Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mantles

"Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away."  I Kings 19:19

     I think the character I identify most with in scripture is the prophet Elijah. He was a man who had a very unique ministry. In the Lord's name, he defeated the prophets of Baal, brought the dead back to life, and miraculously increased the widow's flour and oil in time of drought. But like me, the one area Elijah failed in was the effects of a wicked woman's harsh words on his spirit. After performing a great work in destroying the prophets of Baal, the threatening words of Jezebel crushed his spirit and sent him into hiding.

     Elijah's response to her death threat was to disappear in the wilderness, at which time he told God, "
I have had enough, Lord...take my life..." God provided for him in that wilderness with bread and water -- exactly what he needed to survive this wilderness experience. No more; no less. Then forty days later he found himself in alone, in a cave, on Mount Sinai.  And it was during this experience that he heard God. And from the LORD, he got both a question and an answer. The question was, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah had a very humanistic answer and spoke bluntly to God about how he felt about his situation. But the answer he got from God was not one he had foreseen. God basically told him that he was not as alone as he thought he was. In fact, there were 7000 people in Israel who had not bowed down to worship Baal and who were, in fact, still useful to God in supporting Elijah in his prophetic ministry. 

     In the end, we see Elijah passing his mantle onto a man of God's own choice, to carry on the prophetic ministry in Israel.  This man was Elisha, who would go on to do great works in the Lord's name also, carrying on the ministry of the one who went before him.  

     In the same way Elijah felt alone, I too have felt very alone. I have longed for a partner in ministry and a friend with whom to share my experiences and grow with where I am at here in the North.  But it never happened. Five years and it never happened. I have questioned God much on what he was doing in my life by having me alone for this time.  But in thinking about this issue recently, I conclude that after this time, God has fed me with exactly what I needed to survive so he could prepare me (and those around me) for the next step in time.  I have survived by the grace of God, and now it is time to pass the mantle onto someone else.  But whom???

     In God's sovereignty, there has been an eternal plan at work.  God is active in building his Kingdom in ways man cannot see. He does not haphazardly throw the dice and let the chips fall where they want.  He is so involved and his perfect plan unfolds in exactly the right way.  

     I must state here that after many months of anticipation, I have been approved a year leave of absence from my job and will, if God permits, be spending my year in Hampton, New Brunswick.  There were many things which could have potentially put a stop to my request for leave.  But one by one they all were moved to the wayside and God opened the pathway for me to leave my northern home, for at least one year.  So in 26 days, I will leave this place and potentially never return again. I am sad to leave, as I have formed friendships with the children and my coworkers that I will surely miss.

     I was reminded by the Spirit yesterday of the scripture in I Corinthians 3 where Paul states, "
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow." And I was shown that in my strong desire for fellowship, I was only thinking of myself.  Does God want his children in fellowship? Yes, without a doubt. But sometimes there are wildernesses or mountain caves where we find ourselves alone, but in which God will sustain us until it is time to pass the mantle, as Elijah did to Elisha.  God formed a ministry team where Elijah once saw none possible.  

     I ask whom I will pass my 'mantle' onto.  I don't profess to have a perfect record of living these five years. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I have failed in many areas. Yet God has sustained me and brought me through.  In the past week, many things I consider to be nothing short of miracles have happened in my immediate life.  First, I was approved to leave Akulivik. This is miracle number one.  Second, in the same week that this has happened, another teacher has come to our village to replace a teacher who is unable to finish the year.  There's one month of school remaining, remember? And as I have learned about this young woman, I find she is a believer in Jesus Christ and has a love for the Lord and a desire for ministry. This is miracle number two.  

     "Really, God? You couldn't have brought her along before now? I mean, in five years, and to the best of my knowledge, there has not been one non-Inuit believer in my village. I've been alone. And you wait until NOW to bring this person here?" Yeah, that was my initial response. But in thinking about this, I came to see that for my time, God has used me to do some planting. But now its time for someone else to take over and do some watering.  And in the end, it is God who will bring about the real spiritual fruit in someone's life.

     I am not responsible for carrying the weight of the spiritual needs of all people of all time. But I am called to be faithful in the place and time I find myself for the duration God has me there. And when the time comes, I must believe that God is active in building his Kingdom and that he will not leave his name unrepresented.  I will pray for my 'Elisha' that she will be filled with the Holy Spirit and that she will stand for truth and live the righteousness of Christ before her students and coworkers and that when she is alone in the wilderness and feels she can't go on that the Lord will then meet her and feed her with bread and water as he has for me.

