I used to jog a mile every day. I loved to jog. It seemed that just before I reached the point where I felt I couldn't go any further, I would get what I called a second wind. A surge of energy would burst upon me, and I would be able to easily and effortlessly complete my jog. Then, I hurt my knees at aerobic class, and I was told 'my jogging days are over.' That was many, many moons ago. So, I've been brisk walking ever since and enjoy doing it.
The other day I met an older couple who were just getting ready to ride their bikes. I commented on how nice and unique their bikes are. The bikes are longer in length and shorter in height than regular bikes. The wheels are smaller. The seats have high backs on them for support as the riders pedal away. It's the neatest thing you've ever seen.
As they started to bike away, the lady said: Walking is boring. We used to do it.
I chuckled as I tried mentally to vindicate my past time and passion: Walking is not boring. Walking is fun! All my walks are memorable ones because on these walks, I have learned and tucked away in the recesses of my mind precious object lessons that I would probably not get anywhere else. I would probably miss them altogether if I was riding a bicycle. I sure would hate to bike through life and miss out the details that make life worth the living.
The two-and-a-half-mile walk takes 45 minutes. Even in the same stretch of road, walking in the cool of the morning with the gentle 8 o'clock sun on my face is different from the walk in the evening when the sun is getting ready to bid farewell to the world leaving colorful prints in the western horizon. The morning walk energizes and wakes me up to face a brand new day; the evening walk calms and prepares me for a restful night of sleep. Walking under the stars has an altogether different effect upon me. I have an overpowering feeling and sense of wonder and awe at my Creator.
I walk on a subdivision street. There are probably a hundred or so houses I pass by. One house in particular stands out. The house is immaculate. The yard is manicured and well-maintained.
Every morning on my walk I would see the lady busy at work planting flowers or pulling out pesky weeds from the well-watered St. Augustine grass.
They have fruit trees--pears, oranges, and grapefruits--and under each tree there are all kinds of flowers--mums, marigold, geraniums, begonias, and a host of other flowering plants blooming in their season.
Talk about harmony and organization. These people have it. They have all the pink flowers in one section of the yard. In another section, all the red flowers are grouped together. The whites are also grouped together, and there's a section for all assorted colors of flowers. The flowers in the back yard are also grouped in similar fashion.
One day, after several days of steady rain, I saw the tracks of a vehicle that jumped the curb and swerved right into this nicely-kept yard. A deep, ugly indentation was made in the yard. I felt badly that it happened, but I'm sure it was an accident.
Next day, I noticed that the owners had packed potting soil in the indentation and planted several St. Augustine grass plugs. Within a couple of weeks, you wouldn't know that an accident had occurred.
What's the object lessons I learned from this property? It takes hard work to keep the garden of our soul pure and flourishing. The weeds of sin have to be uprooted and thrown out immediately. This is a daily work. The Apostle Paul said that we are to be converted daily. We are to watch unto prayer and be awake at all times. Through strong resolution and vigilant watchfulness, we should be able to withstand every temptation that assails the soul.
And should we ever commit a grievous sin causing deep, ugly dents and scars in our lives, we must not wait but confess it and have the blood of Jesus get rid of the dents. When we are justified before God through the merits of His Son Jesus Christ, we stand before Him as if we had never sinned.
The fruit trees remind me that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal 5:22,23). We shall be known by our fruits says Matt 7:16. If we take care of the garden of our soul, we will produce abundant fruits to the glory of God.
We are told that God is a God of order. There is beauty, harmony and organization in Heaven. We must learn to be neat and orderly in this world. It is sin that brings discord, enmity, and strife into our lives. When confessed, beauty and harmony would once more be restored.
There's another house about a half mile away. The property must have looked beautiful at one time. The yard was landscaped with ornamental shrubberies, and flowers. However, because upkeep and maintenance are not being done, the weeds have taken over. Tall weeds are growing inside the above-ground swimming pool in the back. It is a sad picture indeed. Because of sheer neglect, the beauty and loveliness of the place have been almost completely effaced.
