Hello Again!

We were on vacation and I have been trying a medication change. Put together I not only did not write, I did not even post that I would return in a week or so.

What was I thinkin’? Not much evidently! Close friends told me to take a break. Somehow I thought I could press on. Oh well.

In case you have not been to the Atlantic ocean lately, here is a sequence of sunrise photos for your enjoyment. Bob said I would have to get up early if I wanted to see the sunrise. I was up before he was that one day. It was the ONLY morning I got up for the entire display!

5:37 AM Yes, Mercury, Venus and I do not know what else shining up there!
5:45 AM Can barely see planets now
6:20 AM Wondered will it rain here today? {It did not}
Another 6:20 image further to the left
6:26 AM Here she comes!
6:29 AM There she is accented with a Pac Man smile
6:36 AM

And then it became too bright to photograph or write on the deck!

In the last photo you can see the gulls began to awaken and scream over the sea. Soon the pelicans would begin to patrol in troops seeking breakfast.

I hope the 7 sunrise photos amused you. I was delighted to break our usual routine and see the ocean once again. I stand and praise as in Nehemiah,

And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”

“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

“You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.

Nehemiah 9:5-7 NIV

So, too, may the Lord God call you out of enemy territory and name you as His own. I pray you will follow wherever He leads you, just as Abraham did. Amen.

Amy Carmichael

For years I have read and re-read Amy Carmichael’s devotional book “The Edges of His Ways.” If I miss a day or two, no worries. I use it as a reference point and will likely hit the reading another year. She served the Lord in South India from 1895 to 1951. (The book is available used and at both Christian Book Distributors and on Amazon. I buy many used books online at Abe Books.)

We have been taught the value of gratitude and how it improves our health. Even Amy knew the power when she reminds us to “hunt the good, make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in your world.”

That is part of what powers this blog, Treasures in Plain Sight; hunting the good, the holy, the hilarious, the somber yet good that comes to each of us. It is there for the finding. We must pay attention to our surroundings.

What have you found lately in your hunting?

The other day I had a short errand to do and it began to pour rain. When I returned I told Bob “There must be a rainbow out there some where, but I could not see it. Rain clouds, pouring rain, sunshine … Likely someone will post on Facebook tonight, “Did you see the rainbow?” Instead of getting frustrated that I did not see one I will be interested to see who found it and what their vantage point was. Hopefully they will post a photo, too! That will be good for my soul.

The Edges of His Ways – how you might find and enjoy the Presence of the Lord on a day to day basis from your community work, from your sickbed, from your musing or prayerful meditation.

The title Edges reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood in the New Testament. As I looked up the reference I found 2 other similar passages. The references are Matthew 9:20, Matthew 14:36 and Mark 6:56.

And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

Matthew 9:20-22

Mark 6:56 is almost identical. Then Matthew 14:35-36 says

And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, 36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

Matthew 14:35-36

All they wanted to do was touch the hem of His garment. They did not need an audience with the King. Just a touch of His clothing. Many historians and scholars have noted they were not after the actual hem of the fabric, but one of the tassels on the corners.

The word translated, hem, is actually referring to the fringes, or tassels (called tzitziyot, in Hebrew), required to be on the four corners of all clothing of Jewish men, in accordance with God’s instruction:

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: Throughout the generations to come, you are to make tassels on the corners of one’s garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all My commands, and will be consecrated to your God. I am the Lord your God.'”(Numbers 15:37-41)

Website Refiner’s Fire https://www.therefinersfire.org/tallit.htm

How did Jesus do that? I honestly do not know. “As many as touched it were made perfectly well.” We do not have His garment or the tassels. If we did it would likely be down to just thread after centuries of people wanting to touch it. We do, however, have the indwelling Holy Spirit. I can be made better by seeking the Lord and earnestly wanting to touch the hem of His garment. No, my chronic health conditions have not vanished, but He cheers me and guides me in paths of right living and thinking. His word “quickens me.”

Charles Martin has a wonderfully clear description of the tassels in his book What If It’s True? A Storyteller’s Journey with Jesus, chapter two.