     God is a powerful God who works in very strange ways. I don't need to understand these ways, but rejoice that I have been able to have some small part in the lives of people and that through intercessory prayer from thousands of kilometers away, I will continue to have a part in the lives of my friends and be a supporter of the ministry of my new found sister in Christ. God be praised. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This Means War!


Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. 
Ephesians 6:11-13

     There is a time in which each of us will find ourselves engaged in a fierce battle. Scripture teaches that it is not a physical fight, but one which is spiritual.  In this time of attack, everything seems to change from the norm.  The enemy's gloves come off and we start to take a beating. At least that is what happens to me. It's strange--it doesn't happen frequently in my life and I have found myself caught way off-guard, now that I am engaged in this fight. 

     In January of this year, I began experiencing my normal winter depression.  My anxiety increases, panic attacks come out of nowhere and I feel a dark foreboding weight upon me. By God's grace, it has been manageable without medication and He carries me through each time. As it began this time, I knew that God was doing a work. I am on the verge of a new step in my life for which God has been preparing me since I was a child.  And with this on my mind, I began the winter term with these feelings of anxiety once again.  To find an answer, I Googled some phrase...I don't remember what, exactly. But what I found was an article from Ray Comfort on anxiety and panic attacks, in which he says, 

"If there is a cry in your heart to be used by God, then you may go through a similar experience [to his own anxiety and depression].  I don't want to unnecessarily alarm you, but if you understand why it is happening and what you can do to speed up the process, it will help.  If God in his great wisdom sees fit to use the Refiner's fire, then it is only "if need be" (I Peter 1:6).  Pray that you may avoid it, but this is often normal procedure in being prepared for ministry.  A wild horse is no good to a rider.  It can't be trusted.  It needs its spirit broken so that it will willingly yield to the desire of the rider.  So let me share with you a few words of comfort, so that if you find yourself hanging over a dark chasm of insanity by the spider web of faith, you will know why, and realize that the web is unbreakable."

When I read this, I was in the bathtub.  And I began to sob after reading it. The phrase about 'normal procedure in being prepared for ministry' jumped off the page at me and hit me like a ton of bricks. I confessed my lack of faith to the Lord right there and I can say that my anxiety went away and has not returned all winter.

     Ah, but that's never the end of the story, is it? You knock one sucker off and five more grow back in its place. And so it was with my life for these months.  I grew confident in my resolve to get through this winter and do my job and make friends and just flourish where I am.  But without knowing what was happening (at least not altogether and not early on), I found several things happened to me in the four months which followed. I found myself attacked on so many levels that I thought I had conquered. Certainly, there are some areas of weakness in my flesh in which I will continue to fight until I die.  They are hungers that are like a savage animal looking for one more meal.  But now, on the verge of the next great step of my life, I find myself tempted in ways I never considered would ever arise again. 

     First, I was put in a position where I had to keep a boarder for 3.5 months.  This was originally to be for one month, but was extended and has now ended. But I found myself continually tested by having this person in my presence who continually challenged me with a difficult personality, attitude and living habits.  I have not had negative feelings toward anyone for a very long time, so this was a very new experience for me. I have lived in great peace for many years, but this brought out a side of me I thought was long gone.  I am thankful that it happened, and that it is over. But God has shown me that I have so far to go in loving people who are different from me and who oppose me and my ways.  

     One other negative thing that has come out during this time has been the words I speak to others. I have been critical of others in a poor way. The scripture that always goes through my mind is, "Speak evil of no man," but there it goes...I said it. Oh, I'll preface my words with a bite of the lip and the phrase, "I don't want to say anything bad about this person, but..." And the deed is done. I have held closely to my chest for a very long time the scripture that teaches me to "Study to be quiet and work with my own hands..." That has been my guide for so long. But now...  I'm guilty of speaking of others in a negative way. Even when what I say is true and pertains specifically to me, I have been a talebearer. As I said, I thought this part of me was dealt with long ago, but in my self-confidence and carelessness, old habits return and the battle is lost.

