Beyond the Spilled Milk

            Beyond the spilled milk. That was my prayer for my children when they were small. “Lord, help me to see beyond the spilled milk.” As a parent, it is often easy to get caught up in the moment, and react with irritation or anger. Spilled milk would be just one small example. Instead of reacting with frustration and anger when one of my children spilled milk, I asked God to help me see the big picture. I wanted Him to teach me how to react so that the long-term effects of my reaction would be good for my children.

            Looking back, I can see that constantly reacting to a child’s spilled milk or other small mistake with anger and belittling words, might make a child feel insecure, self-critical, and not unconditionally loved. If, instead, I react by cleaning up the mess and teaching them how to help, this could teach them to become people who don’t worry about the small things in life, and who easily accept and offer grace.

            Now that my children are grown, I can see that God did answer those prayers. My children have become caring adults who live grace-filled lives. Even though I was far from a perfect parent, God answered my prayers and gave me patience and wisdom in those “spilled milk” moments. He showed me ways to nurture and teach my children through their mistakes, rather than berate them with criticism and anger. As any parent knows, it often takes God’s strength to react to childish mistakes without anger and frustration.

            Lord, it’s so easy to respond to the small issues of life with impatience and irritation. Whether I’m dealing with children or adults, give me the wisdom to see beyond the spilled milk.

            Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”

Friday Friends’ Favorites

Philippians 2:1&2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Whispering Wings

In the beginning, you hovered over the waters, wings beating like a mother bird watching her young. Wings strong, silent, stirring the waters, whispering to all of creation, bestowing life. You who hovered in the beginning, you who made the heavens and the earth, you also made me. Your wings beat and the “breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).

I have known your presence and seen you hover, heard the whispering beat of your wings as you watch over me. I have felt the quickening of life within, the first breath, the stirring of spirit within my soul. I know your presence in day’s first light, the infant’s cry, the pull of ocean waves, and the gnarled trees raising their arms heavenward. All around and all within, you hover. I feel the wind of your wings and hear their whispering beat.

Let the whispering wind of your wings become a violent storm within my inner being. Spark the embers of your spirit within my soul that it may flame brightly with your power and love.

Reflected Glory

The small lake shimmers smooth as glass, its dark greenish-brown surface reflecting the surrounding autumn world.  Dark, straight tree trunks and branches protect the lake’s perimeter, the yellow, green, and orange leaves doubled in their reflected beauty.  The contour of each billowy cloud clearly shows in the dark water.  An occasional soft “pop” punctuates the stillness, and ever-widening ripples indicate life beneath this dark mirror.  The clouds part, and the mid-afternoon sun shines brilliantly off the water; the sun is bright, even in its reflected glory.  A breeze distorts my image—so is my earthly image of God distorted.  I cannot imagine the Son’s brilliance.  The cottonwood leaves rustle a greeting.  They, too, speak of His glory.

Stretched out on a smooth wooden dock, I lie at the water’s edge.  With eyes closed, I soak in the peace, the stillness, and the warmth of the sun.  Even then, I see the sun’s brilliance, bright red through my closed eyelids. 

So it is with God’s light.  Just as our eyes cannot look into the sun’s brilliance, neither can we, in our imperfection, look steadfastly in His face.  David, “a man after God’s own heart,” said, “he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth” (II Samuel 23:4).

As an imperfect, sinful human being, I cannot look directly at His glory.  Even His reflected glory, just like the sun shining off the lake, He is too brilliant to behold. 

Paul puts it this way: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (I Cor. 13:12a).  If we cannot look directly into His face, how do we behold His brilliance?  God, who with His mere spoken word created light, allows His light to shinein us.  “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (II Cor. 4:6).  Even though we are unable to see His glory with our eyes, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection have given us the gift of the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God.”  Our eyes cannot see His light, but Christ’s light within us helps us to understand His glory.

On a clear night, we see the soft glow of the moon.  Its light is not as bright as the sun, yet we can see on a bright, moonlit night because the moon reflects the sun’s light.  In the same way, we live for Christ so that our lives reflect the glory of our risen savior.  “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you” (Is. 60:1, 2).  By reflecting God’s glory, we shine in the darkness, providing light in a dreary world.  We provide God’s reflected light for others to see Jesus.

Lord, let me be like the moon and reflect the light of your Son.  May Your light shine through me for all the world to see.

The Greatest Commandments

Lord, when I really contemplate these verses, wow! How many times have I broken your two greatest commandments? How often have I loved the things of the world more than I love you? And do I really love my neighbors as much as I love myself? Forgive me, Lord, for breaking your commandments. Give me strength and grace to follow your greatest commandments.