Ever hear of Manabezho, Nawadaha, or Manido? How about Niagara? Ah! We’ve all heard of Niagara, and now you can probably guess I’m talking about waterfalls.
There was a time when our children were young that we lived in Michigan’s upper peninsula. During those years, our kids sometimes got a little “ho hum” about waterfalls . . . I guess because we lived on fifty acres overlooking the Dead River, so going for a walk out our front door made us intimate with dozens of gorgeous, unnamed waterfalls that tumbled over granite boulders on their way to Lake Superior.
In those days, we sometimes had trouble motivating our kids to leave home and travel by car to experience some new waterfall or woodland path.
I guess when you live in a wilderness paradise surrounded by natural beauty, your senses can get a little dulled . . . or at least lulled.
But I think today any of my kids would jump at the chance for an enchanted afternoon meandering through green forests
or standing mesmerized beside torrential waters.
I’m hoping you would too, and since COVID (and now inclement weather) is keeping many of us home bound,
I thought you might enjoy taking a vicarious hike with Alan and me along the Presque Isle River in Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park.
As I mentioned last week, there are nearly 90 miles of hiking trails throughout the 60,000-acre park.
But my personal favorite is an easy round trip from South Boundary Road down the west side of the Presque Isle River out to Lake Superior, then across the river via a scenic little bridge and back along the east bank of the river.
It’s only about 2-3 miles and is fairly level (but not completely, and not paved, although there are boardwalks at times), so it’s the perfect hike for families with children or retired folks!
I’ve probably talked long enough, so let me be quiet for a few minutes while you enjoy the trail—
This stunning hike is so popular that it is celebrated by almost every traveler who comes to the Porkies, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are lots of other waterfalls.
Some are hard to reach, and I’ve never seen them, but some are just a few steps off the road and are too good to miss, although apparently they often are! For instance, “Overlooked Falls” is literally 100 feet off the road but doesn’t get much attention.
If you take a trip to the Porkies, please take a few minutes to enjoy Overlooked Falls along the Little Carp River!
I wonder, what do you suppose we are overlooking on our journey along the path of life?
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
(I took all the above photos in Porcupine Mountain State Park.)
“Patience is the ability to let your light shine after your fuse has blown.” (~ Bob Levey)
Sunshine and summer gardens . . . two of my favorite things! A month ago I wrote about “Peaceful Thoughts and Gardens,” but as I examined my photos of fabulous gardens, I couldn’t help but consider the years of meticulous care that go into producing a quintessential garden!
For instance, the Château du Clos Lucé was once the home of Leonardo da Vinci and has been maturing for over 550 years—more than twice as long as America has existed as a nation!
France’s most famous palace, Versailles, has expanded and been refined over hundreds of years. This long process of sowing and reaping, envisioning, building, pruning, and renewing speaks to me of the patience it takes to make something magnificent!
In light of this, and building on Jesus’s parable about the sower (from my last post), I’ve found some thoughts on patience to share with you, and I’ll illustrate them with photos I took at some of France’s most stunning gardens.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” (~ Leo Tolstoy).
“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” Elisabeth Elliot, Through the Gates of Splendor.
“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs” (~Leonardo da Vinci).
“But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).
“Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience” (~ George-Louis de Buffon).
“Patience is the companion of wisdom” (~ St. Augustine).
“But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).
“One minute of patience, ten years of peace” (~ Greek proverb).
“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself” (~ Saint Francis de Sales).
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake” (~ Victor Hugo).
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3-4).
“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience” (~ Julius Caesar).
“Who ever is out of patience is out of possession of their soul” (~ Francis Bacon).
“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience” (~ Unknown).
“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life” (~ Chinese Proverb).
“In your patience possess ye yoursouls” (Luke 21:19).
“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).
“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” (~ William Shakespeare, Othello).
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures” (~ Joseph Addison).
“Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All things pass; God never changes. Patience attains All that it strives for. He who has God Finds he lacks nothing: God alone suffices” (~ St. Teresa of Avila).
“You can choose to live in the past—or choose to live past it. Make peace with your past before it tears you to pieces” (Linda Swindling, Ask Outrageously: The Secret To Getting What You Want).
