My friend Rosie is an amazing person. Born without arms, she’s refused to believe her life need be limited. With deep confidence that God has given her everything she needs to live an abundant life and honor Him, she’s become a remarkable wife and mother, a brilliant scholar, and an extraordinary artist.
“God means us to delight in his world. . . . Just observe. And remember. And compare. And be always looking to God with thankfulness and worship for having placed you in such a delightful corner of the universe as the planet Earth.” These were the last words Paul Brand’s father wrote to him before his death. They had a profound effect on Paul’s life. He eventually became a missionary doctor in India and was well known for his pioneering work in the treatment of leprosy. He never forgot his father’s urging to enjoy and delight in God’s creation.
The day’s news was discouraging. There was another terrorist attack. Two countries squabbled about a rogue nation’s nuclear weapons. A large Christian denomination divided over differences on marriage, while another split over how best to counter poverty and racism. Conflicts like these aren’t just discouraging, they’re exhausting. They persist—showing no signs of resolution.
The diving bell spider lives the majority of its life in a bubble of air at the bottom of freshwater ponds and streams in northern and central Europe and northern Asia. To create the bubble, it somersaults on the surface of the water, catches a bubble of air, holds it over the breathing holes in the middle of its body, and then dives down and spins a silk web between underwater plants. This arachnid then swims back up to the surface, bringing down bubble after bubble until a big balloon of air is formed. It then eats and lives in the big bubble.
The rejection letter I received from the university’s registrar sent me spiraling into shock and disbelief. In the midst of my sadness and confusion, I was grateful that one of my cousins had encouraged me to apply to another school. Fortunately, I was accepted by that university. While I didn’t understand why I was unable to attend my dream school, I recognized that God wasn’t surprised. He knew everything about my situation and had my best in mind.
Our faces can give clues to our life experiences. They reveal our emotions, hint at our age, and indicate whether or not we’ve led difficult lives. They can also hint at whether or not we’ve been with God. I once had a co-worker at my workplace ask why I was so joyful and smiling all the time. His question caught me off guard; I wasn’t aware my face was revealing anything. I paused, and then answered, “Jesus.” He laughed off my reply and then asked, “No, really, why?” I reiterated, “Jesus.”
If I’m hiking and camping out for several days, campfires are vital. And the most important thing I carry with me as I begin each day is a handful of charred sticks from the previous night’s fire. They’re the very best fire starters—no need to find tinder or other sticks. I just spark the charred ends, blow on them, and pile on a few fresh logs.
As a teenager, I traveled from the United States to London on a school-sponsored trip. Just 14 years old, I regrettably paid more attention to my meals and classmates than to the impressive sights around me. One day, however, I encountered the ruins of a Roman wall. I was awestruck, and my attention was temporarily diverted from typical teenage interests. It was humbling to touch something so ancient. The moss and stone seemed sacred, and I felt as if I were standing on holy ground.
I enjoy reading lists of names in the Bible. In the past, they seemed pointless to me. In fact, I would skim over them to get to the “meaty” stuff in the passage. One day, however, I realized that all those names were there for a reason. God had selected individuals and involved them by name in His Word. What an honor when your name was chosen for positive reasons!
What do soldiers, athletes, and farmers have in common? Discipline. Soldiers go through drills day in and day out. They want to be battle ready. Athletes undergo strict training so they can compete in the race. Farmers work from the rising of the sun until it sets, patiently toiling in hope of a bountiful harvest.
In a speech given during the commencement of a newly formed missions agency, my friend—who heads up the ministry—spoke of its mission and vision. He also gave everyone a clear picture of its goals and plans.
When I see the moon at its thinnest stage, I sometimes think of a passage I read in Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal. The writer composed these poetic words for God: “You are the slim crescent of a moon . . . and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon . . . I do not know you God, because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.”
When the Nazis overran Poland, Father Maximilian Kolbe transformed his friary into a covert refugee center. Before the SS troops discovered Kolbe’s plot, the men had hidden more than 2,000 Jews. The SS shipped Kolbe to Auschwitz, prisoner #16670. Though beaten, forced into hard labor, and given sparse food, Kolbe’s gentleness never waned.