Tuesday

Something on which to depend

I was riding my bike on the country roads surrounding Swink last week when I noticed that the sunflowers were drooping. Other signs of fall were also present: burlap bags of onions standing in the field; empty cornfields where tall stalks of corn had swayed in the breeze as recently as the day before; stacks of pumpkins gaining their orange glow as the sun finally peeked over the horizon and touched the rotund squashes with its rays; the slight chill in the air.

All of these signs of fall are refreshing after the long summer. True, I will miss the fresh garden produce, the warm days and the kids being out of school, but fall brings a whole new set of delights. School has started, the holiday season approaches, the leaves will turn brilliant shades of orange, burgundy, yellow and red before they blow to the ground. There is butternut squash, candied apples, candy corn and hot apple cider. We can also unfold the heavy blankets and pull sweaters out of storage. People decorate with smiling scarecrows, golden bales of hay, pumpkins and brightly colored mums.

When my boys were small, I used to rake a huge pile of leaves under the slide in our backyard. I enjoyed hearing their squeals and laughter as they dove into that pile and disappeared under the crunchy leaves before bursting out and scattering them everywhere. As a child, I remember looking forward to fall because I loved to stomp on the crunchy leaves in the gutter as I walked to and from school.

Some people do not appreciate fall because they know that winter is coming and that's all right. We all have seasons that we prefer. However, some people do not adapt to change well in any circumstance--weather, careers, family.

A pastor's wife once told me that "the tide goes in and the tide goes out." In other words, nothing lasts forever. Nothing except God's word, that is. During this time of the year, Isaiah 40: 8 comes to mind: "The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever" (NRSV). No matter what changes are occurring in your life, rest in the fact that God has always been there, is here now and will always be with you. You can depend on that, because it will always be true.

Wednesday

"Hope for a new day"

At Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif., a large wooden cross was erected on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is close to the entrance, so everyone who enters sees that cross as they drive onto the campus.

One year, my dad took a picture of that cross at sunset and it is hanging in my house. He called the photograph "Hope for a New Day." Not only does it remind me of my college days, it also reminds me of the hope I have in Jesus.

This Friday is the eighth anniversary of that harrowing day when 19 hijackers took control of four airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania (that airplane was meant for the White House, but the passengers thwarted terrorist efforts). Approximately 3,000 people died in the attacks and over 6,000 were injured.

That was an awful day. I remember listening to Dan Rather on the radio describing what was happening in New York City when suddenly he said that the second trade tower was falling. The announcer fell silent and listeners could hear the deep rumble and then the roar of a once giant building imploding.

Afterward, I remember some rescue workers erecting a cross in the rubble. The makeshift cross was made of steel cross beams that had come from one of the towers. It was an emotional scene; yet, it spoke volumes about the people involved in the rescue and clean up efforts. Erecting that cross meant that those people still had hope, no matter how small, in the midst of tragedy. They also had hope for the people still buried underneath the rubble--that they were in a better place, that they had arisen to a new day.

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" Because of what that cross represents, we have hope for a new day. No matter what life throws at us we can still trust in the God who cares for us--the God who sent his son to die, to cleanse us of our sins, to salve our spiritual hurts, to bring us a new covenant and a new commandment, so that we could have hope for a new day.