If you do not own this book I suggest you purchase it or get it from the library. Ours has both audio and eBook versions as well as the paper one. Chapter two is entitled “We are all bleeders.”

Martin writes: Note the meanings: Cover. Refuge. Deliverance. Trust. Because God is practical and He didn’t want His people to forget, He took this one step further. Brought it closer to home.

God told Moses to have the people make a tassel for each corner of their prayer cloth. Jesus wore this, too.

The crowd shoves, and pushes, and tightens, and she is losing sight of this Man named Jesus of Nazareth. In desperation, she lunges, extends her reach, and grasps the corner of His garment. His shirt. The tassel. The wing. She clings. Holds tightly. He feels the tug. Feels the power leave. She feels it enter.”

Have you sought the Lord, perhaps hunting in His Word, and felt the quickening of your spirit? He is able today to refresh and touch you.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Guidance and Direction

It is said that the best way to discern God’s will is through prayer, the Word, confirmation through fellowship with other Christians and circumstantial situations God sends your way. If you want to rely on this method you need to learn the Word. Few of us can quote chapter and verse, but we can learn the principles of Scripture and how to find the verses that correspond.

Years ago I had a book about prayer that listed these Scriptures for guidance and direction. I made it a habit to pray them every morning off and on over a period of years, asking the Father to indeed give me guidance and direction for that day. If you want practice in finding references in your Bible, you can go to Deuteronomy 31:6 and mark in the margin Joshua 3:4, then at Joshua mark the next reference in your margin, etc., etc. The references that just say 25:9 refer to the book listed just before. So 25:9 is Psalms 25:9, etc. PROV is proverbs, ISA is Isaiah, JN is John and REV is Revelation. There are many such lists on line. This list has helped and taught me much. May it do the same for you in your study. If you use an electronic Bible on your phone or computer you will not have the advantage of being able to note the next verse in sequence. Bibles like the Thompson Chain reference give you space to add another reference.

Or you can paste something like this in your Bible cover.

Now, years later these verses still come to mind on occasion and remind me of His faithfulness. I also learned that if we “hide the word in our heart” and mind, that gives the Holy Spirit more to work with when I am asking for guidance or seeking to comfort another.

Tradition says that God was silent while Jesus was in the tomb on Holy Saturday. Rather than expound on the miracle of the resurrection, I thought this might feed your soul now and in the future.

Deut 31:6  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Josh 3:4 NKJV  Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.

Psalms 16:11  You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

25:9  He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

32:8  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

37:23-24  The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

73:23-24a  Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.  You will guide me with Your counsel.

121:8  The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

PROV 2:6-8 NKJV  For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;  He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;  He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.

3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

11:3  The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

ISA 30:20-21  Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.  And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

45:2-3  I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron,  I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

48:17  Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.

JER 6:16  This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

29:12-14  “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

32:17  Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

JN  16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

REV 3:8  I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Sword of the Spirit

Daily reading of the Word is one of our best weapons in warfare. The Word is our Sword of the Spirit. Let the Word guide and direct you, mold and teach you. The results are ‘out of this world!’

No rights

This seemed to me to be fitting for Good Friday reflection. I have no idea who taught me this truth, but it was many years ago. Since I have given my life to Jesus, I have no rights. The life I now live ….

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:19b-20 NRSV

Those who are crucified die. No one gets partially crucified. Jesus wants only our full surrender to Him. When our son was in nursery school (oh about 40+ years ago) I was driving and worshiping one day. I was led to a little hillside cemetery. Imagine my surprise when I, a daughter of God my Father, came upon this headstone.

I realized that this point in my walk was where ‘daughters come to die,’ for “Christ lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith.” From then on it has been a continuous lesson for me as to what that means. Dead women do not have rights. I do not have the right when I get angry to remain mad. I am to walk like Jesus. Oh, so much to learn! I do not have the right to get my own way. His ways are higher than mine.

 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
 but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
     he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:6-8 NRSV


One writer said, ” It doesn’t matter what you want. The only thing that matters is what God wants.” Patti Callahan wrote a wonderful book entitled Becoming Mrs. Lewis, a fictionalized version of the love story between Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis. I just loved that book and will likely read it again. She mentioned that C. S. Lewis did not have Christianity ‘all figured out.’ He is purported to have said, “It is an unfolding. A constant unfolding to new life – or at its best that’s what it is.”