Ready for some encouraging quotes about peace from around the world? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling with anxiety lately, despite concerted efforts to “Keep calm and pray on.” Between COVID concerns, racial injustice, economic insecurities, rioting, looting, social isolation versus taking some chances on opening social channels again . . . that along with my beloved husband turning 70 and planning to retire in a few weeks . . . well, I’m ready for something to soothe my soul and comfort my heart. I hope what I’ve found will be a balm for you as well . . . so please take a few minutes to meander with me through french gardens while pondering wise thoughts!
“The first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself . . . Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility” (Nelson Mandela).
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jesus, recorded in John 16:33).
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity . . . Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” (Melody Beattie).
“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you” (Job 22:21).
“May you find peace and purpose within friendships and fruitfulness without” (— Sara Ewing What? You’ve never heard of Sara Ewing? Okay, so she’s not famous; but she’s a very wise friend of mine!)
“Peace is not made at the Council table or by treaties, but in the hearts of men” (Herbert Clark Hoover, who was America’s president from 1929-1933, during our Great Depression).
“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace” (Dalai Lama).
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee” (Augustine of Hippo in Confessions).
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace” (Mahatma Gandhi).
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jesus, recorded in John 14:27).
Tuesday I paired photos of wildflowers with verses on peace from the Bible, promulgating the biblical claim that peace can come to our hearts if we will open them to God’s Holy Spirit and allow him to quiet us. Quite coincidentally, all that day (Tuesday), our entire Sunday school class had been praying for one of our members—Sam, who had an MRI scheduled and was worried about how he would do because he’s been extremely claustrophobic for years. That evening we received the following update, and it was such a “real life” confirmation of what God says He will do for us that I want to share it with you today, in case you’re frightened about something in your life. This is the response Sam sent via our Sunday school prayer chain:
Praise the Lord for how He used you and your prayers for my good and His Glory. For me to ask you for this prayer request was humbling. What does it say about a clinical psychologist who is asking for help dealing with a phobia? I did not have a problem asking the Lord for His help, but it was humbling to share my problem with each of you. My specific request was for God to remove my fear of feeling horizontally trapped in an MRI machine today.
I think it may be helpful to share a little of the history of where and how my experience with claustrophobia began. If you are not familiar with farm machinery you may not know what a combine is. When harvesting soybeans in the fall, especially in the evening, the stalks can get tough and the combine can get plugged up. Being 12 years of age and small, I was the one chosen to climb in the back of the combine (on my stomach) and unplug the piece of machinery. However, I got stuck; I was frozen and could not move forward, backward, up or down. To add to the problem it was getting dark and my uncle had to dismantle part of machine to free me and get me out. Never will I forget that evening, but after today it has a new meaning. I’m sure it will still affect me, but it will never again control me.
Most of us know that the solution to getting something out of our mind that we don’t want in there is to use addition, not subtraction. This is where the power of corporate prayer resides. I knew that Jesus was with me, and my plan today was to quote Scripture the whole time and to block everything else out of my mind. (This is not a bad idea—God tells us to do that, and it’s often the right thing to do.) However, for today (God, not the devil) told me not to use this particular method.
Over and over again, He said, “All I want you to do is: LISTEN TO ME.” He told me that hundreds of people were praying for me “this very hour, right now,” and that all I needed to do was, “Listen to Me.” I found endless comfort in Exodus 14:14 (“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace”) and Psalm 46:10 (“Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth”)! What an intimate experience I had with Jesus! Never once did I experience any fear. It was enjoyable, peaceful, and comforting.
Thank you for praying for me today. Thank you for taking time out of your day and for listening to God and for praying for me. I have been praying that God would bless each one of you, for your service to Him. Because you prayed, all I did was listen to Jesus. Your prayers today enabled me to experience the Joy of the Lord in a whole new dimension.
I expect to find out the results of the MRI test in 3–5 days. I will let you know when I know. My prayer request for this week is for God to be glorified through whatever the results of the test are. I am excited about what He has planned for me. I trust Him. Because God is Love, He always wills what is best for me. He is omniscient. He knows what I need, and since He is sovereign He has the power to bring it all together. I trust Him.
To God be the Glory,
Samuel J. Roth
Reading Sam’s testimony to God’s faithfulness and mercy brought this verse to my mind: “O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” (Daniel 10:19). And, I know that He is willing to strengthen any of us to cry out to Him for help!
P.S.—Thank you, Sam, for giving me permission to share this wonderful account of God’s deliverance and your peace. God is so good!!
