Thursday, March 31, 2011

fishing on the pond

I am not a fisherman.  I might give it a try one of these days but it hasn't been part of my life (apart from a few childhood escapades with worms and hooks) but this morning I was thinking about fishing on the pond.  There is something almost magical...and certainly wonderful...about fishing.  It means that you can pull something alive and wriggling from beneath the placid surface of the water.  It's almost like a magic pulling a fish out of a hat.  The fisherman has faith that if he patiently waits in his boat without seeing the fish...eventually he will catch one and remove it from the murky shadows of the pond.  While he waits, he enjoys the waiting...there is an expectation that makes the waiting worthwhile.  I thought about a different kind of fishing that I enjoy at the pond.  I've found that if you wait by the pond and center your thoughts on the Lord...often by considering and simply enjoying the natural surroundings...He will bring thoughts from beneath the surface that draw me to Him.  I actually had to leave the pond early this morning because, after I'd stood by the water's edge for a while, I'd fished what seemed like my limit.  I had three "fish" thoughts and knew that I'd forget one if I didn't head home.  After these thoughts surface they need to be evaluated...sometimes they have to be thrown back until they grow a little...sometimes they have to be cleaned and prepared before they are ready for consumption.  But I would encourage you to also go fishing.  As you wait with expectation by the surface of the water be prepared to be surprised.  You never know what you might pull from beneath the surface (you might even see one jump out of the water)!

John 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."
They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" 
They answered Him, "No." 
6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. 

Rob Smith

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

small world

An otter, a heron and two geese...these were a few residents of the local pond that I spied this morning.  I especially enjoyed watching the otter because he is rarely seen.  His head popped above the surface, resembling a small-eared dog swimming across the pond.  Then he dove with a small arc, revealing his tail.  He would remain underwater for 40 or 50 feet and then surface again.  His watery path reminded me of a local policeman making early morning rounds of his town.  Then I heard the unmelodic squawk of a great blue heron as it flapped long wings awkwardly and moved into a favorite breakfast fishing site.  Finally the insistent call of a goose leading his mate to some familiar corner of the water broke the peace from overhead.  It occurred to me that this pond is essentially the whole world for these creatures (although the geese may be snow birds, stopping briefly on their way north).  They didn't seem concerned about the news from Japan or the Middle East.  The pond provides their food and a place to exercise wings and tails to fly over and swim within.  I was reminded that the Lord has placed me in a pond also...with family, neighbors and friends swimming nearby.  He meets my needs and gives me a place to stretch my mind and body and heart.  The stillness of His presence is like the calm of the pond as He encourages me to live in His midst and enjoy His company.

Job 12:8 Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.
      Let the fish in the sea speak to you

Rob Smith (see you on the pond)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

changing of the watch

Psalm 119:148 My eyes are awake through the night watches,
         That I may meditate on Your word.

When I was in the Navy, aboard ship, the routines of the day were regulated by something called "watches".  The crew would take turns, in 4 hour durations, at running the various shipboard operations.  Whether it was the engine room, or sonar, or radar, or driving the ship from the bridge the ship was continually manned by breaking down the responsibilities into four hour segments.  As each watch would be relieved by the next crew there would be a brief "turnover" to update the oncoming folks about current conditions and special orders to be observed.  This morning I spied the crescent moon suspended high above the eastern horizon, just as early signs of dawn were showing.  It was as if the moon was eagerly waiting to be relieved of the night watch by the sun.  The moon seemed to be ready to update the sun before fading into the morning sky for a nap.  The moon tends to consider the sun something of a "show off", with its glaring presence and intense heat.  Secretly, the moon wonders what the big deal is.  During his watch things are pretty quiet...even sleepy...and there often is little that is exciting to report.  As the sun comes on duty he just shakes his head at the moon because most of the action happens on his watch as people wake up...crops are warmed...and there is activity everywhere.  Their watches are as different as night and day!  
But I remembered that just as the sun and moon watch faithfully over us from the sky so does our Heavenly Father faithfully keep watch over our lives.  Sometimes we are sleeping...sometimes we are awake.  Sometimes we are sailing through our day and sometimes we are stumbling over unseen obstacles in the dark.  But He sees...He knows and, most importantly, He cares and acts on our behalf.  He isn't just standing watch...He is alert and ready to take whatever action is called for.   Unlike my navy watches and unlike the sun and moon our Lord is standing watch around the clock!
Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, 
      Keeping watch on the evil and the good. 