     One of the worst possible things to happen to me is very much the same as which happened to the Lord Jesus in the wilderness when he was tempted by Satan.  He held the kingdoms of the world before him and said they could all be his if he would bow down and worship him. Of course, the kingdoms of the world already belong to Christ and there was no chance of him giving in to the temptation. But there has been a 'kingdom' of sorts dangled in front of me also by the same tempter.  This temptation is my career in the school, more pay, the position of my choice, a better house, a renovated house, respect in the school, seniority, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. These are all good things and things to which I am entitled. But on the eve of ministry the devil has made all these things look very attractive to me and I have felt divided affections for what God may have for me and what I would be giving up should I leave. Possessions, money and honor have never been things I have sought. They have come with time and the place where God has had me, but in the midst of battle, the enemy says, "Come on, one more year, you can do it!", "Your house is going to be so nice after its renovated" and "All the hard work you put into the school. Someone who doesn't care as much as you is only going to come in and mess it up!".  You see...all good things. But temptations, nonetheless.  

     So, on the eve (almost literally) of God's next step for me, I must be vigilant. I must bear the shield of faith and fight against my enemy with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Prayer, which has been a constant battle for many months must become part of me. I must breathe prayer to my Captain and cry for strength in the night watches. And though the night is dark and long, and the battle seems impossible to win, the truth is that the dawn will come and the Sun of Righteousness will arise in my heart and carry me on to fight another battle, on another day. 



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

At Home in the Body

     Home...and where is that, exactly? You know, I've been living in this little community, alone, for a long time. Five years to be exact. I'm sure I've said that before. It's been hard. I am alone most of the time. I live by myself (although for the moment I have a 'roommate' but this is only for 4 months), I eat alone, I relax alone, I eat alone (did I say that already?), etc etc etc. But I have to wonder if I am alone for all the wrong reasons. 


     I have no doubt that God called me here. I think that every place in the world I could possibly go is where God calls me. And if he doesn't approve, like Jonah, he will get me back on track, even if that means getting thrown off a boat and eaten by a fish (probably metaphorically). So this means that Akulivik is my home for the 9 months of the year that I am here, and New Brunswick is my home for the 2.5-3 months I am there. 


     There's that old saying about home being where the heart is, but as I think about that, I suspect that is a romantic lie straight from hell. Really, what other truth can there be than for home to be where the body is? I mean, if God wanted me somewhere else, he'd put me there, yes? But he put my body here. And to pine away for something I don't have or a place that maybe doesn't even exist (apart from in my mind) is sin, right? I know my citizenship is in heaven and I long for the fruition of that spectacular deliverance from my flesh, but I've still got a few years to fart around down here doing God's will as he leads.  


     What prompted this thought is that I spend my time (yes, almost all of it), dreaming of a home away from this place. I guess I have called Akulivik home at times only because it's where I've lived for so long, but really in my heart, my home is where my family, my friends, and my church are. It's where I've dreamed of having a home and a garden and motorcycle and family and and and and and. All the while never really in my heart settling on this place as home. Ask yourself to answer this question logically: "Where is home for you?" Is it a place you live for 9 months of the year or 2.5-3 months of the year? I mean the numbers don't lie. My home is here. I confess, my joy is greater when I am in New Brunswick. I can communicate better, I have wonderful fellowship in my church, I have freedom to move about in the car, the weather is WAY better, I have family time, and late nights laughing with my best friends. But would it be the same if I lived there all the time? Or are these wonderful moments just like a shot in the arm that God gives me to rejuvenate in my short time there, whereas spread out over a year the party might not be so grand? I suspect the latter. 


     I have requested a year off from my teaching duties. I have made the formal request and have the permission of my education committee. Now all that remains is for the executive committee of the board to approve it. I made a step...a choice. I was fearful of that choice, but I made it. My prayer now is not that God makes it happen or makes me stay put. My prayer is that his will is done. If I am permitted to go to New Brunswick for the year, I will go with resolve to have the best year I possibly can of fellowship and ministry and just refreshing with loved ones. But if God asks me to stay put, I resolve to do this with faith and a strong heart. I resolve to learn to speak (or at least understand) Inuktitut and to form relationships with the Inuit that I have kept at arms length for five years. I want to be at home wherever my body is. And with God's help, it will happen, no matter where that is. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Raining a Pour

     Sometimes it seems like God has left the building. I suppose there might be something to the arguments the scoffers make in II Peter, who say, 


“What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

The only difference between them and us who believe is just that...we believe. We continue to trust that there is a grand master plan being unfolded throughout time. But I understand their view; some days it certainly seems as if we have just been left to ourselves and God is of in his corner of the cosmos doing something completely unrelated to my little world. Yet, I do not believe this to be true. 

