Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free Indeed!

In the 1964 movie "Lady in a Cage," Olivia DeHavilland plays a handicapped woman being held prisoner in a cage hoisted high off the ground, like an oversized bird cage. It's hard not to cheer out loud when her captors meet a violent end as her overwhelming desire for freedom drives her to unthinkable lengths to gain her release. God never intended for us to be caged. He put an ache for freedom in our hearts, and yet because of our first-parents, Adam and Eve, we were born in captivity. From conception we were in the grip of a master we had no strength to overcome on our own. We were locked up, locked in, locked out--we were prisoners to a brutish thug who possesses no mercy--we were slaves to sin.
"Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'" John 8:34 NIV
Like the Lady in the Cage, we were immobilized by our brokenness and confined to a life of constant dying. We were compelled to miss every mark we aimed for, except the targets of favorite sins we sought and not-so-favorite sins we fell into because we were bent that way. UNLIKE the Lady in the Cage, we were not left to try to save ourselves. An invincible Rescuer was sent to deliver us--none other than the very Son of the same God who wove freedom-love into every fiber of our beings. He designed the need into us and then sent the Answer to our need. Our Hero, Jesus Christ, bought our FREEDOM with blood too precious for utterance.
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36 NIV
Free indeed. Why don't more of us act like we're free? Why is it that even believers who have been set free, sometimes walk back into unlocked cages and settle back in there as though our sin-cage is our home? Why don't we get as far away from those ugly cages as we can and refuse to go back in? Maybe it is because the earth we're made of muddies our thinking and sucks at us like quicksand. Maybe the dirt in our bones resonates with the earth-ishness of our life on this travailing planet. But . . . Jesus said, "free indeed." FREE INDEED! The door is OPEN! I can LEAVE the cage! I MUST leave the cage! Father, help us to walk out of the cage of our own sin. Help us to walk in the freedom You wrote on our hearts. Release us from every divided thought that draws us earthward. Help us to live fully free and free indeed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you have never met Jesus, or accepted His gift of freedom, His invitation is extended personally to you as you read these words. May I humbly encourage you to take Him up on His offer and let Him set you free--believe in Him! "'For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.'" John 3:16-18 NIV
If you meet me and forget me, you've lost nothing. If you meet Jesus and forget Him, you've lost everything.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Flapping Necessary

Turkey VultureHere in Northern California we have a lot of turkey vultures--maybe you have them where you live too. I used to find them mildly irritating to watch because at times they give the impression of being incredibly clumsy. When they fly, they go along just fine flying gracefully, and then for no visible reason they look like they are losing their balance and teeter unsteadily until they regain control. I caught this one in flight over my back yard recently. After watching several turkey vultures for awhile that day, I decided I wanted to know why they had such an apparently hard time flying. The information I found put me in my place--I should have known God had a great design when He created this impressive bird. Turkey vultures are masters at conserving energy. They are among the most skilled gliders in North America. Turkey vultures wait until the morning air is warmed by the sun, then take off from a lofty perch. They circle upward, looking for thermals, or pockets of rising warm air. When they find one of these thermals, they ride it higher and higher without ever having to flap their wings. Turkey vultures can stay aloft for over 6 hours gliding from one thermal to another, no flapping necessary. They only look unsteady when they have lost the thermal they were riding. Ever find yourself in a flap? Ever feel like you're fighting the world-wind, and feeling that you're about to crash and burn? Me too. The turkey vulture whom God created to glide, knows something that can help us. The warm thermals of rising air that enable this bird to glide so easily remind me of the Holy Spirit. His gentle and quiet Presence as He buoys me up, enables me to soar above the fray of the world and its ways. He wants to do His work in my life so I can calmly, quietly, gracefully survey and manage my life and my daily needs from HIS vantage point powered by His uplift. When I rely on His energy, I am freed up to enjoy the good gifts my Heavenly Father gives and to be about Kingdom business for God's glory.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV
When I suddenly look up and find myself flailing and flapping unnecessarily I will be reminded of the turkey vulture and what he knows about gliding. If I am unexpectedly teetering and feeling out of control, maybe it's because I got away from the thermal of the Holy Spirit's power . . . or maybe I am trying to do things my own way . . . flap . . . flap . . . flop. When that happens, I will stop flapping and get back to resting on the lovely lift of Spirit-love, and rejoice in the freedom of soaring with Him.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Hats

