Wednesday, June 29, 2011

true healing

Patience accompanies healing.  When we are in discomfort we are constantly aware of our pain or distress and our only ambition may be to get well again.  Sometimes there is pain in virtually every movement, anxiety with every thought and frustration with every limitation.  But the healing process generally takes time.  Even the pill we take must be taken for some period of time before it has reached an effective level in our bloodstream to make a difference and, if we aren't careful, we may stop taking the pill too soon.  We almost resent the need for outside help to restore us and we may despair when healing doesn't seem to come.   I suppose that there is a way to have a healthy attitude toward being unhealthy.  When our body is not functioning as it should there is no requirement for our attitude to sour.  We can walk patiently through sickness as we walk through a storm and we do not have to be defined or directed by our distress.  If sickness or disability has come into our experience then we may be in for a special time of intimacy with our Lord, for when we are unwell we may be more available to Him than at other times.  We may meet the Lord in the midst of our disease and that may be the healing we need most.  So we need an approach to sickness that is marked by faith, by patience, and by the reminder that the ultimate healing always is associated with our alignment with Heaven.

Proverbs 3:8 Then you will have healing for your body
      and strength for your bones.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

standing with the heron

This morning I stood by the water's edge of the local pond with a large blue heron also standing nearby.  He looked to be overdressed for the occasion with his folded wings resembling a tuxedo and his beard like a ruffled shirt.  Patiently he gazed over his long bill, without moving his body and only occasionally shifting his head.  I emulated his posture and decided to look out over the water and just drink in the view.  The water was still and calm but not motionless as fish broke the surface to snare insects and ripples fanned out.  The woods were peaceful but not silent as birds spoke to one another and invisible creatures rustled.  The quieter I became the more I observed.  The thought occurred to me that this is how I need to wait before the Lord.  The heron may appear to be an overdressed statue but he is an acute observer...looking for his next meal and his nearest threat.  I can be so busy thinking my own thoughts and talking my own script that I fail to observe the Lord as He seeks to reach me.  If I am still I may be able to discern the subtle messages He speaks, even on a quiet morning.

Psalm 49: 2 High and low,
      rich and poor—listen!

Rob Smithsta

Friday, June 24, 2011

made to be close

We were made to be close...
We start so close to our mother and we grow so close in the family...
We shape our personality in the home and with our close friends...
We define values and shape character in our close association with work
We are incomplete in our aloneness and so we be closest to one for a lifetime...

Our Lord has always been near and longs to also be close to us...
We find our fulfillment in drawing close to Him...

We are each unique and distinct and individual...but we are completed in closeness...
Wrap yourself in the One who is near and find yourself in Him...
for He is close...

Ecclesiastes 4:11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
      he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 145:18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
      yes, to all who call on him in truth.

Rob Smith

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the short view

We're told to plan keep the big take the long view.  O.K., I see the need to think have have a large canvas to paint on.  Spiritually, the big picture is truly grand.  There is Heaven and the eternal community of beings and there is God, the Father, and a great throne and a glassy sea and streets of gold and there is eternity itself that defines "the big picture".  But I will cherish the "short view"...the continual series of unknown corners I must turn on a daily basis.  This is where I meet the Lord face to face while I am in the flesh.  I can count on finding Him in unexpected ways through unforeseen circumstances and it is the "finding Him" that reassures me that I have also been found by Him.  It is the unknown aspect of living daily that throws us, either upon ourselves or upon the living God.  For God is the artist who has stepped into His own painting and the author who has written Himself into His book.  And we, too, are found in the picture and on the pages of His writing.  Each day is a page turned and fresh landscape or portrait.  And we are objects of His artistry and authorship who also walk through His gallery and read His book.  We have been made to meet Him...not only once...but daily and what we see,  what  we do, who we meet and how we respond.  Yes, our hope is in the long view but we find life and we find the author of life on today's canvas and the page we turn as we live out this day.

Isaiah 42:7 You will open the eyes of the blind.
   You will free the captives from prison,
      releasing those who sit in dark dungeons.

Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

a path through the woods

I went for a walk in the woods this morning.  It's funny how the woods looks the same as you walk through it.  Of course there is great beauty in the trees and plant life all around...and there is an intimacy, a oneness with the Creator, that you sense under the canopy of branches while the sun peaks through, like the Father watching you.  But I was grateful to find a path through the woods this morning because I was in a place I had not been before.  The path was wide enough for hunters to take trucks into their stands and so I could easily trod through without constantly moving branches or feeling the pull of briars.  I didn't know where the path would lead when I first started out, but I was confident that I could follow it in and back and would not become lost.  So the path allowed me to enjoy the walk and the surroundings without fear and without distraction.  It occurred to me that Jesus is our Path.  Life is like the woods.  It has vast depth and there is great beauty but we spend much time wandering in the woods without knowing where we are going or how we can safely return.  Thorns and branches pull at us even as we are lost and we can become discouraged.  The Path of Life turns the wandering into purposeful striding.  With Jesus, we may not know how life will play out in detail but we are confident of our destination and the path is a reminder of His constant quiet presence.  Walking through the woods, the path quietly serves as my guide.  It is ready to lead me whenever I step into it.  Like Jesus, it's beauty lies in its quiet leadership and liberating presence.  I can enjoy the walk and I can appreciate the Path. 

Deuteronomy 5:33 Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.

John 14:6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."

Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

hidden depth

I enjoyed a great hour of kayaking on the local pond this past Saturday.  There was absolutely no breeze and the little craft slipped quietly and quickly over the water and I peacefully traced a path in and out of the nooks and crannies around the water's edge.  You feel close to your surroundings in a kayak.  After all, you are only inches from the water and because there is little sound from paddling you almost blend into the scene like one of the native animals living there.  I have discovered that the water becomes very shallow in certain corners of the pond.  You really can't tell just how shallow by looking...all the water looks the same...and the kayak needs only about one foot of water to float.  The thought occurred that the pond has "hidden depth".  Until you find the bottom of the boat scraping the bottom of the pond you really don't know where it is shallow.  I think that life can be like this...each day may appear the same as it begins.  But as the day unfolds we sometimes find that the bottom of our boat is scraping the bottom of our pond.  There can be hidden depth and hidden shallows and we really don't discover the problem areas until we paddle out there.  Fortunately, with a maneuverable little boat you can pretty easily pull off the shallow spots and return to the deep water.  I suppose we need to be as nimble as a kayak as we negotiate the day.  All may appear beautiful and calm on the surface, but the shallows often surprise us.  It would help to have a guide to keep us floating above the unseen depths.

John 6:21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

Rob Smith

Monday, June 20, 2011


Galatians 1:6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

I'm going to spend some time in the epistle of Paul to the Galatians.  Apparently, while Paul has been away on his first missionary journey, some people have been spreading a different message than the Gospel.  They are Jews who have come into faith in Christ but now have developed their own "mutant" gospel.  These folks couldn't let go of their ties to the law and tradition that had been passed down to them.  They were teaching that Christians had to also keep circumcision and adhere to the law of Moses.  In other words, faith had to be combined with certain works.  People were vulnerable here because they had been used to many requirements that their religion imposed and they were drawn away from their experience of a new relationship with God.  We have to be careful to consider what we listen to and what we follow.  The Good News of freedom from sin found by faith in Christ can become tarnished easily when men try to add to it.  Perhaps it is good to remember that the Gospel is God's plan and man's only role is to deliver the message...not to deviate from it.  Once the prison door has been opened, why leave the prison only to return voluntarily?  I think we will learn something about true freedom in this letter.

Rob Smith

Friday, June 17, 2011

a deer after daylight

Driving past open fields of corn, beans and other crops this morning I spotted a lone deer standing and nibbling out in the open.  Although I was a few hundred yards away, he alertly watched and listened to ensure that I passed by and was no threat.  That's how it is for a deer in the daylight.  If they want to savor the tender morsels offered by the fields with the benefit of abundant light they risk exposure and the danger that comes from man...who is probably their most serious mortal enemy.  And that is why deer mostly forage at night, when other animals are also on the prowl...but man sleeps.  As I reflected on this I became grateful that I was fashioned to be a creature of the light.  I remember standing watch at night aboard ship a long time ago.  Our greatest danger was the possibility of running into other ships because of the reduced visibility and dependence on radar to see.  Night watches were often quiet, but they could become stressful as we tracked other ship movements and determined if our passage would avoid collision.  We are not afraid of the light because we are not afraid of being seen and we don't feel threatened by danger.  We were made to walk in light...both to see and to be seen.  But those who have not discovered the spiritual light of the reality of God and of His Son and of His Spirit walk in darkness while they think they are in the light.  They are like a deer after daylight who doesn't  have a proper survival instinct.  If we allow His light to reveal our inner darkness we will discover a light to walk in that leads us to open fields of delicious Heavenly knowledge where we can feast without fear.