I wonder if our lives are like this property. God created us in His image. He created us for His glory. But, alas, sometimes we allow sin to take deep roots in our lives that well-nigh obliterate the beauty of a Christ-like character in us. Sin is ugly. Sin is the transgression of God's law. We must, through God's enabling power, be obedient to Him. Then the garden of our souls will flourish with beauty and heavenly fragrance. Click here for God's Ideal for His Children.
I love houses. Maybe it's because we human beings live in houses. Or, maybe it's because they're so big, you can't help but see them. There's another house that attracted my attention recently. A couple of weeks ago, the color of the house was white. The owners decided to paint it hot pink. Why hot pink? I wanted to shout to the owner as he climbed up a ladder to reach to top section of the house. A softer pink would look better! I wanted so much to say, but the words didn't come out. Instead, what came out shocked me:'I like the color of your house.' 'Thank you!' came the response from the pleased painter.
Almost immediately I heard the Lord chide me: Lydia, You've just lied! Yes, I know, Lord, but he's working so hard on that house, he needs some compliments, doesn't he? No response was forthcoming as if the Lord wanted to give me a chance to think things through--that a lie is a lie no matter what.
Then, I heard something in my heart. I'm not finished with you yet, Lydia. I created every human being a free moral agent. Each one has freedom of choice. This man has the right to choose any color he likes to paint his house. I did not create the HOA.
The rebuke from the Lord silenced me, and every time I pass that hot pink house on my walk, two lessons are reinforced and solidified in my mind: Never lie and allow people their God-given right of freedom of choice.
There are ponds in the neighborhood where we live, and there are ducks galore. One day I found my husband with a large 'inside' broom outside. I asked him what he was doing with the broom, and he said he was chasing the ducks away. You know how ducks are. They could walk clear across a meadow the size of a football field and not mess until they come to your driveway.
One day I was walking on our street. It was busy that morning because of school traffic. I noticed a mommy duck and at least ten little yellow duckies, that looked recently hatched, following her. They waddled down the city street. Soon, the mommy duck decided to cross the street. The cute, little duckies followed. Fascinated, I stood and watched. They were not in any real hurry to cross the street. The mommy was taking her time, after all the duckies were just hatched.
Soon, a school bus was barrelling around a bend in the street. I gasped. Would the driver see the ducks? Would he stop in time? I held my breath. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see. Then I heard the bus screech to a stop. Reluctantly, hesitatingly, I opened my eyes. Wonder of wonders, the bus driver did stop in the nick of time. He waited until the duck family was safe on the other side before proceeding.
Obviously, the duck and her brood were oblivious of the danger they were in. They were not aware how close they had come to having their lives snuffed out.
Animals live their lives in harmony with the Creator's plan for them. They wander about, they search for food, they build their nests, etc. There is never a time where they worry or fret.
On my walks, I encounter a lot of cats. Some of these cats are somebody's pets and seem well-cared for; others aren't as fortunate. Sometimes dogs would escape their fenced backyard and free to roam about. One time, a feisty little dog wanted to follow me home. I knew where he lived and took him there.
Even though animals--ducks, cats, dogs, birds, etc., live with ever-present environmental and ecological dangers, they are not immobilized with fear. And they don't fret or worry one iota about food or shelter, or any such thing. They trust a Heavenly Father who watches over all His creatures and provides for their needs. We could learn from the animals, couldn't we? Click here for Animals Are Beautiful People!
Sasha, My German Shepherd, hates those water drainage inlets in city streets. Actually, she's afraid of them especially if the sound of rushing water is present. She thinks she's going to fall in and drown. She would put all four brakes on, and wouldn't budge for anything. If I yank hard on her leash, I'm afraid her whole head might come off. So, I would try to explain to her to trust me that I would not let her fall in. No amount of coaxing would get her to budge.
She was in this resisting mode when some teenage boys drove by, looked over the situation, and yelled to me: Lady, the pavement is hot! Let her walk on the grass!
I wanted to shout back: Thanks, but no thanks for your unsolicited advice. I thought of a valuable, timeless lesson I wished to have shared with those boys, but they didn't stop. When you don't have all the facts, refrain from jumping to any conclusion. It could be wrong.
This is not an easy lesson to learn. One day I saw a lady mowing her yard. In the months that I've been walking on that section of the neighborhood, she was always the one mowing the grass. I saw her husband many times. He appeared able-bodied, strong and husky. He should be the one mowing the grass. Not his poor wife.