Happy SwimmerOne of my favorite characters in the movie "Finding Nemo" is a fish named Dori, who responds to every setback with a happy little tune, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." Maybe that is why I love this picture! It just makes me smile. Every time! What a happy hat! My Daddy used to have this funny hat with purple and green flowers on it that he called his "happy hat." We loved to tease him about it, which was great because he wore it often. As a high school teacher and coach of forty years, he taught a lot about attitude; he used to say to his students, "There are a lot of attitudes out there. Now go pick a good one!" He teases his grandkids, saying, "If you don't smile, we'll send you back." At least I think he's teasing. They all smile a lot! My husband shares with audiences he speaks to, "Attitude is a choice!" He says it with conviction and they believe him. I do too. He chooses a good attitude on a daily basis in spite of frustrations, disappointments and setbacks. He refuses to allow his confidence to be shaken, and he keeps a can-do outlook firmly in place. His attitude is contagious! It doesn't always feel like our attitude is chosen, but it really is. Sometimes failing to choose a good attitude is tantamount to choosing a negative one--human nature is just like that. It takes no effort at all to grumble and expect the worst, but a good deal of effort to choose a bright view when things are hard or we're disappointed. We absolutely are NOT forced to have bad attitude. I remember Flip Wilson's character Geraldine (I know I’m dating myself) and her famous line, "The devil made me do it." Everyone laughed because they knew perfectly well that Geraldine was just deflecting blame for something she chose to do herself. We all saw through Geraldine because we recognized ourselves in her . . . just a little bit. When it comes to attitude, we kind of excuse our bad ones, thinking, "I can't help it! Look what happened!" as if the happening necessitated the souring. "The devil made me do it!" we whine. The children of Israel frequently found themselves at the crossroads between opposing attitudes--to choose fear or faith, gratitude or grumbling, life or death. Too many times they chose poorly . . . humanly . . . naturally--their lives were always devastated when they got it wrong. We like to think we're so superior and that if WE had been there WE would have been good little faithful children. Unfortunately, we are very like those ancient Hebrews who stumbled around in the desert, wishing they had just believed . . . thanked . . . trusted God in the first place.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds," James 1:2 NIV
So, Lord help me--when I am facing the prospect of swimming proverbial laps, perhaps in a pool not of my own choosing, help me to put on my "happy hat" and brighten someone else's day while I splash and pull and kick my way through to the finish line. Tell me about your "happy hats." How do you choose a good attitude when it would be easier to complain? HAVE A HAPPY DAY!! This post has inspired a new greeting card--hope you like it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time Creeps

Last time I wrote about how speedy time is and how hard it is to slow it down. Well,

that is only half the story. Time is also exasperatingly slow! Slow? Yes! Time creeps like the slow-motion mechanics of a never-in-a-hurry turtle. Think it doesn't? Think it only goes too fast and you never have enough of it to get everything done on time? Well, think again.

Remember the summer you were 6 and you were waiting for Christmas? Time creeps. How about 10 miles down the road on a 3-day car trip to Grandma's house--"Are we there yet?" Time creeps. Have you ever had a migraine? Time creeps. Remember the last hour of every spring-fever school day in high school? Time creeps. What about standing in line at your favorite ride at Disneyland? Time creeps. Let's see . . . pregnant and past your due date? Time CREEPS. Ever been in a waiting room, hawk-eyeing the door for the surgeon to bring what you pray will be good news? Time stands still.

Time also creeps when we're waiting for God's timing to coincide with our actual circumstance! It can be so utterly maddening to be not only waiting, but wondering what the holdup is. It's not like He can't intervene, it's not like He doesn't have the resources, it's not like He is stuck in traffic! But oh how the time creeps and crawls on it's unperturbed belly while we stand frantically still, stuck . . . and waiting.

Why DO You have to be so calm about everything? I have everything under control. Can't You see how dire the situation is down here? Yes, baby, I see how dire it feels. I'm sorry it's so hard for you. What are You doing? ARE You doing ANYthing? I'm training you for good purposes I have for you. I don't remember signing up for this class--can I take singing lessons instead? No. But HOW much longer do I have to wait? I'm so tired of this!! Hang in there Sweetie, I'm right here with you. ARE WE THERE YET? It won't be long!

