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High tide waves glide ashore. The foamy caress adds a kiss of salt to the sugar sand. Water and pristine beach glimmer together in sunbathed glory. Breezes carry the fresh hint of brine, a lovely scent for visitors to carry home in their hair. As the weary sun droops, visitors retreat to their cars. Waves recede by the hour. The water abandons its affair with the sparkling sand. The beach reddens as the evening bares its hidden layers. Low tide reveals its messy and broken elements. Dead matter lends itself to the wind, no longer a delightful aroma. A lone beachcomber searches through the seaweed tangles, believing this moment a prime opportunity to find the most beautiful shells. I prefer high tide moments. My faith glows like noon’s rays. I feel connected to and appreciated by others.  Endless possibilities shine around me. Purpose scents the air I breathe, and its fragrance blesses all passersby. I work harder, finish more projects, and smile. Happiness and motivation ebb as low tide hits. The hidden regions of my heart, mind, and soul rise to the surface. Brokenness and mess glare at me, demanding attention. I resent my odorous attitude, but must deal with the source of the problem to remedy the symptoms. Dealing with the litter looms as an impossible task to conquer alone. Thanks to my Helper, I don’t have to face the ordeal alone. The Holy Spirit combs through my inmost being. The Lord identifies the gunk stinking up my soul and helps clean it out. He also untangles the mess to illuminate my unrecognized treasures. Were it not for low tide, the latent needs and assets would remain underwater. Thank you, Lord, for creating value during the low points of life. I praise You for restoration, healing, and renewed purpose. Let my next bright day glorify You all the more.

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; 

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…

 Restore to me the joy of your salvation     and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,     so that sinners will turn back to you… Open my lips, Lord,     and my mouth will declare your praise.  You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;     you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;     a broken and contrite heart     you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:7,10,12-13,15-17).

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;     he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted     and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him” (Psalm 34:17-19).

I grew up among whispering live oaks and pines. I scampered with other kids into the woods or frolicked with them among the tree cluster in our yard. When no one else could play, I climbed into my favorite oak and imagined myself queen of a living castle. In my tropical state, I could enjoy those branches year-round with one caveat.

Florida is the lightning capital of the world. At the first crack of a thunderstorm, my mom insisted we rush indoors, unplug all appliances, and stay off the telephone. Our desire to play often outweighed our fear of a strike. We tended to dally before responding to the warning. Another page or two in my book before leaving my perch in the oak. A few more minutes in the woods.

The rumble grew. Black skies burst into a torrent, drenching me as I ran down the muddy road toward home. A crash resounded with a brilliant streak in the next door lot. Splinters flew as a smoking tree split in half. I paddled my hands and feet through the sheets of rain until my sneakers sloshed onto the front porch. My tee shirt and shorts clung to my skin like plastic wrap.

Mom repeated her advice about hearkening to the first sign. Thunder offers directions. Listen to them.

Unlike thunder, the Lord tends to offers us gentler and more subtle directions. His signs might include scripture, things happening around us, or a message spoken to us from His servants. Not every rumble is a message from God, but He provides us with His Spirit to discern them and guide us.

I still get engrossed in play. Watch another hour of television. Sleep a few more minutes. Browse the internet. Sometimes God encourages extra relaxation. Occasionally, a faint whisper into my heart advises me to shorten my recreation and make more time for prayer. Connection with the Lord’s discernment depends on a healthy habit of prayer and meditation. I must choose to resist the distractions in order to listen to the Holy Spirit.

After morning prayer and worship, I recycled some containers at the mall today. I felt free to browse through a few sale racks. After a while, an inner nudge reminded meI didn’t need anything and indicated it was time to leave.  I walked outside to greet an inky sky. Thunder rumbled across the parking lot. I strolled past the oak-shaded spots and climbed into my car. Two initial drops of rain hit my windshield, but I drove out of the storm’s path before the downpour began.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for Your guidance, as it protects me from graver threats than lightning. Lord, please keep me steadfast in prayer and train my ears to stay open. Let my soul be drenched with each loving message You whisper. I don’t want to miss a single word.