May 8, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe—a national holiday in France. Last week I shared with you a little bit about Jérôme, the french catechist who loves Jesus. In corresponding about VE-Day celebrations, Jérôme reminded me that “after war comes peace.”
What a comforting reminder for each of us during this season of world-wide unrest and “war” on COVID! Someday—we don’t know when—there will be peace again.
During our trip to France, I was touched over and over again by seeing this lived out in nature. All along the Normandy Coast, wildflowers and soothing fields of green grasses and moss were softening the terrain . . . overcoming destruction with beauty.
Did you know that “peace” is mentioned 420 times in the Bible? Something about the quiet glory of wildflowers taking root in rubble and along the rugged cliff sides made me think of peace.
Peace can come to our hearts if we will open them to God’s Holy Spirit and allow him to quiet us. In this light, please let me share a few wildflowers from France and a handful of my favorite verses on peace from the Bible:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,8).
“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).
“But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37).
“He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me” (Psalm 55:18).
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
“Love the truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17).
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
“In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth” (Psalm 72:7).
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
“How beautiful the sorrow How exquisite all the pain Without these tools of mercy I could not have known your name
“For in my senseless journey Strong needs were driving me Each path I chose brought heartache And still…I couldn’t see
“Your higher purpose for my life The plans you had in mind You saw the things that I would see When I became un-blind
“Relentless love…O violent grace Sweet heart of love so true My tears were merely stones that Paved the pathway back to you
“Royal groom…your very blood Bought back your faithless bride A marriage contract sealed the day That you were crucified
“Thank you for our pain Lord That betrothed my soul to you I LOVE you Jesus … Savior. … God I do . . . I do . . . I do !!!”
—Composed and shared by a blog follower and sister in the Lord, Carol Simpkins Floyd, while reflecting on Hosea 2 and Revelation 21:9. Copyright 2011.
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9).
“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:19-20 and 23).
Among the world’s most beautiful living plants, I can’t think of anything more gorgeous than flowers. How about you? Trees can be majestic and fill me with awe, but for sheer pleasure, there is no botanical sensory experience I enjoy more than visiting a lush flower garden bursting with extravagantly colored blooms . . . especially if they perfume the air! The profusion of shapes and sizes . . . the uniqueness of each blossom . . . I sometimes feel like I’ve died and gone to a Thomas Kinkaide heaven!
Therefore, it was with great joy that I embarked on a memory tour of my favorite lily photos to share with you while meditating on today’s texts: Matthew 6:28-30 “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Luke 12:27 “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?“
When I typed “lily” into my photo library’s search bar, it brought up 434 pictures (about 300 of which weren’t actually lilies), so the first thing I realized is that there are many flowers that look like lilies but aren’t.
Even within the generous group of flowers that I always thought of as “types of lilies”— with common names containing the word “lily” . . . most of them are not actually part of the genus “lilium,” and are therefore not true lilies by botanical class or definition!
For instance, all the gorgeous “water lilies” —lotus flowers—found around the world are not “true” lilies!
Nor are any of the common (but splendid) water lilies that choke the perimeter of our lake part of the lilium family. I am so surprised!!
The thousands of lilies of the valley that crowd the edges of our woods are not true lilies!
Not even the tiny trout lilies that dapple our woods in spring can be called genuine lilies! I was amazed when I learned this (just now, through study for this post)! 😦
Even this delicate “Peruvian lily” that I noticed growing near Iguaçu Falls is not a member of the “lilium” genus. So, the first thing I learned in considering the lilies is that there are many flowers called lilies which are not genuine lilies.
As I believe you are someone interested in studying what Jesus taught, I think it’s worth considering: Are you a genuine Christian?
The world is full of beautiful people, many of whom may call themselves Christians or think of themselves as Christians without truly be a part of the genuine family of Christians. Jesus taught us that: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). How can a man be born again? “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13).
It is my hope and prayer that if you are reading this, you either are—or will become—a true child of God through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior!
All true children of God—whether or not rich and part of some magnificent church . . .
or alone, growing in some remote area of the world . . .
each of us is precious to God and can claim the promise intrinsic in what Jesus taught:
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30).
Any of you feel pretty as a picture (or pretty as a picture of a flower)? For me, I say, “Not a chance!”