Luke 1:78 Because of God's tender mercy,
      the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,

Rob Smith

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the eagle and the squirrel

I was pleased to spy the bald eagle this morning. He seemed to rule over the pond like a judge wearing a black robe. His head moved from side to side while his body was held rigid and erect. His golden beak hooked downward giving him a serious expression and suggesting that he would not be ignored or disturbed. But I've been thinking about a much humbler creature the past few days...the squirrel. We have many of these furry, fuzzy forest dwellers in our area. I've been amazed at how acrobatic they can be as they leap from branch to branch and tree to tree. I spotted one next to our driveway recently just as he uncovered an acorn that he'd hidden there...recovering it for lunch. It occurred to me that squirrels are the builders of forests. They don't always remember where they have buried acorns and the forgotten ones grow up as oak trees, randomly located by their unwitting squirrel planters. If it weren't for the squirrel, acorns wouldn't travel farther than the base of the tree they grew from. Perhaps we can relate to the eagle and the squirrel. Some of us are obviously in positions of power and control. Our presence is very visible and our actions obvious to all. We may cause others to react based on our body language...or even a stare. Others are humble and unobtrusive but as they go about their day we may plant seeds that grow in stature over time. The squirrel may not realize that he is building a forest and that he is providing future homes for generations of his descendants. As we walk through our days we also may not realize that our actions, attitudes and daily routines may be preparing the way for those who will follow, generations after us.
Proverbs 30:24-28 There are four small creatures,
wisest of the wise they are—
ants—frail as they are,
get plenty of food in for the winter;
marmots—vulnerable as they are,
manage to arrange for rock-solid homes;
locusts—leaderless insects,
yet they strip the field like an army regiment;
lizards—easy enough to catch,
but they sneak past vigilant palace guards.
blessings to eagles and squirrels,
Rob Smith

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

little yellow house

The morning is unusually (for our area) cool today with humidity on the comfortable side.  After pausing briefly at my favorite pond I made a brief back road tour in my little convertible to feel the air and enjoy the freshness of the new day.   On the way back home I spotted a small, cottage-like house that reached out from a wooded yard and projected cheer as I passed by.  It was the yellow paint that made the difference.  Although the dwelling was very small, its canary color projected happiness.  I imagined the family living there in that humble place, off a back country road surrounded by trees and a few neighbors.  They might be people who are ruled by joy because their happiness has not been formed or limited by their modest lifestyle.  They have chosen to say: "Here live people who are content.  We are content to have our needs met by a cottage in the woods.  We are never far from one another in our cottage and we are never far from the natural beauty all around.  We will let our contentment spill over into joy and we will reflect that joy in the color of the sun, painted on the sides of our house."  You may feel that your life is small and hidden in a forest of difficulty.  But if you can be content in your circumstance you might find joy arrive and you may paint your life with cheer...for happiness is only magnified in humility.

1 Timothy 6:6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it.8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Rob Smith

Monday, June 13, 2011

beauty of the bird call

Listening to the bird songs this morning caused me to wonder why birds seem to have something to say all the time.  A little research shows that each species of bird has a unique set of songs to: attract a mate, sound warnings of predators, define their territories, notify of food sources, stay in touch while flying (and many other purposes).  But there is a purpose to every song...every call.  Even woodpeckers use the drumbeat of their beaks on tree trunks to send signals.  To my ears the bird songs are pleasant...forest music.  To the bird they are a matter of survival.  I wonder if our prayers are something like this: we communicate needs and cry out concerns and us a matter of survival.  Perhaps to the Lord they are also sweet the sound of birds calling in the woods.

Psalm 104: 12 The birds nest beside the streams
      and sing among the branches of the trees.

Rob Smith

Sunday, June 12, 2011

look closer, feel nearer

Apart from one familiar friend, the pond didn't present any dramatic wildlife or events this morning.  The familiar friend was the diving duck I'd seen once before.  He seemed to have the water to himself.  Yes it seemed a little dull....until I looked closer.  Right at my feet, in the 6 inch deep water at the pond's edge, I saw a school of minnows (I guess class was in session on a Sunday morning).  Back and forth in front of me a dragonfly slalomed like a shore patrol searching for wayward insects.  Some kind of water bugs traced paths over the surface of the pond.  When I looked closer I saw that the signs of life were everywhere.  I thought of the abundant expressions of life that the Creator has surrounded us with.  I thought of the reality of His surrounding presence, as well.  I "know" that He is here, always and everywhere, least I know it intellectually.  But I don't always look close enough to be aware of His presence.   If I consider carefully I can see Him in His handiwork, hear Him in His Word and feel Him in my heart.  He isn't just everywhere...He is available anytime....if I stop and look a little closer.  It is this "awareness" knowledge that draws me close to the One who is always near.