Well, "won't be long" from God's perspective and "won't be long" from ours do not necessarily feel the same. But while we're waiting for God to make something happen or for Him to deliver us to our destination, more important than how slow the time FEELS, is our faith in our Father's compassion for us when it's hard. The temptation is always to believe the lie that God doesn't notice our predicament or care about how we feel. That ugly, insidious thought is one we must not incorporate into our thinking . If we do, there will be a horrible, hollow distance in our minds between us and God. He doesn't want that. He wants us to settle in to Him, to trust Him when He says there is something good going on, and to experience Him in close quarters while we wait.

" I am still confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the LORD."

Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Time Speeds

--
Great philosopher, Ferris Bueller once quipped, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."


"Blurring . . . Whirring . . . jumbled colors . . . sight and sound . . . does life ever feel to you like a scene in the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie? You know, the one where Willie Wonka puts them on his whimsical boat and they sail off into a tunnel filled with disjointed and terrifying images projected all around them while he screams bizarre and disturbing poetry into the strange glow? Everyone is so relieved when he yells, "Stop the boat!"

Life does move fast. Life is filled with change and challenge, the unexpected, the unwanted and t
he uncalled-for. But life is also filled with joy and laughter, dreams and fulfillments, pursuits and triumphs, the tried and true, the glorious, the counted-upon. It IS a bit of a jumble, priceless treasures thrown in the same blender with hideous gargoyles and almost worse, meaningless junk. It's hard to make sense of what is going by so fast.

I see this so often as a mother. It is all too easy to get caught up in the daily demands and details of raising children whether it's diapers or caps and gowns, kindergarten enrollment or college applications, broken toys or broken hearts, "Mom, we lost the game," or "Mom, I've lost my way," trips to the store or trips to the emergency room . . .


I'm so thankful that I learned from my own mother how to savor a moment, how to just enjoy the moment that IS, how to collect moments like jewels to be prized and admired and passed down as heirlooms. I am too often aware of how fast it's going, how quickly my kids are growing, how soon they'll be out and on their own, and I want to yell, "Stop the boat!" But in life, as in motherhood, I can't stop the boat any more than I could stop the process of labor in the delivery room when I hit that inevitable moment when I wanted to say, "I changed my mind, I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!" Too late honey, the only way out is through!


That's right. The only way out is through. And the only way to keep up with time as it speeds relentlessly at its own breakneck pace, is to make a point to stop and notice. Collect the heirloom of the twinkle in her eye when she makes the whole family laugh with her dry wit, freeze frame the passion he wears when he performs on stage like the showman he is, capture and save the crazy, scary-deep love that gets you through an argument that tests your connectedness.

Time speeds by completely beyond our control, but it still has to happen one moment at a time. Choose to notice the eternal in the split second, the everlasting in the fleeting. Never spend time, always redeem it. Collect, compile, concentrate and catalog each glimmer of always in the speeding droplets of this vanishing-vapor life.

"Teach us to number our days aright, That we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:12 NIV

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Drop of Honey

--
I am new to the blogosphere, both as a writer and as a reader. For the last several years I had heard about blogs, and had known of their benefits, but until recently I had not been in the habit of reading blogs. I had been encouraged by small business consultants to start a blog of my own--they said it would be good for business. Well, I wasn't about to start writing something strictly as a sales technique--that's just not how I'm wired, but I WAS intrigued with the blog as a vehicle for communication.

Once I finally zeroed in on what my message was, and what I really wanted to write about, I jumped in wholeheartedly to begin writing Up the Sunbeam. Writing my own blog led me to reading other blogs, and as you probably know from the ones you follow, one blog leads to an exponentially increasing number of other blogs. They're like potato chips--you can't eat just one!

I have been so blessed by so many of the blogs I've chased from one link to another. However, at times I have also been intimidated. Some of what I read was just SO GOOD! And there was SO MUCH that was SO GOOD! How could my little posts on my fledgling blogspot compete or hold up against such a flood of wonderful writing and wise words and great photography.

