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Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Thief in the Night

I was completely caught off guard. It never occurred to me that it could happen, but it did. There was the proof. Two very distinct snowmobile tracks cut like a knife in the untouched snow on our septic bed. As any country dweller knows, snow is not to be packed over the septic bed lest it drive the frost down into the weeping bed. In our case, the septic bed area appears to be a very large lawn of about 2400 square feet. From out of the night and off the dark lake, two trespassers had violated the unspoken country pact to stay off any septic bed in the winter, not to mention that they were also trespassing on private land. It is just not done. Yet it was done. One pass on the septic bed is unlikely to cause any harm, but repeated traffic can be disastrous.

I immediately drove to the local Home Hardware to purchase two large rolls of yellow plastic caution tape which is similar to the tape used to mark crime scenes by the police. I improvised a way using stakes and trees to completely mark off the area of the septic bed. I wondered if the interlopers would return and would they respect my now clearly marked area? Indeed, two nights later I observed new tracks stopping about six inches from the south side of the taped area and then veering off in the direction of my neighbour’s property. I was relieved to learn that at least they would respect the yellow tape and stay off our septic bed. Soon I or my neighbours will discover who the trespassers are and deal with them appropriately. I find myself now listening for the sound of snowmobiles in the evening and during the night. While I was outside last evening with Marley for her final business of the day, I was reminded of a verse written by the Apostle Paul. These two snowmobiles do indeed come like a thief in the night. I have not been able to predict when they will come; so it is with the coming of the day of the Lord.

2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (1Thessalonians 5:2)

The day of the Lord starts with the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. Believers living and dead will immediately go with Jesus to heaven. This is called the Rapture. As a Christian I look forward to this day. As much as I look forward to the day when Jesus will return to this earth, I can have no idea when He will come. There is simply no way to predict when He will return. The two trespassing teenage boys (I suspect) have reminded me of a very clear Bible principle and for that, at least, I can thank them.

20 ¶ He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Your God is my God

There is no relationship quite like that of a mother and her daughter-in-law. Despite the best efforts at compromise and mutual affection, there are bound to be times when the relationship is strained. I know this, not only from my own first hand observation, but through the reflections of other sons and fathers-in-law. Simply stated, both the mother and the daughter-in-law love the same man, in different ways of course, causing each to be a rival of sorts from time to time.

In the summer of 1977 my mother and father had come to visit our new home. While they were on the guided tour our precocious daughter, Jessica Rose, who was in her third year, tagged along for the fun. Even at an early age, Jessica spoke in sentences and exhibited a sometimes surprising command of the English language. In the basement, we came across an ironing table that was already set up and indeed used as it had been in our former home. To this day there is little doubt in my mind that Jess knew very well what the object was and its intended use. Instead she paused and said, “Grandma, what is that?”, suggesting of course that she had never seen one of those things before. My mother carefully explained its use, probably convinced, temporarily at least, that her dear son was suffering through an ironing boycott. As she asked the question, Jessica gave her mischievous intent away though her telltale habit of firmly placing her tongue in her cheek. It would take her years to outgrow that obvious sign of disclosure.

In the Bible there is another mother and daughter-in-law relationship that is very carefully explored. Noami had come with her husband and two sons from Bethlehem to the land of Moab. Her sons married Orpah and Ruth, both of whom were gentiles. As a decade came to pass, Noami’s husband and her two sons died. Grief stricken, she decides to return to Israel and she tells her two daughters-in-law to return to the home of their mother. Orpah does just that, but Ruth refuses to part and gives us the poetic verses found in Ruth 1: 16-17.

16 But Ruth said: "Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.

17 Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me."

I have always been touched by the loyal tenacity of her words and actions. Lately, I have focused in on her acceptance of the God of Noami. She is not only willing to look after her mother-in-law, but she has a need to accept the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She even makes a vow before the LORD Himself to let only death part her from her mother-in-law. I am struck not only by her fierce loyalty, but by her enviable faith.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Forget the Rules

He was the strangest sight; completely out of context. Head held high and tail wagging, down the hallway strolled, confidently I should add, a beautiful reddish coloured Irish Setter with a child of about eight years of age in tow on the other end of the leash. The smiling boy was backed up by a nervously smiling woman looking back and forth furtively as if some great wrong was being committed. It took me a moment to comprehend what might be taking place within the confines of the radiation section of the regional cancer centre. As was confirmed a few moments later, the large friendly dog was attempting with the help of the woman and her son to break into one of the most sterile environments on earth in order to allow Grandpa, who was bed-ridden upstairs in the hospital, to spend a few, probably final, minutes with his best friend. They had chosen the long radiation waiting room hallway because it led to a back staircase that leads to the cancer wards above. What the woman had not counted on was five consecutive waiting rooms housing at least one dog lover each. She was actually running a gauntlet of patients stopping the three to admire the beautiful dog. Unlike his mistress, the long eared and furry setter was very much enjoying the unexpected attention.

One of the main reasons, I suspect, that this trio had chosen this particular hallway was the fact that it is always populated with many patients and very few staff. I was one of the waiting who stopped to admire this beautiful canine specimen. Just as the trio came to the end of the expansive hallway, one of the radiation machine technicians stepped out from one of the last doorways. We all thought that this beautiful, albeit perhaps inappropriate, attempt to please an old and very sick man upstairs had just ended. Fortunately, the young female employee energetically headed in the opposite direction down the hall, obviously oblivious to the presence of the dog. The trio did make it to the staircase without detection. I am not sure how they fared on the ward, but I hope they pulled off their assault on the rules. I am convinced that more good than harm was done that afternoon. As Anatole France (1844-1924), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921, wrote, “Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened”. I can readily understand the significance of that visit to the cancer ward.

I am quite sure that Anatole France is referring in his famous quotation to the soul that is actually defined as those things like conscious thought, speech and feeling that separate us from the animal world as human. He could also be referring to a person’s emotional and moral nature. I am equally sure that he was not referring to the kind of soul found in Matthew 16: 26.

26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

What does Jesus mean by His use of the word “soul” in this verse? The Amplified Bible does not even use the word ‘soul’ in its translation of verse 26. In the place of the word “soul” are the words “his blessed life in the Kingdom of God”. If I spend all my time on this earth concerned with making, spending or conserving money and preserving my own comfort, then I will miss the opportunity to give my all to Jesus and reap the eternal reward of my soul being in heaven. I look so forward to my blessed life in the Kingdom of God. Just maybe my favourite canine friend will be there as well.

(Comments, corrections, suggestions or rebuttals are welcome. My email link is contained in “About me: view my complete profile” to the right of this page or use the comment section below which requires that you have a Google account.)