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Musings 10, A Whale Tale

A young gray whale is swimming around in the shallow waters of Back Bay Harbor in Newport Beach. He has been noticed in several coastal waters from San Diego to Dana Point. The 20 foot long mammal has been amusing visitors, not causing any trouble, but the Coast Guard and Harbor Control do not know what to do with him (or her). He appears to be losing weight, and they are concerned that he might die in the harbor, so they are trying to entice him to leave voluntarily, but he turns away in the wrong direction. Why is he being recalcitrant? He can’t be getting enough food, and there are no other whales to keep him company. Why does he linger?

We might as well ask Jonah, a prophet working for God in the 8th century, what he was thinking when he disobeyed God. Legend says God told Jonah to go to Ninevah, capital of the wicked city of the Assyrians. When he headed for southern Spain instead, he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a whale, where he remained for three days until the whale spit him up on shore. Jonah got the message and went to Ninevah where he preached and made a difference.

Surely God’s eyes are on this lost whale. I see a sermon in that.

(Jonah 1:17) And Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

(Matthew 12: 41) Jesus said, “The people of Ninevah repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here – but you refuse to repent.”

(Ephesians 5: 8-10) Be followers of God. Be children of God. You were once in darkness but now are the light of the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Musings 9, Endurance

I have heard that old age is not for the faint-hearted, but for many years I disregarded that information. Now I know it for a fact. Like many things affected by time, we wear out.

A recent cartoon in the funny papers, papers which seem to grow less funny, Dennis the Menace watches Mr. Wilson on his knees in the garden. “When will you be done, Mr. Wilson?” Dennis asks. “Me and Joey just want to watch you get up.”

The tribulations of aging are many, but we oldsters just don’t want to give up our gardens, even when “getting up” hurts, and we need to rely on the assistance of the near-by trowel to rise.

Hopefully we have acquired “endurance”, the quality that enables us to persevere in spite of difficulty. Endurance, the ability to suffer, was required to a great degree in Jesus, who exemplified remarkable endurance as he suffered on the cross. We have celebrated his patient endurance for over two thousand years, and we subside in trust and love. In this life some suffering is to be expected, and we must develop a patient endurance.

(Revelation 1: 9) John wrote, “I am your brother and your partner in suffering, and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us.”

(Romans 8: 17) We are the heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must share his suffering.

(Philippians 2: 14-15) Do everything without complaining or arguing. Live clean innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

 

Musings 8, The Waiting Room

Waiting has become so necessary that many offices and businesses offer a place to wait. Shopping centers court attention by providing comfortable places for customers or their companions to wait.

I watch a couple strolling down the busy streets of Balboa Island, a small island between the ocean and the bay beset with tourists. She is occupied looking into shop windows while he is scanning the curbside for places to sit and wait. Ah, he must have thought, a bench at last. She finds a shop in which to browse, while he waits patiently, in some degree of comfort.

I like the waiting room in one doctor’s office. He provides a TV with videos of health information. Lest I have forgotten, I am reminded to eat healthy foods and exercise. My book lies forgotten. Usually he keeps close to his schedule, reducing the waiting time.

We all have reasons to wait, and a waiting room or a well placed bench is a good use of space. God does not say we must be uncomfortable while we wait.

(Psalm 27: 14) Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart.

(Joshua 1: 9) Be strong and of good courage, for the Lord is with you wherever you go.

(Hebrew 6: 15) Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.

Musings 7, Waiting

Waiting is the other side of patience. (see Musings 2) “Wait for me,” my little sister shouted as I took off on my bike with my friend Barbara. Eager to escape, I did not wait.

Time and tide wait for no man, but are checked by God, who notices our imperfections, but chooses to let us determine them by ourselves. Fortunately God checks the universe, but gives us the freedom of choice, and we may be wrong as this small incident from a long ago childhood reveals.

When we want something, we want it now. We do not like to wait. I wait impatiently in the doctor’s office, in the waiting room and again in the examining room. I wait for a computer printout. “Too many patients and I have too little patience,” I murmur.

When we ask God for something, we wait. God has a perfect sense of timing, and we have little patience, so we ask him to grant our request now. Pray, trust and wait.

(Lamentations 3: 26-27) So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord, and it is good for people to submit at an early age to the yoke of his discipline.

(John 14: 27) Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift, peace of mind and heart. I am going to the Father, but I will come back.”  (We wait.)

(Isaiah 30: 18) For the Lord is faithful. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

 

 

Musings 6, Disturbances

A bolt of lightning split the heavens in two, and thunder echoed in the hills. Splashes of rain watered the dry dust, leaving a musty odor. We rarely see this kind of disturbance in Southern California.

Disturbances rule our lives, but I never knew growing old would be so disturbing.  I am surprised by how sedentary I have become. It’s no disgrace to be old, but it’s certainly inconvenient. Sight fades, bones weaken, skin wrinkles, gums recede causing a few of the minor disturbances. With friends already busy in heaven, I am content to sit in a chair and see the world go by on TV.

As the remaining time in this world shortens, for we were not meant to be Methusala, the end of a life span means reconnecting with the infinite from which we came. God strengthens us and gives us courage to cope with life’s disturbances.

(Psalm 105: 4) Search for the Lord, and for this strength.

(Psalm 7: 23) I belong to God. He holds my hand.

(Deuteronomy 31: 6) Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, and do not panic. The Lord God goes ahead of you and will not abandon you.

 

Musings 5, Defects

While shopping, I admired a large inexpensive mug painted with roses, pink and perfect. “How great to fill it with home-grown roses and give it to a recovering friend,” I thought. After I brought it home and was about to fill it with water and white roses, I noticed a small chip on the bottom – very small, but still a defect to prevent gifting. Small imperfections are easy to overlook, and we can be blind to them.

Perhaps in this imperfect world a few defects hardly matter, but I am certain they are observable to our God who can focus clearly on a tiny sparrow. I am sure he notices my imperfections, the small sins I commit daily. I am assured God forgives and keeps me giftable. How compassionate is that? I can believe I am more than my defects.

(Romans 8: 37-39) We are more than conquerors through him who loves us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

(Psalm 13: 5-6) I trust God’s mercy. I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt generously with me.

(2 Corinthians 3: 18) For we, beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory by the spirit of the Lord.

 

Musings 4, Water

It is summer, and the heat in Southern California, and probably much of the United States, is oppressive. When the heat bakes the earth, its inhabitants long for cool, clear water, one of God’s greatest gifts. At Trader Joe’s is a bottle of “Smart Water.” I’m not kidding. For slightly more than a dollar, I bought some. It tastes like real water, but it is supposed to have electrolites that are good for my health. My friend Louise says she hasn’t been sick a day since she began drinking it.

At a recent Sunday service, I was reminded of the woman Jesus met at Jacob’s Well, found  in John 4: 7-30. Jesus asked the woman to give him a drink of water, and in return he would give her living water so that she would never be thirsty again. How surprised she must have been, for Jesus broke the taboos of Jews to regard with aversion Samaritans and  of avoiding women entirely, especially immoral ones. Jesus understood her sins, and was accepting of her kindness. Removing the barriers, Jesus offered the woman life-giving water.

“Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink,” quoted the Ancient Mariner wearing his albatross on the sea of life. We feel the man’s thirst as he tells of helplessly languishing on the salty sea, far from cool, clear, drinkable water.

Eternal life with God! Who could resist an offer much better than Smart Water?

(Isaiah 12: 2) With joy you will drink from the fountain of salvation.

(Psalm 23: 2) He maketh  me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still water.

(Psalm 16: 11) He will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of his presence, and the pleasure of living with him forever.