I get that explanation. Yes, as a child of the King, though I am an inheritor of the Kingdom, I also have to die to my desires and yield to His. Unfold into the right here and right now that God is asking me to walk in and live in.

I combined two ideas recently for my own object lesson. I went on Facebook and asked if anyone locally knew how to make origami. I wanted something to illustrate to me that my life is unfolding. Sure enough, some friends came up with Joe’s name. We found a pattern on line and he was able to make a few of these for me.

“heart box” is open and unfolding

There is another lesson about marbles in a jar representing how many weekends you have left in your life, or working life, obviously I do not remember the details. The point was how are you going to spend that time? So this is what sits on my desk now.

This daughter is finished playing games with God. I want to live truly and fully to His glory. At our house we used to have some marble shooters, you know, the larger marbles you use to shoot the smaller ones in marble games? Well I suppose God has all the marble shooters now since I cannot find ours. That is fine with me. He is in charge of this. I will simply contemplate how well I am using the time I have left with the marbles I have in this unfolding life.

Occasionally I remove them from the paper box, like when I took the photograph for the top of the blog. Ha! yep, you guessed it! They rolled all over the desktop. Thought I had caught them all until I found Lucky trying to chew on one. Goofy toothless beagle. (At this point Bob is likely thinking, “I knew she had lost some of her marbles!”)

I am the daughter. He is my heavenly Father. I am learning to be like Jesus, my Brother. Father is teaching me His will and His ways.

Keepsies Playing for keeps. God gets to keep all the marbles He wins. He is a master at this game! I am His and He is mine. Glorious.

Are you willing to yield to Him, even though it means death to your SELF and your desires? Consider this and respond to His call upon your heart. He is a good, good Father.

Things Learned in Darkness

“Each part of each life is a lesson.” Some of us never realize this; however, some of us learn and cherish the lessons and move on.

To me “things learned in darkness” are unknown by most other people yet known to God. Others have no clue what you have endured or struggled with. Frankly, there are few on earth who would still love and accept you if they knew your struggles. Each of us is quick to judge others. God knows all about us. Palm 139:1-7 NIV says:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?


God knows. This is what omniscient means: “One having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding.” He also knows our struggles in the dark.

even the darkness is not dark to You;

    the night is as bright as the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:12 NRSV

My struggles are often against things from the past. Sins done both by me and to me. Things said about me that were never corrected by the speaker. Things I have wrestled with God about. Things I have wrestled with against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of this present darkness and spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12 NRSV) There are also struggles in the present. Keeping my tongue in check. Being kind when it is habitual to lash against others. Staying the course, choosing to walk in the Light of Christ even when chronic illness crushes me.

Each of us faces struggles on the earth with other earthlings and with those wicked forces of evil. With Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit we can overcome those forces. We must be willing to endure the warfare. We must be willing to put on our armor and go into the fight. If not, the battles can continue to wage in and about us all of our lives. The same old, same old, over and over and over again.

People see you on the outside. For the most part, they do not know what struggles you have faced in your soul and spirit. But the Father sees. He is willing to come alongside you with the Spirit and the Son for each skirmish.

When I taught a Bible study on the women’s unit at the Hamilton County Justice Center I wore a button telling the women I was “not as innocent as I looked.” And I am not as innocent as I look today. God, Who reads the heart, knows what each of us have endured, as well as what each of us has done. The Word says, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NRSV

We are all broken. We each have need of the Holy Healer and Savior.

Rescue
Lauren Daigle
You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you

There is no distance
That cannot be covered
Over and over
You're not defenseless
I'll be your shelter
I'll be your armor

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you

Bend the Knee of My Heart

I mentioned recently in this blog how important it was to me that the Episcopalians actually humbled themselves and would kneel every service. Here is one of the Canticles from the Morning Prayer service that has increased in meaning for me as my knees are less and less cooperative for the act of kneeling. It is a prayer of repentance and useful at all times, but especially during Lent.

less cooperative knees

If you are unaware of your sin, perhaps this prayer can help you remember a few. “I have sinned and I know my wickedness only too well.” Rest there for a time. The Holy Spirit will gently remind you if you are sincerely asking.

