Suppose

When I was in third grade, I participated in group piano lessons after school. We used wooden keyboards, which made absolutely no sense at all to my way of thinking. How were you supposed to know if you played the correct note when you sat there hitting a piece of wood made to look like a piano? That keyboard didn’t fool me.

As our end of year recital approached, the teacher told each student to bring a piece of sheet music for her approval of the song we would learn, memorize, and play. Well. I couldn’t figure out what to play. Especially since my piano proficiency was rather lacking.

My Aunt Docia in Kentucky learned of my dilemma and sent music she thought would be a good fit. It helped that Aunt Docia was a piano teacher. The piece she sent was called, “Suppose”.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the piece other than it was simple. Yay. It had words such as clouds, puppies, and kittens, I think. When I showed the music to my piano teacher, it met with her approval. Another Yay.

Although I don’t remember the words to the song, I do remember. to this day decades later, what one fellow student said–a girl whose name I don’t recall. “Suppose you can’t learn the song in time.” Bwahahaha.

I may have stuck my tongue out at her.

I probably stuck my tongue out at her.

I learned the song and though nervous beyond words during the recital, managed to play “Suppose”, and get off the stage without fainting. Or throwing up.

The catalyst for this post about “Suppose” is a devotion I read in Streams in the Desert by Hannah Whitall Smith. Ms. Smith described a joyful woman who worked hard to earn a meager living. One day another woman approached her and said, “I understand your happiness today, but I would think your future prospects would sober you. Suppose, for instance, you experience a time of illness and are unable to work. Or suppose your present employers move away, and you cannot find work elsewhere. Or suppose… ”

To which the joyful woman replied, “Stop! I never suppose. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. And besides, it’s all that supposing that’s making you so miserable. You’d better give that up and simply trust the Lord.”

Wise advice, don’t you agree?

What say we quit with the suppose, and trust the Lord knows what he’s doing.

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Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me? Hebrews 13:5-6 (GNT)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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All the Parts and Pieces

Perhaps you’ve watched compilation virtual videos (I’m sure there’s a specific name for this, but that’s what I’m going with) during this time of social isolation, where people sing or play instruments at their homes. The video combines all the parts and pieces and shows everyone singing/playing together on the screen at one time. Pretty amazing.

Each separate part is essential to create a complete picture. By themselves, the voice or instrument is only a small piece of many which combines to create a whole.

As I considered this, I thought of all the tiny parts and pieces of our days, our lives, which look insignificant or minor in the grand scheme of things. However, when we allow some distance between those events and look over the past, we can see how God used those small parts and pieces to bring us to where we are today. In the process, creating a masterpiece which required every one of those parts.

Even the hard, wish it never happened thank you very much, parts.

At the end of the book of Genesis we read the story of Joseph. An excellent example of a life full of parts and pieces which looked anything but good. Yet, through God’s sovereignty and grace, turned out better than imagined. For what man planned for evil, God used for good.

Yeah. There are parts and pieces in my life I shook my head at, wondered about how any good could possibly come from then, and asked God what the deal was. If I really take the time and look back over these places, I see how each separate part was essential to create a complete picture. Much like a virtual choir. Or a teenager sold into slavery by his older brothers and later rose to second in command in Egypt.

How do you view all the varied parts and pieces of your life? As random events which mean little in the grand scheme of things or as part of a masterpiece being created by a sovereign God?

“God meant it unto good” — O blest assurance,
Falling like sunshine all across life’s way,
Touching with Heaven’s gold, earth’s darkest storm clouds,
Bringing fresh peace and comfort day by day.

‘Twas not by chance the hands of faithless brothers
Sold Joseph captive to a foreign land;
Nor was it chance that, after years of suffering,
Brought him before the Pharaoh’s throne to stand.

One Eye-all-seeing saw the need of thousands,
And planned to meet it through that one lone soul;
And through the weary days of prison bondage
Was working toward the great and glorious goal.

As yet the end was hidden from the captive,
The iron entered even to his soul;
His eye could scan the present path of sorrow,
Not yet his gaze might rest up in the whole.

Faith failed not through those long, dark days of waiting,
His trust in God was reimbursed at last,
The moments came when God led forth His servant,
To comfort many, all his sufferings past.

“It was not you but God, that led me to here,”
Witnessed triumphant faith in later days;
“God meant it unto good,” no other reason
Mingled their discord with his song of praise.

“God means it unto good” for you, beloved,
The God of Joseph is the same today;
His love permits afflictions, strange and bitter,
His hand is guiding through the unknown way.

Your Lord, who sees the end from the beginning,
Has purposes for you of love untold,
Then place your hand in His and follow fearless,
Till you the riches of His grace behold.

Then, when you stand firm in the Home of glory,
And all life’s paths lie open to your gaze,
Your eyes will SEE the hand that you’re now trusting,
And magnify His love through endless days.

Freda Hanbury Allen

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So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose. Romans 8:28 (TPT)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Man’s Traditions or God’s Commands?

A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay up here if it’s so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in a word–tradition….Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as–as a fiddler on the roof!

(Tevye. Fiddler on the Roof based on Sholem Aleichem’s Stories. Book by Joseph Stein. Music by Jerry Bock. Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.)

Tradition, tradition–Tradition. Tradition, tradition–Tradition.

If you’ve seen the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, or listened to the recording, or read the play, perhaps the catching little phrase from the first scene is running through your mind right now.

If you are unfamiliar with this story, which ranks up there among one of my favorite musicals, it is the tale of Tevye, a hard-working dairyman whom God has blessed with five daughters. Tevye loves his family and his God. Traditions are extremely important to him. But times are changing in Tsarist Russia in 1905, which make Tevye question some traditions he once held as irrevocable. Mainly the need for a matchmaker to choose husbands for his daughters.