Psalm 73:28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
      I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
      and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

Rob Smith

Saturday, June 11, 2011

your ultimate experience

Where and how do you expect to reach your ultimate peak?  Thinking with absolute honesty, when do you think you will hit your personal mountaintop...or maybe you think you already have!  I think there is something in us that is always looking forward...thinking that our ultimate life experience lies just ahead somewhere.  We may not be sure of how or where or exactly when...or for that matter, we may not have a clear picture of what our ultimate experience will be.  Just today, as I was driving around town with my wife, Shirley, I commented that I have such great joy that each of our three girls has matured into a wonderful person.  Each of our girls has become a friend that others enjoy being friends with.  Each girl has found work that suits their personality.  Each is finding young men who share their faith and love for our Lord.  But it certainly didn't happen as a result of our effort, wisdom or talents.  What made that experience of parenting an ultimate experience is the same thing that makes everything worthwhile in our lives...the participation of God.  The spice of living is His involvement to finish what He began in and through us.  It's really not about our's about His ultimate...the ultimate plan He has for individual people...for communities, tribes, nations, continents and this world.  It's great to realize that we can taste His ultimate on a daily basis when we look for Him in the day and yield to Him.  We need no greater ambition than to actively include God in the reality of our everyday.....and one day...the last day that we can call today that ultimate plan will bring us directly into His throne room.  (that seems like a good ultimate to think about too!)

2 Timothy 4:17 But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death.18 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. 

Rob Smith

Friday, June 10, 2011

For You, For Him

Standing beneath the tall pines at the edge of the pond this morning I allowed the music of the birds to lift my spirit while an annoying fly circled my head, looking for an opening to attack.  The combined beauty of trees, water, sky and wildlife spoke a truth to me.  We are the central figures in the drama that God is writing called Creation.  All of the natural beauty was fashioned by Him to satisfy our created need to live in the midst of the Garden.  Everything from the height of trees, to the color of the sky, to the array of plant and animal life was fashioned to sustain our lives and to fill our lives with tangible, intangible and aesthetic sustenance.  And as our needs are met and as we walk through this garden we were also created to be thankful to the One who made it all.  I think this gratitude may be meeting a great need of our Maker.  He fashioned us with the capacity to appreciate these gifts, to realize their source and to turn our hearts and minds upward in a daily expression of thanks.  He has made all of this for us... that all that is within us would return an attitude of thanks and of praise to Him.  For He is all for us so that we might be all for Him... (No need to go after the fruit that we don't need.)

Genesis 2:15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, "You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die."
blessings (from the water's edge and beneath Heaven's sky),
Rob Smith

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why is the world green?

There is a lot of press these days about "living green".  That is code for living in a way that is environmentally friendly...that respects and preserves our natural world with its resources of trees, wildlife and irreplaceable minerals.  So I was thinking about "green".  Why is the plant world dominated by the green color?  It turns out that when you can see a color, that means the color that is visible was not absorbed...instead was reflected.  So, plants need every color in the visible electromagnetic spectrum to live except green.  Green is the only part of visible light that the plant can't use and so it turns it back to us to see.  But, in so doing, virtually all plants appear that very color.  On a personal level I suspect that there is much more of God's light that we are unable to absorb as He shines on our lives.  But just as the plant is known by the one color that it is unable to process, so we are known by the light of our Lord that we are not able to incorporate...we reflect lives that show deficiencies in wisdom, maturity, selflessness and spiritual awareness and health.   Unlike plants, we don't reflect only one fact most of us are a motley blend of shades.  But there is a quality of living that permits the entrance of more is an openness to light that doesn't require sunscreen...rather it welcomes the Light.  Plants incorporate light into the production of food for their survival and we must incorporate the Light of Heaven to live as well.  As long as we live and walk Earth's surface we will be unable to absorb all of this light from above and the colors we reflect may change...but they will always show our incomplete grasp of Him and our complete and utter need for that Light...the light that first can be absorbed when we open our hearts to become solar cells for the Son.

Matthew 4: 16 the people who sat in darkness
      have seen a great light.
   And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow,
      a light has shined."

John 12:36 Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light."

blessings (stand in the light and let your colors reflect your need for Him!),
Rob Smith

Monday, June 6, 2011

not your life

What is this life you claim to be
Your own, as if you made
Your body to show up one day
on earth with your plans laid.

What do you know of how life forms
or can you make one breath...
Why do you claim to run the show
Give meaning to your steps?

How do you think you'll leave your mark
in the sand where tides erase
What do your years of trouble mean
Why do you walk this place?

The truth is you are not your own
You do not rule your life
That which you do not understand
One does..., who reigns on high.

This life's a gift and not to you 
but to the Maker King
Your worth He has imbued
Your life is His, you see

So you are free from any claim 
To make yourself complete
You didn't send yourself to earth
But One did....I trust you'll meet! 

Rob Smith