Canticle 14 – A Song of Penitence Prayer of Manasseh

O Lord and Ruler of the hosts of heaven, *
    God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
    and of all their righteous offspring:
You made the heavens and the earth, *
    with all their vast array.
All things quake with fear at your presence; *
    they tremble because of your power.
But your merciful promise is beyond all measure; *
    it surpasses all that our minds can fathom.
O Lord, you are full of compassion, *
    long-suffering, and abounding in mercy.
You hold back your hand; *
    you do not punish as we deserve.
In your great goodness, Lord,
you have promised forgiveness to sinners, *
    that they may repent of their sin and be saved.
And now, O Lord, I bend the knee of my heart, *
    and make my appeal, sure of your gracious goodness.
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, *
    and I know my wickedness only too well.
Therefore I make this prayer to you: *
    Forgive me, Lord, forgive me.
Do not let me perish in my sin, *
    nor condemn me to the depths of the earth.
For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent, *
    and in me you will show forth your goodness.
Unworthy as I am, you will save me,
in accordance with your great mercy, *
    and I will praise you without ceasing all the days of my life.
For all the powers of heaven sing your praises, *
    and yours is the glory to ages of ages. Amen.

There is debate about whether Manasseh should be considered part of the Bible. If you are interested in the debate you can see https://www.gotquestions.org/Prayer-of-Manasseh.html I am not concerned about that. I am concerned about keeping my heart clean before God and trusting in His goodness. Bending the knee of my heart in confession is one way I try to do just that.

KNEELING—falling to one’s knees as a sign of reverence, obedience, or respect

International Children’s Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN.: Tommy Nelson, 2006).

We are usually quite aware of the times we disappoint the Lord. Perhaps you have not called your actions wickedness, but compared to the glory and righteousness of God those actions are nothing less. Yes, we are to kneel as a sign of reverence, obedience, respect. I do not think God cares if I actually bend my knees to the ground or bend the knee of my heart because my heart can at times be more stubborn than my old knees. He is looking for my yieldedness to His authority. He is a God full of compassion and quick to forgive, but we must confess our sins. I love the verse in 1 John 1:9 that says He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 RSV

Notice that the above verse begins with the little two letter word “if.” His forgiveness and cleansing are dependent upon our willingness to confess. The first step is ours.

I am praying you will examine your life and take those sins to the One who grants peace and mercy. I assure you, it is worth your time and effort.

Stand Look Ask

Thus says the Lord:

Stand at the crossroads, and look,

    and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way lies; and walk in it,

    and find rest for your souls.

But they said, “We will not walk in it.”

Jeremiah 6:16 NRSV

I have been familiar with this passage for many years. When I had the recent pain flare it was brought back to my mind. As I seek ways to cope I keep remembering this passage. Stand. Look. Ask. Walk. Find rest.

Seems simple enough. I do not want to be part of the folks who said, “We will not walk in it.” Just like my life verse Isaiah 30:15

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

In returning and rest you shall be saved;

    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

But you refused

Isaiah 30:15

I do not want to refuse in things the Lord asks of me. So yes, I will seek medical advice, but I will also look to the Lord for guidance and instruction on how to cope with this part of aging. When Bob worked in the hospital as a Medical Technologist part of his job was to go on the floor and draw blood specimens early each morning. He often had to wake the patients to do that. He asked a man one morning how he was doing. The gentleman replied, “Well, I woke up on the right side of the grass!” We have taken that as one of our bywords when aging and illness throws us for a loop. The alternative would be to not finish out the stories going on in our lives and the lives of those we love. So even when we are miserable, we are grateful to keep on living.

Next time you are stymied in your life perhaps Jeremiah could guide you, too. Can’t hurt to try that as your prayer guide when frustrated. Ask God. He will show you the ancient way, where the good path lies. Please, do not join the ranks of those who said “We will not walk in it” or outright refuse His help.