Rob Smith

Monday, March 28, 2011

five smooth stones

My daughter, Courtney's, alma mater is Virginia Commonwealth University.  They have come out of nowhere to defeat five giants of the collegiate basketball world to go to the championships series in Houston next week.  This reminded me of David conquering Goliath and the "five smooth stones" in David's bag might be compared to the five smooth players VCU puts out on the floor throughout their games.  Maybe you have giants in your life: disease, distress, depression.  These are giants that you can't conquer in your own strength.  Remember David, and his total confidence in the Lord.  Regardless of the natural difficulty you face you will be more than a conqueror if you go to battle with the Rock of Ages at your side.  I hope you'll enjoy this Reader's Digest version of David and Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:4 Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! 5 He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. 6 He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. 7 The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver's beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.

 8 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. "Why are you all coming out to fight?" he called. "I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! 9 If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! 10 I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!" 11 When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.

28 But when David's oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. "What are you doing around here anyway?" he demanded. 


 32 "Don't worry about this Philistine," David told Saul. "I'll go fight him!"

 33 "Don't be ridiculous!" Saul replied. "There's no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You're only a boy, and he's been a man of war since his youth."


36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!"


40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd's bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd's staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.


45 David replied to the Philistine, "You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven's Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.


49 Reaching into his shepherd's bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword.



Rob Smith

Saturday, March 26, 2011

underneath it all

Psalm 42:7Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. 8Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

When you go below the surface,
When you take a look inside,
When you MRI your heart,
Take an X-Ray of your mind,

When your life is like an ocean,
and you tend to float around,
What life forms will be found down deep,
What shipwrecks might be found?

If your life were buried treasure,
On an island in the west,
What map would be the measure,
and what riches in the chest?

When the bucket drops down in your well,
and thirst consumes your thoughts,
What water will be found way down,
Where springs compete with rocks,

If you had to give an answer for the hope that fills your sail,
If you needed to explain how to find the treasure trail,
If you wanted to share water with another in the heat,

What would you say?
What would you do?
When deep calls out to deep.

Rob Smith

Friday, March 25, 2011

worth fighting for

There was drama on the pond this morning.  I walked through the woods to the water's edge in the stillness and quiet of the new day.  The surface of the small body of water was dark and shiny, like the flat surface range in our kitchen.  Out of the corner of my eye I spied a couple of geese, who appeared to be mates.  The male led the way out into the pond..his neck extending as if to point the direction that they were to head.  The female was close behind.  Suddenly a great noise of flapping wings and splashing water came from around a bend.  Another male flew in to challenge for a fight.  I suppose he was contesting for the female.  She quickly headed to a far corner of the pond to escape the battle.  The two males battled with great noise of beating wings and periodic squawks and the fight moved across the pond for a hundred feet.  Finally, one male triumphed...I believe it was the original partner.  He called anxiously for his mate and she replied...They swam quickly to each other and then retreated to a far corner of the pond.  The battle scene was marked with a number of feathers on the surface.  I guess that's life in the real world...sometimes the battles come to you.  I thought about our spiritual enemy...who would separate us from our first love in the Lord.  He will attack in the quiet and disrupt our peace as he seeks to take us away from our close bond with the Lord.  The battle will come across the pond to us and we need to be prepared.  Some things are worth fighting for!  Probably we can identify more with the female that escaped the battle by swimming away as we look to the Lord, and His powerful wings to defend us and to protect our relationship.  He will win the fight because He is absolutely committed to us.
Psalm 5:11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
         Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; 
         Let those also who love Your name 
         Be joyful in You.
Rob Smith