Old insecurities that probably hearken back to middle-school-mean-girls reared their ugly heads (what IS it about middle school girls, anyway?). For a split second--well, maybe a few not so split seconds--I thought maybe it wasn't worth it. After all, I don't have the college degree I should have gotten. Nor do I have an impressive career as an author or head of a powerful women's ministry. "I don't have," "I haven't done," " I'm not enough" . . . you get the idea . . .
And then I read about the honey bee.




Did you know that a female honey bee goes through a whole series of jobs before she gets to go out and become a honey-maker? She is in turn a housekeeper, nursemaid, construction worker, grocer, undertaker, guard, and finally, after 21 days she becomes a forager commissioned with the task of collecting pollen and nectar. An average worker bee (once she goes out to gather nectar) flies the equivalent of 160 miles, collecting nectar from 36,000 flowers to produce only 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey--in her whole life! All that work, literally working herself to death, to produce only a drop of honey! It takes an average of 556 bees, flying the equivalent of 3 times around the globe, visiting 2,000,000 flowers to make just one pound of golden sticky sweetness!!

Okay, so what does that have to do with my insecurities about my blog and its place in the blogosphere? And what does any of that have to do with you? It tells me that my credentials matter less than my experience, and titles and pieces of paper are less important than my diligence to do the variety of tasks God has given me to do. It tells me that my words, my pictures and all God gives me to do, and be, and create, all go together to form my drop of honey. My drop of honey matters, even if it is only a drop. YOUR drop of honey matters!! The drops of honey produced by each of our lives combine to be of great blessing to the world.

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24 NIV

I pray that my drop of honey sweetens your life today. I pray that it brings nourishment to your soul. I pray that it makes you smack your lips and lick your fingers with the luscious taste of God's goodness. I pray for you, that you would not withhold your drop of honey from the world, and that nothing would intimidate you from collecting nectar from every flower God grows.

Information about bees gathered and extrapolated from Amazing Honey Bee Facts and Backyard Beekeepers. Thanks to my sweetest of sweet neighbors, Jennifer, (whose bee is undoubtedly in this picture gathering nectar from my lavender), for lending me her bee for my photoshoot and for her wonderful gifts of honey--she keeps my pantry stocked!


This post inspired me to create a new Thank You card -- I share it here in case you want to use it to express your appreciation to someone who has sweetened your day.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Superabundant Grace

--
Grace is not our native language. In our development from infancy onward, it's clear that we are neither graceful nor gracious at birth. Our first attempts at moving our ungainly, head-heavy bodies from one place to another are clumsy and peppered with tumbles and crash landings--no, we are NOT naturally graceful. When my daughter was little, I saw in her pediatrician's office a poster listing the "Toddler Rules of Possession":

1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in anyway.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.
I laughed out loud that day and that list still pops into my head frequently--it's amazing how often even adults revert to their innner toddler.  In addition to being hilarious, these "rules" are entirely recognizable traits which also illustrate my point that grace is not natural to the human heart.  We are born in a state that says, "Get mine, get more, get it right now!"  We are NOT naturally gracious.

Maybe our unfamiliarity with grace, gracefulness, and graciousness explains why we are so dull-witted and skeptical about trusting the truth of God's grace.  While we are created in His image, we often act as though He is created in our image. We fall into projecting our nature onto Him, thus diminishing Him to a really big, powerful human with a stingy, snotty attitude that looks like the one that is too often in the mirror.

Oh, that we would see Him clearly!

One of the most anguish-producing, gut-wrenching, life-emptying lies the enemy tells, is that we have to work to please God.  This lie constantly questions whether grace is really free and perpetually needles us with the feeling that God probably isn't pleased with us . . . after all, He knows us, doesn't He?  So how could He be pleased when we're so flawed and prone to imperfection?