Before you scratch your head and wonder why I’m discussing Fiddler on the Roof, I’m getting there.

The other morning as I read the seventh chapter of Mark, Fiddler on the Roof came to mind.

Tradition.

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders as frauds and hypocrites because they held to man-made traditions. They abandoned God’s commandments so they could keep their rituals. Then Jesus added, “How skillful you’ve become in rejecting God’s law in order to maintain your man-made set of rules.”

Tradition.

We all have them. They are a part of who we are. Like, say, eating German Chocolate Cake for breakfast on your birthday. Many of us continue traditions we grew up with. Perhaps we adapt them to fit the times, but we still have them. And that’s okay. Where I believe we have problems is when we cling to man-made traditions, much like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, and in doing so we deviate from God’s commandments.

In one of my college classes, the professor told a story. One day a mother and daughter prepared a roast. After the mother cut the roast into two pieces and placed each piece in a separate pan, the daughter asked why. The mother replied that was the way her mother did it. They then asked the grandmother why. The grandmother said she cut the roast in two because she didn’t have a pan large enough to put the whole roast in.

Tradition.

Spoiler alert ahead.

By the end of Fiddler on the Roof, three of Tevye’s daughters marry. For the first daughter, he concocts a bizarre dream scene to explain breaking the tradition of a perfect match made by the matchmaker. The second daughter’s decision to marry causes a little more unease for Tevye. He notes breaking tradition is like pulling out a thread…where will it lead? When the last daughter decides to marry someone outside the Jewish faith, this tradition Tevye cannot agree with.

As I considered this passage in Mark alongside this musical, I wondered how much do I, do you, cling to man-made traditions, giving little regard to God’s commands? Do we value looking good in the eyes of men above pleasing our Father? Do we abandon living as Jesus lived and instructed us to live, to fit in with the world around us and keep men’s rituals?

Tradition.

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Jesus replied, “You are frauds and hypocrites! How accurately did Isaiah prophesy about you phonies when he said: ‘These people honor me with their words while their hearts run far away from me! Their worship is nothing more than a charade!  For they continue to insist that their man-made traditions are equal to the instructions of God.’

“You abandon God’s commandments just to keep men’s rituals, such as ceremonially washing utensils, cups, and other things.”

Then he added, “How skillful you’ve become in rejecting God’s law in order to maintain your man-made set of rules.” Mark 7:6-9 (TPT)

You can find my August Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Our Choice

Whatever the circumstance, each of us chooses how we will respond. We can respond in anger or we can respond in humility. Our response can inflame a tense situation or it can restore calm. We can use our words to bring peace or bring chaos. We can make excuses or face the truth of our part in the situation.

It’s our choice.

Too many times I haven’t taken the time to consider the best way to respond in each circumstance that presented itself. I’ve excused my behavior often with words like, “It’s his fault. He’s just a big dodo bird.” “If she wasn’t so annoying I wouldn’t get mad.” “It isn’t fair. Why do I have to say I’m sorry first?” And no. These are not just phrases  from my younger days. Unfortunately.

I’ve been hurt by harsh words and intentional slights, as I’m sure most of you have. And that’s where we go back to the fact how we respond is our choice. We can respond in kind, inflicting as much or more pain as was inflicted upon us, or respond as Scripture points out we should respond. In love, patience, kindness, gentleness…

Today I’m looking at the relationship between Saul and David to see what we can learn from how David choose to respond.

After King Saul threw a spear at David’s head one too many times, David fled into the night to escape the madness. For over ten years, David ran and Saul pursued. Saul’s men and resources certainly could have been used in better ways. Like fighting the Philistines instead of spending energy chasing a loyal subject all around Israel and slaughtering innocent priests.

Many of David’s psalms were written during this time of pursuit. Even though David called upon God to deal swiftly with his enemies, when it came to Saul, David himself never lifted his hand against the man. He mourned deeply when Saul died and instructed the nation to mourn as well.

There are two incidences during David’s time on the run where he had the opportunity to kill Saul and didn’t. One involved a piece of cloth cut from the corner of Saul’s robe. (1 Samuel 24) The other a spear and water jug. (1 Samuel 26) Both times David showed restraint. He had the upper hand but refused to take advantage of the situation. He could have pressed his advantage, proven himself superior, and scored points with his men. Still, he took the higher ground and responded in humility and love.

Although we may not be presented with opportunities to physically harm our enemy, I believe it’s safe to say we’ve been presented with times to choose whether or not we harm someone just as surely with our careless words. As with David, just because we have the opportunity to do harm doesn’t mean we should.

It’s easy to take offense and seek revenge when others attack us. Are you kidding me? That’s usually our primary desire. Instead of striking out, we can pause, keep our eyes focused on Jesus, and pray for the strength to respond in humility and love. It’s our choice.

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But then a black mood from God settled over Saul and took control of him. He was sitting at home, his spear in his hand, while David was playing music. Suddenly, Saul tried to skewer David with his spear, but David ducked. The spear stuck in the wall and David got away. It was night.

1 Samuel 19:9-10 (MSG)

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry – At Eventime

At Eventime

James Arnold Blaisdell

Riches of Grace a Collection of New Songs and Standard Hymns‎ page 105

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;

The storms are raging on God’s deep–

God’s deep, not yours; be still and sleep.

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;

God’s hands shall still the Tempter’s sweep–

God’s hands, not yours; be still and sleep.

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;

God’s love is strong while night hours creep–

God’s love, not yours; be still and sleep.

Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;

God’s heaven will comfort those who weep–

God’s heaven, not yours; be still and sleep.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my July Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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