Thursday, March 24, 2011

all things new at last...Is there any season that is anticipated with greater excitement...even impatience?  Winter is cold and dark and dead (at least the trees look dead!).  Spring is warm and light and life bursts forth.  But this morning it occurred to me that spring doesn't come all at once.  It begins with sporadic days of milder air in late February that give hint to the change.  It is announced by the little daffodil trumpets and laughing forsythia bushes.  But then the land awakens over time, with different kinds of tree and bush and flower (and weed) emerging in leaf and flower in a progressive way.  The animals also awaken and we hear them call to one another with chirps and croaks and coo's and caw's as they remember the need to reproduce.  Spring comes to us in a similar way.  Our souls are prepared by the Holy Spirit before faith awakens.  At a certain point the apparently dead seed within us bursts out of a wrapper and rises above into the air, announcing new life like the flowering daffodil.  But the rest of change progresses over time and spring does not come all at once.  As we move through the season of new life in the Lord we find that He makes "all things new" but it takes place over time.  Just as different flowers bloom on different schedules, so we progressively bloom as the garden that makes up our personality is tended by Heaven's Gardener.

Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Rob Smith

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

stayed on thee

Isaiah 26:3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Peace, it's peace I long for...
and daily it evades,
my troubled mind...
my fragile heart.

My outward face does not reveal...
the wars and fears inside.
The choppy water of this life
Be still....BE STILL...I cry!
Too much I try to run my world,
too long I've carried weights...
I never was designed to hold,
or yet to know my fate.

But peace is near...I truly know,
The challenge now I see...
Not to live within my mind but...
Keep it stayed on Thee!

Blessings and peace,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

in good company

Perspective means a great we look at things.  The past few mornings, as I've strolled through the woods before the sleepy sun has awakened, I considered how I was not alone...despite walking by myself.  I realized that every thought  I had was apparent to the Lord and some of the thoughts I had were responses to His presence.  I reflected on the relationship that He desired to have with man from the very beginning and I was reminded that we were created to know the Lord, in a very real way, as we walk.  I was humbled to think that God not only wants to hear from me...He wants me to be aware of His nearness and to hear His voice in my thoughts.  I thought about all the wondrous Heavenly angels...beings that I can only imagine..and how they surround us.  My perspective took a step of joy as I saw that we are never fact we breathe the air of Heaven as we inhale the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
Rob Smith

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sleeping Beauty

Yesterday afternoon, Shirley and I saw the Russian National Ballet perform Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty at the Ferguson Center.  I was only familiar with the story from childhood memories of the Disney animated movie.  Of course, the ballet was elegant and full of grace and the disciplined athleticism of dance...but the story was about the same.  The daughter of a King and Queen falls under the spell of an evil fairy (who'd felt jilted at not being invited to a Christening celebration).  The wicked fairy places a curse on the girl which is to take place when she is 16...pricking her finger on a sewing needle (or spinning wheel) and dying.  Just after the curse is established, the good fairy counteracts the curse with a blessing.  The princess will not die...she will only sleep until awakened 100 years later by the kiss of a prince.  The princess will awaken and marry the prince.
I couldn't help but think of the Gospel of our Lord.  The Princess represents all of us and the wicked fairy is Satan.  Satan wants to disrupt God's plan for life because he is a fallen angel and this is how he can exact revenge.  The temptation of touching the needle is much like the temptation of touching the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  But early on, God shows He has a plan to overcome the curse.  He will send the Prince of Peace and He will win a battle against Satan.  His kiss is the expression of His love and as we receive that love, we are awakened from sleep...delivered from death.  As the Prince marries the Princess, so we become the bride of our Prince of Peace.
I don't know if the story was intended to capture so much of God's love story with us but as I watched Sleeping Beauty...presented through the artful medium of ballet ...I was moved to reflect on the similar grace that our Lord has demonstrated to lovingly come for us and place His kiss and awaken us to be with Him forever.
Song of Solomon 8:

    4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
      Do not stir up nor awaken love
      Until it pleases. 

