Our first child cried a lot. Understatement. New mom terror of that piercing cry and the absolute certainty it brought reinforced my insecurity. I had no idea what I was doing. In the rare quiet moments, I hardly dared breathe. I was afraid of breaking the spell and bringing her quivering bleat to a scream again. I didn’t enjoy the respite for fear of the repercussions.
As new moms do, I learned to love those quiet reprieves and enjoy their stillness, even if they lasted only a few short moments.
I stored a breath of serene in order to survive hectic ahead, kinda like someone about to drown coming up for air. Or a squirrel saving an acorn for later.
The term “squirreling it away,” is real. Furry tailed creatures are in a frenzy in my back yard doing just that in preparation for cold months ahead.
An autumn leaf carpet covers hundreds of tiny holes where buried nuts lie. Do they map them out, “go right at the base of the oak and stop three paces from the pine?” Or, do they lose them like misplaced pens, “It was right here, who took it?” They flick gray tails, leap through the air, thrash through dried leaves and somehow remember where they hid all those treasures.
Watching them scamper, I’m convicted I need to store away God lessons in abundant seasons, when life is warm and silky smooth so I have a ready harvest to glean from in times of spiritual famine.
Joseph in his leadership under Pharaoh directed the Egyptian nation to store food up in the good years for a poverty around the corner. They couldn’t see it yet, but God’s goodness was like the multitude of grain in Egypt’s storehouses, “Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.” Genesis 41:49 (NIV)
The Israelites were gripped in a vicious cycle of now I see Him, now I don’t. Now I trust Him, now I won’t. They cried out to God when they needed him, and forgot Him when they thought they didn’t. Yet, God steadfastly loved and always remained faithful.
A little phrase in James 5:8 jumped out at me this morning. In a context of suffering, Jesus’ half-brother, plants the phrase, “Establish your hearts.” Smack dab into our trials, he brings our attention to what is stable.
“Establish,” in some translations “strengthen” is “sterizo” in the original text. It means to make stable, set fast, confirm one’s mind, resolutely turning it in a certain direction, like my grandson’s little hand against my cheek.
“Grandma, look,” he insists, then resolutely turns my face to look at a bug.
James segues to write about steadfastness, leaving us to gather that setting our minds, turning it in God’s direction, leads to steadfast and unwavering personal faith.
Yet, our tendency, like the Israelites, is to approach God when we really need help, but coast when things are smooth.
An established heart comes with intention. It digs into God’s Word with the discipline of a squirrel preparing for long months ahead. It is ready to make time in plenty to nurture what will grow in the soil of trials.
Stop and appreciate His creation. Verbalize gratefulness in the mundane. Write down what He has done for you. Study His character. List His attributes.
“Don’t forget,” God admonished the Israelites.
“Establish your hearts,” James reminds us.
Make God’s Word the constant in your life in the warm sun and the autumn breeze. Then when clouds darken the skies and winter blows its stinging wind, your tracking system will take you right where you need to go. Dig for the buried nuggets. You will find God just as faithful in your darkness as He has always been in your light.
*Feature Photo by Jenny Grinblo on Unsplash
*In text Photo by Jongsun Lee on Unsplash