The Name

Yellow flower israel field.

It was a beautiful morning. The night’s chill warming away with the rising of the sun  over the Judean hills. A myriad of birds sang their awakening songs. Flowers sprinkled the edges of the path.

But the young woman trudging up the road noticed none of these. She was absorbed in her own sorrow. Grief was her only companion. If possible her broken heart was shattered more with the discovery that the tomb was empty. She could not even pay her respects to the dear man who had given her unconditional love and hope for a bright future.

So gripped by her pain, she hardly noticed the man, apparently the gardener, behind  her who asked her why she was crying. Then it happened. She recognized the voice that whispered one word, one name.

“Mary.”

It was Him, Jesus! The moment he spoke her name, Mary Magdalene’s world changed forever. Her worst day, now bloomed anew with hope, and everything was all right.

I cannot fully imagine what that moment was like. But when I recently read again that familiar passage from the Bible, it struck me. That moment was monumental. It must have been breathtaking. It was darkness turned to light. Grief to delight. Death to new life.

The closest I can get to that experience is when I was a little boy. In the dark, lonely and afraid it only took my father’s voice and one word. “Danny.” Then I knew I was safe and loved and everything was all right.

Jesus still pursues us with love, whispering our names. Sometimes we don’t respond because of the distractions of life or pain or unhealthy temptations.

But for those  who hear and turn and see the One who loves us unconditionally, discover a new day and hope that will last forever. When we hear Jesus whisper our names, we know we are safe and everything is all right.

“…thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

“Jesus said, to her, “Mary”.

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means, “Teacher”).     –John 20: 15-16 (NIV)

Blue Snow

sunrise-snow

Sometimes, after a fresh snow, there is a magic time just before sunrise. The hour before the sun appears over the horizon, the snow looks blue. It is beautiful in a soft solemn way. It is an interesting time to take a walk outside. There is a sense of mystery as the trees are still dark in shadow. And a slight feeling of danger follows the walker. In my area one can still hear the eerie howls of coyotes or the haunting hoot of a great horned owl. A friend reported seeing a mountain lion in his woods, probably migrated down from Canada through Michigan.

It is like a symbol of our world. We live between the darkness and the light. There are predators out there from thieves to terrorists. Yet, much of the world is beautiful thanks to the creative light and grace of God.

What I like about the hour of blue snow is that the darkness is moving away and the light is growing. Soon the sun will be up, dusting the snow with a rosy pink that builds until the meadow becomes a field of sparkling diamonds under the powerful brilliance of the sun.

God, through His word, has shown that, though we presently live in mixed darkness and light, the Son is coming. We will know true peace, and joy, safety and love in the light of His forever day.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”  Proverbs 4:18 (KJV)

Storm on Lake Superior

 

Sailing in a Storm on Lake Superior

 sail boat in storm

It was gray chilly day with intermittent rain on Isle Royale National Park. The wilderness island sits at the upper end of Lake Superior. My friends Tom and Randy and I had been backpacking for three days. The weather had kept us inside at the harbor most of the day. During a lull in the rain we decided to walk out on the pier to look at the variety of boats docked there. Boats of different sizes and models rested. Most were fishing vessels.

Near the end of the pier, however, floated a beautiful, twenty-foot sailboat. Its sleek lines reminded me of the sailing ships of old. Upon seeing us admiring his boat, the owner Phil invited us aboard. He showed us around the craft, proudly sharing many pointers about sailing.

My friend Tom was the total outdoorsman. He loved anything that can be done outside from hunting and fishing to all kinds of outdoor sports. He was fascinated by every detail the man told him. The two quickly hit it off, and the fellow invited us to go sailing.

“Isn’t the weather a little rough today?” I was a bit uncertain.

“No, this old girl can handle much worse than this.” He patted the gunwales as we looked at the choppy waves.

Tom helped him release the lines, and we headed out. It was a joy, gliding along in the slender, seaworthy craft. Before long, the rain sprang up again. The sailor was ready, though, passing out rain slickers.

With the rain came a strong, cold wind blowing it in our faces. Randy and I opted to go down inside. Not Tom. He was enjoying every moment. Soon Phil had him take the wheel and sail the ship. Tom was in his height of glory. From the open door of the cabin, I could see that he looked the part, too, as he wrestled the wheel in the growing storm. Between his rain slicker and hat, the rugged features of his face appeared to be chipped from granite. They could have been those of a mountain man or an old-time sailor.

Now the boat was rocking in the waves like a hobbyhorse in high gear. The craft rolled from side to side. Randy’s face looked a little green around the gills. Mine probably did, too, as the tension grew within me.

It happened suddenly. I felt myself plastered against the wall as the boat tipped over. Farther and farther it went until I figured that the gunwales must be near to touching the water. As I sent up a quick silent prayer, I saw Phil grab the wheel and help Tom right the ship.