Most lilies (particularly the common “tiger lilies” that grow everywhere around our home in Michigan), put on an extravagant display in July, but each flower only lasts for a single day, and then withers, often being replaced by another emerging bud.
Although the (literally) hundreds of lilies growing around our home have to fear being eaten by the deer, they do not fret over what they’re going to wear!
They don’t toil all night spinning the dress of gold they’ll wear on the morrow!
And yet, have you ever met any person robed any more elegantly than a lily?
I may just be a sucker for flowers, but I wouldn’t trade the beauty and perfume of a dazzling lily for the most elaborately adorned woman. Would you? (I’m not talking about the woman, I’m talking about how beautiful her dress is . . . and maybe you would think her dress is more lovely than a flower. That’s fine too, but I would not.)
Regardless of how much you prize clothing and shoes and jewelry and accessories, the point is this: God will take care of us if we’ll let him, and He doesn’t want us to spend all our time worrying and fretting about not having or being. He has a better plan for us!
God wants us to grow where we’re planted and concentrate on being and loving, not having and doing! Sound like a good plan?!
Learning from the Giants, by John C. Maxwell, started off a little slow for me, but by the end, I was very happy to have persevered in listening my way through it. Maxwell imagined sitting in his study for a day, being visited by a number of the Bible’s great leaders. As I was usually driving while listening, I resorted to writing down my favorite memories of what Maxwell had to say after arriving at my destination, so they may not be perfect quotes, but I wanted to share some provocative bits of advice gleaned from his studies and commend the book to you as encouraging reading. (P.S.—You know how I love to share photos, too, so I picked out some pictures from my last trip to Mackinac Island, although they were chosen more for beauty than connection to the text.)
Elijah: *God loves you, even on your worst days! *Wait, serve, and learn while you wait. *Our purpose must always be more important to us than our position. *Find your purpose, and then lose your life fulfilling your purpose. *Brokenness always precedes blessing.
Job: *Character is more important than reputation, so work on growing your character. *Reputation is like a shadow; it has no substance. *Character is what will enable you to withstand tribulation. *At the end of Job’s life, he was filled with promise and not pain anymore!
Deborah: *Be prepared for God to surprise you. *Expect the unexpected. *You must deal with your past before God will give you a future. *God can make nothing out of you until you realize you are nothing without God. (Editorial Note: We are always the objects of God’s love, which gives us great worth, but I think Maxwell was pointing out that God loves the humble in heart.)
Jonah: *God is a God of second chances. *Mercy always runs downhill. *But—think about what you missed by not living right from the beginning!
Joshua: *God will only give you the promises you claim.
Daniel: *Be motivated by conviction, not convenience. *Greatness isn’t doing all you can do; it’s allowing God to do all He wants to do through you. *You will never lose your way if you never lose your why. *Courage is like muscle; it is strengthened by exercise.
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
Another day of gentle rains! I want to publicly thank God for these wonderful rains, because I’ve been praying for them!
In the process of building an addition, our yard became a muddy mess! Alan carefully sowed grass seed everywhere, but every time we turned our backs, the geese would come and gobble up the profits! One of my daily tasks has become chasing the geese away so the grass has a chance to grow. (And then, I have to scatter more seed after they leave.) I feel like Disney’s little cocker spaniel, Lady!
Our yard covers more than an acre, and to water the lawn with a hose and sprinkler would take more time, energy, and hose-length than we possess, so I’ve been asking the Lord to bless us with gentle rains to help the grass seed sprout and take root before it all gets washed away or eaten up.
God has been answering my prayers! We have had one of the most wonderfully cool springs I can ever remember, with the perfect blend of sunshine and soft showers!
The grass has taken root, and we’ve become hopeful that—short of a disastrous drought—the grass may flourish. Perhaps by next summer we will have enough soft grass to support both the grazing of geese and the romping of grand children!
Well, and enough for the wild turkeys too . . .
And the deer, especially now that the herd has a number of new fawns to feed!
Working hard to plant and protect the grass, and praying for rain and sunshine—which only God can provide—reminds me of a greater task we’ve been given: that of sharing spiritual “seed” (the Word of God) with others. “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass” (Dueteronomy 32:2).
God has been merciful and kind to me, and he will provide for you too if you’ll surrender your heart and will to Jesus. He calls each of us with a quiet, gentle voice that can only be heard in our hearts. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
“Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great” (Psalm 18:35).