     Yesterday was one of those rare days that happens once in...a very long time. In the midst of days/weeks/months of wondering where God is and what he's been up to, suddenly he shows up; and in a different and very special way.  

     Two events happened for which I can only thank the Lord. The first involves a phone call to a friend who is a former co-worker and neighbour. He lived in my village for nearly three years and during this time I took many opportunities to share Christ with him. He is a french speaker, and I had written out scriptures in french for him to read and also given him a copy of Goodseed's book, "Christmas and Easter: What is it?" en Francais. Apart from this, I have had several spiritual conversations with him and just tried to be his friend and love him like Christ would. Oh, and he's 70 years old.  

     For reasons I can't say, he left our village 3.5 months ago to return to his home in New Brunswick. I really didn't want to lose the ministry contact with him that I have had so I did some research to find an evangelical church in his area through which some brethren might reach out to him further. It wasn't easy, but I finally found a gospel preaching church near his home and referred him to the pastor. The short story is that he has been contacted by the pastor and another elderly brother in the church and has had several hours of ministry contact with them as a result. Last night I spoke with him and he tells me that this church is significant to him in particular because he has a cousin who was a former pastor of the church (he did not know this until speaking with the current pastor).  Also, he knows many, many people who fellowship there through his decades of teaching in the area. It was a great encouragement to me to hear that there is a positive contact there and that God seems to have brought this together for his glory. I don't know if my friend has trusted Christ as this point, but he is now among believers who will continue to reach out to him with the love of God. 

     The second event involved a phone call with my teenage daughter.  Normally she has little to say, or is in fact rather rude to me. It can be difficult to have a conversation with her. However, somehow the subject of native spirituality came up and out of this came many interesting points about faith, world missions, evangelism, holiness, and what it means to really live separate from the world and live like Christ. It wasn't something I have ever really talked to her about before but she made some interesting and insightful points on the topic and I can see that God is impressing some things on her young heart that I have felt at a loss for how to help her with spiritually, as she lives away and is exposed regularly to ungodliness in her home and the church she is made to attend. 

     Maybe God won't show up again for a few weeks, or maybe even months. But he has proven to me again that he is at work and is still busy working for me and for his glory. I know I can't give up, because for someone else I am the tool God is going to use to 'show up' in that person's life. Maybe even yours; who knows? But for today, I can thank God that he isn't a God far off, but is a God at hand and he is so busy doing so many great things. For this I give him thanks.   

Monday, February 20, 2012

Slave


I lift my eyes to you, 
      O God, enthroned in heaven. 
 [I] keep looking to the LORD [my] God for his mercy, 
      just as servants keep their eyes on their master, 
      as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. 
                                                                         Psalm 123:1-2



     I don't know anything. Really, I just don't know anything. Well, I suppose sometimes I think I do and sometimes even surprise myself when I find I am able to do a task that the skill needed to do it right is beyond what I should know.  Really, the thing I know the least about is what God wants me to do with my life. Not that it should really be that hard of a question to answer. There are many indicators of what God wants me to do. 

     For example, the sum of one's life experiences is a very good indicator of the path God would have one to be on. In my case in particular, my life has always been about children. Yes, I would say that children are the common denominator of my life. And I never went looking for this. Most people try to decide with counsel when they are young the path they want their life to take and they prepare accordingly (education, experience, etc). But not so with me. 

     If you are close to me, you know that my life philosophy is not to go hard after what I want, but to take things as they come and trust it is the hand of the Lord guiding me.  This has always worked to my benefit. I find that when I get it in my head that I will do what I think is best, I usually end up paying the price. This ranges from a failed marriage to a 1979 Cadillac Eldorado that lost its engine within 24 hours of purchase. If I get it into my head that I will do something, I need to be very sure that it is in line with the path of my life that God has always had me on, unless he makes it very clear that I should do something else. A blown motor is minor in the grand scheme of bad choices I've made. The failed marriage? Well that will have practical consequences that I will bear the rest of my life. 

     A second way I feel God leads me is through other people. He is very good at bringing the people I need into my life when I need them. I hope that I am as useful to others for the same purpose as they have been to me. In these past 5 years, I have experienced tremendous blessing from people that have been brought into my life, and brought back into my life from the past. These people have held me up through friendship and mutual edification through faith.  You know who you are.  