Like those teenage boys, I did a mental aerobic. I jumped to conclusion. He must be just one lazy bummer of a guy. Shame on you, hard taskmaster! I wanted to tell it to his face.
Then, as always, the Lord intervened and chided me. Lydia, you don't have all the facts. Leave the judgment call to me. Could it be possible that the man is deathly allergic to grass and mowing it could trigger a fatal allergy attack? Or, could it be that she wanted to exercise instead of spend money to go to a gym to exercise there? Have you thought of these things?
No, Lord, I haven't. And you're absolutely right. I don't have all the fact. I'm surmising and I could be wrong. Yes, it does look like she could use the exercise to lose some pounds.
I observe on my walks that some people warm up their cars in the morning before taking off. Others don't. People can argue whether this is essential or not. But I personally think there's validity in warming up before starting off any undertaking. I see it in the natural world. The first thing my dog Sasha does in the morning is stretch. My cats, too, stretch in the morning. Athletes warm up first before plunging into their routines.
I remember when my sister Esther and I were taking ballet lessons, we had to do ten minutes of nothing but warm ups. Stretching prepares the muscles for exercise and prevents a tear or damage to the muscles. Stretching also releases chemicals that are conducive to general health and well being.
I think it should be no different in the spiritual realm. We need to warm up first thing when we get out of bed with prayer and devotion. This is essential before tackling any serious exercises later on such as Bible studies, meditation, and Christian service. Spiritual warm ups are essential for spiritual health. Click here for an object lesson on Christian growth and Maturity.
I usually make a habit of trying to identify all the trees in my walks. If I couldn't identify a tree, and the owner happens to be nearby, I would ask. One day, I asked one owner: 'What kind of tree is this? pointing to a tree I couldn't identify. Surprised, he responded: 'Oh, that was there when we moved here several years ago.' He didn't know either.
Did you know that they are 118 trees mentioned in the Bible? Here's a few: Tree of Life, Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, green bay, pine, fir, cypress, myrtle, oil, acacia, box, pomegranate, juniper, fig, oak, almond, willow, mulberry, olive, elm, hemlock, palm, shittah, ash, sycamore, chestnut, locust, poplar, mustard. etc.
Trees provide needed shade in the summer and thrill us with their glorious colors in the fall. They provide shelter and nesting places for the birds of the air. Trees teach us valuable lessons in character building. They teach us strength, endurance, fortitude, nobility, and stability. Look at the giant sequoias and redwoods in California. They're majestic, they're noble, and they sure are stable. They're not going away anytime soon. Long after we are gone, the trees would still be here blessing the world with their grace and beauty.
I remember a time when I didn't like weeping willow trees. It seemed to me they didn't serve any good purpose that I could see. They didn't have enough leaves to provide substantial shade in the summer. They didn't have the character and stalwartness of other trees. Their branches didn't point up majestically to the heavens but stoop to the lowlands and miasma of earth.
But you know something? During my walks, I have learned to like and appreciate the weeping willows. They are actually pretty trees. They are gentle and graceful, feminine-like. They dance in the wind attired in sheer nylon and delicate laces. They embrace the earth gently and lavish it with tender kisses and tears.
With the weeping willow trees, I'm reminded always that there's a time for everything under the sun--a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. I think the willow trees are one way that the Lord reminds us of the stark reality and seasons of life.
On my walks, I see yellow ribbons tied everywhere--to trees, shrubs, mailboxes, and even hung on doors to show appreciation and support for our troops who place their lives on the line to secure our freedom which grants us our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Click here to see Tie a Yellow Ribbon.
Douglas firs don't grow in Florida except in these people's yard. They must have planted their supermarket-bought Christmas tree years ago and it grew. Close by are a good size holly berry shrub and another Christmas tree--one of Florida's common varieties. Every time I pass their place I'm reminded of Christmas, not so much the festivities associated with it, but the birth of our Saviour. 'And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.' Matt 1:21.
In sending Jesus into the world, Heaven gave its most costly treasure. 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.
Everyday we should be reminded of Christmas--of Christ--and what He means to us. Everyday, we should spend a thoughtful hour contemplating His life especially the closing scenes.