God indeed knows our flaws and imperfections, He knows how and why we're broken. Way back at the beginning of our deadly dance with sin, God's Creator-Father's heart was broken and on the ultimate supernatural scale He went into superhero mode and put His rescue plan in motion!!
"But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!"
Overflowing, abounding grace. Grace we couldn't earn. WE. DON'T. TRUST. THAT. In earth's economy, nothing is free. We are conditioned to know that anything that is offered for free, probably comes with strings attached, and we are trained to ask, "What's the catch?" The catch is only this, that we believe Him when He says that placing our personal faith in His one and only Son is all He needs to be pleased with us. If we are "in Christ" there is absolutely not one thing we can do to make God more pleased with us than He is by our faith. Every sin we've ever committed, past, present and future, is already under the blood of His Son, never to be brought up again! Our sin was replaced by Christ's righteousness. He is not holding our fleshly, in-time imperfections against us any more than a physician holds his patient's symptoms against them. Instead, like the Rescuer He is, He implemented a way to deal with our sin disease and its symptoms by drowning them in His grace.

"But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:20-21 NIV
No matter how many sins and imperfections we have, God's grace increases, constantly bubbling over like this fountain to overflow them--our sin cannot overcome God's grace!

This brings up an obvious question:


"
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:1-2 NIV

No, we cannot go on sinning, just because there is a remedy, and we DO have a call to be holy that compels us to obedience and service (remember The Beauty of Balance?). BUT, we must not respond to this call because we think He will be mad at us if we fail--that is a false motivation and will lead us to a begrudging and unhealthy and frightened view of who God is. Instead we have to TRUST that like a line from an old Ray Hildebrand song says, "His grace isn't cheap, but it's free." When we really settle down in that truth and TRUST HIM, we can respond to His call out of a deeply grateful heart. When we are grateful to the One who held back nothing to come to our rescue, we will freely obey Him because we LOVE HIM! We don't work in order to please Him, we obey and serve because it delights Him!

Who doesn't want to do what delights someone they love? How could we not love Someone who poured out limitless quantities of His own blood to overflowingly exceed our sin? How could we not love Someone who enables us to live in the glorious knowledge that God is permanently pleased with us. How could we do anything other than look for ways to show Him how much we love Him and how thankful we are for His superabundant grace?!


Grace is not our native language, but thankfully, it is the only language He speaks! Trust Him!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Drop by Sparkling Drop

--
 "Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise."

So go the first lines of one of my favorite hymns. It rightly characterizes my Heavenly Father as the "Fount of every blessing."

A fountain . . . a constant, gushing, rushing flow of water under enough pressure to launch it high into the air, making the beautiful arcing patterns we so enjoy watching. What is known, but isn't so easily noticed, is that the flow of a fountain is made up of millions of individual drops, all directed by the design of the fountain.

Blessing. I like blessings! Blessings never ceasing? Yes, please! I am so conditioned by my very BLESSED Western culture, and by the desires of my own flesh, to want a constant, gushing, rushing flow of blessings. Whether they be spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, personal, I love to be in a state of obvious blessing. Sometimes, especially right now in this time of recession, I am tempted to FEEL that the flow has been interrupted, that maybe something is wrong on the Fountain end of things.


NOT SO! C. S. Lewis, in the letter from which Up the Sunbeam got its name, talked about some of the things that can prevent us from noticing and properly experiencing God in the blessings He gives, both great and small. He points to "inattention" as one obstacle, and describes another obstacle as our tendency to enjoy the blessing but to "ignore the smell of Deity that hangs about it." He goes on to say, "A third obstacle is greed. Instead of saying 'This also is Thou,' one may say the fatal word Encore."


OUCH!! Shame on my greedy self! A fatal word indeed. The flow is NOT interrupted. There is NOTHING wrong with the Fountain! He has just shifted my perspective so I can notice His blessings drop by drop. When I notice each blessing and rightly inhale the scent of Divine love it brings to my senses, then my heart, like the hymn says, is tuned to grace, and I am compelled to sing "songs of loudest praise."

"As they make music they will sing, 'All my fountains are in You.'"
Psalm 87:7 NIV

Not only do I desperately need to notice each individual drop of blessing like a tiny liquid diamond, perfect and astounding in its own right, but I need to be more concerned with BEING a blessing than getting one. If God is this Fountain of Blessings, then the people of God must also be part of the motion of His blessing, flowing at the direction of the Fountain Himself.

