“Be not afraid, O wild animals…”

Following up on the previous post, today I’m reflecting on the next verse in Joel. Chapter 2, verse 21 begins with “Be not afraid, O land,” and verse 22, “Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.” What beautiful images of God’s provision!

More “sit-time” lately has provided opportunities to gaze out the window and watch the birds and animals come and go.  My husband has been God’s provision-bearer for the deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. and I’m so thankul for his faithfulness in filling the birdfeeders and spreading out the seeds and corn for all those critters who are trustingly oblivious to God’s care for them. They are not afraid.

As we watered, dead-headed, and rearranged some flower pots on the deck today,  a darling, plump sparrow perched on the wooden railing to watch us. “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”  became the musical mantra in my mind as I slowed my movements to avoid startling him. He hopped down to the deck, pecking the fallen seeds. What a delight to see trust in action!

Last night I immersed myself in a book by Luci Shaw, a gift from my sweet friend Mari. “Water My Soul” is a book about “cultivating the interior life” and speaks of God as the first Gardener. “Nature is God’s great revelation of himself,” she writes, “God’s fingerprints, the hints and clues to his nature, are everywhere.” (p. 30) Luci encourages Christians to be alert, focused, and to find God in all of creation, both “the magnificent and the miniature.”

Opening my heart to God in nature is one way to close the door to fear. Green pastures, fruit-bearing trees, and even wild animals and birds – all boast that God “has done great things” and call me to “be glad and rejoice.” Looking ahead to verse 26, I read Joel’s words, “and you will praise the name of the Lord your God.”

The second verse of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” helps me do that: “‘Let not your heart be troubled,’ His tender words I hear; and resting on His goodness, I lose my doubt and fear. Tho’ by the path He leadeth but one step I may see: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

“Surely the Lord has done great things.” Joel 2:21-22

I was looking for some comforting passages today. Going into the fourth week after wrist reconstruction, I felt like there should be less pain, that I should have better movement, and I was getting frustrated! I tried to play a few notes on the piano with my bruised, grayish-green fingers, but only very slowly and painfully. Tears filled my eyes, not so much from the pain as from the realization that it would be awhile before I could play freely and without effort.  The food being served at my pity party was not tasting very good though, and I knew I had to leave and find less bitter fare.

After reading several other “fear not” references, I decided to settle in on the only verses in Joel that say, “Be not afraid.”  The fascinating part is that Joel is not addressing a person, nor is God addressing any man or nation. Verse 21: “Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things.” Entitled “The Lord’s Answer,” this section bubbles over with what God has done and will do. Greening pastures, fruit-bearing trees, overflowing vats, grain in abundance, new oil and wine…all promises of renewal for the physical realm.  It reminded me that God cares about my physical needs too!

I had to pause and reflect on what God has done and promises to still do for me – a banquet of blessings is so much better than a pity party!  Really, what do I fear?  Healing is in His hands and will come in His perfect timing.  Meanwhile, the antidote to fear is to “be glad and rejoice.”  This won’t be the last time I’ll need a reminder, I’m sure.  In fact, I plan to revisit these verses tomorrow!

“…do the work…” 1 Chronicles 28:20

Yes, it’s been awhile! A very long while. The past couple months I found myself becoming primarily a blog-reader rather than a blog-writer. It seemed much easier, but in retrospect, not as satisfying or fulfilling.  Now that we are mid-year, it seems like a good time to resolve, once again, the resolution made back in January.   A number of different fear hurdles, set up by the enemy, no doubt, kept me from making progress, and even now, I’m pecking out these letters with my left hand, wondering how much longer the pain will last, when I’ll be able to play the piano again, if my right hand will ever be “normal.”

So the words in 1 Chron. 28:20 are my inspiration this time. “David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.'” There is work to be done yet.  God’s call to write hasn’t been silenced. In fact, since my hand surgery, I have had so much more time! Time to sit and think, to read, relax, watch the birds and the ever-changing clouds in the sky. The Lord God will not fail me or forsake me.

I’ve also been sorting through piles of paper, notes, newspaper clippings, lists, etc. and finding inspiration and ideas that had been buried in the busyness of normal, “healthy” living.  Here is a quote I found from Julia Cameron, “Writing is alchemy. Writing that poem, moving out of that cramped and cerebral space of bitterness or confusion into the capacious heart, I am no longer a victim, an enemy or an injured party. I am what I am again: a writer.   Writing is medicine. It is an appropriate antidote to injury. It is an appropriate companion for any difficult change. Writing about the change, we help it along, lean into it, cooperate. Writing allows us to rewrite our lives.”

Solomon was told to do the work of constructing a place where the Lord would dwell, and to be strong, fearless, and courageous, knowing that God was with him. And as I build sentences, paragraphs, essays and poems with words, my prayer is that God will be pleased to dwell here as well.