 

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

“pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18). 

Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground”(Psalm 143:10).

Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good,  reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

 I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your old men will dream dreams,
    your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days…And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:28-29,32).

Some vow to scale a cliff, visit a world wonder, or learn five languages. Others plan to taste exotic delicacies or indulge in the arts. Aimed toward travel, achievement, or adrenaline-laced adventure, most call these goals a bucket list. This litany of tasks aspires to define the completeness of one’s life. Measure the quality of life by the percentage of items checked off before kicking the bucket.

I tried to set a list in high school, with the following included among my goals:

  • Visit Mont Saint Michel.
  • Go to Australia.
  • Become CEO of a company.

I added, subtracted, tweaked. In college, I aspired to own a Lexus AND a company. Dreams of castle tours and grand success eroded in the wind like sand sculptures.

During recent decisions about travel, a shift in my attitude took me by surprise. Once a type-A, goal-oriented individual, I found myself feeling an unusual lack of concern about the agenda. A fresh perspective dawned upon my spirit—what I do-see-visit on this earth is of little consequence. Though I still enjoy experiences, circumstances alone cannot offer fulfillment to my life.

A visit to the mountains will fade from memory, but worship on the summit could change my impact upon others. It isn’t the castle tour that adds treasure to my spirit, but the love shared with those on the tour along with me. Whether I own a company, publish a blog post, or mop the kitchen floor in vain, my accomplishments will be measured by how I honor Jesus in each moment of my day.

My bucket list has shortened to one item–obey the Lord. While it sounds more like a rule, this solitary goal offers a view of the most miraculous wonders, the adventure of a lifetime, and an eternal crown of glory. I might never wear a crown or dwell in a castle before I kick the proverbial bucket, but my goal extends to eternity. More of a post-bucket list, really.

Whether I travel the world or communicate to it via twitter, my dream is to serve Jesus well along the way. If I have millions to donate or a word of truth to offer, let me glorify the Lord in the way I give. Whatever I become, wherever I go, and in all I do, Lord help me honor You.

That’s a goal I have to keep working on for the rest of my life. What about you? What’s on your bucket list?

 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

“’Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘…I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.’ …But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God… For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well…Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:15-17,20-21,30-31,33-34)

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The eaglet’s head wobbles on her scrawny neck. Her mottled wings struggle to extend and bump the twigs and moss woven to cradle her. She cannot see beyond the boughs securing her stranded nest. Helpless even to feed herself, the chick’s attempts to communicate her needs grate upon the ear.
A sole listener seeks and cherishes every note of her voice. The majestic parent swoops in to nourish and comfort her. The white crowned adult knows what the chick cannot imagine–this is temporary.
Despite its current unseemly and crippled state, the chick will grow into her father’s likeness. Her flightless wings will stretch. She will strengthen and grow glorious feathers which gleam in the sunlight. Her flightless wings will stretch and and buoy her from this nest into a vast new realm of possibilities. As a perfected symbol of nobility and freedom, her opened eyes will view a world yet unseen. Beyond her comprehension lies the broad expanse of reality well known to her father.
The parent understands that his chick’s present capacity does not define its potential. He nurtures his baby toward something far greater than she could become without him. Left on her own, she would perish, never to experience more than her frailty. He holds watch over her throughout this fragile stage, though she does not understand the process or foresee the end result.
Once she soars through the heavens, she will recognize her true purpose and identity. But the awesome destiny of riding and ascending on the power of the wind remains beyond the grasp of her mind.
For now, she remains unfinished but perfectly held.
As am I.
As are we all.
“The Lord is the everlasting God…
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

 

“Sing aloud, O daughter … The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love” (Zephaniah 3:14,17).

 

“You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Psalm 32:7-8).

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