason to decry our enjoyment of God's wonderful gifts to us. God wants us to enjoy His blessings, and He wants that enjoyment to give us increased joy in Him, and He also wants that joy to spill over to bless others as we share His blessings with people around us.

For me, the part of Thanksgiving that best accomplishes all that is pecan pie. Yes, pecan pie. I love pecan pie. It's delicious. It's delectable. Give me a pie and a fork, and that's all I need. My thoughts will turn heavenward with every bite. And it just so happens that my wife Fiona makes the best pecan pie on the planet. She tends to bake it at Christmas, on my birthday and at Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving, she's made three pecan pies! Three pecan pies! What a perfect opportunity this provides for overflowing joy in God! Think of it... Fiona gets to share something of incomparable taste with me... I get to feast on the blessing of many pieces... my joy in the One who has given us the wonder of pecan pies increases by the mouthful... and with three mouth-watering pies, I have an abundance to share with others, thereby increasing both my joy and the joy of others! It's the power of pie -- pecan pie! Such delicacies in life are meant to be God-given pointers to our Father in heaven, in whom we can find far more delight than in any earthly feast and who provides us with such feasts as mere tastes of His eternal and infinite love for us. I want to remember that as I fill my face this Thanksgiving. Just as I also want to remember the people in this world I'm meant to share God's blessings with -- people who don't know how much God loves them. The blessings on which we feast taste best when shared with those who've never tasted them!

Oh, and there's gotta be a lot of whipped cream on pecan pie. Each piece has got to be smothered in whipped cream.

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A prize for the 500th visit!

It's been 161 days since I started this blog on April 28 of this year. And just this morning, someone dropped by for the overall 500th visit to this blog! No, it wasn't that particular person's 500th visit and nor was he the 500th visitor -- but his arrival to the blog marked the 500th time someone had checked out "The View from Here. " So to celebrate, I'm giving away a prize!

I'm pleased to announce that the prize for the 500th visit goes to my dear Dad! And the prize is a copy of the book "Pierced by the Word" by John Piper.

I can assure you that my Dad had no inside information regarding this prize. I had told absolutely no one about any prize or even that the blog was approaching this milestone. But it does seem a happy coincidence that my Dad's 74th birthday just happens to be tomorrow, October 6! It looks to me like God simply wanted to bless my Dad on this special occasion. Happy birthday, Dad! The book will be in the mail tomorrow.

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A memorable visitor

This past Saturday afternoon, I was reading Luke 1-2 as part of my regular devotional time with God, and I found myself freshly impacted by the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. I always find it a bit startling as the angel Gabriel appears and says, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son..." (Luke 1:13). It's startling to me because I assume that Zechariah and Elizabeth had stopped praying that prayer a long time ago. Verse seven tells us that "Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well along in years." In other words, old -- too old to have kids. And then along comes this angel promising a son, with no reference to why this answer to their prayers had taken so long. To God, it seems, the time-delay is irrelevant. What matters is God's timing, and this is God's time for the answer. But to us, who sometimes struggle with unanswered prayers in our lives, such lengthy seasons of unanswered prayer can be difficult, and I expect Zechariah and Elizabeth must have felt that way. Judging by what Gabriel said to them -- "Your prayer has been heard" -- they may have wondered if God had even been listening to their prayers. And I know from personal experience that it's also a temptation to wonder if you've prayed enough -- maybe God hasn't healed Fiona because we haven't been persistent enough or haven't prayed with enough faith. Or maybe I'm just not good enough for God to bother with my prayers! It's amazing where your mind can go as heartfelt prayers remain unanswered. But this passage shows us how unanswered prayers can have very little to do with whether or not we're "good enough"! Verse six says of Zechariah and Elizabeth, "Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly." That's high praise for a couple that happened to be barren and might have wondered if God was displeased with them. But in fact, God was very pleased with them, and He had heard their prayers, and was now answering them according to His timetable. But as I finished reading Luke 1-2, I found myself asking God, "Have you heard my prayers, Lord? My prayers for Fiona?"

Later that day, in the early evening, I walked into our bedroom, and there on the window sill of the window just beside Fiona's dialysis machine, was what appeared to be a dove (see picture above). I stopped in my tracks and called Fiona, and the kids came in closely after her. We were all amazed. We had never seen a pigeon or a dove in our neighbourhood before, let alone one with such striking colour on its wings. The dove was aware of us in the room, but didn't seem disturbed. It didn't even mind as we edged closer and closer to the window. Fiona and the kids eventually got right up to the glass in order to see its features more closely, and it just looked at them, unconcerned at their proximity.

Later, at bedtime, it was still there. We moved to and fro getting ready for bed, and it remained on the sill, calmly watching us. And even when Fiona pulled down the blind on that window, it wasn't frightened away. In fact, it stayed there all through the night. Every so often, Fiona would wake up and would hear its little feet pitter-pattering on the sill and as she would peek out at it, the dove would casually turn and look at her. And in the morning, when we eventually opened the blind again, there it was, still keeping us company. And just minutes before we left for church, I went back up to our room to get something, and it was no longer on the sill. But as I looked through the window from across our room, I could see the dove sitting on our neighbour's roof still staring back at me. That was the last I saw of it.

Later that day, I wondered again about our little visitor, and I wondered if God had sent that bird. I then thought that it would seem more like a God-thing if I happened to read about a dove in my regular Bible-reading schedule. Unfortunately, I didn't give that another thought and didn't even get around to reading my Bible that day!

The next morning, I opened to Luke 3 as I was reading my Bible. I was oblivious to what I was about to read, and I wasn't even considering what had happened on Saturday as I began reading about John the Baptist. But as I got to Jesus' baptism, and the dove came fluttering down from heaven, my head shot up and I stared out at the sky for what seemed a long time. What just happened, I wondered. And as I connected the dots from the Father's affirmation of His Son at His baptism to the dove on Fiona's window sill to the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and all their supposed struggles with years of unanswered prayer, I was in awe. It seemed to me that God was saying, "Yes, I have heard your prayers." And if that assuring message is even more like the one delivered to Zechariah, that could mean He also intends to answer our prayers.

I'm no closer to knowing what God will do or when He will do it, but it does seem to me that He sent us a visitor so that we would know He is with us, and that He hears and cares about the many prayers we've prayed for Fiona. I'd like to believe that dove was also meant to assure us that He will answer our prayers for healing, but I need to leave that with God, trusting that whatever He does, whenever He does it, is good and acceptable and perfect. And I thank God for the beautiful way in which He sent us such a message!

© 2008 by Ken Peters