    5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
      Leaning upon her beloved?
Rob Smith

Sunday, March 20, 2011


It is interesting to consider what life really is.  There are requirements for life, such as a beating heart, lungs that exchange air, a digestive system that converts food to energy and a brain that functions.   But these requirements for life only mean that we are alive.  What are we alive to do?  What are we alive for?  By its nature, biological life begins at conception, makes its entrance at birth, matures to adulthood, fades with advanced age, and ends when the required functions cease.   Is that all there is...just the fact of being alive?  Similarly, for the Christian, we have been born again to spiritual life when we understood and received God's love expressed in the life, death and life again of Jesus, His Son.  This is the requirement for eternal life to begin...but what are we alive for?  What is life? 
I think the answer is that just as we found eternal life when we found Jesus...we find leternal iving as we focus on Jesus.
John 5:26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,
It is in coming to Jesus that we not only find life...we experience life!
John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.


Relating closely with Jesus is like eating and drinking:

John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.


There is eternal life...and there is eternal living.  Jesus has come to us that we might come to Him.  He lives in our midst that we might live in the midst of Him.  It is interesting to consider what it means to truly live!



Rob Smith

Saturday, March 19, 2011

morning music

Daylight Savings Time may be saving someone time but I feel like I'm losing time.  I stay up too late and get up too late and just have a hard time adjusting.  And I think the sun has the same problem because when I went out for a walk at my usual time this morning the golden orb of morning was still in bed, under the blanket of the eastern horizon.  But I finally took a stroll this morning down a path through the woods.  There is something personal and close about the woods in the early morning.  The trees stand in silent strength like warriors awaiting a command.  The sky has enough light to reveal clouds but not enough to show color.  But I was especially impressed by the sounds of the morning.  A chorus of frogs was practicing its spring cantata in a marsh and the twitter of birds floated through the trees as daylight would soon permit flight.  It was quite dark and shadowy but living things all around were making music.  It occurred to me that even in the dark times of our day there can be a place for a song.  The expression of our heart can anticipate the joy of light even when we seem to be in a place of shadow.   We need light to complete our joy and to give us direction but the music of the morning restores the hope that a new day soon will come.
Psalm 130:6 My soul waits for the Lord
         More than those who watch for the morning— 
         Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. 
Rob Smith

Friday, March 18, 2011

Heaven bound

Leaving all that is familiar, we are Heaven bound.  We will be going home to a place we've never been.  The time is soon approaching when we will leave this place...Each one of us must pass through a gateway.  The world paints it as the termination of life, marked by a lifeless body, a wooden box, a hole in the ground and a stone marker.  But we will be on our way...instantly through that portal to a place where we will look back on these lives from the perspective of eternity.  All that seems real now will be seen then as it truly is...temporary!  In a sense, all of this life is a gateway...or a short road and our purpose is to find our permanent destination.  It all turns on our attitude toward God.  Will we hear and receive Him when He tells us that we have not made ourselves and we do not complete ourselves?  Will we acknowledge that we are incomplete and lost apart from Him?  With all due respect to Hamlet ..."To live or not to live" forever..... "that is the question".  If you are not assured that you hold the answers to life's biggest question, I encourage you to bow before the Almighty and ask Him to come into your life.  Then you will know, with certainty, that Heaven is just past your final heartbeat...around the corner from your last breath...on the far side of everything that is familiar.  You will be going home to a place you've never been.

Matthew 8:11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
Rob Smith

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


If we are so much in control of our lives then why must we sleep?  How can it be that we would allow the world to carry on without us for a third of every single day?  The fact that we must spend so much of our lives just recharging and renewing our "battery" shows how limited is our power and how small is our strength.  It's almost as if the vitality of our days creates an illusion of capability...fooling us into thinking we are great in our power.  We are like these new electric cars that can take you to work and back...but then need to be recharged overnight before the next commute.  It is good to be humbled by sleep because it reminds us that there is one "never slumbers nor sleeps".  (I don't mean the Eveready Bunny, either!)