This morning on my walk, a dense fog had settled in. I could barely see the houses ahead. I was reminded that we live in a world tainted and polluted with sin and corruption. No matter where we go or what we do, we are inundated with suggestions and thoughts of evil. The moral senses have been calloused and benumbed. No longer does sin shock people like it once did.
"Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer. Those whose hearts are open to receive the support and blessing of God will walk in a holier atmosphere than that of earth and will have constant communion with Heaven." --The Faith I Live By, Page 222.
I walk on the street, not on the sidewalk, when I get to this particular house. The sidewalk is saturated and overflowing with water. I could see rivulets of water swirling about. I suspect that the culprit is the fire hydrant nearby. There's got to be a leak somewhere underground. Water is a precious commodity and is being wasted here.
Sometimes in our lives, we waste things, too. Time, for example, is a precious commodity that we so easily waste. Time is a talent given to us by God. Our time belongs to Him. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time.
On my walks, I noticed one house has a sign over the garage door: Chevy Country. Immediately I thought that these people are Chevy buffs. However, I looked at the four cars in the driveway and none were Chevrolets. There were Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and I can't remember what's the other one.
Then I thought: Sometimes we are like these people. We flaunt to the world that we are Christians. We are church members in good and regular standing; but, alas, our words, our deportment, our motives, our actions are everything but Christian.
Every time I pass Chevy Country, I look for chevys. Every day the world watches us to see beauty, consistency, and Christlikeness in our characters.
"...for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.' I Cor 4:9.
I would have totally missed this one out if I was biking instead of walking. I saw a most beautiful spider web the other day. I stopped to admire the delicate creation by one of God's most insignificant creatures.
I observed the silken threads and how they are intricately woven using silk from the spider's own body. I marveled at the intelligence that God endowed this simple creature to be able to create such beautiful and intricate design.
I thought about the purpose of the spider's web. It is a trap to catch the unwary insects for the spider's meal. The insects are caught in the sticky strands of the web. The web also has non-sticky strands. The spider uses these to walk on. Very clever, isn't it?
I thought about 1 Peter 5:8 - 'Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, is as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.' Remember, Satan is as a sly fox. If we are not careful, if we are not wearing the whole armour of God, we can be lured into his snare.
There's a ravine that twists its way through the subdivision. The rain water that runs through the city streets in this neighborhood eventually all ends up in this ravine. The water just stays there. It is stagnant. It doesn't look good, and sometimes it even smells bad. Stagnant water does not benefit anyone. It serves only as a breeding place for mosquitoes.
God's people are not to stagnate. They are to grow and flourish. One of the divine plans for growth is impartation. The Christian is to gain strength by strengthening others. 'He that watereth shall be watered also himself' (Prov. 11:25). This is not merely a promise; it is a divine law, a law by which God designs that the streams of benevolence, like the waters of the great deep, shall be kept in constant circulation, continually flowing back to their source. In the fulfilling of this law is the secret of spiritual growth.' --God's Amazing Grace, Page 285.
Not too often, but every now and then, I would have excruciating pain when I walk. I had scoliosis as a child that was never corrected. When I'm in pain while walking I think of Missionary/Aviator Martin Burnham and his wife Gracia and their harrowing experience in the dense jungles of the Philippines.
We all know from the media that they and others were taken hostages by a terrorist group called the Abu Sayyaf that has ties with Osama bin Laden. In the gun battle that ensued for their liberation, Martin was shot to death in the cross fire, and Gracia was slightly injured. Gracia has co-authored a book entitled: In the Presence of My Enemies that describes poignantly their ordeal in the hands of their captors.
In an interview with Fox News, Gracia was saying that Martin had been a source of support and encouragement to her the whole time. At one point she related how they had to walk quite a distance to get to their destination. There were several times when she thought she just couldn't make it. She said Martin, then, would tell her to just put one foot forward, and the Lord will take care of the rest. And that's what she did.
And that's what I do whenever I get intense pain during my daily walks. I put one foot forward and the Lord takes care of the rest. I would then go on autopilot. Going on autopilot is not always the best thing to do. I miss certain things that I had made a mental note not to miss. Sometimes we go through life on autopilot, and we miss out opportunities to share our faith and/or do something good for others.
