"A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking." Earl Wilson
Ok, I know it is only February 28th, but I will be honest and tell you I'm already taking mini breaks dreaming about someplace warm. A summer vacation... someplace warm. It is important to look ahead. Research says that part of the effect of vacation actually begins before you take it. While you're planning it, you become more relaxed and hopeful.
So, no, please don't look to tomorrow and worry, however looking ahead to imagine the wonderful things coming up, the joy about to be had, and the goals that Christ has put before us are an important part of life.
Philippians 3:13-14 tells us, "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Kindness is not optional for a Christian. It isn't something we share when we feel like it. It isn't something to give to those who give it to us first. It isn't something we roll our eyes at when we are sick of hearing about it. In fact, scripturally, if there is a test about whether the Holy Spirit is within us, kindness is a part of it.
"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." --- Galatians 5:22-23
So, even though the cold winter won't let much blossom and grow, we can bear plenty of fruit. And when we carpet the winter with kindness, not only does the world get more beautiful, it gets a bit warmer, too.
So the story goes, in the year 287 AD (or so), St. Valentine was beheaded by the government of Claudius the Cruel. Claudius had seen his armies struggling to keep soldiers and blamed it on their hearts. He felt that men stayed home with their wives and children, so he banned all marriages. Valentine continued performing these marriages in secret, and was then imprisoned and killed.
"The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail."
I was interested in the two fighting images in this scripture of "parched places" and a "watered garden". Then, I did some research. There are springs than can turn parched places into watered gardens.
In fact, these watered gardens in deserts are incredibly important. According to the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative, "Spring waters support an extensive array of microbial, plant and animal species, including many native and endangered species. Over 10% of the endangered species in the US depend on springs for their survival."
God keeps us watered in dry places, and strengthens us for our tasks. And as we become like watered gardens, we are able to share home, shade, and provision for others. Where is God guiding you? What needs are God satisfying? How are your bones being strengthened right now? Who are you sharing your provision with?
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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