Psalm 121: 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
         He who keeps you will not slumber.
 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
         Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 
 5 The LORD is your keeper;
         The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
Rob (yawn) Smith
(inspired by a struggle with daylight savings time)

Monday, March 14, 2011

color from the ground

the gray of winter is changing now,
as the earth is warmed again.

the sun is pleased to longer dwell,
and extend its rule from heav'n

the land awakes from winter sleep,
and sends its spies to find

if now's the time to celebrate
new life!...cold winter's died.
world travels fast, from shrub to tree
The Creator is looking down!

once more He waits for the delight
of color from the ground.

Psalm 85:11 Truth springs up from the earth,
      and righteousness smiles down from heaven.

Happy spring...season of our Lord's resurrection and
reminder of the miracle of new life extended to all.
Rob Smith

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bright Day

Today is a bright day.  The sky is luminescent and filled with an eager sun's light.  The surface of my favorite pond reflects that sparkling image as if to say, "I share your optimism".  I was struck with the thought that the opportunities for this day are boundless.  Who knows what the Creator might speak today?  Who knows the events that may unfold?  Who can tell what adventure He will have for us today?  Life is His...the day is His....we are His!  I thought of the open-ended outlook a child has with every day.   The excitement of life is found in the anticipation as much as the experience.  The day is bright...our lives are full of light...we walk with a bounce...Our Lord sees us and we feel His gaze.  Today is a bright day!

Habakkuk 3:4 His brightness was like the light; 
                 He had rays flashing from His hand, 
                  And there His power was hidden. 

bright blessings,
Rob Smith

Friday, March 11, 2011

fruit leads to growth

The usual progression is for the plant to grow to maturity and then bear fruit.  Of course, that is also what is meant to happen in the life of each believer in the Lord Jesus.  Faith conceives new life and the Word and the Light and the Spirit foster growth so that ultimately the child of Godreaches an adulthood that is marked by fruit, showing the evidence of the living God and attracting others by the flower of His beauty...doing good works and sharing the good news of salvation that is available to all.  I was struck by another truth this morning as I read the following passage from Colossians, chapter 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 
I believe that as we mature and bear fruit for the Lord through our attitudes and actions that reflect His love and extend His hands we "increase in the knowledge of God".  You could say that we grow to bear fruit and we bear fruit so that we might grow.  Unlike the grapevine or orange tree that has a simple cycle of maturation, we can go on and on through new stages of growth with new and varied fruit to produce.  One thing seems we remain in His good soil and as we yield fruit for Him we will continue to grow and to produce and our roots drive ever deeper into His good ground.
blessings (with prayers for Japan and all affected by the tsunami today),
Rob Smith

Thursday, March 10, 2011

walking in the rain

It's a rainy morning...not a gutter washing rain but a gentle pitter-patter rain.  It's the kind of rain that combines with the low overhead of cloud to make the world feel smaller and closer and our thoughts come in out of the rain to look inward.  Even at the pond there is a stillness as nature pauses to listen to the gentle music of raindrops glancing off the branches of trees and landing with small splashes on the forest floor and pond surface.  Two gray heron seem undisturbed as they squawk to each other and fly to a new fishing location.  It seems a good morning to think about the words of the Apostle Paul from Philippians, chapter 4: 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