I enjoy walking in the early morning hours when the sun is just poking its golden head out in the east. Droplets of dew on people's grass glisten like diamonds in the sun. It's beautiful. I can't help it but feel very wealthy when I walk at night under the stars and see them sparkle like diamonds in the heavens. These diamonds belong to my Heavenly Father, and I am His heir.
I'm reminded of the time before the Great Deluge. Precious gems were easily accessible to the antediluvians. God was gracious to these people and provided bountifully for them, but sad to say, God's goodness did not lead them to repentance. Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Romans 2:4.
Because of the catastrophic event of the Great Deluge, the precious gems became harder to find for they were buried deep beneath the earth.
But this doesn't concern me at all. When God recreates the earth and makes it new, His children would have ready access to all the precious gems their hearts desire. The street they walk on is made of pure gold, the wall of their city is made of jasper. The foundations are layered and garnished with jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, and amethyst. The twelve gates are twelve pearls. What more can you ask? I can hardly wait to get there! How about you?
I love flowers. I think all women do. Jesus is portrayed in the Bible as the Lily of the valley. The lily of the valley is only three inches from the ground and has a drooping head which is emblematic of the humility of Christ and His mission. The lowly flowers are ready to be trodden underfoot of man and crushed. Christ humbled Himself and died for your salvation and mine.
I call them the trumpet flowers. The shrub grows about seven feet high, and it has ivory-white flowers that look like 8-inch long trumpets. When I pass these flowers on my walks, I'm reminded me of the text in 1 Cor 15:52. 'In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.'
We've been having afternoon thunderstorms lately. The earth has been saturated with water, and the grass in people's yard is growing like crazy. One owner couldn't wait to cut his grass. The result? Catastrophe. The tires of his riding mower had made deep muddy tracks crossing and criss-crossing all over the place where the mower had gone. It was an ugly sight. Did the owner mow his grass to make his yard look ugly? Of course not. He cut his grass to maintain and beautify the place.
I'm reminded that that's what our human efforts to righteousness and perfection of Christian character are like. Apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ, all our efforts are futile and ugly. Yet, we hear people say: I don't need to go to church. I'm as good as the next guy. I don't steal, I don't kill, I don't commit adultery. The hypocrites are the ones who go to church, and I'm not a hypocrite. Yes, we can do all the right things and say all the right things, but apart from Christ, our efforts are as filthy rags.
'But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.' --Isa 64:6.
On my walks I have learned the value of the struggles and challenges of life and that destruction ultimately would result when we choose to take the path of least resistance.
God intends that the things in Nature are to remind us of precious lessons in the Bible. Jesus' parables contain things of nature because He knew that the lessons would be fixed in the minds of the people because they see these things everyday.
To the heart softened by the grace of God, the sun, the moon, the stars, the lofty trees, the flowers of the field, utter their words of counsel and advice. The sowing of the seed carries the mind to spiritual seed sowing. The tree stands forth declaring that a good tree cannot bear evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bear good fruit. 'Ye shall know them by their fruits.' Matt 7:16.
On my walks I see a lovely house with a row of deep purple crepe myrtles lined up in a manicured lawn. In my mind's eye, I picture yellow crepe myrtles interspersed with the purple ones. Under the crepe myrtles are gold and purple irises, day lilies, and white calla lilies. There are also impatiens in colorful profusion that complement the yellow and purple crepe myrtles. I gaze at the scene with wonder and delight.
At another house not far from this one, there is a profusion of gorgeous pink hydrangea blossoms at the front of the house. They say that hydrangeas are either pink or blue depending on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. Never mind that, in my mind's eye, I see, nestled against a backdrop of varying hues of green shrubberies, hydrangea blooms in all the colours of the rainbow and more--red, orange, yellow, salmon, blue, indigo, and violet, and they perfume the air with a delightful aroma that's out of this world. Can you just picture the scenery? It's wild! It's gorgeous! It's crazy! I love it!
Lady, did you say walking is boring? You've got to be kidding!
Click here for Part 2 of Walking is Boring? You've Got to be Kidding!
Strauss' Voices of Spring Midi