His Grip

It’s not my grip on him that matters but his grip on me. And his grip is sure. So is his presence in my life. God is always near us. Always for us. Always in us. We may forget him, but God will never forget us. We’re forever on his mind and in his plans. He called himself “‘Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23 NRSV

Oswald Chambers

My hands are getting weaker the older I become. God is not worried. He has me in His grasp.

Even when I was a very young Christian and did not understand much of His Word, He had His grip on me. Now that I am aging, I am still within His grip.

I love that quote that my grip on Him does not matter – but His grip on me.

He is able to keep all that the Father has given Him.

Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:35-40 CSB

But I am not ashamed, for I know the One in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to Him

2 Timothy 1:12-12 NRSV

I can commit my life and my all to Him. He is able to keep me until the Day of His glorious coming again.

YouTube

In 1970 when Judy Collins’ recording of Amazing Grace was on the radio my Mom was furious that it was being played in the bars. I asked her, “Where better, Mom?” My thinking was why not reach the lost in the bars? Give them hope that Jesus could touch them, too?

Now we can watch church on YouTube and sing along to almost every hymn ever recorded. The possibilities are limitless with the computer in our pocket that we call a telephone. I have access to the entire Bible in various versions, sermons from New York City, my local Pastor preaching, all on my iPhone.

Renaissance Church, New York City, Harlem

Whether it is a song from my childhood (“How Much is that Doggie in the Window?) or a lyric line like “More than you know,” yep, You Tube has it. I can even post my own videos of Lucky watching a doe and her fawn or monarch caterpillars devouring milkweed plants.

But the earth will be filled

    with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,

    as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14 NRSV

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.

    Let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 57:5and Psalm 108:5

Mom had no idea where things were headed. I must admit I did not either in 1970!

Pearls

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:45-46
Purported to be the largest pearl ever found

So what do you value the most? The parable says this is what the kingdom of heaven is like …. Do you value the Kingdom and your relationship with the Trinity above everything else? Would you give everything you have to get this pearl?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Matthew 6:33

Jesus said the above after telling the people not to worry about clothing or food or anything else. If we are willing to seek Him, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we will have everything else we need.

St. Isaac of Syria, from the 600s, continues to influence Orthodox spirituality today. He is known as one of the greatest spiritual writers of the Christian East. His writing was suggested to me in 2009. Remarking on this parable he wrote:

A swimmer dives into the sea naked, in order to find a pearl.

A wise monk journeys through life, stripped of all that he has, to find within himself the pearl, Jesus Christ, and finding him, he no longer seeks to acquire anything else beside him.

Daily Readings with St. Isaac of Syria

I believe the first thing we stumble over in this pursuit is naked, or stripped of all that he has. We are simply way too attached to our things. If you were from Ukraine right now you would either be putting your life on the line for your country or running for your life with few, if any, possessions. Are we willing to turn loose of our hold on possessions so we might grasp the Lord firmly as our source of life and reason for living?

Have you forgotten –

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will leave this life.

Job 1:20a

The saying goes “You can’t take it with you” but what if you turned loose of the all-encompassing life-draining drive for power and possessions now? It is unlikely you will move to a barren wasteland and become a desert father or mother. You could however focus your life upon the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. You could pursue this pearl of great price and find treasure you never suspected was available to you in 2022. Never will the question be answered in your own heart unless you experiment with opening your hand, letting go of the tenacious grasp of things, so you can grab hold of the Lord.

Do you have a Halloween store near you? Once when I was having difficulty turning loose of my teenage children the Lord had me buy a rubber hand like the ones below.

I took it home and easily cut off the red line of ‘blood.” I placed it palm up on my dashboard. The Lord had said I could turn my kids loose to Him or He could pry them out of my hands. Every time the car hit a bump those fingers would vibrate and wiggle. Yes, it was a clear object lesson for me and it made me laugh to boot. God has such a sense of humor!

Perhaps you need to visit the local part supply store and get a hand for yourself? Turn loose of a few obsessions first, trusting that He is able to be in charge of those. Then a few more things. Then a few more, filling your time and mind with His word and presence. He is able to inspire and help you with this if only you will ask.

Yield to Him and find out what He has in mind.