Friday, February 21, 2014

In Good Times and Bad, God Gives Us All We Need


If you don't believe in God, your first impulse may to be skip this blog.

We don't all share the same beliefs and nobody can make you believe in God.

As with all things in life, there's a second choice. Maybe you can read the words, take away what applies and leave the rest.

I was born in 1957 into a large Catholic family and raised as a child of faith. To say that my upbringing influenced who I am today is an gross understatement.

In the late '60s, our parish priest was a 'fire and brimstone' preacher. The God he preached about was a demanding God, a non-forgiving God, a God who watched your every move waiting for 'gotcha' moments.

It's a wonder any Catholic kids of my era made it through that type of teaching still clinging to their faith. Like many teens, I went through a period of pulling away from the faith in which I was raised.

As a young married adult, church was unimportant to me and God was a fleeting thought in my mind to whom I offered prayers of request in times of need and occasional thanks during good times.

The arrival of my first child changed that completely for me.

I turned back to God with all of my heart and soul and committed to raising my child in the faith in which I was raised.

In the Catholic Church, babies are generally baptized as infants, with their parents promising to raise them in the faith.

In doing so, parents also commit to living their own faith as an example to their child. If life was that easy, this story would end here. But it's not.

Faith is a strange and mysterious virtue. According to the old Baltimore Catechism, faith is defined as “[T]he virtue by which we firmly believe all the truths God has revealed, on the word of God revealing them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”

The new Catechism of the Catholic Church defines faith in the glossary by saying it is “[B]oth a gift of God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed. It is this revelation of God which the Church proposes for our belief, and which we profess in the Creed, celebrate in the sacraments, live by right conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity (as specified in the ten commandments), and respond to in our prayers of faith. Faith is both a theological virtue given by God as grace, and an obligation which flows from the first Commandment of God.”

I wish I could say that I remember all of these words as taught to me or knew all of this by heart, but that wouldn't be true. I found this information through a document found in a Google search of "What is Faith Baltimore Catechism?"

God gives us a set of standards by which to live our lives.

This yard sign version of the Ten Commandments is very popular in some places.

Like nearly every person I've met, I am a sinner who has fallen short of the glory of God.

I have broken nearly every one of God's rules for life; however, He loves me and continues to shower me with His perfect and everlasting love.

Like many sinners, I try every day to rededicate myself to living by God's laws and walking the path God has chosen for me.

Until I get angry or frustrated, am tired or in pain, face challenges and doubts, deal with injustice and spite or have just had enough for one day.

Life is filled with challenges. Some are physical, some are mental, some are emotional, some are spiritual and some encompass all of these.

Today, I took a walk with God, but that wasn't really my intention.

I woke up to the beauty of the morning sky you see above. I also woke up in a lot of physical pain, the result of recent injuries.

I knew it was going to rain and wanted to get in a walk before the rain came. It would have been easiest to walk indoors at the mall, but I love the beauty of nature.

With camera around my neck, I began my short walk through the neighborhood. God showed me His majesty as soon as I walked out the door. He can paint the morning sky like a brightly-colored ball of fire, then turn the sky cloudy and gray.

All around me, the birds were singing to announce a new day.

We are each given the gift of a new day as we awaken. But it's a 'use it or lose it' gift that we often let slip through our hands.

Today, I was determined not to let my physical pain define me.

My new mantra, "Every day, in every way, I get a little bit better" ran through my head as I walked up the street and around the corner to the sidewalk on the next block.

The great American dream was spread out in front of me.

Rows of post-World War II houses like this can be seen in many neighborhoods in the United States.

When the war ended, families rebuilt their lives, building neighborhoods such as mine.

The houses were built close together, the yards were free of fences, there were front porches for sitting, yards for playing and sidewalks for walking.

Children are still a big part of the great American dream.

Those of us with grown children see the fleeting moments of our childrens' youth when we see an empty swing.

As a young parent, swings like this one meant endless hours spent pushing my child higher and higher while wishing that my child would hurry up and learn to swing without help.

Children grow up and move out to live their own lives. If you're lucky, they don't move too far away, keep in touch and eventually enrich your life with the wonderful gift of grandchildren to push in the swing.

All lives should be filled with joy and laughter. It's what God wants for us and He provides people and events in our lives to bring us joy.

From a cute turtle on a bicycle windmill to a grandchild running to you with open arms, it's easy to give thanks for the daily blessings in our lives.

If you could bottle up the joy of grandchildren to open during tough times, life would be much easier.

Sometimes you have to dig deep to find the small moments of joy that are often surrounded by sorrow, sadness, pain and tears.

Like a grumpy cat on a porch, there are people in each of our lives we wish we didn't have to deal with.

Their sole purpose in life seems to be to bring us down and discourage us.

I don't think God places these people in our lives, but He offers us new eyes with which to look at them.

For we are all God's children. The good and the bad, the kind and the spiteful were all created by the same God.

Like new buds in spring, maybe we are placed in the lives of the grumpy cat people of the world.

Maybe our place is to serve as an inspiration in their lives, to offer them encouragement and God's love.

It's just a thought, but maybe it's also a true fact.

Maybe the grumpy cats are there to force us outside of our comfort zone, to make us look beyond the familiar loving faces of family and friends, to challenge us to rise above pettiness and strife.

Each spring, the world is born anew. Grass and trees turn green. Flowers bud and bloom.

Baby birds are hatched in their nests by loving parents who protect them, then teach them what they need to know so they can fly away to create their own new lives.

As I turned at the end of the block, the rain began to fall. Slowly at first, but quickly becoming a spring-like shower.

It wasn't easy to tuck my camera inside my sweatshirt one-handed, but I managed to do it. I stood under a bare tree for a few minutes, then decided a little rain never hurt anyone.

I was pretty wet by the time I got home and was glad for the gift of a warm shower and dry clothes.

Not everyone has access to those two simple gifts we often take for granted.

As I came inside, a book caught my eye. "My Daily Journey with God" was a gift from a coworker several years ago.

The book stays on my kitchen counter along with an assortment of other items.

As I opened the book, somehow it opened to a chapter titled, "Difficult Times". I'd like to share part of this two-page devotion with you. Maybe it will make a difference in your life today.

"From time to time, all of us face difficulties, discouragement, or disappointment. When we do, God stands ready to protect us. Psalm 147 promises, "He heals the brokenhearted, and troubled, and binds their wounds." (v. 3 NASB) When we are troubled, we must call upon God, and then, in His own time and according to His own plan, He will heal us."
"Dear Heavenly Father, when I am troubled, You heal me. When I am afraid, You protect me. When I face difficulties in my life, You lift me up. You are my unending source of strength, Lord; let me turn to You when I am weak. In times of adversity, let me trust Your plan and Your will for my life. And whatever my circumstances, Lord, let me always give the thanks and the glory to You. Amen"
As I said at the end of my last blog, there are no mistakes in life. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be right now, even though I may not understand the reasons why.

God makes all things new. Like these spring bulbs pushing up through the old leaves of autumn, God is pushing us to reach for His light as we grow in His love.

I took a walk with God today. It wasn't a long walk and, like many walks we take with God, it wasn't planned.

Take a spontaneous walk with God today. Look around you for the good. You may have to look hard to find it, but it's there.

Until the next time, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this blog post, Sandy. Like you, I am a Christian who loves God and nature.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Sally. I appreciate your comments.

    ReplyDelete