I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite scenes and movie quotes, from the 1967 production of the Lerner & Leowe musical, Camelot. In the final scene, King Arthur, devasted at what appears to be the death of Camelot and his dreams with it, faces a battle he doesn't want to fight. Moments before dawn when the battle will surely begin, a young boy emerges from the fog who wants to fight at his side--he still believes in Camelot! Arthur, with his hope renewed, knights the lad, but tells him he must fight for Camelot in a different way; he tells him to go back to his home and tell people about Camelot, to keep the dream alive wherever he goes. As the boy runs to do the King's bidding, Arthur's friend, aging King Pellinore asks, "Who was that?" Arthur replies, "One of what we all are, Pelli--less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea, but it seems some of the drops sparkle, Pelli! Some of them do sparkle!"


I too have a message, given to me not by King Arthur, but by the King of Kings, and His is not a dying dream but a living one. He has commissioned me to take it wherever I go--to bless the world with His love. Father, let me sparkle for You and Your Kingdom! Let me be more passionate about being a blessing than about getting one! Remove the word "encore" from my spiritual vocabulary and replace it with "This also is Thou." Help me to know You as the "Fount of every blessing" and consistently sing with songs of loudest praise,

"All my fountains are in You!"

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fall River Flood

--
In 1903, a group of farmers built an earthen dam across Roaring River at the mouth of Lawn Lake high in the mountains above their farms near Loveland, Colorado. The dam was approximately 35 miles away, almost 11,000 feet above sea level, and nearly 6000 feet above the valley floor. This reservoir of water enabled them to irrigate their crops, and it enlarged and enhanced already beautiful Lawn Lake. For years the dam did its job and the farmers enjoyed the benefit of having a ready supply of water for their land.

Fast-forward to the morning of July 15th, 1982. Early that bright, sunny morning, the dam broke, sending the water behind it rushing downstream at an estimated 18,000 cubic feet per second. Gathering trees and boulders in its crashing current, the cascade reached and overwhelmed another dam at Crystal Lake, causing it to fail too. The normal courses of Roaring River and Fall River below it were dwarfed by the new channels cut by the 25-foot high, 100-foot wide wall of water and debris. The churning, now-muddy rampage destroyed 18 bridges, a hydroelectric plant, a fish hatchery (killing some 90,000 fish), and worst of all, it killed 3 campers along its destructive path into and through the lovely town of Estes Park where dozens of businesses and homes were damaged and destroyed. You can see the dramatic scar left by the flood in this picture taken almost 25 years later. (Click here to see an aerial view looking down on Lawn Lake--you can see the deep cut below where the water poured down the valley)

So what happened? Was this just a freak accident, unforeseeable and unpreventable?

Hardly.

In the years after the dam was built, no one maintained the road that had been built to facilitate the construction of the dam. It gradually eroded back into the mountain. Eventually, people got tired of the 6-mile hike from the nearest road to do inspections of the dam, and the inspector's visits grew infrequent. Meanwhile, pipes in the dam were slowly corroding and the time-bomb was ticking.

What was originally of great benefit to the whole area, ultimately resulted in destruction and death. The actions and inaction of a few key people produced a devastating impact on unsuspecting citizens and tourists in a completely different town, more than 30 miles away. No one intended for this to happen, but by not INTENDING to prevent it, they caused the disaster.

I learn something from this.

I am a little bit frightened by this.

I am challenged by this story and this picture, to look around and see if there are things in my life, my family, my community, my country, that I have been neglecting. Where do I need to do an inspection? Where have I been lazy about keeping up the appropriate maintenance? Where have I been so content to enjoy the benefits of something that I have forgotten to do the work that will enable those benefits to continue? Where have I been so focused on my own needs that I have neglected to care for the well-being of others? Is there a dam upstream that needs my attention?

Paul wrote to young pastor, Timothy, speaking of his gifts and calling:

"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them,
so that everyone may see your progress.
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do,
you will save both yourself and your hearers."

What I do with my gifts and areas of calling and responsibility really matters. It doesn't affect just me and my own sense of purpose and success , but also the people God has placed downstream of my influence. I must not neglect what I've been given to do.

Father, I pray that in all of our lives, we would beware our "Fall Rivers" and the dams that could break if we don't tend them properly. Help us to be diligent in our responsibilities, given wholly to them so we don't cause the ruin of others!

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All content, words and images by Shaunie Friday unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.
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