It's easy to think about the other things that drag us down but how good it is to consider all that is right about life as we walk in alignment...and realignment...with the Lord.  We were talking about the holiness of God in our small group last night and it struck me that we cry out for "truth" and "absolute right" and "purity".  Something inside wants to know if there is anything that we can give ourselves to that is trustworthy.  The holy God who has made us and rescued us can be absolutely relied on to meet every need we have.  We need a holy God to be made whole and to live for wholeheartedly.  ...interesting how the rain can clear your head!
Rob Smith 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

returning to Eden

I had a pleasant morning walk through the woods this morning.  There were a pair of geese paddling on the pond and high above I heard the hammering of a woodpecker looking for breakfast.  I thought about the great diversity of living things that God has made...all kinds of trees and birds and other wildlife.  I pondered why He had gone to such lengths to make so many living creatures.  His awesome creativity was humbling.  And then I remembered that this was how it was in the beginning.  God made a man and placed him in the midst of the garden full of the living things He'd fashioned.   The man was tasked with tending the garden.  Perhaps that is one reason why a walk in the woods feels so a sense it is a return to Eden.  Walking through the garden with God was at the very core of Adam's life and purpose.  Hopefully, from now on, I won't just be making morning walks, I'll be walking with God in the midst of His garden.
Genesis 2:8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed...... 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Rob Smith

Monday, March 7, 2011

communication in flight

This morning I watched and listened as geese flew overhead and noticed, especially, when a pair of geese flew in for a landing on a local pond.  As they approached, one flew half a body length ahead of the other.  They constantly honked at each other as they descended and touched down on the pond surface.  Then they paddled to the edge, climbed out of the water and finished a brief discussion (one even pecked the other...a kiss, maybe?)  I understand that geese are monogamous for life so we humans already have much to learn from them.  But I wondered at the constant chatter as they were coming in to land.  My guess is that the sound helped each of them understand their spacing and position as they came down and landed.  That way the leader could keep his eyes on the flight pattern, knowing his partner was near without having to look.  Apparently geese don't fly independently...they fly together.  We also need to communicate with each other.  Particularly as couples, we need to check our spacing and stay together as we fly and as we land and as we deal with problems along the way.  I read somewhere that when a goose is shot out of the sky two other geese fly down and stay with the wounded goose...trying to assist until the goose dies.  I don't think all birds or other wildlife have this kind of connection but I am confident that the Lord would have us support each other in a very similar way.  We need to be looking toward the objective while checking with those around us so that we each can come in for a safe landing.
Ecclesiastes 4:11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?
blessings (honking to all for a safe landing),
Rob Smith

Sunday, March 6, 2011

a river too wide...a boat too small

My wife occasionally takes a weekend trip to visit her sister out of state.  She always tells me, "Now don't get into trouble while I'm gone...I know you!"  I always insist that I won't get into any mischief...but then I still do, somehow.  Yesterday morning I set out with my little 8 foot kayak to find a creek to paddle in not far from our home.  I had found all the roadways blocked to vehicles from one side of the creek last week (chains across the entrance with "No trespassing" signs posted by a local hunt club).  So I thought I'd try to reach the creek from the other side.  But, once again, the access roads that led to the water were locked and chained with the same signs posted.  So I decided to head to the public boat landing on the York River.  I thought that maybe I could inch my way up the coast and find where the creek met the river.  The older gentleman working for the county kindly let me put my kayak in the water even though I didn't have the $6 in cash to park at the landing.  I slipped on my rubber boots, grabbed my backpack and carried the kayak to the water.  The York River is wide at this point...maybe close to a mile wide.  I sat on the kayak and began to paddle away from the landing.  As I turned to head down the shoreline I felt the water moving under me with greater pitch than I experienced on my pond and I knew I was in trouble...I felt the kayak roll and I rolled with it!  I found myself being baptized before I had time to feel repentant.  All I could think of was "hypothermia", "heavy clothes weighing me down", "there goes the cell phone", and "boots full of water".  For a second I just wondered how I was going to get to shore.  Then I put my feet down and realized the water was only about four feet deep and I was able to wade back to shore, dragging the kayak.  I walked sheepishly past the park attendant.  He had just left an envelope on the truck windshield so I could come back with the $6 later.  When he saw my condition he pulled the envelope and said, "We'll just forget about the fee."  I had tried to take a boat too small on a river too wide.  I suppose our lives can be like this.  The problems that try to swamp us every day are like the pitch and roll of a wide river.  We enter at the water's edge with our little boat, thinking we'll be able to inch through the day and make it down the shore...but we may not be prepared.  Life is a wide river and , though it may appear manageable and calm, it has a force and a power that can overturn our boat and throw us into the water.  We need a bigger boat and we need to be better prepared by spending time with our Lord His His His arms.
I went home...dried off...ordered a new cell phone...and went out to buy a bigger kayak.....