“Whoa, that got a little close there.” Phil laughed. The man had a real knack for stating the obvious.

Eventually, we made it back to land and walked away, giving our goodbyes and thanks to Phil.

“Man, that was an adventure!” Tom said, his face still glowing with excitement. More stating of the obvious.

Looking back, I’m glad we went sailing in a storm. It helped me realize how it must have felt to the disciples when they were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. They soon felt the comfort of knowing that Jesus had the power to calm choppy waves and get them home safely. In life’s storms, we who believe in him, still have that assurance today.

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mark 4:39)

Winning-For Whom?

I learned a valuable lesson a while back. I had entered four poems in the Barton Reece Pogue Poetry Festival. It had been a hectic week, and I was not ready. I wasn’t sure which poems to enter. I certainly had no time to rehearse my presentations. My printer decided not to print the ones I considered using. For the first few years, I had won no higher than third place. I really wanted a first place win, but winning anything at all now seemed out of the question.

Waking in the middle of the night, I couldn’t go back to sleep because of my worries. This was going to be bad. I would embarrass myself and possibly be sentenced to some kind of poets’ prison.

I prayed. After a short silence, I heard what was like a hint of whispered words. “Don’t worry about it. Just do the poems for Me. Don’t worry about what the audience will think or about winning. You won’t need to rehearse this time. Just speak for Me.”

A peace settled over me and I slept. That peace continued with me the next day. The printer worked, rejecting only one of the five poems I put in. I went to the contest with just the right number of praise poems. When I was called to the stage, I was slightly nervous but still felt that peace deep inside. As I read the poems, words, emotions, gestures all came effortlessly. I read as well as I had ever read.

And when the awards were handed out. . . I won third place. Third place again!

Well, I had to laugh at myself. I could almost hear God chuckling. He had not promised me first place. He had just told me to do my poems for Him. Then when I still felt a little envy toward those who won higher awards, the lesson continued. As I opened my Sunday school lesson for the next day, I was reminded that jealousy is a sin. “Okay, Lord I get the point.”

The lesson went still deeper. I recalled that after the festival, a woman came to me and thanked me for reading the poems and asked me if she could have one. She explained that she was going through a difficult time in her life and that the poem had eased her burden and encouraged her. She would be reading it daily.

So, I had read poems that praised God including one that had eased someone’s pain. That was success. After all life’s contests are finished and all our races run, the highest award above all accolades and trophies is to hear our Lord say, “Well done.”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people”. (Colossians 3:23)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fishy Message

pexels-photo-290506It was a cool, clear Northwoods morning. Birds greeted the day with their myriad songs while the rising sun beamed between spruce and maple trees to dance in golden sparkles on the lake’s surface.

I had brought my nephews camping to northern Michigan. Two city boys learning to appreciate the outdoors. As is my custom, rose before my teenaged guests. After starting the morning campfire and preparing a steaming cup of coffee over the flames, I took a walk along the lakeshore. Something in the water caught my eye. Below me in the clear amber-tinted liquid, I spied a fish swimming about. He moved in graceful circles around the rocks a couple feet down. I found myself struck by the realization that the fish was not aware of my presence.

The fish moved about, quite content in his serene, murky world with a vision range of three to six square feet. Yet, here I stood, a being of far greater intelligence and power just above him in a world bigger and brighter than anything he could imagine.

It reminded me that we humans get a little arrogant in our assumption that we are the highest intelligence in the universe. Many are content in their theory that there is no God or a heavenly world beyond our small view of space. Some believe that any scientific theory is fact even if there is little evidence, but a thoughtful Creator does not, despite volumes of evidence available, if one is willing to look.

Perhaps Shakespeare was right, “There are more things between heaven and earth than are found in your (our) philosophy, Horacio.” The Bible says, “…and those that seek me (God) early shall find me.”  (Proverbs 8:17). It’s worth considering.

I sat on a rock for some time in thought as I watched my fishy friend. Jesus said to his disciples, “…I will make fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) In my case, it was a fish who gave the Devine message to the man.

Following is a related poem I am have written.

 

Of Worlds and Fish

From, The Outdoorsmen, By Dan L. Fuller

 

On a sparkling North Woods morning,

I watched a fish in a crystal lake

Serenely swim in its hazy green environment

Unaware that a being he couldn’t comprehend,

Watched him from a shining world above.

Could he ever understand that one,

Of far greater intelligence,

With power of life and death,

But capable of compassion and grace,

Watched him from on high?

Did he ever dream of a world beyond his own?

Warm and bright with stark, clear light,

And the myriad colors of flowers,

With bird songs,

And symphonies?

Did he sense something beyond himself?

Or attend schools of fishy evolution?

Scoffing at the existence of man?

In a world beyond the reality,

Of his murky six-foot view?

On a sparkling North Woods morning,

I watched a fish in a crystal lake,

Then turned to look at my world,

And felt eyes above,

Watching me.