     I am sure that God also leads me through giving me particular supernatural abilities. These would be known as spiritual gifts.  I have always known that God had enabled me for being a minister of his grace through means not my own. I have seen this evidenced time and time again in a variety of settings. As I said before, I see how little I really know and can see how God just seems to make my feeble attempts at almost anything come together in a way that just awes me every time.  

     If there is a way that I long would be how God leads me in a greater way, it would be through the knowledge of his word being used by his Spirit. I fear the fault therein lies with me and my lack of diligence to "study to show myself approved unto God." I am also quite certain that in my refusal to listen to that "still small voice" on more than one occasion, I have grieved that dear Spirit who has been pulling at my heart for so long. I pray that the voice does not remain silent because of my past impertinent and impenitent heart.

     Returning to the question of what God wants me, or anyone for that matter, to do with my life, I learn a lesson through these words in Psalm 123.  I am struck by the particular line about the slave girl who watches her mistress for a signal of what to do next. It is not her place to take initiative or step outside the definition of her particular assigned task. That is, unless the mistress directs her to do so. Of specific importance, is that she is always looking to her mistress during this time. And what does she do in the meantime? Quite simply, I believe she must keep fulfilling her original designation unless otherwise redirected.  

     What does God want me to do? Next year, I have no sweet clue.  Six months from now? Same answer.  Today, this week, this month, I can say quite certainly that God wants me to keep doing what I've been doing for five years, i.e.; living and working in my northern village and being a light for the gospel in my community. 

     Most recently, I was approached by a person in the village about having a Bible study in my home. I am not sure how I feel about that at this point, but it came to my mind shortly thereafter that she runs the community radio station on Sunday afternoons.  A few days later I went to visit with her at the radio and suggested that I might have the Bible study on the radio for the whole community to benefit.  She agreed to do this, thinking it to be a great idea.
     So for the past 3 weeks, each Sunday from 4-5 (or however long it takes to finish), I have been preaching on the radio in English and having it translated as I speak into Inuktitut.  I am laying a foundation of gospel teaching each week at this point.  Last night I spoke for an hour and a half on John 3 and the meaning of being born again.  I asked my translator how many people in the village might be listening on the radio, to which she responded, "I don't know...maybe all of them?"  This thrilled me to hear.  Today, I was approached by many people who heard the message and thanked me.  I was approached by a young woman just now outside my house who is a known drunkard in our community who said, "I heard you on the radio last night and I never knew before how to have my spirit made alive again. Thank you." I don't know how to respond to this, other than to praise the Lord, and to weep. I don't deserve this. Like I said, I don't know anything. But by God's grace, he takes this undeserving, no-ability piece of crap and does things beyond what I can comprehend. 

     What does God want me to do? He wants me to do exactly what he sets before me. David said in Psalm 23, "You prepare a table before me." And it is at this table I must eat, not looking for someone else's table. Does this mean the master won't ever issue another set of orders and change my task? Of course not. But if and when that time comes, he will make the orders clear and I should not have to worry about the how and when. What does God want you to do? Just press on. Keep doing what you're doing and do it with all your might. And keep looking to the master always. You will never regret it. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Reach Out

     My past is a series of interconnected events in the web of who I am. One such event is something that will always stand out as a pivotal moment in my public profession of Christ. 


     I was in the 11th grade at Belleisle Regional High School and it was an English class.  Susan Lawson was the teacher of the class (no relation to me) and it was a level 3 class.  This meant that it was a lower level of English and there was practically no one in the class who had not struggled in school and many had even been held back a grade previously.  


     The class was small, with about twenty students. It was an intimate setting and I recall enjoying it. The assignment on this particular day was to bring to class a song that "demands the listener to make a choice."  I knew immediately what I was going to bring in.


     On the day of the assignment, there were a few people that brought music with them.  Some didn't come prepared, so many shared the tapes or cd's they brought in with those who had none, and in the end, it seemed that this class was less about the assignment of making a choice, and more about listening to everyone's favourite music.  Also, I don't remember much about what people brought in at that time, but it was most likely the current pop/rock/post grunge that was in style at the time. 


     I have memories from a very early age of desiring to know God, and make him known to others. This included wearing the t-shirts that made a statement of faith carrying a Bible in my back pocket wherever I went.  I am quite sure I failed miserably in my efforts most of the time, but I am certain God was teaching me at that time and he gave me these little undeserved opportunities of ministering grace to others and advancing his kingdom to those around me. 