Matthew 14:24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea,tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
soggy blessings,
Rob Smith (I promise to be more careful)

Friday, March 4, 2011

your own psalm

I was reading Psalm 105 this morning.  It recounted the story of God's relationship with His people..starting with Abraham and his descendants.  The psalmist tells of the Lord's promises and how He remembered them generation after generation.  The story of Joseph being sold as a slave and then rising to prominence is told and the history of the generations that followed and their story of liberation fromPharaoh.  Throughout the psalm we see that the Lord was behind all the key actions...we're reminded that they didn't "just happen".  Here are some examples:
"He remembers His covenant forever." (verse 8)
"To you I will give the land of Canaan" (verse 11)
"He permitted no one to do them wrong...He rebuked kings for their sakes" (verse 14)
"He called for a famine in the land" (verse 16)
"He sent a man before them-Joseph-who was sold as a slave." (verse17)
"The word of the Lord tested him (Joseph) (verse 19)
"He increased His people greatly" (verse 24)
"He turned their heart to hate His people" (verse 25)
"He sent Moses His servant" (verse 26)
"He also brought them out with silver and gold" (verse 37)
"He opened the rock and water gushed out (verse 41)
"He remembered His holy promise" (verse 42)

It occurred to me that we could each review our lives and see how the major events that took place were permitted or caused by God to also remember His promise.  The difficult and low times...the deliverances...the famines and the celebrations.  It is good to see God as the prime mover in our lives.  We see His faithfulness through it all.

Perhaps each of us could write a psalm to remember how the Lord has remembered His promise in the events of our lives.   They didn't "just happen"...they had a purpose and a purposeful God behind them!
Rob Smith

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

needle in a haystack

Saturday afternoon I felt for a while like a needle lost in a haystack (didn't you ever wonder what a needle was doing in a haystack?).  I decided to hike through a heavily wooded area between the pond I visit frequently and the York River.  I knew that there was a winding creek that found its way to the river and I wanted to follow it and see if I could make it to the big water.  So I packed a bag with some energy bars, gatorade and pb&j sandwiches.  I also carried a machete to hack through the vines and undergrowth.  I headed up over one ridge after another and soon found that the creek was more like a broad marsh.  It took a lot of time and effort to work around the wet area and the farther I hiked the less sure I was of my location.  The weeds and vines and briars were very thick and pulled at me in every direction and the world had closed in.  This is a condition typically called "being lost".  Fortunately I was carrying one of the new "Smart Phones" that does everything from play music to locate the nearest pizza restaurant to track email and news.  It also has a mapping feature and the map can display the satellite picture of your specific location.  So I was able to get a precise view of where I was that also showed the location of the creek and other roads.  I zoomed in and was able to orient myself.  I realized that I was very close to a hunter's road that led directly down to the creek.  In a few minutes I found the dirt road that had been cleared to make a beautiful and easy hike through towering pines and down to some gorgeous sights of a broad winding creek and wide open marsh without a sign of any other person (and no hunters to mistake me for a Virginia moose).  Once I was able to see the big picture with eyes from above and also see my location.... I found my way.  It occurred to me that this is how it is with knowing our wonderful God.  He is above all and yet tracks our location at all times.  When I am lost I need to come to Him to get oriented and find my way back to the open path.  Then I will come out of the thick woods and find my way to the sweet water.  (It beats hacking through the briars)

Psalm 107:4 Some wandered in the wilderness,
      lost and homeless.
             5 Hungry and thirsty,
      they nearly died.
             6 "Lord, help!" they cried in their trouble,
      and he rescued them from their distress.

Rob Smith