Digital StillCameraOne of the joys of being retired and living alone is that you can schedule your life the way you prefer it.  There is little pressure to keep working hard to keep the house immaculate or have a weedless garden unless you, yourself, put those burdens on you.  You can look around at a little dust and evaluate whether or not it is worth the effort today to make it spotless, or if it can wait one more day.  Today I am choosing to wait one more day because it is chilly, dreary and rainy.  It is a grilled cheese and tomato soup kind of day, and I just don’t feel inclined to dust.

It is wonderful to be able to take an occasional day like this; to be able to sit and think about things without the pressure of self-imposed duties, or the natural demands of lives involved with children, husbands, jobs or all of the above.  Unfortunately, most women just don’t have the time.

I understand family pressure.  My four children were born very close together and I was always exhausted.  I remember when they were all very young and my husband was working sixteen hour weekdays, half days on Saturday and even a few hours on Sunday.  The children’s needs were inexhaustible, and their constant happy chatter, minor squabbles, and endless questions wore me out.  There was no respite from the constant planning, organizing, and just plain hard work it took to keep the house reasonably tidy and running smoothly and the whole family clean, fed, and clothed.  I prayed for just an hour to myself ~ just a few minutes when I could relax and let my mind take a brief holiday from the stress.  We only had one car, and my husband needed it at all times.  I was often isolated indoors with only the children for several weeks at a time during long Canadian winters.  When they were all down with colds or chicken pox or tummy bugs, it got really interesting.  (That is how you learn to lean on the Lord!)  Things eased later, but then there were other demands.

Much later I was divorced, and then there were the working years, with long commutes through terrifying traffic, monotonous and boring assignments, occasionally difficult co-workers, soggy sandwiches, and little intellectual satisfaction.  Now, I have nothing but alone time and I love these quiet days because I am able to reflect on the nature of God, and appreciate the wonder of His loving me.  It is definitely better than having to focus only on how I can get through the next 24 hours!  I am blessed.

I watch the morning news, and am troubled to see the increasing self-destruction of mankind; the greed and the loss of principles and values and the overt hostility to God, and I wonder at His patience with man.  I read the last few verses of Romans 1, and see God’s assessment of the mind of man, and wonder how long a holy God will wait before He brings it all to an end in judgment.

Then I remember the depth of His grace; His love for His creation and for His chosen people (including those of us engrafted into the family) which is so strong that He was prepared to come to earth Himself, to accept the burden and punishment of my sin.  How can I fully comprehend the depth of that love, or understand why He should care so much for such ungrateful creatures?

I look around at His Creation; the brilliance of His creativity expressed in limitless ways.  I think of this beautiful planet, somewhat modest in size as planets go, yet hung in space like a cherished jewel.  Here we are, perfectly situated to be able to support life, with God holding it all together by the Word of His Power.  We live surrounded by inexpressible beauty, most of which we take for granted in our ant-like scurrying to and fro.

Think of the ocean with its constantly changing color and perpetual dance of the tides; the shining sands or rocky cliffs at water’s edge; the atonal music in the roar of the waves.  Think of the incredible variety of species sheltered under the waves; a whole different world.

Think of the desert, with its spare understated beauty: the soft, muted colors, the subtle splendor of tiny desert flowers, or the robust and spiny authority of cactus, the majesty of wind-sculpted cliffs rising in elegant formations.

Think of the mountains with their imposing mass of height and power, but yet their peaks wreathed in diaphanous, lacy clouds: God’s little smile, a paradox.

I look heavenward, and think about all the unseen activity which is birthing new stars; or the imploding of old stars into black holes; the brilliance of gases and literal star dust forming an ethereal mist around it all.

I think of the world of microorganisms: the incredibly sophisticated structure of cells and atoms, the wonder of things like DNA, and the miracle of a complex human being springing from the union of two tiny living cells; complete with eye color, gender, and intellectual potential.  I wonder how anyone can say this is all accidental; that there is no Designer, no intelligence behind it all.

I consider the mystery of the Trinity.  God is God and transcends His creation.  He may express Himself in any way He chooses, without regard to the laws of physics or chemistry He created for earth.  Still I try to explain Him in terms I can understand.  I may not be able to understand fully how it all works, but like H2O, which may be liquid, solid, or vapor yet still maintain its essential chemical integrity, I know that the personalities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are somehow all manifestations of the only One True God.  I dimly understand that these personalities express attributes, facets of the integrity of His holy Being, and that together they are Love.

I am grateful that through Christ’s blood I now have access into the Holy of Holies; praying to the Father alone, in the name of the Son, and through the translation of the Holy Spirit.  The blood of bulls and goats and lambs are no longer needed; the final sacrifice has been made and Christ’s blood has finally brought us the potential for reconciliation with God.  As His child, I am to reflect His love to those in my world, to let them know the love of God through my still imperfect life ~ by my inadequate words.  God, Who knows my every thought, my every weakness, my inadequacies of all kinds ~ that God trusts me to be His hands and feet on earth, to reflect His love to those around me.

Most of all I think about how I can ever love Him enough.  I have to admit that I am not always as faithful as I would like to be.  There are times when He is working in the background and I am caught up in my now, and He gets taken for granted.  I am ashamed of those times.  Yet, He is always with me and I count on His presence.  I feel Him there, like someone else always in the room.   I speak constantly to Him during the day as I am reminded of some person who needs prayer, or ask His pardon for some unworthy thought, or recognize some blessing I have received from Him and murmur a brief “Thank You”.  I wonder at His patience with me.  I am so thankful for His faithful leading through all kinds of trials and tests and temptations, and even when I fail, there is forgiveness in repentance and confession.  His love is without limit and all grace.

Oh, what a wonderful God!  Oh, what a debt we owe Him!  Oh, how undeserving we are of all His blessings ~ but oh, how grateful I am that He has called me and made me His child!  I look around at those who deny His very existence, and my heart is broken for them.  I am terrified for them in eternity ~ but I also hurt for Him, that His creatures reject Him: He, Who loves them so much.  I have experienced rejection from those whom I loved; there is not much emotional pain deeper than that, other than the death of a loved one… and He also has experienced this for our sake.  Yet He continues to wait, to give man time to repent, to accept His Son and be reconciled to Him.

All my meditations are summed up in this: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4: 10,11)

Selah (pause and think)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

lily zeledon January 18, 2013 at 7:36 am

Thank you for your encouraging words, I can understand all you have written and I am glad to know that Jesus is here for us no matter what.

Marilyn (Ohio) January 19, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Excellent. I’ve always treasured solitude, since I was a child (a looong time ago!), but I don’t have much of it to treasure at this point (a husband with
alzheimer’s). I know of people who can’t stand being quiet by themselves, say it’s too lonely. There’s a vast difference between loneliness & “aloneness”. With Jesus by my side, I never feel lonely.
Thank you :)

Gail Showalter January 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Yes, Marilyn, there is a huge difference between loneliness and being alone. I tell the single moms I work with this all the time. There is God’s real grace in aloneness.
Be still and Know.

Catherine Hackman January 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

I had small children and homeschooled. Then I went to work full time and had older children. After that, I was able to be an at home mom, and for the first time, I really thought about my life and where I was going and what I was doing. I agree with you that most people don’t have the luxury of doing that. It is so nice to just be able to think.

Pat January 25, 2013 at 3:36 am

I just read this. I enjoyed it so much. Thank you for taking the time to write it down and share it.

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