     On this day, the song I knew was absolutely right, without any reservation, was from Petra's "Wake Up Call" album:


Sometimes the night seems to go on for days 
When it's hard to see the light through the darkness and haze 
While the world around you makes you feel out of place 
And the burdens that you carry are just too hard to face 

(Chorus) 
Just reach out and He'll reach in 
Take your broken heart and make it whole again 
It don't matter who you are or where you've been 
Just reach out, and He'll reach in 

Standing in a crowd, but still all alone 
Crying out for answers that nobody knows 
Everybody's busy looking out for themselves 
Is there anyone who really cares about anyone else? 

You say you've walked ten thousand steps away 
But don't you know that it's only one step back? 
Because the One who hears you when you pray 
Is the One who's there beside you 
And He'll never walk away


     I don't remember the outcome of that class, or if anyone (even the teacher) had any response to it at all. But the song was played and the demand was made.  "Just reach out" is the demand and that day my classmates heard that cry from the heart of God.  I may die before I know the fruit of that little phrase in a public school class that day.  But I know that in my life, God received glory. 

     If there's one thing that I have learned in the 18 years since, is that there's hardly ever a soul that isn't broken in some way, doesn't feel alone even when there's people all around them, and if they say they have all the answers, they're most likely too ashamed to admit they don't know anything. We are all a broken people. Broken by sin; broken by choice.  And it is only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ that there is any hope for the lost. I hope that the Saviour I was so proud of and stood up for so many years ago is just as visible today and moreso than he was then.  

     Truthfully, whereas I was playing that song for my classmates, I have now needed (more than once) to turn the words on myself and be reminded that when I am the one who walks away, I have only one step to come back. And this is my profession:  I know Christ and even though I have failed him, he still knows me.   



     

Monday, February 6, 2012

Alone in the Void

     You know that little phrase "living the life"? I briefly pondered the meaning of this tonight. It was my turn to supervise volleyball, as it is each Monday night. For some reason yet unknown to me, no one showed up to play, which is extremely odd. So I hung out for about an hour, alone. I sat in the staff room for twenty minutes of that hour watching for anyone who might come late to play. No one did. 

     As I sat there, I started to think of the aforementioned phrase, or some version of it. The gist is the same. What is 'life'? By many standards, I've got it made. I have a great job (most days), there is lots of room for moving up and advancing in my career (my board will even pay for my education if I wish). My house is pretty much paid for (subsidized by my employer). Really, what more could I ask for? And this is where the lusts of my flesh and my Christian views diverge. The 'life' as defined by my flesh is a better job, more money, entertainment, stuff, and the strongest pull of all, the love of a woman. I suspect this is the same pull for most, as it generally happens that one either does not last for long here alone, or they end up living with someone they meet, either on the job or from the community.  

     In contrast, the life lived for Christ is one of self-sacrifice, waiting on the Lord for pleasures that may never come to pass in this life, and a willingness to never be 'settled' (since our citizenship is in heaven, everywhere we could ever go on earth is only a brief layover on the journey).  Man, that's tough. 

     I guess I'm being presumptuous to think that there's anything extraordinary about me that would make someone look twice at me, but really, I suppose it would be rather easy to give in to those fleshly desires and do what comes naturally to 99.9 % of the world. And that is what is supposed to be 'living the life.' Following the dictates of one's heart and satisfying every earthly desire.  

     As I thought of this, I looked up into the night sky and observed an extraordinarily bright star twinkling brightly above me, and in a southerly direction. I wondered, if that star possessed self awareness, how it would feel about its existence. It might look at itself and say something like, "I'm just a big fat rock, floating out here in the dark all alone with no friends for millions of miles." What a depressing existence that poor star has. But as I look up from my spot on the little blue ball, I see a light which shines brightly for all within view to see. 

     You see, that star has no glory of its own. He could bemoan his situation and seek some meaningless way to try and produce his own light for his own pleasure, but in the end, he is just like every other rock in the void. He is nothing apart from the reflection of the sun. And the glory reflected from him to me is wondrous. 

     And in my search for wholeness and a real 'life', I must constantly remind myself that there is nothing of value in any of the pleasures of this life that seem to be fulfilling. I can pursue pleasure to the end of the universe, but like Solomon, in the end it would all turn out to be meaningless and empty. My true worth comes in the person of Christ and his life shining on me and through me. And maybe, someone else will someday see that beauty reflected  and at the very most come to love the Son from which it radiates. And at the very least, maybe they'll see me.